Kindle-like Apps for Downloading Books

Although the Kindle readers are not very expensive – I think they run about $200, some people would prefer to download and read books on other devices. I like to read on my laptop, so I found an app that I could download that makes my PC act like a Kindle. Now I can download any book from the Amazon web site and read it on my PC without needing a Kindle to read it.

The download is actually right on Amazon’s own site, and there are free apps on other download sites, like ZDnet. The only way I found out is when I looked at a book title that a friend told me about, and they said it was a special free download for the weekend. I wanted to get the free download and right there on the info page was a link to download the free app. It works great. Check it out if you’ve been wondering about that and don’t want to buy a Kindle.

Birthday Celebrations

My brother has a birthday today – one of the Big Ones. You know what I mean, the number ends with a zero!

I was planning on hanging out with my bro for the night. I was thinking dinner at Outback or someplace nice, and then heading to his house for cake and some presents. I bought him a cool gift that i can’t wait to see him open up.

But evidently his girlfriend has to work tonight and she doesn’t want to celebrate the birthday tonight. They are going to celebrate on Saturday night, instead. So, I’m not the brightest one in the room. I thought that meant we were clear for getting together tonight and doing some guy stuff to celebrate. But no, he says he is not celebrating today – we are invited to a party Saturday night at his house, with him grilling steaks for everyone and she is baking a cake. The cakes are her “thing.” She actually makes them for paying customers and custom decorates them for a hundred bucks or so. I guess we’ll be impressed with what she does for him this weekend.

Waiting until Saturday is not a big deal for me, but I wish I had known earlier. This weekend is the big Fourth of July weekend and most of my buddies were going to be out on the lake all weekend. Now I have to cut the boating short on Saturday so I can clean up and head over to his house for the grill out. And I know he’s going to like this birthday present – can’t wait to see his face when he opens the gift!

Teaching a Shelter Dog New Tricks

While sitting in the vet’s waiting room, a lady came in with her little black dog. She said it was a rescue dog that had been abused and was housed with some really large dogs. The poor little thing is terrified of big dogs like Rottweilers and Boxers.

The breed of her little dog looked vaguely familiar, but I was not sure, so I asked. I don’t know if that was a breech of vet waiting room etiquette or not, but I try to be polite and it was not like I was being a snob about any particular breed. She said the dog is a Papillon and that she had been training it to run agility courses.

There aren’t any dog parks anywhere in this area, so I wondered where she was going to have the use of an agility course. She said that she had one built in her own backyard. That is pretty cool – I wish i had the extra money to put in a doggie playground and agility course. We really need a dog park around here – maybe I can find a grant for getting one started.

Lightning Bugs in my Yard

Tonight while I was watering my garden as the sun went down, I noticed the first twinkle of yellow light from a lightning bug. Funny how it just took that first one to make me aware of the lightning bugs, and then shortly after I was seeing dozens of lightning bugs in my yard.

The garden I planted is doing really well, but it takes a lot of watering to keep the plants from wilting in the hot afternoon sun. I add about a gallon of water to each container in the morning and then another gallon at dusk. Tomorrow I plan on adding some fertilizer to the tomatoes and actually picking the first of the zucchini and green beans.

As far as bugs go, I have already found spiders in the garden and a few bean beetles. I know that the rabbits come around after dark and nibble a little here and there – I don’t mind the rabbits. But last night there was a skunk roaming around in my plants and that rascal destroyed an entire bean plant and one of the yellow squash plants by chewing through the stems right above the ground. I think I will head to the hardware store in the morning to see about fencing to keep the skunk and any other critters out.



Bourdain Eating His Way Around the World

Have you watched any of the Anthony Bourdain shows on CNN? Bourdain took a camera crew with him on little expeditions all around the world and ate local foods, on our behalf. There is no doubt in my mind that the man knows good food, but frankly I don’t really want to watch this snob stuffing weird food in his face. There are not many many people that I want to watch eat. One time there was an actress in a movie that ate food in a very sexy way. i think it was someone in the Shakespeare play, Taming of the Shrew. But it might have been a different one – I saw the movie and then I saw the same scene in a dinner theater play. But that was a very long time ago.

So, Bourdain does a pretty good job of filling you in on geography and the history of the area, he describes the native foods and films a lot of the food preparation. That was pretty interesting. Watching him eat – no so much. But the show was better than 95% of the garbage that is on TV lately, so what are you going to do?

A Safe Place for Your Stuff

Back in “The Day” when you had stuff but no immediate need for it, you stored it. Finding a safe place for your stuff was pretty limited. The most likely storage area was an attic in your home, or perhaps the basement. The attic would get extremely hot and had the risk of rodents, bats and spiders/bugs. Basements were cool and damp, with the threat of flooding, mildew and different types of bugs, such as silverfish, crickets and roaches.

If you did not have an attic or a basement, you might use the garage and just forego parking your car in the garage. Sometimes people would rent out their garage for a little extra pocket money to extended family, neighbors or military personnel being deployed.

In the 1980’s, a new business popped up to help with storage needs – the backyard metal shed. With people using their garage for storing their “stuff” there was a growing demand for someplace to put lawn and garden gear, sporting equipment and tools. Metal sheds with one large door were sold at hardware stores for a reasonable price. They needed little preparation, were easy for any handy DIY’er to erect in just a day, and did not need any special building permits or zoning requirements. Some shed became more elaborate, with multiple door styles, some with windows, and metal gave way to wood and vinyl.

About 20 years ago, household storage demands in the U.S. grew enough to warrant the birth of commercial businesses making garage style units available for monthly rental fees. The growing demand for self storage was created by people moving and by various lifestyle transitions, such as

  • marriage,
  • divorce,
  • retirement,
  • a death in the family,
  • college students
  • foreclosures/evictions

Now, one in 10 households in America rented a self storage unit. More than 700,000 self storage units nationwide are rented to military personnel. this is about 4% of all units, but domestic military bases with adjacent large residential areas can see the use of self storage units by military personnel can be from 20%-95% of all rented units. Self storage companies value military personnel as customers and usually offer them special incentives and discounts, such as: “one-dollar move-ins” or “first month free,” 10%-30% discounts off monthly rental rates, months of free rent, gift certificates, use of a moving truck at no charge, and no rent increases while they are deployed overseas.

Lincoln Was Worth the Wait

Finally! The movie, Lincoln, came out on DVD and I found it on sale at Wal-Mart. I have been wanting to watch this movie – everyone says it is a fantastic movie. Look at all the Academy Award nominations that it got, and Daniel Day Lewis, already a fabulous actor, won his third Oscar for his portrayal of Abraham Lincoln.

I was concerned that it would be morbid, and a little bit like the Titanic – you know the ship is going to sink, so there is a lessened anticipation of the last half of the movie. Knowing that Lincoln was about to be assassinated, I didn’t want the movie to be about the plot to kill our president or the death of his sons and his crazy wife. It turns out that all my misgivings were for naught. The movie was about the politics of the day, and how close the country came to ending the civil Ware without actually abolishing slavery.

I really enjoyed this movie and can surely understand all the Oscar nominations. It was very deserving of all the accolades. If you have not yet seen this movie, be sure to get it and watch it!

Teaching Kids to be Frugal Shoppers

Involving children in the family’s grocery shopping is a good way to teach children about money and being a frugal shopper. Children can be involved in every stage of the grocery shopping trip. Let them help check existing pantry supplies to see what is needed. Have them actively involved while in the store by helping select items from the shelves. And make them aware of the budget and cost of each item that is purchased.

Grocery shopping for the household involves:

  • menu planning,
  • checking and replenishing inventory,
  • working with a list,
  • monitoring pricing and keeping within a budget,
  • unit pricing and relating value to quality
  • brand awareness and marketing
  • portion control or product yield, and
  • redeeming coupons or considering sale items.

All of the skills from a successful grocery shopping trip help run a household, but are also applied in the business world. Related real world skills can even lead to future careers in logistics, purchasing, accounting and manufacturing.

Once a child can count to ten, he is old enough to understand some of the basics of money management and comparison price shopping. Comparing items on the grocery shelves can teach children the concept of one item being greater than another, such as the difference between the prices of different brands or seeing how individual packages compare to standard family size containers and then how those compare to bulk sizes.

Allowing children to participate in redeeming coupons is another way to teach children about saving money. School age children can help find the items on the shelves that meet the coupon requirements. Make it a game like a scavenger hunt, and give the kids a small reward if they find all the coupon items correctly.

Tie Dye Brightens Any Day

There is just something special about putting on a tie dye shirt. It changes your whole mood and makes everything just a little more. . . groovy. Sometimes it is good to get out of the funk and change your clothes to brighten your mood. That is what tie dye does for me.

Last time I was up in the Blue Ridge Mountains in Virginia, I came across a little cinder block building painted bright yellow and noticed that they had some tie dye shirts hanging on a clothesline outside. I stopped to take a look and found out that the store is called Milky Wave Tie Dye, run by a sweet lady named Helen and her son, Laz.

They had huge selection of clothes for all shapes and sizes, in about a dozen recognizable patterns with different brilliant colors. i had a hard time making up my mind which ones to get, and ended up spending about $100 to get several shirts for myself and one for my sister.

Next time I am up that way I plan to stop by again and buy a few more tie dye shirts. When I wear them around town I always get noticed and hear a lot of compliments on the patterns and bright colors. And we can always use a little more groovy in our lives.


Miss Dottie as a Puppy

This is one of my favorite pictures of all time. I snapped this when Miss Dottie was only 2 months old and was so tiny that she could not even get up on the bed by herself. She was so cute back then!


The only trouble I had with her as a puppy was about 2 weeks of chewing while her teeth were coming in. She chewed up one of my shoes and started chewing on the corner of my couch. I had a hard time breaking her of chewing on the couch – I had to cover it up with a piece of cardboard, but sometimes she was so determined to get to the couch that she chewed through the cardboard, too.

But that only lasted a couple of weeks, and after that, she become the world’s most perfect dog. She has a great personality and is very smart. She was housebroken in just a couple of days and since then has never had an “accident” in the house and has never bitten anyone, either – even when the little kids in our neighborhood were pests who deserved it.