Later On

A blog written for those whose interests more or less match mine.

Archive for November 20th, 2007

Long but pleasant day

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Warm and sunny and the drive to the DeYoung museum went well. What seemed to me to be a large Louise Nevelson exhibit, the first time I’ve seen her works in person rather than in photos. It was hard for me to grasp at first, but the more I saw of it, the more something in me got it. The progression was interesting, from a 1942 piece on through late things like a small Plexiglas construction. The more I saw of it, the more sense it made. Maybe we’ll do another trip and look some more.

Also a large exhibit of teapots by modern ceramicists. Our friend (an artist) told us that every ceramicist, regardless of the direction of their work, must sooner or later make a teapot. The variety of these was amazing. One I liked was Idaho Hitler, in case you ever see it.

Then to a wonderful Vietnamese restaurant, La Vie. Excellent food, everything very fresh. A highly rated restaurant. The guy who owns it also works at the Ritz Carlton said that there a table could run up a $30,000 tab easily. Later he brought out the menu, and then the wine list, which included a $16,000 bottle of wine. He said that occasionally someone will order two bottles. We really do live in a society with income disparities, I can tell.

The wine list wasn’t all like that. They also had a $48 bottle of wine. I would be interesting to do a blind tasting: $48 vs. $16,000 and see how many of those ordering such stuff can tell the difference.

Anyway, a great time. I drove up, The Wife drove back. Extremely good news: the navigation system is no longer crazy now that we found the checkbox “Avoid freeways” and unchecked it. What a relief.

Mark of the lawyers: If you ignore the directions but leave the navigation system talking to you, it starts saying, very frequently, “Make a legal U-turn.” The “legal” bit is the mark of the lawyer. I’m sure the system programmers had it initially saying simply, “Make a U-turn,” and some lawyer hit the roof…

Written by Leisureguy

20 November 2007 at 8:26 pm

Posted in Art, Daily life

Interesting technology: Longpen

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Very interesting: long-distance book signings. And the inventor? Margaret Atwood, of all people. Full info here.

UPDATE: The Wife thinks this innovation totally misses the point, which is to meet the author, bask in the aura briefly, say, “Could you please sign it ‘to Mandy’?”  and the like. The innovation here could have been done much more simply by shipping to the signing a mask of the author’s face and a rubber stamp of the signature…

Written by Leisureguy

20 November 2007 at 7:19 am

Two checking accounts

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I have two checking accounts, so I was interested to read this post at The Simple Dollar.

I use one checking account purely for paying bills: writing checks or doing electronic payments. The other checking account is linked to my ATM and I draw funds from it as needed. When I write a check, I transfer the money from the ATM account to the “bill-paying” checking account. The bill-paying account has a positive balance of about $10 plus whatever checks have not cleared. I don’t have any checking account fees (Bank of America charges no fees on one if you have an electronic deposit going into it, and the other I got earlier as a “service 64” (no fees) simply by requesting it). For me, it works great.

Simple Dollar has a slightly different approach:

Over the past several months, I’ve started to really bank on a system of two checking accounts for my personal use, a system that has confounded a lot of people in my life. “Isn’t having two checking accounts rather confusing?” I’ve been asked more than once. “What’s the point?”

It turns out that there really is a point in doing it this way and using both is not at all confusing, as the two accounts serve very different but complementary purposes. Here’s the scoop.

About a year ago, I was very disappointed with my checking account at a major bank chain. They were constantly finding new and creative fees to ding my account with and I was getting sick of it, so I decided to seek out a new checking account, which I wrote about in the past.

During that process, I made a list of checking account features that I was really looking for:
+ no fees, period
+ some percentage return on my account balance, the higher the better
+ a nationwide fee-free ATM network
+ free online bill pay
+ the ability to write paper checks
+ the ability to easily visit a teller whenever I wanted
+ the ability to have 24/7 phone-based customer service

I quickly realized that in order to get some of these options, I was going to have to use a large, international bank. Thus, I started looking at the interest checking accounts offered by some large banks and quickly came across ING’s Electric Orange checking, which at the time offered a 4% APY on your checking account balance. This account hit home runs in four areas:
+ it had no fees, period – not even overdraft fees (they allowed you to essentially “borrow” the money to pay bills, then pay that back with interest, which usually just added up to pennies)
+ a 4% annual return on my balance, calculated daily and compounded monthly
+ a free online bill pay service and online account access
+ a fee-free nationwide ATM network
+ a 24/7 phone-based customer service

However, the account was missing two key features for me: you cannot write paper checks and there are no tellers you can visit to conduct business like cashing checks and so on. This frustrated me at first, but I decided to make the move to Electric Orange anyway.

Shortly thereafter, I closed up my account at the large mega-bank and then opened a checking account at my local bank in town. It turned out that my local bank offered the services I was looking for: a free checking account with online access and a branch not far from my home to do business with a teller if I so wished.

So now I have two checking accounts I use regularly. I keep most of my balance in the one that pays interest, from which I do online bill pay and most of my other transactions. However, that local checking account allows me to have a checkbook for free and gives me teller access, so I keep a few hundred dollars in there at all times and just use it for writing paper checks and any services that a teller might be useful for.

This system works incredibly well for me. Since there is no account at any bank that provides all of the services I’m looking for, I found that using two banks in this capacity works extremely well to provide all the services I need.

Written by Leisureguy

20 November 2007 at 7:06 am

Posted in Daily life

Sandalwood for San Francisco

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Taylor of Old Bond Street Sandalwood shaving cream worked into a flawless lather with the Simpsons Persian Jar 2 Super, then (it being a Big Day) the Treet Blue Special, held in the comfortable grip of the Edwin Jagger Lined Chatsworth, and a finish of TOBS Sandalwood aftershave. Quick and 9.7 at least.

The Wife and I are off to San Francisco today to meet up with friends and go to museums, talk, and the like. So very little blogging today.

For little prezzies, I’m taking some spicy nuts and a QED Bathtub Gin shave stick. (I am still getting him to move to a DE razor, but at least he’s making real lather now). She will get a pod by Rogue.

Written by Leisureguy

20 November 2007 at 6:52 am

Posted in Shaving

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