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Traveling to London for the First Time

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Next spring I will be traveling to London for the first time in my life.  In fact, it will be the first time that I have ever left the country.

Yes, I have lived a sheltered life.

Seriously, London has been one of those places that I have wanted to visit for years.  My grandparents came over here from the United Kingdom, so I wanted to travel over there to visit our relatives.

But during the trip, I don’t want to spend all of my time visiting – I really want to see what that country has to offer.  I have been looking into companies that offer tours in London.  Taking a tour makes a lot more sense than trying to navigate to points of interest in a foreign country.  Honestly, I am more worried about trying to drive on the right side of the road while over there – I just don’t think I can do it.

While I think I have an idea of the places I want to visit while I am there, I am going to do some research online to discover landmarks that I just don’t want to miss.  I might ask my relatives to take me out as well – they should have a more intimate knowledge of the city.

Wherever I end up going while I am there, I will be taking a lot of pictures.  I want to remember the trip forever.

Written by Dan Mann

November 25th, 2014 at 9:32 pm

Posted in Travel

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My Feet are Covered in Blisters

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Back in September, I made a pledge to myself that I was going to take my health seriously.  I was shocked when I stepped on a scale for the first time in months and found that I had gained over twenty five pounds during the summer.  Looking in the mirror, I wasn’t happy with how my body looked, so I knew that I needed a change.  So, I started attending a spin class three days per week down at the local gym.

If you are not familiar as to what a spin class is, it is an exercise class where you ride a spin bike.  These bikes are exercise bikes that are inspired by traditional road bikes, so you can get the same type of workout as if you went out and rode your bike outdoors.  For the first few weeks, my body hurt as it was getting used to the workout, but I felt more energized than ever.  I also had a smile on my face as I started losing some weight in the first few weeks.

It was a step in the right direction.

I decided at that point that I would buy some spin shoes.  They are designed to help you get the most out of the spin classes, and they had a great deal on some shoes down at the gym.  While they were a size too big, I really didn’t think that the fit would matter so much if I was just using them on a bike.

That was a big mistake.

As it turns out, spinning shoes must fit perfectly or you run the risk of hurting your foot.  In my case, I ended up with blisters on the bottom of my feet, and heels that were blistered and bleeding.  I don’t think that my feet have ever hurt so badly, and I really regret buying shoes that don’t fit.  Now, my exercise plans will be on hold until my feet heal.  Hopefully I don’t put on any more weight in the meantime.

Written by Dan Mann

November 23rd, 2014 at 8:24 pm

Posted in Life

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Building Our Business Online

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For years, we have operated a small family run business that created metal signs.  Primarily geared towards business customers, we have provided our signs to companies within a two-hundred mile radius of our shop.  But we wanted to take our business to the next level, so we have turned our sights to creating an online shop for our products.

If you are as tech savvy as I am, you probably find it hard typing let alone trying to build a website.  I didn’t have a large budget for this project as I didn’t know how it was going to turn out.  So, I did a search for some online business tools that I could use to build a site.

What I discovered was a social networking platform that was geared towards businesses like ours that wanted to get online.  The name of the site was Business Networker, and it looked like the perfect fit.  Really, their introduction video sold me on the idea, and I’ve included it here in case you want to know what I am talking about.

I really liked the idea of being able to accept payments online and having a storefront right within my account.  I was able to upload our sign designs easily, and I felt confident that showcasing our wares on the site would put our products in front of our potential customers: other businesses.

I have sketched out a plan that involves daily tasks I can do on the site to network with other businesses, form relationships and drive sales.  The timetable I have set for this little project is three months, and I am very positive that it will be a success.

If you are a business looking to increase sales and network with other companies, I would suggest heading over to Business Networker and give them a try.  Visit them here:  http://www.businessnetworker.com/

Written by Dan Mann

November 22nd, 2014 at 10:47 am

Enjoying my New Car

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One of the words that you will never hear anyone use to describe me is lazy.  I have been running my own business and working a couple of jobs for a few years now, and while the money is great, I haven’t been spending it on myself.  Instead, I have been socking the money away to save for my retirement.  I don’t want to work as hard as I have all of my life, so I am doing what I can while I am young so that I can retire early.

Over the course of the last few months, I had been having problems with my car.  It was an old Dodge Neon that was really getting close to being on its’ last legs.  I wanted to replace it, but I didn’t know if I wanted to buy a new or used one.

After thinking about it for some time, I decided that I was going to buy a new car.  I decided to go this route as I was worried about buying a lemon if I went with a used one, and I really don’t have time in my life to deal with a car that needs to be fixed.  So I took things one step further and bought a vehicle service contract to make sure that I won’t have to worry about footing the bill for vehicle maintenance for years to come.

It has been wonderful driving my new car to work each and every day – I don’t know why I didn’t buy a brand new car sooner.

Written by Dan Mann

November 21st, 2014 at 6:28 am

Posted in Life

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We Have a Lottery Pool at Work

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Like many people working traditional nine to five jobs, I don’t want to be at work every day.  I dream of a life where I don’t have a care in the world, and every day can be fun.  But the reality of the situation is that I am an adult, I have responsibilities, and working provides a means for me to meet them.

But I would quit working in an instant if I could.

A couple of buddies at work and I have setup a lottery pool.  We each chip in some money each week, and we pool that money together to buy Megamillions tickets.  The idea is that we can play more numbers, while keeping our cash outlay low.  It makes sense on paper, so we have been doing it for a few weeks now.

While we haven’t won anything yet, the moment we do, we will be set for life.  I know that we have made a pact that we will all quit on the spot, tell the boss off, and walk out the door as free men.  I really hope that the day comes where we do win, because I bet you that it is the best feeling in the world.

Written by Dan Mann

November 20th, 2014 at 10:21 pm

Posted in Thoughts

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Buying Christmas Presents in New Zealand

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This time of year is very stressful for me.  I don’t like to go Christmas shopping at all, and shopping in the mall at this time of year is painful for me.  But there are certain expectations when it comes to buying gifts, so I have to suck it up and go anyway.  While every year seems to be a repeat of the former one when it comes to shopping, this year I have a new challenge: I need to buy Christmas presents for family in New Zealand.

This summer, my brother moved his family over to New Zealand for work.  He is an engineer working with a firm that works all over the world, so when he received his promotion, they had to move.  It was hard for the rest of the family, and it was especially hard for his kids.  We have been close since they were babies, and seeing them move so far away was hard.

So, this year, I will be buying Christmas presents for them.  Finding most of their gifts was easy, as I was just able to order everything online and have it shipped to their door.  My brother was the easiest once I found somewhere that sold home brew supplies in NZ.  I know that he will appreciate the beer kits I bought him.

While it will be weird that he isn’t around for Christmas, at least he will know that we are thinking of him over here on the other side of the world.

Written by Dan Mann

November 19th, 2014 at 11:13 pm

Posted in Life

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Converting PDF Files to Doc Files

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Teaching in the digital age can be very challenging.  Instead of students submitting their assignments on paper like we did when we were kids, many of them submit them via email.  While this is convenient for the student, it makes things a lot more difficult for the teacher.  In the “olden days”, we used to be able to correct the assignments with a pen and give them back to the kids so they knew what to correct.

But those days are gone.

Many of my students submit their assignments in PDF format, and while that is convenient for reading, it is not convenient for marking.  In fact, it is a real chore to deal with this file format.  The real problem comes down to it is not editable in any way unless you have the more expensive and paid version of Adobe Acrobat.

Which is outside of my budget.

Recently, I was able to find a free online converter from pdf to doc files.  It was perfect as I was able to take the students assignments and change them into a file format that I could actually edit – which is exactly what I needed.  Now I can mark the students work without having a headache.

Written by Dan Mann

November 19th, 2014 at 11:28 am

Posted in Life

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Giving a Token of my Affection

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When it comes to being a loving husband, sometimes I feel that I fall short.  I know that my wife would never say anything, but I could really make a point of taking the time out of my day to let her know how much I love her.  It has been years since I bought her flowers, and since out anniversary is coming up, I thought I would get her something special.

But shopping for my wife has always been a challenge for me.  I guess I am not much of a shopper anyway, so I am not patient enough to browse through store after store to find that perfect gift for her.  Instead, I have been trying to shop online, right from home, where I can do it in short spurts.

It seems to be working for me.

With only a week to go before our anniversary, I have narrowed the gift that I am going to get her down to two different pieces of American made jewelry.  I haven’t quite decided if buying her a necklace is a better idea or if I should just get her a pair of earrings.

I guess I will have to figure that out for myself.

Whatever gift I get her she will love – I am pretty sure that she isn’t even expecting me to remember our anniversary.

Written by Dan Mann

November 18th, 2014 at 10:46 pm

Posted in Life

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Removing Black Mold from Our Bathroom

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So many thoughts run through your mind when your health starts to become a concern when you are young.  I know the first thing that came to mind was that I had Cancer, and I didn’t know if I would make it.  I guess i have an overactive imagination, but when I started to get sick all of the time, I really started to look at myself and the environment that I was living in.

Something was wrong.  Very wrong.

Being a young man in his thirties, I should have been as healthy as a horse, but I was sick all the time.  My memory was also becoming a problem, and sometimes I couldn’t remember what I had for supper the night before.

It was scary.

One of my friends suggested that I have someone come in to my home that specialized in mold removal in Michigan to see if we had a mold problem.  They themselves had a friend that had the same symptoms as I did, and that is what their problem was.

So, I gave it a shot.

As it turns out, my friend was right – I had a black mold problem in our bathroom.  The company came in and was able to remove all of the mold from the bathroom, and while we will have to renovate the bathroom, I am already feeling a lot better.  Who knew that something that we didn’t even notice would affect us so much.

We are just lucky that we caught it when we did.

Written by Dan Mann

November 18th, 2014 at 9:54 pm

Posted in Life

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Proper Storage of Olive Oil

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I have been cooking with olive oil for years, but honestly, I didn’t know a lot about it.  Except for what my mother taught me, “It is healthier for you than canola oil”, I really didn’t know much about the one ingredient that I use in just about every meal I cook.  But after watching the following video, I knew it was time for me to get educated.

What I had not realized was that all olive oil is not created equal.  I had just been buying the cheapest bottles off the shelf, and it ends up that I was doing myself a disservice.  I immediately noticed a difference when I bought a bottle of extra virgin olive oil that came in a dark glass bottle.

Boy, did it taste good.

The key word here is taste.  It wasn’t rancid, there was no hint of plastic, and it was delightful.

While buying the right type of extra virgin olive oil is important, storing it is important as well.  I learned over at Olimila Gourmet Emporium, that when you store olive oil, you should keep the following things in mind:

  1. Store your olive oil in a cool place.  Keeping your oil in a cool place will help extend its’ shelf-life.
  2. Keep away from Heat.  While it might be tempting to keep your oil right beside your stove, the heat will cause it to become rancid sooner than it should.
  3. Keep it sealed.  Oil will become rancid sooner if exposed to air.  To keep your oil fresh, make sure to keep the bottle sealed.
  4. Keep it in the Dark.  Light can change the flavor of your olive oil, can make it become rancid, and can reduce the healthy nutrients found naturally in the oil.  Storing it in a dark cupboard is recommended.

If you follow the tips listed above, your extra virgin olive oil will taste better, be healthier for you and last longer.  Proper storage is more important than you would think.

Written by Dan Mann

November 14th, 2014 at 11:44 am

Posted in Food

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