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    Forum: Frugal Living

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      private message
    on: Thu 01 of Jan, 1970 [00:00 UTC] score: reads:

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    Think twice before using credit card at pump
    on: Wed 23 of Jul, 2008 [06:25 UTC] score: 0.00
    One problem is that where I live, a lot of gas stations TOTALLY self-service.

    Might have to use debit card.

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    Linux vrs windows Vista, memory and disk
    on: Wed 23 of Jul, 2008 [06:23 UTC] score: 0.00
    Both are "leaky" but Windows has bad habit of page faulting when nothing is going on, and thrashing the disk.

    author message
    I use a granny basket
    on: Sun 01 of Jun, 2008 [08:22 UTC] score: 0.00
    I am a 200 lb man walking down the street with a granny basket. I just can't justify driving to the neighborhood grocery store, but I can't carry much in my hands so I use a shopping cart.

    Unfortunately they are made for petite women but mine is just tall enough to pull fairly easily. I couldn't find mine, made by Leifheit, on Amazon. Here is another make and model, that folds up:


    It mostly got good reviews, though I am concerned about the one about the wheels falling off as that is a common problem with these things. Mine has lasted many years but might not be sold in USA anymore--and German products getting expensive due to falling $US.

    I have a bicycle-type lock to lock it to bicycle racks, since grocers don't let me take it into the store (they sometimes do little old ladies, but I am apparently not a sympathy figure smile ).

    I suggest keeping driving to a minimum. At our house we're surviving on a lot of dry goods like rice and flour, supplemented with some home-grown produce and a bare minimum of frozen food (don't like to overload my poor little freezer compartment), between major shopping trips.

    I live in a convenient neighborhood, by design, and walk to run many kinds of errands.

    author message
    Re: I use a granny basket
    on: Mon 02 of Jun, 2008 [22:54 UTC] score: 0.00
    The grocery carts around here either have electronic devices on them that lock the wheels if they are taken out of a certain area, or are kept behind a fence with openings not large enough to take one through.

    The grocery store closest to me is the second kind. They have a solid metal fence (not flexible like chain-link) about 8 feet high with opening in it too small to fit my granny cart through while it is open. I have to close it, stick it in the back of a cart (the carts lack the hooks on them that I've seen before that you can hang your granny cart onto while shopping), put my groceries in the cart around my granny cart, pay for them, bag them, walk all the way to that fence, put my cart on the outside of the fence, then open it, then transfer the groceries from the cart to the granny cart. (All with a 20something pound baby strapped to me.)

    I guess for most people, they have to carry the bags from the fence to wherever they parked their car.

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    Re: I use a granny basket
    on: Mon 02 of Jun, 2008 [07:42 UTC] score: 0.00
    You could just sort of borrow one of the store's gorcery carts. I doubt they would miss it, particularly if it is constantly being returned and used by a regular customer.

    author message
    Smart cars are here...
    on: Mon 26 of May, 2008 [07:30 UTC] score: 0.00
    Actually, my neighborhood already has a number of these.

    They're a joint venture between Swatch and Mercedes Benz.

    Engineering and testing continues to take place on the vehicle that will be produced for the United States. The vehicle is designed to achieve 40 city/45 highway mpg according to 2007 EPA standards and 33 city/41 highway mpg according to 2008 EPA standards. The mpg rating for all vehicles will decrease in 2008 due to new calculation methods that the EPA has adopted. These methods involve measuring mpg while taking into account real life driving conditions such as start/stop city traffic, air conditioning, heating, etc. The gas tank of the smart fortwo is 8.7 gallons.

    author message
    Cool utility for Canon cameras
    on: Wed 07 of May, 2008 [07:38 UTC] score: 0.00
    This is software that temporarily loads into camera's firmware.

    It adds a features that are not found in the camera, including RAW format (intentionally disabled by the manufacturer; the camera actually throws away some data to save in JPEG), increased video compression to double the maximum length of videos, additional data displays including a histogram that will tell you if parts of the photo are likely to be overexposed or underexposed, and some scripts that will let you take faster or slower exposures than the camera's default software will let you take, and automated exposure and focus bracketing that are useful for taking High Dynamic Range (HDR) photographs (those odd-looking pictures that have un-naturally much detail, made by merging photographs shot at different exposures) and stacked focus shots--typically macro shots where several shots are taken at different focal lengths, then merged to create images that have more depth of field than would otherwise be possible.

    (do bugs see each other with shallow depth of field?)

    I think it does a few other tricks too, with synchronizing flash. My camera actually will take slow synch but it is a devil trying to find the feature which is buried deep in a specific mode through a bunch of menus.

    Using these utilities you can take shots that normally would not be possible with such relatively cheap cameras.

    author message
    Frugal living more about priorities than sacrifice
    on: Sat 05 of Apr, 2008 [06:02 UTC] score: 0.00
    I think the mainstream media is trying to drop hints.

    Not a bad article tho.

    author message
    Being a metrosexual could get expensive
    on: Fri 04 of Apr, 2008 [04:21 UTC] score: 0.00

    I have two boys. It is hard to get them just to shop for clothes.

    I actually understand the hair on the head thing (one of the hardest problems to solve, although monoxadile sort of does the trick for many men), but when they start doing facials I wonder just how easily manipulated they are.

    The webpage was a link from a news article, but it sure looks like a paid placement to me. I don't think it is really news, but an advertisement disguised as an article.

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    Re: Being a metrosexual could get expensive
    on: Fri 30 of May, 2008 [07:16 UTC] score: 0.00
    Shampoo, shaving razors, q-tips, tootpaste + total cost for one month of "beauty treatment" = about $10.00. My most expensive purchase of all time for this sort of thing was $14.00 for a nose hair trimmer, and $20.00 for a pair of hair clippers at Walgreen's. So far the trimmer has lasted over a year and the clippers even longer.

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    20 cent tax on grocery bags coming to Seattle
    on: Fri 04 of Apr, 2008 [04:13 UTC] score: 0.00

    I need to work on tying knots to make a macrame-style net bag. It is difficult to tie netting--you need the cord wound around a shuttle--but you can get a similar effect by tying knots in multiple cords instead of using one continuous cord.

    Once I successfully master the technique, I'll take pictures and share it on this website.

    Net bags are lightweight and easy to bring to the market.

    author message
    The problem with finance
    on: Tue 04 of Mar, 2008 [19:55 UTC] score: 0.00
    One of the problems with professional financial advice is that almost the only way to get one's foot in the door of the business is to be a salesman (woman).

    The financial organizations even screen their applicants for their personality profile, through both testing and selection for traits that correlate well with the high-influence personality. The ones they are looking for are the ones who respond positively to self-assessments such as "I make decisions based on what my friends think". The idea is that people who are easily influenced by others tend to influence others. I am not convinced that this is 100% true, and I can easily see the "Svengali" effect where some people are massively more influential on others than they are influenced by others. However, I am (painfully) familiar with the concept (being on the far other end of the spectrum).

    In any case, the high-influence people are the worst possible candidates to help people make rational investment choices. Indeed, their personalities are the least rational.

    If you've ever gotten into an argument with one of these people, they are full of non-sequiturs. One of their favorites is "well, Susie says that..." and you can argue until you're red in the face that "Susie says" is not a logical basis for an argument. In fact, they are likely to turn angry and combative because they perceive your lack of enthusiasm to be a personal attack on Susie!!

    The rest of their arguments are textbook cases of logical fallacies. If you point out the logical fallacies they just don't get it. That's because belief is a matter of will. They want to believe, so they latch onto whatever sounds to them like a vaguely plausible argument, which they will defend on an emotional rather than rational basis.

    The weird part is when they concede that you are a logical, rational person--but act as if this is some kind of character flaw!!

    The reason that the Financials hire these kinds of people is that they are totally focused on sales, and they want people who can influence their equally gullible and irrational friends to make that sale. But what happens when that successful salesman (woman) gets bumped upstairs?

    The answer is that there isn't any intelligence going on in the selection of financial products. None. It's essentially automated. So their lack of rational decision making capability is not considered an issue.

    I learned from my financial planning training that stock picking--say--is massively discouraged. Instead, we're supposed to do nothing but look at betas (beta is volatility and is defined by the politically-enforced orthodoxy to be identically the same as risk--despite the fact that risk, by its very nature, is fundamentally unmeasurable!!!) and correlation coefficients (normalized measure of how much the performance of two different assets correlate with each other). A common sales pitch from some of the financial companies is "we sell alpha". Alpha is a measure of over-performance, usually engineered through creative accounting and/or blatant fraud. Given their working assumptions and methodologies, it should logically be impossible for them to guarantee alphas--it should always be a statistical freak!

    I suspect that the rare rational-nerdy type who gets into the system--Jimmy Rogers for example--gets bumped WAY upstairs to be a resource for the big boys like George Soros and his Quantum Fund--or like Bill Gross they run their own show. The little people get the mob of trendoids. This is probably the main reason why financial advice for people who are already rich outperforms financial advice for the prole's.

    author message
    As usual, caveat emptor
    on: Tue 04 of Mar, 2008 [19:28 UTC] score: 0.00
    She got bags of beans instead of a hard drive.

    This is credible. The reason it could happen is if an employee steals the hard drive, and uses the beans as enough weight to hide the theft.

    The problem is that if this is not a common occurrence, or not one the company wants to deal with, then they won't. If you have a defective product, you can probably still send it back--although I suggest caution as return policies are not going to be as generous in the bust as they were during the boom. But if something unexpected happens, all bets are off anyway.

    Caveat emptor: contrary to the columnist, the Better Business Bureau won't help you. The BBB has an interesting history--it was started by groups of consumers who were angry over fraud. The problem is that you can't just organize away fraud. You have to figure out how to pay for the organization's expenses. So, the BBB raises money from the BUSINESSES, and to a lesser extent has been known to charge consumers to file their reports (some of them use 1-900 numbers, which is a real turn-off to people who got defrauded in 1-900 scams).

    The BBB has therefor been known to solicit business from businesses that have gotten in trouble. For payment of membership fees, fraudulent businesses can have their reputations polished and get BBB recommended status. The BBB has been known to have members in good standing while they were under criminal investigations!!!

    author message
    Don't shop when you are depressed
    on: Sat 09 of Feb, 2008 [05:29 UTC] score: 0.00
    I think this is a well-known phenomenon--where people spend money trying to cheer themselves up.

    They've done some research on it and it seems to be a pattern. I suppose that mentally, we are not programmed to deal with a buy-sell-save situation.

    author message
    Alternative to disposible feminine hygiene products
    on: Thu 07 of Feb, 2008 [22:57 UTC] score: 0.00
    I've heard lots of praise for Diva Cups from many long-time users.

    No opportunity yet to test it for myself.

    It has a long enough shelf-life that it would be easy enough to get a bunch now to have when times get tough.

    I imagine that we women are really going to miss our hygiene products.

    A lot of my female acquaintances make their own cloth sanitary napkins. But that sounds like a lot of extra laundry of the heavily-soiled type which could be an issue when hot water and detergents are scarce.

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    Re: Alternative to disposible feminine hygiene products
    on: Sat 09 of Feb, 2008 [05:27 UTC] score: 0.00
    There is a blog called "crunchy chicken" that covers a lot of these topics.

    The editor is not embarrassed to talk about all sorts of personal care issues (but I am redface). I suppose tho that it does need to be discussed as some things will go in short supply, plus it will be an added expense.

    author message
    Energizer "D" battery exposed
    on: Wed 07 of Nov, 2007 [21:58 UTC] score: 0.00
    I have seen something like this with 9V batteries but apparently the practice is more widespread than I realized.

    I suggest caution with "rechargeable" batteries. Mine keep going completely dead.

    I would have noticed the amperage rating; I always check. But I am not convinced they are accurate.

    author message
    Good article about how to set up Ubuntu Gutsy Gibbon desktop
    on: Tue 23 of Oct, 2007 [05:06 UTC] score: 0.00
    Lots of detailed advice.

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