Friday, January 29, 2010

Sign In, Please

cliparttesttaking.jpgThere are many sites on the internet promising users great riches by just simply opening up and reading emails, or possibly to complete paid surveys. Are they legitimate? That is the first question. Secondly, can you make any money at it? The first rule of thumb would be to never sign up for a site that solicits you directly. It is one thing to get a solicitation in a newsletter, but a direct email to you is what I am speaking of. Awhile ago, there was a site that was asking folks to click a link. The ringer was that the person that was supposedly working directly for the company did not have an email address that reflected the domain of the company.

One of the latest ones is GetPaidtoTry. They don't really clearly say what you are going to be doing to make the money, but reading additional articles reveals that users complete surveys issued by various marketing companies or manufacturers, and folks are then paid for their opinion. Email participation seems mandatory. If you opt out of emails, you opt out of receiving accrued funds, so that seems to be important to know.

I don't know how much money people make, but I think the overall drive to take surveys is the need folks have to be heard. While some may say it borders on narcissism, the practice has roots in childhood. Remember those "Sign In, Please?" books that required one to poll friends on the playground on their favorite colors and what their middle names were? Perhaps it also has to do with the love of a democratic system where we crave representation. Either way, from what I read I suspect that it isn't something to do to become rich. If you like answering questions, then it may be something to try, however.

Thursday, January 28, 2010

The West Coast: More Beautiful?

montag.jpgHeidi Montag's latest stunt involved having ten plastic surgery procedures in one shot. For those who are big critics of excessive Los Angeles plastic surgery, you have found a poster child. Montag was a beautiful woman to begin with and didn't appear to require any enhancement, unlike folks living with deviated septums who are finding it increasingly hard to sleep through the night or breathe properly, or folks who have skull fractures from an injury and feel self conscious about it, or more so, find that it is affecting their health.

Sometimes every procedures associated with Hollywood and the west coast is associated with excess. One looks in the phone book and sees los angeles breast augmentation, Hollywood veneers, West Coast surgical, and that is in New Jersey! For some reason, practices take on similar names to appear more glamorous.

The latest euphemism in the field is the "mommy makeover." It involves a tummy tuck and breast lift combos for women who have gone through childbirth. It gives them a more attractive midriff and often eliminates excess skin. This practice seems much more common. Perhaps it would be better if the media publicized these more minor surgeries that improved self esteem rather than the extreme examples.

Friday, January 22, 2010

Problem Free Potty Training

At left: If a cat can be trained to use a toilet, why are kids such a challenge?

Sometimes I wonder how parents have done it for thousands of years. People have grown up and grown older for generations, and somehow they were raised without a stack of instructional manuals. Of course, nowdays there are several sections at the book stores and libraries telling us how to physically, mentally and emotionally raise children to the point that there are phrases such as "over parenting" in the lexicon.

One phase of life that even caused Freud to believe it affected our adulthood was the act of potty training. Remember the whole argument of being anal retentive or not?

Now there is a new "system" for toilet training called The Potty Boot Camp. Dr. Suzanne Riffle promises that a child can be accident free and beyond the diapers in about a week. I am a little skeptical that this is possible, as kids bodies may not be fully mature and night time accidents may happen. The key is to not try to potty train until a child is 18 months old or older, and apparently the system offers reward to the child.

I am skeptical when the thoughts of reinforcing self esteem and going to the bathroom are discussed in the same sentence, but there is method of reinforcing personal responsibility in a child that is at work. Some of the reviews or feedback mentioned parents using stickers or M&Ms to help the child focus on the goal of using the toilet instead of diapers.

The book is available through eBook download for $5.95. If you are a parent who is at wit's end, then it seems like its a small price to pay for giving something else a try.


Tuesday, January 19, 2010

The New Year is Here: Evaluate Your Funds

It is that time of year once again. January is a little more than halfway over and you are probably getting your W2s and 1099s. For me, I have to wait until the end of the month. For many of us, even though the year ended December 31st, we find ourselves honing in on a new fiscal year now. We sort of ease into it.

It is important to pay attention to what is going on in the world of Online Broker? Many people walk in and sit down with an advisor, but many more have turned to online trading for their needs. Are you finding that you are with the right one that fits all of your needs?

Gone are the days of day trading when it comes to stock trading. In truth, there are still many people who sit at home buying at one hour and selling at another. However, the majority of people are managing their mutual funds, stock options, and 401K. Nowadays, those investments are not deposited into a company fund that you only get a quarterly report for. Most of the time you can now see these nest eggs from day to day.

Things aren't like 1929 like some people say. No way. Just think about your long term goals and you will come out on top when you need it. Don't panic, but make sure the handling of your financial assets is in line with your goals.

Friday, January 15, 2010

Don't Struggle. Tutors Can Help.

rascals.jpgI have been following the news about some local schools and their dilemma in improved the math and reading scores of their students. In fact, the biggest factor in improved grades was not any overhaul of the curriculm, but the very simple act of volunteers sitting down with the kids and giving them help with their Math homework. Some say its the one on one contact, but I even think that if parents enlisted Free math tutoring online, it would still help. While some kids are starved for one on one attention with adults, more just need a little extra guidance out of class because it came at them so fast the first time.

I know when I was in grade school, there were times that I just sort of trusted that if I didn't understand, it would sink in eventually. By the time I reached high school, I realized it wasn't such a hot strategy. I had to hit the books much harder. The free math homework help available was from my peers. While it was cool for freshman to accept help from seniors, it didn't feel so hip to rely on help from someone in the same math class. I thought there must be something wrong that I wasn't catching on like they were.

At any rate, if you are struggling as a student, or struggling as a parent to help your children, I would suggest seeking help. An online tutor can come to the rescue at any hour of the day.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Moving On Out

A few of my friends are playing the moving game. As soon as they ordered a home appraisal, companies were calling them in hopes of giving Local Moving Quotes. It seems a bit counterintuitive, as part of the quote depends on when the move is going to happen. Perhaps the intention is if a company calls the person first, they will stick in their mind when the homeowner or renter is looking for Local Movers down the road.

It really had the opposite effect to some extent. My friends remembered how annoying all of the phone calls were. Also, since the solicitation happened after an appraisal, rather than after a sign went up, they felt it was also an invasion of privacy. Not a good foot to be on when a company is hoping to win a chance at giving them Moving Estimates. I found that an in home estimate is just really a way to get one's foot in the door literally.

I am sure that the Local Moving business is competitive. After all, everyone knows someone with a van or pickup truck and everyone has a brother, friends or cousins. The benefit, of course, to hiring a professional is that they have the expertise to move large items and if they should drop and break it, they are insured, where your friends are not. Also, it prevents the issue of everyone becoming scarce as soon as the moving day approaches. Sometimes it is better to pay someone who will be committed to doing it, rather than rely on competing schedules.

So Many Options; So Little TIme

I remember a decade ago when I was working on some simple four page websites as if I was painting the Sistine Chapel, relying on website hosting from a free service such as geocities. Of course, you may know what happened to geocities. It has gone the way of the DoDo Bird. At least the nice folks there gave us ample warning rather than just dropping off the face of the earth. I do believe subscribers had three quarters of a year to park themselves somewhere else

I didn't dream that websites would become so complex and the web hosting options so vast. If I were to travel back in time to visit the self that was living at that moment, I would probably have caused quite a shock to myself both from my appearance and the promise of internet options to come.

For example, I remember when all you needed to learn is a little html language. Now strange words like drupal are peppering the technical lexicon. It sounds like a medical condition, quite frankly. It is really a contact management software that serves as the backbone of some websites, but perhaps to some, maybe it really is one of the Seven Dwarves.

Have you reviewed all the options available today from your webhost or others like it? You may be surprised if you haven't updated in awhile about what is out there.


Christmas with a Cowboy

I had no idea National Finals Rodeo Tickets were such a hot item. I wandered around online and the most thrifty ticket you can find is in the $67 range, with many tickets to be had in the over $500 range. It is happening in Las Vegas next December so perhaps when people are on vacation, they'll spend more. The event is always sold out, and has a home viewership in the millions.

I really want to know what more is included versus just a seat to warm. For the $50o and some dollars, do you get an upholstered seat and a waiter? Do you get to mingle with participants? I really can't answer that.

I have watched Professional Bull Riding and Barrel Racing on television. While Barrel Racing is a sport of teamwork between a human and a horse and relies on fast thinking and speed, bull riding is a bit more unpredictable. I was very glad to see bull riders wearing crash helmets. Just a few years ago, they didn't, and I am sure there were many more life threatening injuries when they didn't. As for me, if I was thrown from a bull, I don't know if I would get back up. Just like a wasp is brightly colored to warn you not to touch it, I think I would stay away.

Are you headed to the National Radio Finals this year. If not, would you go?

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Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Give me Liberty: Give me Statistics

One of my main in Statistics problems high school is that I really didn't know what statistics class was. The reason for my dilemma was that I didn't receive an ample enough grade in Algebra II and Geometry to advance to Trigonometry. A good performance in Trigonometry would naturally lead to a chair warmed up for me in Statistics class.

When I found out that Statistics was the recording and interpreting of data relevant to the problems at hand, I felt a little flim flammed. It just seems like such a practical form of mathematics. Even if there is an element of the abstract, I wouldn't think I would need Statistics help all that often as I would actually understand what I was doing. I have read reports that use statistics, so unlike calculus, I have a very concrete concept of what its all about. It is like having a child who fails math but can balance a check book.

While I am not saying I have a bright and shiny future as a Statistics tutor, I think that I should have at least been given the chance to take a crack at the class. It shouldn't have been buried behind a huge stack of prerequisite classes.

Online Gambling: Remember It's Real Money

I have been inundated with all sorts of junk mail about online casinos. Some of them are a little bit dicey, promoting overseas gambling which is only legal in a cursory way. Other websites do not involve any money, but you play with points or fake money for prizes.

Recently, I looked at a list that rated a number of online gambling websites. I am not really sure about all the factors that went into scoring them, but appreciated each site being flagged as being based in the United States or in a different country. Actually, if legislation goes through, there could be California based online casinos. It would be a revenue generating venture trying to tap into those who gamble overseas. What struck me as odd, was that it listed a "welcome bonus" that wasn't just a few dollars but was in the high hundreds. I am really not sure if I have my head around it. It has to be "fake" money that they give you to gamble to start you out, as otherwise, people would register and cash out after just one hand.

I am glad that I am not addicted to gambling online. One of the pitfalls, as I see it, is that people don't always get the sense that they are playing with real money. To some, it is just a bright computer game. While trying it out is nothing to be alarmed at, if you have a loved one that is having a problem with online gaming, please encourage them to get help and support them.


All I Wanted for Christmas

Even though I am an adult, it doesn't stop relatives from asking me what I want for Christmas. I am a bit boring, as I just ask for things I was going to buy anyways. After Christmas, I just buy what I don't get, as I was going to go ahead and do it anyhow. This year I got a sonicare toothbrush, which I was very happy to receive. Boring, huh? Well, I really wanted one and I don't have to buy it.

I also had one of those ion hair blow dryers on the list. Apparently, my aunts thought that it wasn't exactly festive, so they bought me chocolate and a bookstore gift card instead. That's okay. I will wait for some sales to buy a new one. Mine is on its last legs, but hasn't gone to the hairdryer shelf in the sky quite yet.

Among the things I did not expect to receive was a new samsung lcd tv. It is a little too greedy to ask for that for Christmas, but I put money that I received towards it, and should have one in another month or two. By that time, I may change my mind, but that's the way things go.

No Ruts About It

10-minute-trainer-i.jpgYesterday, I tried again to start a workout routine. I enjoy walking, and I get a lot out of it, but I have some muscle groups that I would like to tone up and walking doesn't do it. My big problem is motivation. I am not into creating some sort of Insanity workout to create a physique with 1% body weight and muscles where people don't even have places, but just something I can stick with.

There is something to be said for workout videos and equipment. Of course some of it just collects dust, but if its something that motivates you, it is well worth it. There is a 10 minute trainer kit that you can get that contains all ou need to get a concentrated workout in just ten minutes a day. No, it won't give you a rock hard body most likely, but it will give you more energy to do more.

When you graduate from that, you can move on to the Power 90, which provides a longer lasting workout regimen. I think for me, the other factor beyond commitment is boredom. It appears that the workout routine will prevent one form falling into a rut. Since the New Year has passed, my February Resolution is to get my butt off the couch and get going.

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Monday, January 11, 2010

If Only I Had Been a Math Wizard...

numbers.jpgIn school, my brother and I could not have been more different. I was practically a savant when it came to English, history, or composition classes. He had a difficult time with reading comprehension, but was a whiz at math. In fact, in the first grade, I sat with the 5th graders for reading class, and in 5th grade, I came in second place in a district wide spelling bee. The only reason I lost was because I really had to go to the bathroom really badly.

My brother would have been out in the first round at the spelling bee, but he can tell math jokes. When he explains it, you can see why its funny, but because I don't know anything about trigonometry, I am sort of am lost. A scientist would find it side splitting and hilarious. I would need serious help with Math homework to even have an inkling of it being mildly amusing.

I wish that Free math tutoring online was available back when I was in middle school. It was hard to get outside of class help because my parents were not great at math. Also, my teacher was the type of person who was very gifted at math but didn't know how to teach it. It would have been better to have had someone who was a great teacher and was just average at math, I think, and save the math genius teacher for college or in high school. If the websites would have been invented, I would have been able to get up at any time of the day or night and figure out how to help myself.

Simple math and practical math is easy, but once you get into abstract math and don't get algebra help, you just get more and more lost as time goes on. I found that because I sort of slided through Algebra by luck, and didn't do well in Algebra II, I couldn't go on to Solve calculus or be admitted to Chemistry class. Of course, there are plenty of opportunities for me with the skills I have in writing and the arts, but I wonder what would be different had I mastered math.

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Play It Safe: Avoid These Autos

I know that auto insurance is much more expensive for fancy sports cars than it is for sub compacts. Part of this is because the speedsters cost insurance companies more to replace because of the scarcity or cost of some of the parts. Of course fast cars are more like to be used recklessly. Recently, I was looking at a list of SafeAuto's 12 Least Safe Automobiles and surprisingly there were only a few sports cars.

kiario.jpgIn fact, charting at number 11 is the 2009 Kia Rio. It looks like any other little foreign car, and protects the driver in the case of front end collisions. However, if the car is struck at any other angle, one site reports that its a "guaranteed trip to the ICU unit." Behind it was the 2009 Chevy Trailblazer, which is a relatively popular model. Now, I wouldn't be surprised if an SUV came with higher auto insurance for all of the risk taking drivers do, but I always thought they were safer for impact.

What car ranked the highest, or, should I say the lowest? The number one car on the list was the Ford Pinto. The Pinto? The legendary Yugo did make the list. The incident of the Yugo being blown off the Mackinac Bridge is the stuff urban legends are made of, but it was the Pinto and its spontaneous combustion when struck at low speeds and being able to avoid suspension bridges, apparently combustion won out. Or lost out. Depending on your point of view.

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Tuesday, January 05, 2010

Looking For the Right Match

ford-ranger.jpgThere is nothing like old pickup trucks in my books when it comes to vehicles. They have so much character, can be driven in all weather conditions, and the visibility is far superior. Some of the trucks I have owned definitely won't bring a Rolls Royce or a lamborghini cars to mind, that's for sure! Because some of my favorites have been gmc and chevy trucks, I am very inclined to look at the new models they have. The Ford Ranger is closest to the size of my old truck.

I am currently in the market for a vehicle, and I am really waffling and wavering with all the choices that are out there. Even though my heart is always with old trucks, I have waffled and wavered. I was thinking about a more economical car, like a kia, but must admit that my head was definitely turned by the 2010 chevy camaro specs. In fact, at the International Auto Show I saw the "Camaro Black" concept car. The 2010 model looks very much like it.

I have really been intrigued by the new smart car. They are such a unique design and illicit a lot of nostalgia in me as they remind me a little bit like the BMW Isetta. It was in the "microcar" class, meaning that it seated one to three people. I have passed a dealer every day that has them, and the more i look at them, the more they remind me of a little roller skate. I am not quite sure if that would be safe enough for me in the winter time. If I had disposable income to have a little car on the side just for fun, I would consider it.

Someone showed me some Nissan Sentra pictures. Unless I buy a used car that is a few years old, I am going to buy American. I was told that Nissan cars are made here, unlike the Hyundai Genesis which is a Korean import. I saw that the Titan is made in Mississippi and Sentra is assembled in Mexico. I don't know if that will sway me, as the company may employ Americans, the profits go overseas. I think I may stick with something like the Ford Focus instead.

I am not sure what I will decide. I have another two weeks to consider it, and will let you know.

Give Your Aspiring Tattoo Artist a (Hydraulic) Lift

I always admired the vintage and antique barber chairs I see at auctions and estate sales. They always go for pretty big bucks. Sometimes, I feel like buying them to somehow "save" them, but then I wonder where I would put them and what I would do with them. There is always a wrinkle, isn't there?

Little did I know that you can snap up a more contemporary hydraulic styling chairs with lots of chrome at Sam's Club. Why am I surprised that one can buy them outside of some sort of salon or business supply place? After all, I have seen them in homes of folks who are part time or semi retired hair stylists. They sometimes get lucky when the establishment disbands and asks if they want their chair, but often they can purchase one brand new.

Another thing I never visualized them as is tattoo chairs. With body art becoming more and more popular, using a chair used by the personal care industry makes the establishment look that much more professional. It also allows the artist to bring the customer up to a comfortable level with a low risk of a hand jumping or a customer sitting at a funny angle. That would be pretty bad if later it was discovered that the subject had been leaning the whole time, skewing the tattoo.

If you have always been wanting a barber or salon chair, the price range is around $82 for a cutting stool to the $600 range for a high end, very deluxe facial table, with many different choices in between.