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Thursday, March 31, 2011

Guide To Using Phenobarbital To Commit Suicide | Prevention

Visitors to this site come via a myriad of paths. Some are coming from Facebook, others from Google or Yahoo Search. Some are searching for specific terms. One of the most popular searches is for my name: Roger Blazic - and BINGO, they find me.

Today, however, someone came to my site by using the search phrase: guide to using phenobarbital to commit suicide

Whoever you are, I hope you come back.

First off, suicide is permanent. And it's not a good choice.

If you seriously need help, do one of the following immediately:

I've been down the long dark road. All seemed hopeless. Then, I thought, "If I kill myself, there will never be another tomorrow. There will never be another smile. I'll never see the mountains or the ocean again. There will never be another pizza. I'll never see my family or friends again. I'll never be able to have the feeling of helping someone."

What has stopped me the most often from committing suicide was that thought that, "I CANNOT DO THIS TO MY DAUGHTER." She's 10. If you have children, it will destroy their lives and scar them forever.

Even if you don't have a good relationship with your family, deep down they care and will wonder, "Why?"

After a while, I found out that I would lose more than I would gain by ending it all. I hope you do the same. But don't delay. Get help. Call the number above or check out the website. Or call a friend. I've been there and the people on the hotline are great. They really care. You can feel safe calling them or checking out their website. Or try one of the groups listed in the post below.

If you do kill yourself, you'll have no idea how many people will grieve losing you. There are a lot more than you think.

No matter how down you are, find someone, anyone to talk to today. That is a start. It's a step in the right direction.

Bookmark this blog. It's a funny and informative place. I suffer from several mental illnesses and I've been taken 2,300 miles away from my daughter. Ending it all crosses my mind a lot. However, I saw the good I was doing by making people laugh and learn with this blog. It has kept me alive. Stop back. You're always welcome here. You should laugh and learn like the other thousands and thousands of people that have come here.

Related stories:
Five Steps To Recovery From Mental Illness
Recovery From Mental Illness Should Include Groups

If you want something to lighten your mood, check out my post:

Bad Ways To Commit Suicide | Proven Not To Work

Best of My Funny Blog Posts


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How To Protect Yourself Against Telephone Scams | Personal and Business

Your telephone rings. Your first instinct is to answer it. But you check the Caller ID and it's an unfamiliar number. Do you answer it or not? More than likely, it is someone trying to sell you something; or worse - trying to scam you. Below are tips on how to protect yourself against telephone scams.

Your first defense is to drastically reduce the number of calls you get. This is simple and easy. You sign up on the National Do Not Call Registry.

By getting on the Do Not Call list, you will eliminate about 90-95% of calls from solicitors. However, if you are on lists like school alumni lists or charitable organization lists or on lists from companies you have done business with, the DNC list won't put a stop to those calls.

Simply blowing off numbers that begin with "800" "877" "866" etc. might not be the best thing to do, especially if you are trying to finance a home, resolve a credit card dispute or have issues with your bank.

I had a situation where I was trying to negotiate with my bank on my mortgage, so it was not in my best interest to send the "8XX" calls to voice mail. They don't always leave a message and you could be creating a bigger problem than you want.

So, let's say you answer the call. There are a number of popular scams that you need to be aware of:
  • Credit Card Scams - These people say they are calling from your credit card company or from Visa or Mastercard. They are trying to get you hooked into switching to their low interest card. They are NOT from your credit card company. Some are phishing for information. If they can get you to verify your birth date or your mother's maiden name, they are snatching key bits of information that will allow them to impersonate you when they call your credit card company to rip you off.
  • Warranty Scams - You'll find these scams in all shapes and sizes - auto warranties, appliance warranties, home warranties, electronics warranties. These are all basically rip offs. Generally, they are selling you a warranty that is not necessary. If at some point you need to use the warranty, they are nowhere to be found. 
  • Charitable Scams - Here are the real low-life scammers. They prey on your sense of empathy for a cause. "The children need your support." They do, but you can find a legitimate local charity where you can make your donation with confidence and know that it will be used for good, not ill-gotten gain. 
  • Home Repair Scams - You might get a call from some home repair company, service company, carpet cleaner or any other outfit that would work in or around your home. They'll say, "We're calling to confirm our appointment for tomorrow." When you tell them you don't know anything about it, they'll say, "Oh, we made it with your husband (or wife or some other adult in the house). They verify your address, which they didn't have to begin with. The next day, they show up at your house. Their goal is to snoop around your property or inside your home with the intention of finding something that "needs to be fixed or replaced". If you're not aware of what is going on, you could get hit with services that cost hundred or even thousands of dollars. 
  • Free Trip Scams - Offering a free trip to an exotic destination for three days can sound enticing; however, you're not being booked for a trip, you're being set-up for a timeshare or vacation rental pitch. The big lie is that the "presentation" will only take a couple hours and then you can merrily go on your way, enjoying your free vacation. This is pure bullshit. I'm very familiar with how timeshares work, having worked for one company in Las Vegas. The company I worked for wasn't bad. But our competitors were relentless. They would take prospects on a tram away from the property and keep them tied up for hours and hours - basically ruining an entire day of their FREE vacation. 
  • Free TV's, Electronics, iPods, iPads, etc. - Keep in mind, there is no such thing as FREE. If you are getting something, even if it is a bag of popcorn, they expect you to give them something in return - a stack of papers with dead presidents on them. Another angle these people use is signing you up for travel clubs or discount clubs that have recurring charges. Canceling these charges down the road can be a total nightmare. So don't give in, no matter how good it sounds. 
  • Investment Scams - I lost a small fortune to a company that was illegally using the Coldwell Banker name. I thought they were a reputable outfit. Their business was investing in old apartment buildings and refurbishing them. It turned out to be a Ponzi scheme and is currently under investigation with the SEC. I may never see my money again. Also, if you have a sizable stock or bond portfolio, you may wind up on an "investors" list. Somehow, I got on one of these lists. I used to get calls to invest in movies (there is about a 100% chance you will never see your money again). I got calls for land deals, venture capital funding for start-up companies, new products and so on. Another aspect of this is the "hot stock tip" deal. "XYZ Douche Bags is selling for 38¢ a share, but we expect it to go to $4.00 in the next month." The rule here is, you know who your investment advisers are. If you want to make an investment, call them. Never do business with anyone that calls you.
  • Make Money At Home Scams - You won't find a more persistent or ruthless group than these scumbags. During hard economic times, everyone is looking for ways to make extra money. People on tight budgets and the elderly are prime targets. Human nature is that we are lazy. We don't really want to put the work into an opportunity that it might need. We also want it to be painless - translated - EASY. So the words you'll hear from these pitches are, "It's simple, it's easy. If I can do it, you can too. We have old ladies with seeing eye dogs doing this, you'll be raking in the dough right away." Some of the opportunities are for Multi-level Marketing companies. I've already written a full expose on them. There is a specific group that has been operating in the Phoenix and Scottsdale area for some time pitching opportunities where they give you a free website. I will be writing a complete report on them. A portion of the company has already been busted for mail fraud, but clones keep popping up all the time. Other make money at home scams are folding envelopes, sending postcards, data entry, freelance writing and more. Again, if they call you, hang up. 
  • Toner Cartridges and Office Supplies - In Las Vegas, there were entire office parks full of phone rooms hustling these inexpensive, but cheap and defective office supplies. Most of these products are reloads, that won't necessarily work the way you want them to and you'll be out "the savings" on the products.
  • Grants - Right now, there are several phone rooms in Las Vegas that are selling grant writing services. They advertise heavily on the radio nationwide, offering a booklet on how to access plentiful supplies of grant funds for your small business. I worked one day for one of these outfits. They were sticking people for $2,500 for grant writing services. The trick was, they had no grant writers. They had a couple high school girls that sent out letters, which were summarily rejected by the grant providers and then they'd stall you for months before they broke the bad news to you. And they didn't have any booklets to send out. 
  • Incorporation In Nevada - Setting up a Nevada corporation has many tax advantages. However, there are about a dozen companies in Las Vegas that pound the phones calling small companies to offer them "streamlined" incorporation services. The "streamlined" services come with a huge price tag and little customer support. If you can get anyone on the phone after you've shelled out $12,000 for your Nevada Inc. papers, you'll be lucky.
  • SEO or Website Optimization - Vegas had a lot of these, too, but they fester nationwide. If you have a website, you will probably get a call from one of these outfits. They all promise the same thing, "We can get you on the first page of Google. That's where all the money is." The going rate for this scam is around $250 to $500. I've talked to a number of people who had their sites "optimized" and I couldn't find them anywhere on Google. 
  • Refinancing Your Home -  Yes, thieves will pose as someone from your mortgage company. Again, they try to get information from you that they should already have, if they WERE your mortgage company. Don't fall for this. 
  • Bank Information Verification - You see a lot of these scams via email. They want you to verify your account info, social security number, etc. It's a scam. Hang up. If you are concerned that there is a problem, call your bank.
  • Credit Card Verification - You might get a call from someone posing as a representative from a company that you have done business with online. The scam is to get you to verify your credit card information so they can complete your order or keep you in their database. If you get a call like this, hang up and call the credit card company yourself. Or another twist is they pose as someone from the fraud department of your credit card company. "There have been some suspicious charges made on your credit card and we need to verify all of your account information to protect you." You're being ripped-off if you talk to them. In this event, get a number where you can call them back, or better yet, just call your credit card company directly. The customer service number is on the back of your card. They can connect you with the fraud department.
I'm sure there are more, but these are the most common telephone scams I know of.

How do you protect yourself?
  1. Hang up
  2. Never give any personal information over the phone. If they say they are your bank, your bank HAS all of your information, they don't need you to tell them what it is. When they ask me questions about verifying my address, I say, "Why don't you tell me." Or "What do you have on file?" They usually hang up.
  3. It is illegal to solicit people on a cell phone. If you get called on your cell phone, tell them, "Do you know it's illegal to call me on my cell phone? I'm going to report you to the Attorney General's office. They usually hang up.
  4. If you have time to kill, I do this. I listen to their entire pitch. I sound excited about what they are selling. Then they ask me to buy. I give them a debit card number for an account I closed. It's no good. They hang up thinking they have a sale. When they run the card, it comes up non-sufficient funds or closed. They call back. I have another credit card I closed that I give them. They try and run that. It's another dud. They call back. The rep will try to brainstorm how I can come up with the $500 they're trying to rip me off for. I tell them, "Gee, I don't know how I can get that together today." Their response, "Mr. Blazic, are you really serious about this opportunity?" Then I say, "NO... and you just got punked!" And I hang up. After that, I let their calls go to voice mail. What this does is waste all of their time. Salespeople only like to work with the best, hottest leads. If you pose as one, you can keep them going for hours while you let your toenails dry and you'll be preventing them from scamming someone else. It really pisses them off. I love it. 
  5. This is a personal favorite of mine that I use on the gang from Phoenix and Scottsdale. They call me every week. They've been doing it for two years. Same pitch, just a different new scam on how I can make a ton of money with my own website that they provide. I listen to the pitch for a while, then I blast my phone with an air horn. That jerks the headset off the idiot. The funny part is that they never make a note, "Mr. Blazic is a dickhead. Don't call him." But every week, I get between three and fifteen calls from these various phone rooms in Arizona and I abuse them every time. I have to take pleasure in the small things in life. I'm such a bastard. But I love it. 
Now you know some of the most common telephone scams and you know how to protect yourself against telephone scams, so let's get to work. Click the link below and get on the Do Not Call Registry. That is step one. Reread this to master the rest. And buy an air horn.


National Do Not Call Registry 

Bankcard Empire's Scam Busted. But Clones Live On



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Japan Radiation Is Making The World Re-Think Nuclear Power

We're all aware of the horrific earthquake and tsunami that devastated the northeastern coast of Japan on March 11th. As bodies are unearthed, the official death toll has climbed to over 11,000. Tens of thousands more are still missing. There are predictions that bodies swept out to sea will be showing up on Japanese shores for weeks and months to come. As devastating as the natural events have been, the continued leaking of radiation from the crippled Fukushima nuclear reactor poses a potentially more devastating disaster to not only Japan, but the rest of the world. The Japan radiation is making the world re-think Nuclear Power.

Yesterday, President Barack Obama, speaking at Georgetown University expressed support for nuclear power in the United States.

France is standing firmly behind their nuclear power plants, while neighboring countries are lobbying against them.

Germany's government is putting a freeze on all future nuclear power expansion until they study its risks in more detail.

Currently, the United States has 103 nuclear power plants. Americans have been lucky that the only nuclear plant incident we had at Three Mile Island in 1979 was quickly contained and posed no regional threat.

The greatest nuclear disaster occurred in Chernobyl in 1986. Thousands of lives were lost immediately, while tens of thousands more perished from radiation exposure.

Yesterday, radiation 3,500 times the safe level was detected up to 300 yards offshore from the Fukushima facility. High levels of radiation have been reported 25 miles south of the leaking plant.

Japan's main concern is the potential deadly impact the radiation would have on its water supply, farming and vibrant fishing industry. Fish mongers in Tokyo report that business is dramatically down and that all of the tourists have evaporated from their stalls.

As we watch the tragedy in Japan unfold, Chernobyl should remain our benchmark for what would happen with a major meltdown.

Radiation from Chernobyl has made the entire area uninhabitable - and it will remain that way for thousands of years. Entire forests of pine trees, now called the "Red Forest" have been killed. There are no insects, no woodland creatures, no birds - nothing.

Nuclear power gained popularity because it is an efficient means of producing electricity. Its output is much greater than hydro-electric power, coal plants and natural gas plants. Green alternatives don't even come close.

Nuclear power has one big - and it is big - negative beyond the threat of a meltdown: Nuclear Waste.

Years ago, the government arbitrarily decided that all of our nuclear waste could be dumped in Nevada at Yucca Mountain. After billions of dollars of construction, research and geological testing, Yucca Mountain is not capable of handling the ever-mounting radioactive waste.

Right now, nuclear waste is stored near the power plants.

Having a central repository for the waste presents two major problems: Accidents in transport and vulnerability to terrorism.

The biggest problem with nuclear waste is that it remains dangerous, basically, forever.

Some of the radioactive material has a half-life of 25,000 years. What that means is that in 25,000 years, it will be half as deadly. In another 25,000 years, what remains will be half as deadly. A 100,000 years down the road will only mean that the radioactivity will be cut in half once again. So, in essence, it never goes away.

To help explain this phenomenon more clearly, I'd like to call on our two southern nuclear correspondents - Bubba and Lester.

"Hey, Bubba."

"What up, Lester?"

"How's yer ole fat ass been?"

"Still bustin' outta my jeans. Ha ha."

"Yeah, you got more crack showin' than on the corner of Martin Luther King Boulevard."

"Shut yo mouth Lester. Keep it up and I'll talk shit about yer Mama."

"Oh, don't even go there Bubba. Besides, we's 'posed to be talking about new-culer waste."

"Right on, Lester."

"Bubba, do you know dick about new-culer waste?"

"Not really, buddy."

"Well, it goes like this... Let's say I give you a dog. It's a good dog. Not one of those three-legged dogs."

"Dats cool."

"Now, Bubba, this dog will be good to your family and make everybody happy. He'll light up your life."

"Damn, Lester, you sure you wanna give up a dog like dat?"

"Jes shut up and listen to the story."

"OK"

"So yooz got this dog that you and your whole family love. Been lightin' you up for a long time. Then one day, this dog is gonna take a big ole shit in your yard."

"That's what dogs do, so what?"

"Well, Bubba, this pile of shit is gonna kill all yer grass."

"No more freakin' mowin'. I like this damn dog."

"But then the pile of dog shit kills yer chickens and your hogs."

"That sucks."

"And after that...   that there single pile of dog shit will kill your whole family."

"Lester, what the fuck you feedin' that dog?"

"Rad-eee-o-ak-tiv-ity."

"Do you buy that at Piggly Wiggly?"

"No, only the government can get it."

"So my dog's gonna be on welfare?"

"No, dumbass. Your dog is gonna have a glow-in-the dark asshole."

"So he's a good night time huntin' dog?"

"No, his shit is dangerous."

"Sounds like it. I can do without the wife and kids, but I don't know what I'd do without my hogs. Maybe I should get my pooper scooper from Wal-Mart and shovel that shit up."

"Nice try, Bubba, but that dog shit seeps into the ground and you can't get rid of it."

"Not even with lime? I get rid of all kinds of dead shit with lime."

"Nope. Lime won't work. That shit is gonna be there forever and ever."

"Then, I guess I better move."

"Too late. When you go to shovel it up, it will kill you too. In fact, it will kill everybody in town, includin' all our buddies at One-eyed Jakes."

"Damn, that's some nasty shit. You sure that dog ain't got worms?"

"No, dumbass. He ain't get worms. Yoo gots to understand that this here Rad-eee-o-ak-tiv-ity is some nasty shit."

"You got that shit right."

"To be honest with ya Lester. You can keep your ass-glowin' dog and give me a cat."

"If we can get the world thinkin' like that, we won't have no deadly shit in our yards."

"And I can keep my hogs?"

"Yep. And I'll take yer wife off your hands."

"Damn, you is a good friend. Thanks."


Now, I think you have a better idea of what is at stake if we continue to rely on nuclear power.

I don't know what the alternatives are, but we need to throw all of our efforts into renewable energy. Because a serious nuclear disaster could be more devastating than dropping a hundred nuclear bombs somewhere on the planet. We could permanently contaminate our land, air and sea. And that won't leave much left for the human race.


Related stories ...

Crisis in Japan: CNN - Testing Positive For Radiation OK
  
Americans Can Learn A Few Things From Japanese Culture



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How To Make Money In A Black Neighborhood

Over the last several years, the Blogger platform (on which this site is built) has added many enhancements to the interface - adding gadgets and a basic back room. In the back room, you can track how many page views your site gets, what country the traffic comes from, what links and sites are bringing traffic to your site; and you can even identify key words used to find your site through search engines. Yesterday, someone got to this site by typing in a search engine, "How to make money in a black neighborhood."

My first thought was, "Sell crack."

Unfortunately, that is a readily available option to many youths in black neighborhoods. Now that heroin prices have dropped, you'll see a rise in deaths from riding the white horse.

I currently live in a lower middle class black neighborhood. It's the neighborhood I grew up in during the 1960's and 70's. A lot has changed, and it's not all good.

Once vibrant parts of town are now boarded up. Crime is higher than ever before. An air of tension seems to permeate every encounter with residents. I don't know if they hate me or are afraid of me. (I'm a big white dude.)

People can point in more directions than you have fingers to shift blame.

A laundry list of reasons can be amassed:
  • Parents
  • Poor Schools
  • Lack of social activities
  • Lack of jobs
  • Lack of opportunities 
  • Lack of entrepreneurial skills
  • Lack of captial
  • Lack of belief that things can be better
  • Lack of mentors and role models
  • Too much "bling" culture
  • Lack of values
  • Lack of marketable communications skills
I wrote a post regarding the last item on the list about an aspiring black writer/poet/book publisher: Unpolished Book Publisher Needs Proofreader.

Her mastery of the English language was deplorable, especially for someone trying to make a living with the written word. She was college educated, too. I was kicked out - but I can write circles around her.

If you cannot communicate at the level that other professionals do in society, you are at a severe disadvantage.

There are thousands of young black Americans that get degrees and rise to prominent positions in our society. One even became president. So, you're not dealing with insurmountable odds.

Through the years, I've had plenty of experience working in black communities. My first hardcore experience with trying to do business in a black neighborhood came in the early 1980's. I was a salesman for the Fortune 500 company Pitney Bowes. We sold mailing machines and copiers. Most of my sales territory was in the roughest parts of town.

If you're familiar with the Cleveland area, I covered the E. 93rd St., Buckeye, Woodland and Broadway areas. I was the only white guy around for miles. But I made sales.

I once sold a copier to Willie "D", owner of Dee's House of Music. A few months after the sale, Willie got busted with $80,000 worth of cocaine in his safe. He never paid for the copier either.

One day, I was working down E. 93rd St. My first stop, the guy wouldn't talk to me because someone had broken in and stolen all of their typewriters (remember those). Stop number two, was similar. Someone had tried to crash through the front door with a truck and also robbed the place.

Pitney Bowes also sold cigarette tax machines - the machines that put the stamps on the bottom of cigarette packs. My next stop was at a cigarette distributor who had one of our tax machines. I walked in the door in my blue wool suit, carrying my brown leather brief case. Suddenly, this guy jumps out from behind the counter with a 44 Magnum - yeah, one of those big barreled "Dirty Harry" guns.

He yells, "Get the fuck down." I did.

I was splayed on the floor holding my business card in the air, pleading, "I'm with Pitney Bowes. I'm here to see the tax machine."

"Oh... OK... sorry. A guy just hijacked my truck with the driver in it and I thought he was coming back for more."

I went home at 9:30 am and watched cartoons the rest of the day.

The lesson I learned is that it is very hard to make money in a black neighborhood. Your biggest challenge are the people around you.

The old Buckeye neighborhood is where my Hungarian grandparents lived. It was a clean, well-groomed neighborhood back in the 1950's. My grandfather had a butcher store down the street. All the local Hungarians patronized his store.

Other ethnic groups have the same practice, patronizing their own. Jews would never go somewhere else when they could support a Jewish business in their neighborhood. Italians were and still are the same way.

In black communities, if you open a business, you're putting your life on the line. I would talk to the business owners and ask them what their greatest challenges were. The majority said, "Bein' robbed by the junkie down the street." Black on black crime was their biggest threat.

Second on the list of challenges was that the people in the neighborhood drove to the suburbs and shopped at the white owned stores. Black business owners found it hard to get support from their own community.

It would not bother me in the least if black people said, "We aren't shopping at any white owned stores." I don't consider that racist. It's what the Jews, Italians, Irish and other ethnic groups did to survive. And they thrived by supporting their own.

Black people have to stop looking at their bold business owners as targets and shift their attitude that they are allies. Everyone in communities that adopt that attitude will benefit. Kids will have black role models that they can look up to and not have to turn on BET to find them. They'll be right next door.

A change of mindset needs to occur in black neighborhoods. They need to treat their local businesses as sacred enterprises - not ATM's for drug money.

I don't know what the answer is - block watches, better police coverage, community support groups???

Another mindset change that needs to occur is the, "Where's the free shit?" attitude.

When I owned an advertising agency in Las Vegas, a rap station was trying to get a conservative bank client of ours on their station. I told them that the demographics didn't match up. Then, the black radio rep shocked me. She asked, "Could you do a promotion for our station, but we don't want black people to show up?"

"What?"

"Yeah, we don't want our people there. They's cheap and don't spend no money. Advertisers don't want them. And there's usually trouble and we have to call the cops."

"You got a real problem there. I don't think I can help you."

Serious suggestions on how to make money in a black neighborhood are:
  • Food - If you have the money or can get investors, open a fast food restaurant. Dunkin Donuts, McDonalds, Wendys and Burger King have steady lines at their drive-thrus. No one goes in the restaurants, but the drive-thru is jammed from morning till night. 
  • Clothing - Black people are much more fashion conscious than their white counterparts. Most fashion trends have been originating in black communities and by black entrepreneurs. 
  • Shoes - I once heard a black man say, "You can do a lot of things to me, but don't you dare step on my shoes." Black youths spend more money on shoes than any other ethnic group. 
  • Services - Everybody needs a plumber, electrician, a siding specialist. If you run your business with excellence as its foundation, you can stand out from all of the scam artists in the rusted out vans. 
The key is to set your standards high. Treat your customers with respect. And give back to your community through internships, job training, volunteering and donations.

All of this starts with the parents. They have to instill a sense of pride in their children, support them and teach them. Wishing your child will become something won't cut it. Being an active participant in their future success will make all the difference in the world.

It can be done. If you work hard, get educated and enlist the support of the neighborhood, that is how to make money in a black neighborhood. 

Recommended Reading: Fire In The Streets by Milton Viorst - an overview of the 1960's and the transitions in the black community.

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MLB Opening Day Today | Cleveland Indians Eliminated From Playoffs

Grab the popcorn and Cracker Jack, the 2011 Major League Baseball season begins today. Six games are slated, pending weather. We had a snow storm here in Ohio yesterday. On Friday, though, the Cleveland Indians will kick off their season against the Chicago White Sox at 3:05 pm EDT. It's safe to say, the Cleveland Indians have already been eliminated from the playoffs

My good buddy, Bob, told me, "Cleveland is a drinking town with a sports problem."

We're used to last place. We're used to disappointment and heartbreak. It's in our DNA.

1948 was the last time the Indians won a World Series. In 1954 they were swept by the Giants in the World Series; 1995 was a hard-fought, but losing, series against the Braves; 1997 the Marlins sent us home crying.

For some teams, that many World Series appearances over the last 60 years might seem great. However, it is the time in between those highlights that have made us rip out our hair and lift Cleveland to The Baldest City In America - men AND women, included.

I remember in college going down to a game at the old Municipal Stadium near the 7th inning. They'd let you in free in the 7th inning. I'd sit out in right field all by myself. I had my own vendor.

After a couple beers and some peanuts, I'd head home a loser.

Year after year, the crowds were so small you could pick your seat. I'd buy the cheapest seat (usually way out in right field) and head for the upper deck. No one was up there. I'd sit directly behind home plate and watch the game. It was like they were playing the game just for me.

We've suffered through some very forgettable seasons. But there have also been some great memories.

My favorite memory is of the most infamous game in Cleveland Indians history - 10¢ Beer Night.

Through the years, the event has often been referred to as Nickel Beer Night, but the truth is you could buy all the beer you wanted for only 10¢ a cup. Let's take a guess at what happened next.

It was June 4, 1974, two days before I was to graduate from high school. A gang of my friends headed down to Municipal Stadium armed with about $5 a piece. We bought beer in shifts because the lines were so long. As soon as one guy returned, we'd send another on a beer run.

Oh yeah, we were playing the Texas Rangers. A minor detail.

And there were about 25,000 people at the game - a huge crowd considering the average attendance that year was 8,000 per game.

All hell broke loose in the 9th inning.

Through the course of the game, a woman flashed her breasts on home plate. A guy ran naked through the outfield, then tried to jump the home run fence. He was straddling the fence when the cops grabbed his left leg. Ouuuuuuuuuuch! Other people were running on the field before the riot broke out.

My crew was seated about 20 rows behind the third base dugout. When the game turned into a full-scale riot, we had to join in. With a few dimes left jingling in our pockets, we ran through the stands and hopped off the roof of the third base dugout onto the field. I got to stand on the pitcher's mound for a second.

The game was forfeited by the Indians, but who cared. We were just glad to be there and make it home safely.

Through the last 50 years, I've caught a few foul balls. At my first game with my father, a foul ball rolled right behind me. I was about six years old. When I reached for the ball, someone bit my hand. Welcome to Cleveland. We've been known to throw batteries at people we don't like.

In any event, the 2011 MLB season will start for the Indians. Sports analysts figure them to finish below .500, with only a slight improvement over last year. Yawn!

But, it is Major League Baseball. In Vegas, we had the AAA 51's - double yawn. Nothing compares to walking out of the tunnel and seeing a major league stadium open up before your eyes.

A couple years ago, I took my daughter to an Indians game against the Tigers - we lost. There was a good crowd that afternoon. She was so thrilled just to see the spectacle of it all. I took pictures of the field from our seats in the upper deck. To this day, they still look incredible.

Win - or - most likely - lose - they are still our Cleveland Indians.

They'll fight the Yankees, Tigers, Red Sox and Angels. Stars from around baseball will make there way to Cleveland. Even if our players suck, we'll still get to see the great ones in their primes.

I love baseball. And I love the Cleveland Indians - no matter where they finish.

Batter up!

Official Site of Cleveland Indians
Official Site of Major League Baseball

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Shame On Allstate Insurance For Their Bait And Switch

When we see a great commercial on TV, we smile or laugh. Bad commercials make us dive for the remote. But pleasant commercials with sneaky messages we sometimes miss. Lately, I've been livid over one particular commercial. And that's why I have to say, "Shame on Allstate Insurance for their bait and switch."

For the last year or two, Allstate Insurance has been using actor Dennis Haysbert (The Unit) as their spokesman. He's a good choice. He's polished, articulate and most of all - trusted. So, when Haysbert speaks, we want to believe him.

Currently, Allstate Insurance is running a commercial that completely rankles me. It features Haysbert standing in the center of the screen and reciting copy that goes something like this (this is not an exact transcript, but it's close enough).

When you buy something and you're not happy, you should get a refund. If you are not happy with your insurance company, ask them for your money back, and if they call you crazy, tell them that you are switching to Allstate Insurance, because at Allstate we believe you should get a guarantee. If you are not happy with Allstate Insurance, you will get a six month credit on your insurance.

Did you catch the big switcheroo? Allstate is challenging you to get your money back from your current insurance company. And if they don't fork over the cash, dump 'em.

Well, if Allstate messes up, they'll generously give you a SIX MONTH CREDIT on your policy. In other words, Allstate ain't givin' you your damn money back, either.

On the surface, it all sounds real good, but Allstate won't do what they challenge you to do.

You can't blame Haysbert, he's just the spokesman and he's doing it for money. But some clever schmuck in Allstate's marketing department thought he could slip this one by us. Well not me.

What you do is up to you. But this type of advertising drives me nuts.

I'm not an Allstate customer, but I don't plan to ever be - since I can't get my money back.



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Tuesday, March 29, 2011

How To Build Your Brand On The Internet And Social Networks

Some people get on the Internet to relax or escape from the day. They piddle around on Facebook or surf their favorite sites. Some even read this blog. But for others, their browser is the front door to their business. If that's you, you may want to know how to build your brand on the Internet and Social Networks

Building a brand takes a bit of forethought. Your goal is to create an easily digestible and memorable image of you or your business. Once you have the image set, you need to have a dissemination or marketing strategy.

Image

Knowing and understanding the playing field of the Internet is important. First, you are working in a 2-D world. You can only appear in 3-D in public. There are two primary elements you have to work with on the Internet or on social sites - your picture (or pictures) and your name.

If you have a company name that is hard to remember, you're lost. If you have a lousy picture, put a bag over your head.

Some examples of really bad pictures for networkers:
  • Group shots - If someone does not know you. Don't make them guess who you are in the picture.
  • Pictures with animals - Unless you run a cat farm, keep kitty and fido out of the shot.
  • Long range shots - You in a full-size photo standing next to the Washington monument might be cool, but you'll look like an ant and no one will ever be able to pick you out of a line-up. 
  • Multiple pictures on multiple sites - You want to have ONE picture of either you (a nice close-up) or your logo. When you cross social platforms and utilize different pictures, you get lost. You might spot a new friend on another site and say hi. If your picture is different, they will mistake you for another Internet pest. The equity you built on one site won't transfer to the others unless you use the same picture. 
Long or complicated names are a detriment to your Internet growth.

Keep your company name and logo simple and to the point. If you have a logo, keep in mind that it will be greatly reduced in size on social sites. Does it "read" well? Can you make it out or is it distinctive enough to be recognized again and again?

If you have a long name that looks like a bad Scrabble pick, your picture becomes even more important. When people scan through social sites, they are looking at the pictures, not necessarily the names. That's why a good picture - and one you stick with is so critical. If you change your picture often, you are playing hide-and-seek with your prospects and customers.

Profiles

Spend some time crafting the information you want to put on your profile. First, understand who you are and what you are trying to accomplish. If you have a Satanic band, you don't want your favorite book to be the Bible. If you're a polished business person, have info that reflects that.

Be careful not to go into TMI (Too Much Information). Put a few items in your profile, but don't list your entire personal CD collection or every movie you saw in the last decade. In reality, no one cares.

Keep it simple yet informative.

Marketing

Before you dive in, figure out how you want to be perceived on social sites and on the Internet. If you are a personal trainer, bombarding Facebook with blonde jokes isn't a good strategy. So, think about what is unique, special and intrinsic to you. Do you like to cook? Share recipes. Do you like quotations? Share those. (Although, this is a strategy that a lot of people use.)

Your goal is not to attack people, but attract people.

Big draws are: Information that is useful to a broad audience, entertainment news, major world events, humor and music.

Find something each day that is interesting and share it. It's that simple.

But how do you get a large following? One way, on Facebook, is to play the games. Sure, they're dumb, but they can help build a lot of friends, quickly.

Two years ago, I was playing Mafia Wars on Facebook. I had a couple hundred friends. The first rule in life is to give people what they want and you'll get what you want. In Mafia Wars, every player is trying to build their mafia size. If you ask people to join someone's mafia, that is called pimping.

For several weeks, I hosted "Pimpfests" - where I'd share players on the News Feed and tell everyone to add that person and then comment on that post; then to add everyone on the post. I could take a player and increase their mafia by 100 or more in an hour. I was a Mafia Wars god.

As a result, my mafia and friends list grew to over 3,000 in just a few weeks.

I recently quit Mafia Wars. But it provided me with a global group of friends. For what I'm trying to do now - blogging - it has worked out perfectly. Now, my blog posts shared on Facebook get hits from all over the planet.

So, games could be part of your strategy.

Blogging is also a good way to build your Internet identity.

I met a doctor who regularly blogs about various physical conditions and tries to teach the public about prevention. His blog has greatly increased his practice. Again, he gave people what they wanted.

Blogging is simple. You don't have to write a lot. You just have to write something of interest.

I'm planning on doing a series on "How To Build A Blog" and include some of the tricks I've learned. That will be forthcoming. Right now, I'm busy enough.

Other ways to market are through email lists. On your site, have a place where visitors can give you an email address. These are people that have a sincere interest in what you are offering and want more. However, don't abuse them. If you start pounding them daily with updates, you'll find a lot of emails coming back with "REMOVE" in the subject line.

Have an informative plan. Maybe you have weekly specials or updates that would be beneficial to your audience. That info is what your followers want.

Only deliver what is promised. If the people who share their email with you are expecting a newsletter, don't start sending them Obama jokes. I know that sounds stupid, but I've seen everything and it's not a ridiculous notion.

Summary
  • Have a good picture or logo
  • Build a profile that supports your objectives
  • Share interesting content on a regular basis across social nets
  • Collect email addresses
  • Give people more of what they have come to expect from you
These are some very basic strategies on how to build your brand on the Internet and social networks. But they work. 

Keep in mind, building your brand takes time. However, if you put in consistent effort, you can someday become an icon on the Internet.

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ALDI Offers Low Low Prices But Limited Selection

ALDI prices are low, low.
German based ALDI food stores has been stepping up their expansion plans in Brittan and in the United States. If you haven't been to an ALDI store, ALDI offers low, low prices but a limited selection.

In Brittan, ALDI plans to open a store a week. The U.S. expansion is a bit slower.

Last year, ALDI announced that they would be opening ten stores in Texas with future plans to expand into New Mexico and Arizona. Currently, ALDI is in every state east of the Mississippi except four.

ALDI's first store in America opened in Iowa in 1976.

Before you head to an ALDI store, grab some bags and/or boxes. None are provided.

As far as offerings, everything ALDI has in their stores are their own store brands. You won't find Bob Evans sausage or Tide anywhere in an ALDI store. However, if you like canned goods, you'll enjoy a considerable savings.

An 8 ounce can of store brand black beans at my local discount grocer is 99¢. ALDI charges 59¢. However, the produce section is limited to mostly large bags of common items, like oranges, lemons, and onions.

A typical grocery store has 20 feet or more of shelf space dedicated to pasta. Every shape and size is there. At ALDI, you'll find about 25" of pasta shelf space - three varieties - that's it.

Store brands can be scary. I have yet to buy anything at an ALDI, but I have been there to peruse their offerings and see how it would fit into my own buying habits.

With the limited selection at ALDI, I can see that grocery shopping would become a two-stop excursion - one at ALDI and another at a larger store to fill in the gaps.

ALDI is the type of store you visit once a month and stock up on common items that you and your family consume. I can't see someone making weekly trips there.

If you do make that trip once a month, you WILL save money. Just don't forget to bring your own bags and boxes. ALDI offers low, low prices but a limited selection. However, you can put a dent in your food budget by shopping there and filling in the gaps at your regular store.


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Monday, March 28, 2011

How To Control Temper In Marriage

Ahhhh... the beauty of true love.

Thanks, Mike for sending this to me. 

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Celebrity Apprentice Women Lose For Third Straight Week

Sunday night the fur was flying on Celebrity Apprentice as the women (Team A.S.A.P.) lost for the third straight week. In the boardroom, the claws came out and in the end, Dionne Warwick was fired after sabotaging herself.

WHO GOT FIRED:
Celebrity Apprentice 2011 Grand Finale & Winner

May15th
May 8th
May 1st
April 24th
April 17th
April 10th
April 3rd
March 28th
March 21st

This week's challenge was to make a 30 second TV commercial for international direct sales company ACN - a provider of video phones.

Lil' Jon was selected project manager for Team Backbone and Nene Leakes headed Team A.S.A.P.

Team A.S.A.P. chose to do a traditional commercial that played on basic human emotions. A girl had just moved to Paris and her house mother was Dionne Warwick. The girl chatted on the video phone with her father - played by an actor - and her mother - played by Marlee Matlin. Marlee was able to use sign language with the video phone.

The men's team rolled the dice and produced a risque commercial that featured an actor in South America talking to his grandparents in the States - the grandfather was played by Gary Busey. The big twist came when the the actor introduced the person he was engaged to - Jose Conseco.

Both presentations were made before an audience of 400 ACN top producers and they voted electronically. The men won by a margin of 53% to 47%.

Dionne Warwick began drilling holes in her boat when she suddenly exited the editing of the commercial because she was too tired and wanted to go to sleep.

Latoya Jackson was also under fire. Nene Leakes commented during filming of the commercial, "Latoya's sweet, but she don't know 1 + 1."

When the women were brought into the boardroom, Latoya and Dionne took the most heat. At one point, Trump asked Dionne, "Dionne, who would you fire?" Dionne's shocking response was, "I might as well go with popular opinion and I'd fire me."

Star Jones piped up by saying that everyone was there to fight for their charity and you just can't quit. After Jones spoke, Dionne retracted, but it was too late. Trump fired her.

Now that the Celebrity Apprentice women have lost for the third straight week, they need to regroup and get focused.

If the women's team loses any more players, Trump will be forced to mix up the teams to even them out.

Warwick's firing was something I predicted on Facebook before the show. If the women lose again, my money is on Latoya getting fired. If the men lose, Richard Hatch or Gary Busey could be the next ones out the door.

Last Week:  Gary Busey Survives Cut On Celebrity Apprentice

Following Week: Survivor Star Fired From Celebrity Apprentice


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Sunday, March 27, 2011

How To Beat Dunkin Donuts At Sip, Scratch, Score Game

Recently, Dunkin Donuts started a new contest: Sip, Scratch, Score. This game revolves around multiple choice sports trivia. However, the questions are so hard that even a genius sports statistician couldn't answer them. Yesterday, though, I figured out how to beat Dunkin Donuts at Sip, Scrath, Score game.

Dunkin Donuts is one of my favorite places to catch free wifi. Their chairs are comfortable, they give me free refills on my coffee and there is a power outlet at my table, so I can stay connected for hours.

Yesterday, my new DD buddy, Paul, showed up for a chat. Paul is a short ball of a man with squat legs, a nice gray comb-over and large gold-rimmed bifocals. We peeled the game piece off of our coffee cups, read the questions and both exclaimed, "How the hell are you supposed to know that?"

Suddenly, I had a flash: "To the cloud."

Actually, I have a Mac and wouldn't touch a Microsoft PC, but we had something better - the holy oracle - GOOGLE.

Paul is completely computer illiterate and he looks at my white iBook laptop as some sort of mystery from the future. "You can get answers with that? I knew you were some kind of computer wizard." Yes, using Google ranks as computer wizardry amongst the senior set.

So I put on my Merlin hat and started searching.

Within a few minutes, we had the first answer - A FREE Donut.

The second question took more time, but BINGO, we got it - A FREE Bagel.

A guy behind us joined in - another FREE Donut.

We wound up 3 for 3 in less than 10 minutes. Take that Dunkin Donuts.

This morning, I was the only patron at DD. A few minutes after I arrived, a little old lady came in. She said, "Hi, how are you?" I responded in kind.

She saw me tearing my game piece off of my coffee cup and inquired, "How does that game work?"

She got up and waddled over to my table, standing next to me. She remarked, "I don't have my glasses, I can't even read what this says. And what do you do to win?"

I explained to her that the questions were all minutia of sports trivia and even a sports genius would have a hard time answering the questions. She grumbled, "Well that's not fair."

"I know. But we have a secret weapon." I tapped on the top of my computer and said, "We can cheat."

Gasping, she spoke in amazement, "You can get the answers on your computer?"

(Yes, welcome to the future my dear. It's dark and mysterious. But we're about ready to get a free donut.)

Her question was: What place did LPGA golfer Annika Sorenstam finish in the 2003 rankings?

I fumbled around for about five minutes and thought I had the right answer. Oooops, sorry. I was wrong. My new geriatric princess sighed in disappointment when her prince could not make the white magic machine find her way to a golden, sugar-coated treat.

"I'm really sorry," I said shamefully. I should have looked a little harder.

"Oh, that's OK..." sadly, she shuffled away.

Not letting a minor setback rattle my verve, I attacked my question: What team retired #3, Bronko Nagurski's number?" 

Within seconds, I had the correct multiple choice answer: Chicago Bears!

Another FREE Donut!

I called over to my elderly princess and offered her my spoils of war as a prize. She implored that I should take the donut. "No, ma'am, they give me heartburn. And I just ate about 20 minutes ago." She finally succumbed to my chivalry and was delighted to redeem her high calorie award.

I told her, "This is a win for the little guy. We're beating arrogant corporate America at their own game. Huzzah!" She laughed.

Dunkin Donuts should fire their director of marketing. This game is ridiculous. It has a totally male skew - all sports trivia - so they completely alienate any women that might want to play the game. Plus, the game questions are nowhere near common knowledge. They could have put college level questions on micro-biology on their cups and it would have been the same thing. But we can fight the power.

You need to share this post with everyone you know. In a tough economy, beating the big guys is a huge moral victory.

To win this game consistently, all you need is a couple of bucks for a coffee, a wifi capable laptop, a Dunkin Donuts that offers free wifi and you're off to the races. You can become a local legend, just by tapping in a few search terms in Google.

Yes, I am the god of Google!

That's how to beat Dunkin Donuts at Sip, Scrath, Score game. And since you're getting a free donut or bagel, why not check out The BEST of My Funny Blog Posts.

Enjoy. :)

UPDATE 4/1/11 - I met a woman at DD who was taking her game piece home and looking the answers up on Google, too. She'd have a winning ticket on her next visit. So, you don't have to be a winner while you're there. Save the game piece from the large coffee and get the answer at home.

Related article: How To Find Answers For Dunkin Donuts Sip, Scratch, Score Trivia Game

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Saturday, March 26, 2011

How To Escape After Farting In Public

We've all suffered that wretched moment when someone unloads a butt biscuit in a public place and we're caught like first-responders to a horrible accident. You're first instinct is to look around for a culprit, so you can give them the evil eye or think horrible thoughts about what they ate earlier in the day. But what do you do if it is YOU that leaks the methane cloud? Here's how to escape after farting in public.

Before I give you cover-ups and escape routes, you have to understand the pecking order when it comes to identifying suspects of foul rectal emissions.

  1. Proximity - if there aren't many people around, the closest person to you becomes the prime suspect. If there are a number of people around, the following order is followed...
  2. Oldest Guy - Old guys are expected to have little control over bodily functions, so they head the list.The oldest guy can be 30; if he's the oldest guy in the vicinity - he gets the blame.
  3. Fat Guys - The assumption here is that the big dude ate too much and he's the one that aggravated the air.
  4. Oldest Lady - They come after oldest guys and fat guys because there is a myth that women don't fart in public. Here, again, age is a factor. If no guys are around, the oldest woman nearby gets their face on the Post Office Wall. 
  5. Fat Lady - If you can't find a suspect in steps 1 through 4, you blame the woman that looks like she could have eaten enough jalapeno Doritos to dispense something onerous.
Now that you understand the pecking order, I'll address specific public situations where you will need to create a cover-up or escape the scene.

Grocery Store

There is nothing worse that strolling down the cereal aisle and being stunned by someone's rectal propulsion. Immediately, you look around and shuffle through items 1 through 5 to find a culprit. But what if it's you?

Speed is your best friend here. You need to evacuate the scene as quickly as possible. When you get to the end of the aisle, you need to turn in the direction opposite the usual flow of shoppers and move at least three aisles away. If you move down a few aisles in the normal direction that shoppers flow through the store, someone may catch up to you and you'll feel those evil eyes burning through your back. Your goal is to make it appear that you have yet to come upon the nasty nugget, but for some reason you don't need cereal that day and you skip that aisle.

One time, I was in a grocery store in South Carolina. There was a gigantic black woman who filled the aisle from side to side. I did not think I could get my cart around her. When I approached her, I caught a stench that nearly dropped me to my knees. I don't think this was gas. My guess was that this was body odor and the woman smelled like a dumpster behind a fish restaurant. God, it was awful. I had to move two aisles away, just to get away from her mushroom cloud.

Elevators

This is one of the trickiest environments to rip one and get away with it. Your only hope is that the elevator is crowded and you can sneak it out. If you pull off an SBD (Silent But Deadly) you need to rivet your eyes on the door and keep a straight, almost stern face. Look like you have a lot on your mind or you're thinking about ending world hunger.

Being in an elevator by yourself and dropping a butt bomb can have horrible results - unless you're getting off on the next floor and you're wearing a hood, scarf or hat and you move quickly from the scene. You could have some unsuspecting rider walk face first into your, Ooooops, and you have nowhere to go. If the new rider makes a comment, blame it on an old guy that got off the floor before.

You're also busted if it's just you and one other person on the elevator. Look at the ceiling until your floor comes up.

Church

This is a place where the pecking order of suspects clicks off rapidly until a potential offender is spotted. That's why it is always good to sit next to an old guy. If you let one out, everyone will immediately focus on the old guy. You should be in the clear.

If you feel that there might be considerable sound involved in your discharge, wait until the choir kicks in. Your blast could be mistaken for one of the angel's trumpets and no harm will be done - then everyone will look for the old guy.

Theater

If it's a matinee and the theater isn't very crowed, let it go. It's dark. Teenagers will giggle. You're pretty safe. However, if it's a crowded theater, you have to have a cover-up strategy ready. Wait about one to two minutes for the smell to start circulating around. This increases the number of possible suspects. But your main goal is to eliminate yourself from the suspect lists of those immediately adjacent to you. After a little marination, comment to whoever you are with, "Jeez, who let that one go?" You'll be the voice of all the others who were offended and they will bond with you in seeking out the real culprit. You're off the hook.

Restaurant

If you fire one off in a restaurant, you have to act quickly. You immediately get your date or whoever you are with to fix their gaze on the oldest or fattest person close by - unless, of course, you are the oldest and/or fattest person in the vicinity, then you're screwed. Even if you didn't do it, check the pecking order, you'll catch the blame.

In A Car

It doesn't matter how many people are in the car, just hope you're next to a window. When you feel the pressure building, quickly fake an illness and shout, "I'm dizzy, I need fresh air." Immediately lower the window, then shove your head out of it like a dog and let the air whip your hair around. Hopefully, the influx of fresh are will dilute whatever you emitted and you should be in the clear.

This tactic may fail in a rainstorm. The downward pressure of the falling rain may trap the air in the car and everyone will start gagging. Oh well, you can't win them all.

Right Before Entering A Car

The most embarrassing situation is when you are on a date, especially a first date. You get the urge as you're approaching the car and figure it's safe to sneak it out and then slyly slip into the car. WRONG!

Farts linger. If you just dropped one outside of the car, suddenly notice something in the area to point to and distract your date, "Say, look at that billboard. Have you ever seen a billboard like that before?" A minute or two of mindless conversation will put some drift on the stink bomb and you'll be able to enter the vehicle without dragging it in behind you.

At The Office

Here, a speedy exit is all you can do. You need to pick up the phone, act like you dialed someone important and then yell, "I'll be right there." Get the hell out of your cubicle or away from your desk. If you move fast enough, the others will start looking for past offenders and pin the blame on them.

Other Public Places

Crowds and noise are always to your advantage. You can safely release the build-up from a double bean and cheese burrito in a noisy crowd and just keep moving. Around construction sites or near buses, you can go to town.

Life has enough embarrassing moments. These techniques on how to escape after farting in public should keep you off the wanted list and let you freely putz through your day.

More laughs: I Have To Run To The Bathroom Real Quick. I'll Be Right Back


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Churches And Food Banks Fill Cracks For Needy And Poor

When times are tough, no one feels it harder than the poor and the needy. As prices rise, people on fixed incomes find it more challenging to make ends meet. There is only so much government aid can provide. When gaps appear in a household budget, especially their food budget, churches and food banks can fill the cracks for the needy and the poor.

About ten years ago, life was pretty good for me. I was married, had kids and a respectable family income. Our family attended Christ The King Catholic Community in Las Vegas. They have a ministry called the "Manna Cupboard". It is designed to be a one-time help for those in need.

If you find that you're caught between jobs or just can't make ends meet, the "Manna Cupboard" will provide you with a week's supply of food and other household items.

This charity is not designed to be an ongoing means of support, but it can help an individual or family get by for another week.

Several years later, I was attending Canyon Ridge Christian Community, also in Las Vegas. They have an outreach that will provide food and sundries to the needy. You have to meet with the ministry's director and answer questions related to the nature of your need. If you qualify, you are assigned a time to stop in and select items from their cupboards. This can provide much needed help to homeless individuals or families on a continuing basis.

Now that I am in Cleveland, I've learned about the Cleveland Food Bank. Similar organizations exist in cities nationwide. I don't know what qualifications you need to meet in order to receive food and supplies from the Food Bank.

I know of two churches, right around the corner from where I live, that offer free meals. I don't know the name of either church; but one provides a free meal every Wednesday at 5 pm and gives attendees a large bag of KFC chicken to take home. The other church offers a free meal on the last Sunday of the month.

I'm sure there are many more ministries throughout the city that offer meals or assistance with food and household items.

If you have a need or know someone who has a need, it can be very relieving and worthwhile to seek out charities that offer support.

Most people don't understand how important these charities can be in times of need. When 9/11 hit the economy in 2001, the amount of people going to the "Manna Cupboard" at Christ The King tripled. Many of these people had just lost their jobs; they had homes, savings accounts and other assets; but they had an interruption in their cash flow. Most were not eligible for government assistance because of their assets. The church was there for them.

If you are fortunate enough to not need help from a church or food bank, think about volunteering. The machinery of these organizations rely on volunteers. They also rely on donations. Food banks tend to get donations from corporations and large food suppliers, but they still have ongoing needs that can be filled by your generous donations.

Taking care of the poor is a noble task. We should all be grateful for what we have and find ways to share a bit with those less fortunate. If you donate or volunteer, you'll be doing a great service to help churches and food banks fill the cracks for the needy and the poor.

Give generously. Peace.

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