Tuesday, March 31, 2009

What I Did to Stimulate the Economy Today: March 31, 2009

In celebration of the last day of March, I continued with my own stimulus plan by spending money. So here goes how I carried out my patriotic duty today:
  • Breakfast @ Starbucks
  • Drive through Winter Haven, Fla., and "Snacks" at Mister Donut (famous apple fritters) & Andy's Drive-in Restaurant
And how did you stimulate the economy today?

Monday, March 30, 2009

Food, Inc. A Must-see Film for Anyone Who Eats

I'm not joking, EVERYONE needs to see the documentary Food, Inc., which I saw over the weekend during the 11th Annual Sarasota Film Festival. It was only by coincidence that my Saturday in Sarasota began with lunch at Veggie Magic, a raw food, organic restaurant, followed by the film about the contaminated and corrupt food system in the United States. After seeing Food, Inc., I've reached several conclusions:
  • I need to continue buying local AND organic veggies and meat. My farm share from the local organic food ends soon, the farm doesn't harvest during the summer. What's a girl to do?

  • Although I may be purchasing something grown locally and organic doesn't necessarily mean the seed wasn't genetically modified – an organic field could be contaminated just by the breath of Mother Nature blowing unnatural seeds into an organic field.

  • I really need to try and go vegetarian. It was heartbreaking seeing how the non-organic animals were raised. From birth to death, they’re not treated like living creatures. I didn't expect to cry in a movie about food! (Suppose I should've read the movie description, I picked it because the start time fit into my schedule.)

  • No wonder our country is in a financial mess. Big corporations are not only dipping their fingers in Wall Street, their rolling up their sleeves and playing and controlling farming fields across the country.

  • Some food lobbyists are now in contradictory positions of power in D.C.

  • Wal-Mart listens to what consumers want. Really. I'm serious Have you taken a look at your neighborhood Wal-Mart?
We need to wake up and smell the manure coming out of the grocery store, pay attention to labels and demand more natural food. Not GMO (genetically modified organism) or GEO (genetically engineered organism) food and not ones with corn or soy fillers. And, we need to get back to eating chicken, beef, vegetables with blemishes and not just food. Eating something that was engineered to look exactly the same as a million other things is not natural (i.e.: chickens raised to be the same size). Real fruits and vegetables are meant to have blemishes and occasional weird knots. I want to eat a hamburger with the beef from one cow, not a hamburger made with pieces from 1,000 cows.

I often wonder if the food industry could be an avenue for terrorism. Our enemies have the patience that we have no clue about. I especially thought that during the contaminated food from China outbreak. Or, our enemies can be sitting back and taking pleasure in outbreaks such as E. coli and salmonella and hoping we implode soon. I know, the conspiracy theorist is running wild!

But back to Food, Inc.

The documentary will hit theatres this spring but check out the film's Web site for a list of film festivals it’s being screened. The Sarasota Film Festival introduced the Green Cinema Now! this year, a collection of features and shorts surrounding environmental challenges on the local and global scale.

What I Did to Stimulate the Economy Today: March 30, 2009

Monday. *sigh*

The beginning of another week and the Monday following a pay day so of course I stimulated the economy today. I have to say I'm glad I was in a sluggish mood yesterday. Contemplated running out to the store for some canning supplies but the spirit just didn't move me. Today I learned the store I was planning to visit was robbed and evacuated due to a bomb threat at about the time I was planning to shop! Wondering if I'm living in the right 'hood or if these are the sign of the times. The McDonald's been robbed and a woman sitting in her car around the corner from the apartment complex was shot in the face one night. And now I'm seeing and hearing coyotes. Geesh!

But all is well in my domicile, kitty seems to be feeling better and the vet must have sharpened her teeth in addition to cleaning them because they are pointy little suckers now.

Before I tell you how I carried out my patriotic duty, heard one report on the radio stating this economic slump will continue through the end of 2010. Can I continue to live on edge for another 18+ months? I'll have to.

The U.S. economy was the benefactor of my job today and this is how I stimulated it:
  • Lunch @ Chili's
  • Paid the April Rent
What did you do to stimulate the economy?

Sunday, March 29, 2009

What I Did to Stimulate the Economy Today: March 29, 2009

This is the first time in a long time that I did not spend ANY money today. I think of it as working on stimulating my savings account. I had a most enjoyable leisurely day cleaning (can't believe my cat has any fur left considering what I vacuumed today) and writing/blogging. I wrote a review of the opening night film for the Sarasota Film Festival, The Messenger over at Suite101, wrote an article for AC but who knows when that will be published, and a sponsored blog post for a "friend of mine."

Tell me, did you carry out your patriotic duty in stimulating the economy today?

Academic Awards, Soccer Trophies, What Else is in Your Closet?

I received a photo this week of my brother, niece and nephew displaying huge trophies which remind me of the academic awards and trophies I’ve collected over the years. I appreciate them and consider them more than dust magnets. They’re tangible mementos of specific accomplishments. I appreciate them and I know other trophy receives who are, too. Those trophies just happen to live in a box in the closet.

I'm pretty sure those who received the golf trophies during the week-long golf media familiarization trip my county participated in last year appreciated them. And, can’t forget the children. My niece and nephew recently received trophies for karate and wonder if they’ll soon earn soccer trophies or even academic awards. Not only are they amazingly bright kids but they're talented on the athletic field, ice rink and dance studio (my niece is, anyway).

As the name implies, my new friends at Trophie Sales are a resource for trophies of all types. From academic awards to soccer trophies. They even sell all sorts of golf trophies – like cups and resins - which I’ll be sharing the link with the office to consider for next year’s golf media event. It’s never too late to start planning ahead. Oh, the nostalgia this has raised ! Excuse me, time to dig out and admire my trophies…

Saturday, March 28, 2009

What I Did to Stimulate the Economy Today: March 28, 2009

I confess, this post is being made on Sunday, March 29 because I fell asleep with laptop in hand last night. Keeping up with my patriotic duty, I continued to stimulate the economy Saturday:
  • Frappacunio @ Starbucks
  • Lunch @ Veggie Magic (organic raw food restaurant in Sarasota)
  • Sarasota Film Festival Movie - Food, Inc. (everyone who eats needs to see this flick)
  • Day Spa Gift Certificate -ZeldaMae's 50th Birthday
And how did you stimulate the economy?

What I Did to Stimulate the Economy Yesterday: March 27, 2009

I tried really hard to get home by midnight last night but just didn't make it. While my efforts to stimulate the economy were minimal yesterday, I did carry out my patriotic duty:

Breakfast @ Burger King (yes, I've given into the Freaky King)
Late Night Run through McDonald's on the Drive Home Last Night (sweet tea and hot apple pie, yum!)

And what did you do to stimulate the economy?

Other Twitterers During the Sarasota Film Festival March 27 - April 5, 2009

Have a thirst for independent fimls? The Sarasota Film Festival is in full-gear through April 5. I don’t have all access to the event as I was told (found that out last night) so I won’t be tweeting as regularly anticipated and won’t be making the one-hour drive up there as often. Which in a way, is a good thing, I need to get caught up on life. However, I’ll be attending three more parties throughout the event so stay tuned.

But, if interested in other juicy bits of what’s happening during the Sarasota Film Festival, here’s a list of Twitterers to follow for updates. When live tweeting during the festival, be sure to include the hash tag #SRQFILM:

@MySFF Sarasota Film Festival

@BRM Tom Hall

@Chiplitherland Chip Litherland

@Cliffro Cliff Roles: English radio host, features writer & actor in Sarasota

@dtnmatt Matt Orr: Creator of ThisWeekInSarasota.com and I will show you behind the scenes of life in Sarasota

@edmo Eddie Mo

@GraciaMIA GraciaMIA: Sifting through the madness, one day at a time. Hold the title of Mama Goose to a fierce crew of PR up-and-comers serving SoFla, LatAm and the world.

@jkrums Janis Krums: Entrepreneur, Former Athlete, The Miracle on the Hudson Photo Guy (you know, this photo), Latvian, Co-Founder of Elementz Nutrition, Social Media Enthusiast

@JLQonSRQ Jack Littman-Quinn: Serial entrepreneur publishing online Sarasota restaurant guide.

@markwynns Mary Wynns: Indie producer, media & marketing consultant with varied interests.

@Onditimoner Ondi Timoner: Directed “We Live in Public” which premiered at Sundance.

@roder Matt Heitzenroder: Absurdly liberal, complete geek, advocate of all things open & transparent, likes to play w/ boats.

@sleestakk Jay Hawkinson

@tiaraco Lindsay Howell: Designer. Photographer. Pantone Book Lover.

@TVPromoGal L.C. Granger: Insane, eclectic, working mom of 3- my career is TV promotion- my passion is photography -my motto:BE CREATIVE and kick ass doing it!

@bradentonherald Bradenton Herald: Leading source for local news and information in Bradenton, Lakewood Ranch and Manatee County

@HTticket Herald Tribune Ticket: Ticket is Sarasota Herald-Tribune's weekly entertainment guide to Sarasota, Manatee and Charlotte counties.

@RadioSRQ RadioSRQ.com: Internet radio serving Sarasota, surrounding communities, and the world

@TBOD Tampa Bay On Demand: Exclusive arts & entertainment channel

@wwsbabc7 ABC News 7 Sarasota

Are you live tweeting during the Sarasota Film Festival? Know of someone else is? Leave a comment with the details.

Sarasota Film Festival Opening Night

For all the years I lived in Sarasota I never attended a Sarasota Film Festival event. It's only ironic that I now live an hour away and have tickets to four of the festival's hottest events. Tonight was the kick off event with showing of the movie The Messenger directed by Oren Moverman and starring Woody Harrelson, Ben Foster and Samantha Morton.

It was an excellent movie but I'm still mulling how I feel about it. It's not the typical Hollywood feel-good movie, it pushes comfort boundaries. I'll write a more formal article/post later in the week because it's 2 a.m. and time for bed!

Enjoy a few shots from the red carpet tonight over on Flickr. And yes, I did get within spitting distance of Mr. Woody Harrelson and yes, he does look that beautiful in person as on the big screen.

Remember to follow me on Twitter (@jenniferhuber) and the hash tag is #srqfilm if you care to read what others are tweeting.


Updated March 29
Click here for a brief review of The Messenger with a bit of flavor of the opening night event.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

What I Did to Stimulate the Economy Today: March 26, 2009

The American economy was once again the benefactors of the fruits of my labor today. Mind you, I'm not going wild in my spending, I'm somewhat cautious in my spending. So this is how I shared the fiscal love today:

Lunch @ Wal-Mart
Manicure/Pedicure/Eyebrow Waxing (gotta look good for the Sarasota Film Festival, check out my post here)

And how did you stimulate the economy today?

Live Tweeting from the Sarasota Film Festival

If a year ago you told me I'd be at some celebrity-studded event capturing it all with a smart phone I would've said you were crazy. But that's what's happening this and next weekend when I'm joining two other micro-bloggers during the Sarasota Film Festival.

You know the drill, you've followed my Twitter tweets from Italy to Mexico and Key West to the Presidential Inauguration and the South Beach Wine & Food Festival to Maple Madness in Massachusetts.

But this time, this is an "official" gig to live tweet from the Sarasota Film Festival (March 27 - April 5) and an opportunity to do what I have a passion: documenting and capturing moments in 140 characters or less. Check out the blog post over at TampaBay.com called "Ain't it Tweet" and you'll read about my role in this micro-blogging trio (after all, this is the film industry which is full of all sorts of characters).

If you're a Twitterer, feel free to follow me at @jenniferhuber or just check out the feed on the right hand side of my blog. If you're attending the Sarasota Film Festival feel free to use the hash tag #SRQFILM which is what we'll be using.

Time to charge up the camera batteries, clear up camera memory and study who'll be at the Sarasota Film Festival and what flicks I should see. Stay tuned!

Zipline Safari at Forever Florida: Jane of the Jungle

"Look out for that tree!" Well, that's not exactly what was yelled during Sunday's zipline adventure with Florida EcoSafaris at Forever Florida. It was, "Grab the orange rope!"*

I'm not sure what's in human nature to hand over 60 bucks, put on a belt, get hooked up with two clips to a cable and trust the man I just met and says, "Zip ready."

It was a leap of faith stepping off the tower's platform and letting gravity take its course. Wow! What a rush to literally soar 50 feet above the Florida wilderness at speeds up to 20 miles per hour. I was flying like a bird, a big awkward bird, but a bird none the less.

Kidding aside, it was a bit scary and upon reaching the top of the first tower (which was 50 feet) I had one of those, "What are you thinking?" moments. Upon landing on the second tower, I looked around and decided there was no turning back. The only way down was to plummet to the ground or get hooked up to the high tension cable and zip my way across. There were no steps down from this tower.Here's the truth on what I thought when I landed on the first tower, "Ugh!"

I body slammed the guide who was grabbing us zippers (or is it zipliners?) as we arrived. A zipline is dependent on gravity and the greater the incline the greater the speed and velocity. Which meant, upon approaching the tower, the only way to stop was to body slam the guide, who in turn was slammed into the telephone-like pole. Of course, the guides (2 of them on the journey) just extend a foot and step onto the platform with ease. They made it look so easy.

"Are you okay?" I asked her.

"Oh, yeah," Laura the Florida EcoSafaris guide said. She's probably 100 pounds soaking wet but a tough, strong gal. The Zipline Safari's weight limit is 275 and while I'm far from that there were a couple of sturdy fellows pushing the limit yet she caught them with almost perfect grace.

I've never been on a zipline and it's not as easy as it looks. We were instructed to hold the belts - which are clipped to the metal thing that sits on the high tension cable - at the top and steer like steering a car into a turn when losing control on ice or slippery surfaces. Okay, easy enough, so I thought. First run, I was able to stay in control. Second run. Hmm, not so lucky. This landing had a little twist, feet needed to be raised over the utility cable plus grabbing the orange rope.
Thought I had this all straight and I was the first one sent across and I'm not sure what happened next. I started twisting around and ended up gaining speed while heading towards the platform back first. "Feet and orange rope. Feet and orange rope."

Feverishly, I tried to twist around as the tower was fast approaching. The next part is a bit hazy and seemed to play in slow motion. I didn't raise my feet so they brushed the top of the cable, I grabbed the orange rope and the guide grabbed me as I once again body slammed her with WWE perfection (World Wresting Entertainment for those of you in the unknown). My landings on the following runs were much easier and I attribute it to a combination of figuring the ziplining thing out and they didn’t build up as much velocity.
Another highlight of the Zipline Safari? The sky bridges. Think Indiana Jones meets The Amazing Race. Skinny planks set atop slats of wood suspended over an alligator infested pit (Okay, that's a joke, none of the watering holes have alligators, yet.) which bounce out of control when one person walks across. Then there are sections where it looks as though there should be a plank but there isn't. It takes a loooong step to make it to the other side. Did I mention it was raining making the bridges a bit slippery? We were all tethered to the cable above so if someone did slip we wouldn't fall.

And speaking of The Amazing Race, with each zip I felt I was one step closer to being a contestant. I just need a partner. Anyone interested?

Find the details about the Zipline Safari? Check out my article: "Soar with the Zipline Safari in Central Florida."

Here's my video on YouTube taken during a zip.

*The Orange Rope: On most zip runs it was mandatory to grab the orange rope in case we bounced back up the line and the guide could pull us in.

Photos: Zipping, Sky Bridge, and Me all Suited Up

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

What I Did to Stimulate the Economy Today: March 25, 2009

Well, now Gov. Charlie Crist is doing what I've been doing, making a promise to stimulate the economy, albeit he's focusing specifically on Florida's economy. Yesterday he introduced the Florida Backyard Card, a resident discount card, offering groovy travel discounts. Check it out at the Florida Backyard Card website.

I'm also in a quandary. My lease is up at the end of April. My job is uncertain and won't know something until the end of April during budget hearings. Do I sign a year lease which is $25 more a month than what I'm paying now with hopes my job is secure, sign a 7 month lease which is $100 more than what I'm paying with hopes the job is secure and I'll find a place to buy, or not renew and give myself 30 days to buy and move into a house with hopes of I still have a job? There are decent homes for $40,000 to $50,000 around here.

I spoke to the leasing office and July 1 a new Florida law went into effect giving renters an out clause which I had one in Tallahassee but not here. That makes me breathe a little easier. They also said they'd work with me due to "these different times."

Anyway, you'll be happy to know I did not disappoint the American economy today, this is how I stimulated it:
  • Lunch @ Subway (no tip)
  • Pair of Shoes (used a $10 off coupon)
  • Veggie Farm Share
What did you do to stimulate the economy today?

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

What I Did to Stimulate the Economy Today: March 24, 2009

Despite yesterday's painful vet bill for kitty, I did my patriotic duty of stimulating the economy today:
  • Lunch @ Wendy's
  • Paid my WiFi Bill & Snowflaked my Credit Card Bill
And what did you do to stimulate the economy today?

Sorry, no first-person post about the Zipline Safari at Forever Florida but here's a third-person version over at Suite101, article's called "Soar with the Zipline Safari in Central Florida."

Monday, March 23, 2009

What I Did to Stimulate the Economy Today: March 23, 2009

The American economy truly benefited today, thanks to my cat's decaying teeth. The poor kitty had three removed, two more than anticipated. She's home and doing fine. A little groggy and I'm administering drugs twice daily to her. Can tell the stitches are annoying her by the way she's pawing at her mouth and trying to spit them out.

Having her teeth removed was all I did to stimulate the economy and believe me, the medical bill was quite substantial so Uncle Sam should be appreciative.

So what did you do to stimulate the economy today?

By the way, I won't be blogging about the Zipline Safari at Forever Florida tonight but check back tomorrow. But, be sure to check out the video by clicking here.

Sunday, March 22, 2009

What I Did to Stimulate the Economy Today: March 22, 2009

Today was another good day for the American economy, I spent more money that I should've in order to keep it stimulated. It included the Zipline Safari at Forever Florida which will be posted tomorrow. And no, this isn't a photo of me, I wasn't that graceful. This is how I stimulated the economy today:
  • Zipline Safari @ Forever Florida (took advantage of the Florida resident discount which expires at the end of March but told there will probably some sore of resident discount in the future)
  • Breakfast at the Cypress Restaurant
  • Fuel
  • Dinner @ Wendy's
Forgot to mention I'm now saving 15% on my cell bill thanks to a county employee discount. Wish I would've remembered to ask for it when I first started. Need to talk to the Verizon folks, too, for Internet.

Part 1: Fulfilling the Need for Speed at the Florida International Air Show


That sums up this past weekend. The sound of speed. Not because the weekend passed by so quickly and it's Sunday night but both Saturday and Sunday it was filled with fast-paced action: Florida International Air Show on Saturday and Zipline Safari at Forever Florida today.

I shared a little bit about the Florida Air Show at the Charlotte County Airport in Punta Gorda yesterday, but let me tell ya more.

Natural experiences and history usually rev me up more than man-made manufactured ones. When I was told about the air show being one of the biggest events in the area, I dismissed this wondering how could a bunch of planes making loopty loops in the sky. But when I attended the first press meeting with the Blue Angels last December, my curiosity was piqued and when I attended the press briefing the week prior to the event, I was intrigued. I was finally hooked the Thursday prior when the Blue Angles, an F-15 and F-16 were practicing overhead.


The event started at 10 a.m. Saturday with opening ceremonies beginning at noon. I arrived around 11 a.m. and wandered around finding the best spot to view the show. Obviously, the V.I.P. tents were the prime spots and thought my wristband would grant me access but those wristbands were given to a vendor, whom I saw at the entrance of the V.I.P. tent. Not discouraged, I browsed the exhibits including displays by the Army, Navy, and Air Force. Can someone answer me this, is there a connection between rock music and the military? Seemed all the present military branches blared rock music and the same music was played during the military air performances. (I did get into one V.I.P. seating area which didn't have the great food I was told about and gave up my seat for a Blues family member.)

Bud Light had the best display, it was free (a small fee was charged to take a photo with some of the aircraft). They had a tripped out semi that converted into a three-level lounge. Second floor was the photo session where they snapped two photos to create a hologram luggage tag (free!). Ground floor were cold samples of Bud Light and third floor was the lounge and one of the best views for the show.

The show included F-15 and F-16 demos, World War II aircraft like the B-25 Panchito which was part of the Doolittle Raiders, and the Double Trouble Wing Walking Team. The U.S. Special Ops Command Parachute Team couldn't jump due to the strong wings. Of course the highlight and saved for last were the U.S. Navy Blue Angels.

What's up with these guys? They're like rock stars with all the groupies who followed them around taking photos and getting autographs. I don't consider myself a Blue Angel groupie, I only took photos for journalistic needs. The best moment I saw and was able to capture most on film is that of the little boy above and the Blue. The boy posed for a photo with the Blue, then hugged his legs then as he walked away, turned around and gave a salute (on his own). It was a very touching moment.

The Blues were impressive on the tarmac and in the sky. Their entire performance is precision beginning with how they get into the jets to maneuvers in the sky to disembarking (is that the right term?) from the plane. Definitely takes a lot of pride and trust to pull off a successful show.

They zoomed at speeds of up to 600 miles per hour and flew low and loud over the audience many times. There were many moments to gasp at the near-collisions (intentional) and the how quickly they transitioned to another formation.

Lively commentary was provided by Danny Clishman, a popular air show commentator, and Charlotte County's radio personality Charlie Shoe. The day was quite a treat and I look forward to next year's air show. Although, it may be the Air Force Thunderbirds and not the Blue Angels. Stay tuned!

Check out some photos from the event here.

Tomorrow will be a post about the Zipline Safari at Forever Florida.

Saturday, March 21, 2009

What I Did to Stimulate the Economy Today: March 21, 2009

How can it be 11 o'clock already? I was planning on an early bedtime because my drive is about 3 hours tomorrow for ziplining. Ugh. Anyway, had a great time at the Florida International Air Show in Punta Gorda today but as usual, I'm going to keep you in suspense (don't give up on me, I will get caught up on documenting my adventures, thank goodness for Twitter - remember, follow me: @jenniferhuber). I have uploaded two photos from today, you can see them here.

What did I do to stimulate the economy? Well, more than intended:
  • Food and Water @ the Florida International Air Show (Parking and admission was free, job perk)
  • Top from Macy's (returned a pair of slacks that were damaged, they were even more on sale, so why not pick up a $10 shirt?)
  • Deposit to Designer for My New Site (I'm extremely excited about this new project!!!)
And what did you do to stimulate the economy today?

Friday, March 20, 2009

Do I Have Anything Else to Say? Yes, But No Time

Have no clue where the time went this week. In one aspect I'm extremely happy it's Friday night but at the same time, feel as though I'm treading water. Suppose it's a good thing. I'm working on a new project which is growing bigger than I thought. It's for the Sarasota Film Festival and I'll be doing live tweeting during the entire 10-day festival. If attending the festival, too, the hash tag is #srqfilm, feel free to use it.

Tomorrow it's off to the Florida International Air Show at the Charlotte County Airport in Punta Gorda. I have access to the V.I.P. tent so expect live tweets from there, too.

And Sunday it's off to Florida EcoSafaries at Forever Florida for a Zipline Safari. Wheeee! A high school classmate who lives in the Tampa area went a couple of weeks ago and convinced me to do the same. I'm also going before their Florida resident special runs out at the end of March. There are seven zips with two sky bridges. Honestely, I have no clue what that all means other than COOL! I can bring a camera but it needs to be on a strap that spans from my shoulder to my hip. I'm working on that. Stay tuned!

Follow me on Twitter: @jenniferhuber

What I Did to Stimulate the Economy Today: March 20, 2009

Keeping my patriotic promise, I spent money today to keep our economy going. Wasn't much but every little bit helps:

Lunch @ Chili's (I had a salad and hit the gym after work!)
CVS for Facial Wash

That's it. And what did you do to stimulate the economy today?

Thursday, March 19, 2009

What I Did to Stimulate the Economy Today: March 19, 2009

I promise to have a more substantial post REAL soon, just seems as though special projects are popping up left and right, which is a good thing. In the meantime, here's how I stimulated the economy today:
  • Lunch @ Chick-fil-A (are you getting the idea I've pitched the idea of having a Miss America body?)
  • Iced Tea while Working at the Gallery Walk in Downtown Punta Gorda
And how did you stimulate the economy today?

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

What I Did to Stimulate the Economy Today: March 18, 2009

Not sure about you but my sinuses have been stimulated by the blooming of some tree spreading yellow pollen love all throughout the air. Can't seem to escape it and I had to dig out my little red Sudafed pseudo-pills to help me make it through the day.

This is how I carried out my patriotic duty in stimulating the economy today:
  • Paid Electric Bill ($26 - YES!)
  • Lunch @ Chick-fil-A
  • Weekly Veggie Farm Share
And what did you do to stimulate the economy?

Need to Repair Credit? DSI Solutions May Help

I heard a radio interview this morning with a new business which opened up in the community recently and he remarked how during a recession some companies do poorly but at the same time, other companies flourish. I imagine credit repair companies are one of those flourishing from the economic recession because it’s important more than ever to have good to excellent credit.

One of those companies that help people fix credit are my friends at DSI Solutions. No company can really repair credit for anyone but companies like this can help put people back on track to achieving good credit. People with bad credit can go about doing the same thing a credit repair company does, however, sometimes it’s just easier having someone else do the job.

For an initial fee of $19 plus three payments of $89, DSI Solutions guarantees debt reduction results by the 60th day. Having been in business for seven years, they offer a money back guarantee that you’ll like the results. They also promise to update clients weekly and tout their personal service.

I haven’t used this service, nor any other credit repair company, and I’m not in the "fix credit" industry. I did run a Google search and as with every business, there were positive and negative reviews although I only found one negative review. When looking for a repair credit company, be sure to do your homework and make the best choice for you.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

What I Did to Stimulate the Economy Today: March 17, 2009

Did you wear green today or did you get pinched? For the first time in who knows how long I wore green, thanks to stimulating the economy on Saturday. I also wore white slacks, something I haven't done in a VERY long time and definitely something out of my clothing box.

I did my due diligence in stimulating the economy today, which you see below. Kitty is home tonight, I picked her up from the vet this afternoon and boy, was she one unhappy camper! I truly understand how she was freaked out about the incident. I let her out in the car and after roaming around she crawled back into her carrier. Her meows didn't stop. She seems fine now but wonder how she'll react when it comes to removing her bad tooth.

So this is what I did to stimulate the economy today:
  • Breakfast @ McDonald's
  • Lunch @ Wendy's
  • Vet Bill - oy!
As I write this I'm sipping a nice Bailey's on ice, toasting grandma. Cheers!

And what did you do to stimulate the economy today?

Avoid Credit Card Debt and Take a Look at this Prepaid MasterCard

A reloadable, prepaid debit card is a beautiful thing. With one of those handy cards you can easily maintain a budget while staying within your means. No worrying about digging yourself deeper into debt when using a prepaid debit card. I’m a big fan of giving a prepaid credit card as a gift but I've run into a problem with them, they usually have so many restrictions they can’t be used for most travel, which is my lifeblood. The ones I've used can’t be used for rental cars, airline tickets, or hotels. My friends at AchieveCard are offering budget-minded consumers a prepaid MasterCard that can be used for domestic and international travel. Yay!

The prepaid debit card is pretty simple in how it works but be advised there is a fee associated with it, $29.95 for the application then $7.95 monthly fee. Honestly, I’m not a big proponent of paying for anything but I can see that this card would be great for those with really bad credit and can’t get their own credit card. It’s much safer than carrying cash and can be reloaded at retailers as CVS and Wal-Mart through purchasing a Green Dot Money Pak. Or, portion of a paycheck can be deposited directly into this card which also doubles as a prepaid credit card.

This prepaid MasterCard is also great for those traveling abroad. The prepaid credit card has a $4.95 ATM withdrawal fee (or if in the U.K., called a “cash point machine”) and $1.00 plus MasterCard conversion fee for international transactions and from what I recall, that’s a pretty good deal.

If looking for a way to manage your budget, check out the details of the prepaid MasterCard to ride the recession wave.

Monday, March 16, 2009

What I Did to Stimulate the Economy Today: March 16, 2009

This is totally not related to stimulating the economy but coming soon (maybe tomorrow) will be a rant about Twitter. I love Twitter and admit to being a Twitter-aholic but there are just a few things annoying me. Anyway....

Back to the important task at hand, my patriotic duty of stimulating the economy today:
  • Lunch @ Applebee's
  • Hair Color (Note: this was half as much as what I paid while living in Tallahassee)
Mickey's spending the night at the vet, she's okay, getting blood work done in preparation of her tooth extraction later this month. It's weird not having her here.

And what did you do to stimulate the economy today?

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Eating Local While Traveling and Charlotte Harbor Shrimper

When traveling I look for farmer's markets, cemeteries, wineries, and anything offbeat. The Roadside America site is a great resource for that but believe it not, finding farmers markets and wineries aren't so easy. Google is my friend.

I received a tweet today on Twitter from @earth_dot_org (feel free to follow me at @jenniferhuber) asking about the weekly farm share I pick up. The twitterer tweeted how it'd be great to get veggies from local farmers when traveling, which I sometimes do. This got me thinking, some sort of travel guide to farmers markets, fruit stands, you-pick farms, organic farms open for tours, etc., would be pretty cool.I imagine it'd be pretty overwhelming to compile a travel guide but it sparked an idea to write an article about this. We'll see if I can put my thoughts together on the subject to include why I visit farmers markets when traveling, the benefits to the environment, and the benefits to the traveler.
So, stay tuned for an upcoming article on that topic. Which leads me to what I found today at the Peace River Seafood Festival at Laishley Park in Punta Gorda, Fla. In addition to a delish seafood plate from Walt's Seafood Market (fried shrimp, oysters, crab, conch fritters, and calamari), I found a shrimper (John) who sells fresh Charlotte Harbor shrimp from his boat. John drops one net in the upper portion of Charlotte Harbor during the night and sells the shrimp at $6 per pound in the morning.

The boat's called "Iron Ox" and is found at the Old Shrimp Dock-Foot of Nesbit Street at Laishley Marina in Punta Gorda. This wild Florida shrimp is sold the mornings of Tuesday, Thursday, and Saturday between 7:30 and 10:30 a.m., however he usually sells out by 8:30. Call a day or two ahead to place your order (941/916.5773) and bring a cooler full of ice to bring the fresh shrimp home.

I'm definitely going to be looking into this because the shrimp are wild and not farm-raised which means no chemicals or preservatives. Buying local means less fuel was used in delivering the goods. Plus, it's supporting local industry.

What I Did to Stimulate the Economy Today: March 15, 2009

I realize being concerned about whether I'm going to have a job in the next few months or not, I shouldn't be spending money to stimulate the economy but I see this as an investment. Made a big purchase today which will help with my blogging and tweeting on Twitter. Yup, you guessed it...

iPhone (!!!!)
Peace River Seafood for Lunch

And what did you do to stimulate the economy today?

Saturday, March 14, 2009

What I Did to Stimulate the Economy Today: March 14, 2009

Although it was a lazy day (I slept 'til 10 a.m. but went to bed at 1 a.m.), I accomplished quite a bit including a visit to the gym, touching up the apartment, hit the mall, and doing a little blogging tonight. Here's a quick rundown of how I stimulated the economy today:
  • Movie ticket (had a $3 off coupon) + popcorn and soda
  • Visit to Macy's
  • Trip to Wal-Mart
And how did you carryout your patriotic duty in stimulating the economy?

Friday, March 13, 2009

What I Did to Stimulate the Economy Today: March 13, 2009

Today was payday which meant I was able to really stimulate the economy. But before I list how I exercised my patriotic duty, just want to lament about the day. It started off fabulously by attending media day for the Florida International Air Show which is next weekend. Later in the day reality and associated fear finally kicked in with potentially losing my job.

The county began the first in a series of budget workshops and it appears as though most of the elected officials want to cut out middle management which is where is my position is. I had written a much longer post about this but opted to edit my thoughts and not publicly share them but will say I took away this:
  • There's an "us" and "them" issue going on. Citizens seem to think it's them against government and elected officials seem to think it's them sticking up for the citizens against government staff and civil servants. But does anyone remember government staff and civil servants are citizens, too? We're all in the same boat.
  • There seems to be a lot of anger and hostility which perhaps stems from misinformation and not knowing the facts.
All I ask: If I'm going to be let go, let me know before I need to renew my lease (really soon) so my cat and I can make plans to run away to Oregon to live in a yurt and expand my writing, blogging, and marketing business. Can I get WiFi in a yurt?

And this is how I stimulated the economy today:
  • Starbucks - Green Tea Frappuccino
  • Lunch @ Subway + tip
  • New Clothing from a Trip to the Mall (I'll be live tweeting during the Sarasota Film Festival later this month with V.I.P. access so need to look fab, visiting the gym tomorrow.)
  • Paid: Cell Phone, Credit Cards (only one still has a balance), and Water Bills
How did you stimulate the economy?

FUI: Flying Under the Influence

My office is on the fifth floor and is primarily of glass. This week I noticed the birds, especially the crows, were a bit more active. They sat, squawked, and pecked at the windows. I was able to get nose-to-beak with at least one with only a piece of glass separating us.

The bird pictured had something in its beak, looked like a piece of chicken to me - but wouldn't that be cannibalism or plain old carnivorous?

"They're drunk on berries," I was told. Apparently a phenomenon in Southwest Florida this time of year when birds eat tree berries that have been sitting in the warming sun fermenting. This explains their loopy, uncharacteristic friendly behavior.

But hey, it's Spring Break and everyone's allowed to get a little crazy.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Hilton Family Wants You to Say Hello to New Denizen Hotels

I'm all about stimulating the economy during these economic times and it's extremely bold for new hotel brands to emerge, such as the new Denizen Hotels by the Hilton Family. From the email I received this week and visit to the Denizen Hotels site, the new brand definitely seems to be Paris Hilton inspired.

"Eclectic, social and humbly authentic, each property within the brand will be smart in design, cultural in character and sensitive in service delivery," states the email describing Denizen. Disappointingly, no where did I read, "That's hot." (Paris Hilton speak for those not in the know.)

The formality of stuffy, cookie cutter hotels are tossed out the window with Denizen and beyond that, I admit that I really can't tell what type of experience staying at one of the hotels will offer me. Except being able to pick up a groovy soundtrack for the ride home. The brand seems to celebrate individuality and perhaps customize my stay, but there's only so much hotels can do with that while being successful.

The site introduced me to five different personalities who would stay at one of these hotels. These include the "Denizen of Connectivity" and the "Denizen that Never Sleeps" (yeah, don't put me in a room next to her) accompanied by snappy little descriptions and their play list. How uncool am I? I don't have a play list, the last time I uploaded my MP3 player (yes, I don't have an "i" anything) was 2004 and that's fine with me.

Denizen's website is slick and the video has a nice new age/techno groove going on. Some of the destinations considered for the new hotel brand include, Hollywood, Istanbul, Las Vegas, London, Montreal, and New York. The site also encourages me to come back for the Denizen D.J. Does this mean there's going to be a party? Can't wait!

What I Did to Stimulate the Economy Today: March 12, 2009

Today was quantity and quality in my patriotic duty of stimulating the economy. I say quality because it was kitty's check-up day at the vet, she's pushing 67, you know. So, this is what I did to stimulate the economy today:
  • Auntie Anne's Pretzel - Purchased Cinnamon Sugar Stix & used a coupon for a FREE pretzel, which I shared in the office (Subscribe to their newsletter for monthly freebies, too.)
  • Kitty's Vet Bill
Kitty is fine but needs to return for possibly an overnight visit and dental work. I'm guessing it's why she's been meowing more than usual, from the pain. Or maybe I'm just a sucker in wanting to do all I can to take care of her, considering our "history."

And what did you do to stimulate the economy today?

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

What I Did to Stimulate the Economy Today: March 11, 2009

I wasn't a big spender today but did my part in stimulating the economy:
  • Fuel for the Car
  • Vending Machine Run (and the beverage machine took my money but the drink didn't drop!)
  • Weekly Veggie Farm Share
And how about you? How did you stimulate the economy?

Planning Alaska Travel for My 40th

I’ve started the early planning stages of my Alaska travel for my 40th birthday next year. My ultimate goal is to see the Northern Lights which means I’ll be celebrating earlier than May Day if all goes to plan (February and March are the ideal times, and I’ll be able to get extra miles from the UGGs!). Now don’t think I got on the Gov. Sarah Palin bandwagon (I know at one point she was assisting with the travel Alaska campaign) with my interest in visiting the Last Frontier State. Last year was the “travel Alaska” summer for my circle because it seemed as though every other person had visited the 49th state whether on a cruise or land tour.

And because just about everyone else has gone, it’s my turn join the “travel Alaska” bandwagon but do something different. Winter might not happen, it’s VERY cold that time of year, so, I've been tooling around the website of my new friends, Alaska Denali Tours, who offer spring, summer, and fall Alaska travel packages.

I’d love to visit Denali National Park (okay, it’s Denali Park to those of you in the know) to see the “big five” – caribou, Dall sheep, grizzly bears, moose, and wolves, in addition to the spectacular scenery. Would also like to see overwhelmingly huge glaciers, tall mountain peaks, and endless sky along with small, authentic towns where moose make the traffic rules, like “Northern Exposure.” Am pretty sure I could find an Alaska travel package offering just that and Alaska Denali Tours may just do that. Stay tuned as I figure out exactly what I want to do.

Worden Farm: Weeks 14 & 15, 2009 Farm Share: What the Heck is it this Time?

Once again I'm impressed with with the selection, quality, and quantity of veggies in my weekly farm share box from Worden Farm in Punta Gorda, Fla. I realize I didn't post a photo from last week but here's a shot of something I picked up and said, "What the heck?"

I should know without looking at the newsletter enclosed in the box. I ate enough of it during my stay in Japan.

It's daikon and other than tossing it into stir fry, I'm at a loss as to what else I can do with it. Maybe tempura night. Also had a head of the yoda vegetable in this week's share (romanesco).

For tonight's dinner it was sauteed dandelion leaves topped with shredded cheese and walnuts along with steamed green beans. Now if I could get myself motivated for the gym, I'd be all set...

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

What I Did to Stimulate the Economy Today: March 10, 2009

Not a big spender today but wait until tomorrow, kitty's going to the vet for her bi-annual checkup (I'm told older cats need that???). But still, I did uphold my patriotic duty today to stimulate the economy:
  • Lunch @ Jack's in Punta Gorda, Fla. -Company expense
  • Wal-Mart - provisions for under six bucks
And what did you do to stimulate the economy today?

Monday, March 09, 2009

What I Did to Stimulate the Economy Today: March 9, 2009

Not sure about you but today flew by. The first Monday following Daylight Savings seemed extra short. It wasn't a big shopping day but I still did my patriotic duty of stimulating economy a little bit:
  • Breakfast @ McDonald's
  • Lunch @ Subway
  • Dinner in Downtown Punta Gorda, Fla. - This is a company expense and although it was a great, new little restaurant, I won't be able to bring clients and travel journalists there anymore, they don't recognize the tax exempt status :(
  • Ice Cream @ Cubby's in Punta Gorda
And what about you, how did you carry out your patriotic duty in stimulating the economy today?

Sunday, March 08, 2009

You Can Get There from Here: Worcester, Massachusetts

Or, I could've titled this post, “31 Hours in Central Massachusetts.” Daylight Savings Time jipped me out of an hour this weekend but I still made the most of it. Read along on my journey…

I took advantage of the non-stop flights offered by Direct Air between the Charlotte County Airport in Punta Gorda, Fla., to Worcester, Mass. This gave me an opportunity to travel somewhere I would never have chosen randomly and enjoyed most every minute of the trip (driving in Massachusetts I can live without).

Direct Air flights are operated by Virgin America so the planes are tricked out with soft leather seats, satellite television, and a nice purple hue in the cabin – not that harsh white light. There are “hosts” on the flight vs. flight attendants and rather than listen to a mundane review of the plane’s safety features, an entertaining video rolls.

I wanted to focus my trip on the maple sugaring happening RIGHT now and took two tours during the 31-hour trip (note: the 31 hours does not include the 2.5 hour flight). I really wish I had more time to explore Worcester and Central Massachusetts, the region has so many dimensions to explore ranging from the great outdoors to the cultural scene. Here’s a rundown of what I saw/did during the trip.

Emily the Sacred Cow – Statue of the Vegetarian Activist at the Peace Abbey. I found this pit stop at the Road Side America website. (Plus, I need to live up to Grandma's expectations in finding the odd places to visit!)

Natick Community Organic Farm
– Maple Magic Day, being offered every weekend in March and most likely the first weekend of April, depends on the weather. As the name implies, it’s a working organic farm with chickens, sheep, goats, and bunnies. Can’t forget the fresh veggies! Tours were offered throughout the day for $5 which included showing some of the tapped trees.

The Native American, Colonial, and modern ways of making maple syrup were demonstrated. The sugar shack – where modern maple syrup is made – smelled wonderful and it was almost like stepping into a sweet sauna. Since maple sap is 98% water, it takes a long time to boil off the water to make syrup (then maple cream, soft candy, then hard candy) so it’s an extremely steamy process.

They HAD maple syrup for purchase and when I asked before the tour if they had a lot, I was told yes, thinking I’d pick up a couple of bottles after the tour vs. carrying them around (it was too far to park the car before the tour). Bad mistake – they were sold out by 1:30 p.m.! Did enjoy a tasty lunch of root veggie soup, grilled cheese, and gingerbread cake.

Nashoba Valley Winery –Part of the Johnny Appleseed region of Massachusetts, the winery is in the middle of a fruit orchard. Stopped by for a tour but didn't think I’d have time for that before dinner (turns out I did, but who knew?). Stayed for a tasting of five wines ranging from blah (some kind of dry pear chardonnay – stay away!) to “oh, yea!” (After dinner peach, yum! Silky smooth and sweet as a peach.) Left with a bottle of the peach wine, strawberry-rhubarb, and cheese made by a local farm.

Stopped off at some random lake to see ice fishermen out on the yonder. I’m guessing yesterday was the last day of ice fishing for the season, temperatures were pushing 60 degrees the past couple of days and ice was melting.

Fireplace Feast at the Salem Cross Inn
– My mouth is still watering from this feast which included fireside roasted prime rib, creamy and savory seafood chowder, roasted red potatoes, mashed squash, spinach pie, and apple pie topped with a generous plop of whipped cream. This place knows how to create a positive experience and is a true treat.

Dinner started before 7 p.m. so there were 90-minutes to kill, but the Salem Cross Inn has that figured out. Diners can assist in making the dinner’s apple pie by peeling apples with an 18th century table peeler and assisting with the crust. They can also help make the seafood chowder by stirring and pouring ingredients.

Horse-drawn carriage rides into the nearby field are offered during this time (sleigh rides when snow’s around) and mulled wine and cider is served inside. Diners munch on the homemade cheese log. Not sure what’s in the log but it was delish and shaped like a log!

Overnight in Auburn, Mass., at the La Quinta. There were adorable bed and breakfast inns to choose from but I was watching my budget and despite chatter about cheap lodging being available, I still ended up paying about 50 bucks and that’s with my AAA discount.

River Bend Farm Visitor Center – Maple sugaring tours offered by the Blackstone Valley Sugaring Association during Maple Sugar Days. More in depth than yesterday’s tour and included actually tapping a tree, gathering sap from an already tapped tree, and pouring the sap into a giant barrel which will be used to make syrup and other tasty maple products. A demonstration of the Native American method of making maple sugar was shown (same process as Saturday – they did it by heating rocks in fire pits then placing the hot rocks in a log full of sap.). There was a visit to the sugar shack followed by a tasting of maple tea (sounds as though it’d be overly sugary sweet but wasn't), maple cream, maple sugar candy, and a cookie made with maple.

Vaillancourt Folk Art – If you love vintage holiday decor, this is the place. Handmade chalkware sculptures made from vintage chocolate and ice cream moulds.

To the airport and home! Ah, it’s so good to be home. I enjoy the journey but am always happy to be home to nest and rest.

Photos from top to bottom:
Interior of Virgina America plane,
Sap buckets at River Bend,
Sugar shack at Natick Community Organic Farm,
Vaillancourt Folk Art

What I Did to Stimulate the Economy Today: March 8, 2009

Note to subscribers: "What I Did to Stimulate the Economy Today" is something new I started and I won't be including each daily post in the weekly newsletter. If you'd like to read my daily efforts in stimulating the economy, just click on the "stimulate the economy" tag.

If you'd like to subscribe to weekly newsletter, just check out the column to the right and you'll receive me in your email box once a week :)

Central Massachusetts received the benefits of my patriotic duty today:
  • Hotel Room
  • Rental Car
  • Fuel for Rental Car
  • Maple Products
  • Lunch @ Wendy's
  • Gift at Vaillancourt Folk Art
  • Airport Snacks
I definitely did my part this weekend, what about you? How did you stimulate the economy today?

Couple of Photos from Central Massachusetts

I was so tired last night that I fell asleep with my laptop in hand for an hour or so and this Daylight Savings Time is not helping with my weekend in Central Massachusetts - I lost an hour!

Anyway, to the left is a snapshot of yesterday's lunch at The Natick Community Organic Farm and the other photo to the right is the prime rib roasting at the Salem Cross Inn. And yes, it was as delish as it looks! Yum!

Hope to find more good eats today in Uxbridge, heading over there for another maple syrup activity then heading home.

Saturday, March 07, 2009

What I Did to Stimulate the Economy Today: March 7, 2009

Today I exercised my patriotic duty to travel and am spending the night in Worcester, Mass., basically because I can. I took advantage of the non-stop air service on Direct Air out of the Charlotte County airport to discover something new. Maybe I should try visiting all the cities Direct Air and Allegiant fly and call the series "You Can Get There from Here."

Anyway, it's been a loooong day and here is my list of how I stimulated the economy today:
  • Airline Ticket on Direct Air
  • Airport Food
  • Maple Syrup Tour + Lunch
  • Wine Tasting + 2 Bottles of Wine
  • Adult Beverage
  • Fantastic Dinner @ Salem Cross Inn, West Brookfield, Mass.
And what did you do to stimulate the economy?

Friday, March 06, 2009

What I Did to Stimulate the Economy Today: March 6, 2009

Listening to the 6 o'clock news this evening I heard some nonsense criticism about corporations who accepted bailout money and using car services vs. taxis to get around New York City. Criticism had something to do with taxis being cheaper.

Where do the critics think the money's going when it's paid to the car services? Don't the owners of the car service companies have families to support, too? And don't the drivers? My Grandma Huber's father was a driver for a wealthy Buffalo businessman during the Great Depression and she admitted they survived better than most because the businessman was employed which kept his staff employed.

At least these corporations are spending money and getting it back into the economy to keep it flowing. I'm thinking whatever these corporations spend their bailout money on is going to be criticized.

This is what I did to stimulate the economy today:
  • Trip to the Vending Machine (Snicker's fix)
  • Car Wash
  • McDonald's Shamrock Shake (childhood memories!)
  • Paid my Cable/Internet Bill
And how did you carry out your patriotic duty today?

Thursday, March 05, 2009

Black Sapote: Well, It Doesn't Taste Like Chicken

Food is part of my traveling experience and I enjoy tasting the flavors of a destination. When I was in Miami last month for the Food Network South Beach Wine & Food Festival I headed down to Homestead and Florida City to meet up with a friend. In addition to stopping at the Schnebly Redland Winery (for a brief tasting and pick up a few bottles of wine) and Coral Castle (which was cool but I think a little over priced, I definitely recommend finding a guide and listening to the history come alive).

Whenever I visit that part of South Florida the highlight is visiting Robert is Here, a fab fruit and veggie stand on the way to Everglades National Park. I've been visiting the produce stand since working in the Everglades in 1996 (or 1995?) and would stop by to pick up a tangy key lime milkshake. I remember seeing Robert's kids working there and fast forward to 2009, they're still working there. While Robert hasn't aged, his kids have grown up to become young adults.

I could always count on finding unusual tropical fruits at Robert is Here and this trip I didn't leave disappointed. I picked up a black sapote which I've always been told tastes like chocolate pudding. Does it really?

I picked up a green black sapote and was told to wait until it's black before eating and was given an example of how dark it needed to be. I brought the green, round fruit home and for nine days I picked it up and examined it. By the 8th day I decided it was as dark as the example I was shown but decided to give it one more day.

Day 9 - consumption day! It certainly felt like chocolate pudding in a plastic bag but would it have that chocolaty taste that makes Bill Cosby say "mmmm"?

I cut out the stem and slipped the spoon in and scooped out a blob of black sapote flesh. The insides certainly looked like chocolate pudding and it tasted like...well, it tasted more like a light vanilla pudding. It had a subtle sweet flavor and the creamy flesh was soft and velvety like pudding. Not bad but I don't think the folks at Jello have anything to worry about.

Robert is Here
Open daily 8 a.m. to 7 p.m., closed September and October.
19200 SW 344th Street
Homestead, FL 33034
Tel: 305/246-1592

What I Did to Stimulate the Economy Today: March 5, 2009

I didn't do much in my patriotic duty to stimulate the economy today but did do a little:

Toiletries @ Wal-Mart + free liter of Diet Dr. Pepper (thanks to a fall promo)
Lunch @ Chick-fil-A
Paid my insurance bill

I showed you mine now tell me, how did you stimulate the economy today?

Wednesday, March 04, 2009

What I Did to Stimulate the Economy Today: March 4, 2009

I've decided to keep a log of what I'm doing to stimulate the U.S. economy each day. I'm not sharing the amount, but you'll get the idea of what I'm spending in doing my patriotic duty.

We just can't sit on our money scared and hoping things are going to happen. It takes money to generate more money. Look at advertising. For every dollar my County pays for tourism advertising it generates $30 in spending. That's a pretty good return on investment, much better than what the banks are paying! Who's out there advertising now? The regular big boys, Disney, Coke, Pepsi, etc. Why? Because people are spending money, they're being more cautious but for now, people are spending and companies are fighting to get their business.

And I'm sorry Mr. Obama, I've been supporting you but executives shouldn't be punished for planning incentive and other business trips to Las Vegas or anywhere else, for that matter. Who do you think is benefiting from those trips? Directly the hotels, restaurants, airlines, souvenir shops, ground transportation services, etc. Indirectly, the utility companies who supply the electricity to the hotel, fuel companies for providing fuel to the planes and taxis, you get the idea.

The perception of business travel is that it's all fun and games but that's because we business travelers don happy faces when in fact, business travel can be a bear. It's no fun being stuck in a foreign airport for 24 hours sitting in the same cloths with no access to a bed, shower, or decent food. Or what about when luggage is lost or when booth displays don't show up at the booth? Or being stuck in the middle seat on a 6-hour trans-Atlantic flight being stuck next to the big sweaty guy. Oh yeah, business travel is a blast.

There was a big ol' bash in D.C. on January 20 and I know there was a lot of money spent on it. Remember, I was there, and saw how many businesses benefited from all the parties, galas and good times.

I may be alone in this but I'm going to keep spending money, not frivolously but responsibly. So doing my patriotic duty, this is how I stimulated the economy today:
  • Lunch at Subway + Tip
  • 1 Ticket to the Tampa Bay Rays vs. Puerto Rico Exhibition Game
  • Parking at the Charlotte Sports Park
  • Drink + Tip at the Tiki Bar at the Charlotte Sports Park, pre-Rays game
  • Pizza and soda at the Charlotte Sports Park
  • Weekly Veggie Farm Share
So what how did you stimulate the economy today?

Note: The Title of this post has been modified to reflect the actual date, I was a day ahead!

Tuesday, March 03, 2009

My Two Cents About ABC's The Bachelor Jason Mesnick

If you're not in the reality T.V. know, ABC's The Bachelor Season 13 Jason Mesnick flip-flopped on his decision of which woman he wanted to spend the rest of his life with last night (well, he decided six weeks ago, the episode aired last night). When the show was down to two women, he proposed marriage to Melissa but last night he dumped Melissa for Molly, whom he originally rejected for Melissa. Are ya with me?

Talk shows and the blogosphere have been burning up with comments saying Mesnick was wrong to propose marriage to Melissa and wrong to dump her on national television. I've seen some comments saying it was a cowardly act. I support his decision of breaking up with Melissa, he's realized Molly's the one for him (at least for right now).

Here are my overall thoughts on the matter:
  1. Mesnick should never have been on The Bachelor or the preceding The Bachelorette because he has a kid. How confusing for that poor child! Not only to introduce him to potential step-moms then toss them aside but to throw the T.V. element into it. Can't believe the kid's mother approved (Mesnick is a divorced dad if you didn't know).
  2. The final two women he narrowed his selections to are too young. He's 32, Molly's 24 and Melissa's 25. Are either one of those women prepared to be a step-mom?
  3. Do we really watch The Bachelor and other reality T.V. dating shows to see a happy ending or do we watch to see others be rejected after pouring their hearts out only to have them stomped on?
  4. Mesnick's move gives hope (perhaps false hope) for every woman who's been dumped by a guy whom she knows was the one, that he'll eventually realize the mistake he made in letting her go.
  5. It took a lot of cojones to do what he did. Sure, he could have not proposed to Melissa but he was probably caught in the moment and once the reality T.V. magic wore off he had the guts to follow his heart rather than continuing a lie. Would it have been better if he had ignored his feelings, saw Melissa a few times then quietly broke it off and disappeared? It probably would've been better for Melissa but then again, she was on a reality T.V. show and "T.V." trumps "reality."
  6. Or if you believe in conspiracy theories, Film.com has posted, "That was part of the deal," according to Mesnick. (Source: Film.com, "The Bachelor Fallout, Plus Jillian as Next Bachelorette")
  7. Let's keep things in perspective. Chances of falling in love with and meeting your soul mate are slim on a reality T.V. show. How many of The Bachelor or The Bachelorette couples have actually married? I think one, Trista and Ryan, the super successful poster couple for the show (BTW: haven't we merged their names together yet, can we officially call them "Tryan," like "Brangelina"?). And look at Bret Michaels, he's into Rock of Love 3 (what happened to the women he chose in ROL 1 & 2?) and Flavor of Love went through three cycles, too. Come on, true love isn't going to happen in six weeks in a controlled, fantasy setting.
  8. ABC announced Jillian, one of the bachelorettes rejected by Mesnick, is the next Bachelorette. I'm wondering when ABC will have an African-American bachelor or bachelorette.
  9. Do we really believe Mesnick and Molly are going to live happily ever after?
What's your take? Was he right or wrong?

Monday, March 02, 2009

The Journey to Tlaquepaque, Mexico, and Angry Murals

The last two nights of my trip to Mexico were spent outside Guadalajara in Tlaquepaque at the Quinta Don Jose Boutique Hotel, a B&B-type inn. barb knows the owners (she seems to know a lot of people in Mexico and hasn’t lived there more than a year!) and I have to admit, it was a great, cozy little place.Tlaquepaque has a fantastic and thriving arts district and that’s what made me want to visit after barb described it to me. The Quinta Don Jose (which you can read my review here) was literally steps away from the downtown action and I felt extremely safe at the inn. It’s surrounded by a huge wall which gives it that bit of culture.

The day barb and I arrived to Tlaquepaque we hopped in a van on a guided tour of downtown Guad (Guadalajara for those not in the Mexican lingo). I now understand why barb didn’t want to drive in that craziness. Crazy driving, I tell you. Much worse that Florida drivers (hard to believe, I know).

We had a great English-speaking guide and in addition to finding a giant belt buckle for my brother-in-law, the highlight was seeing amazing fresco murals by Jose Clemente Orozco (1883-1949) in the Government Palace, built in the late 1700s. Here in the U.S. you’d expect to see murals with brilliant sunsets over lakes or a pretty pasture with fluffy clouds in a blue sky with flowers and fluffy bunnies in the foreground.

Not the Orozco murals. These are angry scenes depicting reality. The center mural of the stairway is influenced by the fears, tragedies, and crimes of 20th century societies. Another mural mocks religion while another mocks false leaders and false ideologies, was he foretelling war? Overlooking the murals painted on the ceiling is Miguel Hidalgo y Costilla, Father of Mexican Independence (photo).I asked the guide if there was symbolism with the priest’s shirt – doesn’t it look like an arrow perhaps signifying someone’s going to hell? All of the imagery is captivating in a train wreck kind of way. I was drawn in seeking details, the look of pain, fear, and misery on faces. They're disturbing, uncomfortable, and thought provoking. I searched looking for symbolism (other than that on the priest) but didn’t find any (that I’m aware of). I’d like to return to spend more time studying them.
Back to Tlaquepaque…

Thanksgiving dinner was spent at the bar enjoying happy hour (2 for 1 margaritas, woo-hoo! BTW – we’re NOT lushes!) followed by Mexican-style pizza. That pizza tasted soooo good! Mine had chicken, corn, and zesty jalapenos along with gooey cheese and a tangy sauce.

Our poolside room was perfect, I think it was a suite, it was big enough to be a suite, I think it was as big as my apartment! The staff was incredibly nice and I loved looking at all the sculptures in the hotel lobby. The owners “get it” meaning they brought in art from Tlaquepaque as a teaser for visitors to encourage them to venture out into the community. There were other Americans along with Europeans and Canadians staying at the hotel while some just came over for dinner.

Do I need to tell you about some of the rural areas of Mexico? Probably, I also need to get busy with uploading photos, but that’s for another day.

Heading to Mexico? Be sure to check my latest post at the Resort Rentals International blog about the Travel Alert to Mexico for Spring Break.

Sunday, March 01, 2009

Boost Your Email Marketing Campaign with iContact

I recently wrote an article offering three no-cost marketing tips for tourism businesses (you can check the Suite101 sidebar to find it). I admit I wrote this out of frustration over businesses trimming and eliminating marketing budgets during the recession. As I say in the article, this is the time to beef up marketing and advertising efforts (look at Disney, McDonald’s, and Wal-Mart) and an email marketing campaign is an excellent way to do it. This isn't a no-cost marketing tip but a cheap marketing tip, invest in an email marketing software such as that offered by my friends at iContact.

I know several tourism businesses which execute a successful email marketing campaign with iContact's Email newsletter tool and it’s extremely affordable, cost begins at $9.95 a month and I think any marketing budget can support that.
Small businesses to Fortune 500 companies use iContact. The political campaign for Barack Obama ‘08 even used the email marketing software. Here’s a quick overview of what I know about iContact and why it’s a groovy email marketing software source:
  • Choose from 300 professionally-designed email templates
  • Track the open and click through rate of emails
  • Develop a relationship with customers by offering a newsletter sign-up form on your Web site and manage the subscribers
  • Bounce back emails are managed
  • Minimizes non-delivery issues by getting the email into the inbox
What are you waiting for? Get going with one of iContact’s email newsletter. Or, check an over video by clicking here. The recession is the time to get your marketing message out there so give iContact a try with their 15 day free trial.