Monday Morning Burn

1. I think the Barclays Center in Brooklyn is a great venue. Good seats, good beer, good time. Mediocre team.

2. I think I impressed myself this past week by hitting the century mark at the gym. From my perspective I have 200 possible days to workout (4 days/week x 50 weeks), subtract many days out of that number for travel and I am about at 65-70% of total available work out days. Not … too… shabby.

3. I think the recent NRA statement of armed officers with semi-assault weapons guarding schools as the answer to gun control is ludicrous. I am all for the right to bear arms Amendment, but to have this drivel, insensitive statement reeks of desperation. Although Marlboro Township in New Jersey seems to agree with the NRA as they will have armed guards at school beginning in January.

4. I think it’s great to outlive the Mayan calendar. December 21 came and went without any issue.

5. I think the Denver Broncos look unstoppable. Peyton’s on fire and that defense is stacked.

6. I think I already received some good mustard and it’s not even Xmas yet. Does my enjoyment of mustard and beer make me odd? Does is make me more German?

7. I think I am not looking forward to be woken up at 4am tomorrow. Already received a 3:30am practice run this morning. Ah the youthful excitement.

8. I think Santa Claus is coming. “I know him.”

This is 40

The movie This is 40, starring Paul Rudd and Leslie Mann opens today.  This Judd Apatow written & directed movie is getting some good reviews (75%  by Rotten Tomatoes) and it is definitely one that I want to see.   The movie centers around a couple going on 40 and the trials and tribulations of life that they go through.  How appropriate since I just turned 40 myself.

I find Paul Rudd funny but it’s his every many persona that makes him a good modern day star.  Rudd has played some great characters in Anchorman, The 40 Year Old Virgin but his best roles were Roles Models and I Love You Man.

Let’s not have Rudd get us in a rut though.  It’s Leslie Mann that I am sure will steal the show.  I’ve been sweet on Mann since I first saw her in George of the Jungle and She’ the One back from the mid-90’s.  She’s attractive and has a great personality and charm that always lights up the screen.

So in honor of This is 40, and all  those soccer moms out there who feel they may have lost their mojo, I present my top list of sexy ladies over 40. Enjoy.

Leslie Mann

Savannah Guthrie

Julie Bowen

Shania Twain

Naomi Watts

Kristen Davis

Alyssa Milano

Lottery Card Winning Etiquette

The Holidays are time for giving and receiving.  Many people tend to give the gift of lottery scratch off tickets as small thank you for friendship and appreciation.  As I noticed many tickets being exchanged at work this season I was wondering what is the etiquette if a person wins a sizeable prize, say over $1,000?  Is the winner obligated to split 50/50?  Should the giver ask for a finders fee?

Here are some rules to follow when giving and receiving a lottery scratch off ticket this season.

Lottery Scratch-Off Etiquette

Receiver

A Dollar and A Dream – it is the time before you scratch that is the best. Dreaming of the “what if” scenarios and imagining sitting on the beach in St. Kitts.  Good Luck.

Scratch Your Ticket Off in Isolation – people around you will only be happy for you if you win anything less than $200.  Over that amount and they will begin to despise you and the giver as they wanted to be the winner of some of that sweet cheddar. So take you ticket behind closed doors and try to remain expressionless.

Be Grateful to the Giver – the giver is really trying to make a nice gesture and does want you to win a small amount of cash.  Kindly say “thank you” and joke in jest that you will share the prize if you hit it big.  The odds are against you for hitting it big, however the gesture of the potential prize splitting is a winner in its own right.

No Need to Share for a Winner under $200 – if you hit a winning ticket that pays out under $200 be free to keep all the money for yourself.

A Token Present is Expected for Winning Tickets between $250 – $1,000 – after you claim your money go out and get the giver a gift card to a favorite restaurant if the winnings are on the higher end, if closer to the $250 a Yankee Candle or 12 pack of beer/bottle of wine is appropriate.

Share the Wealth over $1,000 – You are not obligated to do so, but I put the rule of thumb at sharing 10% of winnings after taxes.  Yes, we all want the money for ourselves, but don’t be greedy, remember Karma is real.  The receiver and all of your friends will look at you with the person with true character and integrity.

Million Dollar winner – run and hide, run and hide.

Giver

Expect only a thank you – the receiver technically owes you nothing if they win.  Be happy for them, this is why you give them a scratch-off ticket as a gift.  If you only wanted the receiver to win a few bucks you should have just gave a Red Lobster gift card.

A Few of My Favorite Things, Today

Raindrops on roses and whiskers on kittens
Bright copper kettles and warm woolen mittens
Brown paper packages tied up with strings
These are a few of my favorite things

Cream colored ponies and crisp apple streudels
Doorbells and sleigh bells and schnitzel with noodles
Wild geese that fly with the moon on their wings
These are a few of my favorite things

Girls in white dresses with blue satin sashes
Snowflakes that stay on my nose and eyelashes
Silver white winters that melt into springs
These are a few of my favorite things

When the dog bites
When the bee stings
When I’m feeling sad
I simply remember my favorite things
And then I don’t feel so bad

I never quite understood this song.  It has a nice melody but Maria’s (from the Sound of Music) favorite things are just not relevant any more.  Sure, back in the early 1940’s these things would make many simpletons happy but as I heard this song on the radio, it gets lots of play during the holidays, I couldn’t help wonder what Maria’s favorite things would be today.  Hmmm,

Boyfriends who love me and Taylor Swift tickets
Rudolph the Reindeer and Island of Misfits
Getting in engaged with four caret rings
These are a few of my favorite things

Starbucks lattes and 65 inch TVs
Mini iPads and iTunes no CDs
Labordoodle dogs that hang on purse strings
These are a few of my favorite things

Other girl bitches who know that I’m it
I walk this earth and I don’t give a shit
Did I mention I have diamond rings?
These are a few of my favorite things

When my credit’s maxed
When I’m strung out
When I’m feeling pissed
I simply remember my favorite things
And maybe my boyfriend will get kissed…

A Pickle Tradition

One of the most beloved holiday traditions that we have in my family is the Christmas pickle.  It started as a gag gift from my parents after I tormented my nephew with a game I called hide the pickle when he was very young.

Little known to any of us at the time but there was an actual Christmas tradition based on hiding a pickle.  So the following year I received a ceramic pickle as a gift to hang on the tree.  As my family grew so did the amount of pickles that now hang on our tree.

History of the Christmas Pickle

The pickle tradition originated in Germany and legend has it that on Christmas morning the first child to find the pickle on the tree would receive an extra present from Santa Claus.

Pickle Christmas Ornaments

When visiting Germany of the World Showcase in EPCOT Center at Disney World you will find a tree filled with pickles.  This is a fantastic photo opportunity and makes for a great souvenir to start your own tradition.

Monday Morning Burn

1. I think it is sad to think about the Sandy Hook Elementary School tragedy. Not quite sure what would lead a person to act so selfishly and ruin the lives of so many. With the events in Aurora, CO, Portland, OR and now Newton, CT let’s move past talk of gun control and more to talk of mental illness.

2. I think the Christmas Card Etiquette post garnered some good reviews. Glad you enjoyed.

3. I think I spent too much time cleaning up all the light bulbs that I knocked over at ShopRite. Boom, there goes the whole display. Why did the put the temporary stand so close to the edge.

4. I think I appreciated the help of one kind Roxbury citizen in assisting me in the clean-up. Sorry ShopRite only about half of the lights were smashed. Clean up in aisle 2.

5. I think the college football bowl games came on to quick. I didn’t get a chance to make my confidence picks this year. I tend to do very well picking the college games and was the big winner in last year’s pool. Oh well. Although, come to think of it, my picks don’t fare that well whenever I am in Vegas.

6. I think the Roxbury orchestra concert this past week was fantastic. This town has two of the best violin and cello players around. Great job Em & Nu.

7. I think we all know Hollywood lacks creativity in creating new movies and TV shows But they can’t even think of creative TV show titles. Why does every other show have “Wars” in the them? Wonder why society is violent? Storage Wars, Shipping Wars, Cupcake Wars, Parking Wars, Design Wars, Bartender Wars, Whisker Wars, Wedding Wars are just a few.

8. I think I am interested in seeing a Star Wars / Storage Wars mash-up.

9. I think it is always an enjoyable evening watching Elf with the family. What a great movie.

10. I think I am not sure why the song Do You Hear What I Hear instructs those to bring silver and gold for the child shivering in the cold. Wouldn’t a blanket be a better choice?

11. I think I have not seen the Fat Albert Christmas Special on TV in years. Hey, Hey, Hey, has anyone seen this lately?

12. Speaking of long lost Christmas Specials, where has the Very Brady Christmas special been? Hmm, I smell a new post for this week.

13. I think there are only eight more shopping days until Christmas. Not to stress you out or anything.

Have A Very Marie Christmas

Marie

Today, I along with with many of my cousins will be missing a holiday celebration to honor my Aunt. Unfortunately my Aunt Marie will be unable to participate in Christmas Day festivities this year as she recovers from a surgery. To help spread some good cheer my extended family is having an early celebration that she will be able to enjoy.

The timing doesn’t work well for me and many of my cousins as over time our geography has stretched the country and it is too difficult to come in for the event. We all now reside in many locales far from the Northampton & Lehigh County area that we grew up in,  areas such as: Philadelphia, Northern New Jersey, Washington D.C. / Northern Virginia and San Francisco. While we may not be physically at today’s gathering we are surely all there in spirit. Christmas Spirit that is. So in honor of my Aunt, we have come together to on pass our best wishes and remember some of our fondest memories of Marie.

We wish we could all be there! Have a great day!

Kristine
My fondest memory of Marie is wedding dress shopping and having Marie help decide on the most beautiful wedding dress!

Jason
Since it’s the season for giving I actually have two fond Holiday memories of Marie and my Uncle Donny.

• My Uncle Donny started a tradition over 20 years ago that is still alive and kicking today. He started the tradition of giving instant scratch-off lottery tickets as Xmas gifts. There was such a fever over winning that everyone just had to participate. But the evening wasn’t over with just one round of scratch-offs. Nope, it was the event of going back to the store to claim winning tickets and getting more tickets and then going back to the store for more, and more and more until the exhaustion point was reached. No one ever won more than a few dollars (I believe $25 was the biggest prize) but the hysteria that ensued was always a blast. Even today at most family gatherings lottery tickets play a part of the day.

• Unfortunately no video exists for this incident. Marie took the offer of a couple of bucks to slurp a plate of lime Jell-O. Not the best sight but she cleaned that plate in a disgusting manner and came away with heavier pockets. Perhaps one of the best Xmas gifts ever.

Jill
One of my favorite memories was visiting Marie in her classroom. I was in third grade, just like her class. Her kids loved the Shel Silverstein book Where the Sidewalk Ends. Marie took the book out and hammed it up with the class. The class was as just as into and she was and they even knew parts of that book by heart.

Marc
It took me quite quite a while to come up with something; not for want of a memory, or infrequent acquaintance. It’s simply hard to summon up with a handful of words to describe your relationship with someone, especially one so present through all of your life. As I sit here, watching Apple eat his dinner–oblivious to the gravity of the situation I mull over–it’s clear that I can’t choose a single time or event, but for her love of her dogs. As time goes by I know that I’ll have been that much the more complete for having him in my life. I’m reminded of all her companions now past, and think of the smiles they’ve brought to us–much less the joy of the daily homecoming, shared only between companion and keeper. I’d like everyone to honor her commitment and love for other souls, human or otherwise.

Michael
My fondest memories are having Marie sitting at the my grandmother’s kitchen table in Northampton and watch as I played Scrabble. I also loved when she would drive me to school in the morning during the times when my parents were on vacation.

Jessie
Marie is such a loving and caring person and I have so many great memories during our family gatherings. There are simply so many memories of Marie that it is impossible to highlight just one.

Braden
I loved visiting Marie so that I could lie in her TempurPedic bed. I would move that baby up and down as I watched TV.

Have a very, merry Christmas Marie!

Marie 2

A Very Special Christmas Card From Claire

Hungry? Grab a MiLB logo

I was recently amazed at how many minor league baseball team logos feature a food product.  There are several teams that use a vegetable, nut, condiment or other food item in either their primary or secondary logos.  Note: I am not counting any team mascot/logo that just features an animal mascot. Yes, this is the vegetarian logo review, except for one which is for a cut of meat.

By a quick count, I noticed nine logos that feature an edible item, just in minor league baseball alone.  I am not sure how many more food logos exist beyond MiLB.

I do like this trend, it certainly brings more characters to our dinner tables.

Cedar Rapids Kernels
Primary Logo
Food Item: Corn
MLB Affiliate: Minnesota Twins

Fort Wayne Tin Caps
Primary Logo
Food Item: Apple
MLB Affiliate: San Diego Padres

Jamestown Jammers
Primary Logo
Food Item: Bunch of Grapes, specifically for Grape Jam
MLB Affiliate: Pittsburgh Pirates

Kansas City T-Bones
Primary Logo
Food Item: T-Bone Steak
MLB Affiliate: Independent

Modesto Nuts
Primary Logo
Food Item: Walnut & Almond
MLB Affiliate: Colorado Rockies

Montgomery Biscuits
Alternate Logo
Food Item: Buttery Biscuit
MLB Affiliate: Tampa Bay Rays

Normal CornBelters
Primary Logo
Food Item: Corn
MLB Affiliate: Independant

Stockton Ports
Alternate Logo
Food Item: Asparagus
MLB Affiliate: Oakland A’s

Willmington Blue Rocks
Alternate Logo
Food Item: Celery
MLB Affiliate: Kansas City Royals

My favorite? Montgomery Biscuits and then the Modesto Nuts.  Who would have thought of a pat of butter in a logo.  And I love that Almond in the Nuts logo, goes w/the Squirrel theme.

Least favorite? The Blue Rocks of course.  I hate celery.  So much so that that it is banned in my house.

hungry thing

Now after all of these logos don’t you just feel like the Hungry Thing? (a childhood classic book by the way).

Pump This!

Ever think about why gas stations are the only retail store that charges different prices if paying by cash or paying by credit card?

A few years back, back before the financial mess, the price for paying for your gas either by cash or credit was the same.  The economy then soured, leading all businesses to cut expense and look for additional revenue streams.  For small businesses one opportunity soon become clearer.  Looking at ways they can trim their credit card transaction fee.

In case you didn’t know, retailers pay a fee for the privilege of letting consumers use a credit card.  These fees paid to the credit card companies typically range between 2-3% depending on the type of card used. (Yes that is how credit card companies can offer you 1% cash back or rewards points; they still profit a 1% transaction fee.  And the more consumers use their card the more 1% fees they can collect).

Gas stations unlike most other retailers have very minimum products.  The typical station has 89, 91 & 93 octane fuels and diesel fuel.  Therefore they only need to have eight different price points 2 x 4 (products offered).  It is also rather easy to display the differences in prices on the large price board as you drive by.

On the other hand other business, like a grocery store, may have hundreds if not thousands of products that they sell.  Multiple that number by 2 and you then you have one really confused consumer.

I’m sure most merchants would prefer to pass the credit card transaction fee along to the consumer.  Back in July retailers won a law suit that allows them to charge more for credit card purchases (10 states still restrict this, see NY Times article for full disclosure).  Previously only gas stations and convenience stores were exempt. However merchants know that between a confused consumer and the probability of less cash in the pocket means less items sold is not the best business strategy.  This strategy works for gas stations as they can charge because there is a need to fuel your vehicle if you want to get up and go.

So why does that $.10 a gallon difference of cash versus credit seem so high.  It’s really not.  Using an average cost of $3.50 per gallon cash the price differential of the credit price is 2.9%, which is the typical transaction fee.

So next time when you are filling up and thinking why am I getting screwed for paying with a credit card and why are these gas stations making more money off me, just remember their really not.  You are just paying the credit card transaction fee.

Nonetheless it still sucks. The differential can add up to approximately more than $75 a year for paying by credit.

And be sure to keep a look for price increases and differentials from other retailers as well as they look to increase revenue and pass fees on to you.