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 I haven’t seen that one in a long time, so it’s possible that it’s been replaced by a magazine called Women of Upstate New York.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).