Fire In The Dryer

dryerIt was just a normal day of drying clothes.  I was in another room when I heard my wife yell.  I went to see what was going on and she explained that the dryer – which had been “fixed” by our warranty just over a month prior – flamed out.  Yes, you read that correctly.  Flamed out.

She explained to me that when she checked on the clothes and opened the door, a flash flame came out.  She immediately jumped back.

I requested another service from our warranty company.  It didn’t matter how we explained our concern about the flame, they downplayed it.  It turned out to be that a heating element had shorted.  Their solution?  Replace it.  Easy enough right?

This was the second repair.  Even after expressing our concern about the dryer, the company ignored the concerns.  When a flame comes out of your dryer,  you tend to take it seriously.

This was my first experience with having a home warranty service.  It came with the condo that we purchased two years ago.  When the first year expired, we renewed it.  In that first year, the only issue we had was a plumbing problem.  After we renewed it we had problems with our microwave, air conditioning and then the “flaming” dryer.

The dryer was the thing that burned me the most.  When my wife and I both got no where with talking to a supervisor, I went to Twitter with my frustrations.

This weekend, I received this email:

“We are unable to renew your Home Warranty Plan at this time, and we wanted to thank you for allowing us the opportunity to protect your home for the last year.  It has been our pleasure to serve you.”

Bull hockey.

There are two reasons they have decided not to renew our plan:

  1. My Twitter post
  2. Too many service calls over the past year

Well, honestly, I wasn’t going to renew with them anyway when the current warranty expires later this month.

If you Google the top ten Home Warranty companies, here is what you will find:

  1. American Home Shield
  2. Choice Home Warranty
  3. First American Home Warranty
  4. Select Home Warranty
  5. TotalProtect Home Warranty
  6. HMS Home Warranty
  7. Landmark Home Warranty
  8. 2-10 Home Buyers Warranty
  9. Home Warranty of America
  10. Secure Home Warranty

The warranty service we had been using isn’t on this list but our new company is.

So why have a home warranty?  Well, if something like your air conditioning system or dryer breaks it could cost you thousands of dollars to fix it or replace it.  With the home warranty service, you pay a “trade fee” (deductible) and that’s it.  It’s like having an insurance policy for your appliances and systems equipment.  Honestly, it is a gamble because you may go the entire year without needing anything like we did the first year but then get hit with several things the next year.

We are going to try a new company this time and see how things go.  A fire in the dryer makes you do things like that.




Friday Flashback: 1983 United States Football League


We take the time machine back 34 years ago when a new professional football league called the United States Football League (USFL) kicked off their first season.  This was the first successful professional spring/summer football league.  The league kicked off on March 6, 1983 and played an 18-game schedule with 12 teams:  New Jersey Generals, Washington Federals, Boston Breakers, Philadelphia Stars, Michigan Panthers, Chicago Blitz, Arizona Wranglers, Birmingham Stallions, Tampa Bay Bandits, Denver Gold, Los Angeles Express and Oakland Invaders.

The league started out not wishing to compete with the NFL but quickly changed as the USFL began signing top college athletes.  Perhaps the biggest signing was when the league signed Herschel Walker from the University of Georgia to the New Jersey Generals.  New Jersey’s first game at Los Angeles, was quickly the top-billing for ABC’s television coverage of the league’s opening weekend.   Walker  finished the season with 1,812 yards and 17 touchdowns but the Generals could only win six games.

The Michigan Panthers emerged as the first champions when they defeated the Philadelphia Stars 24-22 in the USFL Championship Game.

Several big name coaches and players played in the USFL.  George Allen was the first coach for the Chicago Blitz and led them to the playoffs in 1983.   Allen also added NFL veteran quarterback Greg Landry to his team.   Another NFL veteran, John Reaves, landed in Tampa Bay as quarterback for the Bandits.  Steve Spurrier was the head coach for the Bandits.    The leading quarterback for the USFL in 1983 was Bobby Hebert of the Michigan Panthers.  Herbert would later play for New Orleans and Atlanta in the NFL.

The Denver Gold (hate the singular nickname) led the league in attendance with an average of 41,736 fans per game.

The Philadelphia Stars finished with the league’s best record at 15-3.  They were coached by Jim Mora.  Quarterback Chuck Fusina, running back Kelvin Bryant and linebacker Sam Mills were key players for the Stars.

The league played for three seasons before it folded.  There are several reasons that the league but the main thing that doomed the league was when the owners voted to move from spring to fall in 1986.   Most of the teams folded with the prospect of competing head-to-head with the NFL.  The USFL filed a lawsuit against the NFL claiming it had established a monopoly.  The USFL sought $567 million dollars.  A jury ruled in favor of the USFL but only awarded them $1.00.

1983 Final Standings:

Atlantic Division

  • Philadelphia Stars (15-3)
  • Boston Breakers (11-7)
  • New Jersey Generals (6-12)
  • Washington Federals (4-14)

Central Division

  • Michigan Panthers (12-6)
  • Chicago Blitz (12-6)
  • Tampa Bay Bandits (11-7)
  • Birmingham Stallions (9-9)

Pacific Division

  • Oakland Invaders (9-9)
  • Los Angeles Express (8-10)
  • Denver Gold (7-11)
  • Arizona Wranglers (4-14)

Playoffs:  Philadelphia 44, Chicago 38 (ot), Michigan Panthers 37, Oakland Invaders 21

Championship:  Michigan 24, Philadelphia 22






Driving 101: Changing Lanes


Some days on the commute to or from work, I feel like I’m a slow driver in a NASCAR race.  Other drivers race past me and move in and out of lanes as if there were a checkered flag at the end.  Turn signals are optional.  Hey – they know where they are going!  That’s all that matters right?

No.  This isn’t a NASCAR race or any other kind of race.  This is highway driving.

Okay, Nashvillans, here are the official rules for changing lanes:

When changing lanes, the MOST important thing is to make sure there is clear gap in the traffic.  Then move safely and smoothly into the center of the desired lane, while maintaining your space in the flow of traffic so that no other vehicle is forced to slow down, speed up, or change lanes to avoid collision.

Okay, I know I lost most of the Music City drivers there.

When you change lanes, follow these steps:

  1. Turn on your signal.  (It’s usually located on the left side of the steering wheel)
  2. Check your mirrors.  (That shiny thing on the side of the car)
  3. Check your blind spot by looking over your shoulder. (Look up the definition of a blind spot)
  4. If it is safe, change lanes. (Remember, there’s no checkered flag at the end)
  5. Turn off your signal after completing the lane change.  (Or leave it on until you get to Florida)

Other things about changing lanes:

  • On a four-lane road where two lanes travel in one direction and two other lanes travel in the opposite direction, the right lane is designed to be the primary driving lane and the left lane is to be used for passing.
  • ALL drivers should surrender the left lane to approaching emergency vehicles.
  • Although it’s not illegal to change lanes in an intersection, it is potentially dangerous and should be avoided if possible.  (Yes, I got busted on this one recently.)

One of the most hazardous issues on the highways are when drivers decide to change lanes at the last possible moment.  This shows a lack of awareness by the driver.  Be in the lane you are supposed to be in well in advance to avoid this erratic lane change.  If you miss your turn, just get off at the next exit or change your route.  With the technology we have now, there is no reason to freak out that you will miss your one and only chance to make your move.

Nashville, please be aware of what you are doing.  It is everyone’s responsibility to make safe lane changes.




Obscure Sports News


Here are some sports stories you probably won’t see on SportsCenter….

The Major Arena Soccer League (MASL) regular season is winding down and gearing up for the playoffs.  The defending champions – Baltimore Blast – have clinched the Eastern Division title and will face the Harrisburg Heat in the division final.  The Kansas City Comets have won the Central Division and will play the Milwaukee Wave.  Soles de Sonora has won the Southwest Division and will play Atletico Baja.  The Pacific Division will feature the San Diego Sockers who will play either the Ontario Fury or Tacoma Stars in the playoffs.  Eight teams make the playoffs with the two top teams of each division qualifying for the postseason.  The playoff series will consist of a 2-game series for each round.  If the series is tied, a mini-game at the end of game 2 will be played.

The surprising Georgia Swarm still leads the National Lacrosse League (NLL) with a record of 7-1.  They lead the league with goals scored with 119 goals.  Forward Lyle Thompson leads the team with 25 goals.   The season concludes on the last weekend in April.

The New York Riveters will host the No. 3 seed in the National Women’s Hockey League (NWHL) one-game semifinal on March 17th.  The Buffalo Beauts and Connecticut Whale are currently tied for third place in the league.  The Boston Pride will play the fourth place finisher in the other semifinal matchup.  The Isobel Cup final will be played on Sunday, March 19th in Lowell, Massachusetts.

The 2017 season of Major League Soccer (MLS) will kick-off this weekend at the Portland Timbers will host Minnesota United FC on Friday.  Minnesota and Atlanta are the two new expansion teams this season.  The defending MLS Cup champions, Seattle Sounders, will began their title defense at Houston on Saturday.

The Indoor Football League (IFL) kicked off their season with the addition of the Salt Lake Screaming Eagles and the Arizona Rattlers who defected from the sinking Arena Football League (AFL).   Former AFL-Alum, Iowa Barnstormers, spoiled the Rattlers’ debut in the new league with a 51-47 win.

Speaking of the Arena Football League, they are still planning to play this season with five teams.   Their season kicks off on April 7th as the league’s two new teams – Baltimore Brigade and Washington Valor meet in D.C.   The league still plans to expand but no news at this time where they plan to place new teams.

The Montreal ChessBrahs (6-1), St. Louis Arch Bishops (6-1), Marseille Migraines (5-2) and Delhi Dynamite (5-2) lead their respective divisions in the PRO Chess League.  Wesley So lost his first game since his loss to Magnus Carlsen last summer.  In one of the best games of the week, Shakhriyar Mamedyarov overmatched So’s queen with a rook and minor pieces in the endgame.  So’s defeat, however, had little impact on the match as both teams (St. Louis and San Jose) still secured playoff berths.

Minor league hockey playoffs will be starting soon.  The top teams are Wilkes-Barre/Scranton (American Hockey League), Toledo (ECHL), Macon (Southern Professional Hockey League) and Danville (Federal Hockey League).  Of course, there are other junior leagues also getting ready for the postseason as well.










Friday Flashback: Tropical Hockey League

thlAs the National Hockey League (NHL) celebrates its centennial of hockey, it was always difficult in the early years to put a team in the Southeastern United States.  The first attempt was when the Tropical Hockey League (THL) was established in 1938.  The league played a 15-game schedule and consisted of four teams:  Coral Gables Seminoles, Miami Clippers, Miami Beach Pirates and Havana Tropicals.  All the games were played at the Metropolitan Ice Palace in Miami.   Rosters were filled with players from tryouts in Canada and most were former NHL players or former Olympians.  Ticket prices ranged from 75 cents to $2.20.

The first game was played on December 10, 1938 between the Clippers and Pirates which was claimed to be the first hockey game played in the South.  Players demonstrated the sport before the game to interested spectators.  There was also a mambo concert during the second intermission.  The Clippers won the first game, 4-3.

Leo Makarsky of the Seminoles lead the league with 16 goals.  The Seminoles won the title in the only season the league existed.

Final Standings:

  1. Coral Gables Seminoles 12-2-0
  2. Miami Clippers 7-6-0
  3. Miami Beach Pirates 5-9-0
  4. Havana Tropicals 4-11-0

The league folded after the season due to poor attendance, late start times and games that were marred by fighting.  Although there were several attempts to bring minor league hockey to Miami, it wasn’t established again until the NHL’s Florida Panthers arrived 1993.

The “Drop-Your-Burrito-In-Your-Lap” Moment


My wife recently told me the story about the time she was going through during a difficult part in her in life.  She was at the point of making a life-changing decision when she went through the drive-thru at Taco Bell and ordered a burrito.  At some point the burrito fell apart and into her lap which was the push she needed to make her decision.

If you live long enough, you will reach that point when a “burrito” falls into your lap which nudges you into the direction you need to go.

If you are like me, you will quietly take things for much longer you should and then reach your breaking point.  Each person’s moment is different.  When that breaking point is reached, there is no going back.

I reached that moment when my spirit was totally crushed by comments that pushed me to the point of making a change in my life.  I didn’t like the life I was living.  At one point I remember hearing a statement in a movie that asked:  “Are you ready to be who you are?”

I was and I made the change.  I burned a lot of bridges in doing it but I’m a better person today because of it.  Sometimes there isn’t a “plan” to do it, you just do it and you follow the path with each step you take.  Prayer is important but you also make decisions the best that you can with the information you have.

You can’t always depend on your friends, family or co-workers to have your back.  They won’t.  In my case, the people I thought would say the most or do the most – didn’t do a damn thing.  I expected a backlash that didn’t happen.  I chose the fork in the road and have been on it ever since that “burrito” moment.

Here are seven things to remember when making life changing decisions:

  1. You have the power to make decisions.  You are the only one that can make the decision.  Other people can’t make it for you.  Advice is good but only if they truly know you.
  2. Go with your gut not with your guilt.  Sometimes we choose not to make a decision because we are afraid.  Even if you make a mistake, you will adjust and learn from it.
  3. Don’t be a chicken.  If you make a decision – do it.  Don’ t look back or hang on to the decision you didn’t make.
  4. Tell others about your decision.  This will help you to stick to it.  Not that you need their approval but you will be more committed to it if you tell others.
  5. Learn from your past decisions. 
  6. Be flexible.  It won’t always turn out exactly as you think.  Be prepared to adjust.
  7. Pray, meditate or do whatever you do to have moments when you are silent.  Quiet your mind.  Remove distractions that will keep you from being focused.

You don’t need a detailed GPS for your decision, you just need to get in the car and get started.   I think many times we are much too concerned about disappointing others than we are in disappointing ourselves.   That part was always a huge insecurity for me until I realized that I was trying to make everyone else happy while I was totally miserable.  At that point when my spirit was broken, I realized all the times I was too chicken to do anything about it until that moment.

Not making a decision is STILL a decision.  It is an endless, frustrating cycle of procrastination until you drop the burrito in your lap.

Is it time for you to order a burrito?


Life’s Bye Week

I read recently about sports that have “bye” weeks factored into their regular season schedules.  These are periods in a schedule where teams will get extra rest due to either uneven amount of teams in the league or other reasons.   Teams generally use this time to regroup and simply take a break from the routine.

This past week, I had a bye week of my own. 

We got away for a few days.  Away from the usual routine.  It was a good time to get away from work for me.  Sometimes you just need to recharge your batteries.  Clear your head.  Wind down.

That’s exactly what I did.

I spent a lot of time looking at ocean waves and just thinking about random things.  When I found a drifting thought about what I needed to do at work, I would reign it in and reset my mind.  

I have known people who literally brag about how much they work, when they have worked on weekends or talking about how much vacation time they haven’t used.  I just shake my head at these people and wonder if they know what it is to have a life outside of the office.  It’s a scary thing.  It doesn’t impress me at all.

Humans are not made to work nonstop or trudging through the same routine without taking a break.  We all need it.  We have to remind ourselves that, while work is important, it shouldn’t be our life or the thing that defines us.  I remember when I was younger, I would work those long hours and volunteer for extra duties without getting paid extra because I wanted to make my mark.  I learned that it doesn’t do anything at all.  It just gets you more work and, believe me, people will take advantage of that.  I understand there are times and projects that require extra but we should never willingly subject ourselves to it because we want to get some kind of badge of courage.

It is easy for fall into the trap of doing it all but many successful people understand one thing – taking time off.  Studies have shown that you get more done quicker when you step back and recharge your brain and rest your body.  It is also proven that taking time off increases performance.  When you do not take time off, you are at risk of burnout.  

So as I watched the waves this weekend and closed my eyes to hear them crash against the shore, I let things go.  Tomorrow will take care of itself.  If God rested after creating the earth, surely I should take a timeout.  

Do I want to go back?  No I do not.  I’m recharged but I am certainly not eager to return.  In fact, I have checked my emails and see that I am going to be slammed when I walk in the door.  You might think I would have been better off by not taking the days off and working so it wouldn’t be waiting for me.  Sorry, but I wouldn’t trade it.  Life isn’t about work.  I was able to spend time with the people that are the most important to me.  

Use your vacation days.  No one gets an award for saving the most unused vacation days.  Americans get far fewer vacation days than many other countries around the world, yet we still don’t take all of our time off.  We’re not robots.  

Here are a few things that you need to do on your time off:

  • Don’t stay home.  If you do, you will be tempted to do chores around the house to replace your time at work.  Go to a place that encourages rest such as the beach, a cruise or travel.
  • Unplug the work devices.  Don’t check your work email every five minutes.  If it necessary, make only set times that you check emails.  Also remember that you do NOT have to respond to emails.
  • Take time to do nothing.  Your body and mind will appreciate being still for a change.  Most people look negatively at this as being lazy and unproductive but it will benefit you later.
  • Spend time with your family.  No one wants their tombstone to read “I wish I had spent more time at the office”.  

I see people all the time that can’t seem to break ties from the office.  Even when they retire, they are still coming back for visits.  They work all their years toward retirement yet they find themselves drawn back to the daily grind they were looking so forward to leaving.  The same is true for taking time off from work.  People talk about it but somehow they still want to be invaluable to their work.  

I hate to break this to you but do you know what happens when the day comes that you retire or leave?   They will just hire someone else and move on.  That’s why it is important that you take care of yourself and take some “bye” weeks for yourself.

I Got Your Random Act Of Kindness Right Here…


In case you missed it, today is National Random Acts of Kindness Day.  Have you experienced any yet?

Nope.  I haven’t either.

I really didn’t expect it on the commute into work.  Nashville drivers are insane.  Some dude driving a jag nearly plowed into me leaving his apartment complex because he didn’t want to stop.  Then on the interstate, he was driving really erratic – while talking on his cell phone.  Other drivers cut me off or did their usual things on the Nashville roadways.

Then I got to work.

No random acts of kindness there either.  Are you kidding me?

Aesop is quoted as saying:  “No act of kindness, no matter how small, is ever wasted.”

When I am finished this blog entry, I will look to do some random act of kindness myself.  Just because it hasn’t happened to me doesn’t mean I shouldn’t do it myself.

So what kind of things can we do today?

  • Buy a homeless person a hot drink or lunch
  • Stop and actually talk to a homeless person
  • Make a small donation to charity
  • Open a door for someone
  • Donate to your local food bank
  • Send a nice email to someone
  • Say thank you
  • Drive friendly on the highway
  • Pay it forward at Starbucks or similar store

I guess the point is to just do something kind to others.  I mean, it’s pretty bad that we actually have to have a day to remind us to be kind.  Shouldn’t we do this everyday?  Shouldn’t this be the norm?  Sadly, it isn’t.  We are so self-absorbed with our eyes on our smartphones or with tunnel vision only focusing on our own things within our tunnel.  Anything or anyone outside of our tunnel are insignificant and not worth our time UNLESS they can be a benefit to us in some way.


Just earlier today I was ranting about how it irritates me when people do not bother to even acknowledge my emails.  It is only when THEY need something that I am acknowledged.  And, if I don’t answer them right away, they are sending out a search party to find me to do what they need at the time.  Yes, no random acts – or any acts – of kindness here.

So we live in a society where it’s me and my crew and YOU don’t matter unless you have something to contribute to ME.

Yes, then I guess we do need a day to remind us to be kind to the others.

Peace out…..


Best Bluetooth Keyboard for Your iPad


For years, I searched for the perfect combination of a tablet that I could also use as a laptop.  My first attempt was a Google Nexus 7 tablet.  I found a keyboard case to go with it but it just didn’t do it for me as the keys were cramped while typing.  I eventually got an iPad and tested several keyboards.

By far, the best Bluetooth keyboard to use is the Apple Wireless Keyboard.   I can fly when typing on it.  It is absolutely the best keyboard.  The only limitation for me was that I still had to carry around two devices or find a case to carry both the iPad and keyboard.  I decided that I wanted something that made my iPad feel like a laptop.   My next purchase was a ZAGGkeys Wireless Bluetooth Keyboard made by ZAGG.  I loved it.  The keys were awesome and I loved the backlight feature on the keys.  It was also light to carry around and all together.  It was reasonably priced at around $80.00.   The only issue I had with it is that I totally wore out the hinges and had to have it replaced twice within a year.  Fortunately, ZAGG had a free lifetime replacement warranty with their product.

Then I found the Holy Grail – the ClamCase Pro keyboard.  This case is the reason I am writing the review that you are reading.  This is the best keyboard you can buy for your iPad.  Nothing comes close.  Another thing I wanted to do with my iPad was to have the option of using it as a laptop or tablet without removing the iPad from the case.  ClamCase does this perfectly.  When you are not using it as a laptop, you can simply fold the keyboard behind it and use it as a tablet which is great if you just want to play games or read.   When you fold the keyboard behind the iPad, the keyboard function is disabled.

The hinge issue I had with the ZAGG keyboard has not been a problem.  The entire mechanism is designed differently and bends with ease.  The ClamCase also gives you different angle options depending on your preference.

The keys are spaced out very well on the keyboard.  I never find myself feeling cramped.  In fact, many times I will prefer using the ClamCase keyboard than the keyboard on my home computer.  The battery can last up to 100 hours.  In fact, since I bought this in December, I have only had to recharge it once.

The case is slightly heavier than the ZAGG case but I am okay with that.  It’s still a lot lighter than a laptop.

The ClamCase is a little more expensive at around $100 for an iPad air case but I got lucky and took advantage of their Black Friday deal in November.  Even at $100 it is still worth it if you are very anal about your technology like I am.

If you are looking for a perfect solution to make your iPad into a laptop, this is it.

Take a look at their products at:



One Year With The CPAP


It has now been one year since I started using the Continuous Positive Airway Pressure (CPAP) machine and mask.  The CPAP method is used to help people with sleep apnea.  The machine forces the airway to remain open so that a person can breathe when they sleep at night.  When I went for my sleep study, the results were that I had 90 events per hour where I wasn’t breathing.  Since I have been using the CPAP machine I am averaging about two events per hour.  That’s quite an improvement but I can’t honestly say that I have noticed any difference otherwise.

I heard some folks say that they feel more rested and feel like they have gotten the best sleep of their lives.  I have not felt that way.  The only difference is that I do not experience headaches that I used to have.  I do have an occasional issue with other side effects.

If you are considering this method of treatment,  here are some things I would suggest:

Get a good doctor.   Having a good doctor that understands your specific symptoms and side effects are very important.  I started with one doctor but changed to another when they didn’t take my issues seriously.  In fact, after the first night with the mask, they were upset that I woke up with a terrible sinus headache.  They almost took it personally that I didn’t wake up feeling like I had the best sleep of my life.

Get the right machine.  If you are a mouth breather or nose breather you need to get the right machine and mask for your sleeping habits.  I went through a few styles before I settled on the one best for me.

Be patient.  Using the mask takes some adjusting.  It isn’t natural to put something over your face that is blowing air into your mouth or nose.  I felt very claustrophobic at first.  In fact, I hated it.  It took about four months for me to adjust to it.  Now, I am not aware of the air unless I take off the mask.

Noisey.  Yes, I’m not snoring the roof off but the machine does make a noise.  Not as loud as snoring but it will sound like you are on a respirator in the hospital.  Snoring does come back once-in-a-while but you have to adjust your mask, sleep positions and air pressure.

Insurance will pay but….you have to use the machine for at least four hours per night.  They also don’t pay all of the costs.  The medical supply company you use will want you to change out your supplies more often than you really need to.  Just keep your equipment clean and change the filters.

Machine isn’t a fix-all.   You still have to change some eating habits and exercise.  Losing weight is a must.  (Yep, I’m preaching to myself on this one.)

I have a love-hate relationship with my CPAP.  I dread every night when I put it on.  I do go to sleep faster.  Unfortunately, if I sleep too long with the mask I will wake up feeling bad.  I have some issue with dizziness and keep Dramamine handy or other over-the-counter medications to clear the cobwebs.

The CPAP method is not for everyone.  That’s why you need a good doctor.  However, the treatment of sleep apnea is important for better health and reduce the risks of heart disease, stroke, diabetes and other effects caused by the lack of oxygen.  Do take it seriously.  Even with the adjustments I have made, I have to believe that it has been a benefit for me.   Breathing at night is kind of important.