Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Hazing Can Be Very Harmful

Hazing is a nationwide issue that has received a vast amount of publicity within the last few years. This controversial issue is common among many sports teams and college bodies, and it is not something that should be overlooked.

Hazing is harmful in so many ways. It can long-term mental health problems, and it can even be deadly in some cases.  Recently, colleges have been cracking down on the epidemic. Hazing is not just among students, it's even recognized as an issue among adults.

Some people don't even know they're being hazed. If you know someone or are involved in any of these situations, stand up to the hazers and report it to a higher authority. Hazing is illegal and if you or anyone involved in it can face a serious punishment. College students have been expelled and in some cases they have been arrested for the acts they were involved in.

Here's examples of very serious hazing methods everyone should be aware of:

Physical Abuse

This is most common among sororities and fraternities. Although, it is common among sports teams as well. Scenarios in Greek life include being paddled or punched and kicked while the new members are helpless. In sports it can involve rookie athletes being put up against much older and stronger athletes. For instance in the sport of football, a rookie may have to take a few hits from bigger teammates. These events can physically injure someone and in some cases result in death.

Emotional Abuse

Emotional abuse can cause anyone long-term distress. Another common practice in sororities is insulting the new members by picking out their physical flaws. Other initiation methods include getting naked or being forced to dress up in degrading clothing. This is grounds for bullying and harassment. In any moment you notice someone getting harassed in the workplace, outside the classroom, or on a sports team, you should immediately report it.

Extra Work

No matter who you are, you should never be forced to do someone's work, unless a higher authority assigns it. It can be a task as small as gathering all the equipment after practice because you are the rookie. Or it can be doing all the chores in the Greek house, and doing everyone's homework. Again, these can cause unnecessary stress and put you behind with your own workload. Stand up for yourself in the event your feel you are being hazed.

Maggie Lawrence lived away from home during her undergrad education. While she never faced hazing issues, her college consistently cracked down on the epidemic. Currently she is researching a new educational experience by taking online classes. One of the programs she has researched is the Pepperdine MBA Online Program.

I've Got Such a Sweet Son!

Spam commenters are really irritating, but one good thing about all those irritating comments is that I'm reminded of old posts I had completely forgotten about.  Here's one from April 2007:
I took the boy to school this evening so he could go on the band trip to Boston. They had to be there at 5:00, but then had a lot of waiting around and checking of luggage and stuff before they could actually leave. I decided I might as well hang out with him, since he is going to be gone for 5 days. While we were waiting around, he repeatedly hugged me. I think maybe he was trying to make up for all the hugs he's going to miss, though he is a regular hugger. There was a time several years ago when I told him that he was always going to hug me, and he was going to like it. I thought I had to mention that because people told me that kids grow up and don't want to hug their moms anymore - especially in front of their friends. I guess I didn't have to worry about that, he never gets tired of hugs. One time today he was hugging me and turned to his friend and said, "This is my mom. I'm hugging her, and I'm not ashamed of it. So there." What a goofball! You've gotta love the kid.

One last hug, and he climbed aboard the big bus for Boston.
Everybody say, "Awwww."  I really do have a sweet son, and he still likes to hug his mom - even now that he's a junior in college.  He just gets to do it a little less often because he doesn't get to see me very much.

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

We Do Like Our Deck, But

We always planned to have a raised paver patio with a pergola, but when it was time to put in the patio, there was the possibility we'd be moving (even then), and a deck was easier for the guys to build.  So we got a deck, and we love our deck.  I've been looking at all the steps involved with installing a paver patio, and I see why building the deck was the smart idea.  First there's the preparation - excavation, setting the grade, compacting.  Then a base of crushed stone needs to be laid followed by sand to make a nice base for the patio pavers,which then have to be careful arranged in the pattern you want, all the while paying strict attention to the alignment of the rows and the straightness of the joint lines.  And that's not even the end of it.  There are more steps to getting that perfect patio.

Umm, yeah.  Sounds like putting in a paver patio is a job for the experts.  They guys at System Pavers have been laying stones for 20 years, and they know what they're doing.  To back it up, they offer a 30-day satisfaction guarantee or you money back and a 25-year guarantee on their installations and pavers.  If within Twenty Five Years of the completion of the work, the workmanship of the installation fails to conform to their installation quality specifications or there is a defect in the product, they will, at their election, repair or replace the products.  The stones are guaranteed not to break or crack.

The interlocking paving stones from System Pavers come with over 50 colors, shapes, and sizes to choose from, making it easy for people to find and express their own styles.  Looking at the pictures on the website, I'm seeing lots to love.  Sure, we really love our deck, but those paver patios are awesome!  Absolutely gorgeous.  Seriously, be sure to look through the images in the gallery.

Maybe we'll get a paver patio with our next house?  So many of the available houses have nothing but a tiny concrete patio, so we'll definitely have to do something.  Why not call System Pavers and see what they can do?  It's definitely worth checking into.

How about you?  Are you thinking about putting in a paver patio or driveway?  Just fill out the form on the website to request a free in-home consultation with a design specialist and see what System Pavers can do for you.

Pray They Love It

Somebody is coming to look at our house tomorrow.  Pray they love it and want to buy it.

I spent the day straightening up and cleaning around here so that everything looks great.  Not that it looks all that bad normally, and we've spent time getting all kinds of extra stuff cleared out.  Still, I live here, and I tend to stack my papers, books, and all the other stuff I'm supposed to be working on right next to me on the couch or on the floor where they're easily accessible.  Mail comes in and gets stacked on the table.  The kitchen gets cluttered and filled with dirty dishes from cooking.  Laundry gets hung to dry. Etc., etc...

Today I cleared out all of that- except for these movies here next to me that need to go downstairs with the rest of the movies.  I dusted the furniture, swept and vacuumed the floors, wiped down bathroom sinks, cleaned the kitchen sink, and just generally cleaned and straightened the whole house. 

Now that I've done all that, what I need you to do is pray that the people who come to look at it love it.  (I mean, why wouldn't they?)  Maybe they want a deck on their next house, and we've got a really nice one.  To go with our really nice move-in-ready house.

Monday, October 29, 2012

Review: Chris Mann Roads

A year ago Chris Mann was nervously awaiting his audition for reality show The Voice.  This year he releases his debut album Roads with Faircraft/Universal Republic, a new label formed by renowned producer/music executive Ron Fair.

When I was offered the chance to preview this CD, I jumped at the chance - not because I'd ever heard of Chris Mann, but because of his picture on the album cover.  (Is that wrong?  I mean, he is nice to look at.)  But besides that, I enjoy discovering new music and new artists.

Now that I've listened to the CD through, twice so far, I can say that Chris Mann's voice is absolutely amazing!  They say you can't judge a book by its cover (or a CD by its), and that's true - this CD is way better than anything I could have imagined.  Chris Mann describes his style as classically based pop music.  Yeah, that's it.  He takes some familiar songs like Lady Antebellum's Need You Now and Willie Nelson's Always on My Mind, and gives them a deeper, richer feel.  I like it.  A lot.

There are some new songs on this album, two of them co-written by Mann, and a re-imagining of the Frank Sinatra standard My Way.  It's an eclectic group of songs that somehow fit together well.  Right now I think my favorite track is Unless You Mean It.  Don't ask me why.  I can't really put it into words, but I can see a reality show crossover.  This would be a perfect song for Dancing With the Stars.  It would be a very hot dance.

For more information on Chris Mann and his music, be sure to visit the official Chris Mann page. I learned that I may just have seen Chris Mann before, just not on The Voice.  He worked on Glee for a while and appeared as a member of the Warblers.  That wasn't what Chris was born to do - this was what he was born to do, and he does it very very well!

Roads will be available in stores and online October 30, 2012 - that's tomorrow for those of you who are paying attention. Be sure to grab your copy either in one of those stores or on iTunes or Amazon. You'll be glad you did!

Disclosure: I was provided with a copy of the album by One2One Network, and I am eligible for a prize drawing. All opinions stated are my own.

Friday, October 26, 2012

How to Warm Up on a Cold Day

Yesterday it was in the 70s.  Today it was 31° when I got up. Talk about a major temperature drop!  It did get up to 48° today, and I did turn the heat on before I went to bed last night, because they were talking about wind chills in the 20s this morning.  Wind chills!  I think winter is on the way...

Here are some ways to warm up on a cold day, without turning the heat up, which can get really expensive.
  1. Bake something.  The heat from the oven will warm up your kitchen, and you'll have some yummy baked goods, too.
  2. Wash dishes.  You know there are always dirty dishes - especially after you just baked - so warm up by getting your hands into a sink full of warm sudsy water.
  3. Curl up on the couch with a blanket and a good book.  Who said you have to accomplish anything?
  4. Curl up on the couch with a warm cozy cat. Or a computer.  Or both.
  5. Exercise.  There's nothing like getting your body moving and your blood pumping to warm you up.  Even running up and down the stairs a few times will do it.
  6. Drink a hot cup of coffee or tea.  It will warm you up from the inside.
  7. And the most basic of all - dress appropriately!  Put on some socks and a sweatshirt. It's winter.  You're not supposed to be able to run around the house in shorts and a tank top.
I'm sure there are plenty more tips for getting warm and staying warm on a cold day.  Let me know your favorite ones.

I Should Drink More Wine

A while back I wrote a review for a wine rack I got from CSN Stores (now Wayfair).  I really liked the wine rack, but we didn't really have enough wine to put in it.  It was pretty empty with just a couple bottles of wine in it.

Well, guess what - it's now completely full, and we have even more wine that won't fit.  What happened was that I signed up for a wine club.  I thought it would be a good way to try different wines - especially since my main criteria for choosing wine seems to be whether or not it has a cool label.  They offered a nice introductory shipment that included 15 bottles of various wines for a very decent price. Then, every three months, I could get a new shipment of 12 various wines.  I think I went ahead and got 2 more shipments - one of them because I forgot it was time for a shipment until Fed Ex showed up at my door.  Of course, I didn't refuse it, because this is some good wine. 

However, I really don't end up drinking enough wine to justify being in this or any other Wine Clubs. What we have now will last us a good long time, which is why I had to cancel my club membership.  I can, should we ever actually drink all this wine, still order more wine from the company.  Or maybe find another wine club that doesn't give me quite so much wine!

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Do You Know How to Sell Online?

I can build some basic web pages, usually starting with a template I like and then tweaking the HTML to make it do what I want and look the way I want.  I was really thrilled when I discovered CSS because I could do so many more things.  Did I ever tell you that part of the reason I started blogging was that I wanted to play with the blog design?  It wasn't that I actually had something I wanted to say!  Of course, I end up saying a lot more than I play with the design...

Anyway, mostly I've done personal web pages and web pages for our church, and I've done a few pages for some organizations.  Mostly it's all volunteer because I enjoy doing it, but that also means it isn't always at the top of my priority list.  I get to it when I get to it.  It's always fun to learn something new, though - like the time somebody wanted me to include a form on our webpage so people could register online.  I'd never done anything with a form before, but I pulled out my HTML book, and I figured out how to create a form.  Now, of course, Google makes it simple enough that anybody can do it.

One thing I've never learned anything about or had an opportunity to mess with (and there are lots, really) is shopping cart software.  Not having any kind of business where I'm trying to sell something, I've never had to learn how to sell online. I've never even sold anything on eBay - which is a different thing altogether, I know.  I really should do some research, because I've had a couple people ask me if I knew anything about it, and I've had to tell them no.  I can make their web pages look pretty, but I don't know how to make sure they can get the products to the customers.  Which is kind of the reason they want a web page in the first place...

Any suggestions for what works best?  From what little research I've done, it looks like there are several options out there.  The trick is in finding the right plan and then being able to try it.  I don't know if they all do it, but this one at 1ShoppingCart lets you try it free for 4 weeks with no risk.  Of course I'm not going to try it unless I have something to sell, or somebody who wants to be able to sell online, but it's good to know the option is there should somebody ask again.

At Least It's Green (Sort Of)

I mowed the yard today, for what should be the last time this season.  75° in October, and I mowed in shorts and a t-shirt!  It was good to have a reason to get outside and enjoy the weather.

Back Yard
The yard does look better now.  At least the back yard looks pretty good.  It's nice and green.

The front?  Well, at least it's mostly green.  Or partly green.  The summer was so dry and hot that the grass went all brown and dormant.  Then when we started getting some rain, weeds started growing where the grass should have been.  The grass started growing, too, just not as quickly.  A lot of times mowing just meant chopping down the tall weeds and rogue grasses scattered through the yard - and it's practically impossible to see where you've been and where you still need to go.  I usually end up mowing over the same places just because I can't see.  I know I do.  If I could actually mow in a straight line, that might help.

Right now some of the weeds that first took over the yard - and were at least green - have turned brown and dead, and there is a bit of grass coming through.  Maybe there's some hope.  I'm sure there's something we should be doing to take care of it, get it ready for winter, and encourage the grass to come back, but I have no idea what.  I just mow.  And comfort myself with the knowledge that we're not alone in this.  Other yards in the neighborhood are in the same shape.

And while I'm mowing I'm also thinking maybe those smaller lots in Champaign won't be all that bad.  Instead of taking an hour or an hour and a half to mow the entire yard - depending how many times I stop to get a drink, blow my nose, or clean out my shoes - I might be able to mow in half an hour.  Or 45 minutes.  Of course, I won't get as much exercise doing it.

Monday, October 22, 2012

Dress Appropriately for the Weather

I changed the sheets today.  I did not put the flannel sheets on.  Thankfully it's not quite time for flannel sheets or electric blankets.  It's supposed to be 70° this week!  I even slept with the window open last night, and I'm planning to leave it open at least for the next couple nights.  I don't even care if it gets a little chilly!  (though it's not supposed to)

That's right - I really don't mind getting a little chilly when it's a natural chilly - as opposed to paying to be cold by running the air conditioner.  If it's actually supposed to be chilly, I can live with that.  Then it's time for those flannel sheets - and sweatshirts and socks.  I love fall weather and wearing warmer clothes.  The problem is when it's summertime, and I'm wearing summer clothes like shorts and tank tops and sundresses, and I don't think I should have to bundle up.  So I only turn the air on when I absolutely have to - like when it's in the 90's with high humidity for several days straight, or when the rest of the family complains too much.
A typical home air conditioning unit.
A typical home air conditioning unit. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I did learn this summer that it's important to run the air conditioning at least once in a while, whether we need it or not.  The first time we turned it on this summer, it would not work.  Apparently, the motor froze up because we don't use it enough.  Thankfully we have a neighbor who worked for a company that specializes in heating and air conditioning systems, and he came down and checked it out for us.  He was able to get it going that night and then get a new part and fix it for us for a reasonable price.  That really helped us out and helped our neighbor out a bit, too.  It was a very hot summer, so even I appreciated it - and that's saying a lot!

I don't know if you've seen the commercial where the man in jeans and a flannel shirt is fighting with himself, trying to keep himself from turning the thermostat down?  He's too hot - obviously, since he's not dressed appropriately for summer - and he wants to turn the air conditioning colder.  Instead of putting some summer clothes on!  The commercial is trying to sell some kind of air conditioning system that would allow this guy to cool his rooms down so he isn't all sweaty in his flannel and jeans.  I think the point really is - dress appropriately for the weather, and you don't have to cool your house to the point of refrigeration in the summer, and you won't have to turn the heat up so much in the winter.  Just a few degrees either way can make a huge difference on your power bill.  Also, I don't think I'd dislike air conditioning so much if stores, restaurants and other public places would adjust the temperature so that it's comfortable for people who are dressed appropriately for the outside weather.

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Friday, October 19, 2012

A Little Part Makes all the Difference

English: Wooden File Cabinet with drawer open....
English: Wooden File Cabinet with drawer open. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
I got through a whole box of old files this week. Why did I still have bills from 2001?  Well, because I filed them away and never had a need to look at them again - until now, when I don't want to take them with us when we move.  From now on, when the file cabinet drawer gets full, it's time to get rid of all those paid bills.  No more boxing them up and putting them in the back room.

It was interesting looking through some of them, though and comparing what we used to pay for things like the cell phone bill and the water bill to what we pay today.  Of course, back then we were only paying for one cell phone, and there was no such thing as a data plan (was there?), so of course the cell phone bill was much less then.  But the water bill?  We live in the same house.  We use the same water, right?  So why has the water bill gone from about $40 every 3 months to about $150?  Yeah, rate hikes to pay for new wells, or something like that, and the hydrant fee that used to be part of our tax bill all show up on there, so it probably isn't all that bad.  I wouldn't even have remembered how low it used to be if I hadn't still had the old bills.

There was one water bill not too long ago that was exceptionally high, and along with our water bill, we also got a letter letting us know that our water usage was exceptionally high, and if we hadn't been doing a lot of watering or other things that would explain the extra usage, we ought to check for running toilets or leaking faucets.  Yes, we did have a toilet that was running more than it should have been.  Thankfully, we didn't have to call a plumber to get it fixed.  If I didn't have my very handy husband, I probably would have, but he fixed whatever it was that needed fixed.  I think there was just a part that needed replaced.

Diagram the various parts of a toilet tank. Th...
Diagram the various parts of a toilet tank. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Either way, plumbing service toronto or handy husband, getting it fixed was a necessary step, because our next water bill was in the 'normal' (for now) range, and we haven't gotten another one of those letters.  That was even about the time Beth, Tim and Jason moved in with us, and we had more showers being taken and more laundry being done, and still our water bill was pretty normal.  Amazing what a difference a little part makes!

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Thursday, October 18, 2012

Program Your Own Remote Transmitter

I'm Good!

Last night when I got home, I called the Honda service center and told them the problem with the key fob.  I asked if there was anything I could do to program it, but the girl I talked to said I'd probably have to take the car back in to get it programmed. (Hence the frustration)

Well, I called again today to talk to the guy I dealt with both times I was in there.  He was busy, so I left a message for him to call me back.  He hasn't called, and I got tired of waiting, so I looked up the User Manual for the car.  I searched 'remote transmitter' and found that I could either take the transmitter to the dealer for programing, or I could program it myself.  I followed the instructions, and it worked!!  The fob works now, and I don't have to find time to go back!!

Yes, I'm happy.

The instructions were really easy -
Programming remote transmitters
It is necessary to have all (maximum of four — original and/or new) of your remote transmitters available prior to beginning this procedure.
To program the transmitters yourself:
  • Place the key in the ignition and turn from 2 (LOCK) to 3 (OFF) and cycle between 3 (OFF) and 4(ON) eight times in rapid succession (within 10 seconds) with the eighth turn ending in the 4 (ON) position. The doors will lock/unlock to confirm that programming mode has been entered.
  • Within 20 seconds, program a remote transmitter by pressing any button on a transmitter. The doors will lock/unlock to confirm that the remote transmitter has been programmed. (If more than 20 seconds pass before pressing a remote transmitter button, the programming mode will exit and the procedure will have to be repeated.)
  • Repeat the previous step to program additional remote transmitters. The doors will lock/unlock to confirm that each remote transmitter has been programmed.
  • When you have completed programming the remote transmitters, turn the ignition to 3 (OFF) or wait 20 seconds. Again the doors will lock/unlock to confirm programming has been completed.
These instructions are for a 2001 Ford Taurus.  Please check your Users' Manual for instructions for your own car.
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Upkeep and Maintenance on a House

When looking at houses to buy in Champaign, we've been trying to focus on newer houses - 2 to 7 years old, or so.  If they're older than that, we look for information about the things that have been replaced on the house, such as the roof, windows, or furnace. Otherwise, we could end up needing to replace some of those things sooner rather than later, and we don't really want to deal with that unless we have to.

After all, our house is practically brand new, even though it's 15 years old.  Because of the tornado, we've got a new roof, new siding, new gutters, new windows, a new garage door - practically the whole exterior has been redone - and the interior has been newly painted, and not in extreme colors in every room.  And because of the tornado, we didn't have to pay for all that - the insurance did!  Except for the cost of the windows that weren't broken or scratched and therefore didn't need to be replaced.  It was the time to do it, though, and we did get a nice tax credit for putting them in.

We've also done some upgrades on our own, like having ceramic tile put in the kitchen/dining room, front entry, and both of the bathrooms and adding a really nice deck on the back of the house.  And we did have to pay for a new hot water heater a few years ago, so our buyer won't need to call a company like Hot Water Heating Calgary any time soon.  That hot water heater should last for several more years.

So, while upkeep and maintenance may be part of owning a house, we'd like to avoid some of those expenses if at all possible.  We can paint those crazy colored rooms and eventually upgrade our flooring to ceramic tile and hard surfaces, but we don't want to have to replace the hot water heater or the roof or windows in the next few years.

Then again, maybe we'll get a super super deal, and it will be worth the risk.  We'll have to see what's available when we sell our house.  The people who buy it are going to be set and shouldn't have to worry about repairs for a quite a while. (Send them our way.  Thanks!)

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

The Car is Fixed, BUT...

Car keys on Khaki
Car keys on Khaki (Photo credit: Tattooed JJ)
I waited all day, but at least now the window works.  Again, I should have taken my computer and gotten some work done, but I figured that they knew what the problem was, and they had the part, so how long could it take?  6-1/2 hours, that's how long.

I would have been out of there sooner, but they originally said they would need two keys to program the windows or the new part, or whatever.  I didn't really understand it, but we only got one key when we bought the car, so we could really use a second key.  Then, today when they fixed the car, they didn't actually need the second key, so they didn't make one.

The serviceman I was working with at Honda said he would send it back to Ford to get one made, since he'd told me we would get a second key.  It would take another half hour or so.  And since I was already there...

So I waited another hour or so - it was a long half hour - and got the second key.  And before I left, we made sure that both keys would start the car.  And I was out of there.  I drove to the movie theater, just in time to see Trouble with the Curve, which I'd been wanting to see and was on the $5 movies this week.  (I'd already missed the 12:45, 1:45, and 3:40 showings.  I see now I was being very optimistic thinking I could make that 12:45 show, and here I was thinking I might have time to kill between leaving the dealership and going to the theater...)

When I got to the theater just in time for the 4:20 showing, I found that I could not lock the car doors with the key fob.  None of the buttons did anything.  Somewhere in all the programming and whatever it takes to make a new key, they forgot the fob, and now it does not work.  Thankfully the keys, as well as starting the car, also unlock the doors.  I didn't think to try that until after I had locked the car with the lock button on the door, and closed the door.  I could have been in big trouble and needed a calgary locksmith (Quick LockWorks, Ltd.. 104-3223 83 St. NW - Calgary - Alberta - T3B 5N1 - Canada - (403) 202-7656) to get back into the car.  Or just plain called Honda and told them to come get me and fix this thing.

As it is, I am going to need to take the car back.  Again.  So they can get everything programmed to work properly.  After spending all day waiting, drinking too much coffee, not really eating breakfast, or lunch, or dinner, I was just really tired and frustrated, and all I really wanted to do was cry.  Which I did when I got home and my husband called.

At least the movie was good.

How was your day?
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it took them a while to find the part to fix the window on corys car. and then we went to the feast, and i didnt have time to get it in. i had packing and getting the house ready for an open house to do. so now we are back, and i made an appointment to get the car in today, and i have been here since nine thirty. and i am still waiting.

i hope they will be done soon. cory better love me.

.... posted from my phone which will not let me capitalize or use any punctuation except periods and commas. i do not know why. ...

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

So Much Stuff

I finally got the laundry done!  Washed, dried, folded, put away - except for the dresses hung in the basement because I didn't want to put them through the dryer and except for the shirts that need to be ironed.  But, for now, I'm done, and I took some time today to start going through stuff in the back room.

The thing with having room for storage in the basement is that we tend to accumulate a lot of stuff.  And we don't want to move any of that stuff that we don't really need, if we don't have to.  That means we need to go through things and sort, toss, donate, and decide what things we really want to keep - hopefully a small fraction of everything we have.  One day of going through boxes, and I'm already thinking it would be easier just to call junk removal edmonton, and have everything hauled away!

Of course, if you know me at all, you know I could never do that.  I need to take the time to actually go through everything, so I can remember what we have and decide whether I want to keep it or not.  I go through old magazines and pull out recipes I want to try and articles I want to read.  I hold onto books I want to read someday.  I hold onto old clothes I haven't worn in years, because I try them on, and they still fit - and I forgot how much I liked them.   I hold onto old notebooks from my high school and college days, because you never know when I might need to refer to all those notes I took!  (Yeah, I think it's time to toss those - better get to that box before I change my mind!)

It really would be easier to get rid of stuff if I didn't take the time to look at it first...
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Monday, October 15, 2012

Do You Write Poetry?

I used to toy with writing poetry, or at least what I called poetry.  I'm not sure what really qualifies as poetry - though I'm sure I learned that in high school.  I do remember reading poems in class and being incredibly frustrated by questions like, "What is the author trying to say here?" because I always figured if the author wanted us to know what he was trying to say, then he should just come right out and say it.  I guess that might take all the fun out of it?

I don't think anything I wrote was ever all that good, but I did submit a couple to some poetry contests. Though I never won anything, they did tell me they were going to include my poems in a book of poetry they put together from all the submissions.  I choose to believe that they didn't include every submission, and that my poems were at least good enough to be printed.

If you write poetry, be sure to check out the free contest from World Poetry Movement.  Poems can be on any subject, in any style - and you could win $1000.  Winning poems will also be considered for publication.

I wonder if I should try writing poetry again?  Except that I read the last couple winning poems, and I still don't really get it - what were those authors trying to say, anyway?

Three Weeks' Worth

Laundry, laundry, and more laundry - three weeks worth!  That's what happens when we're not home for more than two weeks.

I did laundry the weekend of September 22-23, and I'm finally getting a chance to do my laundry today.  I guess the good news is I have enough clothes to go that long - and I have my own washer and dryer to wash and dry everything.  I'm really appreciating that last part, because I did Jeffrey's laundry at the laundromat on Thursday.  It's been ages since I've used a laundromat for anything.  But Jeffrey needed clean clothes, and we had a busy weekend planned, with no time to do laundry, so that's what I had to do.

There's a nice laundromat at the apartment now, which we did not have when we lived there, so I didn't have to go far.  Still, having to pay to wash clothes - and trying to figure out what the difference was between the $1.35 top-loading machines and the $1.85 front-loading machines, because the amount of clothes I could put in each was pretty much the same - was hard.  So I only did Jeffrey's clothes - two loads in the front-load washers, two dryers to dry, and then another $1 to run a dryer again because everything didn't get dry.  But, he got clean clothes, and I brought his sheets and towels home along with my clothes, and I'm washing everything today.  Last load is in the dryer now.

Yep, it does take a bit longer using my own washer and dryer, but that's OK.  I like it much better, and next weekend I can get back to a regular schedule, instead of waiting three weeks to do laundry.

(Note: my regular laundry schedule now means Saturday night and Sunday, so Jeffrey can bring his clothes home on the weekends, get them washed, and take clean ones back with him.  Sure, he could use the laundromat at the apartment, but why should he?)

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Safer Than a Candle

I finally got a chance to see Jeffrey's apartment - except for just seeing the phone pics he showed me. We were in Iowa together (yay) for a while, and before heading back to Wisconsin, we both came to Champaign so he could go back to work, and so I could look at houses.  When we walked into his apartment, it smelled kind of odd.  Whether that was just how the apartment is or because it was shut up for more than a week, I don't know.  Whatever the reason, he lit a candle to help eliminate the odor.  It did help some, so that's good.

After unpacking and sorting out things that are going to stay at the apartment and things that are going back to Wisconsin, we headed out to look around the area and to get a bite to eat.  He made a point of putting out the candle before we left - because you do not want to leave a candle burning when you are not at home.  There was a time I did that, and I'm so thankful that nothing happened, and we did not burn down the place.  It freaked me out a bit when I realized it.

It reminds me of the time I was actually home and had an issue with a candle.  I put a candle on the windowsill in my kitchen and let it burn.  It was really pretty.  However, what I did not realize was that is was melting my miniblind which I had pulled up a bit in the window - but obviously not enough.  The heat from the candle was too hot for that vinyl miniblind.

I probably should have been using one of these led tea lights, though I'm not sure they had them back then. They're safe!  I could have put one on my windowsill, still enjoyed the look and feel of a real candle, because they're made to mimic that effect with what they call True Flicker®, but there would have been no heat and no melting.  The one click on/off switch and long-lasting lithium battery make them easy to use for over 72 hours of continuous use.  They're even safe to leave on when you leave the house - or around kids and pets (and miniblinds).

I suppose it's not too late to get me some - just in case my brain goes on vacation again, and I want to burn a candle on a windowsill, or forget to put it out when I leave the house.  Six of them are less than $5, which is not bad at all, and they get cheaper the more you order.

Monday, October 08, 2012

Paying for School

I was eating lunch with one of my friends the other day.  Her nephew came by, and they started talking about how he was an expert in finding money for school.  He put himself through college and didn't have a huge loan to pay off when he was done.  He has a cousin who is a junior in high school and starting to think about college - applying and paying for it - and they're going to get together so he can share his knowledge.  I wish Cory had had some help in that area.  He is definitely going to have a loan to pay off when he gets out of college.

I wish he had spent more time researching scholarships and grants.  And he does have another year after this one, so he still could...

There are plenty of online resources to help with the search. is one such site.  Every year, hundreds of companies, foundations, non-profit organizations and government agencies give millions of dollars away in scholarships and education grants to needy students to help them pay for college, and collect and list them on the site.  Students can search for available scholarships based on major, age group, ethnic background, geographic location, etc.  There is information about each opportunity and how to apply.  Definitely worth a look if you've got a young person in college or planning to go to college.