Pragmatic Compendium

inspiring the pragmatic practice of intimacy with Christ

penalties or rewards, pleasure or pain.

“Everything you and I do, we do either out of our need to avoid pain or our desire to gain pleasure…

Why don’t you do some of the things you know you should do? After all, what is procrastination? It’s when you know you should do something, but you still don’t do it. Why not? The answer is simple: at some level you believe that taking action in this moment would be more painful than just putting it off…

Why is it that people can experience pain yet fail to change? They haven’t experienced enough pain yet…hit a level of pain you weren’t willing to settle for anymore. We’ve all experienced those times in our lives when we’ve said, I’ve had it – never again – this must change now. This is the magical moment when pain becomes our friend. It drives us to take new action and produce new results.”

Awaken the Giant Within : How to Take Immediate Control of Your Mental, Emotional, Physical and Financial Destiny!
by Anthony Robbins

I hope that the negative consequences I just experienced will be motivating enough for me to never repeat the circumstances that led to them.

I skipped working out yesterday. According to my freakish self-commitment to be a good steward of this body God has blessed me with – which I was foolish smart enough to document on the internet – I had to make up what I skipped. Thank GOD I only skipped one day. I had to do double work today. If I had missed two days…

What happened yesterday that prevented me from working out?

nothing.

I have no excuse. I just procrastinated and then I got distracted and then I rationalized that I would just make it up tomorrow.

I should not have listened to me. I really, really hope I remember how difficult it is to do TWO 2 minute forearm planks, TWO 1 minute supermans and FORTY Bosu push-ups.

I’m going out of town with PinkGirl to chaperon a field trip on Thursday and Friday. Excuse me while I have a little talk with myself:

“Julie. There is absolutely NO reason you can’t do your plank, superman and regular push-ups on Thursday and Friday. Do you feel your arms right now? Do you really want to go through this again on Saturday? Do NOT wimp out. You WILL regret it if you do. It’s LESS than FIVE minutes a day, for cryin out loud! Don’t be a whiny butt. Just suck it up and get it DONE.”

That said, here’s where I am with regard to my fitness goals for the month of March:

8 two minute forearm planks (caught up)
8 one minute supermans (caught up)
130 BOSU push-ups (doubled my daily goal after 3 days, need to catch up to 160)
17.7 miles walked. (To meet my average of 2.3 per day, I should be at 18.4. Got some catching up to do – and I should try to get a head start on making up Thursday and Friday because I can’t leave my post as chaperon to get my walking in. I’ll try to remember to wear a pedometer during the day as we do field trip stuff)

How are you doing with YOUR fitness goals? If you’re a beginner, I’m challenging you to exercise for only ONE minute per day this month. In April, I’ll tell you why I’m saying only ONE minute.


I’m blogging my daily fitness updates in my exercise log, and posting my daily progress on my Facebook page and my Twitter account, so follow along any way you like:
1. Subscribe to the blog via email or RSS (there are widgets in the sidebar to subscribe)
2. “Like” my Facebook page to see the updates in your news feed or
3. Follow me on Twitter!

I would LOVE it if you would join me in fitness accountability by commenting and letting me know your progress too!

March 8, 2011 Posted by | 5 minutes, books, christian living, fight the frump, health, intentional living, poor me some whine, pros and cons, women | , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

family expense audit: cable/internet/phone service.

Total Annual Savings for Cable/Internet/Phone Services resulting from my Family Expense Audit: $839.28
Vendor Choice: Brighthouse
Service Changes:
1. Switched from voice mail to an answering machine on our main line.
2. Dropped our second phone number and got a free Google Voice phone number with free voice mail instead.
3. Eliminated the Showtime premium movie channel.
4. Added benefit? I NEVER have to deal with At&T customer service again.

(Regardless of vendor, I found it impossible to separate the cable, internet and phone services and get any kind of affordable rate quote. Everybody wanted to pitch a “bundle.”)


Background: I’ve been calling all our vendors. I start something like this:

“I’m doing an expense audit, going through every bill we have and making sure we’re spending our money wisely. I’ll be getting quotes from some of your competitors and before I do, I just wanted to make sure we’ve got your best price. I also need to know what sets [insert company name here] apart with regard to services so that when I get quotes from your competitors I take into account any special or unique services you provide.”

The Process: Evaluating and changing our cable/internet/TV services took the most time and it got confusing, so bear with me, I’ll try to make sense of it for you.

During the course of my family expense audit, nearly all of the vendors I called lowered their rates to keep us as customers. The two who didn’t were AT&T and AT&T Wireless.

Let’s focus on AT&T – our residential phone service. I ditched them. As of yesterday. We now have a Brighthouse/Road Runner Bundle.

AT&T: By FAR, AT&T had the LONGEST wait time on the phone during the entire expense audit process. Multiple phone calls, multiple representatives. All terrible listeners. Even after starting with my standard opening about looking to lower our monthly expenses, every quote they gave me was HIGHER and the way they presented the quote sounded like they were making the changes as we spoke. Very pushy.

Brighthouse: Truth be told, I was already leaning toward Brighthouse. We are long time customers, customer service is excellent, my cable modem serves me well and we have a level of familiarity with the TV remotes and guides that is difficult to ignore. And the price quotes were excellent. My biggest obstacle was that the bundle required me to switch from Earthlink.net to Road Runner. I originally said “no thanks.”

All I could think was: (imagine a whining voice) “I’ll have to update all those email addresses. All those logins. All those websites. I don’t wanna.”

Seriously, the number of places I would have to update email addresses. The number of email addresses this family uses. The task seemed overwhelming. And if I actually DID go through the exercise of changing all those email addresses, I never wanted to do it again. But then I realized. My website hosting with GoDaddy includes 100 email addresses across all domains I own. hmmm. So I bought a domain just for email, for a total price of less than $70 for 10 years. I spent about a week going through my SplashID listing of web logins, nicking away at the changes. Then I watched my inbox and every time an “earthlink” email came in, I decided whether I wanted to update it. Some I changed, some I’ll let die.

So that took care of the one obstacle. If I was ready to move from Earthlink to Road Runner, I was in a position to save money with a cable/internet bundle. But if I added phone, I could save even more. There were two issues:

1. I wanted to ditch our second phone number, which I used exclusively for work. I replaced it with Google Voice and Voicemail. It routes calls to my cell phone without requiring me to give out my cell number. In a nutshell, it’s a free phone number with voice mail that gets transcribed to text AND email messages. It’s got a LOT more features, but that’s another post.

2. Would our home alarm system work with a digital phone? Again with the nutshell, Brighthouse thought it would and our alarm company thought it would, but there was no way to tell until it was switched and tested. If not, we had the option of installing a cell phone transmitter for the alarm system for an extra $10 per month (and a $200+ installation fee) The alarm worked with the digital phone perfectly, although I’m still thinking about the cell phone transmitter. And even though the cable modem has it’s own backup battery, we put it on a kick-butt uninterrupted power source for added measure in case of a power failure.

So yesterday we made the switch. Everything works perfectly and as an added bonus, I got a phone jack installed in my office at no charge! We had been running a L O N G phone line from another room for years.

Briefly onto AT&T Wireless: I’m keeping them. No change in price, but some modifications to our plan which better suit us. And I still refuse to get a data plan on my phone. I’m not paying for internet on my phone until and/or unless I have absolutely no choice. But I digress. Here’s some reasons why we’re staying with AT&T Wireless:

1. FirstHusband’s work provided cell phone is AT&T so all mobile to mobile calls with him are free and his company has an agreement with AT&T Wireless that provides some nice benefits to family members on a plan with them – the latter of which I found out during this expense audit process.

2. AT&T’s coverage map works for us. We rarely have dropped calls and no matter where FirstHusband travels, we have been able to reach him. This is a big deal.

3. Customer Service is OUTSTANDING and wait time is very short. (and I have a lot to compare to after making all these vendor calls.)

4. I’ve been a customer since 1994 because I’m so happy with them. They take ownership of a problem and help me solve it, whether it’s finding a free replacement for the $1.99 (each) directory assistance calls my dad made by innocently dialing “411” or back dating a plan change to help me avoid overages or making an appointment to call me two days before a cruise to activate an international calling plan or meticulously scouring a bill to help me understand every single charge…they’ve built customer loyalty with me.


Check out my other posts in my “Family Expense Audit” series in my “debt free living” category. I’ll be adding more over the next few weeks, so be sure to check back!


Find more ideas over at Works for Me Wednesday, hosted by Kristen at We Are THAT Family. MY previous Works for Me Wednesday posts are HERE.

Works for Me Wednesday posts prior to February 2009 are archived at Rocks In My Dryer.

July 7, 2010 Posted by | debt free living, intentional living, pros and cons | , , , | 3 Comments

that white thing you stand on.

I’m back to consistent strength training after 6 weeks of fitting in a little here and a little there while I was on a short lived, intense work schedule. I’d been doing push ups, crunches, supermans and planks, BUT. I neglected the legs and triceps. Monday, I did 15 lunges each leg and almost didn’t come back up. Then, when I took a step immediately after, both my quads completely cramped up!! Ouch. That has NEVER happened before. I know, hydrate, hydrate, hydrate! I did. A LOT. I could barely move on Tuesday. Walking up the bleachers at FavoriteSon’s basketball game was torture. I made this little wimpering sound after every step.

Pitiful, I know.

Today I worked arms, especially triceps. Tomorrow? I won’t be able to lift a pencil without wimpering.

I also got Wii Fit Plus for Christmas and, after going through initial “testing” I was informed I had the body of a 64 year old!!!! I SOOOOO did that test again. The second time? I have the body of a 40 year old. I also weighed a different amount the second time. And the balance requirement/recommendation is TOTALLY wrong. According to that white thing I stand on, my balance was off, I’m supposed to lean forward more. Seriously. No. Some of us GIRLS should definitely be leaning a little farther back for proper weight distribution, if you know what I mean.

After the testing, I hadn’t gotten near the game again due to the Wii hogs who live in this house with me. My “me” was actually SLEEPING. All the “me” characters for the family are jumping up and down, excited. And my little me?

Snoring.

Finally, tonight, with FirstHusband out of the house, FavoriteSon involved in homework and PinkGirl in the shower, I tried it out. After being chastised for missing 6 days of workouts by a cartoon character with Alvin the chipmunk’s voice, I spent a good half hour trying different activities/exercises.

My opinion after just a half hour or so? Wii Fit Plus is fun and challenging. Balance, Yoga, Strength Training and Aerobics. Since I spent an hour doing strength training with my personal trainer less than two hours before, I was a little shaky. I knew this, but just in case I was confused or deluding myself, my little cartoon character trainer flat out told me. How helpful.

If I do well and “unlock” stuff, will there be a black marker available so I can draw a mustache on her face?

One thing I DIDN’T do well? When I was supposed to sit perfectly still, cross legged on the white thing and stare at a candle to . . . I don’t know . . . be calm? Is it biofeedback? Just to relax? anyway. I was doing GREAT. Not moving AT all. Just breathing.

Then the cat stuck her nose under my hand and pushed me to get my attention. I lost.

I also got Jillian Michaels 2010 wii game. Haven’t broken the shrink wrap on that one yet, so no opinion on that. Anyone else try it?

January 7, 2010 Posted by | exercise, laugh!, poor me some whine, pros and cons, youtube | 9 Comments

door to door magazine sales fraud.

The poor guy who just knocked on my door selling magazines didn’t even get to say TWO words before I asked:

“magazine sales, right?”

he smiled.

I pointed at the folded vinyl packet in his hand and said, “I’ve seen that packet before. The magazines never come.”

Shock. Surprise. Opening of the folder to show me the current company name, like that makes any difference. (has he really not figured it out yet?)

I ask, “Did someone in a van drop you off? They’ll pick you up later?”

confused look. wondering. how did I know?

I shake my head no and I say “I’m sorry.”

He explains that a mom just helped him out. She bought magazines and she couldn’t even read.

(I am not stupid and I am unmoved. This has been going on for years, all over the country. The first time I was approached by someone carrying the vinyl packet was in a parking lot at the mall in the 80’s. This scam leads to identity theft, breaking and entering and assault. And you pay too much for magazines that are never delivered. )

I shake my head no and say “I’m sorry. The magazines never come.”

poor guy.

I hope he quits. He’s got a lousy job and a dishonest, exploitive employer.

February 26, 2009 Posted by | pros and cons | 3 Comments

sunrise. midnight.

You’re looking at our view from the 5th floor of the Ocean Walk Resort at Daytona Beach this past week.

FirstHusband called me from the road (actually, from the airport) on Monday to tell me he had unexpectedly gotten some time off this week – could I book a hotel somewhere for Wednesday night through Saturday night. Not so easy. We wanted to go to the east coast (of Florida) just in case our boat repair was completed this week. (Didn’t happen.) We wanted a one bedroom suite overlooking the ocean in a hotel with a better than good pool – and we wanted it for less than $200 a night. We could have used FirstHusband’s hotel points, but all the pools were . . . boring.

My first choice was Ron Jon’s Cape Caribe because it overlooks Cape Canaveral and if the boat was ready, we would be minutes away. Booked. We could only get Wednesday and Thursday night. I started looking at the choices for our hotel points. Again. Boring. And booked. (After all, I was trying to get a room for four nights – in peak season – with less than 36 hours notice.) Then I remembered Ocean Walk at Daytona Beach. I had taken the kids there with a bunch of moms and kids two years ago. We went the day school got out and stayed 3 nights. It was great! Two pools, one with a water slide, a separate lazy river, two hot tubs and a kiddie pool, right on the ocean. The resort is attached to the Ocean Walk Shoppes which is 3 stories of restaurants, a movie theater and shopping. Across the street is Daytona Lagoon - which has a water park, go carts, arcade and mini-golf and laser tag. Perfect.

I called to make the reservation and this time, I got Wednesday, Thursday ($167 each) and Friday ($172) night. But not Saturday night. Probably better, this way we have Sunday as a “down day” before regular life begins again on Monday. (and THAT is why I do NOT understand the benefit of a timeshare. We can book a weeks vacation for nearly the same as the annual maintenance fee for a time share.)

We ended up on the 7th floor, in a one bedroom with a balcony overlooking the ocean. (I loaded more photos on KeepandShare. Click HERE to take a look!).

Unfortunately, the air conditioning wasn’t working and the room hadn’t been cleaned yet. ewww.

Justin, at the front desk moved us in a matter of minutes and we ended up on the 5th floor. Again, the air wasn’t working properly. The thermostat said it was 72 degrees, but FirstHusband’s travel alarm clock thermostat read 80 degrees. We called guest services and asked if they would send someone to check it out. We got unpacked and changed into bathing suits, but before we could even get out the door to the pool, maintenance knocked on it. In minutes, he had “flushed the system” and it was blowing cold air. Sweet. You know, I don’t care about problems like this if they are fixed. Quickly. Great service so far.

Now, down to the pool and looking for the pool towels. And looking. FirstHusband went to the front desk to find them and Justin immediately asked him how the room worked out. Very nice. We were told the place to get the towels was closed for the day but that we could use our room towels. FirstHuband and FavoriteSon went up to our room to get our own beach towels (just take them, you won’t be sorry). It was already 76 degrees. They came back down and we spent some time in the lazy river and hot tub. When we went up to get dressed for dinner there was a bag of towels at our door and the phone was ringing as we came inside. It was Janet at the front desk, asking if we got our extra towels. Very nice.

We went to dinner at Johnny Rockets and, again – GREAT service. Our server was friendly, attentive and didn’t treat the kids like they were “just kids” if you know what I mean. He already had a good tip before he explained that he had only been working there two weeks, just moved from Kentucky with his wife and daughter to be near his wife’s elderly father. He was a landscaper by trade, but had a little bit of a learning curve because the plants were so different here than in Kentucky. hmmm. The story was good, delivered in a friendly way, but he told it while cleaning an already clean table next to us. It felt a little contrived. Plus, he skipped the standard question resort servers always open with when they want to chat. “So, where you from?” Still, he already had a good tip because he was so attentive and, just GOOD at his job. His ketchup smiley face for PinkGirl’s fries was just a bonus.

We went back to the room and I thought I’d check my blog, even though Ocean Walk advertised that wireless internet was available in the lobby, I thought I’d try. yep. Room 506 gets wireless internet. Low signal at the kitchen counter, fair signal on the balcony and great signal from the bedroom.

Let me take a break and mention the room. Clean. Pleasantly decorated. Full size fridge with an ice maker. We forgot to turn it on when got into the room, but we brought an ice chest, so we had a bag of ice. The curtains in the bedroom were strange. The window looked out into the hallway. It was a full pane of glass, so it didn’t open, but the curtains didn’t cover the entire window. Check out the photo of the bedroom, above. The curtains didn’t close. Luckily, we had a chip clip.

Some “positives” about the room?
Overall, it was not the nicest hotel we’ve ever stayed in, but it was clean.
The pools were great.
It was close to everything we wanted to do (we didn’t use the van once).
Equipped with a washer/dryer, a blowdryer, two televisions, a dvd player, a vacuum, an iron, a (no fee) combination safe and well equipped kitchen with a full size fridge with an ice maker, coffee maker, toaster, microwave, oven, stove and a dishwasher.

Some things you might want to consider before staying at Ocean Walk Daytona Beach?
Unfortunately, the mattresses were NOT comfortable.
And the pillows ranged from rock hard to lumpy soft.
Keep in mind, this is timeshare resort, so no daily maid service.
That means no daily shampoo/soap/conditioner replenishment.
Water pressure ranged from fair to almost non-existent. (We tried to shower at “off peak” shower times.)

Some things about the room that didn’t bother us, but might annoy someone else?
There was NO shelf in the bathroom to hold ANYTHING.
The bathroom was missing one drawer.
The floor lamp in the living room was missing a light bulb.
Some hooks on the balcony curtains had come off the rod.
The safe was too small to fit the laptop computer.
The alarm clock was broken.

As for the uncomfortable mattress? I had a $50 Spa Finder gift certificate burning a hole in my purse and was very happy to discover that the resort’s spa, Vacation Therapy Spa, accepted it! I supplemented the gift certificate a little and opted for a 50 minute full body Swedish massage. I supplemented it $10 more for a “firm” Swedish massage. Wonderful experience!

On Thursday around 11:30 am, I called to make an appointment for a massage and got an appointment for 12:30 – just one hour later! I arrived 15 minutes early, as requested. The brochure said to arrive 30 minutes prior to an appointment, but the person I spoke with on the phone ended the conversation by saying, “I’ll see you around 12:15.” I walked in and was immediately taken back to the locker room, given a big white robe to wear and a key for a locker. I changed, locked up my stuff and went into this little waiting area. Soft music, dim lighting, a beaded metal curtain surrounding the little room. I picked up a magazine (dated 2 days before) and someone asked me if I wanted water (I did) and then even asked me if I wanted lemon (I didn’t). (As someone who doesn’t like lemon in their water, I always appreciate it when I’m asked.) The massage therapist, Kathleen came to get me and took me back to the therapy room. Again, soft music, dim lighting, candles, and a fountain just outside the door – which you could hear from inside the room. One full body massage later, I’m feeling very relaxed. She did a GREAT job. After the massage, she took me back to the little room with the beaded metal curtain and gave me more water (came with the lemon this time, but I didn’t even care). She even came back after a few minutes to explain some stretching exercises I could do to help the arthritis in my neck. I knew most of them, but learned two more. (Chin to shoulder and the “backstroke.”) Overall WONDERFUL experience!

We spent the rest of the day Thursday just hanging around the pool and ocean. I even read a FICTION book! (Dream When You’re Feeling Blue by Elizabeth Berg) FirstHusband was reading Cold Sassy Tree (recommended by Lisa Writes) and he really liked it. Thanks AGAIN, Lisa! We ended the day with dinner at R.J. Gators (for some reason, it was called Backwater Fresh Grill, but the ticket and Ocean Walk signs referred to it as R.J. Gators). Whatever the name, it was GOOD. Great service and great food!

Friday, we went to Daytona Lagoon (Florida residents, don’t forget your drivers licenses for an $8 discount per ticket). The food wasn’t all that good and, at around $8 per person, we blew the money we saved on the discount. Better to eat before you go, because outside food and drinks are not allowed. At the very least, there’s a Burger King next to the parking garage. Great little water park! PinkGirl’s favorite part was this giant structure with 3 water slides, water spurting out everywhere and at the very top, a GIANT bucket that tipped when it filled up – sending water everywhere. Plenty of seating surrounding this area and what I liked best was the fact that the chairs were low and right at the edge of the water, so I could dangle my feet and legs in the water and see the entire structure. PinkGirl lasted about an hour and a half and then had a complete breakdown – a combination of over excitement, low blood sugar, lack of sleep and (we think) sunscreen and sweat in her eyes. FirstHusband took her back to the room and I stayed with FavoriteSon to ride the slides and hang out in the lazy river. The lazy river was nice, but there were very Very VERY few tubes. It was after 3:00 p.m. and not that crowded – but I would say that for every three people in the lazy river, only one person had a tube. That said, I probably only went around 2 or 3 times before I got one. The music was classic rock, but you could only hear it in certain parts of the river. I love me a lazy river and FavoriteSon and I must have floated for over an hour. Maybe an hour and a half.

We went back to Daytona Lagoon that night so FirstHusband and FavoriteSon rode the go carts and they had a GREAT time! Dinner at Bubba Gump’s Shrimp Company and then back to Daytona Lagoon for laser tag. FavoriteSon scored only 25 points below the winner! After we bought the tickets, PinkGirl refused to wear the big, heavy jacket. She finally relented after I promised to stay right with her. After about a minute inside, she was off on her own and didn’t want my help. I was just another target.

Saturday, we went deep sea fishing on a party boat, but this post is already L O N G, so I’ll post about that later.

(By the way, I didn’t post while on vacation because I just don’t think it’s a good idea to announce on the internet: “My house is empty!” I know none of you are going to trek on down to Florida and break in, but I just think it’s more prudent to mention travel AFTER it is complete and we’re back home. Many of my fellow bloggers talk about trips and preparation and blogging while on vacation and I just don’t think it’s a good idea. I wish everyone would post after they get home. Especially if they post their real name and what city they live in. So. I’m paranoid. In this case, what can it hurt?)

Back to life. Back to reality.

July 28, 2008 Posted by | books, pros and cons, vacation | , , , , | 5 Comments

   

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