Friday, October 21, 2011

History Does Matter

My nephew often complains that history is boring, that it isn’t relatable to the present. Tonight I have proof that his hypothesis is wrong. And that the proof involves his family past and present.

Joe Armstrong at
John Armstrong's grave
I’ve had a road block regarding information on my great-great-great grandpa John Armstrong. In my ongoing ancestry quest, I attended a chat tonight on Civil War research tips hoping for someone to help me find more information on John. While I didn’t find a lot of information on John’s individual record, I did find a fascinating book “The Story of the Forty-Eighth, a record of the campaigns of the Forty-Eighth Regiment Pennsylvania veteran volunteer infantry during the four eventful years of it’s service in the war for the preservation of the union” by Joseph Gould. My ggg-grandfather John served in the 48th regiment from 1861 until his death in 1864.
The first story that touched me was about the early 1864 furlough of the regiment (pg 156). That trip took the regiment by train from Pittsburgh to Altoona and finally home to Pottsville. What struck me about this trip was the history of these locations for my family. John came to America from the Isle of Mann in 1838 settling in Pottsville to work as a miner prior to the war.  My 2nd great-grandpa, Michael Armstrong, and his son Edward Lewis also worked the mines until Edward left the area to work on the railroad in Altoona. John would have left for the war when Michael was 7 and he was dead by the time Michael was 11. John never met my great-grandpa Edward or my grandfather or father whom both born in Altoona. He would never know how the tracks he traveled on his last trip home would 87 years later take his great-great grandson on the reverse trip from Altoona to Pittsburgh where my father met my mother.
At this point in time the only facts I know about John’s time in the war are about his final battle at the Spotsylvania Courthouse in May of 1864. Private John Armstrong was wounded by gunshot on May 12th in Spotsylvania, sent to a backline hospital in Washington DC where he succumbed to his wounds on July 1, 1864. He was laid to rest in Arlington National Cemetery.

Chestnut Hill Hosptial during Civil War
On the day my great-great-great grandfather was mortally wounded, another soldier Comrade John Morrisey had a premonition he would not survive the day (pgs 178-179). Morrisey turned to his friend Sgt William Wells beseeching him to relay a message to his sister Mary that he died facing the enemy. As the battle commenced, Comrade John Morrisey was shot through the head. During a lull in the battle, Sgt Wells buried his friend.  Later during the war, Sgt Wells was injured and sent to a hospital in Chestnut Hill, Pennsylvania where John’s sister Mary Morrisey found him. Sgt Wells shared with Mary Morrisey her brother’s last words. This story gave me chills when I realized not only that John Morrisey & my great-great-great grandfather fought in a battle on the same day that ultimately killed them both, but the hospital where Sgt Wells and Mary Morrisey met was the same hospital where I born.
Can anyone say small world.

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

August Among Friends

I just finished this month's Among Friends e-newsletter. If you're local to Succasunna, I hope you'll stop by the library Saturday and dish books with us.

Monday, July 18, 2011

Upromise Guest Shopping for Kim

I just found a cool new site to help save for my nephew's college expenses! When you shop through their portal or dine in registered local restaurants a portion of the bill is added to your account. You can use the money for any member of your family's college expenses.
Upromise Guest Shopping for Kim

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Book Club

Tonight is my book club meeting. I had been waffling about whether to attend because I didn’t have the book. Then this morning the library email notification system sent me the e-book link to this month’s selection “The Happiness Project”. Now I just have to power thru the book and I’ll be all set for tonight’s book club.

But of course nothing is that simple in my life. I replaced my original Sony e-reader (which I donated to my library) with my lovely nookColor. Since my switch I haven’t been able to download library books to my computer and my nook. Luckily a few weeks ago I attended Book Expo America (BEA) and a wonderful Overdrive rep clued me into the solution to my problem. I had to remove Adobe completely from my computer, reboot & reload. That way Adobe would forget about my Sony e-reader and embrace my nook. Well that was a few weeks ago and like all good procrastinators; I did nothing with the knowledge until this morning that is. In order to read the book club selection, I had to fix Adobe 1st. So an hour + several reboots later  “The Happiness Project” was on my nook. Now to read it before tonight’s meeting…

Oh if you're wondering why I'm posting this when I should be reading, check Chapter 3 and the dictionary for procrastination. 

Monday, June 13, 2011

Aha-Ha Moment

A conversation with a Lisa, a fellow book club member created a mini aha ha moment yesterday. This month my book club is reading “The Happiness Project” by Gretchen Rubin. Disclosure: I haven’t read it yet as I’m still waiting for my copy from the library. The book has led many people to alter their lives for the better. Another one of our book club members wants the club to do a happiness project together. Since I haven’t read the book yet, Lisa gave me a quick rundown starting with the challenge to change 5 things in your life a month. My stomach started to clench with the stress of a) coming up with 5 things b) the upheaval in my life to change 5 things in a month and c) oh God I’ll have to come up with ANOTHER 5 things for the next month. With these thoughts swirling around in my head, I zoned out on the recap of the rest of the book. Then I tuned back in to hear Lisa admit how changing 5 things was beyond her at this point.

Wait a minute, what? This is a very organized and together lady we’re talking about. I’ve lost count at the number of self-help books and organizational blogs I read, while my life and house remain a mess. This is not a knock on any of the authors I’ve read, this is all about me. Why is it when I go in with such good intentions about implementing all the fabulous ideas, nothing happens. Oh a pile of stuff might be cleaned up or I create my affirmations list, then… I get overwhelmed and nada. Oh wait this was about her response not mine. Without guilt my friend said since 5 changes were to overwhelming, she decided to pick one thing to change a month to create more happiness in her life. Hmm, pick ONE thing to change in my life and do it for a month. Well yeah, that I should be able to manage. (As soon as I decide what that change should be). The aha-ha for me is I can take a piece from a self-help book or blog and just do that piece. AND thats OK! I don’t have to implement the entire process, just incorporate the part that really resonates with me. 

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

May ~ Among Friends

Thank you for your generous donations to this Spring's Book Sale! Your donations from your bookshelves allow us to offer the wide assortment of thousands of books each sale.
The semi-annual book sales generate the largest portion of the funds the Friends use to support the library. Since we 2002, we have raised over $76,ooo through the book sales. The funds we've raised have gone toward the audio & DVD collections and supporting your favorite programs like the Adult Summer Reading and more.
We want to add a special shout out to Blue Diamond Disposal for donating a dumpster for the sale. Thank you!

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Steps to Home Business Success - Gathering Information

All around the country, people who want more control over their lives are starting home businesses. People are living the new American dream of owning a business, but avoiding the high overhead and start-up costs of a commercial location. If the idea of working from home is appealing, but you don't know where to begin, here is a step-by-step guide to getting started.

Step #1:  Gather information on home based businesses
Step #2:  Determine how much time you can spend on the business
Step #3:  Determine where the money will come from
Step #4:  Decide on the type of business
Step #5:  Organize the house & yourself and go 

Gather Information
Start with yourself; make a list of things you like to do, your work and volunteer experience, and items you own that can be used in a business. Search the web or visit the library for inspiration.  Look over this line-up, and using ideas from it, list possible businesses to start. Eliminate any business that isn't appealing or doesn't fill a need people have. A great book to help you with this task is Loral Langemeier's Put More Money Into Your Pocket: Turn What You Know Into Dough.

Check back for info on the remaining steps. 

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Affirmations Fill Our Minds with Positive Messages

Affirmations develop a mindset that is necessary to make a person's life better. Affirmations direct our mind, thus our actions, to those things that add abundance in our lives. But it takes more than just hearing, reading or writing affirmations to make a difference in a person's life. To make real change takes action.

Step 1: Create a specific targeted set of affirmations. For example an affirmation stating “I have achieved financial freedom” immediately raises the question why; drilling down on the why will lead to a resonating affirmation. An affirmation that truly resonates with you will inspire action. For me it is “I am living in a blissful state of financial abundance”.

Step 2: Make your affirmations apart of your daily life. Repetition is the key to bringing your affirmation to life. Meditate every morning on your affirmations. Chant them while you’re in the shower. Hang them in key places around your home, like the bathroom mirror or fridge. Create a Vision Board. Find whatever works for you. The object is to make your affirmations a part of your conscious & subconscious life.

Step 3: Put your affirmation into action. Once your affirmations are a part of your life, you will begin to get promptings. A prompting is a thought that encourages action.  When you act on a prompting you are taking steps to make your affirmations a reality. I recently was prompted to contact an old friend. The result was two-fold, reconnecting a relationship I missed and a project that is bringing me closer to a blissful state of financial abundance.

Create you affirmations and then act on your promptings. See what wonders occur.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Among Friends

I have been on the board of the Friends of the Roxbury Township Public Library for a number of years. Like many non-profits we are struggling in todays economic climate to maintain let alone increase donations. As a result non-profits are looking for new ways to connect with their membership. A monthly Among Friends e-newsletter is one of those ways the Friends are using. The e-newsletter will quickly catch you up with what's going on with the Friends. This month's message is about our upcoming May events. Please check out this issue of Among Friends. If you like what you see subscribe to future issues by clicking on the Join Mailing List link in the e-newsletter. 

Thursday, April 21, 2011

A Parfait Murder ~ Appearances can be deceiving.

Wendy Lyn Watson recently sent me a ARC of her upcoming book “A Parfait Murder”. Parfait is the 3rd serving of a Mystery a la Mode series.  We open to find Sonny Anders, Bree’s ex and Alice’s daddy, strolling up the midway at the Lantana County Fair after a seventeen year absence. On his arm is his new lady, Char. Char is an enigma dressed up like a church social lady but with a walk that would give the Devil pause. The duo is back in town with a sweet deal for the business folk of Dalliance. But first Sonny’s lawyer, Kristen Ver Steeg has papers served on Bree challenging Alice’s paternity. The stage is set for an epic battle when Kristen turns up dead with Bree holding the gun.

Meanwhile Tally, the owner of Remember the A-la-mode and Bree’s cousin, has begun to date her childhood sweetheart Finn who roared out of her life after high school only to re-appear last year.  Their romantic adventures throughout the fairgrounds leave your head spinning like a Tilt n Wheel. Riding through the Haunted House moves their relationship closer.  Then a ride on the ferris wheel serves up a scene worthy of your favorite soap opera. While at the top of the ferris wheel a romantic moment is interrupted by a life changing event. When the Tally gets off the ride her family’s lives will never be the same again.

Things are not what they seem in this tale. Is Sonny really in town to disown Alice? What’s the scoop on his and Char’s business, is it the real deal or just a scam? Just who was Kristen Ver Steeg and why would anyone want to kill her? Will her latest family drama be enough to tear Finn and Tally apart or bring them closer to the cherry on top of the sundae? It’s up to Tally & Finn to get to the bottom of Sonny’s reappearance and Kristen’s murder before Bree finds herself frying for murder.

“A Parfait of Murder” is more delectable than a fudge sundae with double whipped cream on top. It has more surprising twist and turns than a Vanilla/Raspberry Twist cone. Pick up the book this summer for a cool treat at the beach.

Friday, April 15, 2011

My Favorite Childhood Restaurant Memory

In my search for tips on researching my family history I found an interesting group, GeneaBloggers. Among the advice offered is a challenge to record our own memories for future descendants. I am intrigued by their 52 Weeks of Personal Genealogy & History by Amy Coffin which is a series of weekly blogging ideas. This week’s prompt is RESTAURANTS.

I immediately thought of Burger King. As a treat a couple times a year, my mom would pack my brother & my best friend’s family into the car for the trip to Burger King. Car rides with the two families always meant something fun was in store.  This BK was the first fast food restaurant in the area, so it was a novel experience for us kids. We would each get to step up to the counter and order what we wanted. This alone was huge! I realize the current generation expects that mom to fix different meals for each kid, but with the moms my friends & I grew up with, we ate what they made that night… and we ate it all, end of discussion. Our choice was the amount of fuss we put up before eating the brussel sprouts, too much fuss & no dessert. After we all ordered and gotten our crowns, we’d get our bag of food & head back home to eat. I don’t ever remember eating at the restaurant; instead all us kids would eat out on the porch back at home.

We moved from Blue Bell when I was still in elementary school, so my geographical memory is that of a child. I can give you directions from my house to: school, church, and Burger King. A few years ago we were passing through Blue Bell and there was a need for a bathroom break. Without having been in the area for decades I was able to direct the driver right to this Burger King. My aunt has moved to the area and lives a bit passed the BK, so now when I drive by, I smile.
What is was your favorite restaurant as a kid?

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

What's the Deal with Group Discount Sites?

Groupon, Living Social, Daily Deal
I've been getting e-mails, Facebook posts, and now TV ads on these. A friend sent me a Groupon a couple months ago for Barnes & Noble which looked interesting, but I didn't have time to deal so I left it in my inbox to deal with later. Those who use these discounts realize my mistake. By the time I had time, the time had passed to execute the buy. I roamed the site anyway, finding a great deal from Baby Genius. I got 5 of there top DVD/CDs for a little over the price for 1. My new nephew will be a genius! 

So what's all the fuss about? These sites advertise discount deals of 50% or more on a variety of products or services. The "deal" is activated when a pre-determined number of people agree to buy the offer. For example the deal that got me jazzed enough to write this blog is from Daily Deal. It's an hour massage & a chiropractic eval from Chiropractic Health in East Hanover, all for $39! I said yes and if 4 other people say yes today, then the deal is on. 

Living Social has an additional interesting twist. If you say buy one of their deals, tell your friends and 3 of them buy the same deal, then your purchase is free. For the well connected this could be a really good deal. Me, I'm looking at an interesting offer for a play at the PaperMill Playhouse. Problem is, I've got to settle on a date and find at least one other person  to go with me let alone three within the next 17 hours. That's just not enough time for me & my non-wired friends. Now if the offer was for a cool sporting event I have no doubt my nephew & his texting buddies would have it worked out in minutes. Oh God does this mean I am officially old? Yikes!

Back to my Chiropractic Health deal. In the time it's taken me to write this blog enough people have said yes to the daily deal from Daily Deal that it is on. Time for a massage!

Monday, April 4, 2011

This week is National Scottish Week

My family name originated in Scotland. Our original family name was Fairbairn, which was changed to Armstrong by an ancient King of Scotland following battle. As the story goes, the king had his horse killed under him in battle.  Fairbairn, his armor-bearer, lifted the king on his own horse with one arm. For this timely assistance the king rewarded him with lands on the borders, and to immortalize so important a service gave him the name of Armstrong. Tis the week to break out my Scottish plaids.

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Pennies on the Dollar? (Part 1)

We’ve all heard the infomercials touting the great investment opportunity of tax lien investing. So can you really get homes for pennies? Well yes and no.

Counties need the funds from property taxes to pay the Sheriff and so on. Somehow these counties need to collect the taxes due. If the taxpayer cannot meet their obligation, then the counties look to outside sources to pay those taxes. The how to collect unpaid taxes are determined by the state. States either collect the unpaid taxes through tax lien sales, tax deed sales or a combination of the two.

Through tax lien sales you can purchase a lien for unpaid taxes on a property with the right to foreclose at a future time. Note the right to foreclose is not the guarantee to the property. Tax Lien states such as Arizona or Florida annually sell unpaid property taxes as liens to investors at an agreed interest rate. (The top interest rate in Arizona is 16% and 18% in Florida.) During the sale/auction, investors bid to win the right pay the taxes owed and place a lien on the property. After a period of time set by the state, generally several years, the lien holder if still not paid back has the right to initiate foreclosure proceedings on the property owner. Even during the foreclosure process the property owner can pay the tax lien and associated costs and keep their property. It is the aforementioned interest rate that attracts investors like myself to tax lien sales rather than the chance to acquire property.

At a recent sale I purchased an $800 lien on a property valued at over $80,000, hence the term “pennies on the dollar.” If after three years the property owner has not paid their back taxes, then I can begin the foreclosure procedure. I don’t expect to acquire this property; my objective is to earn a 12% rate of return on my investment until the property owner can settle up with the county.

An investor will typically only get the property about 2% of the time as a result of purchasing a tax lien sale certificate. That’s a far cry from the ads on TV. Tax deed sales result in the investor acquiring the property, but is it really “pennies on the dollar”? Check back for Part 2 for the answer.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Linear Income or Residual Income?

We all know about linear income even if we don't recognize the name. It is income one receives for the hours put in on a job. Work for X time frame and earn Y. Most of Americans earn linear income from the day they begin in the workplace to the day they retire, then the money train stops. But what about after retiring? Well, hopefully while earning a linear income the worker saved enough through 401k or pension plans to supplement Social Security enabling them live a comfortable lifestyle in their golden years.

Residual income on the other hand, is a source of income that keeps coming in; from work done once. Several fields provide the opportunity for residual income; acting, insurance and network marketing come to mind. Actors are paid a fee for appearing in movies or TV. They also earn “residuals”. Movie actors receive residual payments when movies appear on TV or DVD. Television actors, residual payments start when the show goes to reruns or to DVD. Insurance agents are generally paid a commission on the new insurance policies they sell. An agent also receives renewal commission each time a client renews their policy. A Network marketer builds a team as well as a customer base. They earn income on purchases made by their customer base as well as sales earned by their team. Along with the opportunity to make a comfortable living while “working” people working in residual earning fields continue to generate income on work product produced once. The retirement puzzle for residual income earners adds an additional source of money for the retirement pot.

I’ve done the linear income model for years. I think it’s time to try the residual income model. Work once, get paid multiple times, this is my new goal.

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Epic Snow & Ice Storm NOT, just another NJ snow storm

The trees got the worst of this storm.
Picture by Amanda Donner
This past week, the news was all a buzz about the snow and ice storm crossing the country. Dire forecasts scared the bejesus out of most of us on the east coast. A snow storm is one thing, but an ice storm is quiet another animal. Reports coming from the Midwest on conditions there only heightened our concern. The parking lot at the supermarket earlier this week was packed. Long lines at the checkout counter and empty shelves were the norm.

In northern NJ, the storm started Monday night with snow into Tuesday morning. Undeterred, I ventured out early in the morning to clear my patio of the couple inches of ice had accumulated in advance of the ice portion of the storm. While I was at it, I cleaned the car & topped off the gas tank in case of the pending ice brought down power. Luckily I didn’t lose power as the ice never really accumulated. For all the doom, gloom and dire warnings of the weather people the storm in my area, was pretty lame. Even so, I along with most of my neighbors was housebound for the better part of two days. In order to keep from going stir crazy I scrubbed the bathroom down (is there another room that’s more yucky to clean?), sorted my paperwork for 2010 (my accountant will be thrilled) and sent valentines to friends. Ever since my friend Gen introduced me to Send Out Cards, I’ve been having fun sending cards for all kinds of events that I never would have before. 

While the storm didn’t live up to the hype in my area, it was a productive for me. Even so, I’ve very happy to be able to get out and about again. I’m off to breakfast with a friend, have a great day!

Monday, January 24, 2011

My 1st Movie

I recently went to a presentation that included a nifty little movie using text-to-movie technology. The movie was so amusing I found it on the web shared it with my Facebook buddies.  Another friend, also uploaded a movie, but it was one she created. Intrigued, I went to the company’s website to investigate.  Xtranormal provides the technology to turn a script into a movie. Pick a set. Cast the actors, in this case animated avatars. Type in your script, add the camera shot list, and music and presto change, you’ve got yourself a movie.

It sounded simple, so I decided to make a movie.  The movie centers on a girl telling a friend about NJ Libraries’ Technology Catch-up Centers. NJ Libraries are trying to win a $250k grant from Pepsi Refresh to create Technology Catch-up Centers at libraries throughout the state. The grant provides money for not only the hardware, but training, and downloadable books. Each center’s kit will contain an Ipad, nook, kindle, and flip ultra camcorder. The centers will open up a world of possibilities for all patrons and further NJLA’s goal of libraries being community centers where library patrons become lifelong learners.

Learning how to use xtranormal’s features is pretty easy. The choices are limited, which for a beginner like me is a good thing. While creating a movie, you can make as many changes as you want. Of course this meant, I tried out almost every set, avatar, camera angle & expression that xtranormal offered. On a freezing cold weekend, it was a fun way to stay entertained, inside. I hope you like it. If you’ve got an idea for a movie, now it’s as easy as pie to become a movie producer. Go for it, I look forward to seeing what you create.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Which is better $1 million dollars or 1 penny doubling for 30 days?

Which would you rather have $1 million dollars today OR 1 penny that doubles everyday for 30 days? It’s a classic case of instant gratification vs delayed gratification. Gratification is the pleasurable reaction to fulfilling a goal or desire; or in a word, happiness.

Many people would take the million dollars thrilled with the rush from immediate gratification. The wheels instantly start turning on how to spend the million. With the excitement level rising, many people won’t even stop to think what a penny doubling every day would be worth. Other people would start to do the math in their head. If they got to day 10, the penny option would be worth… a whole $5.12! Even on day 20 the penny option is only worth $5242. Well forget that, it must be better to take the mil. This is the instant gratification world we’ve been living in (just look at Congress) we can’t even take the time to do the math for the whole 30 days.

But boy if you did, the answer of which to take is much different. The magic of compounding gets really impressive at day 27. Suddenly the penny compounding is fast approaching the million dollars, $671,088. On day 28 the penny has compounded it way past $1million dollars. By delaying gratification until the day 30 payday, the penny has grown to $5,368,709.12.  Surprise, by waiting the little penny has grown far beyond the million dollars. Now that’s happiness. Now that’s happiness. 
Double a Penny everyday - Last 7 days

Monday, January 10, 2011

NJ Libraries Vying for Pepsi Refresh Grant

NJ Libraries are trying to win a $250k grant from Pepsi Refresh to create Technology Catch-up Centers at libraries throughout the state. Pepsi accepts 1000 proposals every month from groups that have ideas that can create a positive impact on their society. The public then votes and the top 2 vote getting ideas will receive $250k grants.

The New Jersey Library Association (NJLA) and the NJ State Library have joined together in this proposal to bring the latest technologies to New Jersey Libraries. The “catch-up” centers will contain e-readers and a flip-camcorder which will allow patrons access new technologies. These centers will help parents “catch-up” with their digital native children. They will help the unemployed or under-employed to “catch-up” with their full-time employed counterparts.

The grant provides money for not only the hardware, but training, and downloadable books. Each center’s kit will contain an Ipad, nook, kindle, and flip ultra camcorder. The centers will open up a world of possibilities for all patrons and further NJLA’s goal of libraries being community centers where library patrons become lifelong learners.

I would love to use a Technology Catch-up Center in my library. Please vote EVERY day from now through January 31, 2011.

Sunday, January 9, 2011

New Year, New Post

Yes, I've finally gotten around to updating this blog. It's been a tumultuousness few months. I went to Tina Sloan's NY premiere of "Changing Shoes", a wonderful show. If she's in your area, do go and see her one woman show. Tina kind enough to come to the Roxbury Library for a book signing. Thank you Tina!

My dad moved in with me. While preparing for the move, I had an accident which ended with me a little bloody and with both arms in slings. Luckily only the left elbow was broken, but I was fairly useless for most of the move. While dad is moved in, my car is still unhappily waiting to move back into my garage. 

The move necessitated a re-evaluation of my belongings. There have been endless trips to charity drops and the dumpster. God bless the Telenext dumpsters. There is something therapeutic about throwing junk in a dumpster, even more than the endorphin rush of donating to charity.  But let's face it we all have stuff that is worth money. Maybe not a lot, but something. Now I loved the video shop in Mendham that had an E-bay store on the side. I could just drop off my stuff, he'd sell it & I'd get a check or if it didn't sell, he'd give it to charity. Either way once it was at the shop, it was out of my life. Unfortunately not only has Netflix taken out Blockbuster, they forced my video store to close as well. So the search began for a new venue to sell my more valuable belongings. The whole Craigslist/E-bay world is confusing to me. The concept of having to pack & mail items gives me a headache and has me shying away E-bay. Craigslist proved challenging but I did sell the biggest pieces of furniture, so I consider it a success. I've still got a number of items I need to relocate from my home/storage. So, if you know of anyone looking to by dishes, I've got two sets of china and one everyday set I'm looking to sell. 
One of the fine china sets I'm looking to sell