Dropcam vs Nest Cam IQ Outdoor Camera

Ten years ago, security cameras are something that I would have never considered for my home (due to the complexity of installation and the expense). When Dropcam came along, it solved the problem of hardwiring a security camera and made it simple. I purchased a Dropcam (now Nest) a few years ago so I can keep an eye on the entryway of my home. The image quality has been pretty good and the alerts have been helpful. With my Dropcam, I can see when I get deliveries, visitors, and the random cat prowling around at 3am. This is especially helpful because I live by myself. In any case, having a security camera for your home is no longer a novelty item, it is a necessity.

There is nothing really wrong with my Dropcam, but I have heard a lot of chatter recently about the all new Nest Cam IQ Outdoor Camera so I set out to learn as much as I can, and investigate the possibility of upgrading. The first thing I learned is that they are much more expensive than my existing Dropcam which I think was less than $100. The Nest Cam IQ Outdoor are $ 349 each or $ 598 for a package of two (not an affiliate link).

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The second thing I learned is that IQ Outdoor comes with advanced features. One of my favorites is the facial recognition feature. You can read the overview of the features here. The third thing I learned is that they were sold out and unable to ship for 5-6 weeks at the time I was considering upgrading. This posed a problem as I was planning on heading out of town and having an upgraded security camera all of sudden became urgent. While searching the internets I stumbled on an eBay listing for the Nest Cam IQ Outdoor from a dealer and immediately bought it (especially because at the time they were sold out everywhere).

The first thing I noticed when I received the product is that the camera is noticeably bigger than my Dropcam and looks really nice. Everything it says it does, it does really well. The Nest Cam IQ Outdoor is a huge upgrade from my original Dropcam. What really surprised me is the quality of the image. Most reviews said there was no difference in the image resolution (from Dropcam). After I installed the new camera, I still had the old one installed so I can compare them side by side:

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That is a pretty noticeable improvement! Another bonus is that it integrates with my Google Home. All in all, the Nest Cam IQ Outdoor is a huge upgrade from my trusty old Dropcam. They are not cheap, but they are definitely worth the extra expense. They are super easy to install. It took me about 30 minutes tops. No hard wiring necessary provided you have an electrical outlet within 25′ of where you plan on installing it. I highly recommend that you add these camera’s to your home too.

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What I am Thankful For Thanksgiving 2017

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Happy Thanksgiving! It has been three beautiful years since I posted about what I am thankful for. One of my biggest gifts in life is being grateful. Being grateful for me is akin to being the richest person on the planet. Being grateful is happiness. Being grateful is love. Being grateful is free.

Being grateful is not easy, it is something that you have to actively pursue. The good news is that if you work hard enough, eventually it will become second nature and you will begin to see beauty in things that previously were oblivious to you. Bad days will soon disappear and your friends will start calling you Pollyanna (this is a good thing)!

I have many things to be grateful for. My health is excellent. I have a great career. I have lots of choices each day. I have friends who genuinely care for me. The list goes on and on. But this Thanksgiving, what I am most grateful for is being grateful. No matter how challenging my life can be, I can always find something to be grateful for. That is a gift that will always bring me joy. May you also find the gift of gratefulness and may it bring you as much happiness as it has for me.

 

I Agree With Marshawn Lynch

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Former Running Back for the Seattle Seahawks (current RB for the Oakland Raiders), Marshawn Lynch, has gained notoriety for dodging the media. Time after time he would ignore the media’s self-serving questions and remain silent. The few times he would speak, he would often say, “I’m just bout that action boss.”

His statement says a lot about who he is as a person. In his world, talking about achievements, performance, etc. have zero value. Marshawn values action. Let’s take a look at some of his actions:

  1. His 67 yard run against New Orleans caused a small earthquake in Seattle (Now known as the Beast Quake). He plowed through tackler after tackler with an epic straight arm in the end as he launched himself into the end zone for a score. Marshawn Lynch is tough, and he does not give up.
  2. After an epic performance in High School, Marshawn Lynch was interviewed after the game. Rather than focus on himself, he applauded his linemen for their contribution and said if he had enough money he was going to take them to Sizzler. Marshawn Lynch is humble.
  3. Early in 2016, Marshawn Lynch retired from football. When he learned that the Oakland Raiders were moving to Las Vegas, he came out of retirement to join the Raiders roster in 2017. Lynch said he was inspired to come out of retirement by the team’s impending move to Las Vegas saying that he wanted children currently growing up in Oakland to be able to see a home-grown football star play for the Raiders before the team is gone. Marshawn Lynch cares about his community.

Now before you light up the comments section with a list of the things he has done that were not desirable (Hit and run, etc.), that is not the point of my post. The point is that you can get insight into who a person is by paying attention to their actions.

Personally, I strive to be kind to everyone. I am sure that there are times that my actions do not support that trait for whatever reason, but I am positive that the majority of the time I am kind to people, mostly because I genuinely love most people. When I am not kind, I am aware of it because it is important to me. An argument can be made for my definition of kindness vs yours and if you find yourself going down that road (especially in a relationship) then you are self-serving because your focus should be on your partners’ needs versus your own. Don’t believe me? Then read it for yourself.

I’m with Marshawn. I don’t want to hear about how great you are. I don’t want to hear how nice you are. I want you to show me, consistently, with actions.

1991 Volkswagen Vanagon Westfalia

For as long as I can remember, I have wanted to have a camper van. Driving the coast to explore surf breaks, wander the US National Parks, fly fish the many streams we have and just all around good times has been calling my name for years. In June of this year, I decided to make my dream come true. The first thing I had to do was sell my mint 2006 BMW M3 (Manual 6SP, Black Coupe) which felt like I was selling a child. I owned this iconic M3 for 5 years and it is only fitting that I replaced it with another icon, the 1991 Volkswagon Westfalia. I am a big fan of the final production year of great vehicles (I also own a 2002 Toyota 4Runner Sport).

I have a process before purchasing a vehicle and it involves a boatload of research. There is so much information online. In the Westfalia’s case, I found TheSamba and GoWesty the best resources for learning everything about Westfalias. I also found myself spending a ton of time on eBay and Craigslist so I can get a pulse on market prices and availability. Just because a person is selling an item for “X” price, that does not dictate the value. What someone will pay for the item is what the value is. So do not get dismayed by what a vehicle (or anything for that matter) is selling for.

I decided to target the years 1986-1991 on the Vanagon Westfalias. Mostly because those years speak to my soul. They also have the silver/light interior and the water cooled engines. I liked the Weekenders but my heart was set on a full camper. I also decided that I was going to find the lowest mileage I could and one with absolutely no rust (In hindsight, I wish I would have focused more on a good foundation instead of low miles–I could have saved money on the purchase, and put that money towards the restoration). Low miles are not as important because you are likely going to want to replace or rebuild the engine as well as many of the other components.

After many phone calls and emails, I decided on a beautiful 1991 Vanagon Westfalia that was living in Denver, Colorado. It had 79K original miles, white original paint and in great condition. It also had some nice upgrades (Rocky Mountain Westy Twin Peaks Front and Rear Bumpers, GoWesty Solar panels, Engel MT45 fridge/freezer, Inverter and some other nice additions (including a medium sized box with a bunch of new parts from GoWesty that they just did not have time to install). Two days before I was set to fly to Denver I was able to speak with the mechanic who worked on it for the past 7 years. When I asked him about the minor oil leak disclosed by the seller he replied, “All Volkswagon’s leak oil” in a raspy sailor voice. That comment gave me caution. Had the owner not been so trusting and authentic I probably would have bailed. Each time I spoke with the owner, he had regret in his voice that he was selling it (for a larger RV) and ensured me that he took very good care of it. I concluded that I would get to the bottom of the leak and moved forward with the trip to Denver.

My plan was to fly into Denver first thing in the morning, inspect the vehicle and the records, exchange the funds, etc. and leave Denver by noon.  We planned on taking 5 days to drive it back to Seattle (You can read all about that trip here). We arrived in Denver and the owner picked us up at the airport. The whole experience was rather surreal. I love having a dream, formulating a plan to make it come true, executing and realizing it. It is a process that I continue to repeat in my life (personally & professionally) and it brings me much happiness and joy.  My heart smiled as he drove up and picked us up. We proceeded to drive to the bank which was about 20 miles away from the airport. This gave me time to ask all of the questions I prepared prior to the trip (“What things would you address if you were to keep the vehicle for a year?” “What would you do to prepare the vehicle for a cross-country trip?”, etc.). By the time we got to the bank I started getting really excited. We spent about 30 minutes formalizing the transaction and soon I was shaking his hand he started to get choked up. “Send me back the plates when you get new plates, would you (I plan on it, I have them ready to send)? Send me some pictures and keep me posted ok?

It was nearly noon as we headed out. First stop was the grocery store and then the gas station. We took 5 days to travel back to Seattle and had a wonderful trip! The van made it with one small issue (fuel line that was leaking, easy repair). The former owner kept in close contact with me via text to ensure we made it safely.

What I have learned in the past 45 days of owning a Westfalia? I am much less stressed driving this car than any other car. It is hard to get upset when your horn sounds like the Road Runner (meep-meep). I literally want to buy every part for my westy and I spend hours of my free time searching part pages and forums with an ultimate goal of completely restoring it (it is like having your first car as a teenager). I never knew how many cool ass Instagram pages there are about #vanlife #vanagon #westys #westfalia #wanderlust and it goes on and on. It is the coolest thing ever!

2017 Solar Eclipse Seattle

I just returned from viewing the Solar Eclipse and I wanted to quickly jot down some thoughts. First of all, David Baron’s Ted Talk on the Solar Eclipse is spot on (thank you SJV). It is something that everyone has to witness. If I could summarize the experience, I would say that such an event will remind you that you are very insignificant in the scope of things.

My partner and I made Solar Eclipse boxes last night in anticipation of the event. It took all of 5 minutes to make them and they worked like a charm. I was fortunate enough to have access to Solar Eclipse glasses (Thank you, Jesse, Grace, Amy, and Matthew) and let me tell you, totally worth whatever they cost. I would highly recommend them for future viewings as they allow you the ability to stare straight into the eclipse in crisp detail.  I used our homemade boxes, the glasses, and my iPhone 7S (in selfie mode) to record the event.

Our office is a stone throw away from the Olympic Sculpture Park so that was the venue of choice. It was packed which was super for people watching.

What I will remember most about the eclipse was the significant temperature change (it was about 10 degrees but such a drop in a short period of time is kinda eerie which is why it qualifies as significant in my book). Additionally, the lighting was dim and a bit apocalyptic feeling. I wished I would have made plans to see the total eclipse in Oregon but Seattle did get about 92% of the eclipse so it was still special. The next total eclipse in the US will be in 7 years on April 8, 2024, through Texas and the Northeast (Map on the linked page) and I will make sure that I will be there if I am fortunate to still be roaming this earth!

The Robert August Longboard That Broke my Heart

 

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Westport Winter, January 2014 on my beloved Robert August Precision Longboard

 

Six years ago I bought a longboard off of Craigslist. It was a Robert August Precision longboard, 9’6″ in length. I bought it from a salty sea princess who lived on a boat in Gig Harbor. She kept the board on the deck of her ship, perhaps a reminder of her better days. In any case, I bought the sun damaged board for about $ 200 and crossed my fingers it would not snap in two on my first wave. Turns out, it was the best board I have ever owned. I caught so many waves on it. Overhead, knee high, etc. I have never had as much fun on a surfboard than that one. The beauty of the board was that it was such a beater, but it was rock solid. Then, two years ago, I sold it.

Why did I sell it? I was in a “Surfers Journal” mood and concluded that my surfing had come to a standstill and that I needed to sell that board in order to advance my surfing. At the time I felt so mature and beyond most of my surfing peers. I replaced it with a solid 10′ Dewey Weber longboard that was in mint condition that would surely advance my surfing. It was from the 60’s and I found it in the rafters of a building in downtown Seattle. Score! My first session on that gem resulted in me falling hard and having that board drive into the side of my thigh giving me a charlie horse that lasted two weeks. Da Bull I was not. It was at that very moment that I realized I made a huge mistake selling the Robert August. Immediately I searched for the number of the person who I sold the Robert August to and could not locate it anywhere. I was heartbroken.

I needed to find something similar, fast. I set up a Craigslist alert and started obsessing about replacing my board. I could not remember the shape of the Robert August (Precision) at the time, all I knew is that it was a Robert August and that it had two red stripes in the design. Searching Google I found the Robert August Wingnut board and decided this was the closest thing to my dearly missed R.A. The shape was more narrow than my memory of my board and the reviews I had read suggested it was not going to be a similar experience than I had. However, the reviews also said that the Wingnut version was easier to turn and went rail to rail effortlessly, so I narrowed down a replacement to this shape.

I am going to spare you the failed eBay and Craigslist transactions (there were many). The biggest hurdle was finding this specific longboard in Washington (nearly impossible). I called Big Al at The Westport Surf Shop and asked if he had a Robert August for sale. He tried to talk me into a similar shape for a less price that “works just like a Robert August.” I know he was just trying to save me money which I appreciate but HE JUST DOES NOT UNDERSTAND!  The other challenge was shipping a board to Seattle (if I were lucky enough to find one). A longboard exceeds many familiar shipping companies (Fed Ex, etc) maximum length policies. Shipping direct with air cargo (Alaska Airlines, etc) is not an option unless you go through a freight forwarder (aka middleman “known shipper”). So you have to first find the board, then convince the seller to help you identify a shipper who can facilitate the delivery, have them pack it, etc. I got lucky. I found the board on Craiglist Orange County and it just so happens that the seller has a relationship with Hobie in Orange County and was able to ship it via their resource. After the dust settled, I paid $875 (shipping included) for the Robert August Wingnut I Longboard (in mint condition) that included a fin and a day bag. At that point, the cost did not matter. I was like a junkie needing a fix.

 

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Westport, August 2016, Wingnut I’s Maiden Voyage

 

Earlier this month I took my new board to Westport for my first surf. The surf was liquid glass and small which provided the perfect testing ground for my new board. The Wingnut I was much lighter than my previous R.A. and it turned on a dime with little effort. The lighter weight also made it a little harder to paddle into waves (vs a more traditional longboard). It feels like it can handle bigger surf better due to its agility. It paddled fine, but not great. The lack of float and volume is compensated by its ability to turn quickly and go rail to rail with little effort. In time, I bet that this board will win my heart. To be fair, I was not immediately warm and fuzzy with my first Robert August longboard. Speaking of my first Robert August Longboard, as I was exiting the water, my attention was drawn to the jetty about 500 yards away. I saw that familiar golden hue that I had been searching for. Could it be? The closer I got, the more my heart started to smile. It was in fact, the woman who bought my board!

 

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It was like seeing a child that I gave up for adoption!

 

We talked story for a bit and she confirmed what I already knew, that she was catching a ton of waves and loved the board. It was then that I saw the smile on her face. It was a similar smile that I had when I carried the same board under my arm. The story should end there and the sun should set right? Closure obtained? Hells no! I got her number and immediately texted her, making her promise to sell the board to me when she was ready to. I hope to one day be reunited with the one longboard that brought me so much joy. Until then I will learn to love my new Wingnut.

 

Michael Phelps is not the World’s Best Swimmer

Usain Bolt is not the world’s best sprinter either so wipe that smile off of your face home fry. 589521390-usain-bolt-of-jamaica-competes-in-the-mens-100-meter.jpg.CROP.promo-xlarge2

We will never know who the world’s best sprinter or world’s best swimmer is because the majority of the world’s population does not have the means to compete in the Olympics.

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Don’t be all mad Michael Phelps, you are still a freak but the best ever? Absolutely not. Best “Olympic” athlete? Totes!

You know what is SoCray? Walking around Rio during the Olympics! The opportunists of Rio are having a field day! This cracks me up!

BREAKING NEWS! The cause of the Maria Lenk Aquatics Centre pool turning green has been found! The green water was a result of the US Women’s Soccer team peeing in the pool after they lost to Sweeden. Sore losers!

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All is not lost. We still have Women’s Beach Volleyball and you can program your Tivo so you don’t miss any action!

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