Sunday, May 31, 2009

Bejeweled Blitz!

I just got a high score of 103,200 in Bejeweled Blitz!
My biggest accomplishment since I retired last September.

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Frugal millionaires

Frugal millionaires are unique thinkers when it comes to spending money: 1) they can easily delay their need for gratification when purchasing; 2) they are resourceful in getting what they want by carefully timing their consumer purchases; 3) they make living below their means painless; 4) they don't like wasting anything (especially money); 5) their sense of "self-entitlement" is highly minimized: and 6) spending is OK with them...depending on what they are buying (think: appreciating vs. depreciating assets).

[For more, see, "10 Secrets of Millionaires' Money Management."]

Buying tips.

These millionaires keep more money than they spend, that's why they are rich. Their tactics work for them so they'll work even better for you. Key Point: They don't view shopping as a sport. They shop efficiently and spend their time doing more important things with their lives. Here are their tips that will help you save while spending:

Cars: Buy used (or off lease) fuel-efficient cars, often with "certified pre-owned" warranties. This warranty can be better than a new car, plus the initial depreciation hit is avoided. Drive the car for a long time and never lease it.

Eating Out: Bring half of a meal home to eat later (this also saves the waistline). Eat at happy hours. Bring wine from home and skip dessert. Value food quality over expensive ambience.

Eating In: Eat better and less expensively by cooking at home. Make it a friends and family event. Get your kids involved. Bonus: You can have that extra drink without worrying about getting busted for driving under the influence. Also: buy day-old bread at the best bakery in town and freeze it. Eat oatmeal, because it's the most cost-effective breakfast food. Get a supermarket "club card" and buy food on special. Play the game of trying to see how much of a discount can be saved off the total food bill.

Clothes: When you buy something new donate something used to charity. Buy traditional clothes, but wait for the off-season to acquire them. Go for high quality - not high price. Buy vintage clothing and avoid logo clothing and keep people guessing who the designer might be. Hint: There shouldn't be one!

[For more, read: "Juggling Your Money in the Recession."]

Consumer Electronics: Buy low-end gear that has the basic functionality of the more expensive stuff. Don't be the first to buy new technology. Wait at least one lifecycle so the bugs are worked out. Buy refurbished electronics whenever possible.

Computers: Buy more mainstream computers with proven technology. Select higher capacity hard drives, a decent amount of RAM (the memory that the program runs in) and a cost effective processor. Super fast doesn't always equal super good...unless you are building airplanes or bridges. Laptops are a good compromise between desktops and netbooks. Don't go through the pain of upgrading operating systems on existing computers, it's not time efficient and you will probably go insane trying.

Going green: Being green and frugal go hand-in-hand. Yet frugal millionaires don't readily fall for the trendy green hype machine. They typically buy green if it helps the environment and lowers their costs. They look at the timeframe when a product can pay for itself. They do use compact fluorescent lighting, turn off lights and equipment that isn't being used, monitor AC and heat usage (with programmable thermostats), drive efficiently, live in "right-sized" homes and turn off the water when they aren't brushing their teeth or washing dishes. Because they have trained themselves to not waste money they won't waste anything else either. They get into good habits and keep them going. You can, too.

source: Yahoo Finance

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

dumplings 端午節粽​子

dumplings 粽​子 from Wai Wah's family

dumplings 端午節粽​子

dumplings 粽​子 from Sue Wah's family,
the left ones are flat, the right ones are the regular salty ones.

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Friday, May 22, 2009

Tale of Two Houses

House #1

A 20 room mansion (not including 8 bathrooms) heated by natural gas. Add on a pool (and a pool house) and a separate guest house, all heated by gas. In one month this residence consumes more energy than the average American household does in a year. The average bill for electricity and natural gas runs over $2400 per month. In natural gas alone, this property consumes more than 20 times the national average for an American home. This house is not situated in a Northern or Midwestern "snow belt" area. It's in the South.

House #2
Designed by an architecture professor at a leading national university. This house incorporates every
"green" feature current home construction can provide. The house is 4,000 square feet (4 bedrooms) and is nestled on a high prairie in the American southwest. A central closet in the house holds geothermal heat-pumps drawing ground water through pipes sunk 300 feet into the ground.

The water (usually 67 degrees F) heats the house in the winter and cools it in the summer. The system uses no fossil fuels such as oil or natural gas and it consumes one-quarter electricity required for a conventional heating/cooling system. Rainwater from the roof is collected and funneled into a 25,000 gallon underground cistern. Wastewater from showers, sinks and toilets goes into underground purifying tanks and then into the cistern. The collected water then irrigates the land surrounding the house. Surrounding flowers and shrubs native to the area enable the property to blend into the surrounding rural landscape.

HOUSE #1 is outside of Nashville, Tennessee;
it is the abode of the
"environmentalist" Al Gore.

HOUSE #2 is on a ranch near Crawford, Texas;
it is the residence of ex
President of the United States, George W. Bush.

"inconvenient truth."
Check it out on Snopes.

Special thanks to Lucy's email.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Eric Yang Wins National Geographic Bee

13 year old Eric Yang from The Colony, a suburb of Dallas-Fort Worth, won the 2009 National Geographic Bee today in Washington D.C. Eric's winning question, the third tiebreaker question against Arjun Kandaswamy of Beaverton, Oregon, was: "Timis County shares its name with a tributary of the Danube and is located in the western part of which European country?" The correct answer is Romania. Arjun answered Hungary. As the winner, Eric takes home a $25,000 college scholarship, a trip to the Galapagos Islands, and a lifetime membership in the National Geographic Society.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Chase credit cards

I received several letters from Chase last week regarding my different types of credit cards. One letter was stating that my "grandfathered 5% cashback on gas/market/drugstore" will be updated to get 3% cashback on "a wider variety of purchases". Clearly it's a downgrade for me.

My daughter received a letter from Chase also. However, her letter also states that there will be a $30 annual fee after the first year.

Another letter addressing my other Freedom card was stating that "the $50 bonus when redeeming $200 in CB Rewards will no longer be available after 6/30".

Checking the Fatwallet online, there seems to be 3 versions of Chase letters being distributed to their customers. I'll keep a close eye on them.

Stress busters - Cute stuff

Special thanks to Lucy's email.

turn off computers

PHILADELPHIA — The head of the world's most popular search engine urged college graduates on Monday to step away from the virtual world and make human connections.

Speaking at the University of Pennsylvania's commencement, Google chairman and CEO Eric Schmidt told about 6,000 graduates that they need to find out what is most important to them _ by living analog for a while.

"Turn off your computer. You're actually going to have to turn off your phone and discover all that is human around us," Schmidt said. "Nothing beats holding the hand of your grandchild as he walks his first steps."

Schmidt, who holds a doctorate from the University of California at Berkeley, also received an honorary doctor of science degree at the ceremony. Penn President Amy Gutmann cited Schmidt's "manifold contributions to putting the world at humanity's fingertips."

He playfully compared today's "Google and Facebook generation" to his own: cell phones vs. phone booths, Wii vs. Pong, blogs vs. newspapers, Red Bull vs. Tang.

source: The Huntington Post

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Water conservation

Los Angeles city restricts lawn watering to Mondays and Thursdays

LA Times reports: A new water conservation plan in Los Angeles will restrict lawn watering to Mondays and Thursdays.

The new rule goes into effect June 1 and adds to restrictions of no watering between 9 a.m. and 4 p.m. The council has already revised water rates to penalize Angelenos who use too much water.

Monday, May 18, 2009

Woman is Pregnant at 66

Woman is Pregnant at 66.
Also in this video, Diane Sawyer is interviewing Aleta St. James
who gave birth to twins at 57.

AT&T & CWA work contract

It's been more than 6 weeks since the work contract between AT&T & CWA had expired. In the meantime, the workers have been working without a contract while a new one is being negotiated. However, here's what on the news this morning:


CWA, AT&T: Some 30,000 AT&T workers in five states, represented by the Communications Workers of America (CWA), have rejected what the company declared to be its ”best and final” offer to resolve a nearly three-month contract dispute. Union leaders repeatedly have said they are optimistic a deal can be reached before workers walk off the job. read more from AFL-CIO.

I searched the net and found more on the contract, with headline Union rejects AT&T's 'final' offer. excerpts from that link:

Another sticking point for the union: AT&T's proposal made no mention of benefits for retirees.

“No retiree benefits — No contract!!!” the bargaining report said.

But AT&T spokesman Walt Sharp said, “Retirees are not a part of bargaining.” He also called the telecommunications giant's proposal an “excellent offer, especially in the economic times we are facing.” read more from San Antonio Express-News.

Sunday, May 17, 2009

a minor earthquake

I was watching TV How Bruce Lee Changed the World on History channel when a minor earthquake shook at 08:36:14 PM with a magnitude of 1.8.
I was also on the internet while the earthquake occured. I immediately checked for status and found the U.S. Geological Survey website was showing a red square indicating an earthquake had occured within the past hour. It indicated that the epicenter was near Rancho Cucamonga, CA which is about 1 hour east from my house. As I was writing this blog, I revisited the USGS website again and saw newer info appeared. Apparently, the earth shook again at 08:45:10 PM with a magnitude of 3.1, this time was near Lennox, CA which is about 1 hour southwest from my house. However, I didn't feel the latter quake.

About 45 minutes later, Yahoo News was showing: "A preliminary report by the U.S. Geological Survey says a magnitude-5.0 quake hit at 8:39 p.m., about 10 miles southwest of downtown Los Angeles, near Inglewood." oh wow, 5.0?!

I revisited the USGS website again and got an updated report with a magnitude of 5.0 at at 08:39:36 PM.

Another new update: a magnitude of 1.6 at 09:48:25 PM near Lennox, CA

Of all these little shakes, I only felt the very first one at 8:36pm where the magnitude was only 1.8.

Ok, just checking for a final update before I go to bed, a magnitude of 1.8 at 10:23:20 PM near Hawthorne or Lennox. And the previous report at 08:39:36 PM has been corrected from magnitude of 5.0 to 4.7.

Saturday, May 16, 2009

Peanut Brittle

My friend Pauline recently returned from Taiwan.
She brought me some peanut brittle
and they were so crunchy yet not too sweet.
The part that I like is that there's no caramel in it.
Don't need to put excess sugar in my stomach.
It's just some crunchy peanuts and a thin film of sweet, perfect!

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Dim Sum $1.28

We found out another place with dim sums for $1.28.
Lincoln Seafood Restaurant, most sizes same price.
This is the lowest price I know of, and they taste good too!
Lincoln was closed for a long time, recently reopend since April 27.

Egg Custard Tart 蛋撻

Egg Custard Tart 蛋撻
the shell is flaky and the egg custard is soft & smooth,
delicious indeed!

fish balls 鯪魚球

fish balls 鯪魚球
they look plump and good but the fish balls are kinda starchy,
they're not bad, just that I had better ones.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

what's that smell?

My former co-worker emailed me this today:

325 AT&T employees poured out to a parking lot that was the company's designated evacuation site. A total of 50 firefighters and 18 emergency vehicles raced to the scene. Seven employees, who were vomiting or complaining of nausea, were treated at area hospitals.

The aroma of rotting food was hard enough to stomach. But when an employee decided to remove the mess to a conference room and scour the fridge with a cleaning fluid similar to 409 or Lysol, "she didn't smell a thing," said Capt. Barry Stallard of the fire department.

"One of our top priorities, along with keeping people connected, is safety," said AT&T spokesman John Britton.

At first, AT&T officials worried they had a mysterious hazmat situation when somebody called 911 at 11:54 a.m. to report that an odor in the building was making people sick. The hazmat team found no toxins, Stallard said. The fridge fairy led authorities to the odor on the second floor.

Despite the disruptions, even AT&T employees found humor in the bizarre pre-lunch break, joking with fire crews to return about 2:30 Friday afternoon to get them out of work, Stallard said.

And despite the noxious in-your-nasal-passage reminder, Stallard said he for one didn't rush back to the firehouse to check the back of the fridge.

"We clean it on a regular basis," he said. "With 50 people using the same fridge, you can only imagine what gets left behind. The last time I poured some milk out, some big lumps came out."

Mercury News Staff Writer Mark Gomez contributed to this report.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009