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Archive for April, 2009

splurged on b-day

April 30th, 2009 at 04:46 am

Tuesday
Saving log - $6 tip box
Spending log - $2 coffee + $5 magazine

Wednesday
Saving log - $0
Spending log - $5 newspapers + $5 coffee and croissant + $7 lunch + $5 iced tea & slice of cake

Took the day off on my birthday (and splurged with the food), but I did make it to the gym - trainer was happy to hear of the 46 min jog, but still had me doing deadlifts with a 60 pound bar.

One of my little traditions on my birthday is to do something new. Today, after being a member of the gym for 3 1/2 yrs, I finally tried out the sauna. Relaxing, and strangely cool and refreshing when you step out. You have to realize that I generally have to finish in a rush, make sure that I both don't "emanate" and I get back to work on time.

After gym, I hit the library, and when I got back, I found a bouquet of flowers on the porch.

Hit the Milwaukee news first and was disconcerted hearing about 3 cases of the flu...I was thinking that it might change our vacation plans (and it still might), until I hit the Seattle news and read about our 6 cases.

Regarding the flu, can I mention how hard it is to wash your hands properly using "green" facilities stingy with the hot water - operating those hot water faucets that you have to hold down continuously - and stingy with the soap? We are supposed to rub our soapy hands over a continuous stream of hot water for twenty seconds. We need two hands free to do this, folks. NPR helpfully provided a kind of hip way of timing 20 seconds - the song soliloquy of Bohemian Rhapsody. Now all we need is the stream of hot water and the soap. Don't make us go Black Death on your a$$, folks.

baby carrots and beets

April 28th, 2009 at 03:23 am

Saving log - $2 tip box
Spending log - $2 cottage cheese

I got home tonight - my mail contained a $1.96 check from Ameriprise, closing my account. All of gramma's trust money is in my accounts. Consolidation at last. One less set of passwords to remember.

The container garden is smartly moving along. I see little baby carrot seedlings in my orange pot. (Purple ones, hopefully not hairy). Yesterday I looked in a different pot that DH planted and I saw baby beet seedlings.

Talked to sister about vacation plans. DH and I (along with Morgan) are planning a road trip to Wisconsin to visit the farmette. June 1 - June 15. Apparently many of the hotel chains along the way are pet friendly. No doubt it will be a busman's holiday - I'm sure that we will be put to work planting a few things in the 7 acres.

sunday entry

April 27th, 2009 at 06:06 am

Saving log - $0
Spending log - $1.64 bagel (free coffee) + $8 conveyor belt sushi

Good news today -
Did my 3 mi jog in ...drum roll ... 46 min 40 sec! And I thought that I didn't do that well because I was skirting around parents with strollers, 3 abreast pedestrian chatters, and little kids in the middle of the sidewalk. Apparently the obstacle course made me faster. I celebrated by having a few plates of conveyor belt sushi.

Noticed at the grocery store that some of my favorite breakfast bars have new packaging, and are .2 of an ounce less. Good for the weight loss, but bad for price. Beware - I'm watching you!

Had a dinner salad full of lettuce thinnings, and I'll be having them every day for the next week - DH asked me what you look for and I told him we just play God.

This weekend I took some pics of what took my fancy. None of my subjects have any idea that there is a recession on.

Waitress! Another round for me and my table.


Green Lake egret


I have a lot of thinning to eat.


You are not blogging tonight.

the saga of the shack

April 26th, 2009 at 12:58 am

You might remember the too expensively priced near-shack that I sometimes walked past. To refresh your memory on previous posts...

Part 1

Part 2

I walked past it again last week. They got rid of the fence, but now the hedge is sprouting...


Along with an exciting yellow sign...


So let's recap, shall we?

Feb 2008 - 499K
April 2008 - $445K
July 2008 - $395K

then no sign, seller has given up.

May 2009 - probable teardown.

Can't say that this will be fantastic either. The lot isn't big enough to support much of anything except a house with a yard.

terms and conditions

April 25th, 2009 at 04:32 am

Saving log - $3 tip box
Spending log - $2 coffee

Got a pamphlet from Chase Bank yesterday, describing the new terms and conditions of my now Chase free checking account. Definitely alternated in tone between take-it/leave-it or make you fall asleep, like most terms and conditions. Kudos that it wasn't written in 3point type.

Reading these terms and conditions reminded me of the scene in Casablanca during the day before the Germans invaded Paris. Rick and Ilsa were on the balcony listening to a megaphone broadcasting harsh sounding French. Ilsa looks away...

"The Germans, they're telling us how to behave when they march in."

So far, as long as one behaves himself fiscally, the bank account features are free. We'll see whether the account holder is in chains.

Speaking of banking, where is Ferdinand Pecora when you really need him?

Lately I've been down on my luck finding change on the sidewalk, but today I found 12 cents in front of the ATM. Free money indeed.

Capital None

April 24th, 2009 at 03:59 am

Wednesday
Saving log - $2 tip box
Spending log - $2 coffee + $12 groceries

Thursday
Saving log - $0
Spending log - $10 groceries

Two months ago Capital One sent a missive setting the new credit card at 24.99%. I called Capital One to tell them to cancel my account. What do I get in the mail but ... drumroll please...

A new Capital One Card!

Woo whee.

Well, its just as easy and fun to cut up an inactive credit card as it is to cut up an active one.

Let me predict that in six months I'll get some sort of message like "noticed you didn't activate your card." Nothing escapes them, apparently.

small stuff

April 22nd, 2009 at 04:08 am

Monday
Saving log - $3.41 Temper check
Spending log - $5 latte, apple turnover + $11 lunch

Tuesday
Saving log - $0
Spending log - $0

Deposited what was in the tip box for the month - $45. Added a $3.41 refund check from Temper. (Temper bought my first share of Sysco - SYY - along with a 10% just in-case-the-price-rises cushion and did it for $3.41 less).

Took the day off yesterday and spent a glorious morning with a latte, an apple turnover, and 3 newspapers. Can you tell I was once an academic? The only difference is that my papers were the New York Times, the Wall Street Journal, and the Financial Times. I'm trying to get a feeling for the investment climate. I can always stick my head in the sand and wait, but its still better to make or not make a move based on trying to understand what what the climate is.

Yesterday afternoon I cleaned the living room and bedroom. Ah! Clear space and stuff put away properly is like a vacation that keeps going on and on.

Today I brought my gift of flatware to our floor's lunchroom at work (bought 7 forks and 7 spoons at the Goodwill on Sunday when everything was 50% off). Within 15 minutes I got a "whoever brought the utensils, thank you very much!" email. Hard to produce that amount of joy for $3.21.

free range escargot

April 20th, 2009 at 04:31 am

Saturday
Saving log - $40 drp
Spending log - $12 breakfast + $20 dessert

Saturday DH and I cleaned up a bit more of the south facing flower bed in preparation of planting some more veg. We found a few more critters...


I suppose that if DH and I were really in desperate straits, we would put these in a jar for a few days with water and cornmeal, then bake 'em with butter and garlic. Of course if we were that desperate we wouldn't have the butter and garlic.

Instead, they all went crunch underfoot.

The container garden is also moving along.


We also found an eviscerated mouse in the yard. In the last weeks, Morgan had been hunting and bringing in earthworms, so I think she's moving up the phyla.

interesting times for the I-bond

April 18th, 2009 at 04:39 am

Thursday
Saving log - $6 tip box
Spending log - $162 electricity bill (for 2 months)

Friday
Saving log - $0 tip box
Spending log - $0

You might recall a couple of years ago a minor I-bond craze when the interest rate was 6%. I wonder how Treasury is going to play I bonds come May 1. The Consumer Price Index, Urban (CPI-U) average for the last six months was -5.5%.

I-bond interest rates are set in May and November for the six months at a time. They are comprised of a fixed rate, set by Treasury, and a variable rate, based on the CPI-U for the previous six months. When the CPI-U goes negative, the variable rate is set at 0, leaving just the fixed rate.

Most of my I-bonds have a fixed rate between 1 - 1.4% (I got in a bit late - when I-bonds were first rolled out they sported a fixed rate in the 3% range), generally but not always following the 12 month T-bill rate. In the last year, the fixed rate was 0.7% and 0%.

So it will be an interesting decision for Treasury. Will they offer an I-bond for 0% (0% fixed and 0% variable), that only a freakin' idiot would buy? (If you bought an I-bond six-seven months ago, you will hold an I-bond that will pay 0% for six months.) Or perhaps a 0.7% one that only a slightly smarter person would buy? Or will they decide that since a saver can only buy 5K worth of bonds, and perhaps determine that some should be sold (big ifs) that they will offer a reasonable fixed rate?

Any of those situations make it interesting times for the I-bond. At the very least, Treasury will tell us what they think of I-bond buyers.

nearly a tweet

April 15th, 2009 at 04:35 am

Saving log - $6 tip box
Spending log - $11 groceries

Added to my tip box at work and popped the 1Q tax pre-payment in the mail in advance of tax season 2010. Nothing else happened fiscally today.

stock season 09

April 14th, 2009 at 04:58 am

Saving log - $0
Spending log - $17 breakfast + $8 lunch

Kicked around and did errands on my day off. Along with the errands I also caught up on the mail issues I had.

I had three stockholder proxies to vote on. Their new twists, to a one, were that while you could get paper voting, annual reports, 10-K's, etc, you had to go online to ask for them. Sort of like being green through the backdoor.

Of course when you get online, you can see all the documents you want, and vote, but my sinister side thinks that the online system is going to be much more useful to a company because to a shareholder, online is a pain the a$$. Anything to keep the shareholder voting down.

Because -

While three shareholder proxies is not a trend, its hard to ignore that every one of them had at least 2 items of interest.

1. From the company side: description and request - this is the current CEO compensation package. Vote For.

2. From the shareholder side: some way to limit the CEO compensation package.

I always vote for the shareholder limit on the CEO, and have for many years. In previous years, voting that by paper was a whole lot easier.

Fun little gossip - the 3M board of directors contains the current AIG president. It was a delight to vote against re-instating that board member. After all, hasn't he done enough already?

kicking around Saturday

April 12th, 2009 at 04:40 am

Saving log - $0 tip box
Spending log - $12 breakfast + $10 bath salts and apple

I overheard this night as I walked through the Summer Streets program: "If you don't want to learn about memoir, try using our teleporter ... or study alien spores and brains."
(from the guy out in front of Greenwood's Space Travel Company - its a front for a non-profit writer's group).

Made me smile.

Again, I jogged the 3 miles, aka the mock 5K. Also did it in 47 minutes, jogging all the way, so it wasn't a fluke that I did it. Also my hips felt far, far better than last week. I could actually walk back home after the jog - much slower and took much longer than 47 minutes.

Planted purple carrots in an orange po- um, CONTAINER. Who says p-um, CONTAINER gardeners don't have a sense of humor.

Read an article in the New York Times today whose tone saddened me a bit. I'm not frugal as a competitive sport. I'm frugal because greater amounts of savings makes me comfortable in my place in society, and I'd rather have the money rather than greater amounts of branded stuff. I'm quiet about my saving in real life. If times get much worse, its really best not to brag about what you saved.

pot garden growing up

April 11th, 2009 at 04:20 am

Saving log - $5 tip box
Spending log - $8 lunch + $5 roast turkey for the weekend

Added up everything that I've saved through my tip box at work: $2504.

Work has been stressful lately; I'm off on Monday for a 3 day weekend. I have 204 hrs of PTO (personal time off)...over 5 weeks. Better start using it, dang nab it.

The pot garden is marching along...


I'm going to try something different, and plant carrots in a pot this weekend. Apparently, as long as the soil isn't too rich (turns the carrots hairy), they do well in pots. I have some purple carrot seeds and everything else.

amusing invoice

April 10th, 2009 at 03:47 am

Saving log - $3 tip box
Spending log - $.50 apple

I ordered a CD from CD Baby and this email invoice made me laugh out loud....

"Your CD has been gently taken from our CD Baby shelves with sterilized contamination-free gloves and placed onto a satin pillow.

"A team of 50 employees inspected your CD and polished it to make sure it was in the best possible condition before mailing.

"Our packing specialist from Japan lit a candle and a hush fell over the crowd as he put your CD into the finest gold-lined box that money can buy.

"We all had a wonderful celebration afterwards and the whole party marched down the street to the post office where the entire town of Portland waved "Bon Voyage!" to your package, on its way to you, in our private CD Baby jet on this day, Monday, April 6th.

"I hope you had a wonderful time shopping at CD Baby. We sure did. Your picture is on our wall as "Customer of the Year." We're all exhausted but can't wait for you to come back to CDBABY.COM!!

"Thank you, thank you, thank you!

"Sigh..."

...Spending money for the invoice is not a great reason, but it is a pretty fun one. Smile Got the box today and I was a tad disappointed that it wasn't gold lined. In the invoice the company suggested that I call them up "just to vent if I had a rough day." Wonder if they'll take a rain check.

paper or cloth?

April 8th, 2009 at 04:16 am

Are dollar bills paper or cloth?

Discuss.

We call our money paper, but not many pieces of paper survive the washer or can be folded 4,000 times before the paper disintegrates. Not too many pieces of paper have 25% linen fibers in them. There now are synthetic blue and red fibers in currency "paper"; some old formulations contained silk.

But somehow thinking of dollar bills as cloth is weird. So I'm torn.

Paper or cloth?

routine: a poem

April 8th, 2009 at 03:50 am

Monday
Saving log - $5 tip box
Spending log - $0

Tuesday
Saving log - $5 tip box
Spending log - $2 coffee

Catching the bus
Reading the paper on the bus
Coffee and a bar
Morning work
30 minutes of gym
Box lunch
Afternoon work
Throwing money in the tip box
Watching the lettuce grow (4 leaves!)
Petting the cat
Sleeping

Look! spending money is not on the itinerary.

bummer; but a glass is clean

April 6th, 2009 at 01:45 am

Saving log - $0 tip box
Spending log - $3.50 coffee, bagel + $8 iced tea and sandwich @ Starbucks + $49 workout jacket + $4 fresh vegetables

Because I jogged yesterday, I decided to take it a bit easy and walk from my house to U Village (about 4 miles), through the thicket of Ravennas - Ravenna Blvd to Ravenna Ave, avoiding Ravenna Place.

My first assignment was to get that kosher Coke. Easter Sunday, and the Passover stuff was all there, but no yellow top, cane sugar, kosher Coke to be found. I looked all over the store. Bummer, I guess. My trainer I'm sure will completely disagree.

It was a chance, though, to walk through U Village. Despite the recession, there sure looks like a lot of spending going on. The parking lot was totally full with a lot of crazy driving going on, while certain nooks and crannies contained a lot of over-indulgent parents and kids. I did buy a light weight warmup jacket, but for 50% off. I have to think back to three years ago - I bought my MP3 player, which I still use daily; some gym clothes, which I generally use at least weekly and are now just a tad big; picked up and drank the Coke which my (then) trainer scolded me about; I took the bus there, thinking that that's a long way - now I take and hour and a half to walk there.

47 minutes

April 5th, 2009 at 03:44 am

I've been doing a jog weekly, running a route that I know is about 5K. Trainer had a goal for me to run/walk it in 48 minutes, I did it in 47! Entirely due to forcing myself to never drop down a gear and walk it - I jogged it the entire way and waited for the second wind. It wasn't a fast jog by any means, and I never got the I-feel-great-lets-go-faster second wind. More like I'm-feeling-way-less-crappy than I thought. Smile

the pot garden

April 5th, 2009 at 03:28 am

Friday
Saving log - $2 tip box
Spending log - $2 coffee + $10 lunch/snack + $20 dinner w/friends

Saturday
Saving log - $0 tip box
Spending log - $10 breakfast + $40 two blueberry bushes + $2.75 top + $6 meat for lunches

Spendy couple of days all around. I discovered that I didn't have any turkey or ham for my little bit of rice, so I bought a bit of salmon, tofu, and green beans to augment and I didn't make the afternoon snack, so I bought a little side salad for that. For that one day, I went from $0 spending I went to the typical for six months ago.

Had to refuel my wallet, as it were, at the ATM before dinner. (I'm still old school - I've been burned enough times to be wary of just using the debit card. Way I roll.) General relativity exists - time has to change depending on perspective. How else can I explain why I can get money from an ATM in a bit under a minute, and why I ALWAYS am behind someone who takes freaking forever to get or not get their money. I know what I can and want to do at the ATM before I get there. I guess not everybody is that together. It still burns me, though.

At the little dinner soiree last night I learned that my ex is losing his job at the end of April. Told him about the hiring freeze, and the possibility of no temps working the fall campaigns. But you never know - and I'll be one of the first to hear, either way.

This afternoon DH and I bought two low blueberry bushes. I wanted a fairly low growth habit for two reasons - 1.) we were going to grow them in pots for a year or two or three and 2.) we figure that Morgan's side job will be to go after any bird that tries to snack on a berry, so we went for low to make the job easy and fun for her.

Again, the two lettuce pots are starting to sprout those little four leaf seedlings...(they are green in real life)

The gardener irony: Weed seedlings always look far healthier than your seedlings.

Here's the pot garden, so far. We're also doing a couple of tomato plants in pots - the soil that is the sunniest and warmest also grew potatoes, which are a host plant for fusarium wilt.

power choices

April 3rd, 2009 at 04:16 am

Saving log - $3 tip box
Spending log - $2 coffee

Turns out that my only non-dividend stock is getting bought out by company that does generate a dividend. Unfortunately, it doesn't have a formal reinvestment program. So one step at a time.

Sister got an offer to get a slightly better price on the solar power the farmette is generating, and the price is retroactive to the beginning. The idea is that we sell all the power, then buy back what we need, instead of using what we generate and selling the rest. There is a setup box involved at a cost of about $800. I figure that with the retroactive pricing from the beginning, we should get about $760 as a bonus. So from that aspect we are nearly at all gravy. However, we are locked into a price for 10 years. If the price of power goes down, then we sit pretty. If power goes up, not good, because we not only are generating cheap power, but we have to buy the power back at the expensive rate.

if only it was an April Fool joke

April 2nd, 2009 at 03:32 am

Saving log - $0 tip box
Spending log - $5 grapes and trailmix

Word came down to think about and prepare for the possibility of processing pledges without temp staff. For a couple of our busiest months it will be a challenge. This is coming from the COO, who is on the pragmatic side, not as optimistic as the CEO. There is a possibility that we will have temp staff, but its always wiser to prepare for not, then if we have some, it will be a pleasant surprise.

Other departments will be asked to do the same. At least I hope so.

It will be a very interesting 10 months from now. One bright spot was the head of the department, who warned us right off the bat to take vacation and not be a workaholic hero. If I am going to have to work overtime in the fall and winter, I should rest during the summer.