Feb 22 2011

dell desktop computer [minimalist challenge item #5]

[item] Dell desktop computer, dual processors

[purchase info] Purchased from Dell brand new, custom built, $4,000

[time in my possession] Approximately 10 years

[last used] 1.5 years ago

[difficulty level in getting rid of it] Medium

[destination] Recycle

[info] I bought this 10 years ago from Dell, and it was the biggest and baddest at the time.  It’s before dual processors were the standard.  I got a good 5 years out of it for my freelance business.  It’s had many issues, crashes a lot and won’t run anything current.  It costs more to upgrade these than it’s worth.  My only hesitation is getting rid of it was wipping the harddrives, as they had lots of personal files and info.  A pickaxe took care of that.  :)  Bye, bye old Dell computer.  Rest in peace at the electronics recycling center.


Jan 19 2011

recycle your electronics for good [day 238]

I saw this recycling box at the local camera shop.  No, I wasn’t shopping, I had to go there for work.  I was surprised to see the red dot that says, “10% of proceeds will go to charity”.  10%?  There are a lot of collection boxes where all of the proceeds go to charity.  I know there’s some cost involved with the recycling or repurposing of electronics, but this is clearly a retail profit center.  I’m not against retailers making money, but if you have a choice of 10% or 100% of proceeds going to help people, wouldn’t you rather choose 100%?

The really important thing here is that these electronics don’t end up in a landfill.  Most of them contain toxic materials that pollute our drinking water and our environment.  As long as the dumb phones, VCR’s, camcorders, old cameras and old computers stay out of the trash, I can live with a little bit of retailer pocket padding.  If you have a choice of 10% or 100% though, go for the 100%.


Dec 28 2010

my kids are okay with it [day 215]

Here’s the answer to the big question, “Were your kids okay with this no retail shopping Christmas?

Yes.

I’m very proud of them.  I’m imposing some of my challenge on them, but just by the stuff I get for them.  They both work for their allowance and they are allowed to spend it retail if they choose to.  My 11 year old could care less about money or buying anything.  My 10 year old, who likes money and shopping, has had $150 in his wallet for over 2 months now.  He’s had several opportunities to spend it, and has not.

When it came to Christmas, my kids didn’t really want much.  As a matter of fact, I got a text from their dad saying he had no idea what to get them for Christmas, as every time he asked, they didn’t really give him an answer.  The one thing they both showed an interest in was an iPad.  After ignoring that for the first 20 times they said it, I thought about it.  I told them they would have to share it, but I would put some money toward it if their dad and grandma would too.  Grandma agreed, dad did not.  It was a bit of a relief, as I really didn’t want to give them a lot of money.  It would be better than them having a bunch of small stuff that will be used for about a week, then end up at the thrift store.  Anyway, no iPad in the Wissing house.

So what did my kids want?  Books.  The Bones series and some of the Pokemon series.  We shopped together on amazon.com and got everything they wanted… used.  I got a book too, Journal Junkies.  I also got them each a gift card from Gamestop, as they have used games, fitting that into my no retail plan.

When they came home from their dad’s house, where they didn’t get anything extravagant for Christmas, they were excited to come home and have Christmas at our house.  Driving home, I was thinking how disappointed they’ll be, as their friends got electronics and lots of toys, and all they’ll get is some books.  I didn’t even wrap anything, the mailer envelopes under the tree, displaying my lack of Christmas consumerism.  We got home, they opened their gifts, and guess what?  They were happy.  They spent the next hour reading, and it would have been longer if I hadn’t made them go to bed.

I don’t know if what I’m doing is good for them, but I’m doing it for the right reasons and I’m sensitive to their reactions to it.  I’m not sure what I would have done if they were disappointed, but I know I would have tried something to make it good, yet still doing what I feel is the right thing.  After seeing from my mom right before Christmas, and hearing how “ridiculous” I am for the no retail shopping challenge and for recycling, because after I’m gone, nobody will care and there won’t be any less trash in the world, I felt okay.  I’m encouraging my kids and I’m not shoving this down their throats.  Christmas will never be good for me, but hopefully it won’t be bad for my children.


Dec 24 2010

twas the night before Christmas… the culturally correct version [day 211]

Let me me be perfectly honest here.  I really hate holidays.  And, I’m an equal opportunity holiday hater, I don’t like any of them.  I love Christmas, that is the true meaning of Christmas, but I hate the cultural crap that comes along with it.  I just want to skip all this and move on to the new year.  I don’t want to spend a bunch of money I don’t have, I don’t want to eat a bunch of sweets, I don’t want to do the holiday dog and pony show, I don’t want to go to holiday parties alone, I don’t want to go to them with a spouse I don’t have, I do not like it in a box, I do not like it with a fox. I do not like green trees, this sham or culture’s Christmas, mad I am.

Some people think the Grinch stole Christmas, nobody cared, so he gave it back and everyone lived happily ever after.  That’s the fictional version of the story, because you and I know darn well, that if someone stole all of the things in our house and all the gifts from under the tree, we would not all be in the street holding hands and singing.   The story would be a little different…  Here it is, in the form of “Twas the night before Christmas.” Enjoy…

‘Twas the night before Christmas, when all through the town

Many creatures were stirring, using credit around;

The plasma tv was unloaded with care,

In hopes that the credit bill was lost in the mail;

My kids wanting toys, finances in red,

While visions of electronics danced in their heads;

Me on my laptop, looking for deals,

Wondering where I will get the next meal;  Continue reading


Dec 10 2010

Oprah's favorite things or advertising by the big O? [day 197]

Oprah always has her list of favorite things at Christmas time and gives them away to her viewers or audience.  A lot of this feels like advertising, although she has a few things to say about each of these and why she likes them.  Unfortunately that doesn’t rules out paid advertising.  If Oprah mentions you or your product, you’re an instant success.  When I worked for Barnes and Noble 15 years ago, we would have to order 100+ of any title she mentioned on her show.  She has a lot of power to make a difference.

I pulled up her list several weeks ago for my blog, but decided to pull it up this morning while I write this post.  Surprise!  Oprah has added over 10 new items to her favorite things.  Among the new items?  An iPad, Scrabble for the iPad, glittery Uggs and Coach bags.  I had every intention of believing she actual uses these things, likes them and then features them on her show.  Clearly this is not the case, this is yet another creative, and very expensive, advertising vehicle.  Why do I think that?  The answer is in the iPad…

Apple iPad. Read the blurb under the photo.  She says, “Words cannot describe what I feel for this magnificent device.  I really think it’s the best invention of the century so far.”  She continues on with, “Thanks to my iPad, I now read about four newspapers a day.  I write my column for O magazine way before the deadline because I love writing on it so much.”  Really Oprah?  If that’s true, why is it late making your list of favorite things?  Could it be that Apple contacted you to market this magnificent device?  If they did and you accepted it, good for you and good for Apple.  It’s a win-win for Applrah.  What I have a problem with is lying.  If Oprah really uses this and it’s one of her favorite things, then why is it late on the list?  This is advertising, plain and simple.  She writes on it way before her deadlines, yet this is a recent favorite things addition?  It doesn’t add up Oprah.  Maybe you should stop playing Scrabble on your treadmill and find a truth-in-advertising app.  It’s okay to advertise, it’s okay to say you like stuff you don’t use often, but don’t act like you can’t live without it and that you do things with it you clearly don’t do.

Now, let me take the direction I planned with this post.  I had planned to talk about a few of her items, then my next post will be Jody’s favorite things.  So I think I’ll go to the Apple store and see if they’ll sponsor me?  In the mean time, take a look at a few other Oprah 2010 items.

kiva.org. I started with Kiva because this is a great thing to do for Christmas gifts.  For $25 you can help someone from anywhere in the world fund their small business.  This is a great gift for many reasons.  It helps people in need, it allows you to help them, the person receiving the gift doesn’t collect a bunch of stuff they don’t need and you can see who you’re helping.  Once that money has helped someone, you can choose for that money to go out again to help another project or person.  Groupon.com is doing a matching program too!  This will be on Jody’s favorite things as well.

Hope by Philosophy. Oprah has been using this moisturizer for over 10 years.  Again, this was a late addition, so i took 10 years and 2 months for her to decide to make it a favorite?  Nope, I think it was a late addition, because it features a picture of a “certain little girl from Mississippi.”  I wonder who that could be?  Good thing she decided they’re a favorite or this company would be investing in some 3M stickers with some other not-so-certain kid from Montana.  If Hope really costs $38 for 2 ounces, it’s no wonder there’s a lack of hope in our culture.  My philosophy?  I can’t afford hope, although this topical type hope might be easier than the psychological hope.

Nikon D3100 SLR camera. I’ve been using Nikon cameras since the early 80’s.  My first Nikon was an 8008 film camera.  I have to admit, I’m more into electronics than clothing or girly stuff.  Whether you’re buying a camera, a tv, a sweater or a necklace, just make sure is something that will be liked and used, not something to add to the pile of stuff you or your loved one doesn’t use.

Baker’s edge baking pans. Here’s something Oprah really does like, as it was on the original list and she’s always talking about dieting.  First of all, this pan would be a diet for me, as I like the inside pieces of lasagna and cakes, not the crusty outside stuff.  It comes with Ghirardelli brownie mix too, which is a little funny since she’s also featuring a book, A Course in Weight Loss by Marianne Williamson.  A contradiction?  Yes Oprah, it is.

My point in featuring Oprah is that she’s sold out to the money making.  Anything will be on her favorites list if the company supports her.  What are your favorites and why?  Don’t sell out to culture or anything else people are selling unless you believe in it.


Nov 27 2010

BLACK FRIDAY: the video [day 185]

Any other day of the year, no retailer would allow you to walk around their store with a camera around your neck, they would stop you and make you put it away.  On black friday, that’s not the case.  With the busyness and chaos of the thousands of shoppers, extremely long lines and merchandise everywhere, nobody stopped me.  Here’s the black friday 2010 video to the tune of AC/DC’s Back in Black.

A few black friday observations:

  • It’s controlled chaos. The retailers are creating it and they’re prepared for it.
  • There’s a size relationship. The bigger the person, the bigger the packages.  Oh, how some psycho therapist needs to analyze this.
  • People like to get a deal. I’m not sure if they really want or need this stuff, but there seems to be an accomplishment once they’ve gotten a deal.  If they researched a possible purchase during the year, they could probably find a similar savings.  Is it really a deal if it’s cheap and not needed?
  • Loss leaders. There are some deals that can’t be found throughout the year, but these loss leaders are only available to the first 3-5 people according to the ads.  Not a bad deal, but I would do the cost analysis, time and effort versus cost savings.
  • Warranties. Many of the big ticket loss leaders have very limited warranties.  Before buying, you better make sure it works before you put it under the tree.  Many items have 15 days warranties.  They might as well just skip that altogether.
  • 2 types of men. The ones that like electronics with a willingness to get up early and fight for it and the “my wife made me do this and I better get sex tonight” male drag-a-longs.  I might start a line of t-shirts before next year.
  • Sporting event. I’m pretty sure most women see this as some sort of sporting event.  It’s a race for the best deals and to get all the shopping done at one time.  Most of them are getting lots of practice time during the year, so it should be a good game.

There’s much more, but that’s the big stuff.  Now, what to get my kids for Christmas without going shopping?


Aug 15 2010

no electronics [day 80]

I’m doing no electronics for 3 days.  No computer, no phone, no camera (that’s the hardest) and no plug in stuff.

3 days of books and art supplies.  :)  See you in three days!


Jul 15 2010

batteries needed [day 49]

My son, Cole, needed 2 AAA batteries for the remote control at the church.  With all of the equipment we have up there that require batteries, nothing requires that size.  After we had lunch, I told him I would stop at the store if he wanted to go in by himself and purchase batteries with his allowance.  At first he said, “No!  I’m not Joe, I can’t go in there alone.”  Once he realized that was his only way to get the batteries, he decided to go in.

He had $6.00 cash and went inside.  Joe, his little brother, says, “Mom, I better go in and check on him.  He’s probably crying or something.”  I told him no, and that his brother could handle this.  He came out without the batteries to ask for more money.  I gave him a few extra dollars and he went back in.  He came out this time with the pack of batteries.

He laid them on the seat in the car and I noticed they were AA batteries.  When I told him that, he said, “No mom, there’s AA and AAA in the package.  I chose this pack because it had what I needed and it was the cheapest one.  The other packs were all over $8.00 and this pack was only $6.79.”  I might have actually had a tear in my eye at that moment.  And I might mention here that he had no plastic bag.  :)


Jul 14 2010

feedback and cool stuff from others [day 48]

No shopping yesterday AND I managed to avoid the grocery store.  :)  My kids and I went to see the Sno-cone Lady, then went to the library, and they actually wanted to sit there and read for a long time.  Wow, that was nice.  Much better than being in a store hearing, “Mom, can we get this?”  I guess I should mention that during prayer time last night, after my kids prayed for all of the needy people to have what they need, Joe did also pray for the new iPad he wants.  Oh well, at least he prayed for the important stuff before wedging in the electronics.

I received some good info from some friends yesterday, so that’s what I would like to highlight today.

Thrift store gift cards

Maria facebooked me that The Colony’s reSale shop has gift cards.  I shop (treasure hunt) there regularly and I had no idea they had those.  Here’s the link on their website, and they have a 20% off coupon!  If you are not in the north Texas area, check your local thrift stores.  What a great gift idea!  These could also be a good thing to carry around with your fast food gift cards to give out to homeless people.

Recycle your bras

Yes, that’s what I said.  Here’s the message Brenda sent…

Just heard about a company that recycles used bras! very cool. maybe you can include in your trash society blog. they area for profit company that also donates to women’s shelters, etc but theyare for profit….but still it’s cool, I normally throw mine away but they take the fabric and wire and remake them. the name of the company is bossom buddies or something like that …i believe they said they were from arizona.

Here’s the website… http://brarecycling.org/ I usually send mine to the thrift store, but I plan to send some here.  I suppose, that is, when I can actually part with the 7- year old tattered things.

Thanks you guys for sending this info!


Jun 30 2010

the challenge: day 34 [digital hoarders and dead computers]

I just realized something yesterday, not only do I have some hoarding tendencies, I’m clearly a digital hoarder.  I save all of my files, even the ones I know I will never use again.  I have several binders filled with disks, many of them useless due to technology changes over the past several years.

At the risk of age stamping myself here, my first computer was a 286 Packard Bell, 40 megabyte hard drive, 1 megabyte RAM, 5 1/4 floppy drive & 3.5 floppy drive.  Wow.  Realization number 2, I’m a mental hoarder too.  Who remember this kind of stuff??!?!  Sadly, I didn’t have to look it up.

I said this in an earlier blog post, the only difference between 99.9% of us and the people on the Hoarders TV show, is that we can, and do, part with our stuff.  Can you imagine how many computers are in landfills?  Planned obsolescence on computers is what, 4 years at best?  The oldest computer I own is approximately 8 years old.  It runs a few old PC programs and sometimes, my vinyl plotter.  My other “old” computer is a G4 PowerBook.  It’s 4.5 years old, runs slow, but not bad for its age, however the screen started to go last week.

Like most of my stuff, I will keep these until they die.  When the inevitable death arrives, I will find a program for electronics recycling or…

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