bad design [day 126]

Yes, I’m a fan of apple products.  In the graphics world, their products are far superior and much more dependable than PC’s.  With one exception.  Power cords.  My G4 Powerbook went to my kids after almost 5 years.  It still works great, and it was my main computer until a few months ago.  It has to be plugged in because the battery is almost dead and we can’t buy a new one right now.  Not that I want to anyway with a $129 price tag on it.

My kids use this computer for homework, school projects, and sometimes games.  That is, until last night when power cord #3 caught on fire.  Cord #1 just quit working when it wasn’t in the perfect position.  #2 caught on fire after shooting sparks everywhere.  With all of the well planned, wonderfully designed products they have, how did a new power cord design not ever cross their minds?  The replacement cords cost $89, if I remember correctly.  The new MacBook cords are similar in design, but made from much stronger materials.  Will it last?  I have no idea. Continue reading

recovering windex addict [day 125]

Yes, in my house, if you couldn’t clean it with Windex, it wasn’t meant to be cleaned.  I’m pretty sure I had a bigger addiction to Windex than the guy on My Big Fat Greek Wedding.  All was well until I ran out of Windex one day…

I mixed vinegar and water in my old Windex bottle.  No, I didn’t cheat, there was not a drop of the magical blue liquid left in the bottle.  Time to clean.  Deep breath.  Spray.  Wipe.  Wait for evaporation.  Exhale. It worked.  Differently, but the end result was clean, non-streaked glass and mirrors.  I can also clean my granite countertops with it.  And it’s good for the environment.  And it’s cheaper.  All around good.  :)

how did I not know it was there?! [day 124]

Today I decided to do a little bit of landscaping now that the weather is a bit cooler.  Frying in my yard is not at the top of my happy list.  I started pulling weeds in the front, working my way around the house.  When I was over by my bedroom window, I heard a buzzing noise.  Very puzzled by this, knowing I didn’t leave anything on in my room, I got closer and listened.  It sounded like a very noisy fan in my room, which there is not one in there.  Next thought… what in the world did the kids do in my room??!  As I got a little closer, I found the culprit.

Between my bedroom windows, on the brick, was the largest ball of electrical tape I had ever seen.  Under it?  An outlet with a plug and cord coming out of it.  I followed the short cord to a box hanging on the brick.  An outdoor lighting timer.  A timer for lights that I took out right after moving in the house.  Four years ago.  Apparently there were two timers, as I never saw this one.  I really thought after all the landscaping and home improvements that I knew this place inside out and backwards.  Now if you know me, you know my immediate thought.  I’ve been paying for this stupid thing to run for four years?!!?! How much did that cost?

Yes, I calculated it.  Not an easy task either, since the kilowatt hours for these are not listed.  I had to use some formula I found on a website to calculate the voltage into kilowatt hours.  My estimate?  $57.82 for the four years.  $57.82 wasted, as the wires were attached to nothing.

How could I not know about that after living here four years?  What else have I missed?  I spent some time looking around my house, behind all of the bushes, to be sure I found everything there is to find.  I didn’t find any more outlets, but I’m still looking for the door to the secret room where they hid the money.

just updates [day 123]

Just a few updates today, no rants.  😉

Birthdays.

My son’s birthday is next week.  We shopped on eBay for gifts or I told him he can have some money to spend.  He doesn’t want a party, but just a barbecue with some of his neighborhood friends.  Other than a few Lego things, there’s really not much he wants.

My friend, who’s in the hospital for a while, had a birthday yesterday.  I went to see her, but I didn’t bring a card or a gift.  I told her I would take her out to dinner for her birthday as soon as she could go.  The birthday dinner thing seems to be the best thing.  You get to spend time with your friends, share a good meal and have some great memories.

Helping the homeless.

I went to an orientation for Our Calling.  This organization, started by Wayne Walker, is quite an impressive operation in helping homeless and broken people.  There are many ways to help people through Our Calling, from serving people in person to financial and donations.  I sat for a little while with a man named Jeff, who is now clean, off the streets after many years and is out there helping others.  His comment to us was, “… thank you for helping me, because now I can go out and help others.”  Check it out if you have a minute.

I can’t end this section without also mentioning our local homeless shelter, The Samaritan Inn.  Suburban homelessness exists, only it’s more difficult to see since they aren’t hanging out under bridges or panhandling in our downtown areas.  Our suffering economy (as opposed to the economists that need to make it sound like everything is stable and improving) has severely increased the homeless population over the past few years.

If you’re in the Frisco area and have any desire to work with these organizations, I’m starting a Go Group (through Preston Trail Community Church) that focuses on helping the homeless.  Join me!

Tires.

I’m probably going to need tires on my 14 year old SUV before this challenge is up.  I’m starting to look on eBay and craigslist, however that is going to require me to know way more about tires than I ever wanted to know.  I’ll keep you posted on this one.

BTW.

I’m past the 1/3 mark for the year!  Time is flying…

slurpeevader [day 122]

Halloween is right around the corner.  It’s not even October yet and I’ve seen several houses that have already started decorating with the orange and black ghoulish accents.  Thinking ahead on halloween and my shopping challenge, I pondered the whole halloween event from many angles.  Here’s my brain dump.

Kids halloween costumes.

My kids have never been at a loss for costume ideas, especially Joe.  I bought their costumes last year… their overpriced alter-identities to be used for one night.  This year, it’s their dad’s turn to buy costumes, and as it turns out, the boys forgot to ask him.  Now they’re going to really have to be creative!  Joe saved his Slurpee cups and decided several months ago to be ‘Slurpeevader’, a mix of Slurpee Man and Darth Vader.  I guess Cole will have to come up with something too.  Costumes can be found at the thrift store and on eBay, but the pickings are slim on the low priced stuff and the good selection cost as much as new.

Money.

Halloween, just like all other holidays, cost a lot of money.  If we have kids, we are expected to decorate our houses, buy costumes, have lots of candy to give away, carve pumpkins, make treats and probably many other things that I’m not doing.  What happened to having some holiday fun without spending a lot of money to do it?  Does all of this halloween commercialism really make it better?  I don’t think so.  I think it’s more difficult because if I choose to not buy into the commercialism, my kids think we’re doing this all wrong.  Either they will turn out like me or need lots of therapy.  I started their funds already.   Continue reading

when I grow up, I want to be a waterbed [day 121]

Fast food condiment packets.  Messy editable liquids in convenient, tiny portions, designed for eating ‘on the go’.  My favorites are the Taco Bell sauce packets with funny sayings on them.

I still feel like fast food eating is similar to retail shopping in a way, as I could be cooking and having nice family meals or changing my eating habits to save money and not be wasteful.  When I do eat a fast food meal, it usually is while I’m driving (and texting… no, just kidding) and usually includes french fries.  I like ketchup with my fries and I have a question.

How do you eat ketchup while driving?

Okay, I really thought everyone does what I do, but I was informed that nobody does what I do, or at least it’s a rare thing if they do.   Continue reading

pulling food out of the trash? [day 120]

For some people, that’s a completely insane question.  After all, who would pull food out of a trash can?  Especially if you don’t need it?

Well, someone I know did just that.  To protect my friend, who did what I probably would have done, I will change some the details in this story or be very generic in my descriptions.

After a large meeting, where they sometimes bring food, my friend saw someone throw away a plastic tray full of McDonald’s breakfast burritos.  Several minutes after the person walked away, my friend, still bothered by the wasteful act, looked around to see if anyone was looking, and when they weren’t, pulled them out of the trash.  My friend gave me the tray and told me the story.

Would you eat one of these? I did.  Yes, they were sitting on top of the trash, but protected in a thick, plastic bubble.  I really don’t care for McDonald’s food, nor do I like to eat food with meat in it, but I ate one because I dislike waste WAY more. Continue reading

an ipad or an xbox 360? [day 119]

I went to the store yesterday… for my son.  My oldest lost his Gameboy charger and has been begging me for the past few days to take him to Game Stop so he could buy a new one.  He knew he would have to pay for it with his own money.  He looked around the store at the games after looking for a used charger.  There were no used ones, so we waited in line to ask for a new one.

Meanwhile, my youngest son was looking around the store.  He has been saving his money for an iPad, and has saved over $200.  This kid loves to spend money, but he does think a lot about purchases before he makes them.  Both of the boys have wanted an Xbox 360 since they came out, however we still have our old one.  His thought process?  I have to save $300 more for an iPad or I could buy a used Xbox 360 now.  He looked around at the systems and games a while longer. Continue reading

stuff, stuff and more stuff [day 118]

I finally finished cleaning out my garage!  I still have tubs of stuff to go through, but at least I now have space to create art.

Last Saturday I brought 2 carloads of stuff to the local thrift store, Frisco Resale.  Normally my routine is to drop off a load, then go inside and shop.  I love to shop at thrift stores, as it’s treasure hunting to me.  After dropping off the second load of stuff, I was going to go inside and look around, but thought about it and decided not to.  Why?  Because I really don’t need anything.  I suppose sometimes shopping is fun, therapeutic or entertaining for some people, but maybe it’s not always a good thing to do.  I need to shop when I have needs, not to just collect more stuff.  The problem for me is that I’m and artist and everything I see is a blank canvas.

People see thrift stores in different ways.  Some think it’s a bunch of junk, some think it’s good stuff that is cheap and many others fall somewhere in the middle.  A friend of mine would buy clothing for her kids at thrift stores, but would not tell the kids where it came from because the kids might tell someone and she would be embarrassed.  The perception is that only poor people shop at thrift stores.  I see it differently.  I think smart people shop at thrift stores.  Apparently rich people do too…

toiletries or TOILET trees? [day 117]

Yesterday, I was explaining my no shopping challenge to some friends.  Apparently this was the first time my oldest son has heard the details of this.  The only retail items I can purchase are groceries and toiletries.  He asked, “Why would you buy toilet trees?  They don’t even exist.  Even if they did, why would you want one?”

the toilet tree...

The conversation ended with my other son saying something about my aunts sisters.  (ancestors)