Posted by: berlincoln | August 13, 2011

Social Networks

I am a member of a social network, which shall be nameless to protect the innocent. I am an avid player of a game which has many followers and which, most times, is fun to play. There are a lot of friends which help you in your game, but which also opinion ideas, which I do not feel comfortable.

I believe, that religion, politics and other negative opinions, should not be aired there. This is a social network, which contains many members of different backgrounds, believes and ethnic upbringing. People which have signed in from many different parts of the world to seek friendship and companion ship with others. As some of my followers of this blog know, I am not from the United States. I grew up in Europe, where there were different standards than they are here. I am, at times, very opinionated in certain issues, but I don’t like to air them there. I do not like to lose friends, because I do not agree with some of their opinions, whether right or wrong, being irrelevant. This is a social network, and people are supposed to be social, not forcing religion or other believes onto the people there.

If you want to voice your opinion of certain issues, do a blog. Let like-minded people there encourage or discourage you in that fashion. Keep politics and religion out of this social network, for the sake of all others joined in there.

Thank you

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Posted by: berlincoln | August 3, 2011

THE CAR… YOUR SECOND HOME!?

I have been driving in the United States for nearly a decade now, mainly in my hometown of Lincoln, but also on my road trips from Nebraska to South Dakota, Minnesota, Iowa, Kansas, Missouri, Oklahoma and Texas. I have learned, and adapted to, that one does not walk in America, but even though the convenience store is only half a block away, one uses the car. I do the same right now. Gone are the exercises I used to have when walking to the stores and markets, even though they are a couple of miles away, and walking back with all the shopping carrying back home. But that was in Europe in another age. Now I am driving daily to wherever I have to go. But while driving I am noticing something I cannot get used to and which annoys the hell out of me.

I am driving on the Interstate and there is a Woman passing me at well over 80 MPH READING A BOOK.

I am driving through town seeing similar things from reading a work report to the newspaper, and while doing so veering all over the road.  Women putting on their make-up and Men shaving. Both having their breakfast as well while doing so. Naturally, while doing this, they cannot used the Signal when changing lanes or turning into other streets, cutting off other people and on many occasions, nearly side-swiping other cars. There is many a time, when I had to slam on my brakes in order to avoid above mentioned, risking that the person behind me has enough distance to me so as not to slam into my cars rear. Another favoured past time it seems, as many drivers, especially when they are in a hurry, think that if they are driving close enough to your rear, you either will speed up as well or get out of their way, where possible.

Well, let me clarify again what you should have learned when applying for your Driving License….. The car is NOT an extension of your home. It is a transportation device, which is to bring you from A to B. You, as the driver of such, should tend to the driving and concentrate on this rather than using your cell phone, arguing with your passengers, fixing your hair, looking for elusive items or do any of the other above mentioned. Green means driving and not breaking. Yellow means to slow down preparing to stop. RED MEANS STOP!

I am sure, that if everyone would take an extra 5 minutes and do all of their chores prior to driving to work or other appointments, traffic would go much smoother and safer, avoiding a lot of accidents and fender benders. Keep in mind, that, if you are late, rather be late than 3 weeks in hospital or even dead.

Be Considerate; Be Save and Be Home For Your Loved Ones….

Posted by: berlincoln | February 16, 2010

DO NOT ASK WHAT YOUR COUNTRY CAN DO FOR YOU….

…but ask what you can do for your country….. Once famous words of JFK, President of the US of A. He said those words a long time before I came over to live and work in this country. At at that time, those words may have been apt for the time.

But looking at what is transpiring right now in my chosen country of living, it is time the government does something for its people instead of the other way around. In the last couple of years, when the economy worsened around us, when people lost their savings, their IRA for retirement, the hope of the American Dream…. when people had pay cuts, got laid off or simply had their motivation destroyed by companies outsourcing their every day live…. where the government helped with trillion of dollars car companies, banks and other financial concerns….. where did they help their people… the people who paid their taxes…their social security.. their  insurance, their 401k and other retirement plans…. only to make other people rich???????? Through similar circumstances I came to be working in a student’s loan facility now..listening to students, parents spouses and other concerned people of their plight. That they went to school…choose higher education, with their parents supporting them in their endeavor to build their dreams of a better future… but where is that future? People can’t get work, but have to make every effort to pay back the loans obtained for those studies and education, only to find, that there is no work for them. A civil engineer working as a manager in a thrift store… an accountant working the window of McDonald’s.. a math teacher as a labourer for a building company… Is that what they spend thousands of dollars to get the education they are used to forgo at this rate? what is their future? Where will they go from here? I have no answer and neither have they. Sure, Congress is overlooking the regulation of federal student loans and the possibility of aid given to those who cannot make the return payments… and there are some good programs admittedly, but not much for the parents who struggle to pay back their loans they took out to support their children. They go through the same grinder as we all do, but still have to make those payments with no support, however much wished to give, form their kids…. Dear President… should you ever hear of this one article… and the many other thousands there are… please devise a plan to help those who cannot help themselves… who listened to your and the previous government that education is priceless… so priceless, that they do not know where the next money is coming from to pay the rent, food and any other facilities…. help those that have lost their jobs, had to take pay cuts pay freeze and were laid off… and yet still the cost of living goes up and up at an alarming rate. It is time to give back to the people who elected you and all the other officials into your jobs… to look after them when the need arises…. and the need has arisen alarmingly high.

Posted by: berlincoln | May 31, 2009

Gas prices going up again…

Here I go again. And again it’s about the price at the pump. Here in south east Nebraska we are paying just under $2.50 per Gallon with 10% Ethanol. And why? Because there are some speculators, who want to make a quick buck, and millions of people like you and me have to pay for it at the pump.  It’s not bad enough, that we are in the middle of a recession, having to cope with ever increasing cost for living, but have no increases ourselves, quite the contrary. We have to take pay freezes and even pay cuts. Just so, that a few people can make a quick buck? And what is our elected Government doing about this? NOTHING….because they need to reap in the tax money, so they can pay for their Earmarkers, or otherwise known as Porkers. Why oh why do we have to put up with that? At the end of last year and the beginning of this one, wholesale price for unleaded was down to $0.78 per gallon. We have plenty in storage and reserve, according to the papers, the consumption is still low, yet it goes up and up and up. And I repeat myself here, millions of people struggling to make it from paycheck to paycheck, if they are lucky enough to still have a job to go to.  I beg of you all, talk to your representatives and see if something can be done about it……..

 

But wait! There is more…….Change of subject.

 

SMOKING BAN GOES NATIONWIDE….

AMERICA…. LAND OF THE FREE…. well, not so free anymore. As of June 1st 2009, we can’t enjoy a smoke anymore in the bar, together with a drink. We will have to go outside and smoke there, whatever the weather is like. Funny thing about going outside for a smoke. This Law they enacted was to safeguard the non smokers form second hand smoke. Yet…. We have the smoking ban in Lincoln for over a year now, and if we go to bars, I see the people smoking outside, just at the entrance to the establishment. So you non- smokers, when you pass those by, you are receiving a much higher dose of secondhand smoke, as everything is concentrated on that little space near the entrance.  But that is for your protection, remember? It would have been better if they allowed the smoking inside where there had been expensive smoke extractors, making sure, that only a minimum of smoke would drift your way, especially, since the areas had been divided, sometimes even behind glass walls. So anyone wanting a smoke could go there and be not bothered by others. Hell, the smokers are the ones who pay all the elevated taxes… but not only that…. If you are a smoker, you have automatically an increase in your health insurance, because: “smokers  may  be at a higher risk level than non smokers.” . Where is the medical proof of that? All we get to hear is it may be this or it may be that. My Grand dad smoked to the day he died, which was at age 82, a healthy and pretty active man, going to sleep one night and not waking up the next morning. And he started at age 10. There are others like that and there are some who really have a shorter lifespan, smoking, but there is no definite proof, that that is smoke related. It is in the opinion of  some Lobbyists with some medical data, indicating what may have been the cause and causing a ruckus with it. And yes, I am a smoker. But why should we be singled out with elevated health insurance premiums? Do they elevate the premium if someone has cancer?…. or is Diabetic ….or has Aids…. or even has arthritis? But that probably is only because they may smoke or may have been subjected to second hand smoke?  It’s us, the smokers, who are discriminated against, and we are the ones who have to pay the higher taxes and premiums. AMERICA…. LAND OF THE FREE….. WITHOUT DISCRIMINATION….. yeah, right.

Posted by: berlincoln | May 20, 2009

Advertising…. and other lies

I am sorry to have been away so long, but between work, illness and other things, I have been distracted. …

Does this fall under “lies” in this column? Actually, no. It is a fact.  But like so many things we see, hear or get bombarded with, it is hard to judge if true or false. Just like advertisements. Have you ever noticed, that, when watching TV, the show or film you watch is always very low in volume, but when the ads start ( every few minutes) they are blaring and nearly bust your eardrums. One of their tricks. This is supposed to draw your attention to it. Though, after watching my show for 7 minutes and getting bombarded with advertisement for 4 minutes after, I am eternally grateful for the person who invented the Mute Button on the remote, or the person who invented the Box for Cable television, that allows me to tape the show and fast forward to the next section of the show. But what annoys me is when a show is only 30 minutes you have 3 ad breaks in it. COME ON, PEOPLE. I love the Food Channel, and I am a fan of Rachel Ray. I love her 30 minute meals she shows, but it feels as if there are more ad minutes than show minutes. And not anymore the 2 minute breaks, which they still mention, but at least 3 but more like 4 minutes per break. It depends when the show is aired, I guess. The more viewers, the more ads. I was mentioning the difference in volume earlier on. But what takes the top is Billy Mays!!! Have you ever seen an ad where he does NOT shout? Not only do the station manipulate the volume between show and ad, you have to have Billy to really shout it out. And I am not even go into the products. Some of those ads really should be a show for science fiction, so exaggerated they are. But lets move to printed advertisement. A lot less noisy, but even more deceiving. In our newspaper we get every Wednesday the extra ads printed by the varied companies, which tell you to buy in bulk.  How? Well, if you look at it, you have to buy 2,4, 5 or even 10 items to get that price. Buy 3 for $11.99 or buy 4 for $13.00. Enticing you to buy that amount if you need it or not. Would it not be easier to say you pay $4 for this per item or $3 for that? It is done also to confuse you. I am sorry to say, but it is true, in this day and age. If people don’t have their calculators with them, they can’t calculate the price in their heads, and thus judge, whether this is a good deal or not. I call that deceiving the public, and there should be a law against it. Well, there is, but it is very hard to prove, that that is what their doing. I looked up on the Internet : Rules of advertisement. You get more hits on those rules in European states than American. The ration I got from the search engine I used was about 6 to 1. Meaning 6 foreign and 1 American. But wait..there is more!  If you call within the next 10 minutes you get ….. familiar with this phrase? Except that you have to pay extra S&H, shipping and handling, where it would be easier to go to the store and buy it there without the extra gadgets at an inflated S&H cost. Believe me, My wife will tell you, that I am the Gadget Man. Everything that shines and has moving parts, as she tells it. To be honest, yes, I do love gadgets if they are useful as well…. but there are few about. Getting back to Billy Mays, he has some good products, like the Magic Putty, which my wife and I tried out and that stuff is good, just as one example. But sometimes I just wonder… is it bringing me back to my catch phrase: Just another fast buck? What about the so called “Mail In Rebate”. Come on, people, if you are serious in giving discounts, why not do it instant? Because, my dear reader, Only a low percentage sends actually the rebate coupon in. Meaning that the companies keep the rebate they are advertising. Admittedly, it’s the consumers fault. They don’t give it the 10 minutes it takes to either fill it out and mail it in, or sit down in front of their computers and do it online. They can’t be bothered that they have to wait sometimes up to 3 month before the check arrives in the mail. I’d rather not go at all for it, and look where I can get the deal without the rebate by mail.

Another item is the following: If we don’t price it right at the check out, you will get it free. In store advertisement, for some. But again, who would bother with that? The majority of people don’t watch what the price is, when it goes through the scanner, and if they do, they feel ashamed to mention it, especially, if there is a long queue behind them, and the cashier, over the P.A. calls for a price check. You wait on average 5 minutes before they get their answer, and that makes the following customers irritated, because they have to wait longer in line, when all they want is to go home and get some control over their children, which had been shouting, crying throwing tantrums in every aisle. People, leave your kids at home, if you can’t control them. They were your choice to have, not mine, and I don’t want to listen to them, when I go shopping. If I wanted that, I would have some of my own….. but I digress. So, dear Reader, Maybe you have some similar experiences or the same, let’s hear about it. Let’s make some noise about it, so that some control will be gained, because, in my opinion, it is needed. Till the next time….

Posted by: berlincoln | May 13, 2009

Stimulus distributions

Here I am again… What about should I rant today?  I have to be a bit more revealing, first. I am living In Lincoln Nebraska, Heart of the Midlands, I’ve been told. So my information, if it doesn’t come from TV is from the local newspaper. And one article had caught my eye….. and that is that new hires get less money than before. I know that we have a recession, and I know that some firms are really struggling to make ends meet. But it seems to me, that there are many companies out there, taking advantage of this. Again the greed to make a fast buck. I am working for a company, which does 3rd party administration. I have a pay freeze and my 401K is getting only 2 % employer meet, instead of the 5% I had earlier. I know also, that my Company has signed new contracts worth several hundreds on millions in earnings for the next 10 years. So where is the snag? Apart from the share holders, where is the money going? It is not that I had really great hikes in my wages. I am an average guy with a good work record. My wage increases were in the 1.5 to 2% increases per year. I am now 3 years and 4 month with this company. As I was giving out about in my previous blog, cost of living has gone up 10 fold of what my earnings have. What I am asking myself, and anyone reading my blog ( my thanks to you) Should the Government not take a closer look and take action on our behalf? What about, for example, Chrysler, who got several billions in stimulus money, and as a thank you, fired, no, sorry, I should say, laying off 50,000 workers and closing 400 plants or so worldwide? And wanted additional stimulus money? Where does the making of a few million jobs come in? That’s the other part of it. According to my news paper and AP (Associate Press), the stimulus money for road maintenance and building is apparently going to areas which have the fewest unemployment rates. A district in PA, with well over 10% unemployment gets nothing and a district in KS, who has only 3.5%  unemployment, gets several millions? Who does decide where the money goes, under what criteria and how much? Are we seeing again the “PORKERS” from Senators securing their positions once they are out of office? Or supporting their sponsors in election time? Dear Mr. President, I would really, really like some answers on that. I do applaud what you are trying to do, and wish you all the luck in accomplishing this, but somehow it does not seem to go to the areas where it is mostly needed, according to the report I read.

Until the next time…

Posted by: berlincoln | May 11, 2009

Introduction

Ok… another Blog on the internet…. another “person” trying to give  his 2 cents worth of his opinion about this that and the other….  Actually, I had meant to be very profound and deep in my opening of my blog… wanted to seem wise and worth reading, and, just maybe, have someone comment about it… but in reality, I am just another bloke with medium intelligence, little understanding and a big grief about everything and all. If you asked my lovely wife she would tell you, that I am making myself better than I am..lol. God knows how why she is still with me, the way I go on sometimes.  I am blabbing on and on right now…. not sure which way to turn to first…. But I have to start somewhere and here it is.

As you may have seen, I am not an American, though I am partial to Americans since I was knee high to a grasshopper, meaning since I was very young, nearly 50 years ago. I am from Europe, and grew up in a city, which was divided into 4 zones, English, French, Russian and American. I lived most of my life in the American sector, and had plenty of contact with the GI’s. They started me on my English at the age of 6, and I let you guess what the first words were, they taught me…lolol. You can bet your last dime, they were not found in the English dictionary….. My TV and reading materials were mostly American based. Cowboys and Indians and crime stories mainly. All advertising, how great America was.. Land of dreams and opportunities… Well, I am still dreaming, but I am old enough and here long enough to realize, it is still and only a dream. Reality in the States is everything but opportunity and dream, unless, that is , you have plenty of money and contacts. Meaning, you are one of the top 2 percent, who has the wherewithalls to make them come true. Alright, alright….there are a few success stories, where people made something of themselves, being at the right spot at the right time, or just dumb lucky. But those are the exceptions. If you have to work for a living and trying to make ends meet, you know the reality of life in the States. You have to have 2 jobs just to pay the bills and get the rudimentaries of life. Especially right now. My Wife and I going shopping together most of the times, at least the ones for the weekly supplies and needs. And here is where it begins. We are getting screwed left, right and center. Do you remember the times, when the gas prices were up to over $4.00 per gallon on unleaded gas? Every shop in the country went up with the prices due to increase in shipping. That part was understandable, and I had been watching the cost of living and how long they tried to keep the old prices. They really were fair and conscientious about it, and when they increased it, I understood and agreed with them. But then the gas went down…. as low as 78 cents for a gallon of unleaded in wholesale. Nearly a fifth of the previous cost. I’ve seen it as high as $4.38 wholesale. So, and I guess everyone else did as well, when that went south, I expected that the cost of living would go down as well. I am a realist at heart, and I expected that they would not go down all the way as well, but at least to a reasonable standard. But alas, everything goes up still nearly on a weekly basis. According to some press releases, and I quote:” They were unwilling to lower the cost, in order to make up of some of the losses they had prior to increase, and of the fear, that the cost would go up again”. That is according to a news report on CNBC. Well , we are well into May and the gas prices have been reasonably constant until now. I am paying $2.14 per gallon unleaded today at the pump. Mind you, I am looking for the best priced ones in my city. They are ranging from $2.14 to 2.28 per gallon. But wait… there is more…… I have read in my local paper a couple of days ago, that the state I am living in, has losses of tax revenues as high as 14% in April alone. According to the experts, yeah right, the forecast was not what they had expected. DUH…. IF YOU HAVE THE HIGH COST OF LIVING, BEING LAID OFF OR HAVE A PAYFREEZE OR EVEN REDUCTION IN PAY, YOU WILL THINK TWICE WHAT YOU SPEND YOUR MONEY ON AND GET ONLY WHAT REALLY IS NEEDED, WITH VERY LITTLE, IF ANY, ON LUXURIES…… my contribution in health insurance has gone up drastically and I did not get my pay increase this year, had to stop my 401K, because I cannot afford it at the present time, and you great analyst’s think I will willy nillyspend what little I have so the stores can make more bucks of me????? I give you this, Walmart, Supersavers and all the others… come down with your prices to a reasonably level, stop being greedy for a fast buck, and yes, we will spend more in your store. Quantity in sales makes better earnings than high prices. I can guarantee you that, even though I am only a Joe Soap and not an analyst. I live in the real world, where I have to think and calculate to make ends meet. More often than not, I have to pay a bill late and juggle what we need, in order to make it. .. Well, enough for now. I am sure, there will be much more which I hope to discuss in the future. Hopefully not all that negative, but I had to vent a little bit.

Till next time

Berlincoln.

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