Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Am I Becoming a Blender Snob?

Almost 10 years ago, my wife-to-be and I created our wedding registry.

Like true, non-domesticated idiots, we registered for some stupid stuff. We chose some oblong plates that have a tendency to push any liquid toward the middle. So, if we're having a steak, vegetable and baked potato, everything is soaked in meat juice about 10 seconds into the meal. (I honestly don't mind. She does.)

While perusing the small appliances, we dutifully scanned a blender. It was an entry-level $25 model. Not a fan of margaritas (I had to look up how to spell the word just now), I couldn't see myself ever needing a blender.

Over the years, the blender bit the dust. It was probably because we used it more as a food processor than actual blender. Not a big loss in my opinion...until now.

Last month, I read an article in Businessweek. It was about Vitamix blenders and how they've become all the rage among affluent health-conscious, smoothie-consuming adults.

Hey, I tend to think of myself as health-conscious. I want to be affluent. Smoothies sound delicious. I shared my dreams of being a smoothie hippie with Tiffany. She scoffed at the idea of shelling out $400+ for a blender.


Then the perfect blend of smoothie components hit at just the right moment. First, I checked around online and realized the Ninja blender comes close to the Vitamix in blending affluence at a fraction of the cost ($99 vs $400).

Next, on a whim I bought a smoothie at an airport smoothie bar. It was delicious. Finally, Tiffany tried making a milkshake last week with a cheapo replacement blender and was disgusted with the results.


We are now the proud owners of a Ninja blender. Yesterday, I tossed in a couple of oranges (cut into about eight pieces), three scoops of orange sherbet, a handful of frozen strawberry slices, two cups of juice and two cups of ice. After about a minute in the Ninja, we were enjoying high-quality airport smoothie bar smoothies.

The Wolverine glass adds an extra bit of affluence. (I'm just showing off at this point.)

As we push into the green, healthy smoothie game, I can't help but wonder if we should have spent the extra affluence on the Vitamix. The three-blade design of the Ninja blender is impressive, but people speak about the Vitamix in hushed tones. I feel like we need to own a blender that's discussed in hushed tones.

One sip and he said, "Oh, I like this!"

Anyhow, if you've got some smoothie tips, please share them with us. We're complete noobs here. Also, don't bother plying me to go with non-GMO, organic ingredients. I'm a blender snob, not an ingredient snob.

Thursday, February 6, 2014

Doing the Disney

Since I first became a father, I've told my wife that due to a myriad of reasons I'm going to go to Disney exactly once. She's welcome to take the kids back on her own, but I'm only doing the death dance with the mouse one time. Last week, it was time to pay the piper. I'm going to spare you all as many of the gory details as I can, but wanted to hand out some information for those of you who may be willing to let Central Florida make the beast with two backs with your wallet.


Every ride at Disney dumps out into a gift shop, which is brilliant if you own Disney stock. I don't (although I may have an honorary share now). A friend gave us a great tip to save a little cash and crying and to tell your kids they could look at souvenirs all week but you would only buy stuff from the big store at Downtown Disney at the end of the week. I took a lot of pictures of kids with souvenirs all week, and then at the end of the week we gave each kid an allowance to spend at the big store. If you spend enough, they'll actually ship all of that stuff home for you, but our little soldiers wanted to bring it on the plane.

Time of Year

We went in February, which is considered off-season because it is one of the only one months every year that Florida experiences anything approaching "winter". This seemed like a very small price to pay when we were shooting through all of the rides without standing in a single line (the only delay was the distance you had to walk from the entrance to the attraction to actually board the ride). It seemed like a bigger price to pay when a third of your foot is blistered because you've been rocking soaking wet shoes and socks for three straight days.
Saw a lot of this.
In short, off-season is fine if you are prepared. The weather forecast we looked at before packing was 20 degrees off the entire time we were there, so we were not prepared.

Fast Pass

As stated, we were there in torrential rain the slowest week of the year, so often we didn't even use our Fast Passes. As soon as the sun came out, however, these were critical. It's worth investing a little time into this to make sure you are making the most of this.

Dining Plan

You will buy the dining plan, and you should. On your first day, you'll have no idea what is going on, and it will seem confusing and like it isn't worth it. By the end of your trip you'll be flexing it like a coupon mom and looking back at all of the money you saved. Pro tip: throw a couple boxes of Pop-Tarts in your suitcase for breakfast, which isn't included and which no one cares about.

The Food

I hear a lot of people talk about how great the food is at Disney. I didn't really feel it. Everything was competently made, I didn't hate anything, but I certainly wasn't blown away by anything either. It was all overpriced, but not painfully so (somewhere near airport, well below ballpark) and there was typically variety. The kids meals had relatively healthy choices (grapes and carrots were as ubiquitous as fries) but very limited choices. I was especially disappointed that in Epcot even though I could get a pretty decent Middle Eastern meal, my kids were stuck with chicken nuggets (which they dipped in my hummus).
Work on your upper body strength before heading down there.

Staying Onsite

We bought a package which made staying onsite a breeze. We flew into Orlando, got on a bus, went to our resort, checked in, our bags showed up a while later, and we were off to the park via a bus. I didn't have to worry about renting a car, or parking (which still requires a bus to get to the park) or figuring out a different hotel. Unless you are planning on doing stuff elsewhere, this is the way to go.

Pop Century

This is basically a dorm. I'm not entirely sure my wife and I could have laid shoulder to shoulder in the same bed. Also, combined shampoo and conditioner. Also, no pool towels. This was the cheapest place to stay at Disney, and it showed.


By the end of every day you'll be craving a beer. Have some, but don't get wasted - you'll have to be sober enough to get your kids home on the bus safely (which isn't hard), you'll be so tired you'll fall asleep anyway, and you don't really want to spend anytime here hungover. The exception? Epcot, which has beers for every country and very slow rides.


I wouldn't say I enjoyed myself. There were moments (taking two steps into the park our first day and watching the kids faces light up because we walked straight into a parade, my little princess meeting her first princess, etc.) but honestly I'm not all that convinced my kids loved it. Oh sure, it was better than sitting at home and hanging out in the basement (it's been a long winter) but I think if I gave them each $40 and let them loose in the arcade/food court at the mall they'd have been almost as happy.
$20 worth of tattoos made my kids happier than the thousands I spent getting them there.
As a parent, you're still obligated to go, but don't feel like a failure if you don't love it. Or at least don't feel like the only failure.

Monday, February 3, 2014

Mixed Marriage: Android & iOS7 Users

Cats & Dogs living together... MASS HYSTERIA!!!
So fellas, I got a good one for you. If you choose to use this little nugget of tech talk for good or bad, that's on you. Also as a side note, I'll warn you that I haven't researched this too much, but enough to know it's a documented problem impacting many Americans in a mixed marriage where one spouse has an iOS device and the other has an Android. One of those Americans is me. My wife likes the simplicity of iOS devices and all the other moms have them. Me, well, I like Google. My stuff is with them and I subscribe to just about every product they have (except for Glass because $1500 for a pair of non-prescription glasses is dumb). Also as a side note, our AppleID is under my Gmail account... but I digress...

The Issue:
Android devices cannot receive text messages from iOS7 devices (iOS7 devices can still receive from Android). Yep you read that correctly and you can see the potential for disaster. Also, as a small business owner this concerns me as my customers sometimes will just text me an order and I could be missing those orders.

Imagine if you will (dream sequence)*....
Android Dad: Hey honey can I go to Happy Hour after work?
iOS7 Mom: Tonight is bad, Sally has a soccer game, Jimmy has tutor, and someone needs to stay home with the baby....
(text never received by Android Dad)
Android Dad: Honey I haven't heard back from you on this. I'll assume no news is good news and I'll be home by 8pm
iOS7 Mom: Didn't you get my last message?!?! tonight is bad. I need you home!
(text never received by Android Dad and Android Dad proceeds to Happy Hour)
(text never received by Android Dad and Android Dad still at Happy Hour balling hard)
(text never received by Android Dad but Android Dad decides to leave Happy Hour early and get in good graces with iOS7 Mom)
Android Dad: On my way home... early. See how much I love you?
iOS7 Mom: F-U
(you can see how this is going to end when Android Dad gets home)

So, guys there you have it. It's real, it's out there, and I am sure there's some poor Android Dad that is reading this in the proverbial doghouse... on his Android.

*any names or descriptions in this dream sequence were purely unintentional. And no, this hasn't happened to me and my wife

The Solution:
I've been reading about 6 or 7 different forums on this and the solution isn't very clear. Of course I am reading Android forums and all of them hate Apple. So reading through that is a bit troubling. I'm not sure where the "fault" lies on this, but I just know there's 2 Behemoth companies that probably won't be racing to help find a solution. However, the solution that I am trying to make work is the following from forums.androidcentral.com:

  1. Apple ID is stored in two places: App Store and iMessage separately, log out of both on ALL iOS devices in settings>app store and settings>iMessage.
  2. log in to https://appleid.apple.com and change your AppleID to a NEW email address
  3. remove your cell phone number from the apple ID
  4. log back into all iOS devices using new AppleID and deselect the cell phone number and old appleID email address. check the new email address (New AppleID)
  5. Once you do this on all devices your texting will resume to normal. Remember iMessage can be used with email address or phone number that why it is important to get rid of all devices. Leaving just one will screw it up. 
  6. Once all devices are logged into the app store and iMessage under the new AppleID texting should resume normally.
I will follow up with everyone on this and let you know if it works.

What can you do to help?
Seriously if you hate either one of these companies, post your comments on a different blog. What you can do, is share this post with people you know. As texting has become an integral part of the way we communicate with others (right or wrong), this issue should be addressed and it could help resolve a ton of problems for Mixed Marriages and Businesses.