Mission:Nontrivial

14 April 2006

Hiring advice

FMF comments on a list from CareerBuilder.com of the top 10 reasons why you're not finding a job. Of note:
6. You don't recognize that face-to-face interviews are the only things that matter.
There are all kinds of things you can do to get face-to-face interviews, but you have to get them. Pulling out all the stops by doing anything you can to get in front of a hiring authority with pain (the need to hire someone) is key.
I can vouch for that. A great resume is important, but the interview is the key.

13 April 2006

Home Depot advice

I haven't been posting a lot lately because I've been taking advantage of the great weather to get some outdoor projects completed. One of the big ones hanging over my head was to finish off the driveway project. As it turns out, I needed about 300 pavers to do it. I didn't know that when I stopped at Home Depot on my Friday off and picked up the first batch.

It was a great experience. I asked if it was possible to load up a pallet of pavers, and after making sure my truck could handle it, two HD employees found an empty pallet, and proceeded to load the pavers themselves. They wrote down the SKU, to make things run smoothly with the cashier. I paid up front, and they told me they'd bend the rules to let me load up from the loading dock. They forked the pallet into my truck, and I drove home. No problem!

After putting down the first load of pavers, I realized I would need a few more. I thought it would be a breeze. I even brought my "own" pallet back and Mrs. Random and I loaded the pavers ourselves. When I proposed my idea of getting an employee to fork the pallet into the back of my truck, they treated us like we were conspiring to steal stuff. The problem, I realize now, is that my timing was wrong. It was the weekend, and Home Depot had their B-team on the clock that day. After 15 minutes of standing around, and insisting that it made NO sense to carry the blocks to the front of the store, and load them one-at-a-time into my truck, they finally relented. But an important lesson was learned.

Contractors (i.e. people who act like they know what they're doing, and drive trucks) shop during working hours, like my Friday off. Punk-ass homeowners shop in the evenings and on weekends. Home Depot mans the store accordingly. In the future, if I have to buy anything more complicated than a box of drywall screws, I'll be sure to do it on my flex-day.

UPDATE: This is my 100th post!

First trip to China

I'm going to China in a few days. I'll be taking lots of pictures, so I'll finally have something to photoblog. I'm looking forward to testing out my rudimentary Chinese.

Wheee!

For the three of you who don't have Firefox, watch this.

It may be funnier if you're already a fan of Firefox, or borderline insane.

Is a liberal arts degree a waste?

Yes, though any degree is better than none, even though a Bachelor's degree today is roughly equivalent to a high school diploma from a a generation ago.

But that's not the question asked in this article. The real question is:
Still, I'm worried that business employers will see a degree in English as useless and irrelevant. Should I have majored in business instead? Is anyone going to want to hire me? -Second Thoughts
Well, obviously ST should have majored in business instead. In the article, Annie Fisher, "FORTUNE senior writer", tries to convince ST that it will all work out. And maybe it will. ST did the right thing and interned while at school. I'm now involved in hiring at my job. Relevant work experience and attitude puts candidates at the top of the stack. It's much more important than a particular type of degree (though we're only looking at engineers in general).

But, to answer ST's question, if you want a job in business, get a degree in business! If you want to be a writer and start your own business, major in English.

I wonder if Annie is an English major, too...

Death, taxes, and pizza

To celebrate being done with taxes, and our next to last night at home for a while, we ordered a pizza from Papa John's. Now through tax day, April 17, they have a promotion for a large, 5-topping pizza for $10.40, just enter the promotion code 1040. With the delivery fee and tax, it works out to about $12.50, plus tip. Unfortunately, you can only order one at a time.

11 April 2006

Overbuilt Garages

This article from Fortune/CNN/Money details exactly how to sink the price of a Bentley into a marble-tiled parking hole. I can see buying a lift, if you work on your own car (if only my garage had 12 ft ceilings...). But a bar?

Tax day

The tax man approacheth. Mrs. Random finished the taxes, and I'll mail them off on Friday. We knew we were going to end up owing money, so we put it off as long as possible. We're actually getting some back from Virginia, so we only really owe an extra $2K or so.

Our total tax burden was 30.28%, which breaks down as follows:
Interestingly, Fairfax County and Virginia both took about the same amount of taxes. Ouch.

02 April 2006

Networth IQ update for April

An up-market, and some reckless savings, have created an interesting situation. Our net worth now stands at $383,190. This is an increase of over $12,000, or 3.27%. That's more than twice the increase of last month.

I'm quite surprised, really. I'm projecting that next month will be flat, though. Yay taxes. But it's a marathon, not a sprint.

End of month savings report, Mar '06

I don't know what happened this month. We set up two new online bank accounts (EverBank and NetBank), and we shifted some funds around. Somehow, our automatic allotment deposits got mixed up, and we ended up sending a lot of extra money into savings:
Yup, that's a 40% savings rate for the month of March. It's completely unsustainable. A lot of bills will be hitting in April, not least of which the tax bill, so we'll be tapping into March's savings to pay some of them. Money that should be sitting in the checking account waiting for is instead "saved" in ING or HSBC. If not for the 401(k) contributions, our total savings rate for April might be negative. Still, the reckless spending had an interesting effect on our net worth.

Free cash from Sharebuilder

Most pf blog readers will recognize the quote from The Richest Man in Babylon (and perhaps elsewhere, before that, but since the book was written in 1925, that's good enough for me).

I logged into my Sharebuilder account to check on the balance for the monthly net worth update. The $85- signup bonus from Costco has been credited to my account. That's a good return on what I've invested so far. It will also cover about 18 months of fees for the bare-bones investment plan.

April Fools?

I skipped April Fools this year, and I'll probably skip Buy a Gun Day, April 15 (although tax day is actually April 17th this year, and Easter is April 16, BAG day is a fixed holiday). As it turns out, April is a GREAT time to buy used guns, as they are a few hundred bucks of liquid assets for people who end up owing the tax man at the end of the year.

And since we're still up after the GMU loss, Mrs. Random and I may get to ring in the lost daylight-savings hour.