The weather has been growing steadily cooler, the regular season for college football is nearly finished, and the Christmas shopping season is well under way. Hell, Santa has already been in the shopping malls for a month already, if you can believe that.
Anyway, we’re here to take a look at my workout results for the month of November.
I won’t lie to you. My workouts sucked last month. I feel that I let myself down with a lack of better fitness results.
My November started with being out of town for the first week of the month. My fiancée and I were at her condo in the North Georgia mountains. The end of November involved my fiancée’s birthday along with the Thanksgiving holiday.
For me, vacations, birthdays and holidays are quite stressful occasions. Not that it’s bad being with relatives and future in-laws. No, not at all. There’s just something else about those days on the calendar that make me very worrisome and anxious. When those days approach, I tend to work out less often that I normally would. My other work also somewhat suffers.
These aren’t excuses for my poor workout performance. It’s just something that happens to me during certain parts of the year. Unfortunately, the biggest of all holidays is just over three weeks away . . .
November of 2013 exercise totals:
Exercise bike totals (cardio) – 4 sessions
- 180 minutes (3 hours)
- 39.8 miles
- 1,996 calories
- furthest distance during a 45-minute bike ride – 10.3 miles
Total Bodyworks 5000 totals (strength):
- 3 sessions; ~ 40 minutes each
I’ve already started to exercise in December. At the very least I’ll double my results from November.
Each year I’m growing more and more convinced that one day in the near future, Thanksgiving will no longer be an American tradition.
As people continue to be obsessed towards Black Friday and Gray Thursday, and the conquest of fighting crowds and trying to grab cheap deals in stores, it’s only natural that Thanksgiving itself will be eliminated.
For the longest of times, The Day After Thanksgiving (now referred to as Black Friday by the media and the rest of our simpleton society) was considered as one of the busiest shopping days of the year. The common tradition involved people spending time with family and friends on Thanksgiving, and then waking up early the next morning to begin their Christmas shopping. Most of the stores opened their doors at six in the morning, and the earliest of shoppers were rewarded with special doorbuster savings.
That’s how Black Friday worked through the mid 2000s. In the later 2000s we saw retail stores slowly pushing their opening time earlier and earlier in the day, from five to four to three o’clock in the morning. It was inevitable that some store somewhere was going to be open for business on Thanksgiving Day.
In 2011, several of the major retailers opened their doors at midnight on Thanksgiving Day. The next year these open times were shifted to eight pm that day. In 2013 we saw some stores open their doors at six pm and many more of them opening at eight pm that night.
And do you think that the shoppers were horrified at the thought of retail stores being open at six pm on Thanksgiving Day, making people choose between having a relaxing family dinner or fighting with other shoppers over doorbuster deals? Hell, no! People flocked to those stores like there was no tomorrow. Stores were packed and people were competing to grab whatever sale items that they could find. It’s clear that the shoppers have chosen commercialism versus an American tradition. Read more…
Another Black Friday has now come and gone.
People have flocked for the insane sale prices for (mostly) cheap crap that was destined for a warehouse. Drop the price by a large percentage, advertise it as a Black Friday sale, and suddenly it becomes a highly sought after item.
Does that mean that everything on sale this day is a cheap piece of crap? No, not all of the sale items are garbage. There are some legitimately decent items on sale. Best of luck though acquiring those quality items without camping outside of a store for several days.
As we’ve been seeing now for several years, Black Friday tends to bring out the worst in people. Some stores anticipate the heavy draw of people, and they take steps to control the crowds carefully. Some stores will issue tickets / coupons for the sale items while people are standing in line. Other stores will escort people into, say, the electronics section, and keep the people orderly that way.
And then you have Walmart.
Walmart is a store that does wild business during its Black Friday sale. The store also has a very negative reputation during Black Friday as well. One of the reasons for this negative reputation is that Walmart tends to scatter its sale items throughout the store. There is no sense of order. Nor is there much in the way of crowd control. The people who typically shop at Walmart tend to be less intelligent and more aggressive, and their negative personalities really show during the carnage of Black Friday madness.
Here are some video highlights from 2013 Black Friday shoppers.
In this Walmart video you’ll see a large crowd of people trying to snatch TVs being sold for a low price. In the second half of the video we see two women fighting over one of those TVs. Police separate the women but one of them is subdued and arrested. A Walmart worker tries to get this person to stop filming during the arrest. Read more…
Thanksgiving is only a couple of days away, and you know what that means.
Big deals on Black Friday.
Screw the turkey. Skip visiting with friends and relatives. Don’t bother having any quality time while drinking beer and watching football games on the big screen TV. You can always do that on Saturday and Sunday after you’ve spent hours (or days for some people) waiting outside in the middle of the night and successfully fought off the crowds for those few precious and moderately to heavily discounted items.
For a growing percentage of people, Thanksgiving simply means going out shopping and trying to score some awesome deals and savings. Each year people become more frenzied with this frightening obsession, and each year the big stores reward their atrocious behavior with even bigger sales.
BLACK FRIDAY — THE OBSESSION
It wasn’t too long ago when Black Friday was still referred to as simply The Day After Thanksgiving. The term Black Friday simply refers to a day on the calendar when many stores would finally see a profit for the year, going from the red to the black. Red and black are industry terms when talking about finance. It wasn’t until the past couple of years when companies began using the term Black Friday in their advertising.
Target Little Black Friday #MyKindOfHoliday
When you mention Black Friday these days, you can see the excitement build in people’s eyes as they imagine substantial savings. Their personality changes. They become zombies, focused on perceived savings of great value and frenzied enough to endure great challenges to be a part of the sale. These zombies quickly become hordes as they gather outside of their favorite stores. When the doors finally open . . . LOOK OUT!
Perhaps the better question is, What does it take to create an efficient engine these days?
Lately I’ve been seeing television commercials for the 2014 Chevy Malibu with its stop-start system. The stop-start system is a feature that completely shuts off the car’s engine when you press the brake and the car comes to a stop. When you release the brake the engine immediately restarts and you’re on your way again. This is a small way to save some fuel when you’re at a complete stop.
But is this system really worth it?
In theory we’re talking about stopping the car’s engine while it’s idling, something that uses very little fuel. Yes, it can save you some fuel in the long run, but it’s nothing when compared to making the engine more efficient during everyday city driving.
This video clip from Autoline Network sheds more light on this seeming useless yet proudly advertised feature from Chevrolet. Unfortunately, that sounds about right considering that we’re talking about General Motors here.
Chevy’s stop-start system is a cheaper version of GM’s eAssist (a.k.a. Belt Alternator Starter (BAS) Hybrid), a mild hybrid that stopped the engine when the vehicle stopped but also provided a small electric power assist during launching and accelerating. When used with the 2009 Saturn Vue, the BAS Hybrid boosted the car’s estimated fuel economy by 27% over the base version of the vehicle.
As it’s stated in Autoline Network’s video, the stop-start system requires additional components such as a larger battery, an auxiliary 12-volt motorcycle battery, a second electric transmission pump, and torque reaction engine mounts. This is to help reduce the harshness on engine restarts. How much do all of those components weigh? How much extra weight is in your car, all for a mostly meaningless system that shuts off your car’s engine when you’re stopped?
The video review also goes into a little bit of detail on how the stop-start system works. Before the system is engaged, it checks and makes sure that the car’s components qualify to use the stop-start system. It monitors the engine and transmission temperature, the climate control operations, and the static charge of the restarting battery. Read more…
On June 1, 2013, I wrote what I believed to be the final installment of this “Clueless Restaurant Owner” series of articles.
That was the tenth article in the series and it ended on a very high note (for us, not the restaurant). The assistant store manager (ASM) had left her SteviB’s location (a franchise, certainly not a corporate store) for a new company, and things have been going fantastic for her since that point. Leaving this clueless restaurant owner behind and going to a real company was the stroke of luck that she needed.
One of the important things to note is that despite being the primary manager in the restaurant and having nobody above her except for the jackass restaurant owner himself (let’s refer to this asshole restaurant owner as “Kenny”), the ASM was never given the official job title as general manager (GM) for the duration of her time at the restaurant. Yes, she was bumped up to the status of GM when the store’s GM was fired back in November, but she was promptly demoted back to the ASM when “Kenny” tried to bring back the GM the following month. Of course, the old GM never returned, but at that point “Kenny” never gave the ASM the title of GM. She was simply an hourly worker with a sh*tload of responsibilities and headaches, many of those resulting from “Kenny” and his wife.
Anyway, the ASM left on good terms despite the sh*t that she was continually dragged through by “Kenny.” The ASM knew that the store’s new manager, “Elle,” was going to have a hard time, and she even offered to give both “Kenny” and “Elle” extra help if they needed it. “Elle” was greatly thankful for this offer while “Kenny” was pissed that the ASM would dare leave his restaurant.
Sure enough, for those first couple of weeks, “Elle” called the ASM on a regular basis for all sorts of help about minor issues and procedures in the restaurant. The ASM was true to her word and gave “Elle” honest and accurate tips and pointers over the phone. One day “Elle” called and asked the ASM to do her a personal favor. The restaurant was out of boxes and “Elle” wanted the ASM to drive to another location and deliver them to her restaurant. Of course, this request was made at 8 am and would have required the ASM to drive not once but TWICE in heavy rush hour traffic. No way in hell was she going to do a favor like that, especially when it was “Elle’s” fault that they were out of supplies. That’s around the time when “Elle” cut off communication and the ASM didn’t hear any more stories about what was happening in the restaurant. Besides, the ASM had a new job and she was too busy excelling with it and impressing the district managers.
The First Few Months Since Leaving The Restaurant
Fortunately for the ASM, and this is mainly for our amusement, several of her old co-workers at SteviB’s remained friends and informed her about what was really happening inside of the restaurant since she left.
For starters, “Elle” ruled the restaurant with an iron fist. This was one of the ASM’s initial fears, but her concerns did NOT matter to “Kenny.” He chose “Elle” to run his restaurant, and everything bad that happened falls directly on his shoulders. He knew exactly what he was getting into with this person in charge of the place. Despite that, some nasty surprises were still in store for him. Read more…
The month of October has passed rather quickly (as it normally does), and now we’re into November and the approach of Thanksgiving.
As it was mentioned in the previous exercise update, the month of September was rather pitiful for my exercise program. My girlfriend (actually my fiancee) and I were out of town for a week, and the next couple of weeks after that I was very busy. As a result I didn’t achieve the results on my exercise machines that I originally desired.
But in October I tried to make up for that.
For the first few weeks of the month I used my exercise bike and strength training machine on a regular basis. This continued until the end of the month when we prepared for another week out of town. Unfortunately, at that point in time we were hit by a very unwelcome surprise — a massive car repair bill. One of our vehicles needed a new torque converter in the transmission, and that ended up costing waaaaay too much money ($2,400 for parts and labor at the Good Ol’ Boys Transmission Repair Shop).
Anyway, here are the numbers for my exercises in the month of October.
October of 2013 exercise totals:
Exercise bike totals (cardio) – 12 sessions:
- 510 minutes (8.5 hours)
- 115.8 miles
- 5,806 calories
- furthest distance during a 45-minute bike ride – 10.7 miles
Total Bodyworks 5000 totals (strength):
- 8 sessions; ~ 30 minutes each
Obviously this is a huge gain versus the exercising that I did in September. These numbers are more on par with the exercising that I was doing back in July and August.
Exercising in November will be a little bit trickier as we’ll be away for a week starting on November 2nd. Throw in the Thanksgiving holiday plus whatever else is waiting for us this month, and the final numbers may not be that great. It’ll still be better than the month of September, but it won’t be on par with October or my better months. The key thing here is that I’ll still be continuing with my exercise program, even if it’s only a minimal gain. It’s still progress towards the ultimate goal of living a healthier and more active lifestyle.
By now you’ve probably noticed Dish Network advertising a promotion involving its Hopper system as well as a free iPad 2 tablet.
Basically, new customers can sign up for Dish Network and as long as you select a minimum of the America’s Top 120 package, then you’ll receive the Hopper upgrade for free. In addition, you can also select to receive an iPad 2 tablet for free as well.
So what’s the catch?
The biggest concern for most people is that in order to use these promotions, you need to follow through with the 24-month contract. Most television channel providers have some sort of contract, so this really isn’t a big deal for most people. Failure to complete the twenty-four months results in a financial penalty. Again, that’s nothing new as most Internet, television and cell phone providers require a minimum length-of-service contract of some sort.
But is the free iPad 2 tablet a good deal?
For that we need to look at the pricing details.
First of all, Dish Network is offering a free 16 GB iPad 2 with Wi-Fi only. This version of the tablet is the most basic of the iPad 2 series of tablets. This one does NOT have the capability of connecting to the Internet through the cellular network. You need to use the Wi-Fi feature to do so, whether that’s through your home’s network or a place that provides free Wi-Fi access, such as McDonalds and other establishments.
As of right now. the 16 GB iPad 2 Wi-Fi tablet costs $399.99 whether you go to Best Buy, an Apple store, or even Walmart.
Now it’s time to compare the main TV channel packages provided through Dish Network.
Take note that there is a monthly discount for the first twelve months if you do NOT want the iPad 2 tablet. Read more…
While I haven’t been paying that much attention to Samsung’s line of Smart TVs, I do have to admit that their recent advertising has made me curious to learn about the advanced televisions.
Samsung F8000 2013 Smart TV demonstration
Doesn’t that look pretty slick, or what?
It’s fascinating to me how something like a television set (and Samsung’s Smart TV is no ordinary television) now has its own computer, with this latest one having a quad-core processor, and can easily watch regular programming as well as a variety of Internet-related tasks such as YouTube and Hulu videos as well as video chatting with Skype and even access to the Internet and social media websites. In addition to that you can even use your smart phone for even more features and accessibility, both from the TV to the phone and vice versa.
Perhaps I need to pay more attention to home entertainment.
Some of my friends have alternate versions to the features in Samsung’s Smart TV, but I had yet to see all of that combined into one unit.
Something that still looks rather ridiculous are the gestures to use the camera’s motion sensor to control elements on the television. The woman in the demonstration looked stupid the way that she was waving around her hands. The same goes true to all of the people using the same stupid gestures in the Samsung Smart TV commercials. That’s really neat technology but you look like a fool when you use it.
The fact that the Samsung TV has a video camera, the remote has a microphone, and the television itself is connected to the Internet opens the door to conspiracy theories about Samsung and The Powers That Be easily spying on you inside of your private residence. We already know that most websites record your actions, and social networking websites such as Facebook have waved good-bye to privacy a while ago. The Internet Age has virtually eliminated the concept of privacy. But what about that video camera on top of the TV that constantly stares at you? Is it recording you right now? Read more…
Recently there’s been a massive advertising campaign for the Samsung Galaxy Gear, a smartwatch and part of the opening wave of wearable technology.
Samsung Galaxy Gear: A Long Time Coming
The advertisements for Samsung’s Galaxy Gear are somewhat amusing as they show a collage of video clips for technologically advanced wrist watches. Pretty much all of the sci-fi watches have been just that, works of science fiction and wishful thinking. That is, until today and the dawn of the smartwatch.
As we know, wrist watches have dominantly been manufactured for the sole purpose of telling time. Whether you prefer an analog or digital watch, most of them have had few features besides telling you the current time. Some watches know the date and day of the week, others can function as a stopwatch, and other watches have the capability of knowing the time for different time zones. Back in the 1980s, if you were one of the cool kids in class then your watch also had a calculator built into it.
But the era of smartwatches is going to change the concept of wrist watches forever.
At least, that’s what some of the big companies are trying to do. Whether or not this actually catches on is still anybody’s guess. Read more…