The Economy (or Why The Minimum Wage Should Be Raised)

Photo by Andrew Burton/Getty Images News / Getty Images
Photo by Andrew Burton/Getty Images News / Getty Images

Money is one of the things that you can guarantee will cause an argument. Some people have more money than they could ever possibly spend. However, many people are barely scraping by. In 2014, 46.7 million people in the United States were living below the poverty line. I plan to show you how raising the minimum wage in the US will not only bring people out of poverty, it will actually improve the current economic climate.

For those of you that don't know, the United States is a capitalist country. We thrive on the free market. Being able to choose where we spend our money is an American right! But, thanks to the Regan era, we are stuck in a wrong mindset. Many people seem to think that "trickle down economics," where giving benefits to the wealthy helps the rest of society, works. Well, it doesn't.

Capitalism is based on the theory that people will spend money on products. The economy needs people to have enough disposable income to keep it going. Instead of relying on the few wealthy people in society, we need the larger middle class to spend. The only way that will happen, though, is if they (and, to a lesser degree, the lower class) bring enough money into their households to pay for things like food and rent. We, as a society, need to make sure that these necessities can be covered so money can be spent on other, not-so-necessary things.

Let me give you a scenario: Bob attended college. He got his degree and is qualified to teach high school math. However, Bob can't find a job teaching. But Bob still has to eat and pay rent. (We'll be 'nice' and keep Bob single so he doesn't have to pay for diapers or baby food or daycare costs.) So Bob takes a job at his local grocery store. Bob barely makes enough money to feed and house himself. He can't afford a car or to have a meal at a restaurant or buy the nice pair of shoes.

This is the problem. Without Bob spending his money at other businesses, those businesses don't have the money to pay their workers. It is a vicious circle. However, if we paid Bob a little bit more, Bob would have some extra money he could spend on extra things. He could eat at the local restaurant, which would generate more money for the business, who could afford to pay their workers more. Then those workers would have extra money to spend at other businesses. And around and around and around.

Thanks to the media, people think that the retail workers or fast food workers are nothing but lazy scum. They are not. They are hard working people like everyone else. Maybe they prefer retail work (someone has to help you buy that shirt or that microwave) or fast food (someone needs to cook those burgers if you want to eat them). That doesn't make them lazy. That makes them useful members of society. And we need to treat them as such. There is no reason that they shouldn't be paid a wage that will allow them to not only survive but thrive as well.

To those of who you think that raising the minimum wage would result in a $15 hamburger at McDonald's. You are wrong. Dead wrong. Capitalism survives on supply-and-demand. When demand is high and the supply is high, the cost is low. I don't forsee McDonald's running out of hamburgers any time soon. Instead, the demand will increase since now Bob can afford to buy a burger. If anything, prices will decrease because the demand will be that much higher.

But where do we get the money to start the process? I know this is very unpopular but those outrageous salaries of executives need to be cut. The CEO of CVS, Larry Merlo, makes a little over $24 million. If you cut that by 25%, that would give an additional $6 million that could be spread out over their lower-tier employees and, poor Mr. Merlo, would still have $18 million per year left. The same is true for all of the top executives.

We, as a society, need to stop believing that certain work is menial or beneath us. All jobs are necessary or they wouldn't exist in the first place. Now we need to stop treating the people doing those jobs as scum. They are people too and they deserve to be treated as such. They deserve to have good, healthy food and an apartment that isn't filled with cockroaches and rats. I wish I could say that it was simple selfishness. No, we are hurting ourselves more than we are helping. Sadly, it is nothing more than greed. And greed will be what collapses our economy.

Installing KissPat Feather Hair Extensions

Feather hair extensions are a popular way to dress up your hairstyle. Even though they are called "feathers," they aren't really feathers. They are simply hair extensions that sorta look like feathers. And they are much easier to get in your hair than you think! Watch the video below to see step-by-step instructions on how you can install extensions in your own hair!

I received a sample of these hair extensions for free in exchange for this review. All opinions contained within are my own.



How To Use "Common Core" Math

We've all seen those posts on Facebook. Especially around this time of year. Parents complaining about their kids' homework. Math usually gets the brunt of the hate. Poor math. But the problem doesn't lie in "The New Math." It lies in the fact that many parents won't even bother to try to understand the process behind Common Core. I'm going to try my best to help you figure it out.

First off, Common Core is not a way to do things. It is merely a list of standards. Since most of the complaints revolve around elementary school math, that is where I will focus. That example above is a terrible example so I'm going to ignore it. I'm pretty sure that was someone just trying to screw around. Let's look at a better example:

In "The Old Way," you had to carry numbers and remember to add those numbers to the next set of numbers and...it could get really confusing if you didn't have a piece of paper and a pencil in front of you. With "The New Way," you get the original set of numbers into easier to use numbers. Here: 29 becomes 20 + 9 and 17 because 10 + 7. We can easily add the 20 and the 10 to get 30 so we really just have to handle that unwieldy 9 and 7. Because we know basic addition, we can easily figure out that 9 + 7 equals 16. So now we have 30 + 16. We can break that down even farther by saying 10 + 6 equals 16. Add the 30 to the 10 and we're up to 40. Add the 40 to that leftover 6 and it's 46. No carrying at all.

"But," you say, "isn't that a lot of work to get to the simple answer in the old example?" Not really. It just looks that way on paper. See, this "new" way isn't really new at all. This is how a lot of people do math in their head without writing it down. (This is also how people who do "fast math" in their head tend to do it.)

I'm betting you don't believe me. Take an addition or subtraction (this will also work with multiplication and division but we'll keep it simple) problem. Something a little more difficult. Say, 34 + 28. Go through the new process in your head. No writing it down! Isn't it just a little bit easier?

"Common Core" isn't out to get you or ruin your children by teaching them a new way to do things. It is trying to teach your children how to think, period. Rote memorization doesn't work. And that is what most of us did in the olden days. We simply memorized number patterns. When it came time to figure out that 15% tip, we didn't know how to do it without writing it down. The new lessons will teach them the math skills they will need later in life. I know it looks scary. Just have a little patience and give your brain some time to come around. You really can teach an old dog new tricks, you know.

War of Rain

War of Rain, written by H.W. Vivian, is a tough book to categorize. Some reviewers have called it science fiction but it is not. Some people have called it adventure but even that is pushing it. I'm not even sure it could really fall under the Young Adult category, where the author, herself, places it. While I don't believe that all books necessarily need to fall under a category, it does make it easier to find your audience. Let me explain.

Miri, a 15-year old girl, is our protagonist. She lives in a small village called Boreala, one of four villages that have banded together via trade. Her people are peaceful Rain-gatherers. Every day, they trek up a nearby mountain to gather Rain, a strange frozen water-like substance that only melts with prayer. Rain is the only clean water source in the area so the Boreala trades it with the other villages for leather or pottery or wood. However, only the Rain-gatherers know how to pray in order to melt the Rain.

During one of the Rain gathering trips, Miri and her group are attacked by the barbarians of Stratos. These barbarians want all of the Rain to themselves. When one of the barbarians grab an elderly woman by her hair, Miri, without thinking, kills him with a throw of her hatchet. This sole act labels her a murderer. In retaliation for the kill, Genesis, the brother of the fallen barbarian, attacks Boreala. He kidnaps Miri and whisks her away to the mountain.

However, the barbarians do not kill her. Nor do they rape her. (Excuse me, "take her dignity.") Instead, Genesis throws her into the lowlands, commanding her to find five pieces of Rain before the next day. In the lowlands, Miri meets Philippe, a former citizen of Stratos who has been abandoned in the lowlands for killing a village leader. Together, the manage to escape the lowlands and kill an entire hoard of barbarians.

Back in Boreala, the other villagers aren't very welcoming to Miri. It is her fault that the barbarians attacked their village. When Exodus, the leader of Stratos, comes, he demands that Miri go to the mountain and get an invention from the God of Rain, Kalono. This invention would be able to bring war and peace to both villages. Not seeing any other way to save her village, Miri complies with the demand. She promises to return in two days.

Miri goes to the mountain, to the room where her people gather Rain. In the Rain Chamber, there is an opening in the ceiling. She enters the opening and climbs farther into the mountain, in search of Kalono.

Instead of finding the God, Miri finds an entire village of inventors living inside the mountain. However, these people do not give her the war-and-peace invention. They teach her how to read and scientific theories and mathematics. Despite promising to be back in two days, Miri is gone for 18 months. She figures out what invention she needs but will it be too late for her village?

Once again, Miri returns to her village. This time she has the war-and-peace invention. But her village, and the other three, are decimated. Everyone is gone. Or so she thinks. The barbarians attacked her village immediately after she entered the mountain. They destroyed the towns and kidnapped the people, trying to force them to pray to melt Rain. But a few of them hid in a nearby mountain and survived. With Miri's return, they attempt to attack Stratos to save their people.

The book is divided into three parts. Part one takes us from Miri's life in Boreala up to her meeting the people of Tropos, the village inside the mountain. Part two is Miri's entire time in Tropos. Part three takes us back to Boreala and Miri's attempt to save her people. I'm not entire sure how I feel about breaking the story up like this but at least it makes some sense.

While the writing isn't bad, my problem with the book lies with the heavy-handedness of the faith theme. For one, the reason that the people of Stratos were barbarians...they didn't know how to pray. They couldn't pray to turn the Rain into water. Miri had to teach Philippe how to pray! Even the scientific people of Tropos ended up with a "You have to have faith" reasoning. It got to be a little much, to be honest.

I would have liked the book much better if it wasn't so preachy. It seriously felt like the author was calling everyone who is not religious a bloodthirsty barbarian. With that in consideration, I would toss the book into a religion section, not a general young adult section. And I would definitely toss some sort of "Preachy Book Ahead!" warning on it. Nowhere in the book's description was I warned that I would be called a barbarian for not praying to the popular deity of my time. (Even the book agrees that they are all basically the same.) So, yeah. Read it but with caution and maybe some rolling eyes.

I received a copy of this book for free in exchange for this review. All opinions contained within are my own.



Doctor Who - "The Magician's Apprentice"

The ninth season of Doctor Who premiered on BBC America on Saturday, September 19. Being the Whovians that we are, my family joined together for a rare night of live television. (We usually DVR our shows.) Were we in for an exciting night! As a note, I will try my best to stay away from spoilers.

Every Doctor Who episode has a grand entrance, right? This one is no different. A war rages on some world. It vaguely looks like Earth but the airplanes are shooting laser beams at the men on the ground. Men who are only armed with bows and arrows. Not exactly an even match. One of the men come upon a child running from the fray. Unfortunately, this child has run into a hand mine. (That would be a mines made of hands...) If the hand grabs you, it will drag you under the ground to your death. The child stands still, not knowing how to handle his situation, when a strange object lands near his feet. We hear the voice of The Doctor, amplified through the sonic screwdriver he threw to the child. As The Doctor talks, telling the child that he will not die this day, he asks the child his name. And it is the name The Doctor fears the most. Davros.

OK. I said I was staying away from spoilers. That is the closest I will get because it is very important to understanding the episode.

Clara is in her classroom when she notices the airplanes have all stopped mid-air. They aren't falling. They are just stopped. Of course, she gets a call from UNIT (the UNified Intelligence Taskforce) and rushes off.

So, yeah, UNIT has been around for years and years and years. Since the Second Doctor, I believe. At what point do you think they will stop hiring morons? They seemed pretty intelligent when Martha was working with them. But now they are stupid? I found their whole part in the episode annoying. It was nothing more than an easy way to slide Missy (formerly known as The Master) back into the show. (Hey, she was on some of the promo posters and trailers. Not a spoiler!)

Missy is the one that stopped the planes. She needed to talk to Clara but it's not like Clara would willingly go have tea with her for no good reason. It turns out that Missy received an item that means The Doctor will die the next day. Or at least he thinks he will. They need to find The Doctor and save him. Clara uses UNIT's computers to lock down the time and place The Doctor is hiding. And off they go.

Hm. Does this mean that the writers are officially saying The Doctor is out of regenerations? Supposedly this thing Missy received is akin to a will. Why wouldn't it get sent out every time he changes? I mean, The Doctor isn't dying in the first two episodes of the series. Duh. But what are they saying about the future of the show?

From here on out, the episode is all about The Doctor living with decisions he has made. Has he made the right ones? Has he doomed us all by making terrible ones? While this is a two-part episode (it looks like most of the season will be as well), there are quite a few surprises in the second half of this episode. And a lot of it revolves around relationships. How The Doctor views the people he interacts with on his travels. I have to admit that I thought it was rather interesting.

Even though I hate cliff-hanger episodes, I thought this was a good way to open Season 9. We had The Doctor asking Clara if he was a good man in the beginning of Season 8. Will we find out the answer to that this season? Will Peter Capaldi be the final Doctor? I really hope that the writers give us the answers to the possibilities they have given us. I also hope this isn't really the end for the series. I do love it.

 

 

How to Build a Tap/Dance Floor

As I am sure I have said before, my daughter is a dancer. She takes tap, ballet, and lyrical classes. Since her classes have gotten a little more difficult this year, I decided to make a floor so she has a practice space. But I don't have a lot of experience building floors. It turns out that this was a lot easier than I expected.

Things you will need:

  1. Foam flooring
  2. Gorilla Glue 
  3. OSB plywood
  4. Laminate flooring (optional)

First, decide how big you want your floor. A 4'x4' piece may be sufficient. Since we have an entire spare room to use, our floor is 8'x4'. It is easier to keep your floor in 2' increments. Otherwise, you will need to trim the pieces to fit properly.

Floor.jpg

The foam flooring I used is the Best Step colored square interlocking foam mats. These can be found at Home Depot or Lowe's. They are 2'x2' and come in packs of 4. That means you will be able to get a 4'x4' floor with just one pack. This will be the very bottom of your floor. It will allow the floor to give a little, which is very important for tappers. Since this is the bottom, it doesn't matter if you pick the grey or the colored mats. My daughter wanted the colored ones.

Glue the mats together as you interlock them. It will be easier to keep everything from falling apart.

Next, you will glue the mats to the bottom (the rough side) of your plywood. Plywood comes in a variety sizes. Choose the size that works best for you. I used two 4'x4' pieces. 

Important: Make sure you press the mats fully onto the wood. You want a good strong seal. (My daughter and I walked back and forth on the wood until we were satisfied there weren't any loose pieces.) Let the glue dry overnight. 

At this point, you can be finished. The plywood will be sufficient for a dance floor. However, I wanted to make sure my daughter got a really good tap sound so we covered the plywood with laminate. 

I took my daughter to Home Depot with me so she could choose the shade of the laminate. She chose the TrafficMASTER floor in Glenwood Oak. (See the picture above.) This particular type of floor is  tongue and groove. You can just slip them together and you are done. I elected to glue the laminate to the top of the plywood in order to make sure nothing would slide around. It would suck to have the floor slide out from under you in the middle of a heavy tapping session. 

Again, let the glue dry overnight. 

And that is it! See, I told you it was easy! I recorded a quick video of my daughter tapping on the floor so you could hear how it sounds. 

Since the laminate flooring fits together perfectly, this is also a good floor for other types of dance. There aren't any splinters or grooves in the floor that will cause injury. 

I spent a little under $100 for an 8'x4' floor. The actual assembly only took a few hours. Most of the time was spent waiting for the glue to dry. If you have a dancer and need a practice space, this was cheap and easy. I couldn't ask for anything better! Now get dancing! 

One To Go Giveaway

One to Go by Mike Pace tells the story of Tom Booker, an alcoholic attorney in Washington DC. The story is a little difficult to tell so, please, bear with me. Tom is a divorced father. One Saturday, he was late picking up his daughter and two of her friends for a field trip. Annoyed by his tardiness, his ex-wife sent the kids off with her sister. As Tom was rushing to get to the kids, he texted his ex-wife, attempting to figure out the plans for the day. Of course, this means Tom got into a huge accident on a bridge. A teenage driver was killed and the van containing the kids (and his ex-sister-in-law) teeters over the river below.

Just then, two preppy-looking demons jog up to him. They offer him a deal. He can "take back" the accident but he would have to kill five other people in exchange for the lives saved. Disoriented by the crash, Tom agrees to the deal. But can he really murder five people?

While I loved the idea of the plot, this book was not very well executed. At a whopping 313 pages in length, not once are we given a reason to care about the lives of these characters. Sure, we're supposed to believe that Tom is protecting his daughter but he never really acts like he loves her. He spends most of his time getting drunk and sleeping around. Even when he is supposed to be emotionally torn about murdering people, he doesn't ever seem like it really bothers him. He just goes back to drinking and screwing. 

I really wanted to like the book. The plot sounded so interesting to me. In the end, One To Go is a short story that was never fully fleshed out to become a real novel. And that makes me sad.

Oceanview Publishing is giving away a copy of the book to one of my readers. I hope that you will read the book and think that I am being overly critical. Perhaps you will see the characterization that I missed. The giveaway ends on September 18. 

I received a copy of this book for free in exchange for this review. All opinions contained within are my own. 

Hello Cutie Mud Mask Giveaway

I recently got a chance to review the Hello Cutie Mud Mask on my YouTube channel. Glam Essentials also gave me a chance to give away one jar of the mask as well! Check out the video then enter the giveaway!

I received this product for free in exchange for this review. All opinions contained within are my own. 

How To Dye Your Hair Funky Colors

My hair has been a variety of colors. For the most part of my life, it has been a dark brown-almost black shade. Thanks to that whole aging thing, there is now a good amount of grey in there too. That is one of the reasons I elected to dye my hair. I have done the usual boxed dye that you can buy in almost any store but I was never really impressed with the results. My next attempt was using henna hair dye from Lush.  It was slightly better but a lot of work. Lately, I have been using either Manic Panic or Ion Color Brilliance. These are the dyes I'm going to talk about today. Let me know in the comments if you'd like to hear about the other dyes as well!

In this super old picture from 2007, you can see my hair in it's natural state. Very curly and very dark. How do you go about turning dark hair into blue hair? It's really not that difficult. You just need some bleach. I know, it sounds scary, but it will be OK! Promise!

 

Like most people, I was terrified of bleaching my hair. So, for my first bleaching and dye job, I turned to the professionals. I went to a reputable local salon and had them bleach my entire head. It took quite awhile for my whole head to turn that lovely yellow color. I think it ended up being somewhere around 60 to 90 minutes. I've heard horror stories about hair falling out or scalp burns but none of this happened. I think boredom would have killed me first. 

After the bleach, the hairdresser dyed my hair bright red. Once again, this took forever. In the end, it took about three hours to bleach and dye my hair. And most of that time was spent sitting around waiting for the magic to happen. Even though I was happy with the results, it was rather expensive to go to a professional. I decided that I didn't want to spend that much every six weeks to touch up my roots.  So, despite my fears, I took it upon myself to do it at home.

First, I'd like to say that I am lucky enough to have a husband that is willing to help me with this process. Since I don't have eyes in the back of my head, it gets a little difficult to see back there. We work together on the project. I get the bleach and the dye ready; he paints it on my head. A partnership, indeed.

In order to get my hair to that nice yellow color, I use Manic Panic Flash Lightning bleach kit in 30 volume. Everything you need is in the box and it is super easy to mix together. Simply pour the bleach powder into the supplied container then add the cream developer. Mix until smooth and creamy. (Yeah, the directions say that.) Then you use the supplied paint brush, excuse me tint brush, and brush it on your hair. Once it is applied, you stick a plastic cap on it and wait. 

But waiting is hard, yo. Thankfully, you don't have to wait very long! Even though my hair is super dark, it only takes about 20 - 30 minutes for my hair to reach the desired yellowness. It is amazing! 

When your wait time is up, you shampoo the crap out of your hair. I hate this part the most because it makes my hair feel like straw. That is why they invented conditioner!  However, you don't want to use that yet. 

So, you got all the bleach out of your hair and you let your hair dry. Don't put your dye on wet hair! If you are too impatient to wait for it to air dry, you can use a hair dryer. Just don't fry your hair too much. 

From here, you just put on your favorite color of your favorite brand of hair dye. Personally, I have used Manic Panic's Vampire Red and Manic Panic's Atomic Turquoise. I just dyed my hair last night and I switched it up to Ion's Cyan color. It is a little darker than AT but that is OK. Head over to my Instagram to see pictures of the new color. 

Once the dye is on your hair, put on a new plastic cap. You can add a little bit of heat from a hair dryer, if you want, but it isn't necessary. How long you leave the dye on is up to you. I have had good results leaving it in for only a half hour and I have had good results leaving it in overnight while I slept. Either way is fine. It mostly depends on what color you are looking for. Do a little bit of research to find what works best for your particular color. 

And that is it! Now your hair is a brilliantly funky color! Feel free to ask my any questions in the comments. I will do my best to answer what I can. Are you interested in reading about using henna on your hair instead of cream dyes? Let me know! The more funky hair we have, the better life is! 


CacheAlaska Cell Phone Holder

For the past couple of months, my husband has been bugging me to get a phone holder for my car. I thought that CacheAlaska's cell phone holder might do the job. Sadly, it only really worked for about a month.

I have a Galaxy Note 4. The charging port for the phone is on the bottom, underneath the center button on the front. My car, a Honda Fit Sport, has the air vents right above the radio. (You can see this in the photo above.) When I have my charger plugged in, the connector pushes up against the face of the radio. I know that, eventually, either the charger or the phone port will break. The picture below will show you what I mean. 

The only way to keep the connector from pushing against the radio is to tilt the phone toward the driver. This works better for me because it makes it slightly easier for me to see the screen. However, I'm pretty sure this tilting as broken the holder. 

The piece that sticks into the vent is a soft plastic but the piece that holds the phone is a hard plastic. Over the past few days, I noticed that the holder no longer holds my phone upright. Instead, it acts like the phone is top heavy and drops it sideways. 

This picture looks like I have tilted the phone like this. I did not. I put the phone in the holder like I normally do (see the first picture) and the holder slowly tilts sideways. Unfortunately, this makes the phone unusable for the driver. 

I really wanted to like this holder. It seemed like the perfect match for someone who didn't really want a holder in the first place. Just when I got used to having it, it stopped doing its job properly. I think this whole situation could have been avoided if the holder stuck out a little further from the dash. I did try a number of configurations to try to get the phone to fit over the radio but none of them worked. Ah, well. Maybe I'll be able to find a better holder that will work with the layout of my car. 

I received this product for free in exchange for this review. All opinions contained within are my own.