Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Cheap Bastid's The Hunt for Gold Toe Fluffies

My feet are really going to be happy today at work. I got new fluffies. Yep, Cheap Bastid finally broke down and bit the bullet and bought some new socks.

Not just any socks. For as long as I can remember, I’ve been wearing Gold Toe Fluffies. Soft, luxuriant, fluffy dress socks. But first, have you ever noticed that if your shoe size is 6-12 that you wear a sock size 10-13? What’s with that? And if you get your socks too big, that the heel makes the back of your ankle look like you’ve got a golf ball sticking out?

Anyway, I put it off as long as I could. I mean for the better part of a year I didn’t wear them. I was unemployed—who needs dress socks when you’re unemployed? The rare times when I wore socks at all they were white athletic ankle socks with shorts. Most of the time I didn’t wear any at all.

So, it’s time for us to go sock-shopping. Where to go? In the past I’ve gotten my Fluffy Fix on e-Bay. Or, I’ve put in a specific request to my kids at birthday or Christmas or Father’s Day. You can’t get Fluffies at any of the places we usually shop like Target or Dollar Tree. But now it looks as though I’m going to have to squeak some plastic out of my wallet, bite the bullet and go buy some big-boy socks—new Fluffies.

So we head to the Westfield Mall in Carlsbad—only about 10 minutes away. This is a big adventure. We haven’t done any shopping in months and months. There’s a J.C. Penney store and a Macy’s. First into Penny’s. We’re looking for “Men’s Furnishings”. (What a sissy name—how about just calling it what it is, the sock and drawers department). We take the escalator downstairs (you know this is more upscale because you never find an escalator at WalMart of Target—neither of which carries Fluffies). I spot a sign hanging from the ceiling (it took me 3 times pointing it out for Mrs. CB to spot it). A big 3 foot by 3 foot sign. It says “Gold Toe Socks”.

My heartbeat goes up. It’s like when you’re walking along a swale next to a corn field during pheasant season and it just feels “birdy”—you know you’re going to kick up a rooster. That’s what this feels like.

We inspect the racks and racks of socks. There’s thin dress socks. There’s thick cotton casual socks. Where are the Fluffies? There’s Gold Toe and there’s Stafford (the Penney’s brand). I find one package of 3 fluffies in my size. I’m looking for dark brown and black. Penney’s socks are all buy one, get the second one for half off (why don’t they just say 25% off, damn!). I find one 3-pack of brown fluffies and one 3-pack of black “faux fluffies” (store brand). Hmmmmm, what to do. We confer and decide to hide these 2 in the back of one of the racks and head over to Macy’s.

We head out of the store wandering down the mall towards Macy’s. God, I’ve always hated going in the main entrance of Macy’s or any major department store and having to walk through the cosmetic session. We got laughing and had the bright idea that if a store like Macy’s really wanted to sell cosmetics they should hire some experts at how to do make-up really well rather than the “sweet young things” they employ to show customers how to do it. Macy’s should hire transvestites who (a la RuPaul) really know how to apply make-up in such a way as to cover and highlight. If you can make a guy look really sexy with make-up just think what you could do with a woman. (Just a suggestion Macy’s, that’s all.) Plus, it would be a lot more fun.

So anyway, we find the “Men’s Furnishings” at Macy’s more easily (at least here it’s on the main floor). And another huge sign promoting Gold Toe socks and a much bigger selection. And they’re 33% off. AND they’ve got both brown and black. I’m in Fluffy heaven. Kind of like the cat in the cartoon “Mutts” who’s always cuddling his “lil’ blue sock”.

So, I do the math. At Penney’s the socks were $16 a pack. Let’s see at buy one, get one half off that would come to $24. At Macy’s they’re $18 a pack and 33% off. OK, that comes up to $24. It’s a wash. But damn, that’s a lot to pay for socks. $4 a pair! Carolyn looks at me and says something like, “Hey, Cheap Bastid you wear each pair one day a week and they last about 2 years—you do the math on that!”

They’ve been sitting in their bag next to the bed for a couple of weeks now. I hesitate to take them out and wear them. They’re new and perfect. Once I wear them and wash them, they’re not new anymore.

But today’s the day. It’s New Fluffy Day! I’m going to tear the wrapper and take out a pair of brand new Fluffies. Then lovingly roll each new pair into a ball and put it in the dresser. Ready. Waiting. For tomorrow. When I get to do it again. My toes and feet are going to be happy. My wife is glad too. She won’t have to look at that damn bag on the floor anymore and listen to me bitch about needing new Fluffies.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

$20 Billion for Gulf Clean-Up. Whack 'em with a 2x4!

I was just going through Yahoo News and came across an article fresh on their feed about the $20 billion fund that BP has agreed to establish to pay for cleaning up their oil well disaster in the Gulf of Mexico.

I agree with others today who have questioned the continuing reference to this as a "spill" stating instead that it's a disaster or even a "hemmorage". It's far from a spill. You spill a cup of coffee. You dump out the whole pot. But, I digress.

BP has agreed to suspend dividends to its shareholders and instead to establish this fund. How magnanimous of them. Doing today under pressure from President Obama and others what they should have done a month or more ago.

BP's Chairman, Carl-Henric Svanberg commented today about the disaster and recovery fund by saying, "I hear comments sometimes that large oil companies...are greedy companies and don't care, but not in the case of BP. We care about the small people."


BP had to be cajoled, shamed, coerced into doing the right thing. And then Svanberg has the temerity to claim that he cares about the "small people". What kind of arrogance is that? Small people? Geesh. It's just too bad that no one has grabbed him by the scruff of the neck, made him put on a pair of tyvek overalls and given him a shovel or pitchfork along a marshline to spend some time getting dirty and sweaty doing some actual "small people" work of cleaning up his own damn mess.

President Obama's comment was far better when he said the vulnerable fisherman, restaurant workers and other people of the Gulf "are uppermost in the minds of all concerned. That's who we're doing this work for."

And even better was what Tony Kennon, Mayor of Orange Beach, Alabama said: "We asked for that 2 weeks ago and they laughed at us. Thank you President Obama for taking a bunch of rednecks' suggestion and making it happen."

Yeah, thanks Barak, and there's still a lot of work to do. But at least now you've managed to get BP's attention.

Kind of like the old Missouri farmer known far and wide for how cooperative and docile his mule was. When the TV reporter showed up to film him, the farmer walked up to the mule and smacked it in the head with a 2x4 leaving the reporter appalled and aghast. "Well, son," the farmer said, "first you got to get their attention."

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Cheap Bastid Says Tina's a Bitch

Yep, you can take it from me, Tina’s a bitch. She’s tempermental. She only shows up when she wants to. She teases and offers delectable delights and then pulls them tantalizingly out of reach. You never want to go shopping for her unless you’re totally prepared to be disappointed.

And Cheap Bastid loves to shop. I love to shop for food bargains. I love to stretch my grocery budget like room temperature taffy. Every week we go to our grocery store, Stater Brothers as well as to a different grocer, Fraiser’s Farms for produce along with stops at both 99 Cent Only and Dollar Tree. They’re each within a mile of where we live and within a total of 2 miles of each other, so it’s just a matter of a little extra time rather than running all over town burning up gas.

So what does that have to do with that tempermental bitch Tina? Well, it seems like everything we develop a liking for either disappears or gets pricey.

Tina’s Burritos got us hooked. They come in a variety of flavors (we prefer Red Hot Beef) of frozen, microwavable burritos. First with a special at 4 for $1 and then 5 for $1. This went on for about 3 weeks. We stocked up. Then she went back to her regular price of 3 for $1. Nope. Not going to pay 33 cents each! I’m the Cheap Bastid. Screw Tina.

And she’s not the only one. A company called Hartford House kept the shelves of the dollar stores stocked for over a year with cans of $1 corned beef hash. And, in the world of corned beef hash it was actually pretty good. OK, it was a buck. It was cheap. That makes it taste better with a couple of eggs. Then it disappeared and we can’t get our corned beef hash Jones going anymore. Assholes.

And speaking of assholes, this same august company actually made a pretty good can of no-bean chili that we could get for a buck. Then that disappeared. We had to pay $1.50 at Wal-Mart for Hormel no-bean. Pretty good stuff but that’s a rip-off when you’re used to chili dogs or chili fries on the cheap. And why would I want to spend an extra 50 cents just for some really good pooters (as my delicate flower of a wife so elegantly calls flatulence).

But that’s OK. Sometimes it’s like trying to find these values (or is that bargains?) is like an endless treasure hunt. We love being able to score some hash or burritos or chili on the cheap. It makes eating it all the more pleasurable.

Call me a Cheap Bastid if you want to. I prefer to think of myself as suave, sophisticated and frugal. Most of it for us is “why spend money you don’t have to?”

Why should I go to the store and spend $3.50 on 15 ounces of Cherrios when I can get the store brand for $1.99. Stater Brothers calls them “Tasty O’s” I call them “Faux O’s”. And I can get the store brand Corn Flakes ("Fake Flakes") for $1.88 for 18 oz. Or, $3.50 on Captain Crunch when I can get Fake Crunch for $1.99. Why pay for Kellogg's or General Mills and their advertising? Buy the same stuff a lot cheaper. If the kids don't "like" it--tough toe-nails. Eat this stuff or go hungry.

Why spend $3 on Fritos when I can get “Fakitos” for $.99 at the dollar store. They taste just as good but they’re a lot cheaper. I’m just not that into having to have the brand name. And if I make salsa fresca from scratch or homemade bean dip then the chip takes second place to the tasty dip.

But there’s still stuff that gripes my butt. It seems as if I really like something that somehow it’s going to disappear from the shelves. I was liking pop tarts for a while. But, I don’t like the frosted ones. I prefer the non-frosted, especially strawberry. So what happens? They disappear from the shelves of Wal-Mart where I’ve been cheap buying them 16 for $1.88. Toast-ems aren’t too bad but they’re frosted.

And, I take snacks to work. A lot of the guys I work with are always hitting vending machines. Not me. I’m cheap. I like Mrs. Freshley’s “Buddy Bars”—scrumptious peanut butter wafers, 12 bars for a buck. But, just when I’m good and addicted, they disappear from the shelves at the dollar stores. What the hell? Then they reappeared. We stocked up. Mrs. Freshley, I bet she’s a menopausal old hag who is actually Tina's mother, gleefully addicting me and then cutting me off so I can wallow in my peanut buttery wafer withdrawal.

And then there’s the all time best soda in the world. I love it. I’ve been drinking it since I was 6 years old at my Grandparent’s house just outside Detroit. And, damn, you can get it in California. Stater’s carried it. It was a bit pricey, but at $1.79 a 2 liter I rationalized it as a total treat (especially since I’m not much of a soda drinker and even less of a beer drinker). It’s Vernor’s. The best ginger ale ever. Not like that wussy, wimpy Canada Dry crap. I love Vernor’s and then it disappeared from Stater’s. I bet Tina told them to do it.

So, I went without. For months. Until my bride made the horrendous trek a mile and a half to Albertson’s and got me 2 bottles for Valentine’s Day. It’s no wonder why I love Mrs. CB so much. This stuff is pure nectar. Gingery on the roof of your mouth. Just enough carbonation. I ration it out drinking one small glass a day to stretch it. But it’s almost gone now and I’m just too cheap to make the trip down to Albertson’s and keep drinking it at the $2.79 they charge.

So anyway, old Cheap Bastid loves the hunt just about as much as I love the cooking and eating. There’s a lot of little things we do consistently to spend less on our food and grocery budget. We chortle and giggle while we’re eating the results of a particularly good find—like a $1 corned beef “brinner”.

So what's next? In just a little bit we're taking off to Costco. They've got a $2 off coupon for Lipton Green Tea--which I drink at work (no way is Cheap Bastid paying $1.25 in a vending machine for soda). I usually buy it at Stater's when it's on special for $.99 or less (the "regular" price is $1.59 but I ain't paying that much). At $.99 it's 2 cents an ounce. This is 24 16.9 ounce bottles or 308 total ounces. At 2 cents an ounce anything less than 6 bucks is a bargain. Oh boy, the hunt is on! But, what it comes down to is I guess that we manage to “save” about $5 to $10 a week from our grocery bills by planning and being frugal (read that cheap) in what we buy. OK, that’s going to save us anywhere from $250 to $500 a year which for us is somewhere between 1 and 2 months of our grocery bills. Now we’re talking real money. Thanks Tina.

And you know what that is? It’s the Cheap Bastid Way:

Eat Good. Eat Cheap. Be Grateful.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Obama sez: "I've got to find out whose ass to kick!"

Well, it's about damn time. I've been waiting a year and a half for President Obama to start sounding at least a little bit like he's "got a pair".

I have hoped against hope that he would start leading more like Truman and less like Jimmy Carter.

Truman chewing MacArthur's ass.

All this "audacity of hope" stuff is fantastic. The reality has been a kick in the pants. Every once in a while you've just got to "lead, follow or get out of the way." And maybe, the aftermath of the BP Gulf of Mexico debacle is going to be catalyst. There are times to accomodate and compromise and there are times to get blunt. This is a time to get blunt. Pres. Obama likes to play a bit of basketball. Well, Pres. Obama, now is the time for you to just "take it to the hoop". You might miss, you might score, you might charge. But, take it to the hoop.

Why am I writing this? Because of a comment he made yesterday to Matt Lauer in an interview. He said that he's gone to Louisiana and the Gulf partly because he needs to know "whose ass to kick". I love it. Here's a snippet from the interview: (If the right interview isn't playing, click the "playlist" and then the icon in the upper left corner).

That kind of reminds me of this little video that I shared a few months back:

President Obama, there's a time for hope and accomodation and there's a time to "kick some ass". Now's the time to start kicking.

Thursday, June 3, 2010

How Many Teens Have to Die on the Streets of San Diego?

It’s happened too many times here in San Diego County this year. Seven times since October according to the San Diego “Union Tribune”.

That’s 7 fatal car accidents involving high school age teenaged drivers. That’s a lot. The kids didn’t get it figured out after one or two. And they won’t after this one either. Don’t you know, kids are immortal. Tell that to grieving parents.

I guess that I’ve believed for quite some time that teens should get their licenses (with restrictions) at about 17. The reason I believe this is a bit different and I think it would be interesting to research. I believe that a drivers license is a critical thing for kids in terms of the decisions that they have to make. When they get behind the wheel of a car, they’re making decisions that are literally “life or death”. Make too big a mistake in either judgment or execution and someone can die. But kids are immortal and nothing’s going to happen to them, is it.

But, kids still die. This latest death was caused by a 17 year old driver who had only had her license for 2 months. By law, she was supposed to be in the car alone. She had her best friend in the front seat and 3 boys in the back that she had picked up to give a ride. She hit a truck head-on. The boys were all injured—2 of them seriously. The two guys in the truck were hurt. Her best friend is dead. She was doing 80 in a 40 zone. 80! Damn. It’s just so stupid.

(Google images photo)

What should happen to her? That’s a good question. She did something incredibly stupid. She killed someone. Why? It’s against the law in the first place for a 2 month driver to have ANYONE in the car unless there’s a licensed driver over 23 in the car. It’s against the law to exceed the speed limit by 40 miles an hour. It’s against the law to drive outside your lane. And because of that the state must seriously consider felony manslaughter charges.

Now, the parents of the young girl who was killed have asked the District Attorney’s office not to prosecute the driver. I don’t know about that. Was a crime committed? How serious a crime? Whose job is it to determine whether someone is prosecuted? Certainly not the parents of either the victim or the driver.

If it were my own kid who was driving, what would I think or do? If it were my daughter whose funeral I’m going to attend, what would I think or do? I don’t know that I could be that charitable, but then again, I’m not really vindictive either.

I think in a society governed by laws, that the decision to prosecute is irrespective of the family of the victim. That’s what the social contract is all about. We abrogate that right to the government. If we agree with the notion (like with convicted double murder/rapist John Gardner III) that the victim’s family can plead for either mercy or vengeance at the time of sentencing then that is the time for the family of the victim to come forward and “petition” the judge.

I don’t know anymore. What I do know is that I’m tired of this carnage. Kids are going to do stupid things behind the wheel, just like they do stupid things at other times. Hopefully, they’ll “get away with it” with only a good scare and perhaps a ticket. But sometimes, someone dies. When someone dies because of this kind of stupidity, who should pay?

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

The Cheap Bastid Way to Eat Less and Lose Weight

Today's the 2nd day of the month and things are a bit slow at the car dealership. (Obviously, because I've got time to sit here and pound on the keys). I'm still totally unmotivated and burned out from my 4-days off last weekend where I actually ended up working all 4 days for a total of 11 days in a row.

Anyway, I just got to thinking about how Cheap Bastid really hasn't had much to say lately. Then it dawned on me that I've been trying to mend some of my ways and cut back just a bit on my eating because my 58 year old paunch doesn't seem to be going down.

So, let's review a couple of things that I've been doing lately to get things under control. I'll use last night's dinner as an example.

Last night I made "Greesh" (that's my self-annointed "grits and hash" concoction) from left over tri-tip (I made chimichurri tri-tip Sunday). I take and cut up left over meat and combine it with a couple of tomatoes, some bell pepper, onion, a jalapeno and some spices and then serve it over a bed of cheesey grits. It's goooooooood.

But, I thought to myself, "Self, let's try this a bit differently." so here's the things I tried differently last night to try to cut back just a bit:

1. Use smaller plates. We've got one set that are about an inch smaller in diameter than our others. The food fills the plate better and seems like more.

2. Only one serving. It was a full serving but I only did one.

3. Put your fork down on the plate after you take each bite.

4. Chew slower and thoroughly. Interesting, I could taste the food better. I got all the different flavors from the acid of the tomatoes to the cumin and chipotle I sprinkled on to the hint of chimichurri I used to marinade the tri-tip.

5. Take a drink after each bite. (You're supposed to take a sip of water but I'm a milk drinker and always have been--skim).

And that's pretty much it. I was full. Not bad. I could have eaten more--like seconds and felt pretty stuffed afterward. But it was OK. And we've got more left-overs for lunch than usual.

Oh, and I forgot one last thing that I did. I waited until my wife went to bed and then put a couple of Pop-Tarts in the toaster! That did the trick!

That's the Cheap Bastid Way: Eat Good. Eat Cheap. Be Grateful!