Sunday, November 23, 2014

The $60-Week Challenge

I recently post to my Instagram a chart for the 52-week challenge. Now if you haven't seen it before, the 52-week challenge is a way to put money away every week, in increments until you reach the end of the year. The goal is to take $1 dollar in week one and put it away. $2 dollars in week two, $3 in week three and so forth. By the chart on the right, you should reach the desired goal of $1,378 at the end of the next calendar year.

In my case, I'm doing a 60-week challenge. Why? I don't want to wait until January to start my savings program. The final amount for the 60-week challenge will be $1,830. Here's a word of warning. Keep in mind that as you progress in the weekly interval, you will be taking out amounts in the $40, and $50 dollar range from your check on a weekly basis. That might be something that is very prohibitive depending on your expenses. Another way to do the 52-week challenge is to do so in reverse. Carrie Rocha in her article Don’t Do the 52-Week Money Challenge (At Least Not Their Way) from the Pocket Your Dollars website dated January 8, 2014 describes how you can do it in reverse by taking out the bigger amounts in the beginning when you are motivated and have the smaller amounts taken out in December when you're main expenditures for Christmas happens.

In the end, do what works for you. I'm starting now because I am not guaranteed a job after Christmas season. I was hired as a seasonal worker and I am trying to stay on permanently. So starting now helps me get a start for when I get hired on a permanent basis (hopefully). I'm doing a smaller one as well, starting with 25¢ and going up from there at 25¢ intervals. They key isn't the amount, its the dedication to stay on the path to savings. Just find what works for you. Here are a few more examples of savings plans.

If you rather do your own plan, print out this chart to keep track:

There's no right or worse way to do this plan. Just find what works for you and ride it out until the end. I'll post on how I'm doing in the near future. Let me know what you think.

Until next time,

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

No More $20 Dollar Cocktails For Me

I have to admit that I never thought that I would be where I am at the age of 42. Now I never particularly planned specific end goals for the age of 42. But I never thought that I would have been without a job and surviving on unemployment benefits and a dwindling nest-egg when I turned 42.

It really is a humbling situation to be in. Even more so, since working in the bar business offered me the opportunity to make good money, albeit off the illness and addictive habits of many a customer. That in itself formed a type of moral issue for me. But I digress.

Fast forward about a month and a half and I'm employed in the retail sector. Why? Because the bar business well dried up. In almost four months I had three interviews for a person with almost 20 years in the bar business. 3!!!!! When I interviewed for the Olive Garden and I couldn't get a second interview or a call back of any type, I knew at that point it was clear as day that I was done in the bar business. You know what? It was a good thing.

I was downright miserable. I really dreaded going to work to deal with the constant bullshit that came from both within and without. If you've never worked in the service industry, you really wouldn't understand. A five night work week in the bar feels like a seven day or more work week at a day job. Trust me, I've been on both sides of the workforce. Not to mention, you see people at their worse and they treat you like you're shit. As if you're job in dealing with their drunk and belligerent asses isn't a "Real Job." Don't let me get started on the internal issues.

So you may ask "Why do it". Plain and simple" The money is good. Back to working the proverbial 9-5 40-hour work week as a daywalker, I can tell you that on a bad night, I could make almost the entire amount that I would now make in a week. Talk about sobering. But again, it was a good thing that I was knocked back down to square one. I probably would be miserable and working at the bar. It took getting kicked in the balls and going through my savings to realize that it was a blessing in disguise. I might be cash-strapped but I have my peace of mind. The money issues have created another stress but it has allowed me to refocus and re-learn the idea of living a simpler existence. In trying to cut the fat from my expenses, it has allowed me to better manage the little funds I have available. I can no longer live by the idea of "I'll have a kick ass night that will cover the bills and what not." As I mentioned to my sister the other day: No More $20 Dollar Cocktails For Me.

So where do I stand. I'm back at square one after taking my lumps and ready to dish out some punishment and take my next steps. I'm going to try and rebuild my savings and then some. The original amount that I had saved and subsequently went through is irrelevant but I will attempt to use tried and true methods of saving money and share my successes and failures here through periodic posts.

The first recommendation that I have is that if you can, pick up this book: How to Invest $50-$5,000: The Small Investor's Step-By-Step Plan for Low-Risk, High-Value Investing by Nancy Dunnan. Now in its 10th edition, the book is a great resource in educating people on what resources are available out there for investment written in plain English. It won't make you rich with a turn of the page, but it will allow you to learn the foundations of investing and give you ideas on what services might be ideal for you. I'm sure you can find it in the public library if you don't want to buy it. That's how I got a hold of it. Let me know what you think.

Until next time.

Friday, February 7, 2014

Yet Again Another African Email Scam

It's been a while since I've posted anything here and decided to do so with one of my favorite kinds of scam emails. I find it amazing that people actually fall for some of these. The thought of having millions deposited to your account at a time of desperation must be hard to dispel. Though for this one I have to admit that the person writing it is actually doing some research though their lack of grammar is a dead give away. The insertion of the link to the CNN article from 2008 about plane crash that took the lives of four people including a member of the Cabinet of the President of Kenya and his assistant is a nice touch in an attempt to lend some credibility to the scam. Here is the text of the email I received:

My name is Cynthia Kipkalya Kones,
I am writing this mail to you with tears and sorrow from my heart. With due respect,trust and umanity, i appeal to you to exercise a little patience and read through my letter, I wish to contact you personally for a long term business relationship and investment assistance in your Country so i feel quite safe dealing with you in this important business having gone through your remarkable profile, honestly i am writing this email to you with pains, tears and sorrow from my heart, i will really like to have a good relationship with you and i have a special reason why i decided to contact you, i decided to contact you due to the urgency of my situation, My name is Miss.Cynthia Kipkalya Kones, 21yrs old female and I held from Kenya in East Africa. My father was the former Kenyan road Minister. He and Assistant Minister of Home Affairs Lorna Laboso had been on board the Cessna 210, which was headed to Kericho and crashed in a remote area called Kajong'a, in western Kenya. The plane crashed on the Tuesday 10th June 2008.

You can read more about the crash through the below site:

After the burial of my father, my stepmother and uncle conspired and sold my father's property to an Italian Expert rate which they shared the money among themselves and live nothing for me. I am constrained to contact you because of the abuse I am receiving from my wicked stepmother and uncle. They planned to take away all my late father's treasury and properties from me since the unexpected death of my beloved Father. Meanwhile i wanted to escape to the USA but they hide away my international passport and other valuable travelling documents. Luckily they did not discover where i kept my fathers File which contains important documents. So I decided to run to the refugee camp where i am presently seeking asylum under the United Nations High Commission for the Refugee here in Ouagadougou, Republic of Burkina Faso.

One faithful morning, I opened my father's briefcase and found out the documents which he has deposited huge amount of money in bank in Burkina Faso with my name as the next of kin. I travelled to Burkina Faso to withdraw the money for a better life so that I can take care of myself and start a new life, on my arrival, the Bank Director whom I met in person told me that my father's instruction/will to the bank is that the money would only be release to me when I am married or present a trustee who will help me and invest the money overseas. I am in search of an honest and reliable person who will help me and stand as my trustee so that I will present him to the Bank for transfer of the money to his bank account overseas. I have chosen to contact you after my prayers and I believe that you will not betray my trust. But rather take me as your own sister.

Although, you may wonder why I am so soon revealing myself to you without knowing you, well I will say that my mind convince me that you may be the true person to help me. More so, my father of blessed memory deposited the sum of ($8,500.000.00 USD) Dollars in Bank with my name as the next of kin. However, I shall forward you with the necessary documents on confirmation of your acceptance to assist me for the transfer and statement of the fund in your country. As you will help me in an investment, and i will like to complete my studies, as i was in my 1year in the university when my beloved father died. It is my intention to compensate you with 30% of the total money for your services and the balance shall be my capital in your establishment. As soon as I receive your positive response showing your interest I will put things into action immediately. In the light of the above. I shall appreciate an urgent message on ( indicating your ability and willingness to handle this transaction sincerely.

AWAITING YOUR URGENT AND POSITIVE RESPONSE, Please do keep this only to your self for now un till the bank will transfer the fund. I beg you not to disclose it till i come over because I am afraid of my wicked stepmother who has threatened to kill me and have the money alone. I thank God Today that am out from my country (KENYA) but now In (Burkina Faso) where my father deposited the money with my name as the next of Kin. I have the documents for the claim. Please contact me here (

Yours Sincerely,
Miss.Cynthia Kipkalya Kones
Alas my dear Cynthia, I cannot help you. I'm sure you'll find another patsy, umm, knight in shining armor that will ride on in on his trusty steed to help save the day for you. Au revoir.

On a side note, here is another little nugget I just received:
Hi Friend I am a banker in UBA BANK .I want to transfer an abandoned sum of 10.5 USD to your account.50% will be for you. No risk involved. Contact me for more details. Kindly reply me back to my alternative email address ( )    Dr Kasim Mohamed.
Really now. To quote Ed Lover: Come on Son.


Friday, November 22, 2013

Talk About A Shitty Commute

I step on the Uptown 6 train after work this morning to find a man taking a shit in the train car. Yes folks, the guy was taking a dump on the train and had the nerve to get mad at us for interrupting him while he was pooping. As if. We promptly left him to his shitting and moved into the next car. The rest of the ride was basically a comedy skit made up of a steady stream of commuters who got on the shitty car and made a bee-line to the now full next car. It reminded me of the chase scenes in Benny Hill. All we needed to hear was Boots Randolph's Yakety Sax over the loud speakers.

What I find curious is that a rider who got on later  blamed the MTA for their shitty service. As much as I have had my issues with the MTA, I can't blame them for this shitshow. You never know when someone is just going to pop a squat and drop a duece on the train. The dude did so after the train left the Brooklyn Bridge station.

I really feel sorry for the person who has to clean that shit up. My sympathies to you whomever you may be. That is definitely NOT in the job description.


Here's a little travel music for your commutes. Enjoy ;)

Sunday, September 29, 2013

A Piece of Advice On Dealing with Baby Mommas

If you brothers (or sisters) out there happen to have more than two baby mommas allow me to give you one piece of friendly advice: Have separate places where you take each baby momma. DO NOT UNDER ANY CIRCUMSTANCE TAKE BOTH (OR ANY COMBINATION OF BABY MOMMAS IF MORE THAN TWO) TO THE SAME BAR. Sorry for the caps folks but I just wanted anyone reading this to realize that this was an important point. Why do I mention this? Well, we were faced with good old fashioned baby momma drama at the BSB.

It started before I arrived to work where baby daddy was at the bar with who I believe is baby momma #1. Now what had happened was, as they are shooting pool, baby momma #2 rolls up with the babies in the car. Comes into the bar and has words with both baby daddy and baby momma #1. Quite the predicament baby daddy finds himself in.

Baby momma #2 storms out with baby daddy in tow threatening a whole slew of things. Baby daddy was frozen in what to do. He decided to leave with baby momma #2. Now that might have been the right decision for him but not for us. For by making his decision to leave with baby momma #2, he left a seething baby momma #1 for us to deal with at the bar.

Now I can't blame the woman for being irate. But instead of logically focusing her rage on the rightfully parties, she chose to do against us. She vented attitude, insults, breaking a glass and when she was told to leave by my doorman she started to get physical by slapping his chest, arms and if she could probably his face. Before I go any further, allow me to shed some light on the issues doormen/bouncers face.

If this was a guy we were dealing with, things would have been resolved in a faster manner. As much as we try not to have situations get physical, it happens. If given on other choice, we would just physically remove a man from the premises. Not so with a woman. Under no circumstance do we try to touch a woman to have her leave the bar. Now my stand-by is to take a woman's purse and/or bag and take it outside the bar. No woman I know would ever leave her purse behind purposely. This is where this situation differed from others. If this woman was willing to get physical with a bouncer who's to say she would get worse if he grabbed her bag. Who knows if she has a weapon in it. Its easier to let time go by and have the person walk out on their own than to physically have to do so. I always shake my head when people like to insult us with "why don't you get a real job". People would shit in their pants if they had to deal with half the shit bar people deal with on a nightly basis. But I digress

After a period of time she makes her way to the front to order a drink. She's been cut off. She asks why and I patiently continue to tell her why. Finally the final straw came when she started insulting my bartender and tried to grab a glass to potentially throw at someone on my staff. We nudged her outside and closed the door on her with me standing in the front dealing with her incoherent ramblings and insults mixed in compliments on how cute I was. I don't know whether she was drunk, high or both but she was both laughable and pitiful. Finally after some more time of doing that, she stalked off into the night. Luckily we didn't see or hear from her again.

What a way to start a Saturday night. It wasn't even 8:30pm when she left. Nights like these make me want to just say fuck it. I'm done.


Tuesday, September 10, 2013

The Stone Faced Señora on the Train

On comes this stone faced señora on the train, mean mugging each and every passenger (including your humble narrator). Now at 5am, the train is a very precarious blend of nightwalkers making their way home after a long night of work or play and those early rising daywalkers who are heading to work. And then there is the stone faced señora.

Now I can admit that I often find myself gritting my teeth at the racket on the train in the late/early hours. That's why I have my big headphones to block out undesirable noises. But back to my aggro amiga "Cara de Piedra Duran".

Like I said earlier, she stalks onto the train, mean mugs everyone and sits down with a look on her face as if she ate glass with nails smothered in battery acid and passed them while tearing her sphincter and surrounding hemmorhoids. Yeah, that's how she looked. But she gets worse.

This is the time of the day where people are going to work all nice and chipper after a good night's rest and a piping hot cup of tea, while listening to the birds outside their window sing them a beautiful aria to start the day. In having done so, they are more than willing to have a lively and spirited conversation on the good old early morning Iron Horse. Well, my aggro amiga did not like it in the least. Though she didn't say anything to the ladies who were talking at a reasonable volume, she kept sucking her teeth (making a louder noise than the women) and covering her ears with her fists while rocking back and forth to block out the apparently offensive noise. Luckily for all involved, including myself, the conversing chicas got off on 68th Street and our stone faced señora went back to mean mugging yours truly. I thought she was going to go nuclear while riding my favorite filly Iron Horse #6.

Luckily for me, Medusa's power of turning flesh to stone did not have an effect on me. She eventually stomped off the train a few stops later to grace others with her sunshine of a personality. And I say that I'm a curmudgeon.

Sweet dreams buttercup unless you also scare those away as well with your mean mug. Talk about "Frau Blucher".


Thursday, July 18, 2013

In Chicago and Illinois Part I

One way to describe this trip is that size does matter. Granted that the reason we were going to Chicago was for G-Fest XX that celebrated everything that was Godzilla and Kaiju related. But before I go into that, I wanted to go back to he size thing. No, I'm not talking about THAT (this is a PG post folks). Allow me to elaborate.

We flew out of LaGuardia airport on the Delta Shuttle to Chi-Town and for these short flights they utilize smaller "shuttle" planes which hold roughly 70 passengers. Since I sat with my son, I didn't feel cramped in my seat (which I usually find myself feeling on most planes). It was at the bathroom where I felt the size crunch. Lets put it this way, I must have felt like the Big Show from the WWE feels in ordinary bathrooms. My head made contact with the ceiling of the bathroom while the door shut directly on my back. I just had enough wiggle room to use the facilities and to turn around to lock and open the door. Consider that I'm a decent sized man at 6'1" and 270lbs but even there I found myself compressed in the cramped commode. I made sure to use the bathroom on the plane just once. LOL.

After we arrived at O'Hare Airport, we took the shuttle bus from the airport to Enterprise Rent-A-Car where again I was met with a size challenge. My last rental from Enterprise was a Volkswagen Beetle which I drove from Monterrey to San Francisco in 2011. I absolutely loved it. Again I decided to go with a compact car and this time I was given the Fiat 500c. It is a nice little car. I have no complaints on how it drove. Very smooth on the road and easy to handle. The issue for me was that once I got in (and stopped banging my knees) there was not much headroom. Now, I wasn't bad as Bob Parr aka Mr. Incredible in his little car but again as with the bathroom on the plane, there wasn't much wiggle room. It was a useful little car while I rented it but I couldn't think of owning one for myself.

After getting lost for a while in and around Rosemont, Illinois and finally finding the hotel, we checked into our room. We decided to relax for a bit before the double feature at The Pickwick Theater in Park Ridge, Illinois. Now why was I surprised when I turned the TV on and saw that they were playing a Japanese monster movie. I should have known better. Actually, the convention had a whole slate of movies, documentaries and interviews from prior conventions playing throughout the convention on channel 2. It was a very nice touch. On to the theater we went.

Park Ridge was about five miles or so from our hotel and we found ourselves in a small town which that "Main Street" feel you tend to see in the movies. There was a outdoor festival going on called A Taste of Park Ridge where a band played and food was served in a nice park next to the City Hall. I have to say that I felt a little jealous of this. you just don't see events like these in the Bronx. It reminded me of the old 14th Street Fair in Astoria from my youth and the feasts that are still done on Ditmars Blvd. before I get lost on memory lane, let me get back to Park Ridge.

We parked and stopped off at the Pickwick Restaurant which is located next to the theater. I felt as if I not only left NYC but I also went back in time. The restaurant evoked the feel of 1950's and 1960's diner. The only thing missing was the personal jukeboxes on the tables. The service was super friendly and you can tell that the same clientele went to the restaurant often since the staff referred to the majority of the customers by their first name.

Taken by RUSSELL B. PHILLIPS courtesy of

Now as you can see above, the exterior the Pickwick is an old school theater. The theater looked like it was ripped out from a book of old Chicago-area movie houses. It was old school down to the machine that spit out the ticket stubs, the prices for a regular movie (see below) AND the small concession area. We were definitely NOT in New York City folks.

Luckily for me that's where the old school feel ended. The theater of the Pickwick that was showing the movies had been recently renovated. They installed a huge digital screen and these massive cushioned rocking theater seats. I was definitely happy about that. I was dreading having to spend the better part of 7-hours seated in cramped theater seats.

Oh, and the movies we saw? Well the double feature had Gamera vs. Gyaos and The X From Outer Space (which surprisingly is a Criterion Collection movie) and at the midnight showing was Pacific Rim which you need to see ASAP if you're an fan of action flicks.

By the time we left the theater at 2:20am and got back to the hotel it was close to 3am. We took ourselves to bed knowing that we needed to be up early for the registration of the G-Fest XX Convention. Little that I know I would be even more tired after day two. :)