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Deals That Are Nifty by Sister Thrifty: November 2010

Deals That Are Nifty by Sister Thrifty

Great Steals and Deals around town and online to save you the big bucks and help you keep more of your hard-earned money!

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Buying an e-reader for Christmas?

                                                                   By Trina Boice
E-readers are on every book-lover's wish list this Christmas, and probably on yours too.   The prices are getting so much more reasonable these days too.   Here is a quick comparison guide in case it's on your shopping list this year.  If you're the avid reader in the family, then print out this blog post and leave it where your loved ones will see it and get the hint.

What are your choices?
*  Amazon's Kindle 2 or DX
*  Barnes & Noble Nook
*  Borders' Kobo eReader
*  Sony's Reader Pocket, Daily, or Touch Edition  
*  Apple's iPad
*  Kogan Technologies eBook Reader
*  Spring Design Alex eReader
*  Skiff Reader

Things to look for:
*  Battery life: 20,000-30,000 page turns
*  Software that allows you to purchase from your favorite bookstore
*  Comfortable hold
*  Can be registered as an Adobe Digital Edition reader
*  Decent photo viewer
*  Memory card slots for additional storage
*  Bookmark feature
*  Can navigate through the index and pages easily
*  Displays a pdf layout larger than 6 inches
*  Comes with free ebooks
*  Headphone jack
*  Protective cover
*  Decent price!
*  Wireless
*  Size of display

Which one do I want for Christmas?  Whichever one ends up under my tree!  Otherwise, I'll be using this one:
Here's a great site I found with some pretty thorough reviews: 
Don't worry if you missed Cyber Monday; there are plenty of great deals still out there.  Good luck!

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Wednesday, November 24, 2010

New TSA screenings

Would you like to see me naked on a scanner or just pat down my private parts with my clothes on? That’s pretty much the choice we give the TSA employees as we arrive at their security checkpoints in airports these days.

By now, you’ve probably heard about the scandal that has covered airwaves and TV news shows, relating the story about a passenger who refused to be groped or X-rayed, yelling “Don’t touch my junk!” This past week he thought he’d figure out a good plan on another business trip: drop his pants at the security gate. The TSA wasn’t amused and arrested him for indecent exposure.

A couple of weeks ago I flew out of Las Vegas for a business trip and noticed that the security checkpoints were different. I was escorted to a glass-encased box, so I held my breath, thinking it was one of those machines that used to blow a big burst of air on you, checking for explosives. When nothing happened, I asked the TSA guy what the scoop was and he said they were new X-ray machines.

I wasn’t given a choice of how to be checked, nor was I informed that an off-site TSA employee had just seen me nude through the machine. Ignorance was bliss. Now that I know, it’s going to be a less pleasant experience. Am I worried about being seen naked on a reverse X-ray machine? I’d really rather not, but I’m pretty confident that there are very few TSA employees desperate enough to WANT to see my aging body. Do I want to be groped or stripped? Absolutely not. Given the choice, next time I’ll walk through the visual strip search machine with a wink.

This new security procedure has everyone talking around the water cooler, and often with unfriendly gestures. Several of my work associates are hesitantly headed off to the airport today to visit loved ones for Thanksgiving. Some of you are doing the same. What can you expect? Someone in front of you is probably going to freak out. Maybe that someone is you. Get to the airport early.

Passengers have 4 choices:

1. Don’t fly.

2. Walk through the machine and try not to think about the TSA employee watching you naked.

3. Agree to be groped inappropriately in public.

4. Ask to be groped inappropriately in a private room, if it’s available.

Homeland Security Chief, Janet Napolitano, urges Americans to be patient. "Al-Qaeda and those inspired by its ideology are determined to strike our global aviation system and are constantly adapting their tactics for doing so," she said in a USA Today article. "Our best defense against such threats remains a risk-based, layered security approach that utilizes a range of measures, both seen and unseen, including law enforcement, advanced technology, intelligence, watch-list checks and international collaboration."

Sounds a bit clinical and vague, eh? When you’re being man-handled, you’re probably thinking more about how violated you feel than how protected you are. This kind of feels like the terrorists have won. So what else can we do?

Benjamin Franklin’s famous quote keeps ringing in my ears: “Those who give up their liberty for more security deserve neither.” With all the angry talk, however, threatened protests over these new airport screening procedures have failed to materialize. Is it because people are largely uninformed, they don’t care, or are they too tired and just want to get to Grandma’s house for Turkey Day without the drama? A Gallup/USA Today poll released this week shows that, while the public doesn’t like the new procedures, they’re not bothered enough to fight it.

The truth is, we simply don’t have all of the answers. For example, how much radiation are we really being exposed to when passing through the new scanners? I’ve seen a wide range of answers from supposed experts. Are our children going to be exempt? So far they haven’t been. Polls on CNN show that most adults don’t mind walking through the body scanners, but are furious when their children have to be patted down like criminals. And to think that I felt violated when we started having to take our shoes off at the security gate after 9/11.

James Babb has co-founded the “We Won’t Fly” campaign, encouraging Americans to opt out of the radiation scans by leaving the airports empty. The heightened screening measures began on November 1 and TSA is happy to announce that only 3% of passengers have actually gotten the physical treatment, with even fewer actually taking the time to complain about the new procedures.

And what about racial profiling? Why do we have to be treated like a criminal while our government tip-toes around certain ethnicities for fear of offending? Is being politically correct more important than protecting our citizens these days? The topic of Israel’s security has come up, as that constantly threatened country seems to be able to protect passengers without incident. Granted, their security process is rumored to take a couple of hours.

I would like to suggest a great alternative to body scanners at airports. How about a booth you can step into that will not X-ray you, but will detonate any explosive device you may have on you? I see this as a win-win for everyone, with no profiling. It also would eliminate the costs of a long and expensive trial. Justice would be swift. Case closed!

You're in the airport terminal and you hear a muffled explosion. Shortly thereafter, an announcement comes over the PA system . . . "Attention standby passengers — we now have a seat available on flight number XXXX.” What do you think? Pretty good, right?

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Sunday, November 21, 2010

Giving Thanks

Here in America we’re gearing up for Thanksgiving this Thursday.  What that means, to all of you readers outside the country, is that women across this land are stressing out about Turkey Day grocery shopping, house-cleaning, decorating, recipes, party games, transportation of family members, dinner conversation etiquette and all of the other things on our “To Do” list to be prepared for the big day.

Of course, what Thanksgiving REALLY represents is an opportunity to fill our homes with people we love and express thanks for all that we have in our lives.   How wonderful to have an opportunity to pause and reflect on the good things that surround us, especially when the world has been focused so much on the bad news lately.   I am thankful for the mess to clean after a party because it means I have been surrounded by friends and family!

There are plenty of simple things we can all do to reduce the holiday stress and enjoy the “reason for the season”:

  1. Have a plan and get organized.
  2. Make a list of everything you need and then shop early.
  3. Prepare as many of the food dishes as you can ahead of time so that you spend less time in the kitchen on the big day.
  4. Simplify the menu.
  5. Defrost the turkey with plenty of time to spare!
  6. Restaurants and grocery stores can help out your time crunch when you purchase some of their prepared foods….guilt-free.
  7. Organize some crafts and activities to keep the little ones busy and happy.
  8. Plan an after-dinner activity.
  9. Don’t try a new recipe for the first time.
  10. Clean the oven before the big day of cooking so the food doesn’t get any odd flavors.
  11. Guests often want to be helpful, so don’t be shy about assigning tasks.
  12. Enjoy!    There is no use sweating the small stuff…and this is all small stuff.  

Years from now, people may not remember what food was served, what words were spoken, or even what they did on Thanksgiving Day, but they will always remember how they FELT.  Fill your home with love, kind words, and lots of gratitude.

Thanksgiving can really be broken down into 2 parts: Thanks and Giving.  Fill your Turkey Day with both!

Below are some really helpful web sites that will make your tasks easier and even a little more fun and they’re all FREE!     Free Thanksgiving cooking hotline       Everything Thanksgiving!    Thanksgiving screensavers    Thanksgiving decorations   Thanksgiving flashcards & worksheets

Have a WONDERFUL Thanksgiving this year!


Sister Thrifty
a/k/a    Trina Boice

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Sunday, November 14, 2010

Las Vegas Phantom Phan

                                         Phantom Phan
Fireworks on stage?  Yep, the Las Vegas production of the beloved “Phantom of the Opera” has it all: gorgeous sets, beautiful costumes, stunning music, a wonderful Phantom who mysteriously appears and disappears throughout the theater, and fireworks so bright you can feel their heat from your seat.  The Venetian Hotel brags “You’ve never seen Phantom like this before” and they’re right.

While the Vegas version of the show is an edited, shorter production, it is still most worthy of a standing ovation, which last Friday night’s audience eagerly awarded the performers at the curtain call.   Some might argue that a few scenes seemed rushed, while others are grateful to see the storyline move along more quickly, but either way, the 95 minute version still contains everyone’s favorite songs. 

The haunting melodies carry your imagination away, which is a very good thing since it is often difficult to actually understand what words are being sung.    The cast is solid and the Phantom’s dramatic stage presence easily earns the largest applause from the audience. 

I recommend NOT sitting too close to the stage, as the theater itself is part of the show.  In fact, this theater was designed specifically for the show.  I loved when the stage was magically transformed into a river bed with lighted candelabras rising from the fog.  My only complaint was that most scenes were a bit too dark, but then again, so is the plot.  The famous chandelier in the Paris Opera House holds everyone’s attention several times during the show and you can almost hear the mannequins in the balcony boxes cheer with delight.

People have loved the Phantom of the Opera production for so many years that it doesn’t surprise me that Andrew Lloyd Webber has finally come up with a sequel: “Love Never Dies”, which opened recently in London.  The heart wrenching love story continues, but this time in America, ten years later.   I won’t tell you what happens, but it features Coney Island acrobatic sets, ensuring the Cirque-style production will end up in Las Vegas eventually.

Top off the Phantom with dinner at Café Lux in the Venetian and you’ve just spent a Phun night out on the Vegas Strip.


Tickets start at $59 for rear mezzanine seating and can be purchased by calling The Phantom Box Office at or (702) 414-9000, online at . Reservations for groups of 15 or more are available by calling (866) 633-0195.The Phantom VIP Experience runs $250 per person and includes the following:
  • A backstage tour of the custom-built Phantom Theatre
  • A private meet and greet with cast members
  • Premium seating in the VIP Golden Circle Section of the Orchestra.

How do you make this a thrifty event?  You can definitely pay less for tickets online, as well as at Half Price Tix venues around town.

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