Free Umbrellas

March 10, 2010 Leave a comment

The sunny Chicago sky that first greeted me when I left my apartment had suddenly been replaced by a storm of biblical proportions and I was now stuck at my El stop without an umbrella. I could either wait it out at the station and get to work late or slog through the downpour and get there on time looking like a drowned cat. Neither was appealing. I was about to flip a coin to decide my course of action when a brilliant idea popped into my head. I rushed over to the attendant’s booth and, in less than a minute, walked away with a free umbrella. I soon arrived at work warm, dry and early enough to score a bagel.

What was the brilliant idea that kept me from getting drenched? Paying a visit to Lost & Found! Almost every public location has an L&F and they only hold onto items for a short amount of time (unclaimed stuff is usually donated to charities), so the chance of a real owner reclaiming something is about 0.3 %.* Tell L&F that you left your umbrella on the train or on a counter or in the bathroom or wherever and, if asked, say it’s black and compact. Since this describes 90% of umbrellas, you’ll almost always get a match. When you see one, don’t hesitate! Just grab it and claim it as your own. Sweet score, eh?

And before you start feeling guilty, just remember: Umbrellas are pretty much considered a disposable item.** So find a homeless person, give ’em a dollar and tell your conscience to shut the fuck up.

* From top secret statistical data available only to us.
** From the same top secret statistical data.

Rent Out Your Extra Space

March 7, 2010 Leave a comment

Extra bedrooms are not the only areas of your home that can be rented out. Cleared out your garage recently? Got a spare closet or a couple of empty book shelves? You can totally pimp that extra space for cash with the help of a couple of cool sites.

Storeatmyhouse.com is a company that pairs up people in need of storage space with those that have it. Their site basically works like a bulletin board: You register first and then submit a detailed post about the space you’re offering. Potential renters  fill out an online application which is sent to you for review. Once you decide to approve an applicant, specific arrangements (like price of rent, methods of payment, hours of access, etc) are worked out directly between you and your new renter. The process is pretty painless and – best of all – it’s completely free.

Although it’s not as simple to use as Storeatmyhouse.com, Parkatmyhouse.com is still definitely worth checking out. Catering to the parking impaired, Parkatmyhouse.com gives registered users the opportunity to rent out or sell their empty driveways, garages or street parking to drivers without a place to park. Listing a space is free but once you find a renter, you’ll be charged an ongoing 15% of the total amount received for each parking space booking. Given the number of cars currently in use worldwide, you should have no problem renting out your space especially if you’re in an in-demand location. As parking regulations differ from country to country, ParkatmyHouse strongly urges people to check local laws before submitting a listing. It’s probably a good idea to check with your insurance company, too.

Couch Surfing

February 21, 2010 Leave a comment

House exchanges are great for home-owning vacationers but what if you don’t own one? What if the only thing you have to offer is a couch? And what if the only thing you want in exchange is a couch? For the penny-conscious traveler who thinks it’d be more sociable (and less of an ordeal) to crash on a couch rather than camp out (and rough it), CouchSurfing.org is for you.

CouchSurfing.org is a great web site that acts like a social networking tool to bring people and couches together. It’s free to use and prohibits members from charging others to surf their couch. Easy world-wide searches can lead you to amicable couches (the quality of which will vary) almost anywhere you’d like to explore. In return, you offer what you can although if you don’t have a couch to share, you aren’t banned from participating.  It’s idealistic, economical, sociable and exciting but you still need to take precautions. There are some built-in safety features including a verification process (confirmation of identity and physical location), references (experiences with other couch surfers) and vouching (where users vouch for other members that they know are trustworthy). Since the “accommodations” aren’t 100% guaranteed, shit can sometimes fall through the cracks so always have a back-up plan (like an emergency hostel allowance).

Now if you can afford a little bit of money, you can find a for sure place to stay (whether it be a couch, a shared room or a whole apartment) with the help of Airbnb.com. Members post listings of their available space on the site and travelers search these posts to find exactly what suits their needs. Travelers then send a reservation request to the hosts which they (the hosts) either accept or decline. If they accept, the reservation is immediately booked and the travelers pay directly online using a credit card or PayPal account. Both parties receive contact info and that’s it! Airbnb also uses the same type of safety features as CouchSurfing.org, so you don’t have to worry too much about hosts with Ed Gein complexes.

Message boards are also a good way to hook up with sympatico couch situations since users usually share similar interests (like music, spirituality, sports, etc.). Additionally, if you’ve built up a large list of friends, a MySpace bulletin, Facebook post or Twitter tweet might connect you with a place to rest your head. Finally, Craigslist also lists hook-up possibilities, but it is in no way as efficient (or as safe) as the other sites.

Take your chances and you just may be able to afford that trip around the globe!

Krishna Sunday Feasts

January 20, 2010 Leave a comment

Street urchins are often easy marks for Krishna recruiters offering free Sunday night vegetarian feasts in trade for simple religious devotion. How can you know what deity suits your needs unless you taste-test? And if you’re broke and the Hindu hors d’oeuvres come in the form of dal and basmati… yum! The intent of the Krishna Sunday Feast is not to feed hungry people but, rather, to have people feed “the deities” through their own bodies. It’s a great way to appeal to the spiritually starved if they are also physically famished. Keep in mind, you do have to sit through hours of lecture – though you’ll notice latecomers who know just what time to arrive – and a small donation is sometimes requested. Some temples may ask women to stand in the back but the gurus are slowly addressing the subservient nature of females in Krishna. (Keep in mind ladies: Your brains are smaller than your male counterparts’, so it’s probably a waste of the brain cells you do have to try to reason this out.) Find a temple near you at Krishna.com. Added bonus: “Hare Hare” mantra chanting will remove all your grievous sins.

Categories: Food Tags: , ,

Free Access to Members Only Websites

January 6, 2010 Leave a comment

I’ve always viewed sites that charge for access to content as a big annoyance. Personally, I think people should be able to get whatever type of information they want or need on the internet for free, which is why BugMeNot.com will always be on my “Things on the Web I Can’t Live Without” list.

With login information for 280k+ “Members Only” sites, BugMeNot can save you the $50/month you shell out for access to all that online porn. Just type in the URL and you’ll get back a list of logins to try sorted by success rates. Usually, you’ll get at least one that works although porn site logins do tend to become invalid pretty quickly. (Gee – I wonder why? Fucking pervs. Why doncha just RedTube it, loser?) (See also: Torrent Sites)

Categories: Internet Tags:

Zagat Guides

January 6, 2010 Leave a comment

Most foodies are very familiar with Zagat but for those of you not in-the-know, here’s the 411: Zagat guidesZagat is a company that compiles rating guides for area businesses based on reviews from customers. The guides are available in book form or on the internet via a paid subscription site and there are establishment-specific ones (i.e., restaurants, hotels and nightspots) for virtually every big city in the world. They make visits to unfamiliar eateries less risky and provide extremely helpful suggestions when you’re looking for new dive bars. The guides run about $15 but if you register on their site and contribute to an active survey, you’ll get the corresponding guide for free. And though Zagat guides make great presents and/or can be resold on eBay, you really shouldn’t participate in a survey about Los Angeles shopping if you live in Chicago. It just wouldn’t be right and we would never condone it. (See also: Survey Sites)

Categories: Somewhat Shady Tags:

Student IDs

December 15, 2009 Leave a comment

It’s perplexing why so many college students don’t take advantage of their student IDs. There are those who only use them to check out books from the library, while others never bother to pick them up from the student center even when the cost is already included in enrollment. The savings on movies alone, if you go a few times a semester, is worth the effort. Actually, you can save fifty times that if you just know how to use it! But what if you are a “student of life” – where’s the ID card and discounts for that?

We obviously can’t promote the forging of identification cards, as holding such cards can cost hundreds of dollars in fines and/or community service, a misdemeanor, and generating them can cost over a thousand dollars, possible jail time and incur a felony. Of course, most convictions are in regards to fake driver’s licenses or state IDs which give a false age and identity, not the student card created for a young looking 29-year-old simply interested in getting a few bucks shaved off the price of admission.

Though “novelty” IDs are sold all over the internet (magnetic strips, holograms, and smart chips included), they’re mainly from companies located outside the U.S. – and whether or not you receive your card is another story. Best place for the drop-out to fast-track into a graduate program, is near any border town or city center that has a large number of –ahem– immigrants. In Los Angeles, that would mean Macarthur Park, where you can become a student of Whatever University for a small fee.

Another option is simply becoming a student! You can enroll, get your card, and withdraw in time to get a refund. Or hey – you could come to the realization it is time to take a few classes. Anyway, the card itself will give you discounts for museums, internet lounges, computers, restaurants, travel, etc., and with it you can then get other discount cards, such as the ISIC and ISC which saves you money across Europe, Korea, Singapore, Egypt, Australia. Note: If you are home-schooled, IDs can be obtained online at Parents Educating at Home which offers student IDs as well as IDs for parent teachers so they can get teacher discounts.