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Archive for October, 2009

just call me Jackie Handey

November 1st, 2009 at 01:52 am

Saving log - $0 tip box
Spending log - $12 breakfast, coffee + $17 mailing dutch oven to sister
Found money - $0.04 (by parking meter, door jamb, counter)

Mailed off our spare, heirloom cast iron dutch oven to sister. I bought it for $10 about 15 years ago in Tucson, and it has behaved like a champ. In June, when we visited sister at the farmette, DH made the no-knead bread recipe, but we had to use a casserole dish, which is a bit scary to heat up to 500F. It worked out but we mentioned that the dutch oven is the tool for the task. Since June, I have been looking for yard sale/estate sale/thrift store dutch ovens. Either nothing or minimum of $60. So sister gets ours and a clearly typed recipe.

After that it was breakfast and a good long walk. I've found that I'm positively the girl version of Jack Handey, thinking deep thoughts:

1. Visited the brand new Whole Foods down in Interbay. They have something called a "chill room". Its a nice little lounge just off the cafe and the wine/party foods/prepared foods are.

My thought: this grocery store needs a DJ. I mean, you have the space, and you would cater to two populations of people who pay for premiums ($5 cover charge and extra for watered down drinks, extra $1/lb for produce). Synergy!

2. Why isn't there a mailbox in/outside the bus? Right now you have buses driving and using gas, and you have post office guys driving around and using gas. Buses take a published route, and end up at a rest stop, transit center or a base, where the post office guy can open the bus mail box and grab it. This would be a substitute for the blue boxes.

3. Halloween is now second to X-mas, as measured by retail sales. I've seen a couple of mash-up decorations this year (a Halloween snow globe decoration, a ghoul being crucified). Why bother with 3 discrete fall/winter holidays? Next year: Santa with fangs pulling a turkey out of the oven.

lot'l little

October 31st, 2009 at 03:28 am

Friday
Saving log - $0 tip box
Spending log - $1.75 coffee
Found money - $0.01 (sidewalk)

Thursday
Saving log - $4 tip box
Spending log - $1.75 coffee, $10 snack foods
Found money - $0.22 (road, bus floor, Safeway floor)

Took money off the 403B table and rebalanced back to the 60 yr old man portfolio - cash, bonds, gov bonds, equal small parts of: large cap, small cap, mid cap, international, value. Saw my changes yesterday.

Saw that my transfer agent bought the $300 worth of SYY; it was bought along with the re-invested dividend.

Found out that the fire from last weekend was arson. When I tried to shortcut through the Taproot parking lot, I found that the back parking lot was all fenced in along with the fronts.

Behaved myself during the parade of work potlucks today, and I contributed with fruit snacky items.

V.I. (kitty) and I are having a nice time. So far, she's been hitting the litter box with me. I have changed a couple of things - I've shut the bedroom and home office door during the day, so no "surprises" in those rooms. I've also made the living room quiet - most of her "surprises" are left underneath coffee table, desk, behind the couch. Quiet, shadowy places. DH loves to have the radio on during the day and I suspect that loud human noises and bustle startles her. Most of all, when I hear her use the box, I quietly and quickly get a greenie from the bag and reward her as she walks past. I also play with her for at least an hour in the evening.

happy 80th!

October 29th, 2009 at 05:12 am

you Great Depression, you. You hardly look a day over 79. But never fear, your grandchild parts his hair near the same way.

(In all seriousness, today is the 80th anniversary of the then-Black Monday stock market crash. Wheee!)

Saving log - $4 tip box
Spending log - $1.75 coffee + $2 decaf coffee + $20 pizza
Found money - $0.03 (road, bus floor) and yesterday - $0.02 (coffee shop floor, road)

Today DH is off visiting his mom, so evil me, I cleaned the kitchen and ordered a large pizza - olive, mushroom, onion, and anchovy. All my favorites and even better cold for lunch, and it takes a rare lunch thief to go after the anchovy pizza.

Then Mad Men, then a bath, and off to bed. So far kitty is behaving herself also and hitting the box. Nighty night.

6 minute nightmare

October 27th, 2009 at 03:51 am

Saving log - $4 tip box
Spending log - $1.75 coffee
Found money - $0.16 (sidewalk, bus floor, crosswalk)

Not quite 2 years ago, I decided to improve my cardio and test out my long distance walking. I did it in part to save a bit of coin (nothing cheaper than walking), but mostly I did it as an emergency preparedness tool. If an awful thing happens, a couple of energy bars, reasonable shoes, and three hours will get me home.

This video models what might happen to the Alaskan Way viaduct should a slightly more powerful earthquake hit Seattle than the 2001 Nisqually quake. The commuter bus that gets me closest to home gets to downtown from West Seattle using the viaduct. I wouldn't be on the viaduct at that time, but clearly if I was expecting it to come to my stop and take it home, not a chance that day and for many months thereafter.

funny hat, bright light, cheap food

October 26th, 2009 at 03:05 am

Sunday
Saving log - $0
Spending log - $3.88 coffee, bagel + $16 conveyor belt sushi pigout
Found money - $0.11 (coffeehouse floor, gutter)

Saturday
Saving log - $0
Spending log - $14 breakfast + $6 Halloween hat + $21 miscellaneous
Found money - $0.39 (sidewalk, gas station parking pad, carpet)

Friday
Saving log - $9 tip box
Spending log - $1.75 coffee
Found money - $0.04 (road, sidewalk, under picnic table)

Still having reasonable luck finding change despite the leaves on the ground. This weekend was a do or die time to "do" something for Halloween - I usually say I don't have a creative idea for Halloween in the two weeks before but then pull something off. This time, still nothing. I'm going with a funny hat (keeping the price tag on for the Minnie Pearl fans out there) and be done with it.

Finding the funny hat meant heading to the Goodwill, change hunting all the way. You might have noted that I expected, and was disappointed, that the Goodwill parking lot would be a rich source of found money, and I have mused about the mystery. When I walked into Goodwill, I found a cheap, funny, fuzzy hat, but also a partial resolution to the mystery: Goodwill's inside carpet was the rich source of found money. Goodwill was extremely busy with shoppers; they made a mess of the racks and floors; and the only person who was watching the floor was me. At first blush, if people drop change in response to distractions, the Goodwill store is a primo study site to explore. But for now - easy dime and five pennies. With the other change found in other spots - Seattle has provided me with $6.54 since mid-July.

Later at the Fred Meyer, I bought another item for the months to come: a clip-on, five-pattern, 1/2 mile visible bright flashing pedestrian light. $6, but when I walk home in December, that car is gonna see me.

The other delight I've seen at Fred Meyer are the definite price reductions for food. For example, I needed some luna/clif bars for breakfast - last year at this time they went, cheapest, @ $0.99/bar. Now - $0.79/bar. I've now been seeing produce for under $1.00/lb and canned tuna at $0.65/6 oz can. I've not kept up my price book for the last couple of years (too depressing). I might restart it now.

A bit of our neighborhood news made even some of the national news (at least I heard that it made the morning ABC news). Our neighborhood lost 4 businesses Friday to fire - 2 places I ate at semi-regularly, 1 I drank coffee at every so often. The phinneywood blog has the fire pictures. Arson investigation is ongoing. Mine is from the back. That cooked area at the top is where the roof line was.

2 little, but good, things

October 23rd, 2009 at 03:26 am

Saving log - $0 tip box
Spending log - $1.75 coffee + $47 lunch for 2
Found money - $0.12 (sidewalk, road, gas station parking lot)

Two good little semi-financial moves happened at work today.

1. Bought some supplemental accident insurance through AFLAC, taken pre-tax out of my paycheck. For all you worriers out there, if I'm run over by a car while picking up change from the crosswalk, I'm covered. Now I only have a $20/ paycheck increase.

2. We learned today that if we catch H1N1, we can use catastrophic time immediately. Normally we use 3 days of PTO, then we can use catastrophic.

fix-its of all kinds

October 22nd, 2009 at 03:54 am

Wednesday
Saving log - $0
Spending log - $1.75 coffee + $23 office supplies + $8 lunch/snack fixings
Found money - $0.03 (sidewalk, floor)

Tuesday
Saving log - $0
Spending log - $6.75 coffee, breakfast for DH and I
Found money - $0.01 (sidewalk corner)

So much for hoping for newness; the landlord came in and replaced the element. So touchy grandma stove is back from hospice. And just in time, too. Sister mailed me a butternut squash, cut in half to get in the box. I cleaned it up, and then took a cheese slicer to the cut side to remove the outer layer and expose the better one. Said squash is now roasting comfortably in the oven along with the new element. (Squash soup). One advantage to the fix is that now the dial and the oven temperature agree. It used to run about 25-50 degrees too hot.

Another fix it - our DVD has been cranky loading DVDs and tracking. DH googled our DVD make and the problem, took the DVD apart, cleaned the lens with isopropyl alcohol wipes (had some to clean monitors), put the DVD back together and now its a lot less cranky.

stoveless in Seattle

October 20th, 2009 at 02:59 am

Monday
Saving log - $6 tip box
Spending log - $11 lunch
Found money - $0.01 (road)

Sunday
Saving log - $0
Spending log - $3.88 bagel, coffee + $5 trail mix, salad
Found money - $0.05 (by wastebasket, sidewalk, road, bus floor, Safeway floor)

Deposited my monthly tip box collection - $47. When one pulls out $40 from the ATM, it perhaps is a little strange. Still, saving is saving.

When I got home I expected a round roast dinner. Instead, I got a taken apart stove. DH filled me in. He turned on the stove and the element caught fire. He called the fire department, who told him how to trip the fuse to the stove and disconnect the element so it would cool off. He called the landlord - fingers crossed that it is done and should be replaced. I've cooked a lot of great meals with the stove but it came from the 70's and behaved like it was 70. Touchy, in other words. Now... whose stove do we borrow?

trades and bribery

October 18th, 2009 at 06:34 am

Saturday
Saving log - $0
Spending log - $13 breakfast, coffee + $12 wine & dessert for duck trade dinner
Found money - $0

Friday
Saving log - $6 tip box
Spending log - $1.75 coffee + $5 yogurt, fruit + $49 vet stuff
Found money - $0.01 (bus steps)

No money found - a miss after 21 days straight of finding something.

The duck for beef trade occurred - they got:
1 ground beef, 1 t-bone, 1 chuck roast, 1 sirloin = 7 lbs beef
and we got:
2 muscovy ducks @ 8 lbs total, 1 dozen eggs.

We had a muscovy duck for lunch/dinner, I got a slice of the breast, which hardly looked like a poultry breast ... it looked like pretty beefy on its own.

V.I. is giardia free (yay), but had continued with some more missing of the litter box. We've decided to go with the positive reinforcement - keep the box impeccable, and when she uses it, she gets a greenie and face scritch, both things she likes. If she misses, we clean up but we ignore her. In the last few days, she has been hitting the box. We'll see if it holds.

I've been also using positive reinforcement with DH during this whole affair. A few days ago, V.I. was tested for the fecal parasites in general, but before the results were in, DH gambled a bit that she was still sick. He sprung for a stronger prescription, but tuna flavored. When V.I. tested negative but was still missing the box, DH still presented her with the medicine. "Why?" I asked. "I spent good money for the medicine, and I'm using it," he replied. So we were at the stage where DH was going to give her something that she wouldn't take and didn't need, all because of cash. I paid him to offset the cost of medicine - its free to him so he's free not to use it.

N.B.(10/19/2009): Turns out that the vet suggested to DH that he still give the medicine to V.I. C'mon guys: less is more.

bump in the paycheck and a mystery solved

October 16th, 2009 at 04:21 am

Thursday
Saving log - $2 tip box
Spending log - $.75 apple
Found money - $0.02 (sidewalks)

Wednesday
Saving log - $4 tip box
Spending log - $1.75 coffee + $2 afternoon mocha
Found money - $0.04 (next to parking meter, behind a bench, sidewalks)

The 2% payraise came in this payday - it was an increase of about $32.00. Work seems to be busying up for the season, so I feel like I'm earning it. Lately the change in season has been affecting me too - its been very hard to wake up in the morning when its still dark.

You might remember the saga of one of my stocks. The company was spun off from my bank (2007), did moderately well, but the stock, being young, did not pay a dividend. Said company then was bought by another, which does pay a dividend, but has no re-investment program. I figured that I will eventually find out who the new transfer agent was ... I have. Same transfer agent as my KO stock, making that super convenient. Still no-reinvestment, but I did set up the account so that the dividend gets put electronically into my account.

403Bing good

October 14th, 2009 at 03:56 am

Saving log - $4 tip box
Spending log - $1.75 coffee
Found money - $0.33 (1 dime on road, 1 dime on edge of sidewalk, 1 dime on gravel driveway, pennies on sidewalk and bus stop)

Lest you think that my current financial news is all about small time dime-dar (which was excellent today), I note that the big stuff - current strategy on my 403B - is paying off.

My strategy started in early 2007, when I re-allocated from 80% stock/ 20% bond to 40% stock/30% bond/10% gov bond/20% cash. In other words, my portfolio looked like a 60 yr old man. In hindsight, I was a bit early. Still, the proportions held within 2-3% of each other even through the big happenings of Sept 2008.

I "lost" about 10% of 403B during the gyrations. By October 2008 I was researching the funds available to me to re-mix and re-allocate. I made my choices and re-allocated only on the new money in late October. In other words, what I had already was the 40/30/10/20, the new money (added as I got paid, bi-monthly) was re-allocated as 90% stock/10% bond.

I still "lost" a little bit in the 1st quarter of 2009, but I was patient with the stocks the new funds were buying...and especially happy that the price was cheap.

2Q 2009, my 403B net worth jumped 11K. 3Q 2009, my 403B net worth jumped 12K. During those two quarters, I contributed 8K to the mix, so about a 1/3 my net worth jump is due to injections of new money. Still, we are talking about a 15K increase in just those 2 quarters. (I'm in the 90K range).

The mix has shifted to 52% stock/25% bond/8% gov bond/15% cash. Still fairly conservative, if you believe conventional wisdom. Now I have several choices - if I think that we are in for another stock crash, I can rebalance back to the old 60 yr old man portfolio mix, and wait. Or I can re-allocate the new money into something more conservative, or I can do nothing and wait until I'm at the 65% stock/35% everything else range (my target). And if I wanted to not wait, I could deploy the 15% cash into stock.

Right now I see issues with everything. Stocks could crash (stock), bond values will drop as soon as interest rates go up (bond), no interest, no FDIC-like insurance, and the dollar is weakening (cash), and a whole lot of federal debt (gov bonds). Might just as well stay the course, keeping myself conservatively diversified. Worst comes to worst, the 403B is a glorious tax deferral.

90 days of change hunting

October 13th, 2009 at 04:33 am

Monday
Saving log - $0
Spending log - $1.75 coffee
Found money - $0.11 (sidewalk, bus stop)

Sunday
Saving log - $0
Spending log - $3.88 bagel, coffee + $6 croissant, coffee + $2.50 financial paper
Found money - $0.12 (sidewalk, road)

Well, I took a look at the change-finding blogs around. ZZZZZ. However, most find about $25 - $30 in a year, along with a bill or two. In my 90 days of change hunting, I've found $5.48, or about 6 cents/day. With my lack of bill finding skills, that pace puts me a bit under, coming in at $21 for the year.

In the last 90 days I've found 123 pennies, 4 nickels, 23 dimes, 7 quarters. Lately I've had a string of 17 days straight where I've found a coin. To find money, you do have to be out and about, walking around. Some days change appears within minutes; others, I'm looking hard; for 31 days out of the 90, I didn't find any. My walking habits are very routine, it really is a case of being alertly relaxed.

I've noticed in my routine walks some hot spots. Most bus stops are hot spots, some much hotter than others. The gutter, about 2-10 inches from the sidewalk, is another great place especially along the patches of road contiguous with the bus stop. One can imagine the bus glides in, opens the door, people leave, one or two drop a coin or two, coins land in the road. Often the coins are so beat up that you know it took a rare person to stop and pick them up. (Its safe - look for oncoming traffic, put a foot in the road when the traffic eases, and pick up your profit.) Edges of all sorts - floor overhangs, counter edging, shadowed spots, edges between sidewalk/street appliance (eg wastebasket, parking meter, still alive payphone), sidewalk/grass and sidewalk/road tend to be very fruitful.

The interesting thing, though, are those hot spots. I cut through three parking lots on one of my routes - Greenwood Market, Fred Meyer, the Taproot Theater. Fred Meyer is the hot parking lot, the others - meh. I shop at both the Greenwood Market and Safeway. I never found any money on the Greenwood Market floor, while the Safeway floor can be a veritable ATM. I wonder why the hot spot - is it just more foot traffic (paying in cash), different lighting, ambient noise levels, an environment of distraction?

taco truck rally

October 11th, 2009 at 06:08 am

Saturday
Saving log - $0
Spending log - $13 breakfast, coffee
Found money - $0.03 (sidewalks, a penny in our driveway)

Friday
Saving log - $3 tip box
Spending log - $1.75 coffee + $15 charity soup lunch + $20 cookbook
Found money - $0.04 (sidewalks)

Ate an outside lunch with the old gang: lawyer friend, lawyer friend partner, screenwriter friend. We ate a fundraiser lunch - all soups and bread donated from the restaurants in town for an entrance fee of $15. As soon I heard there was a cookbook compiling the recipes of the soups on sale, I had to spring for that.

We all asked the question: what's the difference between cream of x, chowder, bisque, and veloute? Smart ass me said "anywhere between a $1 and $3 a cup." I kid because I love.

Today I tried to hit the taco truck rally. Actually I made it to see what it was about and take a picture of it in the middle distance.


There were 7-8 trucks in the lot with a lot of people. I was aiming to try a Korean taco (bulgogi beef with kimchi in a taco, I think), but when I got there, they had no more. I could have gotten ice cream, but I've learned that consolation eating is the worst possible reason to have something. So I enjoyed what I got - the adventure and the picture - and considered it a win. FYI - the Taste of Seattle Taco Trucks sounds like a hoot. Look for it 2012.

lima beans with bacon and garlic

October 9th, 2009 at 04:26 am

Thursday
Saving log - $2 tip box
Spending log - $1.75 coffee + $.45 apple
Found money - $0.36 (quarter by the parking meter, dime on sidewalk, penny in lobby)

Wednesday
Saving log - $3 tip box
Spending log - $1.75 coffee
Found money - $.03 (sidewalks)

Duck 4 beef will occur Saturday Oct 17.

Got a lot of fresh lima bean pods from sister, along with beets, carrots, potatoes, and a few peppers. I shucked the limas out of the pods, and did this with them:

Lima beans with bacon and garlic

3 c shelled fresh lima beans
3 thick strips bacon
4 garlic cloves, chopped
water, salt

Boil limas in salted water for about 20 minutes. Drain.
Fry the bacon - I like it crispy. Remove bacon from pan, set on paper towel to drain.
Remove all but 2 tbsp bacon fat from pan. Saute garlic in bacon fat for a couple of minutes. Add back the limas to the bacon fat and garlic to heat the limas through. Stir, deglaze the pan - add a bit of water if necessary.
Crumble the bacon over the limas and serve.

march of dimes

October 7th, 2009 at 03:27 am

Tuesday
Saving log - $0
Spending log - $.80 coffee, bagel (finished up a gift card) + $13 grocery & misc shopping + $2 large iced tea + $10 sushi lunch
Found money - $0.26 (sidewalks, Safeway)

Monday
Saving log - $3 tip box
Spending log - $1.75 coffee + $7 curry lunch
Found money - $0.03 (sidewalks)

Took a day off today and I just kicked around. I bought a breakfast and coffee and finished off a gift card, so my meal only cost 80 cents. I told the cashier that I hoped she didn't mind a batch of dimes I found on the street! She was as amazed as I was - so many dimes. I joked that the obesity epidemic will only improve my odds - soon no one will be able to touch their toes. ... This before I found two dimes today.

Found a screaming good deal at the Pike Market today - 4 cukes for $1, so I bought two. After gym and the late lunch I popped into a QFC in the sushi lunch neighborhood, thinking that I would pick up some salad for the cukes. I looked at the prices and left the store. Despite picking up sidewalk change for laughs, I have my pride.

One my stocks has now been bought by another company. As part of the buyout, I get 1.35 shares of the other company, which also pays a dividend. Last I checked, they didn't have a formal Drp, so I suspect I will get dividend checks. But one never knows, things can change. Time to watch the mail to see who the new transfer agent is.

making my hill of beans

October 5th, 2009 at 02:49 am

Sunday
Saving log - $125 moved from checking to savings
Spending log - $4 bagel, coffee + $2.76 garbanzo beans, apple
Found money - $0.23 (various sidewalks, Safeway floor)

Another great day for finding change - again, I found two dimes, one on a residential sidewalk, a place where I assumed I would find nothing. (the other was on the Safeway floor, a place nearly as good as an ATM) I don't understand why I've been finding so many coins these days. Dimes especially. Perhaps with the weather change, it changes everyone's wardrobe, and everyone has to be re-introduced to their jacket pockets.

I also found a great deal on canned garbanzo beans at the normally pricey organic food coop - $.89/can. Usually $1/can has been the low price over the winter and spring. October seems to be the bridge month for some food deals - its a good time to prepare for the deals of November.

Got off my duff and planted some lettuce for the winter/fall harvest, and watched my blueberry plants' leaves turn a gorgeous flame red.

claimed now

October 4th, 2009 at 03:05 am

Saturday
Saving log - $0
Spending log - $12 coffee, breakfast + $28 groceries
Found money - $0.51 (sidewalk, road, parking lot, bus stop, Coinstar machine)

Friday
Saving log - $2 tip box
Spending log - $1.75 coffee
Found money - $0.10 (parking meter, sidewalk)

No dice on the Washington unclaimed property search, so I guess I have to take potluck amongst the really unclaimed coins along my walk. I walked along 15th Ave NW to about 55th - a fairly rich source, including a quarter so beat up that you couldn't really tell it was a quarter except for the weight and parts of the ridge. It will be fun trying to get the bank to take it. And yesterday I found 8 pennies by the parking meter. Since I've been keeping track of how much and where I find change, I've found $4.28 in just under 3 months.

I set up the ability to electronically transfer money to buy stock for my newest Drp stock - Sysco. All the other stocks that I hold as Drps seem pricey. It sounds very strange to others, but I'm really hoping for another serious drop in stocks so I can buy more of what I like.

bits and pieces

October 2nd, 2009 at 04:49 am

Thursday
Saving log - $3 tip box
Spending log - $1.75 coffee + $2 fruit
Found money - $0.01 (sidewalk)

Wednesday
Saving log - $3 tip box
Spending log - $1.75 coffee + $.80 onion
Found money - $0.02 (sidewalk)

Quiet really, just a lot of a little. Payday, and with with the end of the 3rd quarter, I noted how my 403B finished the quarter (even better than last quarter).

Cracked open one of the pounds of ground beef and made spaghetti sauce with it. A couple of weekends from now, we'll have dinner with the Duvall friends and trade off our beef for some duck. Sister is finishing up her garden for the year.

One of the QFC grocery stores is closing. Its not one that I shop a lot at, but I did shop there once in a while. I don't see the recession easing, I see a grinding sameness with the legs down disguised. I hear the recession easing talk as a whistle in the dark. Better to hope than not, but I'm not going to be the first to spend freely.

But all is not doom and gloom with the recession. Don't try any of these fixes at home... or at least, not in my home!