<< Back to all Blogs
Login or Create your own free blog
Layout:
Home > Archive: May, 2007
 

Archive for May, 2007

The Secret of Money Saving Sleep

June 1st, 2007 at 02:37 am

Your parents always said you needed your rest, but did you know that not getting your Z's could actually be costing you big bucks?

That's right, folks: not getting enough sleep can hurt more than your health.

- Poor sleepers spend an average of $4200 more on medical costs.

- Insomniacs visit both doctors and hospitals twice as often as those who sleep properly.

- People with poor sleep habits are three times more likely to miss work.

- According to a US Navy study, insomniacs are promoted less often and are more likely to leave their job.

- Essential job skills like problem solving, creativity, and ability to handle stress are severly affected when you're deprived of sleep.

- Going 24 hours without sleep impairs a driver as much as a blood alcohol level of .10. Remember, in many states DWI means 'driving while impaired', not driving while intoxicated.


So, anyone care to do the math?

Take into consideration co-pays for office visits and possibly a prescription sleep aid. Perhaps even a new space-age mattress, a white noise machine, or over the counter sleep-aids.

Add in the effect of missing work and lackluster performance on the job and the resulting lack of promotion and raise

And heaven forbid a car accident while groggy, resulting in hospital bills and possibly even a DWI conviction.

Think staying up an extra hour is still worth it?

For those of you that have a hard time sleeping, try some of these ideas:

- Try meditating when you lie down to go to sleep.

- Create a sleep ritual of relaxing activities before you go to bed (i.e. a cup of tea, a hot shower, brushing your hair) that you do every night. Not only will they help you relax, but they will eventually be activities that cue your body that it's time to go to sleep.

- Tell yourself a goodnight story. Even better, try playing the scene out in your head. Chances are the story will turn into a dream in no time.

- Investigate the concept of the power nap. Some researchers think our bodies are designed for a little cat-nap sometime between 1pm and 4pm, often called the 'siesta hours'. Try taking a 15-20 minute nap sometime during those hours. Personally, I take a later lunch around 1pm anyways, so it's easy to set the alarm on my cell-phone and rest my eyes during my lunch hour.


Selected Sources:
Wise Bread
CnnMoney.com
WikiHow

Creepy Mutant Tomatoes: Week 7

May 30th, 2007 at 01:17 am

You read it, folks: we're on week 7 of these creepy, space age tomatoes!

Two more are down, but the remaining two are looking AOK for now. Anyone want to wager how long these tomatoes will hold out?



I've decided that if they make it to week 8 (2 months!), I'm likely going to have to send the whole saga to the Bloom company.

Top 7 Reasons Businesses Need a Website

May 28th, 2007 at 02:08 am

OK, as someone who hosts websites I realize I have a vested interest in convincing people that they do in fact need a site. I've been doing the internet thing for a while, so it comes second nature to me. But the fact remains that if you have a business you really do need a site. Not just any website like the freebies you can get some places, but one that is specific to your business (aka branded)

1. Your customers probably expect you to have one.
Simple, but true. Web sites are today what business cards used to be. Nowadays anyone can have a website, even the 9 year old daughter of one of my co-workers. With so many easy and inexpensive options available, there's no reason to leave your customers wondering "Why don't they have a site?"

2. A website with your own domain name is an easy 'branding' tool.
Even though it's not hard, having your own domain name makes your website seem more professional and established. Plus, it usually ties in to your business name or what you do, which means it's easier to remember. For instance, which of these example web site addresses strikes you as more professional? Which would be easier to remember?

TinasBusiness.freehosting.com
OR
www.TinasBusiness.com

3. The email address.
A huge reason your business needs its own domain is the email address. Even if you have nothing more than a single page website, you can still use your own email address when running your business. Think about it: which email address looks more professional and established?
tinapbeana1978@freehosting.com
tinasbusiness@freehosting.com
sales@tinasbusiness.com

4. Having a site makes it easier for your business to do business.
How much time would you have to spend on the phone explaining what you do to 100 prospective customers? At 5 minutes per call, that's 500 minutes or almost 9 hours. How much time (and money!) would it take you to drive to see 100 prospects and give them your 5 minute presentation? I'm guessing days. With a website, prospective customers can learn about you and your business 24/7 without you ever having to be involved. This frees up your time to do other things, things you get paid for.

5. Reach customers you couldn't get to before.
And I'm not just talking about people from around the country or the world. Take a minute to think about the types of people that live in your area. Are there shift workers who sleep during the day and work at night? What about a deaf population? Or perhaps your services would be of use to people who are disabled and aren't able to come o your office or location. Having a website opens your business up to a whole new world of customers right in your own back yard.

6. A business web site makes it easy to relay information at little or no cost to you.
If you don't have a site, how do you let your new or existing customers know if you're running a special? Chances are you call them or send out a flyer or post card. Either way, you're spending a relatively large amount of time, money, or both to relay this information. If you have a web site, you just post the information on your front page (or news page, or specials page) for prospects to see and send your existing clients an email.

7. You can save money on software and protect your ability to run your business.
This is probably one of the least thought about perks of having a web site for a business, but it's definitely worth mentioning. When you have a website for your business, you can install Open Source software that is intended to help you run your business from your website. Invoicing, scheduling, trouble tickets, accounting: the list goes on.

As an added bonus, you'll have the option of running these aspects of your business from any internet-capable computer, not just your own PC. This might not seem like a big deal, until your computer crashes and you can't create invoices or balance the books! By using web-based software you've installed on your own website, you could just head to the local library and continue business as usual.

Slush Fund: Third Time's the Charm

May 28th, 2007 at 01:05 am

You ever hear that old saying that bad things come in threes?

Well, after taking cat number two to the vet this past week, I was joking with DH that I was going to hide my third and final cat in the house until June arrived.

We both had a good laugh.

Then, yesterday afternoon, DH reached up to pull off his glasses and clean them. The arm fell off right in his hands, and is designed so that it cannot be repaired. Believe me, we tried superglueing everything back together.

He's had this problem with these frames before and took them back and had them replaced. Unfortunately, the optomitrist where we got them is not open on Saturday's. Plus, there's only a 1 yr warranty on the frames that is about to run out, so getting them fixed would have only been a stop-gap.

Add this to the fact that he was due for an eye exam anyways and he HAD to have glasses because he has to drive a large delivery truck for work tomorrow (a holiday), and you get the two of us at the only place that both participated in his insurance and had an exam appointment available Saturday afternoon: the Lens Crafters one county over.

GAH!!!!

He has a big head, so we're limited in the frames that'll fit him. And since we had to have the glasses ASAP, we had to take the in-stock featherweight lenses instead of the less expensive version. Finally, he got the other frames just last year so we didn't qualify for a full frame benefit only a partial on the insurance. Grand Total: $241.18 for frames, lenses, and co-pay for the visit.

127.00 - cat one at the vet
115.75 - cat two at the vet
241.18 - DH glasses
------
483.93 - total damage to the slush fund in 2 wks

Oh my....

Seriously, me and the other cat are going to hide out somewhere and wait out the rest of the month.

Reveal: My slightly super-secret side business

May 25th, 2007 at 08:21 pm

Ooooooooh, are you excited yet?!??

If anyone read my articles last month on PFAdvice.com about starting a business with pocket change, then you probably already know what this is. Yeah, I know that means it's not exactly super-secret, ergo the addition of the word 'slightly' to the title.

But, for those of you that didn't read that article, here's what part of it said.

(I)t turns out there are several metric tons worth of photographers and web-designers in my area, and they’re all as good as me if not better. Depressing, right? Well, the one thing they have in common (other than being better than me) is that they all need a place online to host their work. In fact, lots of individuals and businesses around here need a nice, clean, reliable place to host their websites. Even I was looking for this very kind of service.

In many circles, this is known as a light bulb moment. You’ll know it when you have one.

And there you have it! I am now operating a web hosting company called DotSlice and am currently running at a profit for the quarter. I've just put the site out to the public, so please feel free to take a look and tell me what you think. My options were to either get it out there warts and all, or work on it trying to get it perfect for perpetuity.

How on earth did I wind up being a web host? Personally, I think it all boils down to money karma.

In January I decided to think of several ways I could make extra money every month. For what it's worth I'm still working on that by the way, so any good ideas are appreciated! At any rate, this is what started the money karma rolling.

In February I started working on a website to showcase some of my photographs, thinking that I could make some money on the side. I bought a domain and signed up with what seemed like a reasonable and well-established web hosting company. While the site is still up and running, I created it as a personal learning experience more than anything because it had been a while since I'd done any web programming.

It's a good thing I did, too, because in the middle March my former boss offered me a side-job creating an ecommerce site for a friend of his who already had a domina and a very unfortunate site. See the money karma at work? Ironically, the client was hosting her website at the same company where I was hosting mine.

By the end of March I had put together a proposal and both he and the client liked what I had to offer. For the new site to work, the client needed to change the plan she had with the web host. This was fine with her since she would wind up paying less money per month for more features, but the web-host was making it way more difficult than it had to be.

Long story short we agreed to jump ship and host her site somewhere else, and I started getting concerned because my site was hosted at this same place. Would I have these kinds of troubles too? More importantly, where were we going to host these sites?!?

I did something relatively rash and impetuous: I did some research, ran the numbers once, and decided to take the risk and arrange to host the sites myself. By the way, running the numbers once was the rash and impetuous part... I had the back-end working by the middle of April, and both of our sites were live.

A week later, a co-worker of mine mentioned how much he paid to host his personal sites. I just looked at him and said "Do I have a deal for you...". Between his hosting and the first client's hosting I'm running at a slight loss every month. But, when I add in what I would have to pay to host my own domains with another company, I wind up breaking even. Add in the money for designing the first client's website and business cards, and I'm running at a profit for the quarter.

Now, I've been asked to host two sites that are currently being developed by a new company. They've also asked if I'd be interested in being the Web Master (er, mistress?) and Managing Editor for both sites in return for a cut of the pie... Um, lemme think...

Let's just see if I can get everything to snowball...

Slush Fund Strikes Again!

May 25th, 2007 at 01:17 pm

So, apparently 2 of my 3 cats were involved in some kind of massive turf war street fight the weekend of Mother's Day.

The boy, Samson, was gimpy on his paw so I took him to the vet Monday of last week. Sure enough, puncture wounds. A few days of forcing antibiotics down his throat and taking my life in my hands by spraying his paw with wound-wash, and all was well.

See, here he is, all regal and fit as a fiddle.



This past weekend we started to notice that Summer was getting a little swollen on her back, right by her tail joint. It looked like she'd been stung by a wasp the way it swelled a bit. But, she didn't act like it was hurting her and was moving and eating as normal, so we didn't think much of it.

Wednesday night while I was in the shower, DH yells "Tina, Summer's butt exploded!". Uh-oh...

Apparently where she was swollen was starting to abcess, and wasn't a wasp sting at all. Abcess ruptured, and there was goo oozing everywhere. At 11:30 at night, when there are no real options to get it looked at.

So, call yesterday morning and set up an appointment with the best vet clinic ever (which happens to be the one 1 mile from my house). DH takes her in, and she comes out looking like this:



Poor kitty! They sedated her to shave her rear, cleaned the abcess, stitched it up, inserted two drains, gave us more antibiotics, and added the collar as a stylish finishing touch.

Our total for the visit was $115. I LOVE MY VET!

She'll have to go back on Tuesday to have the drains removed, which will probably cost another $25 for the visit. I'm happy to pay it, though, because I want to do whatever I can to make sure this vet stays in business. They offer mobile pet vacinations and very low cost spays and neuters for our area, and I think they do a great service.

At any rate, two cats to the vet within a week and a half. Once again, the slush fund comes to the rescue. Woohoo!!

More important, I think, is the fact that DH saw first hand that having extra cash available (well, in savings, whatever) made it much easier for us to weather these two small emergencies. There was a time when an extra $250 expense in a month would have put us over a barrel, and it really wasn't that long ago. I'm hoping that by seeing this situation, he'll understand the concept of an 'emergency fund' just a little bit better.

Passive Income, Perfectionism Pitfall

May 24th, 2007 at 12:15 pm

First, Some Background
I'm in an odd place right now: I've got so many things rolling around in my head that I've not been able to focus on any one particular thing and feel I can do it justice. As a result, I've not been blogging as much and I've not written a single PFAdvice article in May. D'OH!

Moreover, I've been working on my slightly super-secret side business (like the alliteration?) and keep trying to get it just right before releasing it to the world. Long story short, I'm hitting a wall.

To combat this I've been doing a lot of reading online, looking for inspiration. The way I browse the web is at best bizzare and on occasion schizoid. This week I was looking for sites that I could include as part of a newsfeed on my website and I took a new-to-me track: I went to Technocrati, ranked the blogs by 'authority', and checked out the top 100.

I actually didn't find many of them interesting, which is in and of itself kind intriguing. There would be an interesting article here or there, but most of my good reading came from following links and Trackbacks within these supposedly good blogs. As an aside, this is how I found icanhascheezburger.com and The Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster. Great time wasters!

The Meat of This Post
While wandering around unchaperoned on the web, I came across a good article at Genius Types about passive income. Not that the concept of passive income is new to me, but I thought the article did a good job of pointing out that to be successful at it requires a slightly different view of money and making it work for you. Plus, it made me remember that I really want a passive income, the sooner the better.

Then yesterday I meandered my way over to Success from the Nest and read aout how perfectionism can be just another form of procrastination. Some of you might remember that this is something I've said before , but it's one thing to have had a thought and quite another to sit down and read it in black and white.

The two articles struck cord with me, I suppose, because they are exceptionally timely in my life. I fell into this slightly super-secret side business by chance, but it does have the possibility to make a great passive income source if I can get it up and running. Good news, right?

Well, yes and no, because that's where the perfectionism rears its ugly little head. I keep second guessing myself, or trying to plan things to be just right in order to make the most of this opportunity. All I seem to wind up doing, though, is spinning my wheels and not going much of anywhere.

At any rate, the two articles made me think and apparently I think better when I write, so here I am. Guess it worked after all!

Creepy Tomatoes Week 6

May 23rd, 2007 at 03:55 am

Yup, six weeks of crazy creepy mutant tomato fun!

Here they are



One tomato is obviously on the down and outs. There's another one in the back of the bag that's a little harder to see, but it's funky by the stem.

So, after 6 weeks, only two of the tomatoes are bad. The other four are still technically quite usable. So, I'm tossing the two that are funky and I'll be keeping the rest in the bag for the sake of this, um, experiment.

Funny with Language Warning

May 22nd, 2007 at 03:04 pm

If foul language bothers you, you might want to stop reading now.

If foul language can sometimes make you laugh, by all means continue!



I've been on the internet a long time, going on half my life now. Geez, how sad is that... Anyways, one thing that has always been consistent are trolls. Usenet, Delphi, chat rooms, forums, MySpace, Digg, and beyond: none of them have ever been immune to trolls.

Well, earlier today I happened upon a useful classification tool for trolls based on the posts they make. I found it on http://www.venganza.org, home of the Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster. Regardless of your views of the CoFSM, I hope you find this tool useful.

* * * * *

Here’s Jingles’ masterpiece: the patented Fuckwit Finder.

**********

1.Capitalized handle
2.Overuse of capslock
3.Alternating upper/lower case
4.Incorrect grammar
5.Incorrect spelling
6.Threats of burning in hell, divine vengeance, etc
7.Lowbrow insults
8.Lowbrow insults of our god
9.Accusations of homosexuality
10.Threats of rape, physical violence, oars, etc

One point per positive answer.

Scoring

As for scoring, well, its a fairly loose guide. If borderline, class as appropriate. Otherwise;

0-2: A Wit; Intelligent, reasonable, polite and respectable. High likelihood of a reasoned belief system, and serves as a credit to the human race.

2-4: A Wit in a Fit; While they may normally be a decent poster, they are either irritated, excited, or otherwise unfocused, allowing slightly more than the occasional slip to occur.

4-6: A Nitwit; Likely seeking attention, may not necessarily mean to irritate, but is not aware of proper forum etiquette, and so comes across badly. With patient councilling, and the occasional application of a large blunt object, subject may be cured.

6-7: Dimwit; Not overly violent or aggressive, but is nevertheless a troll, an inbred hillbilly, or an above average-intelligence fundamentalist. They are on the absolue edge of redeemability. With extreme electroshock, elocation & deportment lessons, and substantial severe blunt-force trauma, could be upgraded to a nitwit.

7-8: A Twit; Annoying, loud, cannot use even simple words… what we have here is the Twit. Beyond redemption, these sorry excuses for humanity can be found primarily in years 7-9 of primary/secondary education, and behind the pulpit in Pentecostal churches. Avoid if possible. If unavoidable, bring a big stick. Thankfully, due to short attention spans, these specimens will generally depart after a single post.

8-9: The Shit; Sets out from the off to be an absolute monkey scrotum. Unable to take a hint, this is the sort of poster who will haunt a thread for as long as their attention span holds. While not a long term poster, they can clog a thread for up to an hour in severe cases. If encountered virtually, non-engagement is advised. If encountered physically, use a shotgun.

9-9.5: Mimic; what we have here is the stereotype troll. At first glance, will appear a complete fuckwit, however, closer inspection will reveal telltale hints that this is actually an educated poster (Nitwit or better) imitating the lower-order troll lifeform. Should they get annoying, utilising their real name will likely end the display.

10: The granddaddy of them all, the complet and utter Fuckwit; Few and far between, these few are talked about with hushed voices. Going down in forum legend, their names will be forever uttered as a byword for all things troll. Easily capable of devouring a website for weeks on end, any challenge makes them stronger, any attention makes them bolder. Be warned, for their sign is L337, their marker is spam. If encountered in multiple numbers, can murder a thread beyond salvage. This is the anti-Cheesus. Run while you still can.

***********

Pumpkins Tickets

May 22nd, 2007 at 12:16 pm

Came home from work last night and DH mentioned that the radio station was giving away tickets to a Smashing Pumpkins show in Asheville. Neither one of us have ever seen them, and being GenX wanabes from the 90s the Pumpkins are one of those bands that throws me into the "Way Back Machine".

Since the station was giving them away, DH had figured the show had already sold out. But, we checked online, and turns out tickets hadn't even gone on sale yet. They were up at 7pm last night.

Apparently it's not just 1 show, either: it's 9 shows over the course of 2 weeks at the Orange Peel. This is more a listening room type venue, only holds 900 people. We've been there before to see Edwin McCain and enjoyed it.

The other odd thing: this is the Pumpkins only east coast stop on their tour. 9 shows, 900 tickets per show, so only 8100 available for the entire east coast. Odds started looking not so good.

Anywho, I was diligently registering at TicketMaster.com while DH checked the hotel we like in Asheville. It's cheap but right in the middle of downtown. At the stroke of 7 I pounced and clicked for our 2 tickets (the limit per order was 2) and still had to wait 3 minutes for the ticket availability.

Waited, and waited... Anticipation was killing me... Aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaand...

We're IN!!! And the best part: the tickets are only $20 each plus handling fee!

DH promptly registered the room we wanted for $68, so the entire trip is going to cost us jst over $100 since gas in his company truck is paid for. We're going to the July 2rd show (Monday night) and coming back the 3rd (Tuesday) and will have the 4th off for Independance Day. A concert, a trip, and a 5 day weekend to boot!! WOO and HOO!!!

As soon as we were done ordering we went downtown for a Thai Chicken pizza we've been craving. At 7:30 we heard the bartender complaining that tickets were already sold out....

Too lucky, I tell you.

And even better is knowing that there's already money in the li'l vacation fund to cover the trip. Just have to move the cash from NY to my checking account to pay the tickets off the credit card, and withdraw cash to pay for the hotel room.

What Counts As Saving

May 21st, 2007 at 12:29 pm

Really more of a philosophical musing than anything else, but feel free to respond!

I ask because I don't feel I'm saving enough. Then again, do you ever feel that you are?

On the surface it looks like my household ain't doin' that bad. I send almost 20% of our net off to the online bank every month. Sounds good, yes?

However, some of that I don't REALLY consider savings. How so? Well, that lump includes the monthly contribution I make to my irregular bills, like water, property taxes, and homeowner's insurance. Granted, I save the money up for a year (or quarter, in the case of water) and then spend it, so I guess it would qualify as short-term savings. But it doesn't 'feel' like savings, it feels like a bill. Probably because it is.

I feel somewhat stuck between a rock and a hard spot, as the saying goes. See, DH responds well when he wants to spend relatively big cash and I tell him that the money in the bank is allotted to X, Y, or Z. For instance, he understands that the homeowner's insurance and property taxes have to be paid no matter what because if we don't we loose our house, so that money is easy to see as sacred. But when money is sitting there without a purpose other than "in case we need it", he seems to see it as fair game.

So, perhaps I just need to mull over and find some more categories that are easy to see as sacred Big Grin

For those that are wondering, here are the categories that account has so far:

Property Taxes: house
Property Taxes: car
Homeowner's Insurance
Water Bill
Tina's Retirement (no 401k, so saving $ until I can open a Roth)
Christmas Fund
Gift Fund
Medical Fund
Car Maintenance Fund
Vacation Fund
Misc. Household Fund

Homeowner's Bill Arrived And I Don't Care

May 21st, 2007 at 12:36 am

*evil grin*

OK, lemme re-phrase that: the homeowner's insurance bill came in and it's so not even a big deal.

Number one: the bill isn't due until 7/7/07 (which is neat, but I digress). I never knew they sent these types of bills out so far in advance!

Number two: I've been putting money aside for it every month so the bill will be ready to send out at the beginning of June, one month ahead of schedule and marked off my to-do list.

Although, I'll probably just send it in at the end of June so I can earn just a li'l more interest on that money Big Grin

Today's Time Waster

May 17th, 2007 at 01:37 pm

For anyone with some time to kill

OR

For anyone who severly needs a laugh

http://icanhascheezburger.com/

Temptation, thy name is Canon!

May 17th, 2007 at 02:59 am

BAH!!!

So I was checking out digital cameras on eBay thanks to DH sending me a link. There I was, minding my own business, when I saw it.

The Canon EOS 1Ds Mark II 16.7 Megapixel SLR. For under six hundred bucks!

OK, let me put this into perspective.

1) 16 Megapixel is professional grade
2) This camera came out in early 2005 with a price tag of TEN THOUSAND DOLLARS!
3) Current list price for this camera is still SEVEN THOUSAND DOLLARS!

GAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH!!!!

So, why am I blogging about it rather than buying it? Well, it's just the body, no lens, no card. I'd have to shell out another 500 to be able to even take a picture with it. Not really an issue, as it is still a killer deal.

And, while I have about a grand in my personal challenge account, only $560 of it is money I saved from change and one dollar bills. The rest are profits from my side business which I intend to funnel back into the business. And before you even ask: yes, I could SO use this camera to take pictures for said side business and thereby justify the expense!

The biggest hurdle: it's on friggin' EBAY!!!... In 4 short hours, the price has now doubled and the camera is at $1300. I HATE EBAY!!!

*sniff*

Ok, well, I guess I can stop being tempted now that the price has gone up so much. I could certainly still afford the camera, but I'd have to wait a month or two to be able to buy the other bits to be able to actually use the camera. What's the fun in waiting 2 months to be able to use the camera?!?

"We Can't Make It Here Anymore"

May 16th, 2007 at 01:26 pm

Don't know if I've specifically mentioned this or not, but I mostly listen to WNCW on the radio, a public radio station from western NC. It's the most unique station I've found, playing a mix of blues, folk, bluegrass, rock, country, and whatever else strikes their fancy. I've heard Dolly Parton, Frank Zappa, and Ben Folds in the same afternoon before.

And if that's not enough to get you to check 'em out, consider this: they play Grateful Dead every weekday afternoon at 4:20. HAAAAAAAhahahahhahaaaaaaaaaaa!!!

You can listen to them online even if you're not in the area, that's where the link above goes.

Anywho, I bring this up because I heard a song on WNCW today that I wanted to share. Don't ask me why today, as I've heard this song several times before. It's by James McMurtry, who is faily indescribable. Imagine someone whose lyrics are social commentary like Dylan but sounds gravely like the guy who sang "Convoy". Oh, and he looks like a cross between Weird Al and Zappa...

"We Can't Make it Here"

Vietnam Vet with a cardboard sign
Sitting there by the left turn line
Flag on the wheelchair flapping in the breeze
One leg missing, both hands free
No one's paying much mind to him
The V.A. budget's stretched so thin
And there's more comin' home from the Mideast war
We can't make it here anymore

That big ol' building was the textile mill
It fed our kids and it paid our bills
But they turned us out and they closed the doors
We can't make it here anymore

See all those pallets piled up on the loading dock
They're just gonna set there till they rot
'Cause there's nothing to ship, nothing to pack
Just busted concrete and rusted tracks
Empty storefronts around the square
There's a needle in the gutter and glass everywhere
You don't come down here 'less you're looking to score
We can't make it here anymore

The bar's still open but man it's slow
The tip jar's light and the register's low
The bartender don't have much to say
The regular crowd gets thinner each day

Some have maxed out all their credit cards
Some are working two jobs and living in cars
Minimum wage won't pay for a roof, won't pay for a drink
If you gotta have proof just try it yourself Mr. CEO
See how far 5.15 an hour will go
Take a part time job at one of your stores
Bet you can't make it here anymore

High school girl with a bourgeois dream
Just like the pictures in the magazine
She found on the floor of the laundromat
A woman with kids can forget all that
If she comes up pregnant what'll she do
Forget the career, forget about school
Can she live on faith? live on hope?
High on Jesus or hooked on dope
When it's way too late to just say no
You can't make it here anymore

Now I'm stocking shirts in the Wal-Mart store
Just like the ones we made before
'Cept this one came from Singapore
I guess we can't make it here anymore

Should I hate a people for the shade of their skin
Or the shape of their eyes or the shape I'm in
Should I hate 'em for having our jobs today
No I hate the men sent the jobs away
I can see them all now, they haunt my dreams
All lily white and squeaky clean
They've never known want, they'll never know need
Their sh@# don't stink and their kids won't bleed
Their kids won't bleed in the da$% little war
And we can't make it here anymore

Will work for food
Will die for oil
Will kill for power and to us the spoils
The billionaires get to pay less tax
The working poor get to fall through the cracks
Let 'em eat jellybeans let 'em eat cake
Let 'em eat sh$%, whatever it takes
They can join the Air Force, or join the Corps
If they can't make it here anymore

And that's how it is
That's what we got
If the president wants to admit it or not
You can read it in the paper
Read it on the wall
Hear it on the wind
If you're listening at all
Get out of that limo
Look us in the eye
Call us on the cell phone
Tell us all why

In Dayton, Ohio
Or Portland, Maine
Or a cotton gin out on the great high plains
That's done closed down along with the school
And the hospital and the swimming pool
Dust devils dance in the noonday heat
There's rats in the alley
And trash in the street
Gang graffiti on a boxcar door
We can't make it here anymore

Music and lyrics © 2004 by James McMurtry

Freebie Thank-You-er Strikes Again!

May 15th, 2007 at 04:34 pm

GAH!!!!!

Search: New Posts
Showing results 1 to 25 of 107

For the love of all that is holy, PLEASE don't wait for weeks and then come and say "thanks!" for EACH and EVERY freebie that was posted over the past month.

PLEASE!!! I beg of you, don't do it!!!

Creepy Tomatoes Week 5

May 15th, 2007 at 03:56 am

Yup, I'm still watching those creepy mutant tomatoes! Here's a photo of them after week 5.



You'll note that a few of the tomatoes are getting just a touch mushy right around the stem area. Nothing amazing, and definitely not rotten by any stretch of the imagination.

After taking this picture, I packed them back up into their bag, sealed it back up, and placed them back on the shelf. We'll check on them next week. At this rate, I'm pretty confident that they'll still be relatively un-rotten.

All Hail the Slush Fund!

May 14th, 2007 at 04:21 pm

Others might be more familiar with the concept of a mini-EF, but I choose to call it a slush fund. It's a couple hundred bucks I keep in my local savings account. If there's a minor emergency, it's there. If there's something I need to buy but the actual money for it is in online savings (like car maintenence or medical expenses), I can use the slush fund to cover me until the money arrives from New York.

All in all, a tiny little saftey net.

Well, Saturday one of my kitties came in the house limping. He plays like a big bad @$$ but doesn't like to fight other animals, and there are multiple toms in the area who could have beat him up. As the weekend went on he was putting less and less weight on it and meowing at me pitifully to make it all better with a can of sardines. I tried to get a good look at it, but nearly lost a limb in the process. Apparently he's only a bad @$$ when it comes to people...

So, this morning I took Samson to the vet. First, BIG KUDOS to the vet clinic near my house. Apparently they don't take walk-ins anymore, but were happy to fit me in since this morning's first appointment had canceled. Granted, Samsom meowing from the depths of the cat carrier like he was about to die surely helped get us through the hoops. No worries, though, he was only meowing like that because he was actually in the cat carrier, not because of the wound. Next time I'll carry him to the vet in a gift bag: for some reason, he really digs that and doesn't get nearly as freaked out.

Anyways, after an exam and a shave job, we could see the punture wounds on the front and back of Samson's paw. Since he wasn't running a fever or anything, we're working off the assumption that it's a war wound, rather than a snake bite.

They gave me lots of advice, antibiotic drops, wound wash, and a bag full of gauze. My total? Fifty five dollars. Did I mention I love my vet clinic? So, even though the total isn't that big, the Slush Fund comes to the rescue and does what it does best: pay for life's little unknowns.

All Hail the Slush Fund!

Now, Samson is at the house nursing his injured pride while my other two cats laugh at his shaved foot. I got the first round of antibiotics in him, which was no easy feat: the stuff smells like fake bananas and can't be hidden in anything. BAH!

Washing the wound didn't turn out too well. We'll take another crack at it tonight: it'll involve me, DH, and a pair of welding gloves.

Why I Buy Organic or Local Food

May 8th, 2007 at 02:41 am

Just a quick story about why I buy organic tomatoes.

I have been stupid busy lately. That's right, it's not that I've forgotten that I have a blog for 2 months, there's actually been a reason for my hiatus.

With that said, I've not been cooking all that much. No real worries.

Well, tonight I made spaghetti. I reached under my chopping block for an onion, and came across this:



OK, a bag of tomatoes in good shape, no big deal right? Wrong!!! This next picture will show you WHY:



See that, highlighted in yellow? I bought these tomatoes A MONTH AGO!!!! I'm sorry, but it's just not natural for tomatoes from a month ago to be in usable shape!!!! What kind of freaky mutant tomatoes are these?!?!?!???

While it might be inconvenient and a waste of money for me to have tomatoes go bad because because I forgot to use them, I HATE TO THINK what is in these tomatoes to keep them usable after sitting on a shelf for a month.

So there you go. If possible, I'll keep buying my produce from the organic store or the flea market where I can see for my self that they are in fact capable of going bad. Because these tomatoes are just plain scary.

Blurbies, Baldy, and Money Karma

May 8th, 2007 at 02:25 am

Just not in that order...

I'm Bald!
OK, well, not really. But, DH surprised me with a gift certificate w/ the hairdresser for our anniversay. I hadn't been in 2 years (since the day after we were married, actually), and the hair guy finally believed me when I said I didn't care what he did with it. My only rules are 1) Either long enough I can pull it all back or short enough it's off my neck 2) I don't 'do' my hair, it needs to be socially acceptable without blowdrying, straightening, curling, etc.

75 minutes later, I left 20 inches and about 3 pounds lighter. Of the 20 inches, 16 was cut off in one fell swoop to be donated to Locks of Love. Everyone seems to like it, and I'm just happy it's short enough that it's off my neck for the summer. The kicker? My hair grows almost an inch a month (ACK!), so it won't last long...

Money Karma
Recent money karma includes a free night in a 4 star hotel in Atlanta last weekend. How? I finally had enough rewards points with the Sheraton from my trip to Argentina and last year's anniversary trip.

Money karma struck again this past Friday, with free tickets to the Elton John concert. DH's boss gave them to him, and while the seats were in the nosebleed section, they were in direct line with the stage. Great show for $10 in parking and $8 (allowance money) for a bratwurst and soda for me.

And the final intallment of money karma: our microwave bit the big one. Absolutely kaput. Just the sort of thing our little emergency slush fund is for! So, Sunday saw us in the appliance store purchasing the biggest model they have (on sale and with a $10 mail in rebate too!). We bought this one b/c it's the one DH picked out. It only took him 4 hours to say it was too big and too loud and he wanted to take it back for the smaller version. You know, the one I liked that happened to cost $30 less and still had the same rebate...

No worries, except the folks at the appliance store acted like they've NEVER given a cash refund. It took 3 people... In the end, though, we walked out with our new microwave, our extra $31.50 after tax, and our $10 rebate form.

And how does this fit into money karma? The price we paid for the first microwave was within FIVE DOLLARS of what we would have paid for the night in the hotel in Atlanta. See? Money Karam, it does exist.

Blurbies
* My office is still open, so I still have a job for now. Woohoo!!!

* I am almost fininshed formatting the book for a friend that I mentioned ages ago. There've been so many delays, we've been working on this for almost a year. I just want to have it done!

* I finished the lingerie website and got paid for it!!! BIG WOOHOO!!!

* I discovered something TRULY CREEPY (wait, is it supposed to be bizarrely creepy BA?) in my kitchen today. It deserves an entry of it's own and that one is coming up next.

Confessions of a Customer Service Rep

May 3rd, 2007 at 02:20 pm

As many of you know, I used to work for a major telephone company: first as a Customer Service Agent and then as a trainer. I've decided it's time to share a little about how phone customer service works. While these are based on experiences from only one major corporate player, I'm pretty confident that they apply to almost any phone-in customer service.

1. Reps might sound scripted, and sometimes it's because they are. There is verbiage a rep is required to use for legal reasons in some situations, and there's no 'conversational' way to to cover some of the finer legal-ese.

2. Agents are required to apologize. More importantly, they usually can't just say "sorry" or "I'm sorry" because it can be interpreted as unprofessional or sarcastic. Therefore, you'll hear the ubiquitous "I apologize".

3. You will not speak to a supervisor or manager when you ask for one. Trust me: you don't want to, since actual managers and supervisors don't handle customer accounts and likely wouldn't know what to do with one if they had to. Managers and sups handle HR issues, not accounts, and if you actually do get one on the phone all they will do is talk to you and then give the account information to one of their reps to have them handle the situation.

4. If you've asked to speak w/ a manager or supervisor and get transfered, you are likely speaking to what is known as "Second Level Support". It's OK, 2nd level support usually has more access and leeway to handle an account, not to mention a higher credit limit.

5. The amount of time you will wait when an agent asks you to hold will vary based on which level of support you're speaking with. First level support can usually place a customer on hold a minute or two; 2nd and third level for 3-5 minutes (per hold!).

6. Reps are goaled for how long they are on the phone with you, and like hold-time this also varies based on which deparment you're speaking with. It also varies based on which options you chose in the automated menu. Typical call goals range from 180 seconds (3 minutes) to 640 seconds (almost 11 minutes). Choosing the wrong option at the automated menu in order to get a rep faster penalizes the rep.

7. If you are invited to mail or fax your request to customer research, 9 times out of 10 you're being sent into a black hole.

8. Cursing and yelling don't help the cause. In fact, if you're speaking with a rep who doesn't intend to stay on the job, you could wind up with a truly messed up account.

9. Not every company assigns "rep IDs", "operator numbers", or "extensions". The only 'number' that got associated between me and your account was my SSN, and there's no way I'm giving you that. I could give you the extension of the phone unit I was using on this call, but that's not tied to me in any way. If it'll make you feel better, though, that's the 'extension' you get.

10. Reps are leery of giving out their info over the phone, too. We were required to give first name, last name, and location when I was first on the phones. I received a death threat from someone about 20 minutes into a call after he'd requested that information. No big deal, except he only lived an hour and a half away.

11. Absolutely everything is computerized. There is no magic button the rep can push to turn on your phone, cell phone, cable, power, water, etc.

12. Reps are required to give you a timeframe when they do something. It might be a stupid timeframe, but Legal says they have to. So, when a rep says you'll see a credit in 1-3 invoices, it's because they have to.

13. Not every call is monitored for quality purposes, the system is random. With that said, if you're a rep: know the quality deparment can almost certainly focus on just one person at a time if they see a need. I know we did.