Author Topic: Overheard at Work  (Read 4746805 times)

kaetana

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Re: Overheard at Work
« Reply #12500 on: February 13, 2016, 01:10:16 AM »
I know a woman who bought a used car despite living very close to a train station. But I thought, hey, at least it's a used car. I caught up with her a month later and she let slip that she had actually gotten the cash to buy the car from her credit card. I don't mean she paid for it with a credit card-- I mean she took a cash advance! When I asked her if she knew how high the interest rate was for a cash advance, she said she couldn't possibly live without a car. I should note that she lives in a city where public transport is safe, reliable, abundant, and even free for her area. But nope, she drives the car every day for 30 minutes ("15 minutes without traffic!") and pays to park it close to work ("only $6 a day!").

This is the same woman who bitched and moaned because our company reimburses our company expenses two weeks after they are incurred. She was worried because she'd had to pay for ~$70 worth of expenses and she had no room on her credit card for gas!

At first I tried to help her, but quickly came to the conclusion that some people just don't want to be helped.

Paul der Krake

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Re: Overheard at Work
« Reply #12501 on: February 13, 2016, 06:59:05 AM »
I know a woman who bought a used car despite living very close to a train station. But I thought, hey, at least it's a used car. I caught up with her a month later and she let slip that she had actually gotten the cash to buy the car from her credit card. I don't mean she paid for it with a credit card-- I mean she took a cash advance! When I asked her if she knew how high the interest rate was for a cash advance, she said she couldn't possibly live without a car. I should note that she lives in a city where public transport is safe, reliable, abundant, and even free for her area. But nope, she drives the car every day for 30 minutes ("15 minutes without traffic!") and pays to park it close to work ("only $6 a day!").

This is the same woman who bitched and moaned because our company reimburses our company expenses two weeks after they are incurred. She was worried because she'd had to pay for ~$70 worth of expenses and she had no room on her credit card for gas!

At first I tried to help her, but quickly came to the conclusion that some people just don't want to be helped.
That reminds me of an hourly employee at a previous job. One day she rolls into the company parking lot with a Chrysler 200, aka the car of people who make terrible money decisions. Seriously, I don't know what it is with this car, it seems to appeal to a certain demographic that doesn't have a pot to piss in yet like shiny objects. Anyway, she then proceeds to walk around for the next couple days glued to her gold iPhone, talking about going to get her hair dyed over lunch break in her new car, acting she owns the place even though she made exactly $8/hour.

Fast forward to the end of the month, when money is always tight for the hourly employees. By now it has already transpired that she had needed a down payment gift and a co-signer in the shape of her mother to get the car in the first place. The next month's payment is coming soon, and instead of admitting to the world that she is in over her head, complains about some imaginary defects of the car. All the while maintaining the princess attitude, even though she was closer to toad status than princess.

Over the weekend, she goes back to the Chrysler dealership to give the car back. It turns out that the two geniuses who signed on the dotted line didn't realize they were signing a lease, not a purchase contract. The term "lease" sprinkled all over the contract, including in the document title, didn't faze them. Neither did it didn't strike them as odd that you could buy a $23k+ car at just $200/month + fees for 3 years.

I left the company shortly after that. I can't imagine she would have the resources to make good on her payments for very long, so it's probably been repo'd since. With the insurance, gas, and various dealer fees, that stupid thing was probably pushing $350/month.

auntie_betty

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Re: Overheard at Work
« Reply #12502 on: February 13, 2016, 07:13:42 AM »
The Kleenex has an advantage that if you need to keep it out for some reason, say on the kitchen counter, it looks nicer to guests than a roll of TP.  Maybe there's a market for decorative TP holders that dispense it upwards and slice it when you pull out a certain amount.

Until someone's TP-attacking cat, child, or spouse sticks a paw into the dispenser and gets it sliced off.
The simple solution to this would be a clamp that grabs the paper firmly enough to tear it when you pull, but not tight enough to hurt anybody.
Before putting on the holder squeeze so the cardboard is distorted and no longer round. Makes it harder to unravel so no more 'accidental' mile long lengths. 

ETA - that tip was actually overheard at work :)
« Last Edit: February 13, 2016, 07:17:36 AM by gallygirl »

TomTX

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Re: Overheard at Work
« Reply #12503 on: February 13, 2016, 07:36:38 AM »
I don't support the blatant oversimplification that ALL speed limits are set too low because of revenue, but

Correct, let me amend my earlier statement to apply to 1) interstates and 2) 2-lane highways.  Your average residential or suburban/urban street is likely set pretty close to 85th percentile and traffic'd accordingly.

Your average residential street in the USA pretty likely never had a traffic study at all but is set by local statue as some default like 30MPH.

The 85th percentile thing is a bit... vague. I dug into it a bit deeper. Here in Texas, after the traffic study the Engineer can use their discretion to modify the result by +/- 7MPH.  Traffic study says 42MPH @ 85th percentile? Lets stick that sucker at 35 and get the city some revenue.

nobodyspecial

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Re: Overheard at Work
« Reply #12504 on: February 13, 2016, 09:02:03 AM »
In the UK a change in the law meant the local council got to keep the revenue instead of it going to the government.
This meant an amazing increase in interest in "road safety" and a lot of speed cameras

johnny847

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Re: Overheard at Work
« Reply #12505 on: February 13, 2016, 10:46:49 AM »
I was asking one of my coworkers why when I multiply my gross pay by my contribution % the amount showing on my pay stub doesn't match what it should be.  My mistake to ask this guy, he's been here 25+ years. He responds with "yeah it's bull, why does it show that we are paying into it, it's suppose to be them paying into it."  Then he goes on to tell me how as soon as there is enough in his 401k to withdraw he borrows every dollar that he can and files for hardship so he doesn't have to repay it.

I tried to explain that with taxes and the penalty it was a bad idea for him to do that, with him contributing 6% to get the match. I'll make sure I ask payroll questions to payroll next time.


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Did you get an answer from payroll? My guess is that they do that post FICA and health insurance deductions if applicable. Because if the contribution rate was applied to your gross pay and you set your contribution rate to 100%, there'd be nothing left for FICA withholding, which is required by law.

SwordGuy

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Re: Overheard at Work
« Reply #12506 on: February 13, 2016, 03:46:53 PM »
...Neither did it didn't strike them as odd that you could buy a $23k+ car at just $200/month + fees for 3 years...

It's simply amazes me how many people graduated from high school without even the dimmest understanding of math beyond (truly!) simple arithmetic.

depogrig

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Re: Overheard at Work
« Reply #12507 on: February 14, 2016, 04:52:05 AM »

I was asking one of my coworkers why when I multiply my gross pay by my contribution % the amount showing on my pay stub doesn't match what it should be.  My mistake to ask this guy, he's been here 25+ years. He responds with "yeah it's bull, why does it show that we are paying into it, it's suppose to be them paying into it."  Then he goes on to tell me how as soon as there is enough in his 401k to withdraw he borrows every dollar that he can and files for hardship so he doesn't have to repay it.

I tried to explain that with taxes and the penalty it was a bad idea for him to do that, with him contributing 6% to get the match. I'll make sure I ask payroll questions to payroll next time.


Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk

Did you get an answer from payroll? My guess is that they do that post FICA and health insurance deductions if applicable. Because if the contribution rate was applied to your gross pay and you set your contribution rate to 100%, there'd be nothing left for FICA withholding, which is required by law.

I did end up getting a response finally. They only use our straight time hours for the calculation. So when we work overtime they have separate lines for OT straight pay, a line for 0.5x pay for time and a half, and a line for 1x for double time hours. This of course isn't written anywhere or mentioned at all and took them some time to figure out when I asked the question.


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notquitefrugal

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Re: Overheard at Work
« Reply #12508 on: February 14, 2016, 07:35:33 PM »
This is the first time I've seen poop foam.

My neighbors' dog ate a bar of soap (he's a dumbass dog). Reports indicate he had "poop foam" for about three days afterward.

OmahaSteph

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Re: Overheard at Work
« Reply #12509 on: February 15, 2016, 07:57:38 AM »
From an office-wide bulletin board:

Quote
Black, laser fit mats for 2014/2015 Jeep Cherokee. Paid $400 for all!
Driver mat has gentle wear, the rest are in perfect condition as I only had for 1 year.

$100 OBO

Contact _____ if interested

$400 for floor mats? Really? I can only understand needing them if you do some serious off-roading, and if that's the case, 1) they wouldn't be in perfect condition and 2) get cheaper ones you can beat to hell. *facepalm*

LennStar

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Re: Overheard at Work
« Reply #12510 on: February 15, 2016, 11:23:42 AM »
From an office-wide bulletin board:

Quote
Black, laser fit mats for 2014/2015 Jeep Cherokee. Paid $400 for all!
Driver mat has gentle wear, the rest are in perfect condition as I only had for 1 year.

$100 OBO

Contact _____ if interested

$400 for floor mats? Really? I can only understand needing them if you do some serious off-roading, and if that's the case, 1) they wouldn't be in perfect condition and 2) get cheaper ones you can beat to hell. *facepalm*
um... I think my seat was cheaper.

I know that its always open upper end, but 400 for a mat? WTF? What is it build from? Hair of 90 year old virgins? Kobe cow hide? Or the vegan option, Kokos fibers from the greenhouse of the Wostok station? (antartica, coldest point of earth; fyi)

johnny847

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Re: Overheard at Work
« Reply #12511 on: February 15, 2016, 11:46:53 AM »
From an office-wide bulletin board:

Quote
Black, laser fit mats for 2014/2015 Jeep Cherokee. Paid $400 for all!
Driver mat has gentle wear, the rest are in perfect condition as I only had for 1 year.

$100 OBO

Contact _____ if interested

$400 for floor mats? Really? I can only understand needing them if you do some serious off-roading, and if that's the case, 1) they wouldn't be in perfect condition and 2) get cheaper ones you can beat to hell. *facepalm*
um... I think my seat was cheaper.

I know that its always open upper end, but 400 for a mat? WTF? What is it build from? Hair of 90 year old virgins? Kobe cow hide? Or the vegan option, Kokos fibers from the greenhouse of the Wostok station? (antartica, coldest point of earth; fyi)

Somehow I don't think that's something people want.

merula

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Re: Overheard at Work
« Reply #12512 on: February 15, 2016, 11:57:11 AM »
$400 for floor mats? Really? I can only understand needing them if you do some serious off-roading, and if that's the case, 1) they wouldn't be in perfect condition and 2) get cheaper ones you can beat to hell. *facepalm*
um... I think my seat was cheaper.

I know that its always open upper end, but 400 for a mat? WTF? What is it build from? Hair of 90 year old virgins? Kobe cow hide? Or the vegan option, Kokos fibers from the greenhouse of the Wostok station? (antartica, coldest point of earth; fyi)

I think the joke was on the rarity of someone living to 90 while also being a virgin.
Somehow I don't think that's something people want.
[/quote]

johnny847

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Re: Overheard at Work
« Reply #12513 on: February 15, 2016, 12:29:55 PM »
$400 for floor mats? Really? I can only understand needing them if you do some serious off-roading, and if that's the case, 1) they wouldn't be in perfect condition and 2) get cheaper ones you can beat to hell. *facepalm*
um... I think my seat was cheaper.

I know that its always open upper end, but 400 for a mat? WTF? What is it build from? Hair of 90 year old virgins? Kobe cow hide? Or the vegan option, Kokos fibers from the greenhouse of the Wostok station? (antartica, coldest point of earth; fyi)

I think the joke was on the rarity of someone living to 90 while also being a virgin.
Somehow I don't think that's something people want.
[/quote]

Oh I get that's rare. But that's not something you'd brag about. At least with Kobe hide it's something that's rare and desirable

coolistdude

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Re: Overheard at Work
« Reply #12514 on: February 15, 2016, 12:56:53 PM »
I know a woman who bought a used car despite living very close to a train station. But I thought, hey, at least it's a used car. I caught up with her a month later and she let slip that she had actually gotten the cash to buy the car from her credit card. I don't mean she paid for it with a credit card-- I mean she took a cash advance! When I asked her if she knew how high the interest rate was for a cash advance, she said she couldn't possibly live without a car. I should note that she lives in a city where public transport is safe, reliable, abundant, and even free for her area. But nope, she drives the car every day for 30 minutes ("15 minutes without traffic!") and pays to park it close to work ("only $6 a day!").

This is the same woman who bitched and moaned because our company reimburses our company expenses two weeks after they are incurred. She was worried because she'd had to pay for ~$70 worth of expenses and she had no room on her credit card for gas!

At first I tried to help her, but quickly came to the conclusion that some people just don't want to be helped.
That reminds me of an hourly employee at a previous job. One day she rolls into the company parking lot with a Chrysler 200, aka the car of people who make terrible money decisions. Seriously, I don't know what it is with this car, it seems to appeal to a certain demographic that doesn't have a pot to piss in yet like shiny objects. Anyway, she then proceeds to walk around for the next couple days glued to her gold iPhone, talking about going to get her hair dyed over lunch break in her new car, acting she owns the place even though she made exactly $8/hour.

Fast forward to the end of the month, when money is always tight for the hourly employees. By now it has already transpired that she had needed a down payment gift and a co-signer in the shape of her mother to get the car in the first place. The next month's payment is coming soon, and instead of admitting to the world that she is in over her head, complains about some imaginary defects of the car. All the while maintaining the princess attitude, even though she was closer to toad status than princess.

Over the weekend, she goes back to the Chrysler dealership to give the car back. It turns out that the two geniuses who signed on the dotted line didn't realize they were signing a lease, not a purchase contract. The term "lease" sprinkled all over the contract, including in the document title, didn't faze them. Neither did it didn't strike them as odd that you could buy a $23k+ car at just $200/month + fees for 3 years.

I left the company shortly after that. I can't imagine she would have the resources to make good on her payments for very long, so it's probably been repo'd since. With the insurance, gas, and various dealer fees, that stupid thing was probably pushing $350/month.

Thank you for sharing this. DW and I laughed so hard at this. How do you sign a lease and have no idea you signed a lease? Whoever earns the paychecks for mom is going to be pissed when they realize what happened. If you are making $8/hr, I could see the parents buying her a used...bicycle!
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luciep

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Re: Overheard at Work
« Reply #12515 on: February 15, 2016, 01:22:45 PM »
I work in a school with 3 year old kids. Last week, we had a little girl shadow in our class to see if she would be a good fit. She cried the whole time while screaming: "I want to go shopping with Mommy!".

It made me sad. I hope one day she wants to play, like a normal kid.

nobody123

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Re: Overheard at Work
« Reply #12516 on: February 15, 2016, 02:42:03 PM »
I work in a school with 3 year old kids. Last week, we had a little girl shadow in our class to see if she would be a good fit. She cried the whole time while screaming: "I want to go shopping with Mommy!".

It made me sad. I hope one day she wants to play, like a normal kid.

Maybe the mom just said she was going to go grocery shopping while the little girl was at school.  The girl just missed her mommy and "shopping" was where she was at.  My three year old told me that I "ruined his whole life" this weekend because I helped him get off of the toilet and he wanted to get down by himself.  I don't put much stock in what a three year old says.

BTDretire

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Re: Overheard at Work
« Reply #12517 on: February 15, 2016, 02:58:24 PM »
Why do people need this much Kleenex? (haven't bought Kleenex in years except for decorative box for office).

  Not everyone wears long sleave shirts.  :-)

Kitsune

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Re: Overheard at Work
« Reply #12518 on: February 15, 2016, 06:42:27 PM »
I work in a school with 3 year old kids. Last week, we had a little girl shadow in our class to see if she would be a good fit. She cried the whole time while screaming: "I want to go shopping with Mommy!".

It made me sad. I hope one day she wants to play, like a normal kid.

Maybe the mom just said she was going to go grocery shopping while the little girl was at school.  The girl just missed her mommy and "shopping" was where she was at.  My three year old told me that I "ruined his whole life" this weekend because I helped him get off of the toilet and he wanted to get down by himself.  I don't put much stock in what a three year old says.

This. My toddler thinks ANYTHING mama does is the best, and this includes grocery shopping. She would have been saying the same thing if I had left her somewhere saying that I was going o go do groceries and come back to pick her up, and it's not because all we do is shop.

She also just pitched a screaming fit because I wouldn't let her touch the fire, so... Toddlers, man. They can use words and communicate quite well, but you gotta take what comes out with a grain of salt.

FIREwoman

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Re: Overheard at Work
« Reply #12519 on: February 16, 2016, 06:44:53 AM »
i have a morbid fascination with a lady i used to work with at a part-time job i took while i was paying off debt.

she is a trainwreck when it comes to money (and pretty much everything) and i have countless stories about that (she told me her cell phone bill was $200-$250/mo. all the while she's bringing home perhaps $1,200, etc...)

anywho...not necessarily money-related but we caught up a bit recently at a gathering for a mutual co-worker who was leaving the state. i tell her i've been trying to brush up on my cooking skills and she tells me her and her sister 'tried' to make tacos the other evening. neither of them knew how to properly brown ground beef...

they both still live with their parents. CW is 31 and her sister is 26ish with four children...
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MgoSam

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Re: Overheard at Work
« Reply #12520 on: February 16, 2016, 08:23:29 AM »
her and her sister 'tried' to make tacos the other evening. neither of them knew how to properly brown ground beef...

they both still live with their parents. CW is 31 and her sister is 26ish with four children...

I still remember being made fun of by a friend for asking advice on making taco salad, and I was 21 at the time and just learning how to cook. There is no reason a 26 or 31 year old should not know how to brown beef, unless they are vegan/vegetarian/Hindu....and even then a simple Google/Youtube search should answer it. Of course, that requires a little initiative.

mtn

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Re: Overheard at Work
« Reply #12521 on: February 16, 2016, 08:36:34 AM »
I don't understand people who don't know how to cook. Can you read? Have you ever watched a cooking show? Do you have the internet?

It really isn't hard. To cook good it isn't hard either. Butter, garlic, salt, sugar, onion, cheese. If it doesn't taste good yet, you probably didn't add enough of one of the above. There is your first lesson. We'll get into the second lesson (which involves healthier ways to cook since 3 out of my 5 options are not at all healthy) later.

MgoSam

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Re: Overheard at Work
« Reply #12522 on: February 16, 2016, 08:47:19 AM »
I don't understand people who don't know how to cook. Can you read?

I agree. It's one thing to not have been taught how to cook, but if you still don't and aren't willing to at least try, then I honestly pity you (them). My office's former secretary lives off fast food and frozen meals, and didn't learn how to cook because, "She had a bad relationship with her mother." I didn't want to get into it with her, but I just saw how much money she would spend on food that she could make at home for way less (and be way healthier). At the least she could have brought in bread and kept meat in the fridge to make sandwiches. Instead she would gripe about how much she was getting paid without trying to lower her own expenses. For the record, we would have been willing to increase her pay if she did actual work, but instead she sat on her computer all day and the only real thing she did was answer the phone. When she moved away, we haven't felt a burning desire to replace her as anyone here can answer the phone.

FIREwoman

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Re: Overheard at Work
« Reply #12523 on: February 16, 2016, 08:55:06 AM »
I don't understand people who don't know how to cook. Can you read?

I agree. It's one thing to not have been taught how to cook, but if you still don't and aren't willing to at least try, then I honestly pity you (them). My office's former secretary lives off fast food and frozen meals, and didn't learn how to cook because, "She had a bad relationship with her mother." I didn't want to get into it with her, but I just saw how much money she would spend on food that she could make at home for way less (and be way healthier). At the least she could have brought in bread and kept meat in the fridge to make sandwiches. Instead she would gripe about how much she was getting paid without trying to lower her own expenses. For the record, we would have been willing to increase her pay if she did actual work, but instead she sat on her computer all day and the only real thing she did was answer the phone. When she moved away, we haven't felt a burning desire to replace her as anyone here can answer the phone.

yes. i've had to learn on my own as well since my ma had no skills to speak of. this convo just struck me doubly odd because CW is OBSESSED with tacos. so this told me she's never had tacos that weren't made by either a restaurant or her mother. CW works only part-time. and i'm not sure i understand how you don't have at least a basic repertoire when you have four little mouths to feed. so much wtf.
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Apples

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Re: Overheard at Work
« Reply #12524 on: February 16, 2016, 08:58:48 AM »
I don't understand people who don't know how to cook. Can you read? Have you ever watched a cooking show? Do you have the internet?

It really isn't hard. To cook good it isn't hard either. Butter, garlic, salt, sugar, onion, cheese. If it doesn't taste good yet, you probably didn't add enough of one of the above. There is your first lesson. We'll get into the second lesson (which involves healthier ways to cook since 3 out of my 5 options are not at all healthy) later.

I'll answer this one.  I can't cook.  Actually, I can, but barely.  It involved buying a meat thermometer and a chart telling you at what temperature meat is done at.  I can't tell by looking at it unless I wait until it's well overcooked.  Same thing happens with cookies...I always wait until I see a little brown at the edges and very top of the center, and by then it's too late.  But I can't judge it sooner than that.  Also, I always have to look up what temperature to cook different kinds of meat at.  Having never closely watched anyone boil, fry, brown, or anything to vegetables, it takes a decent amount of googling to learn how to even cook up just a medley of veggies on the stove.  Which ones need to cook longer?  Which just a little bit?  How can I tell when they're done?  When the directions say "until brown/translucent/thick/thin/a sizzle/moderate boil/beginning to blank" I struggle.  I google what it's supposed to look like, which of course leads to picture-perfect and usually not that helpful pictures.  I read instructions in cookbooks, and at least 80% of the time there's at least one line of instructions that I wish had better clarification.  Slow cooker recipes help because I just have to throw in ingredients and let the magic happen, and it's very difficult to overcook the food.  A new dish I learned this year was Chicken Noodle Soup.  I didn't know chicken boiled through so quickly before this.  I always assumed it took hours.  Now I know it takes 30 minutes.  But the directions have to be "throw in the noodles. 3 minutes later add the chicken and cook for 5 minutes" not "noodles, and when appropriate/time left/at the end/a bit later add the chicken".  That throws me for a tail spin.

Also, I have to learn how to chop every interesting kind of vegetable and fruit.  Bell peppers took me years to memorize the best way to cut them, and I use them weekly.

I don't have a natural knack for it, I never want to watch a cooking show*, and I'll never enjoy it.  I equate cooking to doing laundry or dusting.  Not that terribly hard, but certainly a chore.  Not something I consider spending an afternoon on, unless it's a serious spring cleaning day or something.  I can make basic meals and I have exactly 3 "harder" recipes I know, plus 2 desserts I can make from scratch.  So I can cook, but it's at the most basic level.  Meat and vegetable, or pasta, or a sandwich.

*Fortunately, my DH loves cooking shows.  It's just unfortunate he's not around to cook all that much.  But I have learned some helpful things from them.  The issue is that it takes 30-60 minutes of TV for me to learn the 2 minute lesson that I'll hang on to. 

AlwaysLearningToSave

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Re: Overheard at Work
« Reply #12525 on: February 16, 2016, 09:12:07 AM »
I don't have a natural knack for it, I never want to watch a cooking show*, and I'll never enjoy it. 

. . .

*Fortunately, my DH loves cooking shows.  It's just unfortunate he's not around to cook all that much.  But I have learned some helpful things from them.  The issue is that it takes 30-60 minutes of TV for me to learn the 2 minute lesson that I'll hang on to.

Allow me to introduce you to my friend, The Pioneer Woman.

Her website is here: http://thepioneerwoman.com/cooking/
Her Food Network Page is here:  http://www.foodnetwork.com/chefs/ree-drummond/recipes.html

The Food Network page is particularly good because the recipes are accompanied by the videos from each episode of her show.  She is great for less-experienced cooks because she has simple-but-delicious recipes, explains each step, and is unabashed about using shortcuts where possible.  You might find using her Food Network page better than watching cooking shows because you can focus only on the recipe you want to see, watch a bit, pause it, and start it again when you are ready for the next step.  Follow The Pioneer Woman's guidance and you will get better in the kitchen. 

Edited to fix hyperlinks.
« Last Edit: February 16, 2016, 09:16:26 AM by AlwaysLearningToSave »

marcela

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Re: Overheard at Work
« Reply #12526 on: February 16, 2016, 09:20:27 AM »
I don't have a natural knack for it, I never want to watch a cooking show*, and I'll never enjoy it. 

. . .

*Fortunately, my DH loves cooking shows.  It's just unfortunate he's not around to cook all that much.  But I have learned some helpful things from them.  The issue is that it takes 30-60 minutes of TV for me to learn the 2 minute lesson that I'll hang on to.

Allow me to introduce you to my friend, The Pioneer Woman.

Her website is here: http://thepioneerwoman.com/cooking/
Her Food Network Page is here:  http://www.foodnetwork.com/chefs/ree-drummond/recipes.html

The Food Network page is particularly good because the recipes are accompanied by the videos from each episode of her show.  She is great for less-experienced cooks because she has simple-but-delicious recipes, explains each step, and is unabashed about using shortcuts where possible.  You might find using her Food Network page better than watching cooking shows because you can focus only on the recipe you want to see, watch a bit, pause it, and start it again when you are ready for the next step.  Follow The Pioneer Woman's guidance and you will get better in the kitchen. 

Edited to fix hyperlinks.

I LOVE the Pioneer Woman. Her recipes are definitely many of my go-tos when it comes to the kitchen. I like her blog better than the Food Network show though.

Pooperman

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Re: Overheard at Work
« Reply #12527 on: February 16, 2016, 09:31:06 AM »
I learned how to cook from my grandmother when I was growing up. I love good food and I love cooking as a result. It's a creative thing. I can also understand learning it later in life and not liking it or not being good at it. It's like learning a language or any other skill. The earlier you do it, the easier it is. I made my first batch of scrambled eggs on my own when I was 6.

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Re: Overheard at Work
« Reply #12528 on: February 16, 2016, 09:49:19 AM »
I don't understand people who don't know how to cook. Can you read? Have you ever watched a cooking show? Do you have the internet?

It really isn't hard. To cook good it isn't hard either. Butter, garlic, salt, sugar, onion, cheese. If it doesn't taste good yet, you probably didn't add enough of one of the above. There is your first lesson. We'll get into the second lesson (which involves healthier ways to cook since 3 out of my 5 options are not at all healthy) later.

I'll answer this one.  I can't cook.  Actually, I can, but barely.  It involved buying a meat thermometer and a chart telling you at what temperature meat is done at.  I can't tell by looking at it unless I wait until it's well overcooked.  Same thing happens with cookies...I always wait until I see a little brown at the edges and very top of the center, and by then it's too late.  But I can't judge it sooner than that.  Also, I always have to look up what temperature to cook different kinds of meat at.  Having never closely watched anyone boil, fry, brown, or anything to vegetables, it takes a decent amount of googling to learn how to even cook up just a medley of veggies on the stove.  Which ones need to cook longer?  Which just a little bit?  How can I tell when they're done?  When the directions say "until brown/translucent/thick/thin/a sizzle/moderate boil/beginning to blank" I struggle.  I google what it's supposed to look like, which of course leads to picture-perfect and usually not that helpful pictures.  I read instructions in cookbooks, and at least 80% of the time there's at least one line of instructions that I wish had better clarification.  Slow cooker recipes help because I just have to throw in ingredients and let the magic happen, and it's very difficult to overcook the food.  A new dish I learned this year was Chicken Noodle Soup.  I didn't know chicken boiled through so quickly before this.  I always assumed it took hours.  Now I know it takes 30 minutes.  But the directions have to be "throw in the noodles. 3 minutes later add the chicken and cook for 5 minutes" not "noodles, and when appropriate/time left/at the end/a bit later add the chicken".  That throws me for a tail spin.

Also, I have to learn how to chop every interesting kind of vegetable and fruit.  Bell peppers took me years to memorize the best way to cut them, and I use them weekly.

I don't have a natural knack for it, I never want to watch a cooking show*, and I'll never enjoy it.  I equate cooking to doing laundry or dusting.  Not that terribly hard, but certainly a chore.  Not something I consider spending an afternoon on, unless it's a serious spring cleaning day or something.  I can make basic meals and I have exactly 3 "harder" recipes I know, plus 2 desserts I can make from scratch.  So I can cook, but it's at the most basic level.  Meat and vegetable, or pasta, or a sandwich.

*Fortunately, my DH loves cooking shows.  It's just unfortunate he's not around to cook all that much.  But I have learned some helpful things from them.  The issue is that it takes 30-60 minutes of TV for me to learn the 2 minute lesson that I'll hang on to.

But that is the thing. You can cook. You don't like it, you may not be great at it, but you can boil spaghetti and heat up some sauce in a pan. You can make a grilled cheese or pancakes.

It isn't hard--I don't expect anyone to make my Alfredo sauce (although anyone can do it, watch out arteries!), but making good food at home is really easy.

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Re: Overheard at Work
« Reply #12529 on: February 16, 2016, 09:55:08 AM »
practice, practice, practice.  That's the only way to get better at it.  It's not like professional chefs just woke up one day and realized they could cook great food.  I've pretty much learned all of my culinary skills once I got out on my own.  Didn't do a whole lot of cooking when living at home.  I look up recipes and just try them out.  Sometimes things come out great other times things aren't quite right.

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Re: Overheard at Work
« Reply #12530 on: February 16, 2016, 09:58:01 AM »
Having never closely watched anyone boil, fry, brown, or anything to vegetables, it takes a decent amount of googling to learn how to even cook up just a medley of veggies on the stove.  Which ones need to cook longer?  Which just a little bit?  How can I tell when they're done?  When the directions say "until brown/translucent/thick/thin/a sizzle/moderate boil/beginning to blank" I struggle. 

Also, I have to learn how to chop every interesting kind of vegetable and fruit.  Bell peppers took me years to memorize the best way to cut them, and I use them weekly.

I was going comment with the same thing. It's easy to forget about all that basic knowledge once you have it, but that doesn't mean there isn't a learning curve there. My Mom actually cooked a lot, but I was an idiot kid that didn't pay attention so I'm mostly self-taught from books, but books tend to leave out lots of details.

Let's take the original example of browning hamburger. Do I just throw the brick of hamburger in the pan and leave it? Wait, which one of these pans do I use? Does it matter if I use a non-stick pan, and if so what needs adjusting? Do I need to put oil or water or something in the pan with it? Do I stir it around a lot or does that ruin something? Does "brown" mean when I can see some brown, or mostly brown, or all brown, or half-burnt? And how long does that take, anyway? And what do I do with all this liquid in the pan?

I pushed through that learning curve by being un-picky enough to eat anything overdone, and young and "invincible" enough to eat anything underdone. But not everyone is quite as willing to eat their failures.

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Re: Overheard at Work
« Reply #12531 on: February 16, 2016, 10:04:00 AM »
Do you genuinely want to branch out with cooking, or is it more "well, MMM says to cook your own food so I guess I have to, sigh"?  It also sounds like you've gotten hold of some bad cookbooks/cooking websites, as they exist in far greater numbers than good ones.  I also began cooking in childhood, but even in the eighties I found I was a rarity when I got to college and the majority couldn't even warm up something in the microwave, so I don't condemn anyone not having the skills.  If you truly want to learn to cook, or cook better, I recommend Michael Bittman's How to Cook Everything.  It literally starts out from very basic stuff and builds on skills.  If you can't scramble an egg, there's no way you're going to make a successful soufflé. 

As for Oklahoma Oprah the Pioneer Woman ... she'll do in a pinch.  Just don't believe that a multimillionaire rancher's wife (before she began making her own millions) is just like you and me.  ;D
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Re: Overheard at Work
« Reply #12532 on: February 16, 2016, 10:05:36 AM »

I'll answer this one.  I can't cook.  Actually, I can, but barely.  It involved buying a meat thermometer and a chart telling you at what temperature meat is done at.  I can't tell by looking at it unless I wait until it's well overcooked.  Same thing happens with cookies...I always wait until I see a little brown at the edges and very top of the center, and by then it's too late.  But I can't judge it sooner than that.  Also, I always have to look up what temperature to cook different kinds of meat at.  Having never closely watched anyone boil, fry, brown, or anything to vegetables, it takes a decent amount of googling to learn how to even cook up just a medley of veggies on the stove.  Which ones need to cook longer?  Which just a little bit?  How can I tell when they're done?  When the directions say "until brown/translucent/thick/thin/a sizzle/moderate boil/beginning to blank" I struggle.  I google what it's supposed to look like, which of course leads to picture-perfect and usually not that helpful pictures.  I read instructions in cookbooks, and at least 80% of the time there's at least one line of instructions that I wish had better clarification.  Slow cooker recipes help because I just have to throw in ingredients and let the magic happen, and it's very difficult to overcook the food.  A new dish I learned this year was Chicken Noodle Soup.  I didn't know chicken boiled through so quickly before this.  I always assumed it took hours.  Now I know it takes 30 minutes.  But the directions have to be "throw in the noodles. 3 minutes later add the chicken and cook for 5 minutes" not "noodles, and when appropriate/time left/at the end/a bit later add the chicken".  That throws me for a tail spin.

Also, I have to learn how to chop every interesting kind of vegetable and fruit.  Bell peppers took me years to memorize the best way to cut them, and I use them weekly.

*snip*

My cookies are never browned in the center.  I just stick 'em in for however many minutes the directions say.  No testing, no looking.  Just in and out.  If they come out too crunchy, I write on the recipe to change the time.  15 minutes 14 minutes.

After starting to learn cooking, I've realized that there are two ways recipes can be written: (1) For those who have already cooked similar dishes, and (2) for those who have not cooked similar dishes.  The biggest one I've seen is cheesecake.  Type 1 recipes are just ingredients and order of combination.  Type 1 recipes don't tell you to stick the cheesecake pan in a pan of water in the oven (bain marie), to turn off the oven at the end of baking and then not open the door until the next day.  Type 2 recipes are much more likely to tell you these things.  Bread recipes also have a firm breakdown between Types 1 and 2.

I like the website Allrecipes.com.  The recipes themselves aren't necessarily easier to follow, but a lot of comments on the recipes will give you the detailed instructions you need to change a Type 1 recipe into a Type 2 recipe.  I will never be an instinctive cook, so these comments really help.
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Re: Overheard at Work
« Reply #12533 on: February 16, 2016, 10:09:35 AM »
Same thing happens with cookies...I always wait until I see a little brown at the edges and very top of the center, and by then it's too late.  But I can't judge it sooner than that. 
You don't want cookies to have any browning on top when you pull them out of the oven. As soon as you start going "do those edges look darker to you? I'm not sure, but the edges might be darker than when I put them in," they're DONE.

My housemate is a great cook, but his mom never taught him (she never cooked, expected him to feed himself from kindergarden or so). He says everything he knows about cooking, he learned from watching Alton Brown. I'd also recommend a book called "On Food and Cooking," to keep as a reference book. You can look up any ingredient, and it'll explain what different techniques with it are, and how they work, scientifically. What makes a hard boiled egg's yolk get chalky? Green on the edges? Impossible to peel? It's got the answers, and it cuts through the old wives' tales.

I grew up with a mom who was a fantastic cook, but she always used recipes, so I don't know how to improvise. I'm working on it. I have a vegan cookbook that has a chapter at the beginning that just lists things like "winter squash: cube, season with salt & pepper, roast at XºF for Y minutes. Good herbs include..." which is helping.
« Last Edit: February 16, 2016, 10:17:21 AM by maco »

MgoSam

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Re: Overheard at Work
« Reply #12534 on: February 16, 2016, 10:27:04 AM »

My cookies are never browned in the center.  I just stick 'em in for however many minutes the directions say.  No testing, no looking.  Just in and out.  If they come out too crunchy, I write on the recipe to change the time.  15 minutes 14 minutes.

After starting to learn cooking, I've realized that there are two ways recipes can be written: (1) For those who have already cooked similar dishes, and (2) for those who have not cooked similar dishes.  The biggest one I've seen is cheesecake.  Type 1 recipes are just ingredients and order of combination.  Type 1 recipes don't tell you to stick the cheesecake pan in a pan of water in the oven (bain marie), to turn off the oven at the end of baking and then not open the door until the next day.  Type 2 recipes are much more likely to tell you these things.  Bread recipes also have a firm breakdown between Types 1 and 2.

I like the website Allrecipes.com.  The recipes themselves aren't necessarily easier to follow, but a lot of comments on the recipes will give you the detailed instructions you need to change a Type 1 recipe into a Type 2 recipe.  I will never be an instinctive cook, so these comments really help.

+1 to nearly everything. I like Allrecipes for this reason, their recipes aren't necessarily the best, but the comments really help.

I also agree about following the recipe exactly, and then just marking down what's different. Eventually you may be able to tell by looking at it, but I'm nowhere at that level. I need to buy a meat thermometer for my grill because I'm terrible at judging when meat is cooked.

Another thing that helped me enjoy cooking is to find a recipe that you enjoy making and keep making it whenever you're hungry. Then find another recipe that you want to make and make it and keep going until you have a couple of recipes that you can whip up without much difficulty. For me my go-to recipe is a tilipia red curry that I can make in about 20 minutes, or a few minutes longer if I am using frozen fillets. This is roughly the time it takes to cook rice, and I've gotten efficient enough that I'll get the rice cooking, then get the base ready and put the fish in it to cook and take a shower and so by the time I'm out of the shower and dressed the fish will be fully cooked and ready to eat.

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Re: Overheard at Work
« Reply #12535 on: February 16, 2016, 10:39:11 AM »
ANYONE can follow a simple recipe.


I don't expect everyone to be able to make biscuits or soup beans or rice without measuring or timing anything like I do (humblebrag!). My partner can't boil rice without looking at a recipe even with watching me for years. But he can and does follow the instructions on the canister. He can and does know how to operate a can opener to open a can of pinto beans.

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Re: Overheard at Work
« Reply #12536 on: February 16, 2016, 11:10:06 AM »
Allrecipes is hands down (IMO) the best cooking site out there.  For the reasons above.  People leave comments.  So you can find a recipe with 4.5 stars and then read what people tweaked. 

also we need to distiguish 2 things here

1. cooking - pretty much open ended and if you follow the all recipes path and start cooking recipes you think you'll like while reading comments you will learn to improvise and learn to COOK

2. baking  - SET ingredients and measurements and cook times and rest times etc. to cook it correctly

for those that cant BAKE cookies correctly i dont understand this.  I HATE to bake b/c i dont like directions i like to improvise and following a strict script is boring to me.  But baking is a simple x+Y+Z=a ....

there isnt a feeling that cookies are done.  there is a time at which they are done and if you like them cripier cook them longer if you like them softer dont cook them as long.  there are also ingredients that lead to gooier vs cripier cookies.  but its simple directions.  follow them.  i cant imagine what other things in your life you have problems with if baking is one of them. 

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RyanAtTanagra

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Re: Overheard at Work
« Reply #12537 on: February 16, 2016, 11:19:54 AM »
1. cooking - pretty much open ended and if you follow the all recipes path and start cooking recipes you think you'll like while reading comments you will learn to improvise and learn to COOK

2. baking  - SET ingredients and measurements and cook times and rest times etc. to cook it correctly

I disagree, I've never understood why baking is considered different from cooking.  I use recipes as a general guideline, but I ultimately go by feel for both.  For instance, after doing bread or cookies a few times I know what the proper water content should be before putting them in the oven.  It's not always the specified amount.  I've also never been able to use baking times exactly.  Gotta go by look or toothpick.  If baking was an exact science then recipes would never change.  There'd only be one chocolate chip cookie recipe out there :-(  Baking as with cooking: experiment, wing it!

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Re: Overheard at Work
« Reply #12538 on: February 16, 2016, 11:24:18 AM »
Because baking is chemistry

maco

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Re: Overheard at Work
« Reply #12539 on: February 16, 2016, 11:33:11 AM »
Allrecipes is hands down (IMO) the best cooking site out there.  For the reasons above.  People leave comments.  So you can find a recipe with 4.5 stars and then read what people tweaked. 

also we need to distiguish 2 things here

1. cooking - pretty much open ended and if you follow the all recipes path and start cooking recipes you think you'll like while reading comments you will learn to improvise and learn to COOK

2. baking  - SET ingredients and measurements and cook times and rest times etc. to cook it correctly

for those that cant BAKE cookies correctly i dont understand this.  I HATE to bake b/c i dont like directions i like to improvise and following a strict script is boring to me.  But baking is a simple x+Y+Z=a ....

Totally the opposite, IMO. Baking changes drastically depending on the humidity level. How packed or loose your flour is changes how much liquid you need. Learning to make bread is a matter of either trial and error or of an experienced baker going "here, stick your hand in there. Feel that? That's too dry. Add more water. Now squish it around. Lemme feel. Ok what do you think? That's right, it was a little too much water, so just sprinkle a little flour in. There you go, that's how you want it to feel. Remember that feel."

How long does it need to rise? Depends...in your house does "room temperature" mean 68, 72, 75, 80?
« Last Edit: February 16, 2016, 11:34:47 AM by maco »

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Re: Overheard at Work
« Reply #12540 on: February 16, 2016, 11:34:17 AM »
Allrecipes is hands down (IMO) the best cooking site out there.  For the reasons above.  People leave comments.  So you can find a recipe with 4.5 stars and then read what people tweaked. 

also we need to distiguish 2 things here

1. cooking - pretty much open ended and if you follow the all recipes path and start cooking recipes you think you'll like while reading comments you will learn to improvise and learn to COOK

2. baking  - SET ingredients and measurements and cook times and rest times etc. to cook it correctly

for those that cant BAKE cookies correctly i dont understand this.  I HATE to bake b/c i dont like directions i like to improvise and following a strict script is boring to me.  But baking is a simple x+Y+Z=a ....

Totally the opposite, IMO. Baking changes drastically depending on the humidity level. How packed or loose your flour is changes how much liquid you need. Learning to make bread is a matter of either trial and error or of an experienced baker going "here, stick your hand in there. Feel that? That's too dry. Add more water. Now squish it around. Lemme feel. Ok what do you think? That's right, it was a little too much water, so just sprinkle a little flour in. There you go, that's how you want it to feel. Remember that feel."

This is why I'm glad that volume measurements are becoming more popular in American recipes. A scale makes results a lot more predictable.

maco

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Re: Overheard at Work
« Reply #12541 on: February 16, 2016, 11:35:52 AM »
Allrecipes is hands down (IMO) the best cooking site out there.  For the reasons above.  People leave comments.  So you can find a recipe with 4.5 stars and then read what people tweaked. 

also we need to distiguish 2 things here

1. cooking - pretty much open ended and if you follow the all recipes path and start cooking recipes you think you'll like while reading comments you will learn to improvise and learn to COOK

2. baking  - SET ingredients and measurements and cook times and rest times etc. to cook it correctly

for those that cant BAKE cookies correctly i dont understand this.  I HATE to bake b/c i dont like directions i like to improvise and following a strict script is boring to me.  But baking is a simple x+Y+Z=a ....

Totally the opposite, IMO. Baking changes drastically depending on the humidity level. How packed or loose your flour is changes how much liquid you need. Learning to make bread is a matter of either trial and error or of an experienced baker going "here, stick your hand in there. Feel that? That's too dry. Add more water. Now squish it around. Lemme feel. Ok what do you think? That's right, it was a little too much water, so just sprinkle a little flour in. There you go, that's how you want it to feel. Remember that feel."

This is why I'm glad that volume measurements are becoming more popular in American recipes. A scale makes results a lot more predictable.
I think you mean mass is becoming more popular or volume is becoming less popular. Even if you use exactly 100g flour and 100g water, if you're in Arizona you'll get different results than in Virginia.

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Re: Overheard at Work
« Reply #12542 on: February 16, 2016, 11:38:57 AM »
Allrecipes is hands down (IMO) the best cooking site out there.  For the reasons above.  People leave comments.  So you can find a recipe with 4.5 stars and then read what people tweaked. 

also we need to distiguish 2 things here

1. cooking - pretty much open ended and if you follow the all recipes path and start cooking recipes you think you'll like while reading comments you will learn to improvise and learn to COOK

2. baking  - SET ingredients and measurements and cook times and rest times etc. to cook it correctly

for those that cant BAKE cookies correctly i dont understand this.  I HATE to bake b/c i dont like directions i like to improvise and following a strict script is boring to me.  But baking is a simple x+Y+Z=a ....

Totally the opposite, IMO. Baking changes drastically depending on the humidity level. How packed or loose your flour is changes how much liquid you need. Learning to make bread is a matter of either trial and error or of an experienced baker going "here, stick your hand in there. Feel that? That's too dry. Add more water. Now squish it around. Lemme feel. Ok what do you think? That's right, it was a little too much water, so just sprinkle a little flour in. There you go, that's how you want it to feel. Remember that feel."

This is why I'm glad that volume measurements are becoming more popular in American recipes. A scale makes results a lot more predictable.
I think you mean mass is becoming more popular or volume is becoming less popular. Even if you use exactly 100g flour and 100g water, if you're in Arizona you'll get different results than in Virginia.

Yes, that's what I mean. FWIW, I've baked over a thousand loaves of bread in addition to cookies, cakes, etc. and I've never found humidity to be a huge factor in results. Bread made with the same recipe in midwinter yields basically the same loaf as the one made on the muggiest day of summer. The only exception is meringue based desserts, which are a dry weather only thing.

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Re: Overheard at Work
« Reply #12543 on: February 16, 2016, 11:49:21 AM »
I have a strange behavior I've observed at the office. I've seen it for the past couple of years now.

Ever notice how some folks are either forgetful or purposely careless with loose change? Well, someone at my office has been leaving piles of loose change around in public spaces throughout the office. Pennies on top of door frames, assorted silver and copper on drafting tables, flat files...Even stranger, it isn't all U.S. currency, I found what appears to be a Chinese Yen and a few assorted small U.S. coins just this morning. Some of these haven't moved in months.

Not sure whether they're trying to ward off evil spirits, or some other such purpose? Is it some type of social experiment? Does anyone do this where you work? We're not talking about large sums of money here, obviously, but I really just don't get it...
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shelivesthedream

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Re: Overheard at Work
« Reply #12544 on: February 16, 2016, 12:02:23 PM »
Could it be Feng Shui? Someone trying to make the business more profitable? That was my thought even before the Chinese coin. Try doing something that looks really innocuous but is "bad Feng Shui" - mostly to do with bins, loo seats and blocking doorways IIRC - and see if it is "corrected".

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Re: Overheard at Work
« Reply #12545 on: February 16, 2016, 12:15:51 PM »
Not sure whether they're trying to ward off evil spirits, or some other such purpose? Is it some type of social experiment? Does anyone do this where you work? We're not talking about large sums of money here, obviously, but I really just don't get it...

That is so mysterious!  I have not found coins placed throughout my office, but I did happen upon a dollar bill hanging out of one of our vending machines in the kitchen when I was working one weekend.  It wasn't stuck there or anything, but more like the machine rejected it and then the person didn't take it with them.  I had to look around for a couple minutes because I was confused.  I even took a photo, then reported it to our office managers, but no one ever claimed it, so I got to keep it :-)

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Re: Overheard at Work
« Reply #12546 on: February 16, 2016, 12:22:02 PM »
I have a strange behavior I've observed at the office. I've seen it for the past couple of years now.

Ever notice how some folks are either forgetful or purposely careless with loose change? Well, someone at my office has been leaving piles of loose change around in public spaces throughout the office. Pennies on top of door frames, assorted silver and copper on drafting tables, flat files...Even stranger, it isn't all U.S. currency, I found what appears to be a Chinese Yen and a few assorted small U.S. coins just this morning. Some of these haven't moved in months.

Not sure whether they're trying to ward off evil spirits, or some other such purpose? Is it some type of social experiment? Does anyone do this where you work? We're not talking about large sums of money here, obviously, but I really just don't get it...

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Re: Overheard at Work
« Reply #12547 on: February 16, 2016, 12:25:14 PM »
Not sure whether they're trying to ward off evil spirits, or some other such purpose? Is it some type of social experiment? Does anyone do this where you work? We're not talking about large sums of money here, obviously, but I really just don't get it...

That is so mysterious!  I have not found coins placed throughout my office, but I did happen upon a dollar bill hanging out of one of our vending machines in the kitchen when I was working one weekend.  It wasn't stuck there or anything, but more like the machine rejected it and then the person didn't take it with them.  I had to look around for a couple minutes because I was confused.  I even took a photo, then reported it to our office managers, but no one ever claimed it, so I got to keep it :-)

Do you work in my office?  I stuck a dollar in a Pepsi machine Friday afternoon, and then it wouldn't take my change and I didn't have another single.  And it wouldn't cough it back up.  I got tired of messing with it and left it behind.   Oh well.
"If I could get all the money back I ever spent on cars, I'd spend it on cars." - Nick Mason

dragoncar

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Re: Overheard at Work
« Reply #12548 on: February 16, 2016, 12:30:17 PM »
I don't understand people who don't know how to cook. Can you read? Have you ever watched a cooking show? Do you have the internet?

It really isn't hard. To cook good it isn't hard either. Butter, garlic, salt, sugar, onion, cheese. If it doesn't taste good yet, you probably didn't add enough of one of the above. There is your first lesson. We'll get into the second lesson (which involves healthier ways to cook since 3 out of my 5 options are not at all healthy) later.

I'll answer this one.  I can't cook.  Actually, I can, but barely.  It involved buying a meat thermometer and a chart telling you at what temperature meat is done at.  I can't tell by looking at it unless I wait until it's well overcooked.  Same thing happens with cookies...I always wait until I see a little brown at the edges and very top of the center, and by then it's too late.  But I can't judge it sooner than that.  Also, I always have to look up what temperature to cook different kinds of meat at.  Having never closely watched anyone boil, fry, brown, or anything to vegetables, it takes a decent amount of googling to learn how to even cook up just a medley of veggies on the stove.  Which ones need to cook longer?  Which just a little bit?  How can I tell when they're done?  When the directions say "until brown/translucent/thick/thin/a sizzle/moderate boil/beginning to blank" I struggle.  I google what it's supposed to look like, which of course leads to picture-perfect and usually not that helpful pictures.  I read instructions in cookbooks, and at least 80% of the time there's at least one line of instructions that I wish had better clarification.  Slow cooker recipes help because I just have to throw in ingredients and let the magic happen, and it's very difficult to overcook the food.  A new dish I learned this year was Chicken Noodle Soup.  I didn't know chicken boiled through so quickly before this.  I always assumed it took hours.  Now I know it takes 30 minutes.  But the directions have to be "throw in the noodles. 3 minutes later add the chicken and cook for 5 minutes" not "noodles, and when appropriate/time left/at the end/a bit later add the chicken".  That throws me for a tail spin.

Also, I have to learn how to chop every interesting kind of vegetable and fruit.  Bell peppers took me years to memorize the best way to cut them, and I use them weekly.

I don't have a natural knack for it, I never want to watch a cooking show*, and I'll never enjoy it.  I equate cooking to doing laundry or dusting.  Not that terribly hard, but certainly a chore.  Not something I consider spending an afternoon on, unless it's a serious spring cleaning day or something.  I can make basic meals and I have exactly 3 "harder" recipes I know, plus 2 desserts I can make from scratch.  So I can cook, but it's at the most basic level.  Meat and vegetable, or pasta, or a sandwich.

*Fortunately, my DH loves cooking shows.  It's just unfortunate he's not around to cook all that much.  But I have learned some helpful things from them.  The issue is that it takes 30-60 minutes of TV for me to learn the 2 minute lesson that I'll hang on to.

It sounds like you need to taste your door more as you cook.  Not sure if the veggies are done?  Eat one.  If you like it, it's done.  Otherwise cook some more. 

Same with cookies, although I agree with poster above who says you just cook it for the exact Amount of time/temp specified in the recipe.  If it doesn't come out good (and even overlooked cookies are delicious in my book... Crush them up over ice cream or something) then your thermostat or clock is wrong or you just need to try another recipe until you find one you like.

I personally have trouble with roasts... It's always way underdone when cooked for the amount of time specified.  I'm not afraid to cut into it at various times to find out (or check the temp if I have access to a thermometer).  It may not look as pretty in the end, and be slightly less juicy, but over time I've started to learn from that process and become a better judge of meat.

My wife tells me that I'm a really good cook, but I feel like I'm just following recipes.  Like if I put together ikea furniture and someone says I'm a great furniture maker.  I don't have the skill yet to really improvise well but hopefully I'll get there someday.  I tell my wife I'm just really good at finding good recipes online!

Chris22

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Re: Overheard at Work
« Reply #12549 on: February 16, 2016, 12:35:59 PM »
A meat thermometer is essentially to cooking good meat.  So is understanding that it will continue to cook after you remove it from the heat (ie, if you want it to be 140*, take it off at 135* and it will climb to 140 on its own).  This is more important in steak than chicken, where chicken doesn't matter much if you want it to hit 165* and it hits 170* by mistake.
"If I could get all the money back I ever spent on cars, I'd spend it on cars." - Nick Mason