Nostalgia...
Spent a few minutes today looking for a picture that I took back in 2006.. had to search my web server for a bit... then I searched through my blog archives too... had me thinking about how much things have changed in my life in the last 6 years.  If only I could export my blog items into facebook timeline... meh, that sounds like work and I have enough of that to go around.  My house in Oshkosh is still on the market, but it's a construction zone right now with all new streets and sewers going in, so you can't even get near the place.  I should be using this time to paint the place and get gutters installed but that hasn't happened as of yet. 
Yep, still here...
So um yeah, I haven't made a blog post since prior to the wedding last May.  I've been busy, yo!  What's new you ask?  A lot.  The wedding was great, a bit cold, but it turned out very nice!  We had a blast!  The honeymoon was great too, Mexico was a hoot!  Let's see... what else?  I started working on my Corrado, I hope to have it running in 2012.  Work is busy.. my house in Oshkosh is rented, but still "for sale".  We're slowly updating rooms in Omro.  We renovated the "man room" and added a fireplace.  We'll likely start working on the living room early in 2012.
Getting close!
The wedding is only 5 days away! Trying to tie up all the loose ends to be prepared. At this point, just about everything is ready... really hoping for some good weather for Saturday, so far it's up in the air. Regardless, we'll have a good day! Looking forward to Playa del Carmen in Mexico too! A week of relaxation is very much needed at this point!
Time is flying!
The house is just about ready to get listed for sale... can't wait for that to be sold!!!  I'll be making the call this week and should hopefully have it pretty much ready to rock... so I can focus my time and money on other tasks... which are starting to pile up.  The wedding is not far off now, we have a list of things to get buttoned up, invites, menus, flowers, songs, etc... We have to figure out my bachelor party plans too.

In other news, Trish and I joined a group of Loon-a-ticks for some ice climbing and snowshoeing in Munising, Michigan.  We had a great weekend!  We saw the start of the UP200 dogsled race, which apparently is a qualifier for the Iditarod.  We enjoyed some Lake Superior Whitefish, the smoked whitefish appetizer at the Vierling was my favorite.  The micro and nono breweries were also very good!  We found a waterfall to climb, it wasn't very high, but it was a great setting for us to get some practice and work on technique!  It was out of the wind and plenty difficult for those of us who have only climbed a handful of times.  We did a bit of snowshoeing as well and a lot of hot tubbing!  It was a really good time!


Wedding site is up and running!
Trish and I have been uber busy planning the wedding, working on getting my house in Oshkosh ready to sell, and obviously busy with all the holiday festivities but I was able to squeeze in some time to get our wedding website created and online.  There is still some info to be added to the site, but it's pretty much all there.  I put together a bunch of different galleries to go along with most the pages, enjoy. :)
New Server, hooray!
Thanks to Karl, I have a new web server, yay!

The house is coming along nicely... finally getting to the paint... can't wait till it's done!
Dumpster is gone.. time to rebuild
So the house is basically empty and we've gutted a lot of it, the dumpster is long gone and we've been working frantically to get things put back together so we can hopefully sell the place.  The new kitchen floor is in, we grouted last Friday and now the place will finally start taking shape.  I can't wait to share pictures of the progress, once there is something to see.  As of last night, the cabinets were still boxed and the appliances scattered around the kitchen.  The plumber was set to do her work this morning, I'll be heading there after work to make sure that was all done as planned... then some insulation will go in followed by drywall, then paint, then the cabinets and counter tops can finally get installed and it will look like a kitchen again!  I think the bathroom could get installed as early as tomorrow.  I've put off the carpet installation until after we paint the bedrooms and dining room.  People will not recognize this place when I'm done... but mostly, I hope somebody takes it off my hands cause I'm not really interested in being a landlord.
Great Dumpster Cleanout
The "Great Dumpster Cleanout" begins tomorrow morning!  Once the dumpster arrives at my old house in Oshkosh, I'll be tossing the crap that has piled up at that house for the last 12 years and the stuff that was there when I first moved in... Plus the renovation trash as well.

It's going to be a crazy month with the cleaning and renovations going on there along with a couple of parties this month.. hosting one and attending at least one other, but I bet more Halloween events will sneak up on me... not to forget playing hockey every weekend and trying to indoor rock climb as much as I can.
Busy busy busy!
So, my blog has been quite dead as of late.. I figure most people keep up to date with my daily rantings on The Book rather than checking here on my old bloggy thing.... but since I clicked on the link to login and post, I'll do just that.

Things are crazy busy right now, it's exciting and daunting all at the same time.  Wedding planning is going alright, we have the venue and dj booked.. we have our engagement photos taken but are still in the works of making some "save the dates" for the out of towners.  Branden is moving out of my house in Oshkosh, which means it's dumpster time!  It's also time to finish moving my things to Omro and to renovate the bathroom and kitchen at that house before I sell or rent it... I'll probably put a for sale sign in the yard after Branden moves out and after I've at least done "the great dumpster cleanout"... but I'm guessing in this market, I should just renovate on a budget and get it rented asap.

So, I've been using MS OneNote to keep tabs (punny!) on all my projects and have actually had to make some weekly checklists so that I feel like I've actually accomplished something in regards to these projects.  There are more projects in the works, but I don't need to bog you down with the details but the 'man room' is on that list and so is getting the corrado running!!!

Speaking of which, the corrado had hobbyist plates now and "woot" is on the GTi!

Peace, out!
It's been awhile... sorry
I doubt anybody is even reading my blog these days... but since it's where I load all my pictures and keep all my important web links... I figure I'll still write here from time to time.. Obviously it won't be as up to date as facebook... but whatever.

Trish, GeeBee, and I took a trip out to Montana last month to visit her parents and to ski!  While out there, I popped the question and Trish said, "Yes!"  Now we are hip deep in our wedding planning.  We've secured a venue and therefore have a date for the event: May 14, 2011, in Oshkosh.  We took some time and visited quite a few locations before deciding on one, but now that is out of the way, we can relax a little bit... although we are meeting with the flower guy tonight and should call up the suggested DJ in the near future to have them penciled in!  Trish decided to have a dress custom made, so that is in the works, I hope.  We picked out my ring and Trish got to see her matching band, those pictures are all on facebook, along with pictures from Montana.  I haven't had time to make a fancy flash gallery.

The proposal took place right after a sleigh ride up the mountain on our way to dinner cooked in a wood fired stove that also heats the cabin at Lone Mountain Ranch in Big Sky, Montana.  Trish's parents were along to enjoy the experience with us.  Also while in Montana, we went dog sledding and did a lot of snow shoeing.

What else is up?  Hmm... I did my first 4 ebay sales last week.. made a few bucks from old parts off my bike rack, now that I've converted it over to the GTi.  I've started to organize the garage in preparations for the Corrado moving there soon.  I got some power run, some lights hung and my toolbox joined Gregg's in the garage.  I've also been helping Collin a fair bit on his Rabbit Pickup truck... it's running and has all sorts of new parts in it.. axles, tie rods, ball joints, etc... we steamed the interior, that was a hoot... now it just needs some tires and it will be ready to drive!
Wintersports Wonderland!
Trish and I found a dog headlamp (puplight) and have been snowshoeing at night at the Nature Preserve quite regularly.  Gee Bee wasn't weirded out by the LED light hanging from an extra collar on her chest.  Gee Bee was craving some fun exercise, so now that we all have lights, we'll be going out as much as we can.  It was difficult to take her someplace fun before having the lights as the white dog is hard to keep track of in the snow and we both get home from work after dark this time of year... so we're all getting much needed exercise and having fun doing it!

Along with doing a lot of snowshoeing, it's time for ice climbing!  Trish was nice enough to hook me up with some of the gear necessary, so I don't have to beg/borrow/steal what I need to do it.  There is a demo event going on in DePere at a rock quarry (theicepit)next weekend that we are going to attend and then in early February, we'll be going to Upper Michigan to the Munising Ice Festival (munisingicefest), where we will again demo top end gear and climb some frozen waterfalls.  We'll also be doing some more snowshoeing up there.. .it should be a hoot!

My Sunday hockey has actually been somewhat annoying as of late... I think I'm pretty sure that I'll be playing in Oshkosh next season instead of Appleton.  They charge too much for what you get and the drive is just too time consuming and costly.  Not to mention that I'm very annoyed with some of the rink staff and the team has been somewhat of a disappointment this season.  I love playing with them, there are just too many positives for playing closer to home.

So... on to my next dilemma...  I have a couple things I'm mulling over.  Xbox360 or PS3?  and do I renew my Sirius radio?  I'm leaning toward 360 because it will do my main goal of streaming netflix, which both will do, but it will also allow me to play some sweet games with longtime friends on xbox live.  That said, xblive costs money... whereas currently the sony online stuff is free and the ps3 is a bluray player... so it's a difficult choice.  As for sirius sat radio... well I do use it daily and I spend at least an hour in the car everyday.. but the car is equipped with a 6 disc mp3 changer in the dash and ipod dock, so it's not like I don't have alternatives.. but I like bbc world news and alt nation for new music.  It's tough.. I listen to Stern too, so I'd be paying $12.99/month for that service.. ugh.. just not sure I want to justify it.  I did, however, cancel my ffxi account, so I'm not spending the $12/month on that game anymore... so it could be a wash.  Obviously these problems are pretty trivial when you consider the state of the union and the world... so I'll shut up now and go back to work.
Which way is up?
It seems like it was Thanksgiving just yesterday and now it's Christmas already... where is the time going?  The slow start to winter ramped up with a couple of good snow storms now with another one heading our way.  We've only had a chance to go snowshoeing once so far... but I see many more trips in the near future.

I helped Lisa move out of Trish's on Thanksgiving weekend and I've slowly started bringing more of my stuff in.  We made up the guest bedroom already and put the sewing machine in there, next up will be to get the studio setup and we are still slowly but surely working on the game room.  We have decisions to make about the cast iron wood burning stove and the radial arm saw that are in there right now...and we need to have a look at fireplace options for that room as well.  The finishing touch will be deciding on a pool table.

Other things going on... I've been tempted to buy another catamaran.. I found a sweet deal on a 18 footer that would be great for sailing with 3-4 people instead of my 16 that is really only good for two.  We'll see if it's still available come spring, no sense buying a boat in the middle of winter.

Trish and I will be joining Joe and Jeri for the Minnesota Wild v. L.A. Kings game on New Year's Eve!  I can't wait!  I seem to recall, Ben, Karl, and I did a similar trip back a handful of years and we ended up partying in Eau Claire that night.  We won't be driving that night at all as we have a hotel near the rink... so we'll just hang in downtown St. Paul for the festivities!

I'm hoping that Trish and I can make the trip up to Munising, Michigan for the annual Ice Fest, so we can do some snowshoeing and ice climbing.  I hope Lisa will join us again too!  Also, there is a demo day at a local quarry where you can ice climb... we may be able to squeeze that into our schedule as well.  All that in January and Early February.. then Trish, GeeBee, and I plan to make the drive out to Montana for some skiing, snowsports, and good times with her parents.

p.s. I still love my android phone!  Go HTC Droid Eris and go Verizon!
Rum, Redstripe, and the Droid Eris
Trish and I had a wonderful time in Jamaica, it was very relaxing and a lot of fun!  We did all sorts of activities from scuba diving, snorkeling, and sailing to just sitting on a lounger reading a book.  We even managed to get in some tennis.  Trish was especially proud that she got me to just relax for hours on end, something I rarely do.  I'm a bit of a busy body, especially when traveling.

The trip wasn't without a few hurdles but even I was in "no problem" mode and we just rolled with it.  A flat tire on our bus barely slowed us down on our trip to the resort.  I managed to get my hands dirty to help get us on the road again.

The resort was amazing!  A very nice renovation took place over the last year at Couples Tower Isle (Ocho Rios), and it maintained it's old world charm while bringing some very nice, new accommodations.  I really enjoyed the relatively small size of the resort, it allowed the staff to become familiar with us an even learn our names and our favorite drinks!  I have to say, my favorite part of the resort is a toss up between the amazing food and the private island, with the service being a close third.  They really do treat you like kings and queens.

I have a flash gallery above for your viewing pleasure, but if you want a more detailed view of our trip, check out my GALLERY.

Now on to my new toy... Since Verizon joined forces with my cell carrier, Alltel, I was a little unsure whether or not I would stay with them or move to ATT so that I could buy an iPhone.... the downside to moving is that I am under contract until August 2010... so it would be a long wait or a painfully expensive transition.  The other option was to pray and hope that ATT doesn't renew their iPhone exclusivity deal with Apple, although from what I've read, it sounds like they are already talking about the renewal.  I don't think ATT can afford to not do it, regardless of what Apple wants, that said... I'm pretty much not going to get a iPhone, at least not in the near future.  The problem is that I'm really starved for a smartphone right now.. it's been a year and a half without one and I really want one and until recently, there really weren't any iPhone alternatives that wow'ed me.

Along comes the Android operating system from Google and a few new devices.  The initial android phones weren't all that special but with all the hype around the Motorola Droid, I decided to take a good look at the android options with Verizon.  A co-worker bought a moto droid a few days after it released and I was able to have a first hand look at it and some of the apps that came out for it.  My initial thoughts about the moto droid were that it was a bit heavy and clunky feeling but the apps and apps to come would be very nice since Google is the force behind the product, it's not going away.  A far less marketed phone was the Droid Eris from HTC.  It released the same time as the Motorola Droid and really has a lot to offer the Droid user community.  The hardware is a bit slimmer and a lot lighter.  It doesn't have a slide out physical keyboard but really that isn't a downfall since the on-screen keyboard is amazing!  I think the keyboard on the moto droid is one of it's biggest downfalls!  It makes it thicker and very heavy in comparison.  The only negative so far on the Eris is that it released on Android 1.5 instead of 2.0 that the moto droid released with although they promise that it will be upgradable in the near future once they work out some bugs with the HTC Sense User Interface.  Sense UI, is a really good selling point of the Eris, I really like it!  It has a lot of options and a lot of screen real estate to work with!  Another selling point is that it's only $99 with contract renewal after a $100 rebate.  $100 less than the moto droid...  Thank you very much!  Also, since Verizon and Alltel joined forces, it seems that Verizon is happy to offer some incentives to get you on a Verizon phone plan rather than having to keep the Alltel offerings around... so they happened to send out a letter offering early renewal of contracts with the discounted phone options.

So I received my HTC Droid Eris on Friday and I really really like it!  The on-screen keyboard is great!  I was worried about that but after spending a few minutes at the Verizon store messing around with an Eris, I was happy that I could type very quickly on it.  The reseller store that I had planned to make my purchase in was a bit wish washy about honoring the letter saying I could upgrade, so I ended up doing it over the phone with Verizon directly and it was a great experience, by far, the best customer service I've ever received from a cell phone provider.  So far the Droid Eris is a 10/10.  The user interface is great, the apps are great with more being released daily, I was able to use active sync to connect to my personal exchange server for email, plus gmail, and the browser is amazing... it even has the "pinch/unpinch" zoom/unzoom functions.  And it has a trackball/pearl type thing for those who don't want to always touch the screen... a nice addition for sure!  I won't say iPhone killer, but really the Eris has a lot to offer and can really play with the big boys!  Now they just need to hammer out the "RSA" and encryption issues for Exchange Activesync for corporate use.  It works fine with SSL and Activesync but if you require on-device encryption, I don't think it will work for you just yet.

I'm sure I'll post back more feedback regarding the Droid Eris later...  Is it time to go back to Jamaica yet?
We be jamm'in mon!
Trish and I have finalized our vacation plans for next month, we are going to Ocho Rios, Jamaica, more specifically, Couples Tower Isle.  A beautiful all-inclusive, couples only resort that just received a 30 million dollar renovation, yet retained it's old world charm and art deco styling.  We are counting down the days till we leave....
Hill, Hamburgers, and curved roads, oh my!
Managed to get a small group of seven cars together for a short drive through the Northern Unit of the Kettle Moraine State Park on Saturday.  The drive was about an hour and a half, plus a bit more for a stop at the Hamburger Haus in Dundee.  It was the second time that I hit up the Kettles in my new GTi, but really the first time for an extended period... I ran through the small park section on my way to Road America for the VW Jetta TDI Cup/ALMS races back in August.  This time we hit up a few other roads that I had noted a few years back would be a good time for a cruise.  We only had one slight detour, the sign said the bridge was out, but it wasn't... regardless, the road was closed.  It was a hoot!  No issues with people driving stupid.. it was spirited but controlled! 

I also got to drive Josh's new 2003 BMW M5 for a short jaunt on some nice hills and curves just SW of Oshkosh... that car is a monster!  I'm sure he's happy with his purchase after spending an hour or two on the backroads with it!

In other news, I broke down and bought a small gps unit for the new car... I was really missing having maps at my fingertips like I had in the Corrado.  I searched around and compared Tomtom to Garmin, I would have liked to have bought a Garmin Nuvi, but to get the 4.3" widescreen in the Garmin was just a bit more than I wanted to spend.  I read lots of reviews and I'm sure I'll be happy with what I got for the money with my Tomtom xl 330.  It was a bargain on overstock.com  $129 shipped.  I'll probably post up a review of it shortly.
Dubs in the Valley
Pics are up from Dubs in the Valley.. mine are here: DIV09 Gallery 

Trish and I had a good time at the event but it was extremely toasty!  She won 2nd place Scirocco and Ladies choice!
My little GTi!
So... the Corrado needs the engine overhauled... an expensive and daunting task, one I'm not afraid to begin, unfortunately, I need to have a reliable daily driver to use in the meantime.  I'm driving a bit more these days with my job in Neenah and I don't think the Corrado needs all those miles, so that means she has to go to storage for awhile and I need a daily driver...  enter my new GTi:


gti3_sm.jpg

gti2_sm.jpg

My poor Jeep Comanche got the lethal oil change after I traded it in using the CARS (cash for clunkers) program, where I got $3500 for it.  I feel bad for my jeep, but really, it was the best solution because it's not worth anywhere near that much money.

So I picked up my new GTi on Saturday and I have over 300 miles on it already... it's so fun to drive!  The 2.0 Turbo is awesome and so is the 6 speed manual trans and I'm a big fan of the mileage that I'm getting too!  I have this crazy idea in my head that the white gti looks like a stormtrooper mask... so I'll have a plush stormtrooper as my mascot, very soon!
It's official, the Corrado needs an overhaul...
So at minimum, the engine in the corrado needs a ring job, but while doing that, I might as well bore the pistons and replace a bunch of other things... or I could just buy a short or long block replacement that is fully rebuilt already and drop that in there.  It could use a clutch, driver's side drive shaft, etc. etc..  basically, it's time for the corrado to turn into a restoration job instead of a daily driver and I'm okay with that.  I have been wanting to put it on light duty for awhile, I just hadn't been able to buy what I was really looking for.  Which was a German sport wagon, in the form of an Audi a4 avant or bmw 3 series touring.  They are difficult to find with a manual transmission, especially when I can't afford to buy new.... so I've reconsidered my needs/wants and have decided to look at a new VW GTi as my new daily driver car.  I surely didn't need to talk myself into that, but with incentives and loan rates so low right now on new cars, I can't resist the urge to take advantage of them. 

I also am planning to turn in the Jeep Comanche on the Car Allowance Rebate System (CARS), a program designed to get low mpg cars off the road in exchange for newer, more fuel efficient vehicles.  It's one of Obama's plans to help the environment and stimulate the economy at the same time... a pretty good idea!  I can get my truck off the road which gets terrible mileage and I get more than it's actually value in trade for it.  I think the CARS system, also being called "cash for clunkers", is supposed to be finalized on Friday.  I hope that everything goes as planned because I'm itching for my new car!
Corrado is sad. :(
The corrado started acting funny last week... I raised it and checked out the engine a bit thinking maybe it was just a bad motor mount, then this weekend things changed.  She started smoking out the exhaust pretty badly, which had me thinking "cracked headgasket"...  after the first conversation with the mechanic, now I'm just HOPING it's only a cracked headgasket and not a cracked head or something wrong with the rings!  We'll see what he says tomorrow after taking the top half off the engine.
Wow... time flies
Time flies when you are having fun...  I can't believe how fast the days have been going by.  It seems like I have no time to sit back and enjoy the summer.  You'd think that would be different now that I'm not slaving away at my old job... but I guess the time to enjoy the new freedom will be noticed in the coming weeks.  The cool temps have really slowed down my sailing this year.. I just got my boat on the ramp last week and have only taken it out once.

Good news though on the boat front... last year it took on a bit of water each trip but I re-sealed all the fittings that can leak and this trip out it barely took on any water, so I'm jazzed about that.

Next time I'll wear sunscreen, I swear!!!