Archive | February 22, 2014

Zazzle Coupons February – March 2014

FABruary Sale! Up to 50% OFF!

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10% Off Necklaces and Belt Buckles

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The Case For Secession, Annexation and Independence – The United States or Divided States?

The growing discontent and dissatisfaction over the “State of the Union” is inspiring many states to consider removing themselves from the United States as we know it, and/or they’re considering breaking themselves off into new states…and even combining with other states or even Canada! Granted, that would literally take an act of Congress to approve it (or probably disapprove it), but it hasn’t stopped several movements toward making America a better, and more cohesive, politically balanced, properly represented, improved place to live.

Or will it?!

So many things to consider – from infrastructure (roads, transportation, airports), to political redistricting, representation…what about the electoral college? Should this be overhauled or eliminated? The answer isn’t simple.

Let’s take the case of Texas for example: “Don’t mess with Texas”. It’s a phrase that Texans are proud of, and they’re very pro-America, generally speaking. Often, when you think of ‘Murica, you think of Texas. I’ve heard the notion that Texas has wanted to secede for over a decade, but it hasn’t happened. To its credit, Texas has massive amounts of land (even unused), many natural resources (think mining), a massive cattle/farming industry (think cattle), NASA, and countless other means to make its own wealth if it were to successfully gain independence of some kind. That said, would Texas opt out of the union in general, or just divide itself up? Texas has an incredibly strong case for making itself independent – but can American survive without Texas? Would Texas keep to itself and not share with the ‘rest of us’? Do they “owe” America anything?

The same questions go to other states wanting some independence, or at least, a radical change. Let’s take a look at who’s wanting what…is there a real race to become the 51st state?

Alaska – an movement called “The Alaskan Independence Party” has declared that Alaska’s inclusion into the United States was, and still is, based on fraud. I’m not sure how active they are now, but it seems there’s still a possible dispute over Constitutional rights, as well as disputes over their Canadian border.

Arizona – would like to make “Baja Arizona” independent.

California – this state actually has at least 2 possible re-renderings of splitting – secession AND annexation!

Part 1 – Splitting the state into 6 states: ” Plan To Split California Into 6 States Would Create 6 Dystopias“.

This graphic from Curbed shows the proposal of the state called “Jefferson”, but add to that “North California”, “Silicon Valley”, “Central California”, “West California”, and “South California”:

Curbed online newspaper graphic

Part 2 – There’s a Northern group of residents that would like to join with a portion of Oregon to produce a new state called “Jefferson”: State Of Jefferson: Californians May Get Vote On Secession Movement In June (2014)

Colorado – “11 places besides “North Colorado” where activists want to secede from their state

Hawai’i – This secession is more referred to as “Hawaiian Independence“.  They consider the United States as “Military Occupier” of the nation of the Kingdom of Hawaii. They would like their former Native Hawaiian monarchy restored, and the rest can be worked out according to their proposals.

Maryland – “Some Western Md. Residents Want To Form Their Own State” –  current Governor O’Malley is against it, but it seems there’s growing support for the Western side to secede. The movement has considered the new state names Liberty, Antietam and Augusta.

An ongoing secession movement in Maryland would form a “West Maryland” from the westernmost five (©Washington Post)

Michigan (Upper Peninsula) – some may not know there is such a thing as “The Upper Peninsula” of Michigan, and herein lies the problem. To many Americans, they see a US map and cannot name which state this peninsula belongs to, much less, reckon how it’s part of the U.S. and not Canada! The resident “Yoopers” as they affectionately call themselves, are definitely a different breed than their “mitten” counterparts, whom they call “trolls” (who live South of the Mackinaw bridge). I can verify this – I lived in the Upper Peninsula. They are ⅓ the mass of the state, yet only a fraction of the population (gorgeous, yet sparsely-populated woodlands!). “51st state? Yoopers are talking up secession from Michigan again“. I’m not sure they have the infrastructure to support it, but I understand where they’re coming from.

Vermont – have you heard of the “Second Vermont Republic“? It’s just one Vermont secessionist movement that “seeks to return to the formerly independent status of the Vermont Republic (1777–91)”.

Then there’s the idea that Vermonters wanted to secede and somehow join Canada. I haven’t seen any recent articles that declare this movement still active, but it certainly exemplifies their independent spirit.

If All Those State Secession Movements Got Their Way, America Would Look Like This Map: The 61 States of America” – this is a great article in the “New Republic” newspaper that gives some great graphics to explain how the new electoral college would work.

Add to all of this – think about all the Native American tribes who are regaining their former homelands, and the tribes who will become sovereign nations. How does that factor into the literal landscape of America as we know it? As a matter of fact…this is a whole other talk show, but…consider the fact that the Department of the Interior’s Bureau of Indian Affairs needs to massively overhaul their Federal Recognition process that declares native tribes to be sovereign nations. The more independent sovereign nations there are, the less “control” the federal government has over the land and people, which is exactly what they don’t want. Which leads one to believe, “no wonder the recognition process is broken!”. See “Federal Recognition Process: A Culture of Neglect“. The recognition process is buried under logistical mazes, incomprehensible bureaucracy, and outright fraud. It’s basically a “pay-to-play” racket funded by our own American government. There is certainly a movement to overhaul the broken recognition process, and it seems that Congress is listening…but are they acting? Does Congress have too much control, and therein lies the problem?

Do any of the above states really have a legitimate case? I’m no political scholar, so I can’t even give an opinion here. But I do support any movement that is trying to correct imbalances and injustices by overbearing government entities. I do think it’s time for a change, and I can’t wait to see how things turn over, and turn out!

Cousin Belle’s Personal Downsizing – Helpful Hints

May I first start by saying “THANK YOU” to all those who follow my blog.

My WordPress blog isn’t just a place to post advertisements for my Zazzle store, it’s a place to share some interesting tidbits of life. I’m not sure how many of you actually read these, but I’ll post this anyway in hopes that it’ll help someone.

I’m going through a long overdue downsizing of my life. Due to inheriting many things that others insisted I own, I have 3 households to downsize. I do consider it to be 3 times the work!! I’ve been trying to get rid of things for the past couple years, and I’m in the final 1/10 of my stuff.

I also love to collect antiques, but I decided those had to go unless acquired through family, and even then, I did sell some. For the most part, I decided to sell everything that wasn’t “heirloom”. Furniture-wise, I’m left with one bedroom furniture set, an occasional table, a hundred year-old small knick knack cabinet, and a telephone table from the 1920s. I own some heirloom knick knacks and musical instruments, but for the most part, all beds/mattresses, bedding, couches, room decor, Christmas tree and decorations, computer desks, craft stuff…it’s going or gone. I’m not done with the sales, but I’m moving things around every day and it’s feeling better and better.

I think it’s important for people to know the EASIEST way to get to the bottom of a downsizing project, and I would give you 3 suggestions if you ever wanted to do it:

  1. Find a consignment ‘house’ to sell your large furniture items and home decor
  2. Find an eBay reseller to sell most other items
  3. If it’s valued below $5, donate in bulk for tax receipts


Here’s my reasoning:

All people are attached to their personal belongings in some way, shape, form or memory. You might need a glass of wine to do a pre-assessment – what to keep vs. what to throw out…? I believe that “things” carry energy with them, and sometimes, we just acquire too much stuff (see: George Carlin). The people that I’ve talked who downsized have all agreed that it was tough, but SO worth the effort!

TL;DR – less stuff = more money!



HELPFUL HINTS

  • Start your downsizing by getting rid of stuff you hate. If there are boxes of things you just can’t stand to own or have bad memories of, get rid of that first. Regardless of your belief or unbelief in a divine deity, get rid of negative vibes and bad feelings…whatever it is, part with that which is easy to, first.
  • I am of the mindset that you need to physically get rid of your items first – the money can come later. If there’s not much urgency and you want to get rid of your stuff for the most amount of money, then go to consignors and resellers. You can drop off 9/10 0f all you own so they can worry about selling it.
  • Consignment stores will be a great help – you need to remove your large items first, i.e. furniture.  When you remove the larger items out of your house, you can actually see the rest of what you have, and you’ll physically have more room to spread out, organize, and downsize. Better yet, you don’t have to pay consignors up front to sell your items. Take that big stuff out of your house sooner than later so you can move around and breathe. Removing larger items makes you feel like you’re making great progress quickly, and you need that encouragement in your journey. That said, larger consignors will pick up items for you. (I got my profits by physical checks)
  • Go to eBay.com and find an official “Trading Assistant” – this is someone not only affiliated with eBay, they are authorized to resell your items. There’s a level of accountability there that’s well worth their commission. I would say the average reseller asks for a 30% commission, but it’s well worth it. You won’t have to sell your own things, ship them, mail them – let someone else do that. Besides, you don’t have to pay them up front to sell your items. AND, you can physically get rid of your items to get them out of the way. Again, you’ll “see” progress more quickly! You can arrange payments with your reseller (I got my profits by physical checks).
  • If you have items above $5 in value, sell those things with your eBay reseller. You probably won’t need to have a Yard or Garage Sale if you give most of your items to the reseller. Even selling things for $5 profits you and your reseller. My reseller sells new, used, vintage, or pretty much anything that can be shipped. Different resellers sell different types of things, but you might get lucky and find one that does it all. If not, there’s no real risk of finding more than one reseller to suit your needs. Diversify!
  • Anything worth less than $5 can be donated to very needy and worthy organizations (get a tax receipt). I found a crafting organization who took all kinds of crafty things from me; stuff that would be strange to sell at a Yard Sale (lots of paper towel and toilet paper rolls, scraps of material, glues/adhesives).
  • You can choose to have a Yard Sale, but I wouldn’t unless you don’t mind lots of people around your house, knowing what you own. I’m just not into it – I’m a very private person and don’t want people “in my business”. If you can utilize the 3 ways I suggest above, you won’t even have to deal with the general public to sell your items. I can promise you that these types of sales lend themselves to lots of stress that you don’t need. AVOID STRESS – downsizing is tough enough.

ALTERNATIVES:

  • Concierge – If you need a coordinator to help you – a concierge – there are many people who advertise themselves as “Personal Assistants” or “Professional Organizers”; they can manage all the sales if you need them. They can even manage a way to pay themselves out of your commissions, so you may not even have to pay them up front. If your downsizing coincides with a move, some realtors can be your downsizing concierge, or else they can refer you to one.
  • Craigslist – OK, I have to admit, I’ve used them for buying and selling, and I’ve had no bad experiences. The reason I can’t recommend them for downsizing: variables. Like I keep saying, downsizing is stressful enough, and Craigslist adds some frustration and aggravation at times (coordinating many emails, times to pick up). If the “people factor” doesn’t bother you, then I’d put ‘sell-it-on-Craigslist’ between the eBay reseller and donations.
  • Yard/Garage/Tag/Boot Sale – I’ve been there, done that, made lots of money this way. What I don’t like is so many people in and around my life. Can you tell I’m single? I don’t want people knowing I’m single, moving, own this or that…it’s just me. Kind-hearted people do ask questions and are well meaning, but there are plenty of people who are ill-intended and are prying to see what else you own, and checking out your personal business. However, if you have a  large family, neighborhood, or group of friends who’ll keep people honest, help with parking, help with the cash drawer, you’re in the clear. If you don’t mind all the prep work involved, and you don’t mind the people traffic, then do a yard sale. I’d avoid this route by selling all larger items on Craigslist and all cheaper items, donate for a receipt. Again – that’s just me. I know some people need “cash in fist”, so I know you have to go this route sometimes. Go for it if you’re up for it!!

If you’ve gone this far, I thank you for taking the time to read – I hope you can use this, or pass it on to someone who can. I want you to be less stressed, and it’s a huge commitment to part with most of your life’s belongings!

Wishing you all the best profits in this journey, and please give me feedback if you tried any of this advice 🙂

Traveling lighter,

Cousin Belle