Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Gadget Geek

Today, as Diesel and I headed out for our walk I found myself doing things, that 5 years ago, I never would have thought to do.

I pulled out my phone just about as soon as Diesel was attached to his leash, turned on the GPS function and started the Noom app.  This application on my phone then started recording my time, distance, speed and kept a map of the route I had begun. Soon after that, I found myself checking into Foursquare to reclaim my title as "mayor" of the Clinton River Trail. As the check-in was posted to Twitter, I informed my followers that I would be posting a new blog soon using the hashtag, #DieselStomping.  Along our walking route I snapped a few photos of the sunset.  All the while, the little voice from Noom reminding me that I had to step it up if I wanted to make it all 3 miles in under an hour. WTH?

Yes, this is what gadget geeks like me do.  There used to be a time when we valued and protected our privacy, but things have changed with my generation and younger. A friend and I were talking about the use of Foursquare one day and about how when we had first discovered the App, we were checking in everywhere we went. The gas station, the gym, the grocery store, the gastroenterologist. Everywhere. So for a lot of people the allure to check in was lost. The whole purpose of the app when it first was created was to make a game out of going out. And by "going out", I mean hitting the night clubs, bars and other cool-to-be-scene-at places, the person with the most points wins and is thereby considered "the coolest."  My friend went on to say that he now views the check-in process as more an advertising tool.  We are essentially selling ourselves to our friends, family, and strangers.  By checking into new, cool, or unusual places we are telling people "Hey, look at what I am doing, I like it, and I hereby endorse it."  I completely agree.  I have started checking into places again, when I think its something that people will find interesting. I hope.

And then of course there is Facebook and Twitter.  I enjoy both of those applications for different reasons.  I like that I can keep up with my friends, family and favorite celebrities (I must know what Wil Wheaton is up to, something funny could happen!) Plus, I like that I can shamelessly plug my blog to all those same people and hope that they start reading. That reminds me, I also have a Google+ account but I really haven't gotten into that one yet.

While we were out on our walk today, we were passed by a guy on a bike that had a camera mounted to his handlebars and he was capturing video of his ride down the trail and that got me thinking about what other gadgets are fun to have while out on a walk/ride.  I used to carry my iPod, still do occasionally, but sometimes I use the Pandora app on my phone for music instead.  I have thought about figuring out a way to carry and record using my Flip camera during a walk, but it would be better suited to a bike ride as I have a tripod I could use to mount it.  And speaking of going on bike rides, I recently impulse purchased a Bike Computer made by Schwinn to record my speed and distance.  I'm pretty sure my Noom app could have handled that, but what can I say, it looked neat.  And I have to be honest, one of the reasons I joined Burn Fitness was because I could plug my iPod and a jumpdrive into the cardio machines.

Something I would love to own one day, and totally do not need to spend the money on, would be this: The DogTek Eyenimal Videocam for Pets. If I had the $100 bucks to spare on something I would probably only use once or twice, this would be it.  I would be so interested in seeing what Diesel sees for 8 hours while Mikey and I are away at work. Oh, and capturing the trail from his view, that would be all over YouTube in a heartbeat. Chances are though, I would end up catching 8 hours of the dirt spot near the fence where Diesel is usually laying when we get home. But, you never really know until you get one! For anyone that is reading, this is now on my Birthday/Christmas list.

So that's my nerd list of gadgetry I bring with me and wish I could bring with me.  What kinds of gadgets, apps or toys do you bring on your walks?

Friday, August 26, 2011

It Ain't That Easy

I have to admit I have been putting off this post all week.  It's the post where I have come to realize that I'm stumped for ideas.  With the other blogs I have tried to write, I get bored of the posts.  It's just a recap of my life in word form and I've already been there and done that.  I lack the motivation to write when I don't have any followers, or even page hits.  But if even I am bored with myself, surely my readers are too.

With Diesel Stomping it's been different, I have had neat and interesting things to write about. At least for a while.  I knew that I should be stocking up on posts for when nothing interesting happens, or I just don't have time to write, and need something up for the week.  The only problem being that I haven't quite figured out what to write about when Diesel and I aren't out walking.

This week has been sort of a recuperation from last weekends trip to Lansing.  Mikey and I traveled to our states capital so that he could be a judge for the Michigan Tree Climbing Competition hosted by the Arboriculture Society of Michigan.  Mikey got involved in tree climbing on a competitive level through work, and even though he has decided not to compete, the chair of the event still wanted him involved and asked him to judge/tech.  I thought it would be a great opportunity for Mikey to get out and meet a bunch of people who enjoyed climbing as much as he did, and for him to learn some new things. For me, it was simply a chance to get out of town and not just head up state. 

Friday while I was there, and Mikey was busy setting up the next days activities, I took the opportunity to stroll around the Potter Park Zoo.  It's not a very large zoo but I was impressed with is variety of animals.  While there I noticed a woman that was walking around on her own as well.  We must have arrived at about the same time as we were entering and exiting exhibits one right after the other.  When I stopped to grab a snack, there she was doing the same. So we started chatting. The next thing I know, she's invited me to walk to downtown with her along the Lansing River Walk Trail.  Why the heck not? I didn't have anything better going on, I like to walk, and she didn't look like an axe murderer.

We walked from the park, down one of the most beautiful city trails I have ever seen, to the state capital building, where we gave ourselves a tour.  Wandered back downtown, visited a few shops and walked back.  I think overall it was bout 5 miles on the trail and who knows how much else.  Plus around the zoo and up 4 stories in the capital building, I got my exercise for the day I know that.

Where was Diesel you ask? This was our first trip together where we had to leave Diesel at home.  The poor puppy was devastated.  We usually bring him everywhere and if we can't one of us is usually home with him. Or its for really short day trips.  My mom was nice enough to come over and check on him from time to time so we knew that wouldn't be an issue, but let me tell ya, he was so excited to see us when we got home Saturday night. And for all the days following, he was not going to let us get out that door without him.

So you would think that I would have more than made up for it by taking him out on walks this week. FAIL.  I have either been tired, its been way too muggy out still in the evening, or I have been away.  And today, when I woke up and Diesel was stretched out in Mikey's half of the bed, I was so very close to calling in to work and spending the day with him, but I knew I had stuff to get done. And here it is Friday evening and my chance was missed completely.  Mikey is making up for leaving him at home by taking him up state for the weekend.  I have things going on this weekend or I might have gone too.

I suppose all I really needed to do was to sit down and actually start writing.  Though I am still worried after a record number of hits to my blog last week if I can even come close.  So I pose a question to my fellow bloggers, what do you write about when you don't have anything to write about?

I am going to try and make a list of topics that are dog-walking/hometown related and see if I can just start writing once a day.  I don't have to post them I guess, but at least I can go back to them and tweak them post when I am having another one of those weeks.

Thanks again for stopping by, I appreciate all of the comments and the hits.  :)

Monday, August 15, 2011

And Just Like That... They're Gone.

Finally the weather turned nice around here and Diesel and I were able to get out and take a quick walk around the neighborhood. Most of the time Diesel and I go out, I leave the iPod at home. Occasionally its nice to turn on some good upbeat music and just walk along with the pace, but on most of our walks it's an opportunity for me to enjoy the silence that comes with the trail and let my thoughts drift.

As Diesel and I were out on the Clinton River Trail today I was thinking back on a story that Mikey told me last night.

Mikey and Diesel had gone up state over the weekend leaving me to clean the house from floor to ceiling like it had really needed. Meanwhile, the two of them were out stomping around the woods getting ready for the upcoming hunting season. Mikey made his way up a tree stand to get a better idea of the lay of the land. Well, Diesel didn't see him go up and realized he was alone. The poor guy looked around, didn't see Mikey and heads trotting off towards the cabin before breaking out into a full on sprint. Mikey can see from his vantage point as Diesel quickly surveyed his surroundings, come to the conclusion that Mikey wasn't there and does the same full speed run back to where Mikey had last been seen. Again he searches the area and runs full tilt down another trail. At this point Mikey can tell that the poor dog is getting worried and he calls to him. Diesel eventually hears him and zeros in his location. That classic German Shepherd smile encompassing his face showing a look of relief.

It's not everyday you get to see your dog react to a situation where he's lost or confused. And honestly it really showed some real intelligence that he was able to remember locations and where is precious daddy could have been. It breaks my heart that Mikey and I have to leave him at home this weekend for the first time without either one of us. He has grown to be such an important member of the family that he comes almost every where we go. Thankfully, my mom will be keeping an eye on the big guy.

Unfortunately, while out on our walk today, we also learned of the passing of a good friend. It was one of those unexpected accidents that really knocks you off your feet when you hear about it. It's unbelievable how something that you do almost every day at work, could turn tragic and and cause an injury or worse. I worry about Mikey and his work near the power lines every day. Here in Detroit the grid system is so old, they don't cut the power unless they have to. It's a risk that both Mikey and I know and he takes the utmost precautions each and every day. Our friend died while doing the most simplest of tasks that on this particular day a malfunction occurred that cost his life.

Please remember to take the time out to tell the people in your life how much they mean to you, and tell them you love them. You never know when something like this could happen and you should never take their being there for granted. You could turn around one day and they could be gone.

We lost a good friend, a son, a brother, and father. He will be missed.

Friday, August 5, 2011

The Nose Knows - Diesel's Trip to the Dog Park

Today I had a day off from work and decided that since Diesel and I haven't been getting out for many walks lately, that I would take him to the dog park.

My friends recommended Orion Oaks Dog Park, in Orion Township.  At about 10ish or so this morning I packed some water, his portable dog dish, and grabbed his leash.  We headed north and checked into the park at around 10:15 or so.  It's a $5 fee for a daily pass to the park, annual passes are also available for $30.  Orion Oaks is an Oakland County park so if you buy the annual pass it will also grant you access to Addison Oaks, Groveland Oaks, Highland Oaks, Independence Oaks, Lyon Oaks, and Rose Oaks.  

Orion Oaks has 24 fenced in acres set up with different zones.  There is a small dog area and then an area for dogs over 25 lbs.  Diesel and I headed into zone A and instantly met a 7 month old German Shepherd puppy.  We wandered off in search of the trails mentioned on the website.  More than anything Diesel was more preoccupied with sniffing everything he came across.  By the time we had reached the back of the park I am pretty sure he had marked every tree and waste can.  Benches are located in many of the more shaded areas, and waste cans with provided baggies can be found almost anywhere.  

Orion Oaks Dog Park
At the back of the park you can pass through the double gates and enter the Dog Dock area.  A slight ways down the trail and you come to a decently long dock that stretches into the lake.  The water is deep enough that the dogs can jump off the end.  Ramps on either side allow the dogs to climb back on to the dock with ease.  There is no swimming allowed for humans, but you can get pretty wet sitting on the end with your dog and the others that come up and shake off.  Diesel didn't go swimming today, as I did not bring a floaty for him to chase.  I wasn't sure how crowded the dock would be.  

Dog Dock @ Orion Oaks Dog Park

Diesel and I made our way back to the fenced in area and strolled around the trails for a bit.  They're not really secluded, and are quite short, but it was nice to have the shaded area as it was starting to warm up a bit faster than I had hoped.  Diesel isn't bad with other dogs, but he's much more interested in people.  Dogs would come up to him and they would circle around each other and sniff each other but he wasn't interested in playing much.  The one time he did seem kind of excited was for a guy that was walking by with a few dogs of his own.  

Diesel and I decided that since we had already bought the daily pass, we headed down the street to the main park and hit the trails.  At first looking at the map I figured we would do the 2.5 mile loop.  We started off in a nice meadow walking along a grass trail.  A lot of people ask me if I am afraid of walking alone, have you seen my 90 lb German Shepherd?  I have heard him get mean and protective once before when I had to stop and use a porta-john while on the trail.  I am not really afraid of much when he's around.  We made it to the 2nd trail maker, it was really starting to get warm and we had just walked up the largest, straight up hill.  We stopped to take a breather and get some water and that's when I decided that we were not as prepared as we should be.  

There were bugs everywhere! Deer flies were all over Diesel's ears, and I was being attacked from all sides.  The only cool thing was all of the butterflies and grasshoppers.  We were running low on water by the next trail marker and Diesel and I came to the same conclusion, let's get out of here! We started following the trail markers back to the parking lot and managed to make one wrong turn that thankfully wasn't too far out of the way.  Diesel and I were more than happy to be back in the car and back in the A/C as we headed home. 

Orion Oaks Trails
It wasn't the worst trip and I can't say that I hated any of it.  The dog park was okay, but a little bit too busy and too small for Diesel and I.  I am sure its better for those that live in apartments and don't have the room to let your dog go free.  And Diesel isn't a "social" dog so he really doesn't need to be around other dogs.  He's not bad with them but for the most part he just doesn't care. The rest of Orion Oaks was beautiful, I would like to go back again when we can be a little more prepared.  I think Mikey would even like scouting out trees to climb.