Tuesday, January 31, 2012

There's Something About Mitt

Mitt Romney in 2007 in Washington, DC at the V...
Image via Wikipedia
Today, voters in Florida have headed to the polls to vote in the Republican Presidential primary.  Most are expecting Mitt Romney to come out the winner tonight.  Newt Gingrich is expected to finish second, and most likely, Rick Santorum in third and Rob Paul bringing up the proverbial rear.

If I had to vote today, I would most likely vote for Rick Santorum.  In my mind, he is the most solid conservative still in the race.  My second choice would be Gingrich.  Today, I would probably give Romney a slight advantage over Paul, primarily because of Paul's foreign policy beliefs.

I will be blunt.  There has always been something about Mitt Romney that I just do not like.  It has been a little difficult for me to put my finger on it, but the last couple months have really crystallized it for me.  I don't want to come right out and say he seems phony to me, but there is something disingenuous about him in my mind.

When the entire process to determine the GOP nominee for President, I wrote a post about the negative ads that were being run in Iowa.  In Iowa, Gingrich ran positive, patriotic ads.  On the other hand, Romney, and to a degree, Paul ran primarily negative ads, mostly attacking Gingrich.

English: Newt Gingrich
Image via Wikipedia
Going into the Iowa caucus, Gingrich was polling ahead of Romney.  The barrage of negative ads from Romney, Paul, and their Super PACS had the desire impact on the results, with Gingrich dropping all the way into 4th place.  Santorum ended up slightly ahead of Romney when the final votes were tabulated.

Gingrich had been calling on everybody to run a positive campaign, but after Iowa, he decided to fight fire with fire.  He has started to run his own share of negative ads against Romney.  The two of them have gotten extremely personal.

In the past few debates, there have been a few incidents where Romney has appeared, well, less than fully honest.  In one debate, when answering a question about inaccurate attack ads, he claimed not to have seen any of the ads, but then went through and detailed one of them.  In one of the Florida debates, he claimed not to have knowledge of a particular ad, but then Wolf Blitzer pointed out the ad ends with Romney citing his approval of the message.

Today, while driving home from work, I heard a report stating that the Florida primary race has been the most negative in history.  Not one of the most negative, but the absolute most negative ad in history.  Out of all of the ads that have been run, 92% have been negative.  Some reports have stated that the Romney campaign and Super PACS have out spent the Gingrich camp 4 to 1.

The report says that 99% of the ads run by the Romney campaign were negative.  100% of the ads from his SuperPAC were negative.  Not that the Gingrich campaign was much better, as 95% of the Gingrich campaign ads were negative.  However, the Gingrich SuperPAC had only 53% of their ads considered negative.  There were nearly three times as many negative ads run against Gingrich as compared to Romney.

The negative ads are bad enough, but they obviously work.  Here, though, is another example of what I would consider less than forthcoming.  Romney is claiming that the only reason he is running negative ads against Gingrich is in retaliation to Gingrich running them against him in South Carolina.  The truth is that the Romney campaign started the negative ads in Iowa.  Every time they start to fall behind in the polls, their knives come out.

If Romney does end up being the eventual nominee, I will go into the voting booth on November 6th, hold my nose, and vote for him.  As much as I dislike him, I still would prefer him to the current President.  Of course, after George Soros has come out with statements that it doesn't matter if the President is Romney or Obama because there is not much difference between them, I may have to think twice about it.
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Monday, January 30, 2012

Music Monday-Al Green "Let's Stay Together"

Ever since Barack Obama sang the first few lines of the Al Green classic Let's Stay Together at a fundraiser, we have been barraged by the news media in playing the clip repeatedly and telling us how cool Obama is.  Even this morning, some 10 days or so after the initial singing by Obama, the news media has been covering it by talking about how sales of the original have been boosted by the performance.  Enough already!

  Perhaps, rather than run for a second term, Obama could try out for American Idol.  About the only good thing in my mind about the whole affair is that it reminds me of how great the original truly is.

Come join Music Monday and share your songs with us. Rules are simple. Leave ONLY the ACTUAL LINK POST here and grab the code below and place it at your blog entry. You can grab this code at LadyJava's Lounge Please note these links are STRICTLY for Music Monday participants only. All others will be deleted without prejudice.   PS: Because of spamming purposes, the linky will be closed on Thursday of each week at midnight, Malaysian Time. Thank you!

Saturday, January 28, 2012

Adgitize, Entrecard, and Blogging Traffic

Image by Moshimishie ♥ - Hiatus via Flickr
Like a lot of bloggers who had been using the Adgitize advertising network, I was very upset when Ken Brown announced that he was closing the service down.  At that time, I had decided that I would go back to using Entrecard and give them another try.  Things had been going well the past three weeks.  It had appeared that Entrecard had improved a bit since I last used them regularly.

That is, until last night.  Last night around midnight, I was visiting several blogs using the Entrecard toolbar with Firefox.  It worked well for about 30 minutes when all of a sudden I started getting an error message saying that my search had failed.  I tried visiting the Entrecard website to go into my dashboard and drop inbox only to see the following error.
Entrecard is having technical issues. Any of the following may apply: 
  • We may be suffering extreme load (lots of people) 
  • We may be upgrading our server software 
  • We may be suffering from a serious bug 
We have on-call people watching the system, outages are unlikely to last more than 10 minutes. We apologise profusely for the inconvenience.
That was 14 hours ago and the system still is down. I have been able to do a few drops when I find a blog with a widget, but sooner or later you end up hitting a dead end when the next ad you come across is one you have already visited. I certainly hope that this is a temporary issue with the network and will be back and running soon.

In the distinct possibility that Entrecard has breathed its last, I started looking for some other sites to help build traffic.  One of the things I did was sign up with Zimbio.  I found another traffic exchange that I am currently trying out, but I am not sure if it is going to be using long term.  The site is called Blog Clicker and it is very similar to Blog Explosion if anybody remembers how that works.

You sign into the system and it opens up a browser page with a Blog Clicker tool bar.  You visit the site and a countdown appears in the bar.  When the countdown reaches zero, you earn a credit for every site you visit which is then exchanged for visits to your site. So far, I have not seen quite as many quality blogs as I have seen on Adgitize and Entrecard, but it is early yet.  If you want to check them out here is a link

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Thursday, January 26, 2012

Big Oil, Apple, Democrats, and the Media

Image representing Apple as depicted in CrunchBase
Image via CrunchBase
The other day I was driving to work when I heard that Apple had just released their most recent quarterly earnings.  For the most recent quarter, they had earnings of over $13 billion.  I thought to myself, "Wow, that seems like an awful lot."

I do know that Apple is a tremendously successful company providing goods and services that people around the globe desire.  As a capitalist, I do not begrudge them one bit the amount of profit they make in the marketplace.  Still, curiousity got the better of me and I wanted to see just how that $13 billion in profit compares to other companies.

What better company to compare Apple's earnings to than one of the greedy oil companies.  After all, Exxon Mobil and other oil companies have been demonized by Barack Obama, his fellow Democrats, and the media every time they release their quarterly profit numbers.  Obama wants to impose a "windfall" tax on their profits and some Democrats have proposed a "Reasonable Profits Board" to regulate oil company profits.

English: To create this SVG-format logo, I too...
Image via Wikipedia
The most recent quarterly earnings report from Exxon that I could find was released in October of 2011.  During that quarter, Exxon reported profits of $10.3 billion dollars.  Not shabby, but nearly $3 billion less than Apple just announced.  I wonder if Democrats would consider Apple's $13 billion a reasonable amount of profit?

Perhaps a more telling way to look at it would be to look at the profit margin as opposed to strictly the dollar profit of the company.  Now most politicians and members of the media would not know the difference between profit and profit margin if it bit them on the ass.  In simple terms, profit margin is the amount of profit for every dollar of sales or revenue brought it.

Exxon had revenue of $125 billion in order to achieve their $10 billion in profit.  That means that for every $1 in revenue they earned a mere 8 cents on the dollar, a profit margin of 8%.  Apple's $13 billion in profit came from $46 billion in revenue for a profit margin of 28% for every dollar of revenue.  That is 3.5 times the profit rate that Exxon earned.

The Democrats and the media demonize Exxon for their profits implying that Exxon is ripping off customers to achieve their high profits.  However, if any company could be accused of gauging the customer, logic would seem to dictate that the company earning 28 cents on the dollar is more likely gauging the customer than the one earning 8 cents on the dollar.

Now, I am definitely NOT saying that Apple is ripping off their customers.  They make a fine product and have created a demand for that product.  My point is to highlight the hypocrisy of the left.  Rather than comment on how high Apple's profit is, the media talks about how great Apple is. By the way, Apple is one of those companies sitting on a ton of cash (nearly $100 billion) and outsourcing their production to China but you don't hear any outrage about how they could be using that money to produce goods and jobs here.
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Wednesday, January 25, 2012

What a Pain in the Neck

On Friday, I went to the doctor to get checked out after experiencing some numbness and weakness in my left arm and leg.  At the time, the doctor thought that it may be a bulging disc in both my neck and back so he sent me to get some x-rays done.  Yesterday, his office called me to inform me that I needed to come in for a follow up and that the x-rays showed some inflammation in both the neck and back that was causing my pain.

It got me thinking about a book that I picked up when I attended the Natural Products Expo in Anaheim, CA last year.  One of the vendors at the show had Jack Challem in attendance giving away and signing copies of his book The Inflammation Syndrome.  The gist of the book is that chronic inflammation can lead to a host of ailments, aches, and pain.  Since I have been reading most of my books on the Kindle, I have yet to read the book, but started it today.

The book talks about how the foods we eat and drink can lead to chronic inflammation.  If we learn to eat the right foods, we can reverse the inflammation in our system and cure ourselves.  I firmly believe that the human body has a tremendous capacity for self healing.  Of course, having that knowledge and belief is only as good as our capacity for putting the correct behaviors into practice.

In addition to changing the diet to help reduce the inflammation that causes problems in the body, there are a number of different supplements and wellness items that can help. Nopalea is a wellness beverage that is derived from the fruit of the Nopal Cactus.  The fruit of the Nopal cactus has been utilized by the native people of the Southwestern US and Mexico for its healing properties.

Nopalea contains rare and potent antioxidants that have been shown to help the body reduce inflammation.  Right now, you can get a free 32 oz sample bottle of this wellness drink.  All you have to do is call 1-800-203-7063.  There will be a $9.95 charge to cover the cost of shipping.  It can be a first step towards naturally helping your body to reduce inflammation.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

School Bus Cameras

A red-light camera in use in Beaverton, Oregon...
Image via Wikipedia
In the past, I have been on the record here as being against traffic cameras.  I have always thought that they are more about generating revenue rather than being a mechanism to encourage safety.  It is not that I am out rampantly disregarding traffic laws.  Quite to the contrary.  I really do try to adhere to traffic laws, especially things like stopping for pedestrians in a cross walk.

Let's take red light cameras for instance.  The concept of the red light camera in and of itself isn't so bad.  After all, who wouldn't want to cut down on the number of accidents in intersections, especially the more serious head on or side collisions.  While there are studies that have shown a decrease in those accidents, there have been studies that show an increase in rear end collisions.

In my area, they have been starting to put in a lot of speed cameras, especially in school zones.  When I drive through those areas, I pay special attention to drive right at the speed limit the whole length of the road.  Unfortunately others will speed through the road until they get into the camera zone, then slow down through the camera zone, and then resume speeding when out of the zone.  Kind of defeats the purpose if you ask me.

Today, however, I heard of a proposed traffic camera that I can actually support.  Montgomery County, a neighboring county of mine here in Maryland, is proposing putting camera on all of the county school buses to catch people who pass the buses while they are loading and unloading kids.  The proposed fine would be $250.  The safety of our children should be our highest priority.
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Monday, January 23, 2012

Music Monday-Etta James "At Last"

On Friday, rhythm and blues singer Etta James passed away after a valiant battle with leukemia. It is only fitting that for this Music Monday that I choose her signature song, "At Last." RIP, Etta.
Come join Music Monday and share your songs with us. Rules are simple. Leave ONLY the ACTUAL LINK POST here and grab the code below and place it at your blog entry. You can grab this code at LadyJava's Lounge Please note these links are STRICTLY for Music Monday participants only. All others will be deleted without prejudice.

PS: Because of spamming purposes, the linky will be closed on Thursday of each week at midnight, Malaysian Time. Thank you!

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Gabrielle Giffords to Step Down

I remember seeing the news flash that Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords and others were shot at an event in Tucson.  The news was shocking to say the least.  Twitter and the news media was ablaze with reports on the horrific news.  Sadly, some did not survive the events of that day, but fortunately for Giffords, she did.

It has been remarkable to see her recovery.  Just the mere fact that she has survived was one thing.  Seeing all of the strides that she has made is inspirational.  However, you can still see how far she still has to go to fully heal.

As the election cycle has gotten closer, I have thought more about Giffords.  I had considered writing a post stating that it would be best for her and for her constituents if she would consider not running for re-election in the upcoming elections.  She needs continued healing, and her constituents need representation.

Today, Gabrielle Giffords announce that she is stepping down from her position in Congress.  It is the right thing for her to do, both for her and those she represents.  I hope that she continues to heal, and though a Democrat, I hope she recovers to where she could consider another run.  I wish her continued healing and a long and healthy life.

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Saturday, January 21, 2012

South Carolina Primary

South Carolina Republican Primary - Cartoon
Image by DonkeyHotey via Flickr
I am taking a rare weekend off from my pizza delivery gig this weekend.  Thursday afternoon, I was feeling a little out of sorts with some numbness in my fingers, neck, and leg.  Yesterday morning, I woke up and it was a little more irritating and concerning than the night before so I decided to call in sick from my day job and call the doctor.

Ever since I had my little episode from last summer where I had similar symptoms that led to a series of tests, I tend to err on the side of caution.  This visit to the doctor led to a prescription for a strong anti-inflammatory and x-rays on my neck and spine.  He thinks that I may have bulging discs in both my neck and back that are causing the numbness.  So, this weekend I decided to take it easy for a change.

So, since I will be home tonight instead of in and out of the car, I will be able to keep track of the returns from the South Carolina primary from the comfort of my own home instead of periodically checking the internet or Twitter from my phone.  After this week, it is looking like it could turn out to be an interesting race.

At the beginning of the week, there were still 6 candidates in the race, and Romney was leading in the polls in South Carolina.  It was widely thought that he had won both the Iowa caucus (albeit by only 8 votes) and the New Hampshire primary.  It was looking like he would be the first non-incumbent candidate to win the first three events in the quest to become the Republican Presidential nominee.

Since the week began, 2 of the 6 candidates, Jon Huntsman and Rick Perry, have dropped out of the race.  The Iowa caucuses have certified their votes and now declare that Rick Santorum was the winner in Iowa.  Two strong debate showings by Newt Gingrich on Monday and then Thursday have him surging in the polls to the point where one showed him in the lead this morning.

Now, instead of Romney winning the first three events, which would have been historical, we are looking at three different candidates winning the first three events.  Personally, I hope that happens as I am not ready to have Romney declared the nominee when there is still so many more primaries to be held.  It looks like it could potentially end up being an interesting race.
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Map of our Travel

Guest post written by my buddy Aldo Mays

This morning I was looking into getting Direct.tv as a surprise Christmas gift for my husband when my heart sank. I completely forgot that our anniversary was only ( gasp) four days away. I am usually really good at remembering dates and usually have everything planned out for our big days. Recently, I started a new job and my mind has just been else where. I racked my brain thinking about what I was going to do for our fourth wedding anniversary. I usually don’t get my husband a big gift, but try to make something or get something of sentimental value. Two years ago, I made a really great photo book of our trip to Costa Rica the previous year. He loved it and it is a great coffee table addition. Last year, I ended up making him a craft with fifty two cards that listed fifty two reasons why I adored him. I really set myself up to fail if I forgot because the gifts previously have been so incredibly thoughtful. Finally, I decided that I was going to have a map made of every place that we have traveled together framed and left open so that we could add more pins. I know that it is last minute, but I am really hoping that he likes it!

Thursday, January 19, 2012

And Then There Were Four

English: Governor Mitt Romney of MA
Image via Wikipedia
When the week began, there were still six candidates vying for the nomination to be the Republican candidate for President of the United States.  Early Monday, prior to the Fox News debate that night, Jon Huntsman suspended his candidacy and threw his support behind Mitt Romney.  Huntsman was polling so low, I am not sure his supporters will help Romney that much.

It is funny to hear these candidates speak, because as a candidate, Huntsman had said Romney was "not electable."  After dropping out of the race, and announcing his support for Romney, Huntsman now says that Romney is the only candidate that is "electable" and can defeat Barack Obama.  Yes, politicians do make strange bedfellows.

With only five candidates on the stage for the Fox News debate that night, it made for a much more intense debate in my opinion.  Newt Gingrich once again had a very strong debate, and for a change, I thought Romney stumbled a bit.  Since that debate, Gingrich has been gaining on Romney in the polls for the upcoming primary in South Carolina on Saturday.

As Gingrich has surged in the polls, he has called on supporters of Rick Santorum and Rick Perry to consider voting for him as the conservative Republican option as opposed to the moderate Romney.  This morning, Gingrich may have gotten a few more voters as Rick Perry announced that he is dropping out of the race and endorsing Gingrich for the nomination.

English: Newt Gingrich at a political conferen...
Image via Wikipedia
Perry was showing quite a bit more support than Huntsman had been getting, so his departure may actually help Gingrich.  Tonight, there will be another debate in South Carolina to be televised on CNN.  Another strong performance by Gingrich could put him over the top in South Carolina and make a race of the nomination.  With only four people on stage, there should be ample opportunity for all to make their case.

Of course, all of this could be a moot point depending on how the public reacts to a television interview to be broadcast after tonight's debate.  Newt's second wife, the one he was married to when he was carrying on an affair with his current wife, will be interviewed on ABC. Will people give any credence to what she has to say, or will she come across as someone trying to even the score after a bitter divorce?

As of this moment, however, there are currently three separate camps vying for the nomination.  There is the moderate Mitt Romney, that seems to have the support of the so called "GOP establishment," the Ron Paul Libertarian camp, and the Conservative camp being split between Gingrich and Santorum.  A strong showing on Saturday by Gingrich and a poor performance by Santorum could whittle the field down some more.
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Tuesday, January 17, 2012

The Lost Scroll and the Secret of Life

Cover of "The Lost Scroll and the Secret ...Cover of The Lost Scroll and the Secret of LifeThe Lost Scroll and the Secret of Life by Tom Jankovic looked to be an interesting story when I saw it on Amazon.com when looking for books to download on my Kindle.  It had several positive reviews on the Amazon website.  Interestingly, now that I have finished the book, it no longer shows as being available for Kindle, though it is available in paperback.

The author of the book has quite an impressive background.  He has studied Christianity, Buddhism, Gnosticism, Vedanta, and Quantum Physics.  The book is an attempt to create a fictional story tying all of his fields of study into a compelling adventure for the search of a lost scroll that will reveal to the seeker the secret of life.

The concept of the story itself had great potential.  Unfortunately, the story itself fell kind of flat for me.  The characters themselves have a fairly superficial development.  The dialogue between the characters was also fairly flat.  The plot of the book was not very believable. The main character has a chance encounter with a stranger then uproots his lifestyle to search the quest.

Without revealing too much of the plot, the protagonist of the story discovers lessons along the way that challenge the traditional belief as espoused by the Western church.  He discovers that when the Roman Emperor Constantine accepted Christianity as the official religion of the Roman Empire, he established a committee to determine which teachings of Jesus would be allowed in the Bible and which would be destroyed.  In this manner, the Church would maintain control of the masses.

The story goes on to discuss the theories of quantum physics and how everything in the world is interconnected, no matter how seemingly disparate they appear.  The author touches upon the belief of some that Jesus traveled and studied in the East learning from master teachers.  Our hero discovers that through Buddhism, Gnosticism, and Vedanta, that Jesus was teaching that the secret of life is within each of us and that there is truth from all of the various faiths and all flow from a single Source of life.

While the story itself was lacking, I did learn a few things from reading it.  It made me curious enough to want to learn more about some of the other faith practices mentioned in the book.  I already read a lot of Christianity and some Buddhism, but now I am interested in delving more into the Gnostics and the ancient faith of Vendanta.

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Monday, January 16, 2012

Music Monday-Ray Charles "America"

Tomorrow, Ameritopia the latest book by Mark Levin will be released.  I imagine that when I turn my Kindle on, it will automatically download as I have preordered my copy for the Kindle.  Every Friday night, as Mark Levin closes his show, he plays America by Ray Charles.  In honor of the release of Ameritopia, America by Ray Charles is my Music Monday selection this week.

Come join Music Monday and share your songs with us. Rules are simple. Leave ONLY the ACTUAL LINK POST here and grab the code below and place it at your blog entry. You can grab this code at LadyJava's Lounge Please note these links are STRICTLY for Music Monday participants only. All others will be deleted without prejudice.

PS: Because of spamming purposes, the linky will be closed on Thursday of each week at midnight, Malaysian Time. Thank you!
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Sunday, January 15, 2012

Good News, Bad News

This may end up being a purely random post, keeping in line with the title of this blog.  There are just a few little things on my mind that I feel like sharing, none of which might be enough to make a whole post on their own.  So, I am going to share a little good news and a little bad news.

First the good news.  I always love the first week of a new diet when I am trying to lose weight.  When I have that mindset to lose weight, I do not feel like I depriving myself.  The great thing about the first week of the diet is  it is the week when I lose the most weight.  Last Tuesday when I posted that I was starting this quest, weighed 228 pounds.  This morning, I weighed in at 220 pounds.  A pretty good start.

A few days ago we had our annual IEP meeting at my son's school.  Since we made the decision, along with his doctor, to cut one of his medications out, he has been doing much better.  He is no longer sleeping in class and he is doing all of his work.  He also has started eating a lot more variety of food, albeit covered in BBQ sauce.  They even told us that he recently ate French toast, with BBQ sauce.  Yuck, but whatever works.

That's pretty much it for the good news, now the bad.  While my son has been doing better at school, he still has some of his behavioral issues like dropping to the floor, hitting others, and throwing things like his shoes and glasses.  When we were at school Thursday his glasses were pretty bent at the hinge. I bent them back into place while we were there.  On Friday, we got an email from the school saying he had thrown them and they were broken at the bridge.  We had to go back out to school on Saturday to give them a spare pair.

I have mentioned before that I hesitate to buy myself things.  I have this phobia that as soon as I splurge on something for myself, then something else will go wrong around the house and I will soon have to scrape up more money.  At Christmas, I had received some American Express gift cards and some cash.  I debated on whether or not to hold on to the money or to buy myself something I wouldn't normally buy myself.  I decided to get myself a Keurig coffee maker.

As luck would have it, last Sunday I went out to do my grocery shopping and other errands with our family car, which is the one my wife uses during the week.  It hesitated a little bit before starting, so I decided to take it up to Advanced Auto Parts to have them check the battery.  The diagnostic test indicated that the battery needed to be replaced, no big surprise as the car has over 85000 miles and it was the original battery.  So I had to replace the battery.

Yesterday, I had our other car while I was out delivering pizzas.  There were a few times that my car had a difficult time starting.  Since the car has almost 90000 miles on it, I took it up to Advanced Auto Parts to check the battery.  The battery checked out as fine which means that there might be something else wrong with it like the starter.  Plus, it recently started making a squeaking noise when traveling at slow speeds. I really need to get my tax info so that I can my refund to get things looked at.

Speaking of spending money, there have been a few things that I really hate buying when I do my weekly grocery shopping.  These items are things that I consider necessities in our daily lives, but I just hate spending money on them.

  • Trash bags, I feel like all I am doing is throwing money away.
  • Toilet paper, again a necessity, but it is like flushing money down the drain.
  • Paper towels are another item that I put in the same category as trash bags.
Ironically, I do not feel the same way about laundry detergent.  I guess because I can usually find a decent brand name laundry detergent at a low price ($3-$4 a bottle) that will last several weeks, where a $6 or $7 pack of toilet paper only lasts a couple weeks.  I guess it is all a matter of perspective.

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Friday, January 13, 2012

Walgreens and Express Scripts

This is a Sponsored post written by me on behalf of Walgreens for SocialSpark. All opinions are 100% mine.

Years ago, when I was in college, my family moved to the Bowie MD area.  It was there that I found a family doctor that I had for years.  Years later, when I got married, that doctor became the doctor for my wife, and eventually my son.  It was in his office that we discovered that my son was developmentally delayed.

I had a relationship with that doctor for well over 10 years until my doctor informed me that his practice would no longer participate in my insurance program.  That was a difficult time for our family. It took a couple of years and a few different doctor visits before we found our current physician who we have had for the past 10 years or so.

Just as important as the relationship between a patient and doctor is the relationship between a patient and the pharmacist.  The pharmacist along with the doctor pair up to play a crucial roll in the health of a patient.  Often, just as people visit the same doctor over the years, they also visit the same pharmacy as well.

Walgreens and Express Scripts were in negotiations over the past year to try to extend their contract so that patients who use Express Scripts would be able to continue to get their pharmacy needs met at Walgreen's.  Walgreen's was looking to keep their reimbursement rates from Express Scripts the same.  However, Express Scripts decided to unilaterally define the terms of the contract, and sought to slash the reimbursement rates to Walgreens.  Consequently, Express Scripts patients can no longer get their prescriptions at Walgreens.

Express Scripts acts as a middle man between retail pharmacies and employers health care plans.  One of the plans that uses Express Scripts is Tricare which is the prescription plan for our military.  During negotiations, Walgreens offered to match or beat the average cost of all pharmacies in the Tricare network to help support the military.  They even offered a separate contracted price for the military, but were flately turned down by Express Scripts.

One of the things that Walgreens is doing to try to meet the needs of their customers who are now unable to get their medications at Walgreens due to the dispute with Express Scripts is to launch the Prescription Savings Club at Walgreens.  Through the Savings Club, members can get discounts on several generics and brand name prescriptions.

If you are a customer that has been impacted by the dispute, and are upset about it, contact your local media to show your support.  You can also keep up with the latest by following Walgreens on Twitter and by liking Walgreens on Facebook.

Visit Sponsor's Site

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Communion and Confirmation

Stained glass at St John the Baptist's Anglica...
Image via Wikipedia
As I have mentioned on numerous occasions, my son attends and lives at a school on the Eastern Shore of Maryland.  I believe I have mentioned this, but just in case I haven't, it is a Catholic school.  My religious background is Protestantism, primarily Baptist, and I have studied other religions such as Buddhism and a few other Christian denominations, including Catholicism.

My wife, on the other hand, was raised in the Roman Catholic Church.  Our first marriage occurred in the country clerk's office in Key West.  We then had a church wedding a few months later to make it official in the eyes of the church and her father.  During the early years of our married life, we did not attend church much.  However, when our son was born, we had him Christened in the Catholic Church.

From then on, we pretty much stopped attending church.  I had a few bad experiences with some of the Protestant churches that I had attended.  I do a lot of studying on my own, but quite frankly nothing on a consistent basis.  My wife eventually became totally disenchanted with the Catholic Church.  I think a lot of her disenchantment occurred during the time frame of all the reports of priests molesting young boys.  She eventually decided to seek a new church and decided on the Mormon faith.  She attended regularly for a while, but has not attended regularly for the past year or so.
Rich Mullins
Cover of Rich Mullins

The bulk of my son's religious instruction in his almost 18 years has been through children's religious music.  I also introduced him to the music of Rich Mullins.  We used to watch one of his concert videos together for hours on end.  I still remember my son reciting one of Mullins' monologues when Mullins talked about Jesus being a little boy and imagining him playing baseball.  "If Jesus was going to play baseball, just how many windows would he knock out around Nazareth, and who was going to make him pay?"

The reason that I bring all this up is that we had a meeting today at his school to discuss his IEP (Individualized Education Program).  When we got home from the meeting a couple hours ago, we had a letter from the school.  At first I thought it was going to be an incident report from the school that they talked about at the meeting where he ended up getting a bruise on his back from some behavioral incident.  Instead it was a letter from a woman at the school who prepares the kids for their First Communion and Confirmation sacraments.

I would like for my son to go through some sort of religious training.  Even though I do not agree with everything that the Catholic Church teaches, he is there and I think it would be important for him.  I do wonder if he would be able to understand what they are teaching him.  Another question that I would have is would he eat the Communion wafer, or would they have to douse it in BBQ sauce?  The biggest question would be whether or not my wife would want him to go through it given her disenchantment with the Church.    It could make for interesting dinner conversation this evening.

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Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Another Great Deal

Credit CardImage by 401K via FlickrOriginally, I was thinking about posting something about the New Hampshire primary that was held last night.  There were not a whole lot of surprises.   Everything pretty much happened the way the pollsters thought they would.  Mitt Romney came in first as expected.

Ron Paul finished second, and Jon Huntsman third after spending most of the last few weeks there.  Newt Gingrich and Rick Santorum split the conservative vote and ended up essentially tied for 4th place. The remaining candidate Rick Perry finished with less than 1%, not that far ahead of Michele Bachmann who is no longer in the race.

Instead, I want to talk about another "great" deal I received from a credit card company.  A couple weeks ago, I found a pre-approved credit card offer with an upfront fee that would have taken a large chunk of the approved line of credit, along with a 34.9% interest rate.

This week, I logged into one of my existing credit card accounts to pay a bill online.  I was greeted with a message saying that due to my good credit with them that I was pre-approved for an increase of my credit limit.  When I clicked the link, I was greeted with an offer to increase my credit limit by $100 for a $25 fee.

Wow!  Such a great deal.  Usually, if I have had "excellent credit history" with a company, they will either automatically increase your credit limit or will do so when you request it.  I have never had to pay for the privilege that they say I "earned."  I will be passing on this excellent offer.
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Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Time to Get Serious

Image representing MyFitnessPal as depicted in...Image via CrunchBase
Well, today is the big day. It's time things get serious. No, it isn't the New Hampshire primary that I am talking about, though that is important.  It is something else entirely.  On New Year's Day, I posted about how I normally do not use that day to make resolutions to change something in my life.  I need to be mentally prepared to start that quest.  Today is that day.

As I said, I have to be mentally prepared for the task at hand.  I also have to clear away all of the obstacles that could potentially block the path to success.  One of my big stumbling blocks is having alcohol in the house, particularly red wine.  When I have it, I drink it, and when I drink it, I tend to eat a lot more junk food rather than healthier snacks.

Last night, I finished off the last of the red wine that I had in the house.  If I don't have it around, I generally do not miss it.  I also have gotten rid of just about all of the really bad food and have several healthier snacking options available should I need anything more after dinner, though I am going to try to not eat anything after dinner.

This morning, I stepped on the scale and weighed 228 pounds.  It's not the heaviest I have ever been, but it's close to it.  I have to lose 30 pounds, at least in my mind. I want to lose 50 pounds, and I would be extremely ecstatic if I could manage to lose a total of 60 pounds.  It has been several years since I have been in that weight class.

I have decided to keep track of everything I eat during the course of the day.  I have downloaded a calorie counter app for my phone and tablet from MyFitnessPal.com.  I enter my current weight, goals, and other data, and it gives me a target for number of calories to eat each day.  It has a huge data base of calorie and nutritional counts.  You can also scan the UPC code on a package and it will search for all the nutrional data to add to your daily diary.

Having the mobile apps is a great help for tracking things.  It shows how many calories you have consumed that day and how many more towards your goal for the day.  I think I will also be checking out the MyFitnessPal website as they have a large community to lend support in your weight loss goals.  As they say, the first step of any journey is the toughest.
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Monday, January 9, 2012

Music Monday-Montgomery Gentry "Where I Come From"

This week for Music Monday, I decided to pick something from Montgomery Gentry.

Come join Music Monday and share your songs with us. Rules are simple. Leave ONLY the ACTUAL LINK POST here and grab the code below and place it at your blog entry. You can grab this code at LadyJava's Lounge Please note these links are STRICTLY for Music Monday participants only. All others will be deleted without prejudice.

PS: Because of spamming purposes, the linky will be closed on Thursday of each week at midnight, Malaysian Time. Thank you!

Sunday, January 8, 2012

New Hampshire Primary Preview

English: An image of the debate at Saint Ansel...Image via WikipediaIn the past 24 hours, there have been two Republican Presidential debates leading up to the first official primary of the 2012 election cycle.  I think we are up to about 85 debates since the whole process started last May.  That is a bit of an exaggeration, but there have been a bunch of them.

I did not get to see either of the two debates this weekend.  Last night, I was working delivering pizzas so I was unable to watch.  My local talk radio station did broadcast the debate on the radio so I was able to get bits and pieces of it.  Unfortunately, getting in and out of the car and often having several breaks between deliveries made it difficult to get a good grasp of how the debate went.

The second debate was held this morning.  I missed it because my local news was promoting it as being later in the day.  I logged on to Twitter this morning as the debate was ending.  I started to watch the replay on Meet the Press, but I had several errands to run this morning so I only caught the first half hour or so.  I probably won't watch any of the other replays of it today.

When the whole process started, I watched all of the debates I could.  The only ones that I have missed were the ones that have been scheduled on Saturday nights.  At this point in the process, I am pretty much numb.  I almost don't care any more.  I already know that whoever ends up being the Republican nominee will get my vote in November.

More and more, I am starting to get the feeling that Mitt Romney will end up being the Republican nominee in November.  Maryland, my state, does not hold its primary until April 3rd.  By that time, it may be decided as 31 states or territories will have already had their primaries or caucuses before Maryland has theirs.

There are 4 more debates scheduled this month, including two more next week leading up to the South Carolina primary on January 21st.  I am not sure if I will keep watching the debates, though I probably will if I am not scheduled to work.  I have become a bit of a political junkie.

My only hope that regardless of whoever ends up being the Republican candidate that the other candidates and their supporters will rally around the nominee.  The last thing we need is for somebody like Ron Paul or Donald Trump to run as a 3rd party candidate and garner enough votes to guarantee Obama's re-election.  Those who fail to learn from history are destined to repeat it, see Ross Perot.
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Thursday, January 5, 2012


Deutsch: TeamViewerImage via WikipediaI have always been a technology oriented guy.  In my single days, I was always among the first of my friends to get the latest technological advances.  I was the first to adapt CD and DVD technology.   In high school, I was taking computer programming courses and was one of the first of my friends to get a personal computer.  Anybody remember the old Commodore 64's?

For those reasons, I kind of became the go to guy whenever anybody in the family had questions about technology.  I am now 50 years old, and with the added responsibility of a wife and child, I am not quite as quick to get the latest technological gear.  That said, I am still fairly up to speed on a lot of things, especially when it comes to personal computing.

Last year, my parents finally decided to enter the digital age and bought their first computer.  They already had their television through Verizon FiOS, so they had a bit of a taste of Facebook and Twitter on there.  With their laptop purchase, they added internet access and spend a great deal of their day playing various games on Facebook.  My mother follows a few celebrities on Twitter.

Needless to say, since this is my parents first foray into the world of computing and the internet, they are not the most technologically savvy.  Quite often, they call me to ask me about some computer problem they are having.  Since they are such novices, it is hard to sometimes talk to them about what they are experiencing on the computer.  There have been a few times I had to drive out to their home to try to help them out.

So many times, the things they were trying to tell me were going on with their computer became a source of frustration.  They do not know a lot of the basics so trying to decipher their description of the problem and trying to walk them through steps to try to ascertain what was going on became stressful, especially if I had a few drinks in me.

I started to bitch and moan a lot and thought it would be so much easier if I could find a way to remotely tap into their computer to see what was going on.  In my office whenever we have a problem or need something installed, our tech support accesses our computers remotely.  I have had a couple issues in the past where Verizon support has also accessed my computer remotely.

I started to do some searches on the internet for programs that would allow me to access my parents computer remotely.  I found one, and the best thing is it is free for personal use.  It is called TeamViewer.  I downloaded it onto my laptop, and the next time that I went out to my parents house to help them with an issue, I loaded it onto theirs.

Last week, we had our first opportunity to try it out.  I opened the software on my laptop and had them do the same.  They gave me their ID number and password.  I was then able to access their desktop and view all of the settings on their program to try to fix their issues.  A couple of days ago, they had another issue that I was able to explore, and hopefully correct.

I highly recommend using TeamViewer if you or somebody in your family sometimes needs a little technological support.  It can also be used to share things on one desktop to another.  I recently accessed my parents computer and simply watched what desktop to try to see what was actually occurring on their machine.  You also can't beat the cost, it's FREE!

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Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Iowa Caucus

, U.S. Senator from Pennsylvania.Image via WikipediaLast night at about 10pm, I turned on the Fox News Channel to see if I could catch the results of the Iowa Republican caucus. At that time, in the early stages of tabulating the results, it was a three way tie between Rick Santorum, Mitt Romney and Ron Paul with each having 23% of the votes.  I went to sleep shortly thereafter and Santorum and Romney had opened up a slight lead over Paul with each having 24% and Paul 22%.

It looked like it was going to be a long night, and I figured I would just catch the results in the morning.  Of course, as happens most nights, I woke up in the middle of the night, right around 2:30am.  I was having a little trouble getting back to sleep, so I flipped the television back on just in time to hear them announce that Romney won the Iowa caucus over Rick Santorum by a mere 8 votes.

Historically, the winner of the Iowa caucus is not necessarily an indicator of who will eventually win the Republican nomination for President.  In 2008. the winner of the caucus was Mike Huckabee.  The eventual nominee, John McCain, finished 4th in that year's caucus.  So while it was good for Romney to win, it really doesn't mean a whole lot. The one thing the caucus is good for is weeding out some of the also rans.

The first casualty of the night appeared to be Rick Perry.  After his 5th place finish last night with 10% of the votes, Perry announced that he was going to head back to Texas to "reassess" his candidacy.  However, earlier today he announced that he would be continuing with his campaign.  I can't help but wonder if his decision was based in part on the announcement of the 6th place finisher.

Michele Bachmann finished in 6th place last night with 5% of the votes.  Initially, during her concession speech in Iowa announced that she was going forward with her campaign because she felt she was the conservative that could beat Barack Obama.  I thought that she must be slightly delusional if she believed that.  This morning, she cancelled her campaign appearances and announced that she was suspending her campaign.

Former Speaker Newt Gingrich finished 4th with 13% of the votes.  Two weeks ago, Gingrich was sitting solidly in the lead in the polls but faced a barrage of negative attack ads from the Romney and Paul camps that caused a steady drop in the polls.  Gingrich had been maintaining a positive campaign but the sting of the attack ads was obvious as he sounded angry after the caucus.

Clearly, Gingrich blames the Romney camp for his fall and says he needs to figure out a better way to handle the attack ads.  While not a direct quote, Gingrich has said that the gloves are off.  While he will not do negative attack ads, he says he reserves the right to tell the truth and sometimes the truth can sound negative.  Sounds like payback time to me.

The big winner of the night has to be Rick Santorum.  A few weeks ago, Santorum was on nobody's radar, languishing in single digits in the polls.  He did an all out blitz in the state to pull a major surprise.  Now it remains to be seen if he can keep that momentum going.  One thing for sure is that he is now bound to be in the sights of Romney and his surrogates.  Look for the attacks to begin.

I don't really have a lot to say about the others.  Paul finished 3rd with 21% of the votes.  He has a core group of supporters and most feel he has no chance to get the nomination.  Romney can't seem to get beyond having the support of 25% of Republicans.  Jon Huntsman was a non factor with less than 1% of the votes.  It could be a long campaign.
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Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Back to the Grind

Well, the holidays are officially over.  I know this for a fact, not because of the calendar, but rather based on the amount of cars on the road this morning.  For the past two weeks, traffic has been almost non-existent on the beltway here in the DC area.  Usually, I have a five mile stretch of the beltway that is bumper to bumper, but during the holidays there was no backup.  It was back in full force this morning.

I also know that the holidays are over because the house is a little bit emptier this evening than it has been for the past two weeks.  Today was the day that my son had to return to his residential school after the Christmas break.  My son gets several breaks home during the school year, but most of them are a few days for long weekends.  The Christmas break is one of a few long breaks home from school.

It is always tough when he has to go back to school.  It is much tougher after the long breaks home.  We always have a hard time getting him in the car whenever his breaks end.  My wife discovered that it is even more difficult when I am home as he knows something is amiss if I am not at work.  Consequently, I usually do not go back to the school with them when breaks end.

The other thing is that we can not tell him right away that he is going back to school.  Then he won't get in the car.  When I left the house this morning, I had to tell him "see you later," rather than "see you tonight."  My wife has to concoct new schemes to get him in the car under the guise of running an errand or visiting someone.  She does those things, but then once back in the car, she heads off to school.

He gets a little upset when he realizes that he is heading back to his school.  He will usually tell my wife that he doesn't want to go back to school.  Then he will sometimes say that "Mommy lied," but by the time he gets back to school he is fine.  He got out of the car when he arrived at school and headed to class.  Then he told his teacher all the things he did on break.

We will probably head out to school in a couple of weeks and see him when we have to go for his annual IEP meeting and to drop off medication refills with the school nurse.  His next long weekend home will be in about six weeks when he will be home for over the Presidents Day Weekend.  Then his next long break of nearly two weeks will occur around Easter, which also happens to be his 18th birthday.  One of our friends at the Bowie Baysox is saying she will have to arrange something special for him.

Also marking the end of the holiday period is the Iowa Republican caucuses that take place tonight.  It is the first in what promises to be a very long election cycle.  I will probably be checking out the results later tonight to see how things shake out.  Right now, I think I am like the 40% of Iowans who are still undecided as to who to vote for the GOP Presidential nominee.  Perhaps more on this tomorrow.
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Monday, January 2, 2012

Music Monday-Jason Aldean & Kelly Clarkson "Don't You Wanna Stay"

Over the weekend, all the different media outlets were counting down and reminiscing the best of 2011.  WMZQ, the country music radio station in the DC area was no exception.  Since their station ID is 98.7. they counted down the top 98 country songs of 2011.  Their pick for the #1 country song of 2011 was Jason Aldean & Kelly Clarkson and "Don't You Wanna Stay."  I like the song, but it definitely wasn't my favorite song of the year.  It wasn't even my favorite Jason Aldean song of the year, but it is my pick for the first Music Monday of 2012

Come join Music Monday and share your songs with us. Rules are simple. Leave ONLY the ACTUAL LINK POST here and grab the code below and place it at your blog entry. You can grab this code at LadyJava's Lounge Please note these links are STRICTLY for Music Monday participants only. All others will be deleted without prejudice.

PS: Because of spamming purposes, the linky will be closed on Thursday of each week at midnight, Malaysian Time. Thank you!
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Sunday, January 1, 2012

Happy New Year

Let me start off by saying Happy New Year to everybody.  I hope that you had a safe and happy New Year's Eve.  Traditionally, the start of the new year is a time when everybody hopes to make a fresh start.  Usually, it is filled with all sorts of New Year's resolutions that more often than not, at least in my experience, do not come to fruition.

In years past, I have stayed away from making resolutions just because the calendar turns to January 1st.  I have to be of the frame of mind to actually want to make that change in my life for it to be effective for me.  When I am mentally prepared to make a change and have that mindset, that is when I am able to achieve those goals.  So it does not matter if it is January 1st or March 1st.

This year, however, I have been thinking a lot about making some changes.  Like a lot of people, I struggle with my weight.  I have documented here previously that I have sleep apnea.  Excess weight exacerbates the situation.  Also, my doctor has told me that my blood sugar is starting to creep up into the pre-diabetic range. So, like a lot of people this New Year, one of my goals (I hate to say resolution) is to change my behavior and get my weight under control.

Aside from weight and general health and fitness resolutions, a lot of people want to improve their financial situation in the coming year.  With home mortgage rates at such historic lows, there is no better way to improve your financial state of affairs than by lowering your expense.  If you are a homeowner with good credit and haven't taken advantage of the lower interests rates, you might want to click here to see what is available where you live.

Health and finances are high up on my list of resolutions for 2012.  That, and continuing to blog on a regular basis and get ready for the 2012 elections.  Have you set any resolutions for yourself this year?  If so, share them here.  There is no better motivation to hitting your goals than by letting everybody knows what they are so they can help keep you on track.  Once again, Happy New Year!
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