October 30, 2005

Inflation

On the subject of money, I noticed something at Carl's Jr. the other day.

A couple years ago when the launched the Six Dollar Burger, they chose that name because you'd pay about six dollars for that style of burger at a casual restaurant.

Today, the Six Dollar Burger costs almost six dollars.

Voila, truth in advertising, and they didn't even know it!

Speaking of food porn... Jack in the Box's Bacon 'n' Cheese Ciabatta Burger is absolutely delicious, but I feel so completely disgusting and guilty after eating one. It's bad enough I usually pull off the second patty about halfway through just to feel like less of a glutton. My arteries are hardening just thinking about it... But it's so good!

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The Power of Ones

Never underestimate the purchasing power of a coffee can!

Like a lot of people, I'm not a big loose change guy. When I walk in the door, any change comes out of my pockets and gets dumped into my coffee can. And it's not a large one. There's not much you can buy with change anymore, and paying with exact change at the store is a pain (my personal strategy is "here are some twenties, as that is what the ATM gives me").

Where I'm a little more insane than most people is with singles. I hate dollar bills. They're worth next to nothing, so to have any worthwhile amount of them your wallet is bulging like Bob Dole on Viagra. They are good for buying drinks from vending machines, mind you, except for those evil ones that charge $1.25 for a soda. Which is still better than the machines charging completely oddball amounts like 65, but I digress.

So dollar bills join change in my Coffee Can of Monetary Annoyances. I usually keep a couple in my wallet, but they multiply like mad every time you buy something with cash, so I don't ever have to actively put them back in my wallet.

They do add up quickly on days like today when I empty the coffee can.

All told, the darn thing was holding $130.40 worth of liquid assets. Cold hard cash! I can feel my net worth increasing already. And all that time sitting in a coffee can, it was earning just as much interest as it would have in my savings account!

C'est la vie, I opened an account with Desert Schools this weekend and I'll be heading down there later to make my opening deposit. They're paying out 1%, which isn't as good as ING Direct (which as of last night was, I believe, 3.40%), but it's imminently more accessible than ING if I need it in a financial emergency.

Posted by Colin at 10:52 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

October 22, 2005

Bad Days for Film Photography

Afga's insolvent, and has been operating under bankruptcy protection since May.

Ilford UK declared bankruptcy last year, though things aren't as dire now.

Kodak has been killing film-related product lines left and right.

All the major film and chemical stock companies have changed their formulations and in many cases laid off chemistry and QC teams as of late.

It's a bad, uncertain time to be shooting film. As much as I love my film camera, I hold little confidence that I'll still be able to shoot with it a decade from now. Maybe someone will hang around and make a boutique film company, but I'm not holding my breath. And as many ancient, fun cameras as there are still lurking around in basements and attics everywhere, that's a shame.

Posted by Colin at 3:55 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

October 20, 2005

Desert Schools

I finally sat down and looked at the Desert Schools Federal Credit Union last night, which I somehow overlooked last time I was looking at credit unions in the Valley.

Someone remind me why I still have accounts with Wells Fargo, please. Desert Schools is totally amazing by comparison.

No minimum balance on savings or checking? While offering interest yields above 1%? $10 for a box of checks? Much lower fees for additional services?

And, overcoming the biggest reservation -- ATM availability -- I've had about changing banks, four free withdrawals at out-of-network ATMs every month?

I think I'm in love.

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October 19, 2005

Aperture

In the "cool digital photography junk" department, Apple has released a new product in their pro software line, Aperture. It looks very cool, and satisfies a lot of desires I've had when working with digital images.

It's worth noting that this is not a replacement for Photoshop (well... not if you do anything more advanced than white balancing and levels adjustments). Probably the best way to describe it is iPhoto on steroids. For people like me coming from a film background, Aperture is a lot more like working with negatives and slides than any of the awful browsers Adobe has tried to tack on to Photoshop. It also has the advantage of working in RAW natively, not requiring that pesky conversion step Photoshop requires.

Aperture is more a companion to Photoshop than a replacement; really, what it replaces are tools like iView, which I found so useless that I had started writing something similar to Aperture. As much as I'd love to get my hands on a copy, it ain't in my budget -- I'd have to upgrade my desktop Mac first as it's using modern technologies mine lacks.

Even if you don't own a Mac or a digital camera, it's worth checking out the "Quick Tour" video of Powerful Select and Compare Tools just to see The Ugliest Bridesmaids Dresses Ever. I'm seriously not kidding.

They may make you vomit. Or gouge your eyes out with rusty spoons.

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October 15, 2005

Qwest Still Sucks.

And for the record, Qwest still sucks as an ISP.

I hadn't seen e-mail from Citibank in an age, and finally got my first message in probably six months (!) from them yesterday. Woohoo!

Meanwhile, Qwest is continually bouncing messages from another financial company, so I've had to direct it to a friggin' free e-mail account. I'm so glad I'm paying for the use of Qwest's worthless mail servers.

Apparently when I called Earthlink to cancel, and they asked "Would you like to keep your e-mail address?", my answer should have been "OH GOD YES PLEASE!"

I'm about thiiis far from buying a used 1U server and a low-bandwith colocation account and supplying my own damn mail server.

(And no, I haven't bothered calling Qwest yet; their technical support people are patient and friendly, but their network operations staff -- the ones who would need to fix this -- couldn't administer their way out of a wet paper bag.)

Posted by Colin at 10:16 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

El Ingenioso Hidalgo of Spanglish

Over at BBC Mundo, they're running an article (in Spanish) about Spanglish.

It's an interesting read if you happen to understand Spanish, but the most interesting part comes at the end. There they excerpt an attempt by Ilan Stavans, author of a book about the roots of Spanglish, to translate Don Quixote into Spanglish.

The fact that I can read that passage straight through without any difficulty is a slight reassurance; my Spanish has gotten rusty as a result of lacking use, but apparently it's lurking in my head enough that I can still think in it.

I'm guilty of writing in Spanglish myself at times; there will be days I'm taking notes and it's far shorter to use Spanish, or I just think it sounds better in Spanish. So there, in the middle of an other English page of notes, is Spanish.

I can't say as I've ever mixed two languages to conjugate a verb though; wieldeaba? awakeado? Now that's just bizarre.

The entire Spanglish first chapter is available at Cuadernos Cervantes.

Posted by Colin at 9:51 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

October 6, 2005

AOL still sucks.

Oh, the hilarity.

AOL is blocking incoming e-mail from ASU's mail servers because they've been receiving an "unusually high" number of messages from ASU.

Yeah, it's not like a major research university with over 50,000 undergraduate students could possibly have any reason to send many many messages to the world's largest ISP.

And what a thrilling error notification to receive when you're trying desperately to contact someone on short order. If ASU would just do away with e-mail forwarding and force everyone to use an ASU mailbox...

Posted by Colin at 7:15 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Mmm. Sexy.

Earnhardt's Jeep had a spanky new Jeep Commander sitting in front of the service area when I went to pick my Jeep up. That is one sexy beast of a vehicle.

The third row of seating is totally unnecessary (and certainly not intended to be regularly used -- it's pretty much station wagon style, but front facing, and nearly eliminates the cargo space), and the sticker shock is up there.

Sticker price on the model they had sitting out there was $43,500. I can't imagine spending that much money on a vehicle. It ought to shave my face, wipe my ass, and brew my coffee for that much money. And drive itself.

Posted by Colin at 7:07 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack