94 days

July 4th, 2015 No comments

Uncle Joey Cake

Well that was quite the break. About 80 more than I expected but man what a trip. After the holiday we’ll get caught up on all of the excitement we’ve had in the Derda family, the trips we’ve taken and the asshattery that is going on in America today.

There’s a lot going on and today we’re celebrating freedom with that beautiful cake above.

Better get used to the bars, kid.

Categories: Misc.

The Easter Break

April 2nd, 2015 No comments

I know, I know. You’re waiting to find out more about the Cord Cutting that I started to talk about but one thing I do every year is take Easter off. Yeah probably bad timing considering the Great Pittsburgh Blogger Exchange but it’s something I hold true to. I like to disconnect for the holiday and spend the time with the family even if I’m sitting around.

Don’t worry, I have about 5 posts in the queue ready to go. Take this time, even if you’re not religious, to spend time with family and friends. If you don’t have those, Hendricks is always good for a conversation.

Everyone deserves a break so take a time out and disconnect.

Live like it’s 1995 again :)

Categories: Misc.

Talking 3D Printers and Beer

April 1st, 2015 2 comments

Today’s post comes from that wild and crazy jagoff, John Chamberlin of Ya Jagoff! fame, and is part of a special day of shenanigans from other Pittsburgh Bloggers. You can see my post over on Josh’s World, where one night at a Pirates game as a teenager brought me face-to-face with my mortal enemy.

YJ-3DPrinter

Happy April Fools’ Day!

When given the assignment to write a post for Doug’s blog, I instantly began to sweat, border on incontinence and feel overwhelmed and intimidated.

His description:

Weekend home-brewer, former stay-at-home-dad, social media professional, web guy, craft beer advocate, podcaster, rookie genealogist, grilling addict, Back to the Future and 80s/90s pop culture techno weenie.

My description:

Weekend/weekday drinker of homebrews or whatever else is cold/free, work from home dad, social media hack who always has to call a “web guy” when I have a problem, been on podcasts and listen to many..typically something superficial and silly vs. life-changing, usually have to copy/paste words like genealogy from the Google dictionary so they are spelled correctly, grilling addict (one common thread) and simply…a weenie… no techno or pop culture to preface it!

Doug has even won some awards for his work. Me? I still have a 4th grade math paper hung on my fridge because it has 5 gold stars on it. (To be honest, the one on the fridge is a scan. The original, like the Shroud of Turin, is kept under laminated bulletproof glass in an airtight case and stored in my fire box, along other important papers, so that nothing can happen to it.)

So how was I going to ever stand in for Doug? The pressure was great.

I started by watching my video interview with Doug from a couple of years ago to try and get a couple of ideas and then it hit me! Let’s go completely out of comfort zone (and intelligence level)….let’s talk 3D printers because…..well…after drinking 3 beers and watching 3,021 videos of them, I thought I could. And, since Doug is a techno weenie… I might actually impress him.

Here are my findings: I want a 3D printer at home. It can take the place of my at-home-mail-scale-meter that sits next to the fax machine. (I ain’t getting rid of the fax machine…cuz I still have 4 cases of thermal paper for that thing!)

Aaaand…if I had a 3D printer, here’s what I’d print:

  • Some of them will print human organs in the future. Mine would print a new brain for people that Doug loves to hate: People that have no idea how to drive in the Pittsburgh rain.
  • Bacon.. thick, well-done, bacon
  • Amish clothes for high-school aged girls. Reason? When my daughter was first born, I swore that I would become a world renowned fashion designer by the time she was in high school and assure ALL OTHER FATHERS that I would make the Amish look (covered neck to ankle) cool before she became of age. I missed my window of opportunity but I can still help other fathers, by showing how cool it would be to print and wear clothes.. even Amish clothes.
  • Christmas tree lights…new one’s every year. Chuck the old ones with the tree!
  • 25 more printers so that I can print all of the letters of the alphabet instead of just s “D’s.”

One last thing… “if I had a 3D printer….” should be the 2015 remake of the Peter, Paul and Mary song, “If I Had a Hammer.”

(You’re welcome for the ear worm!)

Enjoy April Fool’s Day. What would YOU print on a 3D printer?

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We are taking part in a Pittsburgh wide blogger exchange. Here’s a list of everyone taking part if you’d like to see the rest of the mayhem going around the city!

The AP CollectionBeezus KiddoPittsburgh Happy HourOrange Chair BlogIn Pursuit of SimpleLucy QuinThe Wheezy RunnerPittsburgh is BeautifulLast Minute PanicThe Almond EaterA Body of One’s OwnLunges, Long Runs and LattesDowntown Living Emily LevensonParmesan PrincessOh Honestly, ErinSole for the SoulCrank Crank RevolutionThe Pittsburgh Mommy BlogYum Yum PGH Ya JagoffGardening in High HeelsSean’s RamblingsPittsburgh Taste BudsThe Foodtasters – My Blog n’at – The Fashionable Eyejelly jarsDon’t Forget to EatSmall Town DadJosh’s WorldThe Steel TrapIn Pursuit of Happiness101 AchievementsA Librarian’s Lists and LettersPennies, Pints, Pittsburgh30-Something therapyRed Pen MamaNicky D. Cookseverybody loves you…

Cutting the cord – Why my family got rid of cable

March 31st, 2015 3 comments

“You want to do WHAT?!?! “

“Is that your way of saying you want a divorce?”

Cutting The Cord Cable Boxes

That was my reaction when it was first suggested to me that we cut the cord and get rid of cable. I was unemployed for 7 months and bills were starting to strangle us. We had to find some way to free up money and in my mind getting rid of TV wasn’t even a possibility. Funny how the world works as now I’m an advocate for “cutting the cord”.

This could be a lengthy post so I’m breaking it up into two. First the why you should cut the cord and then the tools that can help you decide if this is right for you.

Cutting out cable is NOT for everyone. I want to make that perfectly clear. I’ve been addicted to cable since our first box in the early 80s and thought it HAD to be in my life. What I learned when I stepped away from traditional cable was that I didn’t need it and fighting over the remote became a thing of the past. There are plenty of alternatives out there; this is based on my experience.

Are you ready to take the red pill, stay in Wonderland and see how deep the rabbit-hole goes?

Good. Let’s continue.

What are the main reasons you want to get rid of cable?

  • Save money
  • You hate The Man and want to stick it to him
  • 400 channels and nothing to watch
  • You have hope that there is a better experience out there.

That last one is what many of us want. We want a better experience. We want to have a say in what we pay for. When you think about it, we’re part to blame in this. No one has stood up to the big companies and said “I’m mad as hell and I’m not going to take it anymore!”.

There has only been one option for current TV and you just shut up and pay the money. You’re unhappy but too bad because that’s just the way things are. I’m here to tell you, not anymore.

How the cost breaks down

My average cable bundled bill was around $160/including equipment and whatever misc. fees they tacked on. Over the course of a year that is $1920. After the initial cost of equipment ($30 antenna, $35 streaming stick) cutting the cord costs me $90/mo. for Netflix/internet access/SlingTV. That’s $70/mo. in savings or $840/yr. I bumped up my Internet speed because I use it for live streaming of the podcast but you can expect similar savings.

What’s on the boob tube yo
There isn’t anything on TV you can’t watch online somewhere. Most major networks either have their shows streaming on their website the following day or have their shows on Hulu Plus. As an added bonus, there are award-winning shows being produced strictly for Amazon and Netflix. Your DVR is about to become obsolete.

If you’re a sports junkie this really isn’t a good decision… for now. The NBA has started to stream games (TNT is available on SlingTV) and I would expect the NHL, which embraces technology more than most leagues, to be next. I hope the MLB sees the potential here but local TV deals are too lucrative. Could you get their online service and connect to a VPN out of state? Sure, but it’s the MLB and they’ve done a good job of stopping it. There are ways around it so ask a networking friend on the how-to of it. If college sports are your thing, check with your favorite school to see if they have a digital package available.

ESPN and ESPN2 are streaming on a service I have called SlingTV which has eased the pain of disconnect. My current package consists of 25 channels (TNT, AMC, History Channel, TBS, Food Network, Cooking Channel, ABC Family to name a few), which covers everything we would want to watch.

Binge watching

What? Seriously. BINGE WATCHING! This is the practice of watching marathons of shows over the course of a short period of time and I didn’t think this was a real thing until it happened at home. Most times it’s with TV shows that have since ended and are available on Netflix. In my case, I’m catching up on a lot of TV that I missed while having little kids.

My wife started with getting sucked into the world of “Gilmore Girls” which turned into a 24/7 obsession that she could watch on TV and on her phone. I was consumed by “Arrested Development”, “Parks & Recreation”, “House of Cards” and most recently “Breaking Bad”. I would say to myself “Just one more…” and next thing I know it’s 4 hours later.

Growing pains

This is still a relatively new concept and there are problems. I have problems with over the air programming coming in clear in my living room but my bedroom is near flawless. You are at the mercy of your internet connection so check with your provider to see if there is a data cap.

Up next I’ll roll up the sleeves and talk about the hardware and services available.

Categories: Misc.

Taco Bell’s Country AM Crunch Wrap

March 30th, 2015 No comments

I admit it, something on TV sucked me in.  It’s rare I see food advertised on TV and say “OMFG I NEED THIS IN MAH BELLY! NOM NOM NOM!” and this wasn’t one of those moments either. Instead, Taco Bell released a new commercial declaring war on McDonalds with “Breakfast Defectors“. The ad isn’t over the top food shots (in fact you never see the actual food until the end) but is a jab at another giant. No “OOHHH MY CHEESE IS SO GOOOOEEEYYY HAWT AND GOOD YUUMMMM!” but break away from the same old boring breakfast you grew up with. Curiosity got the best of me.

YouTube Preview Image
(View on YouTube)

Fast food breakfast isn’t something I frequent but there have been mornings when I’m rushing to get the kids out of the house for school and I don’t have time for breakfast. Zip it those of you without kids, it happens. Deal with it.

McDonalds is the most convenient with my route but their breakfast is boring. I’ve hit up Chick-Fil-A and love the breakfast burrito but it’s a significant time suck to get there. Wendy’s, Subway and the others aren’t even on the map of my route but Taco Bell is. Honestly I forgot they had breakfast and figured the ad campaign with the old men complaining was an experiment they gave up on. Taco Bell rebooted the breakfast image and it is good.

I’m someone who doesn’t like the uneasiness of ordering from an unfamiliar menu and pressure of holding up the drive-thru so I ventured inside to ease into my purchase. “Ah there we go, the funny shaped breakfast thinger I’ve seen on TV.” I decided on the California AM Crunch Wrap but when I pulled into work I discover the Country AM Crunch Wrap in my bag. I check the receipt and sure enough, Country. UGH. Swore I said California.

Taco Bell Country AM crunchwrap Meal Taco Bell Country AM crunchwrap

Take a moment and click the images above.

Yeah buddy, that’s a little giddy-up right there. It’s everything I love about breakfast stacked on top of each other. Cheese-Eggs-Sausage-Hashbrown or as Taco Bell likes to describe it “A warm flour tortilla with a golden crispy potato hash brown, fluffy scrambled eggs, a delicious sausage patty, real cheddar cheese and warm country gravy, wrapped up and grilled to go.” but is it really?

  • A warm flour tortilla – It wasn’t like “blanket fresh out of the dryer” warm but close.
  • golden crispy potato hash brown – I don’t know what the crack is they put in their hash browns but it should be illegal. Today was my first time eating one and it’s a step above others.
  • fluffy scrambled eggs – can’t have fluffy when it’s crammed in a package like this but it didn’t taste like the instant egg mix the lunch ladies served us in catholic school.
  • delicious sausage patty – I wouldn’t go as far as to say delicious but it wasn’t bad.
  • real cheddar cheese – it’s much better than fake cheddar cheese
  • warm country gravy – WHAT! IT’S SUPPOSED TO HAVE GRAVY? I feel cheated. So so cheated.
  • wrapped up and grilled to go – Easiest breakfast on the go available. Obviously I cut mine at my desk but you could eat this on the run with no problem.

For you health nuts, here are the nutritional facts. Knowing what was in it made the rest of my day easy to plan with MyFitnessPal so I could eat this guilt free. For the record, my lunch was raw vegetables and an apple. See, life balance :)

Country AM crunchwrap Nutrition Facts

Was THIS one worth it? Maybe if it had the gravy but that California one, I have you in my sight big guy. Will I go back there for breakfast? It was a much better experience than I had in my head going there.

 

Categories: Food