Monday, January 31, 2011

Struggling for a topic

So what happens when I don't really have a topic, but I still really want to keep the blog flowing as per my New Year's Resolution?  Keep reading and you'll see.

This blog comes from anywhere but a "Back 'er Down" type spot.  I'm sitting in a mexican restaurant in CNN Center in downtown Atlanta.  Maybe the margarita flanking my computer will inspire literary gold.

It's always tough to be away from the family.  This time it's 2 1/2 days.  That wouldn't be so bad normally, but I left the wife this morning with my oldest who has strep.  Even though I have almost 5 weeks of vacation built up, the kids have a knack for getting sick when I can't stay home with them.  Ergo, the wife had to call in this morning and stay home with the oldest.  That means 15 + or - of her patients have to be rescheduled which you hate to have to do.  Unfortunately, she'll have to be with him tomorrow as well.  As strep goes though, I might be home with the youngest on Thursday and Friday.  Yay for contagions!  Sick or not, I'm already looking forward to getting home.  I already miss my wife and the little fellas!  My boys are at the age where they are learning every minute.  They are like sponges!  I want to be there when the moment strikes so I can tell them about the designated hitter or why we wash whites separately or how more people watched Jersey Shore than watched the State of the Union address (we'll attack that in another blog.)

A friend mentioned to me a few years back, "You know one day gasoline will probably be for hobbies only.  We'll probably buy it by the gallon off a shelf at Wal-Mart."  I came back to that gem after seeing K1 kerosene in gallon jugs at Wal-Mart last week.  I remember pumping K1 when I worked at a store back in high school.  As I thought about it, I'm not sure that it's common for it to be sold like that any more.  Is it really possible that we might see gasoline relegated to the same end-cap placement one day?  Certainly it would be a long time down the road, but it is an interesting thing to think about.  This though as the Egyptians are going nuts and bent crude went over $100 today.  Hmmm.  Wonder what we have in store for the summer traveling season?

The fajitas just arrived.  I now have a nice grease slick on the screen.  Maybe this is a good place to stop.  The margaritas are starting to go down way too easy anyway.  I'd hate to go off on a wacky tangent.....oh wait.  I think this whole piece is a wacky tangent.  Oh well.  Guess that's what happens when you're struggling for a topic.  I'll try to do better next week.  Promise.

Y'all take it easy,      ......Stacy....please note the spelling of y'all ;)


Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Things I've learned since I quit learning

Don't let the title fool you.  I strongly advocate education and the practice of continuing to learn throughout life.  I enjoyed a wonderful education and I wouldn't trade it for anything.  However, I've learned a lot since I finished up what most people think of as formal education.  Part of the Back 'er Down lifestyle is after all learning the simple things that get lost in our busy world.  I figured that I would share a few of those nuggets with you.  I hope a few of these resonate and maybe even result in a chuckle or two.

- It really is more about who you know rather than what you know.
- Physics can explain pretty much everything, but God created physics, so it's all cool.
- Any math more advanced than calculating simple interest is useless you are a Physicist.
- The only real difference in khakis and chinos is the price.
- Hustling can make up for a bunch of other shortcomings.
- When saying that your little man has a rash.....that's interpreted differently by people without kids.
- God always has a plan......even though we may not realize what it is at the time.
- Bream aren't really considered seafood.
- Planting, tending and harvesting a garden is a heck of a lot harder than talking about it.
- Sweating is just as good for your mind as it is for your body.

Have you learned anything since the finish of your "formal" education?  I'd love to hear about it.

Ya'll take it easy,


Friday, January 21, 2011


Frequently, massive couponers boast about the difference between the pre-coupon price and the final total. They circle the "you saved" number on their receipts. "You're circling the wrong number," Amy said. What you need to compare is the difference between all possible alternatives and your final total. Other alternatives include store brands on sale, buying in bulk, picking fruit off friend's trees or just going without.  --Not my words, but I can't remember where I got it from either.  Sorry original author.

Ouch.  That's me!  I love to save a dollar and I love to talk about it.  The original author is right though.

The super-couponing craze is spreading like wildfire.  There are Web sites and seminars popping up all over the place  dedicated to the trend.  There is even going to be a reality show about it. (gag)  Hey, who can blame folks?  With the rising prices of food and the shrinking sizes of the products, we all have the need to stretch our dollars as far as we can. (Of course the pundits say we are NOT in an inflationary period....I say BS...go to the grocery store)  I approach this tactic a little differently.  A large part of my attempt to "Back 'er Down" is how I spend my time.  The old saying, "Time is Money" is true.  Everyone's time has a value associated with it....whether you are working or not.

I use coupons a lot.  I save a lot of money using them.  You have to be careful though.  After all, coupons are just another marketing strategy used to move product.  It's a good one too!  The trap that many fall into is that you have to buy something because it's such a good deal!  Do you really like oatmeal though?  Even at .25 a box are you or your family going to eat it?  This is the same strategy that has been used in other forms of retail for years.  You say to yourself, it's so cheap... I HAVE to buy it.  This mindset is now fully entrenched into our grocery buying habits.  Hooray PR and Market Research!  Don't take me the wrong  way.  I'm not saying I'm some high and mighty all-seeing market guru.  I have a flat of Vienna Sausages and 7 boxes of LED Christmas lights that prove I'm just as prone as the next guy.

Get back on track what about time?  If done correctly super-coupoining takes up a lot of time.  In essence it is playing the sales cycles of the major grocers.  Of course you start by clipping, printing and sorting.  That's the easy part.  The time consuming part is researching various stores weekly sales and pairing those with your stash of coupons.  Don't forget to add the time involved in shopping at several different stores to maximize the savings.  All of a sudden you're invested in this deal!  If your time is worth money you just spent a lot of it.  But Alex, I saved like 50 bucks!  That's right.  You saved $50 and your time spent was $50 so you broke even.  Is a break even proposition worth it?  For some folks it may well be.  For me it isn't.  (Ironic that I could have done some couponing instead of spending time writing about coupons.  Ha!)

I applaud anyone trying to save money.  I applaud the folks taking part in this craze.  It just isn't right for me to go all in.  It took me a while to realize that.  For someone that is retired or does not work it might be.  One of my favorite quotes puts it best, "when your money is in short supply and your time is long, use your time and don’t spend the money." 

Never bring a problem without offering a solution.  10-4  This might not be the best for everyone reading, but it works best for me and my family.  It all goes back to the quote above.

1. Store Brands:  Many times they are cheaper even after using a coupon on the brand stuff.  They aren't all created equal though.  Some things I refuse to skimp on.  Others, store brands serve us well.

2.  Buying in Bulk:  This is a super-couponing tactic that I use often.  When something on sale at a good price I stock up.  HOWEVER.... this should only apply to stuff I know I'm going to use.  Don't buy junk that's going to waste away.  Toilet paper is my most common bulk purchase.  I also buy chicken in bulk.

3.  Gardening and Hunting:  I haven't bought greenbeans in a long time.  I also have a pretty decent supply of tomatoes, corn and squash.  All from my garden.  If you can stand to eat game meat it is a great source.  I have a freezer full of deer meat.  It typically costs about $40-$50 to process one and 2 will serve us for a year or more.  Helpful hint.......mix deer hamburger 70-30 with ground beef and you can barely taste the difference.

4. Doing Without:  Yeah boy.  I could learn a lot from that.  BlueBell Cookies and Cream stares me in the face on this point..... We do go without a lot of stuff though.  This is the number one area in which almost everyone in America could save more on their grocery bills.  Did I really need those talapia fillets that have been in the bottom of the freezer for a year?

Please don't construe any of this as me demonizing super-couponing.  I blog about my personal path of "Backing 'er Down.  For's just not worth it to go all in on the process.  My family is better served by using portions of it.  There are many stories like this one in which charities are blessed by people who play the game.  That's a win for all involved!  Just gotta have the time to do it......and time is money.

Ya'll take it easy,


Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Why I write the way I write.

The repeated use of slang.  Random series of periods ............. The use of apostrophes in front of and behind broken words.  Broken English.  Great boogly moogly!  Why do you write like that Alex?

I had an idea a while back that one of the things that would make me enjoy the blogging process a little more would be to write it as if I was talking.  I would format everything as if it were a conversation.  The whole idea of Back 'er Down was really birthed through various conversations anyway.  I call it typing with an accent.

It's not that I don't know how to write correctly.  I actually do ;)  I do it almost daily at work.  I have hundreds of examples of properly structured articles with catchy leads, tactically persuasive pitch letters and properly APA styled research documents to prove it.  Heck I even have my handy dandy AP Stylebook within reach at work and at home!

That gets old though.  It's much more fun to type as if I was having a beer with the poor souls who actually take the time to come here and read.  (thanks again by the way.)  The ultimate question is do people understand what you're trying to say when you write in the format I've chosen?  I think they do.... if they want to.  (you see how I did that....ending that sentence with a preposition?)

I consider myself a regular guy .  I figure most people are about like me for the most part.  If information is there to be had, I absorb it through a variety of different channels and often times in a variety of different formats.

Is there a place for proper English, mechanics, punctuation and enunciation?  Sure there is.  It just ain't here.

Ya'll take it easy,


Monday, January 10, 2011

Snow Day Musings

Snow day today!  Well....winter weather day would be a better description.  More ice than snow.  No snow in fact.  Here in South GA we aren't really familiar with winter weather.  We certainly don't have a clue as to how to drive in it.  So here I home.  I spent the early part of the morning walking around the Ponderosa looking at ice in the trees.  That was pretty neat.  I don't particularly care to live in anything like this all the time, but I enjoy the novelty of it once or twice a year.

Here is a picture of the windsock on top of the kid's playhouse.  Thing is the wind isn't blowing right now.  It's frozen.  Pretty cool.

A while back I said that I would try my best to blog a little more often.  Writer's block strikes me pretty hard sometimes.  Others post pictures when they don't have anything particularly interesting about which to write.  I decided to follow suit with the pic above and then this beauty:

This is Davis' first time driving a tractor by himself.  I throttled it down as lo as it would go and put it in first gear.  I released the clutch with my hand.  I was able to walk faster than the tractor was actually moving, but he didn't care.  For 5 minutes he was THE man.  Only problem now is that he wants to drive all the time ;)  I have fond memories of my Dad doing the same thing with me as a youngster.  I'm pretty sure Davis had the same feeling I did way back when.  Now.......if I can get him running it with a mower behind we'll be in good shape.  That might still be a few years away.

Ya'll take it easy,


Tuesday, January 4, 2011

2011: Let's Own It!

2011.  Yep.  It's here.  There seems to be a lot of doom and gloom out there lately, but my forte is keeping it positive.  So food prices are going up?  Great excuse to expand the garden.  Gas is on the rise?  Stay home a little more and hang with the family.  It's cold? is winter.  Don't moan about it....suit up and GATA!

I'm coming off of a hiatus from work.  I was able to spend almost two weeks working on projects around the house and enjoying the holidays.  Nothing really exciting or encouraging, but it was good to get it done.  I was able to give the house a good scrubbing.  I hit things often overlooked like the inside of cabinet doors, etc.  Took me back to my cleaning service days for a while.  I kind of miss the freedom of that gig sometimes.  I do enjoy the stability of an "institutional" job though ;)  I serviced my Jeep, put away the Christmas decorations and even went to visit a buddy who gave me a ride in his freshly restored, and highly modified, 68 Camaro (a little speed is always a welcomed treat!)  The thing that I enjoyed most was the task that gave me blisters.  I went through and cleaned up around some pine tree seedlings with a hoe.  It sucked pretty bad at the time, but at the end I was able to look across the field and appreciate how it all looked.  That's what Backing 'er Down is all about to me.

My beloved Eagles met their match in the Blue Hens of the University of Delaware.  That put them out of the playoffs.  Making it to the final 4 teams in the nation after being picked to finish 5th in your own conference?..........nothing to hang heads about.  I hope the staff and players are as proud of themselves as we fans are of them.  The Texas Christian University Horned Frogs had a pretty good start to 2011.  They enjoyed a win for the ages in the Rose Bowl Game.  I was proud for them.  They don't get any respect in their state.  They're overshadowed by the "big boys" Texas and Texas A&M, even Texas Tech.  I can sympathize with TCU fans in that regard.  Congrats to the Horned Frogs for crashing the party!

I'm fired up about 2011.  Mamma Bear and I owe just a little bit on her car and once that is paid off we will be debt free with the exception of our mortgage.  This is something that we have been working towards for a long time.  Late last year we finally knocked out the last of my student loans.  Now it's time to nail the car payments.  When I write that final check you may be able to hear me cheering from wherever you might be reading.

I only made two resolutions this year: 1. Stop biting my fingernails and 2. Blog once a week.  Looking for some help from my friends in accomplishing both.

Best wishes to everyone for a healthy and prosperous 2011!!

Take it easy,