Romey's Ramblings

Random musings of Jeromey Balderrama

May 9, 2015
by Romey
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Decennial Blogiverasry–10 Years Later, Why I (Don’t) Blog

May 9, 2005: Early Monday morning I ventured onto Xanga to be one of the cool kids and start my own blog.  While I wrote the majority of my inaugural post on May 8, it hit the interwebs on at 22 minutes past midnight on the 9th.  Today I am ten years and (only) 770 posts later into my blog, still (somewhat) posting.

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Bethany and I back in 2005

It’s a bit surreal to go back and read some of my initial posts, being younger and more naïve about who would actually take the time to write the posts. I started off using my Xanga as most 20-somethings would: as a personal diary to capture my thoughts and post all of the random stuff that I didn’t think would interest anyone.  I’ve always enjoyed writing, but didn’t have a lot of opportunity do it outside of email.  A couple of years and two platforms later, I started to get some Google Juice into my blog and found that when I complained about things, people in similar situations (or perhaps seeking to solve them) would start to respond.  As small as it was, I realized that I started to have a platform.

However over the years, I’ve dwindled in my posting – something I really regret.  Despite multiple attempts to jump-start my blogging cadence, my posting rate sputters out and this blog lies dormant for months on end.  What once started with daily posts turned into goals of posting a few times per week, then at least once a month, with months passing in between posts.  I’m not sure how many people use RSS or blog subscriptions to keep tabs on my blog, but I apologize to those of you that do. I’m sure that you’ve wondered multiple times if my blogging days are over.

The truth is that I still love blogging, still have a lot to share (actually probably more than I did ten years ago), but there are many reasons why blogging has gotten away from me:

The “Time” Factor

Let’s start with the premise: blogging takes a lot of time.  When I’m going strong in my posts, I find that I need to carve out at least a half hour to formulate my thoughts and get things posted.  While I write I start to refine my thoughts, go through revisions and typically won’t hit “publish” until an hour after I started writing.  A decade ago (it’s crazy writing those words), I was able to sacrifice sleep in the name of blogging, but now due to age and commitments, that’s not a sacrifice I’m able to make.  As most parents can attest, once you have kids you’re pretty much tired all the time, looking forward to any rest you can get.  Blogging would often take a back seat.

Work Demands Most of Me

Luckily in the course of ten years, I’ve been fortunate enough to make advancements in my career. Of course that means more responsibility, with an obligation to meet those responsibilities.  While I used to be very successful in compartmentalizing my work and home computer time, I’ve been pretty terrible at doing that lately.  If I do find myself with laptop time on my hands, I usually end up triaging work emails and trying to catch up on loose ends.  This is definitely a good thing, I never would want to be stagnant in my job and I do appreciate the opportunities that I have – it’s just that blogging now goes down another rung in the latter.

Families Are Important

God Bless Bethany, who is always really supportive of my crazy activities. She’s been a saint about being patient and understanding of the nights I’m away from home with my various music projects, volunteer efforts and family and friend commitments.  Nonetheless, I try my hardest to be a good husband and father and give as much time as I can to my deserving family.  The Xbox has now become a video-streaming machine, having last played a game back in 2014.  In the midst of our busy lives with work and other obligations, we take any opportunity we have to spend time as a family and cherish Clara’s childhood.  Being present to your family does take a lot of work, and once again, blogging (rightfully) takes a back seat.

I’m worried what other people will think

There’ve been points in my posts where I’ve shared some very personal and raw reflections on my experiences. In a lot of ways, those are my best posts.  However thanks to Google, Facebook and other social media outlets, my blog has been easier to find and associate it with me.  This gets into my head and causes me to fret about who may stumble onto these posts and what they’ll think.  I’ve always been good about avoid stupid mistakes (in naming names or disparaging situations and people that could result in severe consequences), but oftentimes I to too far in my worry about how posts will be perceived by people who are least likely to read my blog.

I’m too busy doing cool things to write about them

This goes back to the “time” argument, but as I was thinking about this post, I do think I have a lot more cool stuff going on in my life than I did a decade ago, and because of the limited time I just not make the time to share it. This does frustrate me, as I do think there’s a fine balance between living in the moment and not preserving any memories. One of my favorI ite times to blog is when I’m visiting exotic places and having some cool experiences.  I do have a list of blog topics where I want to share some of these things, but next thing you know they’ve occurred six months ago and no longer seem relevant.  Part of me needs to accept that I don’t need to write long essays about each experience, maybe less words will accomplish the same goal – which brings me to the biggest detriment in my blogging career.

Twitter

I jumped onto Twitter pretty early on, back in 2007. For me, Twitter always made sense and it’s still one of the most valuable communication platforms that I use today.  Moreover, Twitter does allow me to express my immediate and raw thoughts, in an easy method that doesn’t require the commitment of a revised essay.  Do I have an opinion about what’s going on?  Can I express it in 2-3 sentences? Can I do it from my phone? Done. 

Did I get to express my full views on the issue? Probably not, but I got the gist of it out, and if I do have more to add I’ll just post another Twitter post.  Whether platforms like Twitter have propagated the “bite-sized communication” movement – for better or for worse – we live in that society today.  The fulfillment I get from self-expression is often satisfied from using Twitter.  If you’re looking for the most accurate and unapologetic depiction of my view of the world, follow me on Twitter.

The problem is that my poor blog has suffered.  There have been times where I’ve tried to port some Twitter posts to my blog, but the two platforms make as much sense as dogs and cats living together.

So thank you for joining in my Blogiversary.  Please accept my apologies and explanation as to why this is not a more significant event, because let’s face it: averaging one post every 21 days isn’t that impressive. However please accept yet another commitment that I’ll keep checking in with my blog when I can and share some cool things that happen to me and my family. Thanks for joining me on this ride, here’s to another 10!

March 30, 2015
by Romey
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Hello from Nashville!

We’re on Spring Break this week, so we took the opportunity to hop over to Music City for a few days.

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When we got here the weather was significantly colder than back home in Colorado. That northern wind caught us a bit off guard, but luckily it’s died down over the last few days and we’ve enjoyed some good mild days in the 60’s. The most surprising thing to us was the layout of the city, with everything being so spread out.  It’s similar to Denver, where you really can’t get around unless you have a car. Luckily with our rental, we’ve been able to hop back and forth between downtown and over by the Opry (close to where we’re staying).  Driving by the Grand Ole Opry, it’s funny how the exterior resembles a civic center theater, parked between a mall and the Opryland hotel.  We spent most of Monday over in this area, on the backstage tour of the Opry.  The tour was definitely worth the $20, being able to see the Artists entrance and their dressing rooms, rounding off with the chance to walk out on stage.

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We also ventured over to the Opryland Hotel and Convention Center.  We were originally expecting Bellagio-style gardens to view, but were taken aback with a tropical landscape under this big glass dome. The immense size of the hotel and convention center is hard to explain. The pictures I took from my phone don’t do it justice.  In terms of size, the hotel would trump virtually any hotel in Vegas. I kept looking for the casino.

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The rest of our time has been spent down-town, checking out the Honky-tonks on Broadway – at least as much as having a two year old would let you.  Luckily there is live music going on all day long, featured in really small bars with most of the stages backing up to the front window.  Clara can’t get enough of the live music, and in the few places we’ve been in, she’s been out there tearing up the dance floor. Out little groupie even ended up with one of the drummer’s Vic Firth’s, I didn’t have the heart to tell him that she already has 20 more at home.

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With Clara traveling with us, we’ve had to limit ourselves to the daytime and early evening hours, so I’m not sure how much dancing occurs in these places during the evening. I’m also not quite sure if there’s a lot of original music as well, most of the day-time tourist attractions have been a lot of cover bands.  As much fun as it’s been to be traveling with Clara and watching her take all this in, I think that if we visited this place five years ago we would have had a fuller experience, shutting down a few bars.  Don’t get me wrong –this trip has still been a lot of fun.

On Tuesday we’re planning on making the trek to Lynchburg to see the Jack Daniels Distillery, then rounding out our trip with seeing Vince Gil at the Ryman, which is one of the best places on the planet to view live music. The outside resembles a giant church, and I’m told the inside is similar, complete with wooden pews.

Stay tuned, more from Nashville coming…

February 18, 2015
by Romey
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50 Shades of SquarePants

Movie mix-up shows ‘Fifty Shades of Grey’ to ‘SpongeBob’ audience

I came across this story earlier this week and wanted to share my single degree of separation with this story. The funny thing about is that the opposite happened in what’s likely the same theater the night before.

I guess I’ll have to come clean and admit that I saw 50 Shades of Grey with my wife – but when you have an 18-month-old, you don’t get many opportunities to see a movie in the theater and be able to participate in pop culture conversations (at least that’s what I’m telling myself to sleep at night).  Back to the point.

By the time we got into the movie they were deep into the previews, which seemed strange to that they all seemed to be for animated movies.  I was wondering if maybe the studios were really trying to appeal to the soccer-mom demographic.  We finally get to the “featured presentation” part, which fades into a panning zoom of an island, flashing the words “Nickelodeon Studios Presents”.  At that point everyone took out their phones to illuminate their ticket stubs, wondering if they were in the right theater.  A good 5 minutes pass before the movie stops and they change things over.  From the looks of things it looks like they didn’t fix the problem by the morning.

January 28, 2015
by Romey
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Travel Tech Hacks Mt. Rushmore

Hello from Austin! It’s been a while since I’ve needed to travel for work, I’ve actually hadn’t needed to since Baby Girl was born. After traveling with an infant, my “packing light” skills were a little rusty, but I didn’t want to take a big suitcase out for a four day trip. As I was packing, I thought about my “Mt. Rushmore of Travel Toys” – a few utilities that pack a big bang for their small size and help me get the most out of my travel.

Portable WiFi Router

My newest item I added to my Mount is my portable travel router. Ten years ago I used to travel with my old D-Link Router that was the size of a small book. I guess I was ahead of my time because now we have these portable routers that smaller than a pack of gum. When I bought this last week, I was skeptical of the low price, but this thing really delivered. I was able to plug in the network cable right into it and give WiFi to all four of my devices with only having to pay for fast internet once.  The one I ended up with is the HooToo TripMate Nano Wireless N Pocket Router.

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Quick Sidebar: Homewood Suites did offer free internet, but the speed test reported less than 100kbps down, so I paid the little extra to give me 4.5Mbps. It’s funny how many hotels claim they give away “free” internet, but just heavily throttle it.

Roku 3

Roku

When I would go on long trips (or trips where’d I’d have a good amount of downtime) I would drag my Xbox along with me, packed in a laptop case. I’d have to bring it out to airport security, all in hopes that the hotel TV would at least have an RCA jack so that I could stream video. Currently 80% of my Xbox usage is video consumption, so with that in mind I was gifted with a Roku 3 for my birthday. This has turned out to be one of the best entertainment investments I’ve made. The Roku is the size of a hockey puck and is really easy to pack. I also travel with a 10-foot HDMI cable, and at this point it seems like most hotels have TV’s with available ports. If they don’t: no worries, as no big sacrifice was made. The reason I recommend the Roku 3 over the stick (or ChromeCast) is that you can load videos onto a USB stick and plug it into the Roku – no need to be online for that. However if you do have decent bandwidth, Plex makes my movie collection available wherever I need it. One lesson I’ve learned about traveling with the Roku: make sure you take a battery out of the remote before you put it in your bag. The buttons are a little too easy to push, and can easily drain mashed up in your bag.

Targus Laptop Podium Cooling Pad

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There have been fancy USB-powered laptop cooling pads for a while now, and they do work great. However my non-battery-powered podium pad has been a great trade off for comfort and functionality for these long meetings. The podium elevates the back of your laptop to give a little extra space for circulation for your fan (and is obviously silent as well). My favorite part is that it makes it also makes it a little more ergonomic to use your laptop all day (both at work and home, I’m lucky enough to dock my laptop and have a full keyboard and monitor experience). The cooling pad is really easy on the luggage as well – the legs are removable and the biggest piece is a flat pad, smaller than your laptop.

Update: This product actually doesn’t look like it’s being made anymore!  The closet thing I’ve found is this Cooler Master NotePal.  If that’s the case and there’s not a product out there like this – that’s really too bad.

Portable Speaker

SoundPal

This has taken many iterations over the years, but my current version is my water-proof shower speaker. As a podcast addict, I’m willing to give up the sound quality for the ability to listen in the shower and steamy bathroom – and with it being Bluetooth I don’t have to expose it to the elements. Although I watch a decent amount of TV, I always find that in the hotel rooms I just have the TV on for the sake of background noise. Bringing the speaker enables me to have something that I at least would like to listen to.

There are a few honorable mentions, one of which I don’t own yet.

  • USB-based power strip/charger. Given that most things are micro-USB-based, I’d like to just have this in my bag with a couple of extra cables and quell my constant fear of leaving my phone or tablet charger behind. Right now I’m researching the one that offers the best value, but will definitely have it on my next trip.
  • Bluetooth Mouse. No one wants to be stuck with their sub-par track pad all week.
  • Bluetooth Headphones. In absence of the Bluetooth Speaker, the headphones make it easy to get around the airport or the hotel gym without dealing with the pesky wires.
  • A suction-cup hook. This is a must-have if you use a loofa and are traveling with others. There’s only so many places in the shower to hang yours, and this little piece of plastic ensures yours isn’t touching anyone else’s.

So there’s my Mt. Rushmore. What kind of things (tech or otherwise) that you can’t do without (and let’s leave out the obvious things like your laptop, tablet or phone)?