A digital happy Thanksgiving from our family

My sister Angie is always looking out for me and to come to think of it she pretty much always has. I guess that’s what family is for, right?

When she sent me this video I couldn’t hear the audio, but I knew that it was my nieces and nephew telling Stephanie and I happy Thanksgiving and that they miss us, which is both cute and kinda sad all at the same time.

It’s pretty sweet that I can watch my family grow up over the Internet (I know they’re always watching me on this blog), but I can’t help but feel like I’m missing something that I won’t ever get to do again. I’m missing seeing all of those crazy kids in the video grow up into real people (it’s happening really fast). Being in Indiana might not seem as cool as hanging out in a city like San Francisco, but Stephanie and I seem to be asking ourselves more and more if it’s worth what we’re missing back at home.

It’s a tough question to answer, but the longer that we stay out here in California the better of an idea it sounds to go back to somewhere closer to our family. Of course, when we start popping out some little Hup and Stephs it won’t even be a question. We’ll be out of here before you can say ‘Castro Street’.

But, until then we’ll keep on doing what we’re doing. I mean, it has been quite a ride so far.

p.s. We just bought our plane tickets for Christmas and we can’t wait to go home! We’ll be home from December 17th - January 3rd, so be sure to say hi while we’re in town!

Hupfer home remodeling, how may we help you?

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One of the things that Stephanie and I talk about a lot is how great it would be to start a business that we could run together. We don’t really know what that business would be exactly, but I’m sure that it would be pretty awesome. I mean, if our friends Holly and Ryan can do it with wedding photography I’m sure that we can do it too, right?

As with most things it’s easier said than done, but thanks to Bart (Steph’s dad) and Shannon (Steph’s step-mom) we had the chance to get a taste of some home remodeling today, which might just end up being something we could really go after from a business perspective. You never know until you try and today was an opportunity to do just that. You see, Bart and Shannon just moved to the Los Angeles area and have bought a house that’s about to get a serious makeover thanks to Bart’s remodeling skills.

Since Bart already has a good idea of the walls he’s going to be knocking out, we all thought that it would be a fantastic idea if we went ahead and got some of the demolition started by kicking a hole in one of them. I know what you’re thinking — kicking a hole in one of their walls might not be that helpful in the long run, but to be honest who cares? Even if we didn’t help out that much it sounded like it could be really fun to try.

So, is home remodeling going to be Hup and Steph’s next big thing? I highly doubt it, but feel free to take a look at the video below and make your own conclusion.

This video begins with our friend Adrienne kicking the wall a few times with no success. Then Stephanie gives it a couple of shots that don’t even make a dent. Finally, Adrienne gives it a couple more kicks that eventually make it through and then Bart follows her up with a few more kicks that end up going all the way through the wall.

After the wall had the hole in it, I thought that it would be fun to get a few shots of me getting thrown though the wall, head first by Bart. Needless to say, I think he had some fun taking these.

Being a turkey on Thanksgiving isn’t easy

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Stephanie and I are down in Los Angeles visiting her dad and step-mom for Thanksgiving weekend and as usual they had something planned for us once we got into town. We ended up getting to their place right around midnight (it took us about 7 hours to drive down from San Francisco) and within minutes Stephanie’s step-mom Shannon started getting all excited and telling us about her big plan for Thanksgiving.

You see, Shannon now works for a large software company and when you are supporting millions of customers who use your product, then there’s always a need to have someone around to help out — even on Thanksgiving. Even though no one is too excited about having to go into work on Thanksgiving (they were doing shorter, 4-hour shifts) Shannon thought that it would be a great idea to go into the office and thank them in her own, special way.

“Ok Ryan, you’re going to dress up like a turkey and then me, Stephanie, Bart (Stephanie’s dad) and another co-worker of mine and her husband are going to dress up like pilgrims so that we can chase you around the office. I thought that it would be a great way to show that we’re thankful for the fact that they are working on Thanksgiving and it will be hilarious, don’t you think?”

Of course Stephanie and I were definitely up for a little turkey and pilgrim action (it’s not our first time doing it), so the next day we woke up, put on the costumes and drove over to the Intuit offices so that we could run around like a bunch of crazy people.

Now that it’s over I would say that it was a fantastic way to kick off Thanksgiving — we had a lot of fun running around and telling everyone happy Thanksgiving. All of the workers really appreciated it and most of them were dying laughing as we circled the cubicles in our costumes and all of the running helped us all work up a nice appetite for our Thanksgiving feast.

Here’s a quick video of how it all went down.

Meet my friend Ben Long, a graffiti (and wall mural) extraordinaire

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Say what you want about the Midwest and more specifically Indiana, but when I lived there I was fortunate enough to meet some super creative and inspiring people. One of these awesome people is Ben Long, a fairly quiet guy who has some stupid skills when it comes to all things design and graffiti art.

I know that I tend to say the word ‘awesome’ a lot, but with Ben I feel like it’s more appropriate than ever. I guess I would even say that Ben is the awesomest. (yeah, I said awesomest)

The reason that I’m bringing up Ben today is because every now and then he sends out emails to keep us all updated on what he’s been up to lately and I just happened to see one show up in my inbox last week. I have to admit that every time I see one of his emails I get a little giddy as I know it’s going to be filled with details and links to his latest super cool graffiti project.

The email he sent this time around included a link to his latest mural, which he described this way:

hello all - i haven’t spoke to some of you for quite awhile.. i hope all is well. I wanted to share with you this mural I finished over the weekend for my friend’s son’s room. He’s 5 and he loves outer space.

Here are a few shots of the sweet outer space mural that he painted for who I’m guessing is now the happiest 5 year-old in the world. You can also see more of it over here on Ben’s Flickr account.

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So, that’s Ben. If you want to check out some more of his stuff or if you’d like to hire him to paint a mural for you, head on over to his website at Fabcrew.com.

Also, just for fun, here is a video that we made when Ben and our other graffiti-tastic friend Dan Thompson came out to visit us in California. Good times. :)

Ideas that I need to get out of my head (and out of my inbox)

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I guess that you could say that I come up with my fair share of ideas. Sometimes the ideas are to simply make my life easier and other times they’re just things that I think would be cool or fun to have. I can’t really think of an example for making my life easier, but I just came up with something that would be cool to have last night while I was chatting online with my friend Amanda.

She has a Pug and of course so do I, so we were talking about how some products for dogs don’t really work for Pugs due to the fact that Pugs don’t really have a snout (see this cartoon for an explanation why). This brief chat led me to an awesome idea for a Pug t-shirt that would have a picture of a Pug’s face on it with the words “Snouts are overrated” printed under it. Now I’m well aware that this isn’t a mind-blowing idea that is going to change the world, but it’s definitely something that I think a lot of Pug owners would love to own (including myself). Am I going to actually make this t-shirt? Probably not, but it’s still a pretty good idea.

Along with these random ideas I also have a lot of other ideas for websites, apps, etc. that I usually email to myself the moment that I think of them so that I don’t forget them. Some of these I end up following through with, but a majority of them just sit and stare at me in my Gmail inbox waiting for me to do something with them. Unfortunately most of them stay right there never to be seen again, but the more I think about that happening the more I realize that it’s a total waste. Even if I don’t do something with these ideas I should at least share them so that other people can think about them and potentially even act on them if they feel like it.

So, for the first time I’m going to post some of my latest ideas here in my blog so that they can finally escape from my lonely Gmail inbox. the first one that I’m going to talk about has to do with the wedding photography industry, which is ripe for the pickin’. Be free ideas, be free.

An awesome engagement and wedding photography website

Brief Summary: This would be a photo-heavy and highly visual site that would enable simple sorting and browsing through literally thousands and thousands of wedding and engagement photos with the goal of finding a great photographer based on various options like style, location, price, location, etc.

How it would make money: Photographers would join the site and would connect it to their various feeds that they’re already posting everywhere else online in hopes of finding new clients. One option of making money would be charging photographers on a per lead basis. One other way would be to build traffic and then charge for premium placements on the site through a self-service tool. Of course, advertising through AdSense could work pretty well, too as the wedding photography niche pays around a $5 eCPM.

The Idea
I don’t want to brag, but Stephanie and I took some amazing engagement photos thanks to our friend Henry Sun (who we actually met after he randomly came up to us in an Ikea). After our awesome photo shoot around San Francisco I decided to write an article on HubPages (where I was working at the time) titled How To Take Unique And Creative Engagement Photos, which is now always near the top of the Google search results for engagement photos (go ahead, try it).

After my article starting getting more and more traffic I saw that a lot of people were using it not just to get ideas for what to include in their photo shoot but were also using it to get a better feel for what they wanted out of a photographer (which most hadn’t hired yet).

This got me thinking about how hiring a wedding photographer is a very visual process and if there was one, single place where someone could browse just wedding and engagement photos based on style, location of photographer, price and other options it would be a killer way to find and hire someone. Right now most wedding photographers are all over the place. They have their own websites (that are usually flash-based, slow and filled with cheesy music) and most have blogs while also posting photos on their Facebook pages and Flickr. It’s one huge mess that their potential clients have to somehow sit through in order to figure out if they’re a right fit or not.

By bringing together one site that would be focused on helping people find wedding photographers I would think that it would be pretty easy to reach out to the target market and make some noise. Once you had people’s attention and started getting more and more photographers adding themselves into the mix there would be a high level of value for those looking to hire one and the site would continue to grow.

The design of the site would be very important as it would need to be super easy for photographers to create an account and to suck in all of their photos as quickly as possible. From the other side the site would also need to be easy to sort through depending on what someone wants to view. Your standard leaderboards might be nice to have as well and would keep the photographers motivated to continue to add new and fresh content.

So, that’s my first idea that I’ve been thinking about and there are more to come. Any thoughts, comments, etc. that you have please feel free to leave me a comment and let me know what’s on your mind. Also, if you want to build something like this I’d be more than happy to help you out — just let me know!

Behind the scenes of Steph ripping out my hair (how we made our last video)

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We’ve gotten a pretty good response from the last video that we made where Stephanie basically goes psycho and rips out my hair with her bare hands. Unlike many of our videos which are usually stories that are based upon real things that we have done or experienced, this video involved us coming up with a storyline, doing some bad acting and shooting different scenes, which I love to do.

Since getting everything set up for this type of video takes a little more work, we thought that it would be cool to show you a little of the behind the scenes and how it all ended up coming together as one (weird) video. If you have any questions about how we did anything, please feel free to ask us in the comments and I’m hoping that we’ll be able to create more and more videos like this in the future. Yeah, they take a little more time and planning, but they’re just a lot of fun to make.

Experiencing a rare moment of thunder and lightning in San Francisco

Before living in San Francisco a thunderstorm was pretty much second nature for us. But, since moving out to the Bay Area nearly 3 years ago we have yet to see one until today and man are people freaking out about it. I decided to go check out Twitter to see what some of the other people here in SF had to say about the rare appearance of thunderstorm and here’s what I found:

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To show you just how rare it really it to have a thunderstorm like this show up in San Francisco, check out the last tweet at the bottom of the image above:

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Wow, according to this guy it’s only thunder stormed 3 times in the last 7 years.

One thing to also note is that even though this is in fact a real thunderstorm that’s happening right now in San Francisco, it’s still nothing compared to what you would see in the Midwest. To get a good since of what a real thunderstorm looks like in Indiana (including hail), check out this video that I put together way back in the day.

For some reason I thought that it was a good idea to go chase a storm and I luckily ended up getting the last spot under an awning at a gas station near my old condo in Indianapolis. It wouldn’t have been good to get stuck out in this — watch the video below and you’ll see what I mean.

What I have learned from not having my cell phone for 3 days

MICHAEL DUNLEAWhoa! You haven’t had a cell phone for 3 whole days? OH MAH GOOOOHDNESS!

How are you keeping up with Facebook? How are you taking pics of everything that you think is amazing and sharing them with all of your friends, family and whoever else is following you online?

Holy freakin’ guacamole how are you updating Twitter? And last but not least, how are you possibly keeping up with all of the emails that people have been sending you? How are you possibly keeping up?

Easy answer to this is: I’m not. (and it’s been kinda nice)

And you know what? I’ll tell you a few other things that I haven’t been doing.

I haven’t been looking down at my phone whenever I have some free white space during my day.

I haven’t been looking to see what everyone else has been talking about and what photos they have posted since the last time I checked my phone 15 short minutes ago.

I haven’t been feeling like I always have to be catching up with this email or that other thing that can’t possibly wait until the next time I open up my laptop.

I haven’t been wondering why I don’t have a job that flies me to Paris or why I can’t run as fast as that other guy who always seems to be working out more than me.

I haven’t been worried about what everyone else has doing for once, which made me feel a little bit better about being me.

Yeah, it’s been nice.

Oh, and let’s not forget what I have been doing now that I’m not attached to my phone.

I have been talking more with my wife during the 60+ minutes that we’re lucky enough to spend with one another in the car everyday.

I have been on time to pick up my wife from work every, single day since I didn’t have the ability to text her “I’m on my way!” when I knew I was going to be at least 10 minutes late.

I have been talking to more people while standing in lines and while waiting at crosswalks.

I have been paying more and better attention to people.

I’m not saying that cell phones are all bad — they’re great at making us more productive and for keeping us entertained. But, now that I’ve gone without mine for a few days it’s made me realize when I should and more importantly when I shouldn’t push that power button and unlock the screen to see what everyone else has been doing and what I’ve been missing.

Hey, it’s a start.

p.s. I’m guessing that you might want to know why I haven’t had a phone for the past 3 days? Well, without going into too much detail let’s just say that it involves Stephanie, Frank’s water full bowl and an accident (so she says).

Why we only have 65 cents in our bank account

The big news from the Hupfers today is the fact that our bank account has been totally wiped out by some people who somehow stole a bunch of credit card numbers, created counterfeit credit cards and went on a Target gift certificate shopping spree. This means that a majority of my day today was spent calling my bank to see what the dealio was and what all I needed to do as far as due diligence goes to make sure that the money that was taken out is eventually returned.

To my surprise, this is what I saw in my pending transactions when I logged into my Union Bank account this morning after getting an email alert that my balance had dropped below $1,000 (which I set up in my alert settings — I would highly suggest doing the same if you can).

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If you’re not great at spotting patterns let me help you out — there are multiple $275 transactions that are just sitting there, waiting to hit my checking account. They’re practically laughing in my face. I have to admit that these transactions freaked me out a bit when I first saw them, but after talking to the people at Union Bank (who were super awesome) and the people at Target (who I think were outsourced and weren’t so awesome) it sounds like everything will be A-OK. They told me that stuff like this happens all of the time, but this time it somehow decided to happen to yours truly. How awesome is that?

Now that I have talked to my bank about it I have a pretty good idea of what’s going on as far as how this happened and what the next steps with be with taking care of this whole credit card fraud bizznass. Here’s what the dealio is as far as I can tell:

So, hopefully all of this works out and all of the money gets sent back into our account where it belongs, but if not I guess we’ll deal with it. The timing of this whole thing is kind of funny considering that we’ve been talking about Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount in church over the past few weeks, which includes passages about how storing up treasures on Earth is foolish as they will eventually decay or will be stolen by thieves. Instead, we should be storing up treasures in heaven by loving others and living the way that Jesus lived.

Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moths and vermin destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moths and vermin do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also. - Matthew 6:19-24

Seems pretty relevant, don’t you think? :)

Has anything like this ever happened to you? If it has, feel free to let me know how it all turned out in the comments below.

This used to be there

The result of an interesting Saturday night. See this video for how it happened.

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