December 27, 2011

Book Review

Standing Next To History by Joseph Petro

I was interested in reading this book about the life of a secret service agent. I found it interesting and it held my attention well.

The book is mostly just stories from the authors life, but he did provide some insight as to how the secret service operates. The author's stories start as an athlete, then to the military and then to the secret service.

I found one of the lessons that Petro learned while in office candidate school to be very useful. It is the definition of leadership which is simply, "take care of your men." How much better can you describe leadership.

Overall, if you are interested in reading stories from the secret service you will enjoy this book.

November 25, 2011

Book Review

How to Meet the Enemy by John MacArthur

This book focuses on how the Bible tells us to face and do battle with evil. As most of MacArthur's books, there is a detailed explanation of several verses of Scripture. In fact, most of the book focuses on Ephesians 6:11-22.

I was very interested in reading the book. However, I couldn't really get into it. As mentioned, most of the book was just explaining Ephesians chapter 6. In fact, I remember reading in another book by MacArthur almost the same stuff.

At the end of the book is a study guide for each chapter that contains thought provoling questions and prayers.

Overall, this was a good book, especially if you are wanting to learn more about Ephesians chapter 6.

October 03, 2011

Wilkinson Sword Tech 3 Razor

For the past two months I have been testing out the Wilkinson Sword Tech 3 razor. I was very excited to try it out as it has been hyped by many of the razor aficionados on the internet. The razor is relatively inexpensive. I purchased the handle with two cartridges for $3 with a $2 off coupon. 4 cartridges cost about $5 at wal*mart, so at $1.25 per cartridge is not too bad.

Overall, I thought it was an okay shave. I noticed I cut myself a few times. It didn't seem to cut as close as other razors, but wasn't as bad as some razors either! I think the hype was really just from Gillette haters out there.

I will give this razor a 90% ranking. While it does not shave as close as the Bic Flex 4, Mach 3, or Fusion Proglide, the cost is almost half. And cost is an important factor to me.

I still have 4 Flex 4, 4 Mach 3, and 3 Bic Advantage razors left, so I won't be buying anything new anytime soon. I can usually find a coupon for the Bic Flex 4 in the paper and that will make my future buying decisions a little easier.

Until the next time.

September 09, 2011

Job Creation

Okay, when you're done listening to all the blathering by the media, the "experts", and the politicians about job creation read this.

There is only one way for the government to "create" jobs. That way is to take taxpayer money and just make up jobs and projects. In other words spend it. Yes, that's right, take money from those that are earning it and give it to those that are currently not earning it! What does that sound like to you?

Sure, the government can pass laws that can encourage or dampen job creation by businesses, but these laws cannot create jobs. It is as simple as that!

August 30, 2011

Book Review

Six Battles Every Man Must Face by Bill Perkins

The premise of this book is based upon the idea that men are designed to fight and there are six battles that must be won.
  • fight for your identity
  • fight for personal holiness
  • fight for your family
  • fight through the pain
  • fight for your friends
  • fight for a strong faith
The author uses David and his mighty men to illustrate his theory of men's battles. At the end of each chapter there are a few brief discussion questions.

Overall, I am not sure I agree with the author's ideas. I do believe that we are all participants in the battles he mentions. However, we must remember that the war is already won. Christ defeated Satan on the cross almost 2000 years ago.

The other aspect of this book that didn't really hold up for me was using David and his mighty men as the illustration. Sure, David and his men won these battles at times, but they also lost a whole lot as well.

In conclusion, I think this is one book that can be safely skipped over, provided of course that you know who has fought these battles and won the war!

August 01, 2011

Book Review

The Apostle: A Life of Paul by John Pollock

John Pollock is well known for his biographies of people like D.L. Moody, Billy Graham, and John Wesley.

In this book, Pollock writes about the life of Paul the Apostle. His focus is mainly with what Scripture reveals about Paul, but he does use other sources at times to fill in some of the blanks about Paul's life.

Overall, the author did a great job of piecing everything together to write this biography. However, I just couldn't really get into this book, mainly because I am not too interested in biographies. If you are interested in biographies or further examining the life of Paul then I would recommend this book.

July 06, 2011

Rechargeable Battery Replacement

Sometime ago I purchased 4 AAA Rayovac Rechargeable batteries. After only a few months of use one of the batteries would no longer take a charge. I held onto it and did some experiments with it, all of which concluded that the battery would no longer take and hold a charge.

I was getting ready to pitch it, when I decided to look at Rayovac's website for charging tips. I didn't find anything except for a money back guarantee. It stated to send them the battery with the original packaging, receipt, and a note.

Of course I didn't have the packaging or the receipt, but I figured for the cost of a postage stamp, why not try. So I mailed them the battery with a note stating that this battery does not hold a charge like the other four in the package and to send me a replacement.

A few weeks later I received a fedex package from Rayovac with a brand new four pack of AA batteries. This was surprising to me, first of all a 4 pack of batteries costs about $10 and I am sure fedex shipping was at least $5. Second, I was surprised because they sent me AA and not AAA that I returned to them.

I am certainly glad they sent me 4 batteries, but I would have rather gotten the 1 battery I requested. American customer service at its best I guess.

July 01, 2011

BIC Flex 4

It has been another two month trial for shaving. This time with the BIC Flex 4 razor that I got for free from BIC since I was thoroughly unimpressed with their Hybrid Advanced razor. Honestly, I didn't expect much more from this razor than the Comfort 3, which was a pretty good razor. However, after two months I can say that the Flex 4 razor is a pretty decent razor.

It seemed to give me a good shave for the entire month. I could tell around week 3 that it was getting a little dull and didn't cut quite as close, but I continued with my testing.

The head is large and easy to clean, it does not get clogged like many other razors. The four blades cut close without digging into my skin. The lubricating strip lasted the entire month. The cost of the razors was $5.99 for three or about $2 each.

I would rate this razor about 90%. It ranks up there with the Mach 3 Turbo (3 blade) and the Fusion Proglide (5 blade). The cost is about the same as the Mach 3 Turbo and cheaper than the Fusion Proglide.

I had a $1.50 coupon so I picked up another package of these razors. I think I should be set for the rest of the year. I still would like to test the Wilkenson-Sword Tech 3 razor. And of course, as always, if there are any manufactures that would like me to test there razors they are welcome to send them.

June 30, 2011

Book Review

The Divorce Dilemma by John MacArthur

Everyone has their own opinion about divorce, including pastors. John MacArthur sticks to what Scripture says about the subject in this book.

In those instances where Scripture doesn't give a clear cut answer, MacArthur basis his response to divorce and remarriage on what the Word of God does say throughout the entire Bible, not just a particular passage to justify his ideas.

Overall, this is a great book for anyone looking for biblical guidance on divorce and remarriage. At the end of the book there is even a questions and answers section.

June 29, 2011

Book Review

A Simple Government by Mike Huckabee

This book is Mike Huckabee's version of what the government should be like. In each chapter, he briefly describes one aspect of what the government should or shouldn't do. The majority of his ideas are nothing new or groundbreaking.

The basic concept is the federal government should do what the constitution says it should do, namely unify the states and protect the borders.

Here are some of the ideas that he covers in various chapters:

  • family values
  • local vs federal government
  • control spending and limit debt
  • simple and fair taxation system (based up national sales tax)
  • responsible healthcare (meaning take care of yourself)
  • improve education (focus on students)
  • take responsibility of the environment
  • immigration reform
  • be tough on terrorism
  • effective military strength
  • strengthen our global image
  • focus on the values of our founding fathers
Overall, this book's timing seemed more like a preparation for the run to the whitehouse. If you are interested in Huckabee's thoughts and what his governing style could be like then check out the book. Otherwise, you can probably skip it.

May 20, 2011

AAII - nonprofit investing organization

I have been an investor for over 15 years now. During that time I have subscribed to various publications, especially magazines, like Money, SmartMoney, and Kiplinger's.

At least once a year I would receive a letter from AAII - American Association of Individual Investors. Years ago, I noticed that at the end of the letter the yearly membership fee was slashed with the wording of something like "this is a one time offer" or "the dues has never been reduced before, act now."

Well, that was an outright lie, because I would get that same letter at least once a year. AAII has been praised by many publications as being a trustworthy valuable newsletter. To me, if they lie on their marketing material what do they do in their newsletter!

So several years ago, I wrote the CEO a letter, placed it in the postage paid envelope, and mailed it to AAII. Of course, I have never heard from them regarding the matter, but the new marketing letters I now receive just slash the yearly fee without any comments.

Since AAII is a nonprofit organization they need to submit an IRS Form 990 which lists their revenue, expenses, and salaries of the top people. The best website I have found that posts this information is the NCCS.

Upon looking at the 990 for 2009 we find their revenue was about $6 million and expenses were about $7.5 million. Of the $7.5 million in expenses about $3 million was for the salaries of the 28 people that work there. Of those 28 people, 9 make more than $100,000 per year. The chairman and the president/ceo each make almost $500,000 a year with their salary and benefits.

My point? For being a nonprofit it sure does sound like the chairman and the president/ceo make a nice profit for themselves! But these are just my thoughts.

Oh, and their investment income last year: $-264,774. Thanks, but I think I'll stick with my own investing plan and program.

May 09, 2011

Book Review

An Anchor for the Soul by Ray Pritchard

This is a book for those people that know very little about God and are interested in learning about Him. It is like an introduction to the Christian life. The book is less than 200 pages, but is a quick easy read.

The author has a writing style that would interest a seeker or someone curious about God, yet it presents the facts of Christianity in a simple, clear and correct way. This isn't an easy believism, make you feel good kind of book. The book presents Christ in a real, living manner.

I think the subtitle of the book really says it all, "Help for the present, Hope for the future."

I recommend this book for anyone wanting to know more about God yet aren't prepared to jump into His Word.

May 06, 2011

Book Review

Basic Elements of the Christian Life by Witness Lee and Watchman Nee

This is more like a booklet. It contains 5 small chapters about the basics of a Christian according to Lee and Nee. The five chapters each introduce an element of Christian living.

The chapters are:

  • The Mystery of Human Life

  • The Assurance, Security, and Joy of Salvation

  • The Precious Blood of Christ

  • Calling on the Name of the Lord

  • The Key to Experiencing Christ - the Human Spirit

The authors are right on with the first two chapters but then start to proclaim some things about the blood of Christ that seem a little off to me. In particular apply the blood of Christ to your life and sins. According to the authors, once the blood has been applied to cover your sins, if Satan still bothers you, then you need to talk to Satan and tell him that Christ has covered your sins.

Here is a sample conversation with Satan from page 28. "Satan, I have confessed my sin to God. He has forgiven my sin, and the blood of Jesus Christ has cleansed me from it. This uneasiness that I sense right now is not from God; it is from you, and I reject it! Satan, now you must look at the blood of Christ. That blood answers every one of your accusations." I am not so sure striking up a conversation with Satan is a good idea. He is pretty clever and crafty.

In the next chapter, the authors stress the practice of calling on the name of the Lord. This must be done out loud. It is not just merely a prayer, but a shout out to God. Again according to the authors it helps us be saved in a more richer thorough way. I am not sure what they mean by more thorough. You are either saved or you are not.

Therefore after reading through this booklet, I cannot recommend it. The Living Stream Ministry gives out a lot of free books and pamphlets based upon the teachings of Witness Lee and Watchman Nee. I would be very suspect of any of their writings. While I believe some of what they say is biblical, other concepts appear to have been twisted from Scripture.

May 04, 2011

BIC Hybrid Advanced

After two months of use I am giving my review of the BIC Hybrid Advanced razor. As previously noted in my letter to BIC, these razors are bad.

This is a three blade disposable razor cartridge system. Each package contains a handle and 6 cartridges.

The razor costs about $6 for the handle and 6 cartridges. The cartridge connection to the handle is very cheap and I believe could easily break. I actually paid $3.99 for the razor, so my cost is about $0.66 per razor.

The vitamin E lubricating strip is junk as well. It didn't seem to do anything at all. The back of the cartridge head is tight and gets clogged easily. I found the shave to be very bad. It wasn't close at all, yet it somehow managed to cut me frequently.

In other words, even at $0.66 a razor, it isn't worth it. My rating is a 40%.

The next razor up for review in two months is the BIC Flex 4. This is the razor I bought with my free coupon from BIC. We'll see if it works any better.


April 15, 2011

Revenue Problem or Expenditure Problem

I have heard multiple people (all belonging to the Democratic party) say that we don't have a spending problem, we have a revenue problem. This means the government is spending the right amount of money, it's the taxpayers who aren't giving the government enough.

We'll I'm not going to argue with them anymore. I will simply refer them to the Financial Management Service division of the Treasury website.

Here is what it says in case you don't feel like clicking on the link.

Gifts to the United States Government

How do I make a contribution to the U.S. government?

Citizens who wish to make a general donation to the U.S. government may send contributions to a specific account called "Gifts to the United States." This account was established in 1843 to accept gifts, such as bequests, from individuals wishing to express their patriotism to the United States. Money deposited into this account is for general use by the federal government and can be available for budget needs. These contributions are considered an unconditional gift to the government. Financial gifts can be made by check or money order payable to the United States Treasury and mailed to the address below.

Gifts to the United States
U.S. Department of the Treasury
Credit Accounting Branch
3700 East-West Highway, Room 622D
Hyattsville, MD 20782

There you have it. Anybody that thinks the government has a revenue problem can make a contribution to the government to help alleviate the situation!

Just my thoughts for today!

April 08, 2011

Response from Bic

As mentioned in the previous post I contacted Bic about their Hybrid Advanced razor.

On their website it states that BIC does not give cash refunds or free samples or coupons. So I wasn't exactly sure what BIC was going to do to uphold their Performance Policy.

Here is the email that I received from BIC regarding the razor.

Dear Mr. Matthews:

Thank you for your comments regarding the performance of the BIC Hybrid
Advance Shaver.

We care a great deal about the quality of all of our products and were
sorry to learn that you were disappointed with the way our shavers
performed for you. This information will be helpful to us in our
continuous effort to provide BIC products of the highest possible

We will send you a BIC Shaver replacement coupon, which can be used
toward the purchase of any of our shavers. We appreciate your patronage
and hope you will continue to be a BIC customer.


BIC Consumer Affairs Team

I received the coupon in the mail and purchased a BIC Flex 4. I will start using that razor next month.

April 06, 2011

Letter to Bic

The other day I found some new BIC Hybrid Advanced razors on sale at Giant Eagle so I decided to buy it and test it out. This is a three blade disposable cartridge type razor. After the first shave I realized these razors are garbage. All it did was cut me up and didn't even give me a close shave. After 3 shaves I decided to contact BIC. Below is my email to them. We'll see what they say about their product. ******** I purchased the BIC Hybrid Advanced razor the other day and I have found it to be the worst razor I have ever used, which is strange because I like the regular BIC Advanced razor. The razor doesn't seem to give me a close shave. It seems to just cut me without cutting the hair if that is somehow possible. Also the lubrication strip does not seem to work at all. I am thinking I got a bad batch or something. Was there any recalls or problems with these razors recently? Can you tell me the process to receive either a refund or replacement? Thanks

April 04, 2011

Book Review

The Glory of Heaven by John MacArthur This is a good book about what the bible says about Heaven. There are only 6 chapters by MacArthur. The rest of the book contains four sermons or messages from other people (Richard Baxter, Thomas Boston, Charles Spurgeon, and J.C. Ryle). The first two chapters look at the modern culture's (incorrect) view of heaven. The other four chapters describe what the bible actually says about heaven. Overall, I thought MacArthur did an excellent job with the biblical description of heaven. In particular he did a great job describing not only what heaven will be like, but what we will be like in heaven. While I am sure the four sermons at the end of the book were excellent, I didn't get much from them simply due to the wordiness of the writing (these writings go back several hundred years). If you are interested in the biblical description of heaven I would recommend getting this book and at least read chapters 3-6. .

March 14, 2011

Kenmore Electric Dryer Bearing Replacement

This weekend I decided to replace the bearing in my Kenmore Electric Dryer, model #417.80042990.

The dryer started squeaking sometime last fall. I purchased the part in October to repair the dryer over Thanksgiving or Christmas, but the dry stopped making the noise. Of course, right after the new year it started squeaking again.

The process was pretty easy and only took about 2 hours. It can be accomplished by one person, but it helps to have a second person available to help.

Here is a list of tools you will need:
Several sizes of Phillips head screwdrivers
Flat head screwdriver or other prying tool
Wire Cutters

Turn the the circuit breaker off for the dryer!

Remove the top cover of the dryer. This is done by prying up the front near the tabs. This takes some force. Once the front is off the tabs, the top will lift off the tabs in the back. Remove the ground clip from the dryer.

Remove the front cover of the dryer. There are two screws about 6 inches down from the top on each side. Remove these screws and the front cover will fall forward. Disconnect the control wires on the right side. You may need the wire cutters to cut any plastic ties that hold the wires into place. Lift the cover out of the bottom tabs. This too takes a little force.

Get behind the dryer and remove the access panel/vent in the lower corner. Remove the spring to release the tension on the drive belt. Slide the belt off the drum to the back of the dryer. Lift the drum up out of the plastic cup, about 2-3 inches. This will take some effort, you will know when it is out.

You may need to remove a yellow plastic stopper on the front of the dryer to slide the drum forward. Remove the plastic piece on the back of the dryer. Install the new plastic piece with the ball bearing on the back of the dryer. The jagged corners of the back plate face the back of the dryer.

Remove the three screws holding the metal plate onto the back of the drum. Install the new metal plate.

Vacuum all areas of dust and lint. Lubricate the ball bearing and the metal ball on the plate attached to the drum.

Reinstall the drum into the dryer. Reinstall the belt and spring. Reinstall the front cover by placing the bottom in the tabs then screwing the top into place. Reconnect the wires (they are keyed to only connect one way) and use a cable tie to keep them out of the way of the drum. Reinstall the access panel/vent on the rear of the dryer. Reinstall the top cover by inserting the back tabs into the slots. Also reconnect the ground wire near the back. Then press the front of the top down to secure it.

Turn the circuit breaker back on and test.

March 08, 2011

Panera Bread

It seems like any time I go to Panera Bread I am over charged, of course I never question or complain about it because I don’t want to seem like a cheapskate.

Back in January, my wife and I ordered a U Pick 2 with 1 signature dish.
The order was for ½ turkey sandwich, 1 cup soup and the signature dish was to be mac n cheese. The order should have been $7.19 plus the drink for a total of $8.78.

Instead I was charged $4.99 for the mac n cheese for a total of $13.17. Even though I specified with the cashier that the mac n cheese was to be part of the U Pick 2 with signature dish it was still charged incorrectly.

Maybe I am wrong with my assumption that the mac n cheese could be an add on to the U Pick 2. It is just frustrating when you are over charged or at least you think you are over charged because the menu/cashier isn’t clear about the choices and pricing scheme.

I even contacted Panera through them website but have yet to get a response from them.

February 28, 2011

Book Review

The Greatest Story Ever Told by Fulton Oursler

This book is a narrative of the life of Christ. The author fills in the parts of the story that are left out of the Biblical record of the life of Christ. The account starts with Joseph and Mary and ends with a discussion about Christ’s resurrection.

Let me first say that I do not enjoy reading fiction and that is what this book is. I prefer reading books that are factual or tell me something, not just a story for entertainment. That being said, the author had some interesting and creative ideas about the unknown parts of Christ’s life.

I can’t say I agreed with how the author portrayed some of the characters. For example, the author seems to make Judas Iscariot look like he was almost tricked into giving up Jesus. Even the end where Annas and Caiphas are sitting around talking, wondering if they had made a mistake seemed a little strange. But it is possible.

Overall, I can’t say I would recommend this book for everyone to read. I think it serves a good purpose to broaden the traditional thinking of mature Christians. On the other hand, I can see how it might confuse those that are new to the faith.

But I can also see the value of this book if it gets someone interested enough to study the life of Christ more closely and deeply with Scripture.

That is just my opinion. Billy Graham wrote an introduction in this edition and J. Edger Hoover also wrote a brief statement about the book as well. They seemed to think it is a good book. So I guess you'll have to just read it yourself and come to your own conclusion.

February 07, 2011

Letter to the Editor Of Kiplingers

I think Mary Beth Franklin needs to clarify something in her article "Capitalize on the New Tax Law." A person making $50,000 a year will NOT have $1,000 "extra" in their pay this year. The FIT tables increased as well. So the $1,000 turns into around $700 for a single person and $450 for a married person! The magic of government.

January 31, 2011

Mach 3 Turbo

The last razor in my current arsenal is the MACH 3 razor by Gillette. I had the handle and several turbo cartridges from a previous purchase some time ago. Note: these cartridges were at least a year old.

I was impressed with the closeness of this shave. After about a week though the vitamin E strip was wore out. By the end of each month I would have a few cuts here and there.

I believe the razor to be better than the Bic Comfort 3 disposable razor, but not quite as good as the Fusion Proglide 5 blade. The Mach 3 blades are about $2.00 a piece which ranks about half way between the Bic disposable and the Fusion Proglide 5 blade.

I am give this razor a 90%. It does a great job for the price.

Since, I have several more of these cartridges available I will be using these blades for the next few months. However, I am interested in the Wilkenson-Sword Tech 3 razor at Walmart. I know it is simply a relabeled Schick, but the price seems right. Of course, if any manufacture wants to give me a couple razors to sample I will be glad to run them through my testing cycle.

January 24, 2011

Book Review

Grace for Today: Daily Readings from the Life of Christ - Volume 1 by John MacArthur

This is an excellent daily devotional reading from John MacArthur. This is volume 1 of 3. This volume focuses on the life of Christ mainly from the Gospel of Matthew.

MacArthur may spend several days on a particular passage of scripture. Each devotion ends with some thought provoking questions.

I highly recommend this series of daily devotionals to anyone looking to get a deeper look at the life of Christ.

January 11, 2011

Cut in Social Security Rate

As most people are aware by now the government decided to cut the employee portion of social security by 2%. This sounds like good news for employees (although long term this will be disastrous for Social Security). More money in our paychecks right?

Here is an example:
A paycheck of $1500 would have about $93 taken out for Social Security (FICA) in 2010. For 2011 the amount is reduced to $63, a savings of $30. Thank you Mr. President and Congressmen.

But wait. That isn't how much of a savings you'll have because the tax tables have changed. So let's look at that scenario.

Same $1500 paycheck (assume withholding of Married - 1 exemption). In 2010, about $5 would be withheld from your paycheck. For 2011 the tax tables show a withholding of $53 or a difference of $48.

So to recap. The government lowered your taxes by $30 then raised your taxes by $48 for a difference of a tax raise of $18!

Again, I say thank you for the wonderful tax cut Mr. President and Congressmen! I can't wait to not spend the $18 I won't have!

It is true what they say, the Republicans come up with some bad ideas and the Democrats somehow make them worse!