Gone Green

After many different directions, I have decided to take this blog green. In addition to the occasional other news I may pop off on, I will be offering green tips and tricks from myself and the web. I hope you enjoy.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Helping yourself

Many times we get caught up in the problems of the world. Jobs, relationships, money, and hobbies take a good deal of our time. But how often do we do something just for ourselves? If we break down as individuals, how can we help others or even survive?

As men, we have a tendency to push ourselves further then we can, with the belief that we are indestructible. We aren't. We are just as vulnerable today as we were when we were born, and if we don't take care of ourselves, we will break down and sometimes the results are pure tragedy.

To help ourselves, we need to determine what bothers us. Primarily the two things that bother us the most is relationships and money. Everybody is different though. Take some time after work, lock yourself in your room and remove all distractions. Cell phones, pda's, computers, tv, kids, spouse, pets, anything that will break your focus. Get a pen and paper and sit either on the floor or on the bed, anywhere you can make yourself comfortable. Sit in a comfortable position, don't try some yoga position you saw on tv, it really doesn't matter.

Once comfortable, bend yourself over, then slowly straighten up, starting with the base of your spine, and just uncurl. Breathe deeply, drawing the air in through your nose, forcing it down to the bottom of your stomach, and do this for 10 seconds. It may take some time to learn to do this correctly. You are trying to force air and blood circulation to areas that normally don't get any. When you exhale, breath out your mouth, pushing the air from your stomach area out, in a slow controlled fashion. Do this for a few minutes, or until you are relaxed and at peace. Clear your mind when you do this.

Then, let your thoughts flow out and capture the first thing that comes into your head, write it down. Repeat this until you have a few things written down. Analyze what you have down, and think of what you can do to make this worry go away. Once you are done, remove the paper and place it out of sight somewhere that you can't come across it on a daily basis. Focus on one issue and fix it in your mind. When this is done, repeat your breathing excercise until you are relaxed again. This should only take around 15 minutes of your time. The breathing can be repeated anytime you are stressed. If sitting is not an option at work, close your eyes, let your hands hang free, and breathe in and out slowly a few times, let it refresh you.

Sometimes some music or sounds may help, pick your favorite soothing sounds and play them.

Mac users rejoice

Rejoice mac users, your online poker woes have been solved. Macpokeronline is a website specifically designed to find that perfect poker game for mac users. It has extensive tournaments, games, even news and information.

Some people may be hesitant to use an online poker website, but lets be honest, with gas prices as high as they are, why not stay home and get your gambling fix in? The website does not have spyware, malware or virus on it. Their privacy policy also explains they do not sell your private information.

How does one get their money online to do this gambling? They have many means of doing this. PayPal being the main exception, since paypal does not handle gambling transactions.

There is also several types of games on this site as well. You can choose from Texas hold-em( made popular by ESPN of all things) plus several other variations of regular poker. Personally I am a fan of Texas Hold em, its fun bluffing your way to winnings.

Next time you get the urge to gamble, but shudder at high gas prices, head on over, check them out, and have a fun time.

Knoxville Unitarian Church

There was a tragedy that occurred Sunday in Knoxville. A man entered a church with a shotgun, opening fire. He opened fire during a child's play in the church. Two people were killed before male members of the church subdued the attacker.

This man had a degree in mechanical engineering and a nice home. But looking deeper shows more problems. He had a history of violence with his ex-wife, who took out a restraining order against him.

What caused this to happen? Did the pressures of life get to him? Initial reports suggested he went looking for his ex-wife, or that he was mad at the church for not giving him food. Later reports suggest he may have just been trying to have police assisted suicide.

Regardless of the reason or motive, our hearts and prayers go out to the family and members of this church.

Monday, July 28, 2008

Spyware and Virus

Hate them all, hate them all. Ended up with some crazy spyware over the weekend. The Vista Anti-virus. This thing is a bear to get rid of, and be careful googling it. A lot of the sites you come across have you download something specifically designed to get rid of it. Guess what, its spyware as well.

Ad-aware has yet to get rid of this spyware, and McAfee missed it. What I did find and seemed to work is the following steps.

1. Bring up the task manager and kill the process called vav.exe
2. Download Spybot search and destroy( or your spyware remover of choice)
3. Go to your start menu, click run, type msconfig
4. Click the startup tab, uncheck vav.exe
5. Reboot and bring your pc up in safe mode( Click F8 while booting)
6. Run Spybot
7. reboot

This is a very malicious spyware and causes no end of headaches.

Sunday, July 27, 2008

Tennessee Tax Free Weekend 2008

Its here, the big weekend. Tennessee is one of few states that has a tax free shopping weekend. From Friday, August 1st till Sunday August 3rd at midnight, sales tax is waved on the following items.

Clothing under $100, school supplies under $100, and computers under $1500. Thats per piece, not a total. There are of course exceptions, and anybody interested should make sure they are aware of them before shopping. This weekend is primarily to help ease the burden of back to school shopping for parents. Kids going off to college, new kids in school, or even returning students.

I am not aware of any store that does not honor this, except maybe those who do not sale anything that meets the requirements. Current sales in most stores are astonishng anyway, especially clothing. With the economy crashing, this is a good way to get the back to school shopping done that needs it.

Friday, July 18, 2008

Penny Pinching

This article is a re-post of an article I posted on associated content which discusses energy savings. This one concerns the utility bill. Some feel this is just something that cannot be changed, but it can be, even if it is a slight change, its still an extra $10 or more dollars a month.

This article discusses what is known as vampire electronics, or electronics that consume power even in their off state. Finding and eliminating them is one of the key means of getting the utility bill even lower. Watts add up over time, and can drive up the cost of your utility bill substantially. Remember to unplug anything that charges over time, once the charge is done, including cell phones, razors and laptops. Switch off the power strip at night for your entertainment center, and turn off the old desktop and monitor. Heaven forbid we may have to wait an additional 15 seconds or so to use the computer or turn on the television.

The first thing you can do is monitor your climate. There is no need to keep the a/c or the heater running at all times. Use the windows, ceiling fans, even blankets to help moderate your indoor temp. When you aren't at home, set the thermostat accordingly. Don't keep your house at a cool 68° during the day, or when out of town on trips. As a nation we are too pampered and complain the minute the temperature is outside our comfort zone. Now, when the time does come to turn on the A/C, shut the windows and doors. This will help cool the house faster.

Next big waste of energy is lights. If you aren't in the room, turn them off. Turn off the porch light as well, or install a motion sensor to turn it on automatically when movement is detected. When a light bulb burns out, replace it with a newer more efficient bulb. These last longer and consume less power. Don't go out and buy up all new lights, it will be expensive, just when the time to replace them comes, cycle them out then.

The final place we will look at is the dishwasher, washer, and dryer. Here are some simple do's and don'ts.

  1. Don't wash small loads unless needed. Wait till there are enough clothes to make a full load.
  2. Don't over dry. The clothes don't have to come out steaming out, just dry.
  3. Do pre-rinse your dishes. Don't keep piling stuff in the dishwasher dirty, and letting it sit. This leads to multiple loads of dishes.
  4. Do wash single plates and cups by hand. Just had a sandwich and coke? Wash it by hand; don't waste the dishwasher by doing this.

Hopefully these small tips will help save a few more pennies in this time of economic uncertainty.

Sex sells

It's a known fact that sex sells. In fact, if you want to sell something, promote something, or get people to look at something, you need a sultry women with come hither eyes starting at you. Men don't care what she is selling, they will stop and look, and become convinced that they need it.

Women on the other hand get sold on sparkly things, and shoes, and the word SALE. Have a commercial with a women in cute shoes, she will be all over it. Same with having sparkly stuff. Women eat that up.

Even in this enlightened age, its still the same. Look at any commercial, you see scantily clad women prancing around selling something or the other. Sometimes there is a scantily clad guy at the beach doing the same thing.

Its the same with online photo albums. I use a hosting service called pbase, and take great pictures. There is also several other's that take the same type of pictures I do( nature and wildlife). On average we receive less hits then those with the nude shots, or women pics.

The ultimate election campaign involves a well built muscular man, and a hot female VP. The female attracts the male and female votes by wearing next to nothing, but cute shoes and glittery eye liner. The man stays out of the picture and only gives interviews at sporting events, wearing rhinestone shirts, and positions himself in front of any sign that says sale.

American people are so easy to manipulate.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

GPS tracking for kids

I am sure everybody remembers a few years ago the huge outbreak in child abductions that was on CNN every single night. And then how shortly there after there was all the talks about RF chipping the kids to find them. Well, its gone one step further now. Well, its been going on for a while, but its pretty easy to get this stuff now. GPS Tracking. Now you can always know where the kids are.

It doesn't stop there though, spouses can track spouses, bosses can track employees( they already do if you didn't suspect, those company dinners? Yeah). Some benefits are of course if your kid or dad get lost, you can find them. Somebody is injured, you can find them. Kid not where she is supposed to be on a date, GPS them to their hiding hole.

But what about the privacy concerns. What about knowing the somebody is GPS tracking you everywhere you go, logging your movements, your locations. Of course somebody will say if you have nothing to hide, you have nothing to fear. Well genius, if that was true, stuff like the FISA bill wouldn't be passed. And say hypothetically you go to a friends house one night, you have been tagged by work, spouse, etc. 2 weeks later, the MIB show up at your house with proof you where in an apartment complex at the exact time a terrorist cell was meeting. Under the Patriot act that's all that is needed to haul your butt off to jail. All due to GPS tracking.

Like everything it has its pro's and con's.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Gas prices up again

Gas prices went up in Knoxville to $3.95 on average. Considering since the 4th we held around 3.85 its not too suprising, but still painful. Gas is painful anyway you look at it. Hopefully nearing the end of travel season we can get back below $3 but it is doubtful.

A few tips for conserving gas. Plan your trips accordingly. Try to get everything you need to get in one day, in a logical progression so there is no backtracking or multi-trips to the store. Don't make 6 or 7 trips to the grocery store in one week. Not only do you waste gas, but you will end up buying more then you need. And don't grocery shop on an empty stomach, it will cause you to buy more then you need. Have a snack or something before hand.

Try to pay bills online. Avoid phone payments because a lot of companies charge a convenience charge of $10 or more to do this. Try to avoid electronic draft. With things tight sometimes you need a day extra to keep from bouncing, if they pull it, you get the banks fee, and the creditors fee for bouncing, which can be upwards of $40 total.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Lean Pockets Recalled

Video gamers run to the store, check your freezer, your favorite rocking chair food is being recalled!!!

Oh wait, nothing serious, its one of the healthy ones Spinach Artichoke Chicken. No gamers eat that, just the pizza/ham and cheese ones. And yes, I can make fun of gamers seeing how I am one.

I would suggest however holding off on consuming any lean pockets with either Spinach, Artichokes, or Chicken in it. If past recalls are any indication, when a food is recalled it usually branches out to other products from either the same line, same factory, etc etc.

So don't worry WoW gamers, your hotpockets should be good for tonight's raid/arena match.

End of July

Well, July is almost half over now, and the stifling humidity and heat tennessee usually gets has been a bit absent. Along with all those nice thunderstorms I remember from a child. I haven't seen "heat lightning" in years. The rest of the country has been punished, even parts of west and middle tennesse have, and we have had a couple severe ones in the valley, but nothing like I remember.

Of I am not complaining, being a fall type guy, and with utility prices the way they are, its nice not to be running the AC 24/7. I guess the little paranoid guy in my head keeps waiting for the other shoe to drop. Last years record drought is of course still in my mind.

So much for global warming I guess.

Monday, July 14, 2008

Cherokee Heritage day

Following the pow wow last weekend there is a Cherokee Heritage day coming up August 2nd at James White Fort in Knoxville Tennessee. This year will feature dancing, lineage lookup and impersonations of famous Cherokee.

In addition there will be vendors and food as always. These are always fun and interesting to go to. The storytelling, music and costumes are always vivid and a gentle reminder of times gone past. Personally I wish it was more in the fall(which is where all good festivals belong) but any time is good.

James White Fort is located in downtown Knoxville, which of course is hard to get to, but not impossible with the road construction that is ongoing.

Friday, July 11, 2008

Spirits of Nations Pow Wow

July 12th, 2008 is the Nations of Spirits Pow wow in Knoxville TN. It will be held at Market Square in downtown knoxville. Admission is free, but parking probably isn't. There will be dancing, storytelling, arts crafts, food and a parade of flags. According to the interview on WIVK yesterday, noon and 6 pm are when the two big entrances are held.

With the economy the way it is, free is always good.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Knoxville Zoo, Smart fixed

For those who may or may not know by now, Knoxville is under going road construction cleverly called Smart Fix 40. By giving it a name, they hope to encourage us to think it is going good and all is well. To be honest, its just plain stupid. They shut down I-40 through downtown Knoxville. Yes, that’s right, shut down, a major interstate.

For those who are not familiar with the area, I-640 or I-275 are the detours to avoid this atrocity. Unfortunately for the Knoxville Zoo, neither of these help it out. Conveniently located off I-40 the Zoo has a prime location for catching tourist, and being easy to access from most of Knoxville. With the major pathway through Knoxville shut down, the zoo will be experiencing a downturn in attendance.

I personally can’t say enough about the Knoxville zoo. It is one of the better ones I have been too, and is always adding something new. The animals are all relatively easy to see, more so then most zoos.

If you can get time, go visit and keep them going, it would be a shame to see something happen to our Zoo.

Obama has ticked me off

Yeah, thats right, Barack Obama has ticked me and other Americans off. Some people may or may not have heard about the wiretapping bill that was being pushed through the house and senate. Well, after all his high and mighty words about keeping our freedoms intact, he goes and votes for it. Browse his website to see his stances.

Way to stand up to the peer pressure buddy. You failed your followers, fellow Americans, district, and everything you stood for.

Some may be wondering, whats the big deal? FISA Amendment makes it legal for telcom and the government to tap or get personal records of whomever they wish without a warrant. It also, disgustingly, makes it retro-active so the ones who did it before are free from the lawsuits they were facing.

To view this atrocity in person go to The Thomas online Library. To also see a list of who voted which way, you can go to the senate homepage.

A key couple of notes. McCain did not vote either way, he abstained. Hilary however voted nay. Some rumors are that she may still get the nod come convention time. Stuff like this is able to drive some super delegates from one camp to the other. Obama didn't win enough to outright win the nomination, he still needs the super delegates to vote for him as they pledged.

I don't like either candidate too terribly well, and this is just another example, no matter how they both preach change, nothing will. One voted along party lines against his personal stance, one didn't even have the gall to vote.

Locally local

I always try to stay updated on the local Knoxville scene. To do so I have to try and find new ways and bookmark new sites that help me do so. I also like to see customer reviews and comments anytime I try a new restaurant's, being super picky and all.

Because of my job, I also travel a lot, and being out of town alone makes decision making for dinner difficult. Sure I ask the locals, but it usually ends up being a bad experience because either I can't find it, or I get lost or something. I stumbled across a website the other day called local.com. It is a nice little repository, that is growing rather nicely of local information in areas around the country.

There is two ways to search, either by location or by business, or a combination of the two. Say I want to look for a certain restaurant's in Knoxville, I enter it in and find a listing of the restaurants in the Knoxville area, along with a nice little rating system, and some comments. Also has options to poke around and view a map, gives phone numbers, etc etc.

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

End Times

Most major religions have an end times scenario. And every time there is a crisis, there are more people convinced that it is upon them. Are we living in them now? How does one tell if the end is nigh?

Taking a brief look through history we can see all the major civilizations/powers that have risen and fallen. Rome, Babylon, Greece, to name just a few. They all rose to a position of power and wealth, then all fell. Some sense this is where the United States is. A large powerful nation with a large military puts the U.S. at the top of the world powers list. But everyday people are noticing things. The economy is crashing due to rising gas prices and rising food prices. People are losing their homes and jobs, losing their cars, losing even their families.

In addition to the economic troubles at home, there is the troubles over seas. Iraq and Iran are in the news almost daily, with rumors of war in Iran becoming more and more prominent. So, it is obvious how some people may think the end is coming. In all honesty, the next 4 years will determine if the "end" is near for America or not. We really need a leader who will stand up and restore our rights, fix the economy, and get our nose out of other countries business. To be honest, I am of the opinion that we need to bring our troops home, bring our diplomats home, close the borders and fix us before we do anything else overseas.

So, is this the end times? Possibly, if things dont change, it could be the end of America as we know it. But the world? Naw, not till 2012 at the earliest.

Monday, July 7, 2008

Summer Fun and Activities

Since gas is so high now, it seems that people are looking for activities, dealing with bored kids, and basically trying to keep from going crazy. Here are a few of my suggestions.

Look into some local churches for parties, cookouts, etc. This is usually free, and even if you dont belong to the church, or aren't religious, most people are still welcome.

Next, find your states local parks website. Browse to find the festivals of the parks nearest you. Ususally there is something going on once or twice a month, and they are usually free. This is more weather dependent then other activities.

Find some local attractions you may have never been too, and go visit them. Museums, battlefields, parks, anything new and cheap. It just takes some looking.

Go to the movies. Its relatively cheap entertainment, saves gas, and keeps the kids happy.

All in all, summer can be a headache for a lot of people, but with a little work, it makes it worthwhile.