On Turkey Day, ditch the oven to cook a better bird

By on November 21, 2014 at 10:59 AM

Posted in: Odds & Ends, Safety and Insurance Issues

TurkeyThe lead-up to Thanksgiving dinner can be an exciting time for families, especially when the conversation focuses on the main attraction – the turkey. The traditional Thanksgiving scenario usually includes hours of oven time to cook the big bird, but you can free up your kitchen this year with some delicious alternatives that will keep your guests’ tummies happy.

Turn your grill into a smoker. While the basic concept and methods of smoking a turkey are similar, there are a lot of different grilling vessels available to cook a large bird if you don’t have a box, vertical or cylinder smoker. Whether your grill uses wood, charcoal, electricity or gas, you can easily turn it into a smoker that yields professional results. For some quick tips on how to set up your grill at home, check out Barbeque FYI.

Make a beer-can turkey. You may be familiar with “beer-can chicken” where you grill a whole bird vertically over an open been can. The steaming beer helps cook the bird from the inside, keeping the meat moist and tender. For best results, you’ll need to find a suitable base for holding the turkey upright. Try to find a 1-litre Foster’s lager, also known as an “oil can,” which will fill the cavity of your turkey better and is more stable than a regular 12-ounce can of beer. To learn more from the master of beer-can cooking, visit Steve Raichlen’s online Barbeque Bible.

Braise that bird. This is a good idea for folks that can’t cook outside, and less intimidating than roasting a whole turkey. It’s also a great way to scale the meal up or down depending on the size of your gathering. This method requires you to cook the turkey in pieces, which means you’ll need a sharp knife and a quick tutorial on how to properly separate a turkey into legs, breasts and thighs – or risk butchering the poor bird beyond recognition. The best part about this approach is the entire meal can fit into one large casserole dish. Consider this recipe from The Minimalist at the New York Times, and inspire yourself to braise a turkey this season.

Don’t forget about deep-fried deliciousness. When you put “deep-fried” in front of “turkey,” what’s not to love? Deep-frying a turkey can be dangerous, but it doesn’t have to be. Before dipping your bird in a bath of hot oil, check out these easy-to-follow steps that will keep your Thanksgiving safe and sizzling with flavor.  

Enjoy your bird, no matter how you choose to prepare it! And if you’re driving to see your relatives for the holiday, buckle up and obey speed limits during the trip. Happy Thanskgiving!

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Living a life of luxury

By on November 19, 2014 at 3:17 PM

Posted in: Safety and Insurance Issues

Luxury CarFor many drivers, the ultimate goal is to one day cruise down the road in their own brand-new, fully loaded luxury vehicle. Personally, I’ve always feared that owning an expensive, high-end car would make me a greater target for thieves. That’s why I was so intrigued by a recent report by the National Insurance Crime Bureau (NICB) on luxury vehicle theft.

Surprisingly, your chances of being a victim of car theft aren’t as high as you may think. From 2011–2013, 5,570 luxury vehicles nationwide with model years 2011, 2012 and 2013 were reported stolen to police. While that total is certainly nothing to sneeze at, it represented a small fraction of overall car thefts; in 2012 alone, more than 720,000 vehicles were reported stolen, according to the Insurance Information Institute (I.I.I.).

Where did most luxury auto thefts occur? The top state was California (1,390), followed by Florida (863) and New Jersey (570). Those same three states were also tops in vehicles that went unrecovered after being reported stolen; Florida led the way with 218 (more than 25 percent) remaining unrecovered. Nationwide, 963 of the stolen luxury vehicles (roughly 17 percent) remained unrecovered.

So while purchasing a luxury vehicle may put a dent in your wallet, don’t let a fear of theft stop you from buying the vehicle of your dreams. And be sure to always take the necessary steps to protect yourself from auto theft.

Maybe I’ll get that Bentley after all.

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What Veterans Day means to me

By on November 11, 2014 at 10:08 AM

Posted in: Odds & Ends

Underwood_in_KoreaBy guest blogger Johnny Underwood, GEICO Military Team Manager and retired Command Sergeant Major, U.S. Army

Veterans Day is my day. It’s my day to ponder why I freely gave 30 years to the U.S. Army, to our country and to the citizens of the United States.

It’s my day to remember my military teammates: the ones I shared danger with, the ones I knew would help me through any problem, who worked tireless hours alongside me, who pulled me through when I felt I could not give another ounce of energy, who gave and gave and never asked for anything in return. 

I experience a great satisfaction on Veterans Day, knowing that I did my job as a soldier. I can hold my head high and proudly proclaim that I did my share. I served when I believed the country needed me to walk in the steaming jungles and tepid rice paddies of a place called Vietnam. I did not question; I moved out with a purpose.

Underwood_todayI watched the Iron Curtain in Europe for many years until our military deterrence won the long battle called the Cold War, and I served in the demilitarized zone in South Korea to preserve an uneasy peace.

For me, Veterans Day is a period for reflection. It’s for thanking my battle buddies and for recalling private memories that can easily be shared with other veterans — but not as easily with those who have never served.

Share your thoughts about Veterans Day in the comments.

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Be careful what you wish for

By on November 10, 2014 at 11:27 AM

Posted in: Marketing & Communications

We’ve all daydreamed now and then about a genie fulfilling our wishes. But what happens if that genie misunderstands your precious wish? No take-backs?

The latest and (sadly) the last of GEICO’s ‘Did You Know’ ad campaign aired early November featuring a genie that just didn’t quite get one unlucky guy’s wish.

Genies can be really literal, so next time Michael should be a little more specific so he doesn’t wind up with a million of the wrong kind of bucks.

Can you think of any other wishes that might be lost in translation? Tell us in the comments! While you contemplate that, check out these three “Genie & Me” mini-sitcom episodes that show you what it’s like to live with a sassy genie!

 

 

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Saluting our veterans

By on November 7, 2014 at 2:07 PM

Posted in: Marketing & Communications

GEICO and our country’s military go way back. Many people don’t know that military members were among GEICO’s first customers when the company was founded in 1936, and that to this day we give the military special attention, with a service center in our Virginia Beach office that’s dedicated to meeting their needs.

I’m proud of this history and I’m proud to know that GEICO will take part in multiple events this November to pay tribute to our military veterans and the sacrifices they’ve made for our country. GEICO-sponsored NASCAR driver Casey Mears will compete in the Quicken Loans Race for Heroes 500 on Sunday, Nov. 9, at Phoenix International Raceway. Eager to get back into action after his 10th-place finish at the recent GEICO 500 at Talladega, Mears will drive a camouflage-wrapped car as a salute to veterans, just as he did for the Coca-Cola 600 in Charlotte in May in recognition of Memorial Day.

GEICO has also joined the effort to support our country’s disabled veterans by sponsoring the Disabled American Veterans (DAV) first annual community 5K walk, run and motorcycle ride in San Diego on Sunday, Nov. 9. The event will help raise crucial funds to get our wounded veterans the treatment they need.

And GEICO will also be joining the USO’s “Salute to the Troops” weekend in Las Vegas leading up to Veterans Day. The event gathers a group of wounded, ill and injured service members from around the country for a weekend of entertainment activities and sightseeing. A member of the GEICO Military Team will be at the events all weekend to represent GEICO and thank our wounded warriors for their sacrifice.

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GEICO joins the People’s Marathon

By on November 5, 2014 at 3:23 PM

Posted in: Odds & Ends

By guest blogger Andy Jones, Fredericksburg

2014 GEICO Marine Corps MarathonRunning a marathon or participating in any endurance event can change your life. It can change how you feel about yourself and how you compare yourself to others, because when you’ve run a marathon, you have done something that most people will never do. 

A marathon is 26.2 miles of running, walking, limping, hobbling and, in some cases, even crawling. There is often music, you often meet new people and the experience can be very different for different people. There can be external factors beyond your control which can present challenges that months of training can’t prepare you for. 

When our colleague, Cory Rigual, asked us (and others) if we would like to be on the GEICO team and run in the Marine Corps Marathon in Washington, D.C., five of us agreed. We shared training techniques, recommendations of foods to eat, etc., and then met on race day so we could represent as Team GEICO.

With comfortable temperatures and a refreshing breeze, Oct. 26 was a perfect day for a marathon. The Fantastic Five, as we were dubbed in a Facebook post, brought a range of marathoning experience to the table. Olivia Lipscomb was a true first-timer, but she smoked us all with a time of 4:58:27! Jeff Harmon was also running his first marathon; he had signed up and trained last year, but a nagging injury kept him from toeing the line. This time he finished second among the five of us with a time of 5:09:22. For Gail Norris and me, this was our third marathon, and we struggled through the last few miles together finishing in 5:26:50 and 5:28:09 respectively. Caren Walker, the veteran of group, completed her 19th marathon in 5:37:44; for her, it was a training run for another marathon just 20 days later!

We’re big fans of the military here at GEICO, so those of us who are runners are drawn to the Marine Corps Marathon, which is known as “the people’s marathon.” But whether it is your first or your 21st, running a marathon is a challenge that requires months of physical and mental preparation. Being part of a team pushed us to keep going despite the pain and discomfort. We each faced personal challenges, but we found reserves of strength and soldiered through.

The crowds at the Marine Corps Marathon can make running in parts of the course difficult, but when you round the last corner and climb the final hill toward the Iwo Jima Memorial with the stands full of cheering people, it’s a wonderful feeling to know that they are all cheering for you.

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WRAP honors GEICO’s efforts to combat drunk driving

By on November 3, 2014 at 4:15 PM

Posted in: Safety and Insurance Issues

10_24_thats_a_wrap1By guest blogger Michael Young

Mangia! Mangia! There’s not much I enjoy more than an Italian feast. I joined several of my colleagues for just such a meal at an Italian eatery a short walk from our offices at GEICO’s corporate headquarters on Oct. 17, but the food was hardly the focus of the day. We were there for the 32nd Annual WRAPPY Awards, hosted by the Washington Regional Alcohol Program (WRAP for short), a nonprofit devoted to preventing drunk driving in the DC metro area through public-private partnerships.

Being new to GEICO, I had never been to a WRAP event, and what impressed me most was the level of collaboration between so many groups to make this organization possible. You know the old saying, “It takes a village”— with WRAP there’s definitely a village united to fight drunk driving, and WRAP has had a profound impact around Washington, D.C.

This particular WRAP event brought together local law enforcement, corporations, hospitals, politicians and community advocates to honor their efforts to curb drunk driving. GEICO was included in the accolades, taking home a 2014 WRAPPY Award for Community Partnership.

How did we earn such a distinguished honor?                                                          

GEICO has supported WRAP since its inception, promoting key programs like SoberRide, which offers free taxi rides in the DC area. Additionally, we have developed and sponsored WRAP’s annual Student Awards program, which recognizes high-schoolers for adopting and promoting a lifestyle free of drugs and alcohol. We design and print all the organization’s educational materials free of charge, and we open the doors of the headquarters where I work to host WRAP board meetings.

At the center of it all is GEICO’s very own AVP of communications, Janice Minshall, who serves on WRAP’s board of directors. That’s her in the photo here, accepting GEICO’s WRAPPY from WRAP Chairman Lt. Rudy Landon of the Loudoun County Sheriff’s Office. Through her leadership, GEICO continues to lend significant support to this village, working to fight drunk driving in its own backyard.

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Top Halloween costumes for 2014

By on October 30, 2014 at 3:13 PM

Posted in: Odds & Ends

JackOGeckoIt’s going to be a Frozen Friday. The award-winning animated film leads the way as the most popular costume this Halloween, according to data compiled from forbes.com on Internet searches. Here are some of the characters you’ll see running around this Halloween weekend.

Elsa – The “Snow Queen” is the most searched-for costume this year.

Zombies – While this has always been a good choice, the popular television series The Walking Dead brings it back to life … so to speak.

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles – Even though the cartoon series has been around since the 1980s, a new movie this year brings this costume to a new generation.

Maleficent – If you like movie themes, why not dress up as one of Disney’s most iconic villains.

Pirate – This is an easy do-it-yourself costume that you can customize to suit your personality.

Or, since you’re reading the GEICO Blog, dress up as one of our popular characters — the Gecko, Maxwell the Pig, or the over-eager “hump day” camel. That last one’s especially effective if you’ll be in the company of anyone named Mike.

No matter how great your costume is, safety is still of utmost importance. Check out these resources for everything from trick-or-treating safety to pumpkin-carving tips.

Happy Halloween!

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Memory of the Month: In your face!

By on October 29, 2014 at 12:08 PM

Posted in: Odds & Ends

Each month, we share an image from GEICO’s past and invite you to exercise your caption-writing skills.

Pie in Face Here’s a motivational tactic that hasn’t really stood the test of time. During the early part of my career, though, this one was quite popular. Managers would challenge their teams to meet certain goals, and if the teams succeeded, they’d get to pop their managers in the face with pies – or at least pie tins loaded up with whipped cream.

This 1980s-vintage photo is probably an example of why we haven’t seen this particular tactic used much lately. Note the impressive spray of whatever’s in that pie tin, and also the evident gusto with which the woman is delivering the goods. I dare say the mess was not contained by the plastic sheet on the floor, and there’s a good chance this manager’s nose was quite sore afterward, if not bloodied or broken.

Either because of clean-up crew complaints, or possibly worker’s comp claims, we just don’t get this kind of entertainment any more. I guess some traditions just aren’t meant to last – and maybe that’s just as well. Can you think of other such bygone tactics? Let us know in the comments.

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The Gecko at New York Comic Con: Right where he belonged

By on October 27, 2014 at 10:50 AM

Posted in: Marketing & Communications

CosplayMob

For four days in New York City, fans of many pop culture genres came together and created a universe like no other at New York Comic Con (NYCC). What is Comic Con? It is a fan convention dedicated to comic books, graphic novels, anime, magna, video games, toys, artists, movies and television. But it’s much more; New York Comic Con is one of the largest pop culture events in the world, with an attendance of 151,000 earlier this month.

The GEICO Gecko was excited to attend (#GEICOCon) and was particularly intrigued by the “cosplay,” another term unique to this universe; it’s a contraction of the words “costume playing.” It’s dressing up, but way beyond what you normally see at a costume party.

3D picturesThe fans/attendees are what make the Comic Con experience extraordinary. It’s the ultimate Halloween town. Sure, you can see panels with your favorite stars and icons. And yes, you’ll find awesome exhibitors and great buys. But at their core, Comic Cons are primarily a celebration of what these fans care about, in an open and welcoming environment.

GEICO pulled out all the stops at Comic Con, rolling in the GEICO Bus that features pinball games and GEICO Karaoke (#GEICOonTour). And just for Comic Con, we had a special green screen 3D photo facility that gave fans the opportunity to have their own action movie moment! But we didn’t stop there! We hosted a daily cosplay competition that gave some of the fans a chance to get a little extra time in the spotlight. I assisted in finding candidates for this competition, and there was certainly no shortage! Thank goodness the winners were chosen by crowd acclaim, because judging the best of all the fabulous outfits would have been too difficult!

Super GeckoThe Gecko even participated in some cosplay himself, donning a SuperGecko cape. Superman might be able to save people in dire danger, but could he save you money on your insurance and help you get your damaged vehicle repaired after an accident? Can he help you with homeowners, renters or commercial insurance, not to mention all the other products GEICO sells? No, he can’t, but SuperGecko can!

Every day, 50 stuffed mini-SuperGeckos were hidden around the convention center. Each one included a little note asking their finders to take a selfie with him and bring him to the bus to get an extra special gift to go with the stuffed keepsake.

FrishLeapUnfortunately, the fun had to end. As you can see from my 3-D photo on this page, I rather enjoyed myself while representing GEICO at Comic Con, and if the opportunity should arise again, you can bet I’ll volunteer!

 

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