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Frugality at it's finest (and funniest)

January 9th, 2008 at 07:07 am

If you haven't had a chance to check this out, go over to the blog for the entries for the

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ultimate cheapskate's contest. The contest is over, but the stories are really good. Some of them are kind of ordinary, and some have a touch of the scammer, but some of them are just jawdropping, and there are some really funny ones too.

My computer's being bratty, but look for the ones with dental floss, or roadkill. Wink

Career Potential of a Jester and a Wench

August 17th, 2006 at 02:33 pm

I was reading an

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interesting post by Dumb Little Man that talked about ways to improve one's performance to achieve job success.

Plainly speaking, Wenching doesn't earn enough to make a career out of it. Not unless you are earning commission at a high-priced stall. Or if you open up your own stall. But at the Souk, I'm not bringing home the megabucks. And they don't do internal hires, so I have little chance of advancing to a managerial position.

Working in the Forum presents its own occupational hazards and the biggest is that there's not a lot of job security. There have been and probably will be cutbacks and layoffs. Also, the job descriptions are pretty firmly entrenched and it's difficult to make the jump from one job track to another. Add job consolidation to that, and it becomes pretty easy to see a career stagnate.

For the most part, I like Jestering at the Forum, but I know and my bosses do too, that there is no real opportunity for advancement. Most days I let this information simmer in my brain, but I realize that I'm not capitalizing on ways in which I could advance myself.

These are some things that I can do at the Forum:

* Get to work before my boss
* Become proficient in webpage maintenance. I don't really work in ancient
* Create a better foundation in automating the little tasks
* Streamline data both in and out of the Forum
* Dress more professionally
* Take more initiative in planning meetings

In a later post, I'll talk about what I can do personally to advance my career options beyond the Forum and the Souk.

The Mercenary's Advice

August 9th, 2006 at 06:31 pm

During the summer, a few college kids return to the Souk to earn a couple of bucks while classes are out. One of these is a buddy of mine named Josh. He's one of those scary-smart people: the kind that will stop mid-way through a knock-knock joke to make a comment about postcolonialism's effects on tofu. He's taken about 1 bazillion shifts, so I see him a lot lately. He's a good student and a good worker.

Anyway, Josh was telling me about how two other wenches (Irene and Alexa) were playing a trick on our supervisor by making calls to each other and pretending to be a customer looking for llamas. This allowed one of the girls to leave her stall and goof off somewhere else in the Souk.

My response: high dudgeon.

Why? Because it's annoying, immature and more importantly, when they goof off, I end up pulling some of their weight. At the end of the day, we've got to clean up the Souk, so you can imagine how I feel after scooping up more than my fair share of llama poop after hours on my feet. Not to mention that the manager got mad at me when she couldn't find the two of them.

So we're mucking out stalls, I'm frothing at the mouth about slackers and Josh stops me in the middle of the rant to blow my mind with this statement: it's pointless for me to work as hard as I do.

So I pick up the tails of my rant and start frothing again about work ethics, responsibility and personal integrity and Josh stops me again with: you don't get rewarded here by working hard - in fact, you get punished.

So I'm getting totally offended here because of course it's important to work hard: if you're going to do a job, do it right. I'm lucky to have the job at the Souk, for all my complaints. It's helping me get out of debt, and I get a discount on camels, plus free martinis before 9 am.

But then Josh says: If you're going to work hard, you need to correlate your effort with your pay. That doesn't happen at the Souk. It doesn't matter if you sell 10 llamas or 10,000 -- you get the same paycheck. Not only that, everyone else around you gets the same pay as you. Think about it. The only people who benefit from your extra effort and sales are the investors. You don't get anything.

So while the mushroom cloud in my head was settling and as I was on the floor picking up the remaining pieces of my brain, Josh kicks me while I'm down and says:

If you worked more for yourself, and put even a little of the effort into that as you did here, you would probably do better. If your work is successful, -you- get the benefit.

And Josh points out that yes, while we are both scooping the poop; he's using the money to help defray school costs, which is helping him succeed in his career. We both point out the merits of using the Souk to achieve my financial goals, and the fact that as a job, it's not a bad one.

But Josh makes a knock-out punch and concludes his sermon: take a look at the long term goals and invest in yourself at least as much as someone else.

I've been mulling his words (and coddling my bruised ego) and today, I saw a

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post that reinforced his words.

So my homework? Think of the value I can provide and what it might be worth. Not to be afraid to put my skills on the open market. And to put my foot in Irene's behind the next time I see her on the telephone.

Works for Me Wednesday: Old Socks

August 9th, 2006 at 01:05 pm

I love socks. I can never seem to find a matching pair when I want them, but I love them so very much. I buy them in packs, and I always seem to have a stray hanging around somewhere. I use them for loads of random stuff, and sometimes I even wash them.

My favorite use for old socks is to keep fruit from being bruised. I despise bruised fruit: I won't eat it if it's bruised, but I want to pack it in my lunch. So I put the fruit in the sock, and it stays nice and perfect for me. I do this with pretty much all fruit except citrus (cause it has a protective rind) and berries (because they get smooshy too easily.) Bananas, pears and apples are perfect for this treatment. I don't want to find berries smooshed in my toes, so I don't use little fruits. YMMV.

Anyway, if the thought of this makes you queasy, then there are other uses for old socks. I also use them as potholders, and as dusters (just stick your hands in and voila!) I guess I feel like my feet aren't too gross, so my socks aren't contaminated by working double-duty.

So if you're a picky eater and/or kind of a slob (like me, in both cases) then don't throw out an old sock! Smile

Works for Me Wednesday: Coffee Tricks

July 26th, 2006 at 01:35 pm

I really love coffee. I desperately need it to get me going in the morning. But sadly, I'm kind of a coffee snob: I have friends that work in Corporate Coffee Houses of Doom and I've fallen under the siren call of overpriced java. Home brewed stuff just doesn't taste the same.

But I've also coffee-jockeyed (not for the green mermaid) and I know that the differences between store and home-brewed coffee are so minor that even when you are too groggy to find your own toes, you can make a good cup. You can use a fraction of the money saved by eliminating the

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latte factor on your set-up, and soon you'll be making mocha-choka-latte-yayas with the best of them.

First off -- start with decent beans. Most major grocery stores carry a selection of whole beans under their own label, along with specialty brands like from the Green Mermaid. So if you're attached to a specific blend you can generally find it. Of course, you can always buy coffee in bulk from any coffee shop. I am a firm supporter of
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Fairly Traded Coffee, like Equal Exchange. The pricing on these can be a few dollars more per lb than the grocery store blends, but are on par with the coffeehouse blends. But as a pound of coffee goes a loooong way, I think it's worth the extra $$ to provide the farmers with a sustainable crop and wage.

Once you've gotten your beans, DO NOT GRIND THEM. Whole roasted beans keep their potency for (I think) a few weeks. Ground beans lose theirs after a few days. Most people get a pound of premium roasts, grind it, keep it in the freezer and use it for a month, but that doesn't stop the oil oxidation that occurs after the beans are split**, and you're left with a flat-tasting product that isn't as appetizing.

So you have two options: get a week's worth of ground coffee at a time. Or buy a little grinder and grind each pot fresh. This is what the coffee shops do: the coffee for each pot is premeasured, stored in an airtight container (in a cabinet) and then ground right before brewing. I think it's unwise to store the grounds in the fridge or freezer because they absorb odors.

It's unnecessary to get a fancy-schmancy ones grinder: unless you are making espresso, you can do fine with a regular one. If you are making espresso, there are plenty of online sites that can guide you through the home-brewing process. This can require you to be more careful with your grinding and brewing equipement, but it's still cheaper (in the long term) if you've got a cup-a-day habit.

If you're really feeling adventurous, you can always
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roast your own coffee -- this gives the freshest taste, and can be a good economical and ethical option. I've never done it, but it looks pretty easy and fun (you can even use a skillet or the stove).

If you like the speciality drinks, you can typically find the syurps for sale in the shops (or their equivalent in the supermarket.) These are typically artificially flavored and full of corn syrup, so if you channel your inner
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Martha and make your own flavorings, you can get an even better tasting (and better for you) result.

Good luck!

** oh yeah: the coffee oxidizes more quickly once its ground for the same reason ice melts more quickly once its crushed: more surface area (relative to volume) exposed to the air.