Tuesday, March 31, 2009

You choose--the recession or the tiger


If you are like me (and of course you want to be), the phrase "It could be worse" has no meaning. So what? Of course, it could be worse, but it is whatever I am saying.

Still, broke and freaking, at least we aren't on a 26-foot boat with a 450-lb tiger, right? See? Feel better already?

Life of Pi is weird form of mystery by Yann Martel. I can't read novels anymore for vision reasons, so I listened to actors Jeff Woodman and Alexander Marshall read it to me.

Life of Pi is not a who-dunnit, but a did-it-happen. I am way behind the power curve on this one—people recommended it to me way back when I could read books with pages. Silly me, I judged by the cover—a folk art pix of a tiger in a rowboat. Maybe not, I kept thinking haughtily, eyes sliding to the next book on the shelf.

Finally, I got Life of Pi on CD—even then it sat alone on my dresser—all the other tapes came first.

Boy, was I a dope. Pi is not the mathematical constant, but a 16-year-old Indian lad’s first name (he’s named after a swimming pool, as he will tell you in the somewhat pokey introduction to this adventure, bear with, it’s worth it). His dad is a zookeeper and in 1978, the family moves from Pondicherry to Montreal, sailing with some animals that have been sold to zoos in Canada and America.

A storm arises, and Pi can’t sleep and goes on deck. What happens next—well, that’s the mystery. He ends up in a lifeboat with some of the animals, including a 450-lb Bengal tiger, a hyena, an orangutan, a rat, and a zebra.

No, this isn’t some cheesy Noah riff. The hyena attacks the zebra and tears off chunks. Pi is afraid of the tiger and suspends himself on an oar sticking out of the bow to stay safe. At this point, the ship gurgles beneath the ocean.

Pi is at sea with the tiger for seven months—or was he? How does he survive? Can he intimidate the beast enough to live? They finally come to a weirdly undulating island made of delicious algae and swarming with meerkats. But I will leave that part for your delectation.

In an Epilogue, officials of the Japanese shipping company approach Pi and ask what happened. He tells them what we already know. They don’t buy it. Okey-dokey. He tells them another story, weirdly paralleling the first. Is this the truth?

Or did a tiger once roam the jungles of Mexico?

Your call.

See? You never once thought of your car warranty, did you?

Monday, March 30, 2009

Ask your parents how they are doing


Karen Blumenthal (WSJ, March 25, 2009) says you may not be thinking of this, but your parents’ money may be going down the rat hole as much as yours is. (She didn’t say rathole, I embellish.)

No one plans for losing their money.

You could ask your parents about this by saying, “My 401K is losing money. Have your your funds been affected as well?”

Sometimes people are frozen in place and need moral support to revisit their expenses and budget. Maybe a reverse mortgage is in order.

One financial adviser said people with assets of $1 to $2 million are now worried about outliving their money.

Yipes—I don’t know anyone in that category. They must not know about this thing we like to call peanut butter.

You could ask your parents if they can afford a nursing home. Maybe long-term care insurance, even now, could be a good idea.

You should also ask if anyone is trying to sell them anything at the moment. The maggots are swarming…I mean, squirming around.

And last—Ask if your parents need to update their will. Your parents may give you the hairy eyeball on this one—but what if they forget that $100K bequest in there to the Lefthanded Serbian Welfare League. Maybe that is no longer such a great plan.

Ack. Money. Good thing we are sick of it!

Friday, March 27, 2009

Jeez, did you know about this?


According to the WSJ (Jonathan Welsh, March 25, 2009), used car dealers sometime install a device in the car that warns you to make a payment, then if you don’t, the car won’t start at a certain point. They are called disablers.

These used to be installed by the fly-by-nighter dealers, but now the biggies are also using them.

Satellite-based locators are also built in sometimes—so no hiding the vehicle from Mr Repo.

These geniuses like to call these behavior mod devices—to persuade us to pay. They patterned them on cell phones—people pay those so they won’t be cut off.

Don’t forget—more people are buying used—so they are seeing a bigger market.

One customer said their car is under house arrest.

But another woman said it helped her build better credit by making her pay on time (no points for excessive sucking and positive positioning, lady).

Yet another said these are a disturbing layer of surveillance. They call it electronic repo.

Soon—expert say—these will be in new cars, too.

They say customers don’t mind that much.

We are used to sneaky treatment by now, we probably don’t.

By the way, did you even think is was possible for the entire financial system to disappear—our trusts—our 529s, credit lines, etc?

Me either.

By the way—anyone know how to disable a disabler?

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Want a lower price--ask


You do know you have to call the phone company every three months to see if they “forgot” to give you the lowest price, right?

Kara G. Morrison (AZ Republic, March 24, 2009) says nowadays you can argue over the price of almost anything. Can’t hurt to try, right?

Jim Hennig is author of How to Say It: Negotiating to Win. Another book out there is Shop Smart, Save More by Teri Gault.

Tips for creative haggling:

First research prices. Know what’s out there. You can even bring in an internet price. Gault runs The GroceryGame.com, with coupons.

Ask the clerk if there are inhouse coupons for the item. Some clerks can even give a friends and family discount.

“You can ask anything you want (sound familiar on this site?) and it pays to ask,” Hennig says, according to Morrison.

Be polite—this is haggling, not power playing.

Go up the food chain. The clerk may say, “I am the manager.” Maybe not. Stay polite.

Shop locally—smaller stores have more leeway.

Don’t run the purchase down hoping to pay less. Say instead that the item is nice, but all you can pay today is X amount. If there is a glaring flaw—you could point that out.

Say that you are a loyal customer. Ask if buying in quantity rates anything.

Never say take it or leave it.

Stand tall. You are being wise, not cheap.

And, of course, you have to be willing to walk on the purchase. That is your power position. Never say, “Well, okay, I will be eating a lot of peanut butter, but…”

Leave!

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Happy Birthday--our treat


You deserve a break once a year, right? Especially as this economy is aging many of us.

Kara G. Morrison (AZ Republic, March 23, 2009) says many places are offering birthday specials these days.

The tony cosmetic site Sephora.com lets you join the Beauty Insider club online and then get a free gift if you go to the store within 14 days of your birthday. Sure, it’s designed to get you into the store—but try to get in the spirit here.

Some movie theatres give ya free popcorn—watch for this.

Krispy Kreme, at least in AZ, gives a dozen doughnuts on your birthday, possibly preventing you from seeing another one—but they are trying to be nice, right?

Hard Rock CafĂ© gives you a free dessert and a “shoutout.”

Denny’s gives a free meal with another meal and two drinks.

Now this is worth a few bucks—Disneyland/Disney World gives you free admission on your birthday. Go to disneyparks.disney.go.com and sign up. (This could be HUGE for the OctoMom.)

What the heck. Let’s eat cake!

Monday, March 23, 2009

College--still a good idea


I thought when all this started that a good, expensive, single "change" would be to make college and post-grad school free for all qualified students. Period. Free. Spend the money on that to change America.

Instead, the college funds are sifting like sand through an hourglass and kids are having to drop out or shift to cheaper schools—and out here, the cheaper schools are downgrading to meeting in shacks and trailers, almost.

When they can’t ding old or sick people, they go after students.

Megan Gordon, Arizona Republic (March 1, 2009) has some tips for kids still hoping to enter the ivied halls—or any halls.

The key to trying to educate yourself in this environment, kids, is to find obscure scholarships no one has heard of (if the bank won’t lend). It is like a part-time job chasing these, said one guidance counselor.

First, you probably have to fill out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid form at fafsa.gov. (The deadline for that one has passed, but not all scholarships require it.)

But, yes, you need to start early—maybe this year for next year.

Make sure the scholarships pertain to you—many are very specific, such as Native-Americans whose parents are on the reservation, and that sort of thing.

Read the fine print and follow it EXACTLY.

Practice essay writing—show your essay to people, get advice. Do not ask writers like me to ghost essays—that’s cheating going in. (There are bloodsucky companies that will not only write essays, but your papers for you once you get in. Have some shame!)

Be original…If you have wacky interests, get into those (the legal ones).

Proofread and re-proofread.

Oh, and don’t copy someone else’s—they have ways of checking.

Apply for a lot of these—it’s a numbers game.

Come off as a go-getter and achiever, although not too vain and self-centered—you know, someone who would do well in college. These places love that.

Parents love that.

I love that.

Friday, March 20, 2009

Lose the cliched wedding cake


Lisa A. Flam, AP, is no hopeless romantic. Have you priced a wedding these days? That big old cake could break you!

Instead, a Phoenix couple rolled out their own favorite—gelato. Another couple scooped the spumoni.

“We’re not cake eaters,” sniffed one bride. (I, however, know a guy who agreed to get married just FOR the cake, but as usual, I digress.)

Cupcakes are another option. Or cheesecake (which I count as cake, although the teeny bride and groom statues may sink).

How about an ice-cream sundae bar?

Lollipops? (OK, on the cheapster side.)

How about candy necklaces? Or a cotton candy machine?

I would get our neighborhood ice-cream man, Grampa, to officiate over dessert—when he gets out of jail, that is.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Well, now, how about buying a new house?


Gosh, this is fun, isn’t it? The Congressional hearings, the ripoff artists, the ducking bureaucrats, maybe a new American currency (the Amero?), bonuses for all (oh, didn’t yours come?), etc.

You deserve a new house.

There is a rumor going around that buried in one of those behemoth bills was a clause saying you can get a $8K tax credit for a new house.

Ooops—not you. First-time buyers. Wait—it’s OK. This means you have not owned a primary home for 3 years. Not first-time EVER.

OK. You must buy this dwelling this year, 2009. If you got one in 2008, you get $7,500 but have to pay it back over 15 years.

Stay in the new 2009 home for three years, and you don’t have to pay back the $8K.

If you are building, you must occupy this year.

Oh, and the $8K is the max—the credit is equal to 10% of the purchase price up to $8K.

Confused yet? Well, good for you! This ought to do it—if you buy in 2009, you can claim the credit on 2008—just file an amended return.

And then jump out of your new window!

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Fur-cations


When I saw this term in a story by Jaimee Rose in the Arizona Republic (Mar 17, 2009), I thought, whaaa? Time off with an animal?

But no, it mean “furlough vacation,” which is more accurately described as “sweating out your pay cut trying to think positively.”

You are not being paid, feeling the bad feeling, and still have time on your hands to feel the bad feeling even more sharply.

On the good side, I hear many charities are overrun with volunteers. This is good.

This would drive me nuts, though, because companies say workers cannot even check email or lift a finger (some legalistic bushwa) while on “furlough.”

A columnist named Clay Thompson just got off furlough and was not amused. Before he was tossed, he said he felt like a soldier who should be heading for the USO show.

Do the big boys—say AIG—go on furlough, too? Do they have to sit in the kiddie pool and then chow down on Kraft Dinner?

Come on—guess. Do they?

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

A copay a day keeps the doctor away


Ginger Rough, writing in the Arizona Republic (Mar 15, 2009), says polls show more than alf of Americans either have or know someone who has put off seeing the doctor--even with insurance.

Doctors say there are some things you can get away with. For example, women can probably skip a yearly pap test if theirs have always been normal for the past few years and have no family history of cervical cancer.

If you are in your 30s and at low risk for eye disease, you probably don't need an eye exam more than once or twice a decade. In your 40s or 50s, go every two or three years.

In the meantime, make sure you are taking generic meds if appropriate. Doctors don't often think about cost--ask! (Those "Free" samples, though--can get you used to a drug with hideous sticker shock potential when you start paying.)

Some docs will give you a prescription for a larger dose--then you cut the pills in half. Order by mail 3 mos at a time or get your local store's three-month deal You have to ask, "Am I getting the cheapest price for this?"

Ask if you can get a question answered on the phone or in email. Saves gas, wear, and tear.

Ask, ask--remember Auntie Star's motto: You can ask anybody anything.

Never cut your existing prescription in half or skip, though. If you need to quit, ask the doctor first.

Eat your veggies, walk, and get vaccines for the kids.

My father was a doc, and he always waited a few days to see if the ailment got better. You don't have to run off to someone except in a breathing or bleeding emergency.

Use your best judgment. If you are like me, you know if you're being a dope.

Monday, March 16, 2009

Neighborhood cleanup could help you clean up


Well, no one will ever “clean up” again in this country, so sad. But you know what I mean.

I am shelling a very much wanted $75 to get some weeds eaten today—in the hopes that the house across the street will sell and for good bucks. Or two-thirds of what used to be good bucks here.

I am no saint. But this helps me and keeps the still-employed neighborhood cops from coming—they always have money to pay them!—for my over-6-inch grass.

If you have an older person in your neighborhood maybe they no longer have money for yard work—and you could pitch in.

The vacant yards, weeds, and occasional graffiti witticisms make nabes look crummy.

Some cities are buying vacant houses and rehabbing them for the homeless. Or just spending their “stimulus” pork on buying them and tearing them down—motive unknown.

I don’t see why banks don’t start charging the person rent when they can’t pay the mortgage and wait for this to sort out. We are being told, anyway, that this will sort out at some point.

Me? Personally? I am not confident. When Citibank is propped one day to the tune of billions and a week later says, “We’re good,” this is utter nonsense to me.

Friday, March 13, 2009

Farmers markets salt of the earth now


One problem with the farmer’s market we have here—weekday afternoon at rush hour.

I would go every Saturday if I could. Apparently the farmers can’t, though.

One of our local markets also got too craft-showy. Too many handmade tea cozies and no zucchini.

I remember two we had in DC—yes, downtown. One was on the Hill—Eastern Market. The other was in Adams-Morgan, the boho section of town. Cheese, honey, fresh greens, cookies, yummo!

Some people also buy shares in a farmer. Check this out from my old site, Health’s Ass.

http://healthsass.blogspot.com/2008/07/befriend-farmer-today.html

Or there are co-ops, where someone delivers produce to you once a week or so.

Do you do any of these? Have any other ideas for cheap food?

In the last Depression, people sold apples. I don’t have any apples, though.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

If I catch you taking THIS job....


Do you get those "Account Services" or "Cardholder Services" recorded calls all the time? "This is Rachel..." "This is Heather..."

This company--someone said they are French--are lower than a snake's belly under pond scum.

I run into the room--"This is Heather."

Ack.

Nothing helps...Get the "real" person (you would never take a job like this, right?) and complain, they hang up. You push #2 to be removed...then, BA-RING... "This is Rachel."

A real bill collector rather than a credit card number thief would be almost a relief. Maybe that guy would say, "This is Brad."

The Midas move


Wasn’t that weird—Super Bowl ads for pawn shops? This country is so screwed up a National Psychiatric Czar could not unscramble us anymore.

Anyhow, Russ Wiles, a columnist at the Arizona Republic, says the American Assn of Appraisers has some words for us before we slip over to ye olde pawnshop.

Learn about karats before you talk to the pawn broker (or you will become broker than ever). Gold of 24 karats is 99% pure. 18 karats—75%. 14 karat—58.3%. 10 karat--$41.7%

But—the stamp on it may not be true. (Dandy)

You need to track gold prices. OK, hang on—those prices are in troy ounces. Divide that by 31.1 and you have the price for an ounce of 24 karat gold.

Ask the jeweler about his or her fees. What percentage does the metal refinery take? Those send-in-your stuff ads? Better to deal with a jeweler in the community.

What you are selling is important—are there gems in it? Usually you don’t want those pieces melted for the gold. An antique piece may be worth more than the gold.

Check with the American Society of Appraisers at www.appraisers.org.

Has anyone done this—sold things? I tried to sell an antique amber necklace once and the jeweler noticed in a sec that it had a cracked bead. No sale. Beat me—I never knew it.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Humor in hell


Kelly Dinard, AP, writes that composing your farewell email is a lost art.

One guy titled his: Free food in the employee lounge.

“These are tough times,” he wrote. "You will be pleased to know I have begun work on my long-delayed book and instructional DVD titled, “Rhymes with Truck: How to Use Profanity in Every Sentence.”

Star: I have that one!

Some people write long, Oscar-thank you type notes. Others are more, shall we say, direct, Dinardo says.

Of course, the so-called "grownups" warn against bitterness—it could hurt your job search.

One man got a lot of mileage out of quoting Macauley Culkin in “Home Alone.”

“This is it,” the tot says at one point, “don’t be scared now.”

Seen any great notes? Share!

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

You can find a job--you will find one


Have you—

Added a sig line to all your emails, even when mailing your friends? Amazingly, they may be thinking of themselves and forget to find you a job. Remind them. Also put in your LinkedIn site. As for Facebook and the others, make sure your site is clean, no nudies or crudies.

Used twitter. I don’t know from Twitter so you are on your own with this. But they say to do it.

Put an admiring quote from someone in your res and lose the “References available" blah-blah.

Sounded human in your resume—not all jargony. "Team player working independently" and that stuff.

Put audio on your profiles? Or video? You can download Audacity for free.

I used to run an employment mission at my church in DC—President Clinton even gave us his personal check once for our work.

That reminds me—see if your church has such a mission. They are good places to network, bitch, and use the computers.

We had such a mission here in Chandler AZ, too—now defunct. They got jobs in there that you did not see elsewhere. So ask. Or start one—you could see the jobs first.

You can read the whole blog entry at:
http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/g/a/2009/02/22/JOBSryan.DTL

Monday, March 9, 2009

How to stop dreading the electric bill


Out here in AZ, we roast. Wal-Mart used to have a sign that said, “Do not touch the door handle.” People carry potholders to open car doors.

So saving on electricity is huge. Writing in the Arizona Republic (Mar 1, 2009), Sue Doerfler has summer tips that could help in other states as well.

Plant shade trees on the east and east sides of the house. Always buy on sale.

I remember the thrill I got to see some shade dappling my scorched front yard. I felt like a miracle-worker.

Of course, it’s not like the darn trees went nuts growing—I still have the same little dapple.

Another tip is replace worn weatherstripping. This means doors and windows, which let in 50 percent of the heat or let it out, depending. Supposedly some worthies get weatherstripping under one of those porkfests they are cranking out in DC, but I am sure I won’t be one—or you either.

Wrap your water heater in a blanket. Or get the kind that heats water right when you need it.

I have never known why we don’t all have solar heat and cooling out here. We sure have Mr Sol! But it’s outrageously expensive to just get panels ($20K for my hut) and then the electric company raises rates and you are back where you started. They will go up drastically under the new cap and trade plan.

So how about caulking? The Wall Street Journal says the heck with sexy solar, drag out the gummy caulk for real savings firepower. http://online.wsj.com/article/SB123629700922046051.html

In the meantime, since I am not handy, we just buy the potholders and sweat.

Saturday, March 7, 2009

If you need a break, ask



As a dentist in practice for 21 years, I’ve seen these economic cycles before. My policy is this: Any patient who tells me they are losing insurance coverage and has been in my practice for more than a year I give this same response - Do not omit regular visits because you do not have the money for them. Let me or my staff know you will be paying monthly. Delaying visits allows something small to grow into a large, expensive problem. In my years in practice I’ve never declined necessary treatment to anyone due to an inability to clear their balance on the day of services. I believe most of my colleagues do the same. My advice is to be honest with your dentist and ask if he/she would accept monthly payments. We’re all in this together.

The above letter was in a NYT comment thread about health insurance. The dentist brings up an important point: YOU CAN ASK ANYBODY ANYTHING. The worst they can say is no. (Usually, they do not add anything, as in “No, you cheesy idiot.”)

One caveat on dentists—they are really, really into doing these long wish lists they call “treatment plans,” containing every single little thing they can think of. I had one listing eight cavities—turns out these were “rough spots” that might become cavities.

As for payments, I also read that some doctors are demanding your deducible in cash, upfront. If you come in with a serious condition and you are starting your 2009 deductible of say, $500, the doctor can say, give us the whole $500 today.

To me, that would be my last visit. This is not a welcome ploy, docs. See above—the part about us all being in this together.

Friday, March 6, 2009

Pepi!


Reader and friend Anne Sasso sent me this card that she had propped on her desk for laughs. She said, "I don’t know when your birthday is, but this guy made me laugh."

Well, can you stand it? I opened it ON my birthday!

Can a dog’s face really say WTF? I think so now! (Dogs, of course, aren’t crude like some bloggers.)

Anne’s advice—don’t open your IRA statements. By the time they type up this stuff and mail it, it’s probably worse anyhow.

Incidentally, speaking of Mexican-monikered, too way cute dogs, I was going to adopt a weird senior lady spitz-corgie named Lupe this weekend. They say she has a saggy face. Well, so do I. Unfortunately, they gave her to someone else and now my face is sagging more than ever.

I will keep looking.

In the meantime—find the funniest card you can and prop it on the desk. A coupla bucks well spent.

Better yet--send a few to friends. Coming out of the blue, cards are a spirit-brightener.

You could also save money and send a letter or note. Is that too retro?

Thursday, March 5, 2009

Copey Award: Hanging in


Recently, there was a story in the Arizona Republic about a management company that went into receivership, stranding hundreds of tenants in no-man’s-land. This may lead to foreclosure.

There are $30K in overdue water bills, but no one has been shut off.

The tenants have been told they will not have to move, and many employees, who have not been paid in weeks, are still on the job helping tenants.

The grounds crews are working without pay to keep the buildings looking nice.

I have never seen such dedicated employees, one expert said.

Of course, this can’t go on forever. Is anyone listening out there? And would you do it? Just bang it out because it needs to be done?

Know anyone else who deserves a "Copey"? Email me.

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Are you broke enough?


In the 1982 “downturn” (as opposed to “freefall"), I wrote an article for Savvy magazine (now long gone) about a talk show I saw about how people were faring in the recession. One man mentioned his truck—and they were on him like crazed harpies. If he had a TRUCK, he could sell that and until then, he could shut up.

I see a lot of eyeballing and judging going on—did so-and-so take a vacation last year and buy a new car? Well, the have THEIR nerve declaring bankruptcy (which costs thousands to do, by the way)!

You still have cable and DSL? Well, don’t come crying to the NYT if you can still get online, some people have to go to the library.

Everyone who ever re-fied a house must have partied hearty with that dough—not paid off a persistent hospital or gotten dentures or anything.

Speaking of parties, the wonks are now fond of calling themselves “grownups” and saying, “The party’s over.”

This wasn’t a party—this was life! We lived our lives. We worked hard, we got a few bucks ahead or could get credit, we got something we needed or wanted. Life is short, death is long.

Now…since bazillions of so-called taxpayer dollars (really Chinese dollars) are at stake, everyone thinks they can critique everyone else.

I have been guilty of this, too. I wondered about those no-paper loans. I had some. Would they require people filing now to show income? Then, I thought—I am not going to get into that. It’s not REALLY my money, even though it is my shared pain.

You can do whatever you want, but I am going to try to lay off peeking into everyone’s life and trying to decide if they are doing what I do or what I think they should do.

Don’t want to pay for someone else’s mortgage? They probably have other gigantic problems.

Anyway, there are so many things in these proposed wads of spending I don’t want to pay for, I would have time to do nothing else if I fretted over all of them. Remember, it’s not really your money—you are just going to have to pay it all back, or someone is.

Judging? Just raises the blood pressure and you may not have all the facts, anyhow.

Agree? Disagree?

Want to see some fatcats perp-walked? No, Star, no, no.

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Job hunting--social style--does it work?


By Maria Esposito

When Star asked me to write a guest post, she said I could choose any topic (on coping) short of jumping out the window. I figured that opened up a pretty wide range of possibilities; so I thought about it, and I decided I’d like to talk about breaking through the white noise when you’re using Social Media to job hunt.

As more and more employees are being kicked to the curb by their faithless employers, they’re all looking around in desperation trying to figure out what the next move is.

If you find yourself in this predicament, conventional wisdom says go ask the experts what to do. And the pundits, in all their resplendent mental acuity, say go network on as many Social Media sites as you can, and you’ll make connections that will get you re-employed.

Okay, so everybody runs to their computers and starts Facebooking, My Spacing, LinkingIn, and, of course, Tweeting on the oh-so-trendy Twitter. The problem is, nobody seems to be listening. Discussions are started that trail off into nowhere, tweets are posted that go unanswered, and invitations to “visit my blog” go unaccepted.

How the heck you going to make a connection, much less find a potential employment lead, if you can’t break through the non-stop chatter? It’s like that annoying phone company commercial says, “CAN YOU HEAR ME NOW?” No, I don’t think so.

What all the brilliant experts forgot to mention is that in the great bazaar that is Social Media, everybody’s out there trying to sell their wares just like you are. They can’t hear you above their own hard sell. You have to take your chances that somehow what you have to offer is fresher, and more appealing than what’s at the other stands.

So here’s a tip. Don’t follow what all the experts say will get you noticed, because that’s what all the other guys are doing. Instead, trying actually having some manners, and responding to discussions, answering tweets, and visiting blogs. If that bizarre behavior doesn’t get you noticed, nothing will. After all, as one great philosopher said, “R-E-S-P-E-C-T, find out what it means to me.”

You just may find that the respect you give will be returned to you when someone emails out of the blue and asks for some samples of your work. I know because it happened to me.

This was contributed by Maria Esposito, who can be reached with more fabbie job offers at mar19511@hotmail.com. Also check her blog at http://medicine.reportednow.com.

Star: I am a LinkedIn beginner. Need to set a day aside to learn it. Any other social networking tips, gang?

Monday, March 2, 2009

New Deal, Tired Deal--bow about the Best Deal?


Was it worth a couple of trillion bucks (the whole gross domestic product is $13 billion, I think) to find out our dear electeds were heaving spaghetti at the wall in Grand Canyon-sized buckets?

Too late now.

Oh—and there may not be more where that came from in the event things get worse. Probably just as well. Having access to money just makes these people crazy.

But we aren’t that far gone, are we, American people? We know we need some money to live, that we have talents or merchandise sitting on the shelf. What the heck—let’s get busy and spend again. Let’s sell these assets to each other. Let’s deal—barter—get things we need at a satisfying bargain.

I call it The Best Deal.

…Did the snooty roof guy want $10K to replace your shingles? Call him again—offer $3000. See what happens. Hey-it’s only money and they are probably taking away our credit cards anyway.

…Let’s see some car dealers run ads that say--$28K if you can get credit, but only $12K if you bring over cash. Today! Drive off the lot! A car isn’t going to appreciate anyhow.

…Need a new furnace or heat pump? Look for the huge rebates. Ask for huge rebates.

…What about those goofy plasmas? If you really feel our politicians are worth that much money to watch in action, get one of those—but get a huge honking deal or walk out!

…People hurting in your neighborhood—get together and each cook two extra meals a night and pass them out. When it’s their turn—they can slap together the PB&Js. No J? OK—PB.

…When those food bank envelopes come—put in five bucks, more if you can. I have never had cash lost in the mail yet. Don’t believe everything “they” say.

…You can still go to the department store and get makeup. Just make it work harder—here’s a secret: Lipstick blends as a blusher and looks mahvelous. Also, you can find high-end makeup on Ebay.com.

….My Mexican neighbors like to cook prickly pear. I have tons—and they bring me a little dish of the salsa. Yummy! It also saves on my cactus chopping fees. But you better believe it—those guys who come around in the trucks to do your landscaping—they are dealing.

We can’t stop spending. Even the dreaded George Bush was more right than wrong when he said to keep shopping after 9/11. We don’t have an industry-based economy anymore—it’s based on consumption. If we stop consuming, people lose their jobs, then they can’t consume—and that’s when the pols get into it and screw it up.

But we are all going to have to settle for less. Those who get foreclosed feel horrible until they don’t have an obscene mortgage payment to make and one that isn’t building anything for them in life. Credit rating? Hey, we’re all ruined.

Don’t worry, it will be fine in the long run. And the beautiful part of getting out there and dealing is that everyone gets something and everyone feels like they got the best of it.

When is the last time you felt like you were getting The Best Deal? How does today sound?

Sunday, March 1, 2009

Hmmm...crossing guard...a little seasonal?


Star,

Bummer to drop the health humor site (http://healthsass.blogspot.com)--that has to hurt. Brilliant idea to blog on coping w economic depression. Speaking of which, I am good at vision and years ago I sensed the stock market was going to tank. So, when the Dow was 11,300, I transferred all my funds to secure, stable investments. Then the Dow went up over 14,000. Every man, woman, dog, and cat between Mars and Venus was raking it in, except me. That didn't feel so hot. So when the Dow started to sink, I cleverly waited until it hit 11,300 and jumped back in with both feet and chose aggressive investments.

What I've learned is that, if everyone suffers, we're all in it together. If I'm the only sucker suffering, I feel like an idiot. At this point my 401k will buy a good upscale meal in Northern Virginia. But I keep reminding myself that it's not real money until I cash it in, so I haven't lost a dime. I may, however, be scouting out job openings for school crossing guards.

Bill Neugent
Talecatcher.com

Ah...wisdom


From reader Miriam Ruff, the following...

Yesterday my chiropractor offered me an interesting perspective on life. He said we can live our lives in the past, the present, or the future. When we live in the past, it's usually because of guilt. When we live in the future, it's usually because of fear. It is only when we live in the present that we can truly appreciate who we are and understand how we can live our lives to the fullest, not merely exist.

Star: The present is all too present, so what's up for today?