<![CDATA[The life and times of Laser T. Swift - Blog]]>Mon, 24 Apr 2017 02:21:30 -0700Weebly<![CDATA[Wait, why is this not clean...]]>Mon, 24 Apr 2017 01:37:29 GMThttp://lasertswift.com/blog/wait-why-is-this-not-cleanPicture
In a few months my oldest son will be moving away to college.  I am going to miss him terribly and I am concerned how he is going to, well, survive.

You see, I spoil him.  Just like I spoil my other son.  I freely admit it.  I can’t help it.  

Now at 18 he does know how to cook, do laundry, clean, etc.  He just chooses not to.  Mainly because I do it all for hom.  Partly because I love him so much and partly because I like it to be done well and he…  Doesn’t.  He leaves his clothes lying around, his dirty dishes on the table, school books out, computer on the table, etc.  He seem incapable of cleaning up after himself.  

I can just see his face when, after coming home from classes, and realizes that his dorm room is still a complete mess and there is no food prepared for him and no clean laundry.  I can just picture it.  And I don’t know whether to laugh or cry.  Probably laugh, but I am just wired that way.  I will feel sad later.  I promise.  Kind of.

On the other hand my younger son is counting down the days until he gets Nick’s room since it is the bigger kids room.  And Nick is not happy about that.  For some reason he thinks it will always be his room and I will erect some sort of shrine to him in there.  

There will be a slight delay in this post while I laugh hysterically.

Anyway, I am sure he will do fine.  Really.

Kind of.

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<![CDATA[Weird scenes inside the goldmine]]>Tue, 18 Apr 2017 21:04:49 GMThttp://lasertswift.com/blog/weird-scenes-inside-the-goldmineI haven’t written about current technology in a long time so I thought I would address it today.

For the many years I have been dragging around my laptop and my iPad Air.  Either one or both.  When I didn’t have them both with me I regretted it at times.  I may have wanted to write a blog post or update my campaign notes and only had my iPad with me which is horrible to do any typing on.  Or I had my laptop with me and was tired of writing and simply wanted to read some PDFs of Chess Life or read my game PDFs neither of which is optimal with the screen in landscape.  Additionally I really need very low weight.  I carry my messenger bag around with me everywhere and it really begins to hurt my shoulder if it gets really heavy so I need light weight gear.   I thought about upgrading to the iPad Pro 12.9 which is an amazing piece of tech but also ridiculously expensive so that was pretty much out.  I began looking at the 2 in 1 laptops.

Now, while I am a fan of how well Apple products are amazingly interconnected with each other I am not a fan of how much they cost.  Plus, they don’t have a 2 in 1 laptop and I was not fond of the Smart Keyboard for the iPad.  Not fun to type on and it is glitchy according to all I have read on Reddit.  I have never been a real fan of Microsoft products but the Surface Pro did catch my attention for a bit.  I tired the Surface Pro 3 but it was just too glitchy and the battery life was abysmal.  In addition the interruption of updates CONSTANTLY was really annoying.  Plus it is also very expensive.  So, on to the last bastion of hope.  Chromebooks.

I think everybody that knows me understands that I am a fan of Chromebooks.  They are simple, bulletproof and inexpensive. And almost TOTALLY immune to viruses which is fantastic.  They have their quirks - like having difficulties printing - but they are almost always under $300 for a good one.  They do have 2 in 1 Chromebooks but they have never been that great due to two reasons - one being my issue (aging eyes) with the, typically, low resolution of the screen (720 to 1080) and the speed of the processors which created lag when you scroll a very large PDF which drove me crazy.  So I have been waiting and watching…

Enter the Samsung Chromebook Plus.

This Chromebook, so far, is amazing!  It is a little pricey for a Chromebook at $420 but compare that to any Apple laptop or a Surface Pro and immediately becomes NOT pricey!  It has a 2400 x 1600 12.3” screen for crystal clarity and it is a 2 in 1 so I can also use it as a tablet.  It is VERY lightweight coming in a just a hair over 2 pounds so it is easy to travel with.  Chromebooks typically have very low storage since they recommend using Google Drive but this laptop also has a micro SD card slot so I popped in a 128gb SD card and now I have plenty of storage for my PDF’s and videos.  Lastly I want to talk about the included stylus.

Unlike the Surface Pro or the iPad Pro this Chromebook actually has a slot for the stylus to slide into.  I would totally hate having to fish around in my bag for the stylus like I would have to do with the iPad or the Surface Pro plus it comes with it unlike the iPad which costs $150 extra.  That’s crazy!  Plus, as soon as you eject the stylus, a little menu pops up giving you options on how to use it.  You can use it like a mouse, a laser pointer, screen capture or taking notes and drawing.  Very cool.

So this is my new go to device for surfing, videos and all things creative.

Until next time!
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<![CDATA[Love me a Dirty Blonde!]]>Sun, 09 Apr 2017 21:38:05 GMThttp://lasertswift.com/blog/love-me-a-dirty-blonde
It has been a long time since I wrote in my blog, over a year actually.

My job, family and personal life have kept me so busy that I just found when I got home I didn’t have the energy to write, but I have recently decided on a new direction in life which should afford me much more time.  A new life focus if you will.

So, on with my new blog writings!

I have recently developed a love of eating out at little corner cafes/taverns and have discovered that there are so many untapped places near me that I have never tried.  I am planning on blogging about my favorites and the one I am writing this in is definitely at the top.  With that said on with my first little tavern review!

The place to which I refer is called “The Dirty Blonde” which is one of my new favorite places.  It is truly a great, good place as per a book I have been enjoying, or maybe re-enjoying.  They are located in Chandler, AZ on the S/E corner of Rural and Chandler Blvd.

The staff is really cool and they have a fantastic grapefruit beer that I often enjoy with my well cooked burger or club sandwich.  As a bonus it is also inexpensive (a burger or sandwich and a beer are less than $15) and close to my house.  While they do have sports on TV (as well as other shows) and also play music neither are so loud that you can’t enjoy good conversation.  In addition the seating is comfortable and you are not so squeezed in that you are bumping into people when you try to move around.  Plus one whole wall is open to the outside so it is airy, well lit and feels more free than sitting in a dingy little cave-like atmosphere which I am not fond of.  However, we will see how much I still like this in the summer when it is 110 degrees here in Arizona!

With regards to the menu -

They have a an excellent beer and wine selection along with a pretty good selection of hard alcohol drinks and I would imagine, based on my interaction with the staff, that they would be very open to making whatever drink you could ask for.

The food menu is fairly basic but delicious.  Being that this appears to be more of a drinking establishment that doesn’t really surprise me.  They have a great selection of appetizers along with various burgers - including some exotic choices and also including veggie burgers.  They also have a small selection of sandwiches, main dishes and salads.  All in all very appropriate to the type of establishment.

I have been coming here about once a week since I discovered it and I plan to continue to do so.

Long live the Great Good Places!
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<![CDATA[All I need is the wind in my face...]]>Sun, 17 Apr 2016 20:32:34 GMThttp://lasertswift.com/blog/all-i-need-is-the-wind-in-my-faceI have not written in a long time since I started my new job.  Or maybe I should say new position within the same company.  I have gone from lowly tech to tech/delegate committee head/office manager.  Although the election just ended so now I am just the office tech and manager.  The transition has led to very long hours and more weekends.  But that is beginning to slow down and this weekend I was determined to get back on my bike and do some riding.  

I woke up early, did my exercises and had a good breakfast.  Afterwards I pulled out the Black Dragon and made sure she was in top condition for a nice long ride.  After putting some air in one of the tires off we went.  It felt WONDERFUL.  The weather was really nice with a temperature in the 70’s and no wind.  I slathered on my sun screen and then put on my SPF 50 bicycle jersey and rode off to nowhere in particular.  Just cruised.

Later I went to REI with Jimmy to spend a dividend check they sent me.  I got a new bicycle hat that I can wear under my helmet and a cool new bicycle jacket that was on sale for half off.  Such a deal!  When I got home I discovered that it converts into a vest as well.  But the coolest part of that is that the sleeves are attached with magnets!  Easy on and off.  No zippers or buttons.  How cool is that!

Until next time I hope all is well with all of you.
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The Black Dragon - My wonderful road bike!
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<![CDATA[Are we there yet?]]>Tue, 23 Feb 2016 16:32:13 GMThttp://lasertswift.com/blog/are-we-there-yetPicture
I am in such a quandary with tech these days.  So many options.  Laptop?  Tablet?  2 in 1? Phablet?  Phone?  So many ways to process and consume information.  I sometimes miss the old days when I had one piece of tech and did everything on it until it broke and then I simply got a new one. But I could never take those with me easily.  Desktops were obviously out and laptops of old had an abysmal battery life so I had to be near a plug which was not always easy.  Fast forward to today and portable tech is awesome… But fragmented.  Now we have several types of portable tech with great battery life but you have to choose and operating system (OS) based on which app store is the best or which is easiest for you to use.  Now clearly Apple and Android own this arena but there are drawbacks to each.  And even though Windows is in last place it is still the leading OS and, for most people, it is the one they are most familiar with if you want to share.  

What I like is a good, high definition screen with an awesome battery life and a good keyboard.  I also need it to be fast.  I absolutely hate waiting for screens to load.  A lot to ask you say?  Well I also want to be able to utilize split screens and have lots of expandable storage, I.E. an SD card slot for when I am offline and can’t access my cloud drive.  No problem, right?  But wait, there’s more!  Speaking of being offline I want said tech to have an LTE option that is AFFORDABLE.  Most cell providers charge a LOT to have LTE and even then you only get maybe 5GB of data a month.  That may sound like a lot but watching movies on Netflix or streaming music will chew that up in a matter of hours.  And I like to do both.

And speaking of affordable I want this piece of kit to be affordable too.  Currently, if my dream tech existed, it would probably cost upwards of $1,500 dollars.  That’s simply too much.  I want future tech to be priced like the average Chromebooks.  

Hence my quandary.

I think what I want will be available in the near future considering how fast technology is moving but I really want it NOW!  LOL

Okay, rant over.

Wait, to quote Steve Jobs there is just one more thing.

Viruses.  

They are hugely annoying.  Get rid of those too.

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<![CDATA[Take the long way home]]>Tue, 19 Jan 2016 00:55:21 GMThttp://lasertswift.com/blog/take-the-long-way-homePicture
I am sitting in a physical therapy office waiting for Nicky.  As you saw in a previous post he trashed his arm(s) in a bicycle crash.  His left arm has healed but his right arm is still pretty messed up and by that I mean he has no use of it.  And it is his primary arm.  No writing, no gaming, no nothing.  This has been since October 2015.  His physical therapy has been pretty intense but he is finally able to extend his elbow all the way.  They are still working on his wrist which he is unable to turn.  He is trying very hard to keep his spirits up but I can tell it is really wearing on him.  This is just killing me as his father.  I hate to see him like this.  I hope he heals soon and when he does I hope he stays healthy for a long, long time.  He is one of my golden boys and I just adore him and want him to be happy, healthy and safe.  Always.

The attached picture is just before the accident.  He was happy.  Sure he’s scowling in the picture but that’s just because he is 16 and his dad wanted to take a picture of him looking nice.  I still cherish this picture.  I hope you like it.



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<![CDATA[And here I thought "head over heels" was a good thing...]]>Sun, 13 Dec 2015 21:58:45 GMThttp://lasertswift.com/blog/and-here-i-thought-head-over-heels-was-a-good-thing
Back in October I got that phone call that all parents dread - Nicky called me late at night saying he had been in an accident and he needed to go to emergency.  My brain just exploded in worry.  Fortunately my logical brain kicked in fast and I was able to respond quickly and efficiently and in a calm voice.  After getting directions to where he was Jimmy and I headed out.

When I arrived I discovered that he was indeed pretty messed up.  Apparently he was riding his bicycle through an intersection when a car ran the red light and almost hit him.  He swerved and hit the curb going head over heels into debris in the street which included some broken glass.  Both his hand were cut up pretty bad but his right arm was a disaster.

We rushed him to emergency.

It turned out that he had cut his arm down to the bone requiring internal and external stitches.  He also cut up both hands pretty bad and fractured his wrist.  They patched him up the best they could but told us to see his regular doctor as soon as possible.

I made an appointment to go see his regular doctor the next day.  She sent us to get x-rays so she could see what she was dealing with.  After two weeks of back and forth she finally recommended a wrist specialist.

The specialist did an MRI since the x-rays from emergency and his regular doctor were inconclusive.  The result?  He not only fractured his wrist but he tore some ligaments and had bone chips.  He was told that he would be in a cast for 6 weeks followed by a splint for an additional 6 weeks.

That was the bad news.  

The really bad news? The injury was to his right arm and he is right handed.  Plus, the way they set the cast was such that he had no use of his right arm.  At all.  And he had just started a new job that he was thrilled with and now he could no longer work.  On top of that it was going to make school really difficult as well.

Nicky is a trooper though.  He is always ready to see the funny side of everything and this was no exception.  He joked with the ER nurse and had us all laughing even though you could tell he was in great pain.  He joked with his regular doctor and even the assistant who put him in the cast.

He is such a great kid.  I am so proud of how he is handling this.
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<![CDATA[Vinyl is back!  Yay?]]>Mon, 07 Dec 2015 00:10:32 GMThttp://lasertswift.com/blog/vinyl-is-back-yayPicture
I was in Barnes and Nobles the other day and saw that they had vinyl records for sale.  I was totally blown away.  It was like seeing my childhood come back to life.  I started browsing through them and many were albums that I loved as a kid.  It was such a rush.  I was so eager to pull out my record player and begin listening to vinyl all over again.  Maybe even add some more to my now small collection of old favorites.

I rushed back home and got out my old Stanton turntable.  I still have a few vinyl albums left so I pulled out Pink Floyd - Dark Side of the Moon and put the needle on…  And got nothing.  I checked the connections and it looked like I had a bad cable.  I fixed that and it played but sounded really muffled.  After some experimenting it turned out the port on my receiver was bad so I switched to a different port and I finally had music.  I sat and listened to about 5 songs and realized that the first side of the album was over.  I carefully took off the needle, flipped the record, used the duster to make sure is clean of dust and lint and then carefully replaced the needle to listen to…  5 more songs.  Songs filled with pops and scratches.  When it was over I carefully replaced it in the sleeve and then equally carefully slid it into its jacket and the put it back in its place on the shelf.  I sat thinking about it for a moment before reaching for the next vinyl album.

Aaaaaannnnd then I promptly packed it all back up, put it back in storage and opened Spotify and my bluetooth speakers.  What a hassle just to listen to a few songs!  How did music even get listened to back in the day?

As I write this I am at Starbucks enjoying music on my Chromebook through wireless headphones while eating a muffin and sipping on orange juice.  Endless music over wi-fi.  Crystal clear.

Long live streaming and free wi-fi!

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<![CDATA[Spinning on the wheels of time]]>Fri, 02 Oct 2015 16:57:45 GMThttp://lasertswift.com/blog/spinning-on-the-wheels-of-timeLately I have been looking for a new cardio workout.  I had to quit the gym so swimming is no longer an option and running was getting to my knee so I thought I would try biking.  Plus, I thought the kids might want to ride with me which would be a great joy and incredible bonus.

I still had two old mountain bikes in the garage but in checking them out I discovered that they were in really bad condition after sitting idle in the moisture, heat and cold year after year for at least 10 years. Nope, a new one was in order.   

Nicky was gone when I got home from work so Jimmy and I hit the bike store.  He got a simple cruiser and I got a nice Diamondback Mountain Bike.  We probably rode about 30 miles that first weekend.  It was great!

The following Thursday I took a day off of work to try for my first actual mountain ride.  I put on my new helmet and gloves and took off for South Mountain.  I know I am no longer a 20 year old so I chose a beginner trail and packed up my bike in my car and headed out early in the morning before it got hot.  

The trail was wide open with only 2 or 3 people in sight.  This was wonderful since the weekends can see the trail simply packed with people.  Since I was a beginner, and not totally familiar with my new bike I really wanted to try to avoid hitting anyone so the lack of others on the trail was a good sign.

All in all it I had a really good ride.  The trail was all uphill going but not a real hard incline and a wonderful downhill run on the way back.  I was tired at the end but in a good way.  I plan do it again soon and maybe hit harder trails as I improve.  Now I just hope the boys will go with me or I can find someone willing to ride.  Things like that are always more fun with company!

Pictures below. I hope to get some video next time!

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Top of the trail!
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Start of the ride!
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<![CDATA[Pizza Shack, do you want a cheeseburger with your taco?]]>Fri, 25 Sep 2015 19:56:12 GMThttp://lasertswift.com/blog/pizza-shack-do-you-want-a-cheeseburger-with-your-tacoPicture
Business diversity, brand marketing, advertising, whatever - It’s getting confusing these days.  I understand the need, but the execution seems lacking.  Too many places are trying to be your everything.  They are trying to expand out in ways that just send mixed messages.  If they were to get it right that would be wonderful but I just don’t see it happening.  For example, if I want a really good pizza and that is what you excel at then I will go to you.  If you also have lame tacos for sale next to the pizzas I will  not be ordering them and seeing them on the menu will just confuse or aggravate me.  If I want tacos I will go to a place that specializes in tacos and I will not be sampling the subpar cheeseburgers that the taco place has on the menu.  

I think you should do what you do best and leave it at that.  Focus.  Specialize.  Simple.

I used to go to bookstores when I was a kid and loved browsing through all the wonderful books and magazines.  What was available at the bookstore was literature.  Nowadays I almost have to ask where the books are.  And if I did ask where the books were I would get something along the lines of this-

“Books?  Oh, sure - just head past those toys then turn left at the DVD’s and they are right past the knickknacks.”

That’s just wrong.

And here is another classic example of mixed messages.  I was out and about the other day and came across the lady in the picture below.  Now I know it’s probably some sort of weird womens clothing brand thing...

But that sweatshirt?  

It’s orange.

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