Friday, October 30, 2009

Rediscover the childlike joy of Halloween (get free stuff)

Last year at this time you were probably at the seamstress putting the final touches on your Marie Antoinette/Sarah Palin/Henry VIII/Joe the Plumber costume. Unless you're a Wall Street or Insurance executive or one of their lobbyists, you may be feeling some trepidation as to how to deal with the holiday this year.

Halloween traditionally marks the end of the harvest season when people begin storing necessities for the long, lean months ahead. Which is exactly the way you should be looking at it now. Lucky for you, opportunity is everywhere.

Tricks, yaaaay!

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Stop worrying about how you're going to afford candy for the trick-or-treaters. Those Halloween tricksters you fear can be a godsend. Think about it; a good house TPing requires at least one roll of toilet paper. Once you get it back on the roll it'll come in handy and save you money. Play your cards right and you won't need to buy another roll of toilet paper until 2010. Who knows, you might even get hit with quilted toilet paper in decorator colors if you live in an upscale neighborhood.

Even better, your tricksters could be armed with eggs, which would be a delicious change of pace from your usual breakfast of nothing. Save yourself some extra work and stop the culprits before they strike (unless you like your eggs scrambled).

Seize the day (and anything else you can get)

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This is the one time of year where you can don a scary robber mask and freely enter a Brinks armored truck, local merchant or lavish mansion and nobody will think anything of it, even if you're carrying a large bag. Be forceful when demanding your treats. Warning: Don't try this in a bank. My local branch brutally informed me that they arrest anyone who enters wearing a mask (even a Hank Paulson mask!). Typically, they make no exceptions, even during this festive time of year.

Getting treats in goods and unmarked bills
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These days, parents are afraid of sending their children to strangers' homes. Many communities have made arrangements with local merchants so the kids can trick or treat at stores safely. Take advantage of this opportunity. Tell your child to ask for staples like a jar of peanut butter, tampons, flour, shampoo, etc. Better yet, have them ask for the contents of the cash register. How could anyone refuse your adorable little angel? This is also an excellent opportunity to teach your child manners: remind them to always say "please" and "thank you."

Free candy
Even if you're over 4 feet tall, and not wearing a costume, opportunities for free candy are everywhere. At the bank, the stores, the hair salon, the library, in lobbies. Grab it while it's there or you'll regret it later, I guarantee it. If you have children, give them laundry bags or trash bags and don't let them come home until the bags are full. Since you may be depending on your Halloween treats for nourishment, it's important to optimize your Halloween harvest's nutritional value by consulting my Halloween candy food pyramid.

Treats with financial value
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Just because a candy has no nutritional value, doesn't mean it's worthless. On the contrary, Skittles, Red Hots, Hot Tamales, Sweet Tarts, Mike and Ikes, m&ms and Pixie Stix are known moneymakers. With a little clever marketing, you can resell them at a huge profit as drugs to stupid rich people. For example, sell the Pixie Stix as pre-chopped cocaine in designer colors that come with their own straw. The beauty of this approach is you get all the income of a drug dealer or pharmaceutical executive, without the guilt of actually selling drugs (although the high fructose corn syrup may be more dangerous than drugs). Do not try this on hardened drug addicts. They might hurt you.

The morning after

Pumpkins are both delicious and nutritious and using them for merely decorative purposes is a crime. You'll be performing a valuable service by picking up all the spent pumpkins in your neighborhood and disposing of them ... in your mouth. Here are some recipes, including how to stuff a pumpkin for Thanksgiving.

Now go out there and have a happy, bountiful Halloween!

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Halloween candy food pyramid

Take advantage of the multitude of Halloween offerings now that you might be depending on them for nourishment. Nutritionally speaking, some Halloween candy is worth more than others. Consult the Halloween candy pyramid below to make healthier choices this Halloween.


Always go for the candy with the greatest number of food groups in it. For example, a Chunky bar is preferable to a Hershey bar with almonds, because it contains three food groups, dairy (milk chocolate), protein (nuts), fruit (raisins) while the Hershey bar only has two (dairy and protein). Mix a Chunky bar with a Nestle Crunch bar (containing rice) and you've got a complete, well-balanced meal. Anything with coconut is also a good bet since it qualifies as both a fruit AND a nut.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Financial doldrums got you down? Look on the bright side

I know it's hard to believe this right now, but for everything dear to you that you've lost or cut back on during these times of economic strife, there IS a silver lining.

I'm listing some of the painful losses I've endured and the good that came from them. I hope it helps you get through your own personal financial struggles and gives you the tools necessary to make the most of your suffering.

Pre-stirred yogurt
This was one of the first costly luxuries I gave up when I realized the gravity of my financial situation. Yes, it's exhausting having to actually stir the yogurt flavoring in with the yogurt, but after several months, I noticed my arms and pecs strengthening. It's a great way to combine breakfast and exercise. Turns out I never really needed that gym membership and personal trainer in the first place.

You may have lost your vocation and income, but look at all the extra time you've got on your hands. This is your opportunity to fulfill your lifelong dream. As long as that dream doesn't involve making money. You'll also make lots of new friends on the unemployment line.

Credit cards
You'll get used to not being able to buy whatever you want on a whim, I promise. Once you emerge from the fog of your shopping frenzy you'll realize that maybe you really don't "have to have" that core biopsy, or blood pressure medicine after all.

The cleaning lady
Letting my cleaning lady go was the hardest thing I had to do. But now that it's done, it's a relief not having to wake up early every Wednesday morning to clean up before she gets here. But the real up side is when I told my cleaning lady I could no longer afford her, she offered me a job doing her laundry (she doesn't do laundry). Sometimes she even gives me her hand me downs.

Health care
I've got to tell that you the years of not having health care have been the most blissful of my adult life. Granted, there will still be nights you'll awaken in a cold sweat because you haven't had a mammogram in six years and you're sure it's probably already too late. On the other hand, NOT having health care can make what little time you have left much less unpleasant. You'll save thousands of dollars a year in unnecessary tests, not to mention the time saved in waiting rooms and emergency rooms dealing with the botched procedure. And face it, the stress of waiting for test results and and pleading with your insurance company to make good on their promise to cover you can take years off your life (it can also take years). Yes, you'll miss your anti-depressants, but it's quite probable that the health care system is what made you need them in the first place.

Sure it's annoying not being able to see after sundown. But there are definite pluses. My night vision has improved, which will come in handy when revolutionaries take down the power grid and looting ensues.

Food is a wonderful thing, and I really miss it. On the other hand, the last time I've been this svelte was after a really bad case of dysentery. I can't tell you how many people have commented on how great I look. It's amazing how the garbage bag that looked so hideous on me when I was a size 10, looks like Dolce and Gabbana now that I'm down to a size 4.

Vision (glasses)
When I realized my vision was getting worse and I couldn't afford glasses, I was a little depressed. But now that I've had time to adjust, I'm enjoying seeing the world (and myself) in soft focus. My wrinkles are gone, my skin is flawless -- I've never looked this good! Another plus, seeing everything blurred, gives me the feeling of being drunk or stoned without spending a cent on intoxicants. I still get a cheap thrill when a cop pulls me over for DWUI, only to discover I'm totally sober! And ever since my eyes started going bad, the cops that pull me over have been much cuter too.

Phone service
Do you realize how much stress and heartache your phone has brought you? Good riddance, I say. You may worry that you'll miss calls offering you jobs or other lucrative opportunities that might dig you out of this financial pit you're in, but in truth, 9 out of 10 calls are from phone banks in Asia demanding payment or else. Without phone service, you may not even miss not having your anti-anxiety medication.

See food.

Your home
Once you let go of your house, the burden of monthly payments and maintenance will be lifted. You also get to spend more time outdoors.

I was one of those people who clung to the hope that my vote counts, that my elected representative will represent me, that a politician will keep his or her campaign promises (or any promise), that hard work and dedication are rewarded, that he will call tomorrow, that the check is in the mail, that the AT&T repair guy will get here between 9am and noon as promised.... You can imagine the constant disappointment.

Now that I've given up hope I'm much less agitated, bitter and disillusioned (which we all know, can age you). Time that I would have spent having my heart broken, plotting revenge, and sticking pins into voodoo dolls I now use on my arts and crafts projects. By the way, would anyone like to buy a macrame belt?

Friday, October 2, 2009

Housing crisis extends beyond our species

While foraging for escargot in the park, I made a startling observation. I used to see lots of snails. Now, all I see are slugs. I can't be the only one who has noticed this. Everyone knows that a snail is just a slug with a house.

The obvious conclusion is that slugs are suffering an unprecedented housing crisis too.

Granted, this is California, where the economic slump has hit very hard. Maybe it's not surprising that even garden creatures are suffering here, but I've got to think this is probably happening all over the nation.