Our annual Christmas Card and Letter for 2014

Posted By on December 20, 2014

WarmLetItSnowCard2014s

Merry Christmas to those who continue to check the blog for whatever desultory thoughts I try to type daily in my computer, iPad … or occasionally my smartphone each day. It has been an enjoyable year online for me and my addiction. Although social networks have made posting text, photos, audio and video easier, I’m glad to at least have some control over the content.

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TechFriday: Simple Savysoda RSS News Reader App is best

Posted By on December 19, 2014

RSSNews_iPad141218Most media saturated consumers are frustrated using the various apps from big-name news sources for scanning, skimming and reading 100s of news articles each day. Some individual apps are pretty good, others are a real pain … particularly the newer “in your face – ad heavy” versions. The gripes are that each app is different and most tend to be sluggish and filled with self-launching video and pop-advertising.

Enter the old-school RSS reader, something I used regularly 7 years ago on the notebook computer and looking for something similar on the iPad (I do miss the browser add-on Sage sidebar reader). Newspaper and magazine reading is now pretty much all digital and scanning individual sites not realistic … so a good RSS reader is important in order to quickly sift through content.

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Late to the Throwback Thursday social networking trend #TBT

Posted By on December 18, 2014

BrendaMark1991I’m late to the Throwback Thursday social networking trend, but a “just arrived” photo of Brenda and her brother Mark before his passing is good excuse to start – they look too young for this to be 1991? (thanks for the photo Chris)

Besides the smiling sister and brother photo (he was a dentist), our niece Jackie, (Mark’s youngest) will be getting married this month. She has scheduled the wedding so her fiancé Ben will be on leave (Army) and I know she is excited both for the wedding and to see him. The ceremony and reception is a also a good time for the extended family to get together around Christmas. For us, that means both Taylor and Katelyn will be home (not sure about Drew’s schedule yet). With five different work schedules and long distances from Ohio, it makes it all the more challenging to be together around the holidays. Who knows, Taylor “may” have some work related news to share with us too???

It is hard to believe my mom passed away two years ago today

Posted By on December 17, 2014

Sitting in my mom’s room two years ago is as clear to me as if it were yesterday (or last year). I’m thankful to have had those moments alone with her as well as all the years growing up in a good home. GmaC_Taylor_091126I was part of a generation who mom was able to greet kids at the door when they cam home from school as well as enjoyed caring for her three boys (I’m including my dad since he of of a generation who “needed” cared for … no offense dad). It is no wonder that years later I enjoyed the TV series Wonder Yearsit was my childhood life.

This is not to say past or more recent generations are lessor for the times in which they grew up; I’d venture to say that my kids probably look at their upbringing as idyllic too (photo of Taylor with mom, his grandma in 2009). Different times require different parenting … one is not necessarily better than the other.

Perhaps there is a lesson in this reminiscing for young families today: it’s a mother and father’s attention to “being parents” that make for a happy, appreciative and well balance child years later … NOT the generation in which they are born.

More frames: when is it too much of a good thing?

Posted By on December 16, 2014

moreframes141210When my wife sets her mind to something, she goes “full in.” I’m so glad she is not a gambler.

It started as a simple project; she wanted an antique frame. So began the process of shopping estate sales, and bidding on online auction sites like our local EBTH and eBay. Eventually the looking turned to buying, then the driving to pick them up and shipping (ugh!) … oh and check out the packaging job on the one below!

pickingupframe141215Anyway by the time she had found the perfect frame she ended up also buying a new art piece and a bunch of extra antique frames. Some of them need work, but then too much work might deter from them being antique? What to do, what to do?

My thought is to “resell” them, but then Brenda may have other ideas. Before long we (and our kids!) will run out of wall space. So much for eventually moving on to a sailboat.

How low can it go … Crude Oil that is!

Posted By on December 15, 2014

crudeoilwti141215Wow! … I’ve watched oil continuing to dip lower on Monday afternoon (WTI $55.40/barrel) and this rapid drop in recent weeks has “for some reason” caused equities to sell off. Normally one would see lower oil prices as a good thing for the stock market since it makes goods and products less expensive and gives everyone a few more dollars in their pockets. The slide in the stock market hard to figure IF we are to believe it is tied to oil.

The only conclusion I can make is that oil priced in the mid-50s indicates weak worldwide demand and therefore slower economic growth. On the other hand, if you can pick the bottom for oil ($40ish per barrel?) … there’s a lot of money to be made in the future.

Air travel and the annoyances of flying cattle class

Posted By on December 15, 2014

Airbus patent filing

Before we complain about today’s airline comfort, look at what Airbus might be considering. Yikes!

Expedia posted a lighthearted polling of what annoys airline passengers which got me thinking about what I notice and where I may offend. I already do my best to be overly attentive to most of these annoyances, but probably would rank “The Aromatic Passenger” as #1 followed by the “Back Seat Grabber” as my #2 complaint … but like most passengers, have never made an issue about them, besides a glance in their direction (thinking about the back of the seat grabbing).

The full list of the most annoying flier types went as follows:

  1. Rear Seat Kicker (cited by 67% of study respondents)
  2. Inattentive Parents (64%)
  3. The Aromatic Passenger (56%)
  4. The Audio Insensitive (talking or music; 51%)
  5. The Boozer (50%)
  6. Chatty Cathy (43%)
  7. Carry-On Baggage Offenders (39%)
  8. The Armrest Hog (38%)
  9. Seat-Back Guy (the seat recliner) (37%)
  10. The Queue Jumper (rushes to deplane) (35%)
  11. Overhead Bin Inconsiderate (stows bag in first available spot, rather than nearest to his/her seat; 32%)
  12. Pungent Foodies (32%)
  13. Back Seat Grabber (31%)
  14. Playboy (reads or watches adult content; 30%)
  15. The Amorous (inappropriate affection levels; 29%)
  16. Mad Bladder (window seat passenger who makes repeat bathroom visits; 28%)
  17. Undresser (removes shoes, socks or more; 26%)
  18. The Seat Switcher (13%)

And how do fliers react when they encounter etiquette-busting seatmates? (more…)

Do you know what your student loan repayments are used for?

Posted By on December 14, 2014

studentloandebtgraphicA discussion between the host and guest on CNBC this week concluded that instead of saving college students money on their student loans that the government was using the repayments in other areas amounting to BILLIONS of dollars – ie. $19 billion for deficit reduction and Obamacare! 

It seems the take-over by the Federal Direct Loan Program, in lieu of of evil capitalist at profit centered banks, now has students paying higher rates than necessary instead of preventing deeper debt. It shouldn’t surprise me knowing how our federal government works when it comes to getting their hands on big chunks of money, but what did surprise me was where repayment dollars were slated to go. I must have missed this back in 2009-2010 when the Democrats controlled congress and made this change?

When the health-care law was passed in 2010, Democrats slipped in massive changes to student-loan programs, essentially cutting banks out of the business. In the official score of the health-care bill by the Congressional Budget Office, ending federal guarantees for federal loans and replacing them with direct loans made by the Education Department would yield $58 billion between 2010 and 2019.

All federal money is fungible, but with such a large pot of money suddenly (theoretically) available, Congress wanted to spend it on other things. Here’s the breakdown of where the money went:

$36 billion on increases in Pell college grants for low-income students.

$10.3 billion for deficit reduction.

$8.7 billion to support the health care law.

$3 billion for historically black colleges and minority-serving institutions.

Washington Post fact check blog from 2010

An update on my dad and his not so friendly visitor

Posted By on December 13, 2014

Wow … just couldn’t believe the lower gas prices this week as oil continues to tumble down under $60/barrel. The abundant supplies and inventory along with the recession in Europe and slowdown in China has really put pressure on world prices. DadC141206I’ve seen news photos of gasoline selling under $2.00 out west and while driving in Ohio I noticed prices as low as $2.25. I only wish diesel would drop as much and as fast – as it is still up around $3.50/gallon or so.

MeanRaccoon141210The lower price for fuel has made my increased trips to see my dad less expensive, considering I burn about 10 gallons to make the twice a week trip. That aside, I do tie one of those trips in with my business travel to NE Ohio and am glad to be able to see him a bit more. He’s been struggling to live independently and had a quick stay in the hospital after a fall two weeks ago. He now has discomfort/pain related to a fractured vertebrae and it is slow healing. The compression between bongs and swelling puts pressure on the nerves that are in the area so the pain and pinched nerve are giving him difficulty with strength and balance too. The doctors don’t have any quick answers, but we’ve been working on his diet and diabetes meds to get his sugar under control. I’m thankful for my brother Ron and Claire – they are handling the majority of the trips to the doctor, etc. We think “low” sugar due to not eating well and medication is what caused him to pass out and fall –initially the doctors in the hospital were thinking mini-stroke. I think if we can get eating and meds under control (and healed), he’ll be back to normal again; we’d hate to have him lose the ability to live independently.

While visiting this week, he asked me to scare off a sickly raccoon that has been hanging around his bird feeder and concerned he’ll use those little hands to figure away to get into the house. I did my best, but this nasty guy is obviously sick.

RaccoonDadC141210

TechFriday: Trying out the IFTTT app on the iPhone

Posted By on December 12, 2014

iftttlogoiftttgraphic
IFTTT = IF This Then That

Think of it as a simple programming app where there is an “action” when a “trigger” is observed. It is set up on a mobile device and works with “channels” … like Facebook, Evernote, Twitter, Email and even WordPress and it will do something when a “trigger” is observed. IFTTT calls putting these things together “Recipes” … and they can be shared with others. Pretty cool … although with the access required to function correctly there is a concern for privacy. Hmm … read and then ponder.

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Desultory - des-uhl-tawr-ee, -tohr-ee

  1. lacking in consistency, constancy, or visible order, disconnected; fitful: desultory conversation.
  2. digressing from or unconnected with the main subject; random: a desultory remark.