If you happen to be a friend of mine on Facebook, you may have seen the banter back and forth between my brother and I arguing Samsung vs iPhone. Rather, he fights for Samsung, I simply state I like my iPhone since I switched into it.
Here’s a brief glimpse of our daily conversations (he posted a link about an iPhone burning):
This goes on a lot. I posted a link of Samsung burning people. Before his Samsung (which he got a week ago) he was a huge HTC fan until he dropped it and smashed the screen. I remember him also stating his Kyocera was the best a few years past. I can pick on him because he’s my brother.
So this makes me think about brand loyalty…
Rewind 20 years…
My same brother, late teens maybe early 20′s, gets his first car: blue Ford pickup truck (which he handed down to me and I totaled within a month). He loved that thing. He went to a Ford Taurus SHO, again, in love. My dad had Ford, we were a Ford family. I would argue with friends at the time (I was near 11/12 years old) that Ford was better (because dad said so).
Several years later, my brother jumps to Toyota. This was controversial, this was unheard of, he almost was excommunicated from the family. Now he drives a Dodge. <shuddering>. To this day, I prefer Ford (especially since their remake a few years ago), also I wouldn’t mind a Maserati.
Fast forward to about 6 years ago…
I’m a Microsoft man: Windows computer, Windows Phone, Microsoft EVERYTHING. I trashed talk my friends who got iPhones, Mac PCs, and anything else that wasn’t Microsoft. Brand loyal to the core… Then something changed, something sparked, oh, I remember, I dropped my Windows Phone into a puddle. I drove to Sprint immediately to get a new phone. All they had were Androids and the evil iPhone. I walked out with an Android and never regretted it, haven’t been back to Windows Phone since (though it’s tempting as of late).
This is where things changed for me. I had an epiphany
I loosened up my brand loyalty: verbally admitted Microsoft was terrible at creating phones. I shed a tear, and let go. By letting go this little bit, I became aware of so many other things I was holding onto that maybe I shouldn’t have. Chains were released, the burden lifted. I wasn’t afraid of the iPad anymore, I could actually enjoy a Mac, admiring my friend’s new cars though not Ford (I will still only buy a Ford) and so on.
Fast forward to about 2 months ago…
I caught myself doing it, desiring to stay and fight with a brand… We’ve been Verizon FIOS customers for years. I’m a huge fan of their service and TV offering. My wife and I decided to go cable free and use a Roku instead (awesome decision, I’ll blog on that once we’re on it for about 6 months, and yes, I know Apple TV exists). As part of the change, we went from Verizon to Comcast since Comcast had a 2 year deal at a great rate for internet only. I had a sour taste in my mouth moving to Comcast, I didn’t want to do it, but I forced myself to save some money and committed. It’s been great since. I keep myself in check though, I don’t let myself drink Comcast’s koolaide, they’re a corporation, a service, not a reason to fight.
Fast forward to Monday of this week…
We’ve been a member of JustAddCooking.com (if you sign up, use code CE8K for $20 off your first box), a food service that ships your food and recipes and all you do is cook. It’s a lot of fun and has allowed me to cook, a lot. I love it. They’re a local company, Boston based which makes them a little more special to me (Boston rocks!). Anyway, I had a conversation with a colleague about cooking and this service and he mentioned BlueApron.com… My gut wrenched as I wanted to tell him how much better JAC was, but instead I said, “oh yes, just like that, but Just Add Cooking provides 4 person meals, Blue Apron is only 2, right?”. How mature of me…
The only brands that get my loyalty now are those that continue to prove they are industry leaders and that benefit me (why would you be loyal to something that doesn’t benefit you?): iPhone, Windows 8, Ford, Coke, Five Guys, PayPal, Verizon (I’m a Sprint guy wanting Verizon) and I could go on. I bet you could argue with EVERY SINGLE one of those because
Opinions are like arm pits: everyone has them and they all stink.
Brand loyalty. It’s so odd. I do it, my brother does it, chances are you do it as well. There are some brands we’re loyal about and we have no idea why (milk, oil in the car, gas station). I’d guess we do this for a few reasons:
- I just spent a whole lotta money on this, it better be the best.
- I’m too proud to admit I didn’t get the best.
- This thing is good for me, it works really well and I want to share, tell the world, that it’s the best thing since sliced bread.
- I want to fight for something, it’s the human element to defend a cause, pour our energies into something, even if it’s a silly corporation (human rights and hunger would be a better cause).
- Sometimes it’s cool to be the odd guy out, to be loyal to the minority (how many of you still love Blackberry?)
- Again, it was a lot of money.
Sometimes we can be fickle, and loyalties can change as fast as technology does. I believe they should. That’s my goal, to keep moving and keeping up with what’s the best, now, not 3 months ago. Granted, in technology that can get really expensive, so maybe every 6-9 months. I guess that isn’t brand loyalty anymore is it? It’s doing what’s best for me, my family, within my budget and my expectation of satisfaction. Why should I keep with Windows Phone 6.5 for years when Androids are just that much better?
Think of how companies would have to react if more people did this, went to the latest and greatest regardless of the corporation. iPhone is great, for me, now. It isn’t always the greatest, it’ll be behind the times in a few months when HTC/Samsung/Nokia/Acme comes out with their latest and greatest (though iPhone has something none of them do, awesome APPS! oops there I go again). What if Apple couldn’t rely on brand loyalty, would they treat their customers differently? Their market is strong due to loyalty, and it continues to thrive. They get away with a lot due to loyalty…
Can we get around this, ever?
There are things in life worth being loyal to: not brands or companies, but human rights, your religion/beliefs, the hungry, poor, desolate, Earth, our authorities, the USA, and there’s more.
What I have decided to do is to share my opinions and preferences how I want, and I will not judge, criticize, fight, condemn, shame, prosecute, humiliate or destroy another human based on their opinions (unless you’re my brother). I believe we were made with passion and emotion, we were made to care, to pour our energy into something. If you decide to pour that into companies, services, gadgets, or vehicles, that’s your opinion and it’s your right, but it is yours and if I disagree, that’s cool. I may have a fun casual argument just to flex our intellectual muscles.
And to my brother, your Samsung is a great phone, I don’t think I’ve ever denied that. It works for you, and meets your needs. I’ve decided to move from Android to iPhone because it works for me and my family. And on that day when you decide to move to another phone, I won’t remind you of this at all.
One day, my 8-year-old son wrote two notes. Being the attentive parents that we are (more my wife than I), we confiscated the notes. One note was to one friend, Bob, and said basically that I’m not your friend anymore, and you’re not Mike’s friend either, and only Mike and I are best friends. The second note was to Mike, and said not to be Bob’s friend anymore. He even signed the one to Bob: Love (crossed out) Jeremiah.
Before heading to work, I talked to him about it. I asked what’s going on, and he said that Bob made fun of Mike’s shoes so he’s mean. I tried explaining that people will be mean to him for life, it happens all the time, and the best thing to do is to accept this fact, and don’t fight back, rather move on. He didn’t like that answer. Then I asked him what he thought Jesus would do. He wasn’t sure so I explained that Jesus said to love your enemy.
He slapped his forehead and didn’t believe me. He left the room and came back with his Bible, and said show me (I love his eagerness to know the truth, and not simply trust my word for it). So I turned to Matthew 5:44 and read a few lines. He then wanted to see it and read it himself. I said read all the way to verse 48. He was bewildered.
I then headed off to work, but told him to think about it, and what it means to him.
My wife texted me a little later and said she and him had a conversation about it as well, and he couldn’t understand why the Bible would say that. It doesn’t make any sense! And alas, that’s the truth, sometimes the Bible doesn’t make any sense, but regardless its the truth.
Explore 1 Corinthians 13, what is Love? It’s not an emotion, it is action. Love is something to do, and doesn’t care what your mood is or how bad the other person is. In its perfection, Love is unconditional.
This made me think long and hard that day and since. How am I loving my enemies? Well, I don’t think I have any, I’m an easy person to get along with, and I seriously can’t think of anyone who I’d call my enemy.
Then I got thinking some more.
It’s easy for me to love my wife, and my kids, and my friends.But…
What about that stranger I’m behind in the grocery store who has 20 items in the express 12 items or less lane. Am I acting in Love when I grumble under my breath loud enough so they hear me?
What about that person I just clash with, our personalities are oil and water, we just can’t seem to get along so I avoid them. Is that Love to avoid them? It makes my life easy, but is Love selfish?
What about that family member that drives me nuts with their conversations, and their attitude. Easy for me to blow them off and ignore them. Am I Loving?
What about that person who I think is trying to be my friend? Since I don’t need any more friends, or see value in becoming their friend, I act polite and walk away as fast as I can. Love?
This is a tough one. Sometimes I think it’s easy, or almost romantic to say “I love my enemy”, but what about those who aren’t our enemies? Are we still loving them?
“Put out as much as you can. It doesn’t do anything sitting on a shelf.” -Brian Eno
It’s finally happened, we’ve moved in! We bought the house the first of June 2011, and we moved in third week of September 2011. What were we doing for the 3 and a half months in between? I thought you’d never ask!
First let me tell you about the house. We’re in Wilmington, MA. Our house is a 1969, 2 floor colonial, 3 bedroom, 1 bath, fireplace, full basement (unfinished), about 1100 sqft living space. We’re on about 14,500 sqft lot, 50ftx290ft, long and narrow. The house currently green with white spots (previous owner patched up some spots with primer and left it) so it’s very ugly.
We want to first say thank you to Lisa Pijoan, with Wilson Wolfe Realty. She worked with us for just over a year in finding the perfect house. We visited dozens of houses with her, and made plenty of offers. We found the perfect house in our price range (hence the amount of work needed) If you’re looking to buy or sell, we HIGHLY recommend Lisa, she rocks!
We upgraded the house, significantly. We bought it as a fixer-upper, and underestimated the time and money it would take to get it ready to move in. I don’t regret it though, it was worth every penny, and all the sweat, blood (usually quickly followed by) and tears.
A brief overview of what we’ve done thus far: (I will jump into greater detail on select items in coming posts. Stay tuned!)
- Pulled up nasty old carpet in living room and stairs
- Tore down wall between kitchen and dining room, and opened up wall between living room and hallway
- Ran multimedia wires through wall above fireplace for TV
- Replaced basement exterior door
- Washed, primed and painted all rooms
- Stripped wall paper from master bedroom, then decided to skim coat
- Refinished all hardwood floors (great job by Square Floor Service)
- Refinished kitchen cabinets, new sink, counter, tile back splash
- New floor in kitchen and dining room
- New bathroom: shower/tub, walls, vanity, toilet, floors
- Ran new outlets in kitchen, light over sink, replaced a few plugs and switches throughout house
It was a collective effort, we’d still be working on the house if it wasn’t for our friends and family helping out. Heather and I would like to say special thanks to my dad, Michael Lozzi and my brother, Mike Lozzi Jr., for hours and hours of work in demolition, construction and finish work throughout the entire house. Thanks to my father-in-law, Ken Dorothy, for the beautiful bathroom. Thanks Kirk for the electrical work. And thanks to our many friends and family (Dan, JJ, Diane, Michelle, Nancy, Kyle, and some more I forgot) who helped paint, clean, wash, and move in! We couldn’t have finished it all with you!
And what I’ve already discovered as being a new home owner: there is always plenty to do around here. Our goals for the next year or two (in no particular order)
- Replace siding and windows
- Remove oil heat and install gas
- Add gutters
- Paint deck
- Replace stairs on deck
- Throw a play room in the basement
- Rework entire back yard
So there you have it. We’re new proud home owners having fun making our home the best it can be. Check back soon or subscribe to my blog, I’ll be posting a lot more photos, videos and info about what we’ve done and will be doing.
So, if you haven’t seen me since the winter, I’ve lost 60 pounds this year, most of it from January to March. I went from 315 to 255 pounds! I kick started my weight loss by doing one small thing: stop eating sugars.
I lost 40 pounds in one month by taking sweets and candies out of my diet. It was tough. I surprised my wife when she came home with my favorite piece of cheesecake from the Cheesecake Factory and I said “No thank you, I’m not eating desserts anymore.” After that, she was incredibly supportive and I greatly appreciate her through all of this.
I stopped desserts, candies, CoffeeMate creamer in my coffee, mixed coffees from Starbucks, candy drinks, sodas, and whatever else I could determine had sugar in it. Once I was committed and had my wife supporting me, it became easier and easier. I’m now 9 months in and have yet to have candy or a brownie. I enjoy my coffee black with Splenda. I’ve had birthdays, parties and other festivities where the cakes and sweets looked delicious, but I refrained.
After the first 40 fell off, the next 20 were a little more stubborn. I walked once a week with a close friend of mine. I started trying to eat frequently, like small snacks every 2 to 3 hours during the day. I minimized my meal sizes, pulled back from going for 3rds. This seemed to help and it took a good two months to lose the other 20.
So now I’m at March and lost 60 pounds, and then my weight loss would plateau for the next 5 months, which brings me to September, weighing in at 255 pounds.
I want to lose at least another 20 pounds, and I’ve decided to use the gym to do so. I could cut additional foods out of my diet (like yummy sausages, hot dogs, cheese, breads, bbq chips, pizza, etc.) but I don’t want to. I love an Italian sausage from a street cart in Boston, and my Baby Bell cheese snacks and pizza from AJ’s Kitchen, YUM! If I really wanted to I could cut these and probably shave some more weight off, but again, I don’t want to.
So now to the gym I go, at least twice a week, focusing on running, with some weight lifting. High heart rate to help burn the fat, and low reps high weight for muscle growth. At meal time I eat healthier foods first (like salad, fruit, Larabar) before the main course, which fills me up faster and minimized the amount of other foods I take on. I’ve decided that if I can lose the next 20 pounds by staying in a routine with the gym, then I’d consider enjoying some small desserts once in a while. I want to make sure I’ve set myself up to win, and once in a routine, it should be easy to keep the weight off.
What changed? Why did I lose the weight? My quick answer is “I just felt like it, so I did it”. I wish it were that simple. A few things in my life finally pushed me to do it.
Leading up to the decision and the change to lose the weight, I was battling with how. How can I lose weight? What’s the best method? I researched some options, and looked hard at options that lowered my responsibility in the entire process. Things like health supplements, like hoodia, which helps curb my appetite intrigued me. Also the idea of taking a pill which would fill my stomach so I feel full longer was cool.
I also checked out a more hands on approach, a surgical process like lap-band, to help shrink my stomach. I quickly dismissed this for a couple reasons: one I don’t like needles, so surgery isn’t on my top ten list of things to do, and I was afraid of the embarrassment of telling people about it later on. Being out of work for a few days and then suddenly losing weight would be hard to hide.
I was able to agree that controlling my appetite would definitely cause me to lose weight, but did I want to use something else to do it for me? Couldn’t I just do it myself? If I used something else, would I be dependent on that forever? Could I ever say I lost the weight, or was it just hiding, waiting for me to forget to take the pill again?
The reasonable side of me thought if pills will help curb my appetite, and surgery would basically do the same, I narrowed down the solution: I need to cut back on how much food I eat. Simple.
So I figured out the how, and I began to try it, without telling anyone. That was a big mistake. Not telling anyone set me up for failure. But I didn’t want to tell anyone, that would admit I was fat and that’s embarrassing, or so I thought. So instead, friends and family would simply assume I’d eat the last piece of pizza, or cake, and so I would. They didn’t know I was trying to lose weight so we all continued down the already paved road.
I finally committed and stuck to it because of others.
A friend at church lost a lot of weight, I didn’t know how, but he looked good and I wanted to too.
A customer of mine that I highly respected was in the process of losing weight, and he talked about it. That was inspiring and loosened up my fears.
My good friend who I previously mentioned lost a lot of weight right before I started. He was then diagnosed with diabetes. That was scary. He’s come a long way and has it under control, but it was a little bit of a wake up call for me.
And probably most important, my kids. Funny thing about kids, they aren’t up on the whole “politically correct” thing, so they would say daddy’s fat, or I don’t want to be fat like you. What a great wake up call. I didn’t lose the weight only because of what they’ve said, I want to be healthy to have fun with them, to play and chase them around (or be able to carry both of them up 2 flights of stairs when it’s bed time, what a workout!)
My commitment to weight loss and eating healthy isn’t just a “diet”, it’s a change of life. Saying it’s a diet implies it’ll end, that it’s a temporary phase. So many people, including my self, have tried different diets for a period of time. Instead, I’ve changed my diet (what I eat day to day) and my choices. I’m not looking at this like once I lose 80 pounds I’ll go back to what I use to do. Instead I will always be mindful of what I eat, pay attention to amounts, keep exercising, and maybe sneak in a sweet here or there.
Where do I go from here?
Regardless of the next 20 pounds, I’m going out and up! My life has changed so significantly that I love spending time outdoors, hiking, playing with the kids, walking, going to the beach and more. I get antsy if I sit around too long on a Saturday or Sunday (no fear of that anymore with a new house ;), I need to be doing something, and I love to with my family. This weekend I’m going up Mt Washington via Tuckerman’s Ravine, I can’t wait (not with the family, a few friends). Expect a post on that one!
I hope this helps if you’re looking to lose weight. I hope I am some sort of motivation to someone, like I’ve had motivators in my own life. I’m sorry if I down play pills or surgery. They may work for you and that is great, I know someone who has a lap-band, and I never think less of him/her. These options just wouldn’t work for me, and I hope they do for you.
I went two weeks with a dumb phone (a phone that isn’t a smart phone). I went from the Sprint HTC Evo 4G to a Samsung Rant, which in its own rights was a great phone when it came out. However, “3 years in cell phone years is like 60 people years.” As noted by my good friend Dan Savlon.
It wore on me quickly. I initially fought the urge to want a smart phone again, I wanted to force myself to use this one and be content. It didn’t last long. Two weeks later I jumped into the Sprint HTC Evo 3D running Google Android. I learned some things along the way that truly justify a smart phone, and prove that I’m not just a spoiled brat.
Know your where. I don’t get lost often, but I was exploring a new area with my old phone. The Sprint Navigation on the phone is horrendous. Once I know where I want to go it’ll walk me through (usually 100-200 feet behind though, which is great driving around the city), but just exploring (trying to find a different route to the Cheesecake Factory) it tanked. The small screen makes it difficult to see what’s around me. Also, the Google Maps app for the phone doesn’t know where I am; it’ll do directions but doesn’t pull in my GPS coordinates. Also, I was at a customer and couldn’t simply find stuff around me, I opened Google Maps, then I had to navigate the map to my location then search near me, then once I found something I wanted, Google Maps couldn’t get me there, I had to jump back into Sprint Navigation to get there. Ug…
On the Evo 3D, I get a large screen, and the Google Maps app rocks. Shows exactly where I am, I can search around me for anything I need, and it will then navigate me there flawlessly. That alone makes a smart phone worth it in my book. In addition to getting to where I want, additional apps like Foursquare allow me to have a little fun and share with my friends (I was ousted as major in TWO locations during my 2 week stint).
Get information, fast. I recently ran into car problems and needed a tow, all I had was my Rant. I searched for a tow company using the internet on the phone, which took its sweet time, but found a number for a local place. For some reason, I couldn’t just call it, I had to memorize the number then enter it in and call it. Very frustrating, took a few times to get it right, and each time I had to research for the number since it didn’t keep the window open. Another down side was that my contacts didn’t sync, I had to manually enter the contacts I cared about into the phone. Also there isn’t a calendar.
Back in Droid land, the above isn’t a thought. I can search for info, not just through the web but I can use other apps like Facebook, Yelp (to get some reviews along the way), or target specific apps for specific information like movie times (Fandango). My contacts and calendar sync with Google services and my work email. Oh so lovely.
Get more done. In my above example about Get information, fast, I couldn’t minimize the browser to make a call, it closed every time on the Rant. Same went for the navigation. When I used Sprint Navigation, and then needed to jump out to text someone (not while driving of course) I had to initiate the navigation route all over again. And that’s all the phone could do, there wasn’t much in way of apps on the thing.
This should go without saying, but the Android OS loves multitasking, probably more so than Apple’s iOS. I can run multiple applications simultaneously without issue: I can search the web, find an address, pull it up on Google Maps, check movie times near my destination, text my friend and call my wife without ever having to reopen anything. It’s fantastic.
Fun! Outside of the above, a smart phone can really be a toy. With Angry Birds, Netflix, Google+, Shazam, Skype, and more, it’s a device that can lower stress and give my brain a break once in a while. The Rant didn’t have one full game on it.
I just finished reading The Christian Atheist by Craig Groeschel. It is a great read for new and old Christians. The sub title is “Believing in God but Living as if He Doesn’t Exist”. Come to find out, it’s really easy to be a Christian Atheist and not even realize it. The book starts off with some of Craig’s life stories. But then covers a broad stroke of what we as Christians deal with daily: When you believe in God but not in prayer… but won’t forgive… but still worry all the time… but don’t share your faith…
This book convicted me in a few places, and I want to share one of them: I believe in God but pursue happiness at any cost. I tend to lean more on the side that God wants to bless me and wants me to be happy. The Bible says so, doesn’t it? In the past I’ve justified it and my thousands of dollars of debt agree. During my college and early marriage years, I have purchased more stuff than I can remember. Stuff that made me happy, legitimately made me happy. Why else would I buy it? I found happiness in having the cool toys and gadgets and also found happiness in impressing my friends and family.
I recently finished paying down a hunk of debt, about $15K through a debt consolidation program. This is a very sobering event. This money bought be stuff to make me happy, and yet I don’t know where any of it is. I didn’t trust God to make me happy, instead I took it upon myself to make me happy. And I paid dearly for it (literally and metaphorically). If you’re in debt you know the stress that debt comes with. The pressure knowing I have to pay $800+ a month just to make creditors stop calling me. Nevermind buying groceries, paying rent, gas, etc. It sucks!
My good friend Dan is my financial conscience. He and another friend helped me through a budget and focused me on paying down my debt. If I’m positioning myself for a larger purchase I run it by him, he usually talks sense into me. He let me get a digital camera but not surround sound. Funny, sometimes I don’t even need to talk to him, I just need to imagine the conversation.
All this for a feeling of happiness?! I’m crazy…
Jesus has, over the years, shown me what is important. It’s not the immediate pleasure a thing gives me that’s important. That pleasure is almost addicting and has caused me some significant debt. I have been on numerous mission trips to third world countries and even some rough parts of the US. I have seen people happy with a fraction of what I have. Happiness that is found in Jesus Christ is better defined as JOY. I describe happiness as a fleeting emotion that comes and goes with the weather, and in New England that can happen more than once in a day! Years ago, if I lived like I experienced others living I would be miserable, I couldn’t be happy because I didn’t have my stuff.
Being happy is great but to make any decisions because you want to be happy isn’t a good idea. Buying a new TV may make me happy, but only until a new TV model comes out. What Jesus has drilled into my head is to find joy and satisfaction in what I have. My TV is a few years old, it’s a plasma, so it’s a few tech-iterations old as well. Now that LED is out, I don’t think they’re making plasmas anymore. So my gut says I can swing a grand to get a nice LCD or even an LED TV, and I could too! Instead, I ask Jesus to take this desire for the latest and greatest and I study my TV closer and appreciate it for what it is. It is HD, and has a brilliant color. I can’t complain. It’s not the newest but it still works like it’s new.
My relationship with Jesus Christ is the happiest thing, most joyful experience I have, daily. Second, my amazing wife and kids. Third, friends. After that, nothing else matters. I am constantly reminded of how important my life is over my stuff, and how important it is to be joyful in life and not happy in stuff.
If you follow me on Twitter, @happyrealist, you may have recently seen me post pros and cons for getting an iPad. I want one and I slipped back into my routine of wanting it because it’s cool, and my friends would be impressed. Dan doesn’t approve but if I can convince myself enough I’ll get it. Reading through this book, it clicked. Forget it making me happy for a moment and turning to a flawed human (sorry Dan) to make decisions like this is a little backwards as well. It clicked, I asked Jesus “can I get an iPad? I really want one, it’ll be fun with the kids and I can use it for work as well.” He didn’t respond audibly, but I knew I shouldn’t. I’m okay with that. I need to be a better steward of my money (another blog post for another day) and if I bought an iPad now, that would cut out of my saving for a house, a vacation this summer and possibly take away from future opportunies God may have for us to help someone financially. Am I perfect? Nope, but I’m working on it.
There are other methods of finding happiness. Some use sex, drugs, work, social life, etc. My biggest method of finding happiness has been buying stuff. I choose to be happy daily, I choose to find happiness in what I have that’s more important than stuff. I’m not always happy, I have bad days, but I hold onto the joy of my Saviour. I highly recommend reading The Christian Atheist by Craig Groeschel. It will touch you in at least one chapter, and may open your eyese to other areas you can improve. I know it did for me.
Knowing happiness, true happiness, is found in Christ and his love, I will pursue at any cost!