My Year In Review

my year in chalkboard

before and after morro bay 2013 was a very good year for me.  I started out not wanting to make a new years resolution out of fear of the disappointment that would always come from breaking it.  I decided to make one after a few days, and I stayed with it, well, until July anyway.  I said I wanted to lose weight and I did.  By July I had lost 70lbs with an android app called Noom, but then the weight stopped dropping and I gained 10lbs back, but fluctuated throughout the rest of the year.  I started out the year at 264lbs, went down to 194lbs and as of today I am 205lbs.  I will make another resolution to get back on my diet so I can get down to the weight that I wanted to get down to.  I know how to do it, I just need the willpower.

xray1 On March 16th I had an accident while riding the bicycle home from the grocery store at night and I broke my arm.  It was the ball of my left arm that fits into the shoulder socket.  I didn’t have a cast, instead all I was given was a sling from the emergency room.  By that time I had already lost 35lbs, and as you can already tell from the previous paragraph, the broken arm didn’t stop me from reaching my weight loss goal.

etsy banner While I was recovering from my broken arm, I decided that I wanted to start a new craft.  Well, it wasn’t really a new craft, it was an old craft that I learned when I was 9 and in the Cub Scouts.  I had some materials, so I wanted to use them up by making a couple of keychains.  I had so much fun that I decided that I wanted to learn a more complicated pattern.  I got so good at it and I was having so much fun that I ended up with about 40 keychains, so I opened up an Etsy shop.  I started out with keychains, and I added dangle keychain style earrings, studs and hoops and I already have plans on making and selling dream catcher earrings.

On June 26th, the Supreme Court of the United States ruled DOMA to be unconstitutional and Prop 8 was finally repealed.  HURRAY!  What a glorious day that was for the gay community in California.  In fact, 18 (or 19) states made gay marriage legal in 2013 and legal on a federal level.  The reason I said or 19 is because Wikipedia doesn’t include DC, but says eighteen states AND District of Columbia.  Whatever.  18 or 19, it’s still a huge victory for us.  Illinois is in that 18, but theirs isn’t legal until June 2014.

IMAG2002 In late July I started having pain in my parotid gland, which happens at least 2 or 3 times a year for I want to say the last 10 years, but I am not positive.  It’s been going on for a very long time.  The parotid gland is the saliva gland and for some reason the saliva doesn’t release into my mouth, instead something blocks the way and it swells up to the size of a golf ball or bigger.  I try to milk it so the saliva goes into my mouth, and that does work, but it hurts really bad.  The doctors usually give me an antibiotic and it clears up in a week, but this time it didn’t clear up.  My doctor sent me to an ear, nose throat doctor and to have an ultrasound which showed that I had a stone inside of my parotid gland.  The ENT doctor sent me to have a cat scan with contrast which showed that I had several stones in both of my parotid glands, but the ones on the right side were much bigger than the left.  I had surgery on November 20th to remove my parotid gland.  The area is still numb and I was told it will probably be numb for another couple or few months.  YAY!

My back has caused me tons of pain for so many years and this summer I finally found out what was causing it.  Apparently I have scoliosis in my spine.  I told my aunt about it and she told me that my great-grandmother was born with scoliosis and she lived her entire life with it.  I remember she had a hump on her back, that was the scoliosis.  My doctor sent me to physical therapy for a month and that halted the pain, but it didn’t correct anything.  I have an appointment in January to start treatment up again, and it’s a good thing too because the pain is already starting to come back.  My first treatment was a shock, no, seriously, they put these electrodes on my back and it shot electricity to my nerves to dull them.  They had me do exercises for half an hour and then they would give me a deep tissue massage. The electrode was only applied to me on the first visit, all the other appointments were just me laying on the table doing exercises and then massages.  The last couple appointments didn’t include a massage.

bread slicer pumpkin bread We went to a thrift store in October and I found a bread machine for only $6.  I can’t say I have ever had homemade bread before, like ever, so that was quite an experience.  I did learn that I was doing it wrong for a very long time when I had such a horrible stomachache which felt like I had a 10lb brick sitting in my stomach.  Apparently the bread was too dry.  I read the instructions.  It clearly stated that I was to use exact measurements, no more, no less, so I was only doing what I was told to do, but apparently rules are made to be broken.  Now the bread is light and fluffy and it actually tastes better than store bought bread.  My favorite bread to make is Spiced Pumpkin Bread with raisins.  Have you ever had a ham sandwich or a peanut butter and strawberry jam sandwich with pumpkin bread with raisins?  It’s quite awesome.  Although I will have to cut back on the bread when I start my diet up again.

We also helped feed a couple of neighbors for Thanksgiving and Christmas, which frankly is what the holidays are all about.  It’s nice to receive presents, but it’s even nicer to do a good deed for someone.  I guess those were our good deeds for the year.

Of course we exchanged presents.  I got a Nook HD+ 32GB tablet from my partner, and I gave him a Google Chromecast so he can watch Netflix and YouTube from his tablet, plus I got him Netflix.

I don’t know what will happen in 2014, but I’m sure it will be as memorable as 2013.  Merry Christmas and Happy New Year to you all!

Google Chromecast

Chromecast

I didn’t know what to get my partner for Christmas because he doesn’t seem to show any interest to anything.  Everyone has a hobby of some sorts, but not him, so buying presents is difficult.  Last month he bought a new tablet from Verizon and I remember seeing the ads for Chromecast, so I figured this would make the perfect gift for him so he could watch Netflix and YouTube on his HDTV.

Chromecast Icon CircledOf course when it came, I couldn’t get it working.  I thought the setup would be easy, but it was anything but.  His tablet recognized it, but wouldn’t connect with it.  I decided that he could use my CR-48 (Chromebook) to watch Netflix, so I installed the extension and it recognized the Chromecast and connected instantly.  I went back to his tablet to the Chromecast app and it was already connected there too.  Despite the fact that I never even installed the Chromecast app on my Nook HD+, I see the Chromecast connect icon on Netflix and YouTube.

When I bought the Chromecast through the Google Play Store, I read the reviews and saw a couple of people bitching about the fact that you cannot watch home videos or pictures you have taken with your phone or tablet, but I found that to be false.  If you own a Chromecast, when you go to the Google Play Store on your device you will see a category with apps made specifically for Chromecast.  There is an app called avia which says you can share your personal photos, videos and music on the big screen.  The app is free, but it might be limited because it says “In-app purchase of $2.99  gives you Chromecast support, casting to DLNA enabled devices, access to Dropbox, support for themes and removes all ads.”  As with everything in life, read the reviews and decide for yourself.  There is only one app that will allow you to share your personal photos and videos… for now.

Loading the Chromecast is simple.  When you want to watch something, just click the Chromecast icon so it streams to your TV, then hit the play button and it will automatically switch to the Chromecast.  When you are done, you will have to get the remote control that came with your TV to switch the input back to the cable.  It’s actually very easy.

It’s a great device for those who don’t have an internet streaming device like the Apple TV, Roku or a Blu-ray player, it’s also cheaper at only $35.

Here are a couple of screenshots of YouTube and Netflix with the Chromecast icon.

Chromecast YouTube Chromecast Netflix

Nook HD+ for Christmas

desktop landscape

I was totally not expecting this, but my partner bought me a Nook HD+ 32GB for Christmas. I was saving money to buy an Amazon Kindle Fire because I thought it was better than a Nook tablet. I had no idea that the Nook tablet had the Google play store now. So I changed my mind, but was still saving the money and was expecting that I would finally have the money saved by my birthday in June. I told my partner what I was planning, and I think he took that as a hint. It wasn’t, but hey, I’m not complaining lol.

I have a Nook WiFi, which is still very nice to have for when I want to read a book in the sunlight. That doesn’t happen very often, but it does happen. You can’t see a tablet screen in sunlight which is what makes a e-ink screen superior than a tablet in that sense.

I was saving up for the 7″ screen with only 8GB, but when we were at the Barnes & Noble store he saw the two screens next to each other and decided for me that the 9″ screen was better, and that 32GB would also be way better than only 8GB which I highly agree with. The price however was a huge difference. The 7″ tablet was only $129 and the 9″ was $179. I agree that the one he bought me is better though, and I probably would have regretted not getting the bigger one.

library portrait There was a problem with my new Nook though. The first day was okay, but the second day wasn’t. The screen started freaking out on me. It would move side to side on its own and it would drop app icons onto the desktop from the carousel at the top. It also went into my library and started downloading books and magazines from the cloud. I saw it in the Nook store and freaked out that it would start making executive decisions on what it thought I should start reading.

I called the store and tried to explain to them what was happening, but the tech didn’t get it right away. She eventually understood and walked me through resetting it to factory and told me if I had any more problems to bring it in for another one. It did, and so we went in the very next day. It was a good thing too because they were on sale, so they gave my partner the difference, which was $32. Not bad eh? Instead of being $179, it was only $149.

So yeah, the Nook HD+ 32GB was a very good thing. I’ve been putting my computer in sleep mode while I use the Nook as a computer. No sense in using electricity if I’m going to use a tablet instead of a computer. I am disappointed that I can’t play the Sims FreePlay on it though. I’ve been playing that on my cell phone for a year now and it gets frustrating when it crashes constantly. I would love to free up some space on my phone and play it on a bigger screen.

landscape book

I was worried that I wouldn’t be able to read books on the screen because I much prefer either paper or e-ink, but it’s actually not that bad to read from. I’ve been reading in landscape mode and it reads just like a book, it even looks like a book when you turn the page. The reason I’m reading in landscape mode is because of the case I have. It’s much easier for me to read with the Nook sitting on my desk than it is to hold it on my hand.

I am very happy with my gift. I’m even happier that I didn’t have to save the money for it because I can’t save money very easily because it always goes into the groceries. I’m even happier that the replacement didn’t freak out like the first one lol.

We didn’t buy the case in the store because I thought they would be expensive, so I bought it on Amazon for $11 with free shipping.  Not a bad price.  I found out that the cases they have in the store are only $15, but I am very happy with the case that I have because it rotates so it can stand in portrait or landscape mode.

We don’t conform to the rules of opening your Christmas presents ON Christmas day.  Screw that noise lol.  We will open our presents when we gosh darn well please thank you very much.  The present I bought for him wasn’t quite as expensive though, it was the Google Chromecast for $35.  He can use it to watch Netflix or YouTube directly from his tablet.  My second gift for him was Netflix itself, which we both can enjoy from our tablets and the Blu-ray player.