Life Product Reviews

Vacationing with the iPhone and iPad

Was just on vacation since Sept 3rd through today.. Drove up to Nisswa to drop the little one off, then down to the Twin Cities for 4 nights, then back up to get the little one in Pierz, then back down to Eau Claire for 2 nights, then back home for 2 nights.. fun time. I didn’t really connect to work (only to extend my holiday by 2 days!) but I was still *connected* to everything I wanted to be.

First, I shut off email/exchange sync to my iPhone/iPad, easy enough in the settings. Turned off the calendars too so I didn’t get any new meeting alerts. Good to go.

How else did I use my devices?

Well beyond the basics (on the iPhone – Phone, SMS, Email (personal), Taking pictures and videos, weather, calculator, maps, maps, maps, maps..)

1. Gowalla/Foursquare – I recently just killed both my accounts and started fresh. I tried to see the usefulness and benefit of these. I like Gowalla better – just prettier. Foursquare tells me what is trending better. I use them both to find things around where I am, and check in to keep track of where I went 🙂

2. Twitter/Facebook – just killed my Facebook account again as well, I think I have 15 close friends on there now, so it is pretty quiet, but nice. Twitter I use to just keep up on the real time stuff going on, track favorites, as usual.

3. Soundhound/Shazam – used these to lookup songs I heard at bars or wherever, it is a given pretty much anywhere.

4. Flixster – used this to find movie theater near by and showtimes. Couldn’t buy tickets at the theater I went to, but I could have with fandango, just not worth the hassle I guess.

5. Yelp/OpenTable/Urban Spoon – more targeted in finding foodie places. OpenTable to reserve.

6. SportTacular – to keep up on the Twins and Vikes 🙂

7. WF (mobile site) – to view my accts and transfer and what not

8. Nice Ride and Train Brain – these are where it gets good. Downtown Minneapolis has these cool bike stations you can rent out a bike (for free for under 30 minutes!) or for a small fee ( (FYI Trek has a similar offering, called B-cycle). Ride it all over and drop off at another station. We rented two and drove them from Uptown to Downtown. Was pretty awesome. The app shows you the stations and has a timer, it could do much more though 🙂 Train Brain shows you the light rail schedule in town, we took the train from Govt Plaza to Mall of America, and back. Was pretty cool.

9. Scanner – QR codes are all over in Uptown on shops, etc. I used this to scan their codes and open links.

10. Reeder – on the iPhone and iPad – used this to keep up on my Google Reader 🙂

11. iPad – in general used it for mostly news apps, and surfing the web, used it as a “computer” – did you know on on an iDevice, if you click on the icon of a “place” it does much more than the native Maps app on the device? I thought that was cool.

I also used CityPages app on the iPad to look up some things going on.

Saw a Twins game vs the Royals (they won!) and Wicked as well. Got a little sick Wednesday morning through Friday so that was a bummer but overall it was a good vacation


Portland Vacation – Waterfalls, Birthday, The Ocean, and Home

Well, it has been almost a month, and I want to finish blogging about my vacation. Yes I have been slacking 🙂

Saturday of that week, we went up the Columbia River scenic highway, and then went to a ton of waterfalls. Now, you might think, eh, waterfalls, but these were just cool. The scenery around them and the trails and just the atmosphere just makes it so awesome. We walked up the Multnomah waterfall trail, a mile uphill – whew! The view from the top was spectacular. 670 foot high waterfall. Just a great time.

Waterfalls 2

After the waterfalls, went to a really cool place, the McMenamins Edgefield Manor. What this place is, is a old manor that a brewery converted into basically a brewery park. Pretty sweet, just an experience, I had a really good time, and we didn’t even hit all the places they have to see there.

Sunday, the 22nd, my birthday! 27 years. Was pretty low key, but fun, we hit a bunch of different places, one cool hippy house/bar or who knows what it is, but it was cool, also a nice Irish bar, fun time!

Monday was up to Astoria, home of the Goonies 🙂 God I love the Goonies, when I was young I wanted to be one. Anyways, on the way up we took a really scenic highway, which was nice, slow and different. In Astoria, we just kind of stretched our legs, got some lunch, and headed down the coast. The next stop was Seaside, OR. Here we went out to the beach, had some fun, just soaked it all up

Walking to the Ocean II

After hanging out at Seaside, we drove down to Cannon Beach, aka the place with the rocks 🙂 We found a nice little hotel called Webb’s Scenic Surf. The owners were very nice, it was really a good experience. The room was on the second floor, just facing the ocean, man it was so cool! Open the door and hear the ocean, feel the breeze, just awesome. The next day, we walked down the beach to go check out the rocks, really reminds me of Goonies 🙂

The Rocks 3

After the rocks, we kept driving down the coast, stopping here and there to check cool things out. Then back to Portland. We met up with one of Emily’s friends and had some pizza (with broccoli? wtf?) and beer. Good end to the 2 day jaunt.

Finally, Wednesday, headed back up to Seattle, since that is where my flight was out of. Had a good time just looking for a place to eat lunch, and hit the sky. Sun Country is pretty good, I would recommend to anyone.

Overall the vacation was great, just awesome. I think now I should have taken more pictures, which then I think, I need a good digital camera, which then leads to other things. Some day 🙂 

Like all vacations, it went by too fast. Many things we wanted to do, but just didn’t have time to get to. The problem is there is just so much to do in the area, you could probably never run out of cool things to do! Fun times!


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Portland Vacation – Day 2 and 3

So, to pick up where I left off. Walking around in Seattle, WA. We hopped on the train back to Portland. I can’t remember I rode in a train, probably in Duluth on the North Shore. It was cool, 3 hour ride. Something different, and you get to see the countryside instead of worry about driving. By the time we got back to Em’s apt it was around 6 or 7, so we decided to get something to eat, and hit a few places to see what was up.

We went to dinner at this place called the Doug Fir. (I like to call it the Douglas Fir). Anyways, it was a nice cozy place, cheap food, but really good food. We bought tickets for the music downstairs. Rosie Thomas and Denison Witmer (and others) were playing. It was really hippy like, people sitting on the floor, just really laid back. It was good music. We then headed out to a few other places and then headed home.

Friday, was moving day. I helped Emily move! Oh how I love moving. I think we really did a good job. Thing is, WTF is up with U-Haul. They sent us on a wild goose chase to get a truck, way out of town, and it was some ghetto garage, and they told us to come back in an hour. Umm, no. We found a different one, and got the U-Haul, loaded it up, unloaded it, and good to go. Tired after that, but we decided to hit up some dinner and some beer joints around town, see the different places. Really fun time!

Moving Day 2

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Portland Vacation – Seattle, WA

After I left MSP, I flew into Seattle, WA. Pretty nice airport, nicer than MSP anyways. Walked to get my stuff, then outside. A worker guy was like “You need a cab”? I was like, yea, so he called one. I wait and wait, and then all of a sudden this small limo pulls up, ‘You Steve”? yea – that’s me. Dang, pimp my ride. Gave me a ride to the hotel, and it wasn’t to bad, nicest cab ride I ever had. (And I have had some bad ones, 15 miles into Mexico anyone?)

Once I got the hotel, the Inn at Queen Anne, I met up with Emily and we had a glass of wine, talked with a nice older couple, which was cool. We then decided to trek it up the huge hill up the view over Seattle and that is where we took some pictures of the Space Needle, and the view.

Emily and Steve - Seattle, WA

After that, we decided to head to a district in Seattle, Ballard. We heard that it had some good things going on, so we checked it out. There was a bar/restaurant we headed into, and since we chatted up the guy outside, he bought our first drinks, good stuff. We had nachos and wings (my fave!), then decided to find some live music. We headed to this place called the Tractor. There was like a 18 dollar cover, but it looked like a ton of bands were playing. We went in and the band that was playing was just horrible, couldn’t stand it, so we decided to walk after a while. Umm, yeah, got lost in Ballard, but the T-Mobile Dash with Live Maps saved the day (it was like the first time out of 100 we used it). Got a cab back, then walked around the hotel area, found a cool little pub, had some beers, talked, just had a good time. Not to eventful, but it was fun.

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Portland Vacation – Pictures

I have uploaded pictures of the vacation here

I have stories for most of them, which I will post up as I get some time. Was a fun trip!

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Back to Reality

Well, I have been on vacation since 5:00 PM on Dec 21st. It has been a good vacation. Hung out with some friends, went up north, saw my family, had xmas, went out and saw people that I haven’t seen in a while. My buddy that is back from Iraq came up one night to St. Cloud and we partied it up. Recovering from that, I watched a few movies I have been wanting to see, Superman Returns, The DaVinci Code, V for Vendetta, and some others. Then topped it off with a little New Year’s party and James Bond marathon today 🙂 – oh, and don’t forget I had to play a lot of Xbox 360, guitar and piano. I actually wrote a song and recorded it over the break – first time for everything. Maybe if I get some guts I’ll post it up for public consumption. I even took some time and pimped out my MySpace page – well, just changed the colors 🙂

As far as xmas gifts, I’d have to say, the best things? Bose Headphones (so I can jam out after 10 pm – yes!), Pajama Pants (can always use these), Beatles Love CD (blows my mind), Buffalo Wild Wings Gift Certificate (oh – heck yeah!) – oh and don’t forget the Jag – with the two shot glasses.

Throughout the vacation, I tried *not* to work. Its tough – I went on invisible on IM, didn’t VPN in, so if I wanted to check email I was forced to use Outlook Web, didn’t look at reports or worry too much about things. This was pretty much my first vacation since August of 2005 when I went to Chicago for a few days. It will be good to get back into the swing of things though, I’m already itching for it. People always say I should just go on a trip or something – well, I’ll save that for the next vacation 🙂

I hope everyone had a good 2006, and is ready to have a great 2007. It can only get better.


Labor Day Weekend

Seemed that wherever I went this weekend ,the bad weather just couldnt keep up. Milacs Lake – the rain was back home. Then went up to the Iron Range, rain was still south of me. Was a pretty fun weekend, I have a few pictures posted here


At The Lake

At The Lake

Originally uploaded by ScaleOvenStove.

Watching the sun go down at the lake…



Well, I just got back from Chicago last night, it was a fun trip. 8 hour drive from St. Cloud to Chi Town, through Wis. People think that Chicago is like a ghetto or something, but where I was, it seemed like it was a bastion of knowledge, learning, science, and art. It was really cool. Went to the Navy Pier, and the House of Blues. Also, went to the Adler Planetarium (first Planetarium in the US – 1930), the Shedd Aquarium, the Field Museum, and the Art Institute. Then hit up this blues joint, which was cool. Then finally, the 311 concert!!! Unwritten Law opened, then Papa Roach, then 311. It was an outdoor concert, and the weather was nice. Unwritten Law was OK, Papa Roach was good, and 311 was awesome. Their new songs are good too, the album comes out on the 16th. After the show I had some authentic Chicago pizza, which was a good way to end everything. I would have liked to gone to the Sears Tower and the John Hancock building, as well as the Museum of Science and Industry, maybe the next time I make it down there. Fun times!



I have been on vacation for the last week. Good to unplug every once in a while.