Saturday, March 29, 2014

Saving on a rainy day

Since my first full-time job in 1983, I've only had 2 employers that did not pay me via direct deposit. I have always set up the funds to go into my checking account. That didn't change when I began this job 2 months ago.

It only took my second paycheck to come in via direct deposit. When I verified funds, I found it went into my savings account instead. When this has happened with previous employers, I'd contact payroll to correct the error.

In today's pouring rain, I realized 'correcting the error' would be a mistake. Why?

Time and money.
1.  It only takes me 1 to 3 minutes to transfer the funds from savings to checking using my credit union's mobile phone app.

2. When I choose an amount to the nearest whole dollar, it saves me a ton of time to reconcile the balance. As I don't want to leave less than the account's previous balance, it forces me to save, even only if it seems like a little.

On my first deposit, I left about $50 in savings and transferred the rest to checking. On my most recent paycheck, I left $20 in the savings account.

Most money savers already know this, but as a fiscally conscious yet frugally challenged person, my brain's bulb lit up 200 watts. I just saved $70 in my last 2 paychecks. 

I get paid every other Thursday. That's 26 paychecks. If I leave $20 in my savings account from every paycheck for the next 12 months, I'll have saved $520.

Chump change no more.

Sunday, March 23, 2014

Women's Bowling Tournaments (or lack thereof)

An early league trophy
Today I was scheduled to bowl in the 8th Annual San Francisco USBC Women's Tournament at Classic Bowl in Daly City. It was scheduled to begin at 10 am. I would have been there anyway for practice with friends from Wednesday league.

Found out yesterday I wouldn't bowl the tournament. It ended up being another practice session. Not necessarily a bad thing.

Due to the low turnout (8 teams  = 32 women), we cancelled. It would not have been worth our strongest bowler's time and money to drive 50+ miles from her house to battle for payouts less than our $80 entry fee (doubles, singles and 4-person team).

I bowl 3 to 7 tournaments a year. All but 1 or 2 of them are outside the San Francisco Bay Area. Of all the tournaments I have bowled in the past 6 years since I began league, only 2 have been women's - Sea Bowl in Pacifica and a state tournament in Fresno.

What frustrates me is that once the tournament started, there were at least 7 other female leaguers (including me) on other lanes not bowling in it. Four of us have 150+ averages. The remaining 3, 175 and higher. Krystal didn't know until I told her. It's my guess at least one of the women practicing didn't know either.

In my humble opinion, I'd like to offer a few suggestions that might generate a better turnout:

  1. Early notice - Put out the word, especially via email and on social media (Facebook, Twitter) 3 months BEFORE the tournament date. This gives women with families and many other commitments to clear calendars and organize teams. I didn't know about the tournament until late February. By word of mouth.
  2. Friendly reminders - Get people to pass out flyers to women on their league night.
  3. Recruit women without teams - as I did with both leagues I'm currently in, I didn't know anyone. I just signed up and got placed. I bet there'd be enough interested women not on a team would sign up and form their own teams. These are women you would not get otherwise.
  4. Open the invitation to other Bay Area USBC leagues. I know several women league bowlers not in SFUSBC that would have participated but could not. The Asian American Bowling Association's tournaments permit any USBC sanctioned league bowler to participate as long as 50% of the team is of Chinese or Japanese ancestry, or bowl in a Chinese or Japanese league.
I don't claim to know all the answers. What I do know is that there are a lot of recreational/sporting functions out there league bowling has to compete against. Don't make it more difficult for women who want to bowl other than weekly leagues and can't.

Sunday, March 16, 2014

Take a bath, clean your tub

Yes, that's a picture of my bathtub. Clean, shiny, and free of soap scum. And I got it that way by taking a bath. With baking soda and shampoo. No scrubbing needed.

The key ingredient - baking soda. Inexpensive, easy to find, extremely versatile and a household item most people already have at home.

The baking soda softens the water and rinses off the soap scum around the tub. It'll do the same for your hair and remove shampoo buildup.

Run a load of without clothes in your washing machine with baking soda and vinegar in place of detergent and it will clean out the buildup in the machine's agitator and tub.

My favorite use of baking soda - clogged toilets. I pour about 2/3 cup into the toilet, then 2-3 short squirts of dish detergent (original formula Dawn works the best), vinegar, and about 2 cups of hot water. Repeat application until the clog dissipates. Since finding this information on the internet, it hasn't failed me yet. No plunger, snake, or expensive visit from the plumber needed.

I know many experienced household cleaners have a bunch more uses for baking soda than I do. Like tissues, it's a must have in my house. If I'm down to a single box, it's off to the store for more.

Monday, March 10, 2014

Penguin in a Wetsuit

This past weekend, SFGate featured a story on longtime California Academy of Sciences resident Pierre the Penguin, who turned 31 last month (February 16).

Pierre's claim to fame was in 2007, when senior biologist Pam Schaller, wetsuit manufacturer Oceanic Worldwide and children's costume seamstress Celeste Angel desiged a custom made wetsuit for him in 2007.

source: USA Today

Here's the 2008 local TV story on Pierre from KRON-TV:

Pierre eventually grew his feathers back and no longer wears the wetsuit. He now lives happily ever after with his colony of followers and his woman, Homey.

Sunday, March 02, 2014

A History of Cell Phones I've Owned 1997 - 2015

This past Friday, I got an email from Best Buy for a weekend special offer for iPhone 4S and 5 owners to upgrade to a 16GB 5S for $1. The special also includes a $150 gift card. So immediately after work, I drove down the block to Best Buy at Tanforan to exchange my 4S.

While the offer wasn't as wonderful as it first sounded (the $150 gift card was applied toward the 5S purchase), it was still a very good deal. I spent about $75 total (new phone cover, charger and activation fee).

As someone who once eschewed ownership of an iPhone, the 5S is my second Apple product. I've never owned an Android phone so I can't say if the iPhone is better or worse. But in comparison to a Blackberry Curve 8310 (my first smartphone), it is worlds better and the closest thing to a pocket-sized laptop.

With the new 5S, I now officially have owned more cell phones than cars. I thought it'd be fun to recap the history of all the cell phones I've bought.

1. Motorola Microtec, 1997-1999. 

source: Forum XDA Developers
As my first cell phone from Cellular One, the phone number they assigned me is the number I still have today. It was too heavy and bulky to carry in my purse so I kept it in the glove box of my car. I bought it primarily for emergency purposes. I don't think I actually talked on the phone more than a dozen times in the 2 years I owned it.

2. Nokia 8210, 1999-2001.

source: Wikipedia
With this phone, I went from the bulkiest and heaviest to my smallest owned phone. It was the first phone I carried in my purse, the first and last phone to be charged roaming fees, and the last phone that I would turn off when it wasn't in use. I eventually gave the phone to a friend of an ex-boyfriend when I got a Nokia 3650.

3. Nokia 3650, 2001-2004.
Technology really jumped when I got this phone. It was my first phone with a pretty awesome camera and bluetooth. I knew it was a cool phone when I saw Sydney Bristow (Jennifer Garner's character in "Alias") carry it with her.

I kept this phone powered on at all times and became a fixture on my desk while at work. I sold the phone in its original box and all its accessories at a yard sale to a younger guy who had only a clamshell phone without bluetooth or a camera. He was so appreciative he insisted he pay me $40 cash for it.

4. Sony Ericsson W600, 2004-2008.
source: Wikipedia
This phone didn't really offer anything more than my previously owned Nokia 3650. I got this phone because I was eligible for an upgrade and didn't want to fall behind having a phone without the latest technology.

I liked the swivel design and how it felt like a landline phone when I used it. I owned this phone longer than I normally would have, probably because I wasn't quite ready to give in to a Treo, the bulky smartphone all the techies had.

5. Blackberry Curve 8310, 2008-2012.

source: AT&T Wireless
My first smartphone, cost subsidized from my employer. I was eligible to buy an iPhone but after 4 people "over" sang their praises about getting one, it only made me more determined not to get one. This was my way of not jumping on the hot and trendy bandwagon. It was the phone I began to send and receive email and text on a regular basis, which many use a lot more than voice calls these days.

It was this phone another boyfriend would constantly play with when we were first dating. It endeared me to him even more to see him so fascinated with a phone that could surf the internet. For our first Christmas together, I got him a gift card through his cell phone carrier so he could get his first smartphone.

6. Apple iPhone 4S, 2012-2014.
source: AT&T Wireless
Resistance is futile. I was in my interminable unemployment phase of 3.5 years and promised myself a new phone once I got back to work.

But as rebooting the Blackberry became a habit, I could no longer wait for a new phone. I found no other phones that had as much excitement as an iPhone, even after 3 generations. Nearly everyone I knew had an iPhone, so they were no longer the short-lived trendy gadget I thought they'd be. Once I got it, I knew I had some catching up to do. A phone with so much demand, my first 4S was stolen during practice at Classic Bowl.

7. Apple iPhone 5S, 2014-present.
My latest and greatest. Longer and thinner than the 4S, it's got all the cool features that makes the iPhone an essential, yet fun tool. The best feature I've found in the 5S so far is LTE.

When my 4S was in wi-fi territory, it often had problems loading and I'd have to turn off the wi-fi feature and revert back to 4G. With the 5S, it loads right away, thanks to LTE. The LTE speed is about equal to DSL speed. My cable internet connection at home is by far the fastest.

So that's all for now. If my next phone is an Apple, this will be the first line of cellphones I'll have owned more than 2 times.