Capital One 360 Savings Account Review: My 4 Pros & Cons After 8 Years

Not enough people talk about their finances. For whatever reason, we’ll talk and write about our favorite products – but never about things like banks, lawyers, or doctors. I do a lot of book reviews, but wanted to venture out with something a bit different – a Capital One 360 Savings Account review.

Back on January 6, 2006, I ditched my local banks’ one-tenth of 1% interest rate on my personal savings, and signed up for ING Direct. At the time, online banking was still a new industry. It’s now very normal will a ton of companies to choose from.

In the 8 years since I signed up, ING Direct has become Capital One 360® (see their plans & promotions here), and is now one of the largest online banks in America. After 8 years of banking with them, here’s my pros and cons of Capital One 360 (and online banking in general). [Read more...]

On Visiting Boston, Massachusetts

Visiting Boston

During the last week of December 2014, my wife Shannon and I went to Boston, Massachusetts on a brief 5-day trip. It was my first trip to a major US city outside of my Atlanta home since my City Stereotypes post went viral last summer.

Boston is a big city for tourists, and you can find generic tourist information all over the Internet. You’ll find no shortage of people who have been to Boston who’ll tell you where to go.

I read all that information, talked to friends who had been there, and friends who live there before the trip. But here’s 11 things in no real order that still stood out to me once I got there, and makes Boston a really worthwhile visit (or home). [Read more...]

Book Review | One Summer: America, 1927 by Bill Bryson

One Summer

One Summer: America, 1927 (see on Amazon)

In 1927, there was no major war. There was no major election. There was no major economic upheaval. And yet, it was still remarkably eventful – and one that laid the groundwork for so many huge events just a couple years later.

Or that’s what Bill Bryson argues and writes about in One Summer. He’s the master of taking otherwise dense and boring topics (like the History of Knitting) and turning them into an engaging, interesting, and amusing book (such as At Home)

One Summer is a book that takes a few key events of summer 1927 and interweaves them in such a way to give a full picture of what living that summer in America must have been like – and how so much history can happen all at once to set the stage for the years ahead.

Without spoiling the book – the major events of the summer in 1927 were,

  • Babe Ruth hits 60 home runs (new record)
  • Charles Lindbergh flies across the Atlantic solo
  • Sacco and Vanzetti are tried and convicted
  • The Mississippi River has a thousand year flood
  • First school bombing in American history
  • The world’s central bankers meet
  • Calvin Coolidge chooses not to run for President

All of those events, while important, are not notable in comparison to, say, the bombing of Pearl Harbor, but they all add up to form the foundation of so much of our modern life. And that’s the story that Bill Bryson weaves in One Summer. [Read more...]

7 Pros And Cons Of GoDaddy WordPress Web Hosting

EDIT: Originally published in Feb 2012, I’ve updated this post in January 2014 to reflect the current state of GoDaddy hosting for a 2014 GoDaddy Hosting Review.

This is a product review. It’s biased – but mainly because I’m (EDIT: was) an actual customer of GoDaddy. See my FTC Disclosure if you are into fun transparency stuff.

You’ve probably seen GoDaddy’s Super Bowl commercials, GoDaddy girls all around the internet, and most recently their Helping Small Business commercials in 2014.

GoDaddy is certainly the market leader in domains – and trying to be in web hosting.

Are they just the right WordPress Hosting Tool to build a better blog?

I started out using them (because of the brand) but I’ve moved to HostGator. So.

Here’s 7 Pros and 7 Cons of using GoDaddy to host your WordPress blog[Read more...]

Book Review | Art of Fielding by Chad Harbach

Art of Fielding

Art of Fielding by Chad Harbach (see on Amazon)

The Art of Fielding by Chad Harbach was published back in September 2011, but I really started hearing about it during the summer of 2012. It seemed to be the big American novel of the year (err, “the next great American novel”) of 2012 sort of like Freedom by Jonathan Franzen was back in 2010.

I had never really read a long, contemporary piece of American fiction, but this one piqued my interest with a recommendation from the Slate Political Gabfest. [Read more...]

Book Review | Phantom: A Harry Hole Novel

The Phantom

Phantom by Jo Nesbo (see on Amazon)

I’ve never been the type to read or really enjoy Crime or Horror as a genre. However, occasionally there will be an author or specific book that will be the exception to the rule.

In the Horror genre, books like I Am Legend and The Road that have really interesting social commentary and an interesting hook are the exception.

In the world of Crime fiction – that exception was The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo, which remains one of my favorite fiction series ever. For some reason, I’m not sure why, but Scandinavian crime fiction has a very different feel and mix of characters than Anglo-American crime fiction. So much so, that I decided to try to find more – and found Jo Nesbo, a Norwegian crime fiction writer.

I started by reading The Snowman, which was one of the most gripping crime novels I’ve ever read, followed by The Leopard – which also lived up to the author’s hype.

I had similar hopes for Phantom by Jo Nesbo. It has the same main character, a detective named Harry Hole, and promised the same crazy Scandinavian placenames. [Read more...]

Observations & Training Tips from My First Trail Half Marathon

Trail LakeLast week, I ran in my first Trail Half Marathon – specifically the Mystery Mountain Half Marathon by GUTS at Fort Mountain State Park.

Previously, I had run in 2 competitive road half marathons, 1 marathon, several half-marathon distances on my own during training or recreation. I’m a middle of the pack runner and finished 34th out of 108 in the Mystery Mountain race.

Here’s how I did my trail half marathon training, and some observations on what exactly a trail race entails, what to expect, and how to prepare… [Read more...]

Book Review | Linchpin: Are You Indispensable? by Seth Godin

Linchpin by Seth Godin

Linchpin by Seth Godin (see on Amazon)

Linchpin is the 3rd book by Seth Godin that I’ve read (previously Poke The Box and Purple Cow). The book in brief is a manifesto calling for you – for everyone to re-evaluate who you are in relation to your career and what you do for a living.

It’s about defining what an artist is, and the necessity for you to become one at your job. And not simply because you should, but because it’s absolutely necessary in the age of smarter algorithms, crowdsourced labor, and higher standards of excellence.

In hindsight – I should have read Linchpin first among all of Seth Godin’s books. Purple Cow and Poke The Box were both amazing, instructive reads, but Seth Godin has such a perceptive, counter-intuitive view of the world, that he takes some getting used to.

If you’ve never read Seth Godin – you must – and you should start with Linchpin simply because it is less about an abstract topic like marketing (Purple Cow) or an action (Poke The Box), and more about you and the outlook you have to have towards work, career and life. [Read more...]

Springer Mountain to Cooper Gap on the Appalachian Trail

Rain Near Horse Gap on the Appalachian Trail

So far on the Appalachian Trail in Georgia, we’ve had both an idyllic experience, and a very miserable experience hiking overnight on the Trail. Nothing in the middle.

We’ve slept under a tarp during pouring rain with bears strutting around our camp like they own the place. We’ve also woken up on a crisp, clear November morning with clear views of a million shades of autumn leaves while cooking bacon on a smooth granite rock.

So – 3rd time overnight – and the plan is that we’re going to have a gloriously typical hike. Or at least the typical hike that happens when you’re old hat at the mountain hiking deal. The problem (or, the wonder) of the Appalachian Trail is that that never seems to actually happen.

What did end up happening was that we got to start at the actual Start of the Appalachian Trail at Springer Mountain in Georgia – and hike to Coopers Gap Rd…in a veritable downpour that only let up for a couple hours during the entire hike – which is a bit telling since this portion of trail sees the most people attempt to thru-hike each year…only to quit after just a few miles.

Here’s the run down of hiking on the Appalachian Trail from Springer Mountain to Coopers Gap Rd (near the Gooch Mountain Shelter). [Read more...]

Risking It All Documentary Series

A well-made documentary needs to have 3 key ingredients -

  1. A fresh, unique, interesting topic
  2. Good production values and direction that take advantage of the medium (ie, – it needs to be more visual and fast-paced than a book, otherwise I’d just read the book)
  3. It needs to be upfront with its thesis – or have none at all, and try to be an actual documentary (in the literal sense)

Sadly – those 3 come together much too infrequently. It seems like the choices are usually the umpteenth remake of the Search for Sasquatch (great production, poor topic); something like General Orders No. 9, which was a fascinating topic with beautiful photography…and the pacing and production of a photo gallery that puts you to sleep. Or something like Inside Job, Waiting for Superman, or King Corn that are all engaging, well-produced, and have an interesting topic…but leave you feeling like you’re in the director’s cherry picking orchard and not getting the full story.

Even sadder is that good documentaries are even rarer on television – which is left serve to show re-runs of known topics.

So I was happy to find amazing 25 minute documentaries being produce by Al-Jazeera. I came across a series called Risking It All that, despite being  2 years old, only has 700,000 views. If you are looking for short, well-cut, informative documentaries of topics you’ve never seen. You should check these out. [Read more...]

How Other People Stereotype Your City

I always find it really fascinating to find out how people from different places can perceive the same things so differently. And especially how people from other countries, regions, and cities perceive my city, region, and country – what they focus on, and what things stand out in their mind. In other words – people’s country, region, and city stereotypes.

For years – it has always been an interesting conversation to have – but finding out stereotypes has always been anecdotal. But last year – Renee DiResta had the brilliant idea to apply something that we all use everyday – Google AutoSuggest – to find out US State Stereotypes (you can see that post here).

Here’s the same methodology used on the top 50 US cities (by metro area population) to get the top 4 to 5 city stereotypes of each. [Read more...]

Book Review | Blood River: The Terrifying Journey Through The World’s Most Dangerous Country

Cover of Blood River by Tim Butcher

Blood River by Tim Butcher (see on Amazon)

For me, the best travel books are more than just narratives that just tell how the author did A, then B, then C – they are books that use a real experience to help frame and understand larger issues surrounding the place they are traveling through.

Some of the best books I’ve ever read have been in the travel genre – Dark Star Safari by Paul Theroux gives a fascinating treatment of development in Africa; In A Sunburned Country by Bill Bryson will tell you more about the history of Australia than any history book; Lunatic Express by Carl Hoffman, Grounded by Seth Stevenson, and Lost on Planet China by J. Maarten Troost will give you better glimpse at globalization than many books on the topic itself.

The problem is that this type of book is nearly impossible to find. A good, page-turning non-fiction book is tough to find because you need an author who can not only do incredible research – but who can also wield a fabulous turn of phrase.

If you throw in the ability to travel, explore, ask questions, and weave that experience into the larger narrative and theme of the book…you have an entirely different task.

So I was very happy that Tim Butcher turned out to be just that sort of author. Here’s what Blood River is about and why I found it so fascinating. [Read more...]