Saving log - $7 tip box
Spending log - $9 lunch + $15 groceries
We had a bit of excitement this morning back behind our offices. Still don't know the objective story, so let's play some Mad Libs, shall we?
blank 1: bank robbery, hostage situation, bomb scare, extreme gaiety
blank 2: Money Tree, Washington Federal, Pacific Northwest Title, icky food court
blank 3: the robber, the disgruntled employee, the bomber, my congressman
There was a ...blank 1... at the ...blank 2... back behind our offices on 3rd and Cherry. Police cordoned off the street waiting out ...blank 3....
Looky, I can write for the Seattle Times!
Seriously, rampant rumors, and with the big updraft in the stock market (our crops is saved) I never heard the right story.
N.B: This story I could not resist blogging about. I'll have to follow this one. Sheer genius if she gets away with it.
Archive for September, 2008
Saving log - $7 tip box
Saving log - $0 tip box
Spending log - $25 lunch (chipped in for a birthday lunch)
I don't know Julie Tuesday, but she was quite the philosopher today.
I was in a training session, so I didn't see the 778 pt stock market drop until I clicked into the news this afternoon.
That the bailout failed really didn't surprise me - the extreme left and the extreme right didn't like it, the partisanship on both sides is (and was) so poisonous that no one voting for it would get any cover. A Rep voting for it would be accused of raising taxes like a Dem, a Dem voting for it would be accused of caving in to Reps and everyone voting for it would be accused of believing a lie. Its what GWBush over-estimating the case of getting into war w/ Iraq did. If you lie once, you could lie again. Everything is now a possible over-estimate ... are we now into an economic apocalyse - or not?
I do think we are now in a first phase of very steep patch of deflation - money is disappearing, stocks are dropping, assets are consolidated, the credit bubble is popping, margin and debt is left to default, consumption contracts. This unwinding is a process with more pain to come - even during the GD, its not as if stockbrokers jumped on Oct 30.
Fear is rampant. Still, when one of the IT guys is telling me its time to buy ... its not time to buy anything yet. But it is time to window shop. And wait.
Sister mailed me another box of vegetables of various sorts. Mostly root vegetables, but a few ears of corn, husk still on. I'll have to mention that while the corn looked fine, a day or two in dark in the mail turned lovely sweet corn into bits of starch.
Made a ratatouille out of what I got. I only got a little Japanese eggplant, so its less rat and more vegetable stew. I only had to buy a large yellow onion to start things off, which I got for $1/lb.
DH sometimes reads my blog so I really shouldn't write that there was kohlrabi, turnip, beet, that little eggplant ... all the veg that he hates, but what the hey it cleared out my countertops wonderfully.
I also sacrificed our large chard for the stew. I was sad to see it go, so here's a picture in memoriam.
And yes, I got my new camera 2 days ago. I wanted to post a topical picture yesterday - 2 honesty boxes each with the WaMu dead headline - but the picture was too large for the blog. I dropped the megapixel setting. We'll see how well that works.
A couple of economic items at work, overshadowed by the WaMu collapse:
1. A largish law firm is going under; we won't get pledge payments from them from now on. I worked with their payroll officer and sent my condolences.
2. Our non-profit moved in 2003. We use a bond to pay for the commercial mortgage. Apparently the interest rate our non-profit pays has gone from a pittance (0.1%) to not a pittance (+6%). A case where we see the strains.
Last night DH and I were here until 10:30 pm; we got home and heard this ... the whole effect made it seem like we heard a whole fiddle concert while Rome burned.
Right now the WaMu failure is a bit of a non-starter; the downtown Seattle street vibe during the lunch hour was flat. I walked past the WaMu center. Inside and around the sidewalk that vibe was a bit like the last day of college when your dad would show up. Not quite sad, not quite happy ... just transition-y.
I want to take the time here to say that I will really miss WaMu. I lived in Seattle between 1985-1992 and now 1999 - present and had banked with WaMu since 1986. WaMu was close by U Washington (convenient for a grad student), charged no fees if you didn't overspend, their ATMs didn't charge on other bank cards, the tellers were friendly, and their math was right on your account ... at least it was on mine.
I remember when the WaMu Tower was finished in 1988. I wondered a bit even then how a bank could afford to build it when they didn't rip their clients off, still, WaMu generated a certain amount of civic pride.
I came back in 1999 to a bit of a juiced up WaMu...but then again, during the dot.com era everybody was juiced up. Still, the staff and tellers were friendly in less of that you-have-money-I must-be-friendly and I was happy that my neighborhood WaMu was about 10 blocks from the house while WaMu Tower was 6 blocks from work. There were some fees for the careless; by 2001 or so WaMu would charge non-WaMu cards $1.50, in line with everyone else. I seriously looked at starting a DRP when their stock was at about 23$. In '06, I was kicking myself that I hadn't. "Overweight" the stock analysts said.
But in '06, when I got my first bits of the inheritance I started to notice the harder selling - if you can fund a 30K CD for 6 months, think about buying a house. Real estate only goes up! (yeah, maybe later). On the other hand, they were flawless when the WaMu ATM ate my card.
In other words, still useful for the basics. They flew too high, their profits got juiced up with the returns of evil and crappy mortgages, their shareholders expected that the good times would always roll. However, with return there is risk; with continuous return, continuous risk. A bit like always hearing "heckuva job!" without hearing the "Brownie" at the end of it.
I chatted with a co worker this morning, who was originally from the east coast. He sighed and said, "Sucks. I escaped being a Chase Bank customer."
I hear you, brother.
Saving log - $2 tip box
Spending log - $10 lunch + $1.85 Financial Times + $3 apple, bagette
Its the collection of the small today.
Well this week my little T-bill will generate $1.09 in interest, a slight improvement over last.
I got a .35 check from Capital One. Better than a .35 charge.
$2 in the tip box, along with 2 cents I found on the sidewalk.
During this financial, now economic, crisis, I've been picking up the Financial Times, as sort of a European version of the Wall Street Journal. Its perspective seems somehow more objective. At least it is from a distance.
Saving log - $0
Spending log - $3.25 bagel, coffee + $1.13 apple + $20 groceries
Forgot to mention that since our 403B is administered by Merrill Lynch, we asked about how that was going to work now that Merrill Lynch was bought out by Bank of America.
The answer is nothing much would change. Our plan administrator is in the now Merrill Lynch Wealth Management division, and for the moment is going to be our plan manager. In our 403B the old Merrill Lynch funds were bought a year or so ago by Black Rock.
Was just going to buy tomatoes and a red onion to go with all the cucumbers sister mailed to me. But then I saw a decent deal on bananas, a great deal on whole chicken and a BOGO free on chicken drumsticks and thighs. (DH is a dark meat guy). So I walked home with two large, heavy grocery bags - $20.
Fall is back in Seattle. Trees that are turning color early look a bit yellow and bedraggled in the rain.
Oh yes, its raining. We might get a last few days of summer sun, but its wise not to count on it.
Had breakfast at our usual spot - now Crown Hill Bistro (nee the Library Cafe), but used a get-cheaper-second-entree-for-free coupon. Saved about $12 from our usual, and we got credit for it on the punch card. So in a couple of weeks, we can save the same amount again.
Took the bus to the Greek Festival and spent $70 - I got a lot of olive oil, bag of feta, bag of olives, a jar of tarama, a couple jars of grape leaves, bag of butter cookies, a Greek pastry cookbook, a set of coasters.
Sister mailed me a box of cucumbers. Odd, I know, but they did make it all right. Its time for a cucumber, feta, red onion, olive salad.
I also bought a $2 raffle ticket at Greek Festival. I know that I have no hope of winning, and frankly, this is the only raffle ticket I ever buy for the year. Reminds me of the old joke:
An old woman prayed to God that she would win the lottery. She prayed for years, nothing. When she died and met God she asked, "why didn't I win? Not even a little bit?" God said, "you had to meet me halfway - you had to buy the ticket!"
Finished up the day by watching some Looney Tunes. A little reminder that some of the best art was created during the Great Depression. Life goes on.
So part of the grand plan is to temporarily stop the short selling of 799 stocks. And actually its not just the US that is regulating it; several other European exchanges have also temporarily stopped it, while China doesn't allow it in the first place.
Probably that alone caused my financial stock to nearly double from its low last month (11.10$ low/ 29.50$ yesterday).
Shorting a stock is reversing the order buying, owning and selling a stock. When you are long, you try to buy shares for a low price, hold it for a bit, then sell for a higher price. When you are short, you borrow the shares from a broker at a higher price, then arrange a time for when you will actually buy and deliver the stock. You hope that the stock will be lower by the time you have to buy it.
Shorting is useful - the main use is to add liquidity. Short sellers, like long sellers, actually have to buy the stock (at the end, not at the beginning), which means more buyers. Liquidity is a fancy way of describing that with those extra buyers stocks get traded more often and at more price points.
Another use is that short sellers are good markers for risk. Short selling is much more risky. A stock can only go down to zero, but can theoretically go up to any price. And if the stock goes up (to any price), the short seller has to buy it, losing much, much moolah. Stocks that attract short sellers should tip everybody off that something risky is happening.
Without the short sellers and only the long sellers, stocks of course can rise higher - only the optimists are allowed to trade. But what if the risks aren't quite as well defined and there are no optimists to be had? Stocks then drop in a much more sickening fashion - you can find an optimist if the price is low enough. Without liquidity, sometimes it has to be very, very low.
We'll see over the next few weeks what happens. Offhand it sounds like the "cure" is worse than the disease.
Because its Sept 19
collectings - $1 treasure box
lootings - $15 raw fish cut by ninja
Avast ye hearties! The day was one big aaaarrghh! I took me treasure box to the bank, got one hundred doubloons (my jaw be tired from biting down on EACH of them!) in case we were raided over the weekend by the FDIC navy, then walked over to a spot where I knew that if Woo Hoo made other pirates walk the plank to keep their treasure, I would get a good picture. One picture is worth a thousand aaarrrghs, ye know.
The flat side of me spyglass was busted! No picture! I would ave thrown someone to the sharks if I could. Maybe draw and quarter them first.
Back on the ship, I went over the log of other possible pirates. Bad times means good slaves and wenches could be had for cheap. Spent the time between high sun and grog time clicking fer more of me doubloons.
Translation: Put in the tip box savings into the bank, got 100$ in case things got frozen over the weekend. Walked past the WaMu Center and was about to take a picture when I discovered that the LCD screen on my camera was busted. I was mad, and depressed. (and yes, I will replace.)
At work, I looked over who we were going to interview for temporary staff. The recession means we are getting some applicants who look really good. The rest of the afternoon I finished up a database project.
N.B: comparing 18th century pirates to 21-century investment bank.... Couldn't resist.
Savings log - $3 tip box + $7.18 dividend
Spending log - $3 coffee, scone
At least in Las Vegas, when you go bust, the dealer says, "Ladies and gentlemen, thank you for playing."
And we should be thanked, even if we aren't explicitly in the stock market. After all, all of us as taxpayers will be playing.
And taking risks that a 300x-paycheck CEO apparently will foist off.
Where's my free cocktail?
Saving log - $2 tip box
Spending log - $17 dim sum lunch + $9 groceries.
Just finishing making stuffed grape leaves for the work potluck tomorrow. The guest of honor is vegetarian, so it didn't seem right to make a meat-stuffed grape leaf. Rice stuffed grape leaves are a bit boring, so I went and got small amounts of various rices - red, purple, saffron, fragrant, regular, wild - along with a little bit of quinoa. Flavoring is onion, garlic, parsley, chopped apricots, salt and pepper. If it makes a decent pilaf, it will make a decent stuffed grape leaf. The final thing I do is to cook the filling, then roll the cooked filling into the grape leaves. Its a lot less nerve racking than stuffing with raw filling - you can just heat the grape leaves through and you don't have to worry about the filling getting done.
What is on my mind, still...beating a dead horse here...is WaMu. Will we soon have the Citigroup Tower? We already have a Wells Fargo Building, so maybe just the WF Tower. Of course we could baffle future descendants by keeping the nickname - what is the WaMu of which you speak? But corporate takeovers are a bit like war - if they take prisoners, they shackle them and change their name.
I'm also thinking about routing numbers. If my WaMu accounts are the antechambers to my saving, and WaMu gets taken over, then my accounts will change their routing numbers. Suddenly I have to keep an eye on my little savings empire.
Saving log - $4 tip box
Spending log - $11 lunch + $2 Wall Street Journal + $13 groceries + $11 coffee
Saving log - $4 tip box
Spending log - $9 lunch + $4 contribution
I have some of my EF in 4 week T-bills, split into fours and recurring, so every week something matures or if necessary, I have a month of EF coming up for use every week. I looked at the auction rate for this week's 4 week T-bill. Wait for it...
It means I make 93 cents in interest on that T-bill. I've found more sidewalk change most months than that. This flight to safety means my little boat is getting swamped by Wall Street cannon balls. Ah well, better luck next month.
Here's an another article near and dear to my heart - backyard gleaning. I live next to a male cherry tree - the flowers are right with a few cherries in it. I've seen its girl friend - that tree lives about 7 blocks away. Across the street lay an apple tree (decent sized apples). In grad school I also lived with a plum tree and a cherry tree, with a neighbor that had a productive pear tree. And then all the blackberry brambles within 3 blocks of my house. In Tucson in November, I used to pick the raw green, purple, and black purple olives on Olive Way at the U of A, and cured them in salt. In Tucson in April in another part of the U of A campus, I used to pick loquats and can them in a sugar syrup. In other words, I think this is a fantastic idea. It would be great to map out all the fruit trees and bushes of Seattle all quietly making a little produce stand.
Oh yes, the collection. In the end I advertised once, did a little once around, collected triple digits, and added a bit more to get the gift card to end in a "0". I passed the collection to the person buying the gift card. Project finished.
Tomorrow will make fiscal history on Wall Street. Lehman Brothers will declare bankruptcy; Merrill Lynch will be bought out by Bank of America.
How this credit crisis is unraveling is unprecedented by the non-tin hats among us.
The asteroid has fallen, the dinosaurs are fighting or gasping their last. Its up to the mice to find their safe, deep holes and wait things out.
Saving log - $0 tip box
Spending log - $4.50 groceries + $40 weekend money
Saving log - $0 tip box + $100 Drp
Spending log - $5 latte & 3 tea cookies + $15 groceries
Yesterday I along with several other co workers went on a volunteer project - painting hallways. Those of you who are budding gym rats will appreciate that painting walls with a roller is all lats. Because I was stiff and sore from yesterday (not to mention was working out lungfuls of paint fumes), I took it easy this afternoon, walked a little bit, and spent a nice 40 minute break with a green tea latte and a couple of cookies.
Lately I've noticed other symptoms of recession - several local businesses that I frequent now promote coupons and have punch cards. I use punch cards as much as the next person - religious with a few, not so religious with most. My only tip on how to use punch cards (and their cousins, gift cards) is to store them in a business card carrier, rather than busting your wallet. And when you fill your business card carrier, its time to clean it out of the punch cards you don't use. Anybody trade cards?
The final thing that I've really noticed is the proliferation of water-filled dog bowls in front of businesses on Greenwood Ave. Dog bowls started first with some of the coffee shops around, signaling a dog-friendly business. Today I saw a dog treat dispenser beside the dog bowl in front of one coffee shop (okay the one I stopped at), a high end silvery dog bowl in front of a sidewalk ad listing spa services, and a large tupperware bowl full of water in front of a hair salon. No dog bowl in front of the business you'd expect a dog bowl in front of - a pet food store.
So what gives with all the dog bowls? I can kind of see it if you are setting a dog bowl in front of an in and out service. Tie up your dog and give him something to drink while he waits for you. But the one in front of the spa? Hmmm. That could be a long wait. Maybe its smart - the dog stops for the water, forcing its owner (the tail) to stop and read the signs about what the business does.
The dog treat dispenser definitely picks up the game. Its a modified bubble gum machine. Treats are .25 apiece, with a sign that plaintively tells the owner not to hide this fact from the dog.
Well, if the dog had its own allowance...
At work today.
The first few anniversaries we had a couple of minutes of silence - the minutes turned shorter and shorter. Today no minutes at all.
Its our nature to forget just a little bit. Its really not forgetting, but easing our memories into something more workable. You can't be white hot furious at that historical moment forever - emotion has to turn into determination. And we can't be too hard on the 7 year olds who can't share our memories. I remember my elders being furious at me for not remembering the Kennedy assassination; and they themselves upset their elders for not remembering Pearl Harbor.
Saving log - $4 tip box
Spending log - $8 lunch + $7 clif bars & apple
Another odd effect of slow times - thrift store inventory is being squeezed from both sides. More people are shopping there, but fewer are donating.
I really haven't stepped into any thrift stores lately. If the regular retail store has a 60-80% off sale, we're starting to get to thrift store territory.
Put 5K into the farmette and called sister and made her promise that she will mail me the paper grocery bag THAT I KNOW she's put the farmette bills in.
After that, only the irksome. Why does it take so long for some people to get money out of an ATM? I stood in front of the WaMu ATM inside Uwajimaya, waiting... It takes me thirty seconds, probably because I know how much I want and I know I have the money before I approach.
Saving log - $2 tip box
Spending log - $10 lunch + $10 toiletry drive
When you work at a non-profit, you can get yourself into odd positions. Today I helped to save us quite a bit of coin (about 12K) during our busy season by "hiring" an internal staffer part time.
The odd part is that its our Director of General Accounting.
It turns out that General Accounting's very slow season is Nov, Dec, Jan, and Feb. You can only refine your procedures for so long, the Director said, so they approached us to help out because that's our hot time & we take in pledges, money and data. It seems a natural.
I figure that its worth a try because while my workload is more than one person, it really isn't enough for another whole person full time - an internal person has their own gig, so part time a few hours three days/week should catch me up; accounting is very close to what we do so we only have to re-invent the rim, not the whole wheel; easy to contact the internal person; has a greater stake in doing the job correctly because the internal person will feel the effects.
Its just going to be very odd bossing around a director. Treating my helper as a volunteer seems the best approach. She shares a trait with me - finds it much much easier to do than to teach. But I did teach her a bit about what I do a couple of months and she found it interesting. Day one is already done in a sense.
We have a toiletry drive - I forgot to pick up a few things so I put $10 for the parallel collection.
Saving log - $4 tip box
Spending log - $8 lunch (from supermarket) + $5 groceries
A couple more observations about the recession.
1. I passed some Starbucks advertising as I was cutting through the Wells Fargo Building. What was being sold in its large, primo poster spot as if it was a hip summer iced latte? Oatmeal!
2. At the chiropractor, I listened as all the rest of his patients, one by one, told him that they could only see him x# times because they couldn't afford it. In years and months past they didn't mention it or did so in a quiet voice because the rooms aren't really rooms - they are bays with benches. Now? Said straight out.
3. Sitting in a window seat on the bus (what you get if you walk backward far enough along the bus route), I heard a couple of bottle clanks. As I gave my seat mate the Spock eyebrow, I saw him sheepishly look down and shift his budweiser bag. Next time cans, chief.
Yesterday I walked for 6 miles, today I took it easy, and just went for 3. And I caught a couple of football games. So darn lazy.
This weekend, I have been noticing several effects of the current recession.
1. More restaurants are taking cash only, no credit cards. Along with gas stations, a couple of other restaurants are offering different prices for cash vs credit card.
2. (this during the week) Seattle buses are now filling up so much that they have to pass stops.
My 5 bus had an increase of 9% ridership.
My 28 bus had an increase of 15% ridership.
My 15 bus had an increase of 5% ridership.
Advanced bus rider tip: If you see a large group waiting for the bus at your stop, walk backward along the route to the previous stop.
3. This is very funny in a mean sort of way.
4. One WaMu banker went out the window, metaphorically.
Saving log - $3 tip box
Spending log - $15 lunch + $102 dinner & drinks
Saving log - $0 tip box
Spending log - $12 brunch + $10 produce
My surprise guest is kashi!
DH and I met with Kashi and her SO Friday night. Most of you old-timers remember her; for those who forgot, or are new enough that you've never run across her blog, let me be helpful:
I hope that I'm not stealing too much of her thunder, but she looks fantastic, her SO is very sweet, she's working part time in a photography portrait studio (my big, big question - keep pursuing photography, Kashi, your pics are fantastic!), and she's on a vacation between jobs (she was also escaping the effects of the convention). Hopefully she will catch us up a bit after she gets back to Minnesota.
The four of us ate and drank a couple of cocktails alfresco along Pike - a wonderful 2 hour wide ranging catchup. The funny thing was that DH and Kashi's SO seemed to click even more strongly. If an objective observer looked at our table, it would have appeared those two had the reunion rather than the two of us! Could that be an effect of blogging - Kashi and I could quickly catch up through our blogs, while DH and SO did it the old fashioned way?
Kashi mentioned that she just ran out of things that she wanted to blog about - I can readily relate. Its hard to write if things are going well, and if you feel like you are bumping up against the same issues, well, posting those over and over gets problematic.
Kashi and SO put up a bit of a fight when I nabbed the check. It's the end of your vacation, you two, allow me. Besides, it was the very best money I've spent this year.
I promised that when DH and I visit the farmette in Wisconsin, we will look them up in Minnesota. And if they are more serious about moving to the PNW - please visit for a week in February. Late summer is Bali-Hai season in Seattle ... it leads tourists to their doom.
Now what you've all been waiting for - pictures!
An action shot of Kashi doing what she does best ... and using the PricePlus gambit.
Baselle (in black) and Kashi (in blue) walking away...
And after all that...
"Good night, Kashi," I said.
"Good night, baselle," Kashi said.
Saving log - $2 tip box
Spending log - $9 lunch
Sister called from the farmette. In the process of either fixing or replacing the garage door on the metal shed at the farmette, and apologized that she didn't update the spreadsheet ... or send me the bills she paid so I can update the spreadsheet. But she loved her birthday presents. Wonder when she will attempt the kitchen floor and the bathroom? Hopefully next year or the year after.
On my third gym session sans trainer. At the end, I told the two trainers doing their paperwork on the side table that it was very weird not making that final stop to sign out and pay for the session. "That's okay," one of the trainers said with a smile, "I can give you a couple to sign out." I've got all the bills - this weekend I'm totalling them up just to see the damage.
I'm thinking about 12K, spread out over 2.5 years.
Speaking of the weekend, I am planning on meeting another Saving Advice blogger face to face this weekend. First time that I've met any of you face to face and I'm very excited! Who is it? Well, I'd like to tell you all but I'd like to ask permission first.
Saving log - $2 tip box
Spending log - $11 lunch (lunch, drink, Financial Times)
Saving log - $3 tip box
Spending log - $11 lunch + $25 contribution
I'm only going to make one comment about the political campaigns: Oy, short for oy vey. You don't have to be of one particular persuasion - Oy on both sides. Fill in the blank on whatever you feel Oy about.
Think I'll declare myself Whig.
What's on my fiscal mind is that I'm in charge of a collection at work for a gift card for my bosses' baby shower. (and no, I'm not working for Sarah Palin) I volunteered to keep the collection, and contributed a bit myself already but I rarely do it so I need a bit of guidance.
1.) Do I actively advertise or do I passively collect?
2.) If I advertise, do I do so amongst those who are invited to the shower, or do I throw it out to the whole workplace?
3.) If I advertise, is it a reminder, or is it something more? Personal touch and/or email?
I have about two weeks, so there's time.
Saving log - $0 tip box
Spending log - $3 coffee, bagel + $9 lunch
This weekend, I did my gym laundry. Note: I do it every second or third week... not just on holiday weekends. But I bet if I did my gym laundry less often I wouldn't have an issue with machines.
Normally I bring my gym clothes back on Sunday and then walk, but since Monday's a holiday and Monday's when I'm thinking of going, well, waiting until Monday and hitting the gym beforehand was hitting two birds with one stone. So I hit the gym today and did an upper body routine from November. It still whipped my butt. Definitely a labor-ed day.
Afterwards I had lunch at a pho place near Macy's (didn't go in), and wandered a bit.
Last Saturday, DH and I went over to visit our friends in Duvall. They confided to us that they could not, for love or money, get a HELOC from any Seattle bank (tried WellsFargo (WF) first) to fix their roof. They were asking for 12K. It was suggested to them, in all seriousness by WF, to collect 6 credit cards. Yikes. But it is very telling - the friend tell us they have credit scores in the 700 range, and have converted their loan from an ARM to fixed rate.
SillyOleMe blogged about this in her life, I want to mention it here to let her know that no one is loaning anyone anything. Don't take it personally. Its the recession talking, and its saying, "cash is king."