On Sunday, Dawn and I celebrated our 2nd Grandiversary. I mean, Avery, our wonderful granddaughter, turned two years old! Since she entered this world, she has captivated my life. I don't mean to brag but she is simply amazing. She is immensely curious, funny (yes, toddlers can have quite the sense of humor), loving, caring, generous, and at times, ornery. Also, she is quite the grandpa's girl.Read More
My friend Wes, the CEO of Visit Stockton, was the first to text me to tell me that my picture had been used in a post entitled “The 10 Most Boring Cities in America”. He wasn’t the only one though. My partners on Podcast Stockton as well as a few other friends also brought it to my attention. I wish I had time to write a response right away, but I didn’t. My wife and I were too busy rushing home from work in time to get ready to go out and celebrate the wonderful work that Puentes is doing with the Boggs Tract Community Farm.Read More
Forty years ago this week, on February 18, 1974, KISS released their debut album, Kiss.
Many of my friends are, like me, raving KISS fans. This post is not for them. They already know all of this, and much more. You see, when KISS fans gets together we try to out-did-you-know one another.
This post is for the rest of you, my KISS-curious friends.
So, here you go, 10 things you probably didn't know about KISS:
1. The highest charting KISS single ever recorded is "Beth", the piano and strings ballad written and performed by Peter Criss, the original drummer.
2. Gene Simmons recorded "When You Wish Upon a Star" on the 1978 album Gene Simmons. Yes, the Pinocchio song.
3. KISS recorded a concept album that was supposed to eventually become a movie. Music from The Elder was a commercial flop but is still endeared by many fans (and hated by others). The movie was never made.
6. KISS has earned more than $500 MILLION in merchandising in the last 40 years.
7. There are now different musicians "playing the parts" of Ace Frehley and Peter Criss. Currently, Tommy Thayer and Eric Singer are playing the parts of the original band members. Like many bands, the line-up has changed quite a bit throughout the years, with six other artists able to claim membership as KISS band members - rest in peace Eric Carr and Mark St. John. And if you wonder what Gene Simmons thinks about any controversy surrounding new artists donning original members' makeup and outfits, read Gene's tweet to my good friend and fellow KISS Army member, Shane.
8. KISS first appeared on television without their makeup on an MTV special on September 18, 1983. It has been called one of the worst rock fails of all time.
9. There were only eight months between the release of the first and second KISS album, five months between second and third, that's three albums in 13 months! KISS released 12 albums, including 2 live albums and the four "solo" albums in between February 1974 and September 1978!
10. Eddie Van Halen almost joined KISS!
Okay, I can't leave it at 10. Here are a few more:
11. Yes, KISS made a movie, "KISS Meets the Phantom of the Park", filmed at California's Magic Mountain.
12. After being snubbed for many, many years, KISS will finally be inducted to the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame. I, as many KISS fans, don't care one bit.
13. Gene Simmons was born in Isreal and was a sixth grade teacher in New York before joining KISS.
And, here are a few of my KISS facts:
My favorite member: Gene
Favorite drummer: Eric Carr
Favorite Guitarist: Mark St. John and Bruce Kulick
Favorite Albums: The Elder, Destroyer, Animalize, Crazy Nights
Favorite live album: KISS ALIVE II (duh!)
The first album I ever bought: KISS Animalize
The first cassette I ever bought: KISS Animalize
KISS Concerts I've attended: 1996 with original line-up and 2009 with current line-up
Pebble, the smart watch born from a successful Kickstarter campaign, launched their long-awaited Pebble App Store this week. Apps are not new to the Pebble, there have already been some great apps since the watch was first introduced (mattbeckwith.com/2013/09/02/pebble-watch/), now there's even more, and a nice new interface for finding and installing them.
The original Pebble app had limited options for watch faces (much more were available via third party sites) and was very clunky. Watch faces were listed by their names with easy way to identify which was which.
The new Pebble app is completely different and much more of a polished product. There are hundreds of watch faces, with more coming I'm sure. Also, I can finally see what faces are loaded on my watch, which makes adding and deleting new ones a lot easier!
The Pebble App Store is not about the watch faces (although, I really like the new ones that add the current temperature) it's about the apps!
The new user interface is slick and makes browsing for new apps a breeze. Since only 8 apps and/or watch faces can be loaded on a watch, the Pebble app stores your deleted apps and watch faces in a "locker" for simple re-loading later.
What kind of apps would one want to load on their watch? Well, there are hundreds to choose from. The day that the app store was launched, I was in San Diego giving a presentation. I am actually in southern California all week delivering the same 45 minute presentation nine times. To help me stay on time, I downloaded a stop watch (of which there are too many different ones to count).
How about apps that let you pay for your Starbucks? Control the camera on your smart phone, learn how to play chords on the guitar, plus lots of other things.
Interestingly, all of the apps and watch faces on the Pebble App Store are free. They currently don't have a way to charge people for downloads from the app store. Pebble has no concern with developers charging for a companion app on the smart phone, but it doesn't look like they'll be turning the Pebble App Store in to a place to sell apps.
Overall, I'm pretty happy with the new offerings and the new interface is great. Still holding out for the rumored iWatch, but until then, I'm still loving my Pebble.
Another year, another Thanksgiving in the books! It's always great to see everyone and eat ourselves silly. It's also the time for our traditional field goal kicking competition! Except for Ken, the reigning champ, we all had no problem hitting our practice shot). Then, when it counted, it got real interesting. Below are some of the video highlights.
Spoiler alert: there is finally a new winner this year!
Matt's second kick (there was also a third attempt, but I'll spare you the agony... it looked just like the first two)
Ken's second kick (which looks a lot like Joe's second kick)
And the winner is...
Happy Thanksgiving. And see you all next year!
In early October, Dawn, Makenzy and I drove to Colorado to spend a week with my high school friend, Van, and his family. We took the northern route, staying on Interstate 80 through California, Nevada, Utah, and Wyoming. It was the first time the three of us had been in Wyoming. Dawn and I split the driving duties while Makenzy stayed comfortably in the backseat and fulfilled the role of our chief Googler. When we'd see something that piqued our curiosity, we would ask Makenzy to Google it for us. Some of the random things we learned along our trip:
- Sinclair, the new gas station here in Stockton on Hammer and West Lane, comes from Sinclair, Wyoming
- There are more people living in San Joaquin County than there are in all of Wyoming
- OJ Simpson is serving time in Lovelock Correctional Facility in Lovelock, Nevada
- Green River, Wyoming was the first city in the US to outlaw door-to-door sales
- There is a band named after the aforementioned law, Green River Ordinance
We stopped in Fort Collins, Colorado to see my friend Rich and his family. He and his wife, Dorinna and their son Nate, showed us around Fort Collins. It wasn't enough time to see much of Fort Collins, but there was enough time to do some site seeing, and visit the famous Walrus Ice Cream, where Rich convinced me to try their "Mystery Flavor". If you ever find yourself in Fort Collins and someone suggests you visit Walrus, you definitely should, but stay away from the "Mystery Flavor". It was great to see the Ruh family.
Then we finally made it to the Saukam house and the week of fun got kicked off quickly! We had such a wonderful week hanging out with Van, Christine, Evan, and Liam. We hung out a lot and just talked and laughed, but we also did some typical touristy things.
We sure crammed a lot of fun (and food) into the week we spent with the Saukam family. It was so great to see them and spend some time enjoying the beauty of Colorado. Can't wait to get out there again!
Check out all of the pics here - http://www.flickr.com/photos/mattbeckwith/sets/72157637034930544/
One year ago I started running. Ok, as some have reminded me... it was really the 1 year anniversary of me running this time. Yes, it's true that running and I sort of hung out for a while but it was totally casual. I mean, I did buy a (terrible) pair of running shoes, and I did do two 5k races, but no one on this planet would have considered me a runner.
Not that I identify myself as a runner today, I just run. I am still far more comfortable on my bike. But I have enjoyed this last year of running.
Anyway, as I was saying, it was one year ago that I "started" running. One year ago that I walked into Fleet Feet, was fit for a (much better) pair of running shoes, and went home and ran. You see, the reason I didn't run much before was I always started hurting after just a couple of miles. And did I mention that I had terrible shoes? Well, what I had described as a pain on the outside of one of my knees was probably really Iliotibial Band Syndrome (ITBS). "Probably" because that was never diagnosed by a doctor. I was shown some stretches that completely alleviated the pain I had always had. Regardless of what ailed me, the stretches that the fine folks at Fleet Feet showed me helped me a great deal. As did my new shoes. After trying on shoes for half-an-hour, and learning that everything I knew about running and shoes was completely wrong, I settled on a pair of Brooks. I liked them so much, I bought another pair when I wore them out.
I started running after doing a 5k mud run. I finished it, but barely. I thought I was in good shape, but clearly not as much as I believed. My motivation was set: complete the Tough Mudder, a much harder mud run than the Mud on the Farm I barely finished. With that goal in my head, I started running.
I have really enjoyed running. I have completed four half marathons, the tiny Half in Galt, the Modesto Half Marathon, the Pleasanton Half, and the Avenue of the Vines, and even completed a Tough Mudder. I enjoy half marathons and have no plans to run a full marathon. After a year of running, I have mad amounts of respect for the hard work it must take to train for a full marathon. What I have enjoyed the most about running this last year isn't the miles (just under 600 miles), the half-marathons, or even the shoes. Running has introduced me to early mornings. I prefer running early in the morning. That is something I never experienced as a cyclist. There's just something special about lacing up and getting out on the road before most of my neighbors were awake.
Yes, this post is about shaving. And shaving razors, and shave lotion. Normally, pretty boring stuff. Not with Harry's. My friend Tom Moccia posted a link to Harry's recently and I decided to take a look. I wasn't in the market for new razors, had no plans that day to change the shaving ritual I have honed for more than 20 years, but something about their website piqued my interest so I made a purchase.
I decided on The Winston Set which came with a Winston handle, three blades, and a tube of shave cream for $25. I have been using the same name brand, disposable razors for about 10 years but the idea of handling something that felt more permanent appealed to me (given my very small pen collection, this makes complete sense).
Before I received my order I had some questions and e-mailed their customer service e-mail address. I was pleasantly surprised when I received a response within a day.
I opted for the free shipping and within a week I received my new shaving implements.
The product was packaged very well and included shaving instructions and a thank you card, always a nice touch.
The proof is in the shave.
And the shave is the best shave I have ever had.
So, you may be asking about the price. As if you can put a price on a great shaving experience. But I get it, I don't want to pay more even if it means it'll be a better shave.
The razors I have been using are about $12 for 8, or $1.50 each, just a tad less expensive than what I am about to pay to Harry's ($1.56 - $2.00 per blade, depending on quantity ordered).
My first razor from Harry's has lasted 4 shaves and is still doing great! With my old name brand razors, I only kept one for two shaves, after that it would destroy my face. Sometimes I could get three, but I would never attempt four! I am hopeful that I can get at least five. From a price perspective, that makes Harry's razors less expensive!
It did take a few shaves with the Harry's shave lotion for me to get used to shaving with it. I've been using the same name brand shaving gel for many years but now that I am used to the Harry's lotion, I really prefer it over the gel. At $8 per tube, it is more expensive than what I normally buy but given the savings from the razors, I am still coming out ahead (or at least not coming out negative).
Harry's offers a customized auto-refill schedule to get regular shipments of blades and lotion. If I run out between regular shipments, I can even text my order to them.
Back to the shave.
The razor has the perfect weight and balance. It actually feels like it is on auto-pilot. As corny as that sounds, it does feel like the weight, shape and design of the razor create a great shave without the dreaded cuts.
Since I've been shaving with my Harry's razor, I actually look forward to shaving... for the first time since I was a teenager.
Great customer service.
So far, Harry's has won me over with the quality of their product. Their service will turn me into a raving fan. The brief e-mail encounter after placing my order demonstrated that the company cared about the small details of delighting customers.
A couple of days after receiving my kit, I received a wonderful e-mail from an employee at Harry's. It came from Katie, an actual person. She e-mailed me to thank me for supporting Harry's and offered to help in any way she could. "Please don't hesitate to reach out with any thoughts or questions about our products (or shaving or life in general.)"
I can already hear you bemoaning, "Ooooh, you received an e-mail. Big deal."
You don't understand. I received an actual e-mail from an actual person at the company. A person with a first AND last name, and a phone number, and an e-mail address. An actual e-mail address, not one of those don't-even-think-about-contacting-us, do-not-reply e-mail addresses, but a real e-mail address to Katie. Now that is impressive.
Want to try Harry's for yourself? Use this link (harrys.com/?ref=75fe99db30) and I'll get some free blades... you won't be sorry.