Some Spending Money for the Holidays: My eBay Experiment

My new goal for the next few months? Downsizing.

I’ve only got about four more months with Columbia, Mo., as my home base. Then I’ll be spending some time in upstate New York and at home, then 10 weeks interning in NYC. Then… well, who knows? But I don’t expect to buy a house or rent a large apartment for at least another two years.

So I’m trying to get rid of stuff: clothes, furniture (haha, I own only this circular chair thing that doesn’t even fit anywhere in my current bedroom), old electronics, more clothes, shoes, accessories I never use, old notebooks (honestly, these are the hardest. WHAT IF I NEED THOSE NOTES ABOUT GAME THEORY?), books (also terribly hard to let go of. I was planning to get rid of some before break but they’re still in a paper bag in my car) and at least some random knick-knacks.

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Digression: Learning about beer (a little)

I’ve continued my noble effort to try as many beers from iTap in Columbia as is possible for a lightweight such as myself. Originally, of course, I went in blind – and I still know basically nothing about beer at all.

I have come up with some… interesting ways to describe it, though. But I’ve decided I should probably at least learn a little bit about the brewing process and what all those acronyms mean. I credit Kraig Bridgeford, the new head brewer at the much anticipated new local brewery Bur Oak, with this new interest. I ran into him at – where else? – iTap when I was waiting for friends and trying to decide what beer to order.

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A few ways to cut down on some of the major college expenses

What’s the biggest expense you face as a college student? (Besides tuition – the only thing that helps there is scholarships, scholarships, smart planning and cheaper schools.)

Do you dread textbook-buying season? Shudder at the thought of trying to fly home for break (because it costs so much, not because you’re dreading seeing your family)?

Whatever it is, there are ways to cut down on the cost. Here are some quick tricks I’ve picked up from the college rat race.

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Starting a retirement or investment account early

I’ve got more than $5,000 invested in a Roth IRA and stocks. But I’ve been lucky.

Even if you don’t have a lot of spare capital to lock into a retirement account, you can still get started with low-minimum investment accounts.

I started an investment account and a Roth IRA with money earned at summer internships and the money freed up by a big scholarship. That was a huge windfall – but if I didn’t have that chance, I’d still want to invest some money.

First, why a Roth IRA rather than a different type of retirement account?

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New Media and Building a Brand

I had the pleasure of listening to Brian Stetler, current Reliable Sources host and former New York Times media writer, talk a total of three times in one week while he was visiting Mizzou.

I hadn’t really heard of him beyond vaguely remembering the news of his hiring by the New York Times in 2007, plus his appearance in the Page One documentary about the Times. So getting to hear him talk about how he started the blog that launched his career was a pretty neat experience.

Probably the biggest takeaway for me was his advice that media is actually under covered – and that anyone could do what he did. Also, he said he wouldn’t have tried to cover all of cable news but instead focus on one channel, like Al-Jazeera.

“I think it took off because it was filling a void in the marketplace,” Stetler said. “I’d much rather be the only person working on some other story.”

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Mizzou Honor Medal Winner Charles Lewis Investigative

“Go out and investigate the bastards!”

That’s how Charles Lewis, investigative reporter and the founder of the Center for Public Integrity, ended his talk at the Missouri School of Journalism on Oct. 29, 2013. He was there to accept a Missouri Honor Medal for his achievements.

He spent some time talking about his past work and future book slated for publication in 2014. The driver behind several of these efforts – the Iraq War investigations into military contracts, the behemoth project chronicling 935 false statements by public officials about the war, and the book The Future of Truth: Power, the News Media and the Public’s Right to Know – was Lewis’ reaction to the complete lack of truth available in the Iraq War. In 2005, after the invasion, he said he remembers some polling that showed 60 percent of Americans still thought there really had been WMD in Iraq.

“So you’re a journalist, but information doesn’t matter anymore,” Lewis said. “So instead of going to a shrink, I decided to go deep.

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‘Fix the Debt’ ads run in Missouri

The Missouri chapter of the national ‘Fix the Debt’ group has some pretty high profile members. Former U.S. Sen. Kit Bond, former Gov. Bob Holden chair the committee and current state treasurer Clint Zweifel and Lt. Gov. Peter Kinder are listed as steering committee members.

The group plans to run part of the ad campaign targeted at the current budget standoff in Congress in Missouri and nine other states, according to the St. Louis Beacon. Missouri and the others were chosen partially because of their bipartisan, active steering committee members.

The ‘Fix the Debt’ group evolved out of the famously failed 2010 debt reduction plan produced by the National Commission on Fiscal Responsibility and Reform. I believe that was the beginning of the long-running (still-running?) “Gang” era, when groups of legislators were likened to criminals because it sounds cool.

The ad itself is actually… kind of bland.

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