Monday, November 30, 2009

The Eagles have Landed

Well, maybe not yet, but soon.  About an hour north of us is the Squaw Creek National Wildlife Refuge.  Around the first week of December each year, about 300 bald eagles are in the refuge.  I have been to the refuge several times, but never when the eagles were present.  I am determined to make it this year.  I'm watching the counts and as of last week, there were only 18 eagles.  They will be flocking in any day now so I will keep a close watch.  Stay tuned and hopefully there will be some eagle pics here soon!

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Thanksgiving in the Park

Today is Norine's first official day of not being homebound.  Although it was quite chilly, we took advantage of an otherwise pretty day to take a walk in Loose Park.

There were a few people walking dogs, some children playing, and ducks on the water.  A very peaceful setting.

The fall colors are gone, replaced by colorful balloons.

The silhouette of a tree without leaves lets us know winter is on it's way.

It was our first Thanksgiving in a long time without family around.  It made the day a little sad, but also made us realize that our families have grown up and that things are different.  It's so quiet....time for a nap...

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

...and now a word from our sponsors...

We never watch a television show live.  We record the ones we like on Tivo and then watch them on a delayed basis, sometimes as soon as 30 minutes after they start.  We do this so we can skip through the commercials.  Tonight we were watching the most recent episode of "V".  My finger seemed to be getting tired from an inordinate amount of commercials.  When the program ended, I decided to do a little analysis.  We went back to the beginning of the program and recorded the amount of program time vs commercials.  There were 5 commercials totaling 20 minutes during the 60 minute show.

In the 1960s, an average 60 minute show would run for 51 minutes.  Thats 11 minutes longer than tonights episode of "V".  That means commercial time has increased from 9 minutes to 20 minutes for an hour long show.  That's a 222 percent increase in commercial time!  If you watch any of the old shows that are being broadcast, you may see that they've cut up to 9 minutes of showtime for the increased commercials.

Not only are they increasing the amount of commercials, they are increasing the volume because they know that people head to the kitchen or bathroom during commercials.  They want to make sure that you hear them in other parts of the house.

What can we do about this?  It's not going to go away.  They know that people will see the commercial and buy the advertised product.  We can purchase the show through services such as iTunes or Amazon, but then we have to store the show and pay $2.99 or $3.99 for each episode.  Hardly worth it for something you can get for free.  We can wait and buy the DVDs for the season.  Again, it's expensive and you need to store the DVDs that you'll probably never watch again.

The ideal solution would be to turn off the TV and do something productive.  But hey, I like to watch some of the shows.  Is something wrong with that?  It's entertainment.  I will just sit back and realize that by pressing the fast forward button until my finger gets sore is saving me about $3.99 for every 40 minutes of TV I watch.  Let's see, I press the fast forward for 20 minutes of recording time.  since it's fast forwarding at 3x normal speed, I'm only holding the button for about 7 minutes.  If my calculations are correct, I'm earning $34.22 an hour for sitting in my recliner, pushing a button.

Hey, I can live with this!!!

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Allergic to Bullets

This is old but I still love reading it.  Although I don't think the story is true, the message is valid.   I tend to let some insignificant things aggravate me and I need to have this where I can read it when I get that way.  I will post it here.  That way I can always find it.

Jerry -

Jerry is the kind of guy you love to hate. He is always in a good mood and always has something positive to say. When someone would ask him how he was doing, he would reply, "If I were any better, I would be twins!" He was a unique manager because he had several waiters who had followed him around from restaurant to restaurant. The reason the waiters followed Jerry was because of his attitude. He was a natural motivator. If an employee was having a bad day, Jerry was there telling the employee how to look on the positive side of the situation.

Seeing this style really made me curious, so one day I went up to Jerry and asked him, I don't get it! You can't be a positive person all of the time. How do you do it?" Jerry replied, "Each morning I wake up and say to myself, Jerry, you have two choices today. You can choose to be in a good mood or you can choose to be in a bad mood. I choose to be in a good mood. Each time something bad happens, I can choose to be a victim or I can choose to learn from it. I choose to learn from it. Every time someone comes to me complaining, I can choose to accept their complaining or I can point out the positive side of life. I choose the positive side of life. "Yeah, right, it's not that easy," I protested. "Yes it is," Jerry said. "Life is all about choices. When you cut away all the junk, every situation is a choice. You choose how you react to situations. You choose how people will affect your mood. You choose to be in a good mood or bad mood. The bottom line: It's your choice how you live life."

I reflected on what Jerry said. Soon thereafter, I left the restaurant industry to start my own business. We lost touch, but I often thought about him when I made a choice about life instead of reacting to it.

Several years later, I heard that Jerry did something you are never supposed to do in a restaurant business: he left the back door open one morning and was held up at gunpoint by three armed robbers. While trying to open the safe, his hand, shaking from nervousness, slipped off the combination. The robbers panicked and shot him. Luckily, Jerry was found relatively quickly and rushed to the local trauma center.

After 18 hours of surgery and weeks of intensive care, Jerry was released from the hospital with fragments of the bullets still in his body. I saw Jerry about six months after the accident. When I asked him how he was, he replied, "If I were any better, I'd be twins. Wanna see my scars?" I declined to see his wounds, but did ask him what had gone through his mind as the robbery took place. "the first thing that went through my mind was that I should have locked the back door," Jerry replied. "Then, as I lay on the floor, I remembered that I had two choices: I could choose to live or I could choose to die. I chose to live."

"Weren't you scared? Did you lose consciousness?" I asked.

Jerry continued, "...The paramedics were great. They kept telling me I was going to be fine. But when they wheeled me into the ER and I saw the expressions on the faces of the doctors and nurses, I got really scared. In their eyes, I read 'he's a deadman'. I knew I needed to take action." "What did you do?" I asked. "Well, there was a big burly nurse shouting questions at me," said Jerry. "She asked if I was allergic to anything. 'Yes' I replied. The doctors and nurses stopped working as they waited for my reply. I took a deep breath and yelled, 'Bullets!' Over their laughter, I told them, 'I am choosing to live. Operate on me as if I am alive, not dead'." Jerry lived thanks to the skill of his doctors, but also because of his amazing attitude. I learned from him that every day we have the choice to live fully. Attitude, after all, is everything.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Chiefs and Chopper

We do most of our shopping at Price Chopper, mainly because it is one of the closest stores to us, but also because of the quality of their produce, house brands, and fresh food.  We occasionally get fried chicken from their deli because it is usually fresh and very tasty.  Much better than the colonel, in my opinion.  Last Friday we were in the Liberty area and stopped at the new Price Chopper store.  It was a very upscale looking store.  They even had a wide selection of Muir Glen tomatoes.  Since it was dinner time, we decided to get some chicken.

When we got home, we discovered the chicken was dry, mostly cold, and very old tasting.  Not spoiled, but more like chicken that had been sitting under a warming light way too long.  I went to the Price Chopper web page and submitted a complaint.

This morning I got a call from the deli manager, Cindy, who was very apologetic and wanted details so she could find out what went wrong.  She sounded very sincere and promised to take action to ensure that the food is always fresh and hot.  She offered a gift certificate which I said wasn't necessary, but she insisted.  When I got off the phone, I felt like I just talked to someone who really cared about her customers and wanted to make things right.  She didn't try to defend her department and made me feel like a valued customer.

I give Price Chopper an A+ on customer service.

Oh, and Kansas City area people will understand the title of this post.  ;)

Saturday, November 7, 2009

eBay, Yard Sales, Craigslist, Donations

As we continue to go through a lot of stuff that we haven't used in years, we ponder the various ways to get rid of things.  I have used eBay quite a bit for items that are easily mailed and have a decent value, but I have often wondered about Craigslist for the larger items.  The yard sale route is not for us.  The last time we tried a yard sale, we opened our garage and within 10 minutes some guy came by and offered us a nickel for something.  A nickel!  I think we had it marked for a whopping quarter!  We sent him on his way and closed our garage door, never again to attempt a yard sale.

For the most part, donations have been our preferred method of disposing good quality goods.  We feel we're helping someone out as well as getting a tax deduction for the merchandise.  But what about the big item stuff?  Craigslist sounds perfect!  Now that we have a travel trailer to sell, I thought it was a good time to give it a whirl so I put my first ad on Craigslist.  Within an hour I got a response.  Some guy asked if I would give him a rent to own option.  Did he really think I would accept that?  Is this the yard sale guy that had a nickel in his hand?

I suppose I will just stick with eBay and donations.  As far as the trailer, I'll wait for spring and try some other advertising venues.

What is my point with all of this?  Nothing.  I just wanted to kill some time while Norine was getting ready so we could go out to look for framing supplies.