Saturday, February 28, 2009

Camera Critters (#47)


This week I got down on the floor with Tillie and my phone.

You can tell by the way she’s looking at me that she thinks I’m a little crazy, huh? 

Or maybe she was just trying to figure out what the noise was because I set the shutter sound on the camera phone.  I think it’s kind of noisy.  Tillie thinks it’s pretty interesting – but it’s hard to take her picture when she puts her nose right up in the camera.

Camera Critters is a fun weekend meme hosted by Misty Dawn.Visit the Camera Critters headquarters and join in. There are all kinds of great critters to see!

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Looking at the Sky on Friday - 6


For more info on this fun meme, click the image.

This week I’m sharing a couple sunset shots I took from my back door.

If you enjoy skies as much as I do, be sure to check out Looking at the Sky on Friday.

Organ Donor or No?

On The View today, one of the ladies said she thought that instead of having to sign your drivers license if you want to be an organ donor, you should have to sign it if you don't want to. I'm thinking that's a great idea. Everyone would automatically be an organ donor, unless they specifically choose not to be.

Now we have people who might be willing to be organ donors, but they don't want to think about the fact that something could happen to them. Maybe they don't feel strongly about it one way or the other, or maybe they mean to, but they just never get around to signing. Changing things around would make that decision easier, and the people who don't want their organs donated probably feel strongly enough about it that they'd be sure to sign if they had to.

What do you think?

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

I Remembered

You should be proud of me. I went shopping today, and I remembered to take a bag of plastic bags to Walmart for recycling. I also remembered to take my reusable shopping bag in with me when I went to Walgreens. I really like that bag. It's sturdier than the plastic bags, and bigger. I just wish they would get some more in. I have a raincheck to get them for 3/$1 - so I'm getting 6 (the limit) whenever they finally come in.

Monday, February 23, 2009

Heads or Tails - Case

This week's theme/prompt is:  
HEADS – Case
TAILS - Anything that Rhymes With Case

Jeffrey mentioned tonight that Tropicana had changed their orange juice cartons recently, but so many people complained that they are going to change them back.  I just read the article suggested by Zemanta (see below) and it turns out that it wasn’t necessarily a large number of people but some of their ‘most loyal customers’ who complained.  Still, it was enough to convince the company to abandon the newer, more cost effective carton in favor of the old design.

It has me wondering what these people are loyal to.  Is it the brand?  The orange juice itself?  Or are they really that crazy about the carton?  I wonder, are they willing to pay the extra cost so they can have the carton they like?  Seriously people – take a picture, frame it, and drink whatever juice  you want.

Anyway, when Jeffrey first mentioned this, I could not have told you what a Tropicana orange juice carton looked like – either the old version or the new one.  I don’t even look at the orange juice in the cartons.  Yes, I’m getting to the part about the case

Yesterday I mentioned an article I read on how to cut your grocery bill in half.  There were some decent tips there, but here’s one no one mentioned: Do not buy your juice from the refrigerator case.  Walk on by and shop the freezer case.  You can get the same juice, in frozen, concentrated form, for less money.  Unless you think you just have to have that Tropicana ‘never from concentrate’ but seriously – orange juice concentrate is just orange juice with the water reduced.  Unless it specifically says, like the Tropicana, ‘not from concentrate’ then you are getting the exact same stuff, just paying more for it.  Pay less for the frozen concentrate, and when you want juice, just add the water back in,  mix, and enjoy.

Heads or Tails is a fun weekly meme created and hosted by Skittles!

Oh, and if I was going to buy the orange juice in the carton, I really like the new Tropicana carton. 

Free Lunch

My cousin sent me this link today. Kashi is giving away a free entree. Simply fill in the form and they'll send you a coupon. I requested my coupon, that was the easy part. The hard part will be deciding which one of these to try. They all sound so good.

Speaking of my cousin - she's giving away a coupon for a free Guiltless Grill entree at Chili's. She's picking the winner on Friday, so hurry over and enter.

Who says there's no such thing as a free lunch?

Will You Preserve Your Baby's Cord Blood?

Every mom hopes and prays that her child won't ever have to face a serious disease. Today's parents have even more choices when it comes to fighting those diseases if they do rear their ugly heads. One of those choices is cord blood banking. Parents can collect and preserve their newborn's umbilical cord blood. The stem cells from the cord blood have the potential to be used to treat many different diseases. They're already known to treat over 70 diseases such as non-Hodgkin's lymphoma, leukemia, sickle cell disease, severe anemias and severe combined immunodeficiency, and research is ongoing, meaning even more diseases may be curable in the future.

I hadn't heard of this back when my kids were born. The Cryo-cell Cord Blood Bank has been involved in umbilical cord blood preservation since 1992. That's the year Cory was born, so they were around. I just wasn't aware of it. Is it something I would have done if I had been aware of it? Probably not, because I think it was fairly new back then and there wasn't as much research showing the benefits of stem cells. Things have advanced quite a bit in the last 16 years, though. Stem cells are now known to treat a lot of diseases, and have been used in over 8000 transplants worldwide.

Deciding whether or not to bank your baby's cord blood is still a personal decision. Cryo-cell gives you all the information you need to make an informed choice. They even invite you to "compare us" to the other leading cord blood banks, so you can see exactly what you're getting.

If you or someone you know is an expectant parent, and you're considering cord blood banking for your newborn or just want to get some more information, check out Cryo-cell. Don't forget to check out their current offer to save $300 while you're there.

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Google This!

Know what you get when you Google "how to fasten a belt"? No? Go ahead. Try it. I'll wait.

Cool, huh?

Now, if you try searching the same phrase with Yahoo, the first item on the list is something about a warm wonderful lemon pudding cake - which sounds pretty good, and I'll probably check it out, but what does that have to do with fastening a belt? Also, if I click the link Yahoo gave me, will that somehow reinforce the placement of that link on the list? Should I first search for "lemon pudding cake"?

Note: That same link dropped down several places when I searched for the lemon cake. Weird.

Get a Handle on Your Debt

I was reading an article online a couple days ago. The subject was How to Cut Your Grocery Bill in Half. You know how much I like saving money, so of course I read it looking for ways to save even more. Unfortunately, most of the tips were things I already knew. I guess I should be happy to know that I'm already doing a lot of the things I need to do to make our money go as far as possible. It's interesting to see the comments, though, because so many of the tips that are second nature to me are big news to other people. Hopefully these people will be able to incorporate some of the tips and learn to make their money go further.

There are also some great articles available to help people with debt management. It's really easy to get yourself buried under a mountain of debt, especially if you're not actively trying to avoid it, but it's not so easy to get out from under that debt. It's especially hard if you don't have a plan for getting that debt taken care of. Some people can do it on their own, but other people need help. I guess it depends on how bad the situation is and how determined they are to get out of debt. If the idea of lower monthly payments and lowered interest rates sounds like it would make getting out of debt easier, then working with a credit specialist and setting up a debt management plan may be the best route to go.

If this sounds like something that might help you, just fill in some basic information, and you can talk to a credit specialist and begin taking control of your debt. The best part, besides moving toward becoming debt free, is that you get access to estimates on how much a debt management plan can save you as well as a complete Surviving Debt Guide, both free of cost with zero commitment.

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Dolphin Bubbles!

dolphin bubbles
This is so much fun! Did you know that the dolphins at SeaWorld create and play with underwater bubble rings? I didn't. So, when I saw the video at Dolphin Bubbles, I thought it was so much fun. Check it out and let me know what you think.

I think my mom will especially love this, since dolphins are her favorite animal. Besides the video, you can see a lot more pictures and information about the dolphins at SeaWorld on the Dolphin Bubbles site.

Note: this is an IZEA sponsored post, but I probably would have mentioned it anyway. Watch the video and tell me you wouldn't have...

- and don't forget to enter the Manta Mania giveaway - you could win a trip for 4 to SeaWorld and maybe even get a chance to meet some of the dolphins.

Camera Critters (#46)


We’ve got some pretty fancy decorations sitting around our living room:

Candles, picture frames, and cats!  Well, one cat anyway –Miss Tillie.

We’re not sure what she thought she was doing sitting there.  We asked her, but she wasn’t saying.

Camera Critters is a fun weekend meme hosted by Misty Dawn.Visit the Camera Critters headquarters and join in. There are all kinds of great critters to see!

Friday, February 20, 2009

Yahoo Domains

If you haven't yet gotten your own domain, you might want to check out yahoo domains. I don't know why I didn't think of them when I was ready to register my own. I already have yahoo email, and I've created some websites on their Geocities service. Yahoo domains and websites are hosted on the same servers as, so they're very reliable.

New customers can even get domains for $1.99 for the first year, or if you choose Yahoo for your web hosting, the domain is free. You can use their domain availability tool to find out if the domain you want is available, and if you need additional help, they have 24-hour toll-free customer service.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Looking at the Sky on Friday - 5


For more info on this fun meme, click the image.

I took this on the way home from shopping on Sunday. We went out to buy Valentine’s candy on clearance. Why anyone would ever pay full price when you can wait until the day after and get it for half price is beyond me.

I liked the way the sun was caught behind the power pole in this one. You never know just what you’ll get when you’re shooting from a moving vehicle!

If you enjoy skies as much as I do, be sure to check out Looking at the Sky on Friday.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Neurological Test

Since I've been posting about puzzles and exercising your brain to slow down the aging process recently, I just had to post this email I got today:

This is a REAL Neurological Test
Sit comfortably and be calm.

In other words, put your thinking process aside - i.e. put your brain in neutral gear...

1- Find the C below. Do not use any cursor help.


2- If you already found the C, now find the 6 below.


3- Now find the N below. It's a little more difficult..


This is NOT a joke. If you were able to pass these 3 tests, you can cancel your annual visit to your neurologist. Your brain is great and you're far from having a close relationship with Alzheimer.


Conquer Your Fear of Public Speaking

Not everyone can be like Cory. He loves to get up in front of people and have all the attention on him. Yep, for Cory public speaking is no big deal. For most people, though, it is simply terrifying. What was that Jerry Seinfeld said? "Most people would rather be dead than have to speak in public." Even if it's not that serious, the fear of public speaking is the #1 fear in America, and if you have that fear, you know it can hold you back from accomplishing some of the things you want in life.

Not that long ago, Martin Ng had the same fears. He did any and everything to avoid giving speeches, and when he had to speak, he was so nervous that he did a horrible job, messed up, and even had people laugh at and heckle him. One day he decided enough was enough and went looking for the information he needed to take charge of his life and become a better speaker. He couldn't find all of that information in one place, so he spent two years researching and putting the things he learned into practice. Through trial and error, he eventually compiled a comprehensive list of speaking tips, tips that had helped him, and his friends, improve their speaking skills.

Now, everyone can have access to Martin's tips in his e-book, Surviving Speaking Disasters: Real Solutions for Real-Life Speaking Situations. If your fear of public speaking has been holding you back, you'll want to check this out. Martin will help you move from fear to confidence, teach you how to deal with difficult situations, how to become a powerful and dynamic speaker, and much more. Martin is so sure you'll love his book and improve your speaking skills that he offers a 60-day money back guarantee.

Now That I’ve Got Mine…

02-16-09_1734(2)…I can let you know about this.

I mentioned this in passing a couple weeks ago when I went shopping, but I think it’s such a great deal that I really must point it out. This month in the Walgreens EasySaver Catalog, there’s a coupon for $6 off two packages of Starbucks chocolates. The regular price for these chocolates is 2/$10. Minus the coupon, that’s 2/$4, but to make it even better, there are also $1 coupons available on the shelf – at least at my Walgreens, so I’m hoping others, too. So, with the $1 off coupons, the total cost for 2 bags of Starbucks chocolates is $2 – that’s $1/bag. I really like the dark chocolate Espresso Truffles.

I got mine. How about you?

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Spread the Red

I used to always color my hair some shade of red, from dark auburn to strawberry blond. I did it long enough that some of my mom's friends actually believed she had a red-headed daughter. I came by it somewhat naturally, since I always got reddish highlights when my hair bleached out in the sun. At least that's what I told myself. Of course, that's where I differ from true redheads. I like to be out in the sun. I can spend time in the sun, without freckling, burning, and all the other sun-related problems most redheads have. Of course, since we keep hearing that we're not supposed to spend time in the sun without lots and lots of sunscreen, they're probably better off anyway. I was just looking around a social network for redheads, and it looks like lots of fun. Their goal is to Save the Redheads and 'spread the red' by bringing redheads together. Currently, only 1-2% of the world's population is redheaded, but through the 3-generation program on this site, they expect to see that up to 10% by 2120. There's even a money-back guarantee on that. Did I mention the site is free? Can't beat that money-back guarantee, can you? This one is like many other social network sites with polls and blogs, groups, photos, quizzes and more. It's just for redheads and those who love them, so it's a little more fiery.

ETA: This post has been up for 14 years, and Blogger just this weekend contacted me and told me they had added a warning because it contained adult content. I've read it over several times and have no idea what they are referring to. Does this look like adult content to anyone?

I did remove the one link contained in the post - because it no longer went anywhere - and removed mention of the URL for the social network, because it no longer exists. I guess that money-back guarantee was important after all...

Monday, February 16, 2009

Finding Money for College

With one kid out of high school now and the other one graduating next year, you can believe we are thinking about how to pay for college. Ideally we should have started thinking, planning and saving years ago - back when they were babies - but we weren't in a position to do that then. Let me just stop and say: If you have young children, start saving NOW!

Anyway, since we don't have a huge account just waiting to pay for college for both kids, I'm always interested in learning about different ways to help pay for college. I was reading an article today that listed a few sources for school loans and sponsorships. According to the article, the best two are:
  • where students can post a profile, list their requested loan amount, and invite registered lenders to fund all or part of their loan.
  • and which connects students with individuals and companies who are willing to sponsor their education. That's free money for college!
Both sites are free to register with and start building a profile. They're not just for students, either. Individuals and companies who would like to sponsor a student (or students) or become lenders are encouraged to sign up, too.

Cory, I know you read my blog - sign up for these, OK? Start building your profile and helping those sponsors understand why they want to help you.

Sunday, February 15, 2009

I Refuse to Age Gracefully

I was reading the USA Weekend magazine that comes in my Sunday paper today. There was an article by the president of AARP on ways to feel great and live longer. Now, my kids may be practically grown up, but I'm several years away from AARP membership. It doesn't hurt to apply a few of these tips now in the effort to delay the aging process, though.

I think I'm doing pretty well as far as exercise goes, since I've been walking 5 days a week since Cory was a baby. If physical exercise is supposed to slow the aging process, then I should have gained a few years by now, right?

Another tip mentioned in this article is that mental workouts can be just as important as those physical ones. In a University of Illinois study people in their 60s and 70s were introduced to and began playing video games, and it helped their brains to remain more agile, as well as improving memory and reasoning ability. So, it's never too late to start exercising your brain - and it's never too early! Jeffrey has been telling me I should brush my teeth with my right hand (I'm left-handed) to exercise my brain, but I haven't done it yet. I did visit AARP's game website that was mentioned in the article and exercised my brain with some of their puzzles. I tried the "Split Words" one they said was most popular. It was fun, and challenging, and I keep trying again because I'm not getting them all! It shows what brain functions are being trained, what brain areas, and even how you stack up against other people.

Walk two miles a day, do a few of these brain puzzles, and it'll be years and years before the kids will have to get the moving pods so they can pack up all my stuff and ship me off to the nursing home!

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Saturday, February 14, 2009


Cory had his first Forensics meet today. There have been some other meets, but his partner Jenna couldn't go, so he didn't. I suppose it wouldn't have been bad for him to go anyway so he could watch and see what the other teams did, but I didn't think of that until now. I think he had a good time, even though he and Jenna didn't make it to the final round. I guess they had to perform their piece three times. Two of the judges liked them and gave them really good scores, but the other judge didn't, and that hurt them. Unfortunately the judge who didn't score them very well didn't give them any real reasons or constructive criticism that would help them improve. Still, I think they did pretty good considering it was their first meet, and I know they'll just get better.

If you're like me and think of forensics as something from CSI, or "the application of a broad spectrum of sciences to answer questions of interest to the legal system" then this link ought to help - What is Forensics? - because it's different than that. I couldn't find any information on our own school website, so I linked to another school in the state.

Overall, I think it's a good activity and pretty much perfect for Cory. It sure beats spending all day on the computer, watching movies, or playing playstation 3 (not that he has a playstation of any number, but we do have a Wii). He's thinking about finding a solo piece so he can compete at the meets whether Jenna can go or not. That's how much he liked it.

Get Your Student Ready for the SAT

300x250Because Beth was never going to go to college, she never took any of the tests, either the SAT or ACT. She's planning to go to a technical college next fall, so she really didn't need to take the SAT. Cory, however, had better get himself busy and get registered and prepared. We keep reminding him and nudging him, but it's one of those things that he just has to do for himself.

I did find out today that Brightstorm has a special going on their SAT prep package. Regularly $147, it's now only $98.

The package includes:
  • Comprehensive review by SAT experts on each SAT section - Critical Reading, Math, and Writing
  • 14+ hrs of online videos covering content review, strategy, tips and tricks
  • Interactive quizzes and downloadable practice problems and study guides
  • Self-diagnostic test to point out areas to improvement with links of specific videos to review
  • SAT practice problems and sample tests
  • Daily study planners
  • 24/7 access to online videos and downloadable practice sheets
  • Dynamic teachers who use real life examples to make learning fun
When I was getting ready to take the SAT all those years ago, I had this huge book to study. The book worked for me because that's how I learn. I need to read something to actually get it. Besides, Brightstorm wasn't around back then, with all the videos and interactive learning it provides. With all the time today's students spend on the computer, watching videos and everything else, I think this sounds like a great way to get your student ready for the test. Maybe this is what it will take to get Cory excited and prepared.

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Camera Critters (#45)


It wasn’t until the day after Jeffrey and I went to the Bucks game that I realized I had missed a great opportunity to get a Camera Critters photo. I did manage to get this one:

See that blur? That’s the Bucks mascot Bango, doing the slam dunk thing. I just had my camera on the wrong setting, so all I got was that blur. If I had been thinking, I could have gotten some other pictures of Bango, running around on the court, riding the Harley around on the court, something. But, no, I didn’t do it.

Last time we went to a Bucks game (last year) I didn’t get any of those either, but I did get this pic of the inflatable Bango after he deflated the other team’s mascot:

See, I told you the whole thing was rather circus-like.

Camera Critters is a fun weekend meme hosted by Misty Dawn.Visit the Camera Critters headquarters and join in. There are all kinds of great critters to see!

ETA: because I didn't actually know the answer to the question, "Is Bango supposed to be a buck? How come the inflatable Bango has no antlers?" I looked for and found some info on Bango on the Bucks website. There's a nice video on the page, too that shows some of Bango's antics. Yes, it does look like he's a buck and he does have antlers, though I don't know why the inflatable one doesn't have any, except that maybe he was starting to deflate himself.

Friday, February 13, 2009

Educational Benefits from CSU

Jeffrey keeps talking about going back to school and taking some classes to get his CPA or CMA, but it's so hard to fit classes into his already busy schedule. Plus there's the cost involved in taking classes. So far, all he's done is talk about it.

It's probably the same for most people. That's why Columbia Southern University wants businesses to learn about the benefits of becoming CSU Learning Partners. It doesn't cost anything for businesses to sign up, and there's no obligation, but by partnering with CSU, companies can offer their employees access to CSU's online degree and certificate programs, at a discounted tuition rate. Courses are flexible, designed to fit into busy schedules. CSU students never have to miss work, family activities, or the things that are important to them. Spouses and children are also eligible to take advantage of the courses and discounts.

It sounds like a positive partnership for everyone involved. Companies can offer these benefits to their employees with no contract, commitment or cost to the company. Employees have the opportunity to further their education in a more affordable and flexible way, and the companies get better qualified and happier employees.

Check out the list of degree programs offered and talk to your company about partnering with CSU.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Looking at the Sky on Friday - 4


For more info on this fun meme, click the image.

I went out Tuesday morning to shoot the moon – a gorgeous full moon going down behind the trees.

The wind was pretty strong that morning, making it really hard to hold still and focus – especially when I tried zooming in.  Still, even though the focus isn’t quite what I was going for in this one, I still kind of like it.

If you enjoy skies as much as I do, be sure to check out Looking at the Sky on Friday.

Need Some Design Help?

When it comes to designing a website or changing my blog theme, I'm not real good at starting from scratch. I need a good template or theme that I can mess with and make my own. I need a place to start.

I'm thinking it's about time to change the theme for this blog, but I haven't found the right template to start with yet, and I know it will take more time than I really want to spend right now. I'm not using Wordpress (yet) but if I was, something like this premium wordpress theme from wpremix looks like it would be really helpful. It comes with 50 designed and coded page templates, and it sounds like it is really easy to tweak them and remix them.

Along with the templates, there are also some additional add-ons, color schemes, and tutorials. You can even make money by signing up to be an affiliate or helping people tweak their templates, if you're an expert at that kind of thing. Affiliates earn 50% on every sale, which sounds pretty good. I wonder if you sign up as an affiliate and then purchase the theme pack through your affiliate link that means it ends up costing half as much? Worth looking into, right?

Not Accomplishing Much

I've got a headache today, and Beth woke up with a sore throat yesterday and doesn't feel good today either. So, we're sitting around watching movies and really not accomplishing anything. First we watched Freedom Writers and now we're watching The Devil Wears Prada.

I feel like I should be doing something, besides including this link for cerebral palsy* in a blog post, but I just can't seem to muster the energy. I did install the printshop 23 (free after rebate!) on my computer, and I'm supposed to be putting together a flyer for candy bar sales, but I haven't gotten past installing the software and opening a layout. At this rate, I'll have those boxes of candy bars in my basement forever.

*Update 7/2/12 - link has now been removed because I received not one but two emails in one day telling me that the link must be removed.  I guess they mean it, and even though I don't really have any way of knowing if the person asking me to remove the link has any right to request the link be removed, this is a really old post, so it's not like I'm required to keep the link up anymore...

Also, I did have those boxes of candy bars in my basement forever.  Well, for a very long time anyway.

Date Night at the Bradley Center

Jeffrey and I had a night out last night.  It was a real romantic date – to the Bucks game.  Originally, I wasn’t going to go.  Jeffrey called from work and wanted to know if I wanted to go, but I wasn’t terribly thrilled.  I’m not really a big sports fan.  Beth had to work, or she probably would have wanted to go.  So, she sent Cory a text at school and asked him if he wanted to go.  He said ‘sure’ and it was going to be a boys’ night out, and I was going to stay home alone.

Then Cory backed out because he has a Forensics meet coming up and he needed to practice with his partner.  So, I said I’d go so Jeffrey didn’t have to go alone.  Other people from work were going to be there, so he wouldn’t have been completely alone, but still…

He came home from work, picked me up, and we drove to Milwaukee, found a place to park near the Bradley center – free on the street because it’s better to walk a few blocks than pay $20 for parking.  Then we walked around the building trying to find something to eat.  There are definitely lots of things to choose from there.  Who knew going to a basketball game could mean you could end up needing  diet pills?  I ended up getting a burrito from Qdoba, and Jeffrey got a barbecue chicken sandwich.  Later, at half time we walked around again to get some roasted nuts – so good!  The almonds are the best, but the cashews and pecans were good, too.

Bucks GameIt is interesting watching one of these basketball games.  The whole atmosphere is rather circus-like.  It amazes me that the players can even concentrate with all the noise and music going on around them.  Maybe it isn’t so loud down on the court?  Then during every time out or break in the game, something else happens down on the court – games, giveaways, dancing girls. 

The Bucks won the game, and it was a fun evening overall.  No, I wouldn’t pay $60 for the tickets, but if Jeffrey gets free tickets again, I’ll go with him again.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

This is Me, Screaming

I just learned that SeaWorld is opening a new ride in May. It's called the Manta, and it looks absolutely amazing! You ride laying down, attached to the belly of a giant Manta, so it's like you're actually flying. I love roller coasters, and I've always wanted to fly - so this ride ought to about cover it. It will also have a cool aquarium.

Ted Murphy has a video on his blog from the IZEA exclusive hard hat tour of Manta, and I am seriously going to need to ride this! Hopefully IZEA and SeaWorld can help me out with that, because they've teamed up to create wicked contest called Manta Mania.
One person will win a trip for four to SeaWorld including airfare, hotel and two full days at the park. Not only that… you will get priority access to ride Manta!

Two full days at the park - one to see Shamu and the aquariums and all the rest of what makes SeaWorld the best park in Orlando, and one whole day to ride Manta, over and over and over... Do you see why I'm screaming? Besides the obvious that I always scream on roller coasters because that makes them more fun. I'm screaming, "Pick me! Pick me!"

Run on over to Ted's blog to see how you can enter Manta Mania!

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Writing El Paso

...or my own version of a stimulus plan...

I've been putting together rebates - for the software we bought when we bought TurboTax, and for the kids' cell phones. All together, over $500 worth of rebates. That's why I'm very, very particular and obsessed with doing these right.

First, I listed all the rebates and requirements to make sure everything came out free like it was supposed to (on the software) - and I found that I had grabbed the wrong version of the Print Shop. So, Jeffrey went back and got the right one. Then, I just started going through all those rebate forms, filling them out, seeing which ones I could fill out online, cutting out UPCs, and making lots and lots of copies of everything. As I finished each one, I put all required materials into the envelopes, but I did not seal them. No, first I have to look each one over at least once to be sure everything is right, and I have to enter the info into my spreadsheet - so I can keep track of what rebates have been requested, for how much, when they were mailed, and when they are received. That way I can easily see if there are any that need tracked down. Hopefully I won't need to do any of that, but at least I will have all the documentation if I ever need to.

All in all, it's good to know that the money will soon be rolling in. No, it's not money we can go spend on luxury hotel rooms or vacations, because it's money that we've already spent. We're just reclaiming it. Still, it works out, doesn't it? We spend the money in the first place - so the software manufacturers can stay in business, the stores can stay in business, those rebate processors in El Paso can keep their jobs, and it really only costs me some time, some envelopes, and some stamps. I say, if they want people to spend more money, offer more rebates. Even if I don't really need it, I'll often buy it if I can get it for free.

Monday, February 09, 2009

An Addictive Little Puzzle

I saw this on Meeyauw this morning, complete with video, and I just had to try it. Remember how I said I like word games and things that require some thinking, but don't require a lot of coordination? This is my kind of game - not words this time, but numbers. As much as Beth likes math, I bet she'd like these puzzles, too.

It's called KENKEN and I can see why they call this the world's most addictive puzzle. I keep wanting to solve it! So far I haven't moved beyond the 4x4 puzzles, and they go all the way up to 9x9.

Here's another link to play online for free - Web Kendoku - someone left in one of the comments.

Have you heard of this puzzle before?

Sunday, February 08, 2009

New Phones for the Kids

The kids have both been making noises about getting new cell phones for quite a while now. Beth is pretty hard on phones, so hers is scratched up and the screen on the front is cracked - and this is the second phone she had because she recently took Jeffrey's old phone in and had all her numbers and info transferred into that one. So, she was complaining about the camera in the phone not working and not having reception in places she thought she should. Cory's phone was OK - basic but it worked - but he wanted a new one, too.

Beth didn't have to work today, so we went to US Cellular and looked at phones to see what they really liked. It's one thing to look at them on the on the internet, and another thing to actually touch it and play with it. There were some phones they had advertised as buy 1/get 1 free, and both the kids decided they liked those. We had to sign a new two year contract on both phones and sign up for the unlimited Easyedge plan for three months so we can get $50 back on each phone, but in the end it's not a bad deal. Cory got the black one and Beth the pink. It's just too bad that they didn't have that phone in orange!

Cory is especially looking forward to having Easyedge for three months because he can update his Twitter from his phone, and check Facebook and check email, and some other stuff. After that, well, is it really worth $9.95/month? I think not. In the meantime, I'm sure he'll enjoy it, and I've got some rebates to put together and get mailed in.

The kids just better not start asking for new phones any time soon! And I hope Beth takes better care of this one - or she'll be buying the next one.

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Saturday, February 07, 2009

Camera Software - Who Knew?

When I got my camera a couple years ago, I never bothered to install the software that came with it. The camera uses SD cards, so I just popped them into the card reader and copied the pictures to my computer that way - the way I'd always done it. But, since I had to reinstall Windows and then my card reader wouldn't read the SD cards properly, I thought I'd give the camera software a try. And also because, since I'm starting with 0 photos on my computer, this is a good time to start over with something new.

This stuff is pretty neat. I hook the camera to the computer with the cable and can download all the pics on the card. The software even puts them into folders by date. Then, I can use that same software to add keywords, change file names, etc. It even reads all the camera information like shooting mode, shutter speed, and other camera stuff that I don't actually understand that well. This is important because I took an online class about all those camera settings, and I tried shooting with different settings, but later I couldn't remember which setting was what - so this should really help. I am going to have to go back over all that class info though, because now I don't remember much of it.

Anyway, I'm just now going through and organizing photos that were on one of my cards - thankfully still because I would have lost them otherwise - finding pictures I forgot about, and seeing what I can do with this software. So far I'm liking it, not enough to create promotional bags to let everyone know about it, but enough to mention it.

How about you - do you use the software that came with your camera? Have you found any good ways to keep your photos organized?

Camera Critters (#44)


I took this picture of Tillie and Cory the other night.  Cory on the computer, Tillie in his lap.

Tillie just happened to be spotlighted by Cory’s desk lamp, and I thought this should ought to be some kind of painting or something.  Maybe something like this:

Should I call it ‘Center of Attention’ ?


Camera Critters is a fun weekend meme hosted by Misty Dawn.Visit the Camera Critters headquarters and join in.  There are all kinds of great critters to see!

Friday, February 06, 2009

What Was He Going to Eat?

Cory had a really long day today. He left the house a little after 7:10 this morning, and he had Forensics practice after school and then pep band at the basketball game. As he was walking out the door this morning, I asked him if he had packed extra food - and he hadn't, just lunch as usual. By then it was too late to do anything. I offered to grab him an apple, but he said he'd be OK.

Then this afternoon, Beth said she was going to go to school and give Cory a ride home. Actually, she was going to get her grades straightened out. Looking at her grades, she should have gotten a 3.0 for the semester, but for some odd reason, it said 2.88 or something like that. Not a huge deal, except that she needs that 3.0 to qualify for the good student discount on the car insurance. Since she's out of school now and won't be going to WCTC until the fall semester, she doesn't have another chance to get that 3.0. She needs her report card to reflect that now. So she was going to get that straightened out. She just decided to time it so she could also give Cory a ride home.

I told her that Cory wasn't coming home, so he didn't need a ride. But, if she was going to go anyway, would she take Cory a sandwich? She agreed, so I made Cory a sandwich and packed him some cookies and sent them along. Beth got her grades figured out, and the guidance counselor is going to write a letter with the correct GPA listed, so we can forward that to the insurance agent. Cory got his sandwich, and it's a good thing. We didn't hear from him until about 8:30 when he called to say he needed someone to come pick him up. This is the boy who has to have a snack when he gets home from school, and he's still ready for dinner when it's time for that. How did he think he was going to survive all day without packing extra food?

He seemed rather appreciative when he got home. :)

Looking at the Sky on Friday - 3


For more info on this fun meme, click the image.

Since I figured out how to transfer pictures from my phone to the computer with the Bluetooth, I’ve just had to play with it, and I’ve gone back and found pictures I took but never did anything with.  This picture is actually from December.  I think Cory and I had just come back from the library.

If you enjoy skies as much as I do, be sure to check out Looking at the Sky on Friday.

Thursday, February 05, 2009

Clay and HTML

Check out this cute little creature Cory made from clay tonight. He's not sure what it is, but it is cute, isn't it? It almost makes me want to try making something from clay...

As I was inserting the picture here I remembered that Cory wanted me to show him how to insert an image with html. But he was busy playing with clay and forgot to remind me. He's taking a web page design class this semester, but the teacher really doesn't teach them much. So he figures if he's going to learn anything, I'll have to teach him.

I know how to insert images, create links like this one to Westgate, make lists, insert lines, and all kinds of other stuff with html. It's really not difficult, and the teacher could teach them all that in the first week or two of class - and then use the rest of the semester to learn even more. It won't happen though. It's more like a study hall for credit. With computers.

New Colander

Beth bought me one of those collapsible colanders at work tonight. Have you seen them? They collapse down so they store better.

I hadn't until we were at the outlet mall on Friday, but Beth said not to buy it there because they have them at Marshall's and they're cheaper. So she called me when she got off work, before heading to Tim's, of course, and said she bought one. So now I'll have to see if I like it. If it works it will be really nice because I can get rid of a couple other ones that take up too much room in my cabinet.

I guess if I don't like it, Beth will want it for her kitchen when she gets one - because it has orange on it. No blue, but at least orange.

Free Games at the Mega Brands Kids Zone

It seems I always have something else to do on the computer, and I don't have much time for games. When I do have time, I usually choose word games that make me think but don't require too much coordination. Maybe if I had started playing video games when I was younger I would have developed that coordination? Or maybe if I force myself to play now, it will help. What do you think?

Whether it helps with coordination or not, I believe kids (and adults) can have a lot of fun playing games on the computer. The MEGA Brands Kids Zone has a lot of great games for kids. I tried a few of them out. I liked the Legends of King Arthur game, not because I actually knew what I was doing, but because it was fun to click around in the game world. There's a castle that looks like it's made out of Mega Bloks, just the way you'd imagine your castle to look - if you could build it and bring it to life. I got to control a knight and fight off a dragon. No, I didn't know what I was doing, but I just kept clicking and beat that dragon!

I also tried a game called Dragons Metal Ages where I got to be a dragon. I think I was supposed to drop fireballs on things and people on the ground, so I kept dropping, but in the end my dragon fell to the ground and the game told me maybe I'd do better next time.

There are several more games available that I haven't tried yet. Did I mention it's free to play them? Check them out with your kids and let me know which ones you like - if you can tear yourselves away, that is. I'm going to go play some more! Maybe I can convince Cory that this is more fun than that mouse hunting game he keeps playing.


Speaking of being prepared...

I really have been thinking about how unprepared we would be if the power went out for any length of time. If the power went out now, we would be really cold! On the news I saw some people from Kentucky explaining how they were burning their wooden fence to keep warm and planned to move on to the kitchen cabinets or 'anything made of wood' if they had to, until the power came back on. At least they had a stove to burn that wood in, though I had to wonder why they didn't have some wood to burn in it. I guess they never expected to use it. At least they had it - we don't even have that. When we built our house, a fireplace was an added expense we couldn't afford, and we've never gotten around to adding one or felt we could justify the expense.

We do have quite a bit of food around here, so we wouldn't starve, at least not right away. We could even cook on the grill, at least for a while - since we don't have a wood cookstove. (Yes, mom, one of those would be nice. I like yours)

Fresh drinking water might be a problem if the water stops running, and since I drink a lot of water every day, that really concerns me. I'm thinking this Big Berkey water filtration system I just read about on my dad's blog would be perfect. It's supposed to provide safe drinking water no matter how bad the water is, and from what I can tell, the filters are good for thousands of gallons, over 10 years worth of water filtering. And it doesn't need any power to work. So it's exactly what you'd need during a power outage.

Mom & Dad have had a reverse osmosis system for several years now, and we've talked about getting one of those - just never actually did it. Now, I'm thinking we should just skip that step and move right to their back-up system.

Are You Prepared?

In the book I'm listening to now, the power unexpectedly went out, and it doesn't look like it's coming back soon, if ever. People have to learn how to survive without so many things they took for granted. No lights, no air conditioning, they can't cook on the stove or use the oven, the food in the refrigerator will spoil if it isn't used quickly.

Stop and think about it - how dependent are you on the electricity that comes into your house? I know I've complained when the power went out for a few hours, because there's nothing I can do. Everything seems to use electricity. I guess I should be thankful and take advantage of the time to sit and read a book - at least while it's daylight.

The more I listen to this book and hear about power outages like they're experiencing in Kentucky right now, the more I think some kind of back-up system would be a good idea. I know some people have gas powered generators, but I like the idea of Solar Back Up Power better. With this kind of back-up, you don't have to worry about having gas to run the generator or being able to get the gas, or in my case, living with the smell of the motor running. As long as the sun shines or the wind blows (with the optional wind generator), you can have power. Without added pollution.

With the way our power bills keep going up, I'd be interested in finding out about using solar power on a regular basis. I wonder how long it would take to come out ahead?

Wednesday, February 04, 2009

Win a Breadou!

Remember my favorite scent in the whole world? Fresh baked bread? That's why I think these ergonomically designed computer wrist rests from Breadou are the neatest things I've seen in a while. Not only do they provide comfortable support for your wrists while you work on the computer, they look and smell like fresh baked bread! Seriously, I just want to squeeze them - they make great stress balls, too.

Interested? Check out the Breadou giveaway on Table for Five. You could win one. I really love that little Happy Coffee Cream emoticon. Which one do you like?

All in a Day's Shopping

Beth and I went shopping today. Last Friday we went shopping for fun - if you can call shopping fun. We went to the outlet mall, checked out all their clearance, and bought some clothes. Today I was just going to run to Walmart, Walgreens, and Pick 'n Save for some groceries and stuff we need. Pretty boring stuff, so I was surprised when Beth decided she wanted to go too. She did have an ulterior motive, since she wanted to get some haircolor, but I didn't really mind. It was just nice to have her along. She did want to rush me a little because, once she picked out her haircolor at Walmart, she wanted to get home and color her hair, but she was stuck with me for a while longer.

We stopped at Walgreens for milk and free after rebate items. I got some Starbucks chocolate, usually 2 bags for $10, for $1 per bag with coupons. There's a $6 coupon in the rebate catalog, and they had $1 coupons in a shelf dispenser. I thought that was a pretty good deal! They were out of the reusable shopping bags, 3 for $1 with coupon, but I got a raincheck for those. Then I really am going to start using those instead of getting plastic bags all the time. Like I said before, I have too many plastic bags!

Before we went to Pick 'n Save, Beth and I went to McDonald's. I wanted coffee, and they have that buy a drink, get one free between 2 and 5. So I got a hazelnut cappucino, and Beth got hot chocolate - and a Big Mac and fries. And I bought two pies, apple and cherry. I have to say I liked the pies better when they were deep fried instead of baked, but I enjoyed the cappucino.

We didn't take too long in Pick 'n Save - picked up the rest of the stuff on the list and got out of there. I think Beth rushed me just a little. I'm sure I could get my shopping done quicker if I tried really hard, but I don't go grocery shopping very often, and I want to get the most for my money when I do. I may not save enough to pay for yearly Vegas vacations but I think I do OK. As we were checking out, Beth said, "you ought to take Randi shopping and show her how to do it." I guess that means Beth thinks I do OK, too - even if it does bug her sometimes that I'm so cheap.

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(Randi is the mom of Tim's best friend Jesse, and Tim lives with her and her husband)

Tuesday, February 03, 2009

The Facebook 25

Once you've been tagged, you are supposed to write a note with 25 random things, facts, habits, or goals about you. At the end, choose 25 people to be tagged. You have to tag the person who tagged you. If I tagged you, it's because I want to know more about you.

  1. I was tagged at least 6 times for this on facebook, but I just haven't done it until now.
  2. Because I'm really good at procrastinating.
  3. That's because I'm a perfectionist - meaning, if I don't have time to do something right, I have a hard time doing it at all.
  4. This really drove my mom crazy when I was in college because I rarely wrote home. I didn't have enough time to write a real letter that was worth a whole stamp, so I didn't write at all - waiting until I had the time, which, of course, I never did.
  5. Nowadays I don't write letters - because email, IM, and facebook are so much quicker - and I don't have to worry whether I have time to write enough to justify a stamp - especially since stamps cost even more nowadays.
  6. When I do buy stamps, I buy the Forever Stamps now. I buy them at today's price, and they're good even when the cost goes up. Since I pay all my bills online and don't write letters, this is a good deal for me.
  7. I have a whole bunch of rebates I need to put together and get mailed. That will probably use up all the stamps I have now, and I will need to buy more.
  8. I am extremely cheap, not just with stamps, but with everything.
  9. My favorite store is Goodwill.
  10. My favorite coffee mug is one I bought for my brother Craig several years ago at the Feast. Craig really liked the mug - so much that he had already bought one for himself. So I kept the one I bought, and that's the one I use every day.
  11. I just learned to send pictures from my phone to my computer via Bluetooth last week. So cool!
  12. I do laundry on Mondays. (This is not #5 as I mentioned in a previous post, because this is a new list)
  13. This is a new list because I saved my list of 25 as a draft on Facebook, thinking I could go back and finish it later, but now I can't find it. Wasn't there a 'drafts' tab?
  14. I understand HTML. I understand CSS. I can't find a draft on Facebook.
  15. I have unlimited long distance on my home phone, but I rarely call anyone. We have plenty of minutes on our cell plan, too. I used 8 minutes last month.
  16. I'm perfectly happy to talk if someone calls me. I'll even give you a link so you can call me for free.
  17. Did I mention that I like free stuff? and good deals.
  18. I don't know if I'm capable of paying full price for anything. I can't figure out why anyone would want to.
  19. I got my bellybutton pierced when I was 35.
  20. My favorite smell in the whole world is fresh-baked bread.
  21. Perfume gives me a headache. Please don't wear it around me.
  22. Same goes for smoking - headaches, sore throat, trouble breathing. I wish smokers would realize that what they do affects other people.
  23. I graduated from high school at the end of my junior year - #1 in a class of 34.
  24. I collect recipes - from the newspaper, magazines, the internet. I really need to find a good way to organize all my recipes so I can actually use them. That's what my recipe blog is for, but of course I usually have to try a recipe before I can post it - so it's gonna take a while.
  25. Dark Chocolate!

All that randomness, and I never had to mention Orovo detox. Did you notice that? I'm not tagging anyone here, because I did that on facebook. So I didn't lose my list again, I typed it all here, where I know I can find the drafts, and then copied and pasted to facebook. If you want a tag here, let me know.

Internet Research

I always like learning new things, which is why I enjoyed reading the article about zebras I linked to in the previous post. I probably won't remember what I learned, but I think the important thing isn't memorizing facts, but knowing how to find the answer. I keep telling the kids that's what's important, though remembering enough to pass the test is important, too.

Next time I want to know what color a zebra's stripes are, I can look it up again. If I ever want to know the difference between holodomor and golodomor, I can look that up, too. If you click the link, you can read a little about it. I admit, I don't know much about the Soviet famine of 1932-1933 or who or what was responsible, but the information is out there.

The Internet makes research really easy. The important thing to remember is that just because it's written somewhere on the Internet, that doesn't necessarily mean it's true. After all, if I had told you in that last post that the zebra's stripes are black, that could have been true, or it could have just been my personal opinion. Would you have believed me? Or would you have wanted to do a little research to find out if anyone else agreed with me?

The good news is that there is a wealth of information available online. The bad news is that there is a wealth of information online. You can't just search and take the first answer you find. You need to read through several articles and be selective with the information you choose to believe and share. Internet research is easy, but you still have to put some work into it. And sometimes you just need to go to the library and look through some books.

Monday, February 02, 2009

Heads or Tails – a Past Theme

This week's theme/prompt is: 
EDGE – Any Past Theme

I decided to revisit HEADS *or* TAILS from October 7, 2008 – Black *OR* White.

The question that comes to mind is: What color is a zebra?  Is it black with white stripes?  Is it white with black stripes?

A zebra eating grass.

Image via Wikipedia

I found this very interesting article at How Stuff Works – What Color is a Zebra? and I thought it explained it pretty well.  Looking at the picture of the zebra, though, I could see it being the other way around.

What do you think?  Is the zebra white with black stripes or black with white stripes?

Heads or Tails is a fun weekly meme hosted by Skittles!

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Excuses, Excuses

Cape Hatteras Lighthouse from beach (Buxton, O...Image via Wikipedia

If you happened to notice I wasn't around today, it wasn't because I disappeared to the Outer Banks. It was way more boring than that. I was doing laundry, cutting out coupons, making chili, washing dishes, and all kinds of other mundane household things. I did spend some time on Facebook trying to come up with 25 random things, since I've been tagged a time or two... I'm having a hard enough time coming up with my 25. I can't for the life of me figure out how Misty came up with her 2 million - or whatever the final number was. And I read every single one of them. :) I'm just afraid that when I finally get my list finished, it will be pretty boring and no one will want to read the whole thing.
Case in point: #5 I do laundry on Monday.
Real exciting, huh?

Actually, I don't know what number that actually was on my list because I can't find it. I saved it as a draft so I could go back to it later, and now I have no idea where it went. Help! Does this mean I have to start over again? It's a good excuse for not having done it yet, right?

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