House For Sale?

marcussell
       

No I’m not selling our house, yet. Lately though, I’ve been scanning and mentally tagging—with or without approval from my wife—some items that I might sell online. Signs of the times? Maybe, maybe not. But don’t be alarmed as we’re not at that level of need, at least for now; I’m just following one of my golden rules that says “Practice makes perfect.” In this case, selling.

In the past I’ve sold items that I know got wifey’s disapproval, not to mention irritation. A few years back I sold my mountain bike for only PhP 2500, which I initially got for around PhP 17000, just after three years of having it. What followed next was my 1-year old Playstation 2 for only PhP 5000 over the original price of around Php 15000. The last one was our old car. I sold it for only PhP 50000 (in my defense, the Kia’s resale value is really low) just almost after 4 years with us. We got it for PhP 128000.

Frankly speaking, I felt a bit sad having to let go of those items. But then, selling and getting a payment every time for each transaction gave me some sense of accomplishment; of course, not until I later get to tell my wife about each sale. Every time I tell her “The buyers were so happy, I had a good deal”, her raised eyebrow tells me she couldn’t agree more—that’s agreeing with the buyers being happy but disagreeing with me having a good deal. I wonder when she’d get a court hold order for me to stop selling.

In my quest to perfect the trade, I started asking some friends around while embarrassingly telling the stories of my recent non-profitable activities-–their shaking heads and looks of disbelief and regret (for not buying it instead) confirm my wife’s opinion. I likewise checked the web for some tips and eventually re-activated my ebay account (like a cocked gun ready to be used). Luckily, I also reached the site www.claimspages.com that has an item depreciation guide which could help me about estimating an item’s selling price. The list made me realize that not all items have 10% depreciation over a 10 year period. I must have been busy pestering my seat mate during our 4th year high school accounting class. Ti abi.

My eagerness to start selling some petty items started again when we bought a multi-function printer. This item immediately made our existing scanner obsolete. Just the perfect reason—an item for disposal which is still too good for freecycle. And so just a couple of days after I posted the item in ebay, I got a deal with someone. He bid for half the price which is not bad for electronic gadgets. A few emails and SMS later, I received the payment (thru GCash) and I shipped the scanner in return. It was an exciting experience, my first ebay sale and my first time to receive payment thru GCash. Now, I’m really selling. Happy buyer + Happy seller = Happy wife.

How long will it take me to take our room TV out of its mounting? Now I wonder.

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Drive Like a Miser

It seems that gas price hike will be here for quite a long while for reasons that the average person like me would never really know. There are so many factors that affect oil prices and some of which could be the Middle East’s peace and order situation; the US recession which until now Dubya hasn’t directly accepted to be happening; China’s sudden automotive demands as most Chinese got tired of riding bikes that sooner or later obesity will be as common as dumplings in this part of the world; and locally, we can blame our government for deregulating the oil companies—but this is debatable.

So while we are busy thinking who’s supposed to be blamed other than ourselves, it may be just right for us to start looking at the mirror and check if we’ve done our part to alleviate the effect of this situation which is going way out of our control. Some self-awareness check will not only save our pockets and wallets but we also get to save our sanity and most importantly, our environment.

Today while lazily surfing the web, my mouse led me to Ecomodder.com which has an article about 104 hypermiling / ecodriving tips. Surprisingly, I’ve been doing most of their tips already. So here are my own top 10 tips that others may learn and use as well.

  1. Drive less. Avoid driving if you can. Just think about the heavy traffic you’d encounter on your way and this should already convince you stay put at home and do something more productive with lesser carbon footprint.
  2. Track your fuel consumption. Take a conscious effort to track your fuel mileage. Our Honda City’s digital Trip A and Trip B meter is a big help when it comes to this. By the way, please, track your consumption once you get home or has stopped somewhere. You don’t want to run over pedestrians or other cars while fiddling with your calculator.
  3. Leave early and don’t rush. It’s funny but I’ve been thinking of doing this. Having a car makes most of us think that we can hit the snooze alarm a couple of times in the morning with the assurance that we can beat time to work by driving like a crazy Takuma Sato. I later realized that beating the clock—and the red light—is a No-Win situation: you get irritated because you expect everyone to rush just like you do, and you get to pump unnecessary gas in the process.

    miser
    Not Takuma.
  4. Note your transition points. Ecomodder says ”If you regularly travel the same roads, make a conscious effort to note (memorize) the points along the way where transitions occur that maximize efficiency.” Planning would allow you to identify where to safely coast (if I remember it right, I read that it is illegal to coast in some states in the US), anticipate turns and brake points. Lesser braking, more savings.
  5. Avoid drive-thrus. This is to avoid idling. Save on gas. Save on fast foods.
  6. Windows up. This is a no-brainer in the Philippines as spitting in our country is not a crime. Do I need to explain further? Hahaha. Just my compelling reason for driving windows up. Seriously, it has something to do with aerodynamics (or wind drag) which has an effect on the gas mileage. And of course back to that spitting issue.
  7. Heavy traffic: play the accordion. Ecomodder says ”If faced with worst-case “stop & crawl” traffic conditions, leave as much space ahead of you as possible and continually “accordion” that space to keep your vehicle moving near a constant speed while the cars in front of you stop & start. Yes, some people will cut into the space you create ahead of you. Deal with it. Note that this may aggravate following drivers who can’t absorb the big picture, and that must be taken into account.” Well, I’ll try to deal with it. No promises though.
  8. Minimize use of air conditioning. Ecomodder says ”Air conditioning requires a lot of power. Use it sparingly.” Once again, AC on or off, don’t forget to keep those windows up. Believe me, you’ll thank me for this tip once you get to drive here in the Philippines.
  9. Be smooth. I think I qualify as one. Just don’t ask the jeepney drivers I’ve honked at which brings me to my top 10.

miser1

10. Don’t keep up with the Joneses. Ecomodder says ”It [sic] easy to be competitive when Resist knee-jerk retaliation to other drivers’ aggressive actions. Don’t let other drivers lead you astray from your driving style.” Now this is more like a test of my character rather than a test to save gas. The pinoy Joneses are the hari ng kalsada (king of the roads) – your friendly jeepney/tricycle drivers. I guess I’ll be able to keep up with this tip if I leave home early to work.

There you go. Let’s save gas the rational way and please stop sending me emails to boycott the giant oil companies–it’s foolish, it’s temporary and it just won’t work.

reference: Ecomodder.com

Of Pricey Seafood and Iron Man

The recent gas price hike didn’t keep us inside our house on a weekend. It’s not that we’re rich or never really cared if a liter will cost us around Php 50.00 (>USD 1.00) but it’s just that we craved for Indian food since last week. And Sunday was a much awaited day and when it finally arrived, we were so raring to go. I was looking forward to this day that I had my red collared shirt pressed.

Originally we were headed for Bollywood restaurant in Greenbelt 3 Makati. After attending mass, however, in the Shrine of Jesus church, we decided that maybe the giant Mall of Asia (MOA) would have some Indian food to offer. Less than 10 minutes of driving, most of it spent at the exit and pedestrian crossings, from one parking lot to another we reached the mall.

Like past visits in MOA, I had mixed feelings of excitement and confusion as soon as we stepped inside. This mall is so huge that it has a dizzying effect especially if you don’t exactly have a plan in mind to where you’re headed. Or maybe I’m just not the window shopping expert who relaxes at the sight and thought of the numerous stores ahead.

It was already lunch time so we immediately checked the stores locator. Bingo! We spotted an obvious Bollywood alternative. The name itself shouts I’m an Indian food restaurant: Prince of Jaipur. I likewise noted Fish & Co.‘s location. I got hungrier with anticipation.

Disappointingly, the Indian restaurant is deserted. It was as if a police caution tape has been placed around it while its surrounding restaurants had flocks of patrons, some are even eating al fresco. For whatever reasons, none were inside Jaipur’s. An empty Indian restaurant during lunch time is just not a good sign so we ditched the idea of eating there. Maybe our second choice would be good.

fishnco
Image grabbed from website.

Fish & Co. was enticing. Once we got inside the restaurant, the smell of the place tells me this one is a hit. The place is almost packed and everyone seems to be enjoying their meal. Happy customers mean good food, right? As we got seated the menu was promptly provided. The price list got my attention though. But since my mind was conditioned to have anything Indian, the Seafood curry on the menu convinced me to give it a chance. My wife picked the Prawn Fettuccini.

Our orders were served in no time. The presentation was just like in the menu book. So far my two senses agree that I got the right stuff. But just as my olfactory and vision are feasting on what’s on the table, my taste buds tell me that I’ve been robbed yet I continued eating. I even tried if my wife got better pasta than she ever had. Unfortunately, the umhs and the ahhs never came. Both orders didn’t deserve a round of applause. And by the way, the clam chowder is a shame compared to Don Henrico’s. ‘Curry $14, Pasta $10, having Sunday lunch at Fish & Co. priceless’ is just commercial tagline that won’t fit. The food is overpriced, period.

Next time, we’re eyeing MOA’s Sakae Sushi. Does buffet ring a bell?

***

ironman

Good thing we got our ticket for the 1:20 PM showing of the Iron Man at Centerstage—one reason to scram out of Fish & Co.

As I’m never an avid reader of marvel comics, I’m just going to give my pros and cons of this movie just the way I saw it.

Pros:

  • I dozed off at the first part of the Errr, this must be in Cons.
  • Setting aside Mythbusters, I find the effects such as the transformation and Iron Man’s flight great (I’m a sucker for anything that flies—except flies). We never know if such technology would someday come to reality but to quote ‘it’s all funded by the military’ should give us a hint.
  • The sound effects are overwhelming. Hearing the Jericho blast out of the missile pod makes me smile and that sonic boom Iron Man creates is pure pleasure.
  • Gadgets and cars galore!
  • The humor lines and puns are perfect.

Cons:

  • Story drags at first part plus the fact that someone invented something sophisticated inside a cave raises eyebrows.
  • Surgery and implants inside a crude environment? I wonder if anyone would survive for I could be wrong though, I’m no medical expert.
  • Let stupid villains be a thing of the past please. And because this movie continues to stereotype people, somewhere in the Middle East is likely an anti-Iron Man sentiment brewing.
  • Gwyneth Paltrow’s character is pathetic. Must be the talent fee that convinced her to still do it.

Overall, this movie is great if watched with a couple of friends over a bottle of beer just to kill time. And remember, always shutdown thoughts of the Mythbusters prior to watching the movie.

Spam, Anyone?

SPAM

Function: noun

Etymology: from a skit on the British television series Monty Python’s Flying Circus in which chanting of the word Spam overrides the other dialogue

Date: 1994

: unsolicited usually commercial e-mail sent to a large number of ad- dresses

(www.m-w.com)

Coming out of bed from a short sleep after a graveyard shift duty, an idea pop out of nowhere (or out of boredom): Hey, why not put to good use the spams I regularly receive? And with that trash thought, comes…trash, of course. G. I. G. O–Garbage In, Garbage Out.  So blog world, please welcome my spam blog.

This blog is mainly all about forwarded emails coming from my wife, family members, friends and of course, last but not the least, spammers. These emails range from tips on health, safety, car maintenance and home care. Some are urban legends that by the power of the internet get recycled and create another wave of terror and sleepless nights to its clueless recipient. Others are jokes – both green or clean – and others are religious chain mails that threatens a gullible receiver of death or misfortune if not forwarded in 10 seconds to 10 contacts. And this is just a few of the emails I’ve received so far. In short this is a blog of emails on everything and anything under the sun. More often than not, I would become a spammer myself as I would forward emails that I think are good to my contact groups. Ti abi. The cycle never ends.

Nevertheless, I still think that not all spams are created equal. What is trash to me, may actually work for others. And so instead of deleting these mails, I’d bury them all here for others to read and learn. I hope you enjoy My Spam Blog.

The David Among the Giant Printers

Choices for printers have improved a whole lot since the days of slow black and white matrix printers. Anyone can now have faster quality prints at home that years ago could only be achieved through costly commercial printing press services. Now we have one in our hands. It’s a Brother all-in-one printer 150C model. An impulsive but justified buy. A printer, scanner and copier in one package at the price of just approximately Php 4000 (<USD 100) is money well spent.

This brand may not be as popular as Canon or HP when it comes to printers, but the features it has are competitive enough. The printer’s interface is user friendly. Its overall case and parts appear sturdy which remind me of our Brother portable typewriter that I’ve done a good deal of torture but still remains in operation until now—15 years later. Hopefully this multi-printer will stay strong just like his brother (pun intended).

Scanned images and print outs appear better than expected. At first we got disappointed when the photo prints outs had lines in it but after reading the user’s manual (duh!) and following the instructions a better print came out. I can’t say it’s perfect, but it’s like just any other photo I received from my sister who I know got a Canon photo printer and from some friends who developed their digital images thru professional developing centers. By the way, it has four separate ink cartridges (black, magenta, cyan and yellow) which makes it economical. Only the consumed color gets to be replaced. My resume will use up only the black one first anyhow.

Nothing is perfect though. Upon installation I saw some issues with it. The scanning software doesn’t have a preview unlike my Canon’s LiDE 20 which I find very useful as it lessens scanning time when doing small size papers such as paper bills which I used to test it. I read in the manual that it’s illegal to scan money. Don’t worry I don’t intend to forge my 500 bill. Though I wish it could multiply just like that. Ti abi.

printer
AC Cord on lower left corner. Scanner bed is shown as lifted to access USB port.
printer2
Red arrow pointing at USB port.

Lastly, I find the AC cord and USB connections weird. I expect the AC cord to be at the rear part and the USB port just somewhere visible. The port is hidden underneath the scanner bed which must be lifted in order to connect/remove the cable. I don’t know if the other multi-printer brands are set up like this.

Overall, this neat multi-printer will make the top brands a run for their money. It’s like David vs. Goliath. It’s like AMD vs. Intel. Hmm. It’s a stretch, and let’s not go there. It’s for another blog.

 

Here Comes Bum Days

 

Every working day seems to be getting gloomier and gloomier at work but I still exude a positive look to most people—to my colleagues, to my peers. In short, I’m becoming a professional hypocrite. Ti abi. But that’s the way it should be right now. There’s no point in surrendering even if the fight seems worthless and unwinnable.  Sooner or later I’d be a bum but until that time comes I try to be positive. Remember: choose to be happy.

So what have I done so far to soften the impact of the inevitable? I’ve made sure that I equipped myself with bum tools.

  1. Unpaid car. Nice to drive around with. Necessary to eliminate couch rashes.
  2. Books. Lots of it. I think I’d be able to read most of it while in career hibernation. I’d start to worry when I start re-reading my wife’s Archie comics.
  3. Cable TV and Internet subscription. Other than being certified bum tools, both may be my connection to the outside world.  Which reminds me to check the schedule of the TV show Til Debt Do Us Part.
  4. DVDs. Genuine DVDs. Got to have popcorns and beer to go along with these.
  5. A Brother. Yes, a Brother multi-printer. The brother that can help me distribute my resume print outs while on a job hunt.
  6. Rubik’s cube. I don’t know if the recent recession and attrition is the reason this cube puzzle was revived. I’m smelling conspiracy here.

For now these should suffice to keep me occupied for the bum days to come.

 

Auto Financing, Anyone?

One of the benefits of killing time is that I get to sit in front of my PC, stare blankly at the glowing CRT and instinctively place both of my hands on the keyboard’s home keys. This is also one of those times when I dream I have my own treadmill and gym set which could be a healthier way to pass time. So while I’m not there yet, I let my typing fingers do the walking for now.

Just a few weeks ago while unconsciously surfing the net like a “career zombie” trying to find a plan B after our company pulls out of its Philippine operation, I chanced upon a sticky thread on one of my favorite automotive hangout. The thread’s title is “…is looking for new talent.” That intrigued me. I can drive, I can do two-point reverse maneuver, I can blindly pass through Daang Hari at night and I can grab the hand brakes while my wife does a sharp turn that feels like 80 kph. So what could be better than these?

I clicked to read on.

To my disappointment they’re not looking for dummy drivers. They’re looking for someone who can do automotive journalism—still some dummy of sort. And so I thought that while I still haven’t seen my career plan B yet, I might as well make this one my plan C. I sent a private message to one of the administrators.

Unfortunately, I received no acknowledgment since then. I actually returned to the thread to check if my foolish mind failed to see the exact date when it was posted. It was just recently. Damn.

Today, however, while checking my emails after graveyard duty, I saw one from the car forum. My mind woke up in an instant and once again I fantasized being inside a brand new Toyota Camry to do a review, inhaling deeply and sucking all the new car scent it could offer, fiddling nervously with its keys while contemplating on what it could offer as it zoom past Cavite’s potholed highway to test its wide wheelbase and torture its suspension. But reality sets in just as soon as it has left me.

A line on the email says, “Can you do an article on auto financing? Make an outline first, then we’ll start from there.” He must be kidding, his reply confused me.  Thank heavens, Yahoo! came in handy. I checked what the blog world has to offer regarding auto financing and I didn’t fully expect what I found because the search tags are similar to where I’m at right now—in  debt, needs financing.

And in my current state, if I were to write about auto financing, I would have some of these catchy copies:

  • “Just got promoted? Reward yourself with a brand new car!”
  • “Is your company’s inventory piling up? Is your company getting less attention? Did the CEO just recently focus investments to Vietnam? Is your stock price in a plateau state? If you answered yes to all, screw it, grab a lovely car!”
  • “Best deals in town are all over. From 5% off, all-in offers, 3 years + 1 warranty, etc. So if you have a proof of availability, and (a pause and drum rolls are highly recommended at this point) a severance package, now is the chance to own a brand new car!”

Wait, did I mention what my career plan A is? Well, it’s to bum around for months while looking for plan B to Z. Ti abi.