Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Military Care Package Theme #1: "Out Cold"

I decided to create themes for the care packages that we send to our adopted soldiers and our LWT soldiers overseas. I was trying to think of something that would benefit our desert soldiers but also items that our non-desert soldiers could use.

Theme #1 is called...

"Out Cold."

Glacier Freeze Gatorade
Dominos in snowflake pouches
Snowflake pencils
Peppermint soap (made by a friend!)
Wintergreen candies
Icy or Icy Blast chewing gum
Cold Pack (the kind in first aid kits that you can snap, and it's cold)

Other theme ideas I have thus far are....

"Wet n' Wild"
Antibacterial wet naps
Liquid candies or Gushers
Water guns

"Variety is the Spice of Life"
Various spices that can be added to bland foods
Canned cheese sauces (like the nacho sauces in a can)
Tabasco sauce (or some other hot sauce)
Old Spice (for the guys)

Friday, September 24, 2010

Why I hate ComCast...

We signed up for ComCast internet and Expanded Basic Cable in May 2010. Up until Wednesday, things were going well. We had EBC which included local channels and the other channels we watch such as TBS, USA, etc. On Wednesday, we had local channels and a hodge podge of crappy channels that didn't even include The Weather Channel.

I called ComCast yesterday, and they said, "there seems to be a problem, but we don't know what it is."

I contacted Live Chat Support today, and they tell me that I will need to upgrade to Extended Basic Cable (I thought Expanded and Extended were the same thing.) I asked the associate how do I do that, and he just repeated, "you have to upgrade." When they finally transferred me to the sales department, the sales department tells me that Extended Basic Cable isn't offered in my area (we just had it Wednesday!,) and he was looking for other options.


Triple Play - $120/month for tv, internet, and telephone!

We pay $40/month. Why would $120/month and a service we don't need be appealing to us?

He told us in order to get the channels we HAD, we would need to pay $120/month. When I asked, "is that all you can do?" He said, "yes."


I closed out of LiveChat. That's ridiculous. We JUST had expanded cable or whatever the Hell you want to call it. We'll pay for those channels back. I know you can just flip a switch, but we will NOT pay $120/month.

I logged out, and I went back to the website to "shop" for another package. Same channels we HAD for 4 times as much - $58/month for "digital starter." Not only that, but $58 + $25 for an "install fee." WTH? They should WAIVE that.

So when Andrew comes home tonight, we'll be discussing. I really HATE satellite companies, and I live OnDemand, but I REALLY despise ComCast's Customer Service.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

The [lack of] Logic of U-Verse

I loved it when U-Verse salespersons recently came to our house. I told them how much we pay per month for t.v. and internet ($40) and they said, "well I have a great deal for you. We can do this, this, and this, and you can get ALL of these channels, and your internet will do this."

[Unenthusiastic] "Great. How much?"

"Well, it's $115 per month, but we'd be willing to knock off $25 from that for the first 6 months leaving you with $90 per month to pay. When can we sign you up?"

I gave them a less-than-amused face and asked, "so, you want me to pay more than I am paying now...double...and then almost triple...for things I don't need?"

That's when the door-to-door salesperson's supervisor stepped in and said, "well your internet is SLOW, and this would make it faster."

I told her, "for the things we use the internet for, it runs just fine, and we almost never watch television. I'm not interested, sorry."

A couple of days later, they came back around and said, "okay so when can we schedule your install."

Really? We're not that dumb.

Really? We're not that dumb.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

It's a dog's life.

This past weekend (9-11,) I met up with two people I had been speaking with for several years online.  We are all members of a German Shepherd message board.  One was from Auburn, and the other was from Tallahassee, FL.  I drove down from Powder Springs, and we met up at Sprewell Bluff in Thomaston, Georgia on the Flint River. 

A friend of mine couldn't come with me due to her allergies, and Andrew had to work.  It was me, Grimm, and Gidget - yay.  Gidget had a you can see after a larger dog knocked her over.

She took delight in rolling around in the mud, more like a "pig" bull than a pit bull.  Then again, women in Atlanta pay top dollar for high-quality mud baths.  Gidget got one for free.

Have no fear.  She was a-okay, and once she realized that the rest of the group was moving down the shore to water that was a little clearer, she was revived back to "life."

Also with Gidget were Grimm and the other two owners' German Shepherds: Koda and Annabelle.  Grimm stood out among the others because he was the only non-black dog!  Even Gidget is classified as a "black brindle." Koda and Annabelle are considered "bi-color" dogs, and Grimm's just plain ole "black and tan."

While Annabelle and Koda would play in the river, Grimm would charge down off the shore to play with them.  Unfortunately, they were both scared of his size and his huge manly-man head, and they would stop what they were doing and walk away.  Poor Grimm, the only dog he really got to play with was Gidget. 

I was only a little perturbed when we first got there, and a woman carrying a folding chair started swaggering over to us.  She yelled out, "will they attack me?!"  I wanted to say, "yes," but knowing full well the only "attack" our two would grant them would be kisses, I said "no."  I was, however, pleasantly surprised that neither one of our two balked at the sight of a swinging folding chair under this stranger's arm.  Grimm politely sat down and soaked up the petting.  Gidget did her Gidget thing which is totally inappropriate for meeting people, but we're working on that still (jumping up due to being excited.)  I wish I had the spray bottle full of water.  She'd never jump then - BWAHAHA!

We went hiking to the top of the bluff and back down.  By the time we got back down (pre-swimming,) I became light-headed, nauseated, and overall feeling as though I would pass out.  Heat cramps, I'm sure, and I didn't eat a big enough breakfast either :(

Fortunately, we all had a blast, but I was grateful to get back in the AC, but not nearly as grateful as being able to get home and relax.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

You are a disgrace.

A friend of mine asked me if I knew anything about a German Shepherd breeder in Athens, Georgia.  He said that he had seen an ad in the newspaper (not the best place to buy a dog!) and wanted to know if I had heard anything about "Bauernhoffen" as that was the username for the advertisement, and the location was Athens, Georgia.  I had heard about Bauernhoffen dogs, but I didn't know there was another breeder named such in Georgia.  I looked at the ad in the newspaper online, and I saw seemingly normal and healthy-looking German Shepherds. 

I did a quick internet search which didn't reveal they had a website, but it did reveal something else interesting...and not in a good way.  The internet search pointed me to a website...

"Athens GA Breeder Seized..."

Listed after "seized" were various dog descriptions.  What?!

(Italicized is pulled directly from the website)

They have lived a horrible life. I will make each dog their own thread, but here is the story. I will post more info as I get it...These dogs were seized from a "breeder" near Athens, GA, where they suffered under horrendous conditions. Filthy, muddy tubs of "water" were scattered around the enclosure. A trough had been dug in the dirt around one of the few shelters, and the puppies kept falling in what would become a moat in the rain. These dogs were seized on Friday, and there are an estimated 9 more on the property. The two males here, Fisher and Rogue, are under-socialized and not very confident...These dogs have had a terrible life so far, and deserve a happy ending.

The owner of these dogs is a registered user on this site-- Bauernhoffen.

He reclaimed the 2 males today and the senior female. he signed over the younger mom and pups and is reportedly coming in tomorrow to reclaim the older mom's pups-- and leave the senior mom behind, and turn in a few young adults he has not been able to sell.

Luckily....or unluckily....all of the German Shepherds had been rescued...........or reclaimed.  How they could be reclaimed when they were seized, I don't know.  However, this would NOT be a breeder that I would promote or want to purchase a dog from.  Besides the living conditions, the professional assessment of "under-socialized and not very confident" on at least two of the dogs is not equivocal to happy and healthy animals.


Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Misguided Patriots.

I love the United States of America.  I have a great deal of respect for our servicepersons whether they are on home soil or overseas.  I have a great deal of respect for our public safety departments (EMT, Fire, Police, etc.)

I do, however, believe there is a large number of individuals out there that are misguided patriots. 

I heard on the radio this morning, and I read online that a church in Gainesville, Florida is promoting an "International Burn a Koran Day" on September 11th in "honor and memory of those lives lost on 9/11."  Since when is doing something hateful considered honorable

I thought we, as American adults, were mature enough to realize not to judge an entire group based on individuals or a sect of that group? I've seen many videos posted lately of Muslim Americans that were also firefighters and police officers who responded to 9-11.  How many Americans following the Islam faith do you think there are in our Armed Forces?

You know Hitler probably thought he was being "honorable" when he set out to exterminate the Jewish population.

Stalin? 23,000,000 Ukranian famine
Kim Il Sung? 1.6 million - "purges"

I'm pretty sure the aforementioned rulers thought they were being "honorable" as well.  Yes, yes.  I know that The aforementioned executed humans, and this is about burning a religion's holy book.  I know, you can't measure human lives versus a book. 

Is this what 9-11 has come to symbolize?  Forget actually remembering.  Instead let's promote hate and, better yet, possibly put our servicepersons (who are overseas keeping us safe) in danger because of our ridiculous and absurd behavior. 

Remember the buttefly effect, folks. 

Sweetwater Creek State Park

Sweetwater Creek State Park is located just west of Atlanta near Lithia Springs, Georgia.  We had seen signs for it several times, and I was amazed when I saw it listed on GeorgiaWhitewater as being Class IV-Class V rapids.  Whitewater rapids in metro Atlanta? What?! As I started reading more about the Park, I thought it seemed like a cool place to visit and hike. 

Here are some things to keep in mind when visiting the park:
* The directions online are incomplete.
* There is a sign for "Sweetwater Creek State Park" on Thornton Road informing you that you need to turn onto Blairs Bridge Road to get to it.  However, there are NO other signs indicating you have to turn on ANOTHER road to get there. 

Because of the beautiful weather this weekend, Andrew and I decided to go hiking at the park.  We turned onto Blairs Bridge, as the trademark brown state park sign told us, and we ended up coming to a "T" in the road in which we could only turn left or right.  There were no signs for the park.  We stopped at the gas station, and the clerk told us we had to go back the way we came, and then we had to make a right at the first light (Mobler or Mobier Road.) 

After turning onto the road, we came upon a large lake (reservoir) and a sign welcoming us to Sweetwater Creek State Park.  Of course, being Labor Day weekend, there was traffic, and it was busy (to an extent.)  Andrew went to the Interpretive Center to get a hiking trails map. 

Some things to consider when going into the Interpretive Center:

* Yes, that is the overpowering stench of ammonia and decaying feces you are smelling AS SOON as you walk in the building.  I'm pretty sure that when the USGBC awarded Platinum LEED status on the building it was done before the building had been used.  Apparently, someone didn't verify HOW the center had planned on disposing of the human waste as generally green-building locations have biodegradable, 100% environmentally-friendly disposal methods including "green" chemicals or enzymes to break down the human waste.  Prepare to hold your breath as you use the restroom facilities (aka glorified outhouses....toilet seats hovering over an 8 foot hole leading to an open space of feces, urine, and paper products festering under the building.  Don't drink the sink water.  It's recycled rainwater and hasn't been purified for human consumption.

* Yes, the water fountains ARE safe for human consumption.

* Ask the Ranger for a description of the trails (in-depth and moreso than the brochure.)

Dogs geared up.  Andrew and I ready to go.  We headed out on the "Red Trail" to the New Manchester Mill ruins.  We passed by several people, and we took our time strolling on the clearly-marked trail until we hopped down to the creek to let the dogs swim.  Talk about pollution.

Empty drink cans. Wooden pallets.  Sheet metal.  Tractor trailer tires.  Napkins.  Used diapers.  Needless to say, once we saw all of the garbage in the water, we pulled the dogs out. 

We continued on the trail to the ruins.  Unfortunately, we couldn't take a picture from the area we wanted to because a wannabe professional photographer decided to set up camp on the platform and prevented anyone from being able to appreciate the view.  He looked back at us several times.  Me with our hiking camera in hand, dogs' leashes in Andrew's hand, but he continued shooting.  Thanks.

We kept on hiking until we got to a part of the trail in which it was almost vertical up a rock face with some steel cables to hold onto. I told Andrew, "I can't believe they don't make mention of this in the brochure."  Now Andrew is 6 ft. 3 in.  I am only 5 ft. 6 in.  He could step up the rocks, eroded steps, etc. with ease.  I, on the other hand, had to lean forward, lift my foot up to the height of my thigh and hoist myself up (yay for German Shepherd assistance!)

When we finally got near the intersection of the Red Trail and the White Trail (on top of a cliff) we could look down and see "the overlook to Sweetwater Creek Falls."  Prepare they are.....

< That's right.  Those are the "Falls."  Of course, I guess for metro Atlanta a 4 foot drop would be "Falls," but Andrew and I are spoiled.  Waterfalls to us mean several feet tall (20+ feet) in the middle of the mountains.

We took some pictures, and we headed back on the Blue Trail (we didn't know where the White Trail went.)  The Blue Trail was VERY easy and was, more or less, a walk through the woods versus a "hike" like the Red Trail.  We warned some people that were coming down Blue Trail to the Red Trail that it was treacherous coming in their direction (imagine sliding DOWN the rocks and cliffs because you couldn't just walk down.)  Like I said, I wish the trail descriptions had been more thorough than "rocky terrain."  Rocky terrain to me means some rocks or rocky areas.  It does not mean steel cables implanted into rock so you don't die.  That's part of the adventure, I guess.

We came back around on Blue Trail that met up with Red Trail again at the ruins, and we were able to take some photos of the ruins this time (see above.) 

All-in-all, it was a nice little hike.  It took a few hours to do, and it was about 4 miles round trip.  There is the White Trail (which is 3 miles on its own) and the Yellow Trail (I think that was the color) that is described as "difficult" due to the 300 foot rise on the side of the rocks, but it is supposed to be one of the most beautiful trails in the Park.

I wish people had the same amount of respect for the outdoors as we do and would pick up their trash, learn the rules of the trail, and teach their children to be more respectful. 

Needless to say, we all slept well that night.

Friday, September 3, 2010

"...and a catered dinner for two or more couples."

The above line also had me questioning the validity of the voicemail I received on my cell phone this morning. 

Because we're getting married, my mom has started going to free bridal shows in the area where she and my dad live.  I have no problems with that, and she said she has been dropping off my information to the vendors for contests, etc.

Me being in the job I am know how vendors at trade shows work.  We offer something for free just to get leads to call people and try to sell them stuff. 

"Congratulations you are one of our weekly winners of a $250 Townecraft gift certificate and a catered dinner for two or more couples from the Albany Bridal Show."  (We'll discuss the order of the guy's sentence at some other time.)

Immediately with the "two or more couples" I'm thinking...this has to be a scam so I did some internet research.

The company is like any other in-home sales company.  They get you to host a party for, in this case, two or more couples, and they "cater" it by cooking food in their cookware to show you how wonderful it is.  What they don't tell you is that their cookware is grossly overpriced, and you're lucky if that "$250 gift card" buys a potato peeler. 

I went onto Ebay.....16" baking pan - $75......cookie sheet - $ get the idea.  I'd walk away with 2 cookie sheets, some food, and friends that would probably never speak to me again. 

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

One year from August 27th, 2010.

And this is what our wedding/reception backdrop will look like...