Sunday, October 11, 2015

Common Sense Rule #6

Becoming offended by any and all ideas doesn't strengthen us, it only serves to weaken us.

I saw a new post this week and, generally, I keep scrolling with nothing more than glance and sometimes a head shake at the gullibility of people: how they can get so hung up on so much, and really, do nothing about a situation but post social media images and bitch about social injustice.

There are so many examples I can use here, but I'm going to stick with the one that actually bothers me the most.


 


I'm guessing you want to know why this particular post bothered me enough for blog post.

I get why these things irritate people. They claim that by "saving the ta-ta's" we are focusing on the body not on the woman or man that breast cancer is affecting. They are angry about who is actually receiving the funds (ie - it's not those that are sick). They think that beautiful cheerleaders can't be good spokeswomen for those that have been maimed by a horrible disease.

I can also appreciate why some breast cancer survivors feel that it undermines their diagnosis.

But what about the many survivors who are comforted by the fact that people are coming together for a specific cause. A cause that brings their diagnosis out where people can talk about it, learn about it, and how to test themselves for it.

Pink Out does not have to signify one company's attempt at fundraising. Pink Out has become an accepted term around the country that school's and business's use to get their students and employees to contribute to society. Many times THOSE funds stay local. Many times those funds DO go to our family and friends during their time of need.

Campaigns talking about saving the ta-ta's or how much we love boobies brings a taboo topic out in the open. It gives youth a reason to talk about it, a chance to learn more about a diagnosis that one in eight women share.

By sharing social media posts that denigrate the intentions of those people, you have simply giving people one more reason not to care. One more reason not to participate. One more reason to weaken our society.

Now, I'm not saying that the pictures of those who have truly suffered, who have scars, who face this demon aren't enough to bring us together. No. Those men and women are heroes. They are amazing people who deserve our caring and support.

Some of those very men and women are the ones who are comforted by those same campaigns. They are comforted by the fact that people notice them. That breast cancer, or any cancer, is no longer a hidden disease. Something that is whispered about behind closed doors.

Why does everything have to be an argument? Why can't we just realize that, as a society, to get past our PAST and be present in the future, there are times that we just need to focus on being there for each other. For the sick and the healthy. For those that care for and those that need to be cared for.

That's what makes us more than a nation. That's what makes us family.

Wednesday, October 7, 2015

Common Sense Rule #4

Multitasking is a lie we make up to let people THINK we are actually accomplishing more than we are

Professors from MIT and a recent NPR study report that people don't “multitask” as well as they think they do.  No matter what I used to believe, I find that often in myself, and in others.

Sometimes I will THINK I’m doing this great job getting all these things done at the same time when, in truth, nothing was really done at the “same” time, just all in one day and usually in multiple little clumps of time because who can really browse Facebook, study, and text your friend about what you have going on tomorrow all at the same time?

Try as I might, I really can’t.  No one can.  Your brain can do millions of things but the only thing you can truly multitask is body functions…your heart and lungs are always working while you are doing other things. 

Your brain simply cannot give the same amount of attention to three different conversations at the same time.  You may be IN three conversations, but your brain isn’t. 

Have you ever been talking to one person, texting another, and looking at Facebook when you hear the person you are talking to say something and all of a sudden something catch a snippet that proves you should have been paying more attention? Obviously you weren’t IN the conversation like you should have been.

Or what about at work? You have three jobs sitting on your desk (I actually do right now: blog, August paperwork, a deposit that needs to be made). While you are busy moving between each of them, doing little bits here and there on each, you miss something big. A number gets transposed or forgotten. An email gets a reply all instead of a private reply. Any number of mistakes can happen.

We need to give ourselves permission to realize that, in order to do every job correctly and give it 100%, we need to put away our distractions. Don't answer that email the minute it pops up. Mute your Facebook notifications. Only have one job on your desk so you don't get distracted by another. It really is OK.

And I promise you. You will find that you have a far more productive and meaningful day without multitasking.

Sunday, August 30, 2015

Common Sense Rule #3

Never say Never because Technology Moves On...


I am not a “digital native” although it feels that way as connected as I am. I remember learning how to make the dots race across the screen of our Macintosh computers in junior high and typing class in high school.

I also remember taking a typing class in college (my first time around) saying to myself: “Why the hell do I need to learn this? I am going to hand write everything for the rest of my life. Why would ANYONE want to mess around with this damn computer?!”

That was then. Twenty years later, I am the one my parents call if there are problems with the computer, they want to know how to do something, or where to find something. I tend to be more connected than my brother who is 10 years younger than me and, incidentally, IS a digital native (he was born the year CDs were introduced).

I’ve used a word processor, played games on a Tandy computer, learned the Internet (which, incidentally, opened to the public my sophomore year in high school) from the beginning, and enjoy social media. I like being connected and my control freak tendencies like being connected. 

Knowing how my addictive tendencies are, I knew that if I started buying technology for the kids, we'd all end up paying more attention to that then each other. I swore I wasn't going to do that, that I would limit the time the kids spend on their devices.

And then I bought an iPad. Next, was a phone for the older kids. Then iPods. Oh, and don't forget that second iPad and laptop. What about that gaming system...

And the technology war took over.

Many times I look up and we have the TV going with five people sitting in the same room all using their own personal devices, and wondered what is wrong with this picture?  Is this just my family?  Are we just that unconnected from each other or is this what many families look like today.


No. It's not just my family. It isn't every family. And it isn't even every day at my house. Does it mean we are unconnected? Nope. We still talk. We still tell each other stories. We still hug and say I love you.

Am I worried too much tech time is bad for my kids? Not really. Do I monitor every site they go to? Nope. I trust my kids and we talk about what they are watching, seeing, checking out. Technology moves on and they need to keep up with the times too. There is so much out there for them to learn. Who knows? One day they may be the next Steve Jobs.


Saturday, July 11, 2015

Common Sense Rule #64

When Life Gives You Blueberries, Make Mojitos!

This past weekend, I had the honor of going to Michigan with a friend for a handbell festival. Yes. I said handbell festival. Don't worry, if that makes you giggle, you are not in the minority as many people thought that I was one of the world's biggest nerds when I told them this was my plan for The Fourth of July.

Back to the blueberries though (I'm sure I will have more on the handbells and other escapades another day!)...

Saturday we arrived at our hotel about 1a. Not too big of a deal,except for the fact that we had a total of over 15 hours of practice time over the next three days ahead of us and we had no idea what to expect from the people we would be meeting in just a few short hours.

Fortunately, Day One was a success and we made new friends! You can never beat that.

When Sarah and I went out for supper that night, we walked through Grand Rapids doing a little exploring before finding that perfect restaurant. We finally settled on the Sundance Bar & Grill. We got some chips and dip. Ordered a drink. Finally, we decided on our meal for the evening. I chose a Green Chili Cheeseburger (minus the bacon, of course).

This cheeseburger was delicious! Well, technically, the burger itself wasn't quite as good as Mark's, but the green chili sauce? To die for!

I made it all the way to my last couple bites and as I looked at the burger for potentially the last time, I noticed something under the cheese.

A blueberry?

I picked it out. Looked at it. Said to Sarah Beth: "I think there is a blueberry in my cheeseburger."

We got a good chuckle out of it. The waitress, while slightly mortified, was glad that we were finding it humorous instead of getting angry, so she made jokes as well. She told us that, after speaking with the kitchen, they agreed that I could have the blueberry no charge. We were especially grateful for that fact.

Sunday was our super-long day practicing. We decided that, for lunch, we would hit the gift shop in the hotel and grab a sandwich and head back to our room for a nap and homework. As we were decided what we wanted, a new blueberry caught our eye: Blueberry Lemonade Smirnoff! Our Blueberry Weekend continued!

Monday came around and this time we had lunch at a Thai restaurant around the corner from the hotel. While Sarah and I were enjoying the scenery, I noticed a guy leaving with what looked like blueberries in the bottom of his drink. So I had to ask!

Turns out he was not having a blueberry drink, which was a little disappointing. We thought for sure our Blueberry Weekend had come to a close.

And then we went out for drinks after the concert and I found Blueberry Mojitos!

Wednesday, June 10, 2015

Common Sense Rule #63:

No matter how well liked you are, if the right person doesn't like you, it won't matter.

I'm a firm believer that not everyone will like you. I get it. I understand it. I accept it.

Sometimes it's easy to understand why a person doesn't like you. Maybe your personalities just clash. Maybe they don't feel you are in the same "league" as them. Maybe they are just cranky.

But what about those times when you have absolutely no idea what you could have ever done to cause someone to dislike you? Dislike you so
much as to push you out of a position without reason.

I'm struggling with that right now. I know they say a door is closed to give you the ability to see a better opportunity approaching. It doesn't make the hurt, the anger, and yes, even the embarrassment any less though.

Three weeks. That's how long it's been. And just when I think I've settled into my new "normal", someone asks me what happened. All those bitter feelings resurface.

I want to be happy for those that weren't affected. I want to enjoy what they have going for themselves.

I want to crush them between the palms of my hands.


Did I mention I'm slightly bitter?

It wouldn't be so bad if I hadn't enjoyed myself. If I hadn't thought I was doing a good job. If I hadn't heard I was doing a good job.

So what do I do?

Well, after a day of tears (or multiple days if I'm going to be truthful on the matter). I pulled up my big girl panties and began to make the best of my new normal.

I shuttle my kids to their activities, something I was going to have to pawn off on family members if I was working.

I work on building my husband's catering business. And I've been quite successful on that feat, garnering him day jobs with his trailer and fielding calls to schedule other events as well.

I work on projects around my house that have been neglected. Well...I pretend to at least. I'm getting to them slowly.

And I run. I run to remember. I run to forget.

And I know I will overcome yet another hurdle in my life.

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Common Sense Rule #62

Firebugs are not necessarily arsonists.

I am a self-proclaimed firebug and proud of it. I have been setting fires since I was young. We burned our garbage. We burned ditches. We burned our driveway. We burned pastures (not always on purpose).

Why did we burn so much?

Fire can be helpful and beneficial to the ground and vegetation. When you burn ditches, you burn off the old grass that can clog drainage areas that allows standing water which will attract bugs and disease. Burning also warms the ground and helps wild asparagus begin its growing season. Plus, after burning, grass grows back greener and nicer looking.

I bring this up because???

I love fire. I love how is smells. I love how it grows and burns. Burning ditches is one of my favorite spring traditions, but I haven't been able to do it lately. But I came home from work the other morning and got to take advantage of the lack of wind to burn the branches in my yard.

All it takes is some dry leaves and the whole pile just goes up in beautiful flames. The heat from the flames takes a chill off a cool spring morning.

Of course, I did have a helper for the day. Zeus likes to play fetch, although his idea is to chase the stick, chew on it, and not bring it back. He is also a fan of rakes. He's not very helpful with raking, but he does find them extremely fun to chew on and play with.

I spent time raking leaves in the vicinity of my fire, throwing them in, watching it grow bigger. The feeling you get when you think you control something that is really not under your control can be a rush.

Sounds like something an arsonist would say, doesn't it?

I come by my firebug gene naturally. Just one more gift my mother passed on to me. She's slightly crazier though because she'll burn a ditch by herself and I find it to be a two-person job, mostly because you never know when the winds will change and leave you with a much larger fire than you anticipated.

And when that happens? Fire trucks.

But I'm still not an arsonist. I swear. :)

Thursday, April 30, 2015

Common Sense Rule #40

Just because it says "Gift Card" does not mean it will work anywhere. 

Every once in a blue moon, someone will stop in at the truck stop and not speak English.  I know, surprising, right?  We get truckers from all nationalities and even some of the locals have limited English skills.


I had a hard time holding back the sarcasm when I gentleman handed me a card and asked if it would work there.  Here is the gist of our conversation:

Man with thick Spanish accent: Do you take this?
Me (looking at the card): No.
Man: Why? It’s a gift card.
Me: Because it’s a gift card for Red Lobster.


That’s me. The bearer of bad news.

Friday, April 17, 2015

To The Citizens of the United States of America (Part 3):

(This is a research paper I wrote for a class at BVU, just my thoughts, sorry if the citations are written incorrectly, but I'm a music major, not an English major. Enjoy the information for what it represents.)
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I promised I would also provide ideas on what we, as both individuals and a community can do to help reduce waste, and take a stand to stop global warming.

My favorite is to help our neighbors and ourselves. Many families like to have garage sales, but instead of a garage sale, set up trading communities where you take your gently used items that you have outgrown and trade them for items someone else has outgrown. These are very popular, especially when you target families who are less fortunate. I have organized a clothing swap where families were encouraged to bring their gently used clothes of any size and able to do “shopping” for “new-to-you” clothing for their family. There was no charge for the event and any items left over at the end were given away (toddler clothes went to the local preschool, adult clothes to Goodwill, baby blankets to mission groups, etc.).

This doesn't have to simply be done with clothing. Like music? Set up a music swap where you bring in CDs that you no longer want. Sporting equipment not being used? Take it to your next practice. Tired of the same movie or book? There are so many different ways to share our resources with each other!

Another idea is to get rid of the garbage truck. Instead of making it so convenient for people to throw their trash away, make it more convenient for them to dispose of their recyclable products! Where I live, all I have is trash service. If I want to dispose of my recycling, I have to bag it up and drive to the nearest recycling place and sort it myself. This is not something I have time for so everything makes it into the trash, where it goes to the landfill. Recyclables can then be sold by the community to help off-set the cost of the additional labor. The additional labor means lower unemployment rates and potentially less people living in poverty.

For the real “garbage” make it a pay-as-you-throw system, so much per bag. People will be more willing to recycle (or even turn leftover waste into compost for their garden) if it costs more to throw your garbage away.

Speaking of compost, are you looking for fresh local fruits and vegetables? Start a community garden! Every town should have their own acre of land in an easily-accessible location where everyone is able to come, plant seeds, help with the care of the garden, and harvest what they will use.

After harvest, incorporate a time where the community hosts a “canning party”. Many people want to can their vegetables that they have grown but sometimes the job can be too taxing for one person to do on their own. Why not have people bring their crops in, combine them, and work together to do the canning, everyone taking home a share of their labor and maybe even making a donation to the local food pantry!

As always, many ways to conserve energy and resources start at home. Make sure unused lights are shut off when you leave a room. Unplug electronics that aren't being used. Switch your light bulbs from incandescent to compact florescent light bulbs. If you can afford it, LED bulbs last 100 times longer than incandescent bulbs and provide more light for less power (homedepot.com). Programmable thermostats allow you to keep your house warm or cooler based on your family’s schedule. Take advantage of energy audits if they are offered by your electric company.

Another thing to take advantage of through your electric company would be energy rebates. Check with your provider to see what they offer if you upgrade your less efficient furnace for a better one. Do they have something for people who move from window air units to a central air system? While these items still use electricity, their efficiency is better meaning less carbon dioxide emissions from your home!

These are just a few suggestions as to what we could do to help our nation grow stronger and help fight global warming. There are so many different thoughts and ideas. It only takes one small sound to start an avalanche. See what you can do within your home and community to make this happen!

Thursday, April 16, 2015

To The Citizens of The United States of America (Part 2):

(This is a research paper I wrote for a class at BVU, just my thoughts, sorry if the citations are written incorrectly, but I'm a music major, not an English major. Enjoy the information for what it represents.)
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Renewable energy sources are not new concepts at all. They have been tried at different times over the years, usually less than successfully. With advances that have been made in technology, renewable energies are making a comeback and showing much promise.

Wind energy dates back thousands of years, beginning with the drying of a loin cloth to a simple sail on a boat. It has been used to power grain mills. It has been used to power pumps for wells, bringing water to the surface. The potential for wind energy is huge!

Did you know that one megawatt of power equals a reduction of 2,600 tons of carbon dioxide? Or that the same megawatt will save 1,293 million gallons of water? What about the fact that, in 2004, each resident of Massachusetts produced 4.5 tons of carbon dioxide through their use of electricity (howstuffworks.com)?

Between 2008 and 2009, wind energy increased 31%; however, it still only produced 1.9% of electricity used in the United States. 38 states currently have wind farms and of those, 14 states produce more than 1,000 MW a year. The top five wind energy states produce enough electricity to power the state of Colorado (howstuffworks.com)!

There is so much potential in wind energy. Wind turbines are actually placed on a mere 1% of the total land designated a wind farm. This means the loss of land for grain farming or pasture land is minimal, giving farmers and ranchers the opportunity to “double-crop” their land. One acre of corn generates $1,000 worth of ethanol in a year, but by putting a wind turbine on that same acre, you have just produced $300,000 worth of electricity, plus your corn crop (World on the Edge)!

According to nationalgeographic.com, “Wind is a clean source of renewable energy that produces no air or water pollution. And since the wind is free, operational costs are nearly zero once a turbine is erected. Mass production and technology advances are making turbines cheaper, and many governments offer tax incentives to spur wind-energy development.”

Another renewable energy is solar power. 173,000 Terawatts of solar energy hit the Earth every day: 10,000 times the world’s use (energy.gov). We will never be able to absorb that much solar energy to convert into electricity, but that shows how much potential there is in solar energy, especially since we are currently only producing less than 1% of the world’s power usage (nationalgeographic.com).

Solar energy works by light reflecting off mirrors to boilers which contain water.  When the water boils, it produces steam that turns a turbine, creating electricity. The largest solar project is being built in the Mohave Desert in California: 350,000 mirrors. When this project is completed, it will provided electricity for 140,000 homes (energy.gov).

If you were to put one 10kw solar panel on your home, it could provide enough electricity equal to reducing 11.7 tons of carbon dioxide in one year (renewablegreenenergypower.com)! They can be easily placed on your home, both on and off the grid. In some states, if you place them on your home “on the grid”, you are able to sell the portion of the unused energy to the power company at a rate determined by the state. Even though this rate is generally less than what you are paying for electricity, if the power isn't used or stored, then that power is simply lost (cleanenergyauthority.com).

Like wind power, the start-up cost for solar energy is higher while the continual operating costs are minimal once the technology is in full swing, unlike fossil fuels, which have a “lower” start-up cost, but the operating costs associated with them are higher.

Geothermal energy is another renewable energy which comes from the earth’s heat. Most of the geothermal activity takes place in the Ring of Fire in the Pacific Ocean, and also along fault lines, near volcanoes, and hot springs. There are many other areas where it can be produced as well if you are willing to dig wells to tap into the hot water supply found a mile or more underground.

Geothermal energy has much greater start-up costs, but can essential heat and cool your home for less than 10c/kw. It burns clean with little greenhouse emissions and is currently supplying less than 10% of the world’s energy (conserve-energy-future.com).

Every year we increase our use of these renewable energies decreases our reliance upon fossil fuels. The subsidies that go along with fossil fuels also hurt us as a nation. While there are some things that are good about subsidies (LIHEAP or Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program), the one thing that I think hurts us the most is that by continuing to offer subsidies to oil and gas companies, we are basically telling them that they do not need to change their ways. They become stagnant and do not try to come up with new ideas for saving our planet.

The United States provides oil and gas companies with approximately $4 billion in subsidies every year (consumerenergyreport.com). While proponents of the subsidies have valid reasons for keeping them ($570 million goes towards LIHEAP), one thing to consider would be, if we were not so dependent on fossil fuels for our heating and cooling, the cost of our electricity could be cut down to better reflect the cost of renewable energy, which would make heating and cooling more affordable for those with low income, thus leaving them less likely to need a program such as LIHEAP.

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References

Brown, L. R. (2011). World on the Edge. New York, New York: WW Norton & Company.

Geothermal Energy Facts. (n.d.). Renewable & Non-Renewable Energy Sources. Retrieved November 10, 2012, from http://www.conserve-energy-future.com/GeothermalEnergyFacts.php

LED Bulbs, Lighting & LED Energy Savings | Home Lighting Facts | The Home Depot. (n.d.). Home Improvement Made Easy with New Lower Prices | Improve & Repair. Retrieved November 12, 2012, from http://ext.homedepot.com/shopping-tools/light-bulbs/allaboutLEDs.html#why_LEDTab

Looper, L. (n.d.). HowStuffWorks "10 Incredible Wind Power Facts". HowStuffWorks "Science". Retrieved November 7, 2012, from http://science.howstuffworks.com/environmental/green-science/10-wind-power-facts1.htm

Rapier, R. (n.d.). The Hard Truth: Even Liberals are Big Fans of Oil Subsidies. Consumer Energy Report. Retrieved November 4, 2012, from http://www.consumerenergyreport.com/2012/04/23/the-hard-truth-even-liberals-are-big-fans-of-oil-subsidies/

Selling Residential Solar Power to Your Utility Company. (2012, March 7). Solar Energy Authority. Retrieved November 7, 2012, from ttp://www.cleanenergyauthority.com/solar-energy-resources/

Solar Energy Facts | Renewable Green Energy Power. (n.d.). Renewable Green Energy Power. Retrieved November 13, 2012, from http://www.renewablegreenenergypower.com/solar-energy-facts/

Top 6 Things You Didn't Know About Solar Energy | Department of Energy. (n.d.). Energy.gov | Department of Energy. Retrieved November 7, 2012, from http://energy.gov/articles/top-6-things-you-didnt-know-about-solar-energy

Wind Power Information, Wind Power Facts - National Geographic. (n.d.). Environment Facts, Environment Science, Global Warming, Natural Disasters, Ecosystems, Green Living - National Geographic. Retrieved November 7, 2012, from http://environment.nationalgeographic.com/environment/global-warming/wind-power-profile/

APA formatting by BibMe.org.

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

To The Citizens of the United States of America:

(This is a research paper I wrote for a class at BVU, just my thoughts, sorry if the citations are written incorrectly, but I'm a music major, not an English major. Enjoy the information for what it represents.)
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

I want to encourage you to think about how our current tax structure can impact our global climate, how renewable energy sources can move us away from the use of oil, and provide ideas on what we, as a society, can do to help improve the situation we find ourselves in as far as global warming and a loss of our natural resources.

With our current income tax structure, we are essentially being taxed three times on our income: once with our federal taxes that are taken from our paycheck, once from our state if we work in state that has an income tax, and once when we take our leftover income and go to the store to purchase items.



In this situation, a family in Iowa that earns $60,000 a year before taxes is required to pay 28% in federal taxes ($16,800) (cnsnews.com) and 15% in state taxes ($6,480) (taxesplusiowacity.com) leaving them with a net income of $36.720. This money is then used for purchases, most of which are taxed (at 7% in Iowa). If a family lives within their means, this could be up to an additional $2,400. That $60,000 has been brought down nearly 50% to $34,318.

Consider a proposed Fair Tax. Fair Tax is based on consumption or use. Under this system, there is no longer a federal income tax, and in many instances no state income tax due to benefits that will be discussed.

In this situation, the same Iowa family with a $60,000 yearly income will go home with $60,000. If this family lives within their means, they have $60,000 of income to be used for purchases. A federal sales tax would 23% ($13,800) and most states with a sales tax would simply choose to piggyback on their own sales tax, which in Iowa is 7% ($4,200) (fairtax.org), giving this family almost an additional 20% of income to make purchases with.


Under Fair Tax, all purchases of new items will be taxed while used items would not be. This would help with waste in our nation. People who shop at second hand stores such as Goodwill and other places where they sell used items: clothing, movies, books, games, sporting equipment, household items, would not have to pay sales tax on these purchases. These items will be more likely to be “recycled” rather than thrown in our landfills.

Under the current system, taxes are placed on companies in many areas, requiring them to raise prices in order to cover their costs. With Fair Tax, the “final product” is what is taxed, so businesses are able to save money to get to that point, which may offer them the flexibility to lower prices (fairtax.org).

The current system also requires businesses to pay additional taxes for their employees. With Fair Tax, those taxes would be abolished, which may allow employers to raise their wages (fairtax.org). This leads to raising income levels and bringing more families out of poverty and allowing them to save more money.

Consumption tax is not a new idea. The idea for this tax has been around for almost 500 years. In fact, Alexander Hamilton wrote in his Federalist #21 paper “There is no method of steering clear of this inconvenience, but by authorizing the national government to raise its own revenues in its own way. Imposts, excises, and, in general, all duties upon articles of consumption, may be compared to a fluid, which will, in time, find its level with the means of paying them. The amount to be contributed by each citizen will in a degree be at his own option, and can be regulated by an attention to his resources. The rich may be extravagant, the poor can be frugal…” (constitution.org).

With a consumption tax, not only could incomes be raised and prices for goods fall, but there would no longer be a need for filing personal income taxes, saving resources and money. Under our current tax code, which is over 73.6 thousand pages long, loop holes and other means of evading your portion of income taxes cost individual tax payers $2,500 every year (fairtax.org) and compliance measures cost businesses over $600 billion every year (youdebate.com).

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References

Bartlett, B. (n.d.). Consumption Tax Theory. Free Republic. Retrieved November 6, 2012, from www.freerepublic.com/focus/news/840372/posts

Brown, L. R. (2011). World on the Edge. New York, New York: WW Norton & Company.

Fair Tax: FIre Up Our Economic Engine. (n.d.). Fair Tax. Retrieved November 6, 2012, from httphttp://www.fairtax.org

Hamilton, A. (n.d.). The Federalist #21. Index. Retrieved November 6, 2012, from http://www.constitution.org/fed/federa21.htm

National Sales Tax Debate. (n.d.). Political Debates and Polls Forum. Retrieved November 6, 2012, from http://www.youdebate.com/DEBATES/TAX_NATIONAL_SALES.HTM

Raggio, G. (2012, September 26). A National Consumption Tax. We Consume Too Much. Retrieved November 6, 2012, from weconsumetoomuch.com/a-national-consumption-tax/

Street, J. (n.d.). Report: What Tax Bracket Will You Be In For 2013? | CNS News. CNS News. Retrieved November 5, 2012, from http://cnsnews.com/news/article/report-what-tax-bracket-will-you-be-2013

Taxes Plus : Newsletter. (n.d.). Taxes Plus : Home. Retrieved November 5, 2012, from http://www.taxesplusiowacity.com/newsletter.php?nid=16196

APA formatting by BibMe.org.

Monday, April 13, 2015

Truly Brave? Not Me, Not Really


Mashups. Love 'em? No. I have not been a fan. Nelly jumping into the country scene jamming with my beloved country singers really put a damper on some of my favorite songs. I'd go to sing along and all of a sudden there would be an extra voice, extra words, extra melody. I hated it.

And then I heard Hoda Kotb's story and how she got Sara Bareilles and Cyndi Lauper together to do a mashup with "True Colors" and "Brave".

Skeptical at first because I love both these songs individually, I gave it a shot. Mainly because cancer has been such a huge part of my life over the last five years when my dad was diagnosed with bladder cancer. Shortly thereafter my cousin was diagnosed with cancer which very quickly took her life.

I also decided to listen because I do love these two songs so much. Cyndi Lauper was one of my favorite artists growing up and Sara Bareilles is now.

Not knowing what I was really getting myself into, I watched the video.

And fell in love.


Yes, the children in the video are all cancer babies. But that wasn't where my heart was.

My heart was with my heart baby and all the other heart babies and angels. Why?

Because that is what I know. Babies with congenital heart defects. Those babies are just as strong and brave as the babies in this video.

My mind goes back nine years ago. To a time when my baby was laying in a hospital bed. Needles and wires attached to him. Watching him cry because he didn't understand why I couldn't hold him and comfort him.


He was so small, so helpless, so confused. And I had no words for him. Just love.


Through it all, he was truly brave, without even knowing it.

Thursday, March 19, 2015

Book Review: Divergent by Veronica Roth

I held off on reading the Divergent series.  50 Shades upset me enough with the similarities to Twilight that I didn’t want to read another copycat book.

I was so pleasantly surprised. 


Yes.  This is the ever-after story of the end of the world.  Yes.  There is a strong, female youth set to save them.  But really, that is where the story lines…diverge.

Beatrice is a young lady that is possibly a little small for her age, a little na├»ve, and unsure of her place in the world.  Her world is recuperating from an end-of-the-world apocalypse and the new government has decided that in order to keep the peace, there will be different factions responsible for different parts of the new world.  Beatrice is a part of the Abnegation faction which is a group of selfless people and the leaders of the new world.

At the age of 16, Beatrice goes through an aptitude test that will determine what faction best suits her.  Most youth are suited for the life they grew up with, however, some are not, in which case they transfer to another faction and are lost to their families forever: Faction before blood.  If someone’s test comes back inconclusive, meaning they are appropriate for more than one faction, they are labeled Divergent which is dangerous because they don’t conform.  They are looked at as rebels, so in Beatrice’s case, her tester tells her to tell no one of her result and that she will have to choose her own faction at the upcoming Choosing Ceremony. 



After the Choosing Ceremony, belonging to the Dauntless faction, she takes the new name of Tris and embarks on a life of risk-taking and learns fighting skills as the Dauntless are the protectors of the new world.  Tris makes new friends, enemies, and even falls in love.  As the book closes, the real threat is recognized in the form of the Erudites who take their intelligence to a level of manipulation, injecting Dauntless with a serum that gives the Erudites control of the Dauntless minds.  Of course Tris saves the day and her boyfriend, but loses her parents who selflessly put themselves in harm’s way to save her.

I enjoyed this book.  There were parts that moved a little slowly, but the friction between the different factions was believable and the story line was easy to follow.  It was suspenseful but not scary.  The tasks that were put before the initiates made it clear that something big was going to come up.  I was surprised that it was as easy as it was to keep her Divergent status a secret though.


Overall, I give the book five stars and can only hope that Insurgent, book two in the series, is as good as the first.


Sunday, February 15, 2015

MOVIE REVIEW: 50 Shades of Grey

Have you ever watched an 80s porn?  I watched this goofy one about George and Martha Washington.  No plot and lots of sex.

That just about sums up 50 Shades of Grey.

Not completely though.  50 Shades tries really hard to make us believe there is a plot to this movie.  Whether it be a beautiful love story (I seriously couldn't believe I read that on a comment somewhere) or just how screwed up the world is and how people try their hardest to overcome obstacles, there is an attempt at a plot.

Without dragging out the whole story (especially since most have read the book or at least have a general understanding of what the book is about), a brief synopsis of the movie's version is that Bella...oops.  I mean Ana *note sarcasm* is a young woman who has never found anyone that she liked enough to be more than friends with until she meets Christian.

Christian, in his own "50 shades of F***ed up" can't tell that Ana's innocence really means virgin and brings her into his Dom/Sub lifestyle.

And Ana follows along because she just can't leave him alone.  *insert moth to flame idioms*

And Christian lets her because he just can't leave her alone.

So they have sex.  Lots of it.  Because Christian doesn't do romance.  He F***s.  Hard.

What did I like about the movie?  My favorite part of the book was the emails back and forth.  I liked how they incorporated it into the movie by posting "text" balloons beside the character on the screen.  The only disappointing part was that you didn't get all the fun stuff of the subject lines and signatures changing per email like they did in the book which I thought was clever and fun, an attempt that tried to develop the characters.

I loved the gliding scene.  I can't even describe how happy that made me.

I was truly impressed with the Red Room of Pain.  Wow.  Talk about the equipment he had available to him.  Canes, floggers, ropes, pulleys, handcuffs.  Any true S&M enthusiast would be jealous.

What didn't I like?  Boobies.  There was just too much of Dakota Johnson's full naked body and not enough of Jamie Dornan.  Not that I was necessarily excited about Dornan, but when you consider what we were watching I'd have liked it to be slightly more even, especially since this was supposed to be a woman's skin flick.

Anything else I didn't like?  Well, probably the fact that reading most of what is written in the, albeit poorly written novel, is at least private.  Hearing those same words come out of the actors' mouths on screen with 100 of my not-so-closest friends?  Awkward.

What would I rate it?  About 2 Stars out of 5.  There wasn't a lot of development, although I'm assuming that is because they figure most who go see it have read the book so they don't need to work on the development.  I think they forgot that the characters were poorly developed in the book though.

Will I see the other two if they ever make the big screen?  Yeah.  I mean, what the hell, right?  It can't get any worse.

Can it?

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

BOOK REVIEW: 50 Shades of Grey by EL James

I realize that this book has been out for a couple years, but I feel I should get my review in before I see the movie that is coming out tomorrow night. 

First off, I started out really excited and enjoying the book.  I’m a huge fan of romance/smut novels and have read blogs on how difficult it is to write a good sex scene, one that is believable.  It didn't take me the entire book to realize that was not what I was going to get.

Don’t get me wrong.  I couldn't put it down.  I've read all three in the series.  More than once.  But I was truly disappointed.

First off, what virgin can give the best blow job ever on her first time, including swallowing?

There were LOTS of sex scenes, and none of them were ever really developed.  There was some form of sex on just about every other page, but because of how quickly Ana would orgasm, they just never seemed to get off the ground.  I’m not saying every sex scene needs to be developed but a good portion of them should be.

Anastasia talks about her body like she’s 12 using terminology like “down there” or (worse yet) calling Christian’s abdominal hair his “happy trail”.  Who talks like that?

My favorite part of the books were the email messages that they would send back and forth.  I love seeing how they flirted with each other, plus is was a good moment to develop foreplay between them, getting you ready for the next time they were together.

The worst part of the book though?  All the similarities between Ana and Christian to Bella and Edward.  I realize that this was the reason behind the book, to give us a “grown up” version of Twilight, but if I want a “grown up” version of something, they had better be in their 30s and have had some life experiences.

On the bright side…it did give me some ideas of things to try. ;) 

Monday, February 9, 2015

Common Sense Rule #79

When you haven't done a full clean for 2 1/2 years, expect to fill the garbage can the day they dump it.

Life has a way of getting away from you.  I've gotten first-hand knowledge of this as I've been going through the house after finishing my final semester at college.  It comes in the form of garbage bags.

Do you realize how many bags of garbage you can fill when you are going through kids' school papers from last year?  I'm not talking before Christmas break.  The 2013-14 school year.

It makes me wonder what I was thinking every time I emptied a folder.  And then set the papers to the side.

Not only that mess, but just a general pile up of papers.  And books.  And all kinds of crap.

I am not generally that kind of person.  I don't like clutter.  I don't consider myself a hoarder (although I do save certain things).  I just had other things to think about and do so lots of things went by the wayside.

The worst part is that, after this many years of no one doing a ton of "extra" things, no one wants to get their hands dirty and do them now either.

Why am I putting this out there?  Potentially embarrassing myself by showing how unorganized this organized person has become?  Accountability.

Now I just need to get it done to prove I can.

Sunday, January 18, 2015

Common Sense Rule #2

If I’m ringing up your purchases, you don’t need to ask if I work here.

So I'm standing behind the register and a gentleman walks up and places his purchases down.  I begin scanning them.  His comment?  "Do you work here?"

Seriously?  Why would you even ask me that?  Because a lot of people stand at registers ringing up purchases for the hell of it?  Because my shirt with the company logo wasn't enough to tell you that I work there?


Why do people feel the need to ask the obvious?  Even I'm guilty of it.  I'll walk into a room, look at someone and ask what they are doing, even when it's pretty obvious.


This is where we need to get back to thinking before we speak.  Ask what they are watching, what they are reading, what they are playing.  Be specific.  Engage a real conversation, not just a superficial one that is going to cause eye rolling because it's pretty obvious what they are doing.



How my story ended?  Well, I think my sarcasm got the better of me at that point because I looked at him and said "Would I be standing behind the register if I didn't?"


Even better?  All he really wanted was to talk to the manager to explain that he did not find it appropriate that we sold adult magazines in the back corner of the store.  Thank you for your opinion.  I'll pass the message along.