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Saving Money on Our Tornado Shelter

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When it comes to the safety of our family, we spare no expense.  But that doesn’t mean that we wouldn’t like to save some money too.  So, when I learned about the tornado shelter rebate programs available in our state, I was excited.  I had wanted to build a tornado shelter for years, but just didn’t have the money.

Before we decided to construct our shelter, I had to make sure that we would qualify for the rebates.  Depending on which county that you live in, there are certain requirements that you need to meet.

In our case, we could get a rebate up to $1,500 provided that our shelter would cost a minimum of $2,000.  There was also a time limit for the length of the construction, so we had to have it completed within six months from our start date.

With that information in hand, we went out to find companies that specialized in building storm shelters that could work within our constraints.  We were able to find a few companies that could, and then we selected one that we would work with.

Construction is slated to commence in the next few weeks, and it should take no longer than a few weeks for them to complete building our shelter. 

I’m looking forward to seeing the completed product.

Written by Steven Locke

December 16th, 2014 at 3:37 pm

Posted in Life

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Doing a Little Sewing

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Sometimes I hate to admit it, but I know how to use a sewing machine.  That is a skill that most men won’t admit to, but it has come in handy from time to time.  This is true especially since we had our children for mending clothing or modifying clothing to work better for their needs.  I have been working on modifying their ski pants this weekend.

One of the problems that we have had the last couple of weeks has been that our kids end up getting a bunch of snow in their ski pants while they are outside playing.  Don’t ask me how they do it, but they always come in the house with more snow in their pants than there is outdoors.

So, I have decided to put a stop to it.

I have purchased some Velcro strips to sew into their ski pants.  I will be sewing Velcro on the inside of their coat as well, so we can “stick” the two together.  Hopefully this will make a good enough seal so that there will be no way for the snow to get into their pants.

While it is a good theory, I won’t know for sure if it will work before I try it out.  Even if it helped to keep the snow out a little, it would be a victory for us.

Wish me luck!

Written by Marc Norris

December 14th, 2014 at 2:57 am

Posted in Life

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Planning the Perfect Anniversary Dinner

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It isn’t every day that we have our tenth wedding anniversary, but it is quickly coming up in just a few weeks.  It is hard to believe that my husband and I have been together for as long as we have, and I can’t imagine my life without him.  In order to celebrate the “big” tenth anniversary in style, I have decided to plan to it out to be the perfect dinner for the two of us.

But the dinner is only the beginning.  I am going to cook my husband’s favourite meal – steak dinner.  I will make it just the way that he likes it, medium rare, and make baked potatoes and Cesar salad.  I’ll pair that with his favourite red wine, and his meal will make him feel like he is in heaven.

There will be a smile on his face.

Once his tummy is full, I will get out the men’s bracelet I bought him. I bought it from a Danish company, and it was listed as Herre armbånd on their site.  It looks like this:


I know he’ll love it.

But the real question remains: will he remember our anniversary?

He better if he knows what is good for him.

Written by Janice Rey

December 14th, 2014 at 2:23 am

Posted in Life

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Touring a Research Park

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One of the perks of attending college is that you get access to many places that you just wouldn’t have access to if you were the general public.  We have had the opportunity to visit some of the research labs located in the research park on campus this past week, and it was an amazing experience.  In many respects, it has really reinforced my choice of becoming an engineer as I was able to see people who had studied my area of expertise working in a real life setting.

One of my favourite parts of the tour would have to have been watching the engineers working with the research driving simulator.  They were doing testing on a prototype of a car that they created and were seeing how it would respond to certain weather conditions.  The simulator allowed them to setup a test bed that didn’t require a physical prototype.  They were able to input the specifications for the prototype, and the simulator would give them accurate representation of how it would perform in the real world.

We also had the chance to see a few other engineers in action including a team that was working on creating a better solution for our paved roads.

The entire tour was a very rewarding experience, and I hope that we are able to tour a few other facilities before we pick our major.  I think that it will help us make an informed decision so that we know what we will be getting into after we are finished our degree.

Written by Marc Norris

December 14th, 2014 at 1:58 am

Posted in Thoughts

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Outsourcing Most of my Work

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When it comes to creating a successful business, you really need to ask yourself this question:

Is what we are doing here repeatable?

If the answer is yes, chances are that you have a good idea for a business.  In my case, I had figured out a money generating system that could be duplicated, but I needed to hire someone that could take over my role in our organization.

So, I started coming up with training manuals for the workers that we were going to hire.  The work on the training material was very detailed, and I really think that I should be able to assemble a team to do most of the work.

A portion of our tasks, specifically CAPTCHA decoding will be outsourced to a firm that specifically specializes in CAPTCHA recognition.  Entering those little image codes quickly becomes a headache, so I don’t want to have to do it myself.

One of the biggest challenges will be to keep the entire business compartmentalized so that not a single one of our workers learns the system we use to make money.  It is a trade secret, and we don’t want everyone jumping in on our strategy and ruining it for us.

Since this is one of my first outsourcing moments in my life, I really wonder how things will turn out.

Written by Dan Mann

December 11th, 2014 at 12:07 am

Posted in Business

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Found a Cheap Car

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For a long time, I have been looking for a replacement for my Dodge Spirit.  I really shouldn’t have driven my car for so long, but it was my first one.  It was really hard for me to let go and replace it with a newer car.  But that is exactly what I had to do.  After looking for a couple of weeks, I found the perfect cheap car: a 2001 Chrysler Neon.

Chrysler Neons and Dodge Neons look basically the same, but there are a few subtle differences.  The most notable one on the car I bought was the grill on the front of the car.  Otherwise, there were no real differences that I could see, and while the body on the car I was checking out was a little rough, the car seemed mechanically sound, and I wanted to get it.

But, I didn’t really have quite enough money.

To make up the difference, I headed down to the local payday loans shop to apply for a loan. I had done this a few times in the past, so I filled out a couple of forms, and walked out of there with $500 – enough money to buy a new set of wheels.

I am going over tomorrow to pay for the car and pick it up.  It will be so nice to be free of public transit for the first time in my life.

Written by Dan Mann

December 10th, 2014 at 12:01 am

Posted in Life

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What is the Green Card Lottery?

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If you are looking to work and live in the United States on a permanent basis, you need a Green Card issued by the US government.  You need to fill out an application to be entered into the Green Card lottery, and then you have a shot.

But there are only 50,000 cards issued per year.

Winners are chosen from the pool of successful applicants randomly through the use of a computer algorithm.  It ensures that everyone that applies has the same chance of winning a card.

It is a fair system.

But there are steps that you need to do to ensure that you are entered in the Green Card lottery.  It really comes down to filling out your application correctly.  If you don’t, you might find yourself disqualified before the lottery begins.  Last year, more than two million people were disqualified because of applications that were filled out incorrectly.

Don’t become one of those statistics.

Make sure that you get your chance in the lottery by hiring a professional company that specializes in Green Card applications.  The one that many of my friends had success with was  They ensure that your application is filled out properly and they file it at the right time to make sure that you do get your name in for the Green Card lottery.

It is really that easy.

What are you waiting for?  Get your name into the next Green Card Lottery here:

Written by Dan Mann

December 8th, 2014 at 11:34 pm

Posted in Life

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One Charger for All of Your Devices

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While I love the fact that we have so many gadgets at our disposal, one of my biggest pet peeves is that they all use different chargers.  When I take a trip, I don’t want to have to take five or more battery chargers for all of my devices including my phone, my digital camera, my Bluetooth speaker, my Nintendo DS and all of the other “toys” that I take with me.  I really feel that the more chargers that I take with me, the more likely I am to lose something.  So, for the longest time I have been looking for a solution that would allow me to charge all of my devices with one single charger.

Recently, I came across a universal batter charger that promises to do just that: charge all of the batteries for all of your devices.  It does this in a pretty simple yet effective manner – you just line up your lithium battery terminals with the pins on the charger, slip the battery in behind the clamp, and plug it into the wall.

It is as simple as that.

I bought one to try, and I have to say that it is pretty easy.  I can charge my cell phone battery, my camera battery, the battery for my Bluetooth speaker and even the battery for my Nintendo DS.  There is even a USB post for charging devices (like your tablet) where you cannot remove the battery.

This UBOC charger will be the device that I take with me wherever I go.  To learn more, visit:

Written by Dan Mann

December 8th, 2014 at 5:58 am

Posted in Life

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Getting my Degree Fast

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I have never really been a big fan of school, but I understand that a college degree can make the difference between being considered for a job and not getting it at all.  I have had my share of disappointments when I didn’t get a position I applied for, but that is about to change.  There is one opening coming up in a year or so, and I wanted to make sure that I would be a candidate for it – truth be told, it would be my dream job.  But since I don’t have a degree, I have decided to find the fastest degree program that I can to ensure that I am considered for the position.

I ended up enrolling in an online accredited college so that I could work at my own pace and still have a real degree at the end of my course.  I am studying accounting and it is imperative that I get the degree before next fall, or I won’t be able to apply for the opening that will be coming up.

Studying on my own has required a lot more discipline than I would have thought, and it has been a challenging six weeks.  But I have already completed a few courses (English and intro to psychology) and it feels great.

I really think I will get my degree in time.

Written by Dan Mann

December 7th, 2014 at 2:05 pm

Posted in Life

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Last Business Class of the Year

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While I have really enjoyed this last term of classes, I am happy that they are over.  While most of the classes I have been taking haven’t really inspired me in any way, the introduction to business class has.  You see, I have always dreamed of running my own business, and anything on the subject matter of being an entrepreneur is interesting to me.  I figure if I can learn as much as I can about the topic, I will be better prepared for when I start my own business.

So, the last class in my intro to business class really struck a chord with me.  We were looking at the effects of productivity on the success or failure of a business.  This class wasn’t just about theory, as we looked at some real examples of how productivity has changed the face of business over the years.  Some of the professor’s examples were from a blogger, Bruce Everiss, who had some great insights on how productivity both shaped and stunted the growth of businesses in Great Britain.

The topic instigated some heated discussion from students regarding the effects of unions on productivity.  I would have to say that the class was definitely the best one of the term, and we all left class with things to think about – I wish more classes in college made you feel that way.

Written by Dan Mann

December 6th, 2014 at 7:16 am

Posted in Finance

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