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Andrew Mitcham
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Andrew Mitcham

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Oh hey, look! Another completely unshareable Dynamo video!
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Andrew Mitcham

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That's really cool. You should do more with different weather. 
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My baby girl is getting so big! 
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aww, what a pretty girl!!
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Best. Op-Ed. Piece. Ever. Sums up my feelings about the current state of politics.
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Have him in circles
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Andrew Mitcham

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Wow, what big men, beating women. Textbook case of tiny-penis-syndrome.
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 My letter to my Congressman, Rep. John Culberson, regarding his Nay vote on re-opening the government and raising the debt ceiling:

2352 Rayburn House Office Building
Washington, D.C. 20515


Dear Representative Culberson,

I am writing you today to express my tremendous disappointment in your “Nay” vote regarding HR 2775 on October 16, 2013. It is clear to me that you do not have the best interest of the United States, or your district for that matter, at heart. The failure of HR 2775, which is what you voted for, would have caused catastrophic harm to the economy on a macro and micro scale, exponentially more devastating than Obamacare could ever achieve. It is also clear to me that you are not listening to your constituents. Instead, you are listening to the extreme-right squeaky wheels only motivated by a hatred of the President. Governing out of spite is not a quality befitting your office.

I am a young (if you consider 30 young) homeowner, taxpayer, father, husband, Army veteran, investor, and contributor to an employer-matched 401(k). Your Nay vote, and the intentions of that vote,  to cause a default of US fiscal responsibility for its debts would have caused great harm to me, my family, and our interests. I do not care what your personal feelings are towards the President or the Democratic Party. I have enjoyed a growth in my 401(k) of close to 18% year-over-year since 2009. Had you and the other 144 Nay-voters on HR 2775 been successful, those gains would have been completely wiped out. Further, I believe recovery from that self-imposed economic devastation would have been incredibly difficult as the reputation of the US as a safe place to invest would have given way for another global power to take its place. Your actions, had they been successful, would have been a gift to China.

I understand your concerns that the US budget, the deficit, and the tax code are very serious problems, and whole-heartedly agree with you. I consider myself very well read on the subjects having listened to many points of view, not just the AM talk radio shows, Tea Party newsletters, chain e-mails, and 24-hour news outlets. One downfall of the modern age of the internet, blogs, and 24/7 media outlets is that a person can find an opinion on anything from any side arguing any point. This environment causes echo-chambers where a person is discouraged from ever seeking a differing point-of-view and, instead, their views are reinforced and moved further and further from reality. I believe this is what has happened to the Republican Party, a party I grew up wanting to support.

Representative Culberson, I believe you are beholden to a dying, yet vocal, demographic. I associate your pandering to the Tea Party at the same level as Representative Sheila Jackson Lee pandering to Quanell X and his ilk. The United States only thrives if there is moderation. As bad as the Affordable Care Act could potentially be, the time for defeating it has come and gone. The bill was debated on, passed, and signed into law. It was challenged on just about every level of the judicial system and, ultimately, ruled Constitutional by the Supreme Court of the United States. The law followed every letter of the Constitution to become a law fairly and legally. As far as I’m concerned, no matter how much you and I hate it, the law is law.

Further, the Republican Party gave absolutely ZERO alternatives to Obamacare. None. Defunding it is not a plan. It is a hissy fit. Your reaction to its implementation by basically employing the same reasoning and tactics my 2 year-old daughter uses when attempting to persuade me to buy her candy at the grocery store degrades your reputation, the reputation of your Party, and the reputation of your district.

The Republican Party used to the sane, responsible Party offering realistic alternative to Liberal pipedreams. What is clear to me, after the actions you took on October 16th and the weeks prior to the vote, is that you and the Tea Party wing of the Republican Party are just as out-of-touch as the most liberal of Democrats. Your line of reasoning that the Affordable Care Act is a horrible piece of legislation bound to destroy jobs and the economy may be potentially true, but your plan was to… hold out funding it with the full knowledge that doing so would… destroy jobs and the economy. In short: in order to prevent the Affordable Care Act from potentially harming the economy and destroying jobs, you were going to do that yourself on a larger scale. How on Earth can a sane, reasonable person support such actions? What were you thinking? What did you think you would accomplish? “Well, the economy is in the toilet, interest rates are sky-high, the credit and housing markets are bust, the stock market has tanked, millions of people are out of a job again, and recovery will be very difficult seeing as the US reputation for fiscal responsibility has been destroyed… but at least we stopped Obamacare!”. Please tell me how that plan was supposed to help me and your other constituents.

Forgetting your line of reasoning, I would appreciate a response to the following question: What is your alternative to the Affordable Care Act?

Thank you for your attention. I sincerely hope that you can step back from the Tea Party/AM talk radio/chain e-mail/24-7 news media echo chamber for a few hours and truly stand in the shoes of one of your reasonable constituents. Someday, as a person looking to involve myself in the politics of our area, I would enjoy having a beer with you and discussing your solutions to the nation’s biggest problems and how to reasonably approach them. Please understand that your actions, had they been successful, would have been exponentially more devastating to me and your other constituents than the Affordable Care Act could ever be. I implore you to never use such unreasonable, ineffective, and potentially devastating tactics again.


Sincerely,

Andrew R. Mitcham
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Thanks. It felt good writing it. I know he probably won't ever read my letter because an intern will shield him from the criticism, but I hope it will inspire people to deal with the Crazy head-on.
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How I saved $100/month by cancelling cable but still watch my favorite shows

I may have bragged to too many people both in person and via social media about the fact that my family is a "cord cutter" family because I get messages weekly asking how we did it.

We cancelled cable about a year ago when I started noticing our AT&T U-Verse bill was getting into the $186/month range. I mean, we could afford it, but I wondered what else we could put that $186/month towards... like an IRA, college fund for our girls, or a travel fund. That's just the way I think: I'm paying X amount for this service... how much would X amount be worth in 10 years after accruing 7% interest? Can it buy me a boat? Yes? Awesome...

On top of what $186/month can get you in nautical-purchasing-terms, it was really just the principle of the matter. Were we really getting $186-worth of value every month from cable TV? Uh... nope. We were already watching a substantial portion of our total content via Netflix and Hulu anyways. We still loved Dexter, Shameless, Breaking Bad, It's Always Sunny In Philadelphia, and The Walking Dead. All great shows; all on cable. The rest of the content was on broadcast network channels (ABC, NBC, CBS, FOX, PBS, etc).

So... the real question was: are the 3 - 4 shows we love on cable worth $186/month? Tough call.

My goal was as follows:
-Simple, uncomplicated setup (grandparent proof)
-As few "boxes" as possible
-Saves an amount of money to make it worth my time
-Still get the shows we love within a reasonable timeframe
-Determine what kind of boat to buy

Here's how I did it:

The first thing I purchased was a TV antenna to put on the roof. It was a miserable experience that is long and boring to explain, so I'll skip it and re-visit how YOU can skip this complicated procedure in a bit.

The second thing I did (which is the first for you) was buy a Roku box. Roku is a crazy-simple solution that allows you to watch Netflix, Hulu Plus, Amazon Instant, and other streaming services on your TV. You can buy them on Amazon.com or Roku.com and think they even have them in-store at BestBuy. They cost as little as $39. The one I bought was the Roku 2 XD, which I bought for $70 via an Amazon sale.

Here's how to install your Roku box: 1) Plug the power cable in. 2) Plug an HDMI cable into the box and then into your TV. 3) The end.

The on-screen setup is VERY easy, completely idiot-proof. You basically just connect to your home wi-fi network and then login to all your streaming services (Netflix, Hulu Plus, etc). That's about it.

When you want to watch Netflix (movies and Breaking Bad, The Walking Dead, Arrested Development, House of Cards, New Girl, etc), you just go to the Netflix application on Roku. When you want to watch something on Hulu (The Daily Show, Colbert Report, Modern Family, Drunk History, etc.), you just go to the Hulu app. Easy.

Amazon Prime has a lot of good kid's shows and PBS stuff. The movies on there are more classic stuff. However, Netflix, Amazon, and Hulu Plus are developing their own shows which, so far, have been really good (watch House of Cards and Orange Is The New Black on Netflix; Quickdraw on Hulu Plus... you'll thank me later).

"Wow! Thanks, Andrew! But... what if I want to watch the latest episode of Breaking Bad or Dexter, not just the last season?", you say.

Well... I'll tell you the legal way. There's this place called Amazon.com, which literally has everything. If you absolutely MUST watch the latest episode of Breaking Bad, The Walking Dead, Dexter, etc., most of them can be found the very next day after they air on Amazon Instant Video for $2 - $3/episode. And you can watch them on your Roku box (yay!). Believe it or not, you can subscribe to a series and STILL save a bunch of money compared to what you were spending on cable.

The morally-ambiguous route? For educational purposes only, Google "How to BitTorrent" to learn that method. Also Google "Plex on Roku". And Google "eztv.it". Nothing to see here. Move along.

Above I skipped over the antenna installation. Be thankful you can skip it, too. It sucked. I spent days on the roof and in the attic routing cables and splitters and drilling holes in the wall. It works great now, but, at the time, it was the only option to get the broadcast network channels live. However, starting in mid-September, people in the Houston and Dallas areas will have access to a service called Aereo.

Aereo, without getting too technical, takes OTA broadcast network signals and sends them over the internet to your TV. They have a private Roku app, so you can watch NBC, CBS, ABC, Fox, PBS, etc. without complication. Bonus: the service gives you 20 hours of cloud DVR space (60 hours for a little bit more $), so you can record your favorite shows just like you did with your cable DVR. MEGA BONUS: You can watch those recorded shows not only on your Roku, but also on an iPhone/iPad or Android (soon) device! Which means you can watch your recorded DVR content on the boat you're going to buy using all the money you're about to save!

So, here's the math:
Previous cable/internet bill: $186/month

New Cord-Cutter setup:
-Streaming services (Netflix, Hulu Plus, Aereo): $26/month
-Next-day TV show downloads via Amazon Instant Video (assuming 4 can't-miss shows): $24/month
-Internet connection (we have Comcast): $39/month
Total: $89/month

Savings: $97/month

Put that $97/month into a Roth IRA and, assuming 7% annual rate-of-return over 30 years... you've got $118,000 to spend on that boat my friend. You're welcome.

$97/month vs $186/month. We still get our favorite shows plus live TV (via Aereo in September) and we get to watch it all using one box (Roku) with the flexibility to watch that content whenever we want and on our tablets if we're bored in a waiting room somewhere.
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very nice...thinking of doing the SAME thing here..
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#MyFirstSmartPhone

The BlackBerry 8700c. It has followed me from job to job and still sits in my office drawer in the event I need something to break a door down with. 
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Andrew Mitcham

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Sweet! More green space in Houston!
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German translation: One who eats funnel cakes.
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Urban Foresters did an excellent job trimming our 4 large Live Oak trees and 1 large Water Oak. Of all the services I had come out and give us a quote, these guys were the most reasonable and the Arborist that came out was very knowledgeable. He understood that we wanted more sunlight on our lawn and he did a great job of selecting branches that could go and the ones that should stay, as opposed to the other services that were more than happy to just hack away. They ended up raising the canopy at least 8 feet, got rid of the "suckers", and took out all of the dead wood and limbs close to our house. It looks amazing! We also opted for the TUF Trees fertilization service but I can't comment on the effectiveness since we just got the treatment a couple weeks ago and our trees were already in good shape. I highly recommend Urban Foresters to work on your trees. They left our Live Oaks looking great!
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Public - 2 weeks ago
reviewed 2 weeks ago
Unless your life is in immediate danger, do NOT go to this hospital. Our family has had 4 experiences with this place, all have been just miserable. Every doctor we have had there has terrible bed-side manner... one walked in to our ER bay with a sucker in his mouth, took a look at my family member, popped the sucker out of his mouth with a smack, then said "yup, that's <misdiagnosis>". He didn't even bother to test (it was something very easily testable), didn't have any medical history at all to base his diagnosis on. In a follow-up, our regular doctor (in the Medical Center) said his diagnosis was way way off. Embarrassingly off. A first-year med student knows better. The doctor was even argumentative with our regular doctor because she questioned the diagnosis even though she had the actual test results in her hand. Last week a family member went in with a possible kidney stone (super painful) in the middle of the night. Despite kidney stones being a very common complaint, and the pain specifically located to the lower-side...aka KIDNEY AREA... the staff insisted it was a heart attack. It took them over 3 hours to finally get my family member, who was in excruciating pain, morphine. This was because the ER nursing staff forgot to put in orders repeatedly and doctors refused to press the pharmacy for expediency. They didn't even officially diagnose a kidney stone for hours because 1) the nurses and doctors neglected to sign orders to have a scan done and 2) a kidney stone diagnosis is usually done VERY simply with an ultra-sound. In summary, the staff (both nurses and doctors), basically forgot all about a screaming person in horrific pain for 3 hours and didn't give the slightest damn about the pain. Here's how it should have gone: Oh, a person with excruciating pain in the kidney area? Let me ask medical history. No history of cardiac issues? This is more than likely a kidney stone. Let's order some morphine right away, get a doctor to sign it, and administer. To confirm the diagnosis, let's do a simple ultra-sound that will take 10 minutes. Simple. Idiot-proof. Apparently not. Do not let the nice new building fool you. This place is run by incompetent staff who do not care at all for patients. The only way I will ever take any of my family members here is if their life is in immediate danger. Even then, I will give it a second thought. Our family has reported the latest experience with JACO.
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Public - 2 months ago
reviewed 2 months ago
8 reviews
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