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Random Blog Journey-2-Peace: January 2007

    Trish Monaco.
    singer. songwriter.
    dog walker.
    human. living.
    loving. laughing.
    in Los Angeles

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Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Strong Opinion Ahead

I'm watching Dateline: To Catch A Predator and I'm having strong feelings about the ethics of the program. It goes back to my feelings about hidden cameras. But more than that, these predatory men are being coaxed into the home of underage girls or boys. Granted, most of the men don't need to be lured or encouraged. Some are reluctant but they still walk through the front door.

So...when does the setup become entrapment?

There's a fine line here. These men show up at a house but they don't come in contact with ACTUAL underage kids. The "kids" are decoys -- all are over 18. In the show, these men are charged with criminal acts based on their alleged online chat transcripts.

And don't these men have to sign a release for Dateline to show their faces on tv? Everyone has rights. Even predators. (Oh I'm sure I'll catch a lot of heat for that)

Let me make it clear: I do NOT condone the actions or behavior of predators.

I believe there's hope of rehabilitation for some. I also believe there are many who will never be able to live by society's rules - no amount of therapy or medical attention could ever change their brain chemistry.

But what about those who are genuinely remorseful? I'm thinking of the 27 year old guy who broke down crying, fearing the loss of his life (friends, girlfriend, dog, job), knowing he made a huge mistake by going to the house. He was fired from his job before he ever had a chance to defend himself.

I know, I know. He, and all adults, should say no to 13-year-olds asking for sex...no matter how persistent they are. Adult. Child. No contest. I get it. That's never up for debate.

I'm questioning Dateline's journalistic ethics. Entrapment is illegal. How is this show not violating human rights laws? Not only that but NBC is profiting from the humiliation of these alleged predators.

Perhaps if there were follow-up shows with progress reports of the men they've helped incriminate - I might be more interested in seeing more results-oriented stuff like a rehabilitation process or how these men now serve our society. What's the learning curve? Are they being educated?

No, apparently not.

One of tonight's predators was caught on the show as a predator eight months ago in another city. How helpful is this program in stopping criminals? The men show up in court and show up back on the streets a day later. THAT should be the show's focus! What's wrong with this picture?

We're wasting time and money with our current system. I say book them, exile them, educate them, put them to use. Viable options from minor to major offenses: Ban them from accessing the internet. Mandatory therapy/classes. GPS chip implants. No contact with minors. Castration is their consequence.

Seriously, if we had zero-tolerance for sexual offenses in this country, perhaps things would be different.

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Monday, January 29, 2007

Vegas, Baby!

parisvegas2Yep, we went to Vegas for the weekend. For less than a weekend really. Whose crazy idea was that? Mine. Whose crazy response was in favor of the crazy idea? PBX's. The whole thing was crazy.

Contrary to popular belief, it does not take 4 hours to get to Vegas from LA. It's a good six hour trip - what with stops for stretching and all.

So how'd this crazy idea come to be? See, we were writing and one of the characters runs through the Paris Las Vegas Hotel but we didn't know how to work out the logistics because neither of us had ever been inside said hotel. It had been raining and we were getting giddy.

This is all it took:

"Have you ever been there?"
"No."
"Well, let's go."
"Okay!"
"Really?!"

The next thing I knew we were running around the house packing for a road trip. Two people and two dogs. Within less than thirty minutes, we were on the rainy road -- in bumper-to-bumper traffic on the 10 freeway. It took us an hour just to get through the other side of downtown. Still, neither of us wanted to turn back.

pariswelcomeI love an adventure.

It was midnight outside but the sky was blue as day when we arrived in Paris. They say Vegas never shuts down. Gambling goes on forever. But the shops do close. I bought the biggest, most decadent eclair as the pastry shoppe was locking up.

The only gambling we did was take alternate back roads off the 15 freeway from Barstow to Pasadena on the way home.

We were able to miss some gridlock - but gained no time.

I wonder how ironic it sounds by saying how absurd I think the whole Vegas-thing is. Billions of dollars in overpriced beer and entertainment to pay outrageous electric bills, jam-packed with sad hopes of striking it rich on "just one more hand," surrounded by miles and acres of poverty-stricken America. Preposterous.

We drove twelve hours this weekend to do one hour of research. Seems just about as absurd huh? Still, it was an adventure and aside from the life-sucking energy of Vegas overall, we had fun.

Click on either picture in this post to see a few more pics.

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Saturday, January 27, 2007

Road Trip

It's raining ... so ... I'm off to Paris!

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ppp - Optics Planet - ppp

this review is pending sponsorship by payperpost.

So I went to this website that offers a huge selection of specs ranging from prescription sunglasses to night vision goggles and flashlights. There's also a variety of digital cameras.

Some of the coolest looking items are these digital binoculars with cameras! With a wide selection to choose from, it appears prices range from under $40 to under $200. Imagine the photos and/or videos I could get at the dogpark with a pair of these!

One thing I might suggest to the webmasters is to clean up the pages a bit. There's so much information to weed through. It looks overwhelming and cluttered. Perhaps bullet-point each statement --list the points you're trying to make about the value of using camera-binoculars rather than carrying high-end digicams on a hiking trip. Less is more. Just a thought.

The products speak for themselves. Useful, good quality, intriguing, variety of items. I do like the forum pages. This makes the site more user/consumer-friendly. Customer reviews help with purchasing decisions. Questions and answers about what products suit individual needs. Great incentive to buy is their free UPS shipping on orders over $29.95. Total plus!

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Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Zen Kitty

Something we've learned about our sweet little calico. Never fails. Every time we turn the faucet on in the tub, crazy-kitty scurries, knocking things over, sliding on throw-rugs, batting all others in her way to rush TO THE WATER! Not from the falls - to it.

We used to think she was silly, playing in the drinking water bowl as a tiny kitten. Today she and the tub are having a love affair. What next? The ocean?

It's gotten to the point where I announce to her that I'm about to take a shower and she hops on the tub-side, talking up a storm, "It's about time - do you realize how bored I've been?" (I'm beginning to understand her language. There's no E in her meow - For her it's "maou" as in loud!)



This is her meditation. Sometimes she just sits and stares at the wall of the shower. It doesn't bother her that her tail or head are getting sprayed.



She hardly waits for the shower to be finished before she dives in, licking the tub, catching droplets. Sometimes she scurries and spins, playing for hours inside the tub. She's not big into catnip so I don't have an explanation. Except that she's good-n-crazy! Ahh, love that girl!

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Millionaire Dating

this post is pending approval for sponsorship from payperpost.

I'm sorry - I have to laugh. Millionaire Dating claims to be a social website for single men and women looking to date millionaires. Great niche but how can one tell a millionaire from a non-millionaire?

Perhaps some of their members are actual millionaires - though I hardly doubt it, based on some of the front page profiles I read. But besides the validity of one's pocketbook size, I'm more concerned with the text on the home page claiming that there are "no fake profiles" and "no spam." If signing up is free and easy, how can these statements be monitored for authenticity? I'm just asking.

The site is easy to navigate and they seem to cater to those looking for sugar daddies/babies. Why not? It's not for me - but it may be for many others. I do know a woman who met her sugar-daddy-hubby online and last I knew, they were having the time of their lives. Online dating used to be the wave of the future. Not so anymore. It's the tidal wave of the present. So why not have an upscale-esque site for meeting potential matches?

No harsh judgment. Just curious skepticism.

One note for the webmasters - have your editors do a thorough check for grammar and spelling. Those errors cheapen the otherwise classy look of your site. And good luck!

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Tuesday, January 23, 2007

I Voted - Did You?

Two things - real quick

1. PBX co-produced a spec Diet Coke commercial as part of a contest among colleges and universities in the US. My involvement? I helped. The ten finalists are up and ready for your vote. click here and vote for RECEPTION

2. Good friend "D Writer" posted the cutest video of her Bernese Mountain Dog responding to direction like a movie star. The vid is competing head-to-head with a Welsh Corgi basketball player. Cute but not even close to the cuteness of Hudson. click here and vote for HUDSON

That's it for now.

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Sunday, January 21, 2007

Pan's Labyrinth - Question

We went to the movies yesterday - first time in ... a long time. Aside from student films, I can't remember the last movie I saw at the theater. It might have been last summer - with PBX and PBX-Jr.

Now I'm stuck on figuring it out. I know we saw Pirates and The Devil Wears Prada. After that, the fall is a blur.

Anyway...

We saw Pan's Labyrinth yesterday. A sweet little sci-fi fantasy -- NOT! Be warned. This is not the movie we expected to see. I'd describe it as a violent, thriller-tragedy - with nothing held back. Very well done. Great acting. It's a Spanish film - subtitled - and I even stayed with it. If you know me, you know I despise having to read while watching a film. Subtitles take me out of the story because I'm a slow reader. However, this film moved slow enough for me. I found myself spinning my hands trying to move the story along.

I'm still trying to figure out if I liked the story or not. Just because it wasn't what I was expecting, doesn't mean it wasn't good. It was so heavy. We went to an early show - but it knocked us out for the rest of the night.

Be careful - it has an R rating - not just for the mature theme - but definitely because of the graphic violence. And I mean graphic. I could hardly watch some of it. Many of us were squirming and squealing in our seats. It was very discomforting.

At one point I was angry - hating the movie. It was then that I realized it must be a good film - anything that makes me feel so strongly. I hated what was happening on so many levels. This story grinded my soul in a deep way. At the very same time, I feel a deep sense of respect for the filmmakers and actors involved. Compassion like no other for the protagonists and deep rage for the antagonist. It's the only way I know to explain it.

I'm being vague because I don't want to spoil the story.

QUESTION: If you have seen, or you plan to see (or not) Pan's Labyrinth, what are your thoughts?

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Saturday, January 20, 2007

free ecards

this review is pending approval for sponsorship by payperpost.

It seems almost redundant to talk about Yahoo! Greetings (with AmericanGreetings.com) when it's the first site I search for free ecards. But just because it's my first choice, doesn't mean everyone else knows the benefits.

Yahoo! Greetings is one of the few good sites for online greetings and animated ecards for most every occasion. I love that I can search through free ecards - and if I don't find that perfect one, I can actually search and see all the other cards before signing up. And even after signing up, I get a free trial for a whole month. After that I can cancel my membership or just pay $13.99 for a year.

Do you know how much that saves me (potentially)? Birthdays, Christmas, Graduations, Thank-yous and all other occasions in between. Not only do I save in stamps and cards (and time spent buying each individual card), but I'm saving part of a forest! Now that's incentive. Imagine sending the same card to a group of people without having to buy a box of cards.

I know, this is old news to most. I'm just reminding myself of the benefits I guess. I don't send many ecards, but when I do, my first stop is Yahoo! Greetings.

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Thursday, January 18, 2007

Changes - episode two

Organization, from the inside out. My body is thanking me for the changes I've begun this year. Although, today I'm a bit crampy and crabby (so yes Rumi and Lotus, it was pms the other night at the bowling alley). Still, even with the monthly madness of which I cannot control, I'm having what I've been calling "good" days. many. consecutively. This means my spirits are higher than they were pre-holiday season.

I'm pretty sure the holidays didn't have much to do with my "not-so-good" days. I was headed there. In a rut. Not liking my work. Not feeling ambitious. Not feeling passion for creativity. All the stuff I've mentioned in cycles before.

The difference today? I'm actively making changes.

I've applied for a part-time job that offers full health benefits. There was a time in my life when I didn't realize the value of having such luxuries. I've lived without health insurance for most of my adult life. When I was lucky enough to have it (a few years ago) I was grateful (think: mono and tumor surgery).

Today I realize I can't simply just hop to my primary physician to refill an important prescription or swing by the hospital to get that lump checked (it's fine - just fatty tissue) or go see a therapist without paying out of my ass.

Instead, I have to wait three weeks to sit in a clinic for three hours to then be referred to another clinic three months later to (thankfully) be told I do not need the suggested needle biopsy because the mysterious lump had disappeared. "Come back in two years for your first mammogram." Thank you very much, but I hope to gawd I'll have health insurance by then!

So I have an interview for the job on Monday morning. And after walking dogs, I have an appointment with a therapist who will accept sliding scale prices. It's actually an interview for her. I've had so much therapy that I could be a therapist (no joke). So it could be a challenge to find someone who can help further me along in my process. Not trying to be cocky or critical. I just know what I need in terms of therapy. And that's the thing about therapy - you can't do it alone.

My first question for her tonight: Are you in therapy? Her magic answer: YES. So I made the appointment. Still waiting to hear back from others. Just doing my homework.

more to come. thanks for reading. peace all.

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HDMI - Home Theater Simplified

This review is sponsored by payperpost.

It's all new to me. HDMI (High-Definition Multimedia Interface) apparently replaces all the video/audio in/out cables for your TV and DVD player, including your cable or satellite box, not to mention your gaming consoles. HDMI simplifies it to one single cable. I don't know how. I don't even understand all this. I just get the idea that since it's HD (hi-def), it must emit great picture and audio quality.

Imagine how simple life could be if you were able to plug one cable into hdmi wall plates like this. I can't tell you how many times I've messed up connections after moving the TV from one side of the room to the other. It would be fabulous to have a plug-and-play home entertainment system - DishNetwork, DVDs, gaming and all.

One thing I've been looking for is an extended USB cable for my printer. Most stores carry only a six-foot cable. And anything longer gets costly. Except this one.

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Wednesday, January 17, 2007

Choosing My Battles

There's gotta be a better way.

As I reevaluate the ethics of my blogging, I am once again challenged with a puzzle. Recently I was frustrated to have one of my payperpost reviews rejected after it had been posted for seven days. I wrote to payperpost regarding their business practices - suggesting a 24-48 hour turnaround to make things fair for all involved. I never heard back from them.

I also wrote to them regarding trouble I had trying to post a recent review. I spent two hours researching, writing, posting, deleting, changing links - and still, the site refused my entry as is, saying I had missing links (which I didn't). This issue never got resolved so the review never got posted and I wasted valuable time. I still haven't heard back from payperpost.

Today I received a rejection notice on a review I posted THIRTY DAYS AGO. The rejection claims to have been because of "font size." Bullshit! There were no restrictions regarding font size when I accepted the opportunity. All guidelines and expectations are listed when we accept an opportunity.

Plus, it's an advertisement. It's my practice to make a distinguishing difference. But even more than that -- this falls under my original complaint of getting approval/rejection within a timely manner. Thirty days is nothing close to timely. It's blatant STEALING. Abuse of payperpost's services. And payperpost ALLOWS this. Therefore, they've stolen from me.

I've written to support@payperpost.com yet again. Still with ZERO RESPONSE.

It was the final straw for me. I wrote to the Better Business Bureau outlining my complaints. The BBB had no information on PPP prior to this morning.

If PPP would just reply to me - even if to say, "your email has been received," I might have taken a different route. I want PPP to succeed. But only ethically. And I only want my blog to be involved in ethical business practices.

Still, I've gotten paid for past approved reviews. I continue to accept opportunities. I believe payperpost could be a very good thing - and it is most of the time. I'm just choosing my battles. Now, if they stop paying me for approved posts, my passive-activism may take a different stance.

Come on payperpost - I want to hear from you!

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Tuesday, January 16, 2007

Changes - episode one

Lots of change approacheth.

I started taking a multitude of vitamins, minerals, herbs and whatnot about a month ago. I've been as consistent as I know how. Since returning from NH, I've been very consistent. I've cut down on sugar intake (i.e. candy, chocolate, cookies, cake). I've increased my daily activity. And most of this is due to my inability to say no to PBX.

Let's take yesterday for example. I was content in thinking I could stay cocooned in my fuzzy robe till the sun went down. Somehow, three o'clock struck a bug up her ass and before I knew it, we were on our way to Santa Monica for a brisk walk in Palisades Park with the dogs. Kicking and groaning the whole way there, I pondered, "how did I get here?" Did I mention I wanted to be snug as a bug in a rug?

It doesn't take much. The moment we arrived I was eager to walk. I wasn't ready to leave before the sun set.

It's amazing, where we live. It's beautiful. The weather has been a little crazy but I'll take it over icy roads any day. Although, as I understand it, the east has seen some warmer days than the west this winter.

Anyway, I have more energy and some of my clothes are starting to feel comfortable again. I've been pushing maximum capacity for me lately. You may not see it. But I do. Mostly I feel it. That's what matters.

So, the physical stuff - that's just part of the changes happening. Lots of exciting and scary stuff coming up for 2007. I'm preparing.

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Earn Residual Income

this review is pending approval for payperpost sponsorship.


Earn Residual Income for life

I took this assignment for two reasons.

One - I'm always interested in researching alternative ways to supplement my income. The Internet is packed with opportunities to enhance our lives. This site gives tips and ideas on how to go about that in a way that speaks to the reader. I'm interested in marketing strategies that apply to my personality. The choices are endless. Oakley International is very excited to get the word out about affiliate programs. Stuff like this may have been around for a while, but I'm just learning, so it's new to me.

The other main reason I chose this assignment is because of this:



Good point guys.

Now, that's great marketing!




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V for Vendetta

I love when I am emotionally moved by a movie - especially one I think I'm not going to like.

I just finished watching V for Vendetta for the second time this weekend. I was most resistant to adding this movie to our Netflix queue. Even after its arrival, it sat in our DVD player for almost a week. We waiting as long as we could. It had to be watched.

I'm not so good with writing reviews. It's particularly difficult for me to review a futuristic, political, sci-fi flick. Probably because I try to convince myself that these are not my "type" of movies. However, I've been enthralled with many from this genre (1984, A Clockwork Orange, Fight Club). Perhaps today it's more difficult to miss the similarities between the messages in these movies and what's going on in our country today.

The title threw me way off. V for Vendetta sounded like a thrill-kill flick (like the Kill Bill series, of which I can't watch for more than thirty seconds due to the graphic violence). Turns out, it's not. Don't get me wrong, V is violent. I can name three significant scenes I watched through my fingers. But there's a message of empowerment and freedom - overcoming fear by overthrowing the totalitarian government, knowing truth, thinking for oneself - that spoke to the core of me.

Natalie Portman did an amazing job on this project. Even her British accent. I wanted to find flaws. I tried to distract from the film and criticize her botched-britt-ness. I'm no expert but her accent never took me out of the story. That's what matters. I had to readjust my ears when listening to her native tongue during interviews on the DVD extras.

And who didn't fall in love with V? Seriously, I can't be the only one whose heart skips a beat at the thought of his sensitivity, his brilliant mind, and his sexy English accent. And that face! Who wouldn't love a Guy Fawkes mask? Okay, maybe not-so-much the face. Amazing how the man behind the mask can be so alluring. Proof that love is internal.

Anyway, that's what I did tonight - and last night. I've also read a few articles - the history of Guy Fawkes, some reviews of the movie, comparisons of other utopian/dystopian classics, and the list goes on.

Did you see V for Vendetta? What are your thoughts?

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Thursday, January 11, 2007

not that kind of delicate


Oooh - fun! Someone got some packages!


Much bigger than a breadbox!



Let's see ... paper, paper, and ... oh wait, paper!



Surprise! Even more paper on the actual items.

Dear Jockey,
Have you ever heard of combined shipping or maybe a 3x5 envelope?
I'm just sayin.

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PPP Rant

More about payperpost. This time, they didn't ask me to write this review. I've been inspired by the free advertising I posted for SEVEN days before getting the "rejected" notice.

So here's the thing. Payperpost lists "opportunities" for us to choose to write about. Right now there are 150 opportunities in the list. A variety. Nice selection. Some pay way more than others. Many don't. Either way, I still believe in the business of "blogging about the things I love."

However, the protocol seems a bit off to me. It is the blogger's responsibility to post the review before accepting the opportunity. This is so we can send payperpost the exact link of the review so the advertiser can review our review. I understand this - to a point. Some advertisers review our posts within one or two days. To me, this seems like an acceptable time-frame. They give us a chance to make corrections (i.e. fix a broken link, expand to the required amount of words).

Today was a a different story. In this case, I made the mistake of misunderstanding the page ranking - and my blog didn't qualify for the opportunity. Therefore it was outright rejected. They were nice about it - saying the content was great but the requirements weren't met. However, I didn't receive this information until SEVEN days after I posted the entry.

SEVEN days of free advertising that states "paid for by payperpost" seems way wrong to me.

I responded with my frustration.

There is another site I write for, ReviewMe. They require that we accept the offer within 48 hours. Then we have 48 hours to write the review. Then the advertiser has 48 hours to review our review. Now that seems good business practice.

I'm not willing to give up on payperpost yet. I will continue to address this issue with them until I get an understanding of their views on this matter. So in the meantime, all of my paid posts will disclose a "pending approval" or "potentially sponsored by" notice before I get the email stating, "your post has been approved for payment."

Hey, the company launched last year. What do I expect? Just working out the kinks here. Still - it's frustrating.

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FileBanc

this review is pending sponsorship from payperpost.

Did I mention PBX's computer crashed while we were away? Crashed as in, never to be restored. Totally dead. Many hours went into troubleshooting with tech support all over the world (seriously). A new hard drive was delivered this week. After that, more hours were spent downloading and installing drivers and applications. Programs that were downloaded after market are completely lost. Buh-bye MS Office. Not to mention a few great time-passing games that were paid in full. But more importantly, two years of work (and play) were wiped out - gone - JUST LIKE THAT.

The point of this post is to stress the importance of file backup! Lucky for us, we had put all of our files on an external hard drive about three or four months ago. But still, a lot of work was done in the last three months. None of which we will ever see again.

Could you imagine? Photos. Videos. Downloaded music. Screenplays. Story ideas. Personal notes. Name it - gone.

If we had known about FileBanc, nothing would've been lost. FileBanc is an online file backup system. The site is user-friendly. Sign-up is easy. It's affordable (some packages are free). And backing up your system takes anywhere from 20 seconds to 10 minutes a day (depending on the amount of information in your system). You can back up files from more than one computer on the same account. It's Windows and Mac compatible. Oh, and if you get five friends to sign up with this service, you get the Pro 500 Plan free for a year! I'm all about a bargain.

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Monday, January 08, 2007

Christmas Gift Swap

This Christmas was the first time in 14 years I was seeing my folks for the holidays. I don't really know much about them anymore but I wanted to give gifts that I thought they might be able to use, based on what I do know - and what I once knew.

My mom has Lupus. I was looking for a natural hand or body cream that could soothe her aches. I didn't find exactly what I was looking for but I gave her a gift set of lotions and creams with Shea butter. If anything, it's therapeutic to rub on the hands.

My dad was always a big chess player. Computer chess at the table every morning and evening. I figured he already had everything-chess so I thought maybe the new Sudoku craze might be his thing. Plus it's numbers and he was the math-homework-helper. I gave him a paperback book of hundreds of Sudoku puzzles to keep him busy in between rounds of chess.

So there we were, Christmas morning, opening gifts and apparently Sudoku is my mom's new favorite pastime. And my dad's the one with the cracked, weathered hands. I'm pretty sure both gifts will be put to good use - I just had it backwards.

All that to say, I think I'm hooked on Sudoku. Especially Sudoku Daily on Yahoo. The meditative background music is enough to keep me coming back each day. Sometimes I open the page just for the music. I keep it playing in the background while I'm writing. (like now)

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Saturday, January 06, 2007

Accounting Paradise

review sponsored by payperpost

Sometime in the last couple of years I bought a copy of Quicken to help me with my finances. I still, for the life of me, can't figure out how to use it. I need to take a class or something. It's also way too expensive for a small business like mine to hire a bookkeeper or an accountant to do my monthly billing. So I've always done it the way I know - the slow, unorganized way.

Apparently I'm not the only one to struggle with finding inexpensive services for small businesses. The person who created this website (aptly named "Accounting Paradise") went through years of the same issue. What a smart idea to start a site that offers help with business expenses, taxes and even payroll. Very cool. If I were to branch out and hire employees, I would totally use this quickbooks book keeping service.

I don't know any other service that offers bookkeeping for $10 a month. There are even discounts for bookkeeping software. And tutorials. This one's a keeper.


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Friday, January 05, 2007

Question #1

Ugh. Playing with template changes again. Looking to minimize space within posts (i.e. single-spacing). I did some simple changes like before. Then I remembered what I read recently in my new laymen's terms "create web pages" book - Always check to see what your pages look like on other web browsers. What do you mean, not everyone is using Firefox? No, of course not.

So I open Explorer and rush to my blog before the inevitable "explorer has to shut down" error box appears. Ack. My blog is a disaster in Explorer. I see it - but the error message appears and I'm stuck with a perfect looking blog in Firefox.

I'm waiting for updates to be installed in Explorer, hoping that will clear the error messages that I've been receiving for a year. But, I love Firefox.

Anyway, this is just to say: I'm working on it!

Again, I appreciate any suggestions, hints, tips, etc. Next I need to work on my website. I've changed hosts in the last year - but I haven't switched anything over because I don't know what I'm doing. sigh. I'll get there. Slowly but surely.

Question #1: What's your favorite web browser and why?

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Windy!

I suppose last night and today will be a good test to see how well our Dish Network holds out in extreme winds. We had a few nights of rain and winds earlier in the season but they didn't affect our reception. I didn't even know it had rained till the following mornings. But last night, the strange sounds of howling woke me out of my blissful slumber.

This morning there are palm leaves strewn about the streets and yards are filled with blown brush. It's so cold, it chaps my cheeks. Ought to make for fun dog walking today. Brrrr.

One year I house sat for six weeks for a guy who had DirectTV. That was constantly being knocked out. He even had a remote control for the satellite dish. No matter what the angle, there was never good reception. Reminded me of bunny ears on a black & white TV in my early life. I didn't watch much TV while house sitting. I entertained myself with DVDs, the Internet, tarot cards and The Artist's Way. Good times...ish.

I'll see if I can get some video footage of the strong winds while I'm out today. Sometimes it's so overwhelming with all the dogs, that I have to leave my camera in the car. But maybe as I'm walking to/from houses I can grab a few seconds.

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Thursday, January 04, 2007

Dish Network

this review is NOT sponsored by payperpost.

Once in a while, a payperpost opportunity comes along that I'm chompin at the bit to write about. Before we moved, we only had basic network television and Netflix to entertain us. After the move, it became sorely clear that we needed a better selection of television channels. Mainly, for PBX's research (school and work). We need to keep up on what's going on in the world of TV.

The main reason for canceling our cable TV service last year was because Time Warner bought Comcast (and Adelphia). I had already nixed my AOL account (owned by Time Warner) and felt good about sticking it to the man. Yeah, like it hurt. Doesn't matter. It felt good to me.

We looked into alternative ways to get TV - legally. Our first choice, Dish Network, just happened to be running a special, making it almost impossible to pass up.

My problem lately has been finding the time - and wanting to take the time to watch all we need and want to watch. Part of the Dish Network special included a free DVR for two TVs. One box works for both TVs. Whatever we record on one TV can be viewed on both TVs. Genius.

The best part - I was able to record both Ugly Betty and Survivor simultaneously. Now the only time we miss a new show is if we forget to set the DVR. It's so great to be able to pause and rewind live TV. The reception, even on the older TV, is incredible. I wondered how weather patterns might affect it. So far, so good. Even better than our phone line.

When we're in between Netflix DVDs, we just scroll through our list of recorded shows and there's always something we can watch. Oh, and it's less expensive than cable. Yay.

That's all. I just wanted to rave about the joy of Dish Network.

UPDATE: this review is NOT paid for by anyone other than myself. I've chosen to keep the content but remove the sponsored links. This post was rejected because my blog doesn't meet the requirements. However, I wasn't notified until 7 days after posting this review that it has been rejected. More about that practice in another post.

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Wednesday, January 03, 2007

Family Game Night

Christmas was always that time of year when we'd break out the fun and dust off the classic board games. Sorry, Trouble and CandyLand were soon replaced by Trivial Pursuit, Pictionary, Boggle and Monopoly (fierce gamers in my family). The latter two games were sure to stir some fight between the Manhattans and the Martinis. Don't ask who won. No one really knows.

As years passed, I lost track of my scattered collection of games. I've re-acquired Boggle and Pictionary. There are at least four decks of cards, a travel chess and cribbage set around here somewhere. I've lost (or donated) games like Taboo, 80s Trivial Pursuit and the lot of the list above.

A few years ago I played the original Cranium game with friends for our first and last game night. It was more fun than I remember all other games to be. This year, Robbie brought Cranium Pop5 to our Thanksgiving Day visit at Gigi's. We laughed till we fell over!

This year, for Christmas, I was inspired to give the gift of Cranium to friends and family in the Northeast. Turns out, they have a great family game, aptly named, The Family Fun Game. By the time I got around to placing my order (2 weeks before Christmas), there wasn't a single copy to be found. Not online anyway.

We went on a mad hunt. Four stores. We searched high and low (literally, climbing the shelves of Toys R Us) and came up with only one copy. We tossed a coin as to which other Cranium game the other three families would receive. They're all great. But The Family Fun Game is the one I wanted. You know when you have your heart set...?

Onward. My brother and his family got a bunch of board games under the tree this year. PBX and I found joy in one in particular - Upwords. It sort of became our way to unwind each night after running ragged, visiting friends and family. When we arrived back in Los Angeles, we felt a longing for game play. Wouldn't you know, two of the stores we checked didn't have a single copy of the game? Back to Toys R Us. We were about to give up when I spotted one solo Upwords game, randomly sitting on top of (get this) The Cranium Family Fun Game. No joke. Only one Upwords. But five Family Fun Games just sitting there - right where they're supposed to be - ready to be bought and played by families all over the country. Go figure.

While looking for Upwords, we had the inclination to get a classic board game as well. There are so many new versions of Monopoly - none of which cost less than $30. We were again on the hunt. This time for the original classic Monopoly. On our way to the register with the only Upwords in our arms, out jumped Monopoly. Score. Big sign: $9.99



It was meant to be.

It wasn't until later that night did we realize - it's the Spanish version.

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XYZ Bikes

this review is sponsored by payperpost.


When I first started looking for a bike, I was specifically looking for a beach cruiser. There are so many lowrider bikes on the market today. For me, it comes down to size, style and safety. One thing that I find most uncomfortable about cruisers are the wide handlebars. I'm small and tend to ride in alleyways or sidewalks. Yikes. Makes for precarious maneuvering. Other than that, I love the feel of a smooth ride along the bikepath on Venice Beach.

I already got a used bike. Not a beach cruiser, because of the hefty price that usually comes with a good one. But I'm up for a little fun. So,
when I am living back on the beach, I will be in the market for a beach cruiser. Let's say I'm allotted the pick of the litter from XYZ Bikes. Less expensive than most cruisers. It's already looking brighter.

Which bike would I choose for myself? Hmm... My first inclination is to go with the 24" Urban Lady Beach Cruiser mainly because of its size. I would most likely fit a 25" bike - if there is such a thing. I also like Urban Nexus 3 Speed. Could be nice having gears for small hills.

Hmm...check out the handlebars on this one! Tall, not wide. Could make a difference in the feel of a beach cruiser. Now, if these bikes came in my new favorite colors, brown and coral pink, style may not even matter. (did I ever tell you I bought my first car based on color?)

This is the perfect bike for my niece! Size, style and color! My brother would love the Rebel Chopper Beach Cruiser. Classy - complete with flames. I'll have to bookmark these pages for next Christmas - or birthdays, since they come first.

Oooh, you can even design your own bike - and choose your colors here! Fun stuff. Still waiting for that brown and coral pink guys. ;)


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Tuesday, January 02, 2007

First Day of 2007


Last day of vacation. We took the dogs for a hike in Griffith Park on New Year's Day (morning). We are all out of shape. Piper needed a lift for the last leg down the trail. My peripheral vision got dark and blurry on the way up. We didn't bring water and I didn't bring a hat. The sun was hot. The air was nice and cool. A gorgeous day for a hike. As you can see though, the smog was pretty fierce. Not the clearest view of the Hollywood sign. But lovely nonetheless.

Christmas and family photos to follow. Turns out I didn't take many pictures as I would have liked. I spent most of my time enjoying the visits, creating memories. There will be more.

Back to work today. Happy New Year!

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Postie Patrol Chicago

This review is brought to you by HP

Ooh ooh ooh, pick me! This looks so fun.

A fellow
postie went on a scavenger hunt in Chicago with the PayPerPost Postie Patrol as they teamed up with HP. She had a list of items and tasks, each worth so many points. Her objective was to rack up enough points within a small timeframe to win product from HP (digital camera, memory card, printer, paper and $1000 cash).

Having just come from New Hampshire where it was only 25 degrees the morning we departed, my heart went out to the postie in Chicago, running around in -9 degree weather. No hat. No gloves. No scarf. Probably a true native. Yikes!

My favorite part of the video is where she gets on the ice cold ground (the only patch of snow around) and tries to make a snow angel. The snow is so hard that she uses her arms, legs and head to pound through the ground with no luck. Poor thing.

The Postie Patrol team makes this very fun for all involved. Now to get them to my doorstep. Sign me up!

Digital Photo Printing

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