Sunday, April 20, 2014

Being nice gets you further

When interacting with people, you always have a choice of how to go about it. You can be nice and friendly, you can be rude and mean, or you can fall somewhere in the middle. Based on experience, I have found that it usually pays to be nice when you are dealing with people, especially in a customer service type of situation, whether you are the customer or the employee. Below are a few real examples to help illustrate this point.

I currently work for a website that provides online customer service to people who either have questions on products or need help with just about anything. I deal with a wide variety of people. Some are friendly and nice while others are well, not so nice. Even though I strive to provide the same service to all customers, it is so much easier to go the extra mile to help out a customer who is courteous and appreciative verses one who is angry or just plain rude. In a situation like this, the nice customer is almost always going to get better service even if they are both asking about the same thing.

Another example is when I used to work in food delivery. Tips are a big part of your income when you work for a job like this so they are very important. When you work for a restaurant for a while and start to get repeat customers, you remember which ones give good tips and which do not. The customers who give good tips are going to get better service whether it be faster delivery or better care when preparing the food. So always remember to give a good tip especially if you are going to be a repeat customer.

An example from the customer side happened recently when I got over charged for a bill on my internet service. I contacted my provider and was sure to be extra courteous and nice to the representative. Usually getting billing issues like this resolved is difficult, but by being patient and kind, the representative was happy to assist me and within no time, the billing issue was fixed! So overall the message is clear, that being nice will get you a lot further than the contrary especially when it comes to customer service situations.

Friday, April 11, 2014

Easy Productive Activity for Fun, Exercise, and Environmental Improvement

After this brutal winter we have had this past season, it is nice to finally get some good weather. Now that the sun is out and the weather is warm, people are starting to venture outside again. I also decided to do the same and take advantage of the nice weather by going for a walk on the paths around my neighborhood. It was really nice to get out and just enjoy the outdoors and relax while getting a little exercise at the same time.

One thing I noticed however was the amount of garbage laying around on the ground outside. Maybe it is all accumulated from the winter, but I noticed quite a bit of trash caught in trees, bushes, and just blowing around. I have mentioned how much I don't like when people litter in a previous blog post here. So I got the idea to do something about it.

The next day, I brought a plastic shopping bag with me and this time, instead of just walking, I decided to pick up any garbage that I happened to see. You would be surprised how much you find when you are actually looking for it. I walked for probably less than a mile and by the time I was done, I had a whole bag full of garbage that I had collected!

It feels good knowing you are cleaning up the environment and making your community a little bit nicer for everyone. The next day I did the same thing and took a different path. I collected just as much garbage the 2nd time around. It is actually fun and you get a little sense of accomplishment when you are done and see how much you have collected. The only tip I have is to get some disposable gloves because after a while you hands can tend to get dirty from picking up the garbage.

I plan to make this a regular activity whenever the weather is good. I highly recommend this if you like walking and you care about making improvements to your neighborhood or any outdoor place for that matter. It even helps with observational skills. I noticed that after I did this activity, I was a lot more aware of details around me, so that is another benefit!

Sunday, March 30, 2014

Health Care Update - Deadline To Sign Up For Health Insurance

There has been a lot of discussion about the new health care program this year and with the deadline to sign up quickly approaching, there has been a bit of a rush to sign up.  I registered for the healthcare.gov website right when it launched but have waited until today to decide whether or not to sign up.  You can read about my experience using the website and reviewing the plans here.

After much contemplating I decided I better sign up for one of the health care plans.  As a self employed person, I do not have health insurance through an employer so this is the best option at the moment.  Now I still think the plans are not all that great.  There are some good plans available but they are very expensive.  However, with the cost of health care these days, it is a good idea to have some kind of protection even if it is unlikely you will actually need it.  Also the fact that you have to pay a fee if you don't sign up is a little extra incentive to pick a plan with the new system.

So after much review, I decided to go with one of the basic plans, a Bronze HMO plan from Blue Cross Blue Shield.  Normally I would prefer a PPO but in this case the comparable HMO had much better benifits for about the same cost where the PPO covers almost nothing until you pay all the deductible which is very high.  My current doctor is not in this plan so I will probably have to find a new doctor that is part of this group. 

There is also an option to get dental insurance along with the health insurance.  I reviewed the plans and decided to skip the dental for now.  Adding up the monthly costs compared to the cost of just paying by cash for the same service, the self pay is a bit cheaper.  I take pretty good care of my teeth so I decided to hold off on the dental insurance.  It would be a good option if you do plan to have dental work done or if you have kids to cover for dental insurance.

So I officially applied for the new health care program.  So far I have not received a bill, but they say it needs to be paid by the start date which is May 1st this year.  This is all kind of an experiment and we will see how it turns out. 

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Recycling Needs to be Easier

A while back one of my CFL light bulbs went out.  You know the squiggly kind that is more energy efficient and lasts longer than regular light bulbs.  I knew they contained mercury so I was hesitant to throw it in the garbage.  After doing a little research, it turns out these light bulbs should not be put in the garbage and should be recycled properly because of the substances inside.

So I did a little research to find where to recycle them.  I found a couple places including a local light bulb and batter chain that offered recycling services.  So I held on to the light bulb until I would finally be in that area to drop it off. 

A few weeks later I was going to be in that area so I brought the light bulb as well as a spent battery to recycle.  I go in and tell the person working there that I have the bulb and battery to recycle.  He tells me that it is going to cost 60 cents to recycle the light bulb. Excuse me?  You want me to pay 60 cents to recycle a light bulb?  I just held on to this thing for several weeks and made the trip over here just to try to do the right thing for the environment and they are going to charge 60 cents?  Who is going to pay that?

I sure was not, so I decided to hold on to the bulb.  I gave them the battery which they accepted for free.  As the title above says, recycling need to be easier.  It it also needs to be free in cases like this.  Most people would rather throw a light bulb in the garbage than have to drive somewhere and pay some one to recycle it. 

Recycling electronics is not always easy either.  You really have to do your research to find a place that will recycle certain electronics.  A lot of times communities will have recycle days for free, but they are often only a few times a year.  Some big stores will recycle electronics but they will often charge a fee.  People want to do the right thing that is best for the environment, but with examples like this, it is not very motivating to recycle.

If you have any thoughts on this issue or suggestions for places that recycle, feel free to share them in the comments below.

Thursday, March 20, 2014

Juice and Frozen Fruit Beverage Idea

Juice is one of my favorite drinks in fact I have it along with most meals.  I always get 100% juice, usually a berry mix or an orange juice.  I also like frozen fruits such as blueberries, strawberries, and cranberries.  One day I decided to combine the 2 into one cup.  Now there is nothing difficult about this and I'm sure many other people have made a drink like this before, but I sort of discovered it on my own so I thought I would share the idea here.

A couple recipe suggestions include a berry juice such as a cranberry pomegranate blend added to frozen blueberries and cranberries.  Another suggestion is orange juice added to frozen strawberries.  It is a very quick and easy combination and the results are delicious.  The frozen fruits act as a natural ice to chill the juice.  The juice also gets absorbed into the fruit to make them extra juicy and sweet!  Included here are a couple pictures of the drinks.  The pics do not do the drinks justice and they are much better than they look here. 

If you try these out and enjoy them or have any suggestions on similar drink recipes feel free to leave them in the comments section below. 

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Theory on Bad Words and Swearing

I was watching the show Hell's Kitchen the other day and I couldn't help but notice how much swearing they have on that show. Literally almost every line spoken on the show has something bleeped out. It's like they are editing the show to include as many lines with curse words as possible. I find the bleeping to be annoying in this case just because it is used so much on this show. It got me thinking about swear words in general.

Personally I do not use bad words, at least no out loud in public. They might run through my head from time to time, but I rarely say them out loud. Many people on the other hand use bad words on a regular basis. I have a theory on why some people swear while others do not.

Growing up my parents were fair and not overly strict. I remember one early on asking my mom if I could say bad words in the house. Surprisingly she said yes I could. I don't remember much else about it. I might have said a few words just for fun in the situation but after that I did not use bad words just because I knew it was something you were not suppose to do.

Most kids are told by adults that they are not allowed to use these words and they will get in trouble if they do. So then what do these kids do the first chance they get when the adults are not around? They say the bad words only because they have been told they are not allowed to. I think kids in this situation get into the habit of using these words that they are not supposed to and before you know it, they are using them on a regular basis which carries into their adult life.

Some may argue that they are just words and there should be nothing wrong with just saying a word. This is a good point but the fact is in our society it has been generally agreed upon that there are certain words that are just inappropriate or offensive and should not be used. Maybe not everyone agrees on this but most people do. There are also plenty of words in every language where there is no need to use words which are deemed bad or offensive.

A lot of it has to do with context and expression as well. Just merely stating a bad word out loud does not have the same effect as directing it to someone with the intention of being mean or offensive. Overall I think bad words should be avoided just because there are other words to use and because they are generally thought of as bad. I understand many people do not want to follow the rules as is evident by the childhood example of how swearing gets started. Thankfully most people use these words sparingly and not in the presence of children as it would be a bad example to follow. In the end of course everyone must make their own decision on whether or not to use bad words.

Monday, March 17, 2014

How to Protect a Hat From Sweat, Oil, and Makeup

Hats are great but one of the biggest issues with them is keeping them clean. Most articles of clothing you wear against your skin are washed after one use, for example, socks, underwear or undershirts. Hats would fall into this category but a hat is not really something you want to wash after wearing it just one time. So how can you extend the life of the hat without having to wash it as much?

I figured a lining would be best, a material you can put on the inside to protect the hat from any sweat or oil from the scalp. They do make hat liners you can buy, but I thought I would try making my own. In this article I will explain how to make your own hat liner.

First, take an old t-shirt you don't need any more. Cut out a rectangular piece of cloth about 2 X 8 inches. Then take this strip of cloth and put it inside the front brim of the hat and fold it over the inside flap that is in most hats. Adjust or cut the strip of cloth to fit the hat you will be wearing. That's about it! You now have a lining to protect your hat from sweat, oil, or makeup.

I recommend using a cloth that matches the color of the hat to make it blend in as well as possible. The liner will protect the front part of the hat that is most likely to absorb oil and sweat from the forehead. Adding a strip like this does take up a little extra room so it is best for hats that are not to tight already. If a hat is already tight, adding a liner like this will make it too tight.

For washing, you can easily take out the cloth strip and throw it in with the regular laundry. Over time you may want to wash your hat as it will get dirty from normal wear. For most modern hats of cotton or polyester material, they can be washed in a washing machine, but should be allowed to air dry and should not go in a dryer.

I hope this article and method for keeping your hat clean was helpful! Feel free to leave any comments or hat cleaning tips in the reply section below!