The Curious Autodidact

January 31, 2009

Saving Money on the Monthly Bills: The Telephone

Filed under: helpful hints,money saving ideas — Honilima @ 11:12 pm

Ring, ring—that’s the phone, but which one you ask. Whereas many of us were raised in a house with perhaps two telephones today it’s not uncommon for people to have two cell phones a land line and multiple voice mail boxes to monitor.

Voice mail, caller ID, and three way calling can be nice features but what would life be like if you live without these?

The phone company wants to make money. Their support staff, who fields the customer calls, is trained to be helpful but also to answer your questions a certain way with the bottom line foremost. For instance I called to ask if our DSL service would be had without a phone line and I was told no. A few days later I called back another day armed with the phrase “DSL raw” and was told there was no way to lower the bill. I had greeted the operator with kindness and went into the “can you relate to me” mode asking if there wasn’t some way I could lower the bill that like so many families we were trying hard to cut back our monthly expenses. By the end of the call I learned there was something they called “stand-alone DSL.” Ordering this reduced the bill by half. You may well have to use the various words to get down to the kernel of truth stay calm but kind and determined. The utilities are required to offer these simplified services but they certainly don’t promote it.

Because I have a cell phone and can use the MAGIC JACK for VoIP calls (our address is registered for EMS) the only reason we could see for a land line was in a natural disaster since we have a regular phone plugged into the computer. The Magic Jack has voice mail and notifies you by e-mail when you have a message waiting, pretty clever indeed.

If you want to keep a land line ask for a “naked” land line, usually this is just a simple phone line and costs between $10-15 a month, get an answering machine (most have message retrieval like modern voicemail) and call it good. I’ll bet most people you want to talk to call you on the cell phone anyway. Sit for a few minutes and think these changes through. If you have many people in the house it may require a meeting to explore the pros and cons but everyone will feel involved and valued in the process of saving money.
Another win-win!

Ben says, a penny saved is a penny earned

Ben says, a penny saved is a penny earned


January 30, 2009

John Updike 1932-2009

Filed under: book related,Word Related — Honilima @ 7:46 am

The artful Updike circa 1960. Photograph: HO/Reuters

It came to me the other day:
Were I to die, no one would say,
“Oh, what a shame! So young, so full
Of promise — depths unplumbable!”

Instead, a shrug and tearless eyes
Will greet my overdue demise;
The wide response will be, I know,
“I thought he died a while ago.”

For life’s a shabby subterfuge,
And death is real, and dark, and huge.
The shock of it will register
Nowhere but where it will occur.


This poem is taken from John Updike’s forthcoming collection, “Endpoint and Other Poems.”

Christopher Lydon’s “Open Source” podcast with Updike from 12/04/2000

NPR’s Fresh Air Tribute to Updike:

Economist’s article about Updike

Sunday NYT on Updike


photo courtesy of Alfred Knopf

January 29, 2009

Good Fun with Poetry

Filed under: Word Related — Honilima @ 9:00 pm
This poem is easy to memorize and fun
to recite to a child,
on a car trip, or in daily life...

The People Upstairs
        by Ogden Nash
The people upstairs all practice ballet
Their living room is a bowling alley
Their bedroom is full of conducted tours.
Their radio is louder than yours,
They celebrate week-ends all the week.
When they take a shower, your ceilings leak.
They try to get their parties to mix
By supplying their guests with Pogo sticks,
And when their fun at last abates,
They go to the bathroom on roller skates.
I might love the people upstairs more
If only they lived on another floor.

January 27, 2009

Saving Money on the Monthly Bills: First in a Series

In these belt tightening times it is even more important to examine what are the essential costs of daily living and what are the extras that got added on when wallets were thick. You may quickly dismiss the fact that there is anything that can be trimmed but perhaps that just means you have to think with a tad more intention. Maybe you’d look stylish in your glasses instead of the disposable contact lenses. Instead of feeling too busy all the time you should turn off the cable and spend more time visiting with family and friends, or more time outside moving around for health.

think of how smart youll look in your glasses

think of how smart you’ll look in your glasses

Re-occurring monthly bills—-we all have them and these are likely the vampires that arrive twelve times annually that we just leave on autopilot without a thought. The companies count on this, that our lives are too full to get competitive bids on the car insurance, or the fuel bill, or the internet service.

Consider raising your deductibles on your car insurance or health insurance. Call around and make sure that the insurance you have is the best value. Ask your agent if she or he can suggest some ways to cut down the costs.

Compare the costs per gallon for your oil or propane bill that is likely delivered while you are at work without much thought and possibly without examination of the unit costs when you pay the bill.

Consider eating a little lower on the food chain and think of yourself as not only thrifty but ahead of the environmental curve (more…)

January 25, 2009

Katrina: Redux

Filed under: book related,social justice — Honilima @ 7:09 am

If you took time to see Spike Lee’s documentary WHEN THE LEVEES BROKE you will want more of Phyllis Montana-LeBlanc. Her book NOT JUST THE LEVEES BROKE is a candid look at the toll this mismanagement of this natural tragedy took on her and her family. She is spunky, candid, and an activist of merit.

Here is her interview from Salon

Right on Phyllis you keep fighting for those have been forgotten in one of the South’s most culturally diverse city.

Fun with Maps: Who’s Got the Oil?

Filed under: cool internet stuff,environmental ideas — Honilima @ 6:41 am

For those who are most familiar with classroom maps with the USA in the middle should try a look see at this map and the link to where the oil is.

This is a fascinating look at the world from an oil perspective

This map below more properly shows the size of the continents:

January 21, 2009

What Joy for the Country, an American Dream Come True

Filed under: social justice,women heroes — Honilima @ 4:33 am


“On this day, we gather because we have chosen hope over fear,

unity of purpose over conflict and discord.”

President Barack Obama

January 2, 2009

Yes, those things you say you’ll get around to…

Filed under: cool internet stuff,helpful hints — Honilima @ 3:40 am


Earthquake Safety

Emergency Kit

A friend told me that the best way to keep water is to get liter bottles from Coke only, fill them with water absolutely positively to the top, turn it over to make sure there is not even a bubble of air in it (this takes practice) and then they can be stored without additives for up to eight years without rotation. Think of how much water you might use where you in an emergency without your regular source of water.

I recently added Lifestraws as they will make almost any water drinkable and are easy to store. I also added some mylar blankets and a crank powered radio.

Blog at