Yes, you can live on minimum wage

McDonald’s and VISA say so. Didn’t you see their sample budget PDF?

Wealth Watchers are my friends!

Wealth Watchers are my friends!

Yes, they completely confirm that, at a national wage of $7.25, you can earn $2060 per month at your two jobs. In no way do they expect you to be living at home, either! No sir, their sample budget gives a whole $600 for rent! That’s right: you get your own place to sleep no hours every night. (Actually, a word to the budget-savvy: if you’re working your two jobs just right, you could share a house with lots of people and probably never see any of them! You could even work out a bed-share program with your roommates. Don’t worry; you won’t use it much.)

Some quick math here, that requires 9.5-hour days for 30 days straight (they use 30 days in a month to simplify your budget! Isn’t that nice? Also, one day most months (you know, the 7 of them that have 31 days), you have zero dollars budgeted to spend).

And since we’re just starting out with budgets and math, that’s 71 hours a week AFTER taxes. Let’s assume you need another 15% for tax coverage (and actually, that’s still too low an estimate, even for the lowest wage earners in the US), that’s 81 hours a week you need to work (no breaks or lunches though), or just about 11 hour days every day for 30 days. Because 30 days are simpler to budget for! How fun is math?!



Oh, but let’s not forget that you also need to get yourself to your shifts, provided they align perfectly for you to work both jobs normal hours. In no just world would you work two jobs like my buddy’s: one from 7am to 3pm, the other from 7:30pm to 2am. What a fun night’s sleep he got! Oh, he also got a sweet new ride after falling asleep driving between his jobs, which were a handy-dandy 15 miles apart.

So essentially, you can TOTALLY live on minimum wage. With two full-time jobs. And no dependents. And that’s all you do, every day, with no days off unless that month has 31 days. But you’re fucked in February, even in leap years. Oh, but handy tip: you have an unspent fifty bucks every February! Go crazy!

Now where the hell is my snark tag?

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Homemade laundry soap

20130602-174333.jpgThis one is super crazy easy. I adapted it from The Family Homestead. Thanks for the inspiration, family homestead!

Here’s the recipe I’ve adapted:

1/3 c grated ivory (or fels naphtha) soap
1/2 c washing soda
1/2 c borax
2 gal water
25 drops of lavender essential oil (or your favorite essential oil)

Grate the bar soap (it’ll be about 1/3 of a bar) and add it to 6 cups hot water. Stir til dissolved, then add the dry stuff and stir. When it’s all dissolved, add the rest of the water, 24 cups. This will bring you up to 2 gallons of water total. Add the oil. Let it sit in a big bucket overnight until it gels. After that, pour it into an old laundry soap bottle and go to town. Use about 1/2 c each load.

I love this stuff. It’s gelly, smells good, and is crazy cheap. I paid no more than ten bucks for the boxes of borax and washing soda and a package of ivory soap, and I’ve made quite a few batches this year. Since I put the soap into “real” laundry bottles, my roommates use it, too. They were afraid to do so when I stored the soap in jars. Now, in conventional containers, they don’t know the difference. Bam.


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Can’t wait for bike to work day!

For us, it’ll be May 17. I’m psyched. In it for the swag, for the comraderie, and
To see everyone’s cool bikes.

Watch the roads! It’s getting nice out, and bikes are vehicles, peeps. Fleshy, vulnerable vehicles.


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One week, no sugar

I’m a full week now without sugar. People have asked me if I’m eating fruit (yes) and having dairy (also yes). To make it clear, I’ve gone without table sugar, white sugar, refined sugar. Sucrose, really, although I found out after the fact that maple syrup is mostly sucrose. Oops. I snipped that out of my diet since then.

The idea isn’t to go sweetness-free, carb-free or anything like that. I just ate too damned much sugar. White, normal sugar. By cutting that out, even if I kept maple in, I have vastly reduced my sugar intake.

Anyway. So that’s what’s (still) going on. I’m feeling pretty good and noticing some body reforming. However, that could finally be my rigorous lifting schedule finally paying off. I’ll let the jury stay out on that one.

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How the Marathon bombing changed me

It’s Friday. And it’s Day 3 since something turned my life around.

IMG_5837It’s been five days since I heard about the bombs on Boylston street. I was glued to the computer for hours, even though my colleagues (admittedly 2000 miles away from the horror) were studiously working already. I couldn’t stop obsessing over it. It felt like 9/11 again. And like 9/11, Copley Square was huge in the picture for me.

On 9/11, I walked past Copley, watching the Hancock tower being evacuated. Seeing people mill around, unsure where to go, unable to contact their loved ones. Phones were useless, and everyone was dead quiet. The T was packed, and people were polite.

Now, this week, I imagine chaos at Copley. I see pictures of flames and smoke and even blood, just outside the library, just off Copley Square, just outside the doors to the T station. The BPL and Copley are my two favorite places in the world, outside of New Zealand. Yes, I like them that much. I couldn’t stop thinking about it, and slowly all my friends still back in Boston reported in: all ok.

Tuesday was cruddy, too, and the images got more graphic. I couldn’t stop thinking about it, but couldn’t bear to look, either. I ate ten Butterfingers at my desk that day, and had an ice cream shake for dinner. Seriously.

By Wednesday, I was toast. A real bear, and sick to my stomach from grief, fear, and all that damned sugar. I was too nauseous for breakfast, and felt for the first time ever like I just needed a salad, then I fought with my boyfriend by the afternoon.

But while we argued, something in me snapped. I realized I had no control over this person, no matter how much I loved him. I realized I had no control over Boston, over any horrible or good people anywhere. I only could control me.

He asked if I wanted to go lap swimming with him that afternoon, something I’d been meaning to do. I said no, that I didn’t feel like it and was feeling too shy to start lap swimming; I hadn’t swum strokes since I took lessons as a six-year-old.

And then no. No, I’m going to go. I’ll never get to it if I wait to feel like it. So we went. And what the hell, we biked there. We swam in the rain, and then we biked back home in the rain and rush hour traffic. For good measure, I got off my bike at home and ran around the block. I’ve never done any of these things before.

I didn’t set any world records. But I set a personal record, no doubt. That night I went to bed and realized I hadn’t had any sugar that day.

Then I had another sugar-free day. Another workout. And today, another sugar-free day, and another workout. Now that I’ve had three days sugar free, I don’t want to go back to starting over.

Did I change the world because of my sugar mindset? No. But Boston and this whole damned week, complete with another explosion closer to home, made me realize that life and health are real things worth protecting. That only I can make myself healthier. And that if I don’t do it now, this moment, when the heck will I?

So I’m done with at least that little bit of self-abuse. That little bit of a fleeting “treat” that is so thinly veiled bad food. There’s so much bad for me out there in the world that I can’t control. But this? This I can control.

Lemons, meet sugar-free lemonade. Boston, keep rocking on.

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Today was better SXSWi day 4

The only complaints I have are 1) again shut out of some panels that were in ridiculously small rooms. SXSW, track RSVP and stars on the calendar. It’s not a surprise. 2) cap metro didn’t extend the rail service, and I didn’t double check it. I went home before a few items after 6 pm. Not a bad deal though, since this morning I had to be up early. Probably a good thing in the end.

For the non-gripe, I made a soft circuit, found a coin stuck to my shoe, hugged a plush yam, and met the guy who can help me find money the government owes me. I’ll let the pictures speak:






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SXSWi 2013 day 3

Today, after the disappointments from yesterday, was all about me. Mostly.

I decided to attack with more laissez faire and less schedule Gestapo. Per the friend I ran into yesterday, I chose the ONE session I wanted and sacrificed anything else to go wait for it.

It just turned out that seeing Grumpy Cat was what I chose.

As a bonus, I ran into that SAME friend in the morning, and he got me into a session that filled up before my colleagues could get in. Score. On top of an hour-shorter day, this was a huge win. From there, it was all coasting.

I waited immediately after that session to see GC. This was two hours. Yes. I waited two hours to see a cat from the Internet. I think it was time well spent, and I didn’t miss any panels that I’d call “work related”. So win x2. I even made it to the panel I wanted to go for myself, which was humanitarian in subject, and so was completely empty. 3x

After that, another session in a room I knew to be too small. I even got a comfy chair. 4x. But that panel was a bomb, so I left early and met up with my colleagues. Let’s call that a wash and reset to 3x.

Next, another session on stuff for work. Strangely, my colleague sat with me. I’d been wanting to literally compare notes with him, so that’s cool. But I had to miss a “personal” session. Oh well; I feel like that particular speaker might be open to random Internet communication. I’d love to say this was another level-up, but nah. A wash at best. I mean, in a perfect world my colleagues would cover the work-related panels and I would serve my own needs. HAHAHAHAHAHAHA! Meanwhile in reality, work sends me to cool fests like this. So yeah. Work.


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