Consider StoryWorth

Looking for a gift idea? Consider StoryWorth.

Cost: $99/year (or less when they have a sale)

I gave a subscription to myself for Christmas. Once a week I get an email with a question to answer. They have over 300 questions so if I don’t like that one, I can choose another. I write about the topic and email it back, along with a photo or two. At the end of a year, my answers will be printed in a bound book. It’s a great way to save family stories in an easy to read format.

I have no husband, partner, or children. I’ve moved around for jobs in different parts of the country; no one went with me so no one knows the stories of my life there. But some day someone might be interested – a niece or great-nephew. And even if no one is ever interested, I’m glad to have a chance to get my stories, my history, my memories down while I can remember them.

I like to write and I like to let my mind wander about topics that I haven’t considered in a long time, such as how I got my first job and what were my favorite classes in college. For my genealogy friends, this is similar to #52Ancestors in that you get a different topic to write about each week, but you can do whatever you want with that topic. I’ve enjoyed what I’ve done so far and wish I’d known about this earlier and could have given it to my dad (with me doing the typing). It’s not too late for you, though. Think about it!

Steve Job’s Advice at Commencement 2005

From Steve Job’s 2005 commencement address at Stanford University:

“Your time is limited, so don’t waste it living someone else’s life. Don’t be trapped by dogma — which is living with the results of other people’s thinking. Don’t let the noise of others’ opinions drown out your own inner voice. And most important, have the courage to follow your heart and intuition. They somehow already know what you truly want to become. Everything else is secondary.”

So honest, so clear, so intense, so hard to live.  But Steve Jobs did it and oh my, look at what he accomplished in his too-short life.

Adjusting to the High Price of Gas

My mind is boggled by the rapidly increasing price of gas. This morning on the way to work, I noticed that the price at the Shell station was $4.09 for regular. On the way home, eight hours later, the price was up to $4.15. Six cents up in eight hours. I’m almost afraid to see what it will be on the way in tomorrow.

I’ve seen news stories about the rising prices and was pretty sure that prices would get over $4/gal. this summer, but I never dreamed it would go up as fast as it has. My guess is that things won’t be going down anytime soon, either. The rest of the world has had to deal with high prices for years already so it was only a matter of time before it hit us. We’re not immune to the same economic pressures as everyone else – and we tend to drive a lot in gas-guzzling vehicles.

My little Saturn doesn’t get the best mileage but after a rather pricey tuneup last month, I’m getting 24/31 mpg. The almost 9-year old car has just under 40,000 miles so obviously I’m not big on long car trips. I’d rather take the train, stay close, or fly.

Now, of course, flying is going to be equally ridiculous. I can’t imagine what a mess it’s going to be to try and fly in 6 months when schedules are significantly cut, forcing already crowded planes to be even more clogged. The idea of paying double the prices for tickets, plus paying for a checked bag, on top of crowded conditions and being treated like cattle just makes me cringe — and, to be honest, rethink how much I want to go to Texas for Christmas. Right now the answer would be, are you insane?

My mom and I were talking about this the other day and she reminded me that even when I was growing up, people lived more simply with fewer choices to make and shop for (thus using the car and fuel). We traveled less frequently with plane trips being a special thing and not routine. Of course, we weren’t business travelers and I recognize that it’s particularly bad for them now.

But I don’t have to get on a plane often. I’m happy here in my place and have free long distance to talk with friends and family who live elsewhere (which is most of them). We email and IM all the time. I love my family but I don’t have to be there with them as often as they have seen me in the past, not when they live half way across the country and the cost is so high.

There are lots more changes ahead for us, I’m sure. I plan to stick pretty close to home, shop more carefully and less often, and adjust. My vacations this summer will be train trips down to NYC and short drives to places in Connecticut that are on my “to do” list. Maybe a longish drive to western NY state to visit Lily Dale with our Frances. But that’s about it.

What are your summer plans? Will the price of gas change them this year?

Girl Scout Cookies for the Troops

I mentioned on Vickie’s blog that one of the options for dealing with girl scout cookie mania is to buy some to be sent to US troops overseas. She asked me for more information. Here’s what I learned from my supplier, er colleague who is selling them for his daughter:

Different girl scout councils, which are comprised of multiple troops in a particular region, can decide on charitable options for those who want to support the girl scouts but cannot or choose not to bring cookies home. One very popular national option is cookies for troops, but there’s usually a local community service choice, too. His daughter’s troop chose the armed forces and a local homeless children’s shelter.

Buyers who want to support those options give their order for cookies and pay their money to the girl scout (or her parent, whoever hit you up in the first place). Cookies for overseas are sent centrally by the council rather than the individual troops, since it’s more economical and eases logistics. I think the local community service cookie donations for each troop are handled by the troop itself.

Here’s some info from the Girl Scout Cookie FAQ:

Q: Can Girl Scouts donate cookies to military personnel serving overseas?

A: Girl Scouts of the USA will be following the guidelines (see below) issued by the United States Department of Defense (DoD). We are keenly aware and supportive of the widespread desire to show support for our troops overseas. Towards this end, we provide alternate ways to show support, such as helping out the families of service members within their own communities.

In addition, many Girl Scout councils with military bases or establishments in their immediate area have made arrangements with the local military personnel to arrange for the proper shipment of cookies.

Note: For Girl Scout purposes, “gifts” include donations of Girl Scout Cookies.

Gifts for Deployed Personnel: U.S. Department of Defense (DoD)
The DoD has requested that the public not send unsolicited mail, care packages, or donations to service members unless they are family members or personal friends. Such donations overload the DoD transportation and distribution systems and may pose a security threat to deployed personnel.

So it sounds as though this is possible in some areas and not others. If you’re interested, check with a local troop leader to see if they are participating in any sort of cookie donation program, whether for overseas troops or to fill local needs.

It’s been many moons since I did the door-to-door cookie pre-sale thing, all spiffy in my green uniform. In the old days I walked for blocks and blocks in every direction, knocking on doors and telling strangers how wonderful the peanut butter Gauchos and Thin Mints were, and why they should buy boxes and boxes from me. My mom was the cookie chairman for a couple of years and our basement was crammed with boxes and boxes of cookies. I think my dad secretly hoped some people would poop out and leave us with extra thin mints. Didn’t happen, Mom was too organized.

I want to support the local girls and am happy to be able to buy cookies without worrying about the temptation of having them in the house. While I could also simply make a donation to support the troop, why not use the same money to buy cookies that will brighten someone else’s day?