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Archive for November, 2008

Beach House Theme PhotoShop File Now Available

November 20th, 2008 Comments off

I pieced back together the Photoshop file for the Beach House theme since I am working on a new theme. It can be downloaded from the Download page. 

Feel free to use it to customize your theme!

Categories: From the Network, PhotoShop, PSD, Theme News Tags:

We’re Going to Have Neighbors!

November 17th, 2008 Comments off
Over the weekend I noticed that a “Sold” sign was placed in the lot that is on our north side. I was excited to see it since a sold sign in an empty lot means that the people are building … Continue reading

The iMac Has Been Moved Into My Home Office :-)

November 14th, 2008 Comments off

imac_24inch 6 months ago when we moved into our new house we had some cash that we set aside to buy things for the new house. I was able to sneak in money for a new computer and was able to score a previous generation Intel iMac 24” for $1300. The thing was practically brand new and had 2 years of AppleCare left on it and 3GB of memory.

When moving into the new house the new iMac was placed in our room on my wife’s desk. At the time I did not have my office downstairs because my brother-in-law was staying with us. About a month after we moved in he moved out and I had my office back but opted to get a 22” monitor to hook up to my laptop from work. I used the iMac from time-to-time upstairs but never really got to play with it.

AcerAspireOne As mentioned before I purchased my wife an Acer Aspire One and for convenience I hooked it up in my office to my 22” monitor so she could use it down stairs. While it was usable the Acer Aspire One is a Netbook and obviously is no where as powerful as the iMac. In talking to my wife she thought that maybe it would be better to switch the two computers so that the iMac is downstairs in my office :-) . Sure babe we can do that I told her ;-) .

That conversation took place on late Wednesday night and you know the first thing that I did when I got home last night – yep, I switched the computers.

I have to say that it looks so nice sitting on my desk. As good as the performance of the iMac is it is also a beautiful looking computer. The other thing is that is awesome about it is that the screen is huge. While it is only 2 inches larger then the monitor I had there the 22” monitor was wide screen so it was not as high. The iMac is not a wide screen so the height of the screen is much more noticeable.

cod4 Now here comes the true confession. One of the real reasons that I wanted the iMac in the first place was in order to play games on it. I have Boot Camp setup with Windows XP and have Call of Duty 4 installed. With the computer in our room I only got to play a few times in the last 6 months. Now I should be able to play much more often. The only trick is not to get myself in trouble with my wife ;-) .

Our Vacation in El Salvador

November 12th, 2008 Comments off

DSCN0447We got back from our vacation in El Salvador a few weeks back and I did not get the chance to post about it until now. All-in-all it was a really nice place to visit. Elsy’s family is very nice and it’s really a beautiful place. I took a lot of pictures and posted some of them below. I took some of them with the intent to create black and white photos but have not had the chance to convert them yet. I will post them when I get the chance.

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Before traveling to El Salvador I wasn’t sure what to expect. I was kind of expecting it to be like Mexico which in a way it was but at the same time it was quite different . The biggest difference was it is a whole lot cleaner then the place I had been in Mexico (TJ, Ensenada, San Felipe). The people are also very nice and make you feel welcome. It ended up being nice then I expected.

image The city that we stayed in was Zacatecoluca which according to Wikipedia is the manufacturing center of El Salvador. Wikipedia also mentions that it has a population of around 62,000 people which is a little surprising to me since Round Rock is about the same size. While there we traveled to a beach area near San Luis La Herradura and also went to the large cite of San Salvador.

Safety

Going to El Salvador I was a little concerned because I had read and heard that it is not safest place to go. Specifically it was not good to go out at night. After being there for a couple of days I realized that these types of concerns are the type that you can apply to any city in any country. Any city has it’s share of bad people and these bad people often do more bad things at night. This applies to where we stayed but not anymore then I would apply it to downtown Los Angeles here in the states. The overall rule of thumb is be aware of your surroundings and you will not be taken advantage of.

It is always better to hang out with someone who is familiar with the area that you are in as they are going to know the good places and he places you should stay away from. That is what we did and I would recommend that to anyone going anywhere in the world. That is just the wise thing to do. In my opinion the general concern about safety in El Salvador is overblown which is really disappointing. All the people that I came in contact with where all really nice and always seemed to try to make me as comfortable as possible. After being these a few days I felt as comfortable as I did traveling in Mexico at night.

Exploring

After my safety concerns were diminished Elsy and I imagebegan to venture out on our own. Several times we walked down into the heart of the  city where the street vendors were in order to do some shopping. We frequented the Pollo Campero that was in town for better then KFC fried chicken and air conditioning. At the grocery store I was able to find Red Bulls and Coco Pebbles cereal so I was in heaven. I even picked up a cool hammock that is now suspended on my back porch.

By the end of the week we secured a truck and had true freedom to go where we wanted. We visited Elsy’s uncle in the country and looked at some property that her dad had left her and her brothers. I definitely felt more comfortable driving in El Salvador then I ever felt in Mexico. People there are trying to get where they are going like everyone else in the world but they will still take the time to let you know when traffic is clear and it is safe to go.

Overall Experience

Overall I liked el Salvador. If I compare it to my first driving trip in Mexico it is pretty comparable. I was scared out of my wits end the first time I drove in Mexico and didn’t have the best time. That initial fear quickly went away and for the 6 years years that Elsy and I lived in California we probably went back to Mexico at least 3 times a year. I think I could put El Salvador in the same category.

There were some things that were less enjoyable about the trip but in my opinion that is due to me being born and raised in the US. Also, these things can easily be acquired or fixed. Our issue was that this was my first time down there and Elsy’s first time down there with someone who had never been down there before. Due to that there were some things that we did not plan for.

Some of the things we didn’t realize were important (for me anyway) that ended up being important and could have made the trip a little more enjoyable were:

  • Hot water
    It is hot down there and because of that people have little need of hot water. It is common to go to a restroom and there is only one knob on the faucet for water (not cold or hot – just “water”). This was the same thing with the house that we stayed in – no hot water. I took a cold shower every day and hated it. Next time we stay in a hotel and the first question I will ask is whether they have hot water in the rooms.
  • Air Conditioning
    The other thing that the house we stayed didn’t have was air conditioning. It is not super hot down there but it is humid. A/C would definitely have made it nicer. We had A/C in the car on the final day and it was wonderful.
  • A Car
    We only had a car on the last day that we were there. While it was cool to get chauffeured around by family there is something to be said about going where you want to go when you want to go there. After a few days I felt comfortable enough down there that I could have driven us around.
  • Internet Access
    I really didn’t miss TV but I sure did miss having access to the internet. I mean with internet access I can watch all the TV I want. The house we stayed at did not have it and I wasn’t going to pay hundreds if not thousands of dollars to use the internet on my iPhone while down there. There were internet cafe’s but they usually closed early and I usually prefer to surf at night. That would be the second question that I would ask when l looking for a hotel. This is not an absolute deal breaker but it would make things nicer.

It was a pretty big change for me not having the above items and I believe if I at least had the first one or two items it would have been that much more enjoyable. People down there are not necessarily used to having these things so the fact that they are not readily available is not a big deal to them. But when you are used to having these things and then they are not there it was noticeable to me.

Would I Go Back?

Yes, I would.

Having the items that I mentioned above would make El Salvador an fun place to go. I know that I would have a much better time the second, third, fourth, etc time. I think for the kids to enjoy it I would have to go down there a few times and get into the grove of being there like I did in going to Mexico. Kids can get bored really easy so making sure that there is plenty to do is important to them having a good time.

Final Thoughts

Going to El Salvador was a life changing experience for me. It took me out of my comfort zone and let me see a part of the world that I think most of us forget exists. Seeing people down there go about their lives helped to remind me about what is really important in life and how truly blessed we are in here in the US. Seeing that other people do not have the disposable income that we do here in the states has made me more mindful of how I spend my money. It has made me thankful that I was born and live here in the US and that this is truly a great country.

El Salvador is a great country as well and the people there are really wonderful. They have pride in their land and take good care of it. They are hard working people who look out for each other. I am glad that I had the opportunity to visit.

It Can Be Tough Being A Transparent Christian

November 12th, 2008 Comments off

difficult While looking over a couple of posts here at The Abundant Life I noticed some spelling and grammar errors and started to correct them. In the process of cleaning up my inconsistencies I had to actually read some of the posts that I put up here and started to get a little embarrassed. The reason for my embarrassment was the fact that it has been tough being a Christian, going to church, and having a relationship with God over the last few years. Not only was it was it tough but I was sharing my struggles with the world. Looking back I wonder if that was a good idea as people (especially Christians – sorry) can be really judgmental.

To combat this concern I have to separate what I think people would say about me from what I know God says about me.

While the last few years have been tough living the type of Christian life that I was taught I know that I have grown in God at the same time. Church and the Word of God are important and necessary in your Christian walk but so is having a one-on-one relationship with God. I know that in early in my Christianity I focused on Church and the Word while over the last few years the focus has been on relationship. At this point in my life I feel that I am learning to balance between the two.

The one thing that I have learned through this process is the love that a father has for his son. As I have seen my my kids grow up I can see that God see me in the same way. There is nothing that I would not do for my kids and I know that God is the same way. They may need a pow-pow from time-to-time to remind them not to do certain things but I only do that because I love them and want them to grow up respectable and safe. I know that God sees me in the same way. There are times that I want to go and do things that are not the best and he will guide me back to the right path.

It is tough enough to be a Christian but putting your victories and failures out their for the world to see makes it a little tougher. I do it though not because I want to try and show off but because I hope that if people see my struggles that turn into victories that it will encourage them to continue on in God.

Blast From the Past – Jason Lozano at Freedom Christian Center

November 12th, 2008 Comments off

I was setting up my iTunes podcasts with various ministries that I have been apart of and searched to see if Freedom International Christian Training Center with Pastor Jason Lozano had one. While I did not find Podcasts for his ministry I did find this cool video of his testimony that Kenneth Copeland Ministries did on him.

The thing that got me about this video is that I knew him when he first got started and actually helped him knock down a couple of the walls that he mentioned. The other part of the video that got me is that there is actually a picture of him and I together at around the 2:29 minute mark. It is really something to remember where he and I can from and to see where we are now. 

My congratulations go out to Jason, his wife and family, and his ministry for the blessing that God has on their lives.

P.S. Jason, if you read this setup some Podcasts of your messages so I can listen to them!

A Little Maintenance Around Here

November 11th, 2008 Comments off

maintenance I have done a little maintenance around here so that things hopefully run a little better. I updated my email address so that I will actually get notifications when someone leaves a comment. I also added the feed from my blog network to the side panel. The final piece is that this blog is signed up at Text Link Ads so you can by an ad on this sit that will appear in the sidebar right below the search box.

Please let me know if you see anything funky.

Video On How to Fine Tune Door Hinges

November 11th, 2008 Comments off
I got an email from FineHomeBuilding.com that had a link to a video on how to fine tune door hinges. It’s funny but I do not remember signing up for emails from them but I am glad that I am … Continue reading

Funny Videos – Squirrels Dancing to Michael Jackson

November 11th, 2008 Comments off

Need I say more?

My Yearly Update Here at the Abundant Life

November 11th, 2008 Comments off

space-passing-time My last post was almost a year ago to the day. The reason for lack of posting here is several different reasons. The biggest reason is that I have 15 different blogs that I write and I have scaled down my writing on all of them. Another reason is that I have not been "engaged" spiritually as much as I was before which prompted this blog. My family and I attend church pretty regularly but are not currently involved in any ministries but do go to a connect group. I guess the message here is that things have settled down here spiritually – thank God.

Personally I feel pretty comfortable with my relationship with God and do have daily contact with Him. Recently I started reading several times a week out of my Bible and have started to listen to messages from different churches via Podcasts while at work. I feel that I am where God wants me to be and the recent step up in reading and listening are just the next step in my journey with Him. Also I have setup a personal journal that only I have access to where I can express my feelings good or bad and allow me to have another avenue to interact with God.

All-in-all it has been a good year and I feel that I have grown in my relationship with God which where I think we all want to be.

Funny Videos – The Matrix, on Windows XP

November 10th, 2008 Comments off

A great video by college humor showing how the world of the Matrix would be if it ran on Windows XP.

Progress On My Daughter’s Two Step Stepping Stool

November 10th, 2008 Comments off
Two Step Stepping Stool - Angle View

Two Step Stepping Stool - Angle View

This weekend I got to spend some time in the garage and was able to assemble and prime my daughter’s 2 step stepping stool. The stool is made of 5/8″ MDF that I had left over from a 4′ x 8′ sheet that I had bought to make some shelves for under our stairs. The piece that I made this from was 16″ x 48″ and I still had some MDF left.

Generally MDF would not be the ideal type of wood for this project due to the fact that there is a good chance that the steps are going to get wet. While MDF is pretty strong and rigid water is its chief enemy. I am combating this by putting several coats of Kilz Oil based primer in order to seal it. I am hoping that the primer plus the paint that I will put on it will be protection enough for it. It is a stepping stool after all.

I hope to have it painted an finished some time this week.

Here are some photos before I put the primer on it.

Two Step Stepping Stool - Front View Two Step Stepping Stool - Side View Two Step Stepping Stool - Back View Two Step Stepping Stool - Bottom View Two Step Stepping Stool - Angle View

Microsoft Comfort Optical Mouse 3000 Review

November 10th, 2008 Comments off

Recently my Microsoft Blue mouse 5 years died. I really like the feel of the mouse so I wanted to get a similar one. My mouse of 5 years has now been replaced by a newer model with more functions – a Microsoft Comfort Optical Mouse 3000.

This mouse is similar in shape to the previous Microsoft Blue mouse but has the following additional functions:

  • 1000dpi  laser
  • Tilt Wheel for scrolling up/down/front/back
  • Instant Viewer software

I bought this mouse specifically for the price and the fact that the scroll wheel gives you side-to-side scrolling which is pretty cool. It also has a side button that you can program to do various tasks. I reluctantly installed the software that was included with the mouse but I am really glad that I did.

The included software gives you an additional tab in the mouse applet (under control panel in Windows XP) Instant-viewerthat allows you to select what type of functions that you want the buttons on the mouse to have. By default the middle button when clicked activates “Instant Viewer” which is an program that tiles all of your open windows similar to Expose in OS X. I set my thumb button to activate it and am loving it. I use Expose in OS X all the time and always wished to have similar functionality in Windows.

In my opinion there are a couple of things that Microsoft does really well. The first is the creation of Windows Live writer which is the best Desktop Blogging Application I have ever used. The second is Microsoft Exchange which I consider to be the best email server that I have ever used. The last are Microsoft mice. I have always like their mice and will be a user of them for years to come (literally!).

My Mouse is Dying :-(

November 7th, 2008 Comments off

image The weirdest thing just happened to me. I was doing some work and clicked on the first button of my mouse and it did not click. I took a closer look and the button is starting to not push back up.

My mouse is dying :-( .

Why is that significant? It isn’t too much but I am kind of attached to this mouse as I believe that I have had it for at least 5 years now if not longer. imageI have never had a mouse physically die on my like that before. Weird.

Oh well, I had been eyeing the new Microsoft Arc mouse so maybe now is the time to go pick one up ;-) .

Categories: From the Network Tags:

My Dream Woodworking Work Shop

November 7th, 2008 Comments off

As mentioned previously last night I picked up my Delta Jointer that I found on Craigslist. The guy that was selling it had the nicest workshop that I have ever seen in person. The workshop was not in his garage, no, he had a whole separate building for it that was about the size of a large 2 car garage. His workshop was comparable in equipment to what I have seen on New Yankee Workshop although because it had so much equipment there wasn’t very much room to move around.

imageWhile verifying that the jointer worked correctly I noticed out of the corner on my eye that he has a build a very nice outfeed table for his table saw. I asked if I could take a look at it since an outfeed table is on the short list of items I am looking to build for my shop. He had a very nice high-end DeWalt table saw with a factory attached side table. He informed me that the outfeed table was a version of the Work Table and Clamp Cart from New Yankee Workshop. What was interesting about this table was that it has a mechanism that allows the table to be lifted up on casters so that it can be moved and then set back down so that it is stationary. I could definitely use one of those for my shop.

From there he showed me the other things that he built from the New Yankee Workshop. The items that he had built included:

All were really cool looking and very functional.
 
My wife had gone with me to pick up the jointer and on the way home I told her of all the things that I saw. I explained to her that while his tools that he had were cool I was more impressed with the things that he had built to equip his shop. She mentioned that he must be retired and that is what he spends his time doing which was probably the case. I told her that when we retire that we would definitely need to buy a different house so that I could have “My Shop” just like he had his. She agreed. I love my wife :-) .

Latest Addition to the Shop – A Delta Jointer

November 7th, 2008 Comments off

IMG_0090-1 I had been frequenting the Craigslist postings for a jointer over the last few weeks to try and score one for my shop. The jointer is the last big piece of equipment that I needed for my shop (although I wouldn’t mind upgrading a few pieces that I already have). The main reason that I wanted a jointer was due to the experience that I had while building my brother-in-law’s mobile bar. The wood that we had selected were standard 2" x 4"’s and not until later in the project did we discover that they were not consistent in their widths and thus causing us alignment issues. By having a jointer I can still use inexpensive wood but get it cut to where I could avoid the inconsistencies cheap wood can bring.

I had almost purchased a smaller Delta jointer last weekend but then decided against it. It was workbench model (no stand) that was a generation older then the small Jointer that they currently sell at Lowes. While it was only $130 (compared to $220 for the new one at Lowes) I had read that people had not been too happy with this inexpensive jointer. The may thing that people did not like was the fact that fence is difficult to get square. Several folks recommended getting the next step up if you could afford it as it would be a better long term investment and save a lot of frustration. While looking at the $130 unit from Craigslist I could see why people had that issue and decided to wait until a better unit came along.

While looking at Craigslist yesterday I came across a new post for a previous generation jointer that was a step up from the entry level one. It was a Delta 37-190 and the guy selling it was asking $175. I called up and told him I could pick it up that night to which he agreed. When this until was brand new it went for about $475 while the newer version is going for about $400 at Amazon. At his house I discovered that he was selling it because he had bought a bigger and better Jet jointer. He ran a few boards through the one that he was selling to show that it worked and I handed over the money . I loaded my new toy up in my brother-in-law’s truck and took it home.

The one thing that I can say about this jointer is that it is heavy. Amazon lists it at 212lbs and I believe it. From what I have read the heaviness comes from the fact that it is made out of cast iron. This is supposed to make the surfaces more accurate and therefore your cuts come out better. This is one more advantage this jointer has over the smaller Delta model as it is made of aluminum.

Along with the jointer the guy gave me a diamond blade sharpener and a blade alignment jig which was really cool and unexpected. He did mention that the blades needed to be sharpened so It looks like I will need to learn to sharpen and align the blades before I do any cutting. I am looking forward to see what my new toy can do.

Genesis’ First Real Hair Cut

November 5th, 2008 Comments off

Today, Genesis got her first real hair cut.  I was a little concern since she is nick named “my wild child” for a reason.  Great grand-pa calls her “fire cracker”.  She is a very outgoing and loud boyish princess.  But she is my princess.

image

She does have a weakness, like her father she loves candy.  The hair stylist asked me if it would be all right to offer her candy and I agreed.  I can’t believe how well behave she was.  The only problem was that she kept salivating.  Genesis did not care one bit.  If I ever need her to stay still I know exactly what to do.  Candy is not the best thing to offer your kids when you want them to do something but sometimes it’s a “Life Saver”.

Categories: From the Network, Web Site News Tags:

Congratulation to Barack Obama, Our Next President

November 5th, 2008 Comments off

As I write this John McCain is giving his speech congratulating Barack Obama for winning the election.

I am truly happen that Barack has won. His election means so many things to this country. The fact that he is African American and soon to be our president shows that as a country we have matured. Hopefully his election can help heal the wounds that we as a country have inflicted on so many. I believe that he is the right man for the job and I have hope that his time in office will help to turn our country around economically. I hope that he is a peace maker and helps to restore respect for us as a country around the world.

Congratulations President Elect Obama, you have worked hard and have earned it.

Weekend Project – Building Shelves in the Closet Under the Stairs

November 3rd, 2008 Comments off
A couple of weeks ago my wife asked if I could build some shelves in the closet that is under our stairs. The closet is pretty big (as most stair closets are) but was impossible to get into because it … Continue reading