Friday, December 18, 2009

Are College Earnings a Lie?

College Earnings: Million Dollar Lie?

I was stumbling through HubPages just kind of looking around (and if you've never been there, it's a great site to find all kinds of interesting information), and I stumbled on a page that was all about the famous "Million $" figure for how much college grads earn over a lifetime over someone who doesn't graduate college. I've always found this to be very suspect - especially considering the sheer number of friends I have who couldn't land a good job out of college, had to stay with menial labor after graduating (after college I spent 14 months at a gas station I had worked at for 3 years to just get through college), and the sheer number of us who have been laid off while my high school buddies who went blue collar are working and doing fine.

So the writers of this page, apparently they found the true government study that's always quoted when talking about the million dollar figure, and they tore it to pieces to show how it's all propaganda. Usually I'm iffy on claims like that, but they link to the study itself and make some great points that are easy to see and understand.

So guys, seriously, take a look at this page all about college as a million dollar lie.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Favorite Writing Desks

Good Office Writing Desks

As anyone who has followed me for any amount of time probably already knows, I'm a huge fan of good writing desks, and particularly those that are made of good solid wood. This is one of the reasons that aside from mahogany writing desks, which seem to be harder and harder to find by the day, that my favorite overall pieces of office furniture are by far and away cherry writing desks. Cherry is a beautiful and colored wood that brings a professional aesthetic air to any office desk. This is the same reason I enjoy mahogany along with cherry wood.

While there are many pieces of wood furniture that can be made into beautiful pieces from oak, walnut, maple, ash, or other types of timber, there is something special about the aesthetics that certain types of wood can bring out in an office or home setting. Cherry has a dark natural color that puts it in a rare category of timber. While some people prefer other choices, it's hard to argue with desks made from natural wood being less attractive than simple modern desks made from glass or the cheap Wal-Mart pieces of crap made from easily breakable fiberboard.

The fact that cherry wood writing desks can last for years or even generations is another bonus that should not be overlooked. This type of furniture is durable and can be a living monument to family history. That's a whole heck of a lot more than you can ever expect from some cheap replica desk from Wal-Mart or Office Max.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Perfect Office Furniture

Ergonomic Office Chairs

There are many different types of office furniture that are important to any home or regular office. This can range from the very obvious, like writing desks, to less obvious things like water coolers and the types of chairs. While some good looking comfortable leather chairs might be perfect for clients who need to wait, or interviewees for a new job, they aren't always the best choice for actual workers. These aren't the types of chairs that can just be pushed up to a desk and provide both the comfort and the support needed for a long day's productive work.

This is where the importance of ergonomic mesh office chairs comes in. These chairs look good, look professional, but offer the flexibility needed to provide comfort and support. The ergonomic designs of these office chairs helps to prevent injuries, especially the repetitive motion injuries that are very common with office work, with carpal tunnel perhaps being the most famous of them all. Ergonomic office chairs are becoming increasingly popular, and it's not hard to see why. They help to prevent injuries, encourage good posture, and look good all at the same time.

The mesh office chair design is also one of the most popular for several reasons. The most obvious is that these are good looking chairs that are considered stylish and acceptable for any office whether it's a home office, small office, or even a large fortune 500 type company. These chairs are somewhat flexible to allow for comfort, but also firm enough to give the support needed for the average office worker.

Any office can profit from the right choice in furniture, and when style can meet both firmness and comfort you've hit the jackpot and most likely you're looking at a great example of ergonomic office chairs.

Very Low Calorie Diets

Is the Cambridge Diet the King of All VLCD Diets?

There are many very low calorie diets out there which are often referred to as fad diets. Sometimes this is an accurate look at it, but sometimes like in the case of the Cambridge Diet, it is not a completely accurate look at things. A fad diet is by definition a "here today and gone tomorrow" bad idea that shows up and then before you know it, is gone. While there are certain aspects of the Cambridge Diet that can make people think of it this way, the truth is that this diet has been around for decades and is still extremely popular in parts of the world. Especially in Great Britain, where this diet is also sometimes referred to as the Cambridge Diet UK.

This is a very low calorie diet that has a very specific multi-step system, and is highly recommended only for the morbidly obese, and with direct medical supervision. This is a weight loss plan that will cause most people who are grossly overweight to lose a lot of pounds over time. In fact, some dieters who started in the high 400 to low 500 pound range have lost over 300 lbs. in one year - although these are extraordinary examples and should not be considered normal. Still, this seems in many ways to be the preferred very low calorie diet for major weight loss for the morbidly obese, and it has a track record to prove itself.

If you're looking at the Cambridge Diet as a possible way to lose a lot of weight, it's a worthy program but make sure that you have the necessary medical supervision and a firm understanding of how exactly this diet does work. If you do that, you'll be far more likely to be happy with the end results of this program. Good luck, and lose that excess weight!

Monday, September 7, 2009

Cambridge Diet - This Sounds Insane!

Brief Cambridge Diet Review

The Cambridge Diet is a very low calorie diet that is extremely popular in the United Kingdom. Once also somewhat popular in the United States, this particular weight loss plan has lost some popularity in the States but is still in use in the UK for morbidly obese individuals. There are a lot of reports online about this eating plan, but it can be hard to figure out which to listen to, especially when many of them are written by individuals who are selling the Cambridge Diet products as affiliates.

This is a very brief review, but I'll chip in my thoughts really quickly. For one, 400 calories a day seems like way WAY too few. The one credit I will give to this eating plan is that the only individuals who are supposed eat this few starting out are dangerously overweight people who really need to shed a lot of pounds in little time from some type of a quick weight loss diet. If you weigh 400, 500, or 600 pounds, losing weight now to help your heart probably is the number one priority.

That being said, no one who isn't at that dangerous level should eat this few calories a day. The one part of this diet that is said to justify those low amounts is that at the beginning stages all 400 calories come from special Cambridge Diet soups and shakes which are designed to be loaded with vitamins and nutrients, as well as containing the minimum roughage the body needs to squeak by.

That said, the goal is to get off of the 400 calorie level as quickly as possible and get to the point where the 400 calories daily from Cambridge Diet products are also supplemented by extra calories from a variety of regular foods. Even with that exception, having levels at 600 calories, 800 calories, and 1,000 calories still seems way too low.

So that's my two cents. Personally I think there are simply better options out there. Feel free in the comments to let me know what you think. If you want a more detailed review, I found this Cambridge Diet Review that seems as fair and balanced as any other one I've been able to actually find.

Saturday, August 29, 2009

Carp Fishing Gear

Carp Equipment

Carp fishing gear comes in many different forms, and is much easier to find in Europe and other parts of the world than it is in the United States. Part of the reason for this is that while the carp is revered as a major sports fish by freshwater anglers in other parts of the world, it is seen as more of an invasive species and junk fish in the U.S. This is a shame as the carp is a great fresh water fish that tastes great smoked, and grows to giant sizes for a freshwater fish. In fact, in many places in the United States the carp, along with the catfish, are probably by far and away the two biggest freshwater fish that can be found.

Still, this doesn't mean that good carp fishing equipment can't be found in the United States. This just means that it takes a little bit more work and effort. While you might not be able to get the fancy and professional $3,000 carp rigs that many European anglers enjoy, there is plenty of good angling equipment that should me more than adequate for a start. Of course this might all change by the end of this year, since for the first time ever the world carp fishing championship is going to be right here in the United States.

Friday, March 6, 2009

Writing Desks Freaking Rock!

Writing Desks: Great Furniture

Maybe it's because I always loved writing, but writing desks to me have always been the coolest type of furniture. They're stylish, some of the antique models still look good even when they're hundreds of years old, and a good writing desk is one of the few pieces of furniture that looks good in any room.

It is kind of weird, since nowadays I'm often on a computer. While I love the old school desks with pull out hutches and intricate wood work, these types of writing desks simply aren't designed for use with modern computers and/or laptops. This is a shame, because I love the old school looks from the older style, antique writing desks, a lot better than the modern versions. Often times the modern writing desks are overly simple - a lot like a normal computer desk. While this is much more functional, it really takes away from the sophisticated look that the old school designs offer.

Still, there are some really great looking cherry wood desks, or intricately carved Italian writing desks that look fantastic and still have some holes drilled out in some inconspicuous places to allow for the necessary cables, but like too many things, it seems like function is beating out form.

With writing desks, I think that's a damn shame.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

New Xomba Writing Blog

Digital Nomads, Travel Logs, & a New Writing Blog

This will be a short post giving some shout outs and back link love to a few blogs I've just recently discovered, or else some good resources just getting going. I'm all about the traveling off the beaten path, about looking for the unexpected, or finding something new and interesting. So for a few side thoughts:

If you want to read a really interesting personal blog that brought the term "Digital Nomad" to my attention, then take a look at Justin's blog, "The Life of Justin: The Blog of a Digital Nomad." This is a fantastic blog. Justin has a great writing style, sharp sense of humor, and is living what, in my opinion, really is "The Dream."

The idea of "Digital Nomad" isn't new to me by any stretch, but I prefer that term to many of the others that I've heard. Check it out for some quality reading.

If you're looking for some good travel writing, check out this Squidoo lens on the Top 10 Travel Narratives. I absolutely love travel writing, and in fact I'm already reading "The Best Travel Writing of 2008" to get back in the mood.

Otherwise, there's a new blog that just got started with a very interesting twist, at least in my opinion. A writer is going to talk about, and going to talk about the benefits of the site, the negatives, and keep up over the course of a year as he continues to write and improve, and even share earnings observations.

So if that sounds interesting, check out Xomba Freelance Writing Adventures.

Hope ya'll find something of interest there. Until next time, cheers!

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Top 10 Movie Lists

Top 10 Movies Lists

One of the things I love to write about is movie lists. There are so many genres and sub genres that sometimes the potential number of lists articles can seem endless. I really enjoy top 10 movie lists, although one of the problems that can come up with this is occasionally you write, edit, then publish and realize that after publishing (when it's too late to change) that you missed an obvious one that everyone remembers (like Conan the Barbarian for top 10 fantasy adventure movies or missing Kathy Bates from Misery for top 10 female psychos ((and yes, that was an egregious error))).

But they're still good articles, so I thought I'd share links to some of the top 10 movie articles that I've written & published online.

Top 10 Werewolf Movies
Top 10 Dark Comedies
Top 10 Movie Anti-Heroes
Top 10 Post Apocalyptic Movies
Top 10 Fantasy Adventure Movies
Top 10 Dangerous Movie Women Characters
Top 10 Movie Psychopaths - once again, apologies for leaving off Kathy Bates' character from the movie Misery
Top 10 Vampire Movies
Top 10 Christmas Horror Movies

I've written many other top 10 movie lists, though these are the ones that are published online for everyone to see. I'm a particularly huge fan of the post apocalyptic movies, although there's a lot to be said for most of the movies and/or characters on these lists.

Hope that gives you some reading and some food for thought. Until later, cheers!

Friday, February 6, 2009

Music, Karaoke, and Surviving Too Many Drinks

Karaoke, Heavy Drinking, and The Bastard Mixed Drink Journey

Well, it seems to me that the three topics in the title are definitely related. It takes heavy drinking to even get me even considering a karaoke night, and it doesn't get much heavier drinking wise than the "Bastard Trilogy" of mixed drinks. One note: if you ever have a chance of getting sucked into the terrible warbling of a karaoke bar or a karaoke night, make sure to go in prepared with a mental list of the top 10 karaoke songs. Knowing these will help your chances of surviving karaoke night, even when you can't sing.

So how us tone deaf warblers get sucked into karaoke nights? Usually it takes a lot more than beer. It's one thing to sit at home and warble to our favorite CD Box Sets in peace, but to humiliate ourselves in public? That takes the hard stuff.

So this brings us to the "Bastard Trilogy." The Bastard Trilogy is a series of four drinks (yes, the name is freaking ironic), and comes with a story.

The Bastard Story: A guy goes into the bar and needs to get hammered. He's already drunk, but he had the break up that just crushes a person and so the bartender is sympathetic and decides to give him a heavy drink, because he has sympathy for the suffering bastard.

After this drink the suffering bastard still isn't through, so even though it's not a good idea he takes a second drink, and becomes the dying bastard.

The dying bastard decides that enough is enough, and he's going to have that one last drink. The third drink finishes him off, and he becomes the dead bastard.

Well you'd think it would be over, but the dead bastard had one last stop, as he got into heaven, which turned out to be like a beach, so Peter let him in and handed him a Mai Tai.

So those 4 drinks make up the bastard "trilogy," and will hammer even an experienced drinker. And that's how we end up at karaoke night. At least for those of us who can't sing with a crap. So that's it. The bastard trilogy, karaoke, and CD Box Sets. Easily tied together. I win the bet, my buddy owes me $5. Cheers!

Thursday, February 5, 2009

Bill Gates, Nintendo Wiis for Grandmas, Weird Holidays, and Other Random Thoughts

This will be a quick post, as it's been an insanely busy week and I'm already something like 30 articles behind despite getting about 11 a day done, so please forgive me for taking a lot of time preparing my "James Bond: Renaissance Man?" post. That's a question I think is a lot better than some people initially might have thought, and I want to make sure the right amount of time goes into it.

So if you haven't heard about Bill Gates' stunt releasing mosquitoes into a technology conference while talking about Malaria, read this: Is Bill Gates Completely Insane?

Personally, I think it's hilarious, and normal people don't become multi-billionaires, so I don't think it should surprise anyone that one of the two richest men in the world is just a wee bit eccentric. But that's just my take on the whole matter.

Something I found funny was a month ago when I was visiting a friend's family, he was back there for a few days, and found out his parents (now in their mid 50's) bought a Nintendo Wii for themselves. And actually played it. Apparently the Wii is being marketed to traditional non-gamers, and a lot of baby boomers, grandparents, and tradtionally non-video game types are really digging it. Good for them, and good for Nintendo.

Just goes to show, when too many competitors concentrate on a tiny slice of consumers (hard core gamers) if you want success, then buy a Wii for your grandmother.

Never thought I'd see the day, but it's pretty cool now that it's happened. And since Groundhog Day has come and passed (great movie with Bill Murray, for those of you who have never seen it), so it made me wonder what other weird holdiays are out there. Not saying these are all bad holidays, I'm just saying when there's a holiday virtually every day, it's a little out of control. I think most of these that follow deserve recognition, but is "holiday" really the right word?

Flag day, Administrative Assistants Day, Armed Forces Day (Veterans' Day & Memorial Day isn't enough?), National Boss Day, United Ntions Day, etc.

Heck, February is National grapefruit month, embroidery month, snack food month, responsible pet owner month, and return grocery carts to the store month. I am not making this up, I've found all of these at several sources. Oh, and since it's Feb. 5th, Happy Disaster Day, and if I don't see you tommorow, Happy Lame Duck Day.

Other Random Thoughts:

If you were a police officer following a car, and a human foot fell out of the trunk, would you also charge the guy for littering?

How great are mankind's priorities when every culture in the world somehow perfected the art of getting drunk...and do you ever wonder about all the people who had to die or go blind to give us the whiskey we drink today?

Tampa Bay rocks. (Good city, had a lot of fun there)

My idea of hell would be running into that 40 foot snake big as a school bus that can easily eat cows an crocodiles that scientists just found a fossil full. (shivers)

The PS2 really was just that awesome.

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Reflections on Xomba

Xomba Musings

Xomba is an open site for writers who can make money through their AdSense account, as well as through relevant affiliate links. Xomba is like an article directory, but you can put your AdSense code and any time one of the ads gets clicked, you split the profit from that click 50/50 with Xomba. This gives writers an interesting chance to get some serious passive income streams going, and the inherent linking from Xomba gives it a boost, like Hubpages and Squidoo, and allows for those types of articles to rank higher in the search engine rankings than a normal blog post (at least for beginners to the whole SEO/Adsense thing).

The one major difference about Xomba compared to other places like Associated Content, or Constant Content, is that you need to gear Xomba articles towards topics that have AdSense advertisers. If you don't, it's the kiss of death to your Google earnings, and aside from not earning anything, you'll also get smart priced.

This week was the first one where one of my articles was among the ten highest ranked. It was my article about passive income for freelance writers, and how that is the key to the lifestyle that most envision when they try a writing career.

While the AdSense topics somewhat limit article topics, this still leaves a wide open field. An example of five very different article topics I've used for Xomba articles include:

  1. Iowa Wine
  2. 5 Best Coen Brothers Movies
  3. Making Homemade Root Beer
  4. Styrofoam Adhesive
  5. The Pineapple Diet

This barely scratches the surface, and a little bit of key word research reveals much better paying keywords that you might be able to jump on to really jump start the earnings. And if it is constantly passive, all the better.

In addition, sometimes it's just nice to be able to write about different topics than you usually get to cover for paid assignments, and maybe somewhere along the way you'll find a gold mine. If not, at least it's more than you had before.

Anyway, that's some of my musings on Xomba, which is a much different type of site for writers, but I like it as one of many different freelance writing channels. There will be more to come, and on some more odd topics (I know I've been getting off topic recently with a lot of writing posts, I'll diversify again soon), including some of the long awaited random thoughts that have been bugging me for a while now.

Monday, February 2, 2009

Security Vs. Freedom

Freelance Writing: Security, Freedom; Both or Neither?

Freelance writing is one of those professions that is almost paradoxical by nature. I've been writing full time for a living since before finishing grad school, figuring out how to write for money on my own because at the time I was broke, sleeping on a friend's floor, and had both legs badly injured from a car accident, meaning I had to be able to work from his apartment. So at the beginning for me, writing was the only way I had to eat consistently, even if most meals were rice and Ramen noodles. But it also opened the way for my to go back to school, to spend a year and a half at a dream job in Austin, Texas, and get the ability to travel since all I need to work now is an Internet connection.

But I also pay insanely high taxes (in addition to having to pay them quarterly), have to compete with many other writers for work, and the pay isn't steady. I've had off months where I barely cleared a grand. Then again, there have been months where I closed in on $6,000 (but those months I also guarantee I was working 80 hour weeks). Online freelance writing assignments do allow writers to be able to make money online and have an unusual amount of freedom, but as with all things, there are caveats.

So define freedom. Can I get up at 6 a.m. and get my homemade fly fishing gear ready to hit the trout streams when they're biting? Absolutely. By the same token, however, if I spend the early morning hours to the early afternoon hours fishing, that freelance work that is waiting for me still needs to get done. So guess who will be staying up into the wee hours of the night (or even all the way into the "Witching Hour" of the next morning, if need be) to get that work done? Yup. The work has to get done.

There are tricks to this, and experience helps. If you want the ultimate example of a "time management" coach (although he would hate that term) then look up Timothy Ferriss's book: The 4 Hour Work Week for a fantastic resource that can help guide you. The tricks and tactics here transfer to the freelance writing life style easily.

There is freedom in that you can move around. I have traveling all through my blood, as my huge love of great travel narratives can attest to. So having friends across the country, I can travel and visit all the great friends I've met over the years, finding free Wi-fi or spending time in coffee shops getting all the writing work done to get paid. While there isn't a lot of physical stress from the freelance writing job, there is a lot of mental stress.

But can I go hike the Appalachian Trail over the summer? No. Not unless I have no steady work and have enough money to pay all my bills automatically AND still have money for water, food, camping equipment, emergency medical bills, etc. So there are limits. Sometimes being a freelance writer feels like freedom at it's best. Sometimes it feels like I'm a dog on a very long leash.

In addition, there is a big pay difference between what you want to write about and what pays the bills. There are great places to write for money online, and an article like this one on my favorite post apocalyptic movies has gotten to the point where it pays me about $8-9 a month passive income. So up front it was only worth $5, but things have gone the right way so that article now makes me about $100 a year and will continue to do so as long as that article ranks well in Google for a lot of search terms. There is where you find the potential for complete freedom that most would be writers dream about: it's in learning how to make passive online income. But most the time I write "work for hire" articles for others, because that pays a lot more and is guaranteed pay, something that is important.

It's possible, but it's hard, and it takes a whole lot of time to figure out. The way I try to explain the freedom of freelance writing is that you have more freedom than ever within the frame work of a job, but you are in some ways MORE restrained than ever to constantly hammering out the work, and to always being within quick reach of the technology and online jagguernaut.

And so here I am again, trying to work out the balance of money now with trying to make enough passive income to have the full and true freedom of what I want. So I listed to "The 4 Hour Work Week" again, keep hammering on articles and other writing jobs, and go back to figuring out affiliate sales and Adsense.

Freelance writing can be a great blanket of security as a part time income for someone who has a steady full time job, but as a full time job when you have a lot of bills, it's a fight.

Sunday, February 1, 2009

Dystopias & Dystopians

Dystopia Novels & Dystopian Movies

There are a lot of things in life that I love, but one that sticks out above many others is the dystopia genre. Whether these are dystopian novels or dystopian movies, there is just something about dystopia that I find endlessly fascinating. In my mind, the king of all of these are the post apocalyptic movies, which by their very nature are generally dystopian in nature. Part of it might be the doom and gloom, part of it is that I tend to like genres where the world the story is set in isn't just background, but it actually is almost a living, breathing character that is just as important to the story as any human or mutant.

That doesn't mean I'm a blind sucker. I found parts of Resident Evil: Extinction interesting (mostly because I liked the background of the desert world - very Mad Max like), but overall the movie ticked me off and in the end it was a worthy mindless watch, but in the end it also still sucked. Well such is life. Still, if everyone has a "junk" genre they love, the male version of trashy romance novels, for me it's not the mlitary shoot 'em up in the jungles that were ghost written by the hundreds, but it is apocalypse, post apocalypse, and dystopian. It's my mental junk food.

There are probably a thousand ways I can go with this post, and there are hundreds of movies and/or books that are worth watching in this genre. I can probably make top ten or twelve or fifty lists, but I've already done this in other places, as well, so I'll come back with some top 50 lists later. I guess the biggest thing for this post is just the encouragment of people who haven't read much in this genre to really dive in and find some of the gems.

This page: is based on the top 12 dystopian books, with a strong emphasis on diversity of the list. So some readers may love the feminist dystopians written about by Margaret Atwood, while others prefer the political works like The Iron Heel by Jack London or It Can't Happen Here by Sinclair Lewis. Maybe you want the post apocalyptic, or a zombie apocalypse, or modern authors like Terry Brooks have the end of this world as the birth of a new one. Dystopias as false uptopias: some of the best classics of all time fall under this list.

There are many amazing options to dystopian novels and books, so I strongly encourage readers to go around and find the works that really speak to them!

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Survive Alaskan Winters? How About Iowan Winters?

Iowa Winters, Alaska Winters, and eHow

As a veteran of three Alaskan winters, you'd think coming back to an Iowan winter wouldn't be that big a thing, and yet...2008-2009 in Iowa is giving me a run for my money. This has been part of my reflection which has already led to one eHow article on How to Survive an Alaskan Winter, and will probably lead to several more winter based articles on eHow, one of my favorite places to write online.

This does bring up an interesting question, however. Why is an Iowa winter rough after being through so many Alaskan winters? Well this one is fairly easy. For one, it's a slanted question because I did spend 15 months in Austin, TX, between my Alaska winters and my reunion with Iowa's December (and January) cold.

And when it's not windy, I actually do pretty well at 10 degrees and above. This is important since my brother still hasn't found my winter coat and hat, so I'm walking around in a fall jacket and four layers. Fairbanks consistently saw -30 and -40, but there was also NEVER any wind, so no wind chill. I thought about writing about all the strange little things about winter in Alaska, but someone already wrote "The Frozen Toe Guide to Surviving Winter in Alaska." So I'll let him share his wisdom.

The wind here is worse, sucking the air right out of the lungs, and part of it is just the good old fashioned human ability to adapt. What's -20 F when it's usually -40 F? When -10 is unusually cold in Iowa, then 15 will be cold, too. And you can't adapt to wind. Not in the winter. But I digress.

I've always been a winter person, and after almost two years of not seeing snow, it is nice. And more snow. And more snow again. But as my timing is always amazing, this winter has seen some of the lowest temperatures in recorded Iowa history. Imagine my surprise one morning and seeing on the news -25. Imagine how more surprised I was when that wasn't the wind chill, because the next screen had that at -66. Both shattered the previous records.

Welcome home, Shane, LOL.

I'll mention more on eHow later. For those of you who don't know me or haven't figured it out, I'm a write who has a wandering mind. This blog will never be monetized with Adsense, so this is the one where I get to wander where I see fit. Which will be rambling any and everywhere, lol.

But what would a post about an alaska winter be without an actual picture or two? So, let's see if I can figure out the add photo stuff:

So I don't see it in preview mode, so hopefully that shows up. Okay, it did, but not where I wanted it in the post. So the frozen crystals in my old outhouse will have to wait until I get better with placing photos.

Although I'm thinking a spring trip to Tampa Bay might be in order, I admit that I love the winter - though it is harder when everyone I'm staying with has a really cold house, especially waking up in the morning and not being warm, and making it harder to warm up.

Still beats the hell out of summer.

Anyway, I'll write more about ehow and Hubpages later, because I'm big on both places as being great places to write online about a wide variety of subjects. The making money on the side is nice, but I especially appreciate Hubpages as a place where I can write about whatever's on my mind. And when I get some good feedback and even made a touch of coin on the side, well even better.

Well until next time: I'm working on my James Bond as a Reniassance Man argument as well as several other unusual odds and ends. Later.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Making Home Made Root Beer

Learning to Make Root Beer from Home

As the economy gets worse and people brace themselves for a long recession, more and more people are looking back on the examples of our parents and grandparents to figure out how to become more self sufficient. While this is a good idea, and while I applaud it, it's hard not to notice that more and more people also seem to think that this means giving up every little gift to yourself, or every single "treat" to live bare bones for as long as it takes for things to fix themselves.

Um, no. While there are no doubt millions of people who have to cut back, and while this nation as a whole really needs to change its attitudes about money and credit, it's not like our grandparents didn't have fun or didn't occasionally treat themselves. One small way to do this could be learning how to make root beer. Making homemade root beer isn't nearly as difficult as many people have made it out to be, and it can be a quick and easy way to have a great sweet treat while saving money. An initial root beer brewing kit often only costs around $14, and after that it's sugar, water, and extract. If you get good, you can even replace most of the sugar with honey, molasses, ginger, or something similar.

A single batch tends to make 5-6 gallons, and it's hard to argue with that. In addition, you might just find a way of brewing root beer that makes a better flavor than you can buy in stores. It just really goes to show that while a lot of people are cutting back, being creative can help you learn brilliant new skills, have fun even in rough times, and get a little bit extra for yourself.

So whether you're a MUG or A&W or Barq's fan, try your hand a few times and you may learn to love brewing homemade root beer.

Saturday, January 3, 2009

Alaskan Home Sick

So it's a new year and thank God for that much, at least. 2009 sees me unemployed, but I'm already getting back into the swing of freelance writing once again, I have plenty of side projects to keep me busy and enough severance pay and tax return money to get me thinking once again. I miss having a lot of friends around, and being a wanderlust sort of fellow, Iowa just isn't quite doing it for me. Been there/done that for 19 years and change, and it's time to be moving on again.

Alaska is one of the few places that really made me feel at home, and I still have plenty of good friends there. Since all my work is online, a major question comes to mind: what am I doing here?

Part of it I'm sure is just getting a little time to settle. Seems like yesterday I was moving from Alaska to Texas to take a new job, and then a little more than a year later it's pink slip time like it is for so many others, and so I'm left to looking for greener pastures. This brings up some really good questions, including the types of questions that a lot of people maybe should ask in general, unemployed or not:

Why am I here?
What am I doing?
Is this what I want in life?
Am I happy where I am?
If not, why not and how do I fix it?

I've written about living each day to the fullest, one of many small philosphies I believe in, and that's one of the reasons that taking long walks is so important to me: it gets me out of wherever I'm staying and out where I can meet people, see changing scenery, or just have some time to think about things. And for me, even the prospect of having to survive another Alaska winter isn't enough to prevent me from heading back. In all honesty, in a strange way the winters are part of the fun.

All of us are different, but too many people just go through a rut and make life an unhappy prison from which they dupe themselves into believing there's no escape. I suppose I could be depressed about the economy, about losing my dream job, about moving yet again or about how time passes and the confusion that follows with growing up, but what's the point? I'd rather stay relatively happy and look forward to what's coming up next.

So for someone like me whom technology has given the ability to work anywhere, anytime, as long as I have a reasonable Internet connection and a laptop, the decision is easy. Go back to the place where I have the greatest concentration of friends still hanging out in one area, asking me to come back. I'll be heading back to Sweet Home Alaska, to keep working on my projects and to see what's next for me, to see if I'm half as good as I think I am, and to do what's right for myself until it's time to move again.

Best of luck to everyone this new year, and let's hope we all end up having a great year of happiness and hope.