Tag Archives: money

A [kind of] New Woman

I am one of those people who make New Year’s Resolutions. I try to make them realistic, but not too easy. For example, I can say I’m going to give up Indian food, Jim Beam and HBO. With nooooo problem. Because I don’t like the food, drink the booze or have cable. Done and done!


All right…

My 2013 Resolutions

One new vegetable a month*

I almost said one new vegetable a week, but that seemed way too ambitious. I can’t even think of 52 vegetables. Not that I don’t love my steady diet of broccoli, spinach, green beans, peas and asparagus, but it’s time to mix it up. To that end, here are few cook books I’m going to use to help me out.

EatYourVeggiesEat your vegetables, Arthur Potts Dawson

The art of cooking with vegetables, Alain Passard

Cooking with fruits and vegetables, Claire Llewellyn

*I will not, however, be eating any form of mushroom.
They taste like dirt, people.

Stop saying sorry

I apologize for everything. I apologize for stuff that’s not my fault, for events that I have no control over, things that have nothing to do with me. I apologize when someone does something to me! It’s stupid and doesn’t get me anywhere. These people will help me.

Manage my money better

I pay my bills on time and all that jazz. But I really should have way more expendable income than I do. Like way more. Especially since I quit smoking (2011’s resolution) and added an extra $4000 a year to my pocket money. Where is it going???

Also, managing my money better would mean I could donate more to charity, which is always on my resolution list. I’m so fortunate to have the life I have. I should absolutely be helping others in need. For real.

I signed up for  Mint.com, a website that pulls all your financial accounts into one place. You can set a budget, create and track goals and [gulp] see where your money is really going.

BehaviorGapThe behavior gap : simple ways to stop doing  dumb things with money, Carl Richards

The debt-free spending plan : an amazingly simple way to take control of your finances once and for all, JoAnneh Nagler

The only budgeting book you’ll ever need : how to save money and manage your finances with a personal budget plan that works for you, Tere Stouffer.

30 Day Hot Yoga Challenge

I am going to do 30 days of Bikram (hot) yoga, in a row, without a day off. Frankly, I think this will be the hardest resolution to keep. Because of work and chores and things that constantly interrupt my fun, there will be days that I have to go to the 6 a.m. class. In the dead of winter. Probably on my bike. From the South Side to Lawrenceville. To say that I’m not a morning person…well, this could be ugly.

I plan on starting February 1st and going through to March 2nd. Now that it’s out in the universe, I have to do it. If I succeed, I am totally buying a pair of yoga pants with bling on the butt. Because I will have earned them.

Pray for me. Happy 2013!



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Your New Year

Each January, many of us decide to change our lives. There are the usual things we want to do:

HungryForChange   ProcrastinationEquation   GetaFinancialLife   Chubster

Eat healthier: 

End bad habits:

Handle money better:

Work out and lose weight:

These are all good things to focus on, but here are some ideas for other changes you could make.

BookofDoing   BeyondRevenge   HowtoMakeYourOwnBrewskis   365ThankYous

Add some creativity to your life:

Forgive someone:

Make it yourself:

Show gratitude:

Whatever you choose to do with your new year, I hope you have a wonderful one.



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Fifteen cents a word to read . . .

Western Union, The Five Americans, 1967 .

Most of us are familiar with Western Union as a way to send or transfer money, if regular banking or Paypal can’t be used. Before ATMs, a Western Union “Moneygram” was about the only way to get funds outside of a bank if you didn’t have a credit card.  Before they did money though, Western Union did telegrams.  If you can find one it will likely be yellowed and crinkly, complete with the word “stop” to emphatically designate a period. Like text messages, earning income from telegrams was piece work. The sender paid by a block of words – $1.95 for 15 words, a nickel per word over that in 1950.

photo of a Western Union telegram

The Telegram

More so than for personal use, the telegram was the most effective communications tool available for business. It was equally convenient for trans-continental communications and trans-oceanic. You need to be able to speak to your customers and suppliers, place orders, send instructions, and wire payment.  How do you do that without breaking the bank?  Western Union didn’t offer an unlimited word package the way AT&T (they used to be in the telegraph business too) does with text packages.

Catalogue No. 10. Hall & Brown Woodworking Machine Co.

I may have found the answer. I’m selecting Trade Catalogs for a digitization project we’re  undertaking. It’s a complementary program to the IMLS Iron & Steel project that will be completed this fall. While reviewing Catalogue No. 10 of the Hall & Brown Wood Working Machine Co., I came across – in  addition to a rich vein of all manner of machinery – their cable codes. It’s a true lesson in Twain’s dictum to not let fluff and flowers and verbosity creep in. How does it work? Well, if you’re a wood working machinery salesman, you might need to know “shall we ship by rail?” or “shall we ship by steamer?” That’s 10 words. In Hall & Brownese, it’s “Aberdeen” “Abernathy.”  The full example they cite in their instructions looks like this:

         HOW TO USE CODE

We have arranged this Cipher and Code for the use of our correspondents. As each machine or size of machine has its own independent word by which it is designated it will be seen at a glance the saving of both time and expense which may be affected by its use. For the benefit of those who are not familiar with codes, the following example as to use of same is given:

Code:  Anteros Firdonsi Amadeo Shreveport

Translation:  Telegraph lowest price and earliest delivery number one fifteen inch Mississippi Planer and Matcher.  What is the best rate of freight you can obtain from your place to Shreveport?

Concise and to the point, and money-saving for both seller and buyer. When you look at the code pages in the Hall & Brown Catalog, it’s easy to see the cipher pattern in each usage area. In some instances there are distinct tie-ins to biblical names and words. Much of it looks like ancient Hebrew or Aramaic, other codes are straightforward literary or place names.  Take a look at the two partial listing below:


  • Abaddon . . . Express at once
  • Aaron . . . Freight at once
  • Abba . . . Answer saying when you can ship
  • Abdalla . . . When will you ship order


  • Amram . . . Goods not received, send tracer
  • Amurath . . . Follow with tracer
  • Amsterdam . . . Send wire tracer after shipment
  • Anak . . . Will send tracer immediately
Under Miscellaneous codes they utilize Beatrix, Bedouin, Belfast and Belgrade as code words too. The alpha coding is easy to spot, but I’d like to have met the person or people who came up with it. I’ve since come across other catalogs with similar coding and abbreviations, but nothing as extensive as Hall & Brown. They have 7 pages of code for everything from percentage of discounts to letter salutations and closings.  This catalog and several hundred others will be digitally available next summer when we complete “American Marketplace.”

By the way, the Firdonsi (the No.1 15” Mississippi Planer and Matcher) weighs 9500 lbs., and no price is listed.



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Money Matters

With banks, foreclosures, and economic woes in the news these days, are you feeling confused about how best to handle your money? Perhaps you’ve always been strapped for cash, and now you’re ready to buckle down and figure out your finances. Or you’re at a place in your life — whether it’s your first job, your first kid, or retirement’s looming — where you need to figure out your next steps.

While the library has many, many books on the subject, we also recognize that there are other ways to absorb information.  For those who would rather start with a person to explain things, we have partnered with the Financial Education Consortium of Southwestern Pennsylvania to offer Money Matters: A Personal Finance Speaker Series.

Starting this Saturday, April 18th, and continuing through June 13th, you can come to the Main Library in Oakland and hear experts speak about housing, budgeting, credit, investing and insurance. Here is the line up:

Saturday, April 18th, 3:00-4:30 PM
Smart Housing – Making Good Choices with Sarah Newman of NeighborWorks® Western Pennsylvania
Learn about renting versus owning, your rights as a tenant, understanding the home buying process and becoming familiar with local programs for low-income and/or first time homebuyers.

Wednesday, April 29th, 6:00-7:30 PM
Get a Handle On It: Credit and Debt with Jada Grandy of Fifth Third Bank and Iris Valentin of FDIC
You can do this. We’ll help you to evaluate your credit, repair it and stay safe from unwise use of credit and predatory lending.

Saturday, May 16, 3:00-4:30 PM
Budgeting – Hold on to More of Your Money with Amanda Burkhart of ACTION Housing, Inc. and Bill Long of Operation HOPE
Learn the fundamentals of budgeting and cutting back on spending so you can save more, invest more, and worry less.

Wednesday, May 27, 6:00-7:30 PM
Understanding Investing – Taking Care of Ourselves and Our Kids with Larry Garvin from the PA Treasury Department and a speaker from BetterInvesting, Pittsburgh Chapter
Don’t let the economic downturn scare you away from investing in your family’s future! Now is the perfect time to learn more about investing in your retirement and your children’s college education.

Saturday, June 13, 3:00-4:30 PM
Play it Safe: Insuring Your Assets with Ed Cerezo and Kevin Kerr of The Kerr Agency
Protect yourself and your loved ones with appropriate levels of insurance. Learn more about the ins and outs of auto, home, health, life, and renter’s insurance at this informative presentation.


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Being broke ain’t no joke

In these fickle times it seems far-fetched to feel fine about finances and one’s fiscal future. Gas prices are high. The stock market is tanking. Economists on the news sound more hysterical every day. It might be time to begin thinking about making lifestyle changes. Now unless you are dense (and I doubt you are, or else you wouldn’t be reading a library blog), you have noticed that a great deal of what we are doing here is promoting the incredible and vast free resources we have here at the Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh. We can help you. We are your personal librarians after all.

Matters of Managing Mulah

We have myriad books on personal finance. Whether you are interested in how to diversify your funds, get out of debt, or get rich quick, we have it all.

Finding Free and/or Cheap Entertainment

We already told you about the free 2008 RADical Days events all over the city. There are also some free and low-cost options on the Pittsburgh 250 official website. But you, Loyal Reader, know by now that not only do we offer you music, DVDs, books, and various other diversions in fun formats, we also have a monthly calendar chock full of wonderful things to do. And you are invited. You’ll enjoy yourself. Bring your friends!

Changing Your Lifestyle

There are all kinds of ways to make life less expensive. One way is to use recipes from collections like The Ninety-nine Cents Only Stores Cookbook. If that sounds gross, we have many other cookbooks devoted to eating on a shoe-string budget and plenty with ideas for growing your own food. America’s Cheapest Family has written a book on living life cheaply, with topics including menu planning, reducing debt, saving money and cutting back on utilities. It also has tips for garbage picking and mooching, if you’re into that sort of thing.

So don’t despair dear doves!


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15 minutes of fame

Most of you have probably heard some version of Andy Warhol’s famous quote: “In the future, everyone will be world-famous for 15 minutes.” I’m waiting for my moment of fame to come along, but in the meantime I spend a lot of time reading celebrity biographies.  I like to think of it as practice, so I’ll know what to do when I’m finally rich and famous. Actors and actresses like Clara Bow, Elizabeth Taylor, Ann Margret, and Orson Welles have each had some memorable celebrity moments, and luckily for us it’s all captured in their biographies.  Television actresses shouldn’t be overlooked eitherthe biographies and autobiographies of actresses like Joan Collins, Tori Spelling, or Rue McClanahan  are great weekend reads. Musicianswhether they’re punk, hair bands, hip hop, jazz, or classicalare another great source of celebrity drama. Writers, artists, and dancers also tend to have lives that make for some interesting reading. 

Warhol later revised his quote to “In 15 minutes everyone will be famous.”  Even though I’m still waiting, maybe you’re not.  If you’re rich and famous already, think about looking at some of our books on fashion and jewelryyou don’t want the paparazzi to catch you at less than your best. Make sure to also look at some of our books on money and investing, and also peruse our books on luxury automobiles and real estate

If you’ve already had your fifteen minutes and survived the perils of stardom, think about writing your memoirs.  Check out our books about writing or stop by the reference department and look at the most recent edition of Writer’s Market to find a publisher.  If you need to gather some inspiration from your fellow writers, make sure to drop in to our Squirrel Hill Branch on Sundays for their writer’s studio

There are way too many great celebrity bios, books on fame and fortune, and writing guides for me to list everything here.  Leave a comment and let us know your favorite trashy biography!  If you have a tip on how to deal with fame (like how do you find a closet big enough to hold all your free designer clothes?), let us know!



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