Friday, November 30, 2012

JackThreads for Your Men's Fashion Needs

This is a Sponsored post written by me on behalf of JackThreads for SocialSpark. All opinions are 100% mine.
Did you go out and fight the crowds on Black Friday?  I didn't.  I try to avoid going out to the malls that day.  It just isn't worth the aggravation of trying to work my way through the large mass of people and fighting to find a parking space.  I try to get a lot of my shopping done early, or at times when the crowds are not quite as intense.
That is not to say that I don't like to take advantage of great prices.  I surely do, because I need to save wherever I can.  It is one reason that I like to shop online.  One site that I recently discovered is JackThreads.  JackThreads is a members only, online shopping community with a large selection of men's clothes and men's footwear where you can save up to 80% off regular retail.  It is like having Black Friday everyday.
Now I am not what you would call a fashion conscious kind of guy.  I usually go towards comfort and price.  That's OK, because JackThreads has you covered.  They have clothes to meet every need.  You can find nice shirts and ties for your professional side or you can find hoodies, thermal shirts, and henley t-shirts for more casual ware.  
The cool thing about them is that they launch new sales everyday at noon Eastern time.  Most last only a few days, so it is in your best interest to check in often.  They have seasonal shops where you can find all your essential winter gear.  One of my favorites is the Cooperstown Shop where you can find vintage baseball caps like the 1966 Baltimore Orioles cap featuring the Orioles Bird.
One of the current sales that I liked was something that I used to own a lot of a few years back.  Do you remember the knit ties that were popular a while back?  Well they have several varieties of those available.  I guess it is true what they say about fashion.  Sooner or later, everything comes back in style.  If I were wearing ties these days I would be tempted to pick up a couple of these.
So guys, if you are looking for great prices on men's clothing and accessories check out JackThreads.  It is completely free to join, and you are bound to find something to suit your taste.  Once your friends ask you about your new style, you can invite them to join.  When they do, you will earn a $10 credit to spend as you see fit.

Monday, November 26, 2012

Music Monday-Billy Idol "Cradle of Love"

Poor guy never stood a chance. Lesson here is if Devon knocks on your door with a Billy Idol tape, run, do NOT answer the door. Happy Music Monday
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, November 25, 2012

Dental Woes

I hate going to the dentist.  I know, who doesn't? Right?  The truth is that I don't mind going for a simple, routine checkup and cleaning.  I can even tolerate something as simple as a filling.  With my dental insurance, those types of procedures are relatively affordable.  It is when we get into things like root canals, crowns, and other types of treatments that even with insurance can get quite expensive.

Several years ago, I had a molar that was badly decayed and had to have it extracted.  Now, whenever I go to a dentist, they always want to talk to me about getting a partial bridge done.  Even with insurance, the procedure would cost several hundred dollars out of pocket.  Since the tooth (or lack thereof) has never bothered me, and since money (and lack thereof) is also an issue, I have never had this done.

Besides the fact that every time I go to the dentist they want to do an expensive procedure, another reason I hate going to the dentist is that I have had a few really bad experiences.  Once, while getting a filling done, I didn't get enough Novocaine and the dentist started drilling before I was numb.  Other times, I have had dentists lecture me on my dental sins rather than move forward to fix and prevent further issues.  Even if you know you are wrong, you don't want to be lectured by anybody.

One of the things, at least in my past, has been poor communication from my past dentists in regards to the importance of dental health.  I like to know all of my options.  It doesn't help if I feel that the dentist is only trying to come up with ways to get more money rather than looking out for what is best for me and my dental health.

I recently came across the website of Dr. Mac Lee.  He is a TMJ Dentist Richmond TX and has appeared on the Dr. Oz show.  He is also the author of the book "I Hate Dentists!"  His website is very informative about all sorts of different dental issues and explaining the consequences of not receiving treatment.  One of the things I learned is that issues such as headaches and neck pain could be the result of a bad bite.  Who knew?

As somebody who suffers from sleep apnea and has to use a CPAP machine, I also found out that there are dental alternatives to treat sleep apnea for those who have a hard time with the CPAP machine.  Personally, I have adjusted to wearing the CPAP mask just fine, but it is good to know that there are other options out there if I needed them.

Unfortunately, I am probably going to have to bite the bullet (pun intended) and get to a dentist pretty soon.  I have two wisdom teeth, one top and one bottom, in the very back of my mouth that are in need of attention.  Both had a little piece break off of them and will either need to be repaired or extracted.  I hope all they will need is a filling.  I definitely can't afford root canals or crowns which is why I will wait until after I get my tax refund next spring.
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Friday, November 23, 2012

Our Government at Work

I had two encounters today in the span of about 10 minutes with two government entities, and neither one of them was pleasant.  No, I was not pulled over by a police officer for speeding or for any other infraction.  In fact, there were no police involved at all.  Both of the encounters took place in the same transaction, as it were.

First, let me recount an event from earlier in the month.  In a previous post, I had recounted how my autistic son is eligible for SSI benefits.  Since he is living at home, and not paying rent or for his own food, the Social Security Administration determined that he was receiving in kind support from us and reduced his eligible benefit by one third.  In the post, I discussed possibly charging him rent in order for him to get his full benefit.

In October, I wrote a letter to the Social Security Administration asking them to reconsider the reduction in his benefit.  We informed them that he was using the money to purchase his own food, which amounted to about $200 per month.  We also were going to start charging him rent of $300 per month.  Shortly after sending the letter, I received a letter from Social Security saying they wanted to review his file and eligibility.

That appointment was scheduled for November 7th.  I brought all of the documents that were requested and went to the meeting.  The meeting itself went fairly well.  I explained the situation of how we needed our son to begin contributing to the household expenses.  The woman I met with ended the meeting by telling me that our son would begin receiving his full benefit on December 1st.

Grumman LLV photographed in USA.
Grumman LLV photographed in USA. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
A week or so ago, I received one of the regular communications that we get from Social Security regarding my son's benefit.  That letter said that their would be no change in his benefit amount.  I called Social Security and was told that there would be no change for December, but January 1st would be the full amount.  This was no problem as I was originally told it would take three months to make the change.

This brings me to today and my two encounters.  I was leaving the house to go to my pizza delivery gig when I saw the mail truck at our mailboxes.  I opened our mailbox and there was a card saying there was a certified letter for my son that they were unable to deliver because we weren't home.  Fortunately, the truck was still in the parking lot so I approached the mailman.

I asked him what time the post office closed so that I could go pick up the certified letter.  He replied that he had it right there in the truck.  He didn't try to deliver it to our house because our outside light was on, and he assumed we weren't home.  Well, you know the old saying about when you ASSume something.  No wonder the post office is losing money.
Seal of the United States Social Security Admi...
Seal of the United States Social Security Administration. It appears on Social Security cards. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I signed for the letter and went inside.  It was a new letter from Social Security.  At the top was written "Second and Final Notice."  It also went on to say that they needed to see me to discuss my son's case and that if they didn't see or hear from me before November 30th, that they might stop paying my son's benefit.  Needless to say, my first thought was, "WTF?"

I can only hope that the letter from Social Security is a clerical error that can be cleared up with a phone call.  The letter was requesting the exact the same information that I had taken with me to the last meeting.  I really can't afford to take another day off to try to clear this up when I already had a meeting with them.

The thing that really steams me is the postman.  Had he not still been in the parking lot of our townhouse complex, I would not have gotten the letter today.  If I hadn't seen the truck, I most likely would not have gone out to get the mail. I am not sure that I would have been able to get to the post office tomorrow to get the letter since I have to work early tomorrow.  I know that I would not have been able to pick it up during the regular week.  His assumption, and really his laziness in not doing his job properly, could have been disastrous for us.

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Monday, November 19, 2012

Music Monday-Mitch McVicker "Awaken Me to Love"

Ever since the election two weeks ago, I have been contemplating things on a more spiritual level. Rather than listening to conservative, political talk radio, I have been listening to Christian radio and some of my old Christian Contemporary Music CDs.

On the music front, I have been listening to a lot of Rich Mullins. Mitch McVicker is a Christian musician who happened to have been close friends with Rich. In fact, he was in the vehicle when the accident occurred that took Rich Mullins home. Here is one of his latest tunes.
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, November 18, 2012

All Grown Up

I have been an adult now for over 30 years, however these days I am feeling a little bit more grown up than I had been.  It isn't that I haven't had my share of responsibilities over the years to contribute to my being a full fledged grown up.  Being the father of an 18 year old with special needs pretty much forces you to be a grown up, whether you want to or not.

So, you may ask, what monumental event has occurred that has prompted me to feel more grown up?  My wife and I have finalized our wills.  With our son, it is particularly important for us to spell out in advance how any assets that we have are handled.  

For my son to continue to receive his SSI benefits, he can not have assets in excess of $2000.  Consequently, we can ill afford to have any assets pass directly to him.  That is why we have spelled out in our wills the establishment of a special needs trust.  This way, no assets directly pass to him, and he will maintain his eligibility to collect his benefits.

We were fortunate.  My father in law had an attorney that he deals with that he referred us to for discussing planning for our son after he turned 18.  As part of that, he has picked up the attorney fees.  Had he not done so, I could have used a benefit from my company's employee assistance program that would have allowed us to get our wills completed.

But what if you aren't that fortunate to have somebody else pick up the tab?  Well, if you happen to live in the state of Texas, you should check out Texas last will and testament.  At that website, you can find an affordable on line alternative to hiring a lawyer directly.  You fill out a questionnaire, the lawyers write your documents, and send them to you.  They give you all instructions for signing the documents.

It's as simple as that.  Regardless of whether or not you decide to go with an online will service or hire an attorney, you need to plan for your future.  You need to have all options considered so that your heirs can be in the optimal situation when that time occurs.  Not having a will, could have a negative impact on my son's ability to maintain his benefit.  It is the least I could do for him.
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Thursday, November 15, 2012

Going to the Dogs

I love dogs.  When I was a kid, we got our first dog when I was in the second or third grade.  She was a mutt; half cocker spaniel and half collie.  She was creamed colored and had a white heart in the middle of her forehead.  I was in high school when she passed away.  Shortly after she died, we got a new puppy, another mutt.  I think she was part Labrador and spaniel.

Currently, we do not have a dog in our household.  There are a number of reasons why we don't at this time.   One of the biggest reasons is money.  Pets can be a terribly expensive proposition, especially if they happen to get sick.  We just don't have a lot of extra disposable income for those kinds of things.

Another reason why we never got a dog is because of my son.  For the longest time, he was very frightened by dogs.  When he was small, we took him to a friend's house to watch the Super Bowl.  They had a large dog that was overly friendly and enthusiastic.  For years, he would not get close to a dog.  He has gotten better with dogs, and now will even pet one.

Perhaps the biggest reason why we don't have a dog is time.  They require a lot of attention.  My brother in law has a heart of gold.  A few years ago, he had no dogs.  Currently, he has four dogs that he has either rescued from shelters or from homes he has encountered in his business that are no longer able to care for those things.

It is great that he loves the dogs and has rescued them.  Unfortunately, his work often requires him to be out of the house for several hours at a time.  Many is the time that he has called my wife and desperately asked her to go by his house to walk the dogs so that they don't have an accident in the house.  Unfortunately, they have had a few.

Probably more often than not, my wife is able to go over to walk the dogs.  However, there are times when she is unable to do so for a variety of reasons.  It is at those times, it would be helpful for my brother in law to have an indoor pet potty.  It sure would be a lot less expensive than having to get the carpets cleaned or replaced.
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Saturday, November 10, 2012

A Time for Reflection

National Day of Prayer
National Day of Prayer (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
The Presidential election that took place this past Tuesday didn't exactly go as I had hoped.  OK, in my mind is was an unmitigated disaster. I had really hoping that Mitt Romney had the momentum and would have defeated Barack Obama to become the 45th president.  I had also hoped that the Republicans could have gained ground in the Senate.  Unfortunately, none of that happened.

It has been a while since I have posted anything on this blog.  It isn't that I am despondent over the results of the election, though I am disappointed.  The bottom line is that I have been really tired.  For most of the past 4 years, I have been very active in following politics and the issues.  On this blog, on Twitter, and on Facebook, I have been actively promoting the conservative cause.  I need a break.

The entire election took a lot out of me.  I had a conversation with my sister the day after the election.  We talked about where we are as a country.  In our home state of Maryland, we had laws passed that gave illegal immigrants in state tuition rates and we passed a law that allows same sex marriage.  Morality and the rule of law used to matter, now they are considered old fashioned or worse.

She told me of something that happened to her youngest son.  One of his friends asked him who he hoped would win the election.  When he said Mitt Romney, his friend called him a racist.  These are kids that are 12-14 years old.  How did we get to the point where if we disagreed with somebody's policies that we were all of a sudden racist because that person happened to have a darker shade of melanin?

In the apostle Paul's letter to the Christians at the Church of Philippi he wrote:
Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable--if anything is excellent or praiseworthy--think about such things. (NIV Phil 4:8)
So that is what I am going to do. I am taking some time to reflect on what is really important in life.

At various times in my life, I have been the holiest of saints and at other times the basest of sinners. Of late, I have become increasingly more irritable and finding that things that used to not bother me are making me more intolerant.  I don't like it one bit.  So, I am going to do some reflecting.  I am going to spend more time catching up on my reading and thinking about things that are noble and true.

Dude Write
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Thursday, November 1, 2012

Surviving Sandy

I am a worrier.  I can't help it.  It is something that is ingrained into my psyche as it were.  I think it is one of those personality traits that I inherited from my mother.  She worries about everything.  That is why last week, as soon as the weather forecasts began forecasting Hurricane Sandy's potential impact on the DC area, I started fretting and keeping up with the forecast of the path of the storm.

Saturday was when my concern really started to multiply.  You see, my son attends and lives at a school on the Eastern Shore of Maryland.  Saturday afternoon, the projected path of the storm was right over the town that my son's school is in.  My preoccupation with tracking the storm started to grow exponentially.  It prompted me to ask for prayer requests for the safety of the kids at the school on my social media sites.

Over the next few days, I either had a weather app on my phone, and internet browser open, or both, tracking the path of the storm.  Even as the projected path moved north of us, I still worried.  As wide as the storm was, I knew that even if we did not have a direct hit we would both still get some nasty weather.  This past summer, we lost power for several days due to the derecho storm that came through the area, and I had seen pictures of my son's campus where some flooding came through.

From a personal level, we made it through the storm unscathed.  Here at the home front, we had some heavy rain and some strong wind gusts but fortunately never lost power.  Just an occasional flicker now and then.  Likewise the school also made it through the storms without incident.  They never lost power.  To their credit, the school director called the parents to let us know that things were going well, the kids were safe and dry and handling things well.

Sadly, as we have all seen on the news, other parts of the country were not as fortunate.  Obviously, my thoughts and prayers are with those folks.  We can only hope that their lives resume some semblance of normalcy rather quickly.  Below, is a time lapse video that I saw through  It captures the power of Sandy over a two day period as the storm came through New York City.

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