Monday, 25 April 2016

Entertainment Mondays: The Spice Girls Part 2 ( 25 April 2016)

I realized while I was writing my Spice Girls post from two week ago that I wasn’t done with the Spice Girls yet. So here’s Entertainment Monday: Spice Girl part 2!

So after the Spice Girls disbanded I still kept an interest in the girls’ solo projects. Here are my favourite solo spice girl songs.

Mel B (Scary Spice) I want you back featuring Missy Elliot

I remember when this song came out in 1998. I thought the song was so dope and I still think that could hold up in 2016. The video clip has a Matrix type theme where Mel B and Missy are in a computerized world and it’s all green inside. The leading man in the video clip became Mel B’s first husband too and she was pregnant at the time of filming although you can’t see it.

Emma Bunton (Baby Spice) What took you so long

I thought this song was so cute and I like how it has a country music vibe.

Mel C (Sporty Spice)  Never be the same again featuring Lisa “Left Eye” Lopes

Mel C was my favourite Spice Girl. I like many of her solo songs. Never be the same again is a song about moving out of the friend zone and into a relationship.  I love the futuristic house that the video clip is set in. Sadly Lisa died in a car accident a few years later.

Victoria Beckham (Posh Spice) Out of your Mind by the True Steppers featuring Victoria Beckham and Dane Bowers

Another song with a futuristic video clip but this time with dance music. I really loved this song and I use to play it on repeat all the time.

Geri Halliwell (Ginger Spice) Look at Me

This was her first single after she left the Spice Girls. I love it because it’s loud and brashy which announces her way as a solo artist.

Monday, 18 April 2016

Entertainment Monday: New York (Monday April 18, 2016)

Entertainment Monday: Songs about New York

Tomorrow Tuesday April 19, 2016 are the Democratic and Republican Primary Elections here in New York State.  It's a day when New Yorkers get the chance to make their voices heard regarding the person they wish to nominate for the American political party they support.  New York which is arguably the most recognizable and possibly most influential city in the World does not often have the spotlight during the American Political process.  Most often, the party primary candidates have been determined long before New York State votes. Of course, New York is so much more then New York City alone.  It's residents are urban, suburban and rural; rich, middle class and poor; old, young and all ages in between; all ethnicities; all religions, all body shapes and sizes; heterosexual, bisexual, asexual and homosexual; and as of varied political persuasions as they are in diverse life experiences.

As someone who has been a resident of New York State for the majority of my 40 years on Earth, I can honestly and whole-heartedly say that it is a truly wonderful and extraordinary place to live.  Sure we have our faults and for many New Yorkers our pride may not always lend itself to the charming humility expressed in so many other places across the United States and across the globe.  But we are a caring, loving, creative and amazing conglomerate of peoples who are representative in many ways of the various opinions one might find across the world because of the diversity found here.

This Entertainment Monday I wanted to take the opportunity to celebrate New York by sharing some songs about New York and New Yorkers that I love. I hope you will enjoy them and know when listening to these songs that New Yorkers are not just about New York pride but about World Pride too.  New York is a place where you can feel part of something, but also stand out as a single unique and distinguished person.

I love New York! <3

The first song I wish to share is Ryan Adams New York, New York

New York, New York by Ryan Adams

Empire State of Mind by Jay Z featuring Alicia Keys

I and Love and You by the Avett Brothers

Billy Joel is a native New Yorker who has sung many songs about New York State.  One of my favorites is the Downeaster Alexa a song about the financial struggles of Long Island fishermen.

The Down Easter Alexa by Billy Joel

A Classic Ragtime hit, Take the A-Train by Duke Ellington

No Sleep Till Brooklyn by the Beastie Boys

Perhaps I will have to make another New York themed post sometime, as there are dozens of share worthy tunes, but so as not to overload the senses too much I will stop here.  I hope you enjoyed the New York theme and please feel free to share any of your favorite songs about New York in our comments section!

Saturday, 16 April 2016

Jon Bear's Financial Focus for April: Small Purchase Spending Habits

The ways in which we choose to spend our money can have a big impact on our overall financial health.  It's not always easy to notice the small, day to day, habits that we sometimes get into regarding spending.  In trying to focus more on improving my finances in 2016 I've started to give some consideration to what I might do to help me save more money.

One of the ways in which I can definitely save more is by being more conscious of a few of the wasteful spending habits I've developed.  Probably the worst habit I have that effects my finances involves buying lunch each day when I am at work.  I know that not only can I improve my financial fitness but also improve my physical fitness by changing my habit of buying lunch at work each day.  I work in a Super Market and one would think that when you work in a Super Market that food choices are easy.  That's not always the case though.  My store is a small Super Market and we do not have a large prepared foods section like a lot of other larger stores do.  So the quick choices for a lunch often involve junk food versus healthy fruits or vegetables.  When you purchase something in the spur of the moment at the Super Market more often then not I make the junk food choice.

Buying something impulsively and buying it each and every day is not conducive to saving money or eating healthy.  So a big focus of mine in 2016 is to create a shopping list and do more regular shopping trips as opposed to just picking things up in the moment, which is easy to do when you are single and work everyday in a grocery store.  By making a list and shopping one day a week I can focus more on healthy food choices and on sale items and taking advantage of coupons. By using coupons and avoiding impulse buys I will save money.  In next month's Financial Focus article I hope to be able to compare how much I have spent in day to day shopping versus the once a week shopping, something I should be able to compare by looking through past months of my financial statements from my bank.  So while it is my belief that a more organized method of shopping will save me more money and help me to eat healthier hopefully I will be able to provide concrete evidence to prove that.  A weekly shopping trip will also help me to prepare more lunches for myself to bring to work.  I am hoping by avoiding the impulsive soda and junk food purchases I will help both my health AND my wallet.

I also spend on average between $16.00 and $32 dollars a week on lottery purchases.  I do not buy scratch off tickets.  I am more of a big ticket dreamer so my money is spent on the large lotto jackpots which are virtually impossible to win.  I CAN spend as little as $8.00 on lottery tickets a week if I chose to continue to play the games  I currently play.  I want to try and decrease my lottery purchases to that $8.00 or $10.00 range and not be swayed to spend more when the jackpots get really big because the odds with 1 chance versus the odds with 4 chances are still stacked heavily against me.

I know for a fact that this is an area where I can save some money.  An entertainment budget is fine to have and while I do not spend to a point that ever creates a financial issue for me elsewhere, there are things I would like to do that I probably could have done in the past IF I had cut back on some of that wasteful lottery spending.  Working every day at a store where we can purchase lottery tickets also presents a bit of a challenge.  While it is rare that I buy a ticket from my own store, I am always aware of jackpot sizes when selling tickets to others.  I have had on and off streaks of purchasing lottery tickets over the years, sometimes going several years without buying any tickets.  So I am confident that it should be something I can cut back on in 2016.

These are not big purchase habits I have that will improve my finances they are small daily habits that I need to change. For some people those habits may not involve food and lottery tickets.  They might involve cigarettes or some kind of collectable.  In the case of food purchases or something like cigarette purchases there are potential health benefits too by being more smart with your spending.  It is important to treat yourself to things you like and in the case of collectibles you simply need to figure out if your collectibles spending is an investment for the future or something you do not necessarily need.  Often times I see people spend money on things that are just going to collect dust and not retain any significant value in the future.  If that is the case, then maybe you do not need that little collectible that you might otherwise impulsively wish to buy.

Thursday, 14 April 2016

Blatantly Bogus by Paul Stafford- Review by Carlyn

Blantantly Bogus by Paul Stafford is part of a collection of short stories for children. There are six books in total. This is book number one.

There are seven stories to each book. The stories in this book include:

The Electric Undies- Will makes undies that will make him smarter so that he can cheat on a test.

The Funnel Web Run- Barney loves torturing spiders until they get their revenge on him.

The Big Dinner- A big dinner party goes wrong when the suckling pig is misplaced.

The Miraculous Muscle Machine- A scrawny boy gets a muscle machine.

Brainiac- An arrogant prodigy bets he can make the best science project.

Flee Fly- A kid who is mean to flies.

The Discount Christmas Company- A bum is hired to play Santa.

The stories usually have some kind of twist and some of the protagonists are horrible people who get their comeuppance at the end.

My sixth grade teacher read the whole series to the class. I really enjoyed it especially for the twists which I didn’t see coming as a kid. The books are no longer in print. I forgot all about the series until I found a copy at the newsagent some years ago. It was buried underneath some old magazines and other paperbacks. There wasn’t even a price on it so they decided that it would cost a dollar.

I bought the book to see if I would still enjoy the series as an adult and so that I could read it to a class one day. After reading the stories, I discovered that I still think it is an entertaining read.  It wasn’t as exciting as hearing the stories the first time around though. I knew everything that would happen in the stories.

The series is aimed at middle school kids and I think they would enjoy it. The stories are funny and all the stories are about kids. Some of the language is bawdy and I realized that my teacher must have censored some of it when reading aloud. I would be comfortable giving it to a young family friend but I wouldn’t give it to a student.  

I hope to collect all the books again but I won’t be gung ho about it. I’ll just rummage around for it whenever I’m at a thrift shop rather than buy it from Amazon. I won’t be sad if I never manage to get the complete collection.

Wednesday, 13 April 2016

Jon Bear's Goals for 2016

Now that Carlyn is achieving the goals on her 2016 list I figured it was time I finally shared my list for the new year.... just 4 months and two weeks delinquent. >.<

Good thing timeliness wasn't one of my goals this year.

The main focus of my goals for 2016 is centered on 5 things that I want to work on this year.

1. My physical health

2. My mental/emotional health

3. My spiritual health

4. A more cohesive and organized financial plan for the future

5. Taking/creating more opportunities for a relationship

As far as my physical health is concerned, I've really needed to get into better shape for the last several years and have had a bit of an up and down battle in that regard.  One of the things I really wanted to focus on was eating healthier and cooking for myself more often.  I have always prepared dinner more when I've had a roommate or someone else to cook for in the past. Having lived on my own now for that past 7 years I got into some bad habits or exacerbated some already bad habits.  Exercise is important too, but I know that my eating habits need to be adjusted.  Aside from cooking for myself more often I want to focus on not eating late, and if possible not at all past 7 pm.

Relating to my second goal of mental and emotional health I wanted to get involved more socially if possible.  One of my side goals for this year was to finally join Facebook as I have never had a social media account and the biggest reason I even began blogging was because of Carlyn's influence.  For a few years in the past I have mentioned wanting to join a Curling league but I have yet to do so.  I never even really knew where to start looking but a chance encounter with a customer at the store I work at earlier this year provided an opportunity that I might be able to take advantage of come September.  I also wanted to really make happen certain things I have mentioned wanting to accomplish for a few years now.  The biggest of those being my desire to finally visit my best friend and his family in Texas.  They moved to Texas 4 years ago and every year after the first year they moved I have promised I would try to see them.  This year I want to finally keep that promise.  I was also in desperate need of a new computer for a few years now and I wanted to purchase a new computer.  I have been fortunate to already have accomplished that goal. I feel like a lot of my emotional health involves doing a better job at accomplishing some of my long time goals from past years so hopefully I will be able to achieve them this year.

My spiritual health has probably been something I have struggled with since college.  I have never attended church regularly even though I consider myself a Christian.  I also have had rather large swings relative to the amount of time I have spent in spirituality and faith.  There have been times when I have studied the bible and read the bible regularly and times when I have worshiped and prayed with regularity.  There have been other long stretches where I have spent very little time in worship and focusing on my faith.  I want to find more consistency and more balance in my spiritual life.  If I can find a church I like that may involve more time going to church too.  I think that there is a lot to be gained in one's spiritual walk when it is shared with others.

In desiring a more cohesive and organized financial plan I may have already had an opportunity fall into my lap.  It truly is something I desired greatly when I was thinking of my New Year's goals this past January.  I do NOT consider myself financially comfortable.  I am able to make a living and pay my bills, which is obviously important but a clear and comprehensive plan for the future is something I have struggled with.   Carlyn and I had a reader reach out to us about our financial goals and I have been in contact with her and formulated a plan to make a monthly blog post here about a variety of financial topics.  I am hoping that my monthly posts which begin later this month will help give me some clarity and focus financially going forward as well as the feedback I get from our readers.

I also want to take the opportunity to find a girl who I can start a relationship with this year.  I am not looking towards anything specific long term, just someone who I can get to know, enjoy spending time with and take things a day at a time with.  It's been a few years since I have really made any effort in the dating game.  There is a part of me that admittedly likes being single and being beholden to myself.  I enjoy those freedoms, so I know that I have to go a bit outside my comfort zone to give up some of that freedom for a different kind of happiness and companionship.  So that too is one of my goals for 2016.

So while I have been a bit of a bad Bear in keeping my goals for 2016 to myself and not sharing them here, I hope and believe that there is enough time remaining in the year for me to make good on many if not all my goals for 2016.

Monday, 11 April 2016

Entertainment Mondays: The Spice Girls (11 April 2016)

I loved the Spice Girls when I was younger. They were one of my first forays into fangirling. The late 90s was a fun time to be a pre-teen. It was time filled with colour and youthful energy. It was a time of bubble gum pop and boybands and girlbands. Fashion wise, we were moving away from the grunge era of slip dresses with combat boots to bright mini-skirts and platform shoes thanks to movies like Clueless.


My family didn’t have a lot of money while I was growing up. I didn’t even own a Spice Girl CD but I did read all the magazine articles, watch the t.v interviews and all their video clips. My favourite Spice Girls were Sporty Spice and Baby Spice mainly because I thought they dressed the nicest. I loved Sporty Spice because she was a tom boy and so was I.


My favourite thing about the Spice Girls was their GIRL POWER! I found that empowering as a young girl. I wasn’t sad when The Spice Girls split up as by then I had out grown them. I remember when there were two girls in my class who were so glum; they refused to play P.E because the Spice Girls broke up. I thought that was funny. It’s a pity the Spice Girls don’t get along now because that means no reunion tour. If I could go back in time I would see them in concert.

Here are my favourite songs

The Spice Girls debut song was catchy and the video clip was cheeky. It was no surprise that it became such a success.

Say you'll be there
This was their second single. I love all the kicks and punches and dancing in this video clip.

I also love the cover by 

Viva Forever

I knew it was the end for the band when this song showed up and there were rumours that they were disbanding. 

Saturday, 9 April 2016


One of my goals this year was to take more risks when it came to my career. I felt that last year, I missed out on some opportunities because I was too afraid to take them. I made a lot of lame reasons not to do things.

So this year,  was more a yes year. Fortunately, it has paid off as I have been offered a six month contract to teach in Outback Queensland! I've always wanted to try country teaching.

It's all happened so suddenly too. I had a phone interview with them last Thursday and then by Friday I was offered the job. I have to move to the tiny town by this Thursday too! So you can imagine the flurry of activity back at home what with the packing and organising to do. My friends have been really nice and have decided to throw me a going away party despite their own busy schedules.

There are some perks to teaching in a rural school. The government offers free removal services and flights for the teacher as well as cash bonuses and cheap rental accomodation. At first,I was overhelmed by the suddeness of it all and all the documents I had to read and the forms I had to sign but now I've come to adjust to it all. It's like my whole life got flipped upside down because I'm moving away from everything familiar.

The school is in central Queensland and has about 150 students. The principal said that most of the children are from farming families. I'm not going to be teaching right away, I'll be doing an induction program before I get my own class. I hope the students like me and I get along with the rest of the staff. I'm also daunted by the idea of having my own class, considering how I have only been a relief teacher for three years. While I am trained as a teacher, I'm lacking the experience of being a full time teacher. I worry about unit planning and assessments. I hope I get it right!

The town is small but with most modern conveniences, it has two supermarkets, banks, cafes, a library and a small museum. I will be living within walking distance to most ammenities. The bigger towns are about 2-3 hours away. I'm a bit hesitant about taking that kind of long drive in the desert. Fortunately, there is a train service to the nearest towns that are twice a week and one can fly out of the town every Monday, Wednesday and Friday.

I still worry about being on my own. I know I'm almost thirty and I'm an adult but I've lived at home all my life.  My parents are ultra conservative and think that unmarried women should stay with their families until marriage. But now that I'm a spinster of 29, they don't care as much! My parents are Asian. Welll.. they do care a bit. They want to come with me for a week to see me properly settled. My dad bought me a smoke detector to go into my new apartment and an extension cord for some reason, in case I need it I suppose.

I also worry about what to do in my spare time. I'll find something to do.. I'll make a list.

My contract is for six months but may be extended if they approve of me. I think if offered, I may stay on for another year. I am thinking I might like to stay on for maybe three or four years. Maybe I will end up loving the place and never leaving. Or I might stick with the plan. Maybe I'll end up at some other country school.

I do plan on going home for the holidays on occasion and inviting friends and family to spend time with me. . Australian schools usually have two week holidays per term. For the next holiday in June or July, my family plan to come visit me. In September, I want to fly back home and have a big 30th birthday bash.

There's still so much to do. I don't know when I'll be able to blog next. Mainly because I don't know how soon I'll be able to hook up the internet at my new place. Stay tuned for my adventures in Outback Australia.

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