How Basketball Helps Me Stay In Touch With My Friends

basketball with friendsI used to play allot of basketball when I lived in the United States, and personally I think I was very good at it. I am pretty tall for a Vietnamese, or at least that’s what I am told, and every weekend me and my friends would go and play a quick pick up game or just shoot around and catch up on our week. It was one my favorite activities to look forward to.

So when I moved back to Ha Noi (my favorite place in Vietnam) I wanted some sense of continuity. One of the first things I did was to start playing basketball with my co-workers, who later on became my best friends.

My Favorite 5 Places To Visit In Vietnam

Ha Long Bay

Ha Long Bay

I love to travel, and even though must of my trips are to the United States, I frequently get a chance to visit Europe and neighboring Asian counties mainly because of their close proximity to Vietnam, and other times because of work related conferences. Yes, even High School teachers get to travel for work!

However, sometimes the best place to travel to is just under your nose. So here I made a mini list of my top favorite places for tourists and locals that never truly explored Vietnam.

How To Increase You Passive Income As A High School Teacher

make money with online teachingI am so excited! Next week I am finally going back to Los Angeles to visit my friends and relatives. Its been quite a while since my last visit as I took on more responsibilities at the High School I teach at, so I didn’t get a chance to take my vacation this past two years. But, now I get to combine my days off and get an extended vacation.

I think this is better since its such a long flight anyway and I would rather have an extended downtime to really relax and not rush my stay while I am in Los Angeles. This trip, however, is going to be a bit more than just the usually fun and play with friends and family, I am going to research on how to make additional income online as a High School English teacher.

How to Get Fit at Work

Staying in shape is an important part of life because we all want to function and be at our best. Living a healthy lifestyle also helps us to look attractive and to keep our weight under control. When people have to spend so much time working and taking care of their family, they have very little time to exercise. As a matter of fact, the demands of work and home can keep many people from working out on a regular basis.

Making money is essential for survival. So no one should quit working their day job just so they can exercise. However, they should be willing to include an exercise routine as a part of their daily habits. They should develop an exercise routine that does not last for more than a hour and is able to keep their body in good physical condition.

Before any person can engage in an exercise routine they must first know how to eat the proper diet. A person’s diet plays an a huge role with their overall well being. All people must consume a well balanced diet that contains the proper nutrients otherwise they will suffer bad health. Also, if a person eats a bad diet loaded with fat, calories, cholesterol and salt; then exercising will not make that much of a difference with them getting into shape.

The best foods to eat are fruits and vegetables. Both of these food groups contain no cholesterol, have very little fat, are low in calories and nearly all of them do not contain any type of salt. People are strongly encouraged to eat at least 4 servings of fruits or vegetables a day.

Grains such as oats and brown rice are low in fat and great for maintaining a healthy weight. These foods provide excellent nutrition and they are great for adding fiber to a person’s diet. People can eat meat and diary products but they should do so in moderation. A person’s diet should be limited to no more than one 4 to 5 ounce serving of meat or dairy product on a daily basis.

Eating food items such as cakes, pies, cookies and ice cream should also be limited if a person is serious about staying in shape. Again, a person can eat processed food as long as they do it in moderation. Having a candy bar or eating a piece of chocolate once a week is not going to ruin your body and give you poor health. You should not go to the extreme by restricting all processed or snack foods from your diet. Just eat these items on a limited basis.

Once a person develops good eating habits they will then be ready to exercise. Since a lot of people are so busy between work and dealing with their family, the best place for them to work out is inside of their home. They can use a treadmill to walk or run in place after they are finished dealing with their children. They can also lift weights in the home as well. Sometimes people can use a P90X workout schedule which is a professionally developed workout routine. P90X is not an easy workout program, but it gives great results, so i encourage you to learn more about it and it’s workout schedule with calendar at this website.

Everyone is strongly encouraged to create a cardiovascular and/or weightlifting routine that can be used at least 3 times a week. If a person does not like to run or lift weights they could also dance or perform chores or activities that causes them to burn calories. The main thing that people should do is be willing to get up and move around in order to burn off calories and to keep off fat.

An at home exercise program does not have to be boring or restrictive. You can even utilize pull up bars to make your workout routine more exciting and compelling. People just have to use their imaginations to create different routines that will produce good results. Ultimately, if you want to get in shape and stay that way you must eat a healthy diet and you work out on a regular basis.

How People Can Save Money On Dental Implants

People look for many ways to save money on different procedures that they might require. This is especially the case for dental procedures. Dental implants can particularly be expensive to some in that they might cost thousands of dollars to get.

As great as dental implants can be, it is important to think about what one can do in order to save money on such implants. These are great ideas that you can use as a means of keeping yourself from blowing more money than what you might be willing to spend at a given time. Dental implants can really be helpful but you have to be careful when using them so you’ll have actual implants that you can enjoy having for a quality smile.

Dental Implants Diagram

Consider the Materials

The materials that are used for getting such implants are worth exploring. Dental implants like what you will see at Dental Implants Hub can be made with resin compounds that might be less expensive than traditional ceramic materials.

Either way, you might find that most of these compounds will be less expensive than gold fillings. It is not as though you will be adding any precious metals into your brilliant smile when you add dental implants into the mix.

Check Your Insurance

If you have dental insurance then you might have coverage for this process. Not all dental insurance companies will cover the costs associated with dental implants but it is worth exploring just to be sure.

If you don’t already have this form of insurance then you should at least go after this option. If you want to get dental insurance then you can always compare options to see what they will cover. The odds are you will save a great deal of money on any dental services you might require when you get dental implants.

Go To Other Countries

You might find that you will spend less money on dental implants if you go into other countries. Places like Spain and Mexico have been popular for offering cheap dental care and it could really be attractive for all to explore. Of course, you have to be near a border to use this but you might save about half the cost of an implant if you go to a different country.

Check Your Government Benefits

If you are an older person then you might get some benefits from the government. You might find that government benefits might cover some of the charges associated with your dental implants. If you take a careful look at the terms associated with what benefits you qualify for then you might end up saving a good deal of money on whatever it is you are trying to acquire.

You should be aware of the many things that are open when finding different dental implants. If you watch for what you can get then you might find that dental implants will be very easy and beneficial for your life. These implants can be expensive but you should still think about what might be open in any case that you might have.

How to Find a Truck Driving Job as an Ex-pat in Vietnam

Coming home from war, and overseas battles presents a number of problems for ex-pats; one such problem is that of finding a job when you come home. But, there are resources out there, service centers, and job agencies that you can turn to, when you want to find out how to find a truck driving job as an ex-pat in Vietnam. Due to the fact that there are many trucking careers, you can find one that is specifically tailored to those who have served, and are looking for new careers and work when they return.

Online boards

There are dozens of online sites that are dedicated to trucking jobs, and ex-pats which include internations.org/vietnam-expats, and expatscareers.com. In addition to these, there are also other sites where you can visit, to search for jobs. Online ex-pat sites, job boards, and US government based sites, are all places you can go when searching for a job. These sites not only have jobs that are dedicated to ex-pats, but also have industry specific careers, in the trucking industry, for those who are looking to drive a specific type of truck on the road. Depending on your state, and what type of trucking job you are looking for, there are many online resources that you can search through.

Local offices

Local government offices are also set up to help you find jobs as an ex-pat. Depending on where you live, you are likely to find job agencies, government agencies, and other local offices, that are dedicated to finding you a job. Local trucking schools also offer special positions to those who have come home, and are looking for a trucking job that is local, or does not require as much on road travel, for those who want to stay at home with their families now that they are back.

Online (general) job boards

Like the sites that are dedicated to ex-pats and trucking jobs, there are also general job boards. Although they do not provide jobs for ex-pats, they do have general trucking jobs you can search through. And, upon going in for an interview, or submitting an application, you will be able to inform them of your status, and many companies are likely to give you a special privilege or offer you a certain position, as you are a former vet, and have served for the country for many years prior to returning home.

Many online sites are specifically tailored to vets; although not all offer the type of trucking job you are looking for, you can find dozens of sites to visit, and compare the different job openings that are currently available. NO matter what type of trucking job you are looking for, or what type of work you plan on doing, there are many companies that do provide special options and jobs to vets, and offer different local driving jobs for those who are interested in staying close to home, and driving fewer hours on a weekly basis in this positions. Visit www.truckerstraining.com to learn more tips about trucking and truck driving jobs.

Flying Home to Vietnam During the Great Recession

I have lived in the United States for many years. In fact, I have already managed to establish my life here. This is where I met my wife, where my kids were born, and where I bought my first house. I have also made a lot of friends. Despite this, I still miss Vietnam very much. After all, my parents, siblings, other family members, and childhood friends are still there. Also, it's where I grew up and the only place I call home.

Unfortunately, being a public school teacher does not give me the luxury of being able to fly home anytime I want. As you may already know, the salary of public school teachers is only within the mid-range bracket. Needless to say, I only make enough to pay the mortgage on our house, my car, send the kids to school, cover day to day expenses, and set aside a little bit for savings. However, my wife and I still make it a point to somehow put some money aside for what we call our "Vietnam Fund".

When the Great Recession happened, I had a great deal of trouble managing my finances. No, I didn't lose my job but my salary was cut back significantly that I couldn't pay most of the bills. My wife lost her job so I was the only one in the family making money at the time. Of course, my credit rating suffered greatly.

If that wasn't enough, I got news that my father suffered a stroke and had to be admitted in a hospital. I was scared and heartbroken because during this time, it was impossible for us to travel to Vietnam due to financial constraints. Unlike in Australia where they offer cash loans for people on Centrelink in case of emergencies, people in the US do not have this option.  Still, I did everything I could to find money to finance a trip to Vietnam so I could visit my father. That was when I stumbled upon a website about bad credit personal loans.

It was a long shot but it was my only hope so I gave it a go. I applied and got approved within a couple of days. Yes, the interest rates were high but it was a price I was willing to pay because it may be the last time I get see my father alive. I decided to not take my family with me on this trip because we just couldn't afford it. I only used up less than half of what I got from my loan and asked my wife to take care of some our bills with the remaining money.

Fast forward to today, I have already managed to repay that loan. Additionally, my credit rating has reached an acceptable number since I've repaid my debts. About my father, he has recovered – rather miraculously, mind you – from the massive stroke. While it may have been a big risk to take that loan during that time, I have no regrets. The smile of my father's face as I walked through the doors of his hospital and the relief I felt when I saw him alive, was definitely more than worth it.

How to Save Money for What is Important to You

As you can imagine, being an English teacher is not the most glamorous position in the world, nor is it the best paying. Add to this the fact that I am Vietnamese and frequently travel back and forth between the United States and Vietnam and it seems like I am constantly strapped for cash. I am constantly looking for ways to save money in order to be able to continue to do the work that I love as well as stay in close contact with my family.

What Does Saving Money Mean to You?

When you think about saving money, for many people this means spending no money and living on a stringent budget. While this is certainly one way to save money, it also doesn’t allow for much fun! For me, being thrifty is not about depriving myself of things. Instead, it is about getting the best value for my money!

Do Things Yourself to Save!

One thing I have learned is that I am capable of learning how to do just about anything. I don’t mean that I think I can read a book about brain surgery and then perform it, of course. However, there are many things that people hire a professional for that they are capable of doing themselves.

Recently I decided I wanted to make some changes in my home, starting with new paint. I looked into hiring someone to come in and paint for me, but found that the expense was far more than I wanted to spend for something I could easily do myself.

 I did some research about the easiest way to paint interior walls and discovered that purchasing an airless paint sprayer would save both time and money, making it a worthwhile purchase. I looked online for paint sprayer reviews and found this site, which gave me all the information I needed to make an informed decision. Not only was I able to paint my walls for a fraction of the cost, but having the airless paint sprayer enables me to make simple changes whenever I want.

Do Your Research Before Making a Purchase

Being willing to take the time to do the research before making any purchase is perhaps the most important aspect of being a thrifty shopper. While of course the actual cost of an item is important, you also have to look at what you are getting. For example, I have several small pets that shed copiously. My vacuum recently died so I was in the market for a new one.

When I did an online search for the best vacuum for pet hair, I stumbled upon The Vacuum Guy. On this site, not only does he list the different types of vacuums, but also includes the cost and consumer reviews. By reading these, I was able to decide which vacuum was best for my needs, find out whether the initial cost would pay off in the end, and be fairly sure I was getting a bargain.

Simplification is Key

For many people, shopping thriftily is something only poor people “have” to do. However, for me, it is simply a way to be sure I have the money to do the things I love to do. I often purchase my clothing at thrift stores (and for a great article about thrift shopping, read “Rag Time” in The New Yorker), walk to work when I can in order to save bus fair, and eat out rarely.

In addition to saving money for the important things in life like traveling to spend time with my family, learning to be a conscious shopper has helped my simplify my life in many ways. I find that I always have the money I need, because I don’t actually “need” very much!

Missing Vietnamese Bingo

I am accustomed living here in the United States. I am familiar with the food, culture, and place. I know every street and corner; I can walk around the city wearing blindfolded. But sometimes I stop and wonder about home, Vietnam. I could not help but miss the days when I stayed at Vietnam.

Vietnam is a Southeast Asian country that has pride in its rich culture and tradition. They have a rich traditional past that the people had managed to preserve. They practice humanity, harmony, and proper values. They love music, literature and festivals. They have managed to maintain all these as they aspire for greatness and prosperity.

If there is something I really miss from my hometown that would be our games particularly Bai Choi, also known as Vietnamese bingo. It is normal to see a game of Bai Choi played along the streets of Vietnam. It is a fun, thrilling and an exciting game of luck.

The game originated from Thua Thien Hue Province 400 years ago and was played during the Spring Festival. But after some time, people got tired of the game. Luckily, people of Hoi An in Quang Nam Province appreciated and revived the game. Unlike other games, this is a lively festivity with music and laughter. The lyrics of the music send a message of patriotism, affection, human values and opinions on current issues.

The game is quite simple. Even foreigners visiting my hometown could play the game; they have even tried playing the game over and over again. They say the music and laughter of the people makes them attracted to the game.

Let me teach you how it is played.

There are paddles wherein a card is attached. On each card there are three names of chess pieces. There is a total of 30 chess pieces with different names. There are also bamboo sticks; each bamboo stick has a name of the chess piece written.

At the beginning of the game, the players are free to select and buy their card from a banker, locally known as nha cai. A hieu officiates the game by randomly drawing the bamboo sticks. Once the bamboo has been drawn, the hieu will sing a folksong representing the chess piece. If the player has the chess piece that has been drawn, he gets a yellow banner or flag. In order to win the game, a player must collect three flags.
The usual prize for the winner at the end of the game is a lantern, a specialty of their province.

It is hard to find Vietnamese bingo at the United States. Bingo here is different. It consists of a card with a 5 X 5 grid with random numbers on written on the boxes. Each box has its own coordinates. The coordinates with the number are drawn from a fishbowl. If you have the right coordinates and number, you can shade that box. In order to win, a specific pattern must be formed.

There are legitimate online websites wherein I could play bingo (check some here http://www.bingositesland.com). Some of the sites are South Beach Bingo, Bingo Hall, and Bingo for Money. Bingo is also played during fundraisings and church activities. It is one of the efficient ways to earn money.

The cards used in Bai Choi and American bingo are different. Both Bai Choi and bingo are a game of luck. It has the same rules and objectives: the first to complete a set or form a pattern wins. Despite the differences, I am glad that there is something close to what we have back at Vietnam. It makes me feel at home.

The Best Lawnmower Purchase

It’s that time of year again, school is out the sun is shining, the days are getting longer, and travel to places unknown is calling my name. But who is going to take care of the lawn? Let's face it, I would much prefer to spend my time and money on expanding my travel resume but as a homeowner it must be done. It’s time to drag out the hoses, weed killer and fertilizer, and tune up the lawnmower in order to get that yard under control before it’s too late and I can't find the time to get away. So, I went and pulled out the old trusty lawnmower and went to crank it up.  Only to find that old mower of mine was just that, old. The wheels are crooked, the bag attachment is held on with electrical tape and no one needs to worry about mosquitoes around here when the exhaust starts rolling out. Gas mask, anyone?

With great sadness I took to the internet on a mission to find a new mower.  I started out looking for the best lawn mower reviews and stumbled on www.lawnmowerjudge.com.  Keeping in mind my busy summer travel plans, I wanted to start with a mower that’s easy to use and maintain. Of course, it had to also be affordable. Oh, but how I was drawn to the new flashy Zero Turn riding mowers that would make the neighbors green with envy.  Although I’m sure they would have all gotten a huge laugh at my inept attempts to maneuver such a large machine around my yard.  On to a nice standard mower, the roar of a motor and the smell of fuel in the morning just screams summer. But again, a bit much.  Then I found it, quiet, clean, easy to use, low maintenance, and good for the environment. A reel mower. I could even mow at 5 am and the neighbors wouldn’t complain. 

I had made up my mind. Now I had to find the best reel mower reviews online. I’m not going to just go out and grab the first mower that catches my eye. It’s always important to figure out what fits your needs best first. I’ve determined that a reel mower fits the demands of my life most effectively.  Next, it’s best to do your research and find the item that not only meets your demands, but also fits your budget both in the long term as and short term. Avoid having to make monthly payments or using credit cards to fund your purchase if possible. There is great satisfaction in being able to make a purchase and know there are no strings attached, the savings in interest will be well worth it. Besides I have sights to see,  places to go, new cultures to explore, and I would much rather spend my time and money on that than I would on mowers, gas, blades, and oil. A reel mower does exactly that for my needs. Will it do the same for yours?

A Medical Alert System for My Mother

I always wanted to be a teacher. I was probably the only boy in first-grade who was not fascinated by firefighters, policemen and astronauts. Both my parents were teachers and that had a profound influence on my thinking from an early age. I was always a good student, and my friends were surprised when I took up English after high school. I worked at a local public school for some time before Vietnam beckoned me. I got an opportunity to work with a nonprofit and teach English to underprivileged Vietnamese children. Although many people discouraged me, it was one of the best decisions of my life. The satisfaction I have at the end of the day makes me forget everything. The only concern was my mother’s health and safety.

My mother has always supported me. She was a strong woman until my father passed away a few years ago. The tragedy impacted her health badly. I wanted her to move to an assisted care facility but she was adamant about living in her house. Assisted Care facilities are expensive as well. My mom could not afford it, and I (with my small paycheck) could not support her either.

A friend of mine told me about medical alert systems, his mom had one and they loved it. The system comes with a base station that can be connected to the phone line. There is help button on the base station. Subscribers also get a detachable “help button” that can be worn as a necklace or a bracelet. Your parent can use it when she is away from the base station in another room of the house. In case of an emergency, the senior can press the button and get connected to a monitoring agent within seconds. The agent will assess the situation and procure appropriate help immediately, even if your parent is unable to talk or move.

There are several medical alert system choices in the market today and I did my research using the reviews at this website. I looked at Philips LifeLine and apart from the base station and the detachable “help button,” the company offered check-in service and voice extenders for an additional price. MobileHelp was comparable in terms of price and service. Their detachable “help button” came with a microphone. Other companies such as Medical Guardian and Bay Alarm Medical also offered several cool features including voice extenders, lock boxes, medical monitoring, and mobile alerts.

After extensive research, we decided to go with Life Alert because I found that it was the most reliable medical alert provider in the business. Although the base station has a range of only 150 feet, it works well for my mother who lives in a small house. We signed up for fire, smoke and CO detection as well because my mother has been forgetful with the stove lately. We pay only $50 each month for the coverage. Another attractive feature is professional installation. Life Alert is the only company that offers it. I ordered the system online from Vietnam and it was set up at my mother’s house within no time.

My mother is very happy with the service, and I have the peace of mind knowing she is safe now. Thank you, Life Alert for helping us out.

Life as an English High School Teacher – Vietnamese Style

Many people usually think that teaching English is only done by native speakers of the language. Who else would better teach the language than those who have known it and have spoken it ever since they were young? However, many would now disagree with this. Nowadays, there are many English teachers that are not native English speakers, and some of them actually come from far flung places, including me.

 

Education and Travels

Being a Vietnamese English high school teacher is no easy feat, especially if you teach in the United States. I have always valued education and I have always wanted to teach what I know to others, and so I took this opportunity to be able to teach as a sign that I really am in the right path. It was not an easy task to teach something I was not brought up to, but it was rewarding as well. Seeing and being able to share to all my students, no matter where they came from, always complete my day.

 

My life as a teacher is also affected by my life as a sort of commuter. I don’t stay for very long periods of time in the US and travel back to my home country, Vietnam. This is one advice for people who go abroad- to go back to your country if you have the opportunity to do so. It would be a good idea to go back and pick up new things from your country that you can share with others when you back to the States, and vice versa. It’s tiring and tedious at times, but once you go back your worries and tiredness all go away.

 

Financial Worries

I also believe in investing your money and other properties in the right way, and I especially held on to this belief when I first got to the US. I was not a rich man, and so putting my money where it should be was one of my top priorities in order to survive my new life, and until now I keep this in mind. I tried many methods to keep my financial status stable, including investing in the stock market, putting my savings in a trusted bank, and going online to strategize with binary options trading. At first I had trouble dealing with investments and my binary options trading account and some others, but I eventually got the hang of it; I recommend immigrants to do it as well.

 

All in all, my life here in the United States had not been easy or simple. There were times that I thought I would not make it, but then perseverance and hard work got the best of me. It’s hard to be in a place you’re not familiar with, and I know that very well. However, I kept in mind that in the long run, my passion and dedication are things that helped and would still help me survive, and I know that many people who are in my situation before will become happier and more fulfilled as I am now, too.

“If I wasn’t a Teacher, I’d be a Barber”

Photo by philosophygeek and reproduced under Creative Commons

Have you seen the movie “Don’t Mess with the Zohan”? That movie was definitely worth a laugh. However, I find his dream of becoming a barber to be a great one.

I have always believed that being a barber is a legitimate vocation and a great career choice. This is because it is simply a very fulfilling job. Come to think of it, working as a barber is not about your client. It is all about you. Being a barber is a great avenue to express creativity and have fun while working. In fact, this industry has truly grown to be a Mecca for self-creativity and expression.

That is something I cannot really say about some other supposed “good” jobs out there. In fact, I sometimes feel that if I had not been a teacher, i would definitely be a barber.

Why would I want to be a barber?

Well, it is not a stressful job. A busy workplace can often times be more stressful than the work itself. I have seen a lot of my friends experience this. I have experienced it as well. You know how unruly a bunch of teenagers can be inside the classroom.

However, I’m sure this is not the case for barbers. In salons and barber shops, the workplace itself is never too crowded to be stressful. Yes, there may be a lot of customers in queue but, as I have observed, barbers tend to work as a team in catering to the needs of these customers effectively.

I could even have my own shop…

Contrary to what you may think right now, a barber’s career is actually a great one for growth. That is because a barber can easily compile a portfolio of his or her work and put up her own barber shop in the future. That is a great leap from becoming an employee to a businessman.

We all know that engaging into business is a far better option to secure your future than just work yourself out until you retire.

I would need professional training…

But, I think it would be great for me to undergo training in a barber school. Well, personal creativity and talent is one thing. It is another to have these skills enhanced with professional help. That help can definitely be found in barber schools.

In a service-oriented career, I believe that raw talent can get one far; but without guidance, it could limit options. Enrolling in a barber school though can provide me with a much needed professional training to improve my talent and skills dramatically. I think it can open me up to a wide range of styles and approaches to hair trimming and styling, which I can draw from.

Yes, I could definitely be a great barber. Visit this website and read on how to become a barber!

Get INTO Politics!

I have spent a lot of time over the years doing a lot of traveling. One of the things I find of particular interest when I come back home is how little people can be involved in their local governments. How little people know about or are involved with politics in general. As I have made a career of teaching people across the world, I feel particularly qualified to help others to become more involved with government.

Learning the names of your Representatives and Senators is a great start. You would be surprised to find out how many people can’t name a single representative from his or her own state! If you have no idea where to start, you can check out this website. For senators, check out this website: http://senate.gov/. Just type in your zip code and follow the links.

Once you have their identities squared away, you need to share your concerns, opinions or views with them on local issues. These are the people who represent you and your area in Washington DC. If people from your area do not know who their rep is or do not share their opinions and views with him/her, you give that person the ability to take on their own agenda. This is never in your best interest!

You are going to have to either watch the news, or consume it via some other media source. Basically keep up to date with current events, particularly in your hometown or around Washington. If you do not know what is going on, your voice is not going to be all that important. In 2014 you do not have to invest too much time to stay up to date.

You don’t have to go knocking on doors or calling direct anymore either. USE SOCIAL MEDIA! You’re on there anyway. There are tons of (literally thousands) of political blogs out there. Twitter is an easy, quick way you can stay up to date and also voice some of your own opinions. Do be careful you are following a subjective source with this one though. Many of these sources are trying to promote their own agendas.

Stuck on ideas? Here are a few you could start with:

  • The debt ceiling. Washington managed to side step the shutdown toward the end of last year by passing a budget plan. The debt ceiling was not addressed and another shutdown may be the result.
  • Immigration. Obama mentioned it as a priority in his 2013 year end speech. The question here is what exactly can be done and is any road to legalization of immigrants any sort of option?
  • Obamacare. An easy target, but important nonetheless. Many of the technical problems have been fixed, but there are a ton of questions that still remain. It would take a novel to get through them all.
  • Healthcare in general is a good place as any to start a journey into learning about politics as it is one of the biggest issues we face as a nation by far. Currently, a doctor’s office visit in the US costs 4 to 5 times more than in the rest of the world. Our for-profit system even has medical salaries on the rise, while quality and availability of care is trending downwards!
  • You don’t have to tackle an issue as big as healthcare though, there is nothing wrong with starting smaller. Another hot topic of conversation is how hunters use game cameras over food plots to attract and kill deer. Just a suggestion for an easy one to start with!
  • Volunteer jobs at a local office of your political party are pretty easy to find. Town meetings are generally held a couple of times a year. You will be involved with budget decisions, roadway maintenance, educational issues as well as environmental concerns. You may also consider becoming a neighborhood precinct representative for your political party.

This country was founded on the idea that no voice would be too small. That everybody would be active and participate, and that is how the government works best. If people do not express their voice they are at the mercy of the people that have been elected, and have no one to blame but themselves. If you take action on even one of the ideas from this article you will be well on your way to being a contributing member to your government!

Expecting A Baby In Vietnam?

‘How excited are you to be expecting a baby!”
That will be the first sentence you’ll hear from Vietnamese friends and even waiters at a restaurant. In Vietnam, both elders and children are highly regarded – you and your future infant will receive lots of love, consideration and care from folks you meet in Vietnam!

Most of the tourist attractions and tours in Vietnam are not dangerous for pregnant women to see, as they don’t entail high levels of physical demand. However, it’s always a good idea to consult with one or more of your doctors in advance of your trip to see whats ok and not ok if you suspect you may be due during your visit to Vietnam. Keep track of how far along you suspect you are and whether it may coincide with your vacation by using, for example, an online pregnancy test, which you can find here.

In the biggest cities such as the capital, Ho Chi Minh City or Danang and Hanoi, there are practices and hospitals that are of a high standard in the event you go into labor, but if you’re traveling to the countryside or mountainous regions, there might not be any at all so be warned.

Should all go well, in Vietnamese customs, there are lots of superstitions associated with the newborn baby after arrival which you might want to bear in mind.

For example, you should at no point give too much praise to the newborn baby because it is thought to bring bad luck in the form of ghosts and demons. If you would like to say how adorable and great your baby is, you’ve got to say it with the idiom “tro^.m via” (steal soul) before you give any such high appreciation. In Vietnam, mothers don’t say how adorable or great their baby is at everything . If you ask a Vietnamese mother about her baby, she is going to say it in the contrary ways with the idiom “tro^.m via”.

Usually newborn babies cry a lot at nighttime leading many Vietnamese to believe that he/she is frightened about their new location. To avoid this predicament, Vietnamese mothers use a needle and place seven balls of mulberry forming an amulet to put inside the baby’s pillow. After this has weaved its magic, it is thought the baby will cease to be scared and not cry any more. The amulet is believed to have the power to ward off demons and ghosts and make a baby sleep well.

In the morning of the 30th day of the baby, it’s time to formally tell all ancestors about the new member of the family so they can help to protect him/her. Several relatives are encouraged to have a little celebration on that day with the objective being the opportunity for relatives and friends give the newborn baby presents, pray for him/her to have a good life and, of course, take a good look!

I know these superstitions are quite strange but relatives have been passing them from generation to generation and they do represent the unique custom of daily life that is Vietnamese.

My Brother’s Gun Safe

People ask me sometimes if I worry about guns when I travel in the US. It seems like it’s every month now that you hear about someone going crazy, grabbing a gun, and shooting people. It’s a terrible thing, and to be honest it does cross my mind. In Vietnam, we have very strict gun laws and as a result, you don’t see these types of things happening. Here’s a good article from the opposite perspective, an American visiting Vietnam.

So you can imagine my surprise when I went to visit my brother and he had bought a handgun! At first I was mortified – how could he bring something so dangerous into his house? He told me that his coworkers had taken him to a shooting range, and that he thought it was a fun hobby to take up.

Now mind you the last time he took up a hobby it was photography, and he was reading this website on how to become a photographer. That hobby I can understand – you produce something beautiful that you can share with others. It’s the opposite of a gun because a gun can only destroy things!

But I digress. When my brother showed me his gun I may have overreacted a bit, because in reality, I was impressed with the way he was storing it. I would know because I made him show me every safety precaution he had taken before I would stay another minute in his house!

First, he had done his research. He started out by identifying which gun he wanted to buy, and made sure there was a trigger lock that worked well. Second, he went through gun safe reviews on this website, and chose a highly rated safe. Like the article mentions, there are certain brands to avoid, and he didn’t buy from them.

He decided to go with a Paragon 7775 so that he could store other valuables with the gun. He chose to store it in an upstairs closet, and used the option to bolt it down to the floor. Then he put a heavy lock on the closet (it’s a spare one that holds off-season clothes).

So to recap, to use this gun, you would need two separate keys (which are stored in two separate places in the house), and you’d have to know the combination to open the safe. It’s not very likely that anyone will be stealing his gun, and his kids would have a hard time getting through all those security measures.

He also educated his family well, following the advice on the National Institute of Health website to a “t”. When he brought the gun home, he sat his kids down and explained gun safety to them. He told them that they should never touch a gun and to treat every gun as if it were loaded.

Really, since he’s living in the US, he should have had this talk with them a long time ago, because when they go visit their friends there’s always the chance of a gun in the house.

I slept better that night knowing that the gun was locked up well, but that’s not to say I was happy about!