Sunday, April 30, 2017

Goodbye, Disney

(c) 2017 P.Lynne Designs
May contain Affiliate Links

Some good news and some bad news.  Bad news first.  I decided that this is the last time I am going to post any Disney type blog posts on My Ambiance Life.  I love writing about Disney, showing you the answers to the questions posted on Quora, and so forth, but I must keep within the niche of the blog itself, and is the art of writing.  I know, I know, this is also a subject I am passionate about, but how is it teaching you about writing, how to write in the areas I love, which is general writing and so forth if I always talk about Disney.  I may revisit the subject from time to time, but I must lay off the Disney for a while in this blog.
The good news is I will be starting a blog that allows me to spread my wings, but not in the way I did with Traveling to the Mouse’s House was and should have been.  The reason behind me shutting down that blog was I needed to regroup and rethink how a girl from Ohio can talk about Disney Parks (especially Disney World) without being a member of the Disney Vacation Club.   In a word, I cannot.  I must start over again, and it has to be in this new blog.  (changed the name again back to I do not have a title again, so, it is unnamed--- again, ugh).
In honor of this being my last posted Disney-themed blog post, I am posting two more answers from Quora.  On talks about my favorite thing in Disney World, and the other talks about affordability.  When you read it, there is a hint on how I am structuring my book, which will reference these two answers, plus others I can pull from the site I personally answered.  So here is my first answer to “What is my favorite thing about Disney World.
What is your Favorite Thing about Disney World?
You are right. There is so much to see and do, and I cannot pinpoint one thing that is my absolute favorite thing at Disney World.
My favorite park is the Magic Kingdom. This is classic Disney at its finest without it being at Disneyland.  The Magic Kingdom was modeled after Disneyland with a few extras that make it the Magic Kingdom.  This is my childhood.  Almost all of the classic rides are here. Sadly, Snow White’s Adventures is no longer at the Magic Kingdom, but I cannot wait to ride the Mine Train ride the next time I visit.  It’s a Small World is different than the Disneyland version, but I love it just the same.
My favorite ride outside the parks is the Monorail.  It is iconic, and even though it does not go to all the parks, I love that you can stop at the resorts, look around, and hop back on.  Free ride, LOL.
Favorite eat-in.  I like Ohana at the Polynesian Resort.  Ohana means “family”, and they treat you like family.  The food is plentiful, and they have something for the children to do.  Did I mention the food is delicious?
My favorite time of the year is in December.  Yeah, it is crowded but so worth it.  You get to see the parks all decorated, and there is plenty to do at the resorts during that time, as well as the rest of the year.
Out of all the favorite things that I mention and did not mention, I guess my absolutely favorite thing I like about Disney World is the smiles on me and my family’s faces when we first arrive at each park.  Those smiles say, “We made it, we are going to have fun, and we don’t want to leave.”
I want to set up this next one.  I had a little problem with this person’s question.  Since Disney has so many parks within both Disney World and Disneyland, as well as beyond the United States, I assume the questioner was at least American (could have been Canadian,but who knows), I had to ask if they were meaning the one in Florida (Walt Disney World Resorts) or the one in California (Disneyland Resorts).  Not only that, I gave the person the best way to save for a trip that is affordable for them.  I hope they took the hint.
What is the most affordable way to see all of the Disney Parks?

Hmmm, is this a Disney World or Disneyland question? 
The reason why I ask, is the question was listed under “Disneyland”.  Disneyland has 2 parks (Disneyland and California Adventure) and Disney World have 4 parks (Magic Kingdom, Epcot, Hollywood Studios, and Animal Kingdom), a shopping area (Disney Springs), and 2 water parks (Tycoon Lagoon and Blizzard Beach).
With that being said, the first I always say is plan your budget and research.  Your affordability is not my affordability, if that makes perfect sense.  You know off the top of your head the Disney is expensive.  We all know that, so do it this way:
1.      Research.  Yes, do your homework if you know nothing about Disney, except how expensive it is.  As you are writing down the information (cut and paste) you need to help you make a decision (a word processing program helps me to research everything, it is your written record), do this first research as though you have all the money in the world.   Ask yourself as you research where you want to sleep, what activities you want to do in the parks, money’s no object. It may not work in the long run, but this is not your final decision.  Set the information you collected to the side
2.      Plan your budget.  This is your “real” money.   This is the money you will use when visiting the parks, and you do not want to run out.  Know what you need for food, lodging, transportation, souvenirs, and extra things in the parks that do not include the price of admission.  Set aside
3.      Research part 2.  Pick up your list of things you want to do (your dream list), and start researching for affordability (your budget).  You will find that you may not be able to afford Mickey’s Scary Halloween party, but you can afford a character meet and greet at the Grand Floridian Resort.  It is all about researching and replacing something that can be expensive with something more affordable and achieving the same results.  This includes your time.  You may not have a week to do all the things you want to do while at the parks, but you may find that going to 2 parks instead of all 7 at Disney World, or 1 park instead of 2 at Disneyland can satisfy you.
Once you do all of that, pick a date, call general reservations to book your stay (or an outside hotel/resort), and start saving.  Good luck.
(c) 2016 P. Lynne Designs

Saturday, April 29, 2017

Where do I fit in, Disney?

I was looking at the history of the Disney Channel.  Why?  This is where curiosity hits the cat and hits the cat hard.  Here are a couple of facts:
·         The Disney Channel first started in 1977, according to Wikipedia, my favorite site for facts.  There was a problem, Disney decided to focus all of their energy on Epcot, which opened in 1982.  So, they tabled the idea of starting the channel.
·         The Disney Channel started as a premium channel on April 18, 1983, and it was on from 7:00 am to 1:00 am.  Its first show was called Good Morning, Mickey. (Humm, that name sounds familiar, and Disney did not own ABC at the time)
·         At the time of its debut, Disney had no princesses of color at all.  Princess and the Frog did not debut until December 11, 2009.  Moana was so last year, and the Disney Channel’s first Hispanic Princess was July 22, 2016, on Disney Junior, NOT the Disney Channel. 
Sometimes, I wonder as a Disney fan if I really like the company, who does not treat my people with fairness in terms of roles in the movies, both animated and live.
This has been a fight for all people (not only African Americans) for years when it comes to movie roles that represent how we really live, and not for the stereotypical roles as seen in the news and other parts of the country, and the world. 
Let’s face it, when movie productions want a gang, they hire African American and Hispanic males to fill in the void.  Poverty, same thing.  When the movies call for someone rich, A white person is hired.   When they hire an African American to play a rich person, that role has to be married to a white person.  Asians get the treatment of owning a restaurant, nail salon or doing martial arts. 
Often times when a casting manager hired a person in a lead role, who is the total opposite of what they think the movie audience wants to see, there are often bad ratings.  This is in both the movies and television.
Getting back to Disney.  When Tiana, Disney’s first African American Princess, who actually marries into royalty, not royalty from birth, shows up at the parks, I was ecstatic.  I could not wait to see her every time I go to Disney.  She, after all, represented that little girl inside of me, who used to put a long towel on my head after a bath, and parade around the bathroom like I was royalty.   Then I found out that Princess Tiana will only be around the parks for special occasions I wanted to know why.  What if I and my family show up on a day when there is nothing special going on in the parks?  Who is my niece of 8 years old going to see when we get to the parks?  So, I started watching YouTube videos and researching all things, Princess Tiana.  After all, I wanted my niece to be happy to see someone special who was dark-skinned like her. Boy, I could never have been so wrong in my life.
I was not looking at why I and my family is going to Disney in the first place.  We were going there to bond.  I am busy, my parents are busy, my sister is busy, and my brother is busy.  We all lead separate lives and this was a trip that may be a trip where all of us are together doing something special.  This not supposed to be a trip where I am finding someone that looks like me.  That is what family reunions are all about.  Disney is about having fun, riding the rides, eating the expensive food (I did not say that Disney is cheap), and bonding with your family and your favorite childhood memory. 
So, what if we do not find Princess Tiana or any other character that is supposed to look like me and my family.  I am supposed to look like me. I am supposed to represent me and my character.  When they see me, they are not supposed to see some animated princess in a flowy dress.  Disney is supposed to see a paying customer who is happy that she spent her hard-earned money with them. 
At the end of the day, Disney is a company, a business, and an entity who is supposed to turn happiness into profits on their end.  If I am not happy, is Disney going to make sure that they take care of what I need in order for me and my family to return for another vacation?  You bet.  It says so in each Cast Member’s contract.  If enough customers are not satisfied, that person is fired, and Disney will not see a profit.  If there are not enough profits to earn, then shareholders will turn on them.  If shareholders turn on them, Bob Igor will not have a company to run, and Disney will be out of business.  I believe this is one of the reasons why Macy’s, Sears, HHGregg, K-Mart, The Limited, Payless Shoes, and countless others are closing stores, whole companies going out of business, and liquidating for the bankruptcy courts.
If there is something I want to you to take away from this post is this:  everything is not about race.  At least it shouldn’t.  I want what is fair and just for all, but it is also up to all of us to get Disney and the other studios to continually see that characters do not come in one race of color, and to stop stereo typecasting.  Gangs and drug dealers in real life come in different races.  Same with drug addicts, prostitutes, the rich, the poor, the working class, the dancer, the evangelist, and the priest.   We all have different roles that make up this world.  It is about time the movies, plays, and television programs show it. 

Movie and television companies alike, stop holding back roles for certain people.  If they meet at least the basic requirements (age range, gender, and height) and have the basic knowledge of the type of role they would be playing, give them a chance.  Do not turn them down because they are a certain color or race.  It is discriminating.  Who knows, maybe you will spark the best actor/actress you have seen in a while, and you may have launched someone’s career.  Everyone deserves a chance, and I deserve to see someone who represents me.  So, where do I fit in, Disney?  I think I fit in fine where I sit.

Thursday, April 27, 2017

Am I that boring?

May contain Affiliate links

A view of  a single tower may be boring but offering
your opinions should not, and you can get paid for it
(c) 2017 P. Lynne Designs 
Today, actually yesterday, I was looking at some Haro assignments.  In case you are not familiar with this website, the purpose of the website, according to them is actually Haro stands for Help a Reporter Out.  Reporters, of course, have assignments, and instead of them going around looking for people to comment on their articles, they actually sign up to temporary hire people like me to give their opinion on a topic.  New drinking game, everyone who reads this, takes a drink of their favorite beverage when you read the word “actually”-JK.
So, for example, if a reporter is looking for people who actually (take a drink) decorated with some of Nate Berkus' products, he may request a short review of the products and be as descriptive as possible.  The best answer will win a shout out on his article.  From all the answer that reporter gets, say, 100 people, he may pick 5 people out of that 100.  Of course, the reporter by law has to notify you that he is using your information.   Once he uses that information, you get paid. There are several sites on the internet like that.  I am subscribed to Haro, as well as guest blogging opportunities, and a couple other sites in that category.
The questions are all the same and I sometimes wonder if my life, as I know it, is that boring.  So far, I have not answer one single question, except Quora.  There is one catch with this site, you do not get paid for your opinion.  I will talk more about this site in a moment.
How to use Haro, Quora, and other sites like these?
If you are a least curious about these writing sites, I can answer that.  First of all, you have to sign up for an account.  Most of these sites are free to sign-up.  Once you get the approval to become a member, you can dive right in to find your assignment.  Don’t forget to fill out the rest of your account, which allows you to fine tune things like, what is your writing style, what topics do you write about, and some may even have you take a little test to make sure that English is your native language, or you speak it well enough to pass the test.  You may also have to tell them a little bit about yourself.  In that section, do not write a whole book, but write enough to make you at least appear to be human.  Also, if you want to receive these assignments on a regular basis, give them a valid email address.
Pay me NOW!
Payment depends on the type of service you signed up for.  For Haro, it is up to the amount that a reporter wants to pay you.  For other sites, it depends on the people who run the website.  Usually, a person gets paid through Paypal or through a direct deposit into their bank account.  I prefer Paypal. Why?  For protection reasons, and less likely for a company to have your banking information.  As I mentioned earlier Quora does not pay people to answer questions and I am not sure if they will ever pay for an opinion.
OK, that sounds good, but how does this help me as a writer?
One word, exposure.  The more you write, the better you become.  I do not suggest that this is a permanent thing you do.  After all, you have things to do, people to see, and mouths to feed.  This is not the ticket to the holy grail of writing.  This is a stepping stone in your writing career.  When I mention earlier if my life is boring, it is not boring at all.  I may not have interesting to say to that reporter on that site, but I have answered thousands of questions on Quora on my experiences with Disney, YouTube, writing blogs, writing journals, even being an aunt, not having children of my own.  The problem I have with Quora is the paying part.  My answers are now too valuable to not get paid for it, at least in a gift card or two.  When I first got started with the site, it was the thing to do to get my feet wet and to see if I want to make it as a writer.  Remember, I earned a degree in marketing, and I wanted to be an actress and preschool teacher.  I do papercrafts and graphic design as well. The writing was the furthest thing from my mind when I first started in this industry.  I only started because I was writing in my own journal and this industry can be relaxing.  Don’t you think so?
You are still putting your work out there for someone, in some company to see it.  Maybe you are not looking for a job in the industry, but it could happen.  Someone in that same company could see a writing piece you wrote for some small-town newsletter and say, “I want this person as my next employee. They could make a great asset to my company.
It is all about the delivery, my friend, you never know.  It is the same with anything you do on the Interwebs, as I like to call the internet.  You do not have to write, this happens to be a writing blog.  At the moment, you may not be able to demand your own price for your work.  This is where the word “freelance” comes in.
Payment part 2
Once you are recognized for that work, you can demand that price, but I have read in some articles not to work by the hour.  I have tested this theory myself and I have to agree with it.  When you start naming your price, quote per piece/ article.  Here is why.
Let start with my handmade work that I do.  If I work on a scrapbook album and give the quote of $50/hour and I work 40 hours on the book (which is roughly a week), it would cost the customer $2,000 for the scrapbook.  Most people would not be able to afford this book.  On top of that, I have not figured in the materials used in the book. I usually spend about $80-$100 on supplies alone because I do not want to run out, or in case the paper I select or what the client selects is discontinued.  The same goes with writing.  If a client hires me to write 10 articles, and I work that same $50/hour for 40 hours, the client may not be able to afford me either.
However, I can put a set price on a scrapbook, and my books run about $200 per book and higher, I can throw in the cost of supplies, and I can work as many hours as I can.  I can charge $7-$10 per page, depending on the size of each page and the album.  So, a typical 20-page, 12 x 12 scrapbook album at $10 + the cost of an album may run about $210, and it also depends on how much the other materials cost, so about $310. It may take me 3 hours, or the full 40, but I have a set price.  Writing prices can be set by the word count.  A 1,500-word article would run about $750 (1,500 x $.50/word =$750).  Please do not be ashamed of naming your price, but also be prepare to hear the word, “negotiate”.  If they want you bad enough, the client will pay that price.  If not, you can always turn them down as well.
Also by the hour limits you a well.  Another term for “price by product” is “price by project”.  This is where you could turn that $750 quote into, “I will do 5 articles for $750”, but the bottom line is to have a repeat customer. ($750/5 = $150 for each article)
Whatever you do to get to the end goal of having a sustainable income, remember to start out with these smaller stepping stone that is the start of your writing career.
am I that boring?  I don’t think so.

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Announcement: Traveling Plans

Getting away from it all without tearing your hair out
(c) 2016 P.Lynne Designs
Warning:  it may contain affiliate links

It has now come to my attention that you cannot go on the annual family vacation because someone decided that they needed to do everything on their vacation.  This option usually costs an arm, a leg, their home, and their first-born child.  Aww, the sacrifices we make as a family these days to make vacation living a fun adventure.
I am here to tell you that you do not have to do that type of sacrifice.  Not at all, my friend. I want to tell you a little secret.
A little announcement ….
I started this project when I had 5 blogs and on the verge of creating what is now forming into P. Lynne Designs. I had to quit because I was burning out.  I have been inching to get back to it, and that announcement is I am going to re-write my Disney Vacation book.  You never saw it because of that burnout.  I was adding too much, and I will be starting over again from the very beginning.  I never truly planned out this book, and that is the second reason why I quit writing it.  I never really planned on how much I was going to write.  I can discuss all of that later.  For right now, I want to get back started.  
OK, enough of that, back to the secret that is a vacation…
The secret to a good vacation is planning.  Notice I did not say the perfect vacation.  If you are a Christian, you know that only God is perfect.  Planning helps out a lot.  Planning keeps you sane and focused of the task at hand, and the plan is to have fun.  Planning for a vacation also helps you:
  • ·         Know how much money to spend
  • ·         What places in that area you want to see
  • ·         Where you want to eat

And so on ….
Here are the areas you need to concentrate when planning
  • 1.      Where do you want to go?
  • 2.      Time off (both parents and children)
  • 3.      Budget.
  • 4.      Where you are going to live for the next few days
  • 5.      Eating
  • 6.      Activities
  • 7.      Transportation
  • 8.      Packing

Now I could go on about this, but for now, I will make it brief.
The first part is where.  I will use Disney Parks as an example.  Let’s go with that for now.  You have dreamed of Disney, your family loves Disney. 
There are 6 different regions that hold a Disney Park Resort:  2 in the United States, 1 in Japan, 2 in China, and 1 in France. So, which one do you and your family want to visit?
For most people, it is obvious, go to the one in your country.  This is a little bit tricky if you live in either the United States or China, where there are two sets of resort parks to choose from.  Well, technically 3 if you are also close to Tokyo Disney.  OK, you decided to go to Disney World. 
Time Off
Once you decided where to go, the next question is when are you going?  This depends on your job and your children’s schedule.  The job is a no brainer.  If you are new in your position or company, wait a year before going.  Why?  Consider this:  There are people who have been there longer than you and have more experience than you.  Your company may operate on the “Low man on the totem pole” method (AKA Seniority) or the “earned time off” Method (AKA PTO).  In either case, it is best to wait a year to ask for any time off, so skip the vacation.  If you have been there for a while, you know by now when you can ask for time off, and when you cannot.  The tricky part is when you have kids in school.
School systems have gotten smarter since my last day in the 12th grade.  I might say “dumber” since my last day, depending on where you live, and how much the school is willing to turn you into children services for a 5-day vacation to the “Mouse’s Florida Home”. As an aunt of 5 (3 of which are currently school-age children, 1 grown, and a great-nephew of age 2), I am in constant watch of the changes within the Columbus and Dayton Ohio school systems.   They are not as bad as some of these school districts across the U.S. and in other countries.  One school system in the UK can impose a fine on a parent if you pull your child out of school for anything but an illness.  Another school district in Oklahoma, U.S. can turn a parent into children services if a child has several unexcused absences (equal to that of a week-long vacation).  If this sounds like your school system, my suggestion is to do the typical Summer Vacation/Spring Break/Winter Break routine.  It works out in the end and no one gets arrested, fined, or working out visitation rights with children services.  Apparently, schools do not see an educational value in Disney.   
What is your budget? 
You can decide what your budget is this way:  What is your income and how much you are willing to save.  Disney has several options to work with every type of budget.  Figure how much you are willing to spend on transportation, living arrangements, food, and activities.  One website mentions a method called “Pre-trip costs”.  They also said to allow for spurges, such as foods you never tried before, activities you never done before (I am thinking about trying a zipline course on my cruise in September, even though I am afraid of heights, LOL), and so on.  If you allow these things, you feel less guilty when you overspend because it is already figured in the budget.
How are you getting there?
 Plane, car, train, or bus.  Teleportation is not yet available, and it probably will not be available in my lifetime, although I am not sure I want my atoms scattered throughout the cosmos for two seconds (thinking Star Trek thoughts, LOL).  Anyway, since the last one is not available, you have to do a bit of snooping around for this part of your planning.  What is the best price?  How much will it cost you to get there and around?  Again, it should be in the budget part of your planning.  For example, from where I live, I can fly for 4 hours at the current rate of $484 (April 19, 2017) and returning April 25, 2017, which is the typical Disney Trip.  (there is also a cheap trip of $107 I found in Google search).  I can drive, which using my car (a 2008 Dodge Caliber), I need to get an oil change (it is screeching that right now), and gas is now $2.13 at the station where I live and in Orlando, Florida, it is $2.10 ($.03 difference, wow).  My car is a gas guzzler, so I might opt for renting one.  The average cost of an SUV per day is $44 (for now).  Trains run about $1,200 for the round trip, and buses run about $141 for the trip to Orlando from where I live.  Let’s rent a car.
Now where are you going to stay?  Disney World has two options:  On-site, Off-site.   This is the typical case for most theme parks today.  The advantage between the two is when you stay on-site, there are a lot of things to do outside of the actual park itself, many of the amenities are free.  Your transportation is free, activities are free at the resort (some, not all).  The problem with Disney is there are so many resorts (which there are 23 of them), and they are divided between value, moderate, and deluxe.  If you are the type of family that does not have that much money in the budget, always on the go, and you use the rooms as a stopping and sleeping point, maybe it is best to have a value resort.  Deluxe resorts are high-end resorts and close the parks.  Some may have eat-in kitchens, and you have lots of money to blow (splurge on). 
Off-site (or Off property) are your Hotel 6, Holiday Inn Express, Sheraton, or even there are some places where you can rent a home for a week (Airbnb is considered).  These places are your home.  You do not have housekeeping to come and make your bed, make cute little animals.  It is like you are living in your own home.   Some properties even have their own pool at each home.  You do need to leave the place where you found it.  I have a link to the advantages and disadvantages of staying off and on site above.

I am going to stop there because this post is growing as I type.  I know I have a lot of Disney World references in this post, and this is not sponsored by them at all.  As I have explained many times that I am still a big kid at heart, and I love Disney.  Your favorite vacation spot may be a cruise, Las Vegas, Spain, Italy, or even Africa.  It may be a quiet romantic getaway for 2 without the kids, or girl friend’s “get away from it all trip.”  Whatever the trip, the budget, and the time spend away from “normal life”, make it a good one by planning, budgeting, and “enjoying the moments” while there.  The world is not going to cave in a week, and you deserve it.

Monday, April 17, 2017

Happy Easter Everyone. We All have given birth to a Baby Giraffe. Life is Back to Normal

Happy Resurrection Sunday to all my Christian readers.  Happy Easter to everyone else. 
Fresh Flowers (c) 2015
P.Lynne Designs
I normally do not write anything on a Sunday.  Sunday for me is a day of rest, going to church, and being with friends and family.  I am going to be honest about the reason behind writing in this moment. (Grammarly is going to have a field day with that last sentence.  I do not care at the moment, LOL)
Ladies, do you feel like you have just given birth to a 6-foot baby?  I do, and I will tell you why.  In case you have been living under a rock since February, April the giraffe finally had her baby.  It is a boy, and all the world can now say, “Awww, isn’t him cute”.  (Yes Grammarly, I meant to say that.  It is not proper English, but I meant it-It’s called baby talk). 
There have been plenty of, “when is she having that thing?” “I could have given birth to 4 kids by now.”  We were pacing more than Oliver, the father of said baby boy giraffe.  We were giving tips on how April should have her baby, April baby showers (after all, what would you get a giraffe who has everything), and tips on feeding.  
Folks, I have some news that will startle anyone …. wait for it…. still waiting?  It’s going to be good… Still waiting ….
There I said it.  Think of it this way, you would not want someone to come into your home, be on baby watch, tell you how to have a baby, and then tell you how to take care of it.  Would you?  Animals are on that natural rhythm cycle that only God has given them.  God knew when this baby was to be born.  Yes, it is fascinating to watch.  I was watching myself for a while.  At the times I was watching, April was pacing back and forth.  Was she in pain?  You bet she was, and she said it through body language.  Oliver, the father was pacing back and forth, like human males do when they want to know what is going on with their child.  The difference between a human birth and a giraffe birth is a human female carry the baby for 9 months.  Giraffes, on the other hand, carries their baby for 15 MONTHS!!! Ladies, how would you like to be pregnant for that long?   My tummy hurts as I write this. Those of you who had kids, can you see yourself carrying a baby for that long?  I asked my mom two seconds ago, and all I heard at the other end of the phone were crickets, LOL. I can only imagine the look on her face when I asked that question.  So relax now, Oh wary one, you can go back to normal life as you know it to be.   
Easter Frantic-How not to take a picture and how to make a basket.
I already have it posted on Instagram, but this is what My Easter Saturday looked like….
Easter Saturday with the kids
(c) P.Lynne Designs

I decided about 20 years ago to make Easter baskets for the kids.  I started first with my baby sister and my oldest nephew (who are now 29 and 21), then it went to the niece and nephews from there.  I love doing it, but you will never see this practice in my shop, P. Lynne Designs, at least not yet.  It is worth every penny that I spend, and I love doing it.   I have scaled down the production, but for my sister and nephew, I had candy, something specific to them personally, and a stuffed animal.   This year, for the niece and nephews, no stuffed animal was included, something specific to their personally, a fire truck for the boys, and the girl got a mermaid doll and some candy.  We did not dye eggs this year.  This is the reason why I decided to make Easter baskets:
Have you seen the price of an Easter baskets lately?  No, seriously, you can pay a credit card bill for the month for the amount you pay for this stuff.  This year, everyone’s stuff came from Dollar Tree.  This is not a sponsored post, but man, I could kiss the person behind the “everything’s is $1” concept.  In recent years, I would go to Target and go for it, and I will admit that next year’s baskets will contain part Dollar Tree/part Target items (The Target Dollar spot is really legit).   
Sorry for being a little with this picture...
(c) P.Lynne Designs
Get a basket, any basket (one was a Longaberger basket, one was a baseball fabric basket, and two pail buckets)
·         Go to the party store and get PAPER filler for grass, none of that plastic mess.  
o   Plop at the bottom of the basket. 
·         Fill with candy, a few eggs (make sure you boil and dye first), a couple toys they like (please do not put a whole basketball in there)
o   If they are older (pre-teen, teen, or adult), put something age appropriate for them.
·         Wrapping is optional (this is not a Christmas or birthday present), and let them enjoy. 
The best part is if you are a grandparent or aunt or uncle, you do not have to see them on a sugar high, send them home with parents.  Your job is done.

So, Happy Easter, everyone, you gave birth to a baby RAFFY, and you children are on a chocolate Easter Bunny sugar high.   You survived shopping for new Easter clothes (I will tell you about my bad Easter Dress hunting later), and now you can rest and enjoy your dinner that took only 14 hours to cook, but hey, it is all worth the effort, isn’t it?

Saturday, April 15, 2017

Frantic Friday: Lessons on Adulting, The Tax Edition

TAX TIME! (c) 2017 P.Lynne Designs
There May be Affiliate Links

Today, I am presenting to you, my reading audience, a double dose of pure adventure in my journey of learning new things in 2017: Lesson #3: adulting the tax way.
I am not claiming to be an expert on this topic because there is no right way of doing things.  This is Patricia’s way, the only way I know how to adult with this.
For those of you who read this blog from other countries, April is tax month in the States.  Now there are two ways you can go about this mandatory task in adulthood:  Deal with it, or cry, then deal with it.  Either way, you deal with it, like death (the whole non-avoidance thing of “Death and Taxes”).  My suggestion is to pull up your big girl/big boy pants and deal with it.  I tried the crying method.  It does not work.  You can avoid going to the dentist, avoid getting married, or even having a child, but you cannot avoid death and taxes.  I am not sure how your country deals with taxes, but something tells me that taxes, like death, is unavoidable. 
I have two types of taxes to file, as a person and as a business person.  Now I can avoid filing as a business person.  It is simply, to not have a business.  I can simply go to work like a normal employee, and file the personal portion for taxes.  I have done that since the age of 18.  It is only the last 16 years I have filed both personal and business taxes.   Thanks to the calendar this year, everyone has an extension to April 18th to file their taxes, which is due to April 15th being on a weekend and it is also Easter.
I thank God that I have an accountant, who takes care of the filing for me.  I had my tax “adulting” appointment today.  I know, procrastination at its finest.  This should have taken care of it the first of February.  Yes, February.  You have 3 months, 2 weeks to file your taxes.  Between me being sick, my mom being sick, and me pulling the covers over my head, screaming, “I do not want to adult today”. This lead to this procrastination.  I also thank God for my accountant taking me at the last minute.  I called her yesterday, LOL.  Oh, did I tell you that I and my dad have the same accountant?  Yes, that is how I got her in the first place, three years ago.  No, it is not my mom.
Lunch, the hard way.
So, I made my appointment on time, and after my accountant went over my information, discussed hair and her up and coming trip, as well as my up and coming trip (that how close we have gotten in the 3 years), I left and wanted to try something new for lunch.  I had heard about these Poke bowls that have swam ashore to the Mainland from Hawaii, and there was a place Downtown Columbus that sold them there. Since I like sushi, I thought I would give it a go.  OK, here is how I got a Poke bowl in Downtown Columbus:
Drove down Oak Street, ran into construction, made a left on Third, ran into a problem, and sat for a minute (downtown traffic is no joke around here), made my way to High Street.  Drove High Street to Gay Street, turned right.  Looked for the place (which was at 100 Gay Street). I saw that I had no place to park, so decided against it, decided to feed the car instead.  Drove back home (at least to a gas station near my home), filled up the car.  While waiting for the gas to go into the tank, I noticed that the people who fixed my car did not wash it, so after the car finished eating, I drove down to get the car washed.  After getting the car washed, I did not want to drive all the way back downtown, so I got Captain D’s instead.  While I was sitting in Captain D’s, I called the parents, found out my sister was there, so I forgo getting the Ipad checked out as well.  So that is how I got a poke bowl.
4 Easter Baskets of Goodness
(c) 2017 P.Lynne Designs
A tisket, a Tasket, a cute little Easter Basket
So, my brother came into town with his mini-me (Nephew, 6), and while he and my dad went to get dinner, I and mom decided to fix the children’s Easter baskets.  For 4 children (a niece (8), two nephews (6 and 9), and a great-nephew (2)), they will each receive:
·         3 eggs filled with chocolate
·         A Chocolate Cross (as opposed to a chocolate bunny)
·         2 two toys according to the age of the child
o   A firetruck for each boy; a mermaid doll for the girl
o   Rubik cube-like puzzle for the 9-year-old
o   Cars for the 6-year-old
o   Bunny sunglasses for the 2-year-old
o   I still need to find one thing for the 8-year-old
·         A twisty lollipop
All in a basket for each child
The 6-year-old said he saw what was in his basket so we will see.  The adults (their parents) will get in their Easter basket one hyped up child, LOL.
New Apartments
(c) 2017 P.Lynne Designs
So, as you see, my day has been very interesting in the way of food, driving in downtown Columbus is nothing to sneeze at (I took some photos of new apartments I have never seen before), but it was fun to play Easter Bunny for the evening.  (As opposed to playing Santa, LOL).  So, spring has finally sprung in Columbus, and I could not have been any happier.


Thursday, April 13, 2017

All I want is a Hammer, Internet Connection, and a basket order. That’s all I am asking for

Customer service calls, when done right, can be a sweet
thing.  (c) 2017 P.Lynne Designs
Customer service is not what it is cracked to be these days.  I am mean really people, I am tired of the automatic response unit, or ARU for short. I call it, Siri’s evil twin (Or Galaxy’s and Cortana’s, whoever you deal with on your device).  Here are the problems with the ARU and customer service.  Yes, it does help route the call in the direction that it is supposed to go.  That is the purpose, BUT it also does not allow you to talk to a human.  Here is my story (short, sweet, and to the point, I promise):
I have AT&T Uverse, the vain of my existence.  I had Time Warner Cable (Now Spectrum, as I am reminded of constantly from the commercials that play a million times a day), but when they kept on charging me over the amount that I was willing to pay, I called it quits in 2013, and got Uverse.  I have no problems with the cable (TV) nor phone, but I have had problems since month 5.  This has been an off and on problem.  There have been times when I would be connected, and then no connection.  Technicians would come out and say things like, “You have old wiring, let’s fix this”, “you have an old modem, let’s fix that”.  Finally, someone came out a year ago and solved the whole problem by rerouting the whole system.  So, I thought.
The problems came back 5 months ago.  Since at that time, I was a night owl, staying up until 6 or 7 in the morning (being an entrepreneur does that to you sometimes), I noticed that this interruption would go on throughout the night.  It would stop my work, video watching, and my Facebook gaming to a screeching halt, and 5 minutes later, act like it never did that.   Since I have been going to bed and waking up like normal folks for 2 weeks now, I have notice that it is doing it during the day too.  I have talked to customer service like a dozen times, changing passwords, rebooting the computer, and so on.  I use MS Outlook to send and retrieve emails, and now I have gotten to the point where I can send an email, but I cannot retrieve them.
I called an hour ago, and the Uverse ARU has a funny way of saying, “you are not speaking to a rep today. Not on my watch.”  Here how the convo went:
It goes through the normal “Hello, I see you are calling about the account associated with (xxx)xxx-xxxx.  Is that correct?”
Me: Yes
ARU:  How can I Help you?  You can speak to me in complete sentences (You really can’t, but eh).  What seems to be the problem?
Me: Internet Connection (there is no sub-category for cannot retrieve my emails on MS. Outlook 2016)
ARU (after repeating everything I said in its own little special way): I will run some tests to see what the problem is.
ARU: Still processing tests, please wait….
ARU: Still processing, sorry for the inconvenience….
At this point, I do not want to bore you, but this went on for 15 mins.  Finally, it said (and I am not joking) …. Wait for it…. This is getting good …..  “REBOOT YOUR COMPUTER”.  I have made a note on your account, and within 24 hours, and you have the same problems, give us a callback, and we will resume where we left off.  (Phone goes silent).
ARE YOU KIDDING ME?  WHAT KIND OF TEXTBOOK CROCK IS THAT?  I could have done that myself without calling.  No transfer to a human, nothing.  I rather do chat online than this mess.
Note to companies everywhere:  get rid of your ARUs.  I know they are a wonderful convenience for your company, and it helps with efficiency and your quotas, but how does it help with mine, when I have not retrieved what I needed in the past two weeks.  I need to be as efficient with my business as you need to be with yours.  If you want to increase efficiency, HIRE MORE PEOPLE WHO ARE WILLING TO WORK.  NOT IN INDIA, BUT THE UNITED STATES.    
Sorry, it turned into a rant, but that is the second problem, not enough people, who have a basic high school diploma are hired to work in these companies.  For some reason, and I do not need to know this fact, but it is an individual problem that people who did not receive their HS diploma or GED are not able to get a decent job, such as a customer service center call.  These companies feel that they need to hire someone in India and buy expensive equipment like ARUs to screen calls than to help people who need it the most.  A person should be able to articulate and understand how to give a solution to a situation, and I am sorry, but half of these people who are hired in these companies have thick accents, which can be hard to understand.
A hammer
I cannot find a hammer to save my SimCity’s mayoring life, and I have 24 hours (actually I have 22 hours) to find one. (I am also on my Ipad)
OK, it is a virtual hammer.  I have the real thing.  I have everything I need for the moment to build a building in SimCity BuildIt, but I really want a stupid hammer.
So, if you are not a gamer at all (I am not talking Mortal Combat, which I will never touch, I am talking about cute games here), you do not know what I am talking about, so let me give you a rundown of the game:
You are the mayor of your city.  You build it up, but you also have residents, businesses, things you can find in your “real” city (I named mine “Nope” at first, then recently changed it to “Walt Disney World 2”).  Anyway, I am on level 26, and I need a hammer.  I can buy from other players a hammer if I see one, but no one is selling one right now.  I call it my fun frustration.  I have tasks to fulfill within 24 hours or I have to start the process all over again, which this is my 4th time.  Oh, by the way, you have to please these people who take up residence, and 53% of the people are pleased with me being mayor at the moment.  
One the things I do not like about this game is it keeps going when you are not running it, and the other thing is if you run out of play money, you can use real money to buy play money and points, but I have not gotten to that point in my life yet.  I need my real money for real things in life, not a stupid virtual hammer.  I did that once with Cityville two years ago, and I still feel guilty for doing it since that time.
The hunt continues….
I will now return you to your regular reading channel.   Hope you enjoyed the commercial for SimCity BuildIt.
The changing of the guard, Basket style….
On the other hand, customer service can be a good thing.  I liked it when I was working at a call center. I want to give a shout out to one customer call center who has deserved it lately.  It is the Longaberger customer call center. 
Recently, our back office, websites, and other things received an upgrade, and if you have ever serviced customers in any direct selling company, such as Avon, Younique, Tupperware, et al…, you know what it is like to have customers who want their orders, and they want them two seconds after they have placed the order.   Well, the Longaberger system needed updating, but to me, TPTB (the Powers that be), waited to do that at the wrong time to start replacing back office stuff, especially around tax time. (I have put in a request to find my sales reports as we speak, which is the reason why I know the “send” portion of MS Outlook was working).
Anyway, I cannot find sales report (not uploaded), and so on.  I wrote them an email a couple weeks ago about an order I put in, and Customer service was on it.  They gave me the answer I needed without an ARU.  They have one, but another consultant told me about emailing them instead.
So, thank you, Longaberger Customer call center.  You rock. 

Meanwhile, I am still searching for hammers.   I will continue that game later.  Ohhh, Pinterest items.