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Showing posts from September, 2014

Ready to shop 'til you drop...for natural gas?

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This is another one of those uber-local posts, but it might apply to some of you folks out there who deal with deregulated natural gas suppliers. I have been on the fence with deregulated gas since you end up dealing with companies that tack on junk fees like customer service which typically adds up to about $6/month. 



Early October is a beautiful time of year in the Southeast. The fall festivals are popping out all over including wonderful international events to arts fests. With those events and the beautiful fall colors, shopping for cheap natural gas is the last thing on our minds, right? Even while we are enjoying the splendid weather, reality sets in and let’s face it: reality bites. The fact is that we have a deregulated natural gas provider scheme set up here in the Atlanta metro area. Cami and I set to go natural gas shopping when we received the deadline notices from our current natural gas providers. Since the providers are in competition, you have room to negotiate rates. …

Would you pay to reserve a parking space?

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So you wish to take the car and drive to a Sunday afternoon Falcons football game in downtown Atlanta? Good luck these days. With crowds, construction and general complications with driving into downtown Atlanta, locating a parking place for your vehicle is like striking gold. The good folks over at Parking Panda have a solution for you. All you have to do is reserve a space. Reserve a parking space? Yes, that's correct. We as humans have evolved from reserving our spots in the form of tickets for public gatherings like concerts to restaurant reservations to parking space reservations. Indeed it has all come down to this, but when it comes to driving into crowded corridors like downtown Atlanta, Parking Panda does not seem to be a terrible idea.
As someone who has driven for over a quarter century in Atlanta metro traffic and into the downtown corridor, when an event is occurring, I prefer a crowded MARTA train to jockeying my vehicle on a crowded Williams Street any day of the w…

Deer mating season is upon us

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According to the Georgia Department of Natural Resources -- the state DNR, there are over 1.2 million white-tailed deer in the state. I believe around half of them take up residency in my yard. OK, that's a bit of an attempt at plain exaggeration for effect, but the fact is the deer are part of our landscape.  I'm in an area where deer roam from front yards to back eating anything that they can get their faces into including our grass, bushes and whatever was left of our flowers. From the caring gentle doe to massive bucks and those cute spotted fawns, I see them on just about any given morning run or bike ride. Whether I'm near the neighborhoods nestled next to the Chattahoochee River in Peachtree Corners or on the Alpharetta Greenway, the deer forage solo or in packs.
Depending on your view, deer are either nature's beauties or just a nuisance. With over 1.2 million deer in the state, there's no shortage of them, yet there are those nature lovers who believe in…

Just what is a TV season?

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It’s fall time! The leaves are beginning to change color and commence to litter our yards. The humidity is finally dissipating here in the Southeastern United States. Most school districts are halfway through their first semesters here in North Georgia. In fact some districts already embarked on a “fall break” before it was officially fall. You folks up there in Michigan, eat your hearts out, you barely started your new school year. Professional and college football are well under way. Again, hate to pick on Michigan, but I believe Ohio State is going to decimate you all again this fall. OK, I know nothing about college football, but I am an Ohio native and I get behind Ohio State even though I did not attend that fine institution. Well, I do have to declare that Michigan does have a pretty campus, but that doesn’t win football games. OK, I had to get that one in there. Anyway, guess what: The new official traditional network television seasons just started. Have you noticed that the …

Are you a 'java junkie?'

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A recent survey conducted by the firm Pressat found that out of 10,000 professionals, 85 percent said that they drink at least three cups of coffee per day. Researchers in the Pressat survey discovered that nearly 70 percent of the respondents said that their working ability would be affected if they did not get their daily caffeinated dose. I’ll confess to being a part of that 85 percent, but my caveat is that it takes me hours to get through that much coffee. I think the term is called, “nursing the daily brew.” In my case, that caffeine buzz stays somewhat consistent. Compare my consumption to someone who can chug three cups in perhaps an hour and you get different results. Of course individuals have different caffeine tolerance levels including their height and weight. If one consumes quite a bit in a short span of time, the crash is more intense compared to someone like me who nurses the java. Still there is a crash for me basically in the 3 p.m. hour on most days. Instead of mo…

Pedestrian awareness ought to happen now

There’s been some brouhaha in the city of Brookhaven lately. Certainly the city is at a crossroads with how much power it ought to possess, but there’s something a bit less controversial happening these days. Many city police officers have been issuing citations to drivers not providing pedestrians the right of way. Citing drivers for not following state law may seem like a trivial matter to the casual observer, but it’s far from trivial. Let’s face: the Atlanta metro area has never earned high marks for being kind to pedestrians and while we’re at, cyclists. The city of Brookhaven is doing something about it in the form of its Pedestrian Safety Operation. The danger to pedestrians is rife throughout this rather new city, but it is concentrated near a busy intersection near a MARTA rail stop. The corner of Peachtree Road and Dresden Drive is beyond challenging for pedestrians coming and going from the station. This Brookhaven Police Department effort is in partnership with PEDS (Pede…

Apple's latest unveiling

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There are three things guaranteed in life: Death, taxes and rumors about the legendary computer company, Apple.
With the huge news of Apple's new product roll-out, the 'Net exploded with rumors ranging from a new "smartwatch" to iPhone 6. I'll dub them the proverbial iRumors. In fact, some out there said they already had their hands on the devices well before the official company presentation. I confess that I love these roll-outs. Let's face it: Apple has produced innovative devices that have changed our lives for decades, but in a more intense fashion during the past decade with the release of the iPod, iPhone and iPad. To me, it's fascinating.
Before getting to the "cool stuff," with success comes negativity including consumer complaints about design, charger size changes or upgrades. Thus, one cannot be perfect. There are always glitches when these new devices come to market. What's made things a bit more difficult this year is  the sour A…

Make each Monday, 'Meat Free Monday'

On Tuesday, September 23rd, 2014, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon held a Climate Summit in New York. Part of that discussion focused on how to reduce harmful emissions to our atmosphere. One way to make that reduction is to eat fewer amounts of meat, many are saying. “What? Eat less meat will be better for the environment? Hogwash! Preposterous!” one might protest. Many say that it’s true. If more people ate less meat, then there would be far fewer pollutants in the air. Eating less red meat means that there would be lower demand for cows. Fewer cows on the planet equals lower methane emissions according to the group Nature Climate Change. Still sounds a bit ‘out there?’ The Nature Climate Change findings also say that greenhouse gas emissions from raising livestock are 19 to 48 times higher than growing plant food like soy and beans. Climate change experts say that if more consumers would reduce their meat intake to just one day a week, that reduction alone be make a positive impact on …

File-sharing killed the rock star?

Musician/Reality TV star Gene Simmons' kid conducted an Esquire magazine interview with his legendary dad about a few topics including the demise of the recording industry.Simmons, along his band KISS rose to fame during the 1970s as the first musical act to perform masked in heavy make-up. Love them or hate them, KISS' shtick worked with unprecedented records sales and sold-out concerts. Simmons and the band went even further with marketing campaigns including KISS lunch boxes. In other words, no one can argue with success.
These days, Simmons is not feeling too great about the state of affairs in the record business. According to Simmons, "Rock is finally dead." Simmons points to how folks on the Internet engage in so much file-sharing, they are no longer buying music. The co-leader of the KISS Army takes it one step further by saying that middle- and upper-class American kids possess a free-loading mentality for not purchasing music. Simmons, who came to America fr…

Is technology making us 'mentally lazy?'

According to a study a few years back, we as a nation have not been remembering basic information like we used to in the “old days.” Simple things like telephone numbers, birthdays and anniversaries aren’t being stored in our own heads anymore. Apparently we are relying more on our mobile phones and computers for “life’s petty information.” Sure I agree that I use my computers more these days for this stuff, but I think these studies are overblown. Instead of knowing everyone’s phone numbers, I’m trying hard to remember more important information like the name of the group that sang “Too Shy” from the early 1980s.
Upon receiving news of this medical study, I received a call at the time from my Aunt Rose from Solvang, California.
“Bobby, did you see this study?” she said.
“No, I’m not really up on that,” I replied, while keying in her phone number in my daughter’s cell phone.
“It says here even kids are not remembering their own home phone numbers,” she said, reading verbatim from the news…

Is camping out for tickets a thing of the past?

There was a time when if you wanted to get decent concert tickets, you would typically camp out overnight at the outlet where the tickets were being sold. Thanks to the digital age, that all changed when ticket purchases were became available online. Still there are times when I'll see a certain contingent of folks lined up early in the morning for tickets. The last one I recall was a line over at Philips Arena for "musician" Kanye West. I'm not sure if Kanye's so-called fans got the memo that the show will not sell out, so you're wasting time and Kanye's wealthier fans already gobbled up all the decent seats in an online pre-sale. By the way, is there a nickname for Kanye fans? Just asking.
From the looks of the folks during the morning of the Kanye ticket sale, I doubt that they would have listened to me crushing their dreams of getting up close and personal with the performer. One "fan" was busy trying to aim his black and white battery-oper…

Are you ready for Halloween in the summer?

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There's nothing wrong with "working ahead" in any field. Whether it's an upcoming school paper for students or trying to meet deadlines at work, it's always a good idea to get a jump on projects. Getting a head start on anything reduces stress, but sometimes I wonder if that supposed "stress reduction" always works. Anyway,  the "pre-planning concept" applies to the retail store world. I learned that strategy when working in the drug store world while in high school and college. Just as the Fourth of July was coming to a close, we were setting up Back-to-School displays even though back then, school did not start until after Labor Day. It always seemed to me that no one was getting a jump start on Back-to-School in late July/early August. OK and then as soon as Labor Day ended, it was Halloween candy stuffing the aisles. Do you get the picture? The retail world has always been thinking well ahead when it came to their marketing plans.
Flash f…