Sunday, November 28, 2010

Thanksgiving Barbecue

Guest post from: Marion Slater

Now that we've entered November, my thoughts have begun to turn towards Thanksgiving. Traditionally, our entire family abstains from the mainstream version of Thanksgiving dinner. Instead, my uncle usually holds a barbecue over at his place in Livermore. Every Thanksgiving, we drive over to my uncle's house with some sort of dish that my mom cooked up.

Once we get there and exchange the usual pleasantries, my cousins and I engage in a little football. We usually finish up about an hour before lunch. While my dad and his brothers man the grills, the rest of us relax and watch some satellite TV that he got after seeing this directtv comparison. Usually they grill chicken, burgers or hot dogs for lunch. They also serve whatever my mom and my aunts bring during lunch as well. After lunch my mom and my aunts sometimes go to the dining room to chat for a few hours while my dad and uncles watch the football games. The rest of us usually go up to my cousins room to play video games and whatnot.

Just before dinner, my uncle begins putting the steaks on the grill. Meanwhile, my aunts and my mom start cooking up some appetizers and side dishes. After stuffing ourselves, everyone gathers for whatever game or event my uncle's family has set up for the evening. Last year we even ended up singing karaoke.

Monday, November 22, 2010

High school friendship; 15 years later

Author: Joseph Sandoval

In your life, you may have more than one best friend and that rings true in my life. A best friend should always reflect who you are or once was and may grow with you; some friends come and go, while others stand the test of time.

My best friend was someone I met in middle school; we ran in the same crowd of people and rarely talked, until one day a friend of ours could not spend the night at her house and I just so happened to not be doing anything that evening, this is where our friendship really took off.

From there, we spent nearly every day together. From boys to school, school to getting in trouble and from getting in trouble to having children, we were together. Until circumstances changed and she moved away when we were 18.

I always wondered about her, I always cared what happened to her, and up until a year ago, we had no contact for 8 years. She was very accepting of welcoming me back into her life as I was welcoming her back, and we decided to get together.

Before leaving that day, I made sure to set my home security alarm from before I visited my best friend. Our meeting turned out to be like we never stopped talking and our friendship has continued

Friday, November 19, 2010

Steinbeck's East of Eden Still Knocks Me Over Every Time.

I appreciate the guest post, Isaias Valenzuela

John Steinbecks East of Eden keeps coming back to me, its as inescapable as a Sunday morning. I first read it when I was a freshman in high school, and every time I re-read it, I discover another angle that I never saw before.

The major analogy of the book, the parallel to the Biblical creation story of Adam and Eve, was at first pretty obvious painfully so, actually. Even the characters mock how the connection is so apparent. Lee, who serves as the books most insightful character, criticizes the main protagonist, Adam, for naming his two sons so closely to the Biblical Cain and Able. Lee knows what the readers know—Adam is purposefully, though perhaps subconsciously, leading the life of a man seeking tragedy. Its how he changes throughout the story that really generates my interest.

Steinbeck goes out of his way to play up this connection, but at the same time, he uses it to disguise the other parallels he deals with. The story itself, analogies and connections aside, stands alone strongly and is well worth the read.

If you ever get the chance, you can catch the movie version with James Dean airing on satellite television from The movie only portrays the last third of the book, but it does a good job with it.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Law and Order - My Favorite Crime Show

Guest post of the week by Moises Henderson

The best part about Law and Order is not the sound that accompanies the show, albeit it is a close second. No, what I love about Law and Order is that it is really two shows in one. The first show is about Order, the part where the cops track down and nab the bad guy. This is the action part of the show, when everything is tense and the criminals are out walking the streets looking for their next rape victim. Once these criminals are apprehended and put in a prison or correctional facility, the second phase of the show begins. This part is the Law portion, when the suspects are given a trial in accordance with the rights granted them by the Constitution. The team of lawyers, usually led by sensible Sam Waterston, then go about prosecuting the criminals to make the world a better place.

Yet the best part about Law and Order is the realism. You see, this isn't some Andy Griffith show where the bad guy always gets what's coming to him. In Law and Order, the bad guy sometimes escapes on a legal technicality or loophole. Sometimes the bad guy wins. This makes the audience believe Law and Order is more reflective of real judicial and law enforcement stories, even though in reality it's just a made up drama that in no way mirrors real life, a made up drama I watch religiously on Direct Star TV.

Friday, November 12, 2010

A nice break from textbooks

Guest post written by Ken Younce

I can not wait for this semester to be over with. I'm in my senior year of college and I thought that I signed up for easy classes because I had fulfilled almost all of my requirements already. But boy was I wrong. All these intro level classes have required so much more reading than all of my upper level classes in my major and now I'm reading about all kinds of different history and literature stuff that I really don't care about either. So I was really excited to just go home for fall break and read a book for fun.

When I was doing some research to find a good book to read during fall break I ended up finding some info about these satellite company specials and decided to click now and get one of them for my apartment with my roommates.

One of my roommates ended up lending me this Coyote Blue book by this author Christopher Moore that he loves. I think he may even have all of the guy's books too. But now I'm back to reading for class until winter break.


Make No (Uninsured) Messes in Texas

I read an internet post by an incensed individual who claimed that the government was trying to take over because they compelled him to have auto insurance. Actually, most auto insurance is totally optional. It is up to you if you want no coverage for yourself or your vehicle should you get into a wreck. Just have at. What is NOT optional is liability coverage for the other driver that you may hit.

Sure, there are illegal uninsured motorists on the road, but not as many these days as there once were. We still carry uninsured motorist insurance just in case, but you definitely don't want to go with nothing, as if you cause an accident and don't have the insurance, it is possible someone could go after your assets for property damage depending on how serious it is.

I was surprised how greatly auto insurance coverage varied. From one company to the next, I found a few deep discounts. However, you want to check what actual coverage you are getting. Are you getting less coverage with that discount? If you are really only looking for the minimum you can legally carry, the savings is more pure savings rather than a company making up a different type of package and it only appearing like you are getting savings.

If you are looking for cheap car insurance Austin TX, you probably won't have to worry about snow and ice related collisions, but on the other hand, you may have to worry more. Drivers forget how to drive in snow and ice and the whole town seems to panic and shut down with a light dusting. I will take experienced snow drivers on the ice over the freak ice storm in a warmer state any day.

At any rate, if you go to, you can compare rates across several insurance carriers. Just plug in your zipcode and give it a whirl.


Thursday, November 11, 2010

A Sinking Feeling

Two of my relatives are renovating homes. One is renovating because they want to make the home more appealing to buyers. The other decided they are never moving and might a well make things perfect. I advised them to look at undermount sinks rather than top mounted.

I have lived in several places where I had a top mounted sink and the adhesive bead always seams to either peel up or discolor. I am not sure if it means it wasn't sealed properly, the installers got happy with the glue gun or it is just the nature of the style. Regardless, unless you buy a porcelain pedestal, go for an undermount sink


Furniture From the Thrift Shop Makes Sense

Written by my friend Marquis Finley

I am a college student who lives in an apartment with several other students. The room came with a twin bed and one chair. We were told the rent is cheap because we have to provide our own furniture. Since I have very little money to spend on furniture, I avoided the local furniture stores, I couldn't afford to buy there. I headed directly to the local thrift shops. Since this is a college town, we have several good thrift shops.

The first store didn't have what I needed, but my friend Mary found everything on her list. I was getting discouraged and tired. I kept thinking I would never find what I needed. The last thrift shop we visited had everything I needed and more. I looked around the store and made a mental note of what the costs where. I knew I made it under budget.

For less than $100 I bought an oak dresser, night table, a lamp for the night table and a mirror. I also found a few toss pillows and a pair of curtains for my room. I was very pleased with myself and my purchases. My friends are helping me load the stuff into a van to take it home. I am so tired, I can't wait to get home, put my feet up and watch fox on our new tv.

Monday, November 08, 2010

New favorite book series

Guest post written by Amanda Rhine

For the longest time I had a tie for my favorite ever book series between Goosebumps and the Little House on the Prairie, but I think that I just found another one, the Sookie Stackhouse series. In case you've been under a rock for the past two years, it's the book series that the TV show True Blood is based on. Needless to say, the books are pretty amazing.

I was so sick of my friends writing on my Facebook wall about how I needed to read the books if I liked the TV show so much, so I went on my wimax 4g a while back and ordered most fo the books in the series.

Right now I'm seven books into the series. I'm pretty sure that there are thirteen, but the author still isn't finished yet with the Sookie Stackhouse book series. I just hope that IÕll be done with all the books that are already out by the time that the latest book finally comes out so I can read it immediately and still be in order.

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Thursday, November 04, 2010

Survive and Conquer

(Above: A 1940s ad for asbestos mitts. If only we knew...)

An old neighbor of mine developed Mesthelioma Cancer several years back. Unfortunately, Mesothelioma took his life. What was unusual was that he never worked in any sort of chemical factory or other scenario where you might picture someone getting absorbed to a variety of inhalants and particles. Rather, he had a desk job at a very small bank in a very small town.

We couldn't help but think, however, that he developed the cancer when he decided to remove some asbestos tile from his home and also cleaned the furnace by himself, both with no protective respirator or mask. There is a reason why they say to not disturb asbestos. It cannot really hurt you if it is sealed inside of a wall. It can hurt you if it is released into the air. The particles are little shards of glass that attach inside your lungs.

Not all cases are so dire. There are folks that manage to survive for a short time, and even those who manage or overcome the disease. There is a book called Surviving Mesothelioma, written by Paul Kraus, that offers support to patients as well as share his treatment journey. For a limited time, Mr. Kraus is offering free copies of the book to newly diagnosed individuals. Visit Surviving for details.

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