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President’s Day

Thought provoking and well said. Read it and ponder where you are in relation to the issues raised. Ponder what you’ll do about it? Ask yourself if you’re in the irrationally angry, intractable group on either side of the spectrum. Is that who you want to be? Will it solve anything?
There’s a disconnect between what the mainstream wants and upper class politicians (I don’t think of them as representatives or public servants) ideology.
Does anyone know of organization(s) that actively & successfully work to change or circumvent the quagmire we’re in?

in case i'm gone

My plan was to post about Boundries today, but yesterday was my baby’s 4th Birthday and today is President’s Day and it’s got me to thinking, so I’ve bumped my prepared post for this, my train of thought on politics in America.

When I married Sean I remember being struck with the idea that if we had a child, that child could grow up to be President of the United States. Growing up as a Canadian, that was a trip to me. I’m sure other countries would have cause for debate, but with the power that the United States has wielded for so long as the “leader” of the free world, you could argue that being the President of the United States is, perhaps, THE most important job in the world.

The thing is, where we stand now, it’s a job I wouldn’t want my son to touch with a…

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Posted by on February 20, 2012 in Uncategorized

 

DYING RESPONSIBLY

The wife of a seventy-plus-year-old relative told me he refused to even discuss a will. She thought it was because he didn’t like to think about dying.  Well, hello!  You’ve  over 70, man, and in poor shape. If anyone should be thinking about dying, it’s you.

All jokes aside, many people don’t want to talk or even think about this topic.  In my experience, this is especially true of elderly and people with crippling ailments. With the elderly, it seems that they think, when they die, their “loved ones” will figure it out among themselves. Or, that doing a will and having an exit strategy where their affairs are in order, will jinx them into heaven sooner.  And with those with crippling ailments, I wonder if they fear signing over rights or giving someone privy to their personal stuff.

To the elderly,  those with crippling ailments and the young with the elderly mindset, death is one certainty for you. For the first group, you have to realize that you’re closer to “going up yonder” than most people. Even if all you have is a house and/or money in a bank, you leave the people you claim to love with legal problems and headaches if you haven’t taken care of business. Not to mention the potential fights between Ginny and Oscar over the cherry 1969 Mustang.  Your will needn’t be elaborate, simply unambiguous.

Why, also, would you want to leave the care of yourself and your assets to chance?  What good are any of your asset accounts if they end up on your state’s Unclaimed Funds list because no one can get access to your accounts? Especially when completing a power of attorney (medical and financial) is easier than ever. Do you want your children to have their childhood home or not?

Suze Orman has proved herself as a trustworthy financial adviser.  She says that the four most important documents you should prepare for your future (especially your demise) are a:

She also offers a self-contained, nearly indestructible kit with these and other “life” forms. Everything in one place for you to grab in case of emergency, or to make it easy for relatives who may take over your care or handle your death.

A Wall Street Journal article last year also made a good point. The article began with: It isn’t enough simply to sign…end-of-life instructions. You also have to make your heirs aware of them and leave the documents where they can find them. Why do all that prep then drop the ball? At least tell a couple of people now where to look once you’re dead or incapacitated. That includes safety deposit boxes, home safes and inside your mattress or favorite recliner.

I heard a sad recount of a dear uncle who passed away. His close relatives knew he had socked away some money, but had no clue where.  They broke down his favorite recliner, for disposal, when they cleaned out his house. Inside was remnants of paper currency that the rats had feasted on. I’m pretty sure that the Mint only replaces bills if you have at least half of it.

  

If you have a loved one who’s elder  or has elder mindset, or an ailment that might render them incapacitated or dead sooner than later, then please give them the information to make an informed decision about unnecessarily burdening those left to mourn or care for them.

Then give them a chunk of the cake you baked (OK, picked up) to soften the message. 



©2012 DLewis

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Posted by on February 15, 2012 in Consumer, Tips, Uncategorized

 

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$500 worth of dreaming and playing for Minnesota girls

Ann Bancroft dares girls to dream and encourages them to play.

She founded the Ann Bancroft Foundation (ABF), which advances the belief: …by supporting a girl’s ambition and hope, we are validating ourselves. The foundation has two major programs, Dare to Dream and Let Me Play Grants. ABF produces an annual fundraiser, the dreamXchange, that occurs on April 25th this year. It’s meant to celebrate the possible and a call to action to fully engage girls. 

Image - RGBStock.com

Dare to Dream provides micro grants for experiences ranging from arts to educational to wilderness. Girls , living in Minnesota, ages 10 through 10th grade can apply. Basically, they apply to live a dream up to $500. The idea is to get girls to recognize their own potential and/or have the courage to reach their dreams. Past dreams have ranged from attending space camp to learning a foreign language to taking boxing lessons. This year applications are due by April 15, 2012.

The Let Me Play micro grants cover sport/athletic or dance fees and equipment cost. Minnesota girls, ages 5 to the 10th grade, may apply for up to $500. The idea is for the grant recipient to learn teamwork and experience personal growth. Awards are made in the spring and fall.  Check the website for updated deadlines.

Read about the 2011 student DreamMaker recipient, Shawnnise Watkins, who transitioned from reacting with tough words and her fists to becoming a change agent.  Essentially both micro grants help girls grow in to better, stronger women who will lead–and reach back.

Image - Public Domain

Although this involves a limited segment of the population, this seems to be such a worthwhile endeavor. Hopefully you–the reader–might know a girl/parent in Minnesota who could use this information.  

Check out the application process here. 

©2012 DLewis

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SNAKE EDUCATION: AN APP

If there was a court for snake bite offenses, I’m sure the snake’s defense would be: Your honor, they threatened me.  I was snoozing under the bush when he kicked the ball right into my head, then came over and seemed like he was going to smash me with that ball again. I had no choice!

Snakes aren’t out seeking to bite us according to all snake experts I’ve heard, or read.  However, you threaten or surprise them, then well… See you in the ER–or the morgue if you delay seeking help and/or the snake is venomous.  Be aware that lack of poisonous venom doesn’t necessarily make the bite less life threatening. Why take the chance? 

But, if the venomous snake is poisonous, a bite means complications. Bleeding from any cuts could become dangerous as the venom causes blood clotting problems.  The venom could cause tissue/flesh around the bite to die, leaving an unsightly reminder.  And, the one most of us have heard: nerve damage which could result in conditions such as paralysis.

No, this isn't a colorful rope

This link , from the University of Pittsburgh, provides names, classifications, and pictures of snakes in North America. Most importantly, the site identifies the venomous species.  The pictures help if you want to know what specific snakes known to your area look like, or if you’re wondering if the snake you’ve seen has been ID’d correctly.  It isn’t much good if all you have is a description of the snake.

You’re in luck, though, if you live in Texas, Oklahoma or Kansas.  There’s an app for that.  While you can’t yet snap a shot of the creature and have these apps ID it, the TXSnakes, OKSnakes, KSSnakes apps lets users search for every snake species in that state. Users can also search by region, county, pattern, venomous and non-venomous species. The app includes details on each snake, as well as photos to help identify the biter. Jeremy Weaver, a Texas Tech herpetology  (meaning he’s an expert in snakes) graduate student, invented all three apps, which sell for .99.

Another great thing about the apps–neither cell phone signals or internet connections are necessary to use them.

These apps sound great, but don’t take it as a license to get close to a snake. Any bite you get will likely cause extreme discomfort and unsightly swelling. Swelling that lasts a while. That  isn’t pretty. And hurts a lot.

Don't do it, Rover! Run!

Best advice: If it isn’t violating  your space, leave the snake alone. Whatever it’s doing, avoid approaching it unless you know how to handle it or  plan to dispatch it to snake heaven.  According to experts, a snake can strike the distance as much as 2 1/2 times the length of its body. I’ve witnessed this with a relative who believes the “only good snake is a dead snake.” He saw a snake under the bushes and called for a hoe. I think the snake heard him because it started to slither away.  Did he let it go on its way? No, he chopped at it and got the tail. Pissed off snake whirled around with a quickness and lunged at its attacker.  Said snake only missed the attacker because part of its tail was missing, but it came mighty close.  The snake might even have gotten him if he hadn’t had the presence of mind to jump back and bring down the hoe at the same time. Headless snakes are less dangerous.

Here are some tips to avoid bites as much as possible. Be aware as you go out your door and while in the yard. If  you’ll be walking outside, especially in tall grass or brush, wear boots or at least closed toes shoes and long pants. Better yet, stay out of tall grass, brush, bushes or clumps of leaves.  Stomp the ground as you approach any of these type places as the vibrations will annoy the snake enough to make it slither away. If you’re out walking, take a stick and occasionally beat the ground. Also use the stick to carefully move the grass/brush aside (Use a long reach for this. Remember: long striking distance; doesn’t like surprise or threat.) Don’t go to known snake hangouts (i.e. water, boulders, logs, etc.) And, for heaven’s sake, don’t reach into dark holes/places. Even if the winning lottery ticket is in there, stand back and poke around first. Be ready to sprint some distance just in case something slithers out or strikes.

Do I really need to tell you not to go near or touch any snake that you see? Rumor is that even a dead one might have one last bite in it.  Some kind of last bite reflex . Gotcha! And afterwards, you don’t even get the pleasure of slaying it.

But if you do get bitten, there’s and iPad/iPod/iPhone app–a free one–from the University of Maryland to input injury description for a general diagnosis and advice.  It also includes the ability to get information on other health ailments (i.e. disease, nutrition, etc.), but we’re talking snakes here. Although, I think the best advice I read for the most appropriate reaction to a snake bite:  make bitee comfortable and use cell phone to call 911.  If there’s no cell phone, get the patient to the hospital stat!


©2012 DLewis

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Posted by on February 8, 2012 in Tips, Uncategorized

 

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NOW 10 DAYS & COUNTING – THE TIME FOR LOVE REALLY IS NOW…

…and if you want to make an impression these gifts will help. These gifts show you’ve given it some thought and gone beyond the “usual suspects”.  I think it’s safe to say, most of us don’t need a big ol’ box of sugar and carb-laden candy filled with cremes, nuts and fruit.  Most people have watches, or they’d rather pick their own anyway. Flowers, well they’re nice, but they die within days.  You get the idea.

Some of you have Valentine’s Day covered, but this post is for those who need some creative examples. Bonus: All these suggestions are under $50US.  However, time’s running out to to order. 

DR OZ APPROVES

So, as a different take on the chocolate idea, consider, Figs In Chocolate with Walnut and Orange.

Luigi's Figs in Chocolate


This beautifully packaged presentation is from Calabria, in Southern Italy where the fig is king. That alone could spark lively conversation. Once your recipient
tastes one, there might be too much ooohing and ahhing going
  on for intelligible talk. Each ‘Dottato’ fig is stuffed with walnuts and a piece of candied orange peel, then immersed in dark chocolate. Figs, walnuts and dark chocolate? Love with a side of healthy. All prettily packaged in a wooden box tied with a generous ribbon. Now, that’s a memento. Available atLuigi’s of London ,  300 g – £12.95 (Currently about $20US, but use a converter, such as http://www.xe.com/ucc/ for exact pricing if you purchase. ) 
CLASSY CUPPA
To continue on the healthy, yet memorable, theme. How about the Bronze Japanese Koi Teapot?  This also is a conversation piece, not only at presentation, but at later small gatherings with friends. At any rate, even if your recipient isn’t trying to drink more healthy tea, this teapot works a great addition to any decor. The enamel coating interior in this beautiful, classic cast iron teapot ensures it won’t rust. Cast iron means the water heats evenly. A removable stainless steel tea filter is included. The Koi insignia on the teapot symbolizes perseverance, courage, and good fortune.  Now, that should give you something to talk about over drinks.  And if you’re really astute, you might Google the history of the Japanese teapot and tea. Knowledge is not only power, it’s endearing. Just remember a little goes a long way on these occasions. Maybe, it’s a better idea to print off the information and present it in a frame or bound nicely. Oh, and don’t forget to pick up a nice green or black tea to go with your gift.Check out the Koi teapot at Enjoying Tea for $46US
FAMILY TABLEAU 

Especially for the couple with children or one on the way: the family sculpture.  

Family Sculpture

Bonus: If your recipient is into sustainability and free trade, this gift hits both marks.  The sculpture’s available through Serrv.Org for $40US

                                            HEART IN POCKET


Isn’t it lovely? She’ll likely think so, too; and smile every time she checks her appearance in the red Compact with Jeweled Heart. Smile because she’ll be thinking of you. She’ll easily find this beautiful  mirrored compact in her purse.  And get admiring looks as she uses it. The compact is almost a piece of art. 

Get it for $28US at Beautiful Wishes.   

NOT A SONIC SCREWDRIVER, BUT…

Know a Doctor Who fan? Or some similar iconic figure? Check out this Doctor Who TARDIS Talking Cookie Jar. A series fan will go bananas over it. The light and sound effects will tickle them.   Fill it with their favorite type of cookies (no one said you had to BAKE them! That’s why God made bakeries), with a promise of more in the future. Nothing says love like: I understand and respect your obsession.

$33 at BBC America Shop

Doctor Who Cookie Jar

 


WANDER LUST IN THE ROUND

Does your loved one love to visit a certain city or miss one because of relocation? Get them hand-drawn globes that depict a single city (e.g. Los Angeles, Rome, San Francisco, Paris, NYC). The globes include descriptions of landmarks and points of interest in the chosen city, as well as the usual map detail. Includes informational booklet elaborating on the historic and tourist sites illustrated on the globe. Comes in 4″, 6″ and 9″ sizes. starting at $31 from Pylones-usa

If you visited, or love the same, city, then this is a gift you both can enjoy. And one  that evokes great memories.

LOVE IN THE LOT

Does he or she ramp up  for the tailgate party every other weekend? Do they love to hang out at the beach or love to camp? The Grande Chef Portable Chill and Grill BBQ Set with Chiller is a great gift for this type.  This two-in-one grill and cooler combo has heavy-duty insulation and lots of room. The grill is portable and easy to store. It even has an ash catcher.


$26 at Amazon

SOAKING DUO 


And well, what’s Valentine’s Day without a sensual option.  This is a gift to give yourself for both of you.The Bijoux Indiscret L’Eau à Deux – Romantic Bath Kit creates a most intimate romantic experience. A kit that includes bath milk, a romantic jazz CD and, one of the well-known symbols of sensual love, rose petals.$42 at A Romantic Gift

These are just a few suggestions. If they don’t quite fit your recipient, they’ll hopefully get your creative juices flowing to think outside the candy heart. You, of course, still want to make certain that the “unusual” is something that will delight the recipient.  And if you must do the roses and chocolate thing, do consider going the sustainable, free trade route.
Best wishes on your quest!
 
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Posted by on February 3, 2012 in Consumer, Economic, Uncategorized

 

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SOCIAL SHOPPING: BUYER BEWARE–OF REVIEWS

   

In the last blog on price comparison sites, I mentioned product reviews in passing. I considered a short follow-up on that topic in regards to being careful about trusting product reviews on these sites as if they were gospel. Today, I caught part of a CBS This Morning story on problems with these reviews.

 If you’re making a large purchase, read reviews from several sites, retailers and otherwise. Do keep in mind that there are sources with nothing to gain from reviews. I’ve added a few more to the ones CBS mentioned:

 

 You’ll find product reviews on price comparison/deal, retailer’s and blogger’s sites. Some of them have begun to pay consumers to write positive reviews. It’s too much for some companies to resist.  Bad reviews can cost companies money—lots of money. Some companies put up fake reviews. The NY Times discusses this practice. It’s a good article to help understand how this practice works.

It might look enticing, but is it really?

Experts suggest employing these tips to avoid being seduced:

1)  Click on the “reviewers” name/handle to bring up other reviews they’ve done. Are there too many to be believable?  Have they reviewed several different variations of the same product? Are they effusive in every review?

2)  Did the reviewer do several reviews on the same day and/or within a small window of time?

3)  Does a glowing review seem out of kilter with the product to you? For example, someone rhapsodizing about a hair ornament.

4)  Does the review contain marketing speak? For instance, they describe something as “lightening fast”.

5)  Does the review include specific specifications like model numbers?

6)  Does the review fail to discuss the reliability, performance, and perceived value of product being reviewed? An average consumer would note these things in a review.

Lifehacker offers more suggestions for spotting fake reviews here.  

The FCC says fake reviewing is a pervasive practice. They claim it’s difficult, and tedious, to uncover and prosecute the fake reviews; and have neither the budget nor staff for this task. Additionally, the FCC only acts on reported incidents.

 So, if you encounter a retailer, product manufacturer or comparison site soliciting glowing reviews for cash or goods, report them to the FCC.

 

Also, pay attention. Be cautious. Buyer beware has taken on a whole new dimension.

UPDATE: A couple of articles (below) from PerformInsider.com help clarify this issue. Although these are meant as a caution to businesses, it could also help you recognize foul play. Sure, some will say reporting will be useless given the governmental agencies track record.  However, no change happens if there’s no change agent. 

http://performinsider.com/2012/01/how-to-guarantee-the-ftc-will-bust-you/

http://performinsider.com/2011/11/the-one-ftc-article-you-must-read/

©2012 DLewis

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Posted by on January 31, 2012 in Consumer, Economic, Tips, Uncategorized

 

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SODAS YOUR WAY

  When I was searching, of all things, an Internet price comparison/deal site, I found a recipe for making your own soda.  The site, Become.com, has a blog with these informational type articles. A plus being that if you find a product you like in an article, you’re in the right place to research and price it. 

Read the article, “Make your own soda with an organic soda syrup”,  here.  

Great article and now I can attempt to make healthier sodas.  I see lots of floats in my future–with frozen yogurt, of course.  After reading the article, I searched for the root beer extract–which I didn’t know existed until now. I not only found it at a great price (4 oz/8.25), but discovered a great site for extracts and flavorings.  It’s now bookmarked.

FYI, in case you want to distill some soda after reading the article, the retailer is Cook’s Vanilla. They have other flavors, like Bourbon Vanilla, Chocolate, Hazelnut , coffee and Peppermint. Lots of flavors; organic, flavored extracts, powdered, and alcohol free; as well as premium vanilla.

I will have to get a carbonation machine, but as I recall Doctor Oz featured a mini-one that should do the trick.  And now I know all the places to search for the best price. If you want to compare other items beyond http://www.become.com, read here. 

 

 

UPDATE:  I found a carbonating system that’s not only reasonable, but is also eco-mindful.  The iSi Twist ‘n Sparkle Beverage Carbonating System is priced at $44 on Amazon. Use the comparison sites listed here to get the best price.  Read about the system at http://twistnsparkle.com/.

©2012 DLewis

English: Collection of Jones Soda Flavors Hous...

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Posted by on January 29, 2012 in Consumer, Tips

 

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