Thursday, May 31, 2012

Michael Bloomberg Proposes Ban on Large Sodas

English: New York Mayor, Michael R. Bloomberg.
English: New York Mayor, Michael R. Bloomberg. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
I know all too well about the obesity problem in this country.  It is a serious matter.  I have chronicled here on more than one occasion my desire to lose some weight.  Last year, I did lose about 25 pounds over a four month period.  Unfortunately, I ended up gaining most of it back and a few more to boot.  That tends to happen a lot to those of us that continuously struggle with our weight.

Currently, I am back to trying to get down to a more healthy weight.  If you put any stock into the BMI charts or ideal weight charts, the I need to lose about 50-60 pounds.  Currently, my BMI is 32.5, which technically speaking makes me obese.  Now, when I look in the mirror, I think I look average, and most people I talk to say the same thing.  That, I suppose, is part of the problem.  Obese has become average.

I think when a lot of us think of obese, we think in terms of those that would be morbidly obese.  You know, the type of people that we see each season on The Biggest Loser television program.  Most of us have not reached that level of obesity.  The fact of the matter is that there are an awful lot of us who consider themselves normal or average that are clinically obese.

The reason that I bring this up today is because of a news story that was all over the airwaves this morning, first on my morning local news and then again on the talk radio station that I listen to on the way to work.  Michael Bloomberg, the Democratic Mayor of New York City, is proposing an outright ban on sugary drinks (sodas, etc) of greater than 16 ounces in restaurants, movie theaters, sports venues, and several other businesses that serve food and beverages.

Bloomberg says that the ban on soft drinks and other beverages loaded with sugar is needed to help with the ever growing obesity problem in this country.  While I agree that in general there is an ever increasing problem with obesity, and I am sure that Mayor Bloomberg has the best of intentions, it is really not going to do anything to remedy the situation.

How do I know that banning sugary drinks will not help with the obesity problem in this country?  All I have to do is look in the mirror.  I can't tell you the last time that I have had a high sugar drink.  I can tell you it has been years.  I have been married to my wife for over 20 years now.  I know that I have been drinking primarily drinking diet sodas since before I met her.  Coincidentally, I have been battling my weight demons for more than 20 years as well.

I don't know what the answer is for the obesity problem in this country.  If I did I wouldn't be struggling with the issue myself.  Primarily, I believe the answer lies in education, though to be honest, I know all to well what to do, but putting it into practice is the issue.  I do know that I do not believe it is the governments job to decide for us what we can or cannot eat.
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Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Long Weekend Ends, Back to School

Yesterday marked the end of the Memorial Day weekend and back to work.  It also marked the end of my son's long weekend home from school.  Normally, his visits of a mixed bag.  It is always good to have him home, but he is a lot of work.  As much as I hate to admit it, I sometimes look forward to his returning to school so things can return to what is the "new normal" around here.  Don't get me wrong, I love having him home and I am sad that he has to go back, but I am also somewhat relieved.

Due to his disabilities, there is a lot more that has to be done compared to when he is away.  When he is home, we usually have to prepare special meals for him because he would only eat certain foods.  Then there is the issue of his still not being toilet trained.  It is not easy to clean up the dirty Depends of a young man that is 5'10" and 145 pounds.  He also has a tendency to take over the television and my laptop whenever he is home.  We have had computers that he could use, but they are older and slower, and don't work too well, so he often sits with me and we play games and watch videos on mine.

As this past weekend came to a close, there was the usual sadness that he was heading back to school.  However, the sense of relief was not as strong.  Some of the past issues that make having him home so difficult were not as intense.  First, after taking him back from his April break he began eating a much wider variety of foods at school.  We were determined to try to keep up the wide variety of food that he had begun to eat at school.  We made sure to prepare a plate of whatever we were eating and give that to him first.  He ate most of what we put in front of him and we only occasionally had to supplement with chicken tenders when he hadn't gotten enough to eat.

Another thing that made this past weekend better for him was that we bought a new desktop computer for him to use.  When he had his First Communion at school nearly two weeks ago, he received over $100 in gifts.  The next morning, I found a basic computer for less than $300 that would provide him with everything he needed to do the things he likes on the computer.  This consists primarily of watching videos on YouTube and listening to music.  Only occasionally did he want to sit with me and do something together on my laptop.

There still were the other issues that we have to deal with.  His toileting is still a problem.  He usually is OK with urinating in the toilet, but the bowel movements are a problem.  We go through a lot of Depends and wipes whenever he is home.  Often, and sorry to be graphic, we have to give him a bath after a bowel movement.  Bathing is another area that he is not able to do on his own.  And of course, for the most part, when he was home the television was on whatever he wanted to watch, which isn't really that big a deal because I usually only have it on for background.

Since he turned 18, his progress once back at school has been remarkable.  In the past 6 weeks he has made a number of improvements in some of his problem areas.  Previously, he only ate chicken wings or tenders and salty snacks.  Now, he is eating a wide variety of proteins and vegetables.  He even ate ice cream, which he had never eaten, right before he came home.  He is starting to take his medications without having to have the pills crushed and mixed with food or drink.  If he continues progressing as he has recently,  I am sure that some of his other issues will be conquered soon as well.

It is funny, as my son was growing up and it was becoming painfully obvious that he would not have a "normal" life, I was determined to keep him with me as long as I could.  I have a friend that I used to work with who also has a special needs child.  We both talked about how we would want to care for our children because we weren't sure how we could trust anybody else to do it.  I no longer have that fear.  My son is 18, and at the age when a lot of kids are starting to thing of going to college and eventually getting out on their own.  Now, I can see the possibility of him moving on to a group home when school is over and I do not fear it as much as I did.
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Monday, May 28, 2012

Music Monday-Trace Adkins "Til the Last Shot's Fired:

It is Memorial Day, a day to remember and pay tribute that those who served in our military and paid the ultimate sacrifice to keep us free and safe.  For all who served in all the wars through our history, thanks.
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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Wednesday, May 23, 2012

First Communion and Memorial Day

I mentioned on Saturday that it was a big day for our family.  It was our son's First Communion at the school he is attending.  I don't think it could have possibly gone any better, though there were a few potential moments.

The First Communion was scheduled to begin at 4pm, but my wife and I were to get there around 3:30 to meet with the folks that helped my son prepare for Communion.  When we got there, the person we were to meet with was not at the chapel.  I headed up to the dorms to tell the dorm personnel that we were going to take our son out to dinner after his First Communion.  As it turns out, that is where I found the lady we were to meet with.

Unfortunately, nobody had told the dorm worker that my son was going to have First Communion, so she allowed him to take a little nap on the couch in the rec room.  They were trying to wake him up to get him ready but he wasn't cooperating.  Like a lot of us, he gets a little cranky when you wake him up.  I walked in and told him we needed to get ready for church, but he told me he didn't want to go.  I told him that if he went to church and had First Communion that we would take him to Golden Corral for dinner and had a surprise for him.  It worked.

I helped him get dressed and we headed down to the chapel.  We were still pretty early for the service, so we were pretty much the only ones around.  When the priest showed up, my son's eyes lit up and he smiled and said, "It's Father!"  He greeted all of our relatives that showed up and waited patiently.  When the head nun showed up he said "It's Sister Jeanette."  We went over and said hello to her and she told us he had been attending church regularly and was very well behaved.  That is a far cry from the first couple conversations we had with her when he first started to attend the school.

During the service he stayed pretty quiet.  He fidgeted a little now and then.  There were a couple times when he put his head on my shoulders and wanted me to stroke his head or his hands.  When it came time for him to take Communion from the priest, he hesitated at first, but took it with some encouragement.  He then said "just one more time" which got a laugh from everyone.  I know that is something he often says when you get him to do something that he doesn't want to do and are trying to get him to do it again.

After the service, we took several pictures.  He received a number of cards and money as a gift for his First Communion.  He got enough money to cover half the cost of a new basic computer for when he comes home from school for the Memorial Day weekend tomorrow.  As promised, we took him to Golden Corral for dinner after the service.  This was the first time that we had attempted to take him off campus for a visit. I was a little concerned that we would have a difficult time getting him back in the car, but there were no issues at all.

Another concern was whether or not he would eat the same variety of food with us that he has been eating at school for the past few weeks.  The concern was short lived.  He told me that he wanted chicken, ribs, potatoes, and corn.  They didn't have ribs, but I got him a plate of bourbon chicken, pot roast, corn, mashed potatoes, and fried rice.  He ate it all.  In fact, he ate a total of three big plates of food.  He also ate some sesame chicken and another style of roast beef with gravy.  The school nurse also emailed us today to tell us that he ate ice cream at school.  Another new food.

We are looking forward to our long weekend home for Memorial Day weekend.  We have plans to attend a couple of Bowie Baysox games on Sunday and Monday.  Who knows?  Maybe he will even go so far as to have a hot dog or two at the ball park.  All I know is that every day we are more and more certain that we made the right choice in having him go away to school, as difficult a choice as it was at the time.
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Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Poetic Justice and an Expensive Lesson

Have you ever been sitting at a traffic light and have somebody in a high powered, expensive sports car next to you or in front of you? They sit there revving their engine showing off and speed away quickly as soon as the light chnages. Or maybe you are driving along and one passes you at some ungodly speed and you wonder just where a cop is when you need one.

There have been so many times that it has happened to my wife or I while we were driving that somebody will tear down the road.  So often, I end up catching up to them at the next traffic light and laugh to myself.  Other times, I hope that they will get what they deserve, like a big speeding ticket or an accident, though I would not want to see anybody get hurt.

This video gives me satisfaction in knowing that some idiot does in fact get what he deserves.  Unfortunately two innocent bystanders are involved in this particular act of karma.  It is also a very expensive lesson for the idiot driver as he ends up wrecking this $225,000 Lamborghini.

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Monday, May 21, 2012

Music Monday-The Bee Gees "I Started a Joke"

Yesterday, on Sunday, May 20th, Robin Gibbs of the Bee Gees passed away after a long battle with cancer. Robin, along with twin brother Maurice and older brother Barry formed one of the most popular musical acts of all time with a career that began in the 1960's. Much will be written about how they were a driving force of the disco era. That they were, but they were also very popular for a decade before that and it is that music that I prefer to the disco era. Though I do confess that I did see them in concert during the height of their disco popularity.

Rest in Peace, Robin.  Give our best to Maurice and Andy.

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, May 20, 2012

Lenova Speakers for your Tunes

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

I love music.  If you went down into my basement, you would find several binders each holding over 100 CDs.  Those binders are organized by genre and, for the most part, are alphabetized by artist.  Most of those have been ripped to my laptop and loaded onto my iPod along with several digital downloads.  

All told, that little iPod has over 6000 songs on it and enough music that I could listen for over 17 days without running out of music to listen to.  It is much easier for me to carry it to and from work than it is to carry all of those binders filled with CDs.  It makes the work day so much more enjoyable to be able to listen to the music I like while putting in my 8+ hours each day.

A lot of my coworkers also listen to music at their desks.  A lot of them use earbuds to listen to their tunes.  I have considered doing that myself, but I just can't bring myself to bring earbuds or headphones in the office.  Call me old fashioned, or just call me old, but to me that just doesn't seem very professional to me.  I need to have some sort of speaker system at my desk to listen to my music.

The Lenovo speaker system would be the perfect device for me to keep on my desk to listen to my iPod.  The Lenova speaker M0520 contains a main speaker, but also has a built in amplifier and a sub-speaker.  It may be small and portable in size, but it produces a rich, high quality sound.  It can connect to your computer through a USB port or connect with your MP3 player or smartphone.

The speakers themselves have a sleek modern look to them.  They speaker wires spool for easy storage, and their compact size makes them highly portable.  They can go from sitting on my desk at work while connected to my iPod to going home and connecting to my laptop so I can always be connected to my music.  Life is good.

If you need a set of portable speakers, you ought to check out the Lenova M0520 speakers.  Right now, through May 21st, the speakers are on sale for the bargain price of $11.99.  That is more than half off of the regular retail of $29.99.  What a bargain!
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Saturday, May 19, 2012

First Communion

Today is going to be kind of a big day for our family.  Later this afternoon, we will be heading out to my son's school to attend his First Communion.  18 years old is a little older that is typical for a child to go through First Communion, but with my son's developmental delays we seriously doubted that anything like this would ever take place for him.

Over the years, we have tried to take my son to attend weddings, First Communions, Christenings, and other events for family members that have taken place in churches.  With his disabilities has come a number of behavioral issues that have led him to be disruptive.  Often, one of us would have to sit out in the vestibule while the other sat in the sanctuary to observe the occasion.

When my wife and I got married, I was not active in any church.  My wife was raised Roman Catholic, but converted to Mormonism a few years back.  When our son was born, he was Christened in the Catholic Church, but we never really attended church.  With our own lack of participation and his behavior issues, we never thought we would see this day.

There have been times when we have been able to keep him occupied and quiet for such occasions.  Unfortunately, it often required that we allow him to sit with his CD player, listening to music with his headphones on.  We were also able to get him to keep his constant speaking at a whisper so as not to disturb others at the occasion.

The school my son attends is a special needs residential school on the Eastern Shore that was established by a group of Benedictine nuns.  When they first asked us a few months ago whether or not we would want for them to have our son prepare for First Communion and Confirmation, we were unsure as to how he would take to it.  Reports from the woman running the class have been glowing.

My wife had to go out to the school to take my son his medications.  When she talked to him, he was excited to talk about events that were coming up; his First Communion and his upcoming long weekend home during the Memorial Day weekend.  He also gave her a kiss without any prompting, which is something he normally does not do.  We usually have to ask for kisses from him.

The past month since his 18th birthday have been among the most encouraging since he has been at the school.  His diet has improved dramatically.  Previously, he would only eat chicken and some salty snacks.  Now he is eating peas & carrots, peaches, mashed potatoes, pizza, and just about anything they put in front of him.  It is further confirmation that we made the right choice in sending him away to school.
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Thursday, May 17, 2012

Gorilla Conferencing

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

I have been in the business world most of my life.  There is nothing more gratifying that meeting one on one with a potential business partner and negotiating an agreement that can be mutually beneficial to our respective business interests.  I have had sales people fly into my office for meetings, and I have had to fly to trade shows to meet with potential vendors.

There are times, however, when a face to face visit just is not always possible.  Every now and then, time is of the essence and you just can't wait for somebody to catch a flight to have a meeting.  A lot of times, a simple phone call just will not have the same impact as a meeting.  It is on those occasions that services like Gorilla Conferencing can bridge the gap between a phone call and a personal meeting.

Gorilla Conferencing has all of the features that you could want in a remote conferencing service at a great price.  When using their audio conferencing capabilities, you will have access to a toll free number that is available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.  They also have web and video conferencing capabilities with all of the bells and whistles.  You can share documents with one another, conduct face to face training sessions, and so much more. 

If you have a need for remote conferencing, you will want one that has live support available and can be utilized at any time of day.  Not only do you need a service that is available at all times, you will need one that can be used internationally if your business needs require it.  These days, with shrinking travel budgets and the need for instant results, services like Gorilla Conferencing are more important than ever.  


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4 Fatal Gaps

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

There is no question that technology has grown by leaps and bounds over the last few years.  It doesn't if you are a small business owner operating out of a home office, or a large corporation with employees  in multiple locations, we all have a good portion of our business tied to technology.  With all of those technological advancements, come even more opportunities for our business secrets to get into the wrong hands.

CDW is a company that specializes in developing products and strategies to keep your business secrets, well, secret.  They have identified the 4 Fatal Gaps that could exist in your security network.  They specialize in helping businesses, small and large, to close those gaps and to keep their data secure.  Briefly, the 4 potential gaps are as follows.

  1. Threat Management- we constantly hear about organizations that have had their systems hacked and exposing sensitive data to outsiders.
  2. Mobility & Always on security- so much of our business data has become mobile, from smartphones and laptops.  Business travelers always have their laptops, and sadly, as many of 10% of laptops end up lost and stolen, and most are never recovered.
  3. Data Loss Prevention- this can occur with data that ends up compromised from within the organization.  Something as simple as sending a file to a wrong email address can cause harm to an organization.
  4. Securing the Cloud- more and more we hear about cloud computing where data is stored on third party servers.  Those servers need to be protected by firewalls and data encryption to keep all of that data secure.

Data loss prevention is imperative in today business world.  We live in a world where the fastest growing crime out there is identity theft.  Having the personal information of your customers compromised can be devastating to a business.  Likewise, having your business strategies and customers fall into the hands of your competitors can hurt immensely.

I had a friend at one job who lost his job due to compromising data of our organization.  His intentions were entirely honorable.  He was emailing files to his home email in order to work from home since we did not have a virtual private network at the time.  The company suspected that he was using the data for other purposes, so they fired him.  Unlike my friend, there are those that would have less than honorable intentions with that data. 

CDW can help you to minimize the threat to all of these different threats to your data security.  They have programs for any size organization, whether it is a small business with a couple employees or a large company with employees in multiple locations.  Check out this video and sign up to receive a free summary of the 4 Fatal Gaps to learn more.

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Tuesday, May 15, 2012

The First Gay President

Now that Newsweek has proudly proclaimed that Barack Obama is the first "gay president," we can begin to speculate on future of Barack Obama.  Our first black president, Bill Clinton, ended up setting up an office in Harlem after his presidential term ended.  Will we see Barack Obama settling in San Francisco or maybe even Key West after his presidency ends?

Obama has already written two memoirs prior to becoming president.  I am sure we will see at least one or two more after he leaves office.  That is to be expected as this is the norm for presidents.  Below is a sneak peek of  the cover what will likely be Barack Obama's next autobiographical tour de force will look like.  Look for it at a book store near you.

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Monday, May 14, 2012

POWOW Messenger for Android

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

splash.pngThe other day, I downloaded a new text messaging app for my Android powered smartphone.  It is the POWOW Messenger for Android.  I know what you are thinking, "don't all smartphones come with a native text messaging app?"  Sure they do, but the one on my smart phone does not do all of the things that I might need it to do.

The native text messaging app on my smartphone is great for basic texting between one person.  Which, to be honest, is primarily what I use when texting with friends and coworkers.  It even allows me to enter multiple recipients when composing a text.  Unfortunately, my native text messaging app does not allow me to create groups of people to easily send text messages.

With POWOW Messenger for Android, I have the capability of creating multiple groups to receive text messages and each member can easily reply to all in the group.  Sometimes you need to have two separate apps for that functionality.  With POWOW, I can create a group of all my family members to keep them up to date on things.  When I travel with a group of coworkers to a show, we can coordinate our activities through text messaging.

While creating groups is one of the most useful functions of POWOW Messenger for Android there are other great things that it does.  It has a "Zip It" functionality that allows you to control messaged you may not want to see.  You can blacklist texters that you will not see notifications or messages from them.  Another function is the mute notifications function which allows you to see messages, but not receive a notification.

When I first downloaded the app, I was a little concerned with what I saw.  It imported all of my existing text threads into the app.  All of my outgoing text messages showed with the correct date and time stamp, however all of my incoming texts showed a time stamp of several hours earlier.  It made reading the thread difficult.  However, I sent a few texts and the responses came back with the correct time stamp, so no worries.

If you do a lot of texting, and especially if you have a need to text to multiple people, I would definitely recommend downloading the POWOW Messenger for Android phones.  It is free to download in the Google play app store.  Check it out today!

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Tuesday, May 8, 2012

77 Days in September

Two years ago, I read the book One Second After by William Fortschen.  The book detailed a potential scenario of what could happen to our country if we were to ever be attacked my an electromagnetic pulse weapon.  An EMP attack could occur if a country or terrorist group were to launch a nuclear device and detonate it above the US.  There would be no radioactive fallout to contend with, however the resulting EMP would fry our electrical grid and any sophisticated modern electronics.

The book was one that I thoroughly enjoyed, though I did think there were a few problems with it.  I had such an impact on me that I wrote two blog posts on it here and here.  A few weeks ago, when I heard that North Korea had attempted to launch a rocket into space, and knowing that they have nuclear weapons, got me thinking again about the possibility of an EMP attack.  You can read that post here.  It also prompted me to write to my Senators and Congressman.

At the same time that I had heard about the North Korean rocket launch, I found another book on that I downloaded for my Kindle.  The book is called 77 Days in September written by Ray Gorham.  I recently finished reading that book and I highly recommend it.  It follows the lives of the Tait family from Montana.

Kyle Tait is the husband of Jennifer Tait and their three kids.  He works for the local electrical company in Montana, and he has been working in Houston helping them recover from a hurricane.  It is just prior to Labor Day weekend, and he is boarding a plane to head home to be reunited with his family.  Just as the plane is about to take off, two boats off of each coast of the country launch missiles with nuclear warheads attached.  One fails, but the other detonates 300 miles above the US shutting down power across the country.

Nearly all electrical devices stop working and Kyle Tait's plane crashes just before lift off.  Thankfully for him, the plane had not taken off and he, along with several others are able to escape the plane before flames cause the plane to explode.  The book then details his attempt to try to get back home to Montana to be with his family.  Along his journey, he encounters several obstacles and dangers as the country and society deteriorates in the wake of the attack.

Meanwhile, Jennifer is left with not knowing what has happened to her husband.  She knows that he was supposed to be in flight when the attack took place, but she has no way of knowing whether or not he survived.  She is left to care for her three kids and try to find a way to survive.  The book alternates between what each of them are going through as they struggle to survive and be reunited.

I won't spoil the book with too many details other than to say that I found myself relating to the characters and pulling for them.  It is the story of the dedication and love that two people share for one another and their family and the determination to make it through a difficult situation that nobody was the least bit prepared for.
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Monday, May 7, 2012

Music Monday-Miranda Lambert "Kerosene"

As I mentioned in last week's Music Monday, I decided to make a chain of Music Monday posts with each post being related in some way to the prior week's post. Last week, I posted a song featuring Gretchen Wilson and Merle Haggard. This week, I have selected "Kerosene" by Miranda Lambert. In this video, Miranda wears a t-shirt with the words "Mama Tried" which was a classic hit of Merle Haggard's.
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, May 5, 2012

Armor All for a Lasting Shine

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

ArmorAllnonsampleBlogCopy.docMy first car was a 1968 Ford Mustang.  I loved that car.  I was 16 at the time.  Like a lot of teenagers, getting that first car was a significant step towards independence.  My parents didn't have the money to buy an extra car so that I would have one to drive, so I started working a couple of months before my 16th birthday so that I could earn the money to get the car and to pay for my own insurance.

Not only was that first car an opportunity to take that first step towards independence, it was also an opportunity to show some responsibility.  One of my rutines with the car was to wash it on a regular basis.  After washing the car, the next step would be wax and buff the outside of the car.  The last step, was to take Armor All and apply it to the tires and interior of the car.

Applying that coat of Armor All to the tires and interior of the car always made the car look newer than it was.  It helped to undo all of the things that life was doing to my car.  Whenever I think of Armor All, I always think of the tires and dashboard of my car.  However, Armor All offers a lot more than that for car care.  Take their latest product, Extreme Shield Wax

Armor All's Extreme Shield Wax uses a new technology that protects the finish of your car, but it also works to repel dirt and grime.  It is also easy to use.  You do not need to do any buffing to get a long lasting shine.  It can be applied in direct sunlight and doesn't leave any white residue or hazing on your car.  Extreme Shield Wax is safe to use on any car finish.

Armor All is having a contest in conjunction with Extreme Shield Wax.  Just head over to the Armor All facebook page and like them.  One there, you can enter the "What Life Did to your Car" contest for a chance to win a new Camaro SS signed by NASCAR Sprint Cup Champion Tony Stewart.  If you win, you'll have a nice new car to use your Armor All on.

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Counting Your Chickens

Chickens eating
Chickens eating (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Just up the road from me in Annapolis, MD, the city has passed a law that will allow city residents to own up to five egg laying chickens to keep in their backyards.  It is a law that was not universally met with a positive response.  Many residents fear that the chickens could create a nuisance and health concerns.  The law will be reviewed in three years to determine if it will remain in place.

Personally, I had never thought about raising chickens in my backyard but it is a hobby that is growing in popularity.  If I had the room, I would love to have a garden for growing fresh fruit and vegetables.  I guess the next logical step would be to raise chickens for eggs.  I have a friend who retired and bought, as he called it, a gentleman's farm with some hens.  He raved about how great freshly laid eggs are for breakfast.

There are a lot of reasons why somebody would want to raise chickens in their backyard.  First and foremost would be having a supply of freshly laid eggs.  The fresher a food is, the better it is. It is a great way to connect with your food.  It can teach your children that food doesn't just magically appear on the grocery shelf. The chickens can also be considered a family pet.

If you live in an area where you are allowed to own chickens and have the room, then you might want to check out if you have ever considered raising chickens or ducks.  They have a full variety of  Chicken Coops for sale as well as a variety of breeds of Chickens for sale.  They can help answer any questions you might have regarding raising chickens.
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Thursday, May 3, 2012

Saving Star

I recently discovered a service that could help me save a little bit of money on the things I buy each week at the grocery store.  We do not get a newspaper here at the house.  We usually do not read it and it would go to waste.  The one thing that I do miss on occasion are the coupons that come in the Sunday paper each week.  I have even considered signing up for the Sunday paper again just for the coupons.

To be perfectly honest though, even when I did get the paper I did not use coupons as often as I should have.  Most of the coupons I use are those that were the instant redeemable type that are attached to products in the store or those that are in those little coupon dispensers in the aisle.  I like things that are simple and convenient, and sometimes clipping coupons seemed a little too much like work,

The new service that I found is called Saving Star and it makes saving simple.  Saving Star ties in with any retailer loyalty card programs that you may have.  Of course, not all retailers are participating, but I am lucky that four retailers that I deal with are part of the program, including the grocery store where I do the bulk of my grocery shopping.

After you register your various loyalty cards, you can choose between a variety of electronic coupons that can be tied to your various cards.  Unlike a traditional coupon, the coupon isn't taken off of the total of your order. Instead, when you purchase the product from your list of coupons, the savings gets credited into your account. When your balance reaches $5, you can request a payout into either your bank or paypal account or get an Amazon gift card.

I have only been a member for a couple of weeks now.  I have already had $1.40 deposited in my account. Currently, I have 9 ecoupons on my account with a potential $14.65 in savings.  All told, there are currently 30 ecoupons available for $32 in savings.  New coupons become available every couple of days.  They even have an app available for your iPhone or Android phone.

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Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Do Not Call

telemarketing (Photo credit: Stitch)
Do you remember the "Do Not Call" registry to stop unwanted telemarketing calls?  When that registry became active, I registered my phone number right away.  In fact, I just verified that my phone number was registered on the Do Not Call List on July 1, 2003.  It was so nice to have an end to unwanted telemarketers calling the house constantly.

Being on the list worked great for several years.  More and more, however, it just seems that companies are just ignoring the list and coming up with whatever technique they can to get around it.  I double checked the official Do Not Call website, and according to the site the only organizations that can call are charities, political organizations, and business that you have a business relationship.

I constantly am receiving calls from charitable organizations.  I do not mind that so much, and I know that they are just doing their job, but when I say that I am not in a position to make a charitable donation at this time, then that should end the call.  Now that we are in an election year, I imagine there will be a constant barrage of robocalls.  I know there were prior to the primary.

Unfortunately, I have been getting a lot of unwanted calls from businesses these days.  People calling me to tell me they will be in the neighborhood giving free estimates on new windows and wanting to stop by to give me an estimate.  No, I do not want you to come by and I am on the Do Not Call list.  If I wanted to get an estimate on windows I would have called you.  Leave me the hell alone.

Take tonight for instance.  I had a flat tire after work so I dropped my car off at NTB to get a couple new tires.  I was expecting their call, so when the phone rang, I answered.  It was not NTB.  The lady on the other end of the line proceeded to launch into a spiel about my electrical energy supply company.  The conversation went something like this:

Me: I am on the Do Not Call List

Her: I am not a solicitor.  I am a customer service representative

Me: Do I currently do business with you?

Her: I don't believe so.

Me: Then it sounds like you are trying to sell me on a new electrical supplier.  Good night. click

Yeah, I know I don't have to answer the phone when these idiots call.  But, like I said, I was expecting a phone call, and unfortunately, the caller ID isn't very clear on the phone where I was sitting so I had to answer this particular call.  Since I was already in a bad mood from changing a tire and needing two new tires, I was more than happy to treat the caller rudely.

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Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Bang Bang

Yesterday, I took a day off from my real world job to handle some other real world business.  My wife and I had two appointments that we needed to take care of.  First, we met with a lawyer to discuss some estate planning needs.  The second appointment was with the Social Security Administration to apply for Supplemental Security Income for our son now that he is 18 years old.

The two appointments are, in a lot of ways, related.  SSI benefits are designed to help provide money to meet the needs of food, shelter, and clothing for the aged, blind, and disabled.  As a disable citizen who will most likely not have significant income, my son should quality for benefits.  In order to be eligible, my son has to have assets below a certain threshold.  So, we needed to do some estate planning so that should something happen to my wife and I, any assets we had would be held in a special needs trust rather than pass directly to him.

After we took care of all of our other business for the day, my wife and I decided to check out a new eatery here in Bowie, MD; the Bang Bang Mongolian Grill.  The experience was different from any other kind of restaurant that I have ever eaten at.  I still have not fully decided whether or not I like the whole concept or not, though I will say that I did thoroughly enjoy my meal last night.

When you enter the restaurant, you come to the register and tell them what size bowl you want for your meal.  Then, you take your bowl and go through a cafeteria style line to build your meal.  The first station you come to is the proteins.  You can load your bowl with a wide variety of proteins among with are beef, chicken, andouille sausage, shrimp, scallops, and even calamari.  I am sure I left several out.  I opted for beef and shrimp.

The next stop in the line is a large selections of vegetables that you can add to your bowl.  I selected cabbage, carrots, bean sprouts, broccoli, and onions.  I also saw green beans, corn, and several others.  Next in line was your selection of sauces.  They had about a dozen different powdered spices and liquid sauces.  Above that station were a few recipes of different sauces you could create.  I picked a selection of ingredients to create a hoisin BBQ sauce.

The last stop on the tour was the grill where the cooks will cook your bowl in front of you.  The last decision that you have to make is the type of starch you want to use in your meal.  You can choose between a number of different starches.  They have white rice, brown rice, fried rice, spaghetti noodles, and pad thai rice noodles.  I went with the rice noodles.

My meal last night was excellent.  I like that you can truly customize your bowl with the ingredients that you want in your meal.  The building of the sauces and spices makes me a little nervous.  I am not a chef, so I am not sure which combinations would work well together.  I would hate to pick items that I would end up not liking.  Consequently, I would probably tend to choose from the suggested sauce recipes detailed on the board above the sauces.

The other thing that I did not like about the experience was maneuvering through the queue with my bowl.  In addition to the bowl, they gave me my cup to get my drink at the soda fountain at the end of the line.  Then, I needed to also manage to carry individual plastic cups for my spice and sauce selections.  It probably would have been easier if they had provided trays for carrying everything, but alas, they did not.

The bottom line though is that my meal ended up being very delicious.  In spite of the complaints and/or reservations about the experience, I will most likely end up dating there again.  I will definitely pack more ingredients into my bowl, especially the proteins, and who knows, maybe I will even get a little bit more adventurous in my sauce and spice combinations.
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