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Archive for January, 2012

yay to rut roh to yay

January 27th, 2012 at 04:36 am

Again, insanely busy, which is normal ... my January is like all my other Januarys in 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009 blah blah blah.

Lately though I've been excited (yay) and then there's one little hitch so I have to "rut roh" and eat a crow drumstick. This menopause thing is getting to me; I used to have a mind like a steel trap. Now it seems to work like a Venus fly trap.

A couple days ago I found a dollar bill, yesterday a wheat penny.

Tax paperwork is trickling in - I have to double check, but I seem to only be missing a couple of Div 1099s. Get those, and I can see what the lay of the land is.

But another yay this evening. DH and I have plans to go to Argentina in September. At least that is the plan. Several other couples are involved - the plan is to rent a house in Buenos Aires and use it as a launch pad. Fingers crossed that it works out.

out and about

January 22nd, 2012 at 02:45 am

Hard to believe that grey is such a sweet, sweet color around here. We still have a little bit of snow and plenty of icy water on the lawn and in the driveway, but everywhere else, it was muddy snow, wet roads and downtown, dry sidewalks.

Errand day today: delivered the now-clean gym clothes to the office, did a 3.5 mile walk (first long-ish one since last Sunday), bought bras at Fred Meyer which is now also doing a clearance sale preparing for them to close for renovations, picked up some trash around the house. (We had our recycling bin blow over in the windstorm last night). Cancelled the grout fest scheduled for today - maybe next week when it might be a true fest because I'll have two pieces to grout rather than just one.

Found 17 cents "around" a penny or a nickel at a time.

Oh, yes, several people had Etta James; a couple of people have Joe Paterno. This year, with more players and the players themselves seem to have done better research ... the game is already interesting right off the bat.

2nd snow day

January 19th, 2012 at 10:28 pm

Luckily, the office was not as nutty as they have been previously - the office has been closed and I'm on my second snow day. DH's office (IRS) tried opening but they closed at noon.

Walking is okay - still have my Yaktrax and they are the best 20$ I ever spent. The neighborhood businesses tend to be open when their employees are living nearby. I thanked the Safeway for being open. Saw two little girls looking under the Coinstar machine - one pulled out a quarter. Heh heh - good to see the habit being passed on.

Other than that, the usual soul searching - are we weenies in the snow, why are we weenies in the snow, could this be handled better, could this have been predicted better? Once upon a time I would have been among them. Now - yep I'm a weenie. I hated snow and ice when I lived in the midwest, and came to Seattle because I wouldn't get much of it. While I would prefer that Seattle wouldn't shut down in the snow, it does, and you can either b!tch about it or deal with it.

In other words, "go on board, dammit!"

So in that spirit - this is what I'm doing this afternoon...

preparing

January 18th, 2012 at 02:00 am

Yeah, this time I'm one of those Seattle snow weenies. I left work early, caught the bus, got home before the sun set. In my salad days I would have been out there snickering, but these days ... I'm not going to be the problem.

If I wake up to a couple of inches and more snow, doesn't matter whether the office is open or not, I'm staying home. I've got plenty of PTO and I can't imagine that any "fire" at work couldn't wait a day or two.

Of course, nobody had better die tomorrow. Wikipedia is going dark that day due to a protest on SOPA. Also get any lolcat craving out of the way today, they will be dark also.

I thought about putting Paula Deen on my list. Even tasting that cooking will get you in trouble (you have to taste quite a bit and the often-ness of it probably keeps you craving that stuff), and keeping it secret for 3 years just says denial to me.

Spent $14 getting enough food to last a couple of days,

from one scam to another

January 14th, 2012 at 05:05 am

It turns out that the twilight zone moment was a practical joke pushed too far by a Customer Service rep. I mentioned it to the Customer Service rep's supervisor to chat with him a bit. The way to have played it was, "yes it was a joke, isn't it funny?" and left it at that. Comedy is a fine line ... and that line is very fluid. When things ease up a bit, he could have played it further but as it is ... show a little restraint.

(Yes, restraint is mighty rich when you are MCing a death bet, but there it is.)

Got home and opened an offer from Chase. If you start a checking account (no doubt with direct deposit), Chase will give you a 200$ gift card. Yippee! Yeah, no.

Collected two more forms for my taxes. W4 and a 1099 from ING.

We are all waiting for snow apparently this weekend. French toast hankerings have begun.

twilight zone moment

January 13th, 2012 at 04:46 am

So far, healthy as a horse, so I'm working like a horse at work. You might remember that book pledges/work data at a non-profit that rhymes with "you don't say". I had a MOMENT tho at the end of the day.

It started off from the generic Customer Service inbox email asking both a co worker and I we should book a 2.8M gift, read below. 2.8M, huh? Okay ...

Then you read the email. We've been trying to contact you, yadda yadda yadda, and we will give 2.8M if you give us $145. And full of typos.

Is this a joke? I wrote.

Received an email back: I called them (yikes, you can't be serious! I counted the digits and it was an INTERNATIONAL number), the money was to resolve an issue that we had in the past, and I talked with accounting and they were wondering how to book it.

Oh boy ...

Co worker, who was with me on this, told the emailer to take it to the COO.

Emailer: fine, but I'm planning how to spend my raise.

Of course we got word from the Customer Service supervisor that it was a scam, but man, I don't know where to begin. I'm fairly certain, although not 100% sure, that it is a practical joke. (the other option is complete idiocy) Its just that this is NOT the time of year to toy with us. Its just not appreciated!

13 players, tax time, and actual spending

January 8th, 2012 at 03:38 am

Friday night was the deadline to the dead pool. I now have 13 players - which is so fantastically symbolic that I'm closing it to new players. Just got CB's payment, and with her, Mjrube, Mjrube's friend, and Paulette participating, its tempting to consider this the $20 challenge by other means. Good luck to all.

Tax time this year - I've pulled out my green (again fantastically symbolic) folder and am out "collecting". Its different this year - most places really, really want you to sign up for e-delivery to keep you paperless, or to impoverish the USPS even more. I haven't made any exotic moves, the drip re-investments are about 1K, and I haven't made much interest, I can't imagine that I'm going to pay a ton of tax. Only thing is that one of my drip companies got bought out by another drip company (which I like even more), so not only is it one more 1099, I can't write off the stock loss.

Today I did a bit of walking, but I checked out grout colors at Home Depot and Lowe's ... still might go with the gray that I have, and I slipped into Ross and picked up a Cal King bed sheet set. We have a couple of sets that we rotate, but it would be nice to refresh them a bit. Also bought a bit of food from the Greenwood Market, another grocery store that's going away. I'm still bummed. With them going away, the Fred Meyer down until October, and one of our main arterials being ripped up, 2012 is ... 2012.

chore vs hobby

January 3rd, 2012 at 05:34 am

Read this interesting article about weight loss last Sunday. Since weight loss and saving money are aligned a bit, hear me out because this blog post has a lot to do about money.

The article was particularly interesting to me because I appear to be one of those rare persons who has managed to keep the weight I've lost, um lost. Although I can't seem to lose lots of weight in one smooth movement, I seem to lose the 10lbs, then plateau, then wait for some change to lose 10lbs, ...rinse and repeat several times. I'm right now at 166.6 (40 lbs down since November 2005) and have managed to survive this year's holiday carb-fest.

Anyway, much of the article described what it takes for others (and me, frankly) to sustain the weight loss. Basically near constant monitoring, food and exercise diary, treating yourself as a data point. In a sense, the weight loss maintenance takes on its own place in the calendar. Its really become a hobby, something that requires energy, attention, thought, discussion.

Thinking about that, I had my first epiphany: most people think of eating as a hobby, and exercise as a chore . Most of us vary our eating, can tell you where good restaurants are, and hate cooking themselves because that's a chore. The weightloss sustainers inverted this - they essentially try to make eating as much a chore as possible. They cook at home, they try eat as consistently as possible and measure it. On the other hand, they try to exercise as much as possible - walk, garden, gym, bike and try to mix it up. Vary it, talk about it, measure it and journal it. They try to turn it into a hobby.

My second epiphany came when I thought about saving and spending because they parallel weight loss. Most Americans spend as a hobby, save as a chore. I mean when we blog about others buying that 50K countertop, well what are they doing? Spending as a hobby. They save (or try to) as a chore. Pay yourself first - try to make it automatic ... which works mechanically, but boy not very much fun.

The thing that gets me about the bloggers at saving advice is that we all try to think of saving as a hobby - play games, try different things, journal and discuss what we do or what we've discovered. We also try, at least, to put some aspects of chore into spending. Spend on needs first, then wants .... and not just any wants, needed wants if that makes any sense.

And then investing. You are turning the spending hobby on its head by saving, but buying money.

Now the chore piece ... I don't really want to discount it, make it sound awful because its really not. Chores are important they are necessary and they can even be semi-fun. Just not as fun as a hobby.

the bet, v. 2012

January 2nd, 2012 at 04:13 am

As mentioned by Paulette, she is playing with us, along with mjrube, and CB. I have almost as many bloggers playing as F2F contacts. Since not everybody likes to read this sort of stuff - it requires that you are secure in your karma - I've put my list in the comments that you can read or ignore.

Also bought stamps so that I can mail mjrube her winnings for 2011.

Mosaics

January 2nd, 2012 at 03:18 am

Let me give you a tour of my tiny portfolio:

Monkey mama linked to my first project, done in class. I loved it, but I don't think of it as sellable and the grout is now starting to crack on it. I learned two lessons - 1. don't get fancy with the edge (fancy edges have to be babied), and 2. grout has to "cure" slower than 3-4 days ... I wrap my pieces with a bathtowel I hate, spritz the towel to dampen it and wrap that in a plastic kitchen garbage bag and leave it alone for a full 7 days.

This is the finished garden tray. I found a wire tray at the thrift store and fit the piece to the bottom. Wearing like iron!


This is the piece I gave to the Duvall friends. Its a homage to their 1-winged rooster, State & Main. 1 wing but he produces "swimmers" (their comment, not mine). His first rooster son, First & State, got sold to neighbors.


I asked a coffeeshop (Green Bean) to hold their chipped and broken mugs, plates, and other ceramic stuff. I used a fair amount of black coffee mug for the rooster tail above. I made this piece for them. Word has it that they will be hanging it soon. I'll let you all know if that comes to pass!


I still have to grout this for lawyer friend and partner. They love poker and throwing dinner parties. What should happen (fingers crossed) is that the clear glass should protect the card face underneath from the grout. I learned also that a much better source for interesting ceramics is not the thrift store, but a high end ceramics shop because the high end shop can only sell the chipped and cracked pieces to me for a quarter or fifty cents. (a Vernon plate provided the curtain-y middle top).

Net Worth, December 2011

January 2nd, 2012 at 03:06 am

I was doing very well as of June 2011, even broke above $600K even throughout much of July. Then August happened and I dropped quite a bit. I say that to get perspective - that I'm only 5K down is just fine. This year has been so flat and meh. The increase between December 2010 and December 2011 is literally based on the contributions I put in. (5K in the Roth, 16.5K in the 403B)

$235,596 IRA/403B
$182,365 Vanguard taxable
$35,536 stock
$13,565 I-bonds
$25,000 CDs
$98,563 ING
$1,538 immediate cash
$592,163 total

December 2011 ($592,163 total, $356,567 in taxable accounts)
June 2011 ($596,791 total, $376,359)
December 2010 ($575,346 total, $356,542)
June 2010 ($553,023 total, $369,589)
December 2009 ($551,300 total, $385,771)
June 2009 ($512,054 total, $379,475)
Dec 2008 ($498,148 total, $386,021)
June 2008 ($524,261 total, $387,481)
Dec 2007 ($328,688 total, $192,747)
June 2007 ($176,422 total, $48,205)
Dec 2006 ($132,062 total, $40,329)
June 2006 ($120,261 total, $65,148)
Dec 2005 ($67,778 total, $23,740)
June 2005 ($46,115 total, $11,293)
Dec 2004 ($38,338 total, $7,558)
June 2004 ($29,050 total, $4,533)