Consumer Advice

Fire your satellite or cable company and never look back!

September 9, 2014 • By

There is no one more devoted to the idiot box than I, but that didn’t mean that I had to become one just to be able to watch the shows that I love.  If you ask me, the price of watching television has become ridiculously high without justification. The more I hear about how high the prices are for cable and satellite television, phone and internet service, the more grateful I am that I decided to make some changes a few years ago.  I was paying what could be considered a lease payment for an economy car for the pleasure of having internet, satellite TV and a land-line phone. When you consider the bazillion television channels (let’s not forget the useless music channels!) that they offer to justify charging a ransom for, you quickly realize how few channels that’s really worth watching there are.

cable

Do this.  List all of the cable channels that you presently think that you can’t live without.  You will notice that a couple of them are offered in the basic package aka “ridiculously priced but we’ll still allow you to buy this week’s groceries” package. Next, you will find a few listed in the next package level and so on and so forth.  Soon, you will realize that in order to get every channel that you ‘desire’ you will have to purchase their top level plan or else.

This is where you begin to realize that maybe there are too many home improvement shows being produced and you can certainly live without the glut of  ubiquitous “reality” shows. You shouldn’t have to pay through the nose to be entertained.  So, I decided, along with many others, to rebel.  There is no need for these services to cost so much, I have no problem with someone trying to make a profit, but human decency should be factored in at some point. For example, Comcast has actually scrambled all local channels.

From Brier Dudley’s blog: “Over the past four years Comcast has gradually required its customers to add some kind of cable box on all of their TV sets, giving the company more control over the content the customers view and potentially more revenue from box rentals. The move also pushes customers with entry-level cable service to upgrade to digital packages, increasing their monthly bill by 300 percent or more. Yet it was endorsed last year by the Federal Communications Commission, which accepted the cable industry’s arguments that further encryption was needed for security and environmental reasons.”

This is pure evil and it’s endorsed by the very agency that should be protecting the consumer’s interest.  So, our lesson is that we have to look out for our own interests.

comcast

 

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Travel Advice

I have decided to give cruising another chance

August 9, 2014 • By

Roughly six years ago, I took my first cruise and I can distinctly recall declaring that it would be my last.  As luck and life would have it, I am eating my words.   I think sometimes when we have time to look back on things and the resulting decisions, your vision becomes a little less myopic.

You began to realize that your position on certain things may need to be challenged. I’m a planner.  I like to make lists and stick to them.  This is not to say that I am rigid, but I like to have a set itinerary that matches the goals that I hope to accomplish while I am traveling.  I’ve been known to take copious notes about my destination and transplant them to an Outlook calendar that span the length of said trip.

Thankfully, the invention of Tripit! made my life a whole lot easier, so I was finally able to say goodbye to Outlook.  This is not to say that I can’t be spontaneous just because I’ve plotted out the perfect time to do just that on my calendar.  I can be.  I just need to make sure that I don’t miss out on important things to do while I am there.

Now, back to the cruise dilemma.  I had come to the realization that I am indeed a control freak.  I like to make my own plans when I travel and I felt the cruise director was overstepping his bounds.  Alas, I was a captive audience, so I had to participate in whatever he had planned for said cruise.  If I am honest, I have to admit that I did enjoy myself.

There was also an inexplicable relief in not having to arrange, plan and execute every aspect of my trip. I could just sit back, relax and (egad!) do nothing!  I wasn’t familiar with that reality and I didn’t quite know where to turn.  I think I was kind of mad that I did enjoy it and couldn’t really give myself credit for it.  The Carnival Liberty wasn’t half bad.  The food was ubiquitous and really good, the shows were top notch, the slot machines paid off (most of the time) and the crew was friendly and very helpful.

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Inspiration

Requiem of a burned out travel blogger

July 6, 2014 • By

You know how it feels when you’re walking down the street and you catch a glimpse of something familiar. Something that you know without a shadow of a doubt, who or what it is. Your pace quickens as you get closer, so sure that once you’ve caught up with whatever you’re chasing, you will be greeted warmly by sturdy hands embracing you because your presence was missed too.

running

I feel that way about writing. As you can see from my utter lack of recent posts, I took a long break from it in order to pursue another dream that I felt was calling me. I am so happy to have done so because I don’t ever want to live with even more regrets. I will continue with it, but I am most certain and harbor no doubt that writing is where I am meant to be.

Writing has been a part of my life for almost as long as I have been breathing. It has allowed me to encapsulate my deepest fears and most hopeful dreams safely within the realm of a collection of bound pages throughout the years.

writing

It gave life to words that I dared not utter for fear of judgment or ridicule. It was my sacred place to store all of the feelings that both haunted and elated me and I could come back to revisit them at my own choosing.

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Newbie How-to's, Travel Advice

The Newbie’s Guide to booking accommodations – part 1

September 16, 2013 • By

Today marks the beginning of a three part series that breaks down the choices one has in selecting accommodations for vacations or holidays. We will begin with our most economical offerings and work our way to the more expensive options.

 

courtesy- treehugger.com

When it comes to finding accommodations while traveling, I’m somewhat of a pragmatist.  I don’t require 5* stays mostly because I see it as a colossal waste of money.  When I travel, I see my hotel room as somewhere to lay my head at night.  I didn’t travel so that I could stay in a room, I plan to spend as little time there as possible!  But this is just my budget conscious opinion and when it comes to securing accommodations, preferences are never one size fits all.

Still, half the fun of searching for somewhere to stay is in realizing how many strange and unusual places to choose from that will make your visit more enjoyable.  Hotels are the default accommodations of choice, but how interesting would it be to stay in a monastery, an igloo or even a log cabin?

How do you find not only standard hotel rooms but find unique places to stay while you are on vacation?

I’m on a strict budget.  What is the best type of accommodation for me? READ MORE


City Views, South America

TRAVEL PHOTO THURSDAY

August 29, 2013 • By

People watching.  It’s one of my favorite things to do when I travel.  It’s an up close and personal way to studying anyone but it’s particularly interesting when it’s someone in another country.

You quickly come to learn that more often than not, we have more in common than we’d realized.  There may be different methods to attaining similar goals and observing those methods can be teachable moments for us.  But the fact remains that we are not that dissimilar.

I saw these girls on their way to parochial school early one morning in Santiago, Chile.  You could hear them a mile away chattering on about things young girls love to talk about like this guy.  This could have been a scene from any-town U.S.A.  It’s a slice of life of humankind and its simplicity makes me happy to have witnessed it.

 

santiago schoolgirls


Travel Advice

Spotlight on: The Georgia D.O.T.’s HERO unit

August 12, 2013 • By
[box]Today, I wanted to write about one of our unsung heroes. Literally. like the old saying, you never miss your water until the well runs dry; you don’t realize the value of these folks until you need them.[/box]

 

It is inevitable that you will come across one of these bright yellow vehicles during the course of your rush hour commute if you live in Georgia. They are responsible for moving disabled vehicles from the highway onto the shoulder or clearing wrecks from the highways in order to facilitate a smoother traffic flow.

 

courtesy 11Alive news

courtesy: 11Alive news

 

The Georgia DOT Office of Traffic Operations Highway Emergency Response Operators (HERO) patrols Georgia’s highways 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. The majority of their time is spent assisting stranded motorists who may:

  • have a flat tire
  • need a jump start
  • need transport
  • need fuel or water
  • need to use a phone

If they happen to see a car on the side of the road, they will pull up behind them to assist (providing that the driver hasn’t already left the vehicle to seek help at an off-ramp).  They are not a wrecker service, so they will not be able to tow you.  They can, however, contact a towing service for you.

There’s something comforting about knowing that should you experience a breakdown while traveling on Georgia’s highways, you can easily summon help by dialing 511, then press 1 to reach a HERO dispatcher. It’s nice to know that you will be taken care of whether you live here, visiting or are just passing through.  Caveat:  For obvious reasons, during major traffic incidents or severe weather, HEROs may not be available for routine motorist assistance.READ MORE


City Views, North America

Travel Photo Friday

August 2, 2013 • By

IMG_1993

Party over here!! We were leaving the casino and happened upon this party bus, replete with disco ball and dancing patrons and boy was the music LOUD! But that’s to be expected on a Saturday night in New Orleans. I think it’s a great way to let your hair down, have a few cocktails and party down with your best friends. It’s a pretty safe way to entertain yourself but I would still recommend having a designated driver regardless. Woot!!


Inspiration

How to stop tap dancing for the world and reclaim your sanity

July 29, 2013 • By

billcosby

Are you at a point in your life where you’re constantly frazzled, burning the candle at both ends and can barely fire two synapses together because you are on emotional overload?  You’re being pulled from all sides….the boss has you on an impossible deadline and so far the only thing that you’ve managed to produce is a case of the heebie jeebies (but who can afford to be out of work in this economy?).  Your kids are convinced that you have tentacles that can extend and retract at will.  Your significant other (an otherwise bright and intelligent person) becomes befuddled when it’s time to load a dishwasher and the mere mention of housework makes them apoplectic.

The irony of it all, is that you are stressing because of someone else.  Don’t get me wrong we all have obligations, both professional and familial.  While your hands may be somewhat tied when it comes to your livelihood, it does not have to be the case anywhere else.  Unless that’s how YOU want it to be.  A lot of the pressures that we feel come from external forces.  We’re supposed to have an immaculate home, perfect robotic children, run the daily car pool like clockwork and fix seven dinners a week that would make Wolfgang Puck jealous.  We are too busy living the life that others expect, in fact, demand of us.

Luckily, there is a way to get off of the crazy train.  By giving yourself permission to orchestrate your life in a way that is meaningful to you, you can reclaim your sanity.  Here are a few tips to get you closer to that goal:READ MORE


Newbie How-to's, Travel Advice

The Newbie’s Guide to using the TripIt! Application

July 8, 2013 • By

Screen shot 2013-07-07 at 1.35.36 PMI’m a planner. I’m not the type A, OCD type of planner, but I like to keep things organized and in its place. Never is this more apparent than when I am planning the details of my vacation.

I like to have all of my flight, hotel and activity confirmations in one place where I can access them at any time.

I started out using the calendar feature of Microsoft Outlook. I could easily record all of my confirmations by keying them in on the appropriate dates; then the day before departure, I would print out each day’s activities and have them ready to go.

I really didn’t have an issue with preparing my itinerary this way. That is, until I found a quicker and easier way to do it. Enter the app, TripIt.   I found it while searching through apps on Linked-In, of all places.

It allows your linkedin connections to see where you are headed to next. This can be a bad and a good thing, I chose to disable this feature since I didn’t necessarily want everyone of my connections to know my complete schedule in real time.

However, you can input all of your information via their website by opening an account at TripIt . You can even give TripIt permission to auto import travel plans from your email inbox (this can be rescinded at any time). When you receive confirmations of your airline, hotel and tour bookings via email, TripIt will automatically scan your inbox and capture those bookings into your TripIt account. Each screen shot that you see below was automatically scanned into my account when TripIt discovered it in my gmail account.READ MORE


Travel Advice

Google Reader dies in t – minus six hours….

June 30, 2013 • By


google-reader

Hi Dear Reader,

As you may know by now, Google has decided to stop providing a way for all of us to read our collection of blog feeds.  If you are a subscriber and read my blog posts via Google Reader, you won’t be able to after midnight tonight.

So, do me a favor.  Take a second to go here to select another type of reader to use so that you won’t miss any critical posts of mine in the future: http://feeds.feedburner.com/aviewtoathrill

OR….USA Today has a review of five alternative readers that you can quickly switch to.  Personally, I settled on using Feedly, but you are free to choose whatever you desire.  Just don’t wait too long…….it will be gone before you can say, “July 1st”.

Hope to see you soon on the other side!

Renee