Thursday, February 24, 2011

Thank you!

Thanks so much for all the Smartphone feedback!

I LOVE LOVE LOVE that I can use this little blog community to gather information about things I know little about. It is wonderful and one of the best parts of blogging!

The Hubs and I are planning on going into Verizon sometime soon to see what sort of deals are being offered and to at least get some information.

It would be AWESOME if the parentals would let us share a plan (a great suggestion from Cathleya!) , but I'm not sure it would work out. My family already has three phones on it, so I guess I could see how much more it would be to add two Smartphones. We'd then need to figure out a fair way to split the bill since the Smartphones should cost more. I can see this being a point of contention in my family, although if I offer to pay the entire bill up front maybe it would be easier to convince them.

Sharing with his family would be tough since his dad is sorta cell phone crazy (i.e. renewing contracts and choosing phones for people without their consent). This is why The Hubs is still on his parent's plan.

At this point, I think I'm leaning toward a Droid X, since I already have an iTouch, but who knows...

Anyways, sorry for the lack of posting lately. Work has been busy (in a good way! Shocker right???) and I'm in need of some blogspiration. I'm attending a local SWE conference this weekend which is never short of inspiring, so maybe I will be enlightened. :-)

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

To Smartphone or Not To Smartphone...That is the Question!

The Hubs and I have been living in the Stone Age when it comes to cell phones.

These are them in all their old school glory:

Both of us have noticed that whenever we walk into a work meeting or into a public place, we are the ONLY ones without a Smartphone.

I've been due for a new phone from Verizon for ages and The Hubs is waiting for his contract on his parent's plan to be up so we can finally combine plans. It seems like now is as good a time as any to see if we are ready to take the leap and join the Smartphone revolution.

So what are our reservations...

First, is the cost. At Verizon, there really isn't a price break when you have only two phones on a family plan. Then add on $60 a month for two data plans and you're talking a cell phone bill that costs as much as our TV, Phone and Internet combined!!  I've been on the same plan for ages, back when talk and text was cheap!

We've been trying to save money as much as we can now before we start a family, but after meeting with our tax guy yesterday and finding out what our refund is going to be (YAY!), we sorta realized that we do have extra money for some splurges in life...Smartphones being one of them. I mean, it seems like everyone and their mother can somehow afford a Smartphone, so why can't we?

Second, is signing that darn 2 year contract. They don't make phones like they used to and it seems like they always bite the dust right before your contract is up. I'm not sure how reliable the Smartphones on the market are, but it worries me to pay a ton for a phone upfront, sign a 2 year deal and then the phone stops working 1 year in.

So blog friends, who I am sure ALL have some sort of Smartphone device...

What service provider do you have and on average how much do you pay a month?

Is the extra expense each month worth it?

What phone do you have - iPhone, Droid, Blackberry? (I have an iTouch, so I'm thinking getting an iPhone is somewhat redundant. Although my iTouch doesn't have a camera or a phone on it.)

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Green Dental Floss?

...well not literally GREEN...

The Hubs and I were at Whole Foods last weekend and for some reason that place always brings out my inner tree hugger. I'm not at all hard core about it, but I have been consciously trying to do little things to help the planet. I've been fairly good at ditching plastic bags, buying organic fruit, veggies and meat whenever available, and using my Kleen Kanteen instead of plastic water bottles.

Anyways, because I've been tackling the "floss every day" goal, I recently ran out of all of those little trial size flosses that you get from the dentist. (It's amazing how much floss you go through when you actually use it!) So I decided to see what types of floss Whole Foods had to offer - maybe something where both teh floss and the container it comes in is biodegradable.

Although there weren't many to choose from, I figured I would just try one.

And the winner was....

This floss was triple sealed in a paper box that can be recycled. The floss itself was 100% vegan waxed (which has to be better for the environment than the traditional stuff), but I'm not sure that it is biodegradable. I think it would have been advertised all over the box if it was.

As far as how it left lots to be desired... The first couple of days it seemed like it was working fine, but lately it has been getting stuck between my teeth. This especially sucks because I get bits of floss stuck in my teeth requiring me to use another piece of floss to get the first piece out. It is also very uncomfortable to have to slide a piece of floss out of your teeth. Totally cringe worthy and not the "Gentle Floss" advertised!

I think once the remaining 90 feet are gone, I'll have to go back to good ol' Crest Glide until I find something else that is planet friendly and works a little better.

Has anyone else ever thought of buying "green" dental floss? And if so do you any brand recommendations?

P.S. - For more tips on how doing just small things can make a big difference in creating a  better planet, check out my friend Teresa's new blog, Slightly Sustainable.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Late to the "Social Network"


The Hubs and I finally got The Social Network on Netflix last night. We had been wanting to see it for a long time, but being too cheap to to go the movies and too cheap to go rent it at Blockbuster had us waiting the 4 weeks after it was released on DVD to get it through Netflix.

When it came in the mail yesterday, The Hubs could hardly wait! I wanted to watch Teen Mom 2 first, but in the end he won (no worries... I got my Teen Mom 2 fix later in the evening! hehe :-) )

Being a Facebook stalker, I was interested in what this movie had to say. In fact, I was clueless about most of Facebook's history, except for the little snippets I heard about Mark Zuckerberg, from Mark Zuckerberg, when he was on Oprah.

At first, the movie cinematography was so dark that both The Hubs and I felt like were watching a college town slasher flick. Obviously that is not what we were in store for, but we were pleasantly surprised by the witty dialogue and intriguing story that was the birth of Facebook.

I had NO idea that the guy who founded Napster (good ol' Napster...reminds me of freshman year of college and all the wonderful music we downloaded over the fast Ethernet connection in the dorms for FREE...), Sean Parker, was involved in the expansion of Facebook.  The movie portrayed him as a really bad influence on Mark. It was hard for me to tell whether Mark realized this or if Sean took advantage of him. Sorta hard to say...

Although the film seems one-sided, the filmmakers say that everything is based on written documentation because Mark blogged during the time he was creating Facebook. (Who knew there were even blogs back then?? Live Journal anyone??) I guess only the actual players know the truth and they are all RICH because of it!

What did you think of the Social Network? Do you think Mark Zuckerberg is really the jerk he was made out to be? 

Image Source: Flow

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

"Kindle Reads" - The Help

I had wanted to read The Help by Kathryn Stockett since probably September after I saw a couple of my SWE friends reading it while at a conference. I put it off as I finished reading The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo series and as I tried to read the first book in The Outlander series (which I still haven't finished). I finally finished the book yesterday and REALLY enjoyed it.

It is a story told from the point of view of two African American maids during the Civil Rights movement and one young white woman who wants to try to understand their lives and make a difference. The relationship between these women is VERY complicated as they dance around the fact that there is obviously an inherent social hierarchy. You get to see both the good and the bad of people on both sides of the racial divide. It also not only deals with racial discrimination, but also womens' rights and their place in society. Kathryn Stockett did an amazing job and allowing the reader to fall in love with the characters and feel for them during every triumph or heartbreak.

Did anyone else read The Help and love it as much as I did?

Monday, February 14, 2011

Happy Valentine's Day

Hope you all are having a fantastic Valentine's Day! I know I am!

I just got these beautiful flowers at work!

I think it is the first time I've ever had roses delivered to me! I love my honey!

The Hubs and I had a fancy meal of crab and roasted asparagus on Saturday, so tonight will be an easy meal of pasta leftovers and molten lava cakes for dessert. Then we'll curl up, cuddle and watch The Bachelor!
hehe :-)

I better get back to work so I can leave on time!!

Friday, February 11, 2011

Exploring in Our Own Backyard

Last weekend, The Hubs and I decided to take the pup on another hike. This time, we were too lazy to drive anywhere and decided to explore a trail that my parents told us about by Lake Chabot that is dog friendly AND nearby.

The weather was amazing, so we decided to walk from our house to the trail head. This seemed like a wonderful idea on the way there, but not so much on the way back!

Here's the start of the trail.

You'll note it is only 3/4 of a mile to the top, but because it is ALL uphill and we walked a mile or so to the trail, it felt like FOREVER.

The views of the surrounding hills and the lake were beautiful. I can't believe this is in the town where we live. You wouldn't know it from just driving through. We also met lots of other pups on our walk. It seems that this trail is very popular with dog owners!

And because it was such a sparkly day, we could see all the surrounding cities easily, including SF and Oakland. (Sorry for the bad second picture! It really looked a lot better in person. I just wanted to prove that we could in fact see SF!)

I swear all those big building in the background are in SF. :-)

Once at the top we entered the grove of trees - each tree commemorating the life of a child in Alameda County who was a victim of violence.

There is also an actual memorial, with plaques listing the names of each of these children. It is really sad to see all of the children whose lives have been cut short by violence. They were of all ages, from infants to teenagers.

The way back was so much easier! Everyone, including Rusty, was tired, so we leisurely made our way back home. There was one split second where I thought of calling my parents to pick us up because I was lazy to finish the walk back, but then I figured the exercise was good for me.

We plan on inviting some friends who have dog children to walk this trail in the spring and bring a picnic lunch to have at the top.

The Hubs and I often forget that the Lake Chabot area is one that people drive from outside the area to explore. We live so close and have never even made it around the lake! We'll definitely be taking advantage of this area this spring, as it is so nice to feel like you are getting away but still are so close to home!

Anyone else have a wide range of activities near their home that they don't fully take advantage of?

Wednesday, February 9, 2011


You know the saying "You don't know what you've got until it's gone."? I know it's mostly used when talking about relationships, however, I've found its relevance in my professional life.

As you know from a previous post, I've been working crazy hours - like 10am to 9pm crazy. It's been happening for about 2 weeks straight. It's exhausting and annoying.

However, today  I am grateful for it.

Why you may ask?

Because, yesterday I was able to work a normal 8am - 5pm day and OMG was it REFRESHING!

I was able to leave and come home when it was still light out.
I was able to enjoy both the sunrise and the sunset on my drive to and from work.
I was able to go to lunch at a normal hour and hit up the gym so I could get home early to hang out with my husband.
The day flew by and when it was 5 o'clock I was outta there (and didn't feel guilty).
I got a lot more accomplished because I could go back to my good ol' morning routine.
I was able to go to Starbucks and get a morning snack.

I know that I likely have a few more 10am-9pm's  in my future, but I think it will really help me appreciate the normal days that I often used to despise.

If you had asked me last week if I would be grateful for working crazy hours, I would have given you a big "HELL NO!".

I hope this new perspective will help me continue to see the things I should be grateful for in any challenge, obstacle or negative thing that occurs in my life. I know it won't be easy, but now I'll have the post to always come back to and remind me!

Friday, February 4, 2011

Change my Name, Change my Name

So when The Hubs and I got married in November of 2009, I had already decided I was going to change my name. I even was gifted with a Miss Now Mrs gift card to make the process easier! However, being the lazy bum that I am, it took me 6 months to get around to actually going to Social Security to complete the process. In the few weeks that followed, I changed my name at the DMV, work and at the bank where I do the majority of my business.

And that is where my motivation stopped...

It is almost 9 months later and I still haven't changed my name in the following places:

~ All Credit Cards (I still have my old ID so I can still use them.)
~ Old 401K
~ ING Savings Account
~ Mutual Funds
~ Title on the House
~ Real Estate License
~ Passport
~ And probably tons more places I haven't thought of!

I just made an appointment with our tax guy and I'm freaking out a little that I'm going to screw things up for our taxes because I've only half way changed over to my new name. My social security number is the same though and should link up to both names, but I'm still worried. I guess we'll find out in a couple of weeks! (I also hope we find out we get a BIG refund! The Hubs and I both withhold the max from our paychecks and never adjusted it after buying the house so that should help increase our refund...)

I really need to get on the ball and just send out all the letters and copies of my marriage certificate to get things rolling, but again I'm lazy and would rather spend the little time I am at home with The Hubs watching a movie.

Did anyone else take a long time to fully change to your new name after getting married? Is there any other totally obvious place that I am forgetting about where I should change my name?

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Intensity Overload

I'm an intense person. I think it's something I've always known about myself, but have been noticing more and more as my job becomes increasingly more stressful.

Good things about being intense are that I am focused and driven (most of the time).

Bad things about being intense are that I become loud, flustered, and frustrated because I can not get everything I want to get done fast enough. This often leads to emotional outbursts that come so fast I can't control them.

I'm not sure, but I think in this case, the bad outweighs the good by A LOT.

For athletes, intensity seems to be the pathway to success. I can't say the same for intensity in the working world. At least, not the way intensity manifests itself it me.Yesterday, I was frustrated because someone wanted to add another task to my plate. Today, an operator got upset with me because I wanted to have someone else try to process parts to see if we can get a different result. I intensely overreact and can't seem to control my emotions. I'm sort of at a loss...

So here I am wanting to add another trait about myself that I would like to work on (worrying about things I can't control, self-doubt, and over-analyzing are some others.)

As is typical of me, I started out by Googling "Intense Personalities", to see what  information I could find on the world wide web. Surprisingly I couldn't find much... A few people asking questions about it on Yahoo! Answers, but that was all.

Next up, searching the blogs. There's a blog about everything, so I figured I would be able to find some useful information this way. Again, I couldn't find much...

Maybe I should try Googling some other word combination. There have to be SOME other intense people in this world lookin' for a change.

Do any of you have what you would call an "Intense Personality"? Do you have any suggestions or resources of how to best use this personality trait to my advantage?