The Chaotic World of Construction

Ways for college students to do everything easier

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08 February

Valentine’s Day in the Bag

If you don’t get around to reading this until February 13 – or 14 – I have some good news for you. There are a bunch of quick and easy things you can do for your valentine that won’t break the bank either.

Flowers and candy are an old standby, but a valentine experience is worth so much more. Cook your sweetheart dinner – make a favorite dish or something new. A really romantic alternative is a picnic. Even though it may be cold on February 14, you can still have an old fashioned picnic indoors. Fill a picnic basket or backpack with a tablecloth, plates, a couple candles, a bottle of wine and some take-out food. Don’t forget dessert. You can pack a board game or cards to play after you eat.

Something as simple as telling your significant other why you love them is a great gift. Write all the reasons you can think of on a list. Or better yet, write each one on a piece of paper, then put all the pieces in a jar, a balloon or basket. If you’re really creative, you can make a “note a day” box with 365 slips of paper – one to read each day until next Valentine’s Day.

Everyone has memories of school valentines. Buy an inexpensive box of those cute paper valentine cards and write silly greetings on each one, then hide them where your love will find them – in a coat pocket, on the bathroom mirror, in the cereal box.

A picture paints a thousand words. There are so many great things you can do with photographs of the two of you. You don’t have to know how to be a graphic designer to make something special. It can be as simple as buying a pretty frame for a special shot. Online services like Shutterfly have great ideas for Valentine gifts made from photos.

Say you love her in a song. Burn a CD of your favorite songs, then put some romantic doodles on the CD, or use a template like this to design something unique.

04 January

Too Many Gadgets

Believe it or not, at one time in recent history, you couldn’t take a picture with your phone. You couldn’t listen to music on anything besides a radio. What’s a radio? Oy vey.

We are a culture of gadget lovers. Which of these items do you currently own:
Digital Camera
Video Camera
Cell Phone – iPhone, SmartPhone, Blackberry
Landline Phone
MP3 Player
eBook Reader
Radio/CD Player/Sound System
DVD/Bluray Player
Alarm Clock

If you spend more on batteries than food, and your electrical outlets are overloaded with cords and chargers, maybe it’s time to consolidate some of the electronic devices in your life. Tools that can be used for more than one purpose have many advantages. They can save you money on batteries and power. They can allow you to work more quickly and efficiently. And they can help clear up a lot of clutter. What gadgets can, and should, you combine. Here are some pairings to consider.

Cameras and Phones. The stand alone camera has all but been replaced by cell phone cameras. And many higher end phones have good quality video capability as well. Unless you are a professional photographer, your phone allows you to carry one less piece of hardware and is a good place to store your pics.

Phone and GPS. The website Mapquest was a revolution ending the need to know how to fold a map. But even that is becoming obsolete. GPS brands Magellen, Tom-Tom and others are struggling for market share as more phones are providing better quality mapping apps, often combining business directories and search engines with maps.

Computers, Laptops, Netbooks and iPads. This is purely a matter of personal preference. While a laptop or iPad may be the best choice if you are on the go, a desktop PC provides power and printing capability. You can use a desktop as a media server to store files permanently, or just put them on a flash drive.

PC and Sound System. If you want higher quality sound, or want to share music beyone your own headphones, your PC can become a great sound system with the addition of a high-end audio card and speakers.

E-book reader, iPhone and iPad. The Kindle is revolutionizing how we read books. And now there is a Kindle app for iPhones. iPads may be a good compromise, but are more cumbersome to carry.

MP3 Player and Phone. While music apps tend to drain power from phones, the benefit of only having to carry one device, especially for working out or travelling may make up for it.

Phone and Alarm Clock. Wristwatch makers must be worried. We all use our phones to tell time. And now, most models offer alarm clocks with the ability to program multiple alarms throughout the day.

Smartphones and Everything Else. A high-end smartphone can combine an eBook reader, MP3 player, camera, GPS, internet browser, email server, pedometer and tv remote. You can also now use your phone as a television remote. 

Just remember, if you lose or break your phone, you will be forced to live like the Amish until you can get a repair or replacement.

12 December

A List for Santa’s Little Bagmonster

We talked about quick and easy last-minute gifts to give everyone on your gift list. But what should you ask Santa for this year? You need things that will make your life as a college student easier! And so you don’t have to take time to write down a list, just print this out, take it to the mall and give it to the man in the red suit. (Ok, we’re talking about Santa, not the homeless guy in his pjs hanging out by the fountain…)

Perfect for anyone studying how to become a teacher, Laser Scissors make cutting a straight line easy. You just aim the light and follow it with the blades. It works on curves too.

Are you planning some overseas travel or study abroad? This t-shirt will take you across the globe and into the nearest bathroom no matter where you are. Just point to the question mark and then to the symbol for whatever it is you’re looking for and voila!

There’s nothing worse than losing your cookies! This cup and cookies smart cup keeps track of your cookies and eliminates having to dirty another plate.

Do you stumble around at night in the dark? The next time you get up to go to the bathroom, slip these illuminating car slippers to light your way. The 30-foot beam of light guides you along.

And when it’s time to get up, do you snooze your way into being late for class? Here’s a sure fire way to get you up and out of bed. The Runaway Alarm Clock not only rings, it rolls away so you have to get up and catch it to turn it off.  

For the chronically late, forget the alarm clock. Here’s a Dayclock to make sure you know what day it is! Each day has a special chime all its own.

Sometimes it’s time to sleep in anyway. You can snooze whenever you want with these Blackout Curtains. They keep the sunlight out and make your room even darker at night. They are energy efficient too.

08 December

I’m fine thanks! How are YOU?

Memorize that. It’s holiday time. The Spanish Inquisition, also known as your family, will be upon you faster than a fat kid after an ice cream truck. Don’t stress. Don’t hide. Just write these down –or better yet, print them out and tape them to notecards. Then when Aunt Tilly asks you the inevitable question, just say…

“Well, thanks for asking, Uncle Ned, my online nursing classes are going very well. Did you know that the Bureau of Labor Statistics says that job opportunities in nursing field are going to not only hold steady, but increase over the next four years. And as hard as I’m working, I should be able to grab one of those top jobs.”

“Yes, I guess there is a lot of partying that goes on at State College. But I really don’t know because I am so busy with my biology classes, Spanish club, my new hobby of ____ “…continue to fill in the blank with as many activities as you can think of.

“Yes, I do miss mom’s home cooking. The school has three cafeterias to choose from, but there is nothing like _____ (fill in the blank with your favorite dishes from home.) I also miss ________ .”(fill in the blank with activities, traditions, etc. from home.)

A brilliant strategy is to turn answer the question and then turn it around. People ask about things they are most interested in, and things they can relate to. So they probably have a lot of stories of their own. Use this time to get a little family insight and history by asking questions about them. Especially during the holidays, people you haven’t seen for awhile will be flattered if you give them some attention. Try these:

“As a matter fact I AM enjoying school. My roommate is a great person and we get along very well. I’ve met so many people from different walks of life. What kind of interesting people did you meet when you were in school?”

“You know, I ask myself if I made the right decision when I decided to stay home and take classes online instead of incurring the expense of going away to school. I know it’s much easier to continue to work while I earn my degree. Have you ever thought of taking some online classes?”

29 November

The Importance of Boot Repair

It doesn’t matter if you’re a cowboy, a fashionista, a real estate paralegal or a construction worker – everybody loves a good pair of boots. Boots are some of the most versatile additions to any wardrobe. They’re sturdy enough to work in but attractive enough to just wear. One thing that a lot of people don’t realize though is that when you buy a good pair of boots, sometimes you have to do a bit or maintenance work to get them to last as long as possible. That’s where boot repair comes into play.

Increased Lifetime

Consistent boot repair and maintenance will significantly increase the lifetime of your boots. It you don’t take care of the materials that are holding the boots together, then you can’t expect the boot to last very long. Leather will eventually start to crack, suede will lose its texture, and the overall integrity of the shoe will be gone forever. Just like you would expect to take care of the paint on a car, you have to take care of the material on your boots, and the only way to really do that is through some good boot repair.

Better Health

Believe it or not, going through boot repair can actually have an impact on your health. When you have piece of material or other constructions from the boot poking out at you, there is a much greater risk of injury. Of course, once the boots start to hurt, most people just pitch them and get a new pair. With the right boot repair at the right time, you won’t have to do that. As long as you mend the damages when they first come about, then you shouldn’t have any issues with issues that you can’t fix.

Financial Savings

Then, of course, there’s the economic perspective of the issue. Since boot repair increases the lifetime of your boots and allows you not to throw them away, you don’t have to worry about buying a whole new pair. Paying for boot repair is a lot less expensive than an entirely new pair of shoes, and you will end up with a pair that looks and feels just like a new one. The boot repair that you will pay someone to do will pay for itself after the first or second use of the boots, leaving you with money in your pocket and your favorite pair of boots on your feet.

Environmental Improvements

You may not realize this, but boot repair is actually environmentally friendly. Think about it: every time you have your boots repaired, you’re essentially recycling them to be used another day. Rather than having a whole new pair made, you can just take your boots to someone for a bit of restoration, and your old boots will be good as new. One person working on replacing certain aspects of the boots and mending whatever issues you have will be much easier on the environment than a whole factory producing a new pair. You can save the earth and save your favorite boots all with one easy trip to a boot repairer.


If you want to be safe, stylish, savvy, or secure, go have some boot repair done. As long as you take them to the right person, your favorite boots will come out looking like they did when you first bought them. They may have a few extra scuffs, but the foundation of their makeup will be like new. With proper boot repair, you can go about your construction work without having to worry about your feet.

24 November

Is a Lawn Mower Lift Any Different Than a Car Lift?

If you have a riding lawn mower that you use for your business, you may be used to making your repairs for it on a car lift. This machine is usually too heavy to prop up on cement blocks like some people do with push lawn mowers, so people will take their mowers to car mechanics to use their lifts for work. The only problem is that car lifts are designed for vehicles, not lawn mowers. Thus they are not quite as reliable as you may want them to be. If you have been looking for something to lift up your lawn mower, a riding lawn mower lift may be the perfect solution for you.

Benefits of Lawn Mower Lifts over Car Lifts

A riding lawn mower lift is going to have a lower carrying capacity than a car lift in order to be proportional to the mower. This makes the lift easier to move in times of need. A mower lift may actually be able to fold up and store away in a small area so you can get it out whenever you need to. You could not do that with a car lift. It remains large and stationary, which is why people cannot have one in their homes.

A riding lawn mower lift has arm spacing that is proportional to the tire spacing for most riding lawn mowers. A car lift is going to have a much wider stance because it is made for a wider set of tires. This means that if you put your riding lawn mower on a car lift, there is a risk of having it roll off the edge. You do not have to worry about that with a mower lift though. It is made to keep your riding lawn mower as secure as it can be.

Finding a Lawn Mower Lift Online

If you are looking for a riding lawn mower jack, you may want to see the options you have on the internet. While it is no secret that shopping on the web is convenient, you may be surprised by how much time, money, and energy you can save by shopping for a lawn mower lift online. Listed below are a few of the reasons why you may want to look for your mower jack on the internet:


When you start looking for a riding lawn mower jack online, you can see all of your options in one location. This makes it easy to see the specifications for different models so you can determine which ones are going to work for you. You can also compare prices, brands, colors and more all by shopping online. You cannot do this easily when you shop in stores because you do not have the same information readily accessible. You can make a much better decision when you have information like this on hand.

Low Prices

You can usually find lower prices for a riding lawn mower jack online than you can in stores. This is because it costs a lot less for a company to post a picture on the web than it does for them to display a full lift in a store. You may not be able to touch the lift in question if you shop on the internet, but you can find out the dimensions of it so you can still make your decisions. The competition on the web drives prices down on a regular basis, so you should have no issues finding a good deal.


If you need other supplies beyond your riding lawn mower jack, you may be able to package a deal together for them online to save yourself some money. Bundling can save you on shipping at the very least, and even with shipping included, the prices for lawn mower lifts online are almost always lower than you will find anywhere else. It does not matter when you have time to shop because the internet is always available. You can get a good deal whenever it is convenient for you. Check out the different mower jacks you can buy on the web today.


The fact is that a car lift is just not made to work with your lawn mower. A riding lawn mower lift is. You can choose from many different models of lifts on the market, so you should have no issues getting something that will work for you. Check for the weight capacity of the lift and the height it can lift your lawn mower to in order to see how convenient it will be to work with. Then all you have to do is find the lift that will work for you. With the right amount of research, you can find the perfect option out there.

17 November

Home for the Holidays

Hey Bagmonsters – it’s time to think about Thanksgiving. Just when you’ve gotten all settled into your dorm, you’re going to have to pack it up and take it home. At least part of it.

Most schools will not allow you to stay in the dorm during breaks. Or if they do, they charge you a substantial fee. This is because most colleges do not have personnel on campus during breaks. One college administrator was quoted in the school’s newspaper as saying that there would be an increase in the “opportunity for mischief” if dorms were left open. Unless you got one of those study abroad scholarships, you need to plan for a reunion with the family.

So what do you take home for the long Thanksgiving weekend break? You want to be sure to take anything of value like laptops, iPods, etc. Without staffing, there is still an opportunity for mischief if someone decides to break into your dorm.

You will also need clothing. If you haven’t done laundry since you got there, this is a great opportunity to catch up. Garbage bags are a great method of transport, especially if your dirties have started to reek.

You might want to think about books. You know, those things you open up when you have a test. If your semester or term isn’t over until December or January, you can get caught up or ahead on your studies. And there are those professors who think it is fun to assign projects over the break.

While going home for the first time may not be a picnic for everyone, you can help ease the re-entry stress by sharing some of your experiences with your family. Note that I said “some” of your experiences. Photos of your room, friends, campus, etc. will help your parents see how much you like college. Photos of you wearing your underwear on your head or pounding a beer bong – not so much.

It always helps to take gifts. Stop by the college bookstore and pick up logo t-shirts, a picture frame for one of those tame photos, or a bumper sticker. One that says “My son goes to State College. And so does all my money” is always a good choice.

14 October

I Need Sleep!

Do you feel like you never get enough sleep? “I need sleep!” is the official Bag Monster slogan.

The Better Sleep Council says that 44% of us have trouble during the day on a routine basis due to lack of sleep.  Their report cites problems including being unpleasant, unfriendly, depressed an unproductive. Sleep deprivation affects the accuracy of your work, your judgment and memory for details. But, it might not be the amount of sleep that is making you tired. It might be the quality of sleep you are getting – or aren’t getting that leads to your feeling unrested and unproductive.

Your body goes through five sleep stages. The first stage is when you are first falling asleep. You may drift in and out of sleep and you can easily be awakened. You will then transition into stage 2 sleep where your eye movement stops and your brain waves and activity slow down. If you are getting restful sleep, you will spend about 40% of your asleep time in this stage. Stages 3 and 4 are a time of deeper sleep when it us more difficult to be wakened. These are the most critical times in your sleep cycle. This is where your body and brain gets rejuvenated so you feel refreshed when you wake. If you are awakened during these stages, or can’t fall into these stages naturally, you can wake up feeling like you haven’t slept.  Your body “accumulates” sleep. So if you get 30 minutes less sleep one night, it may take several nights to catch up. Child psychologists suggest that our sleep habits and patterns are set when we are very young, and are therefore difficult to change.

When we feel tired, especially when we have a test to study for, or something that needs to be done, many people turn to caffeine in coffee or cola. But caffeine can stay in your system and interfere with your sleep several hours after you have taken it.

Healthier alternatives to caffeine when you need to be refreshed include taking a nap, or going outside for fresh air. Elementary school teachers know that children show sign of sleepiness after eating – that’s why recess follows lunchtime!



23 September

Share your dirty laundry

Remove cat before closing lid

No matter how many pairs of underwear you buy, eventually, you’re going to run out of clean undies. Unless you do … gasp… laundry.

I don’t know anyone who enjoys doing laundry. Especially if they’re not getting paid for it. And if you’re a bag monster, you may be sleeping amidst a pile of laundry – dirty or clean – right now. Assuming that one day you are going to have to get out of that bed, you should probably have an “underwear plan.”

Here’s an idea. You’ve heard of study groups? Start a laundry group. Get a group of friends together and take turns weekly doing the group’s laundry. Here’s how:

1.   Find 2 to 4 people who have laundry. It shouldn’t be that difficult. If you’re having trouble with this step, hang out in the laundry room, or better yet, in the hallway, and smell who goes by.  Or advertise by telling everyone they will be getting their laundry done for free.  Sort of.

2.  The more people in the group, the less often you personally have to do laundry. The downside is, the more people you have in the group, the more laundry you have to do. Work in pairs if that makes it easier.

3.   Brainstorm a list of things you can do while you are babysitting the washer and dryer. You can study, read a book, or continue to nap. Go to and print out the local listings and catch up on your soaps. Be creative. Learn to crochet. Surf the internet for online mba programs.  Think of a laundry group activity each person can work on it when it’s their turn such as a 1,000 piece puzzle, a quilt, or the world’s longest gum wrapper chain.

4.   Pick a laundry day out of the week. Your laundry teammates can pick different days, as long as they are no more than one day apart, otherwise the laundry chore distribution will leave someone with a larger load.

5.  Have everyone chip in, or let one person buy and take permanent of a divided clothes hamper. Whoever has laundry duty for that week keeps the hamper. The others deposit their laundry sometime before laundry day. To make sure everyone gets their own laundry back, have everyone mark their laundry pieces with a permanent marker, or a piece of different color thread tied or sewn somewhere into the item.

6.  When it’s your week to do the laundry, it’s your week to buy the soap, fabric softener and coins for the machines (unless you can take it home and do it for free). Sort all the clothes into appropriate piles – whites, brights and dark colors, for example. Gather your laundry day project of choice, and stake your claim at the Laundromat, dorm laundry room, or mom’s house.  Then go with the flow of the laundry.

7. You can decide if the group will deliver laundry to each person, or if they will pick it up and the launderer’s place.

8. Keep the rules tight and the humor loose. Do not expect your laundry teammates to be crime scene investigators. Everyone should pre-treat stains and keep the really nasty stuff for when it’s their week to wash. And if anyone breaks laundry day code, replace them with someone who is group-worthy.