All posts by riversteff

Steffanie Rivers

The Journal of Steffanie Rivers: Reversal of Fortune

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Being a celebrity is a double-edged sword that comes with popularity and privilege. But to whom much is given much is required.

Some professional athletes are finding out the hard way they can’t expect to get the glory without the scrutiny.

The video of running back Ray Rice punching out his fiance in an elevator last February got him cut from the Baltimore Ravens and an indefinite NFL suspension.

Defensive end Greg Hardy has been deactivated by the Carolina Panthers because he was convicted last July of domestic violence against his girlfriend.

The girlfriend said Hardy choked her, dragged her by her hair and threatened to kill her.

Ray McDonald was charged with domestic violence against his pregnant girlfriend Labor Day weekend. So far he’s still in uniform, but pressure is mounting for the NFL to take action against him. Last week running back Adrian Peterson was indicted on felony child abuse charges in Texas. Now he’s on the Minnesota Vikings inactive list. And even though he’s not in the NFL, let’s not forget about Oscar Pistorius, the South African track star, known as the blade runner, who shot his girlfriend four times and killed her on Valentine’s Day 2013. Pistorius, who claimed he thought she was a burglar in the bathroom so he shot through the door, was found not guilty of murder but (the lesser crime of) manslaughter instead.

With billions of dollars in profits from season tickets to jersey sales and advertising fees every year, the NFL is responsible for paying athletes the million dollar paychecks that allow them to live their elite lifestyles. It helped create these ego maniacs, and therefore should take a more active role in appropriate discipline for off-the-field bad behavior as soon as it happens – not after a video is leaked and there’s a backlash.

Still it’s not just about back-end discipline. Already, the NFL councils rookies during training camp about watching out for people who try to take advantage of their privilege, people who are there just to ride the gravy train that is their million dollar paychecks including groupie girls, hangers-on friends and family. But the NFL should include a lesson about accountability – being a responsible team player even when he thinks nobody is watching.

Most people learn life lessons in accountability through everyday experiences. But if you’re blessed to become one of the 1,696 players who make it in the NFL every year I’m certain some of those lessons get overlooked on the way to becoming an elite athlete. Still it doesn’t excuse those people be they athletes, entertainers or others of privilege and popularity from living by the rules that apply to everybody else. At some point we all get away with something because we are better-looking, smarter, richer than most or have unique skills that others don’t. But when you live your life as if you are an exception to all the rules your reckless behavior is bound to lead to a public fall.

Most bad behavior doesn’t start in adulthood, but is carried over from lessons learned – or the lack thereof – in the formative years. Teaching humility isn’t at the top of the list at Pop Warner little league. And some say humility is counterproductive to having a winner’s mentality. By the time he gets to the NFL a player realizes he is exempt from the rules most people must live by. Regardless, most players have no problem being leaders on and off the field. It’s only a few who give the league a bad name.

As for Janay Rice, Ray’s wife, obviously she knew what she was getting into. The infamous elevator incident happened before they were married. And judging from their NFL pre-season news conference where she apologized for her “role” in the altercation, it seemed to me getting physical with each other wasn’t new for the newlyweds. That doesn’t make it right, but if they choose to stick and stay with each other that’s their business.

The lesson for us, as sports enthusiasts, is to realize no matter how great somebody is on any given Sunday after the game is over he still is an imperfect man.

Steffanie is a freelance journalist living in the Dallas, Texas metroplex. Email her at [email protected] for comments, questions and speaking inquiries.

New Orleans Saints Mark Ingram is stopped by the Green Bay Packers defense on the final play of the game during the second half of their NFL football game in Green Bay

Are You Ready For the Super Bowl? It’s Only Four Months Away

TouchdownRentals.Com Helps Owners Rent Upsacle Homes Condos Super Bowl

*As the summer transitions into the fall season and children settle in at school, football has taken center stage in locker rooms across the country from little league teams to the NFL.

And while the playoffs are far from the minds of football fans, the truth is the Super Bowl is little more than 135 days away – a mere four months. If your company profits from the Super Bowl like TouchdownRentals.com it pays to be in front of the wave.

TouchdownRentals.com was created by Steffanie Rivers in Dallas, Texas. She got the idea for the business after working with another football seasonal company. Rivers said her experience with the other company taught her a lot about what not to do.

“That other company lied to customers, stole their money and left us sales people to deal with the fallout. We were the face of the company, but in the end they stole our commissions too,” Rivers said.

She said some customers and former employees who felt they were wronged by that other company filed complaints with the Federal Trade Commission, but heard nothing else about it. Just because the owners of that other company had no ethics, Rivers said it didn’t change the fact the business idea was great.

“From every bad experience I always ask myself what good can come from it. In this case the ‘good’ was an opportunity to improve on a business model and create a win-win situation for everybody.

TouchdownRentals.com, the company that Rivers started, helps homeowners rent their upscale estates and condos during the week of the Super Bowl and get a piece of the million dollar pie. Rivers has built a solid reputation and a referral list that includes entertainers, athletes and corporate clients who prefer to rent a more private setting than any hotel could offer. And they’re willing to pay top dollar for those private upscale accommodations too. Rental prices vary based on location and features of the home. Add-ons such as maid service, limo pickup and party planning are some of the extras Rivers’ company provides.

“We screen our renters and negotiate the best deal, so homeowners can feel comfortable about the people renting their homes. Other websites just list homes for rent with no direction or followup support,” added Rivers. TouchdownRentals.com helps homeowners get a piece of the Super Bowl money pie. And it’s all done legally, Rivers said.

The IRS tax code states homeowners in Arizona (and anywhere in the United States) are allowed to rent their primary residences for up to 14 days consecutively without having to re-classify it as rental property.

“That means there are no IRS tax penalties for renting a private home for the week leading up to the Super Bowl,” said Rivers, adding that “if someone has a rental property that is vacant, renting it during the Super Bowl would be an ideal way to make some quick cash.”

The Super Bowl generates on average $500 million for the host city every year. Phoenix will host this most popular sporting event in February 2015. Profits are generated from sports fans who spend money to book hotel rooms, limos and rental cars. Visitors to the city also eat at local restaurants and pay for entertainment.

The average price of a cheap Super Bowl ticket is $500. On the high-end tickets have sold for more than $1,000 to sit near the end zone. That stadium seats 64,000 and is expandable to more than 72,000. That number doesn’t include 88 luxury boxes with a combination of seats and standing room for private parties. On the low-end ticket sales could generate $30 million for the NFL and owners of the University of Phoenix stadium in Glendale where the Super Bowl will be held. And that’s just game day ticket sales. Concessions are another stream of income, not to mention the affect on local and state sales tax revenues.

Rivers’ company has started its annual promotion in Phoenix. They expect to rent more than 100 homes the week of the Super Bowl. For more information to go TouchdownRentals.com, call (480)382-4580 or email [email protected].

 

(TouchdownRentals.Com Helps Owners Rent Upsacle Homes Condos Super Bowl)
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The Journal of Steffanie Rivers: Flying the Friendly Skies

steffanie rivers

Stteffanie Rivers

It used to be that people considered flying to be a privilege, an event worth dressing up for. Passengers wore their Sunday best, they were courteous to the flight crew, to each other and they were just glad to get from point A to point B safely and quickly. Clearly things have changed.

These days most people don’t even bother to dress up for church – if they go at all. Instead they show up for Sunday morning service wearing what looks like what they wore to the club the night before. But I digress.

So when I learned about the incidents on board flights involving the Knee Defender, I wasn’t surprised. The Knee Defender is a device that attaches to the arms on a seat back tray table and it prevents the person in front of you from reclining their seat. Most people who are working on lap top computers don’t like when passengers in front of them recline their seats, because it keeps them from fully using the tray table as a work space. The reclined seat also leaves little to no space for a person’s knees, depending on how long the person’s legs are. Thus the name of the product.

The Knee Defender is illegal on most airlines, because its use could block passenger exit in case of an emergency evacuation making it a safety hazard. Still passengers get away with using it if nobody complains or flight crews don’t know they’re being used. Refusing a flight attendant’s request to remove them is against FAA regulations and could be a felony offense.

I’ve been a flight attendant for 14 months. And while I’ve never had an incident occur because of the Knee Defender, that’s just one of the issues flight crews have to deal with when it comes to passenger (mis)behavior. Here are a few others:

  1. Always wipe down the seat back tray table before using it. Passengers frequently change baby diapers, prop their feet on it to cut their toe nails or do other grooming on the tray table.
  2. Some passengers play videos and listen to music on electronic devices loud enough for other passengers to hear. They don’t use ear buds and seem oblivious to the fact that others might be bothered by the noise.
  3. Pets seem to have more rights than people on board airplanes. Some passengers who say they need the emotional support of their pet, are allowed to travel with the pet in their lap. Other pets are required to ride in a portable kennel underneath the seat. But that doesn’t stop pet owners from allowing the pet to ride in the seat next to them, to walk the aisle during the flight or to walk amongst the feet of other passengers. Never mind that some people might have pet allergies, might be afraid of strange pets or just don’t want to be forced to travel alongside somebody’s yapping animal for the duration of a flight.

On one occasion a passenger traveled with a pet monkey. Picture Caesar, the monkey from the Planet of the Apes movie, when he was a baby. There was no cage and no leash. Just a monkey walking down the jetway with other passengers. It must have been his first flight, and after what happened it probably was his last flight. The turbulence upset the monkey and his owner was unable to keep him from running up and down the aisle.

Then there was the pet kitten who was startled and lost control of his bladder on a three-hour flight. Passengers had to suffer through the smell of cat urine for more than an hour before the flight arrived at its destination.

  1. Flights headed to certain destinations such as Orlando are bound to be full of children, but that doesn’t mean parents are excused from showing up to the flight with a game plan to keep their children occupied, and keep other passengers from giving them the evil eye. Still most parents seem clueless. When babies cry uncontrollably in flight it’s probably because the air pressure is causing them pain. Parents should be prepared with a bottle or a pacifier or something to make tykes swallow and relieve ear pressure. Bouncing the baby up and down the aisle only makes matters worse.Also, some parents wait until you’re on the plane to change baby diapers. And they hand off dirty diapers to flight attendants as if giving them to us will make them disappear. We don’t throw them out the window. Diapers and the smell remain on board. If you must, diapers should be changed in the lavatories – not on the tray table. And no, flight attendants don’t have toys or clean diapers or baby formula. We are not Babies R Us.
  2. The number one pet peeve of flight attendants probably is passengers who bring carry-on luggage too heavy for them to lift, but expect us to lift it into the overhead bin. Our motto is: If you pack it, you stack it! Or we can check it for you. And when we’re 30,000 feet in the air and passengers ask questions such as “Where are we right now?” or “What’s that body of water down there,” as they point out the window, the answer is something akin to “I have no idea! I’m on an airplane just like you are.”

In case you might think otherwise, I am a “people person” who likes her job. If I have to work a job there’s nothing else I’d rather do.

Steffanie is a freelance journalist living in the Dallas, Texas metroplex. Email her at [email protected] for comments, questions or speaking inquiries.

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The Journal of Steffanie Rivers: Preservation of Life

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*The longer you live the easier it is to have foresight. A friend of mine calls it being able to see the end of the movie at the beginning of the movie. Once you’ve seen enough movies it becomes easier to predict how they’re going to end.

While most of the news coverage surrounding the shooting death of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri has focused on the unfortunate ending: A black teenager gunned down by a white police officer and the local police department’s malfeasance in handling everything from withholding information about the case to their tactics against protesters and reporters covering the developing story, I want to focus on what happened before any shots were fired, before a life was lost.

Have you ever looked back on a situation and asked yourself “how did I get here?” And if you would’ve, should’ve said something differently, behaved differently or even just shut up said nothing at all how that might have changed the outcome of that situation? I do it all the time, because it’s not about who’s right or wrong. It’s about learning life’s lessons.

While it’s not my intention to blame Brown for the actions of Darren Wilson, the police officer who shot and killed him – there is no good excuse to shoot someone multiple times when he is not an immediate threat – Brown’s behavior leading up to the shooting played a role in how things spiraled out of control.

Before you mentally turn your back on me, ponder this: According to all accounts, the 95 percent white police force in Ferguson habitually was overzealous in how they kept law and order in the 75 percent black suburban town. Since the reputation of the police preceded them (you could predict the end of the movie at the beginning of the movie), Brown should have acted more responsibly during his encounter with officer Wilson.

Wilson and Dorian Johnson, Brown’s friend who witnessed the entire incident, agree the two of them were walking in the street and that’s what drew the attention of law enforcement. The officer said he didn’t know anything about Brown being a robbery suspect at the time. So that subsequent information had nothing to do with their encounter.

I don’t know why anyone would choose to walk in the street when there’s a perfectly good sidewalk available. Yes, pedestrians have the right-of-way. And yes, they can walk in the street if they want to as obviously they did. But doing so is bound to disrupt vehicle traffic and attract the attention of law enforcement as obviously it did.

Now police were on the scene instructing them to walk on the sidewalk. Whether they believed it was their right to walk in the street because they weren’t hurting anybody and almost were at their destination (Johnson said that’s what they told the officer), that’s not the time to defy a police officer’s directive or launch into a verbal protest. That’s akin to arguing with police on the side of the road after being pulled over for a speeding ticket: you just don’t do it. Traffic court is the place to argue your case.

Even if you feel your rights have been violated; even if you believe not speaking up for yourself in the heat of the moment makes you look like less of a wo/man there’s a time and place for everything under the sun. People with foresight pick their battles wisely. It’s less about who’s right or wrong and more about the preservation of life. If you’re dead it doesn’t matter if you were right.

Although most police officers are assets to their communities, clearly some are liabilities – itchy-finger lawsuits waiting to happen. Since you never know which kind of officer you’re dealing with it’s best to err on the side of caution, do as you’re told, listen more than you talk and live to see another day.

On average two black people died every week at the hands of white police officers somewhere in the United States in a seven-year period ending in 2012. That amounts to at least 400 killings at the hands of police each year during that time. These FBI statistics were reported by local law enforcement agencies. So the numbers probably are higher than reported. Nobody can be sure if federal, state or local law enforcement are doing more than just recording the incidents of officers who shoot first and ask questions later. But each of us has a responsibility to have foresight, not to be a statistic and to preserve the most important life – your own.

Steffanie is a freelance journalist living in the Dallas, Texas metroplex. Send questions, comments and speaking inquiries to [email protected]

Steffanie Rivers

The Journal of Steffanie Rivers: The Plastic Playbook

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*A low credit score is indicative of someone who has too much consumer debt, doesn’t pay her bills on time, and doesn’t have enough income to support her lifestyle.

While some companies won’t give her the time of day, she’s the kind of customer credit card companies are searching for. Her bad habits keep credit card companies in business.

In the first three months of this year, credit card companies mailed 992 million applications trying to get consumers on the hook. More than 9 million of them bit. And nearly half of those people who signed up have credit scores below 660.

That doesn’t make credit card companies the good guys for extending credit to people they consider to be risky, sub-prime consumers. Their interest in consumers with low credit scores is like being chosen last in a game of kickball: It’s not about the player, it’s about the game.

Most people know how credit cards work. Banks and other lenders allow consumers to use their money via a credit card. And the consumer agrees to pay a certain fee or interest rate in exchange for that privilege. People with good credit scores get to pay a lower interest rate while those with poor credit scores – those under 660 – must pay a higher interest rate. No surprise there.

But the trick bag that credit card companies were putting everybody in was how much and how often they would raise interest rates. The fine print of a credit card agreement reads like the U.S. Tax code: You don’t know what you don’t know until you break the rules and are fined. Thanks to the Credit Card Accountability Responsibility and Disclosure Act of 2009 it’s harder for credit card companies to raise interest rates on existing balances and commit other bait and switch tactics that generated billions of dollars in revenue. Now companies are forced to make up the difference. And they’re doing it by luring consumers who have high consumer debt, a history of late bill payment and low income. Just like Carrie on prom night; it’s a set-up waiting to happen.

Now those consumers who couldn’t get approved for credit cards this time last year are allowed to play the game at 21% interest. That’s compared to people with credit scores above 700 who pay less than 13% interest for the same credit card. Simple math says the latter is better than the former, but smart consumers know if they can’t get it with cash they probably should go without that purchase.

Sure, those introductory credit card rates can be tempting, but they don’t last forever. That’s why they’re called “introductory.” Just because somebody wants to give you access to a bunch of money doesn’t mean you have to take it. You should ask yourself “why do they like me so much?” And if the answer amounts to more than you can afford to pay, don’t do it.

Steffanie is a freelance journalist living in the Dallas, Texas metroplex. Email her at [email protected] for questions, comments and speaking inquiries.

Steffanie Rivers

The Journal of Steffanie Rivers: GM is in a State of Total Recall

steffanie rivers

Stteffanie Rivers

*If you want to know why I’ll never purchase another new vehicle all you have to do is look at the General Motors fiasco.

Last week, GM,  the corporation that manufactures Buicks, Chevrolets, Cadillacs, and GMCs issued its 44th recall due to another vehicle defect.

In the United States alone that affected 17 million vehicles in 2014; vehicles that – for all intents and purposes – are transporting precious cargo to work, schools and churches everyday. Some of those vehicles not on the road anymore were involved in collisions where passengers were either critically injured or killed due to those design defects.

It’s bad enough that GM decision-makers knew about some of the issues but didn’t properly address them. Since having to admit the problem, the auto maker just wants to perform patch-work fixes. There’s no mention of forgiving that over-priced car loan millions of people are stuck with despite years of driving around in death traps or swapping out faulty vehicles for new ones.

This is the same General Motors the U.S. Government kept from near bankruptcy in 2009 in part to keep people working. Working to do what, build vehicles that aren’t worth the heap of scrap metal (or should I say plastic, because they don’t make cars like they used to) the cars turn out to be? It’s stories like this that make me appreciate personal injury law.

If you see me driving a new car rest assured I’m not paying a new car note. It’s probably a weekend rental. And not from Hertz, because they run credit checks on people who use debit instead of credit cards to rent from them (http://www.eurweb.com/2014/01/the-journal-of-steffanie-rivers-overcharged-and-underpaid/). But I digress.

Until last month I drove a 1998 Ford Mustang. It’s paid for and I planned to drive it until the wheels fell off. The wheels didn’t fall off yet, but the transmission might as well have. For six months I went to local government car auctions, perused Craigslist and shopped at rental car sales lots in search of the best deal on a used, yet reliable, car. No car loans for me: just cash and carry.

I settled on a 2008 Pontiac with low miles, a salvage title and a great price. The low miles probably are due to the collision that kept the car off the road which led to the salvage title and the great price.

Most people advise against salvage title vehicles for various reasons, some legitimate and some not. But some insurance companies write off vehicles as a “total loss” even for minor cosmetic damage if the cost of repairs will be more than what the insurance company considers the car to be worth. Plastic fenders and headlights can be expensive, especially on vehicles that no longer are in production. But if you know somebody with a dealer’s license who can get good deals at auctions on cars with minor damage and knows how to do body work like I do, you too can find a great deal. I did my homework and paid less for car insurance on the new (to me) Pontiac and my Mustang than that I was paying for the Mustang alone.

Most things in life are a risk. But what I won’t do is over-pay for a car that is so poorly made the manufacture should be the subject of a class-action lawsuit for putting my life in jeopardy and me in debt while I drive around trying to impress people I don’t know, and if I took the time to know them probably would realize I don’t even like.

As for my Mustang, I’ll put another transmission in it and be back to racing people on the highway before you know it. Just kidding! No I’m not. Yes I am. No I’m not.

Steffanie is a freelance journalist living in the Dallas, Texas metroplex. Email her at [email protected] for comments, questions, comments or speaking inquiries.