Saturday, October 22, 2005

Sweet music to my ears

A man + a plan = a PEZ mp3 player. Each one is built one-at-a-time by a one-man operation who got the legal OK from the PEZ Company. Holds about 120 songs, and you turn it on by flipping the head back.

The iPod Shuffle just got a whole lot lamer. It even comes preloaded with hipster indie music - why doesn't Apple do that?

Could this be the thing to revive my dormant and unwieldly PEZ collection? If it dispenses music as well as it dispenses candy, quite possibly.

Friday, October 21, 2005

Sunday, October 16, 2005

Has a car alarm...

...ever actually prevented a theft? I wondered this at 4:14 AM
this morning when an alarm went off nearby and stayed on for
about 15 minutes.

Sunday, October 02, 2005

Why pay more?

I am a man of many talents, yet the one that makes friends and foes boil over with envy are my mad couponing skillz. Example: I once paid $41 for $82 worth of groceries and shelled out a mere $4 for $18 worth of crap at CVS. How? Behold, some of my secrets:

Shop around: what your momma told you was right-on. The aforementioned CVS often has better deals than the local grocery store, plus they take coupons (though no doubling) and give store coupons to ExtraCare card users. And good ones, too, like $3 off your next purchase. Others go store hopping, buying the big sale items at each area store. Chances are you don't have this much free time. In my fantasies about life after marriage, being able to do this is front and center.

A good offense: Sunday coupons are often correlated to store sales that week. Take 10 minutes to look at the store circular, then look at your coupon stash, and plan your Bill Laimbeer-esque attack.

Get one of them cheapo coupon organizers that Wal-Mart or CVS sell for $3-$5, then file new coupons there each week. You'll have a much easier time finding that 55 cents off Wishbone dressing coupon when you need it.

BOGO: Many coupons require purchase of 2 (or more!). Save these for buy 1, get 1 sales. Technically, you're still buying 2 items. Don't let the cashier try and tell you otherwise.

Clever: 3 for $3 does not usually mean you have to buy 3. Read the fine print. If you only need 1, don't get seduced into buying more.

Swap: Why throw away unused coupons each week when you can swap with a neighbor? One man's trash is another man's 35 cents off Hot Pockets. Seriously, a friend's father does this and swears by it. Some public libraries even have coupon swap bins (not to mention vast CD and audiobook collections that are ripe for ripping onto your home PC, but that's another post).

Rebates - delicious but devious: Tivo made $5 million+ last fiscal quarter because people bought the box and did not mail in the $100 rebate form. Hint: take 5 minutes, follow the instructions to a T, and be vigilant. This same company "lost" my rebate application. One phone call later, a $100 check was en route.

Study the masters: I find this woman's work inspiring.

What I don't do:
  • Buy brand names at warehouse clubs--unless it's on sale - buying in bulk usually costs more than buying the same items on sale at grocery stores, plus you look like a jackass lugging 56 rolls of toilet paper around the parking lot. That said, Costco only marks up their prices by 15%, so if they have something on sale, go nuts.
  • Get on my knees - some recommend calling companies' toll-free #s and asking to have coupons mailed to you. In this case, I am too proud to beg.
  • Shop at all-generic stores like Aldi - My standards are high, and generic Cheerios lack that je ne sais quoi.
I do all of this not for lack of things to do, but because suburban living ain't inexpensive, and beating the system is a cheap thrill. And I do mean cheap.

Saturday, October 01, 2005

Here's to you, Niantic Center

Bob Jingle's and Rain Delay's hometown reminiscences prompted me to check in with my old elementary school. Greeting visitors upon arrival was once a sound clip of their school anthem. It's low-fi, off-key, and yet hauntingly beautiful. But how could it not be, with lyrics like:
The symbol of the school we love
Is a little scallop shell
And everyday you'll hear him say
"In school you must do well!"
Yet there are traces of brainwashing throughout, with lines like:
Now let us sing 'til echoes ring
And pledge our loyalty
Did they really need us to pledge loyalty? After all, where you went to school was dictated by your neighborhood. A mass defection to Lillie B. Haynes was not possible, even though their playground ran circles around our tetherball-less tetherball pole.

So why the Stalin-esque loyalty oath? And why is the little scallop shell talking to me?