llcoolvad: (hair)
Forbes has decided to join U.S. News and World Report in the rating colleges game.

And wow, what a strange methodology they've chosen. They're using Ratemyprofessor as an actual source of data. And adding in how much debt students leave with. And how many graduates rank in Who's Who in America. Seems superficial at best. Mefi commenters agree!

My school, UMass/Amherst (altho I graduated from UMass/Boston, but I spent more time in Amherst), ranks 299. Somewhere vaguely in the middle. Which disturbs me not at all; I know what kind of education I got. All of my other schools (Bentley, Simmons, BU) are lower on the list, and they were all fancy expensive private schools. The other schools that I took a few classes from in the 5-College area (Amherst and surrounds) are all very high on the list, but cost double what my school costs.

And that's what I'm finding horrifying about this whole list. Sort by Cost, and oh my god. About half the list is over $35k! Somewhere I still have my canceled check from my first semester at BU, in 1982. I paid something like $2,250, and thought that was a huge amount. I didn't live on campus, so that was just tuition. So basically about $4,500 a year for tuition. Harvard at the time wasn't much more. So one generation ago, private schools cost about 30% of the median wage. And now they cost over 100% of the median wage. According to this article, the cost to families has increased 439% since 1982.

A little steep, no? How seriously does anyone afford it? We had financial aid in my day — it wasn't the dark ages. If everyone is getting financial aid and scholarships and grants, isn't the listed tuition basically a joke? Something only paid by Princes of Arabia, or something? I don't really believe it. I check this stuff out from time to time because I often think I'm going to get another degree in my spare time. But I don't frankly see how I could afford it, ever. I only managed to pay for grad school by getting a fellowship and working there for the whole time.

I feel sorry for parents of young children. I can't even imagine how that's all going to work in another generation. Scary!


Mar. 26th, 2008 04:35 pm
llcoolvad: (Default)
My new (somewhat used) Treo screen arrived yesterday, so, all excited, I sat down immediately after dinner and cracked open my phone to get started. I got it all done perfectly (or so I thought), closed it up, put the battery back in, and ... black screen. Arg! Read the comments on the "how to fix your treo's screen" video and someone said that when you install the ribbon cable into the board, you have to shove it in pretty far or else the pressure from the clip doesn't connect evenly and your screen won't light up.

Ok, so I open it all back up again, and now it's all familiar and I understand how the little clips hold it together so it is easy, and as I unclip the ribbon* and position it back in I try, very gently, to push it in further, when ... SNAP! the ribbon breaks off the last 1/8", which is where the wider part narrows so that it will fit into the clip. RUINED!! $40 down the drain, because of course the place that I bought it from won't honor installation damage. (Which to me makes sense, but kind of sucks anyway!)

I left positive feedback on the eBay site saying something like "Speedy delivery, accurate description, I just wish I made it work" and they got right back to me, asked me to call. (Apparently the "catch more flies with honey" maxim is pretty accurate!)

We chatted, she told me that she could sell me another for cost ($25) if I wanted. So now, do I try again? I'd still be doing better $$-wise than if I had someone do it for me, and I'm pretty sure I could get it to work without breaking it this time.

Or do I just buy the damned iPhone???

* which is a 1/2" wide (slender) strip of plastic film, nothing as sturdy as ribbon, but I don't have another term for it!
llcoolvad: (cold)

I staggered out of bed this morning because I knew I needed to pick Mom up from the car repair shop. She had errands to run and wanted to do that first so she let me sleep in. So I get up, still completely non-fuctional, reach for my trusty Treo, and my sleep-numbed hands just totally dropped it. And the screen broke!

So I stopped by my (not-so)friendly Verizon store, and they informed me that they won't fix it, just replace it. But it's not covered by warranty anymore, so I'd basically have to buy a new one. For $300 (and that's AFTER my "new-every-two" $100 discount). Or I could get a different phone? So I said I'd have to think about it. Came home, got on net. Palm site tells me repair and return would be $169, and of course that would mean being without it for a certain amount of time since it's thru the mail.

Verizon site wants me to upgrade. But it doesn't have anything GOOD! All the smartphones are either big and clunky or another Treo, which is itself big and clunky. I don't want a Blackberry, because all our consultants use them and I can't stand that idea. I don't really want a Windows Mobile device, even tho the Office products might be useful.

Sounds like it's iPhone time, doesn't it?



Feb. 21st, 2008 06:01 pm
llcoolvad: (cold)
Car update:

I took everyone's advice and decided to fix the car rather than get some other car. It was not a hard decision to make, as I am mostly satisfied with my little car, and as I am very lazy and horrified by the idea of car shopping anyway.

Today was my appointment, and I decided that my priorities were the leak and the electrical system (as [ profile] rolandgsl suggested, fix the annoying things first). So I gave them a list of to-dos: 1. Find leak, fix. 2. Determine electrical problem, fix. 3. Remount electrical outlet (cigarette lighter) because hanging by a wire makes me nervous. 4. Remove car alarm (because honestly, who needs it? I haven't used it regularly in five years and I suspect it is the cause of the battery drain). 5. Determine why SRS light is lit, fix.

My friendly service guy called a little while ago, and the current status is: 1. They found a leak in one of the taillights so they're getting a new part, will be in tomorrow early AM. Hopefully that's the only leak! 2. Battery is basically dead. Probably from repeated drain from alarm. Replaced. 3. Outlet remounted. 4. Car alarm gone! 5. SRS light seems to have been triggered by bad battery, they reset it and it's not coming on again, so fixed.

Damage: $550. A lot of money but way better than I thought. And if my leak is truly gone I will be very happy!

Might still need the exhaust done, I'm waiting to see if I pass inspection (March). I was also looking over my spreadsheet of repairs and I think I will be due for brakes fairly soon (it's been a while), but those are the only things that are obvious now. I'm ignoring the stupid heat shield, too.

Here's hoping I can now keep the car going for another year or two!
llcoolvad: (Default)
Mostly thinking aloud here. I think it's getting to be that time; the time when I have to decide if throwing more money at my car is a good idea, or if getting a new(er) car is the better idea. My car (1996 Honda Civic hatchback) is 12 years old, and I've had it for 11 of those years. It's been pretty reliable. Has 131,000 miles. Is comfy, has a lot of pickup and zip, no body problems or rust, and I like the manual transmission especially in the snow.

Current problems: Exhaust has small hole. Water leak in back hatch area somewhere, causing spare tire well to slosh around with water, which also makes it very hard to get interior humidity under control leading to constantly fogging windows. Irritating electrical problem somewhere, causing battery drain if car not driven Every Single Day. Another damned heat shield about to fall off (this one in front wheel well, held up with duct tape currently). Estimates to repair: $600 for exhaust, $150 for shield, god only knows for the rest (since first they'll have to FIND the problems).

These are not new issues. I've been driving the car like this for years (ok, the most recent shield is fairly new, but meh). The exhaust hole doesn't make any noise and I still pass inspection, so I've been ignoring it. The electrical problem is mainly an issue on freezing wet days like yesterday — today I almost didn't get the car started at all and it was only sitting there for a little more than 36 hours. But overall, not that many problems. Nothing major and engine-y.

My thinking is that I could probably get it all fixed for under $2k. If I try to buy a used car, judging from the listings I've checked out on and, a 3 year old car is going to cost me between $8k-$10k. And it will potentially have problems I don't know about. I don't want to buy older than 3 years.

It's not the expense. I live with Mom; I could afford a brand new Lexus or BMW or whatever if I wanted to make payments. But I am a firm believer that 1. brand new cars are a huge waste of money, 2. luxury cars are even more of a huge waste of money, and 3. car payments suck. So I have finally decided that I want to buy used when I buy, and I'd like to pay for it outright. I have $5k sitting in savings, and I haven't done my taxes yet, so I can probably come up with another thousand or so after I do. Then there's Bush's $%#^@& "rebate," another $600. I have another few hundred in my other savings, so altogether I could easily have $7k available. That's almost a good used car right there, especially if they give me something for my trade-in.

Hmm — that's ALL of my savings. Doesn't leave me any wiggle room in case of some kind of emergency. I have credit cards for emergencies, but since they all newly have zero balances I'm pretty keen on leaving them that way. If I spend the $2k now, and leave the rest in savings to make some interest, and combine what's left with what I get next year for taxes and bonus, maybe then I could get a car and still have some left over?


Ha! Just discussing this with exceptionally thrifty coworker. Suggestions from same: 1. pull out plug in bottom of spare tire well. Water comes in, water goes out. (Will explore right now!) 2. more duct tape on the heat shield. 3. Go out and start car every day. 4. Ignore exhaust until either woozy from carbon monoxide or fail inspection, whichever comes first. He's funny.

But maybe there's a happy medium? Sigh.
llcoolvad: (Default)
So I'm having a seriously weak moment in my resolve to spend very little.

tech lust inside )


Mar. 9th, 2007 11:57 am
llcoolvad: (Default)
Woo-hoo! I got my tax returns — both of 'em — already! I got state on Tuesday (Telefile turnaround: 4 business days) and I got my federal today (e-file turnaround: 6 business days).

So if you plan on filing electronically and haven't yet, do it today! Don't let the government keep your money any longer than they already have.


llcoolvad: (Default)

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