Wednesday, March 8, 2017

America's Spending Riot: Don't Get Swept Up

As a former six-figure wage earner, I know what it’s like to go from excess to a single-digit bank account balance. What I don’t understand is how everyone gets a free pass to use the “economy” as a primary excuse for their financial hardship. If you’ve been broke for most of your adult life because you have always lived beyond your means – it has nothing to do with our economy. In fact, it’s people like us that have helped cause this catastrophe. Stop buying stuff for a minute. Get back to basics. It’s time to reprioritize. I did – and well before I knew an economic crisis was about to ensue.

If you are lucky enough to secure a good job for any length of time, your bank account builds, and you start buying things. If your company thrives, you might get a pay raise and a bonus. Your head begins to swell. You become self-important. You upgrade your shoes, then your car, then your house. Now, you are working harder to prove yourself, so you can get a promotion, so you can make more money, so you can buy more stuff. Sure, you want the promotion because you think you deserve it, but more so you need it to keep up with your new lifestyle. Before you know it, you are getting insane offers from mortgage companies, car dealers and credit card companies because you’ve been working and paying your bills. You haven’t gotten that promotion yet, but don’t worry – if you really want that new dining room set, they’ll give it to you now and you can pay for later.

Now, you have a house in the suburbs that you can’t afford, expensive foreign cars, and barbecues at your screened-in pool every weekend. Filet Mignon and imported beer become the norm. You have lots of friends, but less time with your kids because you are always at work and entertain on the weekends. At the end of each day, you are worn out – stretched financially, mentally drained and stiff in the neck from hovering over your desk all day. You manage to put yourself to sleep with $30 bottle of a wine and a mild-sedative. You haven’t looked at your kids school work in a week, and wonder how you will make their school play in time tomorrow with all the work you have to do. You are going to hire someone to help with the kids, just have you did with the cleaning.

Fast forward to a few years later. Your lifestyle caught up with you – and then ran you over.

Before you know it you are robbing Peter to pay Paul. Your kids are used to laptop computers and trips to Disney for their birthday. You’ve forgotten what it’s like to paint your own nails with $3 nail polish. You live and work to buy more, more, and more. You can barely pay the interest on everything you’ve financed, and you are hardly making it paycheck to paycheck. Then again, you’ve always lived paycheck to paycheck, but now you have so much more with a six-figure salary then you did when you were making twelve bucks an hour. Or do you? When does the madness end? Well, I found the answer when I wasn’t even looking. I believe they call it an “epiphany”.

It was not so long ago that I came to the realization that I was wasting precious time. I was working at a job that was beyond my capacity because I NEEDED the money to keep my family living large, but I was a mess. When I woke up to what was happening, it was an unwelcoming experience at first. I guess I should have been relieved – and fortunate enough to see that my life was not my own. I had created this insanity. Everyone, including me, was accustomed to living a shallow, materialistic life that I vowed I’d never live. We were not the same people.

Almost suddenly you want to fix it – you want to get back to basics. You long for rainy days in your sweatpants, playing Monopoly, eating cookie dough straight from the package. You run to your dresser, then your cedar chest, then your closet, all in search of your old comfy sweatpants, which have by this time been replaced with high-end “Active-wear” (which was hardly designed for lounging). You have nothing snack-worthy in your fridge, and your kids are too busy with their own personal in-room entertainment centers to play a stupid board game with you.

You feel empowered with this new information (that, strangely enough, came from inside). You have a new found dedication – you are determined to make your time on this earth sweeter. You turn down that promotion – it goes against your new game plan anyway. If fact, this JOB goes against your game plan. Not because you are lazy and don’t want to work, but because as part of your enlightenment “package-deal”, you discovered that you hate what you do for a living, and are not real sure how you got this far into something you loathe this much. Maybe it’s because you had to keep proving to everyone that you could do it (and don’t forget, you had to buy more stuff too). Somewhere in all that corporate glory and keeping up with the Joneses, you lost yourself. Your hopes to further your education and make your dream job a reality are buried under a pile of receipts from Neiman Marcus and Whole Foods.

The euphoric phase is in full tilt. You told your boss to shove it, took a job as a home based data entry clerk making peanuts for pay. You can’t wait to pull your kids out of after-school care and serve them sliced apples while they do their homework. You’re trading in your Escalade for a used Ford Escape. The local college has sent you everything you need to get started again. Life is going to be good.

You’ve waited for the perfect moment to share your plans with your spouse and children. Sure, there are going to be cut-backs, but think of all the quality time you’ll have together? Surely everyone will see how important this change is. After all, they used to always complain about how busy you are. You’re certain that each person in the house will be happy to give up some luxuries in trade for extra family time. Who needs to vacation in Mexico when you can camp in your own backyard?

You take center stage. You are on your game. You deliver the perfect motivational speech. You are full of excitement and enthusiasm – giving them happy facts and tips for a better, less-expensive home life. You wait for cheers, hugs, thank-you’s and beyond. Nothing happens. Everyone is silent at first, and then the questions come fast and furious. Before you can mutter an answer to anything, the fighting begins. You interrupt to explain to the kids that they need to appreciate the little things. This is a difficult task, considering your spouse is growling at you, and you yourself have no idea how to achieve this goal yet. It’s all spiraling out of control. This is not what you envisioned from your loving and supportive family. What will it take to get everyone on board so you can make this new plan work?

The answer is time. Just because you’ve achieved this new level of clarity doesn’t mean everyone else in your household has. Panic is everyone’s first instinct when it comes to big changes. In the coming months, as the money dwindles around birthdays and holidays, you will have pings of remorse. You will feel something that is comparable to regret, but in the end, it’s just fear. Fear of the unknown. Fear of change. This fear compounds the self-doubt and guilt you already feel. It’s hard to stay positive when you see the disappointment in your child’s eyes when you can’t by them a new video game “just because”. As time goes on, you child grows into it, and starts to appreciate having you around more often. You don’t notice right away because you are still juggling finances and getting used to new schedules.

Everyone is getting to know one another again. There is more laughing and talking. Sure, you are working full-time and going to school, but you find time for home-cooked meals, baseball games, and monopoly on rainy days. One afternoon, you notice the sadness in your child’s eyes as she talks about an old “Clifford” stuffed animal that used to lie at the end of her bed. He was huge – almost three feet long. You remember throwing it away a few years earlier because there were holes near the ears. You didn’t have time to sew it, so you threw it away at the end of a 12 hour work day after coming home to a mess and a pile of mail to go through. You curtly reminded your sobbing child at the time that they had tons of stuffed animals, and suggested they find a new favorite.

I recently gave my eight year old daughter that same Clifford dog that she missed so much. I spent an hour online before I found it on e-bay for $12, and managed to get it here in time for Christmas. After a long day of playing with her new toys (including a Wii from Santa), nothing made her happier than that Clifford dog. As I tucked her into bed, she snuggled up close to her big red dog and smiled the sweetest smile I’ve ever seen. Mission accomplished.

It’s really easy to stay in a job if it pays well, especially when you have a family to feed. I am not suggesting that it’s always possible to walk away from this kind of stability either – I’ve made plenty of mistakes trying to get back to the simple life, because there is actually nothing simple about getting there. Just take it one day at a time. Try to get back to basics – focus on making the most of your life, not just your free time.

Labels: America's Spending Riot: Don't Get Swept Up

5 Tips on Recycling Plastic in New York City

American consumers spend billions of dollars each year on products that come in plastic bottles and other commercial packaging. Mayor Michael Bloomberg of New York City has implemented one of the most proactive consumer recycling programs in the United States. Recycling programs like Mayor Bloomberg’s initiative prevent plastic bottles and packaging materials from entering the waste stream.

1. Know Your Plastic

There are seven kinds of recyclable plastic. Each is represented by a number between one and six within a circular arrow recycling symbol. The New York City program, however, accepts only certain types of plastic. New Yorkers need to know which items to recycle, throw away or reuse. Find the recycling symbol on each container. Usually the symbol will appear on the base of the item.

2. Wash and Separate No. “1” and No. “2” Items

Wash plastic containers in hot soapy water to remove food particles. Rinse and let dry. Separate containers by number and discard bottle caps, which are not accepted by the New York City recycling program. Place the containers marked with numbers one and two, along with any other narrow-necked bottles, in a blue plastic bag designated for recycling. Most water and beverage bottles are made of polyethylene terephthalate (PET) and are marked with the number one. Milk, juice, water and laundry detergent bottles are usually made of high density polyethylene (HDPE) and are marked with number two. Place the bag on the curb for weekly pickup, according to your street’s schedule.

3. Take No. “5” Items to a Recycling Location

Select any containers marked with the number five. Yogurt cups, margarine tubs and other plastic food containers are usually made of polypropylene (PP) and marked with the number five. Take these plastics to a site that accepts them for recycling, such as any Whole Foods Market in Manhattan. These stores participate in the “Preserve Gimme 5” program and provide a receptacle for consumers to drop in their clean No. “5” plastics for collection.

4. Reuse or Discard the Other Numbers

Reuse or discard the plastics marked “3” (polyvinyl chloride or PVC), “6” (polystyrene or PS) and “7,” which are mixed plastics.

5. Recycle Plastic Bags

New York City also encourages plastic bag recycling. Clean plastic grocery and dry cleaning bags, made of low density polyethylene (LDPE) and marked with the number four, can be taken to just about any supermarket or pharmacy and placed in the designated container for recycling.

Labels: 5 Tips on Recycling Plastic in New York City

An Historical Materialistic Approach to My Chosen Career

I am currently double majoring in Philosophy and in applied Psychology and with this I plan to help rape victims and counsel women about their options in life. As a bonus, I also hope to influence the laws governing certain aspects of my chosen profession. Successfully performing this job will require that I follow certain laws and policies, as well as be affected by certain laws and policies. This paper calls for an historical materialist approach of some aspect of this, my chosen career, and I plan to use Angela Davis as a guide in doing so. I plan to discuss our countries current abstinence only programs, rape in war time and its current laws in civilian society, the history and current use of sterilization in this country within birth control options, and to discuss abortion.

The first topic I am going to discuss is rape. “When the abolition of the international slave trade began to threaten the expansion of the young cotton-growing industry, the slaveholding class was forced to rely on the natural reproduction as the surest method of replenishing and increasing the domestic slave population. Thus a premium was placed on the slave woman’s reproductive capacity.” (Davis p. 6) Women of the slave trade were raped by their owners in order to increase the slave population and thus perpetuate their profits. Being that these women were slaves, nothing could ever be or was ever done to prevent or stop rapes from happening, nor was there any punishment involved. Old feudal lords and monarchs of the past used rape as a way to “breed” another culture out, it was encouraged for there men or the soldiers to rape the women of the lands they occupied as a way of achieving their military goals. The United States has turned a blind eye to rapes performed by their soldiers currently and in the past. It happened in Vietnam and it has been rumored to have happened in the Middle East in our current war. Taking a Leninist Imperialistic view of all of this, war is caused for economic reasons. Thus using rape was for the economy. We have seen rape also be a result of the economic institution of marriage. Marriage arranged for financial gains, are not always made between compatible people. Rape has been a direct result of the sexual frustration experienced by both parties of an incompatible marriage. In the past little to nothing was done about this. In civilian society rape has seen its changes for the better. Now, in today’s society, there are laws prohibiting rape and provisions written in these laws for the punishment of the offenders. In Minnesota rape is called criminal sexual conduct and there are five degrees allowing for specifications of offenses and for punishments. First degree rape involves bodily injury, fear of great bodily harm, penetration, and is also for rapes in which the victim is under 13 years of age. Second degree has the same provisions but it is for sexual contact and not for penetration. Third degree involves penetration, and a focus on slightly older children with force or coercion. Fourth degree is the same but only for contact, not for penetration. Fifth degree criminal sexual contact is a gross misdemeanor except involving repeat offenses. Currently there is a five year statute of limitations on rape and I would like to change that to be indefinite for first, second and third degree offenders. I would like to see first degree sentences carrying a provision for the death sentence and second and third to carry possible life sentences. I would also like to see rape in times of war be punishable by death. These changes I think could help to eradicate rape and its use to demean women and control the culture of the world’s population.

The second topic I have chosen is sterilization. The United States has a diverse history of sterilization practices, for both white bourgeois women and for minority, and lower class women. For the women of the upper classes, birth control, abortion and sterilization became a way to plan families, and further secure wealth through control of the number of family members they had to support. For white, upper class women these opportunities became rights that they pushed to have. For black women and women of other minority groups this was not the case. “by 1976 some 24% of all Indian women of childbearing age had been sterilized.” (Davis p.218) “By the 1970’s 35 percent of all Puerto Rican women of childbearing age had been surgically sterilized.” (Davis p. 219) “Moreover 43 percent of the women sterilized through federally subsidized programs were Black.” (Davis p. 219) A high majority of the above mentioned sterilizations were not done voluntarily or were done under some form of coercion, such as not telling the women what was happening until it was done or by threatening to take away government aid programs. While white women thought of birth control and “family planning” as being favorable rights to be had, women of minority groups were gaining a history of monstrosity due to sterilization and abortion. African American women have slavery to thank for their utter fear of abortion. “Abortions and infanticides were acts of desperation, motivated not by the biological process but by the oppressive conditions of slavery.” (Davis p. 205) Slave women preformed their own abortions and killed their children in order to save them from a life of slavery, and being an economic unit. Angela Davis further writes, “Since the first call for birth control was associated with goals which could only be achieved by women possessing material wealth, vast numbers of poor and working class women would find it difficult to identify with the embryonic birth control movement.” (Davis p. 208) Restrictions were made on funding and availability of birth control and abortions, leaving sterilization as the only option for women who could not afford or obtain birth control and abortions. “Thus class-bias and racism crept into the birth control movement when it was still in its infancy.” (Davis p. 210)

During my career of counseling I will come across a diverse population of people, and women specifically. Using an historical materialist approach, I can counsel my clients based on what I know of there more specified history of culture and beliefs. It can be a tool used in helping women come to fight for their own emancipation. I want to be able to answer questions my clients will inevitably ask me about family planning, and talk about abortion with them, as pregnancy can be a result of rape. Angela Davis writes “Birth Control-individual choice, safe contraceptive methods, as well as abortion when necessary- is a fundamental prerequisite for the emancipation of women.” (Davis p. 202) I agree with this statement, but under the current administration this goal, in so far as my counseling career is concerned, is very difficult to achieve. Abstinence only programs are the only programs of this type to receive federal funding by order of President George W. Bush. Funding of counseling programs is not the best and all of it is put to good use with more demand left at the end of the funding. I would like to help influence the change in restrictions on birth control, abortion, and sterilization. Currently in Minnesota there are decently fair abortion laws that allow for the free choice of women, I would like to see the restriction of parental consent be changed from the 18 and under to 16 and under as this is the current age of sexual consent. I would like to see federal funding for free birth control for all women and reduced rate abortions for all lower class women. I would also like to see no requirements on informing parents or gaining their consent for birth control for females of any age after menstruation has started. Sterilization should never be involuntary or without informed consent, although I do feel the laws of voluntary sterilization should be revised to allow women 18 years of age or with 2 children to obtain voluntary sterilization, down from 26 years or 6 kids, and the consent of the husband should never be required as it is now.

I hope I have accomplished what I set out to accomplish at the beginning of this paper. I know you said not to make it a social work paper and for the most part I do not think that I have. Using an historical materialist approach to my clients and their issues I strongly believe will put me at a greater advantage than peers who do not utilize this approach. Taking all information into account is the only way I know of to truly help a person. Taking philosophy, in part, is for this very reason. Learning new ways of thinking and learning popular and timeless ideas about life and all its aspects will prove a better way of understanding clients for me.

Source: Women Race and Class, by Angela Davis

Labels: An Historical Materialistic Approach to My Chosen Career

America's Smallest Military Spy Drone Can Land on Your Window Sill

Unmanned aircraft seem to be a major part of America’s future military strategy. But while hostile governments are concerned with the Pentagon’s stealth bomber drone, they should probably be even more concerned about the new Nano Hummingbird – America’s smallest drone.

Earlier this month, it was revealed that the U.S. military has developed an unmanned stealth bomber, the X-47B. It has been successfully test-flown, and holds the potential of flying into hostile territory while evading radar, and then dropping bombs on a military target. [Source: “X-47B Unmanned Stealth Bomber’s Maiden Flight,” CBS, 2/7/2011. Downloaded from:]. The X-47B would seem to be America’s premier military drone. But there is a much smaller drone that is potentially more frightening.

The Nano Hummingbird looks and flies like a real hummingbird. In fact, though, it is a tiny spy drone, capable of flying onto your window sill, recording data, and then flying back to its military handlers. [Source: “Nano Hummingbird Spy Drone Being Developed By Pentagon (VIDEO),” Huffington Post, 2/18/11. Downloaded from:] With tiny spy technology like the Nano Hummingbird available, no government’s secrets are safe.

Imagine how easy it would be to use the Nano Hummingbird to spy on foreign diplomats. It would simply have to land on their window sill and record audio and video. But while the Nano is a hummingbird now, we have to believe that someday it will be a bumble bee, or a gnat. In other words, someday it will be unnoticeably small, capable of flying stealthily through the interior of a building, recording and transmitting information, without being detected.

That prospect is at least as frightening as a stealth bomber drone. With a tiny flying spy unit, the military could listen in on any conversation – foreign or domestic. When the Nano drones get small enough, there is sure to be a public outcry. But we have to assume that the military’s secret drones are already several steps beyond the Nano Hummingbird.


“X-47B Unmanned Stealth Bomber’s Maiden Flight,” CBS, 2/7/2011. Downloaded from:

“Nano Hummingbird Spy Drone Being Developed By Pentagon (VIDEO),” Huffington Post, 2/18/11. Downloaded from:

Labels: America's Smallest Military Spy Drone Can Land on Your Window Sill

A Guide to Dauphin Island

Dauphin Island is like a little piece of heaven to me and my family. Every year we make dozens of trips to this quaint town soaking up the sign and taking in the sites. Perfect for families, Dauphin Island is devoid of all the hoopla you can get into at Gulf Shores or other nearby beach spots. It’s a family destination, rich in history and full of promise. Thinking of taking a trip to south Alabama? Then you’ll need a guide to Dauphin Island. Let us help!

Entering the Island

You’ll cross over the Dauphin Island bridge and drive on to the entry point of the island. As you cross the bridge watch your speed. Island officers don’t like speeders! On your right you’ll see the Dauphin Island Marina where the Deep Sea Fishing Rodeo is held. On the left is Barnacle Bill’s. Barnacle Bill’s restaurant is serves up fresh Gulf and Mobile Bay seafood often brought in by local fishermen. Be sure and try the Cole slaw too! Delicious! Continue to the four way stop. You’ll see the DI water tower right in front of you.

To The Left

Go to the left and you’ll find your way to Fort Gaines and the Estuarium. Fort Gaines is a huge spot for history lovers with a year round museum available. The Estaurium and Sea Lab is a favorite for families with it’s interactive labs and sea life. There is also a unique gift shop at the Sea Lab you can pick up a trinket or two. Your kids will love it! The DI Ferry is located a little past the lab. You can hop a lift to Gulf Shores without ever hitting the interstate! Bring your RV and you can camp out at the DI Campground with electrical hook ups and fresh water available. On the left side there is also a unique tourist spot. It’s the Audobon Bird Society. Follow bird watching trails and see the ancient Shell Mounds too! Check out the Golf Club and Fannie’s Restaurant too!

To The Right

Go to the right as you come off the bridge and you’ll be heading towards the public beach. The public beach has expanded in recent years and it is a little hike to get to the water. The sand is white and the view is lovely. The downside is there are no lifeguards. There are some public restrooms and some gazebos you can use for picnics. Along the road there are also bicycle trails and walking paths that take you all over this beautiful island. Cadillac Square and other neat spots are free to explore and fun for families. All the way down on the West End is a brand new beach complete with lifeguards. You’ll have to pay to park but having lifeguards helps! There are food vendors, music and deck chairs too.

The Island also has numerous restaurants, rentals, condos and two quaint motels. It’s worth the trip and worth exploring.

Labels: A Guide to Dauphin Island

A Year-Round Visitors Guide to Bay City, Michigan

Located along Saginaw Bay and divided by the Saginaw River, Bay City was the third largest city in Michigan during the mid to late 1800s during the Michigan lumbering boom. During this time, lumberjacks would use area rivers to transport the logs to the mills in Bay City. As a result, lumberjacks who had spent all of Michigan’s harsh winters in the woods overran the city with their pay in hand. To this day, the area downtown know as Hell’s Half Mile is reportedly haunted by the ghost from that era. Today, that section of downtown includes an antique mall and several unique restaurants and shops.

Downtown –

No visit to downtown Bay City would be complete without a visit to the Bay City Antique Mall. Prices may be on the high side, but you can’t beat the atmosphere. It is a lot of fun visiting all of the displays created by the various dealers that inhabit the mall. There is a small dining area (tea room) in the mall, but I would highly recommend visiting one of the many unique restaurants in the area instead. There are numerous restaurants in the area within walking distance that suite a wide array of tastes and budgets. Also, don’t forget to frequent the many interesting shops downtown either. There are several small home decor stores, a store dedicated to scrapbooking, and more. The St. Laurents Brothers Nut House is well-known throughout the area for various kinds of roasted nuts, nut candies, and homemade peanut butter. Madonna, who was born in Bay City and until recently, had family in the area, used to make a trip every time she came back to Bay City.

Vet’s Park/The River Walk –

On the other side of the river, Vet’s Park offers outdoor entertainment year round. During the summer, it serves as access to the river walk, offers several ball diamonds, and provides lots of opportunities for bikers, joggers, and rollerbladers. In late June and early July, you can also enjoy the Bay City River Roar and the 4th of July Fireworks festival. In August, the Labadie Pig Gig, a national rib cooking competition, offers yet another great reason to visit Vet’s park. September brings the annual River of Time encampment. It is a fun way to learn history. The homemade root-beer and kettle corn make it even more enjoyable.

During the holiday season, Vet’s park is home to the River of Lights festival. This holiday light display is a lot of fun to see. Santa House, offering a unique holiday display for kids of all ages, is nearby as well. Throughout the winter months, Vet’s park offers great sledding. Driving over Vet’s bridge, it is possible to see sledders of all ages every evening, Saturday, and Sunday. The bridge abutment offers a great steep sledding hill into the park below.

Bay City Players and The State Theatre –

Looking for a great play or an unique movie-going experience? Bay City has it. The Bay City Players are the oldest community theatre group in Michigan and offer a wide variety of plays all year long. See their website for more information – The newly restored State Theatre downtown offers a variety of entertainment for all ages – everything from holiday movies to jazz/blues performances and orchestras. It truly has something for everyone. Just check out their upcoming events!

Believe it or not, this is just a small sampling of all that Bay City has to offer. For more information, please check out the Bay City, Michigan Wikipedia page as it has links to lots of great information.

Labels: A Year-Round Visitors Guide to Bay City, Michigan

A Christmas Poem

This Christmas season has snuck upon me

Quicker then any I can remember from before

‘I’ll beat the holiday, I’ll start early’ I always say

Yet every year it is the same

I rush up and down the isle ways of Wal-Mart

Darting in and out of crowds

Searching for that perfect gift for everyone on my list

I think to myself, Santa is so lucky with elves to do his work

While I have the chore to buy and buy some more

With a twist of my wrist, I see that it is nearing four

My Turkey due in at three, I had not a second more to spare

As I dash to the front of the store, shopping cart leading the way

I sway in and out of lanes in a hurry, looking for one that is nearly empty

I am next in line, when what do you know, the cashier has run low on one’s

I wait impatiently while she continues chewing her gum and picking gunk from beneath her thumb

My head is pounding, beating like a drum

My knees ache, my back’s about to break

Finally I am free of this horrible mess

Someone should really address the crowdedness

Perhaps an officer to direct this traffic

I arrive home, quarter past five

I rush to get my Turkey done,

As I watch it impatiently while it’s cooking

I check my schedule, and what do you know,

I have started to soon, there is another week to go!

Labels: A Christmas Poem

A Student's Perspective on Binghamton University

“The Ivy of the SUNY schools.” That is the model here at Binghamton University as our administration proudly proclaims. While this may indeed be true, the university administration is indeed full of itself in every sense of the word. There is a ridiculous amount of red tape that students must go through to get anything accomplishment. One of the only good things about the school is its really low tuition: around $4,300. A tuition hike is planned for all SUNY schools by governor Pataki of about $500 moving the price to $4,800 which is still a bargain. After housing, books and food costs, tuition for the year comes out to about $15,000.

This really is a bargain compared to all private schools which range from $35,000 to $50,000. Most schools in New York will cost you around $45,000 and so will almost every Ivy League school in the country. Besides the ridiculously low tuition, the school is hard to deal with. From a student standpoint they really create a lot of problems. Choosing classes is difficult and information about anything is scarce. Its all about who you know and if you don’t know someone knowledgeable about programming and events you might find yourself lost. The administration even causes problems for its own students even when they find protocol regulations. For example, the administration made all freshman take an alcohol and drugs online information session and a short quiz that came with it. Students who completed the exam in around the 1st month the test was open online were shocked and outraged to find letters sent to their houses over the Christmas, winter break saying that they didn’t complete the course. Furthermore they must fill out a form that states that they accept responsibility for not completing the course and agree to be put on academic probation. The other alternative was to have a hearing with the judiciary board. This all happened to students who complied with all regulations but the administrative board somehow put several students on the wrong list. Students had to make phone calls to administrators, which took several hours of time to rectify the situation.

The funding of the administration is also a joke. On the tours they show new students the newest housing Complex that was built in 2002. They conveniently forget to show student dorms that were built at least twenty years ago that are falling apart that most freshman end of getting because they are on the low end priority of students. Speaking of funding, all revenue generated by sports goes right back into the sports programs. A student attendance of 1500 students at a Binghamton
basketball team is considered a season high which is quite sad since other Division I basketball schools receive triple that amount. Total attendance for most games tops out at 4,000 people. Most other schools get crowds of 20,000 people. And just to make a joke of it, 4,000 people who actually go to the games is considered a home court advantage. While the sports teams are actually good this year, the student body still doesn’t go to games. Its as if school pride doesn’t exist on campus. There are a lot of cliques that exist on campus and most people belong to fraternities.

Speaking of fraternities and alcohol, most students go to fraternity parties on weekends and get drunk or stoned from marijuana. Speaking of alcohol I have never seen a school so hypocritical about its alcohol policy. Years ago the university had a drinking bar and pub on campus which was removed. They wanted to foster a safe and non-drunk atmosphere on campus. What’s mind boggling is that frat life is highly encouraged and advertised for incoming students. Believe me when I tell you that the school knows what happens at the frat parties. Underage drinking goes on and the university turns a blind eye towards it.

Finally, the weather really is awful. The old joke is that when it rains, it pours. If its not doing either its snowing and if none of the above happen its downcast with no sun. The weather can be downright depressing sometimes.

On the bright side, so to speak, academics is the universities strong point. They just built a new school of management and business which looks great from the inside and outside with all brand new facilities.

The best point about New York’s Binghamton University has to be the lasting bonds of friendship that you make with complete strangers whom you have never met before. The groups that are formed will last you a lifetime.

When making your college decisions, make sure you visit every school and see if Binghamton University is right for you. If academics, cheap tuition, drugs and booze is your brand of vodka, then Binghamton University is right for you.

Labels: A Student's Perspective on Binghamton University

Affiliate Programs: The Real Way to Make Money Online

Being an online affiliate is the easiest and fastest way to make money online, period. There are many different ways to make money but for every legitimate site there are a hundred scams. Becoming an online affiliate is the only way to guarantee a real payment for your services because your profit is not tied to an imaginary product, service, or pyramid but to the primary business’s own profit. They succeed if you succeed and so most companies that offer affiliate programs really will offer you support in your online business.

An affiliate is a person has a legal relationship with a business and receives a portion of their profit in return for convincing people to buy the company’s product or service. The affiliates “sell” the primary company by having their own website to promote the business. They will offer reviews of the product or service and then have a link to the company’s site and the bottom of their page. Some affiliates will even offer customers free promotional gifts if they agree to sign up with the company through them.

You have to be careful not to become what you hate. Many affiliates will begin advertising for a company they know is a scam just because the company pays high affiliate fees. Promoting a company you know sucks is not only morally wrong but when the company folds (and it will fold) it will come back to bite you in the face.

There are three things to look at when trying to decided what company(s) to affiliate for. The first is the product or service the company is trying to sell. If the product is bad you may be able to make a few sales but in the end the truth will come out about the product and all the work you have done for that site will be for not. The second thing to look at is how well the primary company supports you. Many companies will offer their affiliates domain names, online banners, inside reviews of the products, and many other useful things to help you sell their product. If the company does not offer you their support then selling them to other people will be very hard indeed. The third and perhaps most important thing to look at is how much the primary company will pay you for every customer you bring to their site. The percentage of the sale that companies to the affiliate varies widely on what product or service is being sold. So shop around, make sure you are getting the best deal.

Find yourself a niche and start doing it. Sales will be slow for the first couple of months but once the ball starts rolling it only moves faster.

Labels: Affiliate Programs: The Real Way to Make Money Online

6 Figure Blogging - Is it Really Possible?

Blogging has become very popular and nearly every business is starting to make it a priority to have a web site and blog. Blogs are great for a number of reasons. They are up dated on a more consistent basis with the most relevant information, and web sites all by themselves can sometimes get neglected. While some blogs can become neglected as well this is not the case for the majority of blogs on the web. Popular blogs tend to get a lot of repeat traffic because people can subscribe to the feed. Each time a new post is displayed the subscriber will get an email. This is one reason why bloggers strive to provide readers with the most interesting up date and relevant information. By doing this the reader keeps coming back for more.

If you love to write and want to create something all your own then blogging might be the thing for you. You may also wonder how you can create a 6 figure income by blogging. Many people do this by placing Adsense ads on their blog, affiliate links or writing reviews on their blog for sponsored reviews. Sponsored Reviews connects the blogger directly to the advertiser. You can then name your price and if the advertiser agrees they will pay you a set fee for your review their product which can range between $10 and $1000 dollars or more. If your blog is already successful and you get a large volume of traffic you are more likely to get paid the most from Sponsored reviews.

While it is possible to profit from your blog it does take time and commitment to reach this goal. There are a few things you can do to help ensure that your blog will be successful, and just like with most things in life you will only get results with consistency and time. You should start seeing results of some kind after a few months, but after a year you should start really start to notice more traffic to your blog. Owing and operating a successful blog can create multiple streams of income.

Formula for Success


Post quality content every time. Write about things that people want to hear about or give them useful information that they can use in their lives. People love to learn how to do things. Be sure that your content is well researched and interesting. Think about the reader and how you can keep their attention. Some of my favorite blogs offer interesting quality content and advice that I can use in my life. Most blogs have a general theme like “freelance writing” or “natural parenting”, or “green living”. Yet how you structure your blog is your personal choice.


Be sure to include good keywords in your content. You can do a search on google and other sites for the highest ranking keywords. Sprinkle these words where they are relevant and always be sure that your posts make sense.


The most successful blogs are those that are up dated often. Try to post at least 4-7 times or more each week, and you will drive more visitors to your site.


Create categories on your blog and keep your categories up dated all the time. Don’t wait until you have 100 posts to categorize. Too many changes at once can hurt your rankings with the search engines.

Ask for Feedback

Send out an email to your subscribers asking them for feedback on your blog. What do they like or dislike? Ask them what topics they would like to hear more about. Once you have subscribers you will want to keep them so getting their advice is vital.

Labels: 6 Figure Blogging - Is it Really Possible?

A Beginner's Guide to Needle Felting: Part 3: Putting Elements Together

For Part One of the series, click here. For Part 2, click here.

You’ll want to make sure your work area is comfortably set up. Clear away the packages of wool roving for now; all you’ll currently need are the petals you’ve already felted and your felting tools. You will want to keep a small bit of fiber easily accessible, though, should you need to add more roving for stability.

If you’ve made all of your felted petals similar sizes, check to see if there’s an obviously smaller one. If they’re all very different sizes, choose the smallest one you’ve made. Fold over one half onto the other loosely, making a kind of funnel shape. This will be the center of the flower. Begin poking where the two halves meet, either with the pen tool or a single felting needle, until the petal begins to felt together and hold the funnel shape on its own. If you’re having trouble getting it to stay the way you want it, you may have felted it too much when making the petal shape. To fix this, needlefelt a tiny bit more fiber to the area you’re working on and continue working it until you’ve got it strongly held together. Again, remember to flip the work over at times to get it thoroughly felted and to make sure the fibers aren’t all stuck into the mat.

Once you’ve got your flower center looking the way you want it to, select a slightly larger petal. Choose which side you’ll want showing on the flower when it’s finished. Place the backside onto the mat. Place the center piece on top of it. Attach the pieces together by felting the front of the small point of the funnel shaped center piece to the bottom of the second petal. It’s your choice as to whether you want to center it or make it slightly off kilter. Real flowers are not perfect and nor do your fiber ones need to be. If you find you need extra fiber to create a stronger bond between the petals, flip the piece over and add a small amount of wool roving to the back of the second petal and poke with the needle until it’s well matted and felted together. Attach a third petal – again slightly larger – in the same manner, only this time placing it opposite the one you’ve just done.

Continue working in this way, all the way around the flower, until you have all of your petals attached. If you like the way the flower looks you’ll want to begin the leaves. If you don’t, work on it further. Add more petals to places you feel are too bare, or work the fiber so that the petals are smaller in places you feel they’re too large.

These particular needle felting instructions are basically the same regardless of your project. You needlefelt individual pieces and then attach them by adding more roving and felting them together. If you are using wet felting techniques combined with needle felting, or adding needle felted accents to wool sweaters or scarves then you may have to attach in a different manner. If you are adding small details such as eyes or spots, then you would just add roving to the main piece and work it in, rather than creating eyes and then attempting to attach them. That’s more detailed work though, and for now focus on the very basics.

Labels: A Beginner's Guide to Needle Felting: Part 3: Putting Elements Together

A Guide in the Dark

On a windy night in San Francisco, I dropped my ticket while waiting for the last train home. I panicked. Without the ticket, I was stuck at the station for the night. I reached for my phone to call for help, but there was no reception in the tunnel. Then, I felt Madge rub her head against my knee. I reached down to touch her face and realized she had the ticket in her mouth. I had always discouraged my guide dog from picking things up off the ground. Fortunately for me, when she saw my distress, she abandoned her training.

It’s absolutely amazing to have a partner who is always watching out for danger. Sometimes, it’s almost as if my guide dog could talk to me. Although looking back, I was hesitant to get a dog.

I was 26 when I lost my sight and had to learn to walk all over again. Each step I took in the dark was drenched in uncertainty. After I started using a cane, my fear slowly dissipated as I learned how to maneuver through mobility classes. My instructor said I’d be a good candidate for a guide dog, but at the time, the thought of caring for one was overwhelming.

One year later, I was struggling to cross a busy street with my cane when I heard a woman and her guide dog speed confidently past me. I continued to waiver in traffic until a stranger who could see helped me across. He suggested I get a dog. That was the moment I began to seriously explore the idea of a guide dog.

Passing the Test

People began using guide dogs in Germany to help soldiers who had been disabled in World War I. The first guide dog training school in the U.S. — The Seeing Eye — was founded in 1929. Many people erroneously refer to guide dogs as “seeing eye dogs” due to the name of this inaugural school. There are now about a dozen training schools in the U.S., and the service dog world is expanding to include dogs for deaf people, diabetics, and even those with autism and post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

After researching online, I applied to three different schools and then watched anxiously as about half my friends who had applied were rejected.

Getting a guide dog requires a thorough application process because training is expensive. Although each school’s requirements were slightly different, all three required medical verification of blindness, letters of recommendation, and a personal statement about how having a guide dog would affect my life.

Each school visited my home to verify my skills with the cane and see how I would handle a dog. They simulated having a guide dog by making me hold a harness and then letting an instructor guide me through crowded Mission Street in San Francisco.

I was ultimately accepted by all three schools, but I chose Guide Dogs for the Blind in San Rafael. This is where I eventually met Madge.

Living with Madge

Even though I grew up with pets I loved, receiving Madge has brought a whole new level of connection to my life.

I think it’s important for people to realize that in many ways, Madge is just a regular dog. She gets plenty of time for fun, and her reward for her work is affection, food, and play, which she gets daily.

After I lost my sight, it became really hard to meet people in public places. I can’t make eye contact, smile at someone from across the room, or know if someone is available to talk, so I struggle to strike up conversations and make new friends. Madge, however, is the perfect icebreaker. Men, women, kids, and other dogs are drawn to her. She makes me more approachable to people who can see, and she loves the attention. (Remember: Guide dogs are working, and it’s important to ask for permission before petting one.)

It’s my love life that has been most affected by Madge. I can’t date anyone with dog allergies, phobias, or a general aversion to dog hair. Once upon a time, I dated guys with flashy clothes and cars. But having Madge now means most of my romantic relationships are with outdoorsy guys who have dogs of their own and plastic bags constantly on hand.

Working Together

Guide dogs are trained to alert their owners about any changes in elevation, like steps, bumps, or tree roots. They can find doors, seats, stairs, or elevators, and they warn owners of things at eye level, like tree branches. Dogs can also read facial expressions.

Once a dog and his owner form a connection, the dog can learn things specific to the person. A friend of mine taught her dog to hit the elevator button in the building where she works. Madge knows I love pizza, so she always stops when we pass pizza parlors to see if I want to go in.

My constant canine friend comes with me on work trips, vacations, and social outings. When I could see, I used to admire guide dogs who led people across busy intersections and protected them from traffic. Now that I know firsthand what it’s like to have this kind of friend, I love telling people about it. It’s incredible to have someone who is constantly watching over you. For some, a friend or a mate does this. For me, it’s Madge.

Labels: A Guide in the Dark

5 Unique Tips for Warming Up During the Chilly Months

Has it been a cold autumn, a freezing winter, or a damp, cool spring and you’re having trouble warming up? Or, is it warm in your house but at the expense of high heat bills in your mailbox? If you’ve already tried other methods but still don’t feel warm enough, here are 5 unique tips for staying warm that just might do it.

Use Warm Packs (Corn/Rice Bags)
Of all the methods, this is one of my favorites. For the inexpensive price of a small square of fabric, a few yards of thread, and some rice, beans, or dried corn, you can create a bag that will do wonders at warming your skin, chasing away the chill, and helping you stay warm. If you’d rather not make them, the bags are available ready-made, online or in catalogs. During the day, microwave a small bag or two for your pockets. Use larger ones for your shoulders or lap. At night, place warm bags under the covers at the foot of the bed. This will create toasty toes, and thereby translate into a toastier night’s sleep. (Caution: Please use common sense and avoid warming the bags to the point where either fabric or skin might burn.)

Put on Wool Socks
Other articles mention wearing double socks to keep warm, and that may work, but it’s hard to fit into a pair of shoes wearing two pairs of socks. Unless you plan to wear slippers all day, a much better method is to wear wool socks. Wool keeps the feet warm and wicks away the perspiration. Watch for wool socks on sale, and get an even bigger savings while staying warm.

Wear Leg Warmers
All the rage in the 70s and 80s, leg warmers are seen less often in retail stores today. They are still available online, though, especially at sites that carry dancewear. Since most people sit near a computer with the fan blowing cold air on their ankles, leg warmers are a boon to staying warm. However, unless you want to look like you’re still living in the days of disco, don’t wear them on the outside of your pant legs, but wear them underneath. They’ll warm the ankles faster that way, too.

Eat Warm Meals
Although this suggestion might seem like common sense, how many people actually eat three hot meals a day? Warm foods and liquids heat your core, so they’re a great help in warming. But … perhaps you feel there’s no time to cook a warming breakfast. Do it the easy way, and warm a muffin/toast/bagel in the microwave and have it along with a cup of hot chocolate. Put dinner into the slow cooker before leaving for work, which will not only provide a warm meal when you return, but will put a little warming heat in the kitchen while only using a small amount of electricity. While at work, try warming a cup of soup in the break room for lunch.

Hand Wash the Dishes
Most people rinse their dishes before placing them in the dishwasher, so try hand washing them instead. Not only does this save on electricity, but also, keeping your hands in hot water will help with warming them … and give a steam facial in the process.

Whether it’s a cold autumn, an icy winter, or a chilly spring, these 5 unique tips for staying warm will help beat the chilly-willies. In addition, as a bonus, you can save money on utility bills by keeping the thermostat lower.

Other tips and hints by this author:
Tips, Hints and Smart Ideas that Make Life Easier: How-to Advice on Kids, Pets, Life in General
Five Ways to Disinfect, Sanitize or Clean a Sponge
How to Make Homemade Waterless Hand Sanitizer

Embedded links as listed above.
Personal experience.

Labels: 5 Unique Tips for Warming Up During the Chilly Months

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