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What kind of blog should Stormy’s Corner be?

Common wisdom says that successful blogs are niche blogs.  Actually Ben Casnocha puts it well when he says blogs are either niche blogs or personality blogs and each blog post gets evaluated by:

a) Does the post cover one of my preferred topics?
b) Is the post from someone I like and want to stay connected with?

So I struggle with Stormy’s Corner.  I have lots of regular readers that probably read all posts because they want to stay connected with me and secondly because the topics may or may not be interested to them.  But at the same time most of my blog visits are from somebody searching for an answer – at the moment they are searching for help stopping breastfeeding or about dogs and alcohol. I even created a "niche blog,"  Humans for Dogs, since a lot of the searches came from dog related topics from alcohol to chiropractic care to sleep.  (Breastfeeding posts are by far my most popular but I don’t feel like I have enough to say about breastfeeing to create an entire blog about it so I will just continue to post the occasional story on Stormy’s Corner.)

I’ve been reading a lot about blogging about blogging and how to make a blog successful and while I want Stormy’s Corner to be successful, I think it is right now. 

If there’s a way Stormy’s Corner could be more to you – could meet your needs more – let me know!  Comment now!

New type of cruise ship in the Carribean

The New York Times has an article about easyCruises and they sound appealing, like what I think a cruise ship should be: transportation from one island to another.  Their website says to think of them as a floating hotel.  The cabins are cheap with no frills, not even room service.  But you don’t spend much time there – you have from 9:30 in the morning until 3am the next morning to explore the islands! If you search for "easyCruise" on Flickr, all the pictures are of places – France, Carribean islands, etc – not the cruise ships.  That says a lot!  (That said, there were things to do onboard like swimming pools and hot tubs, happy hour and gyms.  It sounded like happy hour was pretty popular.)

  • It’s cheap.  I picked a random week and it was $50-70/night for two people.
  • It’s not a set time period.  You can get on or off on any given day – you should have to arrange your transportation to and from the boat.
  • It’s smaller than a typical cruise ship.
  • Less is included.  No free room service, no free food, no free drinks.
  • People tend to do their own thing more and participate less in the arranged shore activities.
  • The crowd is younger than the typical cruiseship.
  • There were even some locals on the cruise ship using it as transportation from one island to another.  (Remember you can book for just one night!)

The cruise line, easyCruise, was created by the same company as JetBlue.

Warning: The New York Times article said there was a lot of flirting, sex and topless swimming, so if that’s not your thing, this probably isn’t the cruise for you.

Photo by Rockies.

Cash or Charge? How to spend less money.

Spending cash does help you to spend less money than when you pay with credit.

Numerous personal finance experts claim that spending strictly cash will not only help keep you on a budget but will also help you spend less.  The problem I have is that I hate spending cash.  As a 11 year old I left $40 in a purse in McDonalds and ever since I’ve been terrified I’ll lose the money!  (We went back and found the $40.)  Also, I love credit cards because you never have to worry about how much cash you have, you never have to go to an ATM, and everything you spend is automatically tracked for you in a nice computerized report.  (And I pay it off every month so using credit cards is not a financial penalty.)  But I recently decided to try again for a couple of reasons:

  • I wanted to keep a budget and it’s easier to stick a couple of hundred dollars in your wallet and say "this is it for the week" than it is to track all the money you spend on gas, eating out, groceries, the coke from the vending machine, etc.
  • I think I’m over my fear of losing cash.  I realized a while back that losing the money in my wallet might make me upset but it wouldn’t really devastate me.  ($40 to that 11 year old was a lot more than $200 is to me now.)
  • I was curious … would sticking to cash make me spend less?  Would I treat money differently?

So I’ve been doing this for about a month – every Friday I put a certain amount of cash in my wallet and that’s it for the week.  If I buy gas with my credit card, I actually take that much cash out of my wallet and put it aside.  (Buying gas with my credit card is too convenient to give up.)  And it works.  I’m spending less money!  I’m not sure what I’m spending less on since I tend to track overall numbers not all the details but I don’t feel like I’m depriving myself of anything.  (If I had to guess it’s lunches by myself, snacks and impulse purchases.)  Here’s some of the reasons I think I’m spending less:

  • I’m very aware of what everything costs.  With my credit card that I don’t pay much attention to what anything costs.  Thirty seconds after I pay I couldn’t tell you what I just paid.  (I saw it, I made sure it made sense, and then I didn’t bother to store the information in my memory.)  With cash I pay attention to what things cost and I remember what I spent.
  • I make tradeoffs.  Since I can see how much is left in my budget I can say, "I’d better not eat lunch out if I want to go to sushi on Friday night."  Using credit cards I’d just do both.  (Note that giving out the lunch out if it’s by myself isn’t really giving anything up.  I just need to remember to grab leftovers at home in the morning – Frank always has lots of great leftovers in lunch size containers in the fridge.  See My Man’s Man for more on that.  I haven’t given up any lunches or going out with friends – those events are high on my priority list!)
  • Another theory that I don’t think applies to me is one from freemoneyfinance that says that if you keep $100 bills in your wallet you are less likely to spend them because you don’t want to break them.  I use $100s simply because they take up less room but I don’t think I’m any less likely to spend them than $20s.  But who knows, maybe that can be my next experiment.

What do you think?  Do you spend less when you spend cash?  If so, why?

Photo by velo_city.

Freedom of Religion = Free to be Atheist?

Either I’m on an atheism trend or the media is because I keep running across interesting news on atheism.  This letter to the editor points out that while there is freedom of religion in the United States, our founders clearly believed that everyone would believe in God.  Our currency says "In God We Trust."

I would argue that there are philosophies like Buddhism could qualify as religions and they don’t believe in "God."

What’s causing our kids to become autistic, fat, near-sighted and sleep deprived?

TV!  This latest study found
that watching TV lowers melatonin levels which can create all sorts of
nasty side effects in children.  This study (as others) linked TV
watching in kids to:

  • autism
  • obesity
  • trouble sleeping
  • eye problems
  • lower melatonin levels
  • early puberty

In adults, "the risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease
increases with each extra daily hour of television viewing among people
aged 20 to 60."

Watching TV must give people immense pleasure … otherwise I can’t
imagine why they would expose themselves and their kids to so much of
We spend nine months of pregnancy trying to eat right, drink
no alcohol, get all sorts of prenatal tests and then we plop our
toddlers down in front of another round of SpongeBob or Thomas the Tank
Engine without a second thought.

How to get others to tag your inventory

There’s a really interesting post on the LibraryThing blog about tags and Amazon.  (Actually the post is about why there are so many more tags on LibraryThing than Amazon.)  I really think it boils down to the reason that resonated with me: you spend the time tagging things you own.  Amazon won’t let me see my library (even though they want to know which books I own), much less sort my library or my tags or even my favorites, so why spend time tagging an entire building of books if my tagged books just get mixed in with everyone else’s?  On the other hand, LibraryThing, and for that matter, let me tag my books or my web pages.  I can then go back and search through my library or bookmarks by my tags.  I have no problem sharing my tags with the world if they are helpful but I tagged them for me.  So I win because I get sorted, searchable books and LibraryThing wins because they get a searchable library for everyone.  (This is different than reviews.  Amazon’s reviews have been successful because people like to share their opinions, get credit for them and have their reviews read by others.)

Things I tag: my books (in LibraryThing), my web pages (in, my posts (in Technorati.)

Would you prefer a homosexual president or an atheist one?

If you are like most people, you picked the homosexual one, but let us know below!  As James Joyner writes:

A recent Gallup poll
reveals that Americans are much more likely to elect a black man or a
woman president than a Mormon or an old man. More interestingly, they’d
rather be governed by a homosexual than an atheist

I continue to be surprised at how anti-atheist Americans are.  It makes me laugh (in an ironic way) because so many people aren’t actively religious, and if people went around preaching, they’d annoy a good many people – probably more than those that are anit-atheist!

The good news is that things are looking good for women and blacks.  See all the data here:

Yes, would
vote for

No, would not
vote for












A woman









Married for the third time



72 years of age



A homosexual



An atheist



What do you think?  Who would you vote for?  Or not vote for?