Monthly Archives: July 2010

My Favorite Podcasts

Here’s a list of my favorite podcasts -

History Podcasts -

Norman Centuries – A Norman History podcast created by Lars Brownworth.

12 Byzantine Rules – The History of the Byzantine Empire by Lars Brownworth.

Hardcore History – An unconventional look at history by Dan Carlin.

History of Rome – A weekly podcast about the history of Rome.

Sports Podcasts -

Dan Patrick – A daily podcast, in three parts, by Dan Patrick.

Tony Kornheiser – A daily podcast, in two parts, by Tony Kornheiser.

Bill Simmons – A podcast from ESPN personality, Bill Simmons.

Entertainment / Commentary Podcasts -

TBTL – Too Beautiful To Live by Luke Burbank.

Geek Out Loud – The OFFICIAL podcast of Geek Out Online.

A podcast is an online audio or video file, organized by release date, available for download, streaming, and subscribing.

Click here to read my post – How To Listen To A Podcast.

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A Simple, Productive Day

You know you’re getting older when you a.) spend your “off-day” doing chores around the the house and b.) you enjoy doing them.

I have been extremely busy for the past six month, twelve months, two years, forever, so it was good to take a day “off” from the world – and just focus on getting some things done around the house.

First, I replaced a broken light-fixture in our master bathroom.  I tried to simply buy a new globe for the original fixture, but that was a no-go.  I just couldn’t find one.  So, I went to the local hardware store and found a replacement for the entire fixture.  I remembered to flip the breaker, took down the old fixture, and replaced it with the new one.  First project, complete!

I then installed an 8-foot section of gutter above the backdoor.  I’ve been meaning to do this for a long time, and it feels good to have it done.  The install took a bit longer than expected, because I couldn’t find my tin snips.  Instead, I had to use a hacksaw to cut the gutter – and my blade was a little dull.  It took a couple of hours, but now the rain will be safely “guttered” into the flowerbeds, and away from the backdoor.

After that, it was time to replace several light bulbs, throughout the house.  I recently stumbled across a great deal on some compact fluorescent bulbs, and this was a good time to get the ladder out and change some bulbs.  Our new house has more than twenty recessed flood lights, and it feels nice to have all of the traditional bulbs replaced with the new compact florescent bulbs.  (Obviously, I’ll hang on to the traditional bulbs, just in case I need one.)  The compact florescent bulbs have a pretty unique design.  They’re shaped just like a traditional “flood” bulb, but, if you look closely, you can see the little curly-q compact fluorescent, inside the bulb.

Finally, I spent some time in the yard, cleaning our flower beds, edging along the driveway, and mowing the lawn.  There’s just something about doing this kind of manual labor that is, oddly, relaxing.  Even though it was, as we say in the South, “100 degrees in the shade,” I still really enjoyed myself.  It was just a simple, productive day.

Oh, one more thing.  I’ve noticed that when I go to the hardware store, I tend to get project-happy.  For some reason, surrounded by all those building materials, I can think of a hundred projects that “need to be done”.  My wife says that I need “blinders”, like those that a race horse might wear.  I could just put them on, head to the exact isle that I need to head to, pay for my merchandise, and then go home.

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Daily-Use Fees And Free Days For State Parks

Please click here for an updated version of this page.

I live in Georgia and am a big fan of our State Parks System.  I recently visited one of our state parks and learned that there was no daily-use charge for visitors who visited on Wednesdays.  That bit of information sparked my interest and was the reason for this post.  I’ve attempted to list the daily-use fees from all 50 states and their state parks.

Alabama State Parks – From the Alabama State Parks website – Alabama State Parks offer ideal places to stay: resorts, hotels, cabins and cottages, camping; and fun places to play: hiking, biking, golf, fishing, paddling, swimming, birding and wildlife viewing or just relaxing. Clicking the above link will take you to a list of Alabama’s 23 state parks.  I couldn’t find any information about “free days” at any of the Alabama parks, but most have very, very modest daily-use fees, including some parks which charge just $1 for adults and 50 cents for kids and seniors.

Alaska State Parks – Alaska has 119 state parks.  While not offering any “free days” most of the parks charge a flat $5 daily-use fee per automobile.  A family of 6 could visit a park, spend the day, and do so for just $5.  Not a bad deal.  (Tour groups with vans or large buses would need to call for pricing information.)  By the way, just looking at some of the pictures from the Alaska parks makes me want to take a trip up north, way up north!

Arizona State Parks – Arizona has 31 state parks, with many parks offering daily-use fees between $5 and $10 per car (up to 4 adults) and between $2 and $5 per individual / bicycle.

Arkansas State Parks – Information N/A Edit:  Information Here

California State Parks – From the California State Parks website – At most parks, Day Use Fees are charged for parking only. There is no charge to walk or bike into these parks. Most historical parks and museums charge a Day Use Fee per person. The parking fees range from $4 – $15.  California has 278 state parks.  It’s awesome to see that several are free for daily-use by walkers / bicyclists.

Colorado State Parks – Colorado has 42 state parks, with most charging a flat $6 per vehicle fee for daily-use.  But, if you happen to be in Colorado on the first Monday in August – you can visit any Colorado State Park – for free!  It’s Colorado Day.

Connecticut State Parks – From the Connecticut State Parks website – Some facilities do not charge a parking fee and others charge only for weekends and holidays.  Connecticut has 76 state parks, and more than 25% of them are available free for daily-use on weekdays.  That’s pretty awesome.  Most of the parks charge a per vehicle fee of $9 or $15 for weekend use.

Delaware State Parks – Inland Delaware State Parks charge daily-use fee of $3 for Delaware Registered Vehicles and $6 per day for Out-Of-State Registered Vehicles.  Ocean Delaware State Parks charge daily use-fee of $4 for Delaware Registered Vehicles and $8 per day for Out-Of-State Registered Vehicles.  I couldn’t find any information about “free days” – but $3 for a vehicle-full of parents and kids seems like a super-deal to me.

Florida State Parks – Fees for vehicles range from $4 to $10 and the fees for individuals range from $2 to $5.  Florida offers several “free days” including July 17, September 10 – 12, and November 11.  Click on link for more information.

Georgia State Parks – Georgia has 64 state parks.  The parks charge a flat $5 per vehicle daily-use free.  Georgia has two pretty awesome ways to enjoy its parks – for free!  Each Wednesday, the daily-use fee is waived.  That’s right.  Wednesday’s are “free days” at Georgia State Parks.  Also, if you have a valid library card in the state of Georgia (link opens pdf file) – you can “check out” a park pass, and visit any Georgia State Park – for free!

Hawaii State Parks – Hawaii has 53 state parks – and not one of them (that I could find) charges a daily-use fee!  That, my friends, is very, very awesome.  Hawaii State Parks are some of the most beautiful parks in the world – and they’re free to visit.

Idaho State Parks – Visitors who walk-up can enjoy daily-use for free!  Those who travel in vehicles will be charged a $5 per vehicle fee.  Pretty cool.  Idaho, by the way, has 26 state parks.

Illinois State Parks – From the Illinois State Parks website – The Illinois Department of Natural Resources does not charge an Entrance Fee to any state owned or operated land with the exception of Wildlife Prairie Park and sites with beaches. Beaches charge a $1 a day per person for beach use only. It took a little searching on the website, but there it is.  Illinois has 60 state parks, and besides one and those with beaches, they’re all free for daily-use.

Indiana State Parks – Indiana has 26 state parks, and most charge a daily-use fee of $5 per automobile (for in-state visitors) and $7 per automobile (for out-of-state visitors).

Iowa State Parks – Iowa has 68 state parks – and all of them are free for daily-use.  From the Iowa State Parks website – Iowa State Parks do not charge entrance fees. Come on in and visit.  Awesome!

Kansas State Parks – Kansas charges between $3.70 and $4.20 per vehicle, depending on the time of year, for daily-use of its state parks.  Seniors can receive discounted fees.  Kansas has 24 state parks.

Kentucky State Parks – From the Kentucky State Parks website – We charge no general admission fee.  Awesome!  Save your money and visit one of Kentucky’s 52 state parks – for free!

Louisiana State Parks – Louisiana has 20 state parks, and most charge just $1 per adult for daily-use.  Kids under 3 and Senior Adults are free.

Maine State Parks – Maine charges between $2 to $4.50 per adult (12 and over) and $1 for children ages 5 – 11 for daily-use of most state parks.  Seniors (over 65) and children (under 5) are free.  These are in-state resident fees.  Maine has 39 state parks.

Maryland State Parks – Maryland has 45 state parks, and depending on the time of year, Maryland charges either $3 per person (at most parks) or $3 per vehicle.  The rates vary from park to park.  I could find no information about “free days”.

Massachusetts State Parks – Massachusetts charges a flat fee between $2 and $7 per vehicle, depending on park location, for daily-use.  Massachusetts has 143 state parks.  It’s amazing how many parks some of these smaller north-eastern states have.

Michigan State Parks – On October 1, 2010, Michigan will offer a $10 recreation passport to all Michigan residents.  This will allow residents to visit all Michigan State Parks for just $10 a year.  Michigan has 98 state parks.

Minnesota State Parks – Minnesota has 74 state parks and they each charge $5 per vehicle for daily-use.  I did not find any information about walk-ups.

Mississippi State Parks – Mississippi has 24 state parks and they each charge $3 per vehicle (with up to 6 passengers) for daily-use.

Missouri State Parks – From the Missouri State Parks website – The Missouri state park system does not charge entrance fees. However, there are fees associated with camping, lodging, tours, museums and certain special events.  That’s 83 state parks to visit – with no charge for daily-use!

Montana State Parks – Residents of Montana can pay $4 when they purchase a Montana license plate and their entrance into any of Montana’s 54 state parks is absolutely free.  Those choosing not to pay the $4 (when purchasing their license plates) – and out-of-state residents – pay $5 per vehicle at most state parks.

Nebraska State Parks – Nebraska charges a flat $4 per person fee for daily-use of its state parks.  Nebraska has 18 state parks.

Nevada State Parks – From the Nevada State Parks website – Permits are purchased upon entry to individual parks at a standard entrance fee of $7 to $12 per day with a $2.00 discount to Nevada residents. These permits vary by park and cover the basic entrance to a park.  Nevada has 23 state parks.

New Hampshire State Parks – New Hampshire has 75 state parks.  Daily-use fee for adults is $4 and $2 for kids 6-11.  Kids under 6 and Senior Adults are free.

New Jersey State Parks – New Jersey has 50 state parks.  Each park has its own fee schedule, depending on the time of year and / or the day of the week.  Some parks are free for certain times of the year, while most charge between $2 and $10 per vehicle.

New Mexico State Parks – New Mexico charges $5 per vehicle for daily-use and is free for walk-ins / bicyclists.  New Mexico has 35 state parks – some of the most beautiful in the country.

New York State Parks – New York has 178 state parks.  Most charge between $6 and $8 per vehicle for daily-use.  I could not find information about “free days”.

North Carolina State Parks – From the North Carolina State Parks website – Only three parks (Falls Lake, Jordan Lake and Kerr Lake) have entrance gate fees. Entrance fees at those parks are charged to supplement operational costs and help maintain and improve the areas for visitors.  That means that 37 of North Carolina’s 40 parks are free for daily-use.

North Dakota State Parks – North Dakota has 15 state parks and each park charges a $5 daily-use fee for vehicles.  There’s no mention of whether a fee is charged for walk-ups / bicyclists.

Ohio State Parks – From the Ohio State Parks website – Ohio remains one of the few states in the country that does not charge a general admission or parking fee at its 74 state parks. Day use facilities, including trails, beaches, picnic areas, boating and fishing facilities are free of charge.  There you have it.  74 state parks – all free for daily-use!

Oklahoma State Parks – Information N/A

Oregon State Parks – Oregon has 192 state parks and most are free for daily-use.  Those few that dew charge a fee do so on a per vehicle basis.

Pennsylvania State Parks – Pennsylvania has 120 state parks and the link will take you to their pricing page.  I couldn’t find any information about daily-use and / or parking fees.  (Edit:  As of now, Pennsylvania does not charge a daily-use fee.)

Rhode Island State Parks – Rhode Island charges $6 or $7 per vehicle for daily-use of its parks, depending on the day of the week.  Seniors receive discounted pricing.  Rhode Island has 22 state parks.

South Carolina State Parks – Information N/A Edit:  Information Here South Carolina has 46 state parks.

South Dakota State Parks – Information N/A

Tennessee State Parks – From the Tennessee State Parks website – There is no access fee charged for any state park.  There you have it.  All 53 of Tennessee’s state parks are free for daily-use.

Texas State Parks – Texas has 133 state parks, some of which are free for daily-use.  Others charge a minimal fee.

Utah State Parks – Utah has 43 state parks.  They charge between $7 and $10 for daily use.  I could not find any information about “free days”.

Vermont State Parks – Vermont has 55 state parks.  Fees range from $3 for adults – to kids age 14, to $2 for kids ages 13 – 4.  Kids 3 and under are free.

Virginia State Parks – Virginia charges $2 or $3 per vehicle for daily-use of its state parks, depending on the day of the week.  Virginia has 35 state parks.

Washington State ParksWashington State charges $7 per vehicle for daily-use at most of its state parks.  Washington has 141 state parks.

West Virginia State Parks – Information N/A

Wisconsin State Parks – Wisconsin has 66 state parks.  The daily-use fee for most parks is $7 per vehicle.  Discounts are available for Senior Adults.

Wyoming State Parks – Wyoming charges residents $4 per vehicle for daily-use of its state parks.  Non-residents pay $2 more.  Wyoming has 25 state parks.

There were a few states for which I could not locate any daily-use fee information online.  If you see “N/A” beside a state – and you have information about that state’s daily-use fees, feel free to leave a comment and let me know.

Almost every state offers an annual pass to its state parks.  Depending on the number of times you visit your state parks and the fees they charge, the annual pass might just be a great deal.

The information in this post is a summary of my findings.  All information is subject to change at any time and for any reason.  I am not affiliated with any of the institutions to which this post links.  Before planning a trip to any state park, do your own research and find out the exact nature of any fees you may incur.

Please click here for an updated version of this page.

This list took a long time to put together.  If you find this list to be interesting, please consider sharing it with others via Twitter, Facebook, or StumbleUpon.  Thanks so much!

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Creating A Financial Timeline

The goal of the financial timeline is to plan for future major purchases.

I define a major purchase as any item costing more than $1000.

My financial timeline focuses on purchases to be made in the next 5 years.

I create a list of items that I plan to purchase.  I am careful to consider items that might need replacing, such as the dishwasher or refrigerator, larger items like a newer automobile or lawnmower, and convenience items like a new laptop or even a pool for the backyard.

I estimate the cost of each item.  This is, at best, an inexact science.  I want to be sure that when the time comes to make a purchase, I have saved enough to actually the afford the item that I want, so I usually over-estimate the actual cost, just to be on the safe side.

Using a calendar, I create a to-be-purchased-on date for each item on the list.  There are several ways to determine exactly when a purchase should be made.  Obviously, if the washing machine is on its last legs, its purchase date needs to be sooner than later.  However, if the current model is doing just fine, a replacement might not be needed for three, four, even more, years.  The goal is to plan, as best I can, when I’ll make future purchases.  Again, this is an inexact science, but for me, its better than simply hoping I have enough to buy the things I need (or want) when I need (or want) them.

I divide the cost of each item by the number of months I have to save for each item.  Each item I’m saving for becomes its very own budget category.  By dividing the estimated purchase price for each item by the number of months until each item is to be purchased, I can estimate monthly budget contributions for each item.  Obviously, once an item is purchased, it is removed from the (active) budget categories list, and more money is freed-up, and can be used to fund additional budget categories.  That’s why its important to review the financial timeline regularly, because the amounts to be allocated to various budget categories will change over time.

I make monthly payments to myself – until such time as I am prepared to make a my next major purchase. This is the fun part.  For several months, I make contributions to my savings account, in anticipation of making a major purchase.  Then, I transfer the required amount to my checking account – and go shopping!

The financial timeline is just another weapon in my budgeting arsenal.  It helps set me – and then keep me – on track, secure in the knowledge that I’m planning for my future, and not just waiting for it.

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