Friday, December 31, 2010

Save Money Doing Your Normal Online Shopping!

Do you shop online to save money? Do you use PayPal? I do too. Now I do both even better, ever since stumbling upon Ebates. Their website pays you back a percentage of your purchase at most online retailers, just for using their site as a portal. I mostly shop on eBay, and we all know that eBay gives you eBay bucks back when you buy something. It's like 3% of the purchase. But now, if I go through the Ebates portal, I get up to an extra 7%. It's stupid not to. They deposit into your PayPal account, or if you don't want to give them that info, they will also send you a check in the mail. Payouts are every 3 months (just like eBay bucks), as long as you have spent enough on other sites to get at least $5 back, but if you shop online like I do, that isn't a problem. They even credit you $5 when you make your first purchase through their portal, so you are guaranteed a payout in the 1st 3 months. They have 1,200 other member stores to, like Newegg, Target, Wal-Mart, Sears,, plus a lot of little online specialty stores that have great deals that you might not normally visit. I bought printer ink and got 15% back for that purchase. If you do ANY online shopping, sign up with these guys, and use my link to sign up cause I get more $$$ when I refer people. So far I've gotten $10.80 back from Ebates, for doing my normal eBay/online shopping, and I'll keep updating this total as I receive more.

Sign up. Make a purchase. Get $5. If that 1st purchase is $25.01 or more I'll get $5 too.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

What am I going to DO?

So today, I have made a few lists. Making lists is not one of the things I like most in the world, but today I feel like I didn't have any choice. I am getting ready to start school again next month and I am in the process of re-evaluating my goals. What that means is I am trying to figure out what to major in. What am I going to do with the rest of my life? I have made three(3) lists to help me explore and narrow the possibilities.

(1) Things that are important to me:
Resources to support my family
Time to pursue other things -family/hobbies/church
Being creative
Build/make things
Working with hands/tools
Learning about how things work
Feeling like I contribute/accomplish something

(2) Things I enjoy doing:
Building things
Finding out how things work
Being outside
Playing games
Solving problems around the house with things I make
Working on my VW

(3) Things I don't really like doing:
Complex Math
Repetitive tasks
Being micromanaged
Having to wake up too early
Radical change
Being really social/outgoing

Some of you who read this might say to yourselves, "Yes that is Nathan to a T." Others might read these lists and have a few things to add. Let me know.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Potty Training

Today, we started potty training Ammon. I say we, but really it was just me and Ammon. Rachel took Noah out for the day and left us to it. Now my only recollection of potty training comes from my parents house when my dad was working with my younger brother. My dad would let my brother go off and play for a few minutes and then hurry off to go find him to remind him about the potty. He would ask, "Have to go potty? Have to go potty?" And my little brother, who was just settling down to play with toys, would look up and start crying because he knew that he had to get up and run to the bathroom to sit on that potty. But they kept at it and my little bro was toilet trained in a day. And when he finally got it, there were treats and praise and all that stuff.
So far with Ammon, this plan has not worked out so well. Ammon is happy to run to the potty, and pull down his "Boy Big Pants" and sit there for a minute. But that's all he is doing, is just sitting there. I don't think that he quite gets the idea of what he exactly is supposed to be doing while he is on the toilet. Every 15 min or so I'll remind him about the toilet and he runs and get on it. Then he squirms around and plays with the handle, or talks to himself, or flips the shield up and down... Anything except what he is actually supposed to be doing. Then 3 minutes after he is off the pot and doing something else, he starts crying and comes and tells me he's poopy and has urine running down his leg... He did that 3 times today, and never once in the toilet. We'll try again tomorrow I guess. Hopefully we will be more successful.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

I Voted

Did you? Why didn't you vote? No not you, You! Don't you realize how important it is? And don't tell me that one vote doesn't matter, because it does... I don't care whether we agree on the issues, You need to vote! Take an active interest in what is happening to your country! More than just complaining about things when they don't go your way. If you don't care, why should you expect others to?
Oh.... You DID vote? Well good for you!

Friday, October 29, 2010

BlizzCon 2010

Don't think I'm a total nerd, ok? Just because I went to BlizzCon this last weekend and spent hours and hours in a "line" to get into a video game expo...
The line in front...
The Line in back.
So it's not like I was the only one there...

Even Waldo managed to show up!
There was a lot of stuff to do at the convention (mostly involving waiting in another line), so we were never bored. Whether it was listening to the hows and whys of the game we went there for (StarCraft2) or watching the pros duke it out for $25k for 1st, $10k for 2nd and $3k for third (yes there are actual pro gamers who make a living playing video games in tournaments for cash prizes) or looking at and playing the beta versions of games not yet released to the public, or just staring at the random costumed person, there
was tons to do.

And by random, I mean not having to do with any game content I could think of. Notice the guy in the bee costume at the bottom left...

It was me, Matt and Aaron and we all stayed in a crappy Motel 6 about a block and a half away from Disneyland and about 4 blocks from the convention center. It's one of those experiences that you are glad you had, but not sure if you want to repeat in the future. I had a lot of fun, stood in a lot of lines, played a lot of games, saw a lot of odd ducks, and got some cool free loot that I am going to sell on eBay to make most of my money back. Cause I sure don't need an in-game pet for WoW...

Saturday, August 7, 2010

New Phone Service

Rachel and I just switched phone service. We were getting tired of how expensive the phone plan was, and how many taxes and fees were being tacked onto the end of our bill. We went from ATT to Boost Mobile. It has been four days now, and aside from a little trouble we both had activating our phones, the service has been great. It is $50/month for unlimited everything. Talk/text/web and all that with no contract. You pay by the month, for a month in advance and if you miss a payment, or decide you don't want the cell phone anymore, you just stop paying. No penalties. Coverage has been uninterrupted so far, and I haven't dropped a call yet. Of course, I haven't really been anywhere yet, so I can't say that it will be perfect but so far so good. I'm hooked. I got the Sanyo Incognito. It has raving mixed reviews if you care to look it up online, but I like it so far. I am still getting used to it, but you have to take into account that my last phone was pretty out-dated, and any kind of upgrade would have required a break-in period.

We looked at getting the Sprint HTC EVO since my brother Aaron got that phone about a month or so ago, and I have to admit, it was pretty tempting. 4G internet is what I use at home with Clear, and so I know how good it is. I am also a big fan of Android (anything that competes with Apple I am a big fan of, but that is a whole other post) and the big touchscreen it has. And for a two year contract you can have the phone for $199.99. Thats a pretty good deal, considering all that it does. But the monthly was like $80/month... Anyway, I did the math and over the two years, the EVO for the both of us would be about $4000, and Boost $2800. We went with Boost.

Oh, and FYI for those of you that care, my phone number hasn't changed.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Progress Report

Here is the big news: There is a tentative Shoreline Management Plan! There are a few public meetings being held in the next month and then it goes for final approval. I got a letter from the city a while ago with the news. We are pretty excited to find out what we will be dealing with and when we get to start building our house. I think we have come up with a pretty good basic plan (we will need to have an architect/engineer redraw and de-flaw it). Now we just have to see if it fits into the rules, or how we can make the rules fit into our designs. But it's progress.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

I am a Rat Catching Machine!

We are still living at my grandpa's house here on Lake Washington (tough, i know). I enjoy it for the most part, but there are two or three things that really annoy me about living in an old house. Number one, is the aluminum wiring. I pretty much hate it. I have had to rewire four outlets and two switches so far because the wires are corroded and shorting out. The rewiring is not a problem, but the shorting out is. Every junction (light or switch or outlet) is wired in series, so that if one goes out, they all do. The whole circuit. And here that means half the upstairs or three room downstairs or some other large unwieldy area that I have to work with. This involves checking each junction to find out which is the problem one. I'll bet you don't have any idea how long that takes, especially if its the last one that is your problem. Just think, in a typical bedroom, there is a light switch, one or two light fixtures and three or four outlets. That is 7 places to check in just one room. And since the bedrooms are all connected together, plus the bathroom, that makes for a long waste of time. He did the wiring himself, since he wasn't satisfied with the quality of the electrician he hired... I would hate to see what the electrician did... But you know what makes the hunt for the bad junction go a lot quicker? When the outlet in question is sparking. All you have to do is follow the sound of crackling, sparking electricity. That makes it possible to find the problem area pretty fast.And you'd better find it pretty fast, because I'm pretty sure it will catch fire if you don't. It really is a wonder that the house hasn't burned down.
Number two: Rats. This house was populated by at least three families of rats. And a few mice too. We heard the chewing and scratching inside the walls, and saw evidence of their presence in lots of places throughout the house. Papa had just learned to live with them, and not give them excuses to invade. Rachel and I were not willing to share the house with them, so as soon as Papa left for Witchita, I went out and bought rat traps. Whatever anyone else tells you, the best bait is peanut butter. And a $1.88 snap trap from The Home Depot or Lowes is the only way to go. I think I have single-handedly set the worlds rat and mouse population back by at least 15 over these last two months. And I know that I have removed appendages from a few more that hopefully died of said injuries later. And don't buy the "disposable" traps either, the ones that are one use only or whatever. Buy the cheap wood base spring lever snap trap. If you have one rat, you have 15, and you don't want to buy traps for each rat. That gets expensive, and then you might as well hire me to come out and get rid of them for you. And then I will take the money you would have spent on the expensive "disposable" traps and buy three or four snap traps and pocket the rest. Of the money, not the rats.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Building update

There is no progress. Ok, i can't really say that there hasn't been any progress, since the state did finally respond to Federal Way's Shoreline Management Plan. The State had a few more "ideas" the city to add in to its proposal. So I can't say that it hasn't been progress. Just not the kind of progress I want. It looks like it will be the end of the year before we can even start permitting, unless we want to get into it with the county. They can give us special allowances and considerations if they want to. If they want to... And who know what that timeline might look like. Also, I now have no idea as to what the new revisions will do to our lot. I don't know if it will change the setbacks, or make us put up protective fences around trees and block off the water or what. The head city planner that we have been communicating with said... hold on let me go look it up again... He said "unfortunately this process is taking longer than our worst case scenario." Not very positive if you ask me...

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Building our House

Well, we are still waiting for the state to give final approval to the city for its shoreline management plan. Its kind of frustrating, since all they have to do is sign off on it. And it really is only a sign off, since this is the revised version containing changes that the city was required to make for final approval. The state is stalling because it says it can't spare the man-power due to budget problems. I guess I don't understand that, because really how long does it take to verify that the required changes were made from the original document?
I do have a solution though: What if the government were not so involved it the little nit-pickey things in our lives? Then they wouldn't have to spend money on stuff that they don't need to be worried about (like regulating what can and can't go into a vending machine) and put resources to better use like signing off on the shoreline management plan that I need to build my house. Just a thought...

Monday, April 19, 2010

At my grandparents house

This week for vacation we are using it to visit my grandparents at their house in Goldendale, WA. I haven't been to their house in several years, at least not since before my kids were born. Today, once we finally got here, my first job was to pull the starter out of my Granddads 67 VW Bug. I haven't gotten to work on a VW Bug for a while and it was refreshing to work on something so simple again. Makes me want to revisit my own Bug. But mine is going to cost me a lot more than his, since mine needs a whole new engine and his only needed a new starter. We are going to take them to the doctor tomorrow, Grandma has to go get a shot in her eyeball so she doesn't go blind. She has macular degeneration, so the shots are supposedly helping. Anyway, I was commenting to Granddad earlier that I hadn't had time in the recent past to just sit around and do nothing. We were sitting and talking for a while and then we just lapsed into silence, and there was no pressure and we just sat there for a while and I was really able to relax for the first time. It was a great feeling and I had forgotten just how it felt. Anyway, we are off to the observatory now so I have to go.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010


Last night someone decided to be a jerk and stole some of our stuff out of our car. I hope that whoever just opened the door of our blue Mazda cx-9 and took our GPS, our church and karaoke cd's and other odds and ends of basically worthless stuff (worthless to other people, unless you are the kind of person who likes to listen to stolen church music) is having a good time with it. If you are not, or couldn't find someone to buy it (for some reason) you could give it back, and I wouldn't be upset with you anymore. I'm not too worried about the gps, but we would like to have the cd's back. If you don't have them anymore, and could let me know where you ended up tossing them, I will even go get them myself. Just leave an anonymous comment here on the blog, and I will take care of the rest.
Thank You.

The Internet

About three years ago, Rachel and I finally broke down and got high-speed internet. We started service with ClearWire. It was basically internet over the cellular network, and you had a modem/antennae that you could plug in to any wall socket and as long as you were within the coverage network, presto, instant internet. It was very handy, until the modem started to break down. I had to take it apart three times and re-soldier components back into place. They locked me into a two year contract when we signed up, and the contract was almost up when they sent out notices that they were going to start offering free upgrades and equipment replacement to all existing customers. I was starting to get pretty frustrated with the hardwarem but liked the idea of mobility, so I decided to stick it out till the new hardware came. I'm glad that I did. The free upgrade trippled my DL speed and we got a shiny new modem. The old one still sits on the windowsill, looking old, pathetic and outdated next to the new one. The new modem feels a little more solid as well. I have been fairly pleased with it overall, even though they did get rid of the option to bill me annually instead of monthly... I liked just having it paid and not having to worrk about another bill every month.
Anyway, the real reason I am writing about this is because today, I went into the Clear store in Seattle and purchased a new USB modem for true mobility. The USB modem is about three inches tall or so, and sits unobtrusively off to the side of my laptop. I did have to download and install some software in order to get it to work, but that was fairly easy if only a little annoying. The installation software that comes in the box is only good for WinXP... Vista has been out now for a while... Come on Clear. As far as the connection goes, I am very impressed. I was able to play League of Legends without problems, and streaming video has not posed any problems so far. I haven't tried to DL any large files yet, but I will write about that later.
As of this moment, I am happy with my "$55 Home+Mobile internet for life" deal.

Sunday, January 31, 2010

I'm 30

I turned 30 this week. I would have written sooner, but we spent the whole week away from the computer, with family. We drove to Utah to spend time with Rachel's family and to see her grandfather who is very sick. It was basically a goodbye visit. I got some good pictures and a shot or two of video with him and the kids so they will have something to look back on and remember. Anyway, no one knew that it was my birthday except for Rachel until about two days later, since we spent a good share of it driving. And as far as birthdays go it was pretty uneventful, which is a good thing. I think I am over the whole birthday thing, now that I am dead, I mean 30.
After we spent three days or so in Utah, we traveled up north to visit my brother in Idaho. He lives in Rexburg and right now there is snow covering everything there. We went out shotgun shooting on someones farm, we went to the sand dunes and went sledding, not on the sand, but on the snow covering the sand. They are really steep, but not super tall so it made for some really great sledding. Ammon didn't really enjoy it, he is a fairly cautious person, and it didn't help that on one run down with him I lost control of the inner tube we were on and rolled it over him. We also played a board game called Blockus. I think that is how it is spelled. If anyone wants to get me that game for my birthday, I won't be upset about it.