Monday, May 31, 2010

11+ Wars to Remember the Fallen

Although this is usually where you find the "Monday 8" on my blog, in honor of Memorial Day today, I will be summarizing the 11 major conflicts where US military personnel have given their lives in defense of freedom for people around the world. Feel free to click on each topic for details of each. You can also click on each picture to see the details written on them more clearly.

The American Revolution
From 1775 to 1782, the Americans faced off against the largest empire in the world. Led by General Washington they won.
Duration: 80 months Deaths: 4435 military (approximately 25,000 total)

The War of 1812
Some call it the Second War of Independence, for when it ended and the US had fought Great Britain to a stalemate, America's independence was assured.
Duration: 30 months Deaths: 2260 military (approximately 20,000 total)

Mexican-American War
A dispute over Texas joining the Union resulted in US conquest of California and the balance of the Southwest.
Duration: 20 months Deaths: 13,283

The Civil War
It was America's bloodiest war as brother fought brother.
Duration: 48 months Deaths: 191,963 military (approximately 625,000 total)

World War I
Millions died in the fields of Europe, sometimes while fighting over a few disputed yards.
Duration: 19 months Deaths: 116,516

World War II
It was a war like no other, and covered all corners of the globe.
Duration: 44 months Deaths: 405,399

The Korean War
Some call it the forgotten war, but for two years America fought a full fledged war to keep South Korea free.
Duration: 37 months Deaths: 62,321 (54,245 recovered/8075 no remains)

Vietnam War
It was previously the longest war that the United States fought and the only one that the United States lost.
Duration: 90 months Deaths: 59,961 (58,220 recovered/1741 no remains)

Desert Storm
The last war America took part in the 20th century took place when Kuwait was invaded by Iraq.
Duration: 1 month Deaths: 383

Global War on Terror (includes Operation Enduring Freedom & Iraqi Freedom)
Operation Enduring Freedom: War came to America on September 11th 2001 with an attack on NY and Washington. Not since the Battle of Antietam had so many Americans perished in a day.
Iraqi Freedom: On March 19th 2003 the United States invaded Iraq to overthrow the government of Saddam Hussein. To present, US troops continue to fight an insurgency there.
Duration: 104 months to date (Enduring)/86 months to date (Iraqi)
Deaths: 5015 (as of Feb 6, 2010)

Other "Minor" Conflicts (see full list here)
Deaths: 11,922

TOTAL Military Deaths : 873,458

Sources:, wikipedia, crs report for congress
American Battle Monuments Commission

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Introductions...J. Money from Budgets Are Sexy

In this (recently neglected) series of interviews, my plan is to introduce you to bloggers whose stories and/or advice I have enjoyed or found most helpful. Budgets Are Sexy is a fun, sometimes snarky, but always informative blog that so often feels like you are having a discussion over a cup of coffee with its author, J. Money, rather than reading a blog. The posts are full of information and real life-application type stuff while allowing you to feel as if you are not reading a textbook on finance (gag).

I finally got a chance to virtually "sit down" with J. Money (okay, so he doesn't really sit down a lot...he's not really content with being still it seems) via email and talk. This is the result:

Me: I really appreciate you talking with me about your blog. Please tell my readers a bit about yourself and what Budges Are Sexy is all about.
J.: Budgets Are Sexy is all about making finance un-boring :) There are a lot of great sites out there that dish knowledge and statistically correct ways to save here and cut debt there, but I learn a lot better when entertainment is mixed in more - and hopefully others do too!

Me: Honestly...that's one thing that locks me in as a subscriber. I can't handle the textbook type stuff; I need something readable and you've got it. What keeps you motivated to continue writing your blog?
J.: Oh man, I just think it's fun! It's like you build this entire site from scratch - all from your brain - and then people read and respond to it! Haha...Plus, it's yours to keep. It's really a product you're building out there. I think it's great that we're helping people too. I don't get any sense of accomplishment with my 9-5 job, so this blog really breathes some life into me. Now if only there's a way to go full time!

Me: I know what you mean by not feeling a sense of accomplishment at work. I envy those people who LOVE to go to work everyday. What do you think would bring that joy? Blogging full time?
Oh yeah, I'm pretty sure blogging & doing side projects related to blogging would help me be more excited as far as career goes. I've loved everything about it so far (the writing, the commenting, the networking, etc etc) and going full-time would be my first move shall anything ever happen with the current 9-5. I might even plan to try it out in the next 6 months either way ;)

Me: Looking at your budget, I see you are contributing 90% of your paycheck to your 401k. That's insane! What (other) financial moves have you made that people have thought you were crazy?
J.: Haha...well, the 401(k) one is definitely the biggest of the bunch. Other than that it's probably been the stories about the opposite of me saving ;) Like the time I spent $40 on a bottle of water, or the weekend I tried out the $100 Lottery Challenge (you'll have to click to see what that one was about...we learned a lot!)

Me: I read the Lottery Challenge. I'll have to check into that bottle of water post. What types of posts do you find elicit the most responses from readers?
J.: The ones that are PERSONAL. And personal in a way that gets you to say "Yeah, me too!" or "What the...? I do NOT agree and here's why ____ ." The thing with all these personal finance sites is that we all convene here to learn and be around like-minded individuals - particularly those who have the thirst to become financially free! Many blogs do an excellent job of throwing out facts and a lot of great in-depth research, but if you want good discussions going you really have to connect with your readers. And nothing does that better than emotions. Or giveaways ;)

Me: I can honestly say that is where I have dropped the ball in the past. What do you personally enjoy writing about most?
J.: Whatever has *JUST* occurred. I really don't enjoy writing at all to be honest with you, but I LOVE sharing my experiences and thoughts exactly as they are happening. When I jump on the computer ASAP I find the words just flow out and I can really put a lot of thought & energy into the posts. If I wait a few hours though (or a few days/weeks which is usually the case when I'm busy), it's not nearly as fun for me - even if the lesson learned or shared hits home. I like blogging because it's right here and NOW - not like magazines and the bunch.

Me: One of your pieces of advice is to get rid of all "bad" debt. What do you consider "good" or acceptable debt?
J.: That's a good question actually. The old me would have said "bad" debt was car loans and credit card debts. Now I think it's really anything you personally just can't stand. You can get into a lot of the numbers and say "well this debt's at 5% and the other's at 25% so such-and-such is the good one" but overtime I've come to realize that it's almost always a personal reflection. And that most debt is bad debt when it comes down to it ;) Except for maybe a loan on a Porsche. I think for a guy that really brings a lot more joy than the opposite.

Me: Awesome answer--money is such an emotional subject for everyone.'re known for your Million Dollar Club. Tell us about the it.
J.: Sure, the Million Dollar Club is pretty simple really - it's all about making a decision to get from point A (your current financial situation) to point B (a million dollars). Now, every person I know wants to be a millionaire, but unfortunately most people we know don't put a GAME PLAN into action to get there. So what the million dollar club does is basically just get you to spell out the methods you'll be taking to reach that glorious end. It might take 20 years or it might take 50, but the point is you've got a few steps in place now that you can start following.

Me: You know...that really simple...and BRILLIANT! Who doesn't want to be a millionaire. It has always seemed like just one of those unreachables, but it really is not when you think about it. So, once you've accumulated your wealth and are financially comfortable, what are your goals for enjoying the fruits of your labor?
J.: Oh that's an easy one! To do WHAT I want, when I WANT to do it ;) Every year my hobbies and passion change (I've got major A.D.H.D.), but the one thing I have always cherished is the ability to be free. Free to blog, go on walks, donate money, play poker, travel, even work if I really wanted to. The thing about money is that it gives you options to do whatever it is you're passionate about. So I'ma keep on working at it until I'm free as a bird, baby!

Me: I totally get it. I can't wait until we are no longer slaves to our debts and can feel free! Last question...what blogs are you reading?
J.: Favorite bloggers to read: Free Money Finance, Bargaineering, and Enemy of Debt. The passion those guys have is just amazing (and I'm close friends with one of them!)

I am sure that J. Money would love to have you join him over at Budgets Are Sexy. You can always just click over to read, but you'll find yourself there day after day, so you might as well just subscribe as I do, via RSS feed or sign up for his VIP newsletter. You can also follow him on Twitter--if you are into that kind of thing. Or you can hook up with him on Facebook or LinkedIn. If you do all of the above, I think you might need to join some type of addiction support group though, so pick a couple and go with it!

Monday, May 24, 2010

8 Things Your Child Should Know

  1. Name & Spelling—By the time your child is a toddler, they should know their full name and the name of his/her parents. This should be one of the first things they learn to spell. If they get lost somehow, it makes it difficult to locate their parents if they don’t know what name to give them.
  2. Address—This is another important bit of information for them to learn early. Start with your city and state. Then get more specific.
  3. Phone Number—Also important information they need to memorize early.
  4. His/Her Birthday—This helps in identifying a child who is missing or lost.
  5. Where Mom/Dad Works—This can be useful information in locating the parents.
  6. Alternate Phone Number (caretaker, neighbor, grandma)—someone else who can be contacted in case the child’s parents cannot be reached for some reason.
  7. How/When to Dial 911—It’s important not only to know how to dial 911, but when it is okay to do so. Don’t make them scared of the number so that they will not dial it when actually needed, but make sure they know it is not a game or toy as well.
  8. How to Respond to a Housefire—Teach them what your plan is if there is a fire in the house. Teach them how to test doorknobs, how to avoid smoke, how to get out of the house from several locations, and where to meet the family once outside the house.

Monday, May 17, 2010

8 Places to Clean that Might Escape You

  1. Under the lip of your shower door—I found out the hard way that the lip of our glass shower door gets the most disgusting collection of grime from hard water. It will make you gag if you let it get away from you…trust me.
  2. Under the lip of your counter tops—This one I discovered when I grabbed the edge of our countertops and felt texture. We have solid-surface countertops…there should be no texture.
  3. Under the lip of the table where your child sits—The owners of sticky, dirty, grimy hands often use the underside of the table to pull themselves up in the chair, pull themselves closer to the table or just as a napkin (because picking up the one on TOP of the table makes no sense).
  4. Aerator of your faucet—This is the part where the water sprays out. It can be gross with hard water, lime, calcium and other build up. Your water is sliding by it all while it is being dispensed. Clean it and you will have not only cleaner water, but possibly more since these can clog the holes!
  5. Inside ice dispenser—Also another (un)fortunate accidental find of mine. If you have an ice dispenser on your fridge, open the freezer door. You see that little chute that the ice rides down before it falls into your glass? There is a little door at the bottom of that chute that keeps the cold inside the freezer while ice is not using it as an exit. Reach inside that chute and push that little door open. Look at the seal on it. If you’ve never done this before, my bet is that it is black. Blech.
  6. In the folds of the seal of your refrigerator—This one is similar to #5 in location/purpose, but not a gross find of mine. My mom used to clean this one. Open the refrigerator and freezer doors (not at the same time…were you born in a barn?!) and clean INSIDE the folds of the door seals. It can be gross, but you can feel better about yourself once you’ve done it.
  7. Dish washer door—There are actually two areas that need your attention here. Firstly, open your dishwasher slightly. Now, look at the top of the inside of the appliance. It is probably gross. However, you may have already spotted this one on your own and therefore clean it regularly. Here’s another one. Continue opening the dishwasher door until it is all the way open…as in parallel to the floor. Look in the “hinged” area at the bottom of the door. Most dishwashers gather moisture here, but when the door is closed, they are shaped in such a way that the soap and fresh water does not wash here. Final result? Grossness.
  8. Base of your toilet—This is mostly true if you have males that live anywhere in your house. I was not aware until I was married that men seem to…how should I say…spray more than I realized (since my mom never let this be a problem when I was growing up). So even your best Robin Hood of an aimer cannot avoid getting a bit on the base of the toilet and on the floor around it (which is why I neither understand carpet in a bathroom or those little rugs that fit around the base of a toilet).

Yes it's gross...but what's worse: reading about it here or it residing in your home?

You can also find a similar post at a The Frugal Frontier named 6 Places You Might Forget to Clean. You should check out her site for more ideas!

Photo credit: lusi

Monday, May 10, 2010

8 Pool Safety Rules for Kids/Parents

Since our neighborhood pool is opening this upcoming weekend, I thought I would run over a list of pool safety tips to remember for this upcoming heatwave.

  1. Learn CPR. I don’t want you to ever have to use it, but you should know how—just in case.
  2. Never allow children to swim alone, regardless of how good of a swimmer they are. Younger children MUST have an adult present. Do not allow a flotation device replace supervision. Older children should have a buddy who is also a good swimmer in order to be left alone. Actually WATCH the child and don’t get distracting by socializing.
  3. Never allow children to run around a pool.
  4. Be sure that the depth of the pool is appropriate for jumping/diving without causing injury.
  5. Teach children not to urinate in the pool. It’s disgusting and lots of health hazards can stem from this apathetic approach.
  6. Have a telephone around. If you receive a call from a friend or need to call 911, you don’t want to leave the poolside to do it.
  7. Use plenty of sunscreen and re-apply per the label directions to prevent burns.
  8. Don’t assume that if your child knows how to swim that they are drown-proof.

Now enjoy the summer fun!

Photo credit: Tom@HK

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

WFMW - I Can't Exactly Cut It Off!

See that? That cutie right over there-->.

He's awesome. He's smart, generous, caring, sensitive, smart, loving, cuddling, funny, witty, and smart. (Did I mention he is smart?).

He also sucks his thumb. He's closer to 5 than 4.

I don't know why he is a thumb-sucker. I was not. His dad was not. But he is. We certainly didn't teach him this trick.

It needs to stop.

We've talked to him about it. I've used a glove that has all fingers but the thumb cut off for him to wear, but it is hot and uncomfortable. We've tried bribing him. We've tried to restrict it to bedtime (in the hopes that we could then work with him from there). We've threatened him with the stuff you buy that makes it taste horrible. Nothing has worked so far.

Any recommendations that you have in getting this habit stopped would be much appreciated.

Because his little sister does it to, so I will need to keep an arsenal of tips on hand to find something that works for her in a couple of years.


Go visit We Are THAT Family to see the backwards edition of Works for Me Wednesday (where the blogger asks for tips rather than gives them) and see what other questions people have that you might could help them with!