March 13th, 2006

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Sponsoring A Soldier Overseas

My Sunday School class has been "sponsoring" a soldier overseas for about a year now. Actually, we're on our second soldier, 'cause our first soldier came back home. I don't know exactly what program we're doing this through -- our class president is handling all of the details. Basically, we signed up with a program and they gave us the name and address of a soldier overseas. Every two or three weeks, we send a package over to him. We put cookies, beef jerky, newspapers, and other stuff in the package. It's a pretty neat program.

A few weeks ago, our soldier (his name is Jason) sent us an email:
WELL THANK YOU SO VERY MUCH FOR THE PACKAGES YOUR SUNDAY SCHOOL CLASS HAS BEEN SENDING. IT MAKES BEING OVER HERE MORE BEARABLE. IT IS NICE TO KNOW THAT PEOPLE STILL CARE ABOUT THE SOLDIERS OVERSEAS. EVERYTHING THAT YOU HAVE BEEN SENDING IS GREAT EXCEPT THAT WE DON'T HAVE A MICROWAVE HERE. I SHARE EVERYTHING THAT YOU SEND WITH MY SOLDIERS OVER HERE. THEY ESPECIALLY LIKE THE COOKIES. PLEASE LET EVERYONE KNOW HOW MUCH WE LOVE THE COOKIES. SO MANY PEOPLE ENJOY THEM THAT THEY BARELY MAKE IT THOUGH THE FIRST NIGHT.
Sounds like he really likes the cookies! ;-)

He also told us a little about what his job is, and that he's got a family here in the States that he really misses. He's over there for a year, and is five months into his service.

He also included a picture of himself for our class. He drives a big truck -- the wheel is almost as tall as he is.

...I poked around the Internet a bit and I think I found the program we're doing this through: Soldiers' Angels.
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Computer Troubleshooters

While going through my spat of updating last night, I forgot to write up about how I spent my Saturday evening. A little over a month ago, two of my friends started their own business -- they bought a Computer Troubleshooters franchise. It seems like an interesting concept, and I hope it works out well for them. They offer IT services for home users and small businesses. It looks like it's very similar to Geek Squad, but with more of a focus on small business. If you're having trouble with spyware, or configuring a home network, or whatever, you call these guys up and they'll come and help you out. I don't think there's going to be a lot of money in it for them with the home user market -- they won't be able to charge too much in order to get business, and they probably won't get a lot of repeat customers, or when they do, it will be inconsistent. To be successful, I think they're going to end up going after the small business market -- businesses that use computers, but don't have their own IT department. That kind of work will be more consistent, too.

Saturday night, my friends hosted a "grand opening" party for their business. About 35 people showed up -- probably for the free food and a chance at one of the door prizes. That's the main reason I showed up -- I wanted the 19" flat-screen monitor they were giving away. ;-)

I'm really glad I went. It was a great opportunity to catch up with several of my friends that I haven't seen in years. Several of the other guests were former coworkers, too. I ended up spending most of the time I was there catching up with one of my best friends from back in the Vanguard days.

By the time they finished giving away all the door prizes, I didn't win the monitor. I did, however, win one of the prizes -- a gift certificate for a free computer "tune-up". It's probably a cool prize, but not really worth it for me -- and computer tuning that I need to do at home, I can do myself. Besides, with my Mac, I don't tend to have the kinds of problems that Windows users have -- coming over to search for viruses and spyware is pretty useless on my machine. When my buddy drew my number out of the box and realized that I won that prize, he laughed and said "...And the prize goes to probably the most technical person in the room!" I don't think I was the most technical person in the room, but I was close. *shrug* I'll give it to my mandolin teacher, who is always telling me about problems with his computer.

My buddy from Vanguard won a gift certificate, too. We joked about setting up an old 386 computer as poorly as possible, loading it with spyware and viruses, and then complaining that it couldn't do something that it was never able to do in the first place. That would be kinda funny.
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Allergy Medicine

On my way home for lunch this morning, I stopped at the drug store and picked up a bottle of generic Claritin. For less than the price of a 30-pack of Claritin (~$23), I got a 90-pack of generic (~$20). A 90-pack should easily last me this allergy season -- a 60-pack would have probably been sufficient, but the only choices were 30 and 90. I'm glad for generic drugs. At the same time, I understand why name-brands are more expensive -- the makers of the generic didn't have to invest anything in R&D, they just had to take the published formula for the name-brand. As such, I agree that drug companies should enjoy some patent protection on their drugs for a while, at which time generics become available.

I'm also glad that regular generic Claritin seems to keep my allergies at bay, and that I don't need the decongestant version. Apparently, in NC, even though it's non-prescription, you have to convince the pharmacist that you're not going to make meth with your Claritin-D before they let you buy it. The government has enough info about me already, they don't need to add me to their list of people who might be buying allergy medicine to make meth.

Mostly, the purpose of this post is an excuse to use my antihistamine user icon. Expect to see it again around April 2, when I rant about on of my other favorite antis -- daylight savings time. Maybe I should make an icon that cycles through all my favorite antis.