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July 28, 2008

Ipod or other? aka the great muffin debate

July 28. Day 28.

I'm sitting at Rubio's, where I've just eaten two of their new gourmet tacos. "Gourmet" being a code word for counterintuitively stuffed stuffed with bacon and way too salty.

Which makes me think of two things: ipods and english muffins. Ipods, because I think I may indulge, after years of resistance, but I'm not sure if I should let myself be seduced by Apple or look at other brands. And english muffins, because this morning I had breakfast for a change: a latte and a buttery muffin. As I chomped the thicker, more cranniful bottom half, properly separated from the top with gentle jabs of a fork and then toasted, I wondered if there's anyone out there who prefers the top. Of course there must be. Indeed, it occurred to me, this could be the subject of a great divide. PC versus Mac, vegemite versus peanut butter, muffin top versus bottom.

Believe it or not, I am going somewhere with this.

Today's theme is due diligence. I came across this short article, from the farmers' market mecca that is Everett, Washington, which raises an excellent point about asking: before you plop down even 50 cents for a mango, do your due diligence. What does "organic" mean to that merchant? And when someone claims it's "locally" grown, how can you be sure? Not that I'm very OCD about my veggies, but that applies to any transaction.

I bring this up because I'm in the process of prepping for a few larger purchases, part of which may be covered by this year-long experiment. In chronological order: a second foray into the stock market, a small laptop, an ipod, an apartment (I wish) and (if mine dies and/or I land a splendiferous job after I finish my thesis next spring) a car. So I'm wondering what kind of steps I need to take in each case to make sure that I'm getting the best match for my needs and the most for my money.

As for today's asking, please check back in a bit.

UPDATE: And here it is. The brother of a cousin of a friend is trying to sell his house. Don't we all know someone like that these days. The extra difficulty, in this case, is that said house is in a mid-sized Eastern European nation where the market is even more saturated, and there's no federal housing relief bill on the horizon. As luck would have it, a few years ago I had some professional interactions with a real estate agent in said former soviet bloc state who proved to be both reliable and resourceful. This afternoon I sent email to reconnect and ask if, by the way, the agency wouldn't be interested in representing this seller.

GAINED: at best, deliverance for someone in a bind; at worst, an opportunity to network. Final results TBA.
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