Carnival of Blogs, May 24-May 30

May 30, 2009

Hullo there faithful readers! So we here at The Roaring20Somethings are pretty much gaga over RSS feeds (GoogleReader, mostly). We love them because they’re basically aggregators of pre-screened articles that we can tailor to our desires. And we care about our readers. And sharing is caring. So every weekend RTS is going to bring you round-ups of one or two interesting and/or purposeful articles that each contributor has found for your viewing pleasure!

Without further ado, here is our list of suggested reading from this past week. Click and enjoy!

The Return of the Growler

How to Improve Your FICO Score @ Moolanamy

Tips for travelling cheap @ I Will Teach You to be Rich

Seattle Mag article about being the hubby of a food critic.

The Kitchn explains 10 unique ways to use a can of tuna.

The More You Know…About BEER: Firestone Pale 31

May 29, 2009

Editor’s Note: Knowledge is power and Friday is BEER day, so here again is Ant with a beer review so you can have a powerful and intoxicating Friday!

Firestone Pale 31
By Firestone Walker Brewing Company (Paso Robles, CA)
12oz. bottle
4.6% ABV

Firestone Pale 31

Firestone Pale 31

Commercial Description:
One of the most award-winning American style pale ales in the country. This is the American beer style that started a revolution in taste. We’ve taken the classic British pale ale and elevated it with a wonderful dose of northwest American hops. A crisp floral hop aroma precedes a medium-bodied clean finishing ale.

The American Pale Ale is an American adaption of the English Pale Ale (also known as a Bitter), but reflects indigenous ingredients (hops, malt, yeast, water). Also, it is often lighter in color, cleaner in fermentation by-products, and contains less caramel flavors than in the English counterparts. There is some overlap in this style and the American Amber Ale but for the most part, the former is cleaner, has less caramel malt profile, less body, and more finishing hops. Furthermore, I realized that there is a new trend in some American Pale Ales and that is to be more lighter in malt character such as lower caramel and toasty flavors and higher in bready/biscuit characteristics. Sometimes, these beers are termed as Extra Pale Ales due to less Crystal malts (imparts caramel flavors) and thus, hop flavors get the spotlight on flavor and aroma. Although no sub-category for American Pale Ale exists, I would call this Firestone Pale 31 an Extra Pale Ale.

The printing on this beer says that it was born on 2/26/09. I appreciate it when breweries label the date when their beer was bottled so I know how fresh the bottle I’m purchasing is or in case I want to age the beer, I can see how old it gets. Unfortunately, most breweries that do this are the big companies since they can afford to not make that sale from the customer that refuses to buy because of its old date. Having a printed date can also be beneficial in case there needs to be a recall on certain batches maybe due to contamination or broken glass, etc. Three months is still decently fresh for this beer although sooner than that is ideal. As I have mentioned before, non-bottle conditioned, lower alcohol or highly hopped beers are more prone to oxidation (off-flavors as a result of age). Firestone Pale 31 would fall in this category.

This Pale Ale pours a dark golden yellow with slight chill haze. It has a creamy white head with fine bubbles with excellent retention. The aroma smells of American varietal hops that exhibit citrus and grapefruit characteristics. The malt aroma is soft, biscuity, and sweet with hints of honey, peaches, and some slight mango (although this could be also due to the blend of the hops and malt). Pale 31 definitely pushes its high hops flavors in this beer but with enough malt balance not to be overwhelming. Despite its strong and complex hop flavors, this beer has medium-high hop bitterness that isn’t astringent or overwhelming. The malt character is bready and lightly toasty and has a restrained caramel flavor. The fruity esters are moderately low and like the aroma are reminiscent of peaches and mango. Pale 31 finishes medium dry with enough residual sweetness from the malt to make the aftertaste quite pleasant. However, the lingering bitterness is a little grassy probably due to dry-hopping but isn’t excessive enough to detract. This Pale Ale is medium-light bodied with a moderately high level of carbonation with a soft carbonic sting in the mouth. Hop astringency, often a fault in Pale Ales since they are highly hopped, is not perceived at all. This is by far, one of the most enjoyable American Pale Ale I’ve had yet. Pale 31 is a light, refreshing Pale Ale yet with complex hop flavors and soft malt characteristics that makes it a winner in my book.

Category 10A: American Pale Ale
Aroma: 10/12
Appearance: 3/3
Flavor: 18/20
Mouthfeel: 5/5
Overall: 9/10
Total: 45/50


Obama’s New Credit Card Legislation

May 28, 2009

Editor’s note: This is an in-depth expansion of RT’s summary this issue.

I’ll be first to admit that when I see a headline about a new legislation being signed, or a new law in effect, I often don’t think that I will feel much change or that it won’t affect me directly.  For example, I hardly think that this new credit card legislation will make me use or pay off my credit cards any differently pre and post legislation.  In order to try and dispel that way of thinking, I’ve dug deeper and uncovered some changes that are being made which will affect you and me.  This law does a lot to protect us, but will likely introduce new credit card practices to be aware of.

First of all, what does this legislation consist of?

There are a handful of new restrictions on credit card issuers, as well as a number of things that will go in affect that I assume are aimed to protect consumers..  For example, they cannot raise interest rates in the first year (with a few exceptions – ie if the minimum payment is not received within 60 days.  However the rate must be returned to the original rate if payment is received on time for 6 months), or on existing balances (also with a few exceptions).  They cannot charge over the limit fees (again with a few exceptions).   They are also not permitted to raise interest rates just because credit scores have dropped, or bills were paid late on other accounts.  Penalty fees must be reasonable, and a credit card company must notify you about APR increases 45 days in advance.  Payments received by 5pm have to now be recognized to be on time (so credit card companies can’t make up their own deadlines).  A cosigner will be required for anyone under 21 getting a credit card.  Credit card issuers are no longer allowed to offer gifts to students in exchange for applying for a credit card.  This legislation is designed to set some boundaries to prevent card issuers from slapping consumers with last minute fees haphazardly.

How will this affect us?
While this legislation is designed to protect us, it will also likely “punish” responsible credit card holders.  If you are one that consistently carries a balance, has issues paying bills on time, and is a consistent target for companies to tack on extra fees, then this will help you.  It eliminates a lot of potential for “shady” practices by credit card companies.  However, because of this, they will also have to look in other ways to compensate for the money they will be losing since they cannot raise interest rates and apply fees as freely.  Now more than ever, the good customers who carry no balance and pay their bills on time will be seen as the ones who don’t bring business.  That means that we’ll probably have to prepare for annual fees, higher rates, and lesser rewards ( rewards are my favorite!).  It will be more difficult for people to start building credit early (because a cosigner is required to get a credit card before age 21).  If a credit card I currently own decides to require an annual fee, I will probably cancel the card and dent my credit score, which is unfortunate.  There are just as many opposed to this new legislation as there are for this legislation.  And there is a lot of information to absorb and I’ve just touched upon a small percentage on it today.  In any case, I’d pay attention to any changes in your credit card terms when they start coming in – if it means new annual fees, higher interest rates, make sure there are no surprises.  Most of the law will go in effect February 2010, however there are a couple of things that will go into effect in August 2009.


New Credit Card Legislation

May 28, 2009

In case you haven’t heard the news, President Obama signed a piece of legislation last week that calls for credit card companies to afford its current customers a bit more leeway. Here’s a quick breakdown of what it does:

  • A card’s rates cannot be increased because a cardholder is late on a separate debt.
  • Credit card companies must notify you 45 in advance of any rate hikes.
  • You must be at least 60 days late on payments for them to raise your rates.
  • After six months of dutiful servitude (on-time payments) they have to set your rates back to what they originally were if you received a rate hike due to late payments.*
  • If you’re under the age of 21, you must prove that you can pay your debts yourself or get the card co-signed by a parent/guardian.**

*I’m skeptical that they’ll actually revert your rates proactively. Most likely you’re going to have to call in after six months to “remind” your credit card company that you’ve been a good boy or girl for half a year.

** Make of that what you will. Maybe the government wants to forcibly mitigate the credit card companies’ risk? I’m not sure why this part needed to be written into law.

The new rules take effect in February of 2010.


Quick Tip about Bank/Credit Card Fees

May 27, 2009

I’m usually pretty on top of it when it comes to managing my accounts.  I pay my credit cards on time and I have a pretty accurate snapshot of how I stand financially in my head at any given time.  However, at times I slip up and one of these times happened a week ago.  I totally forgot to pay one of my credit card bills on time.  Today I take a look at my statement and see $60 worth of late fees.  Since this is my first time, I gave the credit card company a call.

CC Company Rep: Hello, thank you for calling [credit card company], how may I help you today?
Me:  Hi, I was calling in regards to the late fees I have on my account.  I have maintained my account well and this is the first incident I’ve had in the 3 years I’ve had this credit card.  Is it possible for me to get the late fees waived?
[after verifying my account…]
CC Company Rep: Let’s see.. I see you have a clean record with us so far.  I have gone ahead and credited your late fee and finance charge.  Is there anything else I can help you with?

After one easy 5 minute phone call, I have $60 back in my pocket.  I’ve done this before with another credit card and it was just as easy.  I’ve also waived other bank fees with my checking account.  In my experience, talking to your bank’s customer service never hurts and they are usually as accommodating as they can be to your situation.  It helps to have good credit and finances under control, but they’ll sometimes also help you in other ways like lowering your APR if you’re in a crunch.  It never hurts to ask!

Vote or Don’t Friggin’ Complain! Seriously… ever.

May 26, 2009

Young people make me sad sometimes. We’re a substantial portion of the voting population, yet politicians running for public office hardly listen to the things we have to say about the issues we care about. And I don’t fault them for that one bit. The fact of the matter is that, by in large, we don’t vote. Maybe we vote a little more in presidential elections – especially when there’s a charismatic black guy running for office – but honestly, we’re pathetic. And I hear people complain SO MUCH about the state of the government and our country, but does the average 20something vote in every (especially local) election? Methinks not, friends.

Excuse me if this is something of a rant, but it just bugs and disheartens me that our youth (myself included, of course) are so short-sighted and self-righteous at the same time. I voted by mail in today’s election (Editor’s note: This was originally written on May 19th, the day of a California state special election), and even though I knew it was a very important (that’s why they call it a “special”) election I still had to really push myself to get my ballot out there.

According to the L.A. Times, some 2.4 million Californians cast ballots by mail for the latest state election compared to back in November, when 13.7 million voters put in their presidential tallies. An 82.5% drop-off from six months ago? In the midst of the biggest economic crisis since your grandparents were graduating from high school? Really!?

OK, fine. I can accept that 20somethings don’t quite comprehend how important these elections are, or what long-lasting effects they’ll have. I can take that because no one is quite sure how these propositions will affect California’s economic outlook (as goes with all elections, really). But understand that if you don’t regularly vote in elections, both state and local, although local ones probably have more immediate impact on your life, you have no right to complain about your government. Ever.


Paying Your Dues

May 26, 2009

Yahoo! via The Wall Street Journal has an interesting article about age discrimination. Against us! From everything I’ve seen and heard from colleagues, present and past, I have to say there seems to be some credibility to this argument. To what degree is questionable, but I’ve definitely heard of older employees with more to lose not getting the axe whilst better performing, younger, employees are thrown by the wayside.

The most important part of the article to me, though, comes at the end where author Dana Mattioli asserts that now is an important time to put in extra work and to make sure everyone knows you’re paying your dues, hard. I have to say that volunteering for extra grunt work (as a stepping stone to asking for more real work) is always a practical idea, but I agree that maybe now is a more important time than usual to do it.

Is your company giving fewer, if any, pay raises? Are they actually handing out salary cuts? This advice doesn’t really just go for 20somethings, but I imagine the older generation who still have jobs already know how to play the game. Remember, office politics is all about relativity. When your performance and salary review comes can you tell your boss with a straight face that you worked that much harder than your peers? How much work did you take on? (Note: at the end of the day, ALL work has to get done, so grunt work may seem like a chore to you, but it is still valuable to the company. Just make sure your boss recognizes that!)

Upon reflection, I think I feel compelled to write about this because of a related section of that story that quotes author Bruce Tulgan as saying, “Twentysomething professionals tend to demand flexibility, responsibility and high pay.” What employer would want that kind of worker these days? But it’s true! Even though I’ve seen a multitude of hard working twentysomething, I’ve seen just as many new grads and young professionals walk around with a sense of entitlement thinking that being offered any position short of manager status is a personal affront. No dues paid, no long hours worked. “I have a college degree, damn it!”

Welcome to the real world, kids.