corn snake

Ranting about Haggling

So on a recent post on how to haggle at the Fashion District, most people say "be polite". I agree with this. Some one said, "don't say so and so had it for cheaper because it's not polite". Screw that. If you don't seriously haggle with some of these people, it can be considered impolite. Some cultures take haggling tactics seriously and if you do not haggle with them well or at all, it's considered a major insult. So haggle away/
corn snake

Wine Country Adventures!

I love wine country! No, not that wine country, the "other", road less taken wine country. I've rapidly grown a vast affinity for Sonoma Valley Wine County (eastern Sonoma county). I first went there Tuesday, entertaining a friend who is in town and had a blast. I only went to two places, Benzinger and Mayo. Benzinger had quite the extensive tour and tasting (like 8 or 9 wines 5 you have in a wine cave) and I had a 10 wine taste for $12 at Mayo. The pours are much larger than Napa and the prices are less. Usually people will be happy to pour you 1 or 2 extra tastings too! :D All ports are paired with chocolate, it's awesome. 

So I went back earlier today (Tuesday) and did a tasting at Benzinger's sister winery, Imagery then a tasting at Arrowood, which is right next door then a tasting at Kunde, which is over by John Lasseter's winery. Didn't do the tour at Kunde, but I'll be back. to do so as I'm now a member of their wine club. All of the wine clubs in Sonoma that I've been to so far do not have a membership fee and you don't have to buy any bottles upfront. Club members get 20% off everything the winery has for sale. So horray, my first wine club! 

I personally find Sonoma more friendlier than Napa. ALL of the people pouring have been friendly and chat with you. Heck, the owner of Kunde even had a chat with Cro about scotches. It's a little more romantic too since it's not so commercialized  and there are more nooks and crannies with hidden wineries. The wineries in Sonoma focus more of micro-climates and organically growing to produce their viticulture unique to each hillside. Each year is different and they'll tell you that. 

Next time I head up back there (I'll have to in March-April anyway to pick up my wine club case, but before, I will probably go again) I might take the tour of Kunde, go visit Kenwood winery and Ledson winery, which looks surprisingly a little like Stan Hywett Hall in Akron, Ohio
corn snake

Black Friday Write-Up!

Black Friday has come and gone. One of my favorite days out of the year has happened. All that anticipation for about 1 hour of actual shopping, but that's  how actual hunting is, right? Wednesday Crocuta took me to JCPenney's in Concord and I did a recon there and realized that most of the items I was after was in the JCP Home store. So we drove down the parking lot/ street to the home store and did the recon there. I found the blender, air mattress and some bar stools they had on sale ($60 for a set of 3). Because there was two separate stores and not one, I assumed I would just be at the Home store and not the other JCP store (using the assumption that the items I wanted from the regular JCP store, the Nerf guns, would be sold out by the time I got there). 

Thursday evening/Friday morning, Crocuta drove me to JCP Home and we got there around 1:40 am. No one was outside, so I waited in the car for a while, whilst Crocuta slept. Around 2:45, I got out of the car and stood in front of the store since employees starting rolling in. People started showing up and parking in the parking lot, but only 2 other people stood with me out in front of the doors. The man behind me asked if I was getting the doorbuster couch set, I told him I was just getting an air mattress. He seemed relieved and I told him that the furniture was upstairs and where the stairs was. Crocuta was still sleeping in the car.

At 3:45 am the manager unlocked the doors and said I could come in early (doors were suppose to open at 4 am). I've never been to a store that opened early on Black Friday, if anything it's always 5 minute slate. Everyone who was waiting in their warm cars in the parking lot rushed in behind me. I called Crocuta to wake him up to let him know that I got in the store early (but it went to voice mail). In the mean time I grabbed the air mattress and went back to the door for the coupon/advertisement book. People were rushing to get $3 towels. In hindsight, I wish I could see them all fight for the towels but at the time, I was too focused on my mission. I tried to call Crocuta again, but found him awake by the $3 pillows, which was pretty close to the door. My first call woke him up, and he saw people running into the store early, so he went inside. The man who waited behind me in line flailed his way downstairs and flagged an employee down who was giving us a trolly to put our stuff on (since the bar stool box was rather large and heavy). I guess the employee who was suppose to work in furniture did not show up yet and the upstairs had zero employees in it. I hope the guy got his couch in the end. We got our blender and the set of bar stools and then proceeded to check out. I was the first person to check out from the store! Unfortunately, the coupons were only good after 2 pm, when the Doorbuster prices were over. The rules were on some fine print on a different page that I could not make out from the low-resolution ad scan online. Oh well, if it was 2 pm the items would have costed more with the coupons than getting them early. I snagged some free Disney snow globes there were giving out to early bird customers. The employees even wheeled the trolly to the car and load it up for us. Seriously, I've never had this services on Black Friday before.

We were out by 3:50-3:55 and decided to try the other JCPenney's, wouldn't hurt? As we were walking up to the doors (which had no line), they were unlocking them. I guess the majority of people were in the mall entrance, lined up outside and a sea of a couple hundred people were running into the store, One of the store managers greeted us and was giving out candy canes. I asked where toys were and she said upstairs. Crocuta and I pushed through the sea of people running in to a specific spot (I think it was to get boots since they were all women and they were running to the boots). So we ran up the escalators upstairs (surprisingly, we were actually one of the first people upstairs. After a minute, we found the toys (remember, I didn't do recon for toys since I figured they would not be there by the time I got into the store, wasn't expecting an early opening) and got a few Nerf guns. I then found the pop-up tents for toddlers (the x-mas gift for my niece). JCP only offered two choices today, a pink castle with the words "Princess" on it, or a gender-neutral tent with two tunnels coming out of it. I decided to buy her the gender-neutral tent. Many of the items were not marked their doorbuster price, so snagging the ad book early on in the other store that had them was a good idea. Checking out at the Home store, I needed the ad since the doorbuster price on the bar stools was not coming up in the computer and I could show the clerk what it was in the ad, without having the him (who was a young kid in training) check the price on item area (which is not always marked). I try to be very polite, patient and helpful as I feel it really pays off on BF. 

Getting back to this store, we decided to check out from the regular JCP upstairs since downstairs was a madhouse (upstairs was filling up and people were buying arm fulls Nerf guns). While I was checking out a woman was trying to buy a pea coat and was asking why the price for this coat wasn't marked the same as it was in the ad. The employee (I think it was the area manager?) went off to check and I gave her my ad book so she could show them the price (I didn't need it anymore anyway). So we checked out and walked downstairs though the mad house of people pulling clothing off of shelves and dashing around. Again, we were one of the first people out of the store, making it very easy to get out of the parking lot (which was packed). Crocuta noted how doing a recon mission really pays off. You're in, and because you know where everything is, you get out really quick, no 2 hour waiting in line. Heck I was surprised we had zero waiting in line. Then we went to McDonalds and Crocuta got some flapjacks. 

So I did not get any boots, and am glad I didn't because it would have been a brawl. A brawl over some boots does sound fun though :D . I did not get any RC helicopters either as it was a mad house around those, but i decided not to get them on the recon mission Wednesday. I did get the air mattress, Nerf guns, blender, pop-up tent and some bar stools (new item in lieu of the boots and whirly birds). 

There was also another item that I got before I went to JCP. Costco had a Panasonic SD40 Camcorder for $170 and it came with a bonus 8 GB SD card and a carrying case- free shipping too. I decided to get it online as Costco did not open until 9 am, and there might have been quite the line when I got to Costco and we might have missed it. I would periodically check Thursday if it was on sale. The device wasn't even listed on the website, but sometime after 10 pm PST when I refreshed Costco.com, there it was. It said $250 and didn't give you the coupon until after you entered your info in at checked out. The camcorder was discounted after sales tax was factored into the original $250 price, not the $179, so the grand total came to $200 instead of $194.4, but that's still a very good price for the camera since it was free shipping and came with an SD card and case (which was a Costco bonus). Plus I get a couple bucks back on it eventually since I have their executive membership. I decided to get the camera to take video of the new suits I'm working on and help pimp my venture. My old camera's battery was shot and I could not find a replacement for it. Add to that, it was a pretty low-resolution camera, so this was a step up. Crocuta will also use the camera for some of his projects too.

So that's my Black Friday write up. I liked this year since many stores did the midnight sales, which lead to shorter lines at 4 am openings. I got an item online, which is something I rarely do for Black Friday, but it was hassle-free. I've also never been in a black friday line that small before either. I think because of the 4 am/midnight sales and the fact that this JCP had two separate stores helped. Sure many people hate today for materialism and it's hypocritical juxtaposition to the "be thankful for what you have" the day before, but I enjoy it for what it is. It's about waiting to seize the opportunity, it's about testing new strategies and seeing if what you plan on paper actually works. I look at it as very good training for a zombie apocalypse or any type of apocalyptic/ society collapse situation in general. Can you some how manage through the sea of running people? Can you be the first to make it out of there with what you need? 
corn snake

1 year home ownership post!

Today marks the 1 year mark of owning the house and being a homeowner. I can't believe a year has gone by already o.O Granted, we didn't move in until like December 28th because of painting some rooms and the garage. Moving started on December 17th and ended on January 6th. Looking forward to celebrating X-mas this year as last year it was spent moving crap from point A to point B. 
 
PS:

Also looking forward to seeing Christmas houses (the sort of Griswold extravagantly decorated) again. Saw a couple last year in my area, can't wait to see them again, plus go back up to Nevada City. What's in Nevada City, I don't know specifically. Went there back in 2008 and walked around in the snowy town and found some Thomas Kinkade Christmas type of scenery, so planning to go back up there again :D I love X-mas. I celebrate it for Santa and the occasional scary Cinderpaux and Krampus, not for any religious connotations associated with this time of the year. I never get tired of seeing blinking lights and shiny ornaments in the stores. 
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corn snake

New molds and such

I've been pouring new molds to cast silicone pads with. I'm using high-grade platinum cured silicone (long-lasting and hypo-allergenic). I'm also going to be sculpting some feet (just the toes) and will be casting it with 2 part foam mix. This makes the style consistent, saves time, and wasted foam bits which are annoying and add up in garbage bags full quick. I also need to mold two jaw sets
(with silicone), cast those (resin) and sculpt some gums and pour a mold for a couple of tongues. Lots of work, but it's going to save me time and make suits much higher in quality, duarability and realism. 

At any rate, I made the molds for the paw pads out of resin, it's durable and don't have to worry about anything breaking if I drop it. Hoping to be able to post some pics soon of the realistic suits I got going on. Hopefully, I'll be able to have a new hyena suit for me by FC as my current suit is about 6 sizes too big on me.  
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corn snake

Implanon Implant

Here's an update about what's been going on for the past month in my life:

Earlier in the month I was pretty low in birth control pills. My former Planned Parenthood clinic in Central Hayward was booked up (you need an appointment there just to get them refilled) until the end of the month. I called my local one in Pittsburg (California) and they said to come right in. So I walked over, it's only 7/10 of a mile, filled out paperwork and waited. For those who have never been to a PP clinic in this state, it involves a ton of waiting, but at least it's free for me. In Ohio there is no state-funded program for planned parenthoods and you gotta pay, even then they only will sell you 3-4 months of pills at a time. 

So there I am, waiting like the patron saint of waiting does. I get called to take the pregnancy test and then I wait some more. Then I get called back to get my weight and BP taken, then I go into an office and wait some more. The clinician comes in and reviews my history with me and tells me I can't be on my current pills any more (Lutera, in case any one was interested) due to my history of migraines. Really, I can't be on anything with estrogen as it put me for a high risk of getting a stroke. I often get migraines with aura, or vision changes. I either get tunnel vision, or my left eye loses vision partially, then entirely. I was pretty shocked. My previous clinician at PP in Hayward had no problem giving me pills and I put on my chart I had migraines, we even talked about it in person. So what are my other options? The current clinician replies with, "no ring, no patch, no shot. You're options are an IUD (intro-uterine device) or the implant in the arm (sub-dermal implant). I point to the implant picture next to me on the wall and told her I was going to ask about it. I decided on the implant since it sounded less invasive. The clinician goes over the risks and side effects of the implant. 

Then I fill out some paper work and am told that was my pre-implant consultation and am to call in a week to make an appointment since they were very booked up. I was told to have protected sex until I get the implant in and not to blow it. I go home and do a bunch of research on Implanon. I call the following Monday for an appointment. The soonest PP had was the 27th, so I took it. I also decide just to be abstinent until I get the implant and it works to be safe. Condoms  have about a 90-98% success rate, so I didn't want to take any chances. 

The flexible implant is the size of a large matchstick and goes on the inside of your arm, between the bicep and tricep. When inserted properly, it has a success rate of 99.94% and is good for 3 years. When the old rod is taken out, a new one can be put in. It's progestin only (a synthetic form of progesterone), and the progestin amount given is less than my current birth control pills were. The IUD looked more painful to insert than the implant, since they put it in your uterus. I once had a silicone tentacle go into my cervix and get stuck for a few minutes. Hands down, that was the worst pain of my life. More so than having the oral surgeon rescab my dry sockets with out anesthesia (so they would bleed and re-scab) when I got my wisdom teeth taken out (that was number 2).  I didn't want to imagine my cervix being pried open and having wires sticking out of it. The wires have been known to poke guy's penises too. Pokey pokey. Plus on the one type that's non-hormonal has a decent track record of getting women pregnant (it moved out of place).  Implanon was an easy choice for me,

A couple weeks go by and it's the night before my appointment, I'm super stoked. I'd been off the pills for a couple of weeks by that point, but I was looking forward not having to remember to take a pill again, Sometimes I get busy and thought I took them, but then when I looked at the packet, I missed 2 or 3 days. Or I would fall asleep early and forget to take one until I woke up. The next day I was excited but nervous, and I couldn't figure out why I was nervous. I have my nipples pierced and for this they were going to numb up my arm before hand (they use a needle about the size of a pencil), I still couldn't figure out why I was nervous.

Crocuta got off of work early to hold my hand at the Dr's office We get there a few minutes before 1 pm. The clinic opened at 1 and I checked in. Then we waited while the staff got situated. The office filled up very fast.  By 1:15 every char was full. People were coming in the door making appointments or asking questions still. Then I get called to go back in. They take my BP (was 135/81 because I was nervous) and I fill out more paperwork. The nurse/assistant asks what I was using for birth control and I said abstinence. She replied with, "good for you!". :D  The nurse then got the supplies ready and prepped. Then the clinician came in (a different one than the first one I had) and she said have a seat on the exam table. I asked if Crocuta could come in to hold my hand and she had no problem with it. He came in and held my hand, and I laid down on the opposite side of the gyno table (since I'm left handed). My head was between the stirrups, lol.

Crocuta turned out to be handy since the Dr. had sterile gloves on and realized she did not have sani strips. Crocuta looked for them where they should have been, and they were not there. So he got the nurse and she got them out. Then the lidocaine injection was given to numb up my arm. It stung a little bit since it's an alkaline solution. Then the area was prepped. Once my arm was numb enough (she was AWESOME and waited, not like the dentist that gives you an injection and goes right to work before it takes effect) she poked at it with the big needle. I didn't feel anything, so in it went. I wasn't looking, but I could feel it go under the skin and tent it up to make room for the implant. Didn't hurt, just felt weird. Then she put in the implant, took out the needle and bandaged my arm. The box read "Implanon Implant Fun Pack". hahaha. I thought it was a pretty fun experience. Then I got a card for my wallet that states I have a sub-dermal implant in my right  arm and it needs to be replaced in 2014,  Walking to the car Crocuta told me that he was im pressed with the size of the needle. He didn't want to react since I was looking towards him and not my arm, but on the inside he was going O.O

I've had it in for 3 days now and it's still pretty sore and bruised, but I know it will heal soon. My microchip took about 2 weeks for the swelling to go down. So now I have 2 sub-dermal implants, woohoo. You can actually see this one on my arm (and feel it too). The people at this Planned Parnethood clinic are much more nicer than Hayward. At Hayward you had to stand behind bullet proof glass and I could hardly hear them though the holes. This one just had a window that opens and closes, no holes to talk through or thing to slide your card, you hand them stuff. The clinicians are also much more awesome than the Hayward one. They talk to you and really listen, so i gave them an awesome yelp review as suggested by the clinician there as they didn't have one yet. 
corn snake

Pigeon Task Force: Mission Complete!

 I often make up a bird-world, or shows in my head. One of them is PTF:SF:BDLR which stands for: Pigeon Task Force: San Francisco: Broken-Down Land Rover, or Pigeon Task Force for short. I even sing a theme song to it. PTF stars the members of my flock. It's a combination of Adam West Batman meets Scooby Doo. Pigeons solve mysteries. 

Last week Crocuta found a lost and exhausted baby homing/racing pigeon at his job. He picked it up and put it in a kennel. He texted me the band number and PTF was on the scene! PTF looked up the band number and located the owner. Well, they called the SFR (S.F. pigeon racing club) club secretary. He looked the band number up in his records and discovered that it was his bird. He lived in San Mateo and I live in Pittsburg, He was older, so it was a far drive for him to come out and get his bird. Maybe we could meet up in Hayward soon. I hold the young pigeon up to my prized cock, Domino and he does his lady dance. So the pigeon is a female (a baby, 8-10 weeks old, probably her first homing trip back home and she got lost). A couple days later the owner and I are in contact again. He says I can drop the pigeon off at his friend's house in Alamo (between Danville and Walnut Creek). I call the woman up and tell her I just talked to her friend and I'm to drop a pigeon off at her house. I wasn't sure if she had birds or not, so I made a nice box up (wired in food and water so the little girl couldn't spill anything), made some windows so she could see out of, etc. Crocuta and I drive to her house in Alamo, at the Roundhill Country Club. All the houses were huge and very fancy. We felt privileged. We meet her and she's very nice. She doesn't have and birds and was glad we gave it to her in a box. I show her how to pick up the pigeon (in case she needs to) and give her a bag of food that would last 2 days in the event the owner is delayed. 

She kept commenting how nice we were to do this and gave us a reward! A bottle of Chardonnay! I love Chardonnay! she then said the owner was in fact training the birds to go over water and released them in the Berkeley Hills. She (little pigeon girl) might of been of just not been up to the journey that day, she was pretty young. Usually you release old birds with your young birds to train them. She was the only one who didn't come back, so maybe the stress of travel exhausted her before her flight.

At any rate, the pigeon task force members who were old and weighed enough to drink the wine did so tonight and enjoyed it. Mission Complete. Good job, Pigeon Task force. 
corn snake

Wow...

 So I was sure that I posted a Meyer's Briggs Personality test result somewhere in my journal, some where. I spent an hour reading through 4 years of entries. All I can say is wow, and then feel pretty embarrassed. I feel embarassed because I wrote some silly sounding depressing journals. Yes, I was very depressed for a couple of years and very frustrated at myself. I kept gaining weight and which just caused a vicious cycle being more depressed and frustrated. 

No, I won't delete any of it, I'm going to leave it up as embarrassing as it is because I like looking back on things that make me embarrassed now and reflect and try to grow and mature. I can honestly say that I am a much more introspective emotionally matured individual now than I was 6 months ago, or a year ago. I like to see what I thought then and document myself., as embarrassing as that is.
 
Less than a year ago, I acquired a house! Success. This process I think make me mature a bunch. Then I radically changed my diet in early May. I'm mostly a carnivore now. I try and get 130-160 grams of protein in a day and I eat a ton of animal based fat (40+ grams a day). Full fat everything (full fat usually means less processed), when I make sweet potato fries, I fry them in lard, frying them in bacon fat is pure decadence. I eat much less carbs and sugars than I once did, I like to keep those under 100 grams a day, preferably under 60 grams. I can't believe I was drinking 8 glasses of grape juice a day, eating 2 scones (400-600 calories a day) in addition to two bowls of pasta for dinner. Carb city and hardly any fat. As a result I had tons of mood-swings, constant glucose crashes, and suffered from actual chemical depression for quite some time. The high amounts of carbs and sugar caused my body to retain weight like a machine. No wonder I couldn't lost anything and was very frustrated. However, now I'm a little older, a little more experienced and have learned a metric ton about the human endocrine system.

Now I feel fantastic. I'm always happy and up-beat. I haven't felt depressed since I started this diet, and I've dropped over 20 pounds (in just over two months) and am down to a US size 8. I'll be a size 6 one day. Now I'm all about pumping up my muscles and try and do some strength and circuit training 5 days a week. I want to have lots of beefy fast-twitch muscles. I want 25 inch thighs (the size they are now, just less fat and tones more muscle on them), much bigger arms and a more defined back. Oh, i also want some fabulous abs too. I ran around a field today and wasn't even out of breath. I can do 25 push ups in a row, and I've never been able to do a push up before in my life. I drink two protein shakes a day to help muscles recover and to keep my protein content up. Since drinking the protein shakes, no incidents of my blood sugar crashes and I'm on the verge of passing out. There's been no hard feelings on myself, I'm more like, "tomorrow is always a new day", "I can only be stronger and more experienced from what I've learned". No more, "bwaaaa, I suck". Ok, I'm sure it's bound to happen soon.  Eating a high fatty diet has also caused some skin wrinkles and embarrassing acne to disappear and I look much younger now. I'm just a happier person really enjoying life right now. I'm not so afraid of getting older. I can always dye the grey hair, the wrinkles are gone so lets see how many years I can keep them off for.