I Learned Something Yesterday – My Own Christmas Carol

Lately I have been feeling blue about the short days, the economy and I think I am watching too much NEWS! The stock market is down, unemployment and crime is up, the list goes on.

The holidays are to be such a joyful time, yet I always feel somewhat depressed about them. This year my brother and his family join us – the first time in 13 years and tho I am excited, I still am feeling the pressures around me. Recently, something changed my outlook… at least for a while.

I went to a funeral yesterday. 3 days before Christmas. It was for a woman, (58 years old). Her name is Deb and I knew her years ago. Her husband, brother-in-law and I trained dogs together. I went to the service specifically, because her sister is also a dear friend of mine. (Sounds all tangled up, one of those 6 degrees of separation things, I guess.)

For 29 years, this woman fought a battle with MS and even when she was admitted to a hospice facility, her body still wanted to fight the fight, but finally her tank was empty and she slipped away.

Now that part is the sad part, but here is the part where I learned something-perhaps “Ebeneezer” (and Deb) were watching over me!

The service was a Catholic Mass, to which I am unaccustomed and wasn’t actually clear on what was coming next. During the service, a good friend of Deb’s delivered thoughts and shared experiences from their long friendship. Of course it made us all cry, though none of us were there to share in those times, personally, I connected on my own.

I have a circle of friends and I could identify with her friends’ feelings. I could place myself within her warm words of memory with one or many of my close friends & family. I could feel how very special those times experiences in my life that I have shared with my friends and are so grateful to them for being part of my life. If any of them are reading this, know that you have made a difference to me and my life would not have been as full without you in it. Thank you to all my dear friends & family, those far and wide for making my life a special journey with laughs, hugs and moments to grin about even when things can seem like they aren’t going my way!

I know this the title of this blog is “Techno Trapped In my 40’s” and this REALLY isn’t advice about technology challenges, but in a way it is.

Don’t let the “Technology Scrooge” get in the way of what is valuable. TURN OFF THE NOISE IN YOUR LIFE and look around – get real (sorry Dr. Phil), stop and think what is meaningful for the long haul.

Christmas (or whatever you own brand of holiday celebration may be) needs to remind us about family, friends and the real things that are important. Cherish these times, cherish each other.

And make a toast “To Absent Friends.”
(Thanks Deb for the reminder.)

"It’s the economy, stupid!"

Is a quote uttered by Bill Clinton in 1992 in his presidential bid against Bush. (The first one!) Here it is 16 years later and we are in the soup again. We are all worried about unemployment and how our businesses will be effected. If you own your own, the sleepless nights become more frequent. Or the time lying awake is longer. (I have lots of experience and I am peri-menopausal !!)

So much we worry about we cannot control, and especially if you are in your 40’s like me, your life is full of demands of work, family, dogs, school, whatever it is, it gets piled on the top of it all.

So let’s think for just a moment of some things you can do to feel empowered rather than to feel helpless.

If you are currently employed and work for someone else, TAKE INVENTORY.

Taking Inventory of those items on the computer you work at in the office, phone numbers, contacts, passwords for any of YOUR OWN social networking sites like linked-in, etc. Often these passwords are saved in your company computer and you may not remember what they are, the computer there just remembers them for you.

DO NOT USE company email addresses as a sole contact mechanism for sites to “confirm password” back to – if you are “downsized” and lose that email address, cannot get into sites to update your profiles, the “password reset” message will go back to the email you provided and it may be that one at your work – in this case you don’t work there anymore!

Make sure your resume is saved off and and deleted from the system and there are no traces of personal information on the company systems-period.

If you have all ready “fallen victim” to the economy ax, then hopefully you did this all ready.

Going forward, one of my new Compadres on Twitter just got downsized himself and one of his recent blog posts reminded me of something. Standard Classified Newspaper Help Wanted Ads are not the way to go. First off let me say, if you don’t have a job, bookmark Dave’s blog because he is very funny and will give you some comic relief, especially if you are in the same boat. If you do have a job, visit rhodester.net anyway. He has a unique perspective, even if he is a cat person!

Nationally, Monster.com is the most recognized website to look at. More locally in Maine, JobsInMaine.com is one we have as well as some of the newspapers have even decided to have their own (usually under a different name), but you can GOOGLE a term as simple as “Looking for a job in (my state)” and you will be surprised what you will find. For the employer, these sites are often more economical than traditional newspaper classifieds. So all the more reason they are more popular.

Finally, yesterday the Today Show had a segment on 7 Ways to Make Money, How To Give Yourself a Holiday Bonus. Some of the ideas I thought were silly, but some were really good. I thought I would pass on the link as well as a few of these, if anyone missed it. If you are interested in making money with Focus Groups and part of the Twitter community, look for FocusGroups and you will get a tweet everytime they update. If you dont participate in Twitter, here’s another reason you should. Follow Me and I can help!

There is a blog that you can go to for Focus Groups, click here and you will go there, but you have to remember to do that on your own, with Twitter, it tells you automatically.

So take some stock in YOU and take control of what you can, it will give you piece of mind!

Save money with "Comparison" shopping sites?

I got an email from a reader that asked me what I thought about comparison shopping websites and of course whenever I (or anyone else) can save money, my initial answer was, “I’m all for it!”

Since I really never used a comparison shopping website myself, I needed to look into some before blogging about the subject. After a bit of research my NEW answer is, “I’m for it, but for godsake be careful and pay attention.”

Comparison shopping websites, I experimented MOST with pricegrabber.com and google.com/products, as well as these seem to be the most popular with those I have spoken to that comparison shop online often.

Here are a few guidelines I would use when using any of these types of portal shopping sites:

1. Take the time out to shop and read descriptions.

Getting a bargain has a price to it and that is TIME. Don’t be in a rush, because it is likely you will be disappointed. How much money are you saving if you have to send the item back?

2. KNOW EXACTLY what you are “searching” for, aka the product you want to BUY.

Have all your specifics in hand, size, color, specifications whatever you can because any Portal shopping site, (this includes eBay) will serve you up whatever you ask for and MORE! If you choose to sort from lowest price to highest price, don’t get too excited! I was looking for a flat screen computer monitor and was extremely excited with one I saw for $59.95, the manufacturer was the right one and I was thrilled only to read on to see it was a glare screen for a flat screen monitor!

3. Understand WHO is actually SELLING the product. And WHO you are paying.

On some portal sites you jump right off that site and onto the sellers site and it is obvious. Some not so much! When you “check out” your confirmation as well as the confirmation on your credit card should read consistently with the online store you purchased it from. Unless you actually “CHECK OUT” on the portal site, it wont be the name of the portal site from where you started in the first place.

So keep track of where you are and who you are buying from – print the confirmation receipt for sure!

4. If you want FIRST quality, make sure it IS FIRST quality.

This goes back to the “make sure you have enough time to bargain shop.” Lots of bargains are easy to find if there is a “slight imperfection” and those are often difficult to “see” what that means through your computer screen.

5. User Comments are helpful.

Pricegrabber.com doesn’t have a feedback mechanism for user comments or experiences where google.com/products does. This objective feedback helps clarify the product as well as the experience of using the vendor.

I hope this helps and thanks for the question – again I don’t say “don’t do it.” I just say “do your homework” and you can save lots of money!