One of my favorite kinds of Groupons is the kind that gives you discounts to food. I’ve gotten tons of them over the years and it is this fact that makes me feel that it is too bad that Groupon seems to get less and less restaurants to ante up for them as time goes by. However, a few weeks ago, I did notice one new groupon that didn’t really get advertised much but seems to be rather awesome. And that is Plated. The idea behind Plated is that they get chefs to provide them with fairly easy to cook recipes and then send those recipes to you along with everything you need to cook it. What a great idea! Continue reading
Several months ago I had an entry about other ways of making money. After that post, I kept up on trying to earn extra cash for a good month before giving up. Some of the sites netted me no money after a couple of months of effort. Some offered some money but not enough to warrant the effort. Recently though in an effort to pay for Christmas presents without going broke, I got back into a few of them and learned some tricks as well.
I have already voted. I voted last Thursday, thanks to a two week early voting period in Wisconsin. I was very happy about this because my recent move made it so that I had to re-register and I wasn’t particularly fond of doing this in the election day hassle. My point is, I am no longer influenced at all by what is going on the election, my work is done. However, I thought I’d share my opinions on this election.
1) Republicans had a shot with me. When Romney made statements talking about how Obama hasn’t made the change he promised, I’m actually one who perked his ears and agreed. I’ve been very disappointed with Obama considering the promises that he made in 2008. The problem was, that was the extent at which Romney tried to grab me. He was right that Obama didn’t live up to his promise, but he didn’t offer any other options. So Obama got my vote. Instead he ignored the people he was pleading with for a vote and instead tried to appease the Tea Party. I’m sorry, you are really going to make that statement, ignore me and then make statements to appease the whack jobs of the country? No thank you, Mitt.
2) Related to #1… I wish John McCain had run again. I really liked McCain and even said to people that if it wasn’t for Barack Obama, I would have voted for him. Well assuming he didn’t have Sarah Palin as a running mate. I’d assume he wouldn’t make that mistake again. Now that Obama fell out of favor, I really would have. Why don’t parties allow guys to run twice anyway? I know statistically speaking the chances are low if you couldn’t beat the guy the first time. However, when has the last time that this actually happened to allow statistics to count?
3) I think it is ironic that Republicans made a big deal in 2004 about the flip-flopping of John Kerry and don’t seem to mind Mitt Romney doing it. This happens a lot with both parties but it is still weird seeing such blatant hypocrisy. I mean really, Romney makes Kerry look like a stubborn mule about his opinions. Kerry changed his opinions because he was a really intelligent man and actually sat and thought about what he was saying. As far as I can tell, Romney makes opinions dependent on others telling him what his opinion really is. You tell me which is worse, I would I rather it be someone who makes up their own mind but then Republicans don’t seem to like people who think for themselves.
4) Really? Paul Ryan? WTF? This guy, along with Scott Walker, is bringing Wisconsin back to a Joe McCarthy time for representatives and it makes me sad that we elect him somehow. And yet, despite being an utter crack pot AND despite his own guys telling him not to, Romney picks him for VP? Well I guess he made up his own mind on something, but it makes me want to retract my previous statement because if you are this stupid Mitten Romney, I guess I’d rather others just make your decisions for you.
5) There is an appeal in my mind of having the electorate tie and Mitt Romney being president with Joe Biden being Vice President. You get two un-charismatic politicians sticking their foots in their mouths constantly and making themselves and the country looking bad. They’d constantly be at each other’s throats which would make for an interesting 4 years. This really is the premise of a good sitcom and it would be funny to watch. I think it would be terrible for the country as a whole and would probably lead to changes in how ties are broken. Not to worry, the chances of this actually happening are astronomically small even in a close race. My bet is that if one of the electors saw it going to a tie, that they would go faithless just to break the tie.
6) The possibility of another 2000 race where Obama wins the electorate but not the popular vote is there. I don’t think it’s going to happen at all, but it is definitely there. The fact that Romney is making last ditch efforts in Pennsylvania tells you that Romney is looking for other electors to win because he is losing by too much elsewhere. That it could happen twice in 20 years and the country is becoming more polarized every year tells me that we should probably change how the country elects a president. After all, the electorate was created as a means to allow people to get the popular vote because this was before telephone and telegraph, let alone internet. Steve Israel from NY proposed giving the popular vote winner bonus elector votes which I think is a pretty decent idea. I think it needs to be tweaked on how. The two suggestions I have is to either make the point total equal the greatest votes any state has (Currently 55 for California) or have a sliding scale based on margin of victory on popular vote. At the very least I wish more states went the route of Nebraska and Maine and split their votes based on how people in the state voted.
7) Poor Puerto Rico doesn’t get any national coverage on its election this week, but it’s a biggy and could have political repercussions on our political system. Puerto Rico will be voting to become a state or become a more independent country this week. This one has a bigger push to make a decision to either be a state or move independent. They’ve been suffering harshly from the current world recession and this could have a deciding factor in making a change. The vote doesn’t mean they will do one thing or another but both Romney and Obama have declared that they will support whatever decision comes from the vote and try to move it forward. It’s entirely possible that in 2016 or 2020 there will be 51 states in the union and Puerto Rico’s 6 or 7 electoral votes will be a pretty big deal. Nobody really knows at this point just where it’d go but my guess is that it would lean Democrat. Coverage of this vote is so low that I don’t even know how the polls are trending, just days before the vote. Good luck Puerto Rico!
8) The advertising this year is ridiculous and I say that every election, but this year it really was. I live in southern Wisconsin. Which means I am not only in a swing state for the presidency I’m also in a very close and heated senate race, and I am in range of Paul Ryan trying to get re-elected to congress whilst running for Vice President even though I can’t even vote on Ryan. 1 Do you see the problem here? On average, I get between 4 and 6 campaign commercials in each ad block while watching television. I’d also count that we only get between 8 and 10 ads during each block. Which means more than half of all commercials are for these damn races. I turn on the news I hear about these ass holes. I turn on SNL I hear about them. I open a paper, turn on the internet. I am sick of everyone in this race and I want none of them to win but I feel that I need to vote for the lesser of two evils anyway. And yes, I am sorry to contribute.
- To be fair, his last election brought me a ton of ads as well. ↩
In my last post, I talked a lot about writing as a second job. Well the inherent problem with that is that it doesn’t exactly get me money right away. I am totally dedicated to the idea, but it is a long term method of gaining money, rather than an immediate method. I have developed a few other things where I might be able to get some extra cash here and there to supplement my income and thought I’d go through them.
Most of these ideas in reality are kind of pyramid schemes. They are rewards programs of various sorts on the internet. I don’t expect that these things make me rich or anything, but if I get $5 here and there, why not? You know? I have checked a lot of these sites out and have been trying to relegate myself to only going to services which require little work for decent rewards. I also have not been interested in scams wherein I only get rewards for signing up for things and giving out a crap ton of personal information for a few measly bucks.
I actually started using MyPoints 6 or 7 years ago now. The original idea I had with them was to get points in order to help save for a trip to Disney World. I figured that I could use the points for gift certificates to aid in hotel costs and/or car rentals while down in Flordia. I still could do that but it isn’t as much of a focus as it used to be. Over the last few years I started turning in my points for gift certificates to various places which I then gave to people as presents. It has been a life saver during some hard times because of that. They have many ways for earning points, from clicking on email offers, little lotteries, buying stuff off their site, doing polls, or signing up for stuff. I actually have waned a bit on this service in recent months but I still like their concept.
My latest emphasis on these incentive programs has been from the discovery of ebates. If I shop through ebates website, I gain cash back. This definitely beats out MyPoints points back. There are actually a few of these type pages and to a certain extent I have compared them, and for most things I side with ebates. They also give a gift card just for signing up, so overall not a bad gig. I highly suggest signing up for it.
I don’t particularly like Bing, and I don’t suggest you use them. After all, they literally just take their search results from Google so why not just use Google right? However, in order to entice people to use their site, they bribe you. And well whatever, if they want me to use their site and get free stuff then I will do so. Generally every day they have you click on something to get 3 credits, and then you can do 20 searches to get another 10. I generally search complete gibberish just to get the quick credits. They used to have some really cool rewards, but now they just give away amazon, x-box live, and groupon giftcards, plus subscriptions to hulu. I will usually take the $5 Groupon giftcard, then buy something on Groupon. For instance, I recently bought $15 worth of food for only $2.50 with the gift card, and then I did it through ebates which got me another $.23 back. Not bad really. Only takes a few minutes a day and I wager you could get a $5 gift card once every couple of months. Worth signing up for.
Another newer one for me. I don’t really use this one as much as some people do, I’ve heard of some people earning tons of cash on this. I’ve been signed up for about a month and earned $5 on amazon. They have a ton of stuff you can redeem for including gift cards, electronics, and even baseball cards. But from what I’ve heard the $5 amazon gift card is the most efficient, but you can only do like 5 of the same thing per month, which people often beat, but not me. You can earn a number of ways including using their search engine, doing their daily poll, using their toolbar, watching their videos, signing up for things, doing other polls, etc. I generally just use the toolbar, do the daily poll, and use the search engine. Sometimes I will run their videos in the background, but you only get like 3-5 points per 10 videos watched so this isn’t entirely efficient, it only works cause I’m not paying attention. It isn’t bad, I seem to be able to earn enough points to get gift cards fairly quickly and if you really use it right, you could earn a lot.
I have a love-hate relationship with ICS. It is really easy to sit and do the surveys, but it really doesn’t pay well. Each survey consists of 3 questions, you gain tickets and coins and sometimes cash for answering each. Sometimes you get modifiers which get you even more tickets and coins. Tickets automatically enter you into the daily $50 cash prize. And then you can use coins for either entering into a $2 prize that draws every 3 hours, or you can use them to buy more tickets. You can only do like 7 surveys every 3 hours, and i have entered probably around 25 on average per day every day for the last month… I have never won any of the sweepstakes and have only $3.82 to show for my work. On the bright side, I can already withdraw that money, it is cash not a gift card, and as you do more surveys, you get higher in level and get to do more surveys per 3 hours and get more tickets and coins per survey done. I also think you have a higher chance at getting a slightly higher cash prize for doing surveys (so .05 instead of .01 for a survey). It is a site I do most consistently, but one I also get most frustrated with. <sigh>
This site is done by the same guys as ICS. It is essentially the same idea but you have longer surveys to complete, get more money per survey, no sweepstakes involved, and has a big giant level instead of a bunch of shorter levels to gain. They only give you a single survey a day (and sometimes not even). But to give it a comparison, after a month of filling out surveys, I am at $5.09. It takes much less effort than ICS and has a much better payout, but obviously ICS has the upside in that you could win big…
I’ve tried a few other sites in addition to these, but have had little to no interest and or return. As I said in the beginning some seem like big scams, some don’t let you progress because they are too new, and some just don’t make sense. At best some just seem like they take too long to get any rewards.
I figure the above is enough to keep my occupied for any given amount of time. They give me the ability to get a gift card and/or cash once a month on average and the hope is that with these I can lower the cost of living and thus be able to pay off more bills faster. It isn’t much, but money is money, and this stuff is stuff that I can easily do in between tasks at work.
I don’t vote in every election that comes up. But I do think that I tend to vote every other year. Which is more than most Americans. Most Americans tend to limit themselves to just presidential elections. But on the other even years, there are usually some pretty important elections in there to do as well. For instance, in Wisconsin we have a highly contested Governor and Senate race, both of which seem to be really close.
Nestled within the Market Square strip mall, a new pizza place opened this weekend named OMG Pizza. It was opened by a friend of mine who has had years of experience managing pizza joints and finally decided to strike out on his own. Last night a couple of friends and I decided to go check out the place that he has been working hard for months to get into existence.
Upon entering the place, we immediately noticed the movie posters on the walls of iconic geek favorite movies, generally of the sci-fi variety. The decor was nice, nothing overly spectacular but it was nice. The employees are dressed in black outfits with name tags outlined in green that are reminiscent of mechanic outfits. The employees themselves all had a bit of a punk flair to them which seemed somehow appropriate as well.
We decided to forego some of the more interesting pizza choices, like Chicken Cordon-Bleu, for this trip and instead order the more tame OMG Supreme which had the usual fare that the name suggests. The pizza came out in a timely fashion in a plain white box.
Upon first look, I worried that the large 16″ pizza wouldn’t be enough to truly feed the three of us who were splitting. However, this pizza was very deceptive and each of us were full after only two slices. An often unheard of feat at other places. The ingredients were perhaps the freshest that I have ever had at a take restaurant. I was thoroughly impressed with the quality of ingredients that the owners were able to acquire. I did have issues with the pizza sauce personally, and one of my friends seemed to concur, I found it to be rather fruity for my tastes, but my other friend seemed to enjoy the sauce so this may be more of a personal preference. The crust was to me to be the real gem of a pizza, it was a nicely crispy crust that was covered with a buttery garlic sauce that made the crust feel like a bread stick when you were done with your pizza.
Overall, I enjoyed the pizza barring the sauce. I think it would have been a worthy pick up in and of itself. But there was one fairly big problem with it. The price. A large 16″ pizza cost us $25 including tax. With the two sodas and the blue slushy that we had for drinking, we totaled $30.50. We added another $4.50 for a tip, though I don’t think normally I would have done this on a carry out dinner. I feel tip for this type of service is down in the 5%-10% range rather than the full 15%, but these were friends.
While I am more than willing to pay a premium on a pizza with fresh ingredients at an independent pizza restaurant, I felt that it was a little steep for what we got. I didn’t feel that they had done enough to really distinguish themselves to warrant this high price. If I look at the price of their normal pizzas, it is $16 for a hand-tossed 16″ pizza, interestingly costing slightly more per inch than the smaller pizzas. I don’t expect that it would be as cheap as the national chains, but I do think that they should stay in the ball park. As it stands, these pizzas were closer to twice the price of the chains than the same price.
There were many small things abounding at OMG Pizza that I chalk up to a new opening. The decorating wasn’t quite done, there was no menu posted as of yet, you had to look at a brochure that they had taped to the counter. There were no plates if you decided to stay and eat at the restaurant. The owner was talking about how they were still going to put up more posters and other decorative touches. Their website also doesn’t seem to have anything other than that they will begin hiring a couple of months ago. But these things I can kind of brush aside. I understand why they happen to a new place, and I assume that they will get fixed in a little time.
All that being said, I will probably still get a pizza from OMG Pizza from time to time. It would be a special treat, and probably not even one we enjoy every month. I am interested in trying out their sandwiches and other specialty pizzas.
I look forward to seeing how the store will do. It will be interesting to watch them progress. I think their location is great. They have a Game store just a couple of stores down so the fact that they cater to geeks will do well. There is also a movie theater really close so I could potentially see people stopping by after a movie. And in the entire strip there isn’t really any other real food that one could eat at so they have a distinct advantage here. However, there is a wealth of pizza places in the Madison area already to choose from so it may be difficult for OMG Pizza to find a place in the soup that is our restaurant culture.
I wish them luck.
Hulu recently made their much awaited announcement of a subscription based plan which allows you to pay for Hulu. Why would you pay for a free service? Well that has always been the question that buggers free services. Hulu’s answer for Plus was to provide full current seasons of new shows, full seasons from old shows, higher resolution, and the ability to watch it on different platforms such as your TV if you happen to own a TV that supports it.
On Friday night, with the first of four Christmas shows for my roommate, we went to the Little House on the Prairie Musical that was in the Overture Center. The show starred Melissa Gilbert (the original Laura Ingles) as the mother. Going into the show I will be honest in saying that we were a little warry of it. My roommate loved Little House on the Prairie as a child which is why I bought the tickets for her, and why I’m sure many people did. It is this reliance on the name brand that made us unsure of the quality of the show.
I really love Madison as a city. It is a great city all in all. We have good schools, good homes, good stores, great restaurants, good beer, good events, good sites, and burgeoning tech industry. I like the history of the town, and I like the politics of the town. One thing I have always been able to do without is the location of the town. Unfortunately, it somehow manifested itself in the confines of Wisconsin, and with that comes the cold dark winters that Wisconsin is known for. No where did we see that better as we did this week as I’m sure many people have heard by now.
A few weeks ago on my way to work, again listening to NPR, I heard a report on how teenagers are moving en masse from MySpace to Facebook. This isn’t an entirely surprising trend, but towards the end of the piece, they had a teenager remarking on how he thought it was just a fad, and looking to the future they didn’t think twitter would be the next fad because it is just for old people. This got me thinking though because it wasn’t long ago that Facebook was for old people as well…