Queercents Weekly Roundup

Happy Saturday everyone! It’s a beautiful day and I’ll be spending it the best way I can think of…doing homework. Ok, that’s totally not the best way I can think of (a bike ride would be way better) but apparently being a grad student takes a lot of work. Who knew? Of course, there’s always time for the roundup.

  • Mawlynnong has been touted as the cleanest and most environmentally conscious city in India. Check out how they pulled that off here. (Read it at BBC)
  • An AIDS vaccine is showing some success in Thailand. (Read it at NYTimes)
  • Today is Museum Day! That means free admission to hundreds of museums. (Read it at Lifehacker) Read the rest of this entry »

It’s Genetic: My Family History of Dumpster Diving

My grandfather grew up during the Great Depression and though I have very few memories of him–he died right before my thirteenth birthday–I remember the stories. Someone told a story at his funeral about how his mother would scrap the insides of egg shells with her finger just to make sure she got all the egg out. My uncle, who is a master builder, recounted how, when building a porch for him, my grandfather would have him straighten out bent nails with a hammer so they could be used again. One year, he gave my aunt a can of dented, generic peas from the grocery store, partly as a joke and partly to teach her that it wasn’t necessarily the package but the product that mattered and to save where she could.

The most prominent stories for me though are the countless examples of what we called “The Bob Gene”, because the family referred to my grandfather simply as “Bob”. Clearly influenced by growing up during the Depression he was unwilling to let anything go to waste. If he noticed someone throwing away something good or useful, he would salvage it and put it to good use. Over the years my mother has teased me for inheriting this gene, but if you want to save money (and resources, and the environment…) it’s a good habit to cultivate. Even as a high-schooler, I was making my grandfather proud, rescuing an arm chair and a futon from a dumpster. My father often encouraged this habit by pulling over to check out what people were throwing away. Though furniture is one of the more common things to find, kitchen appliances are my new favorite grab: often old but functional appliances don’t fetch enough to sell but still work. My roommates now even alert me if they see something while they’re walking that they think I might like. Read the rest of this entry »

Queercents Weekly Roundup

It’s the weekend! Happy Saturday readers! Can’t say I have any exciting plans for the weekend to share, but lack of plans means plenty of opportunity for mischief…I mean. Yeah. The round up. And a fun sticker I found.

  • For those experiencing the freedom of college, Consumerist offers a suggestion for keeping from overspending. (Read it at Consumerist)
  • Ramit has a great article on how to finally start making money with eBay. (Read it at I Will Teach You To Be Rich)
  • Fall is on the way, meaning it’s time to switch cooking styles to stay in tune with the seasons. Wise Bread has a good primer for getting used to seasonal fall cooking. (Read it at Wise Bread)
  • I’m a big proponent of the emergency fund and Get Rich Slowly has a brilliant article on how to spice up your emergency fund. (Read it at Get Rich Slowly)
  • As this recent article shows, clean water is vital. Here’s how to get it. (Read it at Consumerist)
  • Adding to the list of things baking soda and vinegar can do: recharge your towels. (Read it at Lifehacker)

Queercents Flashback: Since I’m still getting settled with this whole moving thing, it’s on my mind a lot. And so it’s probably no surprise that I rediscovered Clint’s guest article about saving money while relocating to a big city. http://www.queercents.com/2009/01/15/3-ways-to-relocate-your-twentysomething-self-to-the-big-city-and-save-money/

Photo Credit: Elizabeth Byrne

Bike Commuting: Bike Locking Your Bike Pt. 2

I’ve recently moved to a big city, and not just a big city, but one notorious for bike theft. I consider myself pretty good at locking bikes, but after hearing reports of how bad the theft problem is, I’ve had to up the ante, particularly since I don’t own a car and on a student budget I won’t be replacing my bike any time soon. Fortunately, I was able to substantially increase my bike’s security for under five bucks and very little extra time. Here’s how you can make your bike more theft proof.

I picked up this idea from a bike I saw chained up one day. Your bike may be well locked, but some accessories can still be vulnerable. A simple hose clamp works wonders to fix this. At the local hardware store I was able to pick up a handful for $1.49 a piece. In the picture, the rack is clamped to the seat stay, or the thin, down-slopping tube. I used them to clamp my rack as well as my frame pump to the frame. This makes the frame pump a little less convenient to use but I also don’t worry about having to replace it if it’s stolen. BikeHacks also suggests that once you find your idea seat post height, you affix a clamp flush to the tube so that you can easily slid the seat in and out when you park. This makes it more convenient to return your seat to it’s original height if you own a quick release and are constantly taking your seat out and putting it back in.

If constantly removing and replacing your seat is too much of a hassle, I simply asked the local bike co-op for an old chain and tube. Snake the chain through the tube to prevent the chain from scratching your bike or spreading grease everywhere. Run the tube/chain through the bottom of your seat and part of the frame. Using your chain tool, remove the extra links and join the chain back together. Now you don’t have to worry about locking up your saddle or removing it whenever you enter a building.

Photo Credit: Murray Corp

Queercents Weekly Roundup

Happy Saturday readers! I hope you all have exciting or relaxing (or both) plans for your weekend. I’m still having fun moving into a new place and exploring. Just as a fun flashback, here’s a pic from Dykes on Bikes from NYC Pride.

  • The Simple Dollar has a list of 12 clever substitutions that save money (nearly) effortlessly. I’m a big fan of this list not only because it saves money but because it cuts down on the harsh chemicals you’re using. (Read it at The Simple Dollar)
  • Thinking about that new _____? Check out this flowchart for evaluating a potential purchase? (Read it at Get Rich Slowly)
  • Razors can get expensive if you’re replacing them all the time. Here’s a quick and easy way to extend the life of your razor. (Read it at Lifehacker)
  • Dumb Little Man has a bold list of things you never need to pay full price for. (Read it at Dumb Little Man)
  • Health Care seems to be on a lot of people’s minds, particularly with marches in Washington this weekend and Lana’s great post on Canadian Health Care. Every now and then it’s fun to inject a little levity into the debate, so here’s a breakdown of the differences between Canadian and British Health Care. (Read it at Five Thirty Eight)
  • Tax Girl has a great post on the tax aspects of gay marriage. Thanks Helen! (Read it at Tax Girl)

Queercents Flashback: Are you a renter? Here are five ways to get your security deposit back.

Photo Credit: Elizabeth Byrne

Queercents Weekly Roundup

Happy Saturday readers. I hope everyone has a fun Labor Day weekend with friends and family doing something fun and exciting!

  • NPR explains one of the reasons health care is so expensive. (Read it)
  • Xin Lu investigates trying to save money by renting textbooks. (Read it)
  • For those using debit cards, skimmers have been spotted in Taco Bell and cards stolen from people’s gym lockers in Colorado. (Read it at Consumerist)
  • For those with kids going back to school, fifteen back-to-school DIY ideas. (Read it at DIY Life)
  • Looking for a tasty end-of-summer treat? Check out this 1-ingredient ice cream. I personally though would add a date because the banana date combination is just so delicious. (Read it at Instructables)
  • Speaking of the kitchen, one of the best things you can do is invest some money in a good knife and cutting board. Gizmodo has some advice on how to buy, maintain and use a knife. I personally think that the first two are enough, if kept sharp. (Read it at Gizmodo)

Photo Credit: Elizabeth Byrne

Queercents Flashback: Paula writes about getting stuck being a perfectionist.

Posting Reviews

When I’m contemplating making a purchase outside of my daily expenses, one of the first things I do before I spend any money is power up my computer and check out what sort of reviews exist online for whatever product I’m looking at. (I’m sure our readers do this frequently too!)
If I eventually buy the product, I also make a point of going online after I’ve had a period to use it and enter my own review, as a way of participating in the online conversation. Very often these reviews dramatically influence my decision to buy items and so I make sure to provide substantial feedback, particularly since many people I know see these reviews as a one-way street. Here’s how you can make sure you’re participating in the conversation and providing useful reviews.

Things I Hit:
Does the product do what it advertises to do?
How well does it do what it advertises to do?
Is it built well, and does it last?
Amount of use and type? Since I’ve made a number of bike related purchases, I make sure to note the conditions I ride in and how much. A product that held up well under light use can be quite different than a product that held up well under heavy use.

Usually these things can be covered relatively quickly and easily. Contributing to online communities is a great way to ensure their continued viability.

Photo Credit: Nashbar

Queercents Weekly Roundup

Happy Monday readers! Sorry about the late roundup. Thursday night, in the middle of my move, my computer tanked. After dealing with tech support for three days, my computer had to be wiped and then data backups transferred. Fortunately, I’m up and running again and here to give you the (now) weekday roundup.

  • Speaking of computers tanking, check out Mozy. It’s a free online backup service that will automatically back up designated files for you so you don’t have to worry about data recovery. (Free version here at Mozy)
  • Your money should be working for you. Here’s JD’s account of how to choose a bank account so you can make your money start working for you. (Read it at Get Rich Slowly)
  • College text books can be pricey. Here are some insight from Consumerist about why your textbooks are so expensive. To cut down on costs, use your library or network with other students to obtain used books. As Consumerist notes, often having an older edition makes little difference. (Read it at Consumerist)
  • Wise Bread offers ten tricks to save money with a credit card. (Read it at Wise Bread)
  • I love eBooks. There are so many options and they’re easy to transport. Now Google is offering free ePub downloads. (Read it at Lifehacker)

Queercents Flashback: It’s (still) that time of year, and if you’re experiencing zucchini overload, here’s what you can do with all that zucchini.
Photo Credit: Sonicko

Bike Commuting: Energy Kick

This post comes courtesy of a friend of mine who runs an organic, vegan, raw food restaurant. We got to talking about biking one day and he mentioned that when he’s putting in a lot of miles he likes to make his own energy gels rather than shell out for highly processed  gels. The result is a tasty and nutritious snack when you’re racking up the miles on the weekend.

Vegan Energy Gels
About 40 dates, pitted
1-2 stalks of celery
A banana

In a food processor, puree dates with just enough water to create gel-like consistency. Add the celery for electrolytes and the banana for flavor and potassium to keep your muscles from getting sore. Divide the gel among whatever pouches you have that are convenient and eco-friendly. Enjoy the amazingly delicious combination of good dates and a banana.

Photo Credit: Stock Xchng

Queercents Weekly Roundup

Happy Saturday readers. When next you hear from me I’ll be on the left coast in the sunny Bay Area! Of course, now I have to go through all of the bike packing and shipping nonsense so I hope your weekends are more fun-filled than mine promises to be. While I go put my life in boxes, here’s the roundup.

  • It’s that time of year again. If you’re starting college or moving into a different dorm Design Your Dorm takes the guessing out of moving in. If you’re moving into an apartment, I hear using SIMS actually works really well for determining the most space-efficient layout. (Read it at Design Your Dorm via Lifehacker)
  • Many of my little brother’s (I suppose I should say younger, much taller brother’s) friends are heading off to college for the first time and it has invoked in me a need to dispense sage advice. Or links. Check out Trent’s suggestion to reduce dorm room clutter. (Read it at The Simple Dollar)
  • Speaking of preventing clutter, check out these five things to consider when purchasing a new item. (Read it at Do It Yourself) Read the rest of this entry »