7.23.2016

Rambling Over Coffee: Nervous to try AirBnB for the first time. Testing the waters with my big toe but afraid to jump in!



What is Airbnb?

The short answer: people renting out a couch, room, house, apartment, condo...  to people looking for a place to stay.

From their website:

Founded in August of 2008 and based in San Francisco, California, Airbnb is a trusted community marketplace for people to list, discover, and book unique accommodations around the world — online or from a mobile phone or tablet.

Whether an apartment for a night, a castle for a week, or a villa for a month, Airbnb connects people to unique travel experiences, at any price point, in more than 34,000 cities and 191 countries.

Using Airbnb allows you to stay in a wide range of lodging, from simple futons on the ground to really nice apartments in funky neighborhoods to luxury villas steps from the beach. There are even castles, treehouses, and Airstream trailers. And because nearly all of what you pay goes to the owner directly, you’re keeping your money close to the ground.


_________________________________________



I was making a cross country (the USA) trip in June and looked at various options stay in the affordability range (which was, no budget at all, but not in the good way.  More like, barely enough for gas and pack some sandwiches or something to eat on the road).  I decided on the route I wanted to take (avoiding a couple key cities for various reasons) and figured if I drove about 10 hours the first day and 9 the second, I could make it in 2 days and only have to sleep somewhere 1 night.  Then I looked at options; hotel, sleep at a rest area in my car, camp?  I wanted to camp... but my husband and my Dad were both adamantly against it.  I brought my camping gear anyway... but wicked storms, flooding, tornadoes and 100 degree heat made me change my mind and I did end up in hotels in the end.

And now, I have to do the same trip again.

This time I remembered Airbnb existed and I thought I'd log in to see what was available in my 'stopover' city.  I found 1 that looked ok and affordable but dang... a little nerve wracking.  A single woman, traveling alone and booking a sleepover in someone elses home. I just don't know if I'm ready to make this leap of faith!

It doesn't help that I've spent time researching and reading forums and blogs... and although 90% of the stories are positive and went fine, it's the horror stories that stand out and stay with you!  You can't unread what you've read or unsee what you've seen, you know?

So... tonight, I am just pondering this road trip and I have to admit, I'm a sucker for wimping out of 'new' experiences (like booking an Airbnb) and although I hate to spend $130 on a hotel room for one night when I'm arriving, exhausted, sleeping and getting up and leaving again... I know I probably will opt for that in the end over tent camping or Airbnb.

It's just that I realized, with all the people I know personally; family or friends - I don't personally know anyone who has used/booked Airbnb and I guess I'm a little gun-shy to give it a go.  I keep testing the waters with my toe but afraid to jump in.

7.20.2016

Current word that is making me crazy: SHAME. As in; body shaming. Mom shaming. Etc.




Current word that is making me crazy:  SHAME.  As in;  body shaming. Mom shaming. Etc.

(Because it's being over used in social media and those nauseating 'an open letter to' articles lifted from bloggers sites and facebook and then featured as a 'news' article on bigger name sites). 

shame   SHām/
verb
gerund or present participle: shaming

(of a person, action, or situation) make (someone) feel ashamed.
"I tried to shame him into giving some away"
synonyms: humiliate, mortify, chagrin, embarrass, abash, chasten, humble, take down a peg or two, cut down to size; More

informalshow up, make someone eat crow
"he was shamed in public"

bring shame to.
"the entire debacle has shamed our community"
synonyms: disgrace, dishonor, discredit, degrade, debase; More

stigmatize, taint, sully, tarnish, besmirch, blacken, drag through the mud
"you shamed your family's name"

antonyms: honor
cause (someone) to feel ashamed or inadequate by outdoing or surpassing them.
"she shames me with her eighty-year-old energy"


7.19.2016

Windstream and other Communication Companies: Check out all their extra 'fees' that can raise that "LIFETIME GUARANTEE" price $30 a month


When we moved to our current home I looked over the availability of communications for internet, phone, tv reception etc.  We didn't have choices on a few utilities due to the location of our home so in the end I made the best choices (and sometimes the only choices) available to us and got everything hooked up as needed.

One of the companies we use is Windstream.  We've been a customer for a couple years now and one of the interesting things about their billing is that signing up for a bundle package that came with a lifetime guarantee price of $59.99 a month regularly costs me $90 a month.

Today I looked over the details of my bill and there are so many fees and charges unrelated to any of our usage, it's almost mind boggling.  There are a couple fees listed (and charged twice) like the "federal universal service fee"  because they apparently get to charge it for the 'windstream communications' part of the bill as well as the regular 'windstream' part of the bill. 

How your 'LIFETIME GUARANTEE BUNDLE PRICE' of $59.99 actually equals almost $100 every month.

Let's look at some of these fees!

1 month of service;

Access charge per FCC order 
Access Recovery charge
911 service
Federal Universal Service Fee
Dual Party Relay Surcharge
Deregulated Administration Fee
Federal Tax
State Utility Tax
Access Recovery Rate Change
Interstate Service Fee
Federal Universal Service Fee
State Utility Tax



Here is an explanation of their fees and surcharges from their website:


Windstream Communications Fee and Surcharge Guide

Below is a listing of all Windstream fees and surcharges. Please note that not all surcharges and fees apply to all customers.
Interstate Service Fee - Allows Windstream to recover costs, such as those associated with provisioning and maintaining customer accounts on the Company's network and interstate and international connection charges. Applies per account.
Network Cost Recovery Fee – Assists Windstream in recovering costs associated with routing telephone calls to their destinations. Applies monthly per line/trunk as specified in Windstream’s Tariffs and/or Terms and Conditions.
Federal Subscriber Line Charge Fee – Helps Windstream recoup the costs associated with building, maintaining and connecting telephone lines to your business. Applies monthly per telephone line or trunk.
Federal Universal Service Fund Fee – Designed to recover Windstream’s contribution to federal universal service fund programs, and is determined based upon Windstream’s own contribution to these programs. The Federal Communications Commission establishes a quarterly contribution factor, and Windstream recovers its contribution from its customers.
Local Number Portability Fee – Designed to help Windstream defray the costs of providing number portability. Number portability enables customers to retain their existing telephone numbers when they switch to another service provider. Applies monthly to local telephone lines/trunks.
State Telecommunications Relay Service Fund Surcharge – Assessed by states to assist disabled persons with access to telephone services and equipment. Applies monthly to all local telephone lines/trunks.
State Universal Service Fund Fee – Used to subsidize telephone service for rural health care providers, low-income residences, schools and libraries at the state level. Applies based on local and intrastate telephone usage and/or lines.
State 911 Recovery Surcharge – Assessed to recover the cost of providing 911 access to emergency services. Applies based on local and intrastate telephone usage and/or lines.
Payphone Fee – Assessed each time a Windstream customer uses a Windstream calling card or 1-8XX number at a payphone to help defray the per call compensation assessed to Windstream by the payphone provider for completing such calls.
Regulatory Access Fee – Assessed to help off-set costs associated with maintaining equal access call origination and termination facilities domestically and internationally. Applies per line.
Emergency Services Fee – Assessed to help recover costs of operating Windstream’s emergency systems and equipment that support the availability of emergency services to customers. Applies per line, subject to a per customer cap.
Late Payment Charge and Late Payment Collection Fee – This charge and this Fee recover the costs associated with the administration and collection of unpaid balances and are not government-mandated. The Late Payment Collection Fee may not apply to all customers.
Access Recovery Charge – The FCC permits local telephone companies to assess this charge to recover a portion of the costs incurred in the provision and maintenance of telephone service to connect customer’s homes and businesses to the telephone network.
Regulatory Assessment Surcharge (RAS) - As a telecommunications company, Windstream must make various payments to local, state, and federal departments and agencies, including, but not limited to, administration fees, inspection and supervision fees, and general public utility commission assessments. RAS is designed to help Windstream recover the cost of these payments. Windstream assesses RAS on end‐user customers based on the individual customer’s respective interstate and international services invoiced.
Carrier Infrastructure Fee Charge - Carrier Infrastructure Surcharge is a 1.75% assessment on all services. The assessment is for the administration of services by personnel and systems throughout our network including: network security, infrastructure management, and tax, regulatory and tariff administration.
Property Tax Recovery Charge - The Property Tax Recovery Charge (PTRC) is a 1.5% assessment applied to long distance and local usage. PTRC is assessed based on the customers tax plan.
Paperbill fee - This charge applies to business accounts in certain states who chose to continue to receive a full paper bill. Fee is designed to recover the cost of producing a paper bill. In lieu of a paper invoice customers, may elect to receive a summary invoice at no charge.
Deregulated Administration Fee - The Deregulated Administration Fee recovers costs associated with administration and provision of many products and services such as maintenance and entertainment services. This fee is not a tax or fee required by the government.
Franchise/Right-of-Way Fee - Governmental entities may charge Windstream to use the public rights-of-way to provide service to our customers. This fee collects Windstream’s costs associated with those charges. This fee is not a tax or charge required by the government.

Francis Francis Iperespresso Machine - Maybe the cutest little espresso machine on the market?


http://amzn.to/29VwCIH


Critics rave over the elegant design and one-touch convenience of the Francis Francis X7.1. Designed to work exclusively with illy iperEspresso capsules (Medium Roasted, Decaf, Lungo, Dark Roasted), the striking Francis Francis X7.1 gives you café quality espresso based drinks at the touch of a button. Unlike conventional one-stage systems, the iperEspresso method uses an innovative, patented two-stage process to create intensely aromatic, full-bodied espresso with rich, velvety crema that lasts and lasts. And because the extraction takes place entirely inside the capsule, the coffee and machine never come in contact making for easy clean up.

The auto-stop feature assures perfect volume in the cup, while the pannarello steam wand froths milk for thick and delicious cappuccino and latte. Designed by renowned Italian architect Luca Trazzi, this striking machine adds a strong visual statement to any kitchen.

Perhaps the cutest espresso machine - it reminds me of a little Disney Pixar character.  That's what caught my eye this morning when I was browsing around for espresso machines online.  The similarity to a little character with tiny little ears, big eyes and a round nose.  But... it's also a rather modern, sleek design and perhaps my penchant for seeing a cute little adorable critter in the design is just a byproduct of the oodles of strong, black coffee I've already partaken of all morning!

This particular image above is the Francis Francis X7.1 Iperespresso Machine in red.  But it also comes in black.

Features:
  • One-touch brewing cycle
  • Pannarello steam wand for easy frothing of milk
  • Auto-stop feature for programmable volume
  • Power save mode
  • Steel thermoblock with 15 bar pump
  • Unlike conventional one-stage systems, the iperEspresso capsule system uses an innovative, patented two-stage process to create intensely aromatic
  • Auto-stop feature assures perfect volume in the cup, while professional steam wand froths milk for thick and delicious cappuccino and latte
  • Designed by renowned Italian architect Luca Trazzi, this striking machine adds a strong visual statement to any kitchen
There are four (4) different variety of pods or 'capsules' if you will;


Medium Roast: a smooth balanced and pleasantly nuanced flavor that is both sweet and rich.
Dark Roast:
roasted at a higher temperature for a longer time this coffee is intense and robust full flavored coffee.
Decaffeinated:
same flavor profile as Medium Roast but without the caffeine.
Lungo:
Medium Roast capsules that have been specially formulated for more coffee volume to be savored in a larger cup, without having to make any adjustments to the machine. Providing you with even more of the same great illy flavor and aroma to enjoy. 




With the above pods you can make a variety of drinks (just like or really close to your local coffee house does but you can do it at home, in your pajamas).

Espresso
It's the purest way to enjoy coffee, highlighting its aroma and flavor at the maximum intensity; a tiny miracle of chemistry and physics that is as much art as it is science.

Cappuccino A favorite in coffee bars and cafés, cappuccino is easy to prepare at home once you master the finer points of steaming and frothing. A cup of cappuccino should contain one shot of espresso coffee and equal parts of steamed milk and froth.

Cafe Latte While holding back the milk froth, pour hot steamed milk over a shot of espresso (1oz) until the glass is filled. Top the drink with a rich layer of frothy milk.

Lungo For those who prefer more coffee (3oz) in their cup, lungo capsules provide a unique full bodied taste experience that differs from both traditional espresso and brewed coffee.









Related products available through Amazon;

illy iperEspresso Capsules Medium Roasted Coffee, 5-Ounce, 21-Count Capsules
Francis Francis X7.1 Iperespresso Machine, Red
Francis Francis for illy iperEspresso Machine
Illy Caffe Y1.1 216623 Touch Espresso Machine, Red

7.18.2016

12 Year Boy Walking Home From a Small Town Fair Frisked & Put Into the Back of a Cop Car And Interrogated....



A 12 year old boy walks down the street with his friend at 3:00 in the afternoon.  They are walking home from a small festival in the park with games, food booths and a few rides.  They are laughing, joking and in high spirits as they both are carrying rolled up posters they won at a dart game at the festival.  They are walking to their home about 8 blocks away.

Suddenly a police car pulls up along side them.  They keep walking as they've done nothing wrong.  The police car paces them and the window rolls down.  The white cop calls out to them;  "Boys!"  The boy and his friend stop and look at the police officer in the car.  The car stops and the officer gets out.  He asks them;  "Say, you boys wouldn't know anything about some broken windows around here would you?"

"No....."  they answer.  They've been back at the festival all afternoon.

The police officer has them lean up against the car and frisks them.

They are too stunned and scared to say anything so they stand and wait.

The officer then tells them to get into the backseat of the squad car, they are going for a little ride.

(This is totally illegal of him, but the boys are 12 years old, scared and don't know any different.)

Scared and sitting in the back seat, the officer drives ahead a few blocks and turns down a side street with new construction in the area.  As he drives he interrogates the boys as to their names, where they live, where they've been, what they've been doing and whether they've been walking through the new construction area throwing rocks and breaking into empty homes.

The boys are confused but tell him no... again, they've been at the festival.

The police officer stops at a town home complex and tells the boys to stay put as he gets out of the car and approaches the front door of one of the duplexes.  He rings the bell and waits.  The door is opened by a heavyset white woman with dirty, loose mismatched clothing, who greets the officer and then sticks her head out past the officers to glare at the police car and specifically, the boys sitting in the backseat.  The police officer nods and walks back to the car.

He tells the boys they've had a complaint that the woman thought she heard glass breaking and thought it might be coming from the homes under construction at the end of the block.  He tells them, "So boys, we're going to drive through.  Are we going to find some broken windows?"

The boys tell him not that they know of.  Inside they are thinking, "I hope they don't find any broken glass, because if they DO they are going to blame it on us!"

Luckily all is quiet and the police officer doesn't see any broken windows as they slowly cruise up and down the streets. He drives back towards the festival and drops the boys off with an admonishment of not getting into any trouble or breaking anything or he knows who they are.

______________________________________


A teenager waits in a hotel parking lot for his friend on a Friday evening around 8:pm.  He and his friend are going to go hang out and play video games, but his friend has to stop to say hi to a girl who is having a birthday party there, and will be out in 5 minutes.

As the teen waits in his car a police officer pulls up in his squad car.  He drives slowly through the parking lot and stops next to the teen.  Getting out of his car he approaches the teenager and asks him what he's doing hanging out in the parking lot.  The teen tells him he's just waiting for his friend to come out and he should be out in a just a minute or two.

The cop continues with questions as to why they are at the hotel, what they are doing and where they are going.  The teen answers all questions as sitting around playing video games on Friday night is pretty much the biggest excitement they have planned.

The police officer is looking around the inside of the teen's car as he talks to him supposedly just making conversation.  At this point the officer gets a bit of an attitude and asks him if he has any alcohol or controlled substances.  The teen responds in the negative.  The cop asks him if he can search his vehicle?  "Sure" the teen answers.

The teenager has been through this before.  He drives a 10 year old silver Pontiac that shouts "teen" driver all over it.  He's pulled over, watched and approached by the police all too often.

The police officer makes him pop his trunk open.

Orange and green Solo cups are laying in the trunk.  The police officers head and shoulders get a little more rigid.  He assumes he is going to bust the teen for alcohol!  He smirks and tilts his head to look into the trunk.  Does he find beer? Bottles of vodka?

Nope.  He sees three cartons of soda pop.  Grape, strawberry and orange to be exact.  The teens favorite kinds.

The police officer gives him a little ribbing for having soda.  The teen informs the officer he doesn't drink alcohol but he loves orange soda.  The police officer leaves empty handed, the friend comes back out and they leave.

Just another night being hassled by the cops.

________________________________________


The 12 year old boy and the 'teen' in the two examples (Just two of many examples) above are my son.
A good kid.  Catholic. Non-drinker. Non-partier. Drives the speed limit. Drinks soda. Plays video games. On the football, baseball and track teams.  
Spent his whole teenage life being hassled by police officers. 
He's white. With blonde hair with green eyes.