5 Tricks to take the $ting out of Summer Activities!

It’s early summer, and there are so many fun things to do!!!  With weekends of fun activities like going to the park, having bar-b-ques and picnics, local fairs and of course – the music festivals summer time is about having as much fun as you can, without blowing the budget.  Does this sound familiar?  Have you ever been so thirsty you paid $5.00 for a plastic bottle? So disgusted by the price of a ticket you scoured Craigslist for hours waiting for someone to realize they have an extra ticket they want to get rid of cheap so it doesn’t go to waste?  Don’t worry you are not alone!  Many a person has struggled with these same ideas, and to their utter amazement, was able to find that planning summer fun activities isn’t as hard as it might seem.  The idea of doing something on a cost friendly basis is normal and really should be easy!  Here are some beginning ideas!

1. Finding deals in the style of Groupon or Deal Chicken is a common and logical way to plan ahead and find deals for events – many times at 1/2 price or better!  These web sites bring thrift shopping to a whole new level, especially in an age where the cost of participating in large-scale events or festivals has continued to climb into the ridiculous.  Maybe you have had this conversation, ” I’d love to go but… tickets will cost 1 weeks worth of groceries; beverage and food expenses will deplete the emergency savings fund and oh yea – who’s driving?”  By watching these websites, I recently purchased $30 tickets for only $12!  With such huge cost savings I was even able to purchase several tickets at once, allowing several of my friends to get in on the savings too!

2. Carpool and take public transportation where available.  In metro communities like Chicago and Denver where expanding rail service allows day trips into the city; this option adds to the adventure.  Besides avoiding the extra cost of parking which can be in excess of $20, kids of all ages will enjoy being able to see the sights and engage one another without the strained necks and mirrors.  In addition, by making an adventure of the event, there may just be a lack of “Are we there yet?”‘s

3.  Pack it in (and pack it out)!   Kid’s like snacks, adults do too.  This especially true for day’s with lots of fun filled activities.  A day of riding roller coasters, running around the library or zoo, or filling up on your favorite adult beverages requires more than wishful thinking to be at your best all day.  While skipping nap time is part of day long activities, skipping lunch is a bad idea and spending cash on lunch can put a big squeeze on the fun.  Packing a cooler or collapsible cloth lunch pack (for those taking public transportation), as well as starting the day with a full breakfast, will not only save money but also provide the needed extended energy to make a full day a great one!  While recycling is becoming more and more prevalent, packing an extra large reusable sealing bag like Ziplock brand will help keep empty juice pouches and crushed aluminum cans from making a mess of backpacks.  Refillable beverage containers will minimize the quantity of beverage containers needed while

4.  Make a full day of it!  So you have found an event or activity that everyone will enjoy, but it doesn’t start till 3 pm 😦  No worries, just plan around it!  Go to the park, window shop or visit the library down the street from the activity you have planned.  Planning multiple activities in a day is a great way to space out a variety of indoor and outdoor events to stay busy.  Additionally, planning indoor events in the middle of the hottest parts of the day will provide for much needed rest from the sun without forcing kids to be indoors all day long!

5.  Use community based programs!  Besides Vacation Bible School at your local house of worship, there are a plethora of activities through local organizations like libraries, YMCA, Boy’s and Girl’s Clubs, park districts and other civic entities that regularly have events that are available for little or no direct cost.  Check the web for community or ‘local’ days where facilities are open to local residents at little or no cost.  Many local zoos, museums and fee for entry parks will list these days on their community calendar.  Checking local newspapers and Craigslist will also result in a plethora of low cost activities.

Have a great resource I didn’t mention? Drop a comment and I’ll look into an additional post on the topic!

How do voices get lost in the crowd?

Sometimes, as a mid-lifer I enjoy taking the time to sit back and evaluate things… it’s much different than in my youth where I just moved and maybe if an adult was lucky, I’d actually consider the consequences of my actions sometime in the near future.  There are a lot of things to think about these days.  Science and progress are moving at rates that are unchecked and many predictions I remember from the classroom, my family and all the reading I did in magazines like National Geographic, Popular Science, Field and Stream is coming back to me.  Stories about how human expansion and development would cause problems, how changes were necessary to curb the damage the usage of fossil fuels, accelerate the development of renewable energy, protect the environment and remember the lessons of generations past.  My fathers stacks of magazines from the 60’s and 70’s showed wildlife in nature like I would never have a chance to see and they stressed the importance of conservation, on taking care of nature as we enjoy it so that it will sustain us for years to come.  I’ve become more and more aware of how much these warnings are coming true.  The concepts within Science fiction from 100 years ago is part of modern life, and many modern day science fiction movies are predicting a sad future for us.  On example is including the popular children’s cartoon by Pixar Studios – Wall-E where the main character has been cleaning up Planet Earth’s garbage for over 700 years with no shortage of work in site.

Recently, I had the amazing opportunity to get involved in a newer grassroots movement that continues to bring me amazement in the efforts of altruistic humanity vs the reality of greed and power.  While I know the history of the human effort to rise up against the oppressor is always a story of the one that does not have against the one that has; today’s oppressors are not the Kings and Queens or a murderous barbarian with his legions but instead are the face of private corporations with visions of Global domination in their marketplace.  Not all companies are ‘oppressors’ mind you.  There are many who’s leadership and the culture developed within them are intended to be beneficial not only as a company who’s services are useful to their customer base, but also have a moral and ethical guiding within them to provide products and services that are intended to benefit the world around them.

So many times this can happen where the consequences of such actions over time become a beast that turns the public against the company.  We don’t always know how the change has gone from a good idea to a bad one – but when a good idea has gone bad, it becomes clear to all of those who look at the problem in an unbiased way.  In the 70’s it was a good idea to open up trade on a global level – expose 2nd and 3rd world countries to manufacturing opportunities – until companies like Wal-Mart went to American businesses and said, “If you don’t take these manufacturing positions out of the country, we’re going to stop doing business with your company because we demand you lower the core cost of these items.”

Have you ever had a packaged beverage?  If you are reading this blog the obvious answer is of course: you have.  Virtually every very form of consumable product manufactured today has some form of plastic used as part of the system you pay for to have relatively safe, fresh, and consumable food to eat when you are ready for it.  While the manufacture of plastic polymer’s has been occurring for over 150 years, the active efforts of creating efficient ‘depolymerization’  efforts are so new that most people don’t even know the technology exists. Instead, we live in a world where plastic is considered ‘trash’ or ‘garbage’ as if the item has found the end of it’s useful purposes and is now devoid of value.  Instead, pristine locations around the world are becoming trash dumps.

Instead of having a unified voice of discontent forcing effective change on the wheels of corporate responsibility, large corporations have little to worry about as 1000’s of environmental organizations, fight for your attention to achieve aligned results.  The focus on education, raising funds to stay solvent, and achieve the stated objectives has each individual group swimming upstream while the flood of environmental toxins continues to be manufactured without thought to the reclamation process.  Big companies are safe from lots of little voices  talking at one time creating a din of noise.  The size and scope of lobbies and political action organizations in the United States has become what it is, because some of the little voices, and many of the big ones have come to understand that the impact of the unified voice.  Unions created at the turn of the 20th century were looked upon an unamerican and a danger to our country and way of life, yet they only wanted to have fair and equal treatment, and only by gathering in a unified voice were they able to achieve it.  Today companies like Wal-Mart, continue to teach disadvantaged Americans the ‘harms of the union’

Earlier this year, some people with inside information helped inspire, develop and legislate a measure commonly known as the, “Monsanto Protection Act”  because somewhere in the executive chain at Monsanto someone felt that it was time to seek federal protections from the liability from damages that their products could potentially inflict on local American Biospheres due to the fact that man made genetic organisms are being created on a regular basis and released into the world with only the manufacture of these creatures being determined to be responsible and liable to test these organisms and determine if they are safe for release outside of white sterile facilities to be released into the real world.  The problem with this is that the companies doing all the science behind creating these new life forms are indeed the ones being held responsible by our government, to test the safety. Here is an example on the FDA’s website. Why the United States government is following these uncommon practices might not make much sense to the common person, unless you understood how the system works.

The department within the United States government that is tasked with the responsibility of unbiased third party food safety regulation is the FDA or the Food and Drug Administration. Roughly thirty years ago, a young idealist was working for this very organization probably had no idea that history books in 100 years may point the fingers of blame directly on his role as a perpetrator in the poisoning and destruction of the American Population from within.  However, as  Michael R. Taylor, J.D., Deputy Commissioner for Foods and Veterinary Medicine’s own FDA profile indicates, he’s a former VP for Monsanto.

Here’s how things get tricky.  The FDA’s mission [according to this Powerpoint (found on their site)]:

“ helping to speed the innovations that make medicines and foods more effective, safer and more affordable; and helping the public get accurate, science-based information they need to use medicines and foods to improve their health.”  Simply put, the only way to ensure ‘science-based information’ is accurate is to have 3rd party testing, something the FDA is NOT currently doing in this arena.  The example I provided is one where the manufacturer has said, “Our scientists believe this” and the regulator has said, “Great! Thank you for doing all the work – on your own products, for us.”

So I’ve been thinking, as I stated earlier, that things aren’t always what they seem to be.  It really is possible that all those warnings people have been making, maybe there’s not so much crazy to them after all.  Now, that I’ve exposed one current way that the naysayers might not be crazy, maybe you can help me figure out how to keep large unified voices active, without breaking them up into 100’s or thousands of small insignificant ones…