I’m not a major fan of the big local newspaper but I’ve always had an affinity for the smaller periodicals and a couple of the newspapers. I remember years ago when we had The Call, which was the local black newspaper run by Eddie Moss, and of course I’ve been a fan of the Syracuse New Times for decades.
These days there’s a bunch more magazines, some I check out often, a few I don’t. I’m going to highlight 3 magazines and one local newspaper; only one of these magazines do I now check out all the time, but here and there I’m compelled to see what’s going on. All of these are free, so there’s no reason not to look at them from time to time.
The first magazine is 55 Plus, which I started reading just before I turned 55. As you can imagine, it’s geared towards the older set, but that doesn’t mean they don’t cover any other types of stories. For instance, the most recent magazine not only highlights Van and Linda Robinson, but offers financial tips for retirement, people who are uncovering shipwrecks from the bottom of Lake Ontario, and some restaurants in Skaneateles. Laura Hand, one of my favorites from back in the 70’s when I first moved here also has a nice feature written about her.
Next on the list is Family Times, which is geared towards parenting. This one I don’t check out all that often, since I’m not a parent, but that doesn’t mean it doesn’t ever have something I’m interested in. For instance, this month’s issue talks about baking cookies, something I’ve never learned how to do but always read about it. There’s also an interesting story about body image for both kids and parents, something I haven’t thought about in decades but something I remember from my childhood.
A special feature in this magazine is all the family friendly events occurring in the Syracuse area each month. There’s so many that anyone saying there’s nothing to do in this city doesn’t know what they’re talking about.
Just over 5 years ago I did a feature where I wrote about Syracuse Woman Magazine. I haven’t seen that one in a long time, so it’s possible that it’s been replaced by a magazine called Women of Upstate New York. It’s a bimonthly magazine that highlights women; that kind of makes sense.
I’m not going to lie; the covers almost always catch my eye. We have a lot of attractive women in central New York. 🙂 This month they’re featuring a model and actress named Jaclyn Hales, who will be starring in a new TV show just being shot called Extinct. Of course, the magazine covers a lot of other topics that both men and women can enjoy. One I liked was a motivational article offering tips for people to feel good over the winter. Another talked about local theatrical presentations while highlighting Syracuse Stage. These are things that men as well as women can benefit from.
The last thing I’m highlighting is a newspaper called In Good Health. You probably already figured out it’s about anything related to health, but it’s more than just tips on being healthy. For instance, telemedicine is still relatively new but it’s growing locally, and that’s a good thing. There’s also a story about why so many people are avoiding the dentist. I also get to mention that a friend of mine, George Chapman, has a monthly column in it called Healthcare In A Minute, where he tells people the truth about health care issues that people either don’t know about or think incorrectly about. I would know since I’m also a health care consultant. 😉
As I said, all 4 of these are free and supported by advertising. I pick mine up at Wegmans, but I believe they’re in most stores across the area. Go ahead and pick one up; I know it’s not like looking at things on your smartphone but they’re all still pretty cool.
On another blog of mine, I’ve given tips on how to find topics to write about if you have a niche blog. Those same tips can apply to writing a blog like this, which isn’t as much of a niche blog as it is a blog of love of the area and, well, pretty much anything else I want to write about.This one’s true 🙂 Shared by For Your Pies Only
One of the tips I’ve given is to find something in your niche on a different blog or website that sparks your interest and then comment on it in your blog. That sounds pretty simple, doesn’t it? In actuality it is, but it might take you longer than you’d expect to find the right thing that tickles your fancy.
To test this out, the first place I went was syracuse.com (this isn’t a link to that site; it’s a link to an article I wrote years ago about the site). I figured “what better place to go to find something about the area than that. Sounds solid, right?
Turns out not so much. One of the major problems with local news is that, well, it covers everything. What is there to write about when the news contains stories about criminals that will sound any better than the comments on those stories? Sports? No, if I was going to do that I’d go to Troy Nunes Is An Absolute Magician, which I did, but couldn’t find anything there that I could turn into a blog post. Frankly, I couldn’t find a single thing there to write about… at least not initially.
Instead, I decided to go to Google & do a search for some interesting things about the city. I found something quite intriguing, this post talking about 37 Things You Never Knew About Syracuse. It was actually kind of intriguing, but my mind kept asking “is this absolutely true?” Something didn’t quite feel right, no matter how cool it looked.
Oddly enough, it was syracuse.com that solved my dilemma by publishing ’38 things you never knew about Syracuse’: True or false?… about 5 days after the original was posted. It’s a great rebuttal to some of the things I’d previously read that just didn’t seem right. Like what you may ask (especially if you’re not in the mood to click on either of those links lol)?Cheryl Grayum via Compfight
You’d think Tom Cruise and Rod Serling were products of Syracuse as far as their careers were concerned, but you’d be wrong. Being born in a place and learning your “talents” there are two different things. Ask me about being born in Fort Worth, TX and what I learned from there… especially since I left at age 3.
Joe Biden and Syracuse University? He did get his law degree there but he got his original diploma elsewhere. Still, he loves the ‘Cuse, so that’s something.
The first article talks about “Main Street” and how it’s still a happening place. Not only did I not know that there was a Main Street in Syracuse (which is debatable since it’s actually in North Syracuse), but the businesses that were listed in that story have never been on that street.
There are a lot of other things but I think that’s enough to get us to this question about whether or not we can trust news sources, sites that give statistics and background that aren’t true news sources that some people think might be, and, well, news sources that are supposed to be true news sources that don’t quite give us the news we’re expecting to be true… but really isn’t.
I use this point of pride as a reference. Back in December 2000, my dad was the first recipient in New York state to receive the Medal of Merit, and was also awarded the Conspicuous Service Star. It was a proud time for us, and all 3 TV stations were there to capture the moment.
What’s funny is that all 4 sources got at least one thing wrong… and not the same thing in each one of the stories. The newspaper story didn’t realize that it’s New Castle, not Newcastle. It also alluded to Dad playing military games on his video game consoles, which is something he never did, so that was misleading.
The term “fake news” is big these days, although in that case they’re talking about stories that come out with the intention of stirring people up with a bunch of lies. While fake is irritating, what’s almost worse is content that’s unintentionally misleading or incomplete or even stealing.
I wrote a post last March on my other blog where I pretty much lambasted an article I read titled 5 Blogging Tips and Tricks to Make Your Blog Stand Out… only they weren’t. They weren’t even new; others had written on that same topic over and over for years… almost word for word. This was probably the best example of finding something in your niche and either agreeing or disagreeing with it and explaining why.
Unfortunately, we can’t always believe everything we read; rather, we can’t take it at face value. Fortunately, because we can’t take everything at face value, it gives us a lot to write about, whether we want to make it factual or opinionated.
Part of my quest in writing a blog post every day in January this month was to show ways that people could find things to write about when they’re struggling with a topic. This is just another example; if you’ve been following along, have you noticed the other examples I’ve shown so far?
I know, this is a pretty broad topic. That’s because I’m going to jump around and talk about 5 different types of things, so it’s not all specifically seasonal or food or restaurants or whatever. These are just 5 things I’ve noticed over the years that will help you save a bit of money, some I’ve written about elsewhere, and some I picked up on my own.
1. National Grid is your best buy for utilitiesOran Viriyincy via Compfight
This one might sound like a commercial and that I might be getting paid for it. Nope, nada, zip! During the time I was on the road consulting in another city, I kept wondering why my utility bills were so high when neither me or my wife was home, and I had the temperature pretty low. I knew about the polar vortex and such, but it wasn’t an every day occurrence.
Then in June of 2015 I took one of those calls I shouldn’t have, made a decision I immediately regretted, and called National Grid to ask if I could cancel it, even though it wasn’t them that called initially. That’s when I found out that I’d supposedly signed up with another energy company in 2011 and that their rate was 3x when National Grid’s rate was; ouch!
You know what’s happened? My average winter bill dropped from around $515 a month to barely over $200! Sure, I use a kerosene heater to help keep me warm but I’m not running it throughout the entire house. My bill for the month of December this year… $185! Let someone else beat that on a consistent basis. 🙂
2. Bigger isn’t always cheaper
You know how you’ll go to the store and see something that comes in different sizes. The common theory is that you should buy the bigger item because in the long run you’ll save money on it. I’m here to teach you that’s not always true.
You need to look at that little yellow tag underneath all items. The number usually to the furthest left tells you how much you’re paying per unit. If you’re paying attention, sometimes you’ll notice that for the larger items that number is actually higher than if you bought the smaller items.
The reason for that is because items aren’t always priced by volume; sometimes they’re priced by how well they sell in that particular store…. and it can be tricky. Some stores will charge a higher price for the large item because more people buy it, which means they can make a bigger profit off you. Other stores will discount it to encourage you to buy the product because it costs more to store. In either case, it’s something you should look at… including in the large outlet stores locally; I’m not naming names. 🙂
3. Shop around for your pharmaceuticals
Most people have all their prescriptions filled at the same place for convenience. That might work if you have insurance and it pays a big portion of those pharmaceuticals. What should you do if your insurance doesn’t cover enough of it, or even a part of it?Alan Levine via Compfight
During a period when I didn’t have insurance, I decided to shop around, and found some amazing differences in pricing. For instance, I’m diabetic so I need insulin; did you know that Walmart has their own insulin, two different types, and that the one I use only costs $24.95 a vial? For comparison, many people are paying more than $200 for a box of pens which they sometimes have to buy twice a month. If you’ve been hearing about the price of insulin rising everywhere else, know that this price hasn’t changed in 4 years. Oh yeah; you don’t even need a prescription or insurance for it!
I also need syringes for that insulin. Turns out that Price Chopper offers syringes for free… yeah, I said that, free! Almost everywhere else a box of 100 syringes costs at least $30; no thanks! You do need a prescription but free is free.
One more pharmaceutical I need is called metformin. I get that at Wegmans because it’s only $10 for a 3-month supply. Almost everyone else is charging at least double for the same thing; once again, this is with a prescription and without insurance getting in the way.
4. Breakfast restaurants are affordable; for everyone else, check prices online first
I’m someone who eats out a lot because I like finding new places that serve the type of food I like, as well as going back to places that I feel comfortable at. This is one area I can offer great advice on when it comes to price.
Every traditional breakfast restaurant in the area will serve you a pretty good meal for under $10… many for under $5! Almost no one can ruin eggs or toast, although some have ruined bacon; it happens… If you like going out for a meal here and there but don’t want to spend a lot of money, breakfast should be your choice.
The worst deals I’ve found overall seem to be buffets. Some like Ling Ling’s in North Syracuse might have a lunch buffet that comes in around $8.50 per person, which isn’t too bad because of all the choices they have… and it’s Chinese food! lol Others might have a lot of choices but you have to gauge just how much food you’re going to eat or “should” eat in deciding how much you’re willing to pay for it.
I’ve found that, other than Ling Ling’s, I can’t eat that much food anymore. So paying $20 per person for a buffet anywhere is a major waste of money… even though I’ve done it in the past. I’ve started checking the prices for both buffets and other items online first because it can save both a lot of money and a lot of stress. I’ll pay big money for things I want that I can’t make on my own (like salmon teriyaki) but would rather be a bit more perspicacious when it comes to everything else.
5. The best option for your entertainment spending power is…
This one’s easy; the Hollywood Theater in Mattydale offers movies at around $2 for most tickets, $3.50 for 3D, and that’s even with the upgraded seating. Sure, you’re going to have to wait some time before they’ll be showing any of the top movies but if you’re keen on seeing something and you don’t have to see it immediately, this is the best option in town. Oh yeah; if you go to a regular movie on Tuesdays it’s only $1.50!
If you’re looking at sporting events, the best prices for “real sports” (yeah, I said it!) goes to the Syracuse women’s basketball team (you remember, 2016’s finals runner up), which you can get for $10 per seat, or the Syracuse Chiefs baseball team, which runs around $12 (this was 2016’s price; I couldn’t verify a new price for 2017).
Finally, just to throw this in, the ticket prices for this year’s New York State Fair are only $10 per day, which is practically a steal, thus becoming the best priced thing for a short time event (just don’t eat too much at the food vendors lol).
I read and consume a lot of books; I’ve done so over the years. I read books for fun, books for business, motivational books, science books, history books… let’s just say I read often, even listening to books in the car instead of listening to the radio.
When people put together lists like this one, you’ll often get anywhere from 10 to 100 books. Frankly, when I started out with this one I was heading near the 20 book level and thought that was overkill. Just a couple of years ago on a different blog I wrote a post on 10 Influential Books In My History.
Over the years I’ve written book reviews on 26 books; 32 if I count each individual book of the Harry Potter series. This time around, I’m going to recommend 5 books that I’ve never talked about before; if you’re interested in seeing some of the individual books I’ve written about previously You can check out this link or this one. By the way, at this time I don’t have affiliate links to any of these books but if I change that at some point I’ll modify this sentence to indicate it:
1. Get Clients Now by C.J. Hayden
This is one of the first books on marketing that I read when I decided to go into business for myself and it’s been very helpful over the years. The major selling point of this book is the actual program that you put together for yourself via the worksheets in the book.
It helps you plan, categorize importance of, then follow through on all of the projects you have in mind for your business for a 28 day period, though you could decide to do it in smaller chunks if you wished. It even gives you weekends off to relax and do whatever you want to do, without having to think about what you’re going to do on the following Monday because you’ve already written out your goals ahead of time. You also grade yourself throughout the day on what you’ve done and how you feel, which helps to hold you accountable.
You begin by using her worksheet to write out all the things you’d like to accomplish. Then you move items to the main worksheet, which first allows you to denote how you feel when you wake up on a 10-point scale. Then you list three or four items that are long term goals that you want to work on. Then you list a bunch of items of things you want to do every single day, or every week.
It can work wonders in helping you stay the course for business purposes, but you can use it for other things as well. I recreated the worksheet as an Excel program so I could either print out a new sheet every month or just copy it into a new page in Excel and change the date. Very helpful indeed.
2. Pimpology by Pimpin’ Ken
This is something different, yet quite illuminating. He’s a real life pimp, big time if you’ve never known pimps could be big time (y’all have heard of Ice-T, right?). He’s been named Mack of the Year several times (these are national awards for pimps, where they vote on their own and have a yearly ball celebrating different categories of pimps), has been in music videos, hung with some of the top rap and R&B musicians in America, and was even on stage at the BET Awards along with one rapper, helping him accept an award. He’s been in Milwaukee, New York City, and Atlanta, among other places. His father, known as Johnny Slick, was also a pimp, and many of his friends come from a line of pimps also. Talk about lineage!
It’s always been accepted that street knowledge translates well into a business model. Though he says some graphic things in the book, every “law” basically starts out with a story, and when he gets to the eventual point it’s almost exactly like what you’d see in any other business motivation book; that’s where this book is in the bookstore.
For instance, his take on pimps (person in charge) and hoes (prostitutes or, in this case, the worker) makes sense when he extrapolates it. If you’re a pimp, all the money and accolades are coming your way. If you’re a ho, you’re doing all this work for someone else’s benefit, and they throw you a bone, so to speak, to keep you coming back for more. In the long run you’re lining someone else’s pockets more than your own.
It’s a different take on business yet it jibes well with other books I’ve read on the subject. There’s a lot of bad language in it, but what would you expect from someone with his background?
3. Before You Quit Your Job by Robert Kiyosaki
Kiyosaki is best known for his book Rich Dad, Poor Dad, but I consider this one much more important. It might not be not as captivating at the original, probably because this time he’s not telling stories as much as detailing the thought process people should be ready for before deciding to start working for themselves. Still, I wish I’d been able to read it before I went out on my own.
There’s a lot of truth in this book, and he covers the reality people should explore before thinking about self employment (what they’re going to lose), what to think about if you’re hoping to become rich, and what people should do before they actually decide to leave their jobs and become independent. I’m going to share those 10 tips here:
* Check your attitude * Get as much experience as possible on five levels of the B-a Triangle (explained in the book) * Always remember that Sales = Income * Be optimistic as well as brutally honest with yourself * How are you at spending money? * Start a business to practice on * Be willing to ask for help * Find a mentor * Join an entrepreneur’s network * Be faithful to the process
4. The Millionaire Next Door by Thomas J. Stanley, Ph.D
To some people this might feel like the “dryest” book to read of all the books I’m going to talk about. In reality, it’s probably one of the most important books to read because it’s not speculation about what makes rich people. Instead, it’s well researched and gives some insight as to the types of people who become millionaires, and many of these people aren’t what you’d expect.
For instance, many of the millionaires he interviewed live in small houses in non-assuming neighborhoods. They drive small, non-distinct cars; some drive minivans. They don’t wear fancy clothes, they don’t eat out much, and they don’t travel all the time. Some of them don’t even make hundreds of thousands of dollars a year; they’ve just decided they wanted to learn how to save money, or make money work for them, with dreams of early retirement or living well at any point they decide to retire.
On the second front were some of the types of people who are millionaires that one wouldn’t expect, and I mean multi-millionaires. By profession, auctioneers came out at the top of the list of folks who were likely to be millionaires; I didn’t see that one coming. They were followed by plumbers, electricians, and many other small business owners. Many of them have accumulated more wealth, and are wealthier by far, than physicians who earn $500,000 a year; that was phenomenal to learn. One person in the book actually was able to make it to being a millionaire making $35,000 a year by skimping, saving, and investing well.
The two overriding factors, which I believe is inspiration for all of us, is that these folks don’t live like how we’d expect millionaires to live, so they could be our neighbors without our knowing it, and that all it takes is some perseverance, dedication to a budget, the willingness not to be extravagant and, gasp, being real. How’s that for motivation?
5. Steal Like An Artist by Austin Kleon
There are a lot of creative people in the world. The overwhelming majority of them don’t actually create anything new though; what they do is improve on something that already exists. That’s the premise of this book, one that’s just under 50 pages long yet became a New York Times bestseller.
It’s an important book because it teaches all of us that we don’t have to reinvent the wheel; all we have to do is make it stronger, make it prettier, make it last longer, etc. The reason we have Google is because search engines like Alta Vista and Yahoo showed them the way to get started, and all they had to do was improve on the product.
Even though it’s a short book, it had 10 chapters, each a pretty good lesson for all of us who want to be creators of some type, or hope to find the next big thing. They are:
* Steal like an artist * Don’t wait until you know who you are to start making things * Write the book you want to read * Use your hands * Side projects are important * Do good work and put it where people can see it * Geography is no longer our master * Be nice * Be boring * Creativity is subtraction
Those aren’t bad are they? For context, trust me, read the book! 😉
Yesterday I made my first visit to the Movie Tavern out in Camillus to see the Rogue One movie. I’m not going to lie; I thought it was a lot of stuff and nonsense when I heard about the concept but at this point I’m a true believer.
The first thing to know is that it’s not on Genesee Street; if I hadn’t been riding with some other folks I might have never found it. When we got there a fence had fallen due to the high winds, thus reducing the ride to a short one line road. I’m not sure if there was another way in but I hope that’s something they fix pretty soon.
Parking seems to be a premium also, as in my friend Scott had to drop his daughter and I off so he could find a place to park; that might be something they need to work on if possible. We eventually saw him almost 5 minutes later; luckily he’d already purchased the tickets so we didn’t have to wait in line at the box office.
When you first go inside you immediately notice a sit down restaurant to the left, right across from the box office. That’s for people who don’t want to eat during the movie. Of course that’s the point of going to the Movie Tavern in the first place; ordering food and eating it while the movie is playing… at least that’s what I wanted to experience.
The theater area isn’t overly large as far as the number of seats, and that’s probably because the seats recline… what?!?!? 🙂
I obviously found that pretty amazing! I reclined throughout the movie, though I have to admit that often I reclined my back but wanted my feet on the floor. I might be a little weird in that way but at least I was comfortable.
Just before the previews came on a waitress came around to take our order. They give you both a menu of their special items and their regular menu. There were a lot of choices on both menus, but I wasn’t in the mood for a full meal. I’m not sure there are a lot of restaurants in the Syracuse area that offer both milkshakes and mixed drinks, but this place does. I thought about going for a milkshake, but instead ordered my traditional diet soda… and nachos!
This was a monster batch, and I asked for them with steak to add to the effect, since I don’t like all the extra fixings many people enjoy. They were tasty, although they had a slight kick, but I didn’t come close to finishing it off. I did eat too many though; I haven’t done that sort of thing in a long time…
Everything else about the movie experience was pretty standard, except that close to the end of the movie the waitress came back to hand us our checks. My nachos and diet soda (free refills), along with 4 chocolate chip cookies (which I shared) came to $23; all in all I didn’t think that was outrageous at all.
The venue can offer up to 14 different showings of movies, with a few of the theaters being 3-D. I think it was a very pleasant experience and if they solve their parking issues I won’t mind going the extra few miles for such a pleasant movie event.