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Saturday, September 30, 2017

A Disney Story

Disney, 2017.

The wife and I have been wanting to hit up Disney during Halloween for a number of years now.  The Trick-or-Treating (or really, the get a whole shit ton of candy to make up for your entrance fee in just a few hours), The special fireworks and the parade.

Truth be told we just love Disney and every single time we head to California the two of us, at the very least, hit up Downtown Disney to walk around and browse the stores then eat dinner at the Jazz Kitchen and catch the fireworks before we go back to the hotel and, eventually, head home.

We also both love Halloween and try to go all out and hit up a lot of local stops every single year during the season so we have been waiting to combine the two seasons for quite some time.

The wife found the dates that Disney labeled as "Special Attraction" and booked it for the ourselves and the children and it just so happened to fall on my birthday.

Disney does not disappoint, it is truly a magical place and I hope to raise my Toddler and the future baby serge properly so that they also love going to Disney and just enjoying a day hanging out with moms and pops.  I guess only time will tell if that happens or not.


So we get to Disney and there are 5 of us.
Myself, the Wife and Toddler and the two 12 year olds (ours and a nephew).

The wife and I wanted to take the toddler to see all the Cars stuff because that is what he is into and we decided the 12 year olds could go off on their own as one had a phone like device and we could keep in touch.
We would meet up for Dinner and finish the evening together.

So, we split and started to enjoy our days.
The toddler loved the Mater "cow" ride and made me ride it with him multiple times.  In fact, the 2nd time I recorded him during the entire ride just to have his reactions because he had so much fun doing it.
We also got to go meet Mater and McQueen and get our pictures taken with each which was pretty enjoyable even though the toddler was starting to get tired and, thus, moody.

We walked around a lot and eventually headed over to the original side so we could look at more and start the candy gathering.

After we filled a couple of bags the wife decided that she was starving and we went to get in touch with the 12 year olds.
No answer.
No answer
No answer
After about 30 minutes the wife starts to worry some.  We can't get a hold of them and her phone is acting up so if they try to call us it won't be successful.  We contact the nephew's mom so that she can use her tracking app and it is not getting a signal.

I decide that since our 12 year old loves the Indiana Jones ride we should head over there because there was a good chance (better than 50%) that they would end up over that way at some point because he would want to hit up that ride multiple times.
We wait around and nothing so the wife heads to the "Lost Parents" area to report that even though they aren't lost we were having phone issues and couldn't contact them and to have them call me if the kids got worried and went there.

Meanwhile the wife is calling her sister to help out and asking me if I have seen them and at this point I hear them announcing that the ride is down for maintenance and will be up shortly (this explains the lack of line which I did not notice until now).
So I'm pacing back and forth with a sleeping toddler in a stroller and the wife is starting to freak out when the boys walk up to me like nothing happened.

This was about an hour after we started to try to get in touch with them.

I ask them where they were and it turns out they spent the last hour on the Indiana Jones ride because it broke down when they were about half way through.  We couldn't get in touch with them because they were not receiving a signal because of where they were stranded.

From there we hit up Dinner at the Jazz Kitchen, watched the fireworks, the 12 year olds got a TON of candy and then we saw the parade and went back to the hotel.

Out of everything, other than watching the face of my toddler, I absolutely loved the fireworks and the Halloween presentation.
This is something we want to do again and probably by ourselves to truly enjoy the entire experience without having to worry about diapers, tracking children and every other distraction that comes with bringing a bunch of brats along.


TLDR:
Can't find kids
Go to kids favorite ride
They show up because they were stranded on said ride
Everything worked out
Happily ever after

Thursday, July 20, 2017

Focus renewed

This past week the family and I went on vacation to California where we hung out at the beach and the pool while getting sunburn.  We also tried out a few new restaurants and my wife and I taking our traditional trip to Downtown Disney so that we could eat at Jazz Kitchen.

Overall it was a fun time and now here I am back in Vegas, back to the work grind and back to working on our personal goal of saving up for the down payment to our house.

Over the past few weeks it's been on my mind again that I need to get back on the weight loss bandwagon.  Sometimes I have jumped into it full throttle and other times I have slowly lead into it.  Each time I've come up with a reason to have it fail.

However, if the wife and I can focus on our financial goals for so long with so few hiccups there is no reason why I cannot focus on this goal with the same intensity.

We did all we could to get out of debt.
We continued to work at it to get an emergency fund in the back so that we never have to use credit again.
We are now saving towards a down payment so we can buy a house next year.

We don't make excuses, we just do it.

So, why can't I do this with my weight loss?
I can, I just have to want to do it.


So, here I sit working on Phase 1.
Every time I have done this I left the hardest thing, for me, for last.  And usually when I get there I give up and relapse.

Soda's and Energy Drinks.
Josie told me this shit only belongs in my toilet, and only to clean it at that.
These things are bad for you - I know this and yet I have never cared.  They are delicious and I love the taste.

So, This time Phase 1 is me cutting these out of my life as much as possible.
I talked to the wife about it a little over Vacation and I made myself a promise on the last day of our vacation.

I promised that when we got back I would go a week without a soda or an energy drink.
Some of you Scoff at this but these are my biggest struggle.  If I can get these down to just something I occasionally do socially then I win.  Currently they are part of my daily diet.  They cut into my budget.

Here I sit, 2 days free.
It sucks - I am not going to lie.
I am currently entering day 3 of working overnights at work.
Normally Overnights meant that on my way to work I would buy 2 Energy Drinks just to get through the night and I'd probably down a Dew during that time as well.
I've survived the first two nights.
It bloody sucks.

I've got a headache.
I'm tired.
I'm Thirsty and it's a thirst Gatorade and Water isn't quenching.
I WANT a Fruit Punch Rockstar and this want burns in me.

If there was one in front of me at this very moment I would have a hard time not drinking it.  I'd probably chug it and tell myself that I'll start over again tomorrow.

However, I am 2 days deep and will be 3 days strong by the time I wake up tomorrow after work.

This first week is a struggle.
In two weeks I will face another real struggle as I will end up working Inventory at work which is a 5 day stretch where I have to work earlier than I want to be awake and on those shifts it is HABIT for me to hit up 7-11 on the way to work for an energy drink to make it through my day.
This is the HABIT I am breaking.
I am forming new habits.

I am kicking my addiction to Soda's and Energy Drinks.

It sucks but when I get through it I will be better off.

My last energy drink was the first day of vacation when I drove to California.  I consciously didn't drink any while I was out there.  I cut way back on Soda's.
I capitalize random words for no reason.

When I came home from vacation I was at 264 pounds.  This is far from my worst weight but it is still far from where I want to be.  My ultimate goal is to get to or below my wedding weight by the time my 5th anniversary rolls around and I take my wife back to Hawaii.

Goodbye Soda
Goodbye Energy Drinks
I need a nap.

I know it has been a while since i have posted regularly but I want to try to get back to that.
I plan on detailing my journey.
Hopefully I haven't lost all of my readers from the old days.

Let me know if you are reading.
Give me tips, advice, yell at me and call me fatty.
I'll be back.
Soon.

Saturday, March 25, 2017

My first Failure of 2017

For those following along you know I have had a challenge going on for myself to get a min8of 10k steps in every single day. 

Today is March 25th and I am experiencing my first Failure. 
Today I was lazy all day as I had a trying day yesterday that ended up giving me a huge stress headache. 

Today that headache refused to go away and I am currently over 24 hours and not feeling any better. 

It sucks and I have no desire to leave my bed let alone accomplish anything.

Tomorrow is a new day and I will get back on track but for the sake of accountability I wanted to put it out there that today was a loss. 

Healthy 2017 - February

***Somehow through the Chaos that has been March, February did not get posted until near the end of March... My bad.   However, below is what I had written and now will be posted.  Please continue***


I was very happy with the way January worked out for me and now that February is done I feel justified saying that I am bloody stoked about how the month went.


So lets look back on February and see how everything worked out for me based on the goals I had set.


1 - Not have any days below 10,500 steps.
    - I failed on this as on Feb 19th I had 10,175 and it was a horrible bloody struggle just to even get that and make sure I was over my 10k min for every day this year.   I believe that I was sick and run down and the rest of the family also wasn't feeling well.  I put on my best face and went for a little walk at the end of the night just to get over 10k and I collapsed knowing I was going to fail this goal but at least still hit the main objective for the year.

2 - Two days over 20,000 steps.
   - Flying F'n Colors man.   Feb 7th was my first day over with 20,016 and I pushed myself at the end of the day because I was so close to the 20k mark.  Feb 12th I racked up 22,323 and hit my goal for the month.  Then as the month went on I added 20,024 on the 15th, 21,813 on the 16th 20,127 on the 17th (3 days in a row), 21,329 on the 22nd, 20,149 on the 25th and 20,114 on the 27th.
   - In total I had 8 days over 20k steps for February which I would have thought was out of reach for at least a few more months.

3 - Raise my Average to 14k per day and I achieved this as well.
4 - Stretch goal of getting to 15k per day and I also nailed this one.


So, before I get into my total - a look back at the years I have had my Fitbit.

February 2014 - 331,817
February 2015 - 260,749
February 2016 - 312,897


February 2017
464,492 Steps
16,589 steps per day




Shawn who is playing the Home Game and is my frequent competitor on Fitbit put up 410,878 steps in the month of February.  This averages out to 14,674 steps per day which is higher than he had in January.


So, I'm sorry that this is not that good of a post.
Somehow I forgot to post it when I should have and then when I dug into it I realized that half the post was missing.  I don't know if I typed it up elsewhere or if I just didn't save.


But, for those following along at home:
Steps so far this year
Serge: 896,965
Shawn: 841,969

Both of us will have over 1 million steps by the end of March.
Will our averages have gone up? Gone down? Stayed about the same?
Tune in in just a week or two to find out.

Thursday, March 23, 2017

Retro Rewind - Double Dragon

Hello Everybody, Back again with another companion piece to the Nintendo Dad's RetroRewind series and this time around it is the amazing masterpiece that is Double Dragon.


In order to prepare for what might be your favorite gaming memory you should start with the cinematic masterpiece which is the Double Dragon Movie, at least that is how I started preparing.


For simplicity sake I will just embed the YouTube video right here for you, unless you want to run out and buy the VHS, DVD or Blu Ray version of it so you can add it to your permanent collection.



The Double Dragon Movie is only 82 minutes long and in theory that is long enough to beat the entire Double Dragon game multiple times over.  In theory the game is probably only 20-30 minutes long which is a common theme for games made in this time frame.

However, in actuality the game is much longer because of amped up difficulties, multiple deaths and limited continues.
With that said, when I first started this Journey I got as far as the second stage before I had to start all over from the beginning.  My second and third play's went very similar and after that I decided that I wanted to beat the game so I had to become a Save State Warrior....er... Abuser.


Playing this game brought back great memories from when I was a kid.  Double Dragon was one of my favorite games growing up because of the replay-ability.  I loved Side Scrolling beat-em-ups and this was a game you could enjoy with buddies for hours (and never accomplish much).


Ever forget how much you absolutely hated something until years later?
Abobo.
Screw this big bald muscular destroyer of hopes and dreams.
Yeah, sure, after you figure a few things out again he becomes much easier but this guy, and the Mean Green version of him caused me a lot of heart-ache both as a child and then again a month ago as an adult.
Ugh.
Too bad the movie version was primarily comic relief, because he didn't do the game version justice.



So, there I was abusing my save states, Reload-Reload-Reload-Re... oh, did I just beat that section without taking any damage? Excellent....  Oh crap, I just died and forgot to do a save state..... summabich.

Slowly advancing.  Saving every time a new stage loaded or reloading to see if I could get to that next part taking less damage or taking no damage when finally I get to the ending portion.

For those of you who beat the game I am sure you can feel my frustration when I (re) discovered that if you die on any of the bad-guys in that last section (before the final Big Bad Reveal) that you start over at the beginning of the whole sequence of fights (which, oddly enough, includes about 300 Abobo's) instead of starting where you died.
And when you find out that this doesn't change when you are fighting the guy with the BF Machine Gun.....

This might be why I am now balding

And, then to top it all off, You (I) finally work my way through that line of fights (half a billion reloads) to get to the final boss (and I was not surprised because I remembered my gaming youth) only to beat the Final Boss on my second attempt....
The pain in the arse was getting to him, not beating him.

But, in the end, was it all worth it?

I got the girl, so I guess so.


Clocking in at only 2 hours and 23 minutes I beat Double Dragon and I am happy to put it away again.  I played this on the 3DS at home before bed and during my lunch breaks.  It was frustrating as hell at times but it brought back a piece of my youth that I didn't know was missing.

Sometime this year I plan on playing the rest of the games that were released just to see if they share the same feeling that I didn't even know I was missing with this game.   I know as a child I played 2 and 3 (I think 2 introduced two player) with friends and put countless hours into them.

Sadly, I'm having trouble with next month's RetroRewind because I have a new Zelda Machine that is dominating my time, all of it.  It won't let me go.


Hope you all enjoyed playing this as much as I did and I'm damn glad I found that horribly cheesy 80's movie to go along with it.

Monday, February 06, 2017

Healthy 2017 - January

January has come and gone and as some of you are aware I made myself a goal to hit 10,000 steps at a minimum every single day for 2017 in an effort to get more healthy.

Now that January is Over I can say that I have achieved this goal every single day for the first month and I know I will continue to achieve it every day for the second month.

There were a few days that were hard to get through and I had to push myself at the end but the important part is that I actually did push myself to get those in.

Also, I informed friends that I was going to be doing this and two of them have decided to join me.

One of them started about a 3rd of the way through the month and the other started right at the beginning of the year.


So, January.

I had a total of 432,473 steps in January which breaks down to an average of 13,950 steps per day.
I had 6 days under 11k steps but none of those days were under 10k steps which was my ultimate goal.
I had 8 days over 16k steps.
My best day was 19,583 on January 28th and my worst day was 10,072 on January 8th.
January 2016 I had 297,812
January 2015 I had 289,282
January 2015 I had 327,296

So, as you can see this January was by far my best start to the year.


My buddy Matt did 301,919 steps in January and started using his Fitbit on January 12th.
For his 20 days he averaged 15,095 steps per day and is leaving me play catch up.


Shawn started on January 1st with the goal of having Zero days under 10k steps as well and did 431,091 steps averaging 13,906 steps per day - almost the same exact step count I had with just 44 steps less per day.



For February my goals are to not have any days below 10,500 steps and to have 2 days over 20k steps.  I want to raise my average steps above 14k, ultimately I would like to reach 15k average but February might be too early in the year to accomplish that (because then I want to maintain it and get better every month).

February 2014 - 331,817
February 2015 - 260,749
February 2016 - 312,897

2 out of the 3 years that I have had a Fitbit I have done more steps in February (with less days in the month) than I have done in January.
My ultimate goal would be to do 420,000 steps in Feb which puts me at 15k steps per day.
However, looking at 14k per day I would be at 392,000.
I will be happy as long as I fall somewhere in between the two.


Wednesday, January 18, 2017

The Work Scoop

So, as promised, a few more details.

First I want to say that when rumors started spreading I panicked.  I got pretty worried pretty quickly because now that I have a family I have to be a reasonably responsible adult instead of not having a care in the world.

The reason for the panic was two fold:
1 - Rumors were around about changes happening but none of the higher ups were willing or (as I found out eventually) able to speak about it.
2 - Incomplete information.

To start out, somewhere around 1 - 1.5 years back my company started doing some pilot programs in certain markets to see how new staffing structures would work out.
The main one that they did was in Chicago where they ran a program that got rid of every person in my position (which is usually 11-15 people per store) and replaced them with 5 newly created positions.  So you have 15 people being condensed into 5 people and everyone else who did not get one of the new positions was fired on the spot with a severance package to help until they found something new.

So, when rumors started spreading that something was about to go down everyone immediately jumped to the company rolling out this test program nation wide.
If you all remember I just changed stores to a new location about 6 months ago which means that I am one of the newest people in my position and there are others who have been around a good long while who have already built up a great repor with the senior staff in the store.

Not knowing where I stand in the grand scheme of things is scary when you are looking at potentially not having a job and not being able to provide for your family within a matter of weeks.

So, I figuratively shit myself and started asking friends if there workplace was hiring.  I was making plans and trying to figure out how to not lose income so my family did not suffer in this time of transition.

So, secret Store Manager Meetings were held.  Emergency Conference Calls were held.  Rumors spread and then people started finding out the truth.
Through the companies Social Media and shared among forums on the net where you can post anonymously information began to leak out and all of that information was not only more positive but it slowly became verified through other annon sources.

Yesterday, in meetings across the company that were all coordinated to run at the exact same time no matter what time zone you were in, the information was officially released to us and it happened to be almost exactly what we all had been reading for the previous week down to the names of the new positions and what happens to those that don't get them.


So, here it is.  Much like what rolled out in the test market the position I am currently in will no longer exist come January 27th.
Starting today  everyone in my position has the option to be considered for one of the new positions or they have the option to step down.

If you want to be considered you get an interview and on the 27th our Store Manager will announce who got which of the new positions.

Everyone who does not want to be considered and everyone who did not get one of the new positions will be stepped down to another new position.  This position was created just for this situation and is temporary.

You have 12 months to find another, permanent, position within the company (or outside of the company if that is the route you choose to take).  If, after one year, you have not found something then you will be let go.

So, the gist is that I will either receive a new position with more responsibility and a slight boost in pay or I will be given a year (at my current pay rate) to find another job within the company.  While it is not ideal it is very fair and it has set my mind at ease as I have applied for (and received) many positions over the years.
So, while those positions might be lower than I currently exist and pay a little less it still allows me to continue the career that I have chosen and go back to working my way up the company ladder again.
I have been here a long time and I do not want that to change.

And there you have it.
A story about what is going down in my retail life.

Healthy 2017 - Week 2

This is coming a little later than I wanted, as my plan is to update my previous week every weekend.
However, it is that time of the season where it is Playoff Football and when my options are sit at a computer and type or watch some awesome football games, the computer will lose out every time.


As of the end of week 2 I am still getting in my minimum of 10k steps every single day and I have started a vlog to help keep me motivated.
My last one was walking around with my son and talking about the playoff games that just happened because: 1 - I am a huge Steelers fan and 2 - He is a huge Cowboys fan.

In fact, it was the Cowboys vs the Packers that finally solidified to me that he indeed does like football and the Cowboys because after the game he was crying with disappointment.  It hurt my heart to watch that because as die hard fans we have all been there at one point or another, especially when we were young and it was harder to keep our emotions in check.

So, because I have been walking and talking to help keep myself motivated he really wanted to join me because he dreams of becoming a famous Youtuber some day and he just thinks it is really awesome to take videos and put them on Youtube.
So, this is something he and I will continue doing in some capacity - most likely after the next set of playoff games and then after the SuperBowl.  Once football is done our conversations will become Video Game related because that is our common interest and it could be a lot of fun for the two of us.

Here is a link to my channel for anyone who wants to follow along and play the home game.
More specifically here is a link to the first video I made with my 11 year old and if he could get a comment or two (even if it is just about the game, especially from Cowboy fans - Looking at you Nick) he would be tickled pink (is that still a phrase?).


Ok, back to the task at hand.
I'd already reported week one results here, so on to week two.

Week two I finished with 97,656 steps which was less than the previous week but it also didn't have a 30k step day like the previous week did so I feel like this is a good solid win.
While my current goal is 10k every day and January 2016 was my lowest month of last year I do know that as this goes on I will have to step it up a notch if I want to beat each and every single month this year.

Come February I will still have a goal of 10k every day but I will also make a secondary goal of hitting 100k every single week.  This will force me to either walk a longer path on my days off from work to up my step count that way or to take a walk after work one or two days a week to hit my goals.  Either way this will up my activity level and that is a win for me.

Best day of the year so far is Friday, January 13th with 17,779 and worst day of the year is Saturday January 7th at 10,072 where I had to force myself just to get that number.

So, here is hoping I report 100k next week!

Hope you all are having a happy and healthy 2017

Sunday, January 08, 2017

Retro Rewind - Super Mario Bros 2

On my drives to and from work and while doing my walks I have been listening to a lot of gaming podcasts and one of the ones that I really enjoy is NintendoDads.

As the name dictates they pretty much only talk about Nintendo and their games and every month they do a "Retro Rewind" where they all play an Old School Game and then record a podcast about it after the month is over.   In December the Retro Rewind game was Super Mario Bros 2 and I decided to join them in this journey.


I will start by stating that when I was young I really didn't like Super Mario Bros. 2 very much, but I think it was more because of circumstance and not because of the actual game itself.

My first experience with SMB2 was a friend letting me borrow it over the weekend during the school year.  That weekend I was sick and couldn't get out and do much and so I spent the entire weekend doing nothing but playing the game.  As a result, in a 2 day period I beat the game and found it ridiculous that I could beat it in such a short period of time and thus formed a negative opinion about it.  I gave the game back and didn't return to it until a few years later.

So, when the NintendoDads declared this as the game of the month I jumped all over it and downloaded it on my 3ds.

Replaying games from my youth lead me to the realization that I am not the gamer I once was.  As such I ended up abusing the awesome save state feature that the Virtual Console offers me so that I could play through the entire game and beat it.

In total I spent 3 hours and 52 minutes playing through most of the levels and beating the final boss.
There were a few areas where I died a ton and there were some areas I went though without problem.  I was never able to get the hang of the end level mini game to earn extra lives as I remember getting tons of extra lives when I was young.  I don't know if it is just harder in it's emulated state or if I am just bad at the timing, either way it was not that big of a deal.

Overall I had a great time with the game and enjoyed getting back to some old school platforming.  Much like when I was young I only used Peach as my character because her floating ability makes her overpowered. I remembered where a bunch of the hidden things were including one of the warps.

I still feel that this was a good Mario game with a new take on the characters (I know I know, it originally wasn't a Mario game, Mario was just skinned on it) and I feel like it was a great transition to what would eventually be released in Super Mario Bros. 3 which took the series to amazing heights.

This is not a game that I will continue to put any type of time into, SMB3 still has my heart and I am determined one day to beat SMB: Lost Levels.   However, since I am a family man and a parent I generally don't go back to old games that I have beaten a lot of times and instead I focus on games that I have never played before for whatever reason.

For instance, I am currently running through Castlevania: Circle of the Moon on the GBA and am absolutely loving it.

January's Retro Rewind is Zelda: A Link to the Past which I will most likely download on my WiiU so that I can put a few hours into.  However, I have never been a big Zelda gamer and only have beat one of the games over the course of my life (and can't remember which one it was, but I think it was on SNES).

I hopefully plan on doing a monthly blog to follow along with the Retro Rewind to help keep me motivated to play (or replay) some old games and just keep gaming in general.

Until then, much thanks to the NintendoDads for having one of my favorite podcasts.

Healthy 2017 - Week 1

I know that millions every single year talk about how they are going to get healthier for the new year and most of them give up after a few weeks, that will not be me.

I have gone through this journey before and I am committed to doing it again.  So, for 2017 I have decided to get more exercise in through walking (I am dedicated to 10k steps every single day) and I will eat healthier.  I am also cutting out nearly all drinks that are not water (well, not cutting out beer, I love beer) in order to help with this.

Now that the first week is in the books I am proud to say it was successful.

My total steps for the week was 111,940, though this does count my 30k step count for New Years Eve since that was the first day of the week.

During this week I had two soda's and both of those were while I was at my parents and on the same day.  I have gone out to dinner with my wife and had just water and I am drinking a lot of water at work and at home in order to get more healthier.

I also started a vlog that I will use to keep me motivated to take walks and I've only recorded 2 but one was deleted before it ever made it to posting.

The first one can be found here.

And of course I plan on documenting it weekly here.

January 1st I weighed 264.6 and on the 6th (last day of the week) I weighed 263.2 - so while I only lost a little over a pound I'll take it for my first week.  As I get in better shape I expect that I should have no issue getting down to my initial goal of 220.