Saturday, August 26, 2006

Two Poles And A Mound Of Dirt

A couple of guys showed up the other day and started digging a hole in my yard. This normally would have made me angry, and I would have at least gone outside and said something. But there were two of them and one of me. And I had to go to the dentist.

When I came back, shiny clean teeth and all, the two diggers were done and gone. And there was a new addition in my front yard. A bigger, taller telephone pole was now standing right next to the old telephone pole. And a mound of dirt was at the base of both of them.

Let me first tell you that I don't even like having a single telephone pole in my yard. But I do like cable TV and having a telephone (and electricity for that matter), so we have an agreement.

The old pole seemed to be doing just fine. It's been standing in the same spot for probably 50 years, holding up bunches of wires and this lamp-looking thing that never turns on. Now it is scared about being replaced, even though nothing has been unattached yet.

The new pole is about six feet taller and almost twice as wide as the old one. Right now it's just standing there intimidating the other pole (and serving as a perch for that gigantic crow). I think the mound of dirt is just for fun.

I'm not sure why we need such a serious pole in our front yard. The old one isn't falling over or anything, so just transferring all of the wires and things to the new one gives no added benefit. Maybe they're going to install a surveillance camera on it so they can see who is throwing all of that junk in my yard. Or maybe they'll just keep putting up poles next to each other around my whole property, like a big stockade fence.

That would be cool.

Fort Sinkerbeam.

I'll let you know what happens. Right now I'm just happy about the added benefits that I'm getting from our new pole and dirt mound. Ten fewer square feet of grass that I have to cut.

Saturday, August 12, 2006

Ca$h Back

The sinkerbeam blog has been called a lot of things. Useful and helpful have never been among them. But this post is different. At the very least, it may surprise you.

Don't get used to it.

I'm going to save you some money. No, really, I'm trying to be serious here.

Let's say, hypothetically, that you need to buy a new lawn mower. Let's say that your old one was either leaking or burning up oil at an alarming rate, but you didn't know this was happening. You had checked the oil at the beginning of the grass cutting season and everything was fine. So, just for the sake of argument, let's say that one day while you were running your lawn mower, the last useful drip of oil disappeared, and the scale tipped toward viscosity and thermal breakdown. The superheated piston then scored the cylinder walls and itself before seizing up, ruining a bunch of other parts inside the engine that also do important stuff.

Like I said, we'll assume that you need a new lawn mower.

Instead of just going to Sears and picking one up, head to the grocery store. Yep. Giant Eagle. They've got a fuel savings program and some gift cards that you'll need for the next step of this money saving process.

For every $50 you spend in groceries (and other assorted sundries from the store), you get 10 cents off per gallon on your next gasoline purchase. It's called "Fuel Perks" (people in Pittsburgh and the smarter parts of Ohio already know this). Gift cards count as sundries and are part of the program, so pick up a couple of $100 Sears gift cards. That's forty cents off per gallon.

Hypothetically, we'll assume your car takes 15 gallons of gas when you fill it up.

$200 mower - ($0.40 fuel perks x 15 gallons) = $194 mower

Now, if you don't have a Citi or Chase rewards credit card that gives you 5% back on grocery store and gas station purchases, go apply for one. It's important for the next equation.

$194 mower - (5% off of $200 in gift cards + (5% off total gas price (($2.80/gallon - $0.40 in fuel perks) x 15 gallons))) = $182.20 mower

See? I told you I would save you money. Even after you pay the tax, you've got more cash in your pocket than you would have if you didn't use this method. Just imagine if you had a truck that took 30 gallons of gas per fill up. And you wanted to buy a big screen TV at Best Buy for $1000.

$1000 TV - ($2.00 fuel perks x 30 gallons) - (5% off of $1000 in gift cards + (5% off total gas price (($2.80/gallon - $2.00 in fuel perks) x 30 gallons))) = $888.80 TV

Plus, Best Buy has a rewards card that gives you $5 back for every $150 you spend. You're down to $858.80 for your thousand dollar television. Trust me on the math for this one.

And you thought that the sinkerbeam blog couldn't be helpful. Shame on you.

Of course, you could always just pay the 89 cents and get a bottle of oil for your lawn mower before the breakdown occurs.

There you go. I just saved you $181.31 and a bunch of effort.