How I saved $1, and how we could save many more.

I was at the grocery store to buy eggs. They were 1.99 for 18ct, but the deal was sweetened with a promise of buy one, get one free. Not feeling very much like Rocky Balboa, I had a hard time imagining how I could use 36 eggs without breaking the law (or windows) or wasting food. I collected a single package of 18 eggs.

When I got in line, though, the lady behind me also had a package of 18 eggs. Well, I put 2 and 2 together, or rather, 1 and 1 together. I asked the lady at the checkstand if it really was buy one, get one free. She confirmed, so I asked the lady behind me if I could buy her eggs. She didn’t understand at first, and wanted me to get my own eggs if I wanted more. But when I convinced her that if I purchased hers, they would be free, and I would be saving her $2, she accepted, the checkstand lady called me a good samaritan for saving a random lady $2, and I was ready continue about my business. In the end, the lady offered me $1 so that we split the savings equally, which was fair and I wasn’t about to make a bigger scene by refusing it. So in the end, I saved $1 by buying someone else’s eggs for them.

Sure, it’s just $1, you say. But think of the potential. Buying in bulk is pretty much always cheaper than buying individually. Many stores also offer group discounts. People who don’t know each other will pay full price for something, but if they somehow got together beforehand, they could save money by buying at once. Imagine the potential of a web site the did this kind of thing. It could set up group discounts for tickets to baseball games, concerts, volume purchases, whatever is cheaper for bulk. Of course, when you get down to splitting the cost of buy one, get one free 18ct eggs, it gets to be more work to find someone else than it’s worth in savings. But I’m just a guy with crazy ideas, and you’ve probably already had the idea or could point out a web site that already does this. If not, though, and you end up making this work, I want some credit and some royalties. 🙂

For now, I’m content with my $1.

Woohoo! Patent #2!!!

Well, patent application #2. Today I signed my second patent application. Now it goes to the lawyers and the USPTO (United States Patent and Trademark Office) where it will sit around for a couple years and get debated. I won’t know for probably 2-5 years whether the patent will be accepted, but at least the application is in. I’m proud of this second one, too. I was only partly involved in the first one, but I did a lot of the work for the second one, and it’s neat to see the stuff I’ve written in the application.

French Bread

  • 6 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 1/2 (.25 ounce) packages active dry yeast (or 5 1/2 tsp)
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons salt
  • 2 cups warm water (110 degrees F/45 degrees C)
  • 1 tablespoon cornmeal
  • 1 egg white
  • 1 tablespoon water

In a large bowl, combine 2 cups flour, yeast and salt. Stir in 2 cups warm water, and beat until well blended using a stand mixer with a dough hook attachment. Using a wooden spoon, stir in as much of the remaining flour as you can.

On a lightly floured surface, knead in enough flour to make a stiff dough that is smooth and elastic. Knead for about 8 to 10 minutes total. Shape into a ball. Place dough in a greased bowl, and turn once. Cover, and let rise in a warm place until doubled. Punch dough down, and divide in half. Turn out onto a lightly floured surface. Cover, and let rest for 10 minutes. Roll each half into large rectangle. Roll up, starting from a long side. Moisten edge with water and seal. Taper ends.

Grease a large baking sheet. Sprinkle with cornmeal. Place loaves, seam side down, on the prepared baking sheet. Lightly beat the egg white with 1 tablespoon of water, and brush on. Cover with a damp cloth. Let rise until nearly doubled, 35 to 40 minutes.

With the best pocket knife, make 3 or 4 diagonal cuts about 1/4 inch deep across top of each loaf. Bake in a preheated 375 degrees F (190 degrees C) oven for 20 minutes. Brush again with egg white mixture. Bake for an additional 15 to 20 minutes, or until bread tests done. You’ll know it’s done if you whack it lightly and it sounds hollow. Remove from baking sheet, and cool on a wire rack.


I made bread today!

Not the money kind, though that would have been satisfying, too. Today I made real French bread. It came out great. It’s my first time with bread (other than pizza dough), so I was really worried about it. In the end, I had some good loaves; slightly crunchy on the outside, fluffy on the inside. It’s probably 10 times better making my own bread just because I made it. No, it doesn’t taste as good as if I had bought a loaf at the grocery store, but I made it myself, and it was my first time, and if you have a problem with it, try making your own bread and see how you like it.

Better cooking

Some people have asked why I was cooking shirtless in the first place. Why not? Really, though, it was because I had just gotten back from racquetball, then showered, and I knew I wasn’t going out later, so I just put on pajama bottoms.

Tonight’s cooking was a lot better. I had some fun with a seafood stir fry. It took forever to peel the shrimp, but it was so worth it. I had shrimp, crab meat, water chestnuts, and pineapple stir fried with a little hot sauce and some sweet chili sauce. I also put in some rice vermicelli (thin rice noodles). I had my shirt on, and it was delicious.


  • A couple tablespoons of vegetable or corn oil
  • A couple handfuls of popcorn

Heat up a fairly large pan on medium high heat with enough oil to cover the bottom of the pan. Put in a couple handfuls of popcorn (a handful is about 1/4 cup-1/3 cup). Stir until it stops popping. Hold the lid over the pan to keep kernels from flying out. If the pan fills before all the popcorn is done popping, remove from heat, shake some of the popcorn off the top into a large bowl, and return to heat. If you can smell burning popcorn, take it off the heat and shake it into the bowl. It’s ok to have some kernels left. They won’t pop, and the rest will burn.

If you want, melt a couple tablespoons of butter in the microwave and drizzle it over the top of the finished popcorn. Shake some salt and/or pepper over the top. Lawry’s seasoning salt is good, too. Mix with your hands.


On deficit spending; or how flex time can eat you alive

I work in a place with flex time. If I feel like taking off early, cool. If I want to take a long lunch, no problem. I can even work from home if I don’t feel like getting out of my pajamas in the morning.

It used to be that I would have no problems being over hours. I would bank up to 10 or more hours so that I could take a whole day off. Sure, I still accrue vacation, so I could rely on that, but this way I can have as many days off as I want as long as I’m reasonable about it.

Around January, though, I lost a lot of interest in maintaining positive hours. I got almost 30 hours behind. I ended up using about 12 hours of vacation just to make up some of the time, and I was still 15 hours behind. I’ve been carrying that weight for months now.

Being 15 hours behind doesn’t actually mean much. Being even, or being over is just as meaningless. I’m salaried. But we have a ‘chargeable hours goal’, which means we’re supposed to average 40 hours per week over the year. So at the end of the year, we’re supposed to be even, which means we worked, on average, 40 hours per week. So being 15 hours behind means that some time before the end of the fiscal year, I should make up those 15 hours so that management won’t be pissed.

It’s a lot like credit card debt, though. I’m not losing hours. I’ve been maintining 40 per week for months now. But that debt is hanging over my head like some kind of monster. I guess I can say WAS hanging over my head. After this week, I should be free of the shackles of debt (at least in terms of hours at work). It’s very liberating knowing that I’m square. Not much has changed, but it just feels better.

I’m done with theaters

That’s it. I quit. No more theaters for me. I had to put up with a theater full of screaming little kids who were pulling my hair, getting in my face, talking and yelling, and in general completely distracting me from the movie. Further, I had to put up with the elephants next door all day, so I was hoping to escape the din, and I ended up just entering a louder one.

I can draw a table and compare going to a movie in a theater to staying at home and watching a movie on my big screen, and not only will staying at home clearly beat out going to a theater, staying home has tons of other advantages, too. I’m so glad I have my projector.

Screen size:
Movie theater: Huge
My projector: Huge (same viewing angle as being 1/3 way back in a theater)

Sound system:
Movie theater: Surround
My apartment: Stereo, but very good

Movie theater: Folding chairs with not enough leg room
My apartment: Couches with room to lay down, stretch, or curl up under a blanket

Movie theater: Slides, then video ads, then previews
My apartment: None

Movie theater: Pray that you’re not missing an important part while you pee or risk a bladder infection
My apartment: Rewind, fast forward, pause, restart, do whatever you want

Movie theater: Whatever they decide to show
My apartment: Whatever I decide to watch. Movies of all genres, television episodes, Playstation 2, Gamecube, computer screen

Movie theater: Cell phones, loud people, little brats that keep kicking your chair and crying
My apartment: None

Movie theater: Almost $8 for one movie
My apartment: Stuff I already have; free. Netflix; $15/month. Stuff people bring over; free.

Movie theater: Pay outrageous prices, or try to smuggle
My apartment: Anything you want. Dinner, ice cream, chips, whatever.

There’s no doubt that my apartment is much better than going to a theater. Now if only they would release DVDs at the same time as theatrical releases, I would have absolutely no incentive to go to a theater.