Fewer things in recent memory have been more harrowing than reading survivor and witness accounts of the deadly Arkansas flood that claimed the lives of 20 people. Even looking at the list of victims causes a shudder across your heart as you realize how many of them were linked in some way - a child and one of their parents, siblings, husband and wife...
What I was left with... as I tried to keep from imagining the terror of those parents and those so very-young children at finding themselves transported into a camping adventure into the midst of a raging river at 2am... (besides hoping it was oh-so very quick and they truly had no awareness of their plight)... was knowing that every single one of them has moved on to a better place now, with God. And if one can call it fortunate for those who move on - I know that can't be the right word - it's that they didn't make the journey alone. I would never call it fortunate for those who remained - they live without. But they will be reunited with their loved ones again.
Surrounded by people in the mall and supermarket aisles and even the internet searching for the top fat burners and the best sunglasses and most popular video games, and funniest youtube videos, it's easy to get lost in the need to escape and not think about how some people have had the core of their lives ripped away.
I hug my girls all the time anymore, and some days, all day long.
Photo courtesy: Geoff Coe
Now that my daughter has been inducted into the exclusive college mass mailings club one of the other unpleasant effects has made itself known: the mass mailings for credit card offers aimed at college students. Nearly every person I know that has bad credit debt does so because back when they were in college themselves, they suddenly had at their fingertips no less than a dozen credit cards with varying limits even though they had never been asked to verify or confirm any income. I remember the applications: "Income?" Fill in the blank, then "Sign here to confirm all of the above is true." That was basically it. Within a couple weeks you were shopping for things you certainly didn't need.
Even though the president and Congress put some new rules on credit card companies, apparently those rules don't affect solicitation. The latest card offer she received was for a card with a 25% interest rate and a $2000 limit. We sat down with all her recent offers and with a credit card payoff calculator I showed her what a $2000 limit with a 25% rate really meant: with payments of say, $50 a month, it would take her 85 months to pay off. In other words, a total of $4250. It was an eye opener and one of the best lessons she'll get when it comes to money.
We then turned around and showed her the other side - the reward of having good credit and how important it is to research and find a reputable, low-interest credit card with a small limit. This plan involves her making small purchases and paying them off immediately or even over a couple payments to start building her own credit file. It's amazing how many things require good credit: everything from renting apartments and homes to phone bills to car insurance and lately I hear - doctors' offices are checking too. Hopefully she'll keep taking the offers she gets, reading the fine print, and tossing the 99% of them that will do nothing but hurt her in the long run.
Photo courtesy: Daily Dose of Imagery
As anyone who remembers these scenes like the one above either from being there or driving by there, the eye-opening thing about them was what these kids and parents were standing in line for. It wasn't the newest xbox/playstation/gameboy/mp3 player/iphone/cell phone. It wasn't anything technological at all.
They were out there in lines for blocks, filling up parking lots and sidewalks, for a book. Unfortunately for the parents who were thrilled their kids were begging to actually go buy and then read that book in a span of a few days, the Harry Potter series is over and replacements haven't quite surfaced. So the kids have gone back to their xbox/playstation/gameboy/mp3 player/iphone/cell phone activities.
But while recently browsing Amazon to feed my own reading appetite, I discovered that Kindle - that well-known book reader device, has made their reading application available on the go by offering free Kindle apps for those who can't afford the price tag.
One idea that immediately came to mind: for those parents who are accustomed to plunking down that $300-$400 for the newest gaming system at Christmas, they can of course pony up a portion of that sum for a Kindle. But for those who can't now you can download these FREE to your child's computer or iThing and load your their favorite books on it as well as a few new ones. What better way to help them get a jump start in bridging that gap between the book and the digital age... the very vehicle that the book is presented to them in may be the thing that gets them reading again -- all summer long.
And for us parents: whether you're interested in carrying your entire summer reading list with you while you're on that enjoying that family Branson vacation package or you just want to constantly load the newest bestsellers on your blackberry to read at your leisure - this is the certainly the ticket.
That Wacky China is at it again! $32K worth of honey seized in Philadelphia:
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration says more than $32,000 worth of honey has been seized from a distribution center in Philadelphia because it contained a potentially dangerous antibiotic.
The FDA said Thursday the 64 drums of bee's honey had been imported from China... tests showed the honey contained a potent antibiotic that could lead to serious illness or death.
The agency says the antibiotic, called chloramphenicol, is not approved for use in food, animal feed, or food-producing animals in the United States.
Is it me or does it seem like the dumbest marketing plan around to poison your biggests customers using everything from lead paint on children's toys and clothes to fake plants to pet food to medicine to people food, now including honey. If it weren't so creepy... if it were just a story about some non-screened genetically-modified bee honey that was seized then that's kinda scifi and I totally get it. But killer drugs in honey? What is interesting is the story doesn't mention how they suspect the lethal ingredient came to be in the honey.
It isn't as if Chinese authorities are going to go knocking on all the metal buildings in the vicinity of the bee farm looking for the secret lab. They'll just rebrand, repackage and reship another lot. Maybe the next batch will have tainted cocoa.
I'll stick to the honey I know: LOCAL honey... that has an added benefit besides my knowing and seeing the source - it helps eliminate some of my allergies. Old wives' tale I hear, but it seems to work for me.
Plucky. I think that's what they used to call girls like her: Girls who have it all together, smarts, looks, athletic abilities ... and guts. I call her Inspiring. And I'm asking everyone to hold out hope that this amazing girl is found safe, and quickly.
If you haven't already heard, her name is Abby Sunderland, aged 16, and she's been sailing around the world alone, but was recently reported missing at sea. Somewhere between Africa and Australia (I pray they can narrow this down) the girl's emergency beacons were activated and they lost contact with her. An all-out search has been launched so everyone is just praying they track her down in that vast desert that is the ocean and bring her home. Yep, she's only 16. So when so many others in her age group are planning Orlando vacation packages with their pals for spring break this amazing girl struck out on her own to do something I can barely fathom doing. And in doing so, she infected so many who never met her with something people are constantly trying to invoke: Hope.
Hang in there Abby, they're coming to get you. And we all know you'll be back on your boat as soon as they let you back out there.
I tried to ignore it, to just let it go but it was too delicious. Especially when I was handed a double-whammy in the way of content.
It's... 'So delicious it should be fattening,' to quote WPtG who has graced these virtual pages before by way of the 2008 viral videos of Cashill/Kusnell. And I'm not referring to the photograph above of our illustrious president busted on camera, and by an amused ally, checking out someone definitely not his wife.
From the "Only Liberals Can Say This" files comes a pair of real humdingers worthy of savoring, if only for preserving them for posterity. "Hypocrite" is a word wasted on the left, but it's great fun to witness all the same.
Present #1: Apparently, Obama isn't acting black enough:
HBO's Bill Maher: "I thought when we elected a black president, we were going to get a black president. You know, this [BP oil spill] is where I want a real black president. I want him in a meeting with the BP CEOs, you know, where he lifts up his shirt so you can see the gun in his pants. That's -- (in black man voice) 'we've got a motherfu**ing problem here?' Shoot somebody in the foot."
You have to click the link to watch the video to get the full scope of this. And Obama, apparently encouraged by the continued public and vocal thrall of his supporters went down-low and gave up his game plan on killing the spill:
"I don't sit around talking to experts because this is a college seminar," Obama continued. "We talk to these folks because they potentially have the best answers, so I know whose ass to kick."
Another video to watch and enjoy for nothing else than reliving what so many critics of the president warned us about while he was still a senator: he recites well but don't put him on the spot. Bonus: those familiar with the president's background will surely be amused by the defensive reference to those own collegiate connections he continues to speak so highly of.
Present #2: Helen Thomas, the 89 year-old wanna-be Leftist-Lioness journo decided to take a box cutter to her own drafted biographies and remove those illustrious flatteries that had her retiring with respect and ensure they will forever be addended with footnotes and asteriks. Ms Thomas resigned this week after letting the world know that she isn't just opinionated on the wayyyyyyyyyyyy left, she's a woman who never met an Israeli she wouldn't send to Poland and Germany:
Just asking... did anyone ask her what decade she was suggesting someone send them back to those two countries? Oh and if Helen is trying to find a Jew-free strip of land to retire in, I'll wager that Hizb'allah would be happy to make some room for her seeing they recognize her comments to be made in solidarity with their Utopian vision.
Nice work, Helen! It's hard to make even that sychophant Alan Colmes have a hard time defending you, but finding himself on the same side as the MP of that murdering slaughtering terrorist organization might be just a tad too much this time.
Photo courtesy: Captain Cinema
Nothing says summer like Burgers!
And me being me, I am always trying different approaches to the Tried and True standard recipes for just about everything I've ever cooked. Burgers were no exception and I've tried my hand at everything from beef burgers to turkey burgers to veggie burgers to tofu burgers. Not a fan of the latter. And in my trials I've learned there are some burger types I will go back to again and again, they were that good. I have a flash drive full of some of the best of the best. I got it out for a craving I've been having and so...
On the menu this weekend: spicy black bean burgers. Not your usual Sunday dinner I know but we get a little more informal as summer nears and honestly I'm lucky to get everyone at the table at the same time for any dinner these days. I won't say everyone will love them like we do, but if you've visited the veggie burger scene and weren't impressed, give these a try. Making your own might make the difference as well to your perception seeing you can make to your own taste - more spices, less sauce, no onions, etc. I admit we doctor the recipes myself to our own palates - the kids can handle a bit of spice, daddy and I like the green chiles, so we tailor the burgers to the fixings we all prefer.
Traditionalists, never fear: we still have french fries on the side - we just mix them up the homemade cracked pepper russets with chipotle sweet potato fries. And I never forget the homemade ketchup for this summer feast. There are untold ways you can make any recipe your own if you're worried about trying something new... so even if you tried one, you may still like another. When it comes to food - our family shows no fear!
A shot from last year's race... This year's pics are on their way from our own in-house photobrat. This amazing photo courtesy: Kevin High Photography
Yesterday morning found me and one of our 4 girls watching our Small Town USA soapbox derby, an event that completely blew me away at not only the number of kids and parent teams involved but their investments into the sport. I had thought soapbox cars and races were a thing of the past with the rise of video games, computers, cable television and related technological diversions for kids.
Not so! And what a wonderful realization that was. What I had expected to be an hour or so visit turned out to be nearly a full day watching the events, including heading home to eat and bringing back the rest of the kids to watch. I had penciled in some work for myself researching and outlining the benefits of www.consonus.com for my parents' new business model.
Instead, I'm thrilled to report, 7 yr old L who originally went with me in the morning just to visit with her friend (whose brother was racing & who ended the day with a trophy of his own!) ended her day pricing soapbox car kits for daddy on the computer and drawing pictures of what that car will look like when she gets it. Yes, daddy and daughter are going to see how they can get in on the fun for next year. And when fun becomes fierce, in the way of competition - they may even have a chance to travel to Ohio to race against the top kids in the sport.
... but they appear to be armed with blanks... Reading the latest news about the Firearms Freedom Act, I'm always running into chuckle-worthy reaction from the other side of the debate. And by other side, most of the time I'm talking about the Obama administration. Enjoy this one:
Brady Campaign compares state determination of gun laws to crack cocaine:
Under the rationale that the federal government only has the power to regulate issues that affect inter-state commerce, they've been pushing legislation in states from Florida to Alaska that would exempt guns and ammunition made within the state from federal gun laws. The idea is "the latest crack cocaine for gun-rights advocates," says Peter Hamm of the Brady Campaign.
Wishful thinking of course & a cute sound bite for the coed crowd to woo them away from the latest & greatest diet pill reviews that are safer alternatives to, well, crack cocaine?
Unfortunately for the nannies judging from the looks of the newest map of America which details nicely where things stand at different states across the USA, it seems like something with a little more staying power has stuck with 'gun-rights advocates': knowledge of the limits of the United States Constitution in conjunction with States' rights.
Image courtesy: All Stages Marketing
I've recently been researching how companies can grow by using social media, so this recent article about Dealing Effectively with Customer Feedback via Social Media was a must-read as soon as I saw the title. I'll admit, it wasn't long ago that stopping to read about things like Facebook and twelpforces was about as likely as me sitting down to watch an hour-long infomercial about how to prevent hair loss. (Yes, dad, I know... denial ain't just a river in Egypt.) It was a worthy read that explored the dynamics of how a company can learn from its customer base's feedback (both positive and negative) even if it may seem that all they're really after are some coupons of free items.
Anyway, the more time I spent pondering how companies could really effectively use these social media avenues, the more I realized they could be used for both appealing to both new staffers as well as new customers. There doesn't even seem to be any kind of industry that couldn't hack a little exposure on the circuits and make a play for a techonologically-savvy fan base. Can you think of any?