Thursday, March 23, 2017

Book Nook: Blonde Logic

I recently had a chance to read a PDF of essays by Kendra Cunningham called Blonde Logic (like her album). I have a feeling that this is the kind of thing that works better if you know the comic's voice. The essays were humorous little snapshots of her life and experiences, but I think I'd rather listen to them or see them live than read them - there just seemed to be something missing.

If you already know her work, you'll probably be fine, just like when I read essays written by other stand-up comics I know and can hear it in their voices. Word of warning if you don't know her - she does use some coarse language.

She did have some good gems that work even without a comic's voice, like this one:

Kid: “how come you don’t have a husband?” 
Me: “because I believe everybody deserves to be happy”
If you've seen her before and like her, check out her essays or Twitter and Facebook pages.

Kendra Cunningham is a Boston-born stand-up comic, comedy writer, actress and filmmaker living in Brooklyn, where she owns a super comfortable bed. She also bartends and has an MA in Forensic Psychology. Kendra spends most of her time wondering where her sugar daddy is and hoping he didn't settle. Kendra's festival pedigree includes: Boston Comedy Festival, IFC/BAM Comedy Showcase, Montreal Just for Laughs Festival, Ladies of Laughter Festival, Women in Comedy Festival. She has appeared on: Saturday Night Live, The Jimmy Fallon Show, The Tyra Banks Show, Nickelodeon's Mom's Night Out, Sherri Shepherd's Stand Up Showcase. Kendra regularly contributes to The Huffington Post and the comedic relationship blog Beauty and the Beast. Her short films have been screened at a number of festivals; Lonelygirl48, which she wrote and acted in, won the Boston Comedy Festival and the Palm Beach Women's International Film Festival. She has been featured in Time Out New York and onCNN Money, among other publications. 

Caring Causes: Araha

The Horn of Africa region is faced with yet another severe drought. Famine has already been declared in South Sudan, while Somalia and regions of Kenya are on the brink of famine. In total, close to 21 million people across the region are in desperate need of humanitarian assistance. The American Relief Agency for the Horn of Africa (ARAHA) will be holding a press conference to address the drought and famine and the work that's been done to help the people suffering in the area.

ARAHA's field teams are already on the ground distributing much-needed aid to thousands of people in the region.

For more details about the drought, see our press release: drought-relief

About ARAHA:
The American Relief Agency for the Horn of Africa is a registered non-profit, 501(c)3 tax-exempt organization based in Columbia Heights, Minnesota. For over a decade, ARAHA has been delivering the essentials necessary to provide relief to those suffering from drought, disease, hunger, and illiteracy in the Horn of Africa region. We work in Somalia, Ethiopia, Sudan, and Kenya. ARAHA also helps families break the cycle of poverty by developing opportunities for them to generate income and educate their children. for more on our organization: https://araha. org/who-we-are

Thrifty Thinking: Is your family financially illiterate?

By: Gregg Murset, CEO of BusyKid

Nearly one quarter of US states receive a failing grade when it comes to teaching kids personal finance in schools. Twelve states don’t attempt to teach it at all. This could be one of the reasons that only 35% of credit card users don’t carry a balance and pay off their bill every month, and that only 1 in 3 Americans is saving for retirement. We don’t expect kids to learn how to read, write or drive without instruction, but another essential life skill, money management is ignored for the most part. 

April is Financial Literacy Month, the perfect reason for parents to take the initiative to supplement their kid¹’ lacking personal finance education at school with lessons at home. Use these tips to determine how and where to start.

1. Check Out Your Schools - Visit your school to see what (if anything) is being taught about personal finance or if personal finance is required to graduate high school. Once you have this information, you can determine your next moves to ensure your kids know how to manage money when the time comes. With a majority of U.S. high school students failing to learn about money, there’s a good chance your children won’t either. 

2. Leave Books To The Adults - There are thousands of books available on finance and managing money, but don’t waste your cash buying these for your kids. Kids learn best by doing, so sitting down with a book that explains percentage rates, credit, loans or budgeting won’t leave a long lasting impression. They would learn more from watching movies like “Moneyball” or “The Big Short”.

3. Use Teachable Moments - Each we are faced with numerous financial decisions that you could use as a "teachable moment” for your children. The next time you are grocery shopping, show your child how to compare prices and brands. If you’re paying bills, let your child sit with you and see how you manage money.  

4. Look Differently at Chores & Allowance - While a majority of parents agree that kids should be doing chores and receiving an allowance, some parents feel money shouldn’t be the reason kids help around the house. It’s those parents who should look at chores and allowance differently. Think of it as a child’s first job and a parents first chance to teach them everything they need to know (work ethic, direct deposit, budgeting, opening bank account, taxes, etc) before they head off to get a real job someday.  

5. Learn As Family - Many parents don’t like to talk to their children about money because they believe they aren’t knowledgable enough. If you are one of these parents, jump in and learn with your children. You’re never too old to learn, erase bad habits or set good examples. Plus doing it with your children could be fun!

6. Practice What You Preach - If you already practice good personal finance habits, congratulations! If not, this is a great time to start. In either case, practice what you preach to your children since the greatest influence on your child is you. 

7. Understand, No One Is Perfect! - Let’s face it, if everyone was great at managing money there would be little National Debt, no bankruptcy and everyone would have a savings account. So except these facts and do something to get better at it. I believe we are so afraid of what our children will think about our bad financial status that we forget how the current situation could be a great lesson. Don’t let your pride get in the way of teaching your children how NOT to make the same mistakes.

8. Don’t Quit! - This might be the hardest thing of all. Being good at money management is a never-ending process. However your kids are going to be faced with hundreds of thousands of financial decisions in their lifetime, so you never get to the point where you can stop teaching, supporting or guiding. Quitting now only puts them on a path to be living back with you when they are older, full of student loans and moving from job to job.

About BusyKid
BusyKid is the first online chore chart where children can earn, save, share, spend and invest real money wisely. Formerly known as My Job Chart, BusyKid is easy to use, revolutionary and allows kids to receive a real allowance from their parents each Friday. No more points or trying to convert imaginary money.

BusyKid is committed to helping children learn the important basic financial principles they don’t get anywhere else. Designed as a platform that is easy for parents to implement, BusyKid features pre-loaded chores based on children’s ages and making chore payment approvals is as simple as answering a text message. BusyKid is the only online chore/allowance platform that allows children to earn real allowance and use it immediately to buy gift cards, make a donation or invest in real stock. For more information, go to

Sweepstakes: Good Food Made Simple

Stuck in a lunch rut? Choosing GOOD just got easier with Good Food Made Simple’s new Entrée Bowls. Made with humanely raised meats and organic ingredients, the 12 new internationally inspired flavors will fit into your busy schedule. Good Food Made Simple is currently running an Entree Bowl Face Off contest in honor of March Madness. Fans are asked to vote for their favorite flavors and will receive a $1.50 off coupon plus the chance to win all 12 of the new Entrée Bowls and lunch for a month plus a $50 gift card. The contest ends at 11:59pm ET on 4/2/2017.

Thrifty Thinking: How To Match Your Current Savings To Your Ultimate Retirement Needs

In a nation that debates nearly everything, this topic creates almost no disagreement.
Americans aren’t saving anywhere near enough for retirement, setting the stage for a potentially dreary time ahead for many when they reach the closing act of their lives. In fact, a study by the Economic Policy Institute found that almost half of American families have no retirement-account savings at all.
While the widespread-savings shortfall is a given, a consensus is trickier to find when it comes to advice on just how much of your weekly salary you need to stash away if you want your retirement to be secure.
“Opinions vary; you’ll hear some people say 10 percent, you’ll hear others says 15 percent,” says Rick Rivera, a partner at Safeguard Investment Advisory Group ( “Some people say you need to have saved $1 million by the time you retire, which is a tall order for a lot of people.”
Clearly, something is better than nothing, but following some general rule of thumb for saving could lead you astray, Rivera says. Everyone has different circumstances, goals, and objectives.
“What your neighbor needs and what you need may not be the same thing at all,” he says. “You need to take a look at your own financial situation and at what a good retirement would look like to you.
Rivera suggests a few things to consider on the way to zeroing in on the right savings amount:
• Figure out what it is you plan to do in retirement. Do you want to travel or spend a lot of time golfing? Is there a hobby you enjoy? Maybe you want to spend time as a volunteer. “Once you have an idea what it is you want to do,” Rivera says, “you’ll want to consider the expenses related to those activities.” That means creating a budget and determining the amount of monthly income you’ll need to do the things you want to do.
• Review your potential income sources. Will you receive Social Security? Is there a monthly pension check in your future? Although it’s becoming much less common, some people have great pensions, so they don’t need to save as much. Most people, though, don’t fall into that category, so they need to focus more on saving to cover the shortfall.
• Do the math. If, for example, your pension and Social Security add up to $4,000 a month, but you’ve determined you’ll need $6,000, then you know you’ll need to make up that $2,000 shortfall from your savings. Based on your age and an estimated rate of return, a calculation can be made to figure out how much you’ll need to save to accomplish your goal. A young person, obviously, could save a smaller percentage of their income than someone who’s just 10 or 15 years away from retirement.
“Depending on just how close you are to retirement, you may even have some catching up to do,” Rivera says. “This is why I say that following a general rule in a vacuum isn’t the best idea. It may or may not get you where you need to be.”
About Rick Rivera
Rick Rivera is a partner at Safeguard Investment Advisory Group ( and has more than two decades of experience in the financial industry providing guidance to those planning for retirement. He is an investment advisor representative holding a series 65 license, as well as Life-Only and Accident and Health licenses in California.

Parenting Pointers: Parenting in a PC World

Political correctness - or being PC - is kind of a big deal. We're told not to offend others, but sometimes that can lead to us not being firm or confident enough. Author and child psychologist Domenick J Maglio, PhD, shows how this can affect our parenting in a book I got to review, In-Charge Parenting: In a P.C. Nation.

Like any parenting book, there were things I didn't completely agree with. However, I did understand where he was coming from, and agreed with his overall premise - that parents need to be the authority in their children's lives.

Topics explored in In-Charge Parenting include:
  • How being a parent is a sacred duty that requires them to teach the child to survive without them and be productive members of society.
  • That parents who let their child dictate to them gives the child a distorted vision of reality. It is a parent’s obligation to be in charge and treat their child accordingly.
  • The importance of giving a child clear, definitive consequences for positive or negative behavior and why it is essential for moral value lessons.
I had a chance to interview him to learn more:

1. What are the dangers of parents being "too PC?"

Politically correct parenting does not work. A parent should not be concerned about being PC in any way. Parents should act according to the best interest of the child and not be handicapped by the indoctrination of the “permissive-materialistic child rearing experts.” These proponents created the PC rules, which have emasculated the power of parents.

In order for parents to fulfill their sacred duty they have to be the head of the family.  They need to be in charge to prepare the child to face the world successfully.

2. How can parents navigate the balance of a healthy relationship that includes proper use of authority?

A healthy parental relationship with children is when parents are in charge of the family. For a child to be normalized in society he needs to respect parental authority. Parents are the ultimate role models who teach their children how to relatewith all other authority figures such as teachers, coaches, police officers and employers. Without this particular training a child’s life will be filled with conflict, anger and possibly negative labeling.

Respect for parental authority is the foundation for a healthy parent-child relationship.

3. Why are clear consequences for actions so important?

Children should understand all of their actions have consequences. It is the job of the parent to reward good choices and punish bad ones. This use of positive and negative consequences reinforces the development of a child’s appropriate thinking and behavior.

Biting another toddler is wrong and helping out a sibling is right. These lessons are repeated in many situations to create the moral values of the child.

It is extremely important for the parent to administer the “just right, moral consequences” for the child to accept and respect the parent’s actions as a sign of love.  Discipline is love, love is discipline when not done in anger but to help the child become a healthy person.

There is no greater love than for a parent to do everything in their power to raise a loving, appropriately acting, moral and thinking person.

4. How can parents adjust their parenting style if they've been too lax?

When parents realize their children are out-of-control they need to sit down and agree on a new united strategy. This will be a necessary process in order to tighten up the direction the parents want to go with their children. Only when they are serious can the training begin. Both parents have to support each other and be on the same page before any retraining. Once the new ground rules are instituted and enforced, changes will be evident. The difficulty for the parents is continuing to be vigilant and not back slide into being wimps again. The children will test the new parameters and the parents need to win each and every one of the little skirmishes.

Following through with the consequences that have been stated is the key to regain the parental respect they squandered.

Enriching Education: CM Rubin on Alternative Assessments

21st Century assessment must change and focus on what we really value, according to global education thought leader Charles Fadel. “Assessment boils down to evidence of learning,” he says. The problem is that important outcomes we should be evaluating in students are, in fact, very “hard to measure” and so these qualities are currently not being assessed.
In a new interview, C.M. Rubin (Founder of CMRubinWorld) focuses on key questions with Fadel, such as, “Is there now a growing momentum for assessment change, and if so, at what stage of the education process should the assessment begin? Do we have evidence of successful case studies? What things should be prioritized for change and how are modern technologies helping to update an antiquated assessment system?”
“Teachers’ and students’ time is wasted as they prepare and take assessments that are just looking to rank students’ performance rather than spending time engaged in authentic learning or working on socio-emotional and other competencies,” says Fadel. “In short, there is too much focus on Knowledge (and not particularly relevant knowledge) and not enough on Skills, Character, and Meta-Learning.”
Fadel believes that the opportunities to make large scale change is now because, “new technologies can help with experimentation and development of more inherently useful tests.” Advancements in technology, he claims, should come with changes in substance as well: "More qualitative data can now be stored and should be leveraged to show evidence of learning that goes deeper than a letter grade or a percentile score."
Read the full article here
Charles Fadel is a global education thought leader, futurist and inventor, and founder and chairman of the Center for Curriculum Redesign. He has worked with education systems and institutions in more than thirty countries. He was formerly Global Education Lead at Cisco Systems, and holds a BSEE, an MBA, and five patents. He is the author of Four-Dimensional Education: The Competencies Learners Need to Succeed.
CMRubinWorld launched in 2010 to explore what kind of education would prepare students to succeed in a rapidly changing globalized world. Its award-winning series, The Global Search for Education, is a highly regarded trailblazer in the renaissance of 21st century education, and occupies a widely respected place in the pulse of key issues facing every nation and the collective future of all children. It connects today’s top thought leaders with a diverse global audience of parents, students and educators. Its highly readable platform allows for discourse concerning our highest ideals and the sustainable solutions we must engineer to achieve them. C. M. Rubin has produced over 500 interviews and articles discussing an extensive array of topics under a singular vision: when it comes to the world of children, there is always more work to be done.
For more information on CMRubinWorld, follow @CMRubinWorld on Twitter

Contest: House Racer Challenge

Hobbico has just launched the House Racer Challenge, a video contest featuring the recently-launched House Racer Indoor FPV Race Pack and House Racer FPV Race Gate System. The contest runs from March 8th through April 4th and features celebrity judges.
Contestants can enter by:
·         Purchasing the House Racer Indoor FPV Rack Pack and Gate System.
·         Build an indoor course with the House Racer gates and items around the house.
·         Shoot a video explaining the course and include flying footage featuring the House Racer and submitting a video between March 15th - April 4, 2017.
The grand prize is $5,000. The winner will be announced on April 14, 2017.  Must be a US resident, 18 years of age or older.  Official rules:

Free Screening: Gifted 4/11 7pm Southdale

“Attend an advance screening of GIFTED on Tuesday, April 11 at 7pm at AMC Southdale. Download a FREE pair of passes by clicking on the link below (while supplies last). Screening is overbooked to ensure a full house. Seating is limited and available on a first-come, first-served basis. Be sure to arrive early to guarantee a seat!”

Parenting Pointers: How to Turn Your Outdoor Space into a Drool-Worthy Entertaining Haven

By Abbey DeHart

With spring right around the corner, this is the time of the year when most homeowners start turning their attention to their outdoor spaces. Whether you’re outside working on landscaping or touching up paint, one of the easiest ways to turn your home into a great entertaining space is to focus on your patio or deck area. People love coming to a cozy outdoor space—here’s how to make one in your own backyard.
1.     Choose an inviting color palette.
When starting your outdoor design, the first thing to consider is the colors you want to use. Are you going for bright and colorful options? Sticking with neutrals? Leaning towards the rustic look, with lots of natural tones and combinations of wood and metal?
If you’re unsure about which color to choose, Alexa Collins of Homelight suggests going with yellow: “Real estate agents get behind yellow for curb appeal color. Often associated with encouragement and happiness, yellow can subconsciously send positive energy,” she says.
Once you have a palette in place, search for patio furniture that excites you, and start to pull together your outdoor space idea from there. If you already have patio furniture, start looking for ways to add to your existing pieces and create a full set. You may even consider painting or staining your existing set if it’s not exactly what you’re seeking.
2.     Incorporate greenery and plants.
You’ve picked out the perfect patio furniture with great pops of color. Now what? Often overlooked is the importance of natural elements like greenery. A mixture of potted plants and coordinating shrubbery can add to the overall coziness of your space. Choose both large and small plants, and stagger them at various heights for a more visually appealing effect.
However, don’t go overboard with accessories. “Keep plants and accent pieces to a minimum,” says Collins. “Choose one or two key statement plants (like a large cactus or lemon tree, depending on your climate) to keep the area as open as possible.”
You might also consider plants that are helpful to have in an outdoor entertaining space, such as citronella, which deters mosquitoes and other pests.
3.     Consider your lighting options.
Extend your outdoor living space once the sun sets with lighting. Solar-powered lights will slowly turn on as your guests settle in, while a hanging outdoor light fixture acts as a stunning focal point. For a fun and functional option, create a fire pit seating area to entertain guests. If nothing else, consider adding string lighting under your outdoor umbrella to create party-ready ambiance.
4.     Add patterns and accessories.
The attention to detail in a space can take it from “just okay” to cozy and inviting, so warm up your space with lively details. Throw an outdoor rug under your patio table and place funky, patterned outdoor pillows on your sofa. For even more personality, try fun seating ideas like a hammock or hanging chairs.
5.     Add a “wow” factor to your outdoor space.
If you want your patio to stand out in your guests’ minds, think outside the box and make it uniquely yours. Add a focal point that represents your personality and serves as a defining feature in your backyard.
·       Are you an avid birdwatcher? Add bright-colored birdhouses to your backyard, or hang several decorative hummingbird feeders around your windows.
·       Got a green thumb? Grow a hanging garden on your fence or trellis.
·       Love to cook? Plant an herb garden or purchase an outdoor pizza oven to wow your guests with homemade treats.
Whatever the case may be, make the space uniquely yours with something that is sure to catch your guests’ attention and keep them coming back.
Do you have any tips or things that you’ve done to make your outdoor space stand out? Share your ideas with us in the comments!

Abbey DeHart is a working mother of two who writes for Plaid Crafts, Angie's List, HomeRight and The Home Depot about home decor, fun crafts to do with her and other DIYs. She provides great tips on how to create an outdoor living space with patio furniture, accessories and lighting. You can find more outdoor patio furniture ideas at The Home Depot.