Category: General

When I don’t know where else to put it!

How to be a “Fixer Upper”

I discovered the program, Fixer Upper, on HGTV and now I am hooked.

fixer upper

Chip and Joanna Gaines own and operate Magnolia Homes, a remodeling and design business based in Waco, Texas. The show “Fixer Upper” shows the process by which this amazing couple turn dilapidated but potential-rich houses into amazing showplaces. These two are helping revitalize whole neighborhoods throughout central Texas.

They show clients a series of houses based on the client’s total budget for purchase and renovation. Typically, the houses are the worse houses in otherwise good neighborhoods. However, sometimes they go off on a tangent and take a real chance, always it seems, with incredible success.

This show actually has me wondering if I should move to Texas on the off chance I’d be lucky enough to have this amazing team remodel a house for me. Maybe someday!

Chip manages the demolition, construction, and realty side of Magnolia and Joanna is the lead designer. I think she is brilliant as a designer. The tears and looks on their client’s faces during the big reveal says it all. And the couple play off each other in a manner that is very humorous, entertaining, and wholesome. I also like how they include their children in their remodeling business.

Chip and Joanna also act as part-time counselors to clients who can’t always initially see a homes true potential through the current damage or blemishes. This dynamic duo saves homes that look beyond redemption by renovating them, and revealing them as the forever-homes they were intended to be. Sometimes, they do get into the unexpected “oops,” but always find some way to make it work. I have been total amazed at the work they do and have also learned a great deal about renovations. The show is very educational.

I find very little worth watching on television these days, but this show is certainly an exception. I give it a 6 out of 5 Star Rating and highly recommend it to anyone. It is good on so many levels that anyone can find something to enjoy. You really need to check this program out. I don’t know what HGTV’s plans are, but this is one program I hope they continue for awhile.

Water: How Important is it to You?

1 in 10 people lack access to clean water!

I was stunned by this discovery.

Last week I was attending the 2019 Symmetry Financial Group conference in Washington, DC.  A keynote speaker was Scott Harrison, a man I’d never heard of.  He turned out to be a man with an amazing story!

water

Scott was a young man with a gift. People loved him, loved to be around him, and loved to party with him. He made a living as a club promoter, hired by night clubs in New York City to promote their events … parties, concerts, gatherings, celebrity appearances, etc.

Let’s say there was a lot of wine, women, and song in his life. He got lost. One day he woke up and did not recognize himself. Scott decided he needed to change. He decided he would need to do something pretty drastic to get his life turned around. Applying for work at many charities, he was repeatedly turned down. Finally, he paid Mercy Ships $500 a month to let him work as a photo journalist on one of their hospital ships for one year. He ended up staying for two.

People dying from water?

During his two years with Mercy Ships, Harrison was exposed to the conditions of the impoverished people in Liberia. He saw people drinking water from murky swamps and rancid mud holes. He talked to women who made a 7-mile trek to crocodile-infested rivers for water for their families. These women recounted the many friends they’d lost to crocodiles.  Scott saw a little girl drinking dirty water from a plastic bottle. She would take a sip and promptly throw-up. Scott took the water bottle and had the water tested. The lab technician told Scott that water was literally alive with disease and bacteria! He decided right then and there to do something.

Charity: Water

Scott Harrison founded Charity: Water in 2006. The charity is a non-profit organization that works to bring clean water to people in developing nations by raising money through donations, which directly fund water projects such as digging wells and building water filtration and treatment facilities. Scott uses 100% of all donations to provide this clean water and hires local labor to do the work. This gives each village a sense of pride and ownership in their new clean water sources; some of which have been in operation for 12 years and are still pumping clean water.

water

$12,000 buys a well or filtration system including materials, equipment, and labor.

At the Symmetry conference,  there was not a dry eye in the place after his presentation, and I know several wells were pledged by agencies and these pledges were going to be matched by the corporate office. Symmetry is a big-hearted organization and one of its core values is to always do the right thing … even when no one is looking! And, this is one charity that I, personally, plan to become very involved with.

Thirst: A Story of Redemption, Compassion, and a Mission to Bring Clean Water to the World

water

While I have not read this book yet, I plan to. I am sure it is an amazing read after hearing Scott Harrison speak. I will post a review of this book here once I have read it. 100% of the proceeds from the sale of this book go toward funding Charity: Water projects around the world.

It is available at the Charity: Water website as well as on Amazon.com

 

As we walk around carrying our bottled water, perhaps we should take a moment and think about the little girl in Liberia or Rwanda, or Honduras … drinking the poisonous water from her plastic water bottle.  Many of us have already dug in to help.

Will Smith and Jada Pinkett Smith have bought wells and even went over to see them put in.

water

Rachel Beckwith was  a young girl who, on her 9th birthday, pledged to raise $300 to bring clean water to kids on the other side of the world. She raised a little over $200. Dismayed, she pledged to work even harder next year.

Sadly, a few weeks later Rachel was killed in a tragic automobile accident. Word of her pledge and what happened hit the news, and people began to donate in Rachel’s name.  $1.2 million was raised and in Rachel’s name … provided water for 37,770 people. Rachel’s story is one that will bring a tear to your eye and a swell of pride and admiration to your chest.  Take a look at this video! You will not be the same after watching. I promise!

Rachel’s Gift

Matthew 25:40  King James Version

And the King shall answer and say unto them, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me.

For more great blog post, read on!

Starve a Cold and Feed a Fever

Or, is it Feed a cold and starve a fever?

I was never quite sure which it was. And, since I have spent the last few days battling a cold, or maybe the flu, I decided to check. It seems starving is never correct! A well-balanced diet can help you stay healthy and defeat either a cold or a fever! How about that? This is really good new for me because I hate to starve!

Other possible remedies

I was certainly relieved to read I did not have to starve to beat whatever it is I am dealing with. But, being a bit bored, I still looked for a few other possible cold remedies. I came across a few others that might be worth trying … or not.

The Naval Cure (I like this one)

starve

An author friend of mine, D (Joe) Guy, who writes fascinating tales of of romance, love and tragedy with an Italian twist is a retired Navy man. He told me they had a sure-fire cure for any cold in the Navy. You just get a bottle of good whiskey, some honey and some lemons. Then you throw away the honey and the lemons and drink the whiskey!

Cold Wet Socks?

This one did not sound very appealing to me, but many people claim it does work. All you do is soak your feet in hot water for about three minutes. Next, you wet a pair of cotton anklet socks with cold water and put them on. Then, you put thick wool socks on over those and go to bed.

Supposedly, while you sleep, the blood vessels in your cold feet will constrict and push good nutrients up to your organs to help fight the infection. Then, as your feet start to adjust and warm up, your blood vessels will dilate and help send all the “junk” from your organs into your bloodstream, allowing your body to remove it naturally.

Not sure I want to try this one, but hey … who knows? MindBodyGreen.com

Get Down to Your Local Chipotle

starve

Chili peppers, it seems, are what you need when you have a cold. I might be willing to try this one since I don’t have to starve and I do like spicy food!

ABCNews claims this works because chilis contain a compound called capsaicin which is an irritant as well as the thing that makes them spicy.

I guess, if you are all stuffed up, it does kind of make sense to eat something that will make your nose run and your eyes water. So, have some hot wings, spicy chili, some Korean BBQ, or hot Mexican dish. Or, maybe some chili powder in your tea or brownies. Chilis are nature’s remedy for congestion.

Okay then!

I tried the Naval Cure and I now feel a little better. Therefore, I am done with the whole cold-battling thing. I may have one more snort and then crawl off to bed.

Check out my other interesting blog posts by clicking here!

And remember, my two really awesome books for sale on amazon.com. Both are available in Kindle and paperback and both are getting great reviews! Serpents Underfoot (A Military Action Thriller) and Adirondack Bear Tales (True Life Adirondack Bear Encounters). I would be honored to have you read one or both of them. Remember to let me know what you think.

ONE LUCKY BEAR: A Raquette Lake Bear Tale

A great little story of one lucky young bear!

I stumbled on this wonderful tale over at Charles H. Eldridge’s blog, Adirondack Native Photography! You should check it out (both the blog and the story)! This young black bear was one lucky bear.


“RAQUETTE LAKE BEAR ENCOUNTER”

A great post by Charles H. Eldridge

One day my fiance (now wife) Amanda and I decided to take a nice long road trip through the Adks. We were making our way through the Raquette Lake area, looking for photo ops. Amanda was keeping her eyes peeled on her side and I was covering mine, when all of the sudden she said, “There’s a bear!”. I recall saying, “Yeah right?”, when she came back with a quick “I’m serious!”. I looked back through my rear-view mirror to see a Black Bear on top of a crate. As still as it looked, I thought it had been taxidermied, until it turned it’s head! I exclaimed “Holy Shit!” as I swung the car around, then proceeded with caution; as to not spook the young bruin. Read the rest of the post here.

Now, that was one lucky bear! And, the incident did also result in a great photo of a young black bear as well!

Also, check out my new release … Adirondack Bear Tales!

one lucky bear

This delightful book contains 11 short stories about true encounters with black bears in the Adirondack Park of upstate New York. Enjoyed by adults and children of all ages, these stories will make you smile, chuckle, and sometimes, even feel a little sad.

Imagine a 12-year-old girl meeting a black bear on the trail to the women’s bathroom late at night. Or a grandfather being chased around the car by a hungry black bear while carrying a bag of garbage. Or imagine what you would do if you met a bear in your kitchen while frying bacon for breakfast. These are just a few of the wonderful tales included in this book.

So, do you need a quick relaxing read? Or, maybe some great “sitting around the campfire” stories for children? You get to choose! Click on the links below and order your copy now!

Available in paperback and Kindle formats on Amazon.com. Order your copy today! And, for other great posts, click here!

Great Auto Service Can Still Be Found!

Atlantic Tire & Service

auto service

This is not the type of post I typically put up on my blog, but I feel I need to share this with any of my readers in the Cary/Raleigh, NC area. If you need to get your vehicle serviced, Atlantic Tire and Service is the place to get your auto service done.

I get my vehicles serviced and repaired there, and have done so since moving to Cary about three years ago. First it was my Ford Escape and now my Nissan Xterra. I have recommended Atlantic Tire & Service to several others friends and they have all thanked me for doing so.

Examples of great Auto Service

Here is an example of what I mean. My 2011 Ford Escape had an ongoing problem with the air conditioning. It was most inconvenient! I had it checked at three different auto service centers beginning on Hilton Head Island where it first quit working while on a vacation and sitting in a traffic jam on a very hot day. It was not a happy experience! Later, a service center in Knoxville checked it several times, and finally a Ford Dealership checked it when I moved to Cary.

Each time it cost several hundred dollars and would work great for six to eight weeks. Then it quit cooling again. I knew it was leaking coolant! Each shop recharged the system. Each shop said they put dye in the system but could not find a leak. I later learned that this probably meant the leak was in some kind of condenser under the dash and they just did not want to fool with it. The Ford dealer charged me $500 and changed a lot of parts under the hood, but eight weeks later … no AC!

Enter Atlantic Tire & Service

After the Ford Dealership flop, I tried Atlantic Tire & Service. They found the leak right away. It wasn’t a condenser under the dashboard. It was the lower connection on the compressor unit under the hood. Parts and labor turned out to be about $400 … but it worked great thereafter!

During the oil change Atlantic Tire and Service did for me just yesterday, I asked them to check an annoying rattle I had been hearing lately to get an estimate to have it fixed. I was pretty sure it was the heat shield over the exhaust. They looked and found it was just loose. The mechanic tightened it up free of charge. No more rattle.

On a last note. On several occasions I witnessed service technicians sitting down with women customers in the waiting room and explaining their repairs in detail, showing them the needed parts or the old parts, and giving priorities or options when budgeting was necessary. Atlantic Tire & Service really treats their customers right! As long as I am in the Cary area, I will use nobody else.

Shameless plug …

Also, check out my military action thriller, Serpents Underfoot, and my entertaining collection of true tales about encounters with black bears, Adirondack Bear Tales! Read other great blog posts here!

Home Front recipes from WWII by GP Cox

What a fantastic post!

Check out this great post by GP Cox over at Pacific Paratrooper! A collection of Home Front recipes from WWII. I think I remember my grandmothers making some of these … or at least something very similar.

via Home Front recipes from WWII

A Superhero Who Fights To Beat Cancer!

A Superhero Who Battles Cancer …

superhero
Billy Austin of the NFL
10 February 2013
Photo by Sugarmamaland

Dominic “Billy” Austin is a former cornerback for the Indianapolis Colts. And he is also a real superhero!

Austin was born on March 8, 1975, in Washington, D.C.  Billy graduated from Kempner High School in Sugarland, Texas where he stood out as an outstanding scholar and athlete. After graduation from high school, he received a full scholarship to play football for the University of New Mexico and was named all-conference defensive back his sophomore, junior and senior years.  Austin also has ten years of professional experience in the oil & gas industry. But, this is Austin’s alter-ego. His life has another mission. It is one he devotes a great amount of time to. And, it is one that is near and dear to his heart.

Dominic ‘Billy” Austin maintains a superhero approach to life.

In fact,  Dominic Austin really is a superhero.  Austin witnessed firsthand how the lives of kids are turned upside down when they learn they are diagnosed with cancer. Active in youth programs since he was a kid, Austin has seen the importance of helping young children overcome this horrible disease.

Austin, a cancer survivor himself, is now a creative philanthropist.  A few years ago, he received a diagnosis of stage 4 cancer. Like a superhero, Austin fought back. During his battle, he decides to launch Tackles4Cancer, a non-profit organization with two primary missions;  assisting young cancer patients with transportation to and from their lifesaving treatments and infusing young readers with the faith that they have what it takes to beat cancer. Austin helps these young kids find their own inner superhero to help the win the battle against cancer.

Now cancer-free, Billy Austin has hosted over 20 event s with celebrities and has been featured as an inspirational figure for Beyonce’s BeGood Foundation. Austin currently resides in Houston, TX.

The Tackle Cancer Series

The Tackle Cancer series by Dominic “Billy” Austin tells the powerfully inspiring tales of young children who use their  own superpowers to defeat cancer.  Writer, creator, cancer survivor, and former NFL star, Austin wants every child to be a superhero.  He wants them to win their battles with cancer. He understands that probably the most important things we can is to provide hope, faith, and love for kids battling this horrible disease. Dominic created the Tackle Cancer series as a means to infuse young readers with the conviction that they have what it takes to beat cancer. Their stories can inspire other young children to find their inner superhero and go on to win their own battle!

If you are looking for a great cause to make a donation to, I would find it hard to find one I think is more worthwhile. I will be making a donation myself!  Click here if you would like to help Dominic Austin with his mission to help young children win their battles against cancer. They will even send you a cool T-shirt!

Warning: Doing This May Improve Your Blogging skills.

Improve Your Blogging skills

improve your blogging skillsHow do you begin to improve your blogging skills?

I began blogging some years ago, But to be truthful about it, I have only gotten serious about doing so over the last year.  This is probably because I recently I published my first novel, Serpents Underfoot.  As a self-published author, I need all the marketing help I can get. Therefore, I decided it was important to improve my blogging skills and my blog’s content. This is all part of a concerted effort to attract more readers and hopefully, being a writer, sell a few more books. I looked at a few resources such as books or articles on blogging, etc. Nothing really caught my eye.

I then had a brilliant idea! I began looking at some of the more successful bloggers I have come into contact with over the last few years. One blogger really stood out.

Cristian Mihai

I have been following Cristian Mihai for some time now. I have communicated back and forth with Cristian on several occasions now. He was even kind enough to do a review of my novel. But, more to the point, Cristian’s blog posts are always great. They are insightful, motivational, educational, and they are always will written. I enjoy reading them and have learned  a great deal about blogging and writing from doing so.

Therefore, I Made a Decision …

I decided to take Cristian Mihai up on one of his mentoring offers. While we have just gotten started, I am already very happy I did. I received Cristian’s “initial impressions” analysis of my blog  a couple of days ago. First, let me say it was direct. Cristian pulls no punches. As I read through his notes, I kept finding myself nodding and agreeing with his initial comments. There were several “can you say duh” moments in there as well. Thankfully, Cristian also pointed out a few things I was doing quite well, so I was not completely shattered. Just kidding!. His comments right on the mark and I am already implementing several of his suggestions.

I am really looking forward to the improvements that will be coming over the next weeks and months. Just the initial comments were a great start. Some of the suggestions will certainly take a bit of time to develop and implement, but rest assured, they will be. I have no doubt of that. They just make too much sense!

 

A Pleasant Sunday Afternoon in Down Town Cary, NC

A Beautiful Day in Down Town Cary

Down Town Cary can be a very pleasant place to spend a few hours on a sunny Sunday afternoon.

July 4th

Dorothea Dix Park

Sophie and I had a training session at Dorothea Dix Park in Raleigh. After our training session, we played fetch for a bit in one of the big fields at the park. Dorothea Dix is a great place to get your dog some exercise. When she’d had enough, we headed back to Cary. For some reason, I decided to pass through Down Town Cary, I am glad I did. There was some kind of craft festival going on with music, food, arts and crafts, and to Sophie’s delight … dog treats.

Four Legs Barking Gourmet Dog Treats

Sophie immediately noticed the Gourmet Dog Treats booth. We checked the assortment out and, after a few free samples,  she selected a combo bag containing Holy Cheeses, Dirty Dog Barney, and Sophie’s Peanut Butter Swirls. I think Sophie was excited, thinking they were named after her. I saw no reason to tell her otherwise.The treats are 100% natural. They also had some very nice dog food and water bowl stands with stainless steel water bowls.   The folks at the dog treat booth were very pleasant to talk to and were also kind enough to loan us a water bowl for Sophie used when we ate lunch. She was having some difficulty drinking from the bottle, but more on that later.

Humble Pig BBQ

We walked around for a while. There were booths of wood crafts, toffee, leather working, stained glass, homemade candies, and confections.  Of course, all this activity made me hungry and the smell of BBQ was very appetizing.  So naturally, I had to try the Brisket Sandwich which was very good. Sophie thought the brisket smelled wonderful, but unfortunately, she had to settle for some water and Sophie’s Peanut Butter Swirls.  Bond Brothers Brewery was also there with a booth, so I washed the Brisket Sandwich down with an excellent Pre-Prohibition Golden Ale. It was really very good. I was a little hesitant to try it until the guy at the booth reassured me that is was actually brewed last week and was not left over from the 1920’s prohibition era.

Good Music Too!

I am not sure who this guy is. He had a couple of guitars and a computer providing accompanying instruments. But, he was pretty darn good. He played a great variety of music from the 70’s … folks like Jim Croce. It had been a while since I’d heard Bad Bad Leroy Brown!

All and all, it was a great afternoon! Sophie is zonked out on the living room rug, recovering for the activities. I, on the other hand, am going to spend the rest of the day editing a few more chapters in my book, Serpents Underfoot.

It is getting so close to being done. Can’t wait to get it out on Amazon.com.

The Golden Pig … Great Korean Food

I wanted to get off the politics for a few posts and since I recently revisited one of my favorite restaurants in Cary again, I decided to make my first foray in to the world of the food critic, or perhaps just give an endorsement for my favorite local Korean restaurant!

Kimchi Soup

If you want authentic Korean food that is consistently well-prepared, then you need look no further than the Golden Pig on West Chatham Street in Cary, NC.  Having spent a year eating Korean food while stationed with the 1/17th Infantry at Camp Casey in South Korea, I know what I am talking about. Wherever I was stationed, I tended to, as the Army says, “go native.” This essentially means I rarely ate in the mess hall. If I was off duty, I was off post.  While the U.S. Army kind of frowns on that, it’s the only way to really experience the local culture!

This great little restaurant serves traditional Korean food in healthy portions. I have eaten there several times now and each time I have left very happy and satisfied. It was just like revisiting a restaurant in Seoul or Tongduchon again.  Also, if you take a look around the restaurant while you are there, you will see a lot of Korean families happily eating away … typically a good sign as to authenticity and quality.

Bibimbop_BBQ_Chicken

The staff is very friendly every time I visit. The pickled vegetables and Kimchee are great. I especially like the chicken BBQ and the Bibimbap, But I’ve also had the Beef and Spicy Pork Bulgogi and they are both great to!  The last time I was there, the owner brought out a serving batter-friend vegetables for me to try at no charge … Delicious!

Hae Mul Jeon Gol

The Golden Pig is a great place for both lunch and dinner. They are open quite late as I recall. The atmosphere is casual dining with both tables and booths available. They have a full bar, and serve both beer and wine. Don’t be shy to ask for help or an explanation, but please do be patient … they certainly try, but English is certainly not their native language.