Monday, May 9, 2016

An open letter to Donald Trump and other presidential candidates

Let me start off by saying that I know I have little to no shot in hell of getting a response to this post, but it sums up some questions I have to the program associated with the presumptive Republican nominee - or whatever is the name du jour to describe the current status of the candidacy of Donald Trump.
(considering we are reading about meetings with Romney and Kristol about a third (party) candidate and the various degrees to which Republicans seek to alter / avoid / defend against a Republican candidate called D. Trump).
I have been following the political news with some interest since this latest primary season by Republicans is unique in many ways and while I have had some answers provided by some candidates, the primary season really has not gotten into enough detail for me to fully understand how some topics that are important to me will be tackled by not just Trump, but also other candidates that were associated with this primary.

1) Obamacare
Hearing a lot about doing away with Obamacare. I agree that the fees are high to get coverage that is somewhat decent. But what will come in its place? You can do away with it, but it will require something more than simply doing away with it since people do need some healthcare coverage or not? Let me give you the example of my mother, who immigrated to the USA last year as someone well past her retirement age and now has a Green Card. she had pre-existing conditions, can not work full-time anymore. Before Obamacare, her options were gap coverage that included insurance plans that provided minimum coverage at very high rates and often was only good for organizing transport back to the country from which people emigrated to the USA. So besides stating that someone will do away with Obamacare, can someone, anyone on the Republican side please explain how they propose to cover a legal immigrant, past their working age, that had pre-existing conditions and does need regular healthcare and prescription drugs? Going back to the pre-Obamacare solution is not better for these legal immigrants. And in case someone wonders why I asked her to come to the USA and stay with me; staying in Germany on her own would have meant retirement home for her and giving up significant independence because while she is relatively healthy now, she has some days during which she needs more assistance.

2) Public Health and Medical Coverage in general
It is well known that the US spends more on healthcare than countries such as Germany or the United Kingdom. Yet the USA ends up with a worse outcome when looking at general life expectancy, infant mortality or similar public health statistics. Even for someone like me, with employer-sponsored health coverage, it is disheartening to realize that I end up paying significant money out of pocket despite having insurance and limiting physician visits to the appointments required. Since Obamacare in the view of most, if not all, Republicans is not the way to go to bring down healthcare costs and ensure that health insurance is affordable for most, what is the alternative? Again, simply stating to repeal Obamacare is not really giving me an idea on how the US government will ensure that working people can get access to affordable health insurance.
Like other Europeans, it was surprising for me to find out that switching jobs could mean, without proper planning, facing lack of insurance unless you are willing to pay for COBRA, which is not meeting my definition of affordable. Employer-sponsored health insurance is great, but it also takes some of the flexibility away for a mobile society since you need to ensure continuous employment to maintain health coverage. Something as innocent as using the opportunity to take a new job at the other coast and using the move to make a roadtrip with the family and getting to know the US is now a risky undertaking because, if between jobs, it means no health insurance while you drive on Route 66. Obamacare at least makes a once month coverage possible with some planning and provides options, but what in the absence of Obamacare and a gap in employer-sponsored insurance?

3) Border to Mexico
So Donald Trump proposes to build a wall and hold off immigration from Mexico. Being from Germany and growing up in the 70s and 80s, we did have a wall. It was even more than a wall, it was a wall equipped with extensive fencing, guards and guard dogs and the requirement to shoot at anyone seeking to cross the border illegally. In addition, despite all these extra components besides a wall, people did manage to escape and get to what was then West Germany. If people are desperate enough, they will find ways to get across the border and as long as employers are agreeing to provide these people with a better life than in their home country, the desire will be strong enough to come to the USA. What will make the wall with Mexico so much efficient at blocking illegal immigration than the actual wall and extensive border set up by the former East Germany? I am not sure, but I somehow have my doubts that any wall will make a big difference for long as long as there is  enough coastline and the economic disparity between the USA and many countries south of the border.

P.S. Having gone through the lengthy process of transitioning from a student visa to a employment visa to a Green Card to citizenship, I am all for enforcing immigration laws. And in an ideal world, everyone would nicely play by the rules. But this world is imperfect and illegal immigration is a problem and has been for decades. I simply cannot believe that building a wall is an effective solution when much more elaborate (and deadly) border constructions, such as the border that separate East and West Germany, proved ineffective.




Saturday, May 7, 2016

Crowdtap sampling: Johnsonville Grillers Steakhous Onion flavor

Through Crowdtap I received a sample of Johnsonville Grillers and went to the local Harris Teeter on Southern Durham to select a product. They did have the newest flavor called Steakhouse Onion and it sounded good. I made the right choice because after sampling them, they may be my new favorite grill product. The package comes with 6 frozen patties, nicely separated by some paper and they patties have a good weight on them. I used my old Foreman grill and had trouble putting two patties next to each other - they are good size and will fill you up!
Once I placed the patties on the grill, the wonderful aroma of steak and onion came through the kitchen. While the grillers are made with pork, the smell is not reminiscent of Brats, but really smells like steak. When we tasted them, they reminded us of the German meatballs that are made with ground beef, old bread and herbs - something we eat a lot in Germany either cold or warm. So for this occasion, we paired the Grillers not with the usual burger pairings, but with some German potato dumpling in cream sauce and it felt like eating in a German restaurant. The food was so good and the flavor of the Johnsonville Grillers really tasted like a German meatball. I will definitely continue to use this flavor regularly in the house now, whether as a burger or as a simple meat portion for a meal.

copyright Durhamonthecheap - Johnsonville Grillers with potato dumplings in cream sauce

copyright Durhamonthecheap -ready to turn on the grill with Johnsonville Grillers

copyright Durhamonthecheap - halfway through the adventure, the meat is thawing and gaining some color

copyright Durhamonthecheap -looking ready to eat and smelling awesome!
Disclaimer: I received a free product in exchange for an honest review. The opinion expressed in the post is solely my own and has not been influenced by any third party.

Book Review: The Seven Laws of Love: Essential Principles for Building Stronger Relationships by Dave Willis

 This book is split up into two parts, the first part dealing with the seven laws of love, which are according to the author:
Love requires commitment
Love speaks truth
Love conquers fear
Love offers grace
Love selflessly sacrifices
Love brings healing
Love lives forever

The second part shows applying these laws and putting love into action and in a variety of relationships, such as love another human being,  such as a spouse or your family, but also loving God, yourself as well as, what may be the most difficult, your enemies. 
I found this book, despite the somewhat abstract title and subject, to be very easy to read. In this book, the author draws heavily on the Bible for examples to show how love can overcome obstacles and lead you on the right way. While not everyone will be excited to read a book that draws such heavily on the Bible, many lessons in this book can be applied to a lot of different situations in life where a relationship is tested and one needs to assess how to make that relationship survive. 

available on amazon.com

Disclaimer: I received a free copy of the book for an honest review. The opinion expressed in this book is solely my own and has not been influenced by any third party.

Crowdtap sampling: RoC NEW 5 in 1 Chest, Neck and Face Cream (pt. 2)

Crowdtap sampling: RoC NEW 5 in 1 Chest, Neck and Face Cream

 Through Crowdtap, I received a new product from RoC - the 5 in 1 chest, neck and face cream. This product helps with fighting off the signs of aging, but not just in your face, but also in the neck and chest areas. I and my mother tried the product and we both love it. It is available on amazon.com and retails for less than $20 for 1.7 ounces. You can even get it as subscribe and save for even bigger savings and the convenience of a regular at home delivery. 
copyright Durhamonthecheap - love the 5 in 1 RoC cream for an easy, daily skin treatment

The cream is especially formulated to restore elasticity and firmness, while reducing the appearance of wrinkles. This anti-aging product hydrates the aging dry skin and leaves skin smoother and younger looking. Both of us have been using the product now for about one week and we feel that not just our face, but also our neck has improved in terms of the firmness of the skin.


Disclaimer: I received a free sample to try out and review. As always, the opinion expressed in this blog post is solely my own and has not been influenced by any third party.

Wednesday, May 4, 2016

Crowdtap sampling: Garnier SkinActive Miracle Anti-Fatigue

I was able to sample more Garnier skin care products, this time the miracle anti-fatigue series and I am quite impressed with the products.
copyright Durhamonthecheap - in the morning, applying some eyecream to make sure the eyes do not betray my age!

copyright Durhamonthecheap - mom happy with some samples from Garnier skincare!
I got a full size of the eye cream and love it. It reduces the puffiness as well as reducing fine lines and dark lines around the eyes. This had made quite a difference for me and the product is easy to apply and you do not need a lot. I usually applied it once a day in the morning and then let it do its magic throughout the day.
So if you are looking for some anti-aging products, especially products that take care of the eye area, why not give Garnier a try.  The whole series of products can be seen here and the prices are very reasonable, considering that it is a high quality product that is specifically formulated to reduce the signs of aging.

Disclaimer: I received a free sample in exchange for an honest review. The opinion expressed in this post is solely my own and has not been influenced by any third party.

Sunday, May 1, 2016

Book Review: Hope Heals: A True Story of Overwhelming Loss and an Overcoming Love by Katherine and Jay Wolf

This is a book that tells an amazing story. Maybe what is most amazing is the fact that it describes a story that can happen to anyone of us. A young family, full of hope and enjoying their newborn baby - then tragedy strikes and the mother suffers a traumatic brain injury.
Despite an uncertain outcome, the surgeon proclaimed some hope and that glimmer of hope is what Jay hung on to to see Katherine through more than two years of recovery, the outcome of which was uncertain.
In this book, the couple describes the recovery that is now close to a miracle looking back at the initial event. What started out as a total shock and found the couple very unprepared, the belief in the strength of their marriage and their religion helped them through this difficult time.

available on amazon.com
While it is not an easy book to read, this book shows that some seemingly insurmountable obstacles can be overcome. This book is a must read for any couple that faces challenges, in particular health-related challenges that may put a strain on the marriage. The book shows in no-nonsense language that marriage can survive many obstacles and while not easy, marriage is a pact of two people for better or for worse that can move mountains, if needed.
Disclaimer: I received a free copy of the book in exchange for an honest review. The opinion expressed in this post is solely my own and has not been influenced by any third party.

Saturday, April 23, 2016

Book Review: Unstuffed: Decluttering Your Home, Mind, and Soul by Ruth Soukup

I think we all have been there. Every time we move we wonder where all this stuff has come from and what do we do with it? Donate it? Keep it? Store it? There is never an easy solution, but still when the next move comes, we go through the same problem again. Rather than limiting what we bring into our house, we accumulate and then need to get rid of stuff somehow. Ms. Soukup obviously is no exception and this book is her way to tackle the "stuff problem". Shoe not only tackles kids toys or clothes, but also paperwork that keeps accumulating and gets delayed. In a clear, no nonsense language, she presents plans to limit what we bring into our house, how to take care of paperwork before we have a pie on our desk that seems to delay even longer the start of the let's tackle this point and also throw in for good measure how to not feel bad if the gifts that we really do not need can disappear without being rude to other or feel guilty about the separation process.

available on amazon.com
 Even someone like me, who has moved too may times and has now cut spending on anything but groceries and clothing down to a minimum for the family could still learn from this book. If nothing else, it shows you as the mother of the coop that getting rid of stuff or preventing things from adding clutter is not being mean, but simply approaching the question of what is important by focusing on non-material things first. We tend to invest now in experiences rather than goods, so the experience is taking a weekend and going to the zoo (the pictures are nice lasting memory that can be stored on a harddrive), while we may be in past years would have bought another outdoor toy that ended up cluttering the garage during the winter months. Not only will the decluttering be positive for your checkbook, not rushing to buy the latest and greatest will make you focus on what is important in life, your family and a lot of immaterial things such as health, happiness etc.
This book is well written and easy to read. It brings in a few chapters the reader to a point where de-cluttering is an doable task. The impact of this book can be really positive for the whole family.

Disclaimer: I received a free copy in exchange for an honest review. The opinion in this post is solely my own and has not been influenced by any third party.