June 21st, 2008



Free Money

We got our Federal Tax Rebate slash Economic Stimulus Check last week. Despite the "best" intentions of the big box electronics stores, we shall not be spending this money on a new, bigger and decidedly more digital television. Or going on a vacation/cruise/very expensive dinner.

No, we had already decided that this "free" money would be technically used to make an IRA payment for 2008. I say technically, because it really seems pretty pointless to hand $1200 over to an investment program this week, because the markets are all still in a mess. Either later in the year we'll be able to hold some value in an investment or things will be A Lot Worse.

However, that leaves us with the question of what to do with the Fed's check now.


The best deal we found was something we initially laughed at. Our local Allendale grocery store is in the Family Fare chain -- truth be told we usually call it Family Failure, just as we shop at Office Despot and Bath Bed & Beyond Belief (grin) -- and they had an offer to trade your economic stimulus check for Family Fare Cash Cards with a 10% bonus.

I saw an ad the other day crowing about a bank CD which would pay 3.57% or something like that. Hmmm... seems that getting 10% on your money, and up front, trumps that. The thing of it is, we already buy most of our groceries at Family Fare in Allendale, and about half of our gasoline. See, they have promotions which in some weeks give you coupons good for 5-15cents off per gallon at the Family Fare gas station. Today I paid $4.09.9/gal instead of $4.24.9/gal for midgrade. And effectively another 9% reduction in the price, due to the 10% free bonus on the cash card.

You can't beat saving another 40 cents or so a gallon, which also trumps the cashback we'd have gotten on the credit card we normally use for groceries and gasoline. So I think we did well.

The question, though, is whether we can buy more cash cards with a 10% bonus later, when we've spent all this money on groceries and gasoline. (double-dipping-grin)

Dr. Phil
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Why I Like Nick Mamatas

LJ Service

I've never met writer Nick Mamatas. I only know him as nihilistic_kid on LiveJournal. Read some stories written by Nick. And, well, "Nick stories". Stories passed around about Nick and his legendary flame wars. And stories Nick tells about Nick -- the man is unusally immune to worrying about what other people think of him.

He also serves as senior editor of Clarkesworld, where shockingly he actually gives useful and honest comments to submissions. Which sometimes offend writers, who then go against the Submission Guidelines and try to argue with Nick. You can't argue rejections with Nick, not only will you lose, he'll post the whole exchange on his blog and if you get rude, offensive and stupid, the world will know and you'll get banned from submitting to Clarkesworld again. The latter, IMHO, is not a badge of honor.

Twice I've submitted to Clarkesworld and both times found Nick's comments Really Useful. But be warned, if you try this route Nick isn't going to waste any time trying to massage your ego or mince words.

A Tale of Two Postings

So in the last two days Nick has managed to post things which I think writers need to think about. Yesterday Nick wrote about How To End A Story. Today he wrote about the editors' lie that "I just want good stories":

I don't want good stories. I want great writing with no story, good stories with great writing, wonderful anti-stories with poor writing, nifty ideas on silver platters, stories that depend on having read some other story to make any sense at all, stories that nobody will think are good until three days after they are read, stories that couldn't have been written before 1969, stories that will never be written again after 9/11/2001, mood pieces, monologues, atmospheric effects, grand tours, minute examinations of places I've never been, thinly-vieled (sic) autobiographies, grocery lists, liner notes of records never pressed, stories about pro wrestling that only people well-versed in kayfabe will fully understand, stories written as if "story" were some weird new thing that nobody ever heard of, etc.

Don't know about you, but that's some inspirational stuff. And honest. Now you don't have to take Nick's advice or believe his opinions. But gosh darn it I like reading things which make me think.

Dr. Phil
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