an eyePEACE for free?

problem: $0

I want to use the video feature on my DSLR, but when it’s bright and I’m outside, I can’t see the screen on the back of the camera in order to change my manual focus.

possible solution: $375

I can buy a Zacuto Z-find attachment for my camera. The low end model is around $285 and the pro model is around $385. My money tree hasn’t started blooming yet, so let’s move on.

brainstorming: $0

On weekends I run tech with, well, and bunch of techie people at work. I told them my problem and how I thought I could make one of these for free. I mean really, all I need is for it to be dark so I can see the screen.  My idea was to get some cardboard and duct tape and make a cute little hood, similar in size to the expensive pro thing.  I was challenged by Aaron who said, “You can’t do that, what will you use for the glass?  You can’t do that without glass.”  He later joked that I would have a paper towel tube taped to the camera.  So he was right, I did need some magnifying glass to pull this off.  The expensive pro thing is just a glorified loupe, and I’m pretty sure I still have at least one of those from my film photography days.  I also have motivation now that someone challenged me that it cannot be done.

the solution: $0

Yes, I said $0.  I decided to do a MacGyver on this.  Even if I wanted to buy the pro thing, I can’t because I’m doing my one year of no retail shopping.  Here’s the step by step process I used to design and create my free… oh, it needs a name, doesn’t it?  Hmmm, how about eyePEACE?  (the penny-wise everlasting adaptable cone-shaped eyepiece)  Eye feel much peace that I did not spend $300.

step 1: find stuff

I dug through my garage to see what raw materials I could find.  Not only did I find my loupe, I found 2 of them and a magnifying glass.  (sometimes if pays to be a pack-rat)  Here’s my list of materials and it’s all stuff I already own, and in some cases, about to recycle:

  • magnifying glass
  • duct tape
  • a cream cheese container
  • a piece of junk mail
  • a black t-shirt
  • an oversized hairband

If you don’t have everything you need, check out a thrift store or freecycle, or better yet, post your need as your Facebook status update.  Other people have junk too, and in most cases, would be happy to part with it.  Continue reading

digital hoarders and dead computers [day 34]

I just realized something yesterday, not only do I have some hoarding tendencies, I’m clearly a digital hoarder.  I save all of my files, even the ones I know I will never use again.  I have several binders filled with disks, many of them useless due to technology changes over the past several years.

At the risk of age stamping myself here, my first computer was a 286 Packard Bell, 40 megabyte hard drive, 1 megabyte RAM, 5 1/4 floppy drive & 3.5 floppy drive.  Wow.  Realization number 2, I’m a mental hoarder too.  Who remember this kind of stuff??!?!  Sadly, I didn’t have to look it up.

I said this in an earlier blog post, the only difference between 99.9% of us and the people on the Hoarders TV show, is that we can, and do, part with our stuff.  Can you imagine how many computers are in landfills?  Planned obsolescence on computers is what, 4 years at best?  The oldest computer I own is approximately 8 years old.  It runs a few old PC programs and sometimes, my vinyl plotter.  My other “old” computer is a G4 PowerBook.  It’s 4.5 years old, runs slow, but not bad for its age, however the screen started to go last week.  Continue reading

should you buy new, used or not at all? [day 33]

My friend Ryan sent me this list of things you should never buy new, which also has a link to things you should never buy used.  I agree with most of it.  I got burned two years ago on buying a used laptop for my kids.  Here are links to the lists:

Things you should never buy new.

Things you should never buy used.

Then I found another link that asked, “Are you ready to be extremely frugal?” I first thought about Jerod, because he’s the most frugal person I know besides myself.  If anyone were to rank me and Jerod, he would win on the frugal scale.  I found something interesting…  Continue reading

dumpster diving [day 32]

I have taken dumpster diving to a whole new level.  I was leaving church after work and happened to glance over at the dumpster.  Sitting right on top were 6 really nice sofa/chair cushions!  I’m not talking about those cheap crappy ones either, I’m talking nice ones, the kind that sell for $80 a piece!  I’m pretty sure I ran to the dumpster, you know, just in case anyone else was eyeing my treasure.  I dove in and started unloading my cushions, and when I looked up to get out, I had an audience.  ”Look, Jody’s in the dumpster!”  Yes.  Jody can be found in any dumpster that has useable stuff in it.

Now some of you might be wondering if I was embarrassed.  The answer is yes, but probably not for the reason you’re thinking.  I’m not at all ashamed to be caught in a dumpster, I’m ashamed that there was useable stuff that was carelessly discarded.  All it takes is a phone call to a local thrift store.  They will gladly come pick things up from businesses or residences FREE of charge.  The donations sometimes go directly to people in need or sold to financially help impoverished people.  Continue reading

sake with good luck and prosperity [day 31]

Tonight was date night.  :)  We went to Ra in Plano and had sushi.  The food there is great, endless options of raw and cooked delicacies.  We wanted sake and there were several kinds to choose from, but without cool names and fancy labels, how were we to choose one?  (yes, that’s how I choose wine)  We asked the waitress for a recommendation and went with her suggestion of the Creme de Sake, a cold unfiltered sake.

When she brought it to the bar, she brought two small shot type glasses in tiny wooden boxes.  She poured the sake into the glasses, taking great care to not overfill them.  When she finished pouring, she siad, “We’re supposed to pour it until it overflows into the box for good luck and prosperity, but I don’t like wasting it, so I don’t do that.”  That completely made my day and she got a nice tip from us.  You go girl!!!!

books, books and more books [day 30]

I worked most of day 30, so there was no time to think about shopping, even if I had wanted to.  Day 31 was a little bit different.

I had bags of clothing and toys from a few days ago when I cleaned out some of our closets.  I went to the thrift store to drop everything off, but the line was long and my car AC doesn’t work when the car is idle.  I had every desire to go park my car, walk my donations to the curb drop-off area and go inside.  I knew if I did go in, I had to need something in order to buy it.  So I parked the car, did the curb drop-off and went in.  Continue reading

psych & impulses [day 29]

I really don’t have a desire to shop right now.  Almost a month, and I just really don’t miss it.  Not that I did it a lot, but I would make my regular visits to the major retail superstores and hardware stores.  An artist girl can never have too many power tools.

I think most of what we buy is impulse stuff.  Well, it is for me anyway.  I still have times where I think, “Oh, I should go buy a __________.”  Now that I can’t (won’t), I either have to just forget about it, or if it’s a need, figure a way around it.  The reason I know these are impulse things, is because I know I’ve thought about buying stuff, but I could not for the life of me tell you what the stuff was that I thought of buying.  If I really needed it, or for that matter, really wanted it badly, wouldn’t I remember it?  I have no idea what it is!  Continue reading

$4.00 [days 26, 27 & 28]

Not too much to report over the last few days.  I’ve been working a lot, finished some books and spent a bit of time with my kids.

We had some unexpected dental expenses this month and to keep my credit card at zero, I had to pay a little more than usual because of lawn care, my tolltag and car repairs.  I have $4.00 left in my account, and for some crazy reason, that makes me happy.  Normally I would either charge groceries or maybe move some money from my checking account.  Instead, I decided to live with the $4.00 for a while.  We’re eating food from the back of the pantry and stuff from the freezer that… well, just should have been used a long time ago.  No eating out for a while.  I have a little bit of cash, very little, but it’s still sitting in my ‘piggy bank’.  The kids call it my piggy bank, even though it’s a box with Hawaiian girls on it.

I’ll probably move some money over from my savings just in case something hits my account, so I won’t have overdraft fees.  Can you imagine the large part of the world’s population that has to live on less than $2.00 per day?  Have you ever tried it?  I wonder what that would be like…

what are you for? [day 25]

We decided to take a trip down to Waco and go to Church Under the Bridge.  (churchunderthebridge.org)  I so wish it was closer… or I was closer.  A two hour drive to church is a long drive, but for this place, well worth it.  I was excited to bring my kids this time.  I have to admit something though.  I bought a t-shirt at CUTB.  Wait, actually I bought two, one for me and one for Steve.  Yes, they’re new shirts, and we don’t need more clothing, but after some careful consideration, I decided to buy them.  Maybe I’m justifying this purchase, but here’s my reasoning:

  • It’s new, but the money is going to the church, who in turn, helps the homeless.
  • It did not come from a major retailer.
  • When we wear them, it’s a conversation starter since it says ‘TROLL’ on the front.  (not that I need a reason to yap about this place, because I’m all about it)
  • T-shirts are the modern day propaganda.  Instead of a t-shirt advertising expensive clothing stores or a cool graphic, how about a t-shirt that has a message communicating what I’m passionate about?

Church Under the Bridge is great and I’m proud to be a troll!  Also, I came home and cleaned out my closet.  I got rid of all my t-shirts that advertise large clothing retailers and  I have a huge bag of clothing to bring to the thrift store.  Did you know that most thrift stores have voucher programs for people in need and some of the donations go right to people that need it?  Continue reading

sharing a hamburger [day 24]

Last night I went to II Brothers (also know as the ‘other brother’) with a large group of people.  We had so many people that we had to get a separate table for the kids.  Yep, that’s my story and I’m sticking to it.

My kids were on their own and ordered for themselves.  Now I gave them no instruction whatsoever, so they could have ordered pretty much anything and extra desserts and I wouldn’t have been the wiser.  After a nice time visiting with my friends, it came time to pay the bill.  I neglected to order anything, apparently I was talking when she came to take our orders, so I just had my iced tea and the kids stuff.

The bill came, I looked at it and immediately thought it was wrong.  I asked her if there should be two hamburger kids meals on there, not just one.  She said, “No, it’s correct.  They decided to share a meal.”  After picking my jaw up off the floor, I was speechless.  My kids ARE learning not to be wasteful!  It’s really working!!!!  I don’t cry and I almost had tears in my eyes!!!!!

Every time we go to a restaurant, I always ask them to share if they’re not that hungry.  We can always order more food, so just order what you know you can eat.  Okay, so I also bellyache about the price of food too, again, making the point of not being wasteful.  Wow.  It really works.  My kids are so awesome.  (no bias there, of course)  ;)