Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Viggle: Saving Money One Television Show at a Time

*Warning: Unless you own an iPhone, and have cable, you may not want to read the below post.

By now, you may or may not have heard of Viggle, the latest and greatest in phone apps.

Once you download the (free!) Viggle app to your iPhone (sorry!!), you can use it to "check in" to any show or movie that you may be watching on television. Viggle is able to audibly identify what you are watching based on your local cable listings. For each program you watch, you earn a certain number of points, usually around 200 or so. For extra special programs, such as award shows, you can earn additional points by "playing along" (answering trivia questions, predicting the winners, etc.). You can then redeem your points for rewards. Rewards range from a $5 Starbucks or Barnes & Noble gift card for 7,500 points, to a Kindle Fire for 375,000 points (although most are in the 7,000 - 14,000 area).

It's easy to earn points pretty quickly, and all of the rewards tend to be for things that people buy (or splurge on) normally anyway. You can earn gift cards to iTunes, Best Buy, CVS, Old Navy, Lowe's, or Chili's, win a movie ticket, and even donate a bit of money to a few charities!

This is absolutely a must-have for the budget-conscious individual who enjoys watching a good show or two at night.

Try it. You won't regret it.

Song for a Wacky Spring Morning

Since I have been neglecting New Music Monday, thought I would share a song/video that is just quite ridiculous and fun enough to be suitable for this wacky early spring.

A good way to start off any spring morning.

Mates of State - "Sway"

Shout-out to the big brother for introducing me to the song.

Monday, March 19, 2012

A Plea to Ursinus (or Any College) Students

What would you do if you were no longer able to afford to buy food, toiletries, and laundry detergent at Redners, Wawa, or Wegman’s?

No problem, right?

Because there is always Wismer, Zach’s, and the Convenience Store to consistently supply two or three meals a day.

But what would you do if you were not able to afford going to a grocery store...and then Wismer suffered a food shortage?

You begin to wonder where your next meal may come from, laundry detergent becomes the equivalent to “liquid gold”, and items such as toiletries and cookies become mere luxuries.

This is the situation that many local families are currently facing. Faced with unemployment and salary cuts, more and more families have been turning to food pantries in order to be able to afford to buy food and other necessities. Unfortunately, the pantries themselves are facing difficult times and are no longer able to meet the demand for food.

Due to rising fuel and food costs, the demand for items at food pantries, such as thePottstown Cluster Outreach (just 20 minutes down the road from Ursinus), is increasing, while the number of donations is decreasing. In response to this food shortage, a local newspaper, the Pottstown Mercury, has organized a food drive to benefit all of the area food pantries.

The Mercury’s goal is to collect 20,000 nutritious, non-perishable food items and 1,000 containers of laundry detergent by April 8. The need for containers of laundry detergent came to The Mercury’s attention when a worker at a food pantry in Boyertown shared the story of a young girl who was more excited that her family was getting laundry detergent, which they could use to make their clothes “smell nice”, than she was about getting some cookies.

Ursinus College has pledged to help The Mercury reach their goal, by trying to collect 100 food items to contribute to the overall goal of 20,000 items.

Almost every student on campus has a small collection of food in their dorms rooms, typically consisting of Ramen noodles, macaroni and cheese, soup, cereal, etc. If every student on campus could donate just ONE of their non-perishable food items, it could have a tremendous impact on Ursinus College’s local community and in the fight against Hunger.

Donations can be dropped off in the UCARE office from now until April 6.

For further information about the food drive and its progress, go here.

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Why Spread Hate?

Last month was Black History month; a time to remember and celebrate all of the individuals who fought to make sure that every individual in the US has equal rights, regardless of one’s race.
At the end of this month of recognition, I was shocked to learn that my former high school had instated a policy of searches and “see-through backpacks” for its students in response to “threats mixed up with racial intimidation (which) has created a very tense environment.”

Students line up outside Daniel Boone HS
Photo courtesy of Pottsmerc.com

I attended Daniel Boone High School from 2003 – 2007. During my time there, there were the standard fake bomb threats and graffiti that unfortunately have become common in high schools today, but there was never any racial tension or specific threats made, at least not that I was aware of.

Where did this hatred come from and did it grow to this magnitude in our very own community? But it’s not just here in Berks County, lately it seems as if sentiments of hate and disrespect are ever more prominent everywhere I look.

While last month was one marked for recognition of the fight for civil rights, March, Women’s History month, is meant for recognizing those who fought for women’s rights. Yet at the very start of the month, and one week before International Women’s Day, a day meant to celebrate and show respect for all women in the world, Rush Limbaugh delivered a slap in the face to all us ladies. By proclaiming that Sandra Fluke, a third-year Georgetown University law student who testified in front of Congress for the need of contraceptive coverage by student health insurance, is a “slut” and “prostitute” he sent an ignorant message of disrespect and hate to women everywhere.

And for what? Cause he thought might get a chuckle out of it? Since when is personally attacking and slandering someone’s character and actions funny? I think it’s safe to say that you have gone way too far when the President himself speaks out against comments you’ve made.

The most upsetting thing about incidents such as Limbaugh’s blatant disrespect for all the women in this country and the up-cropping of racial tension at Daniel Boone is that they are certainly not uncommon.

Women have been referred to as “sluts” and “prostitutes” simply based on the way that they dress, their use of contraception (both women who do and do not use contraception), and other behaviors, since the very beginning (see: Mary Magdalene).

No one is safe...

Racism and prejudice, in all forms, has been consistent in society throughout history (once again, see: The Bible). The most recent form seems to be discrimination and harassment of individuals of the LGBT community, an issue that is visible in the media every day.

But, again, my question is why? Why is it necessary to call a woman a “slut” or “fat”, to use racial slurs, to make threats, or to bully and humiliate?  In a time when acceptance, respect, and love for others should be growing and celebrated in our society, why do we continue to hate and discriminate against others based on their race, gender, sexual orientation, etc.? What does any one person gain from spreading hate towards other human beings? The only thing that comes from that is more hate.

We should all demonstrate respect and love for everyone every single day. It’s the only way we will be able to continue grow as a community, nation, and society.

Let Love In.

Unless you want to go back to how everyone was treated in Biblical times...

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

The Media Lab Still Needs to be Filled!

The Community Media Lab in The Pottstown Mercury is (virtually) filling up! 

Look at all the laundry detergent!!

The efforts of a few are making a big difference.

Individuals from communities far outside ours are even getting in on the action and contributing.

But we still have a long way to go to reach our goal!

You can donate items from now until April 8 by bringing them to any of the locations on the map below.

Sunday, March 4, 2012

Communities Coming Together to Give Back

I'm a member of The Pottstown Mercury's TownSquare blogging community. All of us TownSquare bloggers are part of other organizations and communities as well. But overall, we are all members of the Pottstown-area community, and now we are all teaming up in order to give back to our central community.

The Mercury announced last week that it would be collaborating with the TownSquare bloggers on the Fill the Media Lab Challenge.

The challenge is to collect enough food items to "virtually" fill the Community Media Lab, located at The Mercury's offices, with the food then being donated to local food pantries. The goal is to collect 20,000 (nutritious) food items as well as 1,000 containers of laundry detergent between now and April 8.

Why "virtually" fill? Well, we want to make sure that the food is getting to the pantries as quickly as it comes in, so the donations will be counted and then "pinned" to a Fill the Media Lab pinboard on Pinterest.

Let's (virtually) fill this space!

But The Mercury is not the only place where donations can be dropped off. Donation points have been set up at multiple locations throughout the area. Many of the drop-off sites are being featured by the different TownSquare bloggers, such as Positively Pottstown, 52 Ways to Wake Up a Week, and The Sanatoga Post. This handy-dandy map is also a great way to keep track of the locations where you can drop off items.

I'm also very happy to say that another one of my own communities, Ursinus College, has also pledged to take on the challenge and is a collection site.

Ursinus students have been asked to bring non-perishable food items to the UCARE (Ursinus Center for Advocacy, Responsibility and Engagement) office by March 16. They hope to collect a total of 100 items to contribute to The Mercury's overall goal of 20,000. Ursinus has a strong history of giving back to the local community and so it is only natural that they would take on this challenge and wish to help the area food pantries.

The idea for the Fill the Media Lab Challenge came from an article in The Mercury focusing on the fact that this winter has seen shortages in food pantries as a result of increasing food and fuel prices. When food pantries, such as The Cluster and the North Coventry Food Pantry, are not able to offer the food provisions and "luxuries", like laundry detergent, that many families have come to rely on, these families have very little to fall back on.

Let's show these families that they can fall back on their community in times of need. Individual communities, like Ursinus College, can come together to make a small contribution that will have a large impact.

To donate, visit any of the collection sites on the above map or bring food to The Mercury Community Media Lab, Hanover and King streets in Pottstown.