January 13th, 2004

i'm ready for my close up mr demille


Location: Indianapolis

It has becoming more and more clear to me of late just how much of a tightwad I am. On some levels, I have no problem spending money, usually for the frivolous things in life, like picking up the tab for dinner with friends; things which I have nothing to show for except being a nice guy. When it comes to luxury items, I hem and haw over the price and spend an hour looking at in the store trying to convince myself that I really need it.

But it's the little ways in which I'm a cheapskate that amuses me the most I think. Somewhere along the way I developed this notion that to waste not is to want not, which in theory is good practice, but when does it become obsessive? Here are some examples:

A bar of soap costs, like, a dollar. Maybe two dollars if you're the fancy type. I use a bar of soap until it breaks into, at which point I stick the two together to make this double-decker blob to whisk back and forth across my wash cloth. It becomes so tiny that I lose grip of it and it falls to the bathtub floor, which I dutifully pick up and continue using. I'm not satisfied until that sliver of soap can no longer be handled and can wash away down the bathtub drain cover. On the subject of toiletries: I use a razor blade until you couldn't cut soft butter with it. I take immense care to portion out the appropriate amount of shampoo for my hair and shaving cream for my face. And, should you ever allow me to shower at your crib, please know I will be using your toiletries instead of my own. I do this all the time at my parents, even though my travel bag has everything I need in it sitting right there in the floor.

I always buy things like food in bulk whenever possible, even when it's size isn't practical. Living in a truck, the size of everything becomes essential, yet I can't bring myself to by a small jar of mayonnaise, or the small pack of individually wrapped cheese singles. The little unit pricing stickers in the grocery store basically let's you know that, if you buy the smaller sizes, you're an idiot because you're paying an extra $0.0175 per unit. So I get the big jar and the 24 pack instead of the small jar and the 8 pack. It's the same with potato chips. I buy the bag of potato chips that's as big as your torso, knowing full well that i'll eat a third of it then it will sit for two months before I venture into the bag again.

I'm obsessive about change. A lot of people always pay with bills and either toss the change into the take-a-penny cups or horde them away at home then bank them for a big payday at a later date. I never leave change lying around. It's always in my pocket. Whenever I have it, I make correct change when buying things. One thing's for sure, I'm definitely ahead on that take-a-penny racket; I always take and never leave it.

Another man's trash...
Until I sold most of my possessions to start trucking, I owned exactly 4 pieces of furniture, one of which I purchased new, my bed. My desk was rescued from the garage that came with the house I was renting; the dresser and kitchen table were salvaged from a dumpster at my ex-girlfriend's old apartment complex. Oh, I forgot, I had a multi-media cabinet and a stereo cabinet that I found on the curb one night while delivering pizzas.

If it ain't broke...
My computer monitor is a 15" Packard Bell monitor that came with the very first PC I bought - in 1992. The last four cars I owned were given to me, a motley assortment of rusted out clunkers that I knew I could get a couple more thousand miles out of before they died completely. The last car I actually bought was a Geo Metro that I paid $600 for. Basic clothing I wear until they are literally falling off of me. When I buy a pair of shoes, I treat it like an investment that is going to last me for the next 5 years so I better be damn well happy with them.

Reusing things
And it's not because I'm some PC green tree hugger either. I resue the plastic spoons and forks I carry with me in the truck indefinitely until they break or I used them in something really sticky like pack cheese or peanut butter which is just really hard to completely lick off. Bags of plastic cutlery are, what, $0.98 for a bag of 12? I use plastic gorcery bags as garbage bags in my truck. I keep a little notepad for jotting down notes and directions in the course of my work, which, I'm not saitsfied that I can go on to a new page until every single millimeter of white space is covered in ink on the previous. Anytime I acquire a wire, or a computer part, I horde it in boxes back home. I have god Kows how many AC/DC adapters, coaxial cable, floppy drives (some 5.25"), audio/video cable, patch cords, because, well, you never know when that next wiring/electrical emergency may occur and I will have the last laugh on those twits at Radio Shack.

So, what I wanna know is, anyone else out there like this, or is it just me?
i'm ready for my close up mr demille

oh yeah

Location: Indianapolis

Two other things I've mused on lately.

Ever since the blaster worm last fall, I have noticed a sharp decrese in the amount of spam I receive on Hotmail. I don't know if this is due to heightened security from the folks at Microsoft or a general thing that is universal. Anyone else experience a similar phenomena?

Also, a note about the FCC loosening owernship laws. In general this is a bad thing for the American public in terms of the information and entertainment to which they have access. The more these outlets are concentrated in the hands of the few, the less access you really have. This all actually began back in the 90's under the Clinton Administration when the FCC allowed the ownership from 4 radio stations to 8 radio stations in the same market to be held by one corporation (which is why you got all those Clear Channel stations on your market all of a sudden back in the 90's). That being said, there is an upside to this that I've noticed. The "independent" commercial stations (those not owned by Clear Channel and their ilk) are working harder to carve a niche in the radio landscape that is different from that is noticeably different from their conglomerated counterparts. One of my favorites is here in Indianapolis (WTTS 92.3 FM). They are an AOR station where you can hear every stripe of rock and roll instead of the same 5 or 6 Led Zeppelin and Lynyrd Skynyrd songs every hour. I've been listening to it for the past 2 hours or so and so far have heard The Pretenders, Tears for Fears (and something besides "Everbody Wants To Rule The World" or "Shout"), Van Morrison, The Smiths, Johnny Lang, Joe Jackson. On other occasions I've listened to them I've heard artists as diverse as Echo and the Bunnymen and Peter Tosh played in the same block. Kind of impressive for commerical radio.