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Archive for May, 2008

laptop back

May 31st, 2008 at 06:08 pm

Friday -
Saving log - $3 tip box + $40 Drp1 + $35 Drp2 (scheduled)
Spending log - $1.25 coffee + $13 lunch

My laptop is back - I'm $180 lighter for the fix with another $120 to get an external 500GB hard drive so if the laptop has to get fixed again, it would be cheaper because my stuff will be backed up. Now its the fun of getting things set up to where they were before. Oh yes - I don't have reset the picture to 32 bit color when I log in. That part's nice.

routine day

May 28th, 2008 at 10:18 pm

Saving log - $3 tip box
Spending log - $1.25 coffee + $8 lunch

Laptop shop called. They got the laptop working, but it kept crashing, so they will have to save some and wipe the rest. I told 'em pictures, spreadsheet, and music, in that order.

The Ameriprise guy sold the mutual fund so I can move the rest of grandma's inheritance into Vanguard. With any luck, I can consolidate everything up by the end of June.

Took a close look at the Early Girl tomato and saw flower buds. The other two tomato plants are just vegetative.

gas prices - sign of the bus

May 27th, 2008 at 10:00 pm

Saving log - $2 tip box
Spending log - $1.25 coffee + $10 lunch and snack

Laptop is still in the shop. I guess I'll have to suck it up, because you all are bored and there are others worse off than me (good luck Carolina Bound).

Got on my usual bus to get to work this morning. In the good old days, I could get a quick window seat on the front half of the bus. In the last few weeks, I could get the last, next to last, or next to next to last window seat in the back half of the bus. Today?

Half the bus was full, no window seat to be had, not even the seat in the articulated area (usually the last to go). I sat with another old timer.

I used my guile to get a window seat. I knew that several people got off at the next stop. Luckily one of them opened up a window seat which I pounced on.

Watching for Mad Max on the motorcycle riding over the Aurora Bridge. Now that's a good recession sign. Big Grin


May 26th, 2008 at 11:03 pm

Laptop-less, so this will be quick. I'll hi-jack this blog for a little gardening. With any luck I'll grow at least 30$ worth of tomatoes to break even.

Planted the three tomato plants. One, which is determinate (meaning it will stop at a certain height), we put up against the house, facing south. Its a nice hot corner. Its supposed to produce yellow tomatoes.

The other two, which are indeterminate (meaning they will grow forever if you let them), we put in a 10 ft niche against a south facing wall. One of these is a Early Girl and the other is supposed to be a 'black' tomato. Its hard to tell because it had two tags - an early girl and this one. We'll see. I hope it is a black tomato - those are a very deep brown, not black. I picked them for fun, because I think it would be a blast to alternate sliced yellow and 'black' tomatoes ... I could call it "bee salad".

Added a bit of slow release fertilizer and puffed gypsum for calcium. Hope I don't have to add calcium, but the last time I grew tomatoes they got a touch of blossom end rot.

Oh yes, one other thing. Tomatoes self pollinate. They don't need another tomato, and you don't have to worry about hybrids between two plants. They are nice that way.

Looked in on them this morning. The weather was coolish and cloudy, good for helping them out during their little trauma of getting planted. They all seem to be settling in nicely - no wilting and they seem to be growing straight.

Pictures when I finally get my laptop back.

oh yeah ... no social skills

May 24th, 2008 at 08:17 pm

Still no laptop, so DH took me to the laptop shop...

Me: So how's my laptop repair coming along?
Guy at the Shop: What is your last name?
Me: (told him)
Guy at Shop types a bit, then says: We told you that it can take anywhere between 1 and 2 weeks... (and then blinked at me blankly)

Good gravy, I know that! Could it have killed anyone to say that "we are in the midst of fixing, and we are so very glad you showed up but it will take awhile because we want to do a good job?" Bueller...Bueller?

But then I remembered the stereotype. No social skills. No wonder why computer networking and its multiple components often don't work well together. Their creators don't work well together so they make stuff that doesn't work well together.

But DH and I had some success - we bought 3 very large tomato plants for 10$. I'll put them in tomorrow. Today I walked another 6 miles, tomorrow it will be digging and weeding for a little upper body workout.

More recession-y observations: along my walk I saw at least 30 placards and sandwich boards advertising condos; the ice cream shop is advertising that they are open until 7 (okay that might be weather); at every bus stop along my way I saw at least one person waiting for it, and as the bus passed me, most had a very decent load of passengers (and this was Saturday during a holiday!)

performance review

May 23rd, 2008 at 09:30 pm

Saving log - $1 tip box
Spending log - $1.25 coffee + $13 lunch

Yet another day without my laptop. I'm getting the shakes now. Big Grin. DH promised me that we will visit the shop to see how its coming along. I have to say that there is one advantage for having a 4 year old laptop - no one will want to steal it. But I'm worried that they'll say, "everything has gotten cooked, nothing survived."

Sent another $40 to my 3M DRP. The notice that my last $40 bought x.xxx shares with a little deposit slip and a return envelope. Its always my signal that the ball is bouncing on my side of the court.

Finished my performance review and sent it to my supervisor. This year, as a novelty, my two employees sent theirs to me. It will be weird sitting on the other side and judging them.

Ah, a three day vacation coming up!


May 22nd, 2008 at 08:45 pm

Saving log - $5 tip box
Spending log - $1.25 coffee + $10 lunch + $2 snack

Well I'm sick of not having a laptop. Ugh!

lunchtime entertainment

May 21st, 2008 at 08:40 pm

Saving log - $1 tip box
Spending log - $1.25 coffee

My laptop is still at the shop (apparently they will replace the hard drive), so I'll make this quick...

Renewed my CD, but since I knew the interest rate was going to be low I set the term at 6 months. 2.6% - Yeesh. I renewed the CD at the original amount and put the interest in checking, to move to ING.

Took this month's collection from the tip box and deposited in my brick and mortar bank. $46, includes the $1 above.

Ate the second half of the footlong, so I had a very low spend day.

Attended the quarterly 403B lunch and learn with the plan administrator from Merrill Lynch. I got called out at the end because:

Plan Administrator (looking at the handout): As you can see, proper asset allocation is the biggest determiner of how much you will end up with.
Me (raising hand): Excuse me? Ahem... I was thought it was the amount you put in in the first place that's the biggest determiner.
Plan Administrator: Yes, of course ...

I enjoy openings like that. Great for lunchtime entertainment.

backing up and buying out

May 20th, 2008 at 05:13 pm

Saving log - $1 tip box
Spending log - $2.00 coffee, apple + 6$ sandwich (for 2 lunches)

The repair shop asked whether they should back up my hard drive before they wiped it and re-installed Windows.

Yep - which is yet another reason why you should try to back things up often. I'm going to be at least $80 lighter after this. On the other hand, no laptop frees up a bit more time. Out of sheer boredom, I cleaned the bathroom floor behind the toilet. Necessary but Ick.

Figured out a bit more about my mysterious transfer agent for a DRP. I sent them $500 at the end of April. They bought 19 shares on May 14. A quick look at a spreadsheet tells me they only buy once a month - on the 14th. So if you send them bucks on the 15th, you're waiting for a long time. Other transfer agents buy stock at the end of the month (Compuserve), on the 15th and end of the month (Mellon BNY), and every Friday (Wells Fargo). Wonder what their sell schedule is?

Have to remind myself to call about my CD. It matures tomorrow!

from work

May 19th, 2008 at 05:12 pm

Saving log - $4 tip box
Spending log - $1.25 coffee + $5 lunch

Been noticing that more and more businesses are promoting new and expanded hours. In good times, they seem to keep to a bit more restrictive hours (harder to keep the dependable retail employee, and the business still makes a profit even with tight hours). Even the expensive places are promoting the 11 am lunch, the ice cream shops are promoting hours until 6 pm.

The ATM at my brick and mortar bank was not working, so I went in to the teller. She asked whether I wanted something smaller than a 20, and we both laughed... If I could get a $40 ATM bill, that would be sweet. Well, bitter, but sweet.

Laptop is still out, so I'm blogging after work. DH promised to sent the laptop to the repair shop he goes to. Fingers crossed!


May 17th, 2008 at 10:00 pm

Actually, this should be a stronger word, but since this is more than likely a family forum, I have to tone it down.

My laptop completely went out. I've gotten a few minutes on DH's machine - enough time to warn you that until I get this fixed, my blogging will be a bit ... intermittent.

Walked about 6 miles today on an apple and $1 bottle of bottled water. This threatened heat wave is a bit of a bust - temps are "only" in the mid 80s. Still a bit on the hot side for me.

DHs sister is coming in tomorrow, so it should be a fairly spendy day.


Tip box milestone

May 16th, 2008 at 10:03 pm

Saving log - $5 tip box
Spending log - $4 coffee, pastry + $12 lunch

DH drove me in this morning, so we had a coffee and a pastry together.

I added $5 to the tip box, making it $40 total inside. A quick add of my other tip box savings and...

I've moved $2000 through my wallet into my tip box, into savings, and into my little fiscal empire! I put, on average, a bit more than $40/month, so yes, while I started my box in 2004, and while it took about 4 years to save it ... saved it I did.

90 !

May 15th, 2008 at 10:57 pm

Saving log - $7 tip box
Spending log - $8 lunch

Payday. Attended an allstaff meeting, so coffee and breakfast was on the company dime. All I bought was lunch today.

Last night I finished editing a call for sponsorships for DJ friend to attend a New York City function. (he's from NYC, and he'll be visiting that week anyway).

Its supposed to get into the 90s tomorrow and the next day in Seattle. Ughhh! Its only May. This is supposed to happen for a few weekends in July-August, when we retreat to our nearest cheap arthouse movie theater. It is a deal - $3 for air conditioning, lovely darkness and pretty pictures. More if you want snacks. Hopefully there will be a set of pretty pictures with an okay plot that I want to see. Oh, to trade my weather with boomeyers!

call me the emotional 'bag'gage lady

May 14th, 2008 at 11:23 pm

Felt a tad nauseated today and thought better of sharing that physically at work. So I stayed home and caught up on my newspaper reading.

Here's a nice little rant in the Seattle Times about hating the soon-to-be .20 tax on plastic bags from the grocery store.

Local stores, in response, have been selling more permanent bags costing anywhere from .98 cents to $4. We collected ours from various places and managed not to spend a cent on them.


Frankly, changing your habits to incorporate bringing along a permanent bag and using it hasn't been that taxing on us. Here is my strategy:

1.) Fold a small cloth bag, put it in the bottom of your purse (man equivalent = backpack or messenger bag). Set your shopping on the conveyor, remember to set the bag on top of the stuff.

This is the bag you use for the little incidentals you pick up through the day. Frankly, 90% of my errands I would collect one plastic bag, so I've slowed the accumulation a lot just by doing this and remembering to pull the bag out.

The columnist above doesn't want to carry a cloth bag (too girly, apparently). Might I suggest that he take along a plastic bag (if YOU provide the bag, then no .20 fee), wad it up, then stick it in his pants? Gotta admit that would be the ultimate in win-win frugality: he has the plastic bag, and correct placement of the wadded bag in his pants should make him look more manly. Of course, no bagger's going to want to touch that bag...but you can't have everything.

2.) For serious grocery shopping, we have the bag of bags. I fold up 7-8 cloth bags (we got them all from free), and stick them in a small tote that we keep in the backseat of the car. Remembering to bring them into the grocery store is the hard part.

I have noticed two great things about bringing my own bags. First of all, most grocery stores will give you a .03 - .05 rebate for your bags. The cashiers who will give you that rebate for EACH bag are especially treasured. So far I figure I've made a $1-2 on the deal. Secondly, the baggers are starting to improve their bagging skills. Before, baggers would pack a couple of items per plastic bag - which made one feel like a dog-walker of a mass of plastic bags. Now, with the cloth bags, the baggers seem to try to get everything into your cloth bag. And that's good to see.

I won't go cold turkey with the plastic bags, I use them for garbage liners. I do shop outside the Seattle city limits and plan to pick up a few there.

One last story. I jokingly apologized to the cashier at the grocery store that I wasn't using their branded bag. The cashier smiled and said, "well, we don't care - you're shopping here!"

two observations and a lunch

May 13th, 2008 at 09:35 pm

Saving log - $3 tip box
Spending log - $1.25 coffee + $1 apple

As of right now, I am unfiscally stimulated. Not a surprise, I paid, I mailed the check, so I receive a mailed check in return. Noticed that our grocery stores in Seattle are doing the 10% sale if you use your stimulus check.

Ate the other 1/2 of my footlong sub, but bought an apple. Not a no spend day, but a very cheap day.

Got an odd $5.67 from my bank. It was an debit rewards annual payment. Small surprise, but I'll take it.

fixed income rant

May 12th, 2008 at 09:59 pm

Saving log - $0 tip box
Spending log - $1.25 coffee + $6 lunch (for 2 days) + $3 carrots, apple + $5 bubblebath, deodorant

Back to the finances. A little financial tidbit to get off my chest. Again with the I-bonds, and I noticed a number of articles contained cutting comments about how its a good thing that savings bonds are becoming unappealing because taxpayers are paying the interest.

Perhaps. That opinion still burns me up, though, because it implies that I'm unpatriotic and a leech because I've taken out an I-bond or two (or about 30). Such a turnaround from the opinions of the past - imagine that being said during WWII.

Humph. Is it my fault that I had the savings to invest in the first place? I mean, if I wasn't there to buy the dang US savings bond, the taxpayer would have to fund that 50-5,000$ in addition to the interest. There. That's much better! Perhaps I should fund someone else's government should I wish to do so. T-bills are indirectly funded by taxpayers too, not to mention the funds that the Federal Reserve uses to provide liquidity to financial markets.

Do we, as a society, really think so little of savers?

lamp deal

May 10th, 2008 at 04:44 pm

Saving log - $3 tip box
Spending log - $1.25 coffee + $1.50 coffee + $15 lunch + $55 dinner for two

Saving log - $0 tip box
Spending log - $20 2 bottles wine + $5 lamp

Again, the Greenwood Art Walk. I didn't go through the whole thing because, well... let me tell you below.

I saw a lot of wonderful photographs and caught up with a couple of the same artists as last year. I would have loved to buy a couple of things, so I thought I'd do the frugal thing instead and take a few myself of the day.

Who wouldn't love a bucket of marbles? Plunge your hand in -- they are amazingly cold.

The lamp store always amazed me. Every other store, the wares are laid out along walls, or they come up through the floor. Here, you are encouraged to look up at the constellation of lamps, your nose brushing against price tags. It makes the ceiling seem bright and ciliated.

Some urban edginess between the Greenwood Library (left) and a brick apartment building (right).

I thought that the pug pulling against his leash was pining for his master. Nope. His leash was just an inch short for he really wanted. See that little bit of orange kibble to the left of his paw? "Sometimes he loves me for me," his owner (dark orange and black fleece) said. "Sometimes."

Here's the reason I cut my Art Walk short. I took a break and walked into an estate sale a block from the Art Walk, chatted with the cashier, turned to the left and saw this gorgeous brass lamp. I must have been in a lamp mood from the lamp store. Here's an action shot in my living room (apologies for the mess).

What a deal - $5!

batch of Lees

May 8th, 2008 at 09:20 pm

Saving log - $2 tip box
Spending log - $1.25 coffee + $10 lunch + $3 bag of salad, apple

I'm ending the big project at work. Basically, its importing electronic pledges coming from a very, very large software company from Redmond who shall remain nameless. I've been working with over 14,000 transactions (oy vey), cleaning the data and batching them in groups of 250 apiece for audit to check over and the data entry staff to find out if the donor is in our system already, and do the final upload into our systems.

I sort them alpha by last, first, then middle, so it just so happens that there is a very wicked batch of 250 pledges, 52 of which are Lee, 2 Lea, 2 Leigh, and 52 are Li. Big Grin It tells you my state of mind that I found that hilarious. We were thinking of giving the batch to our boss, coming back from a day off... just for laughs.

not really like me at all

May 7th, 2008 at 10:15 pm

Saving log - $2 tip box
Spending log - $1.25 coffee + $8 lunch

I'm finishing up a huge project at work with an eye on all the other crap piling up while I'm on the big project, so it was a crappy day at work. It should let up, but this whole season has been strange - I shouldn't be this busy in May. Last year at this time I was packing for Paris!

This evening I saw that the IP stock has now been bought, and that drip fully made, all done by the transfer agent (Mellon) in less than two weeks. It was because I already had a drip with the transfer agent, and the company had a program where you didn't have to buy the first share from a broker. Very nice to know that Mellon's so fast.

I did have a good laugh at this website - based on a local series of insurance ads.


Much funnier if you live in the Pacific Northwest. No stereotype really, really nails me...maybe #73 - The Blackberry Hunter, so I guess they're really not like me at all. For laughs, I submitted my type: The Intimate Anonymous Blogger.

money shuffle back

May 6th, 2008 at 09:51 pm

Saving log - $7 tip box
Spending log - $1.25 coffee + $8 lunch

Neither of the big checks were presented to the bank, and my ING transfer went through, so I could move the money back to savings. Now you know that if I hadn't moved the money in the first place, it would have been a different result.

Have to call the Ameriprise planner to close that account. All I will have left is stock and apparently, legally an email stating that decision is not good enough. Makes some sense, but a phone call is even more ephemeral than an email.

I've put the money into Vanguard, but I've put it in a money market fund, so I can buy the funds at once.

Got my new glasses today, and they replaced the lenses on my old glasses. It is such a luxury having two pair, even though right now it means I squint in a different way.

Been quiet otherwise.

shuffling money around

May 4th, 2008 at 05:33 pm

My new stock Drip - IP - has the same transfer agent as another one of my Drips, so I could apply directly to the transfer agent. All it took was to fill out an application form and $600. I was expecting a good week or two before the account was created and the check was cashed. So I scheduled a transfer from my savings a couple of days after I mailed the check, not right away.

Imagine my surprise and light horror to find out that the account had been created already, two days after I mailed it. It started a shuffle of money, just in case the check was about to be presented to my bank. My checking account didn't cover it at that exact moment so I moved some money from brick and mortar savings, but only enough to keep that account up at $300. Then I had to check to see if I had a transfer from checking to brick and mortar savings. I did, so that had to be moved.

And then there's the money coming from ING. It shows as having left my account but not in my checking account yet. It should happen within a day or two. Maybe.

I have to tell you, electronic transfers are not what they're cracked up to be. I just know its going to be a fight because you KNOW the bank is going to pick the method that will allow them to charge a fee. Grr.

The transfer of Ameriprise money (grandma's trust) to Vanguard is nearly complete. All that remains is to close the Ameriprise account. It will be nice to get rid of one account - I won't have to monitor it, remember usernames and passwords. Blegh.

Found an unusual storefront on my walk yesterday.

And yes, what's in the window is what you think it is...

Turns out it's an ad agency..


May 2nd, 2008 at 09:40 pm

Saving log - $4 tip box
Spending log - $1.25 coffee + $12 lunch + $15 groceries

We had the third annual late April birthday lunch today, with two other co workers who had birthdays on the 27th, 29th (moi), and the 30th. We keep inviting the co worker that has the 28th birthday, but she always has to run an errand or something. Wink.

The three of us were standing outside the office, debating about where to eat. I said, "okay, I have something that will help us decide," and I pulled out a two for one coupon. "Well that works for us," they said. Temper of the times - no one's embarrassed that they're deciding on a place by a coupon.

Tonight was the last night to use the coupons to celebrate the remodeling of the Safeway. I'm a little sheepish using their card and coupons, because I still think they jack their prices up to make the card a better looking deal. But I used the coupons tactically - only the food I normally buy, only items that can keep well, relatively healthy food, and a real deal versus a fake deal. For instance, I had a coupon for butter - but even with the coupon, the price wasn't good enough. I have enough butter in the freezer to last until November when the butter deals occur.

The other fiscal, non-coupon project that I'm doing is to move the money I inherited from grandma's trust in Ameriprise into my Vanguard account. Today the money showed in Vanguard, but didn't show as having left Ameriprise. Ah, the excitement of double booking. Big Grin

I-bonds eeew

May 1st, 2008 at 09:19 pm

Saving log - $0 tip box
Spending log - $1.19 coffee + $.84 apple

First day back to work. DJ friend bought me belated birthday lunch today, so it was a nearly no spend day.

Checked out the new I-bond rates set this May 1. I-bond rates have two component - a fixed rate that is set for the life of the bond, and the variable rate based on inflation, set every six months. You want to keep your eye on the fixed rate because that was going to be what was going to protect your I-bond from inflation. I figured that the fixed rate was going to be crappy. It was crappier beyond my wildest dreams:


In other words no protection from inflation and if there's deflation (hey, you never know), these I-bonds can actually lose money. I guess that's what the US Treasury is gambling on - lots of inflation and no deflation. In addition, the US Treasury is trying to move savers to T-bills away from savings bonds - you can buy t-bills in $100 increments, while you can't buy more than $5000/yr in savings bonds. Don't know how that's going to work out for the US in the future.

Anyway, I'm glad that I've bought extra I-bonds last week and finished my position.

My photo for today. We had the May Day why-not-inconvenience-the-commute rally at 4-6 pm. Nice to know that in Seattle, when the revolution comes, it will be catered: