Author: Justin Hamlin

Life

Foto Friday – December 2, 2011

Today’s photo comes from central park in New York City.  With family in town for the Thanksgiving holiday weekend, we took an opportunity to play tour guide and show our family around NYC.  After a wonderful breakfast, we ventured into Central Park to enjoy the overcast and rainy morning.  Taken from over one of the Trump sponsored skating rinks on the south end of Central Park, the low clouds, fog, rain and the last remnants of Fall colors provided a great depth and ambiance to the gorgeous NYC skyline.

This Foto Friday marks a few changes as of late, the primary one being my (attempted) return to my Foto Friday posts, as well as an addition to the camera arsenal. I originally started my Foto Friday posts with only shots from my Canon SLR, however recently with work being as hectic as it has been, my iPhone is the only camera that I have on my 95% of the time anymore, so this is the first iPhoneography shot to be featured on Foto Friday.

The shot was taken with the built in camera on the iPhone, stitched together with AutoStitch and cleaned up with SnapSeed.

Hope you enjoy it.

Camera – iPhone 4 | Software – AutoStitch, SnapSeed

Do you have any photos from some great, non-traditional Thanksgiving events?

 

Life

Life Happened

I started this blog with great intentions. A creative outlet, a showcase for some photography, a window into my world. Everything was going swimmingly for the first 6 months of the blog…

And then life happened.

My last update came in August while we were trying to win a Marriott Beach Blogger dream vacation. Suffice to say, we didn’t win, but two of our Team Cocktail friends did! Bittersweet, yes, but glad to see some friends win.   I guess that is either the next best thing to winning, or the worst thing to happen if you lost.  It is a thin, grey line.

Since then, life has been a little crazy:

  • Spent 7 awesome days lounging on the beach in St. Thomas
  • I accepted a new NYC-based job
  • I have spent 6 of the last 9 weeks in Boston, where my company has its HQ and biggest customers
  • Had to learn NYC and Boston mass transit systems
  • Learning the Amtrak service from NYC to Boston and back
  • Spent a week (sick the entire time) in California for some great birthday parties
  • Showed Juliet around Boston for her first time
I know, I know, it is no excuse.  But alas, I have no better one.  I have been so incredibly busy, I still have not processed the photos from our St. Thomas trip (only a few to go! I will finish them today, promise!!).  But alas, there is a silver lining to all of this.

Upcoming Updates

Due to the fact of not blogging for the past 3 months, I have a TON of adventures to update everyone on, complete with photos, recommendations, first time newbie guides and more!  Here is a quick rundown of some upcoming post ideas:

  • How We Escaped Hurricane Irene (and ended up in the islands) – Also known as our St. Thomas getaway
  • The Boston Freedom Trail (and how to experience it for free)
  • Fenway Park
  • My foray into iPhoneography
  • A Boston Must: Samuel Adams Boston Brewery
  • Our First Cruise: The Buildup (and why we are excited)
  • Boston: My new favorite big city
And much more to come, with plenty of photos, so stay tuned!
I will leave you today with a few photos from recent adventures
Hope to see more of you back over here in the coming months for some great updates!
Life

Sand Between Our Toes

As I sit here and finally put together one more dedication (read: plea) with regards to our entry into the Marriott Resorts Beach Blogger contest, I really am excited at the possibility of being selected for this wonderful vacation, but also very much reminded of how much we really need a belated honeymoon.

I have been positioning this as a belated honeymoon for Juliet and I, however, without completely realizing the timing of it all, if we are selected, it will fall right around our 1 year wedding anniversary.  September 24th, 2011 will mark 1 year since we were married on Huntington Beach in California.

To think we were married right around 1 year ago is almost mind boggling, until we consider what has happened in the past 12 months:

  • August 2010, Justin took a new job after 8+ years with old company
  • September 2010, Married in HB, CA
  • January 2011, quick flight to Rochester NY for Juliet’s interview
  • January 2011, 3 days later, Juliet accepted a job offer in NY
  • January 2011, Justin quit his (new) job
  • February 2011, moved into corporate housing in NY for 6 months
  • February 2011, Juliet experiences her first time living where it snows
  • March 2011, Justin flew back to CA and drove from CA to NY
  • April 2011, Our good friend Sean came to visit
  • May 2011, Justin starts his job hunt
  • June 2011, Justin is still job hunting
  • July 2011, Juliet heads back to CA to coordinate packing of CA house
  • July 2011/August 2011, move into our new apartment in NY
  • August 2011, spent unpacking
  • Oh yeah, Justin still job hunting
All of that in the past 12 months.  Nowhere in there was a honeymoon for us at all.  Unfortunately, was just not something we were able to work into our wedding budget and our work timelines. It has been quite the past year.
So by the time this is posted and the time you read this, we will be on the last day of voting for the Marriott Resorts Beach Blogger Resort 2 Romance contest, and we could really use (and would really appreciate) your support.
August 17th is the last day to vote, so hop on over to Facebook, Like the Marriott Resorts page, click on Resort 2 Romance and then scroll to the bottom, find JUSTIN H and click VOTE! (then go ahead and share this with all of your friends)

 

Thank you for all of your support, and if we win, we guarantee we will be doing something cool as a ‘thank you’ to all of our supporters.

 

Cheers!

 

Life

A Belated Honeymoon Wish

As anyone who frequents the blog (both of you!) might know, Juliet and I were married in September, 2010 in Huntington Beach, California.  Since then, life has been a roller coaster, complete with a move to New York, an Epic Road Trip, quitting my job and loads of other adventures.

When we look back on our wedding, we have nothing but fond memories.  The only thing we would do differently (if given the chance to do it all over again) is to embark on a honeymoon after the wedding.

But good news, you can help us go on one!

(and I don’t mean by paying for it!)

Recently, our friend Ryan of Rum Shop Ryan fame won a Marriott Resorts Beach Blogger contest and spent 5 days on St. Kitts, exploring, drinking and occasionally, blogging.  It was from Ryan’s blog that I found out about a great contest that is a follow up to the wildly successful Beach Blogger contest, this one dubbed “Resort to Romance”.  A contest to sponsor a few bloggers/Marriott fans/travel lovers for a romantic getaway in the Caribbean.

Well, Juliet and I have entered in hopes of winning a great getaway as a belated honeymoon for us to one of the Marriott Resorts amazing Mexican and Caribbean Resorts!  One of the main criteria for judging is the amount of votes received, and currently we are up against 72 other couples.

If you could spare a few moments to “Like” the Marriott Resorts Caribbean and Mexico Facebook Page, and then click on our link to vote for us in their Resort to Romance contest section, we would greatly appreciate it, as the voting for this first round goes through July 31st!

You can vote once per day, so if possible, please send out a vote each day from here through the 31st!

Thanks again for all of your support and hopefully Juliet and I will be the next Marriott Resorts Beach Bloggers!

Cheers!

 

Life

Foto Friday – July 8, 2011

 Today’s photo comes from Cadillac Ranch, just outside of Amarillo, Texas.  This was shot on our I-40 roadie from Huntington Beach, CA to Chapel Hill, NC.

Cadillac Ranch, while beautiful in photos, is a rather random road-side attraction. Literally off the side of the road in Northern Texas, middle of nowhere. If we had not previously stopped at a truck stop just a few miles previously, we might have missed it.  With a dirt field on each side of I-40, the pole fence on the roadside was the only marker for the display that is Cadillac Ranch.

The 3 of us toiled around the small display for 15-20 minutes, took some photos, avoided a dust storm (in a dirt field, what do you expect)

Love the way this photo came out, albeit the horizon line is angled, it was the best way to get the most out of the cars and give it a unique angle.

Camera – Canon EOS Rebel XT | Lens – Canon 28-105mm | Exposure –  F13 – 1/320

Anyone else have any roadside attraction stories to share?  Share them below in the comments!

Life

July 1: The Necessity of Pushing Yourself Outside Your…

And here we have it.  The last and final installment of the series.  The last wise and sage bit of motivation and inspirational knowledge I get to impart for this series.

Some have asked me why I went with 31 days when June clearly only has 30 days.  While a completely legitimate question, my intent with this was not to match the number of blog posts with the number of days in the month, it was more closely tied to the fact that on June 4th, I turned 31 years young.  Also, when tackling the initial rush of ingenuity with this series, the piece that solidified my decision was the fact that the 31st entry would fall on July 1st, effectively giving me a final blog to help propel my readers into July and beyond, while offering a solidifying finale to the series.

If you have followed along with the series, I really have 3 running themes to all of these posts, 3 main areas where I believe that you cannot help but feel better about yourself and more alive, just by participating:

Finding Adventure

June 4: Hit the Road, Jack.

June 5: Embrace Spontaneity

June 6: Get Lost

June 7: Spin the Globe

June 9: The Long Road Home

June 10: First Flight

June 11: Blow Off Work

June 20: Get Lost (Again)

June 24: Take a Flying Leap

June 25: Map Your Escape Route

June 28: Choose Your Own Adventure

Embracing Action

June 1: Stop Reading My Blog

June 2: Take a Photo

June 8: Relax!

June 12: Take a Hike

June 14: Make Something New

June 15: Sell Your Crap

June 16: Stop Making Excuses and Achieve Greatness

June 17: Set a Deadline

June 18: Create a Bucket List

June 19: Throw Caution to the Wind

June 21: Dedicate Yourself to Yourself

June 23: Disconnect Yourself

June 30: Draw A Blank

Giving Charity

June 3: Say Hello to a Stranger

June 13: Be Kind, Rewind

June 22: Be Charitable with Your Feet

June 26: Selflessness and You

June 27: Find a New Best Friend

June 29: Go Out of Your Way

 

The underlying theme that I have been trying to convey is a pretty simple one.

It is absolutely necessary to push yourself outside of the confines of your comfort zone on a daily basis.

Far too often, as I have touched on before, Americans, hell, people, strive for COMFORTABLE. We strive to hit that point in our lives when we don’t have to work too hard, yet pull in a decent salary. Where we don’t have to try and constantly impress our wife/husband, but they love us anyways.

We strive to be AVERAGE.  Not for excellence, not to be a superstar. We strive to meet the status quo.  Not to beat it and call it our bitch.

Why is that?  Why don’t you strive to be perpetually amazing?

Each and every day we need to push ourselves to be better, to achieve greater things. We need to push ourselves to achieve what we never thought was possible.  No matter how big, no matter how small, we need to make forward progress each and every day.

Our limits are only defined by our previous shortcomings. We must constantly explore the boundary of what we have previously identified as our “limit” and then push those boundaries further.

Ordinary people don’t make history.

Ordinary people don’t even make the news.

Don’t be ordinary. Be extraordinary.

Day 31. Way 31. Be Extraordinary. Every. Single. Day.

What limits are you going to push today?

Fireworks Photo Credit / Desert Photo Credit

Life

June 30: Draw a Blank

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

<this section left intentionally blank>

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Now get off the computer and go do something else.  Go for a hike. Play with the dog. Relax with family or friends.

Day 30. Way 30. Get off the damn computer and go do something.  Forget why you were on the computer in the first place.

Bare essentials. Basic message. Get off the computer.

What is your favorite thing to do when you drag yourself away from the computer?

Life

June 29: Go Out Of Your Way

I believe that a general sense of kindness is an integral part of the human nature.  I touched on that with Be Kind, Rewind post from a few days ago, but based on some comments and recent events, I wanted to revisit this topic with a slight twist on the overall message, mostly based on some recent events and a story from today.

All too often, as I have stated before, society has forced the perspective of being only concerned for yourself.  We put blinders on and rarely see the world, and people, around us.

We can do no great things, only small things with great love.  -Mother Teresa

Sometimes, you need to go out of your way and go above and beyond for someone else.  While it might not be a big deal to you, you never know how big of a deal it is to them until you do it.

I have always been a generous person, but after developing a strong business background, the analytical side of me wants to look at overall effort/time output to possible repayment gains.  In business, that is fine, but in personal connections and friendship, a whole different story.  There is just something that speaks to me about helping others out, especially when I am helping them with something I know a thing or two about.

It was only a few days ago, I found out a new friend was having a rough patch with the never-ending job hunt after some changes that came around earlier this year.   After multiple interviews, I offered to take a look into their resume, just to see if I could offer a different point of view.

In my experience of interviewing dozens of people and helping other colleagues sift through hundreds upon hundreds of resumes for multiple jobs, I like to think that in addition to having a pretty solid resume myself, I have a good idea how to make a resume stand out.

Most people tend to make the mistake of not spending time on their resume and end up with a very bland resume that blends in with hundreds of others.  Not what you want when you are competing against others for a job, typically based solely on your resume.  You need your resume to stand out from the crowd.  You already stand out, why doesn’t your resume?

This was exactly the problem with my friend’s resume.  She a fantastic person with so much energy and passion, but nobody was seeing her through her resume.  The information was there, the qualifications, the education, the drive.  Her resume just needed a boost.

So I put off my blog tonight.  Put off playing with the new Google+. I spent over 2 hours going through her resume, updating wording, updating the flow, but most importantly, updating the formatting and layout of it.  I added color, varying font sizes, footers and bullet points.  Now it is a resume that stands out from a crowd.  Now it is one that will not get looked over.

And all it took was 2 hours out of my night to make a huge impact in someone else’s life.

If I can do it, anyone can do it.

What are you going to do today to go out of your way for someone else?

Day 29, Way 29. You will never know what impact your small action had until you learn what a big difference it made. Go out of your way to help someone else.

When have you gone out of your way for someone else, just because you could?

Share your stories in the comments below!

Handshake Photo Credit

Life

June 28: Choose Your Own Adventure

I would venture to guess that one of the main forms of marketing that everybody from small restaurants to national tourism boards love to leverage are appearances on cable television shows.  Speaking from personal experience, seeing shows such as Diner’s, Drive-in’s & Dives, House Hunters International, Drinking Made Easy, No Reservations and Mancations make me add new places to my list of places to visit every single time I see one of the shows.

For many people, this is their primary source of research for their upcoming vacations.  Shows that focus on certain states or counties, or even dedicate entire shows to eating or drinking in specific locales are what drive vacationers to plan their trips around and to these destinations.

However, for so many of the people who will read this, including myself, one of two things happens whenever we go on vacation:

  1. We will take a vacation to a certain destination, fit everything we can into the trip and consider that location as DONE.
  2. We will visit the destination and spend the time we have dedicated to one attraction or activity, and proclaim as we leave that “I must go back” in order to experience everything else.

I cannot even begin to count the amount of places that I have visited, some as many as 5 or 6 times, and still want to revisit them, if not for the sheer purpose of experiencing even more than I already had.

What this has resulted in for me is scattered experiences for my vacations.  To propose a solution for this, I believe it is time to introduce another travel game:

Choose Your Own Adventure

Preparation

Pick your travel buddies. Watch some TV or do some online research.  All depends on the House Rules.

House Rules

You can set a pre-determined theme or pre-determined destination, complete with research, or you can decide to choose the destination and the theme when you arrive at the airport.  Any mixture of this game along with First Flight or Spin The Globe is acceptable.

The Game

Once the destination has been determined, pick your theme.  Some suggestions are:

  • Microbreweries (or just Beer)
  • Diners, Drive-ins & Dives
  • National Parks
  • Monuments
  • Casinos
  • Pubs
  • Seafood

Then your trip has an underlying theme, such as hunting down every microbrewery within a 50 mile radius, or hitting every single restaurant from a No Reservations episode or Diners Drive-Ins & Dives season.

The joy in the simplicity is that instead of doing 15 different things around a city or destination, you are completely and wholly tackling an entire category.  By the time you head for home, you can call yourself the not-so-resident experts on that category.

So….

Beer Trip Boston 2011 Anyone? Who is in?

Day 28. Way 28. Stop running around. Choose your own adventure.

Has anyone ever done a themed trip?

Our last was a “Wine Weekend” in El Dorado County, CA.

Share your stories, photos and recommendations in the comments below!

Life

June 27: Find a New Best Friend

As I sat on the train to NYC with my nephew, I started to reflect on the 31 days, 31 ways to Get Busy Livin’ series that I had undertaken just a few days prior.  Besides the thought of “what the hell did I get myself into”, I started writing down possible topics for the month of posts.

Sure, I could blog for ages about traveling to exotic destinations, traveling for free, epic road trips and other great adventures (which I probably will), but the one recurring theme that really resonated with me was the fact of contributing to or giving back to something greater than just us.  Making a difference.

I have written about charity walks and volunteering your time, both of which are very noble endeavors and I encourage everyone to participate as much as they can in any related activity, as their actions truly are making a difference in the world.  Another tangent of that same discussions hits a chord very close to my heart.

Living in Southern California for pretty much my entire life, I was always surrounded with high-end shopping malls, big box stores and luxury everywhere.  Mixed in amongst all of the high end shoe stores and chocolatier shops were designer puppy stores where they hawked puppies from all corners of the country for prices ranging from $800 and up.  Most “purebred” puppies would sell for upwards of $2500.  The smaller, the most expensive.

A dog is the only thing on this earth that loves you more than he loves himself. -Josh Billings

Yet no more than 10 miles away in any direction was a minimum of 3-4 pet shelters or rescue organizations that were overflowing with animals.  Some were so packed that if a dog was in their facility for more than a few weeks, they were euthanized.  Who would want a 5 year old mutt when you lived in Southern California where money grows on trees and dogs were made to fit in purses.

The problem is that this doesn’t exist just in Southern California, it is across the country.  So many dogs, cats and other animals are being abandoned or picked up by animal control and placed in these humane society shelters, most to wait out their final days.  Why? Because they grew up to be to big? Because they misbehaved?

There are so many wonderful people who donate their time and energy to saving animals from euthanizing by bring them into foster care, cleaning them up and doing their best to adopt them out to loving homes.

It was just a few years ago when I was looking to adopt a new best friend.  After months of searching on Craigslist, Petfinder, and other adoption websites, I came across Theo.  Theo was a wonderful, shaggy little Yorkshire Terrier/Wire Haired Terrier mix.  He was turned into the shelter by animal control that picked him up on the side of the road.  The day before he was sent to be put down, he was saved by a rescue organization who cleaned him up, microchipped him and got all of his shots current.

It was about a month after they fostered him, that I found and adopted Theo.  Because Theo was an adopted name only a few weeks old, I renamed him Rusty.

What spoke to me the most was the ability to give a dog like Rusty a second chance at a good life.  A life of not running the streets. A life of not having to search for his next meal. A life with a warm bed and the occasional road trip.  A second chance at what he deserved.

And he has rewarded me with a great friendship, unmatched loyalty and adoring love.

My story is not unique. There are hundreds and thousands of stories out there, just like mine.

So I ask you, if you are looking for somewhere to donate your time, or even looking to adopt a dog, please look into rescue organizations in your area.  Give a dog a second chance.

Day 27. Way 27. Give a dog a 2nd chance. Adopt a new best friend.

Pleas share your stories and photos of your adopted babies with us in the comments!

Pick Me Photo Credit / Stuffed Animal Photo Credit / Header Photo Credit