August 9

Pet Peeves: Liars, Cheats and Thieves!

I’m not a negative person. At least I try not to be. But, every once in a while, things get to me and, lately, there’s been a lot of little things getting to me.

Things are tough right now. The economy is struggling, people are struggling and I know some businesses are struggling, too. What makes me angry is the widespread lack of integrity that is destroying the trust of people everywhere.

  • Banks manipulating transactions to maximize the amount of fees they can collect regardless of the financial hardship caused to the consumer
  • CEOs lavishing bonuses on themselves while laying off thousands of workers and begging for handouts from taxpayers.
  • Fake Debt Collectors scamming people out of money, leaving them broke and still stuck with the original debt.
  • Legitimate debt collectors bullying people into paying amounts that are grossly inflated above the amount of the original debt.
  • Credit card companies manipulating consumers in order to saddle them with unfair fees and interest hikes.

These are only the tip of the iceberg. These days it seems like there are people everywhere looking for a way to scam you out of every cent they can.

A few months ago, my washer stopped working and, like any normal person, I called a repair company. They came out, briefly looked at my washer and gave me an estimate of $350 to fix it. I was stunned. I don’t know a whole lot about washers but it didn’t feel reasonable to me. So, I called my step-brother to see if he had any handymen friends who might be able to help me out for less. Instead, he stopped by my house to take a look at it himself.

After a quick look, he knew exactly what I needed. He left the house and returned about 20 minutes later with a part he’d purchased for $30 bucks. And that INCLUDED the taxes. He tilted the washer back, had me hold onto it so it wouldn’t fall over, then reached under, removed the old part and replaced it with the new one. In less than 10 minutes, I was doing laundry with a washer that ran like new.

I called the original repair place and let them know I had purchased the part for $30 and questioned them on their inflated estimate for the repair when the part was so cheap. They tried to tell me it was a complicated repair and the bulk of the charge was for labor. When I mentioned that my step-brother had made the “complicated” repair by himself in about ten minutes, the guy became tongue-tied. He knew he’d been caught. He quickly apologized for the “miscommunication” and ended the phone call.

In the past few weeks, I’ve found overcharges on two of my utility bills. In both instances, when I contacted the company in question to get the charges removed, the customer service person on the other end did everything in their power to NOT help me. I swear, these people are trained to talk in illogical circles for as long as possible in order to  completely confuse and aggravate the customer. Probably because too many customers just give up and pay the bill. I often wonder how much profit they make by doing this.

In both cases, I had to become completely irate and demand to speak to a manager. Within minutes of getting a manager on the line, they “found” the error, admitted to the mistake and corrected the problem. In both cases, the call ended up being longer than it needed to be and, instead of leaving me satisfied that it was corrected, it left me feeling angry and frustrated because I had to go through so much to fix a simple problem.

There have been a few other issues this week as well. Any one of them alone would not be a big deal, but the combined effect of them all together has left me wondering if there’s anyone left to trust.

Businesses, big and small, need to learn that integrity is the most important thing they have. If they sacrifice that, they may earn a few extra dollars for a little while, but in the long run, they lose so much more.

Okay, rant over!

Any pet peeves bothering you lately? I’d love to hear about them. Feel free to use the comment section and rant away!

August 3

Hey, Can I Borrow Your Kid For A Day?

A couple weeks ago, I went to see Toy Story 3 with my seven year old nephew and we had a blast. We got there early and spent some time playing video games in the lobby before buying lots of popcorn and candy and picking the perfect seats in the theater. We went to a matinee showing in the middle of the week, so there were very few people there. It almost felt like we had the whole theater to ourselves.

I had the time of my life. Toy Story 3 was a great movie. It made me laugh and it made me cry in all the right places. It’s one of those movies where you get sucked in by the characters and quickly forget you’re watching a movie. You become part of the story. I walked out of the theater with a smile on my face and it made me realize that, without my nephew, I never would have gone to see it. Why? Because it’s a kids movie and I don’t have kids.

Now, I know there’s no law that says childless people can’t go to kids movies, but let’s be honest. If you’re a parent and you see a middle-aged person with no kids at a kids movie, don’t you worry just a little? You can’t help but wonder if the person is a child molester or just plain weird. They’re definitely out of place.

Besides, half the fun of going to a kids movie is the joy of sharing it with the kids. I loved laughing with my nephew and sharing goofy comments with him. It’s amazing how insightful kids can be. It made me realize how much I missed by not being able to have kids.

Why am I telling you all this? Because, thanks to all those previews before the movie, I have another problem on my hands. I have this list of kids movies I want to see.

  • Despicable Me
  • How To Train Your Dragon
  • Nanny McPhee Returns
  • Rapunzel (coming out in November)
  • a few others I can’t remember the names of at the moment.

Some of these I can see with my nephew if my sister will let me. I can’t hog him, though. My sister likes kids movies, too. And, of course, there’s competition with grandma time. Others are more girly and not something he’d be interested in. I have other nieces and nephews but they’re all older and have either outgrown kids movies or are at that stage where being seen in public with an adult is totally uncool.

So, if I want to go see these movies and NOT look like a middle-aged weirdo, I need to borrow a few kids. Any suggestions?

July 30

3 Fantastic Blogs Worth Sharing

Anyone who knows me, even for a second, will figure out that I love to read. I always have a book with me, no matter where I am at any given moment. I’m the one at the stoplight, book in hand, trying to finish a paragraph before the light turns green. It’s become a game among family and friends. “What book does she have with her now?”

I also love people. I’m fascinated by them. I like to watch them and hear their stories.

These two parts of me are what draw me to blogs. A good blog satisfies my desire to read and gives me an opportunity to peek into someone’s life and learn a bit about who they are. And, sometimes, the really good ones teach me a something about myself.

Today, I’d like to share with you a few of the blogs that I’ve enjoyed reading. I find them entertaining, motivating, and even inspiring. I hope you’ll enjoy them as much as I have.

  1. Just My Blog

    Just My Blog is an entertaining blog written by Lindsay that often makes me laugh out loud. I especially love the little stories she tells about her daughters, Pumpkin and Dumpling. They never fail to make me smile. What I like most about this blog is its lack of a niche. She writes about many different things and I find the variety fresh and fun. I’ve yet to find a single post on her blog that I didn’t like.

  2. Cora’s Story

    I discovered this blog through a recent post on Lindsay’s blog (mentioned above) and was immediately hooked. It’s the story of a mother’s tragic loss of her baby girl at 5 days old and the courage to deal with that grief and find a way to give her daughter’s brief life a powerful purpose. I can’t even begin to imagine the grief she faces every day. My heart hurts for her. But, at the same time, I admire the courage it takes for her to write her blog and tell Cora’s story, so that other mother’s out there can learn from her experience. She’s a strong, brave woman and I want to do my part in making sure that Cora’s story is heard around the world.

  3. Awkward Family Photos

    This is one you have to visit because it’s just plain funny. It’s more for viewing than actually reading, but the comments are sometimes as laugh-out-loud funny as the photos. Fair warning though. If laughing hysterically tends to make you pee a little, visit the bathroom before you visit this site, otherwise you might end up with a damp chair.

If you enjoy these blogs as much as I do, be sure to pass them on so others can enjoy them, too. If you know of any good blogs you’d like to share as well, even if it’s your own, please leave a comment below and tell me about it.

Category: Blog Reviews, Opinions, Reviews | Comments Off on 3 Fantastic Blogs Worth Sharing
July 26

Beat Procrastination With Efficient To-Do List Software

To Do ListI don’t know about you, but I’m a master procrastinator. I’m also a list-maker.

Former co-workers branded me as the “Queen of the Postit®” because I always had dozens and dozens of Postit® notes all over my desk. Appointment reminders. Mini To-do lists. A grocery list of things to pick up on the way home. Stuff like that. Unfortunately, it was a disorganized mess and, in spite of my best efforts, I had a terrible time keeping up with all those lists.

I still use Postit® notes an awful lot but I’m no longer the Queen. I’ve found a better way to manage my lists and get things done. It’s a software program called Efficient To-Do List and I can’t get through a day without it. Literally can’t! Everything I need to do on any given day is in this program and, because of it, I’m now an organized person who gets things done on time, everyday… Well, most of the time anyway.

It’s even eliminated a lot of my procrastination because I find myself motivated to complete tasks just for the little thrill of checking it off and watching my list get smaller. I know, I know. I’m a little weird.

Efficient To-Do List comes in a Lite version and a Pro version. Both are great products.  Both Lite and Pro versions also have a portable option to download and run from a USB flash drive, great for having your to-do list on the go.

Unlike the free or Lite versions of other to-do list software, Efficient To-Do List Lite doesn’t limit the number of items you can add to your list. It also doesn’t restrict other important features, like setting reminders, prioritizing tasks, searching your lists, and doing backups. You can also import and export to do lists, password protect your lists, and filter by current week, current month, overdue, not overdue, and high priority.

Then there is the Pro version, my personal favorite. With the Pro version, you can create Groups or Folders and sort your lists into those Groups, taking organization one step further. Now I can work on the tasks in a specific area, like paying bills, and not have my list cluttered with all the tasks from other areas. Each Group can also be customized to show only the columns I need for that group. After all, who needs a due date on their grocery list?

The only feature not available in either version is the ability to filter for the current day. I would like to be able to see a list of just the things I need to do today. I can get around this limitation by using the search feature to show only tasks with today’s date, but it takes a lot more effort and you can’t exclude items that have already been checked off the way you can in the main filtered view.  However, even with this one limitation, it’s still an amazing piece of software and if enough people ask for a “current day” filter, I’m sure they’ll consider adding it to a future version.

Here are some of the other things you can do with the Pro version:

  • Create hierarchical sub-tasks, which is very helpful for large projects that need to be broken down into smaller parts.
  • Add comments to tasks.
  • Add attachments to tasks.
  • Create lists that are read-only.
  • See your list in card view. Great for those of you who are visual types.

There are so many great things you can do with this software, I can’t possibly list them all. I suggest you go to their website and try one of the versions for yourself. The free version is great, but you can try a fully functioning Pro version free for 30 days. I know you’ll like it and you can’t beat the price if you decide to buy it. Just $24.95 for a single license that allows you to install it on up to three computers. Yup, that’s right, THREE! How’s that for value?

Now that you know my secret for staying organized and beating procrastination, I’d love to know your secret. How do you do to keep up with everything you have to do?

Category: Advice, Product Reviews, Reviews | Comments Off on Beat Procrastination With Efficient To-Do List Software