Top 11 Things I Did in 2013

Every December, and into January, a multitude of top lists are written and published: top 10 this, top 7 that, top 5 over here, top 13 over there.  I decided to add my own top list to the noise: The Top 11 Things I Did in 2013. The nice things about this list are:

  1. No one can really debate my list and tell me that such and such should be on my list. It’s stuff I did, so no one can tell me that something else I did belongs on the list or that the order should be different.
  2. It gets me to reflect on the year, try to remember the things I did and figure out what I did that was most memorable, fun, interesting, etc.

This year’s list, my first, was a bit difficult because I didn’t start this blog until November. So, I didn’t have posts from throughout the year to refer to. I had to probe the depths of my less than stellar memory (with some help from Facebook posts) to come up with this list. So, here I go (all images are clickable):

Homemade Vape Juice

Homemade Vape Juice

11. Learned How to Make My Own Vape Juice

March/April 2013 While somewhat time consuming, it turns out it’s actually pretty easy and cheap to make juice for electronic cigarettes. It’s really nothing more than mixing unflavored nicotine (in a base of propylene glycol, vegetable glycerine or both), propylene glycol, vegetable glycerine, and flavoring in varying quantities. Vape shops sell their juice at 300% markup or more. In reality, the actual cost of a 30 ml bottle of vape juice usually costs less than $2.50, including the bottle. Part of their markup is for overhead, research and development and waste. But most of it is pure profit. That’s why I seriously considered developing my own line of vape juices and opening an online store. But the industry literally exploded while I was in the early stages creating and testing juice flavors, building the website and finding a credit card processor that would accept electronic cigarette and accessory sales. Instead, and for the foreseeable future, I’ll continue to make my own for personal consumption, occasionally trying flavors from various local, and sometimes online, merchants. Maybe someday I’ll resurrect the idea. But not anytime soon.

10. Started My Personal Website and Blog (Finally)

12 November 2013 I’d been thinking about creating a personal website and blog for a long time. I bought the domain, williamlgentry.com, a couple of years ago for that very purpose, but never set aside the time to do it. After rearranging priorities so that I have more time to devote to the things I enjoy, bowling, playing guitar, spending more time with my wife and friends, and building and maintaining my personal website (not necessarily in that order), I plunged in and built this website. I’m consciously trying to write more frequently and with more original content than I did with my previous blog, GrillSgt’s Firepit. I’m happy with the design, layout and features and am enjoying writing. This website gives me the freedom to express myself more than the various social networks do and all in one place. I hope you’ll continue to visit, enjoy what you find and interact with me through your comments.

WordCamp Las Vegas 2013 Credly Badge

WordCamp Las Vegas 2013 Credly Badge

9. Attended WordCamp Las Vegas 2013

14 December 2013 Although I’ve attended local (Las Vegas) WordPress meetups occasionally (not as frequently as I’d like, but they hold most of them on Tuesdays, and I usually bowl on Tuesdays), I’ve never attended a WordCamp. I had a ticket for WordCamp Las Vegas 2011, but when the day arrived, I wasn’t feeling well. So I skipped. I totally missed WordCamp Las Vegas 2012. So, when tickets for WordCamp Las Vegas 2013 went on sale, I pounced and bought two: one for me and one for my brother-in-law, Mike. I’ve learned from previous meetups and web design, SEO and software testing conferences I’ve attended that no matter how much you know (or think you know), there is always something to learn. Sometimes you only learn a little, sometimes you learn a lot, but you always learn something. And you always meet someone new, renew previous acquaintances and make new friends. Due to other commitments, we couldn’t attend the after party Saturday night. We also decided to skip Sunday’s events. We knew we’d be tired Sunday and would have to rush to our Sunday evening bowling league. We had a good time, learned new stuff about WordPress, met some new people and talked with some old friends. I can’t wait for WordCamp Las Vegas 2014. Below are the photos I took along with one that the event’s photographer took of the Las Vegas WordPress Meetup group.

8. Bowled in My 1st Seniors Tournament

This wasn’t the first tournament I bowled in. I bowled in the Las Vegas City Tournament and the Nevada State Tournament earlier in the year. But this was the first senior’s tournament I was eligible to bowl in. I decided to bowl it at the last minute. The tournament was held at Virgin River Bowling Center in Mesquite, Nevada. The senior’s tournament doesn’t have team or doubles squads, only singles squads. You bowl two squads for a single entry. I didn’t win any money in the tournament, but I bowled pretty well. I’ll be bowling in the 2014 Nevada Senior Tournament, in Pahrump, Nevada.

7. Hanging Out with Family and Friends Throughout the Year

Most Friday nights, some Saturday nights and an occasional midweek night throughout the year Many Friday nights (a few Saturday nights and an occasional midweek night) were spent hanging out a various Las Vegas coffee houses (Madhouse Coffee, Starbucks and most recently The Lodge Coffee House) with with friends we met through the vaping community in Las Vegas. This group of friends (the core are Shannon, Dave, Mike, Sasha, Dillon, Ty – sometimes Shannon’s Dave, Nicole, Art, Blanca, Errin, Alex and a few others pop in) are quite the collection of personalities. I like that they speak their minds openly. The conversations often get lewd, crude and downright rude. But it’s always interesting. This is the group of friends that introduced us to Cards Against Humanity, “a free party game for horrible people” or a game “as despicable and awkward as you and your friends.” Even though we tend to hear many stories retold multiple times, it’s still fun to hang out with them most Friday nights. Oh, and we ant dancing to the Spasmatics at the South Point Casino twice with a few people from this group – FUN! Sunday, Tuesday, Wednesday and Friday nights, some Sunday mornings, and various other days/nights/weekends throughout the year These nights are or were bowling nights. There is a core group of friends (and family) that bowl in the same leagues: Stacey, Michael, Daryl, Brenda. Add in my wife Stephanie (who recently returned to bowling), Daryl’s wife Kathy (she doesn’t bowl anymore) and Brenda’s sweetheart, Dave (who bowls but had to take time off because of injury). Often some of us are on the same team. We’ve bowled together in leagues, tournaments, charity events and practice. But there’s more to it than just bowling. We often go out to eat together after bowling. We spend holidays (4th of July, Christmas, New Year’s, birthdays) together. Sometimes, just the ladies have a night out. Michael and Stacey are family. Brenda, Dave, Daryl and Kathy are just like family. Hanging out with them is a lot of fun. And they all like Cards Against humanity too! Everyday of the year Simply spending time with my best friend and wife, Stephanie. Whether it’s watching television at home, going out for dinner and a movie (and POPCORN!), shopping, walking around Town Square, or doing anything, these are always my favorite times.

Jackson RRXT Guitar

Jackson Randy Rhoads XT Guitar

6. Playing My Guitar(s) Again

26 November 2013 I got the first version of Rocksmith for Xbox 360 about the same time (October) the DVD drive began to fail. I got a new Xbox 360 for my birthday (Thanks Sweetie!). I contemplated getting an Xbox One, but it isn’t backwards compatible and I have a lot of older games that I still want to play. After I got the new console, I put in Rocksmith and tried it out. It’s fun, frustrating at times and an awesome tool for learning, practicing and improving my guitar playing skills. My wife got me Rocksmith 2014 for Christmas. I totally cannot wait to plug in and learn some new techniques and righteous tunes. And maybe take the 60-day challenge.

Rhodes Ranch Sign

Photo courtesy DI Lewis Team Realty

5. Moved to a New House

01 March 2013 Parts of the neighborhood at our old house are going downhill. People moved into my sister- and brother-in-law’s old house. Illegally. Lots of shady and creepy stuff ensued there. People pulling into the driveway or parking on the street, going into the house (usually through the garage), leaving a short time later. Drugs and prostitution perhaps? We weren’t feeling exactly safe there anymore, despite the fact that we have an alarm system and security door. We left the alarm on even when we were at home. On top of that, we were still very underwater. We decided to short sell the house (still hasn’t sold… Chase Bank has dragged this out far longer than it should have). We rented a house in Rhodes Ranch, a very nice, gated community. It has manned gates and security patrols. A large recreation center with two pools, a jacuzzi, tennis courts, basketball courts, exercise rooms, fitness equipment and more. There is a golf course within the community. Lots of green space, trees, shrubs, flowers and walking paths. It’s 12 minutes from my company’s office. It’s a terrific place to live. We love living here. Now if only Chase would get off their collective asses and approve the next offer our realty and legal team sends them.

My Mini Cooper

My Mini Cooper

4. Bought a Mini Cooper (and one for my wife too!)

17 May 2013 The check engine light went on in my Nissan Titan. I made an appointment at the dealership to have it looked at. On the way to the appointment, the light went out. I took it in anyway. They inspected everything and recommended about $3500 in repairs. Having only 1 payment left to pay it off and planning to trade it in within 6 months, I didn’t want to put much, if any, money into it. So my wife and I headed off to Carmax. We both had wanted a Mini Cooper for quite a while. They had a few. I found a red and black one with low mileage and good value for the price. Carmax gave me $9000 for my truck, almost half the price of the Mini. On a whim, my wife asked for an appraisal on her Toyota Highlander. It was enough to pay it off, so we traded her car in too. She got a gray Mini Cooper. We bought 2 Mini Coopers on the same day. Crazy! They are so fun to  drive, and have more room in the front seats that you’d think. Just don’t ask for a ride when I already have a passenger. The leg room in the back seat is just enough for a 5 year old.

Matching Mini Coopers

Matching Mini Coopers – Mine’s the red one. Hers is the gray one.

3. Bowling in a PBA50 (Masters) Pro Am Event

08 June 2013 This was a lot of fun. It was a 9-Pin No-Tap Event (9 pins also counts as a strike). Each game, a different pro bowled on my lane. I bowled with Bryan Goebel, Robert Harvey and Eric Forkel. My series score was higher that the combined score of the three pros! My last game was a 300, with only 2 no-tap strikes. While I’ve rolled several no-tap 300 games, it was way cool to roll one with pros watching. I also got my picture taken with bowling legend Walter Ray Williams Jr. I wrote about the experience in my Bowling with the Pros post.

National Bowling Stadium, Reno, NV

National Bowling Stadium, Reno, NV

2. Bowled in My 1st USBC Open Championships

26-27 May 2013 The National Bowling Stadium in Reno, NV is quite a place to bowl in. Check in takes place in a room behind the lanes. All sorts of other things are happening back there before squad time: ball weighings, brackets and other side pot signups, photo opportunities, preparation and a short presentation, including going over some of the rules. When it’s your squad time, you enter the stadium from behind the pin setting machines, through a tunnel in the middle of the lanes. In front of you as you enter the stadium are the stands and settee areas. You walk down the approaches with your bowling balls until you reach your assigned lane. It’s quite an experience. I wasn’t nervous, but I bowled terribly (my second game in the team squad was 105). The oil pattern was very tough. I don’t know what it was, but from diagrams of the sport patterns and the reaction of my ball, it seemed like it was the Shark pattern. I did better, but not great, the second day during doubles/singles squad. I did win $20  for brackets in the senior division, so that was something. Even though I didn’t do very well, I had a lot of fun bowling in that environment and spending time with friends and family. Looking forward to participating in the 111th USBC Open Championships in 2014. Here are most of the photos we had taken at the 110th USBC Open Championships. I’m missing the photo from our team squad. I think my sister-in-law has it.

1. Saw Iron Maiden in Concert, Finally!

12 September 2013 I’ve only been waiting 32 years to see them in concert. I wasn’t disappointed one iota. Awesome concert. Megadeth was good too, but their set was too short for such a popular band. I wrote more about the experience in my Scream for Me Las Vegas! post. Here are a few photos from the concert that weren’t posted before.

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So there you have it, my top 10 things I did in 2013.

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