The calm at the center of a pearl

May 30, 2008

How many Earths did you get?

Filed under: Journaling — Tags: , , — kyraninse @ 8:56 pm

As a natural result of tooling around online and reading about greener ways of living — I looked up the website for Consumer Consequences: the interactive website that tells you how many Earths would be needed if everyone lived like you do.

Frankly, I think it’s a useful thing to take a look at, but I don’t put that much store by it.

For the record, I plugged in some numbers based on my predicted living methods when I go to Boston, upon which it told me that we would need 3.1 Earths if everyone lived like I did. If I used the numbers for when I’m living at college, it would be 2.7.

It’s useful, yes, but only so much as it reminds me to live more lightly on the Earth and doesn’t plunge me into depression.

I think, the simple fact is that the Earth has way too many people. I’m not saying: “Oh hey, it’s all hopeless and we’re never going to get the result of 1 Earth unless we all start living on communes and farming our own food — so let’s all just screw it and do whatever we want.”

But, at 6.6 billion people on this planet — really, what can we do to make it so the results get down to 1 Earth? I got down to 1.1 Earths by almost never leaving the house, walking when I did, and eating all vegetarian. At that point, I said: “Fuck it, this is ridiculous.”

I’m willing to try and do my best, but I draw the line at where life becomes not-fun. Although I try to eat vegetarian most of the time, I like my bacon once in a while. I also like steak once every so often. The need for commuting isn’t going to go away, and neither am I going to sit at home all night after work and twiddle my thumbs because buying books involves cutting down the Amazon and going out to the movies consumes too much energy.

Also, if you really think about it — having kids is really bad for the environment. Throw-away Pampers, anyone? And you’re essentially bringing someone else into the world to help consume it, and what’s even worse is that you might raise a kid who is a veracious carnivore, who hates recycling, and was born to shop.

What then?

In the end, sure there’s some entitlement going on — but I’m not going to make my life a study in asceticism just because there’s 1.3 billion people in China alone and India close behind.

Not that I’m bashing those two countries — they have so many problems regarding population and they know it. Neither am I saying: “ZOMG, white man’s burden!”.

But the question isn’t always as clear cut as edifying yourself.

May 24, 2008

Money blogs and college students

Filed under: Uncategorized — Tags: , , , — kyraninse @ 12:53 am

Bah, it’s now 51 minutes past my deadline. 😦 So I’m going to be double posting today.

Anyways. I’ve been reading financial blogs and it’s struck me that no one really has many good ideas for college students.

To be honest, I don’t think the “spend less than you earn” concept applies when you don’t have a job.

I suppose that begs the remark “then get off your lazy bum and find one”.

Frankly, I went to a private college that required you to petition for a class overload because the normal 4 credit course load was considered more than enough work to keep us occupied, and I wouldn’t have liked to have taken on a 40 hour work week on top of that.

Not to mention, really, if I’m paying out my nose for a good education, I really want to make the most of it. Maybe do an internship or two, participate in some extracurricular activities, do some networking — perhaps even have a life.

Call me spoiled if you like. I suppose I am.

But then — with that mindset it’s undeniable that the run of the mill financial blog is not very helpful. With an eye towards that, I’m looking for ideas that are slightly more feasible.

May 20, 2008

Greens, greens, and nothing but.

Filed under: Journaling — Tags: , , , , , — kyraninse @ 12:39 am

I’ve been thinking a lot recently about what to do when we move to Boston.

There’s going to be a hella lot of money spending coming our way then, both as one-time expenditures and higher fixed costs of living in a big city.

If we take the apartment the broker found, then there’s going to be a one-time $1k brokerage fee. Then, since it’s a $2k a month apartment, not including utilities, internet, or the initial furnishing — then the fee breakdown for the first month will look more like this:

$200    – Brokerage fee
$400    – Rent
$100    – Water/electricity (this is the quote the landlady gave)
$50      – High speed internet (No idea how much it actually will be, but much easier to budget more)
$500    – Deposit
$500    – Transpo to Boston from Ohio along with STUFF
___________
1750*2 = 3500

This isn’t even counting the furnishings that will have to be bought for our room or food or student loan payments or commuting costs. And if we don’t manage to find a job in time for the next month? Then we’re so screwed it’s not even funny.

It might actually be better to find another apartment — except I’m not so sure that we will find another one that is as good as this one by ourselves.

So, the one we’re seriously considering right now has rent control, free use of the dryer/washer (fantastic even though we pay for utilities), is in a good neighborhood (has a preschool opposite), four bedrooms, decently sized kitchen and living room, good lighting, hardwood floors, and is near a bus stop which takes us right to the red-line.

I really don’t think that Zora can find something better. I sincerely hope she does — because then I can save up that $400 brokerage fee (Chris and I) that is breaking my heart — but I doubt it. Nora was telling me about a $2000 two bedroom apartment somewhere else and that seems pretty typical for the area.

Therefore, I’m trying really hard to think of ways to save more money before and after we get there. My costs right now are pretty fixed since I’m living in the college housing which is $7 per night including all utilities and internet. Then there’s laundry and food. I’m going to try and stick to a $5 a day food budget — I’m going to hate it, but I don’t think I have a choice, really — and pray for the best.

After we get there, I’m thinking of having shorter showers, drying clothing using a clothes-line or rack, packing our own lunches to try and stick to a $10 dollar maximum food limit, and in essence — be the tightest penny-pincher I can be.

I’m hoping that Zach, Zora and Kell will be with me on this — because I can’t kill utility bills by myself alone. I’m pretty positive they will be, but I’m so apprehensive about the future.

May 19, 2008

Condos versus single family homes versus …?

Filed under: Money Musings — Tags: , , — kyraninse @ 4:49 pm

When we went to Boston and looked at houses, I noticed that single family homes of about greater or equal size to condos were going for more than slightly less.

This may have been a fluke in both what we were looking at and where — after all, it’s not an entirely static comparison.

On the other hand, I was wondering why one would choose to live in a condo over owning a single family home — or maybe even sharing a duplex with a friend or family member.

Those condo fees do add up — not to mention that often you might have to negotiate with your other condo-mates to fix it up, which might or might not be worth it to pursue.

I’m pretty sure there has to be an aspect I’m missing here, but at the moment, I think I’d cheerfully go for a single home and then try to rent out one of the floors if I really wanted to go into the renting business. Not that either is on the horizon as of now — but just saying.

May 14, 2008

Moving — to toss or to spend?

Filed under: Uncategorized — Tags: , , , , , — kyraninse @ 9:58 pm

Right now, because Zach’s mom was throwing a fit in the car about how many boxes I was sending with them — half the boxes of books that I wanted them to move and store for me is still sitting in the apartment.

I’m not even going to go into how much she QQed about it. *shrug* I said at least ten boxes, and for some reason they heard five — and she was having kittens over it, so I just sent out 7 boxes with them in the end. It would have been only five, except Chris had already moved the boxes onto the car and I wasn’t about to have him unload them and bring them back upstairs.

There was still space enough the car in the end — but who cares, right?

Anyways, I now have to figure out how to cheaply ship about a dozen or so boxes of clothing and books over to Boston without making my wallet want to cry big fat tears of blood.

I tried looking at moving companies, but as I suspected, they fell into the 2k -3k range. Not to mention I really don’t need a moving company for the amount of stuff I have.

Then I looked at the “you pack, they drive” options — the quotes I got also fell into the 1k range, which although is much more affordable — I still don’t want to drop that much money on it. That’s when I just donate all my books to the library and re-buy them because it’d be cheaper.

The bottom line is that I have too much stuff to mail, and too little stuff for all the above options to actually make sense. Even the “charge by the amount of space you use” companies such as U-pack and Broadway express that I was looking at seem to need a certain economy of scale to start actually making sense. When I was using the “calculate a rough guesstimate” option on Broadway, it wouldn’t even let me use less than 640 cubic feet because the minimum of linear feet they do is 10 — which is retarded when I only need about 100 at most.

I tried Googling key words with “college student”, “moving cross country”, “moving after graduation”…etc. But they seemed to all want to talk about how the feckless youth are unable to survive on their own and are crying home to mommy. Not helpful.

In the end, I might end up shipping the books Media mail and then, depending on what else I have, shipping everything else with UPS or using the flat-rate boxes the USPS has. However, the only pickle I have with that is it makes for pretty inefficient packing. Media mail means that you can only ship books or DVDs or whatnot, and sometimes in order to use the space in the most intelligent way possible, I’ll tuck in a pillow case or a pencil box — which isn’t allowed.

BAH.

We’ll see.

On a lighter note, there’s a man who was brought to court for trying to ship himself home in a box because he thought it would be cheaper than a plane ticket — amazing, isn’t it? I mean, with AirTran and such companies offering tickets one way at about 60-89 dollars a pop…

May 8, 2008

Fucking A — someone will pay.

Filed under: Rampaging short — Tags: , , — kyraninse @ 11:59 pm

I was just looking at my credit card statement and was very horrified to figure that I had somehow incurred 114 dollars worth of fines and random fees…

Alright, the first two 30 odd dollars were from my bank because I paid my credit card with the wrong checking account and so I incurred an overdraft fee and a returned payment fee. I expect, because I went out and spent money today — that I’m going to be incurring a overdraft fee of 40 dollars very soon. So that’s going to be 154 dollars of — pure thrown away money.

That’s fine…that was just my stupidity. Stupidity that happened for the second fucking time. I swear, if I do this to myself again…I’m just going to fucking shoot myself in the face.

What really gets my goat is that I’ve also incurred mysterious charges from the following companies without every receiving services or even a notice that “hi, we’re going to be charging you on so and so trumped up charges”. AND my credit card company refuses to let me dispute the charge because “it’s a third party service fee”.

IF I can’t get through to the company tomorrow so I can cancel this fee, I’m telling Chase that I’m canceling my credit card with them after I pay off the balance — which is going to be a fucking long time because I’m stupidly in debt — but they don’t know that.

The companies in question are a “AP9*PRIVACYMATTERS12-V” and a ” TLG*PRIVGRD67424279MAY“.

With the latter TLG at least, I’ve been trying to get myself taken off whatever membership they’ve got me signed up with for at least a couple months now. The thing is, I tried Googling those companies and they’ve got a pretty nasty rep on the internet for randomly charing people under false pretenses. I’ve heard “scam” and “tricked” more than just a couple of times.

Just Fucking A.

I’m going to start yelling at them tomorrow, starting with TLG, and if that doesn’t solve things — there will be so much hell to pay.

So, do YOU have odd charges on your credit card statements?

April 28, 2008

I can has tip jars?

Filed under: Reflections — Tags: , , , — kyraninse @ 7:28 pm

I’ve been reading up on the overall internet response to tip jars and it’s been interesting to see how people’s responses go all over the board.

Some people believe that it’s rude, or that it’s “selling out“, or that you’re being a self-delusional egomaniac who believes that you’re actually providing a service when you’re actually just spouting drivel. Certain people seem to actually have a deep-seated aversion to tipping because they feel like you’re asking for extra handouts that they shouldn’t feel obligated to respond to. Still others don’t put out tip jars because they feel as if there’s something not quite kosher about it, in addition to potentially being ugly.

Other people believe that you’re supporting the bloggers you read and that it’s more of a sign of appreciation.

The bloggers themselves run from feeling like their work would be cheapened by asking for handouts to bloggers that feel like they should have the right to the option to ask for tokens of appreciation if they so choose.

The way I see it is:

  • If I’m writing pieces of short fiction and putting it online — then it’s not horrible for me to ask for donations via a discreet Paypal button — because I’m providing you with something that you obviously deem worthy of your attention. As such, I don’t feel terrible about asking because then it’s just another form of self-publishing.
  • If I’m publishing a personal finance blog and I’m blogging about how I’m a million dollars in debt and then I set up a donation button — that’s slightly on the side of problematic for me. It also depends on how the debt was occurred, mostly. But I wouldn’t donate to such a cause and nor would I set such a donation button up for myself.
  • Otherwise, if my blog is mostly a cheese and sandwich blog that has the occasional interesting/useful post on it — I would probably restrict myself to putting up a wish-list and see if any friends I make through the blog would be willing to someday buy me a book or two as a birthday gift or some such. I’d feel slightly icky for putting up a donation button, although I also see it, to a certain extent, as someone showing their support for what I’m doing — although even just leaving comments would be greatly appreciated at this point.

In conclusion, if people decide to put up tip jars, it’s really their business. If you don’t want to tip, don’t. No need to feel bad about not tipping either, I don’t think most of them, unlike waiters, rely on your tips to keep up their quality of life.

On the other hand, no need to bash them for it though. There’s nothing wrong with people wanting a little bit of extra for what they’re doing — and if you are a regular reader, then you really shouldn’t be QQing too much about it.

That said — I’m still torn between my mercenary heart and my delicate artist’s soul. *grin*

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