Monday, December 26, 2011

"It's an evil snowman."

Freaky The Scary Snowman has been scaring pedestrians for of a year now.  This is a video of his most recent prank was filmed in Providence, Rhode Island.  You can view more of Freaky's pranks HERE.

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Friday, December 23, 2011

Two generations' perspective of customer service


My dad and I are shopping for a new cellular phone. 

You've got two generations looking for the same thing but with different perceptions of the capabilities of a smart phone. You also have a technology gap between us both--my dad still think I know the answers to anything digital or wireless oriented.

During my recent trip to the valley, my dad took us all to the Sprint store to look at phones. His interest was on the HTC EVO, which I like as well.  

Supposedly, he was told by a sales girl that the EVO would be free and that he would just need to pay the $70 a month for the voice and data plan, a few days before.  However, when we all returned to the store, he was told that he'd have to pay $150 for the phone, then we would receive a mailin rebate of $50. 

Naturally, my father was upset. He challenged the sales representative before him with no avail. 
I knew it was too good to be real. I asked the sales representative to tell me how much I would need to pay today in the store to upgrade my phone to a HTC EVO. I was told I would need to pay $150.

I didnt' care for that deal and made my way to the store's exit leaving my dad behind still arguing his case that the previous salesperson promised a zero payment for a new phone.

A few days later, after we returned back home to Austin, I called my dad to inform him that Best Buy was offering the EVO for $50 and the INSPIRE for free. His reply was that he would return to the Sprint store and inform them of Best Buy's offer.  I countered, "No dad. Go to Best Buy and look at their phones and what they can offer you. Forget about Sprint.  They aren't going to give you the mail-in rebate Best Buy will give their customers at the store."

The contrast between the two generations were evident. The old "the customer is always right" philosophy is well... old. Contracts and terms of services protects the companies from those annoying oops made by company employees.

Now the oops are commonly found in violations of company contracts after the agreement has been made. Perhaps the only way a customer can be right is at the local mom and pop stores where legal documentations aren't as viable.

So did we ever get a phone? Yup.

My parents and I went with the HTC EVO.

I returned to Best Buy and went with the HTC EVO Design 4G. So far I love it.   

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Monday, December 12, 2011

Eating healthy at home

We've heard that eating at home is healthier than eating out or buying prepared food from the grocery store, right?

As mentioned in an article in Natural Awakenings, eating out correlates with childhood obesity. Childhood obesity being a condition where a child's body mass index (BMI) exceeds the normal range. 

Granted, many of us find ourselves in the daily rough and tumble with little time to prepare a well-balanced healthy meal for our family. However, a study cited in the article found that home cooked meals prompt parents to shop for healthier foods. Kitchen ambience encourages healthy eating as well.

You can read the full article HERE.

Source: Wikipedia; "Home is where the Healthy Meal is," Natural Awakenings, November 2011, Pg. 13

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Saturday, December 10, 2011

Just move on

I will be the first to admit that I let my mistakes linger rather than forget them and move on. I playback the mistakes in my head countless times, which has become a burden in my personal and professional career.

I came across an article in Nside Austin by business coach Alicia Marie Fruin on how to embrace failure. In order to become successful, Fruin encourages accepting failure, learn from the mistakes, and keep going, "[successful people] understand that who they are is not their job, their business or their results."

Perhaps that's my problem. I take ownership of my actions and I keep them. Rather than just filing them, I resort to the past failures and avoid acting--in fear that my past failures will be exposed.

Fruin suggests, "take your next step toward your goals today, and again tomorrow, the next day and the next day."

You can read her full article HERE.

Source: "Embracing Failure," Alicia Marie Fruin, Nside Austin Business, November / December 2011, Pg. 28.

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Friday, December 9, 2011

Confessions of a Gym Dweeb Part 13


I use to tease my wife for showering before going to the gym. Why would someone take a shower to go to the gym?

I don't tease my wife anymore.

A few Sundays ago, my wife and I went to Gold's Gym.

Like usual, she went upstairs to do cardio, while I stay downstairs with the machines.

I'll be honest, I don't perspire easily. Not like the other people at the gym. And I know I don't emit a pungent stench. Really.

After doing the machines for fifteen minutes, I make my way upstairs to do 20 to 30 minutes of cardio. 

Upstairs there is a variety of cardio machines, such as stair machines, treadmills, stationary bikes, elliptical and striders--my wife calls it a "stepper."

I went upstairs and selected the closest stepper strider to the stairs, which also happens to be next to the paper dispenser and disinfectant spray.

In front of me was an attractive athletic blonde running on the treadmill.  My wife was down the end of the treadmills walking on an incline. 

Honestly, I thought this couldn't be a better view day, until something pungent wafted towards me. I couldn't place the source of the smell. Could it be the guy two steppers striders away? Perhaps it's me?

I kept striding along and smelling my arm pits concerned that the smell was my own.  This went on for several minutes until the attractive blonde girl stopped her treadmill and walked towards the paper dispenser and disinfectant spray. 

Eww! I had found the source.

What did it smell like?  Ever walked past a trash bin in a downtown alley? That's what it smelled like. No joking.

So, I thanked my wife for showering and since then have made it a point to shower as well before heading to the gym.

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Thursday, December 8, 2011

Hosting a party

It's the holidays. The perfect time to host and attend parties.

Like other socialites, my parents are known for their parties. Tonight they host their annual Christmas party.

This event has been in the planning for months in advance. The catering, beverages, and music were selected and purchased weeks before tonight. Indeed, they are masters in event planning and superb hosts.

For us not-so-socialites and socialite-wanna-be's, I gathered a few tips from Austin Woman and Austin Nside magazines that may help in planning your next event:

1. Plan your event early. Send invitations that includes all the important information they need to know about the event;

2. Prepare a guest list. If it's a corporate party, prepare your coworkers of business clients attending the event;

3. Think of the logistics of the event--hosts, time and day of the event, food, beverages, music, etc.;

4. During the event, greet guests warmly and make good introductions; and

5. Address inebriated guests accordingly.

If you are attending a party:

1. It's better to overdress than underdress. If you are unsure, contact the host about what to wear;

2. Introduce yourself to others and mingle.

3. Avoid gossip and controversal discussions;

4. Keep your right hand available for handshakes;

5. Have enough business cards available; and

6. Don't drink too much.

You can find the full articles and complete tips HERE and HERE.

Sources: "Hosting Holiday Parties," Sharon Schweitzer, Austin NSide Business, November / December 2011, Pg. 29; "Party Etiquette," Jan Goss, Austin Woman, November 2011, P. 102

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Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Longer life and healthier pets

 I'll be honest, I didn't neuter my dog, Chato, until he was five years old (33 years old in human years). Like many other guys, I couldn't bare the thought of castrating my dog.

There are, however, benefits to neutering your male dog and spaying your female dog. As mentioned in a L Style G Style magazine article, the main benefits are longer life and healthier pets. Another benefit mentioned is spayed or neutered pets show less aggression and less likely to roam.

Unfortunately, because I waited until he was an adult dog and many of his habits are still apparent, such as roaming around the block smelling pheromones and humping pillows.

The article also debunks common myths often heard regarding spaying and neutering pets, such as weight gain, lethargic, and cost.

You can find the full text on page 74 at the following link:

Source: L Style G Style, November / December 2011, Anniversary Issue, Pg. 22.

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Saturday, December 3, 2011

Phhhhhhrt. Excuse me.

You've heard it happen in your workplace. Chances are you've let one slip in public too. Oops.

Although embarrasing, flatulence is natural.

But what causes gas and why do they sometimes have an offensive odor?

There are several foods that produce gas.  The majority being foods that contain carbohydrates such as sugars (monosaccharides and disaccharides), starch (polysaccharides), and fiber.

The four sugars that cause gas include the following: raffinose, which is a trisaccharide found in vegetables such as beans and broccoli; lactose, which is a disaccharide common in milk; fructose, a fruit sugar commonly used as a sweetner; and sorbitol, a sugar alcohol found in fruits such as apples and used a artificial sweetners. These sugars contribute to flatulence.

When consuming simple dry fruit seed pods such as peas, beans, soy and peanuts, microorganisms (also known as microflora) that live symbiotically in our intestines breakdown sugar molecules, known as oligosaccharides, and causes gas.

The offensive odor comes from chemicals that are found both in the foods we eat as well as the chemicals that is produced during digestion. These organic and chemical compounds include skatole, indole, methanethiol, hydrogen sulfide, and dimethyl sufide. In addition, the microflora bacteria found in the intestines are also thought to play a role in the foul smell.

Should we avoid foods with carbohydrates? Absolutely not. The glucose that we get from carbs provide energy our body needs.

Austin Fit Magazine suggests limiting foods and beverages which fructose and sorbitol, such as carbonated beverages and chewing gum. Eating slower will also limit the amount of nitrogen and carbon dioxide that is swallowed with food. And daily exercise will help with digestion.

So, the next time you break wind, blame it on the carbs or those pesky microfloras and excuse yourself.

Source: Wikipedia; "Why do Healthy Foods Make Us Bloated and Gassy?" Austin Fit Magazine, November 2011, Pg. 48-50.

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Friday, December 2, 2011

How to handle holiday stress

Can you hear the chimes, dings and bells ringing? Those incoming calls and text messages are the first sign that the holidays are here.  These sounds, along with the growing number of things to do, can cause one's blood sugar level to increase. 

Below I've listed a few suggestions as provided by an article I found in the November/December 2011 issue of Sprouts Magazine that may help lower your stress level.  You can find the full article HERE.

1. Manage your time by delegating tasks
2. Do 20 to 30 minute low intensive exercise
3. Drink green tea
4. Sing along with your favorite music
5. Avoid sugars and eat more whole-grain, fruits and low-starch vegetables
6. Take Epsom salt baths
7. Clear your senses, take a walk and avoid stressful dialogue

I would also add taking a break from the Blackberry and iPhone. Program your smart phone to fetch emails every other hour or so rather than instant notifications.  Remember you have control of your incoming calls and messages, and you don't have to answer each and every one of them instantly.

Also, avoid back-and-forth texts that go nowhere. If you need clarification, just call the person.

Source: "Stress Less," Vicky Uhland, Sprouts, November / December 2011, Pg. 14-17.

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