Building Bridges

This morning I had a hard time falling asleep – I should not have had that Starbucks latte after work. The caffeine has messed me up but it is my own fault. So, I got online and started surfing some photography sites. I call the photoblogs my eye candy. I love to see what photographers can do with an artistic eye and a good camera.

One of the photoblogs that I really like is made by a man in Pennsylvania, John Maslowski. He takes the most beautiful photographs of waterfalls. The water always looks soft and pristine, like humans have never been there to spoil it.

The most recent photo that he posted on his photoblog is of a bridge located in Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania. The photo is stunning in the composition and artistic perspective, but even more was the way it brought to mind the dozens of men who had to work so hard to bring the iron ore from the ground, forge it into massive beams, transport it to the site and actually construct the bridge. All this work and expense so that people would have the convenience of crossing a body of water.

Things like these bridges are what makes our country so great. We have the men who are willing and able to work hard, the men who are educated and smart enough to design massive structures, and a way to finance these massive projects to make them happen.

And, after all these deep thoughts, I guess I will turn off my laptop and try once again to get some sleep. Six o’clock will be coming early for me.


Pay More Than the Minimum Due

Ever since I got my very first credit card – thanks to J. C. Penneys! – I have tried to pay off the entire amount due on the card every month. I was using my card for convenience, such as wanting to go shopping a few days before the day I actually get my paycheck. I can still go shopping, put the purchase on my credit card, and then when I do get paid I can send the money to the credit card company.

Sometimes I use the credit card to buy more than I can afford, and when I do that I know in advance that I am agreeing to pay interest charges on that money until I pay it back. I don’t like to pay interest charges, but that’s the price I have to pay for not waiting until I have the cash in hand to make that purchase.

When I get my credit card bill, the amount of interest that I am being charged always gets my attention and makes me feel guilty. Call me old fashioned, but I do not like to owe people money. It is not a good feeling. So, I always pay more than the minimum amount due when I get the bill – even if I can’t pay the whole amount like I prefer, I can still put as much money toward paying off the balance. If all I pay is the minimum amount then the balance does not go down to zero. It’s really just simple math.

Bad Economy is Bad News

I was watching the television with my co-workers in the lunchroom today, and we were bewildered with the news on how the stock market lost by three-digits again and how the real estate market may have bottomed out. In my neighborhood, there are at least 6 houses that have been for sale for over a year and no one has been able to to buy any of them.

My co-workers and I discussed pretty openly how we’re tightening our belts and how so badly affected we are by the downturn in the economy. Most of us spent freely when the real estate market was up because we felt rich. We are guilty of carrying high balances on our credit cards.

One of my co-workers hesitantly told us how she’s been bogged down by credit card debt and doesn’t know how to solve her problems. She’s not alone, a lot of people are currently in financial distress. This economy really has to turn around. I hoping that after the elections everyone will have a better sense of what direction our country is going and have some sense of security and optimism restored.

FTD Florist Messed Up My Order

My mom’s birthday is today and since I can’t go to Florida to celebrate with her, I wanted to send her some flowers. I figured all her friends would see the flowers and be a little impressed and help make my mom feel special on her birthday – it’s a big one – one of the dreaded birthdays that ends with a zero.

So, I ordered an arrangement of flowers for her from the FTD web site. I found a discount coupon code on one of the coupon sites that said I could save 20% off anything on the site. When I went to the FTD site, there was a special message about free shipping this week, too. Actually its not shipping so much as a service charge and delivery fee.

So I picked out the arrangement of orange lilies that are her favorite flower and tried to use the coupon code to save the 20%. Well, when I used the code it made the free delivery offer disappear. I couldn’t find any way to get it back. So I canceled that order and tried to place a new order to save the service charge and it wouldn’t show that screen again. I think there was something put into my computer’s cookies that flagged the site to make the free shipping deal be excluded. That pissed me off, but they don’t give you any options to get help late at night.

So, I caved and ordered the lilies and charged it on my card with instructions to deliver the flowers today – her birthday. Well, the day went on and on and I never heard from my mom about having received the flowers. I figured she would call me as soon as they arrived. Finally, around 5:00 I called her to say Happy Birthday and she told me that a flower delivery had just arrived, minutes before I called. I forgot that it was an hour later in Florida because of the time zone change. I should have called earlier, because it turns out that the flowers they delivered were not lilies – they were red roses.

I am SO PISSED OFF. If the damn florist did not have lilies, they should have called and told me or given the order to a different florist. Of course, the fine print says that the florist has the right to substitute flowers, but the least they could have done was called and told me they didn’t have lilies. I NEVER wold have sent her roses – she HATES roses. She says roses remind her of death. Every funeral she has ever been to has had a casket spray of red roses sitting on top of the casket. That’s the LAST message you want to send a loved one on their birthday!!!!

I will NEVER use FTD again. I will call a florist in Florida myself and ask them on the phone what flowers they have and make sure they get my damn order right!

No Late Night for the Post Office

So many people are filling their tax returns over the internet now that I guess the post office has taken a big hit from not as much mail on the yearly tax deadline day. I remember years ago that all the post offices would stay open until midnight so the last minute tax filing people could still buy their stamps and mail their returns to get the post marked date of April 15 on their envelope.

But this year I read in the newspaper that no post offices around here are staying open late. In fact the biggest, main post office out by the airport is only staying open until 10:00 pm. Wow – things have sure changed because of the internet!

Poster Board

Where does a person buy a big sheet of poster board? I have no idea. I have not even seen a piece of poster board since high school Who uses that stuff anyway?

My boss wants me to buy 4 sheets of white poster board for a big presentation that she is doing next week. She says that we need some visual aids for the presentation. I don’t understand why she doesn’t want to use Powerpoint and the retractable screen in the conference room. But she’s the boss and now I am on the hunt for poster board.

What to do in Vegas?

Just found out that I have a trip to Vegas coming up in September for a big business conference. I’m so excited! I have never been to Las Vegas and have always wanted to go. Now I am going and the company is paying for the whole trip!

So what do people do in Vegas besides gamble? What are the best shows to see while I’m there? I want to have a chance to do it all!

Let’s Do the Tree

Some people put up their Christmas tree the day after Thanksgiving or at least one day on the weekend right after Thanksgiving. I know a lot of my girlfriends would never consider sacrificing their Black Friday shopping for the sake of decorating a tree. But most people have their tree up and decorated by now.

I really need to get on that – maybe my girlfriend Margret will come over and give me a hand. She loves to decorate and do all that domestic stuff. Her house is always gorgeous with all those special touches, and she even goes out and helps some local businesses decorate their office. I’m fine with admitting that I need help. Margret???

Bing Maps

One of the best things about the internet is the online maps. I like to know where I am going and how to get there, and a GPS just doesn’t cut it. I like to see the maps online and make decisions about my route from a greater perspective. So, I’ve discovered Bing maps and I love them! So easy to use and a lot of features that other online maps don’t offer. My favorite feature is in the directions from one place to another. Bing tells you not only step by step, but they go with the extra hint of saying something like, if you pass the McDonald’s you’ve gone too far, or if you see the Publix grocery store you missed the turn. Its so awesome!

Eight Facts About the FBI

You’d be hard pressed to find an American who has not heard of the FBI. But, that certainly doesn’t mean that Americans know all they should about the bureau. In fact, over the years, there have been many misconceptions about the FBI, its role and its reputation. Here are eight facts about the FBI that you may not know.

  1. The FBI does not try cases – The Department of Justice receives investigative results from the FBI. They then make the decision on whether or not to try the case, and the US Attorney’s Office prosecutes.
  2. The FBI’s motto is Fidelity, Bravery, Integrity – Their motto carries the same initials as their agency name.
  3. The longest running director of the FBI was J. Edgar Hoover – Hoover was director from 1924-1972. Hoover was the original director of the agency, and remained its director until his death. Hoover was a very controversial figure, and often used illegal tactics to gain information. Hoover’s reputation is what led to subsequent FBI directors being limited to 10-year terms. The federal building that houses the FBI in Washington, DC is named after Hoover.
  4. The FBI was originally called the Bureau of Investigations – The name was changed to Federal Bureau of Investigations in 1935.
  5. The FBI was a leader in the field of Composite Sketch Art- The FBI was the first agency to develop a standard for composite sketching to be used by many different agencies. This technique, called standard methodology, allows both artists and non-artists to develop composite sketches.
  6. Every Special Agent of the FBI completes a 21 week training course at FBI Training Academy in Quantico, Virginia. This includes their firearms proficiency training and testing. Throughout their tenure with the FBI, agents must maintain firearm proficiency.
  7. FBI agents must be between the ages of 23 and 37 when the bureau initially hires them. However, some preference veterans may apply after the age of 37.
  8. Under the Freedom of Information Act, you have a right to obtain a copy of any file that the FBI has on you. In reality, however, the FBI has files on relatively few Americans. Unless you have been suspected of a federal crime or you have provided information in a federal investigation, there’s likely no FBI dossier for you. However, over the years, the FBI has had records on many famous people, including Elvis Presley, John Denver, Frank Sinatra and Michael Jackson. It has been said that the FBI once sent a letter to Dr. Martin Luther King encouraging him to commit suicide.

The FBI remains an enigma in US culture. Few law enforcement agencies in the world have held the mystique of the FBI. Between the federal agents located in Washington, DC, the 56 field offices throughout the United States and the more than 50 international offices, the FBI has maintained a wide reaching presence, and a wide reaching reputation for being one of the most significant law enforcement agencies in the world.

Phyllis T. Zerkle particularly likes to write about issues surrounding homeland security and the various courses studied when earning a homeland security degree online.