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Archive for July, 2008

semiotics of the bus placard

July 31st, 2008 at 08:34 pm

Saving log - $0 tip box
Spending log - $.50 coffee + free lunch/coffee + $1.50 (3 bananas)

The day is done. Tomorrow is the first day of vacation, which will be taken up entirely by laundry, cleaning the house, and packing.

But wait. I sat in the back of the bus on my route home, zoning out, listening to tunes, avoiding eye contact and ignoring children misbehavior, all while scanning the bus placards.

Now bus placards are a class specific medium - you see the usual, devoted to the stereotypes of bus riders - the cheap and the poor. Tonight there was the Jobdango placard for the un- and underemployed, the change the world placard for the idealistic underemployed just out of college, the don't-be-an-ass-on-the-bus placards in matching English and Spanish, the alternate forms of transportation placards (on the not-in-your-car bus? Try the not-in-your-car train/amtrak, or even try the not-in-your-car car - the Zipcar). All well and good. The Moneytree payday loan placard fit right in.

But what do I spy? I blinked again.

A condo ad. Interesting. But it gets better. Said condo advertises studios and alcoves(?) for 200K, 1BD/1BA for 300K, 2BD/2BA for 400K, and work lofts for 500K. Notice the irony here? When the buyer shows up and signs and initials, signs and initials, and finally is asked "how did you find out about this condo" is anybody going to really say ... bus placard?

Sure. Big Grin

I do love the fact that they are brazen about the prices. None of this old "prices start at xxxK" to lure you in before you are horribly trapped at the realtor. Brownie points for that. Just a glam upper class placard proudly slumming with the lower and middle.

The piece de la resistance was: the glam condo was a 1/2 placard. Pulling the punch a bit. I can't imagine that even a full size placard costs all that much. If you are selling a series of 1/2 million dollar anything, along with a larger series of slightly cheaper apartments aren't we talking about 30-40 M worth of construction? Spring for the full size bus placard. You're good for it ... if you sell one.

Its almost as if the glam placard is destined to do exactly the opposite of what advertising supposed to: no one swayed by it could do anything about it or would admit to having seen it, and there is the strong possibility that the developers are sending signals that they will have to drop the price.

extra equity raise

July 30th, 2008 at 08:50 pm

Saving log - $2 tip box
Spending log - $2 coffee + $12 lunch

Today was another training day. What is it about training that is both so "yes, that makes sense" and so tiring at the same time? Also, when I was in my 20s and it was my job to get trained (college/grad school), I was adept at learning something then keeping it in my head for months and months while I learned the connecting thing. Now? Unless it is solving a problem that has been bugging me, its gone from my head in a few days.

I must need that vacation. Aug 1 through the 15. Don't say you weren't warned. Smile Montana, a cabin in the mountains, and a creek runs through it.

Also got an email from the COO that I will get that 2% extra equity raise along with the 4% raise. Word to the wise - always document your projects...and if someone gives you a kissy thank you email (especially if your boss sends you one), save it.

li'l shocker

July 29th, 2008 at 07:54 pm

Saving log - $2 tip box
Spending log - $1.86 coffee (1 more!) + $12 lunch + $1 apple

My trainer is leaving the gym to start her own training business. Quite a shocker on the friendship basis, but my credit card is cheering. I feel a little guilty about that.

I've learned a lot from her. I've worked with all but a couple of pieces of equipment, learned a lot of exercises and calisthentics, the form I should have, the muscles I should work, how to put together a workout routine, and she would write out the workout routines as do them. I've saved them all.

Her official last day will occur when I'm gone on vacation, but since we have three sessions to burn off, she's going to come back in to the gym for those. Yet another reason not to burn a bridge on your old job - you never know when you need the infrastructure. Smile

I'm going to aim working out at the gym on my own for a few months, use the workouts as written and get a routine - weigh myself weekly. My clothes give me a decent reading - about as good as a tape measure.

My fear is that routines will become too routine and that I'm more likely to blow them off because I will only have the feel better aspect, not the feel better plus holy crap I'm throwing away money if I blow this off - especially when my schedule gets crazy. We'll see.

I am getting better though. I enjoy my cheap long walks and enjoy the fact that a few people have told me that six miles is long ... it really isn't. I still have the goal to begin to jog them. I'm starting to run for buses...and catch them.

Good luck to you, trainer. Birdie's out of the nest.

2 1/2 servings

July 28th, 2008 at 09:25 pm

Saving log - $1 tip box
Spending log - $1.86 coffee* + $6 curry

*A co worker gave me a $5 coffee card as a thank you for helping her out on a project. Because I buy the 12 oz straight drip coffee, I figure I have about 2 1/2 servings of coffee.

Very useful this week. I'm again at the end of the month with $40 to spare so I'm feeling the frugal burn.

Decided to again go to the curry place. I looked more deeply at the menu and discovered that all the curries not on special all went up about 10%. I know how the owner's funding the $3.99 special. I would have eaten the special, but brown lentil curry is not my thing.

Going on vacation August 1 through the 15th, so I've suspended heavy duty saving and buying DRP stocks until I get back.

the quick and the dead

July 27th, 2008 at 07:42 pm

Saturday
Saving log - $0 tip box + $35 drp
Spending log - $15 brunch/coffee + $12 produce

Sunday
Saving log - $0 tip box
Spending log - $3.25 coffee & bagel + $4 latte & cookie

This morning we stopped into our local Sunday coffeehouse, expecting a fairly quiet coffee and Sunday newspaper reading. People were swinging from the rafters! We asked what was up ...

Owner: We got refugees from the Tully's Coffee across the street (87th/Greenwood). They closed.

Us: Huh? That was quick.

And it was quick - Wednesday nothing was amiss. The notice went up on Thursday. By Saturday they were closed. By Sunday, you can see the newspaper shroud along all the windows. About as fast as the Alaska Deli downtown...although at Tully's least there was a note.

There seems to be a spectra of closure styles.

You have the never-ending closure style of the Oriental rug stores in Pioneer Square. It wouldn't surprise me if those stores have only two signs - an Everything Must Go Sign and a Grand Opening sign - and the owner flips a coin to determine which one they put up for the month.

You have the political statement closure: a news-worthy proprietor who is retiring or the rent's going up. I call it a political closure because it usually takes several months with some local ain't-it-a-shame or shed-a-light-on-other-issues press. I lump the Starbucks closures in that category. Anybody go to that Starbucks on Dexter and Aurora? Its on the list.

You have the clear must get out by the end of the month sale and closure. My CD place was one of those. Burn off as much inventory in that last month as you can, with the goal of leaving only dirty carpet on the first.

To me, the oddballs are the really quick closures. Last year, the Denny's in Ballard closed with incredible speed and no particular warning. One Saturday we ate there, the next Saturday that Denny's sign was down, and the place was boarded up. Now this Tully's. Perhaps it makes a little bit of sense when a multi-branch company does it - they move the inventory out within a few hours, leaving cricket chirps behind.

But the Alaska Deli? Still a mystery - it was in the midst of construction, but it had been in the midst for a month or two, it was clearly marked Open with clear sidewalks. Frankly, with all the construction guys swarming around it should have been doing the business of its life. May 30, it was selling coffee; June 2 the door was locked. The extra mystery is that the Alaska Deli's stock is still mostly there even now. (this pic was taken in early July)


I'm probably reading too much into these quick closures. But a business has some sort of relationship with its neighborhood, and its customers. Do these quick closures tell us that we don't care or that we might care too much?

WaMu watch

July 25th, 2008 at 08:07 pm

Saving log - $3 tip box
Spending log - $1.50 coffee + $11 lunch

No bankers falling out of the sky...


(WaMu Tower on the left; WaMu Center on the right. I took this snap in December when it was nice and gloomy)

odd mail

July 24th, 2008 at 10:56 pm

Saving log - $4 tip box
Spending log - $1.50 coffee + $22 groceries & lunch

Peaches were at .99/lb at the downtown supermarket, so I picked up some along with a plate of california rolls for $3.79. Nice to see 2004 prices for a change.

My mail contained a notice for a class action lawsuit for Coke shareholders of record between 1999 and 2000. During that time, KO dropped from $80/share to $30-$40 and so far hasn't recovered completely from it. Plantiffs are suing that KO misled the company finances, etc. I'll have to research this a bit more - the possibilities are to take it, ignore it, or file for exclusion. This was about the time that DH gave me a share and started me off of DRiPing. I had one share and was working on a bit of another at the time. I'd be shocked if I get a check for more than single digits.

keepin' it fiscal

July 23rd, 2008 at 08:49 pm

Savings log - $2 tip box
Spending log - $1.50 coffee + $11 lunch + $4 dinner for two.

Not much is happening at work in these past two days. But this morning I walked to my stop and found this:


Which means only one thing - the Greenwood Seafair Parade. DH joined for a bit this year - I sprung for Greenwood Market $2 brat special for each of us: brat, potato chips, bottled water. The parade suffered a bit from timing issues, as in "when the (*&)(*& is this starting?". I told DH the only way to make it go faster was to walk backwards along the route. Most of my pictures are blurry, of which I will now bore you forthwith. Big Grin

The motorcycle drill team:


The QFC shopping cart drill team:


The Seafair Pirates are now equal opportunity. A little something for the three guys who are reading - besides, we are a family blog. Smile


And finally, keepin' it fiscal:


Bonus points that adults would dress up as checks and tax forms.

stooping to the tricks

July 21st, 2008 at 10:08 pm

Saving log - $1 tip box
Spending log - $1.50 coffee + $8 lunch

The shorts I bought yesterday didn't fit, so I returned them. Their sizing fooled me. I did manage to find another pair of shorts that did fit. So I recouped $19.

I had a hair more than 100K in my community bank account. I trimmed that down to under 99K and put the proceeds into ING. Just didn't want someone to say, "why didn't you keep it under the limit?"

Found an interesting article in the paper today.
http://seattletimes.nwsource.com/html/nationworld/2008063100...

First of all: this isn't particularly bad yet. And I haven't really noticed all that much frugality out and about. I see folks afraid but still driving around. I still see very few pedestrians, few bicyclists, and now its again easier to get a seat on the bus. I hear more complaints, but little clever thinking. I see a bit more fear - concentrated if you have lost your job or your house - but the fear feels spread out and low grade from the average person. Kind of like "nothing to see here, move along.."

I'd like to think that a new wave of permanent frugality is at hand, but right now everyone appears to be hoping against hope that they won't have to stoop to the tricks.

Speaking of tricks - my PDA off/on button now refuses to work. I thought about replacing it, but DH taught me that the all the buttons turn on the PDA. The sneaky way of using what you already have. Turning the PDA is a bit more problematic, because none of those buttons turn things off. You have to set the automatic shutoff to 30 seconds or a minute and let it shutoff by itself. Better to teach myself a little laziness than spend on a new PDA.

two urban walks

July 20th, 2008 at 09:54 pm

Saving log - $0
Spending log - $50 clothes + $30 groceries

This weekend I walked about 4 mi each day. My itineraries:

Saturday - Golden Gardens/ Shilshole Marina/ top of the Burke Gilman along Skyview Ave/ Hiram Chittenden Locks/Fish Ladder/ Market St in Ballard

Sunday - north on Greenwood Ave/ 105th to Northgate/ Mineral Springs Park/ Northgate Mall

Didn't find any change on the sidewalk, but there was no admission to get into any of the parks, the fish ladder, or the Locks. So they were both nice, cheap urban hikes. I will still have to think about the ultimate destination. If its to a mall, then there's the thought of shopping. It sounds so dang obvious, but if you want to avoid spending discretionary money, you have to avoid going shopping.

macroeconomic musings

July 19th, 2008 at 08:06 pm

I'm trying to figure the big pieces of this economy out.

In the last few years, we've had a big expansion of money (dollar bills are only a small bit of the money supply) as folks buy houses and re-fi and HELOC. Banks bundled it up and sold it to other entities, then used the proceeds to make more loans. In other words, they expanded credit and manufactured money.

Now, as banks write down their debt, that "paper" money is being destroyed. So if money is being destroyed, that should be deflation. Inflation is the increase of the money supply, deflation is the decrease in the money supply.

Deflation usually causes lower prices. When fewer dollars chase the same amount of stuff, those dollars are precious - they buy more. Therefore prices are supposed to go down.

Clearly they are not - there is another, stronger element going on.

Deflation is also supposed to strengthen the dollar, because again, fewer dollars buy more stuff. But if you compare the dollar to the price of oil... well, you could look at it from the perspective of the oil - that barrel of oil has the same value, yet if it takes more dollars to buy it, those dollars are weaker.

So what we have here is a deflated (fewer) in number, yet weaker dollar.

cheap week

July 18th, 2008 at 08:49 pm

Saving log - $3 tip box
Spending log - $1.70 coffee + $5 lunch

Had $10 in my pocket today to finish the week. My cheap curry place kept my cheap week on track. I began the new tip box cycle by adding $3.

I managed to spend only 40$ this week, including lunch with friends and few groceries. It required buying a foot-long sub and eating it over two days, hitting the free lunch going away party, and hitting the cheap curry place.

I haven't been to the cheap curry place in several months - miracle of miracles, its still running its any-vegetarian curry and a drink for $3.99 + tax (and I tip decently). Its line, as usual, was huge. Next door, the $5 sub place: crickets.

oh and I did a little work too

July 17th, 2008 at 09:23 pm

Saving log - $2 tip box ($42 in total)
Spending log - $0

Had a good cash flow day; all saving, and no spending.

Breakfast was taken care of by the all staff meeting, where I presented DJ friend with his 5 year service pin. Lunch was taken care of by a going away party, where I grabbed a couple of extra wraps for afternoon snack. I also went to a meeting where there were many mini candy bars, which I promptly scooped up and set in a cup by our printers and copiers. After all our printers and copiers know when you are upset.

In between free meals from the workplace, I found out that: I lost my own service pin (pooh!), I'm now back down to 184, I can compose an okay haiku under the gun in 15 minutes, and as I ducked out to deposit my tip box earnings from this month I found out that my WaMu branch (the main one in downtown Seattle) looked serene and calm.

Deposited $42 into brick and mortar savings this month.

Tonight I found out that I hit it lucky, of sorts, in buying more MI. The transfer agent on that one buys on the 14th of every month. My 100$ bought at its very low on Monday. The stock rally yesterday and today of bank stocks is mystifying on a broad scale, not so baffling on a day to day. This week everyone's relieved that its only bad, not apocalyptic. Mr Market is particularly manic depressive this week. Time for folks like us to keep on an even keel.

I also discovered tonight that I set up my monthly buy of IP for the middle of the month. After this buy, I now have more than 25 shares, so could and did opt for full dividend reinvestment.

baby tomatoes!

July 16th, 2008 at 08:14 pm

Saving log - $0 tip box
Spending log - $1.50 coffee + $1 apple

Actually, the apple was 85 cents. Honestly, that was the only exciting thing to fiscally happen today.

Discovered that my Early Girl and my possible black tomato plants are starting to set fruit. So far, no blossom end rot!

The Hype Machine

July 15th, 2008 at 10:39 pm

Saving log - $0 tip box
Spending log - $1.50 coffee + $10 lunch + $17 groceries

Got paid today.

Semi spendy today, but I have a 1/2 sandwich in office refeer for tomorrow and a going away party that will serve a light lunch on Thursday. It means that I plan on spending next to nothing over the next two days.

Still this entry is a bit dull, I'm tossing in a great music blog aggregator called The Hype Machine http://hypem.com/. Lists blog entries by the tune and the artist they are blogging about. When you click into the individual blog, then right click on the mp3 entry, often you can save an mp3 or two or many ... to test out in your iPod. A little free entertainment!

farmette update (and other bidness)

July 14th, 2008 at 08:11 pm

Saving log - $6 tip box
Spending log - $1.50 coffee + $7 lunch (for two days)

Sister called. Part of the ditch about 100 yds from the property line (now part of the state of WI) washed out a bit, and there's water seeping into the basement, and sister wants to replant a whole lot of beans ... but everything made it through the flood unscathed. Berlin (20 mi southwest) on the Fox River is still a bit flooded, even now.

The utility company that is buying our excess solar power now wants to send us checks. Means, apparently, that we are generating more than $25 worth of power per month. Sister now is interested in getting the 7 acres certified for organic farming. Seems worthy; its not like our next door neighbor (state of WI) is pumping the ground full of fertilizer, herbicides, and pesticides. It'll just be a repository for native plants - and a generator for "weed" seeds. It'll make weeding a chore.

The other bidness is that I got a bit blindsided to the tune of $85.22 from Capital One. I haven't used the card in over 6 months, when one of my yearly charges got pinged on it. Then, since I haven't been monitoring it like a hawk online (lost track of the username and password) and beforehand I decided to save a tree and not get a paper statement, well it meant Cap One had me for a couple of months of fees.

Lessons learned:
1. Beware the once/yr charges. (Moving that sucker in the next week)
2. Keep up the paper statements even with the online account.

Save a tree indeed. I could have bought and taken care of another tree for $85.

Final order of bidness is WaMu. I'm not a shareholder of it ... although a share could be had for the cost of a latte. Will Whoo Hoo! turn into Boo Hoo? WaMu would say no and would say no until the weekend it failed. So who knows? I have my paycheck in a WaMu checking account, along with a little savings account ... my tip box squeezings go into that. All told, I have about $1500 in WaMu at any one time. Easily FDIC insureable. I'd miss WaMu if they went under, but would figure that they would have the sense to go under early. As in the old saying: Don't panic, but if you are going to panic, panic first. More worried about my bank stock - MI. That stock could be had for a sandwich and latte. Its the difference between an account holder and a share holder.

$5, 4 hr tour

July 13th, 2008 at 11:24 pm

Saving log - $0 tip box
Spending log - $5 ticket + $20 beer and lunch

Tried out the Metro Employees Historic Vehicle Association's bus excursion today. It was a 4 hr trip - 1 hr to go to Snohomish, 2 hrs at Snohomish, 1 hr back, for a straight $5. No gas surcharges, no nothing.

DH and I waited at 2nd Ave S and Main - two blocks east from Elliott Bay Bookstore, paid our $5, and took off. It was a little back in time - we rode on a Metro bus, circa 1976. Since we were in the past, my pics will be in black and white (ha ha).



Before Starbucks (what! I can't bring my $5 coffee on the bus!) and before headphones, there was this sign.


I chatted with one of the MEHVA drivers. Apparently its easy to collect buses but to really maintain them, the bus has to be driven, and driven a fairly long distance. They drive the bus anyway, and they charge money to defray costs.

Snohomish itself was a pretty little sleepy town with a lot of antique and furniture stores. Didn't really feel like antiquing, so we walked around along the river, made fun of shop names (Seafood Grotto does not encourage me to eat seafood!) and window shopped. We had a beer and a sandwich at a saloon. Nice, but then we were plenty sleepy during the ride home.

Summer is fleeing...


Next $5 excursion is a night trolley tour on October 4th, and a fall foliage tour on October 19th.

FDIC

July 13th, 2008 at 07:28 pm

Just a little service in these troubled times - I've put FDIC in list of Sites I Enjoy. Easy to search for, and feel free if you need to check your bank out.

Oh yes. Banks tend to "fail", or rather, get taken over by the FDIC on a Friday. Makes it much easier to control a bank run that way. Sleep tight.

where the houseboats were

July 12th, 2008 at 11:25 pm

Walked on Fairview, instead of Eastlake, this afternoon for my walk, up again to the U district, finishing at Trader Joes.

Part of the walk was at the water line and was very nice. The part of Fairview where the houseboats were was unexpectedly not nice. Lots of Private Property, no Photography signs...not unexpected. But the road itself was broken up and dirty, cars all sticking out & lots of liquor bottles & beer cans strewn around. Surprising for supposed "worth" of the properties.

Bought a bottle of water for $1.19. Bad girl!

I looked at a For Sale sign (it was so tempting to photograph it Big Grin). Catty, snarky note here: if you are trying to sell a 1M houseboat, it might help to learn to spell (where is the Space Needel anyway?) and don't use serial killer/ransom note handwriting. The seller really would have done better with cutting and gluing letters from the newspaper.

Finished off by getting 32 clif bars at Trader Joe's for week day breakfast use. Still holding at .99/apiece.

that dryer trick worked

July 12th, 2008 at 12:12 am

From the SA blog:

Stick a clean dry towel in your dryer load to make the load dry faster.

I didn't hear of it until now. I stuck the towel in my load this evening and I found it saved me about 10 minutes of drying time. Nice.

It'll bum out our rhododrendron bush near our front door - it blooms in February because its next to both our and the upstairs neighbor's dryer vents.

late in, late out

July 11th, 2008 at 11:26 pm

Saving log - $4 tip box
Spending log - $1.70 coffee + $11 lunch (included paper and a soda)

Well my morning bus was late and I was quietly vibrating during the ride because I thought for sure I had a meeting first thing today. Turns out that the meeting was an hour later, so phew!

Then a co worker waylaid me the last thing as I was getting out for 30 minutes, wanting to dole a little whine with his bitch session. My heart was heavy as I waited at the stop; I was 8 minutes late according to the schedule. But it turned out that the bus was late.

"Boy, am I so glad you are late!" I said to the driver. He had to do an impromptu re-route; the Fire Festival closed off his regular route.

Speaking of the Fire Festival - it was a nice free stroll. Its a big deal with competitions and an obstacle course. I'm 1/32 Scottish; about the only genetic attribute that I chalk it up to is having a strong fondness for guys wearing kilts. (real kilts, not those fake Utilkilts.) How many of them does it take to set up a tent? ... 3, it looks like.

stocks in July

July 10th, 2008 at 09:41 pm

Saving log - $4 tip box
Spending log - $1.70 coffee + $9 lunch + $18 groceries

The 2000$ worth of MMM was bought a couple of days ago. It wasn't bought at the lowest point (+$70), but it was lower than my previous average (+$71/share), and due to the dollar cost averaging my original average is at the very low end of the 52 week spread ($67 - $97) so the purchase lowered it even more. It was a win.

Right now I've stopped buying shares of KO. That stock is going down along with everything else, but my buying average is ($41/share), so I'll buy when it goes down to that.

I also bought $100 more of IP, so I have more than 25 shares and I can switch to dividend reinvestment. I don't have enough of it to figure out a buying average, so for that one, its just simple dollar cost averaging. Buy $50/ month for a few years and see how you do.

I'm also in the process of buying $100 more of MI. Its a regional bank, and dropped like a rock like all the rest of them, so that one frightens me a bit. I'll decide on buying that month to month. I should just take the emotion out of it, but I worry. Some banks have to survive this credit crisis, but not all of them do.

the year of the frugal tourist

July 9th, 2008 at 08:59 pm

Saving log - $0 tip box
Spending log - $1.50 coffee + $9 lunch

The theme today is tourists. Specifically, I've been noticing a certain type of tourist... the one that squints out the bus window, then their map, trying to figure out where the ride free area ends. In past years, it didn't seem that noticeable - most of the time the tourists were just a tad frightened of the bus and would either taxi or walk. Or they weren't frightened, so what about $1.75 (last year's fare)?

2008 must be the year of the frugal tourist.

In the spirit of knowledge for all you frugal tourists out there, let me teach you a useful memmonic for the streets of Seattle: Yep, Jesus Christ Made Seattle Under Protest.

Y - Yesler
J - James/Jefferson
C - Cherry/Columbia
M - Marion/Madison
S - Spring/Seneca
U - University/Union
P - Pike/Pine

then on 1st:
Stewart
Virginia
Lenora
Blanchard
Bell
Battery

Then after the 3 B's, usually I don't much care (nor should you) because you are out of the ride free area and its $2.25. Smile

following one thing down, the other up

July 8th, 2008 at 08:01 pm

Tuesday
Saving log - $4 tip box
Spending log - $1.50 coffee + $1.70 decaf coffee + $9 lunch & snack

Monday
Saving log - $3 tip box
Spending log - $1.50 coffee + $9 lunch

You might remember a certain shack that was apparently to be had for a certain princely sum of $499K.
http://baselle.savingadvice.com/2008/02/22/the-housing-bubbl...

I promised to follow it down. And down it is going.

Feb 2008 - $499K
April 2008 - $445K
2hrs ago, 2008 - $395K

Still too much even with a 20% haircut.

Yesterday afternoon I found my electronic pay stubs, which list my 403B contributions. I changed my withholding after Q1 2008 to shelter a few more dollars from taxes and I aimed for the limit of $15,000K. (I know the limit is $15,500; I wanted a little breathing room) The good news is that I will get a 4% raise, possibly a 6% raise, which is, in a sense, bad news if it tips my 403B withholding above $15,500.

So I added up what I already put in. I get paid 24 times. I calculated my current withholding times 1.06, and got an estimated withholding. I figure I will be just under the limit with a 2008 withholding at $15,445. Cutting it a tad close, so I will look again on the August 15th pay stub, just to make sure. I'll have 4Q to adjust if I go over.

weekend cardio

July 6th, 2008 at 11:22 pm

Yesterday, I explored a new walking route from downtown to home:

Downtown to Stewart to Eastlake to Roosevelt to Ravenna to Green Lake and then home. It was a great route - I made it to Green Lake when my 48 bus came a few seconds after I stopped for a little break. I gave into temptation and took it. I figured I walked about 5.5 miles in about 2 hrs, and it would have been another 30 minutes to get home.

All told, it was one of the prettier and more pleasant routes. It was a tad close to I-5 on the right, so I got a fair amount of freeway noise. On the left, I got great views of Lake Union, all the businesses along Eastlake, and the public art embedded in the street corners. The public art is a series of square sculpted friezes of microscopic critters - rotifers, diatoms, algae, paramecium. The sculptor has a serious rotifer fixation! They are kinda cute in the microscope, however they do cause pretty serious dehydration in children, so that cancels out their cuteness.

And I crossed the University Bridge. Not as easy as the Fremont Bridge, but much, much nicer than either the Ballard or the Aurora Bridge.

I wish I would have brought my camera. I saw at least 5 good shots that I wish I would have gotten. I'll have to think about walking along Fairview, one block over from Eastlake...right on the water.

Today I took what I thought would be an easy day. Just Greenwood to Fremont. But I still had some "gas in the tank", so I walked along Leary, with the plan to catch the 28. But I saw 3rd Ave NW, and decided to walk that, just to see what I could see.

3rd Ave NW is one of the those "secret" residential arterials. No bus line serves it. The local car traffic moves along pretty well at a high 35 mph, from 39th St all the way up to 105th. (I only went to 85th). Its one of those roads that will help you out of many a commuting jam. Just don't tell anyone!

Oh yes, this route was a bit more profitable - I found a dime and a penny on it. .11!

With all of that introduction, here is the only grocery store on 3rd Ave NW until 85th. Let's hope that Mr. (Invisible) Hand doesn't get wind of it. Big Grin

shopping like a European

July 6th, 2008 at 08:05 pm

Saving log - $0
Spending log - $3.25 bagel, coffee + $3 iced tea, apple + $17 groceries

I can't say whether this is the most cost effective or cost saving, but this is how I've altered my shopping habits.

What I have:
"Easy" public buses - I regularly take the 5, 355, 15, 28, 48
Willingness to walk; expanded my sphere of what constitutes easy walking distance to 1-3 miles.
Experimented with routes and walking, noting the grocery stores along the way.
I have 7 grocery stores - 4 of which are along my long (over 1 mi) nightly summer walk - what I was asked to do nightly for cardio. 1 of which is the new downtown supermarket.
Always carry one cloth bag.

Right now I:
Look at the flyers
Note what I absolutely need for dinner that night. Concentrate on using everything up and not having to toss slimy stuff.
Hit the grocery store on my nightly walk for what I need. No more than 4 things, or what can comfortably fit into cloth bag.
Lug home.
Keep the refrigerator about 1/3 - 1/2 full. Use the stockpile a bit.

What we used to do:
Look at the flyers.
Saturday afternoon was weekly grocery shopping. DH and I would make a car circuit and hit 3 or so produce stands and grocery stores. Keep the refrigerator 3/4 full and stockpile.

In other words, I'm now starting to shop like a European. I'm shopping nearly every night for small amounts of fresh stuff and let the refrigerated stuff ride until its eaten. If we barely make it through something, its time to give our taste buds a rest and not buy more.

Noticed that Paris really tied common shopping with the Metro. The really big stations had shopping marts connected with them where you could pick up a little something at your Metro stop. Otherwise, the sub-neighborhoods in each arrondisement had a grocery, a bakery, a day market and a late-night market connected with them.

I'm probably not doing as well as I could be, or am I? Right now, I'm still a bit overweight and I'm trying to eat less. That represents locked-in energy that I'm trying to tap. The buses will run their routes and burn their fuel whether I take them or not. I'm trying my darnest to avoid waste.

Eating the stockpile seems to make the least sense, because it represents stored food at its cheapest. When I eat it, any replacement of the item is going to cost more. Frown Still, this stuff doesn't keep forever, and if you are saving food for high cost "emergencies" ... this is the time.

So far, its costly in terms of time. 30 extra minutes/day walking and european grocery shopping works out to be 3+ hours extra.

broccoli mom

July 5th, 2008 at 05:22 pm

Coming back to life after nearly being chewed to bits...


Its probably never going to a big headed broccoli plant, but its going to be mine, darn it.

holiday 4th

July 5th, 2008 at 05:06 pm

Decided to just be and not blog-be this fourth. Brought watermelon, feta and mint salad to a 4th potluck to our hosts who live on Cap Hill, within 200 yards of a very decent lookout for the Lake Union fireworks. The salad was good, and recipe was straightforward (Watermelon, feta, mint in whatever proportion tastes good), but perhaps a bit too advanced for the palate of the party. About 2/3 of it went, while the 1/2 of the watermelon that I didn't use went right away. Oh well, that's why they call it "potluck".

The view looking out over Lake Union. The large barge in the middle is where fireworks are shot off.


I brought a little tripod for the fireworks, so I tried out snapping firework pictures. My digital camera had a firework setting, but it needed a good 15 seconds between shots to reset, so it meant basically hitting the button over and over, hoping for the best. Here's one of the best, much better than last year.


Here's where the digital camera is frugally awesome. I snapped well over 100 shots. No way would I even think of burning off that much film just to experiment and learn. But if the only downside is that it just eats up camera memory, and you delete the bad ones, the worst that can happen is if every picture is bad, delete them all.

bits and pieces

July 3rd, 2008 at 08:32 pm

Saving log - $3 tip box
Spending log - $1.40 coffee + $15 lunch

Bits and pieces on the day before the 4th:

Server room got warm in the early morning hours, so as I walked in, I was told: no Internet, no SQL, no access to data, email wonky. But an hour later, everything was okay. Darn! No computer data would have made it the shortest work day ever for me.

Found 3 pennies in front of the place I ate lunch at. Another homeless person was asking for change, but I thought better of it to give her the pennies after getting yelled at for giving so little the last time.

Pointed out to DH one of the green worms that was snacking on broccoli leaves so he knows what he is looking for. The broccoli plant that nearly got nibbled to death now has a little crown of new leaves.

Had to move $400 from savings back to checking. It felt a bit like failure, but I remembered that the original plan when I increased my withholding to the stratosphere was that I would make up money shortfalls with savings. The fact that I started the withholding April 1 and managed not to seriously cut into savings until now is doing well.

shoot out

July 1st, 2008 at 11:33 pm

Saving log - $3 tip box
Spending log - $1.25 coffee + $17 groceries

Ate the lunch I packed that I was supposed to eat yesterday. Picked up fruit, yogurt, salad, and turkey breast on my way home.

Found a penny in front of the payday lender business on 3rd and Columbia. If there was a coin that needed rescuing, that was it.

And... oh yes, Seattle police shot it out with a bank robber three blocks away. I happened to be at the gym at the time with a good window view. Four police cars came by, sirens blaring, along with a dark blue unmarked van with a police light on top coming on second, going the wrong way (and no, that was not the bank robber), with the news chopper leading the rear.