Happy birthday to me!

Birthday flowers from Mom

I debated whether to mention it was my birthday today since it comes off like a shameless grab for attention, particularly since 32 isn’t a monumental birthday like 30 was. But I figured, it’s my birthday, I’ll blog about it if I want to! And if we all had eight fingers and eight toes instead of ten we’d probably be using a base-eight number system, which would make today my 40th birthday, which counts as monumental. So happy 40th birthday from the alterna-verse where Mickey Mouse has six fingers but I am still a huge nerd!

I will be celebrating today by ending this blog post early and eating a slice of Carvel’s ice cream cake, which has no calories because today’s my birthday!

Friday Favorite: RetailMeNot.com

“Friday Favorite” is a new series I’m starting in which I share a product or service that I love. A Friday Favorite placement cannot be purchased, and you cannot give me a free sample of your product/service for consideration as a Friday Favorite. A Friday Favorite is something I have discovered on my own. It is free from any commercial influence or compensation. My only reward is the joy it brings me to share something that will make your life better. I also love alliteration, which is why it’s a Friday Favorite, not a Monday Favorite. I don’t intend to do this every Friday, just whenever I have something I want to share.

Retail Me Not

My first Friday Favorite is the online coupon site Retail Me Not. Whenever you’re buying something online and you see a field in the order form labeled “Coupon” you should immediately head to Retail Me Not. Chances are they will have a discount code that will save you money. I don’t know exactly how much money Retail Me Not has saved me over the years, but I’d guess it’s several hundreds of dollars. Last week I saved $37.50 in a single purchase from one of their coupons. I never pay full price for a domain name. And all it takes is one minute spent on their web site.

Coupons have expiration dates, so you may have to try several codes before you find one that works. There is a success rate percentage listed next to the coupon which is based on the number of thumbs up and thumbs down it’s received. If you are a retailer, you can request that the site not list your coupons, so in those cases a search disappointingly turns up nothing. There are other coupon sites on the web, but I like Retail Me Not the best because it has a clean, easy-to-use interface. They also have a list of Top Coupons on their home page if you want to scout for deals without a specific retailer in mind.

Go forth and save money!

If you use PayPal you should probably opt out of their forced arbitration clause by December 1

Paper money closeup

I got one of those boring policy updates from PayPal this week which I usually never bother to read, but this section was in bold and underlined, which drew my attention:

You will, with limited exception, be required to submit claims you have against PayPal to binding and final arbitration, unless you opt out of the Agreement to Arbitrate (Section 14.3) by December 1, 2012. Unless you opt out: (1) you will only be permitted to pursue claims against PayPal on an individual basis, not as a plaintiff or class member in any class or representative action or proceeding and (2) you will only be permitted to seek relief (including monetary, injunctive, and declaratory relief) on an individual basis.

This article at Citizen Vox explains what PayPal is doing in plain English. If you don’t opt out:

  1. You can’t sue PayPal in court before a judge and/or jury. You have to go to binding arbitration where they will have the advantage.
  2. You can’t join a class action suit. You have to submit a claim individually. That means that if PayPal does something to screw over its customers, you can’t join a group of people to bring a claim against them together. You’d have to do it by yourself.

I’ve been a part of some class action suits, like the one about Amazon fixing ebook rates, and another one about CD price fixing. (I apologize for the FoxNews link, but it was the first relevant article I found in my search.) The lawyers are the ones who get most of the money, but you usually get a few bucks that you didn’t have to do any real work for, so why not leave that option available?

As a freelancer who accepts a lot of payments through PayPal, it’s important for me to retain as many legal rights as I can if I ever have to file a claim against them. I’ve heard horror stories about people who’ve been frozen out of accounts holding thousands of dollars. It’s my understanding that PayPal is not a bank, and thus is not regulated like a bank. They don’t play by the same rules as banks do. They’re not FDIC insured either, though they do hold your money in FDIC insured banks, so you get pass-through insurance. (A “How Stuff Works” article about that here.) I always get my money out of my PayPal account as quickly as possible because I’m afraid they’ll lock me out for some frivolous reason. I view them as a necessary evil, but I definitely don’t trust them. If I ever have a problem with them, I don’t want to be forced to play by arbitration rules that favor them.

Another reason that opting-out of arbitration is a probably good idea is that PayPal has made it incredibly hard for you to do so. You have to write a letter printed on paper and stick it in a stamped envelope and mail it to a physical address. PayPal is a company that became popular because they made it EASY to send money ELECTRONICALLY. Opting out of the arbitration agreement is neither. The fact that they clearly don’t want you to do this means that you probably should do it. I’m not a lawyer though, and I’m not qualified to give you legal advice, so proceed at your own risk.

You can download a letter template in that article I linked above, or download a PDF that’s linked a few messages down on this ebay forum here. They tell you what address to mail the letter to. If you’re an existing user, you have until December 1, 2012 to opt out. If you set up a new account, you have 30 days from the account creation date to opt out.

Good luck! Although PayPal does pay, they are definitely not your pal.

Fat girls and pretty girls use all the same excuses

No excuses

Do you remember that opinion article published last April in The Daily Mail? The one written by a woman who is hated by other woman because she’s so damn beautiful? Yes? No? It created a lot of buzz because the author came across as arrogant and deluded (which was probably the real reason people hated her), plus it was published on April 2nd, so it seemed like it might be an April Fool’s prank. I meant to write something about it at the time, but I’d gone off my meds at the time and wasn’t in a writing mood. So I’ll write about it now. Yesterday’s news today!

When I read Samantha Brick’s article my response was, “Oh wow, she’s taken the fat-girl excuse and inverted it.” You know the fat-girl excuse. No one will ever find me attractive because I’m so fat. I will never make any friends because I’m so fat. People never give me a chance because I’m so fat. The fat-girl excuse is a handy crutch to have because you can use it to explain away anything bad in your life. You didn’t get the job because you’re fat, not because you weren’t the most qualified candidate. That guy won’t go out with you because you’re fat, not because he doesn’t like your personality. Everything would be perfect, if you weren’t so fat. Good thing you’re fat, or else you might find out you have flaws other than the ones you see in your appearance.

Samantha Brick’s not a fat girl, but she’s got a crutch too. It’s the I’m just too damn beautiful crutch. Women don’t want to be her friend because she’s so gorgeous, not because she’s full of herself. Her female bosses hate her because she’s beautiful, not because of her behavior at work. A neighbor didn’t wave at her because she’s so pretty, not because she didn’t see her. It’s a handy crutch to have because it allows you to be the hero of your own story and cast everyone else as the villain.

We’ve all got psychological defense systems in place that help us deal with the world in this way. We spin events so they are positive, not negative. It’s so great that you were fired from that job you hated and have no savings because now you will be really motivated to find a job you love instead! Right? Uh, if you say so.

It’s easier to blame events in your life on a superficial reason, like your appearance, instead of looking closely at yourself and analyzing the flaws that we all have. I have no idea if Samantha Brick is good at her job or not, if her neighbor really did dis her during a drive by, or if women hate her because of her looks or just because of her personality. I do know that when you think you’re fat it’s easy to blame everything on your appearance, and if you think you’re beautiful it’s evidently easy to blame everything on your appearance too. But things aren’t always what they appear to be, not you, not me, nor all the things between us.

In the pink, and not in a good way

As I blogged about two years ago, there is a local business that likes to mix Halloween and Breast Cancer Awareness Month in hideous fashion, namely pink pumpkins and witches that look like there were hung during the Salem trials.

The 2010 display
Pinktober 2010

This year they seem to run out of witches to persecute, so they’ve moved onto flamingos and gigantic pigs.

The 2012 display


Pink pumpkins and flamingos

This tableaux is so hideous that I have to wonder if they do it ironically or if they really have no idea how ugly their front yard is. When I was a kid, the house at the end of the street I lived on always went all out for Christmas. They had reindeer on the roof, inflatable Santas, animatronic elves, and enough Christmas lights that you could see their house from space. I never missed the turn for my street in the month of December, though I did almost collide with parked gawkers regularly. I’m pretty sure they knew their display was gaudy, and they did it because they loved it anyway. I don’t get that vibe from this display. I think they are clueless. I’m glad I don’t drive past this stretch of road that often now that I’ve moved to a new apartment. I kind of wish some college students would steal everything in the middle of that night as a fraternity prank.

I also recognize that it is ironic to write a post slamming something when just last week I went on about how we should compliment people more often. I am a hypocrite complex woman, ok?

Keep reading: 

Want second helpings? Devour more entries in the archives.

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Jennette Fulda tells stories to the Internet about her life as a smartass, writer, chronic headache sufferer, (former?) weight-loss inspiration, and overall nice person (who is silently judging you). She was formerly known as PastaQueen. You can contact her if you promise to be nice.

Disclaimer: I am not responsible for keyboards ruined by coffee spit-takes or forehead wrinkles caused by deep thought.


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