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January 2010

Written By: Gary on January 29, 2010 One Comment

I like the Friday Question #98 for this week: What hobbies would you pursue if money was of no concern?

The first thing I thought was “Does travel count as a hobby“? But since KIm listed travel as hobby I figured it was okay to use…

Clouds Treo 111008 001So I’ll talk about travel as my topic. For me, the most expensive part about traveling is the getting to the destination. I can be pretty happy about staying somewhere cheap and out of the way but it’s getting there. Even when I get to Costa Rica and I can usually pay about $300-ish for my flight it’s still the getting around in country that costs money.

So even when I get to my isolated places and find a cheap place to stay. It’ll cost me more to rent a scooter or 4-wheeler for the day compared to the hotel; heck a bicycle rental is half the price of a hotel. Some other things to do on a trip like a horseback ride of out to an island where you can snorkel is more than the hotel too. As vacations go, these are cheap things to do ($35-$40 a day) but when that’s exceeding your other big costs you start to notice.

I guess if the money was of no concern I might stay at nicer places and in bigger cities but I’m pretty happy in some little town by the water or up in the mountains somewhere.

I guess photography and videography would be another hobby, since I love to do that. The problem is that just ends up with more stuff for me to carry around with me when I travel. And I guess for $5,000-$8,000 I could buy more than everything I need (multiple cameras and lens of different types and two different sized video cameras) and be done with it for more than a few years. Travel is a lot more expensive over the long haul.

I guess I just need a job that lets me travel, write about it and shoot lots of photos and video!!!

Written By: Gary on January 23, 2010 No Comment

Here are a series of three videos taken in Haiti last week by CNN. They’re not of the earthquake itself but of the area afterwards.

What is so interesting is that it’s video and you can drag the mouse to look in all directions, but the video (and audio) keeps playing as you drag the video around. At 900×500 it’s pretty large video too, I can’t promise how it’ll play on your older computer. CNN put this together so maybe they’ll add more later.

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Video 1 in a three minute car ride through Haiti.
Video 2 on a three minute walk in Haiti.
Video 3 short car ride through Haiti.

It’s similar to the YellowBird demo I mentioned a few months back

Written By: Gary on January 22, 2010 No Comment

While I’ll sorely miss David Tennant, it’s time for the newest Doctor to take over the show. Matt Smith will star as The Doctor on Doctor Who this spring (April or May?) and I’m ready to see where they take the show.

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While at first glance it appears that it’ll be a younger doctor than usual that’s not all that’s changing. Russell T. Davis stepped down as Producer/Writer and it’s now Steven Moffat at the helm in charge of everything and and (I’m assuming) writing episodes. It’s enough if a change where I guess they decoded to change the Dr. Who logo this season. Here’s a mini-preview of the 2010 season:

View the above preview on YouTube.

I’m not too keen on his new trademark call of “Geronimo!” but maybe it’ll grow on me; but since it actually means “One who yawns” and nothing particularly British, I’m thinking it won’t.

An assumption being made is that this is more of a reboot of the character since the actors and person in charge is changing. So that means (to me) there won’t be much (any?) crossover between the 2005-2009 Doctor and the new one. If so that means no Rose, Donna, Martha, Mickey, etc. Although since Steven Moffat wrote “Blink”, I wouldn’t mind seeing Sally Sparrow again. The real question (to me) is what about Capt. Jack Harkness from Torchwood, Steven Moffat originally wrote the episodes that introduced him. And Torchwood is still running…

Any thoughts? Or rumors?

Written By: Gary on January 9, 2010 2 Comments

Here are some of my easy tips for reducing spending. I don’t go in to as many items as Kim (from the Friday Question) does but these can add up quick so I’ll share a few of my easiest ones. Actually I think most of these add up faster than shopping around for gas prices (even if you drive a big vehicle).

Managing Your Money All-In-One For Dummies (For Dummies (Lifestyles Paperback)) Consumer Dummies1) Pay your bills automatically (and on time)! I don’t mean electronically (this is work), I mean automatically so they just deduct your account. Set up auto-bill payments just one time so bills comes out the of the bank (generally on the day due, you can’t pay it any closer that that) any you don’t have to write checks, buy stamps or take the time to do it. If it’s a regular payment (same amount every month) that can’t do direct withdrawal see if your bank can send a check for you, my bank does it for a quarter (less than a stamp) and I never have to think about it. If you do this you’ll avoid any fees or fines for tardy bills. I’m assuming you already do direct deposit for your checks, don’t you?

2) Keep what you drink around you. If you’re always drinking water keep a few in the trunk. Or grab a cold soda on the way out of the house. I keep a case of water bottles* in the garage, if I take an empty out of the car, I put in a full one. If you’re heading out to a picnic bring the sodas with you. If you’ve got a fridge at work, keep sodas/water/etc. there. If this stops you from buying one drink a day ($1.00-$1.75) and you purchased your drinks on sale (stock up dummy!) you could easily save $365 a year, if this stops you from buying two drinks a day you could double that. Even just twice a week could pocket you a $100 at the end of the year. I’m not suggesting that you take your drink into a restaurant or movie theatre just if you’e going to get one anyways.

3) Pay a little attention to grocery sales. I shop for groceries for myself and traditionally when trying coupon cutting I waste more time cutting and looking at the store for the coupons then I save. But look for the obvious: If Orange Juice is on sale for $2 a gallon (down from $4) and you drink a gallon a week, stock up, pay attention to the dates though. If the cereal you like is on sale, stock up! And if you soda pop you drink is on sale, buy lots, it keeps for a while. Besides you want to keep some at your desk at work.

4) If you ever eat out, buy an Entertainment book. It’s not just food, most food coupons are B!G!, but could save the price of a book just with the Radio Shack, Target and Border’s book coupons. I’m not saying go to restaurants that you don’t normally go to, I’m saying just look at the book and go to the same places you already go! After the first year, you’ll buy one for both of your cars (if your family has two). Better yet, buy one before the family goes on vacation and use it there, because if you’re going to eat at unfamiliar restaurants, you might as well as use one you’ve got coupons for!

5) Don’t pay too much for gasoline. Speaking of saving money when shopping for gas, you can pay more than the cheapest place, just not too much. Some people drive across town for 5 cents a gallon, but not out of the way may save them 3 cents. Take two seconds to check prices at GasBuddy.com and see what’s average and if prices are going up or down (once you select your cities you can bookmark it). For example, there’s a few places at $2.59 but that’s across town but there is a bunch around $2.63 on the way to where I’m going but now I know to ignore the $2.77+ stations, which is what it was a few days ago. BTW, there’s an iPhone app for that.

6) Use the library for books, audiobooks or DVDs. Figure out how to reserve items on-line and they’ll contact you when it’s sitting at the counter. My library seems to put books in the electronic catalog when they order, so I can reserve best-sellers months before they come out; they’ll even ship them between branches for me. Just return them on time so you don’t pay fines.

7) Don’t buy lottery tickets! But then again if you don’t play you can’t win. That reminds me, I need to check my ticket numbers. I’ll admit, I do buy tickets, but $3 would be a busy week for me. But someone has to win, don’t they?

Most of these, especially the first five, are easy to do and don’t require much change in your life. If anything the first one will save you time and money.

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