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Elemental Blend

During my sophomore year of college I came across an ad looking for a web developer to work on sites for a small company. I decided to give it a go and sent in a resume. To my surprise I was granted an interview and showed up at the business, which, at that time was situated in a house on 24th and Boston in Lubbock, Texas. I was skeptical, but when I met Tim and Josh and saw the motivation they had to make the company succeed, I was sold. They saw something in me too and gave me the job.

There were some long days of coding back then but we had a good time and enjoyed hanging out as much as we enjoyed work.

I left what was then Segars Communications to try my hand at the corporate world and during that time, Tim, Josh, and Brandon, a developer who I met at Tech and became friends with and later referred to Tim, have grown the business, moved out of the house, moved from Lubbock to Austin,  and according to Tim, no longer work all day Saturday and Sunday. I think that’s a huge measure of success and the team at Elemental Blend have a lot to be proud of.

Ten years for any company is a long time, but as they point out in their blog post, a small business surviving that long is quite a feat. Their hard work, persistence, and positive outlook is proof-positive that small businesses can and do succeed. I am glad we got to catch up with them this past weekend and hopefully we’ll be able to see each other a little more since Houston is only a few hours away.

Congratulations guys! Here’s to ten more years of success!

In November I started looking for a new backpack for my camera, a few lenses, and a laptop. A few suggestions were made and I looked into all of them. My criteria was a backpack that was lightweight, allowed easy access to the camera, and carried a laptop. To start my search I tried finding a store locally that had the backpacks in stock to try them out. This turned out to be an exercise in futility as many places do not carry this specific style of backpack. I found plenty that simply carried a camera and accessories but that was it.

LowePro 150 AW

A bit frustrated, I ended up ordering two backpacks from Amazon, which were both on sale, and was going to return the one I did not like. The first, the LowePro DSLR Video Pack 150 AW, I took on our recent trip to Germany and Poland. It’s a sturdy backpack with a great pocket for the camera and lenses. It can only fit a 13″ laptop, but that’s what I own so it works. The larger 250 AW was just a little too big for my tastes and I am glad I went with the 150. When wanting to take a picture I simply swung the strap off of my right shoulder, brought the bag around my left side, unzipped the camera pocket, took a picture and returned the camera to its space.

The upper pocket held my iPhone charger, the camera charger, a small U.S.-Euro converter, my Moleskine, and a few pens and pencils. It may not sound like a lot of stuff but in my mind, it forces me to think about what I pack and try to dwindle the amount of extra stuff I am carrying.

One downside of the bag is the side pocket for the tri-pod. It is a soft mesh and the tri-pod moves a little as you walk. While I was walking around the crowded Christmas markets in Dresden I was worried that turning too quickly would lead to me taking someone out.

Overall though, if you’re looking for a compact camera/laptop bag, the LowePro 150 AW is great, as long as you can keep the amount of extra stuff you carry to a minimum.

The other bag I tried out is the Kata DPS Digital Rucksack 467. It was recommended by a few of my friends and is a bit larger than the LowePro 150 but definitely not overwhelming. Now, I have not had a chance to use the backpack on trip but I like the amount of storage space it has and the fact that I could theoretically carry a single change of clothes as well as my camera and laptop.

Kata DPS 467

I ended up keeping both backpacks since the sales price of both added up to the price of one bag. I see them as serving different purposes. The LowePro is a fantastic bag for a short trip or those outings where you do not need to carry a lot of stuff, whereas the Kata fills the longer trip niche for me. If I am going to need to carry more than a few days worth of stuff and am trying to stick to a carry-on only, the Kata is the way I am going.

This next week will see me using the Kata for a long work trip and a short vacation that are back to back, making it necessary for me to carry a lot of stuff. I’ll be sure and update this post when I return with my thoughts on using the Kata bag during an actual trip.

Rather than break down my year in cities I thought I would post my 2011 travel statistics. Right now I use FlightMemory to track my flights and it gives a decent breakdown of all of my travel.

In 2011 I flew 96,429 miles, spending 242 hours in the air. That required 70 domestic flights, 6 intercontinental flights, and 9 intra-European flights.

Those numbers mean I circled the Earth 3.87 times and made it about halfway to the moon.

My most frequented route was Houston to Atlanta, which I did 14 times.

My domestic flights:

My intercontinental flights:

My intra-European Flights:

It was a lot of flying in 2011. I am hoping some new and fun destinations are in store for me in 2012.

Happy New Year!