Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Make Your Holiday Count This Year

Over the years I have seen stores that would close down for days to celebrate holidays.  Not every holiday, but the ones that people travel to visit distant relatives and keep the spirit of family alive.  Nowadays, things have gone too commercial.  I understand that in today's world, that everyone doesn't share the same values in celebrating holidays.  Some people don't celebrate any holidays.  The point that I am going for is that I live in the United States.  I live and work based on our calendar.  I have grown up and founded my own traditions based on the holidays on that calendar.  So, if I expect certain for myself, then I think others should be able to do the same, and whether they do or not is solely up to their discretion.

The first sign that stores care nothing about anyone and that money is the sole purpose is the placement of seasonal items.  This year, our local big-box store was placing Christmas items on display...before Halloween.  Quit shoving seasonal merchandise in my face two seasons early.  Secondly, the advancement of "Black Friday".  Growing up, stores would open up early the day after Thanksgiving with big, but limited, specials to encourage sales.  Also, it would help out the numbers for their final quarter of the year to help show a profit.  To a point, that doesn't bother me.  The point that it seems inappropriate is when people go out and fight over minuscule and trivial things they don't really need.  "I want this for my kid!" "My wife needs this more!" So on and so forth. Guilt lies on both parties in this situation, but that adds to my point.  Stores should not limit quantities and encourage such behavior.  On the other hand people should plain out know better.  Less than 24 hours ago this person was telling their family what they were thankful for, and now they are fighting of some sort of greed burning inside for something they want.

The commercialism doesn't just affect people on the outside.  It is now taking family out of the equation.  This goes to the families that are missing a Mom or Dad during a family get together because they have to work.  "Black Friday" sales are now starting in a lot of places on Thanksgiving evening.  That means someone is cutting family time short to go service people who also cut family time short to go fight over a *sale*.  Who wins?  The store.  Labor costs may go up, but sales will win every time.  That is, unless I can pass my influence on to anyone else.

I want to be the one responsible for teaching businesses a lesson.  First of all, we don't need any special deal.  We quite frankly don't need to buy anything out of the ordinary.  The main purpose of the holidays are to spend time with your loved ones, regardless or religion or belief.  We don't need to rack up debt and overspend on unnecessary things to show we love someone.  That is purely a *want*.  If you want to show someone you love them, give them something they can't buy.  Your time and affection.  Once you're gone, they can't buy that.  Will your kids remember that football you got them or will they remember "Daddy was always there to play football with me after Thanksgiving dinner."  If I can be the person that can get people to stay at home with their families and build value with their loved ones instead of the value of a stores bank account, that would be the best present I could ever get.  

I'm not against business.  People have to make a living somehow.  That's not what I'm trying to change.  I feel business is overstepping it's boundaries and stripping away the morals and foundation of families everywhere.  I want to motivate people to empower themselves.  The only way that one person can make a change is to have the help of others.  If we can stand together and take back family holidays, we can stand together and make the country a better place for our future generations.  But one person can't do it alone.

If you agree with the message I'm trying to get across, please help me share this and spread the message please click the link below.  The link will open a pre-filled tweet with the following information:

Take your family back.  <Link to this blog> #KeepingFamilyFirst

If you want to share to other networks or different networks there are buttons directly below this article.  My goal is to get this message to as many people as possible and hopefully encourage and motivate people to take back what they deserve.

Here's the link the share on Twitter :Share on Twitter

Remember to do something good for someone other than yourself, Pay It Forward.

Thursday, September 05, 2013

How to pick the right guy for your Daughter.

This post is for all the Dads out there that are active participants in their Daughter's life.  The title may seem a little misleading but after you read this you will see the total truth of it.  So, in a free nation, how can you decide who is going to be the right guy to be with your Daughter?  Well, it's a little give and take, but you're not really picking the guy, you are influencing your daughter to make a better choice for herself.  That may seem a little vague so I'll explain it a little further.

My life experience has been that women that have an active male figure in their life, whether good or bad use that person when seeking out a partner.  If she has a good relationship with her father/male figure then more than likely she will base her decision of partner against him.  If that partner measures up or has similar properties, then there is a greater chance that she will pursue that partner.  This isn't ALWAYS the case, and I want to make it clear this isn't an *end-all* guide to make your Daughter marry Prince Charming.  

Here's a little food for thought.  Let's say that you are a pretty good Dad. You eat together, play at the park a few times a year, and watch TV together.  You probably have a good bond with your Daughter.  Now, drop the idea of having a "man-card" and try to find out something that truly interests her.  Mine like cooking and crafts.  If you can swallow your man-pride long enough to learn a few crafts that you can sit with her and talk about while doing them, you just increased your bond even further.  She will more than likely see that the guy who was already Superman in her eyes, drop his shield and go the extra step to be involved with her.  I have taken on many different crafting styles and will involve my girls when I can.  And if they say something out in public I don't cower down because it's something "girly".  I can stand by her and take pride in the fact that she's proud of what I've done.  If they ever ask why I do things that other men can't or won't do, I plan on telling them this: "Men can Bar-B-Que, work on cars, fix things around the house, mow the yard and work in the garden.  REAL men can do anything.".  Anytime I can do something that will make my girls want to tell the world, I know I am doing my job and making them proud, and that gives me the greatest feeling in the world.

Learning how to sew, crochet, or even cook so you can pass that along to your own girls isn't cashing in your *Man-Card*.  Your just ensuring that the guy who wants her later has an *Upgraded Man-Card* that compares to yours.  And that Sir, is how you pick the right guy for your Daughter.Don't tell her who to pick, set the bar so high that only the right ones can meet her expectations.

What to take away from this:
Don't be ashamed to learn something new.  Moms aren't the only ones who can teach their girls.  Teaching should be a dual-parent responsibility.  This won't apply to everyone, but it should apply to the majority, take it for what it's worth.

And as always be sure to do something for someone other than yourself.  Pay It Forward.

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Save Some Money ($25) on Your Wireless Bill

Okay.  I've been searching each and every major phone carrier trying to see which one is not out to completely rob me blind.  I had narrowed down my choice to a single carrier based on service in my area, plan services/features, and cost.  Without naming any names, I almost went with a company that has a large "T" in their name, and they deal with most "mobile" devices.  Unlimited talk, text and 4G web with hotspot (even though the speed gets throttled down after certain usage based on your plan) was pretty fairly priced for a family plan.  I went through their site, picked some modest smartphones that were on sale, chose my plan options, and was ready to checkout.  While trying to complete the checkout process, they required a hefty deposit to start service.  I could secure phone service for several months just for what they wanted for a deposit.  So back to square one.

I was watching one of my favorite YouTube personalities who had in fact had their show sponsored by an online service that appeared to offer very affordable wireless service.  I wanted to check into it because I never heard of them before, but had a preconceived notion that I wouldn't try it because they weren't a major carrier and didn't want the headache.  Come to find out that they use one of the major carriers services.  Then comes the part where I had already dealt with that carrier before and didn't like them, but I tried to keep an open mind.

Here's a photo of how the plans work, and I'll explain more below:
As you can see, the left hand side breaks it down into Minutes, Texts, and Data.  The different levels are across the top and the prices line up under what you selected.  So this plan shows 500 mins. ($9) + 100 texts ($3) and 500 Mb ($13) which as you can see comes up to $31+ surcharges ($32.50 altogether in NC).  The first thing that came to mind is what if I go over my choice, do I have to pay per unit thereafter, does my service stop, or is there an overage fee of some sort.  After further investigation, they just move whatever section you went over in to the next level up for that month and then make up the difference.  On the other hand if you didn't use enough in one area to meet the level you chose, they would move you down a level and credit your account.

For example, this picture shows 500 minutes picked for the current month. if I used 600 minutes, they would move just my minutes up to the 1000 minute level for that month and charge the difference.  If I had only used 90 minutes though, they would have dropped me down to the 100 minute level and issue a credit towards they next month.  Each section works the same way.  

You can also set alerts for yourself, so that when you get close to one of the thresholds, you are prepared for the extra charges for going over, OR, you can set the service to stop that feature altogether to control your costs.  You do get control of that, which was another selling point for me.

So, I liked how each section was separated from the others and not bundled.  I also think the way they handle the overages and under-usage costs/credits.  And being able to go online and check your dashboard in nearly real time to see where you stand for the month was a plus.  The selling point for me though was the cost of the first month.  

You can purchase new and used phones directly on the site, and for the most part they are reasonable.  There were only 2 or 3 phones that are considered "top-end" that I felt were a little pricey, but maybe that's just my broke viewpoint.  You can use a phone that you already have as long as it is a Sprint phone.  You can't use Boost, or any of the PTT (Push To Talk) phones.  If you aren't sure you can enter the phone ESN/MEID numbers on the site and it will let you know.

I already had an old Nexus S 4G so I gave it a go.  Worst case scenario is I get to use a phone for a month and it costs me a little over $30.  Or so I thought.  It took about 15-20 minutes to enter my information and get things going. (The Nexus S 4G and the Galaxy Nexus both require a few extra programming steps on your side, but they give you a step by step walk-through that ANYONE can follow.  You do need the MSL number which is emailed to you after you confirm activation.)  So I followed through, and saw there is no activation fee, and since I used the link from the YouTube personality, I reduced my first bill an additional $25.  So my first bill was $6 and change, since I already had a phone.  It is a prepaid service, but for $6, I'll give it a fair try.  

One thing to note about the link that I used to save the $25.  It isn't just for service credit.  It also can be used for device purchase too.  So it can be used to purchase a phone, a mobile hotspot, or applied to your service plan.

Since I mentioned the mobile hotspot above, if you use a smartphone with a mobile hotspot feature, there is NO ADDITIONAL CHARGE to use it with this service. But it does count towards you data usage.  Most carriers offer this feature for about $15-$45 last time I checked, and that's in addition to your data charges.

I've been tinkering with the new service for a few hours as of this post and it is working just fine.  I'll try to do a follow up around the end of April (2013) and disclose anything I missed, liked, or didn't like.

If you're in the process of looking for service and want to give this a try, I can pass the same $25 discount on to you to use towards your service or purchase.  I was glad to get a discount, and I figure other people might as well.  

I honestly feel that I may have found a decent service.  I hope that someone else out there traveling the "Interwebs" can find the same sense of use.  If anyone else out there tries this or currently has this please let us know below.  If you used this and didn't like it, please make it known below and why you didn't like it.  I'm always open to other peoples point of view.

As always, remember to do something for someone other than yourself and, Pay It Forward.

Thursday, January 17, 2013

How to Install Adobe Flash Player on your Android 4.1 Devices

So.  You got that brand new tablet for Christmas.  You were running Android 4.0, and you recently just got an update to 4.1.1.  The world is looking up for you...THEN...you have to do a factory reset.  What happened to being able to watch videos in the browser window?  Where's my Flash Player?  What do I do?!?!?!

Have no fear.  All may not be lost yet.  In the updated version of Android 4.1+, I have read that they no longer include Flash Player.  And, if you some how found a link that would open Flash player in the Play Store, you probably saw a nice little note where the Install button should be stating, "This App is not compatible with your device.", or something along those lines.  It may still be possible to install Flash Player directly from Adobe's website, and it only takes a few minutes (Really.  Look at the screenshots.  They start at 11:18 and end at 11:22, and that's counting the extra part at the end about how to switch over to desktop browsing).  There is no risk involved and you don't even have to be technically inclined.  C'mon!  Let's do this.  I do have a video showing the entire process which I'll include below.  If you want to prep yourself, read the article then follow along with the video, or vice-versa.  Whatever works better for you.  Good luck!

The link used in the video and the picture below is:Adobe Flash Player Archive

Step 1.

You need to open your settings.  I have an icon on my homescreen, but it can also be opened by clicking the time and then settings at the bottom right corner, or by clicking the App Drawer (the dots/squares) and choosing settings from there.

Step 2.

Once you've opened your settings, scroll down the left hand side and choose "Security".  Look for the "Device Administration" area on the right.  There will be a block area that reads, "Unknown Sources".  Make sure the checkbox to the right of that is checked.  All this does is allow you to install an app that isn't from the marketplace.  This is usually only risky if you are NOT downloading directly from a reliable source. The app you will be installing is directly from the companies website, not a 3rd party location.  It's safe.

Step 3.

 The next thing you need to do is open your browser.  I used the stock browser because I know that everyone has that one.  Go to Google and search for, "Adobe Flash Player Archive" and find the link that matches the picture above. It will bring you to the page below, just scroll down until you find the sections that I have noted in the picture.

Step 4.

Depending on your operating system choose the appropriate link.  For Android 2.x and 3.x users click the first link under that section.  For Android 4.x users, click the first link under your section.  A small black box will appear at the bottom of your screen that reads, "Starting Download...".  A few second/minutes will pass depending upon your internet speed.  A small arrow will appear beside your time when it is done downloading.

Step 5.

Click the area near your time/the little arrow and a box will appear that is similar to the one above.  Click on the section that looks like the one highlighted above.  From there you will be presented with an installation screen like most other apps.  Just click on the "Install" and the "Done" buttons as the are presented to you and POOF! you magically have Flash Player back on your device.

As an extra side tip, most mobile devices are automatically directed to mobile sites.  When you have a fairly large 10 inch tablet, you can normally handle the same display as a desktop machine, which tends to be better quality.  It is also very handy when watching video sites.  For those of you over 18, it will also stop directing you to verify your age with a credit card at adult video sites because it looks like you are viewing from a desktop and not a mobile device.  This can be done simply by opening your browser and clicking on the settings area (the 3 dots/dashes) at the top right.  A dropdown box will appear, just click on the  "Request Desktop Site" option and refresh the page.  If for any reason you need to access the mobile version of a website, repeat the same steps to return to mobile browsing.

These screenshots, video, and complete process were done using a Toshiba Excite 10.  At the time of this article this process works and has been known to work on many other devices.  Just keep in mind that it MAY NOT work on yours.  Some steps may be a little different, but most people will understand what they need to do differently.

I hope this helps someone out.  

Remember, you're not the only person on the planet.  Do something nice for someone other than yourself.  Pay It Forward.

Tuesday, January 01, 2013

My Little Frog

The picture above is of an ultrasound of our baby at about 7 weeks.  While we, my wife and I, were watching the screen we both thought the same thing.  The baby's shape looked like a sitting frog.  Therefore we nick-named the baby, "Frog".  I couldn't wait to scan the picture into the computer and trace it out and share it with others to show my new bundle of joy off to my friends and family.  And for anyone that thinks the other little spot is ANOTHER baby, it's not.  It's the yolk sack, we double checked.

Like with our other children together, we started planning out how things would change, and so forth.  We would spend a few extra minutes in the baby section when we were getting clothes or diapers for our other little ones, and think about whether it would be a boy or girl, and what kind of outfits we wanted to get.  Bringing a life into this world seems to have an effect on the mind that makes some people constantly visualize the future with an imaginary child sitting in the buggy instead of a bump on your wife's/girlfriend's belly.

Sad to say, we lost our little Frog 12/30/2012.  That was the first time I had seen an ultrasound and no movement or anything.  My world dropped off in that very moment.  What seemed to make it worse for both my wife an I, was the doctor sent her home, and made her get a second ultrasound the next day, and then proceeded to remove the lifeless child from her.  The day was New Year's Eve.  It seemed like everyone that day could only say, "Sorry for your loss, Happy New Year."  For that very reason I will disable comments on this post.  I'm not posting this for any sympathy or feedback.  I mentioned in an earlier post that this is the start of something that I intend to pass on to my other children to give them a little more insight into some of the things that they may not understand now.  This isn't our first child that we lost.  This was my second and her third loss.  We have our ways of dealing with it and aren't looking for any outside help.

I look at it from a natural point of view.  I have raised and even hatched my own chicks before.  I have seen eggs fully mature as expected and then a few days before they should start pipping (breaking from the shell) a blood-ring appears, meaning that the chick died.  If it was close enough to have a somewhat formed chick in the egg, I would open it to see what happened.  The most common occurrence I saw was a malformed chick, which wouldn't have survived long if it had hatched on schedule.  With that in mind, I can look back and find some peace knowing that the child didn't have to suffer, and that we wouldn't have to watch it suffer and then have to mourn even longer for a child that we have actually held and started the entire bonding process.  That may seem somewhat selfish, but it's the truth.  All in all, I don't want any living thing to suffer, and I wish everything was always perfect, but it's not.  That's just how it is.  I don't have to like it, but I can accept it.

I know a lot of my posts have been, from what I recall just sitting here, upbeat, positive, or just plain food oriented.  This may be a sad time in my life, but I will carry on.  So, I want to end this in a positive way.

Things in life don't always turn out how you want them.  That doesn't mean everything stops.  It might slow you down, or even stop you cold in your tracks for a moment, but you still have to pick up and drive on.  Handle each and every obstacle fully and move on.  Don't let it make you a cold and heartless person either. Everyone goes through down times.  Some people even feel at times that it will never end, but it will.  The only thing I have ever found that will keep a person down is themselves.  For every excuse you make to not be happy, is a lost opportunity to find a way to move on and be happier.

I hope that this finds the right person and lifts their spirits enough to keep on trying.  Don't give up.

One of the best way to feel better about yourself, and help someone else, might just be doing something good for someone other than yourself.  Pay it Forward.

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Another Year in the Books

Today, technically yesterday because I haven't been to bed yet, I celebrated my 32nd birthday. What better time to reflect on your life than when your celebrating it, right?

First off, I want to make mention of the people that are no longer with us. I won't make a list or mention names, because there are probably some that I would forget unintentionally. There are quite a few people I have met over the years and even shared part of my growing up with that are no longer here. I don't just mean family, but friends and acquaintances that I feel have passed before there time. Whether they were good or bad people, they still had some impact on my life, and most of them shall be missed.

Next, I will move on to the people that aren't here yet. Huh? Well, person, more so than people. I'm sure there are more people that I will meet through the rest of my time here, but there is only one that I am waiting for right now. I'm about 9 weeks into being a Daddy again. I'm so excited. I can't wait to meet him/her.

I was spending some time with my wife tonight when my best friend called to wish me a happy birthday. We usually talk for lengths of time and ply catch up on what's been going on in our lives. There's usually a portion of our conversations dedicated to reflecting on the past. Mostly about drunken escapades and basic tomfoolery while growing being young and free. I've been told that people would probably pay to listen to us talk because it would be so funny at times while remaining witty and intelligent. A majority of our talks end up being philosophical at times as we analyse our past and think about the future. I find it very therapeutic to have someone on the same wavelength that doesn't take offense to the truth, which I hope is given in return. I tend to drift off in thought about how things were just mere years ago, and how much has changed. How much I have changed myself. I was barely driving and helping babysit my little cousins when I swore I would never have kids of my own. Now I have a growing family of 7 (in July 2013). I think of past careers and compare myself to teenagers I see working today. I recall every stupid thing I can remember and just take a moment to rejoice that I made it 32 years, and that I learned my lessons thoroughly enough to make it even further. I look back at anything good that I have done or tried to do, and smile knowing that I tried to make things a little better where I could. I try to hold on to the inspirations I see in so many ways, like the entire reason I started this blog. I read a blog entry about "Baby Avery" whose parents documented her time on Earth in a blog which they still run and update even after their child's passing due to SMA. It reached out to me and inspired me to do something. I don't really know how helpful this is to anyone, unless they are using the few recipes I put on here, but it makes me happy and content, so I will continue doing it. If anything, whoever reads my entries to the end will always see the phrase, "Pay it Forward". I know I didn't create the phrase, but it is something I believe in and wish to pass on and maybe inspire someone else to do some good.

Now, on to the future. To be completely honest, no one knows what the future holds in store for us. I know I have sat here and written a little bit about my past and present. I had full intention of writing about my future. But the fact remains that dwelling on the past and hoping on the future only does one thing. It takes you focus off now. I'm not saying to forget everything you've ever done. I'm not saying that it's wrong to dream. Know where you came from and focus on what you're doing, and you'll end up where you're supposed to be. Learn from your mistakes and dream big. Keep your mind on what's going on right now because that's all you really have is right now. One second at a time. Grasp it. Cherish it. Own it.

And while you taking control of your own destiny, do something good for someone else along the way. Pay It Forward.

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Taking a Break...Kind of

I have been trying to write on here as much as possible in my spare time.  Here recently I haven't been writing very much.  It's not because I have lost interest.  I still remember my first post on here and my incentive that drove me to do so.  I have taken interest in writing elsewhere though.

I have always had the dream of publishing my own work.  I had researched some options for doing that several months back.  I could try to contact a publisher in person, edit my book countless times, spend up to a year in the process, and still risk the publisher not using my story.  But the money could possibly be better. Like most people, I felt a more reasonable time frame would be towards my liking.  I found a few reputable publishing companies online.  Here's where the differences weigh in and you have to decide what you are really looking for.  Do you want to make a real book, or an e-book?  Do you use their free ISBN number and have them as your publisher, pay a small fee and get a little more freedom as to where you can sell your book, or do you buy your own ISBN numbers and have total freedom of it, but pay more up front?  Do you want your book available in brick-and-mortar stores, online only, in schools and libraries, or all?  I always thought that people just wrote a story, sent it in to a publisher and if it was good enough, turned into a book and sold.  Boy was I wrong.

After weighing in as many options as I could, I found a company that seemed to suit my *wants* a little better than some of the others.  With the acceptance of e-books today being used on smartphones, tablets, and e-readers, I wanted to primarily use an e-book format.  And for others that prefer to have a tangible item, I wanted the option to have printed books as well.  I also don't have the extra money to purchase an ISBN much less a block of ISBN numbers, so having the option of getting one for free in exchange to a few minor restrictions, works well in my favor.  The restrictions really are minor.  The one's I have found are: You can only sell through this publisher, but in turn, the cover almost everywhere you would sell to start with.  If you use any of there images for your cover design, you can't redistribute it outside of their distribution lines, you would have to design a new cover on your own, and republish the book as a new edition with a new ISBN.  Neither of those, or any other restrictions, were deal-breakers for me.

I have been plotting out a few stories in my head for some time now.  I also feel that it is time to try and follow that dream now.  With a little bit of hope and luck, maybe it will be something that works for me.  I may make a few dollars in the long run, but for me it would be about seeing my work in print with my name on it.  It's not a major accomplishment.  Anyone can write something and get it printed.  But to me, it would satisfy a goal I've had since I was a child.  To me, it would mean something.

If anyone is interested in checking out the service I decided on, you can use the link below. There is no cost to join or use the service unless you want professional services. The whole service is free except for buying proofs of your hardcopy to evaluate. If you don't want a hardcopy, you can use this service to publish to Kindle I believe. Good Luck!

This software can also help you format and upload digital books (eBooks) directly to Kindle.
A great way to make a few extra bucks while expressing your creative side.

I'm not forgetting or dropping my writing on here, but it will be neglected for a little while.  I will try to write on here in my spare time or when I need a break.

Until then...

Remember to do something good for others that are less fortunate.  Pay It Forward.