My Experience With A Technology Exhibit in New York

My Experience With A Technology Exhibit in New YorkIt’s me Morgan, your geeky tech expert and as always I’ll discuss all things technology (which sometimes bores my girlfriend.) Anyway, I want to talk about a technology exhibit I attended in New York City called Gadgets For The Body And Mind. This exhibit lasted a good three weeks but I only attended the first two weeks since I had to return to my video production project that I’m working on for a new client for my freelance business. I saw a lot of geeks there but a few were actually posers because when I discussed technology topics with them, they looked clueless. Here are some highlights of that exhibit.

Someone’s Watching You With Gadgets

I embrace certain conspiracy theories and when I saw a line of popular spy gadgets that law enforcement officials and regular people use to spy on people, I was not too happy. For example, I heard about this super small surveillance camera that can be drilled inside any home appliance or even implanted in your purse or suitcase. In addition to this, an attendant showed me a few GPS systems that look like pocket calculators that can be installed in or underneath cars. I visited a seminar within the exhibit that showcased computer programs that allowed someone to monitor all computer activity and I was really upset when I learned about the latest gadgets in cell phone surveillance. Continue reading “My Experience With A Technology Exhibit in New York” »

My Top 5 Music Bands

When I was in college I worked at the campus radio station and I had a blast there because I was given the late night classic rock show that was hosted by an older alumnus for a long time. I went in the stacks and found a lot of great classic rock albums from rare and established rock artists and it was during my time at the station that I developed a liking for all kinds of classic rock bands. Over the years I purchased albums from artists such as Jimi Hendrix, Cream, Moody Blues, The Doors and Fifth Dimension. Altogether I have about thirty albums in my basement and I’m always on the lookout for unreleased material from legendary artists online or at local record stores. Here are my top 5 music: Continue reading “My Top 5 Music Bands” »

Creating Video Sets

Creating Video SetsWhile my influence on a video tends to end with recording or editing the work, there are many things which go into creating any sort of video. For starters you need a script, or something similar for the reader or readers to use when speaking during the video. You also need to create the set itself.

You might do this with a green screen and a computer program, but newer isn’t always necessarily better. Many production teams still create physical sets for recording videos, and there are few devices more useful when creating physical sets than the framing nailer.

Basically, a framing nailer is a handheld device which is used to join together large objects, usually pieces of wood. It works in a similar fashion to your everyday nail gun, except it uses much bigger, thicker nails and it drives these with reduced accuracy. This would be perilous if you were doing meticulous work, but nailing two support beams together isn’t exactly meticulous, is it? These nailers are useful for crafting stages and sets as well, since those are usually made mostly from wood. You can nail together walls, floors, ceilings and more with a framing nailer, so it’s versatile too.

Like other power tools, you will need a source of electricity for your framing nailer to work. In this way it is inferior to a simple hammer and nails, but since the device can hammer as many nails as a dozen people in the same amount of time or less, it has its positive side as well. Besides the wooden elements in a set, you must consider other additions like plants, glass panes, furniture and more. While a framing nailer could theoretically be used to nail together different pieces of wood in a couch, for example, this sort of wood work is typically too fine and precise for such a machine to do well.

The set you create for your video must be realistic and relevant to the video itself. If you’re trying to sell a floor cleaner, for example, your set must have floors of some kind. It would probably be good if they were composed of materials your cleaner is designed to clean, as well. Many points in creating sets seem like common sense to those viewing from the outside, but as has been said so many times in the past, hindsight is 20/20. When you’re in the thick of it and trying to create something on a strict timeline, some of these points might escape you.

Many other tools go into set creation as well. You’ll need saws, hammers, sanders and mops; brooms, brushes, paints and more. With the vast number of supplies necessary to craft a set, you will probably want to be positive of whatever set you want to make, before you start. Try drawing things out by hand and noting the materials you will need for each of these sketched sets before you start actual construction. This can save a lot of money and time, both of which are typically in short supply when making videos.

Using Modern Technology to Work Older Machines

Using Modern Technology to Work Older MachinesThere is often a painful contrast between the technology of today and those machines which people have grown accustomed to using over the previous decade (Or two, or three, or more). You’ve probably heard a pretty popular line once or twice in the past; “Why do we need x when we already have y?”

While new and improved technology is known to make lives easier and allow for doing more work in the same amount of time or less, using the same amount of resources or less, that isn’t where the benefits end. New technology can actually make it easier to use some of that old tech you’re enamored with.

One shining example that comes to my mind is cutting wood. The wood lathe is still popular and still used today when working with wood, making it one of the oldest tools still being used by modern society. There are computer programs which can help you to run simulations and figure out the best angles at which to cut the wood before you even buy a piece of wood to work with in the first place. If you’ve ever worked with CAD or similar drafting programs, you should already have an idea how computers can make cutting wood more accurate and cost effective.

Well, even if you haven’t, I can explain to you how it works. Simulate a piece of wood in your program which is the same length, width and size as the piece of wood you’re supposed to be working with when you’re cutting. Then simulate the cuts you want to make, watching the piece of imaginary wood change as you slice off piece after piece. If you don’t like what you see, you can always start over again – without needing a new piece of wood for each attempt. The benefits here should be simple enough to understand.

While I don’t have much occasion to work with a wood lathe in my line of work, that doesn’t mean other people don’t. Producing videos can be an extensive project depending on what needs to be recorded, and I would be lying if I said people haven’t used wood lathes in the past to make pieces of a stage or set. They are versatile tools and very popular when working with wood, since they give the user much more control over the finished product than would be possible with a simple clamp and saw combination.

Table tops (and table leg, for that matter), doors, floors, window molding and more can all be crafted using a wood lathe. The only problem with this is how expensive wood lathes tend to be. Even simplistic machines can cost several hundred dollars. If you want one of the more advanced ones, you should expect to pay ten times as much, or even more. It is possible to make a lathe right in your home too, though you shouldn’t expect much from something you make yourself unless you’re pretty handy at that sort of thing.

Keeping the Hands Busy

Keeping the Hands Busy-Hey everyone, time for another little post. I don’t make it any secret that I’m good with a yoyo. I’ve been playing with them and doing tricks with the things since I was a kid and while I’m not old just yet, I’m not really a young man anymore either. We’re talking nearly 20 years here, during which I learned a few other, more important things thanks to my simple hobby. Keeping your hands busy is important to good physical and mental health. This isn’t exactly breaking news or anything; it’s something people have known for a long time now. But is there a single best type of activity for this purpose?

Well in my case, I found the perfect way to keep busy, keep my mind and body working, while I maintain an income and live a lifestyle I enjoy. I’m talking about creating and editing videos, either for my own purposes or, more usually, for someone else who’s looking to advertise, or inform, or sell something. I understand not everyone is going to find this a viable option, too. It’s fortunate there are other ways to keep the hands busy. I’m just saying, this is how I do it. But lots of people use musical instruments.

Making music gets many different parts of the brain going – parts which are normally doing very little during your day to day life. It also gets your fingers moving, gets your muscle memory learning which holes on the flute to pin down when you blow, or which tabs on your favorite trumpet can be pushes together to make the sounds you’re looking to make. This is not something people can just pick up overnight; there’s a lot of time and work which goes into learning a musical instrument. However, learning how to play well and playing just to keep busy are two very different things.

What I mean is, there’s no need to be at the kind of level where you might get an invitation to play at Carnegie Hall, or anything like that. You could be a total amateur, with literally no past experience playing trumpet, and playing trumpet would still be very good for your body and mind. I keep mentioning horns because I’ve played trumpet a few times myself. If it sounds like a good time to you, then I recommend checking out http://trumpethub.com/ to see all kinds of different trumpets.

However, do keep in mind that on top of the fact you don’t need to be good to get benefits from playing an instrument, your instrument also doesn’t need to be some top of the line, multi-thousand dollar piece of equipment. You could just as well pick up something from some secondhand or thrift shop, as long as all the parts were in working order, and start playing all the same. Perhaps some of my readers who currently play instruments can comment on this for the rest of us? If you’ve got something to share, please do, by all means.

Combat Dummy Promotion

Combat Dummy Promotion-I never really know what kind of order I’m going to get when it comes to video creation and editing. Usually it’s someone who wants to sell something though, so I’ve gotten pretty good at painting people, places and things in a positive light. Sometimes it’s not really necessary to stress how nice or useful or good something is – the benefits are immediately apparent, or the item in question is one a lot of people already have experience with, so they know how useful it can be. For instance, grappling dummies aren’t hard to sell. They have one real use and for that purpose, they’re most excellent.

Recently I had a client ask me to make a video about such dummies, something that would help them to sell said dummies through an online website. So I started with the basics – that’s getting a good view on the subject, from many different angles, so people know exactly what it is they’re dealing with. This is easy enough to accomplish too, since all I really need to do is walk around the subject, a grappling dummy in this case, and take several different pictures while doing so. When I’m done with that, I’m ready to move onto more active shots.

Well, not shots exactly. Next I need to record people interacting with the grappling dummies in question. Unpacking them, setting them up, punching and kicking them are all good things to record like this. The process gives me materials to use for the video later, but more than that, it also gives me a degree of familiarity with the subject. I don’t know about other people who make and edit videos, but having a better understanding of just what it is I’m working with has always made it easier for me to produce higher quality work. Therefore, it’s something I’ve been doing regularly for a long time now.

Basically, what I’m doing is creating a kind of commercial for the product so people will know what it is they’re buying and want to buy it on top of that. Now, for other products, there’s a lot of glamour involved, so selling them is easier. Grappling dummies are big, ugly lumps of resilient material that are literally meant to be beaten upon, so there’s nothing too pretty or handsome about them. I figure I’m going to struggle with this aspect of the video, but there are usually small challenges and obstacles which come up with the jobs I take.

Thankfully, these dummies came in different colors and, on some, with special areas highlighted and colored differently than the rest of the body. They aren’t just those simple, orange torsos that look strangely like circus peanuts (and have a similar texture as well, you know the ones if you work with these dummies). I’ll be sure to let you all know how this project works out in the end, but until then, stay strong and keep busy; idle hands and all of that jazz.

My New Kayak

My New KayakI spent some time talking about what happened during my Christmas back in 2014, but I didn’t really get into the gifts I got as much as I covered the gifts I got for everyone else. If you can’t tell from the title here, one of the presents I received (and definitely the largest one for this Christmas holiday) was a brand-spanking new kayak. There’s a lot of water and water access here in New York City, so it was actually a bit more practical than I thought at the time. You can get a look here at the PERCEPTION kayak I got.

Honestly, I was surprised. This was an expensive piece of equipment, or so I think, at least from what I’ve seen after searching for the kayak online. I’m sure my folks got it on the cheap, but still – I think I spent something like $600 total to get gifts for my parents, siblings and a couple other people, and this little boat alone probably cost that much all by itself. I’m not really much for boating or kayaking, but after they spent so much on this tidy little vessel, I think it’s a sport I’m going to pick up.

I really don’t get out enough as it is. Maybe that’s what they’re really trying to tell me, huh? I don’t know about any of you, but my parents have been giving me gifts that have these little, silent notes that go along with them; like they’ll give me socks and it’ll be nice but what they’re really saying is the socks I have now are so full of holes they’re a little embarrassed I still wear them. I think lots of parents are like this when they give presents to their children, or at least I hope they are. Mine sure are.

Thankfully, New York has plenty of water running through it, even if it’s cold and full of snow this time of year. There are plenty of parks, streams, rivers and even some ocean access, if I feel like paddling out to the middle of nowhere. But I think I’ll save that last bit until I’ve got more experience kayaking. I’d sure hate for one of my first few trips to be my last one, you know? Plus, after looking around, I’ve noticed that my kayak doesn’t have a dry storage compartment, or a number of other things the high-end boats do. So I kind of want to stay away from potentially rough waters.

Well I’m awfully happy about my new kayak, even if I’ve never gone before and I have no experience doing such stuff. It’s small and light enough that I can lift it and maneuver it without any help, which is good, since it only has enough room for me to sit in it. With this new tool, I’ll be sure to get out and exercise more regularly, especially since it will be so much more exciting than just lifting weights, climbing stairs or running around the block endlessly.

Latest Video Production Work

Latest Video Production WorkWell hello again, faithful readers. Regardless of whether you’re here as a repeat visitor or you’re stopping in for the first time, thanks for showing up. With the holidays over, it’s back to work as usual, and I’m feeling it all right. I just made a video for some sort of pool company that specializes in heating pools – really interesting stuff. Anyhow, they needed something that showed the process of installing a heater and I needed the job, so we were just right for each other. If you don’t mind, I’d like to go on about this for a bit; not too long, I promise.

It’s actually a complicated process – even more complicated if the pool has already been installed and more still if it’s an in-ground pool, compared to above-ground pools. See, if a pool is in the ground and it’s already been built with no heating system, things have to get dug up, even destroyed, which then leads to higher costs because the pool needs to be repaired after getting smashed up to install the heater. There are many different price points and other differences to consider too and this is why I said it was interesting; it really is.

I never thought about it before, since I don’t own a pool and if I ever do want to go swimming, there are plenty of places to do it around here. I couldn’t very well kayak in a pool and I just got one of those for Christmas at the end of 2014, so I don’t see myself becoming more interested in pools anytime soon. At least the job paid well. I didn’t really have to use any complicated techniques or other tips and tricks I’ve picked up over the years, either. The video required practically no editing, too.

As a side effect of filming that, I suddenly started wanting to go visit one of the many beaches here in New York; I swear there’s water in every direction except southwest and plenty of places where I could go and get my swimming fix. The only problem with that is it’s so cold right now I’d freeze right up if I took a dip. That said, I can kind of understand why some pool owners would want to heat their pools now. If they can’t use them just because it’s cold outside, that could get pretty frustrating pretty quickly I imagine.

So what’s next? Well, I’m not exactly sure. Maybe some more streaming, or maybe another business contacts me, looking for a promotional video to be made. There’s not a day that goes by I’m not thankful for the work I get, even if it can be somewhat irregular at times. I mean, I honestly never thought I’d make a video to help promote a pool heater business, but I did. Do any of you have strange jobs you never thought you’d find yourself doing, until you did? I’d sure like to hear about them – the stranger the better.

Christmas: One Month Later

Christmas One Month LaterIt seems a bit odd to be writing about it now, literally a month later, but I didn’t really have a lot of free time to cover Christmas back when the holiday was happening, you know? There were all the phone calls, the visits with friends and family, shopping for gifts, showing up to dinners; it’s one of the busiest times of the year if you ask me. I got a few nice things from my folks, but as the old adage goes, it’s better to give than to receive. I did a lot of giving, too. I don’t think I can remember it all now and it was just barely 30 days ago.

Well my mom, I’m always keeping her in mind. I guess you could call me a sort of mama’s boy, but I’d probably take offense if you actually did call me that to my face; I think some of the guys out there understand what I mean here. Anyhow, she’s always on my mind, so I got her a bunch of good stuff. Some fine Chanel perfume for one, because I know she’s a big fan of that. Even though she’s getting older, she likes to dance – clog dancing of all things. I actually picked up some clogs like these DANSKO ones I found, but I think she knew they were coming when she spied me checking her shoe size.

I can’t forget my old man, either. I can’t explain it but I do love to gift scents, so I got him some cologne too. His usual brand, stuff he’s been using for years and likes a lot; that made that gift pretty easy. Lately he’s been complaining about his feet too, so I looked hard for some orthopedic shoes in the same place where I found those clogs for my mom. I found a number of different pairs of shoes, along with reviews, and went shopping on the Internet once I had a better idea what it was I wanted, specifically. They were both happy with their gifts.

I’ve got a number of siblings, uncles, aunts, nephews, nieces and other relatives too. While I didn’t pick up presents for literally every person in my family, I did get a few things for the closer ones. My older brother got a new wallet because he’s always wrecking his wallets somehow; I swear he’s a brute even if he doesn’t realize it. My little brother got some clothes, nothing special. He’s still in school and strapped for cash like practically every other college student in the USA, so it was an appropriate gift, I think.

That’s as far as I’ll go with this. Did any of you get something special this Christmas for the people in your family, or maybe your friends? I’d kind of like to hear about it. It’s always interesting to me what people gift to each other, especially in those cases where the gift was really poorly received. I don’t mean to make fun or anything, but I’m sure we’ve all gotten a gift and wondered just why the heck someone would buy it for us, am I right?

Sergers and Good Gifts

Sergers and Good GiftsSo, I like some strange things, yoyos and Swedish fish are not the least among them, but I do have to say that I am not the craftiest person on the face of the planet. Well, I do know some origami, but you know what I mean. The thing is that sometimes craft skills really do come in handy. This is something that both my mother and aunt impressed on me when I was young. They were amazing at everything from baking cakes to patching the holes in my socks to hemming my jeans. Of the two, my mom was always the one who loved sewing the most.

I mention this because Christmas is coming up. Well it’s actually not for a while, but it seems like the holiday shopping season starts very soon now. Maybe because the stores are already starting to put out holiday decoration, I have been thinking about what to buy mom for her present. To be honest, I am not that good at buying gifts for people. To be perfectly honest, most of the presents I give to people are met with an “Oh.” Instead of an “Oh!” For some reason, however, this year it seems like I should put in some extra effort in the gift-buying department when it comes to my relatives and the people in my life that I love dearly.

Since my mom is such a good sewer and she loves it so much, I wanted to get her something to help her with it. Since I am a bit of a techie, I wanted it to be something mechanical. Obviously, she already has a really nice sewing machine, but this meant that I didn’t know what to get her.  So, it took me a while to come up with what I wanted to buy since I don’t know really anything about sewing. After quite a bit of research, and learning a lot about sewing that I didn’t know, I settled on a really good serger.

Apparently sergers are kind of like sewing machines on steroids. Okay, I don’t really know anything about sergers, so they probably aren’t like that at all.  But, I did research the best ones really well, and one model claims to make 1500 stiches in a minute! I’m not crafty, but speed is right up my alley, so this seems as good as anything as far as I’m concerned. I’ve already bought it and it is sitting in my closet waiting for its giftwrap job in the sparkly Santa Claus and reindeer wrapping paper that I have left over from last year.  It’s pretty big, so I hope I have enough paper. I mean, I suppose I could fork out the $3 dollars for more, but I kind of like the sparkly Santas. I hope that she likes it. And, I also hope she doesn’t come over and end up getting into my closed before December 25th. Here’s hoping she likes it.

Boxing with a Buddy

Boxing with a BuddyHi all! I have been posting a bit about the things that I am interested in recently, and one of those things is keeping fit. Now, I fully admit that I am not the mos obvious choice as a buff fitness guy, but I am actually hoping to change that. That’s why I have decided to take up the quintessential tough guy sport—boxing. The whole reason that this came about is that my friend, Louis, wants to start learning, and he invited me to join him.

I really wasn’t expecting take this up before Louis mentioned it, but I actually think that learning to box will be the perfect complement to the things that I am already doing, which mostly consists of weight I lifting right now though I have also tried a couple of other things lately. I’ve read up on it a bit and really think that  is the perfect sport for not only gaining muscle and learning how to defend yourself, but also for increasing speed and agility. And, I think that it will be a ton of fun to at least try out.

I am starting to do everything that I need to in order to get started learning how to box. My friend already found a good club to join, so this really means tracking down the proper equipment, this includes everything from gloves to tape to mouth guards. One of the best resources I have found regarding the things I need has been in the form of this website. There are a lot of great, and very detailed,  product reviews as well as some other tips and insights that have been really useful to a newbie like me. I’ve already sent the link to Louis to look over.

I am actually pretty amazed a how quickly everything is coming together. I have even managed to whittle down my choices regarding the perfect boxing gloves to buy. I haven’t 100% decided yet, but I am pretty close. I know that I could probably rent or borrow a pair to begin with,but they are just so cool. I am even thinking about hanging them on my wall for decoration (though ‘m sure that my girlfriend would hate it). Even past the coolness factor, I think that buying a pair of gloves will help me mentally commit to boxing. They area major purchase, even though they are far less expensive than I expected them to be. I hope that what this will mean is that I will value the experience of boxing more by buying the gloves, and  I will practice it more regularly than I do most other things. Anything to keep me motivated to keep practicing!

It turns out that I’m pretty fired up about this new idea, and I hope that it helps me to become stronger, healthier and more quick witted and alert. It is such a strange thing to think about potentially stepping into the ring, even just for practice, but I think it will be exciting and a lot of fun try with Louis too.

My Recent Small Game Hunting Trip Experience

My Recent Small Game Hunting Trip ExperienceThe best place for game hunting is undoubtedly North America, so I thought. You can find quite a big variety of animals including elk, deer, mule deer and other hunting game in a quite picturesque background and stunning regions. Having said this, I think that it goes without saying that small game hunting is even easier here. I had gone on a hunting trip recently with my friend who’s a Finnish native. He’d invited me over to Finland for the hunting trip. Since I’d some time off and would have made the time anyway as I love hunting, I immediately accepted his offer.

In Finland the most commonly used hunting breed is the Finnish Spitz. It is the national breed in Finland and has been used to hunt game like Grouse and Capercaillie. The hunted game is usually used for feeding the family. But there are strict rules regarding the hunt here. You are allowed to hunt only a particular number of birds.

We were to hunt in the wilderness around Lapland. We had driven down to Lapland where we stayed for three whole days in a hunting lodge built on a lake’s edge.  My friend is a very good hunter as his father and grandfather had excelled at the sport and had taught him all they knew. The terrain had startling variations from moss enveloped boulders to plain raw marshland. Without hunting dogs for company, you can easily get lost here.

The dog scents the prey and gives a signal – a unique kind of bark- and at the same time keeps the bird under it spell by waving its tail. On the cue from the dog we approached the area without disturbing the bird. The hunter needs to be quite agile, sure footed and strong to accomplish this. We managed to have a good hunting. Though my friend used gunpowder I prefer using air rifles over gunpowder, as it offers better power, range and good shot placement.

Especially for hunting small game and some pests an air rifle is of great help. These rifles have evolved into serious and effective hunting tools today. While bow hunting is a more traditional form that can be used in areas where the firearms are banned, an air rifle too can be used in such situations. This has made the air rifles quite popular. There are several models available now and you can choose according to the power or accuracy you need for your hunting.

With air rifles you can hunt with precision and accuracy that was not possible in the past. Air rifle hunting is all about precision. Since the rifle has power restrictions, you need to check on the accuracy by testing the pellets before you use them and also how well you handle the air rifle. Doing a good amount of practice shooting at different ranges will help you to hunt game easily. I tried targets that resemble the actual size of small game that I want to hunt. When you shoot such target in field conditions, you can easily get the required practice.

Guide on How to Win Arguments

Guide on How to Win ArgumentsHey everyone! I’m back. Life’s good and bright as always. I had a big argument with my friend which is what egged me on to write this post. Being struck with a smart idea and not being able to make people accept it can be quite frustrating. The art of persuasion is definitely a skill you should master, as I found out to my chagrin! While I did not have geek freaks like me giving expert advice, as I did not know about it then, here I’m to enlighten you people on how to win an argument. I’m certain to use these tactics now, which comes a bit late as it is as I lost the argument to my friend.

What you should do?

  • Be unfazed even if you’re passionate about what you’re talking. Staying cool can win an argument easily. Why? Because you can control your emotions and not let them rule you.
  • Facts should be used to strengthen your position. No matter how solid the other party is hard facts cannot be refuted. So the best way is to use statistics, quotes, surveys etc. to support your argument. Trust me! This works like magic.
  • Logic is the next best tool you can use to oust your opponent
  • Ask pertinent questions. The right questions will give you an upper hand in the argument and leave the answering part, which is the most difficult one to your opponent.
  • Appealing to worthy motives and higher values always works effectively. Queries like ‘isn’t this what we would like for our children to have in future?’ will hit head on.
  • Listening is very important as this is when you can know about the weakness and faults in your opponent. And better still you can latch on to something useful and informative.
  • When you hear a good argument, you should concede to it, but not leave it as such. You need to use a stronger point that tips the scales in your favor.
  • Analyze your opponent and know what his values, beliefs, weaknesses and strengths are. This can help you build your argument in your favor.
  • You should be prepared for a neutral ending of the argument where both your views are accepted.

Things you should avoid

Direct attacks on your opponent personally like challenging his honesty, integrity or lifestyle should be avoided. The issue here is not your opponent, but the views he has. Stop maligning each other, so you can get to the root of the matter and solve it.

Sometimes a skilled opponent can distract you by some extraneous matters. But keep your mind focused on the task at hand. Be firm and refuse to be sidetracked.

Sneaky ways can also be used to win arguments like using punchy one liner, which can stagger your opponent and stop him in his tracks. Humiliating and ridiculing is also a good sneaky tactic. Provoking him is also a way to distract him and win the argument. Exaggerating the position taken by the opponent also helps to give you an upper hand.

Though these are better avoided, you can try them out when the other tips do not give you the result. I had to use services of mobile nail technician to paint my nails with flowers as a penalty for losing the argument. Now guys do you want to be in such a state. Take my advice to heart and win your argument. Best of luck!

Tips for Mountain Photography

Tips for Mountain PhotographyHiking is one of my favorite things to do. It’s good exercise, gets me out of the house and away from my computer; it gets me plenty of fresh air too, and that’s always nice. I went on a long trek recently and took many photos while I was out and about. That’s another major passion of mine – taking pictures of pretty much every interesting place I go. I wouldn’t say I’m really a professional photographer, but I’ve been doing it for so long that I’m more than confident in claiming I could pass on some good advice to others who wish to get the most out of their cameras.

In fact, I have a few solid tips for mountain photography, specifically. Not every mountain is the same, mind, but many of them are similar. Due to this what works well on one mountain will more than likely work just as well on another mountain. My biggest tip for amateurs and professionals alike is not to wait for that “golden hour” approaching sunset and following the sunrise. There are many opportunities to take extravagant pictures outside of these two hours or so in the other 22 hours of the day. Also, if contrast is causing you to take bad pictures, consider getting a graduated neutral density filter.

Besides beefing up your camera, you might also consider investing in other aspects which could play a part in determining the quality of your mountain photography. I don’t know about you, but I tend to take better pictures when I’m wearing comfortable clothes that don’t restrict my movement. I don’t mean baggy shirts and pants, because those can get caught on natural fixtures and cause you to trip or take a tumble. But I do wear the best foot protection boots to have a comfortable walk. I choose combat boots for men. They’re tough, durable, and they give me better support than many hiking boots I’ve owned. The best example of these would be a nice pair of tactical boots by Rocky, which I acquired recently.

If you can manage it, don’t go hiking with your digital gear. The added weight of a camera, tripod, screens and other equipment can turn a relatively pleasant uphill trek into something much more strenuous. Consider bringing along a wheeled cart and pulling it behind yourself, if the gradient of the hill you are climbing isn’t too steep for it. Remember, an expansive vista doesn’t always make a great picture; you could put a lot of effort into climbing up high, only to be faced with poor picture opportunities anyhow. I suggest a cursory hike first, without any gear, to see if it would be worthwhile to haul your equipment up too.

Last but certainly not least, when you are looking to take the perfect mountaintop photograph, remember that you must go very wide to get all the elements of the scene you see within the picture you are taking. The best landscape shots make the viewer feel as if they are standing there, where you were when you snapped the shot. If elements like the tops of trees or the sides of surrounding hills are cut off, then you’ve got a picture that isn’t as good as it could be.

The Joy of Motorcycle Riding

The Joy of Motorcycle RidingOne of the greatest joys of motorcycle riding should be immediately apparent to anyone who has been stuck in traffic in their bigger, bulkier cars, trucks or vans; motorcycles are just so amazingly mobile. They can squeeze into, through and out of spaces which those larger vehicles could never hope to pass. They represent the perfect ride for people who want to go fast, and that’s why I recently bought myself a new bike. Again, since my last new bike didn’t really last as long as I’d hoped it would. No, I didn’t get into any nasty accident or anything, but I fear I pushed it too hard.

This time, I’ll be sure to treat my ride a bit more respectfully. I’ll be sure to keep up fluids and ride the thing safely, wearing my newly acquired Fox Racing Boots when I do. I don’t know about you, but I think at least some motorcycle accidents could be prevented by wearing boots with a proper amount of traction. It’s a lot easier to stay upright and on your bike if your feet aren’t slipping off the pedals, right? It’s not that I wasn’t wearing protective gear before, but I think I could have been better equipped than I was when I trashed my last new bike.

I love going fast. I know that’s not for everyone, and I know it can be pretty dangerous to move quickly, especially when riding a motorcycle and being surrounded by much bigger vehicles in traffic. If you’re a kind of speed freak like me, then I can’t recommend enough some proper protective gear, like boots. More information regarding good protective gear can be found right here. I’m certainly no expert on the stuff, so I recommend you take a look at that link if you’re looking to steel yourself against potential accidents, road rash or much worse.

I’ve been through a couple little accidents myself. I only call them little though, because I was never seriously injured. My rides, I’m afraid, were not as lucky as I. One time I had to fall onto a side and start sliding, so I wouldn’t ram into this massive truck that stopped all of a sudden up in front of me. My bike got out of my hands and kept flying, but I ended up stopping, so I avoided the worst of the accident. My bike though, it ended up bent in half on itself, like it was just some toy a little kid might break while they were playing with.

Living through something like that would make most people rethink their stance on motorcycles, I know. But I just love going so fast! While you’re out riding your own motorcycle, I recommend that you observe all the normal safety rules you’d follow while driving in a car. That will help you to avoid accidents, like I have. Always leave enough room between yourself and the vehicle in front of you so you can stop in time to avoid a collision, even if they go jamming on the brakes like that trucker did to me.

7 Pool Party Awesome Ideas

7 Pool Party Awesome IdeasHey everyone, I’m back again, with another new post. It’s about a pool party, of all things. The other day, I was given the task of coming up with a very cool pool party, something that would be both entertaining and memorable for all the guests being invited.

It wasn’t the first party I’ve had to plan and with how well it went, I doubt it will be my last, either. For completing the task with great success, I’ve checked out some awesome above ground pool, click here for more information!

I came up with 7 great ideas to make the event one that would stick in the minds of our visitors. Fortunately for anyone else out there planning a pool party, I’ve decided to share those ideas here:

Fairy Jars

I’m not going to tell you go track down some fairies and stuff them into jars. But I read about something with this name before and it’s pretty cool. All you have to do is find some jars, or any solid, clear containers with lids, then fill them with a mixture of glitter and the stuff from inside glow sticks. Shake it up and you’ve got an amazing light source.

Swimming and a Show

Depending on the crowd you’re looking to entertain, your party might go over much better if you add a movie to the mix. Lots of things are better with a movie added – like dinner, a date, and even swimming. Just don’t play anything like Jaws or Sharknado and you’ll probably be fine.

Specialty Ice Cubes

While alcohol and swimming don’t mix, there are all kinds of safe drinks you could dress up by encasing various herbs, spices and edible flowers in your ice cubes. Not only will these add a unique look to everyone’s drink, but some of them can actually be quite flavorful.

Floating Candles

Getting back to lighting for a moment, there are other alternative sources of light which can really make your pool party look like something out of a favorite fictional story. Did you know there are candles designed to float on the water’s surface? You’ll never have to worry about starting a fire with these candles, that’s for sure.

S’mores

Most traditional makes of s’mores use a big, bright campfire to make the sweet confections. You can also make them with coal, utilizing small terracotta pots or other containers, just as well. For your next pool party, you may be able to thrill your guests with tasty food if nothing else.

Glow in the Dark Fixtures

Along with the other special lighting effects, you could even go as far as to make your plates, forks, spoons, knives and other fixtures glow in the dark. Combining these with the aforementioned fairy jars and floating candles will make your pool party a sight to behold.

Pool Games

Besides swimming, some of your guests might really enjoy some fun games in the pool. That depends on the type of guests you are serving, though. If you are hosting a children’s party, be sure to find an ideal pool for the family games, that everyone can enjoy! I’m not talking about anything as simple as Marco Polo either – look into pool darts, water polo, basketball and other games which translate well from solid ground into the water.

Manliest Hobbies that Exist

Manliest Hobbies that ExistIf you’re a guy and you have an Internet connection, then you’ve probably heard about manly men doing manly things. Hell, even without modern contrivances, history is so packed with examples of truly manly men that you can see what it really means to be a man just by opening a book, magazine, newspaper or other bit of media. If you ask me, it’s hard to nail down any single action or activity as being a manly thing to do. However, there are hobbies a guy can take up to both feel and appear more masculine, or manlier. Here are 10 such hobbies, each guaranteed to make a guy radiate machismo.

10 Writing and Playing Music

You may not think of making music as a particularly manly activity, but the Nordic peoples of Finland, Denmark, Norway and the surrounding areas would disagree strongly with you on that. There was once a time, long before the written word, where stories were passed down in those communities by bards – men who played music and told tales to entertain others. Some of these bards, called Skalds, were actually quite combative men. They would relate their firsthand experiences in battle, making their stories that much more believable and intense. These days, playing digital piano will suffice.

9 Blacksmithing

There are few hobbies more satisfying to a guy than pounding a lump of steel into a killing edge (or something less lethal, like a bowl for holding food). Few of the other hobbies on this list are as physically demanding as this one, which makes blacksmithing as much a form of exercise as something to do in one’s spare time. If you don’t mind working in high temperatures with hot metals, then this might be the perfect, manly activity for achieving that sense of validation.

8 Gambling

I’d wager that men have been gambling since before recorded history. There’s something about the thrill of risk and the satisfaction that comes with rewards that makes gambling a highly entertaining proposition – so entertaining that men with weaker minds get hooked on the stuff pretty quickly. Poker, blackjack, pinochle and other card games aren’t for everyone, but if you’ve got the self-control and wherewithal to stop before getting fleeced, there are few hobbies which are inherently manlier than this.

7 Sampling Whiskeys

This is one of my personal favorite activities, so I might have a bit of bias here. However, history is loaded with examples of men judging the masculinity of themselves and the guys surrounding them based on who can hold their liquor the best. I’ll admit this one is fun, but I still prefer riding a longboard to drinking – one leaves me feeling like crap the next morning and the other manages to combine fun and fitness fairly well.

6 Martial Arts

Let’s face it: the manliest among us are often our greatest warriors. You don’t need to be a studied historian to see that war heroes and others who aren’t afraid to put their lives on the line often end up in positions of power in countries. Just look at the United States of America and all the great warriors who rose to become presidents of that country – Dwight Eisenhower, Theodore Roosevelt, Ulysses Grant and others. It’s no secret that women look for strength in their partners too, and there are few better ways to demonstrate manly power than being able to protect yourself and those you love.

5 Hunting

Real men provide for themselves and their families without complaining. These days, that means getting a decent job and making enough money to live relatively comfortably. In the past when we were all hunters and gatherers, it meant being able to bring home enough game that you and yours didn’t starve to death. Fishing lumps in with this nicely, and bow hunting is a way to hunt on land and in the water. Plus it isn’t cheating, like using firearms.

4 Brewing Beer

This micro-brew phenomenon which has thousands of small-scale breweries popping up all over the world is a really major event in the history of beer. You, too, can try your hand at coming up with a tasty brew. All you need are the right tools, a little research, and a whole lot of guts. Because it’s illegal to sell your concoction without all kinds of testing, permits and other costly procedures, you’ll have to taste test it yourself.

3 Photography

Sometimes, picking up a hobby as a man is more or less exclusively about impressing the ladies around you. I’m not ashamed to admit it, and other guys should take the same stance, I feel. Photography is a good way to show your artistic side to girls, and it’s a far cry from many of the more violent hobbies I’ve listed here. Typically, you’ll come up with stories to tell based on the pictures you take, and these anecdotes and other tales can be even more enthralling than the actual photos.

2 Mountaineering

It’s hard to think of many hobbies manlier than mountaineering. There’s an inherent struggle, the risk of personal injury, and the sense of accomplishment that comes with topping a monstrous mountain. Still, this one is an acquired taste; it’s certainly not for every guy out there. You may feel more at home playing golf or enjoying another sport that doesn’t take you hundreds or thousands of feet into the air. There’s nothing wrong with that.

1 Lifting Weights

I’ve put this one at the top of this particular list because being big and strong is an inherently manly thing. Lifting weights and exercising are two of the most masculine things a guy can do, and building mass through toning muscles gives men an unmistakable appearance – a body that tells people, “I’m strong and I know it.” Thankfully, lifting weights is also easy enough for any guy to start doing it. Just don’t push yourself too hard when you’re first beginning, and things should fall into place for you if you keep up the work and maintain a regular workout routine.

The Making of Barbecue Party

The Making of Barbecue PartyI’m the kind of guy that likes barbecue so much, I don’t even need a special occasion to do it. Sometimes I prepare food just for myself, using a grill or a smoker. But there’s something about barbecuing a ton of food for a big gathering of people that just feels right to me.

Maybe that’s why I go out of my way to cook out for my friends so often. At least they’re nice enough to bring along some meat when we all get together; all I usually buy is fuel for the fire. But then I do all the cooking too, and everyone usually likes the finished product, so that probably has something to do with the way things work.

As usual, I used the best smoker equipment to prepare the various meats my friends brought to be cooked – this is a splendid example. There’s something about that smoky flavor and the way smoked meat kind of falls apart in the mouth; it’s just perfect if you ask me. Sure, it takes several hours to cook thoroughly, with additional cooking time needed to really get the flavor of your smoke chips or pellets into the food, but I don’t mind at all. Neither do my guests apparently, since many of them managed to show up well before the time I advertised, so I could start smoking their share of the food early.

I know what you’re going to say – how could smoking possibly be better than grilling if it takes so much longer to get food ready to eat? I used to think exactly that myself. In fact, I used to use the usual grill but reverted to awesome smokers after tasting the meat prepared at a friend’s birthday party. I kind of talked his ear off that day, asking all kinds of questions about how he prepared his food, what specific wood chips or pellets he was using, the kind of smoker he used, and on and on. But it paid off. He was very informative, and now I make some of the best smoked meats anyone I know has ever tasted.

There were ribs, chicken, burgers, dogs, pretty much every kind of meat you could want at a grill out and enough of everything that everyone who was visiting got what they wanted. Usually something runs out before the event is over and then someone ends up wanting some of that specific thing when there is no more, but that wasn’t the case this last time. I just love when people bring enough to feed everyone; there are few things more annoying than cooking tons of food and having it still not be enough to satisfy all my guests.

We’re already making plans for our next barbecue party too. More than a few people recommended steaks, and while I do like grilling steaks, I also know they can get pretty costly, especially for the choice cuts of meat. Really though, I don’t care how much they cost, as long as I don’t have to buy any of the food myself. I think I’ll let the others work out who will buy what on their own time. I do all the cooking, after all.

About Digital Modern Piano

About Digital Modern PianoHey everyone! It’s Morgan and today, I would like to discuss digital modern pianos. I love music and what is even better, is making my own. I like to play with the piano keys, writing down lyrics, and simply expressing what I can create from the top of my head. This past weekend, I bought a digital piano from this local music store a few blocks away from me. My last one was pretty old, and I thought it was about time that I purchased a new one. When I first walked in the store, I noticed the wide variety and I could not take my eyes off any of the brand new, untouched digital and acoustic pianos.

Not a lot of people know the difference between a digital piano and an acoustic piano. Not unless they actually play piano or grew up in a house with them like I did. The traditional piano most people know is the acoustic piano. The acoustic piano creates sounds with hammers hitting the strings. It is called acoustic to separate itself from the digital and so people know how to differentiate while describing it.

A digital piano replicates the sound (and sometimes the feel) of an acoustic without the use of strings and hammers. Another difference between digital and acoustic is the digital piano comes with sample beats and sounds that the piano player can incorporate into their music at the touch of a button. Some digital pianos have the ability to record music.

Recently, I visited a website dedicated to digital pianos and I read the reviews on the home page. Many decent reviews on digital pianos expressed how much they loved the piano brands because the sound is clear and allow them to put their own recorded beats and sounds into them. It is also versatile in the fact that it can come with pedals and a stand like the acoustic piano, or it can come in the form of a simple keyboard.

Digital pianos are each made up of a keyboard with sensors, a sound bank, amplifiers, and microphone, speakers, and/or headphone jacks. Also, the quicker and harder I press the keys on my digital piano, the louder the sound it makes! Other sounds can be heard from these pianos and each key is weighted to give that “piano-y” feel.  Each digital piano has a chip that goes with the sound and loudness of the keys when played.

There are many advantages and disadvantages when using a digital piano. The advantages are the portability of moving the piano from one place to another (very light), it can be played silently, doesn’t need to be tuned, comes with many sounds, records voices and sounds, and not a lot of maintenance is involved.

A couple of disadvantages should come to mind. The quality of the sound isn’t perfect; it will still sound “digital”. Also, there is limited sound that can be produced. Like any kind of technology, digital pianos may face bad speaker output, bad amplifiers, or poor key action. When I had my old digital piano, I had many issues with sound coming out of the speakers. At first I thought it was the speakers themselves, but I tested them out and they were good. One of the keys didn’t play as hard as it did when I first bought it.

Whichever you decide, be sure it is right for you. I love digital pianos and I still like to play acoustic. Everyone has their own preference. Just be sure to do the research before investing in an instrument that may not be up to your standards. And remember, ask questions and test the piano out before buying!

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