02 December 2008

Rapid fire advice

Your computer is full of viruses and spyware. Install:
Advanced SystemCare (scans and optimizes your computer, cleans old/useless files automatically)
and
AVG AntiVirus (free anti-virus that works well and doesn’t slow your computer down – you should uninstall any other anti-virus programs - they cost money and slow your computer)

Your computer doesn't play all videos (or plays them poorly). Install:
K-Lite Codec Pack (most of the “codec’s” required to play just about any video you’ll come across. Select all the standard options during setup)


Your credit cards suck. Get one of the following:
Chase Freedom
- 3% cashback from the three areas you spend the most (i.e., gas, drug store,
etc), 1% on the rest, $50 sign up bonus, save up $200 cashback and get a $50 bonus.
Costco American Express Business - 5% cashback on gas, 3% on some other crap, 1% on everything else including at Costco (only credit card you can use there). Use your name as the "business" name.

Never carry a balance, all credit card interest rates are terrible. If you can't afford something find a loan for it on terms you understand and accept; it's shit to cover it on a card, always.

Kill it with fire.


26 November 2008

Solar slug - I have friends like this actually ...

Via io9:

Kleptoplast Slug Steals Plant Genes and Lives on Sunlight

A kleptoplast is an organism that steals genes from other organisms, usually by eating them. Usually those stolen genes don't actually function, but not so in the case of the leafy green E. chlorotica sea slug. This little guy uses plant genes to generate its own photosynthesis factory - after eating its favorite kind of algae, the E. chlorotica can live entirely on solar power for up to a year.

New Scientist has a cool introduction to the life of solar slugs and their strange metabolism.

Solar Powered Slug article at New Scientist.

16 October 2008

LRAP coming through - model participation numbers

When we were working to improve Boalt's LRAP, I often used myself as an example though I was not certain that I would qualify because I entered law school thinking I would work for plaintiffs (which would not be covered by LRAP). As it turned out, I am a pretty good example of a public sector employee who is covered generously by LRAP:

LRAP will repay up to $100,000 of my law school loans (which actually amounted to about $95,000) if I make less than $58,000 ... otherwise every dollar over that has to have $0.33 go toward my loans. My salary is just over $66,000.

So each month I have to pay about $1,200 so that my loans will be repaid within 10 years of graduation. Because I make $8,000 over the annual limit, 33% of that ($2,667) over a year will go toward my loans and LRAP will cover the remainder -- thus, LRAP will lend me, then forgive a loan for about $13,000 over the next 12 months (or about $1,100/month).

After 10 years I would not qualify for any payment, but while I'm starting off this is welcome relief - now I can buy Megan all the things she wants - actually, she's got most the things she wants except for us to spend more time playing with Tikka ... I miss Tikka when I'm at work ... maybe I can tell everyone I'm training a seeing-eye dog and I need to socialize it by bringing it to work ... maybe I need to just work harder so I can get home sooner ...

Moment of Zen via Andrew Sullivan:

Who guards the portal to hell? Three headed puppies

10 October 2008

New Job - Week 1: Niiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiice.

Just had my first court appearance at the new job - feels pretty damn good.

HR training for a couple days, eat out for lunch plenty and the food's not half bad, the people in my office are just about as happy, funny, and crazy as I could possibly have hoped. There are at least three serious Dead Heads, come on! There are some things I didn't expect, but overall they fall in the "really? sweet!" category rather than the "oh fuck, there's traffic in American Canyon?!?" category.

Also feeling good about:
(1) telling people that they should expect an Obama blow out a couple months ago
(2) starting a deferred comp plan when, hopefully, the price of stocks are as low as they're going to get ... hopefully.

Tonight - I think wine is in order!

04 October 2008

Looking at yourself in the mirror

In all the things we care about, we will try hard enough so that even if we fail any job or principle we won't look itself in the mirror afterward and ask, "what more could we have done?"

[h/t fivethirtyeight and random bar exam study advice pass from an unknown to Jim to me]

But we also cannot always do everything that might have helped out cause. This does not mean anything less that 100% focus on each of our goals is required, nor possible. But that we must know what we care about and hold up our own standards, even or especially when no one is watching, in doing what we can for what we value.

Today, I'm going to remind myself about what is important to me in the moment and collection of moments I remember myself by and may be remembered by. Monday I'm going to start making some damn good memories. Sunday? Bike ride, chores, PT, sleep, dirty jokes, CALCRIM, hypermiling, plumbing, find friends in NV, blah, blah, blah.

Written on 3 hours of sleep after a good Friday night ... sleepppppppppppppppppppppp

30 September 2008

Thoughts

New federal LRAP provisions - minor update
If you could gain any sense, what would it be?
Michael Moore says the rich are taking money from the poor, not his deepest insight.

Athiests, God loves 'em.

Losing and winning














Feeling good, at lowest weight in a long time (probably over 3 or 4 years) and starting work on Monday.  Not having any money in the stock market also helps (though not as fun when it's part of not having any money at all).  Deep thoughts about drinking games to play during the debate on Thursday and feeling happy that it's too late for them to replace Palin.

Fun with Numbers










So the proposed rescue plan that failed to pass yesterday but which will likely pass within the next 10 days will cost about $700,000,000,000 (11 zeros in seven hundred billion folks), and the Fed increased its existing currency swaps with foreign central banks by $330 billion to $620 billion to make more dollars available worldwide. So we're looking at a total of about $1.3 trillion.
$1,300,000,000,000,000 ... among 200,000,000 American adults.
This ultimately comes from American's pockets including a chunk from businesses owned by Americans and in proportion to overall income (i.e., our proportionate tax system which asks the rich to pay more as a percentage of their income ... you make $50,000/year and pay 31%, your boss makes $150,000/year and pays 35% ... kinda).

So, on average, the rescue plan will cost each American:
$1,300,000,000,000,000 / 200,000,000 =
$13,000,000 / 2 =
$6,500

But,
what will the cost be to each of us if the rescue plan fails to pass? That's harder to guesstimate, but let's say American's have 10 - 30% of their assets in the market and another 10 - 40% of their assets are affected by the market (because lack of financial instruments to lend easily affects payrolls, housing values, etc). Let's just say 50% of assets could be negatively impacted for your Average Joe (more for those with more, less for those with less).

Say you have $200,000 in retirement savings and $200,000 coming to you from your pension. You have a house worth $350,000,000 that is mostly paid off. Your net worth is about $750,000,000 and we're guessing half of that could be negatively affected to varying degrees.

So $325,000,000 of your assets are put at risk by failure of a rescue package (assuming it would work which is something of a massive assumption given how poor the plan is as of today). Even if the markets tanked and lost another 2,000-3,000 points (or 20-30%), housing values continued to decline (say another 15-20% over 10 years), and you pension was not able to meet its obligations to you (maybe 10-20% of that $200,000,000) we're talking about a loss of about:
(1) 25% of the portion of your invested retirement savings, about $2,500.
(2) $40,000 from the value of your house.
(3) $15,000 from your failing pension.
Total ~ $57,500 lost from your $750,000,000 net worth.

Simplified:
$57,500 over the next 5-10 years from no rescue plan
vs.
$6,250 to pay for the rescue plan + maybe $25,000 from deflating home values and market revaluations

More simply:
Do nothing, lose $57,500 vs. rescue plan that works okay still loses you $32,500

What our congress critters don't seem to be able to communicate to us is that both situations suck and this will mean a very different idea of what to expect out of retirement for those facing it relatively soon (i.e., next 10 years). But they all seem to understand (though cannot explain to to the "low information" or "undecided" or "swing" voters without pissing them off) that passing a rescue plan will be better for people in the long term (again, assuming it works fairly well but even if it's terrible, will restore some market confidence and allow for more banks to lend more money in the short-ish term). Congresscritters are driven by 2 year timeframes between elections, they may be paid to consider what's best for their constitutients in the long run, but they certainly know what's best for them in the short term ... and having their name on this is bad as can be for re-election. Throw into the mix more than a few congressmen who know that this rescue plan is actually quite bad and genuinely draws out their ideological and intelectual disagreement (think Lynn Woolsey) such that they can't back it and there's no way it can pass.

I'd call this setting up failure with an electoral system that has perverse incentives for serious change ... to do the right thing requires self-sacrafice from people who are elected because of their illusions of grandure, people who make calls for millions of dollars in donations nearly every day for years and years just to stay in office ...

In otherwords, a rescue bill will pass, it will likely be so bad that it may not be much better than passing nothing at all because each option will end up costing folks about the same ... but the thing to remember is that each approach will cost a dear amount and much of the rest is guesswork about minimizing a number most people are unaware of and perhaps anxious about as a result of that unknown value. That fear alone is a huge part of the problem pushing aside reasoned approaches for rhetoric and fense-sitting numbnuts like McCain who just want to come out ahead politically no matter which way the issue actually falls in the end ... this kind of ignorance driven fear is the worst position to ask for something from government and it's the worst kind of leadership from government.

28 September 2008

Suiting up, Landslides, Fried drive

(1) Suits me:
My co-workers' parting advice as I leave for a new office: "ah, so you have to suit up?!?"

Co-worker #1:
"Man, you can find great deals on overstock.com - I [a svelt dude who recently ran a marithon] got this suit for $175 and it fit prefect off the rack."

Co-worker #2:
"Well, I'm gonna tell you to spend too much money, but you know I like Baroni and Zegna, they have 75 or 80 percent off sales sometimes and you can get a $6,000 suit for less than $2,000. ... I got these leather soled shoes in 1981 and they still look great [actually, they look remarkable, hey I was born in 1981] but you have to get these verbatum soles put on after a while, but they feel and look great. Also, find a salesman who you can trust."

Co-worker #New York Times (circa 1993):
Two pieces.

A summary of a together suit advice guy, Alan Flusser

Sounds like a question for the metafilter.

(2) Obama landslide
Finally starting to relax about telling everyone that we'd have an Obama landslide, his numbers after the debate are just great ... I thought he did poorly but then I only would have been satisfied if he ran from behind the podium and stuck his finger in McCain's face while glaring at him and ranting off the list of lies and mistakes that McCain was responsible for and continuing to make(up). Meh, I'm hard to satisfy that way. But it seems the low information voters liked the performance and figured that anyone who could understand what was being asked and give confident sounding answers was not a wacky "other" (i.e., Muslim, black, elite, liberal, Anti-Christ, etc) who, since they agreed with him that the Republicans were full of shit, they could feel better about voting for (and if it turned out badly they could always say that they should have trusted their "instincts" even if that was only another word for "subconscious racism").

(3) Fried a Malaysian chip of my Deathstar printed circuit board
Decided to format and reinstall windows on my laptop before starting above mentioned new gig. Easy as pie: back up files, burn and apply "Recovery Disks" to return laptop to original factory state, update Microsoft programs, reinstall programs, transfer files back to computer ... easy, right?

Smoke. White, thin, terrible smelling smoke lazily wafting up from the external hard drive. Quickly turned it off, removed power, opened up, and saw a burned pock on the inside of the enclosure, just above the .... whatever small, relatively unlabled black chip rests on the hard drive's (a Hitachi Deskstar a.k.a. Deathstar because of their high fail rate when previously owned and manufactured as IBM Deskstars) PCB.

Fortunately, eBay had a single auction for this PCB ($30 shipped) and I should be back in order within 4-6 days. We'll see ...

18 September 2008

Really impressive piece for a political campaign - complex vector work it seems.

Was on sale from Obama's website for a donation, but it's sold out now.

You can view a larger version here.

A Barbri legend passes ... you'll be missed Prof. Whitebread

In Memoriam: Charles Whitebread

Charles Whitebread.jpg

We'd like to take a moment and acknowledge the great career of Professor Charles H. Whitebread. Professor Whitebread passed away Tuesday, in Santa Monica, California.

Professor Whitebread was a legend at the USC Gould School of Law, but most attorneys will remember him for his BAR/BRI Criminal Law lectures. We fondly remember the bow-tied professor for adding a bit of levity at a time when we were stressed beyond belief.

He is survived by his life partner, John Golden, and his devoted friend Michael Kelly.

The USC Gould School of Law will hold a memorial for Professor Whitebread at a date still to be determined. Donations to the Charles H. Whitebread Memorial Scholarship may be sent to the law school.

13 September 2008

The Simpsonized Republican Ticket


Why is it that this is the clearest representation of what's wrong with their ticket?
Are the Dems Carl and The Texan who Homer challenged to a duel? Both smart and honorable, but it may break down at the Texas vs. Delaware comparison.
--Via Dailykos

08 September 2008

Spider!

Click the title for a clever interactive, flash-animated spider

Spider, he is our hero!
----TMBG

via Boingboing.net

DailyAbe:
Waiting to hear about a job - anxious!
Weight loss going well (unrelated)
PT and meds - "Zee goggles, vey do nozzing!"

01 September 2008

Free credit SCORE (not just report) estimate

[A] Financial ish - Credit scores and reports for free:
There are crappy "free" credit reports or scores available - usually it's a gimme for the first month then $8-50/month to keep the service going - and it's not easy to cancel.  

(1) But you can get a (very) good estimate of your score (300-800) from:

It's not your real score, but it is often VERY close - and it actually is free.

(2) You can also get a free credit report (just contains info on why you're good or bad to lend to, insure, or rent to - not a number) from Annual Credit Report.  All other "free" report sites are gimics or worse.  You can get a free score once a year from each of the three major tracking companies (creeped out that they know so much about you yet?) - so you can get three reports over the course of a year.

(3) I was excited about personal finance blogs and information recently but I find them to be only useful for the best articles in their archives rather than their newer content - most people seem to have only a few good ideas to contribute and after that they post crapola or just link to other related blogs with slightly less useless info.  

[B] Personal fun:

(1) Trying out google's "Chrome" browser - not enough to switch from Firefox yet, but nice, clean and fast without all my plug-ins (ad-block, spell check, and smooth scrolling missed the most) and features (like, oh, a homepage button - but opening a new tab brings up their clever "most visited" feature so it's nearly as useful as a homepage I suppose).  

(2) Added Consumerist and Lifehacker to my RSS feeds with some limitations - actually filters out the BS and promotional crap usually.  

(3) Didn't Palin's speech piss you off?  I mean, I was happy to keep give a few bucks and ride the Democratic tidal wave that has been building steam over the past 8 years, but I'm ready to start giving more time and will be making a stop by the local (3 blocks away!) Obama campaign office to start door knocking beyond my block and phone banking beyond my state.  I'm sure there were a few excited Right-wingnuters but honestly, they always get excited about the evil Democrats trying to kill babies and take away their money (even though both f-ing guys are going to create serious tax cuts when this is the last thing we need - $500 is a lot of money, but nothing compared to the services lost for families to whom $500 is a make or break amount - it doesn't make up for an extra year of head start when the replacement is expensive day care, it doesn't make up for the lost jobs and benefits from replacing and developing our infrastructure, or for even a few months of insurance for a family).  Here's to hoping Obama's team has a good plan for handling Palin - there are too many people saying "what he needs to do is [blah]" and too few people asking what they can do to help - so away I go to offer a hand!

14 August 2008

Megan's grade level scores proficient! Carlos got hired!

Megan works at a school in Richmond which -- according to the metric setup by the state under their mandate from "No Child Left A Dime Behind" -- is "low-performing". This means they are monitored and threatened so they'll "teach to the test" and improve enough students' scores to prevent the state from taking over, firing the administrators, then teachers, etc.

Students can get 5 score levels:
Advanced
Proficient
Basic
Below basic
Far below basic

Only "advanced" and "proficient" count toward the school's performance - the point of NCLB is to get all kids in every school at proficient or better within 10 years (i.e., the 2013-2014 school year) so if you have a school (actually each grade level is what they consider, but let's keep it simple) with
100 students
40% of whom were proficient in 2004
Then you need to have 6 more proficient students become proficient each year over 10 years.

5 years of not meeting adequate increases in proficiency in a row = huge problems for the school.

Megan's school is less at risk of being taken over because her class did well (again) this year, better than they did in the prior grade actually.

Oy, it's a long story, but she's doing well for the school and that means she's monitored and threatened less so she can focus on what she finds helps her students most (rather than what the school wants her to force feed them).

And my friend Carlos just got hired by a local fire department to work in their ambulances! He's a sharp dude and great at rock climbing so those of you who find yourselves in hard to reach places while seriously injured and possibly on fire ... you're a little safer today.

13 August 2008

Where can I ask the internet questions?


Ready to do something more than google your questions?
Yahoo answers - lame for asking questions, okay for searching through other folks' questions/answers. Free, many bad answers and silly opinions. Need to put in time to gain points so you can ask or even rank questions/answers.

Experts-exchange - great for technical stuff often, check google's cache if you don't have an account (but accounts are free and non-invasive). Very intelligent answers to complex questions generally. Some "credit" for having your answers selected.

Metafilter / AskMetaFilter - great community, excellent and creative answers to very broad questions BUT it costs $5 to ask or answer questions (one time only fee). Fabulous, well moderated online community. Look at the questions ranked as daily, weekly, monthly, or all-time favorites - just great material!

Woody Allen:
"I cheated on my metaphysics exam ... I looked into the soul of the boy sitting next to me."

I wonder where you look for answers?

07 August 2008

Neck and arm pain ... self-treatment with shit around the house?

So now I'm on Megan's insurance plan and I'm considering going to the doctor to have my neck, shoulder, and arm checked out - I've had a bit of pain, starting in the neck and progressing down to my shoulder and neck beginning with the BAR EXAM (congrats those who just finished in spite of earth quakes and, well, the exam itself) over a year ago.
http://www.eorthopod.com/images/ContentImages/spine/spine_cervical/cervical_burners/cervical_burners_anatomy01.jpg
What does Kaiser recommend?
(1) Let it go away w/o a doctor's visit with
(a) stretching,
(b) pain killers (Jame's GF recommends a relatively high dose (600-1000mg) of Advil to get an anti-inflammatory effect).
(c) better posture,
(d) towel traction.

(2) Get your screwy neck to the Dr!

Kaiser (and the intar-webs) actually have some okay resources on this:
* Taking control of you back problem(s)
* Talking to your kids and lovers about cervical nerve irritation causing neck/arm pain
* Towel traction details
* Back exercises
* Cervical Radiculopathy - oh yeah, talk radiculopathy to me!
http://www.eorthopod.com/images/ContentImages/spine/spine_cervical/cervical_radiculopathy/cervical_radiculopathy_intro01.jpg

The difference between DA's and PD's:

According to to former DA and current private defense attorney Bill Gagen:
DA's get gold and they have to turn it into silver.
PD's get shit and have to turn it into gold.

According to my mom the dental hygenist:
Only two of those can be used for fillings and crowns.

SWAT team raids mayor, shoots family dog because someone mailed them pot (via Boingboing)

Cheye Calvo, mayor of DC suburb Berwyn Heights, was raided by a SWAT team after 30lbs of marijuana was delivered to his home. They broke down his door, shot his two black labradors, and interrogated him and his wife as their dogs bled to death. Turns out Calvo says he had no idea about the package, which was still outside, unopened and perhaps waiting for its real recipient to pick it up. Police say they still had sufficient cause to break in (even though they did not have a "no-knock warrant").


Another Police Raid; More Dead Dogs (via Boingboing via Danny)

06 August 2008

Fix your slow Windows XP computer & other thoughts


What would a commute from Berkeley/Oakland to Solano county (Vallejo or Fairfield) look like? I think it would be pretty sweet! Talked to a super happy person up there and it's closer to home and Megan's work ... yesterday was a good day all around: lots done, work project coming along nicely and good news at work. Bummed to see some of the summer law clerks leaving, they're a good buffer from the least fun parts of the office at times. Summer is slipping away too quickly, time for a camping trip!


Speedup your slow Windows XP machine with the following tutorials
These will solve 90% of your problems - honestly, try them before going to your tech person and you'll be better for it!
Optimize XP (ignore the advice about not using Firefox, everything else is reasonable)
Simple Malware removal guide
Documents with similar information you can download

31 July 2008

Useful links, daily double trouble

Useful links:
Life happens:
  • Taco party at work for one of our lovely clerical staff who's retiring - we'll miss her and her urge to bring cookies to work (mostly just her though - she's super fast, competent, and friendly!).
  • My brother updates me on his job representing folks at Parole violation hearings - plenty of driving, but great work. Something to consider ...
  • The summer law clerks will be leaving soon - they were really a bright spot at work with their dirty jokes and optimism. It didn't hurt that they made our carpool much better too.
  • Good day at work - got an interesting project and am making quick work of it so I can get back to the old, tedious project (which is also moving quicker than expected, thank FSM)

25 July 2008

Drinking with PD's and Web fun

Life falling apart? Worried about money and love? Maybe it's time to drink alcohol! PD drink night in the near future with some friends might make me feel better - we can all express our distrubingly dark funny stories with beer, popcorn, and darts!

Web fun:
"Spam King" dies, but it sucks
Funny/honest review of Iron Man movie
Excellent - Monty Burns as a bug
There'll be a cheaper, smaller, better Smart car in 2010 hopefully
Mediocre but interesting article on a pot broker in LA

22 July 2008

"Just Don't Look" according to Kottke

In a special Halloween episode of The Simpsons that aired in October 1995, a freak lightning storm brings all of Springfield's giant advertising statues to life. The advertising monsters begin to destroy the town when Lisa, an advertising executive, and Paul Anka come up with a jingle urging everyone to stop paying attention to the monsters. Here's the chorus:

Just don't look. Just don't look.
Just don't look. Just don't look.
Just don't look. Just don't look.

The townspeople comply and with no one paying attention, the advertising monsters collapse and die, saving the town.

The "just don't look" strategy works for more than advertising...it's effective in any situation where someone or something runs on attention. On the web attention comes in the form of links and pageviews so "just don't look" translates roughly into "just don't link or read". If you don't like who's on the cover of Wired, just don't look. If no one talks about her, she'll go away. Think media gossip sites are ruining the web? Don't read them. Leggy blonde conservative got your knickers in a knot? Just don't look. Commenters ruining the internet? Moderate your comments or close them up. If some Web 2.0 blowhard says something stupid, just don't look. Hate blonde socialites? Just. Don't. Look.

Craigslist search tools and "Why wake up so early?"

I missed my co-workers, but I didn't miss getting up so early! I'm getting jealous of the 4 day work week.

Now searching craigslist.org (CL) for housing or a car can be time consuming if you simply repeat the search over and over to find the newest posts. Also, it is not possible to directly search more than one region (i.e., search for a car in SF Bay Area, Sacramento, Modesto, and Monterey Bay). But there are several ways to get around these problems:

(1) CL offers RSS feeds - these are little subscriptions that can be sent to a simple program on your desktop which update like news headlines everytime a new result matching your search comes up.

(2) Crazedlist.org - searches multiple cities/regions at the same time and provides the results on a single page. It has a little bugginess for firefox users, but it's easy to work around.

(3) Craigshelper.com - very similar to crazed list but with ads for other services, forced to initially also get eBay results, promotes the author's other programs (which may be useful, such as Hankshelper.com which searches multiple car sale sites simultaneously).

(4) Craigspal.com - comes in a "free" (which is VERY limited) and "paid" version that will notify you by cell phone SMS or email. Can do multi-city searches. Requires a download though. Honestly, I wasn't too impressed.

(5) Craigslist Search - easy multi-city search, some minor bugginess with removing cities from results in tabbed view, but great interface/tabs compared with others.

Summary:
There's no one solution to both (1) notify you of recent posts AND (2) search multiple cities
UNLESS you create your own RSS feeds for separate cities and searches.

Maybe these attempts will get somewhere or CL itself will make the feature available in their efforts to remain at the top as they get pressure from eBay, google, and others similar free classified sites. Hear that folks at 9th & Judah? Have a slice of Milano's or Arizmendi and think about it, eh?

21 July 2008

Daily links of goodness and fun

Car still missing (and hunt for an efficient replacement begins), insurance company is fun, great pics of the wedding coming from friends/family every day. First day back at the office since the honeymoon break (which was amazing, Tahoe and Truckee goodness) is going fine - it's nice to have people happy to see you're back even if it cuts into work for a minute or thirty. Actually, being relaxed from the break and happy with my generally fun office types makes me work about twice as fast. Dinner with pops tonight should be great as usual, teaching him to use a bluetooth earpiece tonight will be mellow.

Wants: new laptop, new car, massage, control over the office heating and AC.
Needs: reinstall windows, look for car/file insurance claim, Advil, less insulation/adipose.

Time for fun links:
There's something wrong with Mr. Bush's banana.
PC vs. Mac (vs. Linux) - don't ask
Why don't we see unicorns these days?
Suicide of sorts
First gaffe of Obama's trip to the Middle East ... by McCain

Less than fun links:
Uncomfortable Answers to Questions on the Economy
Crazed List - search multiple craigslist locations/cities at the same time!

14 July 2008

Looking for a used commuter car? Let's see here:

Summary:
30+ mpg easily and less than $6000 from either:
1996-2000 Honda Civic (not the SI) or
1998-2002 Toyota Corolla (2000+ better)

My ideal car?
  • Under $5000
  • Less than 75,000 miles
  • 5-speed
  • No sunroof (heavy so bad on gas, less headroom, almost never used)
  • Hatchback if available (Civic)
  • HX if reasonably priced (high fuel efficiency Civic)

Details:
My car (1991 Toyota Camry Station Wagon, 4 cyl) was stolen this past Thursday (seen it anyone?) so I'm probably in the market for a new car. I'm inclined (as is my amazing mechanic, Nancy at Grandma's Garage) toward Hondas and Toyotas for both fuel efficiency and reliability. I'll have between $3000-$6000 to spend. Salvage vehicles are a last resort only, and not at all from private dealers (rather than private individuals). Also, there's not such thing as a "salvage title due to theft" ... it's due to "theft for joy ride resulting in serious damage to the car." Someone is lying about the title if they tell you otherwise. Salvaged vehicles may have had serious damage to the frame - though they'll drive great and be mechanically sound, modern vehicles have specifically designed safety mechanisms (i.e., "crumple zones" which are designed to withstand one serious accident. It is nearly impossible to know how a car will withstand another serious accident after it has been compromised. So, again, salvalage titles are only considered as a last resort and not from asshats who lie about them.

My priorities:
I'd like to get something with close to 100,000 miles (less is better, but more expensive, so we'll see) that gets over 35mpg on the freeway. Manual transmissions get slightly better MPG, but then the wife (yes, I'm married as of Saturday!) is not excited to learn to drive a standard so automatics are acceptable also.

Honda Civic: 5th generation Civics (1992-1995 = $1,800-$5,000) got great mileage, but they're a bit older and the MPG and some amenities improved in the 6th generation (1996-2000 = $3,500-7,000) which get between 31-34 on the freeway (under the current MPG estimates, more under the old standard). Self-reporting drivers find this to be accurate. With some hypermiling and modifications I understand a few more MPG can be squeezed out of them making 40 MPG a feasible goal for 65mph crusing. They take a Scan Gauge II which can read their MPG from the car's computer directly which is a big plus (older cars using OBD I cannot use such a scanner). The later civic models also get up to 35mpg on the freeway, but they're more expensive, the 2001 apparently has automatic transmission issues.

Toyota Corolla: Does about as well as the civic in terms of MPG - the 7th generation (1992-1997 = $1,700-5,750) gets 27-34mpg on the freeway and the 8th generation (1998-2002 = $4,000-10,000) gets about 34. 2000+ have variable valve timing which apparently results in a slight MPG improvement.

Any thoughts folks?

09 July 2008

Body Makes Pot-Like Substance To Help Skin

Our Bodies Like Marijuana Plant, Doctor Says

The body makes chemicals similar to THC, the active ingredient in marijuana, to help the skin, scientists reported.In the journal of the Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology, researchers said that learning more about so-called endocannabinoids could lead to drugs that treat acne, dry skin or skin tumors.The researchers treated the cells that produce oil for the skin with endocannabinoids to make them produce more oil.
One scientists said the products could include new skin creams."This research shows that we may have something in common with the marijuana plant," said Dr. Gerald Weissmann. "Just as THC is believed to protect the marijuana plants from pathogens, our own cannabinoids may be necessary for us to maintain healthy skin and to protect us from pathogens."

Giving up on people, wedding, gray water

It's strange how it only takes one person close to you to lie and fail a couple times for you to start feeling alone and weak. The closer the person the less they need to screw up for you to get that same feeling. And the more often they fail the more you feel and hope that "this is the last time, they're going to be better" though you know that probably isn't the case. How's that for depressing optimism or failed cynicism? Now I understand how ... no, wait ... don't understand anything, just bummed.

--------------------------------------------------------------

So my wedding is this weekend - yes, we've got everything pretty much taken care of, the taco truck is arriving at 9:00 and the groomsmen's wives/girlfriends are monitoring them so they won't be hung over during the wedding.

I can't quite get it into my mind that the wedding is actually happening - in three days! At least the flashlights have arrived on time from around the globe.

--------------------------------------------------------------

Fun with gray water (wiki link):
Grey water is water at your house that goes down the drain other than water with harsh chemicals or human waste (basically, what's in the toilet or with heavy cleaning chemicals - that's called "black water" - just think of the shitty mercenaries / death contractors, Blackwater USA). Grey water includes most water down the sink or the shower drain. It makes up more than half the water the average house uses daily - and the average house uses over 200 gallons every day. You can "save" your grey water by collecting it in tanks that you either empty into the toilet (not the tank, but the bowl) to flush it or to water your plants (not on plants you eat, but for trees or on/under the ground surface).

The expensive pump / filter systems are not quite easy enough for the weekend DIY'er to put together in a way that is (1) reasonably affordable, (2) long lasting, (3) easy to maintain, or (4) has a positive overall impact on the environment (they take plenty of materials to build).

The cheap/easy systems basically include a small amount of plumbing, buckets, and some not too heavy lifting - like making your bathroom sink drain into a bucket then using that water to flush the toilet OR collecting rain water.

But the easiest, easiest method is to simply conserve water by changing your habits (shorter showers [or navy showers], wash tubs for your dishes, buying local foods [okay, that's a stretch, but it's a great idea],
How not to conserve water: don't drink it. Water's good all the time - drink it!

03 July 2008

Torturing Christopher Hitchens - yes, someone got paid to do that!

Christopher Hitchens writes about getting waterboarded for the July issue of Vanity Fair.

You may have read by now the official lie about this treatment, which is that it "simulates" the feeling of drowning. This is not the case. You feel that you are drowning because you are drowning-or, rather, being drowned, albeit slowly and under controlled conditions and at the mercy (or otherwise) of those who are applying the pressure. The "board" is the instrument, not the method. You are not being boarded. You are being watered.

As you can see in the video, Hitchens maybe lasted 15 seconds or so.

01 July 2008

California - Yeah!


Californian's are trying to get enough signatures to legalize marijuana - then regulate it and get taxes from our biggest agricultural industry then actually fund our schools. Yeah, sounds crazy.

And how American's see the rest of the world:

27 June 2008

What do animals think of humans?

What do animals think of humans?

Dalmatians
"Hey, look, the truck's stopping."
"Did they take us to the park this time?"
"No -- it's a fire. Another horrible fire."
"What the hell is wrong with these people?"

At the New Yorker via kottke.org

First hang over ever today. Scary on lots of different levels.

More immediate result of drinking:
Zizzle!

16 June 2008

Public Defender Blogs - a collection of links

http://damneddefenders.blogspot.com/
Long entires focused on specific clients - great material, looks like a collection of entries for a book really.

http://blondejustice.blogspot.com/
More frequently updated than many others, a little on the lighter side of things, but good articles and very topical.

Existing as a Public Defender
Original material with plenty of reasonable commentary.

LA Criminal Defender
LA and California specific generally, but plenty of original material and updated daily.

Criminal Defense Blog
Good stuff, though infrequently updated.

Public Defender Stuff
As they put it, "Indigent defense news, delivered fresh daily" - good aggregation of materials.

I'm a PD
Younger PD with plenty of insights and original material.

Crim Prof Blog
Not PD specific, but frequently updated and good commentary and comments by the community (usually).

Capital Defense Weekly's Blog
Here's their list of "what we're reading:"
A Public Defender
Arbitrary & Capricious
Blue Jersey
Capital Defense Network
CDN - HAT WAG
CLTV
C&J News
Crime & Consequences
Crim Law @ SSRN
IAVA blog
Innocence Project Daily
Justice Gambit
Kenn Lammer's Crim Law
Pardon Power
PD Stuff
Reason: Hit & Run
Sent.Law & Policy
Sex Crimes
Simple Justice
Speaking Freely
Stand Down
UnderDog Blog
Volokh Conspiracy

y

The cheapest ways to save on gas - Don't spill the boiling coffee cup!

Smart Spending (decent collection of personal finance articles) has a great article on learning to drive in order to save money:

Pretend you've got a hot copy of coffee sitting in your lap.

Seriously, this is the best description of how you should drive to get better mileage - slow starts and stops, not too much acceleration.

11 June 2008

Phylum husks for your constipation - Summary of the Atkin’s diet first phase

Summary of the Atkin’s diet first phase - This sounds like crap!

What Can You Eat?

  • · Phylum husks for your constipation, hell yeah, great.
  • · Any Meats & Eggs –lots
  • · Cheese – a few ounces
  • · SaladNo sugar dressings, like oil & vinegar
  • · Vegetables - <>
    • Bamboo Shoots, bok choy, Broccoli, Cauliflower, Celery, Chard, Collard Greens, Kale, Leeks, lettuces, peppers, Scallions, Spaghetti Sprouts, Squash, Spinach, Tomato, String Beans, Kohlrabi, Summer Squash, Water Chestnuts, Wax Beans, Zucchini
    • Yeah, carrots aren’t even on there.
  • Seasonings w/o sugar
  • Oils – which are useless without starches
  • 20 grams of carbohydrate/day – no, not cool, it comes from the shitty vegetables
  • Water – Loads of it

What Can’t You Eat?

  • fruit
  • bread
  • pasta
  • grains
  • starchy vegetables
  • nuts/seeds/legumes
  • dairy (except cheese, cream, and butter)
  • Booze – you have to reach a heightened level of zen Atkin for that (after the intro phase crap).

Get all excited because you should have lost 10 pounds.

This isn’t supposed to be long term, which sounds like a built in rational for giving the fuck up.

1 gallon of milk takes: (a) 2 gallons of water or (b) 2000 gallons of water?

New Scientist magazine had a great article in its Feb. 25 issue on "The Parched Planet," and the likelihood that ever heavier water use is pushing Earth toward famine.

The amount of water needed to produce various agricultural products:

Coffee, 2 lbs. -- 5,200 gallons
Quarter-pounder -- 2,900 gallons
Milk, 1 gallon -- 2,000 gallons
Cotton t-shirt -- 1,800 gallons
Cheese, 2 lbs. -- 1,300 gallons
Rice, 2 lbs. -- 1,300 gallons
Sugar, 2 lbs. -- 750 gallons
Wheat, 2 lbs. -- 250 gallons

Contrary info on some bullshit (hee hee) dairy funded site, moomilk.com:

qTo make a gallon of milk, a cow needs to drink how much water?

ATo make 9 gallons of milk a day, a cow must drink 18 gallons of fresh, clean water (2 gallons of water for every gallon of milk).

So which is it, 2
or 2000 gallons of water for 1 gallon of milk? I think I'll go with New Scientist over moomilk.com, but that's just me. And I'm a Jew, so I guess that means I might be the anti-Christ or something so I'm probably just tryign to stop gentiles from drinking milk so when the Rapture arrives it will be easier to beat up the left behind folks. But it's not true! Most my friends would be left behind, with me, and it's going to be a totally great party with all the uptight folks busy ascending or something.

Yes, this is what happens when my office mates get a coffee machine and we debate the price of milk. We're talking about 50 gallons of water for a teaspoon of milk here folks! Sure, most goes back in the water cycle, but that is a cycle that can't keep up with the production of cow piss --> irrigation --> evaporation --> rain --> portion to fresh water --> portion to my toilet or mouth or shower!


10 June 2008

Kottke: The banana = "the atheist's nightmare"

Man, I love this video. It's some guy explaining how the banana -- "the atheist's nightmare" -- so perfectly fits in the human hand and peels so easily that it must have been made by God**. Kirk Cameron listens intently. I can't wait for the followup video where he explains why watermelons don't have handles and what God was thinking when he built the coconut.

** Not that this guy cares or whatever, but the modern banana is a cultivated fruit...i.e. pressured by humans to, oh what's the word...evolve into its present form. And other varieties of bananas are smaller or larger and differently shaped. Some wild bananas have large hard seeds. I could go on....

GREAT Wired article on the basics of fuel efficiency!

This article has nearly all the basic info you need to get more from your gallons without the bullshit most folks try to shill (no magnets, magic fluids, "fill up in the morning" crap - too many damn myths out there these days!).

Get More Than 40 Miles Per Gallon Without a Hybrid

From Wired How-To Wiki

Photo: mag3737 via Flickr

Simple tricks to boost your fuel efficiency by 10 to 40 percent:

Hypermiling 101:

  1. Go easy on the accelerator and follow the speed limit. It's a no brainer, but how many people actually drive 55 mph? Fuel economy drops like a stone above 60 mph, so slow down. You'll bump your fuel economy by 7 to 23 percent.
  2. Take all the junk out of your trunk. Why are you hauling those tire chains in July? When's the last time you used those golf clubs? That big brush guard with the million-candlepower lights may look cool, but it's killing your fuel economy. Every 100 pounds of stuff you're needlessly hauling around drops your fuel economy by 1 to 2 percent. Ditch it and it'll rise accordingly. While you're at it, lose the roof rack and gain another 5 percent. Keep the spare though. You'll need that.
  3. Get a tune-up and use the lightest viscosity oil your engine will live with. A well-tuned engine is an efficient engine, and lighter weight oil reduces drag. Can't remember the last time you had a tune-up? Getting one could raise your fuel economy as much as 10 percent.
  4. Keep your tires properly inflated. The softer the tire, the greater the rolling resistance - and the more gas you burn. Being 10 pounds under pressure can cut fuel efficiency by 4 percent. Pump those babies up!
  5. Don't idle. How many miles per gallon do you get sitting in the drive through? Zero, that's how many. If you're going to be stationary for more than 30 seconds, turn off the engine.


Advanced hypermiling: OK, you've mastered the basics. Now you're ready for the big time.

  1. Buy a fuel economy gauge. Nothing will turn you into a hypermiler faster than seeing, in real time, exactly how much fuel you're sucking down. If your car was built after 1995, fuel economy computers like ScanGauge are plug-and-play. Older cars may require a vacuum gauge, but they're pretty easy to install.
  2. Coast. Hyper-milers suggest turning off the engine and coasting downhill. Be warned, though - automakers and some consumer groups say you could lose the power brakes and steering, making the car hard to turn and stop.
  3. Inflate tires to the maximum pressure listed on the sidewall. The pressure recommended by the automaker is a compromise between fuel efficiency, handling and comfort. If you want maximum efficiency, go for the maximum pressure. The ride quality will suffer, but you'll get better mileage. Here, too, critics have a warning - over-inflating your tires could lead to premature wear and poor handling.
  4. Lay off the brakes. In traffic, maintain a slow creep instead of accelerating and braking. Ignore the horns and middle-finger salutes.
  5. Draft. This one's controversial because it's dangerous. But we trust you: Inch up behind, say, an 18-wheeler, and kill the engine as you enter its slipstream (you'll feel it). You're drafting now, getting pulled along by the truck's gas instead of your own.

Want even better fuel economy?

Check outthe long list of tips at ecomodder.com or the hypermiling primer at cleanmpg.com.

09 June 2008

My motorcycle stolen - fucked up by strangers - recovered

The Honda Shadow VT500c was stolen a couple weeks ago after lending it to a friend in SF for the summer.

Had to go to SF to file the police report. ($10 in gas) Why they can't take your driver's license and VIN over the phone is beyond me.

Gave up on recovering it immediately. Here's to lowered expectations. Wasn't even angry really.

Get a call about a week later - "This is officer Yamamotoyamo (also my favorite brand of tea) - we found your bike and we're going to to tow it to Auto Return."

NO! Auto Return and the tow will cost $250 plus more each night it stays. I call back and try to get there before my 20 minutes are up - actually took some arm twisting and sweet talking the cop and some speedy driving. $75 down the drain from 3 hours of missed work, $15 in gas.

The ignition and gas cap were drilled out, side battery cover missing, mirror missing, ignition wires cut, other electronics screwed with. Now I'm a little angry - the messed up my bike! Clearly not going to drive the bike away, calling the tow folks and chatting with nice ladies who live nearby who tell me it's been sitting there nearly all week. Construction workers nearby weren't feeling like talking (language barrier or not snitches - no problem either way).

$60 for a tow from The Bike Guy - Steve - who's awesome and happened to be very nearby. Side note: AAA doesn't cover your motorcycle for a tow. CC Rider is another good option.

Dave at O'Hanlon's (the only place to have your 80's and 90's Honda motorcyle worked on) tells me we're lucky that Honda still stocks the missing parts and he gives me a deal on storing the bike - yes, I'm that pitiful sounding over the phone apparently. Looks like they did about $300-350 of damage. I'll also have a new rear tire and brake put on - another $150 that it needed anyway.

All in all, I'm out a bit more than $500 from the theft - really lame. The bike is now being repaired and is bound for Craigslist after this summer.

Theft is lame - but I got it back and my friend is going to help with the cost of the repairs and whatnot. The world keeps spinning, I'm still getting married, everything's beautiful and amazing nearly all the time still. Meh, moving on.

Action for the Wedding - get rid of old crap, make Megan happy!

I seem to have some gravitational field (beyond my obesity) which attracts useful stuff (at best), other people's crap, and random shit. (Feeling descriptive and fecal today, give me a break).

Over the past three years "She Who Must Be Obeyed" has campaigned for getting rid of much of my stuff - and over the past three weekends she's been winning. The dude at Getrichslowly is also getting rid of his accumulation of crapola.

I've been freecycling and craigslisting stuff consistently - and with the wedding coming up there's a newfound need for space: our wedding supplies are growing a small city in the back room where my stuff formerly resided. The wedding supplies are like the college students and hipsters invading the Mission and my crappy old computer parts, Airzooka, slingshot, clothes (from fatter and skinnier days), Zune, boxes of papers, a store demo tent (which was awesome, but too fucking small to be useful and too big to justify keeping), and other shit can't afford the rent anymore.

Yeah, my back room is the Mission without the tapas, Indian food (Alhamra!), Tacos, and music scene.

It's odd what people are into:
(1) Canon S3 camera to girl with short hair and cool messenger bag who's headed to Germany
(2) Zune to former wanna be frat guy who turned into an ecomodder and now drives a hip little Geo Metro XFI (50+ mpg)
(3) Tent to wacky lady from Moraga or some such - she was the most excited
(4) TV still looking for a home
(5) Laptop that can't charge, IBM server box, and years of computer parts to Alameda Tech Recycling (gave me a $1500 donation form for taxes, cool I suppose) - their warehouse is amazing, I actually started salivating a little which they said is common as a woman in her 40's offered me her shop rag to wipe my chin. No, not really, but it was awesome.
(6) Two 3G ipods (one broken) sold on eBay for $100
(7) Many bar exam materials sent to a friend for $100 - she's going to pass and is too damn earnest and pleasant to deserve anything bad from the world
(8) Motorcycle locks to guy with Tecate in his car's cupholder (good luck fella - you might be the real Lebowski) My motorcycle was stolen soon thereafter (not because I got rid of the locks, I'd never used them for the year I've had the bike - rather because it was lent to a friend in SF where motorcycles apparently disappear more easily than in Oakland).

06 June 2008

Fighting the system while believing in it - or "why I love my boss"

From a good article about my boss's case in the Supreme Court titled, "The Molesters' Hero":

"I sit back and think there are people who are in prison who are completely innocent," he said. "Nobody gets outraged about that. We are either going to have a justice system with rules that can weather the storms, or you might as well arm the victims and have posses decide who's right and who's wrong. I am a believer in the system and in its flaws, in that we have to work really hard at it to overcome those flaws."

02 June 2008

Security interrupts Amtrak spokesman who says photos are OK in D.C.'s union station

double-secret-guard.jpg

A BB reader says: "A local news crew was interviewing an Amtrak spokesman at D.C.'s union station who told the reporter that photography is allowed in the station. During the interview, a security guard interrupted them to say that photography/video was not allowed. Brilliant video, and hat tip to DCist who posted the link."

Link

01 June 2008

Dating:

I was happy. My girlfriend and I were dating for over a year, and so we decided to get married. My parents helped us in every way; my friends encouraged me, and my girlfriend? She was a dream!

There was only one thing bothering me and that was my mother-in-law to be.

She was a career woman, smart, but most of all beautiful and sexy, who sometimes flirted with me, quite obviously too, and made me feel quite uncomfortable.

One day, she called me and asked me to come over, to check the invitations. So I went. She was alone, and when I arrived, she whispered to me that soon I was to be married and she had feelings and desires for me that she couldn't overcome. So before I get married and commit my life to her daughter, she wants to make love to me just once.

What could I say? I was in total shock, and couldn't say a word. So, she said, I' ll go to the bedroom, and if you are up for it, just come and get me. I just watched her delicious behind as she went up the stairs. I stood there for a moment, and then turned around and went to the front door... I opened it, and stepped out of the house.

Her husband was standing outside, and with tears in his eyes, hugged me and said, we are very happy and pleased, you have passed our little test. We couldn't have asked for a better man for our daughter. Welcome to the family.

Lesson learned:

Always keep your condoms in your car.

28 May 2008

Links for the day

  1. Swarm!
  2. Food myths (expiration date, smexparation date!)
  3. Stunning, even glamorous, sea slugs.
  4. Cylon Baseships Run Windows XP?
  5. Icon sets, and more icon sets (good for use with RocketDock and Stacks)
  6. He-man's "hilarious accidental homo-eroticism"
  7. Bus + Train = This:
  8. If you are still not sure that cell phones are evil, this should convince you. Don’t ever try this! -(yes, it's fake, but a good fake) - via the Presurfer via Neatorama
  9. Shipping Container Architecture


    Photo: Peter Aaron / Esto - via Architecture and Hygiene

    It’s hard to believe that those ugly cargo shipping containers can make beautiful homes, but they do. WebUrbanist has a neat post about homes, offices, shopping malls and even hotels built from cargo containers:

    There are plenty of benefits of to the so-called shipping container architecture model. A few of these advantages include: they are plentiful, they are easily transported, they’re stackable, relatively inexpensive (as little as $900 for a used container), they can be prefabricated, and they’re extremely durable. Residential applications are also becoming a popular topic of conversation among green supporters.

    Link (via Neatorama)

  10. Powers of 10 video on the tubes.

27 May 2008

What's Your Water Footprint?

• The production of 1 kilogram of beef requires 16,000 liters of water.

• To produce 1 cup of coffee we need 140 liters of water.

• The water footprint of China is about 700 cubic meter per year per capita. Only 7% of the Chinese water footprint falls outside China.

• The USA water footprint is 2500 cubic meter per year per capita.

What’s Your Water Footprint?

Find out using a calculator provided by WaterFootpring.org


TED: "If I controlled the Internet" (a poem) ( Rives )



25 May 2008

Megan's review of "Dan in Real Life"

"Two people who who get together for the first time are not going to bowl, they're going to boink!"

22 May 2008

What kind of DJ are we looking for to do our wedding?

Crazy smart dressing friend asks, "is this a paid kind of thing?"

It's a paid thing, but we're looking for something quite a bit lower than the "shit, people go crazy for wedding, let's charge $100/hour to plug in an ipod to these speakers we got out of the back of a truck around Safeway on pay day and then talk shit about the people there into the mic while they dance to the YMCA then steal the circulating fifths of Jack Daniels floating past because the guy in charge has basically been just drinking it himself because, seriously, who wants shots from a big fucking bottle with their Aunt Whoever watching while they build up the courage to ask some girl to dance/make-out before drunk driving home and hitting a tree they couldn't see because the tears blurred their vision after being rejected by, then finding out they'd just hit on, their cousin who wasn't really even that hot so why, WHY did my mom encourage me to 'go for it, she's you're type!' ?"
Actually, yes, we are looking for a DJ, know any who fit this profile? Looking at you Pat:

Credit Cards and (online) Savings Accounts

You want it quick and dirty? Fine:

Savings: ING Direct (always a good rate, easy to start and use, no wacky restrictions, $25 bonus for starting plus $10 for the person who referred you - email me for one if you already know my email) or Alliant Credit Union (great rates, some restrictions like paying a $25 fee to be a member unless you have a local branch, and credit unions are amazing).

Credit Cards: depends on your credit and needs, but plan on carrying ZERO BALANCE and getting a CASH rewards card with NO FEE (careful, some start with no fee but charge a fee after 12 months). Visa and Mastercard are taken everywhere but offer lower rewards, American Express (AmEx) and Discover are accepted in far fewer places but offer better rewards (because they charge stores a higher fee when their cards are used). I like the Chase Freedom Cash Rewards card (3% back on most used spending categories, 1% on everything else) and AmEx from Costco for acceptable rewards and limited fees and no general screwiness. The Capital One Cash Rewards is okay (1% back on everything) if your credit is not good enough to qualify for the Chase Freedom.

There are places to compare credit cards, most of them are crap for one reason or another (they don't show you some of the best offers, they focus on cards that give higher referral bonuses, they're poorly constructed and rarely updated, etc); however, if you must use one, the most common seems to be Credit Card Offers which ignores the limitations of Discovery and AmEx cards. The reality is that many of the better reward cards get there by charging you or the shop that runs the card a higher rate (high APR), some fee (like $50 annually), or screws you with weird/high fees for being late. Alternatively, many don't charge a fee for a year but then hit you with an annual fee that you probably won't notice. That's why I suggest the Capital One (1% back but no weird or annual fees) or the Costco AmEx (accepted in way fewer places, but higher reward of 1-3% and no weird or annual fees other than being a member of Costco).

App-o-Rama: a little crazy
Some people push their debt from 0% card to 0% card hoping to get card after card that also does not charge a transfer fee. This can work pretty well (but rarely does according to "Suze" who I have no idea about - she may be crazy, she may be smart, I'm just unfamiliar) if you have a limited debt (less than $10,000) and a shit load of time on your hands to screw with all the changing and fees that should not have been charged or that you didn't know about. But you're much better off just getting a loan from your Credit Union at a reasonable rate (7% or less) and just eating that interest and making reasonable payments - otherwise you (1) get hit hard by fees, (2) get a worse credit score from continuing to open a bunch of cards that you don't pay balances on, and/or (3) end up not being able to make another 0% card with free balance transfer so you get stuck paying the crazy interest on the card that had 6 months interest free but is not 17.9% and charging you fees for your failure to pay the big minimum balance that has run up.

Not saying it can't be done, but it's rare, otherwise the credit card companies wouldn't be making money hand over fist by making these offers. It means most people are getting taken for a ride most of the time, and it's a long shitty ride in the back seat and you have to pee (really bad) and the car smells like baby farts and your friend's dog won't stop jumping on you to get to the window because he smells the baby farts so much more strongly than you but the window on his side is broken because your friend is too poor to fix it because he got some shitty credit card offer then got screwed!

Oh yeah, and some people like Mint.com for keeping track of their spending habits and account amounts (before you ask, yes, I think it's safe, and no, it's not possible for "hackers" to get your passwords from it).

Can you tell I'm thinking about money?