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Picking Up Birthday Supplies for the Weekend

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It is hard to believe our youngest child will be six this weekend.  While it seems like we had her just a couple of years ago, we have been blessed with her smiley face and kind temperament since she was born.  She is one of the most kind and generous people that I have ever met, and I really thing that she will do some amazing things in her life.

But we have to make it through her birthday first.

She has invited five of her closest friends from school and we are having a sleepover.  There will be plenty of fun with all of the games and activities that we have planned and I think the girls will have a blast.

Instead of singing “Happy Birthday” to her inside at the table (like we usually do), we are going to do something a little different.  We bought some 10 inch gold sparklers that we are going to take outside and light them when it gets dark out.  Each girl will get to hold one while we sing the birthday song.

I know Alexandra will love it.

I still have to get some stuff for the treat bags and pick up a gift for Alex, and then we should be ready.  Her birthday party should be a lot of fun!

Written by Dan Mann

May 14th, 2015 at 5:49 am

Posted in Life

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Playing Magic the Gathering Again

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I was introduced to Magic the Gathering back in the nineties.  It was new back then, and my best friend and I spent hours creating the perfect deck and dueling it out.  We both spent all of the money that we made from our part-time jobs buying booster sets and at the time, we both had thousands of dollars invested in our decks.

We played the game against each other for about five years up until we were in our final year of college.  At that time, life got in the way, and out days of playing Magic the Gathering were over.

I would have never thought that I would pick up the game again nearly twenty years later, but my son expressed some interest in when he came home with some trading cards that he brought home that a friend gave him.

At that point, I decided that we should dust off my old decks and try playing.

It only took him one game to get hooked.

I decided that it would be better to put my old cards away and buy some new Magic the Gathering cards from, my favorite games and comic book store.  I am going to surprise him with his own deck of cards tonight after work, and I am going to challenge him to a duel with my new deck.

This weekend is going to be fun!

Written by Randy Jenkins

May 8th, 2015 at 4:54 pm

Posted in Life

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Running My First Marathon in Two Months

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When I made my New Year’s resolution this year, I tried to pick a goal that wasn’t going to be too easy.  There have been too many years where I choose something that was too easy or just plain impossible.  But I am not getting any younger, so I decided that this year I was going to run my first marathon.

If you would have looked at me in January, you would have laughed.  You see, I was an overweight middle-aged man that could barely walk the three flights of stairs up to his apartment without sweating buckets.  I knew that I was getting to the age where if I let things slide much longer, I would be this way for the rest of my life.

I wanted better.

So I reached out to a personal trainer in our community, Jo Dines, to see if she could help.  She listened to my story, looked at me and said:

Let’s do it.

My entire life changed from that moment on.  I started working out, eating better and feeling better thanks to the plan laid out by Jo.  She really knew her stuff, and as the weeks went by, I could see the progress I was making staring back at me in the mirror.

It is amazing what you can do with a little motivation.  Thank you Jo!

Written by Randy Jenkins

May 8th, 2015 at 2:52 pm

Posted in Health

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Replacing my Lost Jacket

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I have really had a week that has been full of a lot of mishaps.   I know that I haven’t been feeling well lately, and that could be a part of my problem, but honestly I have been very frustrated with how the week turned out.

The one thing that happened that has made me angry is the fact that I lost my jacket while I was out on Tuesday.  I had it with me for the entire night, and then I couldn’t find it.

It disappeared without a trace.

So, I have been on the computer today Nehru Jacket online shopping to try and find myself a new jacket.  I chose to shop over at as I have had a lot of success buying clothing from the site.  It is easy to navigate and the prices are much better than anything that I would get if I shopped at one of our local stores.

I love to take my time while shopping, and shopping from the convenience of your laptop just suits me fine.  I might have to buy myself a few other things since I am shopping online anyway, but I can’t wait to get a new jacket – I just hope that I don’t lose the new one too.

Written by Randy Jenkins

May 7th, 2015 at 3:19 pm

Posted in Life

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What a Magical Evening Wedding

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When it comes to a wedding, I have certain expectations.  I expect that the wedding ceremony would happen during the afternoon with a reception to follow that evening.  While I do expect weddings to proceed in this fashion, once in awhile someone has a surprise for you.

This past weekend, I had the opportunity to attend the wedding of one of my college friends.  We have stayed in touch over the years, and the one thing that I loved about her was how creative she was.  She could turn the mundane into something magical, and I knew that she would have something up her sleeve when it came to her wedding.

The one thing that I noticed on the wedding invitation was that the wedding was going to be held at 10 PM outdoors.  It was definitely not what I expected, so we went to the ceremony not knowing what to expect.

Her ceremony was one of the most amazing weddings that I have ever attended.

You see, we had the wedding out on the beach at the lake.  When we arrived at the wedding, each guest was given one of many LED balloons that were filled with helium.  We each held our balloons throughout the ceremony, letting them go when it was all over.

It was truly amazing.

It will be a wedding that I will remember for a long time – it was like there was magic in the air.

Written by Janice Rey

May 6th, 2015 at 4:15 pm

Posted in Life

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Making it Easy for our Customers to Contact Us

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One of the most amazing things about technology and the time that we live in is that technology has really made it easy for us to stay connected with each other and the world.  This is especially true when it comes to being a business owner as you have many different ways that you can reach out and communicate with your customers.

Since we started our little company, we have been working on making ourselves more accessible to our customers.  Providing good service in our stores is one thing, but the one area that we have been focusing on is improving our service after the sale.

In an ideal world, our customers would buy products in our store, and only return to buy more products.  But like any business, sometimes there are problems in our customer’s minds that need to be addressed.  So, we have been working on making it easier for our customers to contact our company and give us the opportunity to provide them with solutions.

While our website was a big hit, I didn’t feel that it really made it easy for all of our customers to reach us.  Sure, the website was popular with the younger crowd, but I really felt that there were people my age that were not comfortable with using computers and would prefer using the phone instead.

So, we shopped around to find a company that provided 1800 and 1300 numbers so that we could have a toll-free number where customers could contact us.  We decided to use the services provided by Telecube, and our number was well-received.

Customers can now get help with their purchases in our store, online and over the phone.  Having all of these options for them to contact us has helped us to understand where there are issues in our business and given us the opportunity to provide better customer service to our clients.

Written by Dan Mann

May 6th, 2015 at 6:35 am

Practicing For Typing Speed Test

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Our son enrolled himself in an introduction to computer class in high school.  While you might think that kids his age don’t need to take classes related to computers, he honestly has never really had an interest in them.  So, taking a class like this is good for him as he will grow up and live in a society that depends on technology to function.

While he has struggled with some of the basic computer skills that we all need to know, he has done very well with typing.  He must have inherited his typing skills from me and he has done very well.

In fact, there is a typing test later on next week that he will be taking which will make up nearly 20% of his mark.

So, he has been practicing very hard to get his speed up.  We have found him a typing speed test that he can do online to practice.  It will give him a good way to get his speed up, and we have been getting him to practice every hour today to see how he has done.  So far, his speed has increased today, and we are really hoping that he is able to hit the 100 words per minute that is the requirement for the class.

We know he can do it!

Written by Randy Jenkins

May 3rd, 2015 at 2:13 pm

Posted in Life

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Managed Instagram Marketing Campaigns with SharkReach

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When it comes to Instagram and their 300 million active users, most companies scratch their heads because they just don’t know how to establish their brand and get their message across on this busy social media site.


Well, because it works differently than most social media platforms.  Instagram was designed to share photographs with your friends.

Which makes delivering a pitch for your brand or product tough.

Seeing a need in the market, SharkReach was born in 2014 with one goal – to facilitate effective Instagram marketing.  Using technology, they developed their Instagram First™ marketing platform, providing the opportunity for brands to leverage key influencers on the site to create unique and engaging marketing campaigns.

Thanks to the proprietary Instagram contest platform developed by SharkReach, these brands can easily engage, interact and connect with their users.  These SharkReach campaigns rely heavily on branded photo contests and sponsored Instagram posts spearheaded by key influencers to reach as many users as possible.

No marketing campaign would be complete without analytics and SharkReach delivers on this front as well.  They provide their clients with comprehensive reporting to help them measure the effectiveness of their social media campaigns.

Managed from start to finish, the Instagram marketing campaigns setup through SharkReach deliver impressive results.

To learn more about SharkReach and their Instagram First™ marketing platform, visit

Written by Dan Mann

May 2nd, 2015 at 2:33 pm

Posted in Business

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Looking to Beat my Eating Disorder

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For as long as I can remember, I have looked in the mirror and have seen a fat person.  It didn’t matter what my bathroom scale told me – I always saw myself as fat.

This self-image that I had of myself affected my life in a negative way, and there were times that I ended up in the hospital because of it.  It wasn’t until my later teenage years that they diagnosed me with an eating disorder, and while I have a label for my condition, I still struggle with it to this day.

It has taken me a long time to admit that I do have a problem and that I need help.  Sometimes I cry and wonder why I am this way, but I have been working with some great online counseling services to change my view of myself and overcome my eating disorder.

I love that the internet has made it possible for me to attend these counseling sessions online, and I feel a lot better about the sessions thanks to being in my own home.

I know that I have a long road to travel, but with the help of my counselor, my doctor and my family, I know that I will be able to beat my eating disorder.

Written by Janice Rey

April 30th, 2015 at 11:24 pm

Posted in Health

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Cool App Makes it Easy to Buy Furniture

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When it comes to buying furniture, I would have never thought that there would be a way for me to use my smartphone to make it easy to pick out the right piece of furniture for any room in my house.  But I was given a lesson today by an employee at one of the local furniture stores that really opened my eyes to the power of my smartphone and how it can change how we interact with the world.

You see, when I was at the furniture store, the sales clerk spoke of a free Furniture App that I could download to see how any of their products that they had for sale would look in my home.  All I had to do was take a picture of the room from my home that I wanted to use, and I could place their products over my image.  For example, if I wanted to see how a particular sofa would look in my living room, I would just take a picture of my living room and use the app to place one of the sofas for sale in the room.  It allows consumers like myself to make better choices when choosing furniture to purchase for their home.

Being a bit of a tech guy, I had to ask how they did it.  The employee told me that all of the magic is performed by the Furnished App which gives furniture stores the ability to upload their entire catalogue of products so that their shoppers can see how any product would look in their home before they have committed to buying it.

I really hope that more furniture stores start using this app – it made it a lot easier to find the right piece of furniture for my home.

Written by Randy Jenkins

April 30th, 2015 at 3:24 pm

Posted in Thoughts

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