Thursday, May 31, 2007

Budget and the Geek

A few lovely things today...including this caffeinated soap!!! What? That's what I thought. Apparently the caffeine is absorbed through your skin. I could sure use this in the morning! That is, if I showered in the morning. And if it wasn't a little creepy. Oh, who am I kidding? I would totally use it. Maybe I should start becoming a morning showerer. er. It also comes in a liquid body wash. Awesome.

If showering's not your thing, there's SpazzStick (I'm still chuckling to myself over the name). Yep, caffeinated chapstick. The only one in the world. Mmmm...I'm becoming a fan of this ThinkGeek website. They even have these cool LED lights that look like inner geek shines through.

I read a really interesting article about kids and food in the NY Times the other day...talking about kids menus at restaurants, and how there are the same options (chicken nuggets, hot dogs, pizza, mac and cheese, etc) at virtually any restaurant, regardless of the restaurant's "theme" or supposed style of food. I thought it was pretty interesting--the writer suggests that when kids are only exposed to these kinds of "non-adult" foods, their palates are not exposed to a well-rounded variety of foods, and they grow up preferring more bland, processed-type foods. Why not just give them the same thing you're eating? I think I agree; I think that this "kids don't like certain foods, kids like fries and chicken nuggets" thing is a load of crap. I know plenty of kids that eat hummus, chicken alfredo, sun dried tomato spreads and exotic stir fries, just because their parents eat it too. And they like it. So there.

In this semi-interesting article about restaurants switching to tap water, several Berkeley/San Francisco area restaurants are mentioned. Exciting.

There have been a few really nice things in The Simple Dollar recently that I thought I'd share with all (ha) you budget-conscious people out there. One, The Choices You Make, The Dollars You Make, talks about the decisions we all have to make where we must choose between taking a job and doing something else...I deal with this all the time. For example: Should I take a babysitting job or go to my friend's show? In cases like this, as The Simple Dollar advises, you really have to think about the life experience you would be passing up in order to take the job. Is the $40 (or $20 or $60) I would make taking this job more important than whatever the other activity is? Sometimes, the answer is yes. Sometimes, in the grand scheme of things, it's better to be a supportive friend than make a quick buck, no matter how much I need the money. The other article I thought I'd pass on is How to Feel Happier About Not Spending Money. Just because, well, we all (and by that I mean I) need to feel good about ourselves and our lives sometimes, and it's sometimes hard to do that when you feel like you're depriving yourself. Perspective, folks, perspective. Gotta keep your eye on the prize and all that. Whatever...I know I sometimes need reminding of the light at the end of the budgeting tunnel!

And last, but certainly not least, How To Be Charming. Thank you, WikiHow, you are always a provider of great enjoyment and much laughter.


Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Confused (and a little bit uneasy)

So, there I was. Reading another wonderfully silly entry from Crazy Aunt Purl, just minding my own business. Then I saw it. An ad (see right) that caught my attention. A woman desperately seeking her husband, who was kidnapped on Sunday, May 20th. Now, I don't know if it was some sort of morbid curiosity or an actual desire to somehow get involved (I'm strongly leaning towards the former), but I clicked the ad. Just for funsies. What I found was not so fun.

The ad takes you to a website, which at first glance, appears to be a website created by a (rather websavvy) woman, and possibly her son, who are trying to find the kidnapped man. It includes a video from her, pleading for help, and offering a $25,000 reward, to be split evenly between whomever can provide information that leads to her husband's safe return. I then noticed the strange inclusion of a Court TV label up in the page's header (the video started right away when I opened the site, so I watched it before actually looking at anything else). What? Why is Court TV advertising on this woman's website?

Then I read her little opening letter, which tells you how to register join the investigation, and that there is a deadline of June 4th. What? She has a deadline on how long she's willing to investigate her husband's kidnapping? I started to think things were a little fishy, and scrolled down to the bottom of the page, where I found the following:
Enter Court TV's 8 Day Mystery Challenge. See Official Rules. $25,000 prize will be shared among all eligible entrants who solve the mystery. Ends 6:00 am ET on June 12, 2007.
Interesting...I had to find out what was going on here. Are these people all actors? Is this some sort of reality-TV-meets-detective-show? Is this an exploitation of an actual woman somewhere out there with a real-life missing husband? Have names simply been changed to protect the innocent?

Further research (erm, Googling) led me to some articles from the people at Court TV who made it sound like this is an experimental new show--audiences watch Court TV (all day long, presumably) looking for clues that appear in the lower corners of the screen. The clues can appear at any time, during shows or commercials (so don't leave the room during commercial breaks, people!). You use the clues, as well as clues on the website, to try to figure out where Andrew Goodis (the missing person) is. The winner/s split the $25,000 pot. Court TV has pulled out all the can do a Google search for Andrew Goodis (put it in quotes for better results) and find a (fake) pharmaceutical company, complete with executive committee bios, job listings, product information, and a few years' worth of company history, in convenient little blog-like entries. Someone got paid to come up with this stuff. Someone's job was to create fake people and a fake company, and make it look legit--though each website bears the disclaimer that "This website is not intended for medical emergencies. Please dial 9-1-1 in case of emergency," as well as the aforementioned information about the 8 Day Mystery Challenge.

I think it's like one of those internet scavenger hunts or puzzles (addictive!!!), only they're trying to tie in a reality TV-type aspect to it...and people these days (myself included; I'm a big Law and Order: SVU fan) are really into solving mysteries. So that's kind of fun I guess.

However, I don't know what I think about this. On the one hand, it's brilliant marketing (probably). This will get tons of people tuning in (or at least doing extensive internet searches) for information on Andrew Goodis and his kidnappers, trying to solve the mystery. Inadvertently, they will be exposed to countless ads and plugs for various Court TV shows as well. Which I'm sure is the whole reason this exists. Blah blah, corporate evil, blah blah and all that, whatever. That's not really my issue with it. Mostly, it rubs me the wrong way because the initial ad that draws you in makes it seem like there's a real woman out there turning to the internet to help find her husband. Something about that feels wrong to me.

BUT, like I's pretty brilliant marketing. Very complicated and involved--without even registering for the "game," I was exposed to ads from Applebees, Suzuki and CourtTV, and I'm sure others that I didn't even notice--which I'm sure only multiply once you register.


Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Sweet and Short

I had already titled a blog post "Short and Sweet," and lord knows I don't want to repeat myself...

Today has been wild and hectic, but I found time to read a few things online that made me laugh. Always important, I think. Crazy Aunt Purl has done it again, this time reporting on the life her cats lead when she's at work--which she discovered while at home sick yesterday. It is MUCH funnier than I made it sound. I laughed (out loud) several times. Jon Carroll is irritated with the system colleges use of employing students to be funding telemarketers. I have to agree...and I was almost (almost) one of them!

"Dye your hair all you want and get your cute little Botox injections. Truth is, you're just a pile of unrealized dreams wrapped in an easily sloughed mortal coil. And no amount of stolen time is going help you win the Nobel Prize or find a cure for cancer (unless, of course, you're some old person who is on her way to winning the Nobel Prize for curing cancer)." -Mayrav Saar

This wasn't funny, but I'm a sucker for good-sounding recipes, especially when they are combined with saving money! This one deals with reinventing your many jars of pasta sauce...


Monday, May 21, 2007

Relaxing Is Awesome.

In case you didn't know.

I spent a few hours yesterday lounging on the deck of the (huge) house where I'm house-sitting, and it was glorious. I had forgotten how wonderful it is to sit outside, reading a book or eating deviled eggs, with the sun on your face and a cool breeze blowing through every so often. Ah...I love this time of year. I hope that the next place I move has some sort of balcony or porch (yeah right), or at the very least, is within close walking distance to a park or something.

Speaking of "next place I move," I am getting ready to seriously start looking for apartments. If anyone is moving out of their (studio, 1 bedroom or Jr. 1 bedroom) apartment (in Berkeley, Rockridge, etc.) in the next few months, please let me know!

Along the lines of thing that I love so much about this time of year is that it is SO EASY to have a fun, eventful, relaxing day without spending any (or very much) money! For example: Lounging around outside: free. Deviled eggs: 3 eggs=33 cents, plus a tiny bit of mayo and mustard, probably about 10 cents worth, and about 10 cents worth of spinach (makes a lovely bed to lay them on, and a yummy snack too). I also had some bread (was in the freezer of the house-sitting with balsamic (also free). I read a magazine, which I subscribe to (a measly $20 a year--and this year I got two friends' subscriptions for only $10), but could have checked out of the library for free...if I didn't want to save it for reference...which I usually do.

Ah, it's a lovely time. Days are warmer and longer, and right now, things are feeling pretty cool breezy.

Friday, May 18, 2007


Well, I have just been a complete mishmosh of emotions in the last almost-24-hours! I got my brand new cell phone yesterday (oooh), but of course, not all of my numbers transferred over (totally annoying). Also, my "MEdia package" wasn't working (scary technology). Also, the manager of the Cingular store (or Parrot branch, as it were) accidentally overcharged my debit card, and the credit he did back to my account didn't go through--of course the overcharge went straight through, took money out of my savings, and wants to charge me an overdraft fee. This is all still "pending," but also highly frustrating, as I am not a point in my life where I have extra money to throw around. Apparently it will all be cleared up tomorrow, and the Wells Fargo employee I talked to assured me that everything should be back where it should be, with no overdraft fees. Holla. Needless to say, that was quite a bad-feeling night/morning, and I'm just hoping that it's all right in my financial world tomorrow so I don't have to march down to Wells Fargo in the morning, demanding (hopefully not crying, like I almost did in the Cingular store when the guy told me he charged $42.14 to my card that only had $15 left on it!) that they reverse my fees.

A-a-anyway, that's that. On the upside of things, I got a call from the good people at Google, saying that they are pushing me along on the path to an offer! I'm guessing that means that if all my references/transcript stuff check out, a job offer shall be mine! Right? Fingers crossed!

Also, I may have found a dream apartment. I don't want to say too much yet, as it may not be nearly as good as it looks on Craigslist...but man. If it oh man. And as a side note, I really want to grow a kitchen herb garden. I've been thinking about it for years, and I can't wait to do it! Maybe I'll get really creative and grow tomatoes or potatoes or something too...ah, to have my own apartment...

I don't know if you heard, but Jerry Falwell died. I have nothing to say, but I will repost Mark Morford's article from today's SF Chronicle.

And on that note, I'm out! Friday!!!

Thursday, May 17, 2007

5 days, 14 findings

Well. It's been a solid 5 days since I last posted, which, I know, was incredibly disappointing to all 8 of you readers (I'm guessing. Maybe there are 5 of you.). It's been a rather whirlwindy couple of days, and I've been compiling a list of Totally Awesome Links, which hopefully are not outdated by now. Also, I promise I will post pictures of the felted bag soon...they're (finally) uploaded and will get a lovely post all about them, and they (wait, it?) will be happy (wait, happy pictures?). Or at least Reed (and maybe you?) will be happy to see that I completed a project involving knitting in the round (oooh) and felting (double oooh)! So Accomplished!

The news in brief: (1) I had my (5, count them 5) interviews at Google on Tuesday. It was exhausting and exciting, and now I just wait...wish me luck! (2) Oliver Twist opened last night, and was quite good. I really enjoyed it, and even (mostly) enjoyed the members of the Dickensian Society [note: I totally want to go to the fair at the Cow Palace] who came dressed in full Dickensian regalia--though rumor has it, some of them were 100 years off in their historical accuracy...or inaccuracy. (3) I am getting a new cell phone today. It has (gasp) a camera! And (gasp gasp) is a flip phone! What? Technology?! I's time to upgrade from my little Nokia bar phone, which I would not do so willingly (creature of habit) except for the "3" key is getting kind of sticky (from dropping it?), which makes text messaging kind of difficult sometimes...I get a lot of "ddd" when what I want is "def" - not a huge problem, but still. A sign that it's time to move on. AND the worst of it is, the snooze function on the alarm sometimes stops working. For no apparent reason. Pure will of the phone, or a sign from the gods that I should sleep more (more than 9 hours? are you crazy? who needs that much sleep?). Either way, I don't like hitting snooze and waking up 40 minutes later only to find the phone peacefully snoozing's like the phone fell asleep and forgot that it was supposed to wake up in 10 minutes with it's nice little beep, exponentially increasing in frequency and volume. Tragedy. Anyway, new phone. And the nice man at the Cingular store is supposedly hooking me up with a student discount and extra messaging features, which (because of the discount) I won't actually be paying for. Cool? Let's see if it works...

And now...on with the links.
  1. This is kind of outdated, but Facebook now has a Craigslist-style classifieds section, called Marketplace. I was skeptical at first, but as more people are catching on, I can see how this would be useful. It's good for the "security" factor--you can see how you know all the people posting things. So, like, if you see an ad for someone needing a subletter, you can see that they're a friend of a friend of a friend and can get some sort of knowledge that they're not crazy. Bonus: the article has a picture of Mark Zuckerberg, creator of Facebook. Awww so technologically adorable.
  2. Google = order out of chaos. Groovy. That's all I have to say there.
  3. This is a great article about the dilemma of money vs. job satisfaction. Always an important thing to think about, always a dilemma.
  4. Ever get totally freaked out/mystified/dumbfounded by technology? I know I do. So does Mark Morford. I think he pretty much sums up my feelings on this--we love our technology, yes we do, but sometimes, it's pretty darn amazing that I can talk into a piece of plastic and someone a million miles away talks back at me from their piece of plastic, and we can hear each other brilliantly and it's totally insane.
  5. mmmm Spinach Brownies. These sound so good I'm just going to have to make them. And they're totally not bad for you! Really...mostly. Cheese+Spinach+Oven=melty delicious.
  6. This movie, ONCE, looks and sounds interesting. Might be totally artsyfartsyindieromance, but I totally dig the music (heard it on NPR), it it sounds like it could be a winner.
  7. I absolutely loved this totally awesome article about the internet and the music industry. Really, really interesting. That's all I can say right now...just read it. Improve your mind. Or just be entertained.
  8. Controversy Alert! Is a "disabled" athlete actually "more abled" than runners with two legs? The NY times reports of a sprinter with no legs (he has synthetic, J-shaped attachments, and has since he was an infant--pictures in the article) who is out-running two-legged sprinters. Fair or Not Fair? Either way, he's a cutie pie.
  9. The Discovery Channel reports archaeological findings of ancient, golden, Roman braces (or something). Old School Bling. Weird, but totally interesting.
  10. Did you know that there was once a 5-year old girl that gave birth? WHAT?
  11. Too weird not to report: growable insulation...made of mushrooms. "Plant" them in your walls (I think) and watch them grow! Make a whole house out of the stuff! Crazy!
  12. Boosting your credit rating...if you wanna. I haven't thought too much about it, as my credit is good, if not nonexistent...but check it out if you're interested.
  13. 6 ways to get stains out...with regular old household items like salt and baking soda! Maybe there's something here you haven't heard before...
  14. And finally, Jessie is hilarious, and you should read her blog. It makes me laugh all the time. Gotta love her. I do, anyway.
There are your 14 Fun Findings for this Thursday evening. Enjoy!

Saturday, May 12, 2007

In Memory

I was recently informed that Stanley Holden passed away yesterday. He was a wonderful man, and an amazing teacher; even after high school when I wasn't dancing as much, I would come home for a weekend to take his morning adult ballet classes. He never made students feel like outsiders, even if he was the only one in the room we knew, and his method of teaching was encouraging and enviting. His classroom was a place of mutual respect, laughter (uncommon during most other ballet classes), and an abundance of love. I loved his combinations, challenging without being intimidating, and his enthusiasm for ballet--he did his best to demonstrate every combination, even after multiple knee surgeries. I really cannot express how much he will be missed or how much he was, and will always be loved. If you would like to read more about Stanley, there is a bio here as well as a three page article here. They're a little outdated, but I'm sure there will be other memorials popping up soon. [update: LA Times obituary here]
My favorite Stanley memories:
*the way he pronounced chene turns "jenny turns"
*this joke, always told to a girl with ripped tights: "Are those the tights you wear to church?" "No, why?" "Cause they're your holy tights!" I still use that joke...all the time.
*the way he demonstrated combinations with a slight limp
*his white jazz shoes
*the way he always made me feel like a ballerina, the way he cared about all of us individually, the way his classes were inviting and full of a wide variety of dancers, that his classes weren't about being the best ballerina, but about the love of ballet.

Stanley, I miss you.

Thursday, May 10, 2007

Happy Birthday To Me!

As a birthday present to myself, I opened a high-interest savings account with HSBC Direct this morning. Woo hoo financial future!!! I put $10 in it today and plan on adding more and more and more and muah ha ha...savings account! We'll see. Gotta earn money to save money.

In the interest of saving money, this blog has ideas on dating frugally. I like many of these ideas just for fun, and I don't think you need to be on a date to enjoy said activities. TSD has some fun ideas for low-or-no-money activities too...and I'm all about finding fun things to do for free!!!

That's all for's my birthday (the big 23), and I'm going to see Sara Bareilles with a good group of friends. It's 4:37, and I've got less than an hour left of work, but it's crawling by...guess I'm just ready to celebrate!

Wednesday, May 9, 2007


A friend at work just told me that stamp prices are about to be raised from $0.39 to $0.41. Didn't they just raise them from $0.37 to $0.39 recently? Oy. The new prices go into effect on Monday, so send all those letters/bills/mail-in rebates in the next few days if you don't want to have to purchase a bunch of $0.02 stamps to go alongside your shiny almost-new $0.39 ones...

There's been a lot in the news recently about theatre and banning things, from cigarettes (harmful smoke) to guns (post-Virgina Tech) to any kind of weapon (unless obviously fake, like a cardboard sword). There's also the issue of warning the audience ahead of time, which I guess I can understand in the case of strobe lights (in case an epileptic person is in the audience), or smoke (if a severely allergic person is in the front row?)...but in this case, a theatre is warning its audience about a CHICKEN!!! Not a live chicken, mind you, but a roast chicken. Apparently one of the actors eats some chicken in the play, and they don't want to offend any vegetarians. This is possibly one of the most ridiculous things I have ever heard. In my life. Ever. Seriously.

There's a whole bunch of discussion going on in the science/baby world about prenatal testing for Down Syndrome. The testing is all controversial because parents can decide to abort the baby if they find out it will have the disease, and many people (both pro-lifers and parents of Down Syndrome kids) don't think that's right. There's even more controversy because some people feel doctors are either A) convincing people to abort by listing all the potential health problems, financial stresses, social nonacceptance etc. that come with having a child with Down Syndrome or B) pressuring people to keep the child by introducing them to families that have a child with Down Syndrome. There are problems with both of these, which this article points out: there are apparently ways to make the health problems less of an issue (like infant heart surgery and such), and there are government laws of some sort to promote social acceptance; but also, it appears that many doctors are only introducing potential parents to families with very well-adjusted Down Syndrome children, and not showing children who have developmental difficulties that are more severe. I don't's a tough issue. Having babies is scary, and this sort of thing only further reminds me that I am nowhere near ready for kids. I don't know what I would do if I found out my tiny little fetus (read: not fully formed human life) had Down Syndrome. I don't know if I could abort, but I don't know if I could emotionally, physically, and financially handle raising a child with it. Like I said, all the more reason to not have kids yet. You hope that they'll come out happy and healthy with 10 fingers and 10 toes, no disabilities and no complications, but I know it just doesn't always happen that way. And I'm generally a pretty paranoid/neurotic/type-A sort of person when it comes to this stuff...moral of the story: no babies until I know I can handle any and everything. Ha.

On a lighter note, here's an article about how you can stock up your kitchen with all the best stuff, without spending a lot of money (though the article's budget is still above my means). And no, it's not from The Simple Dollar.

Last but certainly not least, my friend Brian is competing in the IDEA Health & Fitness Video Contest. Check out his awesome jump roping video and click "vote" to help him win! He could win a year's supply of vitamin water! And that's just second place! It's seriously a fun video and he's a fantastically talented jump roper. Really. Check it out. You can vote once every 24 hours until June 20th. Go to!

Tuesday, May 8, 2007

Spider Singer and More!

Man, the weather this week. So warm. So nice. But so warm. I feel like I should be shopping for summer clothes...which I am not quite ready to do. Also, where do you find (inexpensive) cute, comfortable, work-appropriate shoes? Right now, I'm pretty much wearing tennis shoes every day, because I walk almost 2 miles to work and don't really enjoy blisters, but I'd like to be all summery and comfortable and sandal-wearing and such...and I have skirts. And I want to wear them. But not with tennis shoes.

Man, I'm even boring myself. On with the cool email links.

First of all, Julie Taymore (who is responsible for the musical version of The Lion King) is making Spiderman, the musical. Oy. It sounds pretty darn bad, if you ask me. I was skeptical from the beginning of the article, but especially once I got to the part about god. Read the article, and you'll see what I mean. I'm almost offended, and I'm not even a big Spiderman expert or fan or anything.

Did you know it's hard to become a chef? And student loans are expensive? Gee, I didn't. (not) Seems like culinary school grads are facing the same challenges everyone else is facing.

This poor turtle. They call him Lonesome George. They're trying to pair him with a mate, so the species doesn't go extinct. I feel bad for the little guy--that's a lot of pressure!

And finally, I haven't watched this yet, but it appears to be interviews with baby boomers on what middle aged sex is like. Um...

Sorry today is so uninspired. But hey, we can't all be winners.

Monday, May 7, 2007

Short and Sweet

Check Out This Super Awesome Electric Bike! I wonder if you need a good sense of balance...

Bush Almost Insults the Queen
! And that's not ok!

The Simple Dollar Tells How to Handle Getting Paid 3 Times a Month! I wish I had that problem.

Save the Animals! You choose which ones. So many cute animals need saving!

Also, the NY Times had an article about the lack of black ballet dancers on the scene today. I thought it was pretty interesting, and not something I had really thought about before. Plus, a picture of Misty Copeland, who I just adore.

That's all. It's Monday, and it's hot.

Friday, May 4, 2007

Deliciously Friday

There are so many goodies from the internet today that I can hardly believe I'm going to squeeze them all into one post. But I will. You know me.

First off, in the financial world (ooh la la), today's digest from The Simple Dollar provided a supplement to yesterday's Setting and Reaching Short Term Personal Finance Goals (see yesterday's post), not so surprisingly titled Setting and Reaching Long Term Personal Finance Goals. Check it out. It's good times. Part of the financial-goal-series. TSD also linked to an article about why the author doesn't like borrowing money (from friends, family, credit cards...). I didn't learn anything new here really, but it was interesting. Also, I found (also from TSD) an article about Financial Freedom, in which the author details his money's post-paycheck journey, step-by-step, from receiving the paycheck to investing the extra cash.

In the news...Bush is asserting his views on abortion, yet again. It's so silly to me, this whole "pro-life vs. pro-choice" thing. It's not like if the country turns pro-choice, the pro-lifers suddenly have to abort their babies. It simply gives women control over their bodies, and really, I think if a woman believes she cannot provide for a child, or does not want to carry the child of the man who raped her, or if pregnancy poses health risks, she should not be required to have a baby. America is supposed to be about personal freedom and options, right? So why would we have a law that eliminates those things? That just seems hypocritical (um, duh). Honestly, why do a bunch of middle-aged white men get to decide whether or not women have babies? Unless these women are carrying the legitimate sons of these men, I don't think they should have any say in the matter whatsoever. So there. // Miss America, whose platform apparently is internet safety for children, has helped the cops in an undercover sting against internet predators. It's kind of cool. // A passenger was found dead in the bathroom on an American Airlines plane, after the plane de-boarded and was being cleaned. He had a heart attack at age 66. His wife is wondering the same thing I did they not find him sooner? I know Southwest does several passenger checks before take-off and landing, to make sure everyone is in his or her seat. Had American Airlines done this, they would have found the guy sooner, at least. Maybe in time to save his life, maybe not, but's a little disconcerting that his presence (or lack thereof) went unnoticed. What about the people sitting next to him? I know I'd notice if the guy next to me never came back from the bathroom. // I have discovered a new SF Chronicle columnist that I am going to start reading. He's sarcastic and silly, and amusing to read. Good times. I read his article, The Hippies Were Right, at Google the other day, and today's Al Qaeda Hates Your Commute was even better. Thank goodness for people like you, Mark Morford. You make the morning fly by. // NukAlert. A keychain that detects high levels of radiation. I think it's pretty silly, and even the website doesn't make it look too serious. Ha.

That's all for now, folks. Enjoy your Friday afternoon read.

Thursday, May 3, 2007

Feeling Settled...and Excited

Today is Thursday. It feels like Monday. This makes me happy, knowing that tomorrow is, in fact, not Tuesday. Tuesday always feels like a long day, there's still so much work week ahead of you, and you don't have the fresh-from-the-weekend feeling that Mondays carry (for me anyway). Point being, I'm glad that tomorrow is Friday. The reason it feels Monday-ish, is that I was not at work yesterday, due to my Google Admin Assessment Test, which I just found out that I passed. Hooray! This means I move on to the interview rounds...dun dun dunnnn [NOTE: In case you're thinking of applying to an Admin job at Google, expect the following: online application, online survey, follow up email questions, phone interview, admin assessment test, in-person interviews...and maybe more? i'll let ya know] Wish me luck!

Do you love Myles Nye? I know I do! Myles is currently competing to be the next voice of NPR, and let me tell you, he deserves it. He is intelligent and witty, and very well-spoken--a prime candidate if you ask me! Help him move on to the next round here, and listen to his 2 minute "application." He rules.

A few more things before I move on to today's financial treasures...1: The Governor of Oregon recently decided to call attention to the state's hunger problem by living on $21 a week (the equivalent of food stamps). It's pretty interesting. 2: There's a movie I want to see, partially because it looks nice and pleasing and not scary, partially because it's the last movie Adrienne Shelly (actress/filmmaker) made before she was murdered last year, and partially because I think Kerri Russel is adorable. 3: It's rainy. I am going to Stitch N Bitch at Espresso Roma and will make deviled eggs tonight. So there, rain! 4: I started reading Unhooked. It's really good.

On to finance...
Our intern meeting today was hosted by a board member, and was basically a small group Q&A about personal finance. Sound like something I'd be interested in? Heck yes. It was incredibly useful, and very informative. I present to you a bullet-pointed list of the highlights:
  • You only get to keep approximately 60% of your paycheck (the rest goes to Social Security, Medicare, State Disability, and Federal/State Withholding Taxes). I knew that some of your paycheck gets taken away (whether you eventually get it back or not), but I didn't fully realize how much is taken out until today--and I was never really able to make sense of what all the deductions were anyway. Yes, I could have asked all those years working at Western Bagel, UCLA, The Olive Garden, etc...but I wasn't in Think About My Financial Future mode back then.
  • Always pay yourself first. This is a rule my parents have always told me to live by. Always save at least 10% of your pay check, and do it as soon as you get paid so the money doesn't get spent. This is a little more difficult when you make, say, $400 a month, in which case bills have to be paid first, and you have to think of other ways to save. My current goal has been $100 a month (I try to make at least $300 in babysitting, bartending, house sitting, etc.), and I generally just save gradually throughout the month when I have some extra cash and am not on gas or groceries--after bills have been paid, of course.
  • "If you can't pay cash, you can't afford it." This is a fantastic rule, courtesy of Phillip Trapp (our speaker at today's meeting). He makes the exception of buying a house, which most people (unless you're superrich or something) don't do with cash anyway. Don't buy things on your credit card unless you are absolutely going to pay it off within the month. (this is actually a good idea, because it helps you build good credit--just be careful and don't rack up a bunch of credit cards and a bunch of debt)
  • If your interest rate on your student loans is lower than your interest rate on your credit card, pay off the credit card first. In general, always be paying things off, but if you're going to pay more than the minimum somewhere, do it wherever the interest rate is the highest. Makes sense.
  • Dividing savings into Long-Term and Short-Term.
    • Long-Term Savings is the "don't touch this" savings, money you want to save for retirement, buying a house, or other large expenses far in the future. Things like a 401k or 403b (now I know the difference!) plan are generally reserved for retirement, but can also be used for a mortgage--though sometimes with a penalty, especially if you withdraw before you turn 59 1/2. There's a 529, which I've mentioned before, to save for your kids' education. There should be a separate plan for saving for a house, I think, because I'm guessing most people don't tap into their 401k plans for mortgages, but maybe that's as simple as setting up an automatic withdrawl from your paycheck into a high-interest savings account.
    • Short-Term Savings is the "I'm saving for something I want to buy soonish" money. Things like a new car, or a vacation, or a security deposit on a new apartment (and maybe some stuff to go in it as well...) fit into this category. There seem to be a few ways to save: Certificates of Deposit (CDs) and High-Interest Savings Accounts. The savings accounts sound like the easiest option to me, and the interest appears to be higher than that of a CD, but CDs have their benefits as well. A CD has a set time-limit, so let's say you want to save for a vacation you are taking in just over 3 months. You put your money in a 90-day CD, and right when you're getting ready to leave for the vacation, voila! You have all the money you had set aside initially, plus interest (usually around 4%). I think this is good for specific savings for time-sensitive things like a vacation or a security deposit, where you want to make sure you have X amount of money by a certain date. On the other hand, the high-interest savings account is a great place to keep your savings that you just want to sit there, earning interest, hanging out until you have a need for it...this is also where you want to keep that 3-6 months worth of living expenses storing up in case you get laid-off, or quit your job on a whim.
We also talked about money market, stocks, and flexible vs. fixed rate mortgages, but I won't go into all that right now, since it doesn't apply to my immediate life. I'm feeling very good about my Personal Financial Future, thanks largely to my parents, today's meeting, The Simple Dollar, and Crazy Aunt Purl. It's amazing how much better you can feel knowing that you are on top of your financial situation, and are keeping yourself knowledgeable and informed along the way. Awesome.

Here are a few more links if you're interested...things from The Simple Dollar (man, I'm like a walking ad for this site) that are relevant to my recent posts.
So there you go. Many things to read on this Thursday afternoon. I am feeling quite...settled. Which is possibly my favorite feeling, aside from "full of chocolate." Yum.

Wednesday, May 2, 2007

So Nice

I had my test at Google today. It was harder than I thought it would be. Google is awesome. I hope I did well enough on the test to get an interview, cause I could ROCK an interview.

Speaking of rocking, watch this video. It was made by the awesome (attractive, young, artsy, hip) employees at Connected Ventures. Yet another cool company proving that our generation rules at corporate life. Man, we are a cool bunch of young upstarts. I don't know if technically I'm a member of "this" generation, but I'd like to thing so. People between the ages of 20 and 30 = the same generation, as far as I'm concerned. So there.

Don't you want to work there? Shoot, I would. But I don't want to move to NY, so I'll just stick to trying to work my way into the Googleplex...