Funny about Money

Simple Living = Frugality = Peace of Mind: Personal Finance and Stress Control

October 13, 2016
by funny

Saf(er) at Any Speed…

Driving in Phoenix: what a joy! Come quarter to seven this morning, I started out for my meeting in Scottsdale. Because the two main north-south thoroughfares through the central part of the city have reverse lanes and a nasty rule saying you can’t turn left (i.e., toward Scottsdale…) during the rush hours, I usually make my way through not one, not two, not three, but FOUR neighborhoods to get to Central Avenue, then turn east on Glendale for the long slow trudge to the West’s Most Western Tourist Trap Town.

Lately, though, Glendale has been backed up about two miles west of the SR 51 onramps. Traffic comes to a stop and about three cars get through each green light (if that many).

So I had the idea that I would cross Northern to 16th Street, which is relatively less traveled, and connect with Glendale east of the first mile of backup. Actually, if I wanted to veer out of my way, I could take Northern to the 51 and then drop off at Glendale, which would put me on the far side of the whole mess.

I get on to Northern, and the first thing I see is the usual goddamn construction. Northern has been torn up not for weeks but for months in the aftermath of the light-rail boondoggle. This morning they’ve got a lane closed and signs up reading “no lane markings.” Right.

Traffic is just flat stopped. I manage to cut across to the outside lane and then swerve into the neighborhood south of Northern. From there I know how to make my way to Central Avenue, whence (once again, goddamn it!) I’ll follow the time-dishonored route to Glendale and then east to the Home of the Rich and the Arrogant.

But no.

Now Central comes to a halt. They’ve got the whole road shut down for a wreck. I try to dodge into a west-bound side street, since I do know how to navigate those and figure I can at least get back to 7th Ave and thence north to the stymied Northern Avenue.

Wrong! It’s a dead end.

I muscle my way back into the stalled traffic on Central. The cops are…get this!!…routing traffic into a residential cul-de-sac!

Hundreds of cars — surely by the end of the morning upwards of a thousand — are filing past a dozen fancy, secluded private homes, circling around the end of their street, and filing back out toward Central, where they have no choice but to turn north.

What. A. Mess.

The barricade is close enough to the wreck to afford a great view of the carnage. The car they’re trying to hoist onto a tow truck’s flatbed looks like a piece of sheet metal. Literally: bone flat.

The Camry that plowed into the 18-wheeler looked exactly like someone had taken a gigantic rolling pin and rolled it out flat like a piece of dough.

It’s hard to believe anybody could have gotten out of that alive.

M’hijito, who’s an insurance adjuster, says cars are so much safer than they were in days of yore that many more people survive wrecks. Those who do survive are a lot more messed up, but they do live. After a fashion.

And I do have to say: if that had been the last American car I owned — a 1967 Ford Fairlane, one of the most notable lemons ever to grace America’s highways — nobody would have been pulled out of it alive. That thing had no airbags, of course. No shoulder belts. Ford had installed some cheesy lap-belts, but only because the government forced them to it. No collapsible steering wheel, no impact-engineered frame, no head rests, no padded dashboards, no antilock brakes, no ABS, no nothin’.

One of the main reasons the ex and I started buying European and then Japanese cars was that Mercedes and Volvo had real seat belts. You know: the kind with a shoulder belt, too? Ford resisted installing safety equipment with all its vast corporate might. They claimed shoulder belts were impossible to install and that consumers wouldn’t wear them. When they were finally pressed to it, they put in shoulder belts that had to be clipped separately from the lap belts.

Americans weren’t that dumb. When affordable Japanese cars hit these shores, the sheep flocked to them. Must have been quite a surprise to Detroit’s moguls.

To my mind, it’s questionable whether you’d want to survive a wreck in which an 18-wheeler smushed your car into a pancake and dragged it 50 feet. However, back in the good old days, it didn’t take a catastrophic crash to kill you. A fender-bender could do the job, especially if you were in one of the models with exploding gas tanks.

So. Yeah. I could sure do without all the electronic frou-frou this new car has. But I can’t imagine going back to what we had before about 1980.

October 13, 2016
by funny

WTF?!? Toyota BUZZES in the middle of the night?

Holy ESS AITCH AI! And Gooood Morning, AMERICA!

Come four in the morning, the dog barfs all over the bed. I strip the blankets and drag them to the garage to throw them in the washer. As I’m stuffing bedding into the Samsung, I hear this weird BUZZING noise.

I figure it’s the neighbor’s air-conditioner about to break down. But it seems kind of loud for an AC unit way across the road. If it’s coming from the car, I can’t tell where it’s coming from. Search around…can’t pinpoint the source. Finally I think it may be in my attic.

Go inside, get the keys, open the garage door, pull the car out into the driveway so as to heave the attic ladder down from the ceiling. Hop out of the car, re-enter the garage, and…no noise.

Back to the car: examine. No noise.

I conclude the sound was coming from the car and that turning the engine on must have turned the noise off. Turning the ignition key works all sorts of strange magic with these new computer-operated clunks. I’m annoyed but glad at least I don’t have to call the fire department for some electrical issue having to do with the house’s aluminum wiring. Whatever it is, though, sounds like a potentially expensive fix.

Return the car to its nesting place. Turn on the washer.

All hope of sleep is now gone. So what does any self-respecting Netizen do but search Google: “buzzing sound coming from toyota.”

And forgodsake, check this out:

Buzzing noise even though it’s turned off!

EDIT: found the answer to this one on page 8 of the manual (doh!) “Approximately five hours after the engine is turned off, you may hear sound coming from under the vehicle for several minutes. This is the sound of a fuel evaporation leakage check and, it does not indicate a malfunction”

Just experienced a weird one.

I went out to my detached garage where my 2015 Highlander XLE is parked, and I heard a buzzing / vibrating noise. After some investigation, I isolated the noise as coming from the Highlander itself, even though it had been sitting parked and turned off for roughly 5.5 hours.

The noise was loudest underneath the vehicle and it stopped when I popped the hood (although there may not be a direct cause/effect between the noise stopping and the hood opening). Fortunately, I took a video of the event to share with Toyota.

Any thoughts? Has anyone else experienced something like this before, either with this model or any other?

Last edited by xle2015; 02-08-2015 at 09:41 PM. Reason: found solution

Really? REALLY, Toyota, is this absolutely necessary?

Apparently this helpful feature has existed at least since 2013. If you weren’t already crazy, this sure as hell will make you that way. Five hours after you turn off the engine, eh? So this has been going on since 2:30 this morning? When is the racket supposed to stop? Not until you turn the damn thing on again?

Argh. I should’ve bought a mule and a cart.

October 12, 2016
by funny

Things to Know About Forex Trading

philippine-stock-market-boardAlthough forex trading is definitely promising, there’s no denying that it has also caused major losses for beginners and inexperienced traders. Fortunately, you don’t have to experience this at all, as there are many ways to avoid forex trading problems and enjoy remarkable profits.

1. Choose Your Broker with Great Care

Many beginners fail to consider this very important point — they fail to realize that  to be successful in forex trading, they should choose their broker carefully. Having an unreliable broker can put all your hard work to waste. Aside from that, your expertise level and trading goals should match the details provided by the broker. Try to figure out the kind of client the forex broker focuses on. These should all be scrutinized with great care.

2. Create Your Goals and Stick with Your Plan

After figured out your personal motive for trading in the foreign exchange market, you can determine the time frame and create a feasible plan.

 3. Try to Determine Your Risk Tolerance and Your Needs

To profit in trading, it’s important to recognize your market. For that, it’s  important to know and recognize yourself first. Likewise, you should also ensure that your risk tolerance, as well as your capital allocation to forex trading are enough — these are some of the essential steps toward gaining self-awareness. Don’t forget to carefully analyze and study your own financial goals in forex trading as well.

 4. Your Account Type Should Be Based on Your Expectations and Needs

It’s important to pick an account package suitable not only to your expectations, but to your knowledge level as well. For beginners, the different forms of accounts given by brokers can be quite overwhelming. So, as a rule of thumb, it’s always best to opt for lower leverage first. Once you get a better understanding of trading and leverage in general, then you can to move into a higher level. However, if you’re a beginner, you need to develop your skill with a period of practice, using a mini account.

Generally speaking, lower risk also provides better chances for a beginner. Thus, you should make your choices based on what is most practical and effective for you.

 5. Start with Small Amounts and Slowly Increase the Size of Your Account with the Help of Organic Gains,  not Greater Deposits

When it comes to forex trading, the most useful tip for success is to start with small investments and lower leverage — you can eventually add to your forex account as it starts generating profits.

The reason for this is that larger accounts don’t necessarily give you more profit. Additionally, if you can also modify the size of your account through trading choices, it will be more beneficial for you. If not, then you know there’s no point in putting your hard-earned cash into your account, because you’ll just end up wasting it.

 6. Focus on What You Understand

What does this imply? If you’re not sure with what you’re doing and you’re not confident that you can defend your opinion with vigor and strength against critics, then it’s better not to trade at all. Likewise, you should not be trading with rumors and hearsay as your basis.

7. Pay Attention to One Currency Pair

Truth be told, the world of forex trading is not only complicated, but deep as well, because of the different characters and intents of market participants, as well as the market’s unpredictable nature. That said, it’s not easy to master the various kinds of business enterprise that go on in all the countries of the world. So, to prevent forestall problems, it’s best to restrict trading activity to a single currency pair you’re familiar with. Later, you can eventually move into other currencies.

8. Never Give Up

Last but definitely not least, have patience when it comes to forex trading. You have to know that you won’t magically become a trading genius overnight. It takes a lot of time, effort, and dedication to master this craft and once you do, you’ll start enjoying success through forex trading.

Philippine Stock Board. Katrina.Tuliao –, CC BY 2.0,

October 12, 2016
by funny

Bits & Pieces of News

A Dalmatian roach?

Polka-dotted roach, anyone?

Watching the national news is a little like watching cockroaches frying. So…on to a micro-news item:

Making its way around Facebook today is another warning about peanut butter with xylitol in it. Xylitol is a sweetener (sometimes claimed to be “natural”) that is toxic to dogs. It causes liver damage and can easily kill your dog. So, if you like to give peanut butter treats to your pet, or if you’re in the habit of stuffing a Kong toy with peanut butter, READ THE LABEL! Don’t give your dog anything that says “sweetened naturally” or “contains a natural sweetener.”

Oh, well: if you can’t stay away from watching the cockroaches jump, take a look at this truly hilarious report on #MuslimsReportStuff. It’s good. Very, very good.

Believe it or not, we’re not skateboarding toward Hell after all.

Hoooboy! Here’s what we all need: let’s make Facebook our company email platform! LOL! Right this way, Mr. Assange…

Is this town a tornado magnet?tornado_elie_manitoba_2007

Check out this awesome reconstruction of a Pompeiian fat cat’s McMansion!

Have you been following the silly hysteria over the supposedly menacing clowns? Honestly. Practice in front of a mirror:

  • Deploy a fishy stare.
  • Gaze at the nitwit in silence for a few seconds.
  • Then ask, “Is that all you have to show for yourself?”

Works best on flashers, but it’s made for nitwits in clown costumes, too.

Get your facts wrong and get your a$$ sued by a mega-corporation.

It may be cheaper to send your kid to an Ivy League school than to your local public university…

Surprise! Legalizing pot is already cutting into the drug cartel’s profits!

Here’s yet another way for the corporate Big Brother to keep tabs on you

Speaking of the whom, not surprisingly a movement is afoot to take the very useful CFPB away from us.

In the “What Next?” Department, this one is way up there…


Domino roach: Sripathiharsha – Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0,
Tornado: Justin1569 at English Wikipedia, CC BY-SA 3.0,



October 11, 2016
by funny

Video Day…and stuff

So this evening we’re going to record the video we’re cooking up by way of applying for the $20,000 small business award. I’m positioning it as something that will support the S-corp in marketing the Boob Book. That is, not “give me money so I can sit around and write a book” but “invest your money in  marketing this product.”

Heh! It’ll be interesting to see if it flies, won’t it?

Twenty grand would buy a decent marketing campaign. And a significant grant like this would get me through an agent’s door, meaning I could probably get the thing published by one of the surviving Big Five houses.

If that’s the case, it’ll be the last chance for me, in the years allotted, to hit print again through a mainline publisher. The publishing industry is in a shambles — William Morrow, my old publisher, is no  more, and even the few large publishers that remain can no longer make a profit in the current atmosphere. Publishing is now a hobbyist’s game, by and large, with just a few big names dominating what little remains of profitability. Two articles from the current Author’s Guild newsletter, one by Roxana Robinson and the other on losses created by the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) (pp. 11-14), tell you just about all you need to know.

The handwriting on the wall says “find some other line of work.” Writing and publishing as a way to make a living are things of the past.

Twenty grand is close to what I would earn as an advance from a mainline publisher, given my track record with The Essential Feature and Math Magic, one of which earned steadily for many years and one of which was one of William Morrow’s ten best sellers in each of the two years after it was published. But it’s not coming from a publisher…probably because a publisher could not earn enough to recover that advance in the 21st-century book market.

Well, I’d better get up and rehearse my spiel another few times before my co-conspirators show up.

Pray for the best! 🙂

October 10, 2016
by funny

Wherever You’re Going…

Ya can’t get there from here!

The city has had Main Drag South dug up not for weeks, not for months, but for years, thanks to the light-rail boondoggle. Though the thing is now built and open, the workmen persist in excavating this major thoroughfare.

To that they’ve added a new excavation of Main Drag East, so you CAN. NOT. TURN. EAST. OUT. OF. THE. HOOD. ON. ANY. OF. THE. MAIN. DRAGS!

At least, not without miring yourself in a traffic jam that will add a good 8 to 10 minutes to your commute.

I need to drive out to Tempe to meet my associate editor — have about a half-hour before I’d better leave. That entails driving south on one freeway and east on another. And of course driving east from the ‘hood to get to the southbound freeway.

Last night the cops shot some guy on the I-10, westbound at 24th Street. Killed him dead. So that road has been shut down since 4:30 this morning. But only west-bound, so in theory it would be OK. But…coincidentally, some morons created another crash on the State Route 51 on-ramp to the I-10. That ramp is now closed.

Normally to get around a roadblock on the SR 51 ramp, I would drive through city traffic to 24th Street, piddle down to the I-10, and head east from that point. But with the road closed westbound, 24th Street will be dead stopped, making it as impossible to get on the freeway eastbound as it is to get on it westbound.

So it looks like I’m going to have to pass through three neighborhoods to get from my house to a south-bound main drag that’s moving. Then schlep south two miles to a major thoroughfare that goes all the way into Scottsdale and doesn’t stop at the Phoenix Mountains. Drive east on that to 32nd Street, trudge down 32nd to Washington, dodge the effing lightrail there to get east on Washington, proceed to Priest, continue down Priest to Rio Salado Boondoggle Parkway, and from there make my way to our favorite restaurant.

That’s going to take about an hour. At this time of day, it should be about a 20- to 30-minute drive.


Charley the Golden Retriever is visiting, having given himself the doggywobbles by consuming an entire plate of cookies at his house. M’hijito’s house doesn’t have a doggy door, so the gigantic dawg has to be someplace where he can get out.

Charley and Ruby are having a sh!tfit just now at a passing band of religious nuts. One nice thing about Charley: his deep bass bark makes hims sound very formidable, even though he’s not. The proselytizers decided to pass is by. Good dog, Charley!

So tomorrow the ladies who know breast cancer are coming over to help build the video application for the $20,000 grant I hope to land. Hope, of course, but don’t expect. Still: the second runner-up gets $3,500: even that would help sustain the project long enough to get it to the send -it-to-an-agent stage. And being able to say someone thought it was worth supporting with grant money would get an agent’s or an academic press editor’s attention.

I’m pretty well ready, I think; now have to refine and rehearse (rehearse, rehearse, rehearse) my part of the dog & pony show.

One of our clients bellyached about the quality of editing in the references of a set of journal articles. I’d foisted them off onto my sidekick, whose life has of late been, shall we say, maxed. So I suspect she probably foisted them onto her own subcontractor, who probably did exactly what one of my subcontractors did a few months ago: used the wrong style manual.

This particular journal, for reasons incomprehensible, uses Chicago author-date style, which is similar to APA style, but different enough to be…different. And confusing. If we follow the journal to Texas when it leaves GDU, which I’m told we probably will, I’m going to suggest to the new editor that they switch to APA style, since most of their contributors are scholars in the social sciences. This would be far easier and less headache-making for their write rs, and it would solve some headaches for us, too, not to have to ask our underlings to use Chicago’s quirky, obscure version of author-date.

That notwithstanding, one thing I want to suggest to Bidness Partner is that it’s past time we came up with an editing test for would-be subcontractors, who tend to line up outside the door. And it’s got to be something that they can’t run through a machine, since some of them are in other states. We need to be sure they actually understand the differences between the various manuals, that they can engage all the manuals accurately, and that they have enough sense to look things up when there’s some obvious discrepancy or nonsense.

Exactly what this test will look like is still pretty vague in my hot little head. But the Kid is one hell of a lot smarter than I am and so no doubt will come up with something that will work.

And now, it’s time to away. Happy Columbus Day!