Tuesday, April 14th, 2009
1:24 pm - Howard's cheap books and Penguicon

Howard's daughter called me again, looking for advice on selling books after Penguicon (a SF/Linux con). Please answer the poll if you read science fiction, whether you go to cons or not.
Poll #1383504 Psst! Wanna buy a book?

Do you attend conventions?

Yes, science fiction cons
14(56.0%)
Yes, computer/linux conferences
0(0.0%)
No
1(4.0%)

Would you be interested in buying a grab-bag box of 80-100 random science fiction books? (whether you go to cons or not)

Yes, I'd make a special trip
1(4.0%)
Yes, if they were at a con
8(32.0%)
Probably
3(12.0%)
Maybe, if the price was low
8(32.0%)
No
5(20.0%)

Would you be interested in a box of SF books if you got to go through and choose?

Yes, I'd make a special trip
6(24.0%)
Yes, if they were at a con
13(52.0%)
Probably
2(8.0%)
Maybe
2(8.0%)
No
2(8.0%)

How much would you pay for 80-100 random paperbacks?

$50 or more
1(4.5%)
$30
4(18.2%)
$25
5(22.7%)
$20
5(22.7%)
$15
2(9.1%)
$10
3(13.6%)
$8 or less
2(9.1%)

How much would you pay for 80-100 paperbacks you got to choose?

$100 or more
4(17.4%)
$75
4(17.4%)
$50
6(26.1%)
$40
2(8.7%)
$30
1(4.3%)
$25
3(13.0%)
$20
2(8.7%)
$15
0(0.0%)
$10 or less
1(4.3%)

If you go to cons, would the best day for a book garage sale be:

Sunday right after the con
12(57.1%)
The following weekend
3(14.3%)
Another day (leave a comment)
6(28.6%)

Howard's family dragged books to Lansing not too long ago and swore never again, they just don't enjoy cons like Howard did... Karol mostly wanted my opinion on selling books by posting flyers at Penguicon. She has 50-75 boxes full of cheap science fiction paperbacks and about 20 boxes of book club hardcovers that she'd like to get out of Howard's house, and she'd prefer to let fans have them directly for a reasonable price. Her idea was to say that people could stop by the house Sunday after the con and buy books by the boxfull, hoping that enough people would stop by 5-8pm to get rid of a lot of them.

I told her it would be great to put some flyers out, at least get her phone number and email address out there so people could contact her, and that maybe advertising a weekend after the con might work out... my thought was that most people at Penguicon were local. Am I right in that?

She doesn't want to cause more mess than she had before by people digging through books and leaving ones on the floor that they don't want, or making it completely unmanageable if there are a lot of people... but then again, I worry that not enough people would show up at the house to make it worthwhile... and people might be upset to get 25 copies of War of the Worlds if they went for an unopened grab bag box. You should probably work it so that you get to open and look at the box before spending your money, just don't get to sort through it, pick and choose unless you pay more.

I'd like to get ideas on how to sell 'em, how to communicate, and dates, plus of course can pass along her contact info if anyone wants to get books for sure or help out! The really valuable books and pulps are already moved to the daughters' houses, if people are interested in particular things... I know there's a signed Dune and a signed Psycho they're thinking of selling.

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Wednesday, April 8th, 2009
1:15 pm - Do you actually have ANY cheese?
Thought I'd drive down Greenfield north of Ford and look for cheap florists... I found one, but, "do you have any roses?" No, waiting for a shipment. "Flowering plants? Lillies, tulips..." no, the shipping... I can highly recommend Eddy's Florist if you want an excuse for not buying flowers.

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Wednesday, February 25th, 2009
6:42 pm - The Fiesta Movement
Ford is giving away 100 new european Fiestas before the US launch... all you have to do in return is post a monthly video blog and talk about the car on social networking sites. The Fiesta has been popular in Europe for a long time, the new one that just came out won car of the year, smaller than a Focus, manual transmission, great gas mileage. The free cars come with free gas and insurance, but probably won't have Sync because it hasn't rolled out in Europe yet.
We’re looking for an elite crop of drivers to take the wheel: people with a strong presence on the web, an ability to craft a compelling story through video, and a hunger for adventure.
To win, you have to go to fiestamovement.com and follow the instructions to make a YouTube video proving that you can make cool content to help promote the car. The target audience is millenials born after 1980, all drivers must be 21 years of age and US citizens. Entries due by March 13, 2009.

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Thursday, February 19th, 2009
11:32 pm - Donate Locally
Food banks are the best charities for keeping your money in the community and usually have the lowest administrative overhead: Food Gatherers uses 96% of donations to actually buy and distribute food in Washtenaw County. Gleaners is also at 96% but in Wayne County. I have volunteered twice for a day at Food Gatherers, they were founded by the Zingerman's people but are separate now, the food they buy is core nutritional stuff and baby formula, and they get big discounts, plus rescue a lot of food that would go to waste otherwise.

Another good one I've volunteered for is Habitat for Humanity Detroit at 89%, again a good percentage of your money goes to help people.

Compare that to United Way at 72%, Race for the Cure at 78%, World Wildlife Fund at 81%, JDRF at 86%. The big charities spend a lot of money on salaries and advertising, even the best of them, and the money goes all over, whereas food banks are very efficient. A lot of charities are a lot worse, for example the Magic Johnson Foundation at 50%, and scams like the Disabled Veterans Associations at 2%, which makes a lot of money from confusing people with a name similar to the Disabled American Veterans, which is a great charity at 95%. The real charity, the DAV, collected 8 million dollars in 2007, the scam collected (and kept) 9 million. Many "police" or "firefighter" charities are scams, at less than ten percent, the rest disappears as administrative or fundraising expenses.

Data from bbb.org and charitynavigator.org

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Thursday, December 11th, 2008
9:40 am - Weeweechu
It was a romantic moonlit night when Pedro parked his car at lover's lane and said, "Hey, mamacita, let's do Weeweechu."

Oh no, not now, let's look at the moon!" said Rosita.

Oh, c'mon baby, let's you and I do Weeweechu. I love you and it's the perfect time," Pedro begged.

"But I wanna just hold your hand and watch the moon." replied Rosita.

Please, corazoncito, just once, do Weeweechu with me."

Rosita looked at Pedro and said, "OK, one time, we'll do Weeweechu."

Pedro grabbed his guitar and they both sang.....

"Weeweechu a Merry Christmas, Weeweechu a Merry Christmas, Weeweechu a Merry Christmas, and a Happy New Year."





(Texican hairless shaggy dog story forwarded from my friend Lis in San Angelo)

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Monday, December 1st, 2008
3:00 pm - Natural Landscaping
The EPA Natural Landscaping Source Book has some good quotes - I have been saying for ages that lawnmowers and corporate grounds maintenance companies are a horrible waste of resources - every time I see them doing something like sprinklers running in the rain, I cringe. I'd like to see more natural landscaping, and if we must cut lawns, we should be employing laid-off workers with reel (cylinder) mowers, saving the environment, and creating more jobs!

Our predominant landscaping material today, the green grass lawn, is borrowed from the heavily grazed, short grass pastures and formal gardens of Europe, particularly England. In that moist climate, the closely cropped grasses evolved with the grazing sheep, goats and cows. Understandably, pioneers from Europe, used to the short grasses, brought the grasses as well as medicinal and food plants to make the unfamiliar feel familiar and homelike. Unfortunately, the grasses they brought do not thrive as well-kept lawns without a great deal of effort to simulate the conditions under which they evolved in Europe.

Our area of the country, with its harsher climate of extremes of heat and deep freezes, drought and drenching rains, is an inhospitable atmosphere for short-cropped, short-rooted grass. Therefore, the contemporary weed-free lawn, is maintained at a high price, not only in terms of dollars but also degraded water and air quality, water consumption, and the peace and quiet of our neighborhoods.

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Monday, August 18th, 2008
5:05 pm - Stop the pram, I wanna get off!
  It's too bad that I missed the Fringe this year... there's noplace in the world as wild as Edinburgh in August, and one of the best parts is Fringe Sunday on the green.

Click here for more pictures from Flickr



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Thursday, May 29th, 2008
12:09 am - Credit card foreign exchange refund deadline
May 30th is the last day to submit refund forms at https://www.ccfsettlement.com/claim/ for the class action lawsuit about MC/Visa/Diners charging ridiculous fees for foreign transactions. You don't have to know your refund ID, but it helps.

Option 1 is the no-brainer, you get $25.

Option 2 gets you a minimum of $25, or up to 1% of the average that people spend based on number of days you were outside the US from 1996-2006.

Option 3 gets you up to 3% (the actual fee your credit card company charged) but you have give credit card numbers and an estimate of how much you spent each year.

There are only a few cards that don't charge the fee nowadays... see Credit/Debit/ATM Cards and Foreign Exchange on flyerguide or the best credit card thread at fatwallet for cards with the lowest fees and highest cash back.

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Wednesday, May 28th, 2008
5:12 pm - Baywatch Escape Hybrids
The real-life Baywatch just bought 45 new Escape Hybrids... it's like Pam Anderson went on a diet to get better fuel economy.

L.A. County Lifeguards rolling in custom Ford Escape Hybrids on Autoblog.

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Sunday, May 18th, 2008
12:59 pm - Baby Monitor & Engr's Guide to Cats
The Vestibules, who did "Bulbous Bouffant" came up with a funny little 2 minute animated cartoon entitled "The Baby Monitor". Had to show it to Sandy to say thanks for getting us one!

Yesterday Melody & Steve also introduced us to An Engineers Guide to Cats on youtube, which is hilarious and immediately made me think of Rennie, Drea, JT....

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Friday, May 2nd, 2008
9:54 am - Happy F150 Customer
Just got a letter that a happy customer sent our CEO, that is being cascaded... the story: driving home from a birthday party with his wife and two daughters, (age 6 and 3 1/2) he entered a two-lane construction zone. An SUV going the other way was going too fast, ran one wheel off the road into the gravel, and instead of slowing down in order to safely get back on, turned the wheel back too hard and ended up causing a head-on collision at a combined speed of at least 70-80 mph.
The damage sustained to my truck is unbelievable. That is, the damage sustained everywhere except the place that carried my most precious cargo. The way the cab of my truck held up is truly remarkable and I am so very grateful for the way Ford built it. I know that it is very unlikely for me to thank everyone involved in the production of my truck, but if there is a way... It would be nice to know that those involved were aware of the difference they made in our lives.
We hear a lot internally about making the A-pillar and B-pillar strong, using crush zones to keep the passenger compartment safe, and although I'm no expert on that, it is amazing to see pictures of an F-150 where the front end was totally destroyed and the passenger compartment held up that well. It is good to know that all of the work we've done on safety is paying off.

The more important message that I want to get out is that you can avoid causing that kind of accident. The exact same thing happened to my uncle, a woman driving a station wagon ran off the road onto gravel, turned back too fast, and ran head-on into him in his old VW bug. His story wasn't quite so happy, his hips were broken it took them about ten years before they got the hip surgeries right and he wasn't in constant pain. He is able to function normally again, but still has some pain, and had to quit work on disability.

When I was living in Colorado, I saw a van that had flipped and ended up in a creek. The driver was thrown clear out of sheer luck, but again, his mistake was swerving back over the curb too hard and popping a tire, which is almost guaranteed to flip you.

So wear your seatbelts, use carseats properly, and if your wheels run off the paved edge of the road or you have a tire blowout:
  1. Hold the steering wheel tightly.
  2. Take your foot off the accelerator, but do not hit the brakes. Only apply gentle brake pressure if necessary.
  3. When the vehicle has slowed and you have control of your vehicle, turn back onto the pavement if the lane is free of traffic, or pull fully off the road and stop.
(instructions care of the Missouri Driver Guide, click here, or contact your local authorities for more information)

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Wednesday, April 2nd, 2008
4:38 pm - Biology geekiness
Don't Ask Dr. Science, Ask Dr. Germ, he knows more about toilet plumes than you do!

(by way of baby toolkit)

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Wednesday, February 27th, 2008
4:46 pm - GeekDad
Just discovered from http://blog.wired.com/geekdad/

MrMcGroovys plans for cardboard castles, pirate ships, etc.

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Saturday, October 27th, 2007
7:17 pm - Poems
Ran across a letter from my grandmother to my mother dated Apr 14, 1964, excerpted here:
About my poetry - as of now, it seems short lived but perhaps it will return. I'd written a sixth one that I didn't have typed up when you were here.... Have you gotten the operetta written yet? Busy life, isn't it?

4th.
    If I have not wealth or fame,
    need I feel ashamed?
    If my life be true, brave, and clean,
    then on the Master I shall lean.
    If I seek to do his will,
    then I must listen for his voice so still.
    If I become weary, troubled and sad as I walk this land,
    then Lord let me feel the touch of the Master's hand.

6th.
    If I see not beauty in the grass.
    If all his love I forpass.
    If I feel not his presence in the wind that blows,
    ere I see not from whence it comes or where it goes.
    The tasks of life so great would be,
    if in the end I would not my Saviour see.

I'll explain this poem to you. I was washing so had to walk back and forth to the garage in order to turn the washer off when the pump would start. I was a little weary, then suddenly I saw the grass, it was such a beautiful green blowing in the wind. The wind blew against my face, the soft warm breeze of a spring evening. Then I thought of Dad, how he would explain the spirit was like the wind that you couldn't see where it came from or where it went. But you knew it was there, because you felt it. As I had said or asked in my fourth poem, I had felt the touch of the Master's hand.

I had to go right then and write the poem, was nearing supper time so I felt pressed for time. Maybe it would have been better had I taken out a little more time. I thought I could add to it later, but nothing else came. Perhaps my poetry ends here, who knows!

Love,
Mama Tee
My grandmother's house as I remember it around that time had a concrete block outbuilding for the washer, dryer, and freezer behind the house, with the garage and pump house for the well about 20 yards off on either side. When I saw the how the kitchen and laundry at Destrehan Plantation were in outbuildings behind the house to control fires, it reminded me of my grandmother's house, although she never had any servants. She always worked hard, and reading this puts the little things in perspective... how easy we have it! I also forget how intelligent she is, just because she is 93 years old and got all of her formal education in a 1-room schoolhouse... I can only hope my mind is still as clear and sharp as hers when (and if) I'm 93!

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Thursday, October 25th, 2007
10:03 am - Workstation Ergonomics
Susan posted something about yoga for geeks in Toronto which had a link to the ultimate guide to workstation ergonomics.

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