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THE ROCK FATHER: The Pop Culture & Lifestyle Magazine for Families that Rock.

It's the premiere destination for the best in entertainment for the ENTIRE family, kids and grownups alike. Featuring the latest news and reviews on Music, Movies, TV, Comics, Books, Toys & Games, and lifestyle coverage including Home & Garden, Automotive, Cool Products and more, THE ROCK FATHER has it all...

Small businesses, which are defined as organizations with fewer than 500 employees, account for 99.7% of all companies in the United States.

If you're thinking about opening some kind of small business yourself, instead of renting out or buying an expensive office building, you might want to consider a shipping container. Since you'll likely only need an employee or two while you're first starting out, a container is a great area for dozens of business ventures.

There are roughly 17 million shipping containers across the globe, but only 6 million of them are currently in use. That means approximately 11 million shipping containers are just sitting there, unused, and could be utilized for all kinds of purposes -- including opening brand new small businesses.

You're still going to have to work hard, however, but it can be done. According to a U.S. Bank study, 82% of businesses that fail do so because of cash flow problems. As long as you're working hard and doing what you enjoy or passionate about, you should be in for a very rewarding and lucrative new adventure! Whether you're just trying to get some freelance writing done or want to open a pop-up shop, there are plenty of ways to get creative with shipping containers and actually earn some serious revenue.

Here are some creative ideas for turning a storage container into a brand new small business:

  • Gift shop -- No matter what item you are thinking about selling, opening up a small retail business is a great way to earn some extra cash if you know what you're doing. Consider setting up your continuer shop in high-traffic areas like tourist attractions and community events. Then, keep your container stocked with quality items and start mingling!

  • Mobile bar -- You'll need to acquire all the necessary permits and licensing, of course, but setting up a mobile bar or tap house can be a cool and fun way to earn more during the weekends. These are great for concerts, festivals, carnivals, parades, and so much more. Shipping containers offer quick and easy for patrons to come up and enjoy a fine beverage.

  • Portable classroom -- Whether you're starting a tutoring business or just teaching a few workshops a few times a month, containers make for great learning environments. The overwhelming reason to utilize portable classrooms is the speed of delivery (35%), following by shifting enrollments (26%), and the relatively inexpensive nature of the classrooms (25%).

  • Bookstore -- Do you have a large collection of books that are just sitting in your basement? Instead of keeping them and letting dust pile up, consider setting up a book shop out of your new container. It might be tough to convince passersby to purchase new books, but if you advertise your books on social media, the bookworms will surely make their way to you.

  • Clothing retailer -- Containers have plenty of space to open up a nice clothing boutique. Whether you're selling old clothes or are designing and making your own, people love buying new clothing items for affordable prices.

  • Art gallery -- You can buy, sell, trade, or even make all kinds of art pieces from the comfort of a quality shipping container. You probably shouldn't start with pieces in the tens of thousands, but selling a few nice paintings or trading a few cool drawings is a great way to spend your time.

These are only a few ideas for container businesses, but you can get as creative as you want. Don't be one of the 80% of people who don't keep their resolutions! Stop wasting your free time in front of the TV -- it's time to get out there and follow your dreams.

Of the four styles of BBQ this country boasts, Texas BBQ is the most well-known. The famed pit barbeque creates smoked meats so flavorful that side dishes are secondary: one article in The New Yorker stated, "you don't hear a lot of people talking about the piquancy of a restaurant's sauce or the tastiness of its beans; discussions are what a scholar of the culture might call meat-driven."

When you have a product so good that it stands alone -- and is purchased by the pound, even in restaurants -- the urge to change or alter it in any way seems nonexistent. However, when you take into account the popularity of Tex-Mex, a combination of Mexican and southwest U.S. cuisines, the concept of a delicious food mishmash is too good to pass up.

The Birth Of A New Cuisine

Tex-Mex barbeque has become more common in the last few years, mostly due to the presence of new restaurants like Valentina's in Austin and 2M Smokehouse in San Antonio. Esaul Ramos, owner of the latter, stated he simply studied the pit-style way of smoking meats and combined the skill with the foods he grew up eating; tacos, barbacoa, pico de gallo, and nopales all have a place in Tex-Mex barbeque.

At Valentina's, you can enjoy a slice of juicy brisket inside a warm tortilla, and a side dish of rice and beans is as common as coleslaw. The merging of the two cuisines is having quite the cultural impact on the country's biggest state. Since backyard barbeques are popular the nation over, we figured we'd teach you how to throw a Tex-Mex BBQ of your own.

This Pit Is Lit

The most important part of any barbeque is the food selection, and this goes tenfold for Tex-Mex BBQ cuisine.

  • Meats: Texas barbeque relies on three main meats, all smoked over the pit, of course. Sliced beef brisket, German-style sausage, and meaty ribs with a tangy, tomato-based sauce are the staples. The meat is meant to be untouched, while the Tex-Mex influence impacts how it's served and what it's served with.

  • Sides: Classic barbeque sides include macaroni and cheese and potato salad, but savory condiments are heavily favored. Pickled jalapeno peppers, cherry peppers, sliced onions, and dill pickles provide a little extra saltiness to the meal. Add some black bean, corn, and tomato salad for that Tex-Mex flair, or simply serve with rice and beans. As long as you're relying on Mexican fundamentals -- such as peppers, corn, and beans --, your barbeque will have some kick to it.

  • Beverages: Sweet tea is a great non-alcoholic choice, and there are many Texan beers and wines to choose from. Shiner Bock from Spoetzl Brewery in Shiner, Texas, is a favorite among Texans, as are hearty reds (like Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot) from Llano Estacado Winery or Caprock Winery -- both are located in the panhandle of Texas and have won numerous awards.

How much you buy depends on how many guests you're expecting; the average party size that requires a caterer is between 100 and 250 people, so keep that in mind if you're trying to throw a neighborhood-wide rager. As much as you might want to smoke and roast the meat yourself, sometimes a professional team is needed. Gather the requisite tables, chairs, and utensils, and you've got a great party on your hands.

You don't need to be from the Lone Star State in order to host a backyard get-together embracing its cultural cuisine and history; if you possess a love of good food, great friends, and want to experience Tex-Mex barbeque for yourself, take matters into your own hands. Once their bellies are full, nobody will care where you're from or where you grew up!

 

With there being about 5.4 million non-fatal car accidents every year on U.S. roads, people are always looking for the safest, most reliable car on the market. And thanks to J.D. Power's 2019 U.S. Vehicle Dependability Study, U.S. consumers can now know which car is best to buy and why.

Research firm J.D. Power has been putting together it's annual study for the past 30 years. This study looks at three-year-old models, so this year they looked at 2016 models. The researchers examine any and all problems that original owners of 2016 models have reported within the past 12 months. And to rank the dependability of the vehicle, the researchers also take into account the number of problems that were experienced per 100 vehicles. With this ranking system, a lower score means a vehicle is more dependable.

This year's study consisted of responses from 32,000 vehicle owners and the research was conducted between October and December of 2018. According to the study, the overall dependability of all vehicles increase 4% from last year.

The results had some expected outcomes as well as a few surprises. Toyota, as usual, came out on top. The automaker came in first place again, with the Toyota Lexus brand being ranked as the most reliable in the United States. Tying with Toyota for second place was Porsche, which was quite the surprise, as they haven't done all that well in the past. Power's first award for the industry's most dependable vehicle also went to the Porsche 911 sports car.

The study also looked at which vehicle brands showed the most improvements over the past three years. Although China is the number one car manufacturer in the world, Detroit's Chrysler was deemed the most-improved automaker. And for the first time in 30 years, the major German automakers, including Audi, Mercedes-Benz, Volkswagen, and BMW all were found to have shown improvements above the industry's average.

And speaking of BMW, one big surprise from the study as that MINI has made big improvements to increase its dependability. With Americans spending an average of 87 minutes in their cars every day, they want a car that can be both fun and reliable. While MINI has had a reputation of having fun cars in the past, their reliability has never been as good. But this year's study ranked MINI as sixth, which is quite the improvement.

Unfortunately, Honda didn't rank as well. In the past, Honda has been right up there with other leading brands, like Toyota. But over the past few years, Honda has started slipping down the last. And the recent problems with product quality have lead the automaker to fall below the industry average.

And lastly, Chevrolet surprised many people by flying up in the ranks. Chevrolet's dependability ranking was better than Subaru, Honda, BMW, Audi, and many others, leaving them ranked as fourth overall. This is its highest ranking in this study ever.

With the auto body industry being valued around $42 billion, it's clear more people are caring about their vehicles than ever before. So if you're looking for a dependable vehicle to last you for year's to come, consider checking out more information from the 2019 J.D. Power Vehicle Dependability Study.

Pictured Top: 2019 Lexus UX/Photo Lexus USA

Saturday, February 23 2019 11:38

4 Kinds of Sock Every Man Needs

It doesn't matter if you're severely fashion-challenged or a hipster with a pristine sense of style; you still wear socks.

And though we wear socks almost every single day, many men don't have a single clue how to shop for a good pair of socks. Even though the average American spends around $1,800 on clothes every year, we tend to underspend when it comes to socks. Too often, when our socks seem to be few and far between in the laundry cycle, we head to the store and just grab the cheapest pack of whichever socks look the least weird.

While tried-and-true sock styles have their place, there is a whole world of sock styles out there waiting for discovery. Believe it or not, the right pair of socks can make your days more comfortable, and even protect the health of your feet.

Get out of your boring and impractical sock rut. Here are four styles of sock you never knew you needed:

1. Athletic and Sports Socks

If your feet will be getting sweaty, do yourself and your family a favor and invest in socks specifically designed for athletic performance. Today, less than 5% of American adults participate in 30 minutes of exercise every day. Don't let a lack of athletic clothing become an excuse to stay on the couch. Moisture-wicking socks are a great addition to any wardrobe, and hiking socks often feature cushioned soles that help prevent blisters and achy feet. For outdoor fitness, some boot sock styles are made taller to help protect your ankles from rubbing against hiking boots and to limit lower-leg scratches and bug bites.

2. Fun Socks

While you may be hesitant to wear zany socks with your formal wear, fun prints are actually quite fashionable these days. Even mainstream retailers like Target now carry a variety of options for men. You can get socks with dinosaurs, bacon and eggs, and a variety of non-extinct animals. Every man should own at least one pair of socks that add a little character to your outfit.

3. Casual Socks

Casual, daily-wear socks give the wearer a chance to express personality and flair, since these socks come in an array of colors and styles. Casual socks tend to prioritize appearance over function, meaning that awesome yellow-striped pair might make a great statement, but not fare so well on a long hike.

4. Dress Socks

Finally, men's dress socks are often made with luxury materials intended to pair with suit-and-tie apparel. Traditionally, dress socks come in black fabrics that match your trousers. These socks tend to be taller so that the edge will never be glimpsed under dress slacks. However, recent business-casual style changes have seen men getting more creative with their sock choices. Today, it's common to see a man in khakis wearing fun argyle or spotted socks. If your workplace allows, feel free to have a little fun with your dress socks!

When you're cultivating your ideal gentleman's wardrobe, don't forget to gather a collection of practical socks. With these four socks in your arsenal, you'll be ready to take on any day in comfort and style!

Sheds are a beautiful yet practical addition to any backyard. By offering a simple and easy way to expand your storage space, they allow many homes to handle more than would necessarily be expected. Even better, they can be customized and designed to suit your needs and aesthetic: if you're going for the farmhouse feel, paint it red and white; if you just need a safe place to store your gardening tools and outdoor equipment, include lots of shelving.

Although prefabricated sheds certainly exist (and The Rock Father™ has built them), they are rigid in design and style. If you've got handyman history and know your way around a tool belt, why not give it a go yourself? The following tips will help you build the backyard shed of your dreams.

  • Plan It Out: The easiest way to get lost in a project is to try to keep it all together in your head. If you don't write down your planned design, you'll end up forgetting vital materials (like wood and screws) or buying things you won't end up using. Take the time to clearly outline your expectations; how big is your shed going to be, are you including siding and insulation, etc. Don't neglect to account for 25% extra storage space for future needs.
  • Gather Materials: The complexity of your design determines how many --and what type of -- materials are required. You'll need to use a combination of nails and screws to ensure the joints are tight and secure; if you don't own a power drill, we'd recommend investing in one to make the process much faster. Standardized screw threads didn't exist until 1928, so imagine how frustrating it would've been to build a structure with screws that varied in size and shape because they were handmade!
  • Clear A Path: Picking your shed location should have been one of the first things you did, now it's time to prepare the area. Remove any brush, plant life, or yard ornaments that may be nearby, giving the space a wide berth -- remember, you're going to be stomping in and around the area a lot in the coming days and you don't want anything to trip you. This is an excellent way to get the whole family (especially younger children) involved in the project; while mom or dad is cutting two-by-fours, the kids can help make sure the ground is open and even.
  • Foundation Matters: In all buildings, the source of strength and stability lies in the foundation. When it comes to a backyard shed, you can't go wrong with cement. The material is durable, lasts for centuries (and actually gets stronger as time passes), and is extremely affordable.

Depending on your previous handyman experience, you might be interested in adding a few extra features. In mid-January, a photo album of lauded author Jane Austen's family was discovered when someone dug it out of storage and popped it up on eBay; if you want your shed to be suitable for storing family photos and archives, you're going to need to make sure that it is completely sealed. For example, the relative humidity must be below 65% in order to protect old documents from molding, and against insect activity. If you have the know-how needed to waterproof your shed (and are okay with the extra work it requires), the added effort will allow your shed to be used for any occasion.

Although the natural wood look is very popular these days, sometimes the best way to express yourself -- or to get your family involved in the complex construction process -- is to paint! Gather everyone together for a little painting party as the final step to your DIY shed, and then simply enjoy the extra space.

The energy sector is a large and all-encompassing term that describes a complex and interrelated network of organizations directly and indirectly involved in the production, storage, and distribution of energy. As technology rapidly advances, virtually every industry has to adapt accordingly. Simply adapting, however, isn't always enough and officials in the energy sector have to constantly find ways to actually change the energy landscape.

Thankfully, there are up-and-coming startups that are working tirelessly to improve and reshape the future of energy storage and energy generation. Here are some of the startups to look out for in the energy sector:

  • Breezi -- In most commercial buildings, HVAC systems account for between 40% to 60% of energy consumption. Breezi is focusing on making these HVAC systems much more efficient by providing a low-cost solution for filter maintenance and repairs. Breezi's innovative approach utilizes audio sensors and AI to determine what is going wrong within an HVAC system.

  • Constructis -- Constructs is leading the kinetic energy revolution with a zero carbon emission roadway power platform -- Roadway Energy X (REX). This innovative startup can harvest over 1,100 watts of electricity for every two able car pass, which is enough energy to power three family homes with just four roadway lanes.

  • Kite Power Systems -- Steam turbines have been utilized for energy production since the 1880s. Though there have been all sorts of new advancements within the turbine power industry, using kites might actually be one of the most creative and efficient. Kite Power Systems have developed a way to generate energy using kites. Each pair of kites pulls a tether that turns a turbine and generates electricity to provide a continuous energy source.

  • Nostromo Energy -- Nostromo Energy is an energy company attempting to replace Lithium-ion batteries with water for storage solutions.
    "While everybody is talking about global warming and Li-ion based energy storage, we have found a way to use water as a highly potent capacitor and solve the most crucial problem of electrical grids: high peak demands, which are wholly subjected to cooling demands, e.g., commercial chillers. We have developed the cleanest, safest, most cost-effective energy storage system available today and in the foreseeable future," said a spokesperson for the company.

  • HST Solar -- This startup isn't exactly new on the energy scene, since they've been in the sector since 2013, but they are gaining some serious momentum. HST Solar builds solar software, include an app that uses AI to design utility-scale solar farms. With this platform, a solar developer can design the entire layout of a large solar farm, which could have thousands of solar panels onsite, across various landscapes and terrains.

As tech becomes more advanced and readily available, startups are going to be doing everything in their power to improve the energy sector both across the U.S. and the entire globe.

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