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I Don’t Care for Ice

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While I was quite fond of ice as a child, I am certainly not fond of it now.  What once was considered to be a source of recreation become an expensive hell.  Let me tell you, I don’t say the “h” word that often, but when it comes to ice, you can here me say it all the time.

Let me back up – I suppose you would like to know why I don’t like ice, right?

If you rewind back to last winter, things were going well.  We had just moved into a new house (new to us anyway) and we had big smiles on our faces.  Up until that point, we had been renting a place, so to have a home to call our own, well, that was something special.

That winter was particularly weird in terms of weather.  There were warm days followed by cool days, and then a few days later, it was warm again.  It worked much like a yoyo, and quite frankly, I didn’t pay much attention.  I was too busy with work to see what was happening on our house.

The weather was causing ice to form on the roof of our house.  I don’t know if you have ever seen any pictures of it, but a lot of people had an ice dam ann arbor.  What I didn’t know was that the amount of ice that was forming on our roof was going to be a big problem.

The problem didn’t creep up until the latter half of winter when our rain gutter ripped off the back of the house.

I didn’t notice that either.

What I did notice was the roof of the garage caving in.  I came home from a walk with my wife to find it snowing in my garage.

I wasn’t happy.

Not happy at all.

In fact, the amount of damage that was done was ridiculous.  I not only had to fix my garage, but the car that was parked in there was written off too.

So now you see why I don’t care for ice.

Written by Dan Mann

October 18th, 2014 at 8:11 pm

Posted in Life

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Maximize Your Pocket Real Estate

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When I look at how technology has changed the world, the one noticeable impact to my life has been what it has done to the pockets in my pants – it has filled them up.  Twenty years ago, you would find your wallet and some change in your pants pocket, but now other devices have invaded this once sacred space.

Yes, I am talking about my smartphone.

A couple of phone generations ago, the size of the phone wasn’t really a problem and it could co-exist with your wallet in your pocket.  In those days you didn’t have to squish your phone in there, and you didn’t have to worry about carrying to many cards in your wallet – everything just fit.

But that has changed.

When I look down at my iPhone 6 and then look over at my wallet, I just have no idea how I am supposed to get both of them into my pants pocket.  While phone sizes have increased, there really has been no increases in pocket sizes.  I am also not the guy who likes to walk around with a huge bulge on the side of his leg.

So I have been looking for a solution to this problem for a long time.

One night, in the wee hours of the morning when I could barely keep my eyes awake, I found the solution to my problems.  I discovered that they make and iPhone 6 wallet case that not only protects your phone, but has room to store all of the card that you usually keep in your wallet.

iPhone 6 wallet case

I suppose it did help that the girl in the picture that was holding the wallet case was cute too – it was what made me look in the first place.

I also liked the price too.  In fact, the site I bought it from was nice enough to have a coupon code, “ILIKEPIZZA”, which saved me a whole bunch of money.

So, if you are having some issues trying to get everything to fit in your pants pocket (and you don’t have the luxury of carrying a purse), I would suggest getting yourself a wallet case.  It definitely worked for me.

Written by Dan Mann

October 17th, 2014 at 10:45 pm

Posted in Life

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Having a James Bond Weekend

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For the past two months I have been working hard like a dog.  I have always believed that you should work if you could, so that is exactly what I did.  It was a crazy time, but the money was certainly good, so there is little to complain about.  After all of this work, I do deserve a treat so I am taking a break for myself.

I am going to have a James Bond marathon.

I just bought the entire series on Blu-Ray, and I am really curious how it is going to look on the big screen.  I am going to have some of my buddies over to watch James Bond beat up bad guys, use spy software and save the world.  We are going to start from the very first movie, Dr. No, and go right up until Skyfall.

It is going to be a long weekend.

To top things off, we have all decided to show up in appropriate spy attire and drink martinis just like Bond – shaken not stirred.

Yes, it should be a good weekend, but I know that it will be over too soon.  Too bad we all can’t lead the life of adventure like James Bond.

Written by Dan Mann

October 17th, 2014 at 9:55 pm

Posted in Life

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Stocking Some New Business Software

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Working in a computer store has been a wonderful experience for me.  I love keeping up with the technology, and considering I get paid for it, I really feel it is a win-win for me.  There is always something new to learn, and it is like Christmas here every week when we get some new products in from our suppliers.

This week was a little different for us as we received a big shipment of business software.  These tools include accounting software, employee vacation tracking software, and other productivity tools.  Unlike software designed for consumers, these business programs are a lot more complex and actually require you to learn how to use them so that you can sell them.

In order to ensure that we can sell the products effectively, we each pick a few of them and learn them inside out.  We get four or five days to learn whatever we can, and then we do a presentation for the rest of the staff so that we can share what we learned.  It has been a very effective way for us to learn without having to try all of the software programs, and it has skyrocketed our sales as our customers appreciate how knowledgeable we really are.

Written by Janice Rey

October 17th, 2014 at 8:57 pm

Posted in Business

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Changing Your Theme Can Increase Your Traffic

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For the last month, my website has suffered a real slump in traffic.  The change was abrupt and my traffic plummeted nearly ninety percent in the span of two weeks.  My main website went from earning a decent living to barely making enough money to afford a cup of coffee each day.  I don’t know if you have ever been in this type of situation, but in these cases you enter into a panicked state and start to analyze everything.

You ask yourself this one question:

Where did I go wrong?

There are so many variables when it comes to a website ranking well in the search engines.  You content, theme, marketing strategy, and a whole slew of other things can make or break your rankings.  But when your traffic disappears overnight, you need to fix the problem or you will lose the business.

That is exactly the situation that I found myself in.  I went from having decent traffic to just about nothing.  I either had to figure out how to fix things or go back to work.

And I didn’t want to get a job ever again.

So I picked apart the site bit by bit.

Since I kept some pretty crazy records of everything that I did with my site at that time, I went through to see what changes I made.  I was looking for what change I made that ruined everything.

And it wasn’t easy.

It took me four days to figure out that when I changed my theme, my traffic was impacted.  You see, I went from using one of the most recommended seo wordpress themes to using a theme that was very frilly and pretty on the outside, but one that the search engines decided to ignore.

I knew I was right when I changed the theme back – within a couple of days, my traffic was back where it was supposed to be.

Thank goodness.

Written by Dan Mann

October 16th, 2014 at 10:43 pm

Posted in Blogging

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Three Ways to Shop Smarter Online

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When it comes to shopping online, there are many pitfalls that you can fall into.  One of the biggest challenges is finding reliable suppliers of the products and services that you plan to buy.  Since we cannot ask our friends about their experiences with all of the retailers out there, it can be difficult to make an informed buying decision.  Thankfully, there are a few things that you can do to ensure that you shop and spend your money wisely online. 

Take a look at these three tips:

  1. One of the best tips that I can give you is look at reviews regarding any site that you might be thinking of spending money on.  Reviews are typically made by people that have bought the product or service and share their experiences online.  These can be a good indication as to whether or not your purchase will go smoothly.  An example of a review website would be this Photo Bin review site, which provides warnings to consumers about problems with their services.  Sites like these which are independent often provide objective reviews that give you a better idea as to what you can expect because they don’t moderate reviews like many shopping websites do.  If you want to be sure that a review website does indeed have real reviews, try comparing them to other review websites.  If the reviews are consistent, then you know that it should be a reliable review source.
  2. Another good idea is to keep a separate credit card for online purchases.  It is good to have a low limit on this card in case you run into problems.  The idea here is to minimize your losses should your credit card be compromised.  It doesn’t happen very often, but it doesn’t hurt to be careful.
  3. The last tip I will share with you today is this: if you are considering buying something online, sleep on it.There certainly is some great temptation to hit the buy button when you see a good deal, but if you take the time to sleep on it and look at it again tomorrow, you will know if you should really buy it or not.  Sure, sometimes you do find a good deal on something you were going to buy anyway, but you want to make sure that you stay away from impulse shopping.

While these are certainly not all the steps that you can take to be a better shopper online, they are a good place to start.  When you make sure to read reviews, use a separate credit card and think about the things that you are buying, you will be able to shop stress free online.

Written by Dan Mann

October 16th, 2014 at 2:03 pm

Posted in Thoughts

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Fundraising to Support Our Community

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It seems that there is always some kind of fundraising going on in our community.  Whether it is one of the community suppers held in the spring and fall, a community raffle, or a fun day, our community is always actively raising money to provide better services and programs for our residents.  When you are in such a small village, every dollar raised ensures that you will be able to maintain community buildings like the rink, the community center and the playgrounds for our kids.  It also instills a sense of community as we are all working to better the place that we call home.

While the fall supper is a few weeks away, we have started selling some raffle tickets on a charity draw.  We are using the proceeds to replace the first aid kits in three of the community buildings as well as get the necessary repairs done to our defibrillator.  Most of the prizes are what we usually have including donations of food, baking, and a gift certificate to the store for a few hundred dollars of gasoline.  But the real prize to win would have to be the two Zanzibar holidays donated by the estate of the late Jane McTaggert.

Jane was very community minded and she spent many years of her life making our village a better place to live.  While we were shocked by the donation, we were not surprised – even in death, she was helping out people in her home.

So far, the ticket sales have been a lot higher than expected and we might even raise more money than we had anticipated.  If you haven’t bought your tickets, head down to coffee row on Monday and speak with Audrey – she will be happy to help you out.

Written by Dan Mann

October 15th, 2014 at 10:14 pm

Posted in Life

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Starting a New Business

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The first thing that caught my eye when I saw my wife for the first time was how graceful she moved on the dance floor.  We were both attending the wedding of my best friend Bruce, and didn’t know each other.  But when I saw her out there moving like she was in another place, I fell in love.  Ten years later we are more in love than ever, and it is her love of dance that is influencing our next big journey in life.

You see, a couple of months ago, we inherited quite the sum of money from my Uncle John.  We were very close, and since he had no children, I was one of the lucky beneficiaries of his estate.  I don’t know if you have ever found yourself in this situation, but when you have a bunch of money put in your lap all at once, you start thinking very hard as to what you can do with it.  Sure, it would have been nice to do some renovations on our home, but we thought that this influx of cash could also help us better our lives by launching a new business.

But coming up for a business idea that we could both agree upon was tough.  I had some ideas as to what we could do, but so did she.  I wanted to start a business that didn’t require my direct involvement (since I was working a job at the time) and she wanted something to immerse herself in.

After many discussions, we were at an impasse: neither of us could decide what kind of business to start.

A few weeks later, we were both sitting at our children’s dance lessons in the city which was an hour from home.  We would go there twice a week so that our children could learn how to dance.  While sitting there, she looked over at me and said, “Since there are no local dance studios in our town, do you think we could use the inheritance to open one?”

We had our business idea.

Since that time, we have been taking the steps necessary to setup our own dance studio.  We have a location in place and we are doing the necessary renovations to make sure that we are ready to open up in January.  It has been wonderful to see the fire in my wife’s eye and I can tell that she is excited to start teaching kids about the one thing she loves: dancing.

Written by Dan Mann

October 15th, 2014 at 8:20 am

Posted in Business

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Going Away for Christmas

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elephant safari For the last couple of years, we have spent Christmas at either my parent’s house or with my in-laws.  It has been great for the kids to spend time with their grandparents, and I look back at the last couple of years, and we do have some fond memories.  But I have always dreamed of going on a big vacation during the Christmas holidays, and since we have the means to do so this year, I think we are actually going to do it.

I don’t want to let you think that it was easy to convince my wife that we needed to go away for the holidays.  She is very traditional, and has always argued that Christmas is not Christmas without snow.  But I wasn’t going to let her get in my way of what I wanted, so I decided that this year I would work on convincing her that we should go away to somewhere warm for the holidays.

I learned that she is a tough cookie to crack.

Thankfully, I am persistent.  It also helped that she loves photography, and after I showed her some pictures on the Pure Safari website of what our vacation could look like, she was hooked.

Well, okay, just about hooked.

I might have needed to buy her a new camera for the trip.

But she is onboard now.  We are really looking forward to going on safari with the kids for the first time, and they are so excited.

Christmas can’t come soon enough.

Written by Dan Mann

October 14th, 2014 at 5:06 pm

Posted in Travel

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Our Marriage is Based on Teamwork

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Our marriage really functions as a team.  Whether it has been intentional our not, when it comes to getting things done around the house and for the house, my wife and I have split things up into tasks that we each tend to be good at.  For example, my wife has quite the green thumb, so it should be no surprise that she takes care of our garden.

We have been very lucky because we both of us do have quite a few things that we don’t like to do, but thankfully we cover each other’s pet peeves.  In many respects, we are a match made in heaven, and I am so lucky to have her in my life.

One of the best examples of this would be my wife’s hate for shopping.  I count it as a blessing of sorts, but she hates going shopping for just about everything.  Thankfully, I love to go shopping (which may sound weird), and you will actually see me with a smile on my face, whether I am at the store shopping for grooming products, food for our next meal, or a can of paint.  For me, getting out of the house without the kids is a reward in itself, and going shopping gives me that opportunity.

When I look around at how other married couples tend to do things, I cringe.  They tend to butt heads, fight, argue, and really get nothing done without complaining about it.

I would never want that.

I am so thankful my wife and I work as a team.

Written by Dan Mann

October 14th, 2014 at 12:49 am

Posted in Thoughts

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