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Traveling in the Age of the Net

26 Oct

“You don’t have to know anything anymore” exclaimed my brother this past Saturday as he asked his phone a question and quickly had a string of websites to read with correct answers.  Never mind that he knew the correct answer and without a basis of education, you will be quickly led astray on our world-wide web.  That being said, I spend a lot of my time researching on the internet and you learn quickly the language of veracity.  Some websites and authors are trustworthy, others are paid or looking for retribution for a wrong.

I absolutely love using the net for travel research.  No longer do you have to pick a destination, a hotel, a flight, a restuarant, or a particular drive on a little guesswork and that two-line review in the AAA guide.

“Yay, the hotel has a swimming pool and HBO!”

That was about the extent of the reviews available to you twenty years ago.  Now with sites like Tripadvisor I can easily find out that the pool has four slides, but the height requirement on all of them is 40″ and my two-year old couldn’t ride.  There are two pools with one heated and the other one closing annually on November 1st for the winter.  There are three restaurants across the street and I can easily read reviews on all of those places.  Plus, a major grocery store is within walking distance with a RedBox so I can cheaply rent movies while I’m there.  I can also read that the hotel is getting a remodel and when checking in, I need to ask for a renovated room so I’m guaranteed a 42″ HD TV and a DVD player.

Road trips are no longer a mystery either.  I remember taking family trips where we ventured randomly from one city to the next on no particular route, just seeking out each specific destination.  It was fun and rewarding, but all you really had was word of mouth reviews on where to go and what route to take.

I had my first significant road trip a few years ago with a drive to Lake Tahoe.  I tried asking around and seeking friends and strangers’ advice on whether to take the 395 or the 5 up from San Diego.  Generally with mixed reviews, most were in favor of taking the 5 and not getting stuck on the 395 with our newborn.

Thank God for the Road Trip America forum.  With the conversations and information in the forum, I chose the more difficult route up the 395 with suggestions for a great places to stop plus advice from hundreds of parents on tips for traveling with little ones.  Although the ride up the 5 was faster, the ride up the 395 in April, just as the snow on the mountain tops melted, meant that not only was the route unbelievably gorgeous, we had rushing rapids right next to the highway for several hours during our last leg of the drive.  It was beautiful and a great road trip, because I went into it prepared.

I think, in the end, that’s my favorite thing about the internet and travel.  I can go prepared.  There’s still adventure in trying new things and new places and I don’t seek out reviews and research on every place we stop, but gathering info on at least 50% of our activities ensures an enjoyable trip.

Right now I’m planning and preparing for a trip to Las Vegas with two little girls.  Most people would think that a waste of time and money, but with a little research you find out which places to avoid (the Bellagio pretty much hates strollers and may bar you from entering), there’s beautiful places for day trips and hiking (Red Rock West, and oh yeah, The Grand Canyon and Hoover Dam), and where the best playgrounds are in the city.  I’m going to go prepared and it’s all because I have the wealth of knowledge and experience at my fingertips.  I love living and traveling in the age of the net.

To E-Read or Not To E-Read

18 Oct

So, now Amazon’s got me really intrigued.  They have a new e-reader, call it the Kindle Lite, for just $79.  Yep, under a $100 for an excellent e-reader.  The price is a bit misleading, because that’s the ad-supported version.  Ad free, it runs $109.  I’d probably go with the one with the Ads since they supposedly only appear when you’re on the homepage or as you’re powering down or up.  No big deal there.  It doesn’t have sound or a QWERTY keyboard.  It doesn’t even have a touch screen keyboard so surfing is a bit of a chore as you have to scroll through letters to type.  It’s WiFi only.  No 3G support.  All disappointing, but if you’re just using it as an e-reader, then do you really need audio, 3G, color, a keyboard, or any of the other fancy bells and whistles found on the more expensive versions.  Honestly, if I was going with one of the pricier, more robust models, I’d probably just invest in a tablet pc or an iPad.

Therein lies my problem.  My phone is practically dead and despite Verizon‘s current refusal to do anything to rectify the problem, they are going to help me eventually and then I need a new phone.  Do I step up to a sweet smart phone with a large brilliant display that will be e-reader enough for me OR do I remain a generation behind with a standard phone?  I like having a multimedia device at my fingertips and being able to watch videos anywhere at anytime is a nice feature, not to mention the music for soothing my little girls.  Of course, any phone can handle the music and I, more than most people, could really do with less TV in my life.

So, I think for now, I’ll probably wait.  I will get my new phone at some point and try reading on it and then see if an e-reader is something I need.  No books to buy, keep track of, store, give away, or protect is a nice plus.  Little girls crying…gotta run.

I’ve Taken the POST A DAY Challenge to prep for NaNoWriMo

17 Oct

I’ve had a note sitting on my desk for nearly two years with two little lines on it that are words to live by:

“Actors Should Act.  Writers Should Write.”

As a self-proclaimed, minimally successful, actor and writer, those lines mean to inspire me to pursue two of my talents and passions daily.  Alas, I’ve hardly acted since 2008 and though I was working on a screenplay, it’s been sitting stuck at 80 pages and two acts for quite some time.  So what to do about this?

How about taking an arbitrary challenge liking writing a random blog post every day?  Sounds simple enough.  I have to think I can find time daily to jot down a few thoughts to keep pace, but it wasn’t a high enough goal for me, but the National Novel Writing Month challenge seemed more my speed.  A nearly overwhelming challenge of writing 1,700 words daily to reach 50,000 words and a 170 plus paged novel (in desperate need of editing) at the end the month.

To go from nothing to 1,700 a day seemed a reach so here we go on a simple task of writing a daily post for two weeks, while also preparing outlines and notes for my novel.

I know it won’t be easy, but it’ll be fun, and as anyone who knows me and how much I tend to ramble, I can find something to write about every hour so every day should quiet me down a little.

I am going to use oThe DailyPost, and the community of other bloggers with similiar goals, to help me along the way, including asking for help when I need it and encouraging others when I can.

I hope you join me on this journey.  I will post some, if not all, of my novel next month, and still include daily ramblings.  I certainly welcome your comments, opinions, suggestions, insight, and well thought out reactions to my various opinions and analysis.  Okay, they don’t have to all be well thought out as not all of my postings will have hours of research and analysis behind them.

Have a blessed day.

Ryan Schulze

Pauly’s End – The first ramblings of an eventual novel?

13 Oct

We are at the end.  Or at least it looks like the end.  Well, looks like the end if I were to imagine what the end would look like.  So maybe we’re not at that end.  Perhaps everything that’s come before provided us with a poor compass for determining what the end will be, will look like, and will come from.  In any case, I’d say the clouds look, at their best, ominous.

My name is Paul.  Pauly for short.  Yes, I know it’s longer, but everyone calls me Pauly.  Not after some tough enforcer member of the mafia, but like a parrot.  I talk.  I talk and talk and talk.  About everything.  About nothing.  I just talk.  Don’t know why, but always have.  Well, always did.  I used to talk.  You see, about three weeks ago, I lost my ability to speak.  That’s probably why I’m writing.  Too much to say and no ability to get it out.  I know what you’re thinking, “about three weeks ago” you lost the ability to speak.  You can’t narrow it down a bit considering it’s such a monumental thing in one’s life unless you’re just six months old or something.  You’d be right.  It is or was a monumental day.  I’m far older than six months and I do remember the day clearly.

It was a beautiful July afternoon in San Diego.  Very unlike this one.  And maybe that gives us hope that this day will turn out far better than the imposing sight of the heavens suggests.  I was minding my own business, which in general, means I was talking to everyone I ran into about my life and theirs and what we should be doing to make it better.  People usually assume I’m uninformed and just annoying, but the fact is I probably know better how to live their life so shouldn’t I tell them?  Would I be offering my best version of who I am if I wasn’t providing my wisdom and insight at every opportunity?  My problem was that I offered so much, everyone tended to ignore it despite how rooted in true brilliance my ideas usually are.

So, as I stroll into Penny’s Cupcake shop, a little boutique cutely appointed and resting quietly on the side of the 101 in Del Mar, I took in the overcrowded surroundings.  I would have indicated the proper nature of organizing the chairs, tables, one register which I would’ve certainly doubled to two, and order counter in a manner that would reduce this mob to a quiet and orderly line, but it was too loud frankly and I didn’t feel like yelling at Penny.  Plus, something seemed amiss.

Now San Diego and it’s outlying vestibules, which would definitely not like the metaphorical implication of the name, is not as large as Los Angeles, but I’m still not on a first name basis with everyone within the County limits.  So, the eighth man in line didn’t stand out as someone I didn’t know, though I was not aware of his name nor his upbringing, but his demeanor and attire set him apart.  In Penny’s pastel infused, sugar dusted little shop, the drabness of this man’s clothing and countenance just didn’t add up.  I was on to something, but wished that my powers of observation had giving way to ESP that told me to go elsewhere that morning for my decadent fix.  Beneath his ruffled canvas coat…wait, ruffled?  That hardly sounds scary or imposing, but I don’t know how else to describe it.  It appeared to be made of canvas or some very rough material, but it didn’t hang cleanly.  And though it was missing some doily like ending to the topper, there seemed to be more going on with his outfit that one might expect, but I digress.

So beneath his rough, canvas like coat, the man pulled a gun.  I say gun, because I’m not well versed in all things firearm and I don’t know when you can call a gun a gun, but this wasn’t a hunting rifle and it wasn’t a handgun.  It was scary, black, and imposing.  He started screaming that he’d “had enough of all the”…it trailed off.  I don’t think he trailed off, but he opened fire and the gun and screams were loud enough to dampen his message.  Or at the very least, lessen the spoken portion of his message.

MORE TO COME on here or in book form.  We’ll see.

Aside

Hello world!

9 Sep

I’m a radio guy.  An actor.  A writer.  And most of all these days, a Daddy.  Yeah, pretty much everything took a backseat to being a Daddy 2 1/2 years ago when my first little girl was born.  I still tried to work (as much as 30 hours a week) with my wife full-time too, but when my wife’s work ballooned to some 90 hour work weeks and baby number 2 came along this year, things changed.  With my wife’s more regular hours now, we are now figuring out how to really get me back into the workforce (more than my current 1-2 days a week) and still avoid hiring a nanny full-time.

I hope you spend some time here occasionally, but mostly this page is for me.  I’m a talk radio guy and I need to share my life, my opinion, and my analysis of current events.  It’s just part of who I am.  One of the hardest things I have ever done was spend a week as a Juror Alternate.  I listened to a case for a week, analyzed facts, came to a strong opinion, and then once the defense was finished, I was excused.  Yep, as an alternate, you get excused without being able to give your opinion on the case.  It was awful.

So, you’ll find movie reviews here (my former blogging focus in my morning show days), sports analysis (I am a former sports broadcasting type guy afterall), video game rants (I still play after 30 years), Politics (since Washington makes me sick on an almost daily basis), and more than anything, ramblings about being a Daddy.  I think.  We’ll see how it develops.