Plano Revisited 2013

Plano on my Mind.. ramblings of my 2013 visit to Plano..

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Last week, I was in Plano for my annual visit. This is the visit where I spend a few days with my brother and his family and spend a few days with my closes 1700 fellow employees from the employee resource groups from the company I work for.

Yet we all know that this post is about my Plano, Texas visit..

The term I want to introduce to my readers is “Tiger Moms”. These are mothers that become so involved with their kids athletic events that they think it’s normal to be total jerks instead of just encouraging their kids to play fair and do the best they can.

I went to see my nephew play at one of his tennis team matches in West Plano. Let me tell you this is serious High School tennis.. East Plano Vs. West Plano at it’s best.  Yet of course I digress.

Two young ladies were playing and it was a tough match. After the match the winner walked over to where I was sitting. The winner was limping and she apparently was playing injured.  Tiger Mom “A” (The Loser’s mom) says to the young lady (winner),  “you shouldn’t have played”.  The Dad casually says “She won (his daughter) anyway”. Well this set off a chain of events that led to escalation to the loser’s coach for the innocent response from the Dad, as “bad sportsmanship”, etc..

Of course the other tiger mom’s jumped in and were saying nasty remarks over this whole incident.. I was so amused by this whole one-act play at a tennis match. These women were living their own lives through their kids with their overbearing opinions and attitudes.

I actually thought the whole exchange was pretty pathetically hilarious! Parents should encourage their kids to show sportsmanship, instead of being role models, they act like they are in high school themselves. Remember these are upper middle class moms whose income exceeds 6 figures at a minimum.

High school sports in Texas is a very serious business. Football, Tennis, it’s huge. I don’t know whether any of you have heard of the show “Friday night lights”. That’s Texas sports in a nutshell,

Beyond that my Plano visit in a nutshell. Oh I forgot about my sinus infection and my visit to the local “Minute Clinic” at the local CVS.., What a concept. You make a quick appointment, get evaluated by a physician’s assistant, and get a script all in an hour. No doctor needed. All insurance accepted.

I also saw some amazing pre-construction new houses that are just state of the art in McKinney, Texas.  Keep in mind, McKinney was voted the best place to live in America in 2012. Overall, McKinney is a really nice small town which feels like a place where you can truly call home! Yes, this is coming from a long-term NJ, homey.

Every time I visit Plano, I love it more and more.. If all the stars align.. this may become a reality sooner than later..

That’s all for now..

Where else can you find random ramblings like this which don’t seem to have any logical stream.. Dad’s Taxi of course!

 

 

 

Remove yourself off the Internet

Do you want to remove traces of yourself off the web? Ways to go off the web Grid… Just follow directions..

Remove yourself off the Internet

You have to check this out.. Don’t worry Dad checked it out.. Remove your digital fingerprints off the web..The site gives you directions on how to delete your self from sites that you may be on… So many places.. such little time

Take a look at the Mashable link which talks about this site.. Worth the read..

Redbox – Text for Deals

Free and discounted movies from Redbox!

Here’s a deal for the Redbox fans, you can get weekly/monthly free movies as well as half price rentals via codes sent to your smartphone. A quick moving deal that will expire this week!

If you use Redbox for your DVD movies:

 

  • From your SmartPhone text “DEALS” to 727272.

 

  • You will get a confirmation back with coupon and deals from Redbox

 

Don’t forget to download the REDFLIX app for your iPhone to get more Promo codes you can use!

Natasha sings “My Immortal” with Evanescence!

See Natasha M Sing with Evanescence “My Immortal”. Best 2 minutes you will spend today!

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My dear friends, we need your support! Here’s a Mashup song “My Immortal” made today by my teenage daughter  Natasha (BharatBeat Idol) M with Evanescence. This is a Mashup contest on Facebook that Natasha has entered! Follow the link below and give her a big LIKE and a word of encouragement!!
http://www.facebook.com/Evanescence?sk=app_116272508446233&app_data=4549

As her proud Dad, please view the video on Facebook and vote for by giving a big thumbs up LIKE!

As you may know this 13 year old is quickly becoming a star in her community!

Dad

Black Monday – Possible of 300K of outages

Do you want to quickly check out whether your machine is infected with the “DNS Changer” Virus which is supposed to go global on Monday July 9th. Read on..

I know everyone that reads Dads’ Taxi is very alert about Malware and virusus.

Tomorrow (Monday, July 9th) is when up to 300 thousand PC’s may go dark because of the “doomsday virus”. What does going dark mean? It mean you won’t be able to get on the Internet and update your Facebook status, or do ANYTHING on the internet.

Of course the media is hyping this possible situation to the max and trying to get everyone to be scared silly. Well on Dad’s taxi, we try to alleviate your concerns by providing you with links that were published on Yahoo that you can use to see whether your computer is/was infected. It takes 20 seconds of your time and any one of the links below will do the check for you.

The Taxi is providing these links as a courtesy to my legions of followers. Ok, the ten’s of follower’s I have!

Online security firms, Facebook and the FBI are offering free diagnostic checks for users whose computers may be infected. Here are links to several sites:

Malware check: http://dns-ok.us/

After you run the real time tester and you see the image below, your machine has been infected!

FBI: https://forms.fbi.gov/check-to-see-if-your-computer-is-using-rogue-DNS

DNS Changer Working Group: http://www.dcwg.org/

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/notes/facebook-security/notifying-dnschanger-victims/10150833689760766

McAfee: http://www.mcafee.com/dnscheck

Keep in mind, this malware was discovered and and baddies that originated this malware were arrested. The information was excerpted from the following Yahoo News Site:

  • The problem stems from malware known as DNS Changer, which was created by cybercriminals to redirect Internet traffic by hijacking the domain name systems of Web browsers.
  • The ring behind the DNS Changer virus, discovered in 2007, was shut down last year by the US Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), Estonian police and other law enforcement agencies.
  • Because the virus controlled so much Web traffic, authorities obtained a court order to allow the FBI to operate replacement servers which allow traffic to flow normally, even from infected computers.
  • But that order expires Monday, when experts say infected computers will face an “Internet doomsday.”

July 1, Start the second half of 2012, with new problems

When things start going wrong, there is almost a guarantee that things multiply one by one, till the only thing you can do is just say “Welcome to my world”.

I figured that the second half of 2012, would be better than the first half. I guess I was wrong. Yesterday, I spent all day at Great Adventure in Jackson NJ in the 100 degree temps with thousands of my closest friends. I took my daughter and her friend and of course everywhere I go, there will be something that happens to make the trip unique.

I failed in my job as the designated bag carrier and the follower of the girls

  1. Lost my girls when they got stuck on huge line using the “Flash  Pass”. I waited and waited for over an hour for them to return from the ride and when the didn’t return, I went to the other rides I “thought” they might be going to. Needless to say this was a very bad decision.
  2. My daughter’s BFF, lost her phone on the Superman ride, because we didn’t want to repeat #1. We’ll see if the park finds the phone when they sweep the grass where the phone fell.

At least nothing we do is without some adventure, especially when we are at Great Adventure in Jackson, NJ. These follies pale in comparison to my day today, the first day of the second half of 2012.. Read on  for my car follies of June 1!

The day started well with a few hours of tennis with my buddies, but the fun ended quickly with the car issues that I got involved with right after Tennis. So think, I’ve already been playing a few hours of tennis when everything below happens in real time.. So much fun, such little time, for Dad’s taxi of life.. Onward and forward.

Today, my older’s daughter’s car (Nissan Sentra) died on the NJ garden state parkway about 15 miles from her destination. Of course, I decided to go see what I could do.. Knowing full well that I have zero auto mechanic skills, I anticipated the worst and of course I got it.

When I got to mile marker 103 on her car was indeed stalled on the shoulder. I got in and of course, the car started. I knew then and there, this was way too easy, knowing my luck and how mechanical things when they are in my hands. My daughter took off in my car and I decided to drive her car home..

Of course within a few miles of me driving the car, the car died again and I was stranded on the side of the road with no place to go and my “check engine” light telling me the obvious. Normal people would have just waited for a parkway tow, but I wanted to press my luck, to see just how stupid I could be. Of course within a few minutes the car starts again and I take off headed towards home (Exit 114 – Middletown NJ) or as they refer to in the parkway towing lingo – mile marker 113.5 on the service road headed north bound.

After making it to mile marker 113.5 after an hour from mile marker 103.7, I was within eyesight of escape from the parkway.. I knew, my car wouldn’t make it to the exit, so I called parkway tow and AAA to tow my car from the side road after exiting my purgatory on the Garden State Parkway.

After an hour, Parkway tow shows up and this is where my luck goes from bad to worse. The tow truck driver pulls up ahead and he tells me, “he himself is out of gas and he can’t help me”. So now both of us are on the side of the road disabled.

Then I made a brilliant decision. I guess the heat finally got to me. I decided to cancel my tow and make a run for the exit (about 1/2 mile away) with my car which starts and can go a few  miles (if I’m lucky) at a time. Aren’t you waiting with bated breath  what happens next?

I think the Sun God was shining on me (literally) and I was make it through the one lane exit and make it to place where I could wait for the AAA tow.. When I got to my final resting spot, I felt like I had just won the battle of my car.. My wife and daughter came by with a half bottle of water so I could hydrate.. Yes a half bottle of water. Don’t ask.. I didn’t.

So the wonderful AAA driver comes and gives me the “free” tow to the service station with my disabled car..I anticipate that over the next few days, I’ll be spending quite a bit of money so my darling daughter can be mobile and be able to drive her friends all over NJ.

Here’s the lesson of the day that I learned..

  • Always have an emergency kit in every car. Jumper cables, flashlights and whatever else that you may need to self diagnose your car issues.
  • Don’t sit in your car when you are waiting for Parkway Tow on the NJ Garden state Parkway, Stand safely on the passenger side, so you enjoy the cars whizzing by you at high speeds.
  • The “Check Engine” light is there to tell you, you have a problem buddy, fix it..
  • If you have any older car, make sure you have AAA. the one time you need a tow, it will pay for itself.

By the time I got home, needless to say I was peeved. Yet I really didn’t know who I was peeved at. My daughter (for not knowing whether her check engine light was on before yesterd), My wife (for bringing me a half bottle of cold water, knowing how long I was out there in the heatwave),  or myself for letting all of the above get to me.

There is a silver lining.. I was home safely with the water that was not drinkable (oh, I didn’t tell you about the water main break in Monmouth county that continue to cause a water emergency in Monmouth County!).

I decided to make this day complete, the best thing I could do was take a nap and jump into my pool and be entertained by my other daughter, who just wanted to have some pool fun with her dad! Of course doing this wiped out all the events of the day that really made my day an experience to be shared on Dad’s Taxi!

Let’s see how much it costs to get my older daughter on the road, because as you know, she will never use the spare mini-van (which also has a check engine light on), That of course is not “cool dad”.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Taxes

So another Tax day has come and gone.. This year I had to do 3 separate returns for my family. I’ve been using Turbo Tax On-line for years (for the sake of convenience), but I think that I’m obviously overpaying because my total expenses for this is over $160!

Even with my refunds, I’m still doling out some hard earned cash right?

Of course, the filing fees for the Federal and State is what eats up your fees here. Tell me does anyone have a less expensive way to file electronically? Keep in mind, that 2 out of the 3 tax forms are so straightforward that there’s no reason I should be paying $65+ for each filing.

I do manage to get a healthy discount of 35% of the “normal” E-filing fees but it still adds up.

As I’m always looking to save a buck or two here what are your tips for saving money on tax filing? I’ve tried other packages, but I find that using the on-line version of Turbo Tax just reduces the pain, but jeez $65 per return (after discounts)?

 

Chinese New Year – Year of the Dragon

An Exceptional site showing off the Year of the dragon in Pictures!

The Year of the Dragon

I came across a blog site which had some excellent pics from the this years Chinese New Year celebrations in Austin, Texas.  This is the “The Year of the Dragon”! The Candid pictures were really of excellent quality and I wanted to have a way to see them over and over again!

Hope you enjoy!

Epstien Dies – Welcome Back Kotter

Epstien from Welcome Back Kotter dies at the age of 60..RIP Mr Hegyes

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When I was growing up, one of my favorites shows on TV was “Welcome Back Kotter“. One of the funniest characters on that show was Epstien (The Jewish Puerto Rican Character).  In real life his name was Robert Hegyes. What hit home for me was that Mr. Hegyes was only 60 years old and lived in my old home town of Metuchen, NJ!

When I think back to this show, I always think of the name  “Sweathogs”.  Kotter was the show that launched John Travolta to the orbital fame he achieved as the character “Vinnie Barbarino”. What about Arnold Horseshack? Where is he today?

What still sticks in my mind from this hit show  show was the theme music that sticks in my mind to this day! Sung by John Sebastian, this was a song that always sounded great no matter how many thousands of times you heard it on the  radio.

What I didn’t know:

  • Robert Hegyes was a Metuchen Native and was educated at Rowen University in NJ.
  • After Kotter, he continued to shop up on television on “Diagnosis for Murder” and “Drew Carey”.

We will miss you Mr. Epstien  or as he said on Kotter “My name is Juan Luis Pedro Felipo de Huevos Epstein”. Try saying that with a straight face on camera!

New Year Musings

If you can’t achieve your new year’s resolutions, are you destined to repeat them? Perhaps..

Every year, I think to myself, what can be some of my New Year’s resolutions that I know that I will (not) keep? So this year, I decided to write some resolutions that I will not be able to attain in 2012, but will try to..

  • Lose weight. The more the better. Every year I say, I’m going to lose 10 to 15 pounds and this year I went the reverse direction and gained.  Not Good.  I guess the “See Food” diet just doesn’t work. Either, I change this pattern in 2012, or, I’ll be facing more medical bills and ailments than I did this year..
  • Be Debt Free: This year, financially was better than 2010, but I’m no closer to being debt free than I was last year.. It’s not like I spend more recklessley this year on credit cards, but chasing the moving target gets harder and harder. I’ve tried different stragegies to reduce debt, but it’s like I keep floating in the same pool of debt..  In 2012, I gotta think of a strategy that will really make a dent in my credit card balances, or I’ll be writing about it AGAIN next year at this time. Gotta figure out how to use less plastic and/or pay off what you buy… Both are good ideas in theory..

 

  • Have 6 month cushion of Money – Yeah right.. Refer to “Be Debt Free”. Only difference now is that my household income has gotten a spike upwards, but that doesn’t mean, my savings to debt ratio has gotten better.. Sad but true. I guess the motto “the more you make, the more you spend” applies here”.
  • Reduce my Medical Bills by taking care of my health.. Refer to bullet 1.. “Lose Weight”. It seems if I can’t do this, my medical bills will continue to go up every year..
  • Make my other passion BharatBeat successful: In 2011, my partner and I made some progress by setting up a dedicated page on Facebook .. but getting people “LIKE” us continues to be a challenge. In 2012, our goal is to finally step out of our comfort zone and go all out… maybe people will “LIKE” us then?? We shall see
  • Make strides in my Day Job – Actually 2011 was pretty good here for me… Enjoy my job, have a challenging position.. yet the rise to a higher pay scale continues to elude.. Yes, I know.. “Work hard and you shall succeed”..

Even with my cynical outlook, I do realize that what I have far exceeds my expectations of where I thought I would be as I hit the half century mark as well as well as 2011 draws to a close.. Now the question is what 2012 resolutions should I write that are actually attainable goals?