For as long as I can remember I have had a dream to work at a magazine. I have been a avid reader of magazines since I first picked up Highlights when I was three years old to the "grown up" magazines like The Economist and Real Simple that I read now. Yes times have changed, and along with it my interests. I have been a subscriber to Shape, Fitness, Marie Claire, National Geographic and Time all at one time or another. But a magazine I should have been reading is brass|MAGAZINE. What a great publication!
In the first few issues I read of brass|Magazine, I took note of a articles like Systematic Savings and Web Biz Basics, which I know will prove useful to me in the future. I also enjoyed great features on amazing people like Anne-Sophie Dutoit, who wrote a screen play at age 14!
I worked in finance for three years and let me tell you what, that world isn't always the most interesting topic of discussion, but brass|MAGAZINE does such a fabulous job of making all this need-to-know stuff fun to read. So on that note, I am overly-excited that my dream has come true and I get the opportunity to work with the wonderful team here as the new editorial intern!
I am currently a student at Oregon State University studying New Media Communications and Political Science. I'm actively involved on campus as a communications coordinator for OSU's Community Service Center, a news writer for the school paper, and as a volunteer on other marketing efforts around campus. I have a very broad range of interests, and I'm always up to trying new things. Interests of passion are travel, media/news, sustainability, tech, fashion and much more. I love exploring new places and meeting new people. Rarely will I ever be without coffee in hand or my camera and notebook nearby. Being fortunate enough to grow up in the Pacific Northwest has allowed me to take advantage and appreciate the outdoors, too. I live to learn, listen and communicate and that's exactly what I will be doing for the next six months here at brass.
Baseball has been an American pastime since its modernization in the 1840s. Its rules harken to a day where life wasn't quite as complicated: "The ball must be pitched and not thrown for the bat." As if such a rule would be necessary in today's competitive world.
While not a part of American baseball since the beginning, the World Series is now in its 104th year since 1903. (If you're thinking the math doesn't add up, you're right: There was no World Series following the inaugural year, and again no World Series in 1994.)
So how popular is the World Series? Attendance averaged above 43,000 for last year's series. That's compared to the 7,455 people that watched game eight of the 1903 World Series. Yeah, that’s right, game eight.
If you want a ticket for one of this year's games, you might want to have your wallet (and several others) at the ready. Even though the face value of the tickets this year is between $50 and $425, expect to pay an average of $698 to $977 on the secondary market--and those aren't the good seats. The most expensive (so far) has sold for $9,999. Compare that with the price for a ticket to the infamous "Black Sox" World Series ticket, which had a face value of $1.10 (although it recently sold for $3,231.00 at auction.)
So if you manage to get there and you're hungry, you're hopefully also thirstin' to spend some more money: You're gonna have to shell out $9 for cheesecake on a stick, or if you want a meal, you can spend $44 on a ribeye.
But remember, if you're at the new Yankee Stadium and need to fight your way to the bathroom, try to make your way to the $500 and above club level bathrooms: They're equipped with high-def TV's in the mirrors. Ain't baseball grand?
I was playing around with a new online accounts management tool--which you'll find out about next week in my new addition to our Modern Money Managers blog series--and after adding all my information into the software, I quickly came to the realization that my lack of a proper budget is not helping my credit card debt. Thankfully my debt (at least my credit card) isn't completely out of control, but it made me realize that my mental-money-tracking "budget" has failed.
Granted, it's been an expensive couple of months, and my savings account has taken a bit of a hit. First, I had to pay the deductible on my car when it was stolen. That's $500 I'll never see again. Then I had to buy a new mattress (another $600) for the bed my mother gave me.
What I realized is that not only do I have to create a real budget and stick to it, but that my budget has to be geared toward paying off debt. To do this, I'm going to have to crunch the numbers with some online calculators (here, here, or here). I may also get a jump on my credit card debt with a little money from my emergency savings account; the interest on my credit card is significantly higher than the interest I'm earning in the savings account.
All in all, it needs to be a tight few months, but that has to happen when unexpected expenses come up. I can't just go back to spending as if nothing happened. That's just one way debt can get out of control.
When was the last time you saw a sewing machine? When was the last time you used one? I know, no one really uses sewing machines regularly. When my mother gave me my grandmother's machine, I nearly cried--and they were not tears of joy. The thing was a wreck and almost an antique. However, I've never regretted the money I spent fixing it up. I've been able to do a lot with it (and saved a lot of money), despite the fact that I’m not a very good seamstress.
For example: Two years ago at Halloween, former brass staffer Jordon Frauen brought me a purple women's jacket he found at a thrift store, and some nearly matching fabric. With my sewing machine I merged the two, and the result was a respectable, if rough, set of coat tails for his fabulous Willy Wonka outfit (pics at left).
Halloween isn't the only time I use my sewing machine (and save money doing it). I hemmed about six pairs of jeans for a roommate once. I've altered a couple of shirts and a pair of jeans for myself. The best was when I found the perfect pair of curtains for a great price, but they were too long. No problem for me; I just hemmed them so they didn't dangle over the heater. Easy peasy.
Sewing is a great skill. You know that now. But how to get started? I learned the basics from my mom, but there are sewing classes or workshops all over. Look for ads at fabric stores and sewing machine repair shops, and definitely check at your local community college.
Don't worry about dropping a lot of dough on a sewing machine. You can find a simple, new machine to start with for under $100. Ask about used machines at repair shops. There are also tons of great online resources, such as sewing.org, ehow.com, and howstuffworks.com.
You'll need a few other accessories, such as pins, scissors, measuring tape, marking pencils, thread, and a box to put it all into. It's a little bit of an investment (as with most hobbies), so I suggest starting cheap and simple until you're sure it's something you want to continue doing. Borrow a machine and some supplies, or find a class that provides machines to work with. Send us a pic of your project and we'll post it on the brass|BLOG.
It’s fall. Begrudgingly we must accept that summer is over. With the absence of that large orange sun comes the revival of those large orange squash that we know and love. You know what I’m talkin’ about. Oh yeah…it’s pumpkin time!
And what autumnal season would be complete without gathering all those pumpkins and getting competitive? After all, it is the competitive season with baseball wrapping up, football in full swing and basketball just around the corner.
What do you do once you grow a super-huge pumpkin? Launch it as far as possible. The current world record was set last year at 4,483.5 feet, longer than 11 Ryan Howard home runs. There’s still time if you think you can beat it, as this year's competition doesn’t start until Nov. 6!
But say you’re more the thoughtful, artsy type. That’s cool. Maybe you and your buddies could try to break the record for simultaneous jack-o’-lanterns lit in one place. You’d just need one more than the 30,128 hollowed-out pumpkins that set the record in 2006, or 115 pumpkins for each pound of NBA big-boy Sean May.
Going it alone? Maybe you could try to nab that world-record pumpkin and turn it into the world’s largest jack-o'-lantern. The current weight to beat is 1,469 pounds, or just over eight-and-a-half Ichiro Suzuki’s.
Or maybe you don’t like pumpkins. Clinging to summer? The record for world’s largest tomato has stood at over 7 pounds since 1986. That’s just waiting to be fried. Or how about the world’s largest cabbage? Last month it weighed in at 125.9 pounds of delicious leafy lustre. And don’t forget the record that’s waited more than 60 years to be broken: a 31-foot stalk of corn freakishly grown in 1946.
Whatever your fancy for fall, indulge it. You might end up setting a record.
It seems commonly accepted that money equals success. The more you have, the more successful you are. This exaltation of wealth is common from Forbes' lists to rap videos like T.I's "Whatever You Like." The problem with this equation is that it puts an emotional value on money: the more you have, the better you are. The less you have, the less worth you have as a person.
This in turn leads to the devaluation of skills and passions that enrich other's lives: if it doesn't make you rich, what's the point? Instead of exalting people who are adding value to the world around them, we exalt those who exalt themselves. Look at the tabloids in the grocery store. Watch TV where the cult of celebrity is worshipped. Examine the dichotomy of a situation in which Wall Street is paying record bonuses to employees while unemployment is about to hit 10% nationwide. Look around at a world in which millions of people die every year from preventable diseases, because they can't afford innoculations (get the facts here). Wrap your head around the fact that Dean Kaman has invented a machine that can make medical-grade pure water out of any liquid, but can't find financers to produce them: the biggest market for the machine is the Third World and poor people don't have any money to spend, so there is no monetary incentive for investors (read more about this travesty).
Back in the day, the Apostle Paul said that "money is the root of all kinds of evil." The point being that there is nothing intrinsicly wrong with money, but the value we place on it has the potential to shape our lives.
If we treat money responsibly and use it as a tool to be put to greater use, then we've got our priorities straight. If the pursuit of cash leads to the rejection of morals and the increase of greed, then we've missed the point.
Money plays a part in every person's life, but it comes down to deciding if you are going to use it or if it is going to use you. Congressman Aaron Schock (brass' November 2009 cover story) told me that financial freedom is powerful, "not because you want everyone to be multimillionaires, but because you want them to have that freedom to do whatever it is that excites them and energizes them, that interests them in their life." The accumulation of money doesn't have to be the be all, end all. Money doesn't have to become the end that justifies any means. Lately, that's been the case more often than not.
Let me know what you think, and share your favorite examples of people and organizations who are using money for the greater good--for a little inspiration read the latest brass cover story, "Salud del Sol," check out upcoming brass cover story William Kamkwamba, and visit charitynavigator.org to make sure you get the most bang for your charity buck.
Some of you may remember our Winter 2006 cover story Meg & Dia: Emerging Monsters Of Rock. They're on fire this year. They released an album in April titled Here, Here and Here. Then in June, they released a double album, Something Real & Here, Here, and Here.
This summer, they rocked the Warped Tour again, to rave reviews. If you didn't get a chance to see them this summer, they're headed out on a small tour, NeverShoutNever, in October and November. Also this summer, they landed another magazine cover with fashion mag Eliza.
Check out their new album at their MySpace page. Rock on Meg & Dia.
The average Goldman Sachs employee will receive a $700,000 salary this year. That's an average employee, not a top executive. In comparison, the average salary in the U.S. is $42,270, or $657,730 less. It's not only Goldman Sachs (one of the biggest investment banks in the world) that's paying out huge salaries. Wall Street in general is paying out record highs. The Wall Street Journal is reporting that Wall Street firms will pay out $140 billion this year to their employees. Check out this table from wsj.com that chronicles the pay at 23 major Wall Street firms.
That leaves me speechless--mainly because most of the words I want to say can't be printed in this blog. On top of that, more than 15 million American workers (9.8% of the workforce) are out of a job, left with absolutely no salary. 7.6 million of these job losses stem directly from the economic recession that was started largely by Wall Street playing fast and quick with people's money. Read this article from Conde Nast Portfolio for a detailed explanation on Wall Street's culpability, or my brass article Doomed To Repeat for a shorter version.
In plain English, Wall Street took huge risks that did what most huge risks do, didn't pay off. That in turn set off a chain of events that have led to a global economic crisis that in the U.S. has cost 645,000 jobs per month from November 2008 through April 2009 and 307,000 per month from May 2009 through Sept. 2009, according to bls.gov.
Yet, the same fat cats who played a huge part in nearly bankrupting global finance are making off with record paychecks. They call Bernie Madoff a crook, but this looks like thievery on an even grander scale to me.
Let me know what you think; feel free to disagree.
It appears that, as a nation, we would rather give away $34 than eat brussels sprouts. A recent report by the Center For Responsible Lending illustrated the growing problem of overdraft fees by claiming that Americans spent more money on overdraft fees than on fresh vegetables last year.
In 2008, a record $24 billion in overdraft fees were paid to financial institutions. 2009 doesn’t look any more promising, as we’re projected to increase that record to over $26 billion.
There are several ways to combat this problem, the best of which is to watch your balance closely. Sign up for online banking and make sure to check on your accountsa few times a week. Many online services allow you to set up an automatic minimum balance notification emails or even texts, so you’ll get a message whenever your account falls below a certain amount (I have mine set to $100).
We’re a 21st-century company at brass. We drive hover cars (or at least we wish we did), drink our food in astronaut pouches, and we use computers for pretty much everything we do. Research, writing, editing, even communicating with one another: almost all of it’s done in front a computer screen.
Between work, school, and homework, my eyes were starting to get tired of looking at monitors. I don’t consider myself hardcore, but I’ve estimated that I probably spend five or six hours a day on the computer.
All that time added up and I was starting to get eye strain, so I started thinking of ways to protect my baby blues. I made sure there was no glare coming from my window, I increased the text size on my screen, and I made sure that my monitor brightness settings were neither too dark nor too light. I also remembered to take breaks during marathon sessions, and allowed my eyes to adjust to objects further away than a few feet while I was working.
Still, I was having some trouble. I remembered a product from an article I had written (to be published in the February 2010 issue). They were glasses specifically designed for computer users. At first I assumed it was just a way for the company to take you for $150 bucks. But I went to my optometrist (just to make sure nothing was amiss) and he said that tinted glasses could be helpful, especially those with a reflective coating to reduce glare.
Having freed yet another moth by opening my wallet, I instead decided to find something similar that was more reasonably priced. I went with a $20 pair of Chili’s Tarton glasses I found at my local bicycle shop. That's me wearing them in the photo (thanks to Dawson Hunter for the shot).
As I popped them on and stepped outside, I immediately noticed a difference. Everything was contrasting a lot better, and it was overall just easier to see. It made sense because they were designed for the outdoors, but would they protect me from the demon-blue glare of my monitor?
In a word, yes! Sliding in the chair and pulling up a website, I felt like my eyes didn’t need to work as hard to scan the pages and read stuff. Again, the contrast was a lot sharper, and because I’m not a graphic artist, I didn’t mind the yellow hue it lent to everything. In fact, I started liking it after a while. I noticed that with the glasses on, shapes (both real and computer-simulated) were easier to discern, as the colors were muted and more similar because of the yellow lenses. After a few hours (remembering to take breaks, as always), I hadn’t noticed any discomfort that I definitely would have had I not been wearing glasses.
The verdict: a success, as long as you don’t mind seeing the world in subtle shades of yellow, and maybe looking a bit more like Bono than you'd normally be comfortable with. But beware! While there’s some eye technology that genuinely helps people, there’s also stuff that seems a bit gimmicky. Then again, that’s what I thought about having glasses for using a computer…