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showing my mosaics

March 8th, 2014 at 11:38 pm

Not much has happened this past month. Doing my job, getting paid, planning a trip, collecting dividends, doing my taxes. (taxes are going to be ugly this year.) And I've found so $40.78 since mid July.

But I did talk to the co-owner of Bean City, and they are showing 4 of my mirror mosaics. We put them up this afternoon. We'll try it for a month and see how much interest there is.

Mosaic clock

January 18th, 2014 at 08:25 pm

As promised, here is a picture of my handmade mosaic clock. And yes, I need to dust! Big Grin

To keep it moderately fiscal, I got the wood backing board for free, the watch mechanism & hands from Amazon for $4, and the stand was $8 from Fred Meyer. Most of my glass and tile was bought on the 4$/lb ... but I did get free materials from friends of friends. That little bit of gold glass at the 12/3/6/9 cost up in the $20/lb, but I figure I maybe used less $1 worth. The Weldbond (Elmers but a lot better) and the grout are each $20, but each will last for tens of projects. That really leaves labor - about 30 hrs or so.

...as I was saying (long)

December 13th, 2012 at 12:50 pm

Well, this is the first post in about 5 months. My entry title is a take off on Jack Paar's first words when he came back to his Tonight show after a big long kerfluffle.

Anyway, what happened was not a mere storm to my routine it was a fiscal hurricane (apologies to those still coming back from ss Sandy). It was all self induced. Pull up a chair and let me tell you about it.

First of all, no more DH. Actually, just to be clear, DH was more a DP (partner). We never got married, but we were together for over 20 years. I fudged the legal aspects of the relationship to provide myself a hair more anonymity. And now, it matters little except for the fact that no marriage, no divorce.

I had been dissatisfied in our relationship for some time, but something good usually happened that I could go on for a little longer. Last July though, I just looked around and saw that DH (okay, DP) was not going to change and I was damned, if I continued, that I was going to spend my next 30 years picking up after him. I blew...for me I blew, and then while I snapped back I snapped back into a different place ... a different realization.

We broke up, but we did go to Argentina together. I did give him the option to not go (he took out trip insurance), but told him that we all did want him to come. I can't say what he thought about the whole thing. I know that strangely enough, it took the heat off of me. If he did something cringe worthy, I didn't think of it as a reflection on our relationship because there now wasn't one.

Next day after I snapped, I went to my credit union in search of a home loan. Which, if you look at my net worth, was easy to get. I had 20% and could qualify pretty easy for a 3% 15 yr fixed. Next I thought hard about what I really really wanted. I thought, wouldn't it be nice to have a real yard? Yeah, I suppose, but really yard work only appealed to me once in awhile, while plants in the yard grew relentlessly. And if I waited for Seattle home prices to turn reasonable, well I'd still be spending 30 yrs waiting for that. Plus, if I truly wanted to do yard work for a couple of weeks, I could fly out, spend some time with sister at the farmette, help her with the garden and weeding, and since I co-own the farmette, well, it helps me also.

After a bit of searching, I found probably one of the last sweet condo deals in Seattle, out in Lake City/Cedar Park, out at the northeast edge of Seattle. And yet the bus commute was 20 minutes shorter than what I'm used to (buses here are express, and I'm on the last stop before downtown), and the neighborhood itself sports a +90 walkability score. So I now am a proud condo owner.

With it, well I'm still spending money right and left. However, I'm buying quality and getting exactly what I want. New carpet, but carpet tile instead of wall to wall shag; new paint, but high end paint which means I can get away with 1/2 coats, only buying 1 gallon and taking only 1/2 sessions to paint a room. V.I. (kitty) has moved in with me and seems to have settled in well. Of course that litter genie could have helped much.

I can't rightly say that I'm saving money yet, but I am saving my sanity, resetting my routine, making new friends (I'm now closer to Spondilucks, who invited me to her New Year's party).

More to come, but as it is, while life is different, it is nicer for me than before.

chore vs hobby

January 2nd, 2012 at 09:34 pm

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.

saving games

November 22nd, 2011 at 08:40 pm

Its been wet and rainy, so I'm getting fiscal, fiscal to take my mind off of sopping....everything.

Over the last month:
I've found about $7 in found money as I've walked.
BECU gave me about $2.50 in interest in my checking and savings accounts.
I put 45$ into savings, coming from my tip box at work (when I think about it, I put money in a little covered box in a drawer at work called my tip box)
ING gave me about $75 in interest coming from my savings.
I transfer $125 from checking into savings (1 paycheck), and I transfer $100 into ING (other paycheck)
I've made $375 in stock purchase ($75 is usual, $300 is a quarterly, once-in-awhile-buy)
I've put in $1200 into my 403B from work.

I'm having good luck playing all my savings games, from little to big - from the amounts that I find on the sidewalk, to the $1 or several dollars that I put into my tip box, to paying myself first, to making sure that my checking and savings accounts pay me instead of I pay them. I know that others can't or aren't interested in some of these games, but I find that the more of them I play, the more mindful I am to save and the more inspired I get. If anything, the big stuff is less inspiring to me because I overshoot a hair and it means that I take some out of savings.

What kind of savings' games do you play?

anything but not everything

August 21st, 2011 at 08:18 pm

I read an insightful article about decision fatigue in the NYT Sunday magazine.

The basic point of the article is that decisions of any size require energy. The more you make during a day, the more likely you will either make a crappy one or that you will go with what is recommended to you ... and in a sales situation, its always going to cost.

Insightful to the frugalistas and frugalistas-in-training, for a number of reasons.

Remember the saying "you can have anything, but you can't have everything"? Of course, it means that you have to figure out what your anythings are in the whole universe of everything ... which means setting priorities .... which means decisions. Lots of decisions.

People sometimes consider my tactic of setting a routine to be ho-hum, but it means that I don't have to re-make routine decisions and I free myself for the biggies during the day.

Every so often the question, "what is the most frugal skill one can develop?" pops up. I thought it was math estimation skills but I might make the case that preventing decision fatigue might well be it.

I'll take it, I guess

August 13th, 2011 at 09:03 pm

At home, I looked over my invoice at the thrift store. I appear to have gotten the 10% senior citizen discount.

I don't know whether to laugh, cry, or dye my hair. But I will take the discount.

crafty patch part 2

July 20th, 2011 at 08:22 pm

I listed out all the crafty creative projects I've been roped into or found to do -

Wrote the story board and wrote about a 1/3 of the shooting script. Screenwriter friend brought his camera and showed us how to use it, so now the camera people are working out shooting the piece. Today I made four joke pledges as props - Montgomery Burns giving to the Release the Hounds Dog Park in Springfield, for instance. Since stamping is part of my job, I made a joke Bulls%*t stamp. It will be small, but subtle. Thank you mom's side of family for the mean sense of humor, it came in handy.

Working on getting the database to play nice with Office 2010. I got the database to load (yay), and 80% of it works, but a number of functions were lost, and I'm working to get them back.

Got my first mosaic piece mortared with thin set on the wedi board (wedi board is a stiff styrofoam board coated in concrete and mesh. Thin and light but waterproof). It went about as smooth as I'd expect it to go the first time. The big thing is that even though I was careful in my calculations I still made a lot more than I needed. I'm willing to bet that many people try to finish several pieces before mortaring. There is a bit of thin set on the glass, but not much - I've been successful taking a knife and gently scraping it off. I learn to grout on the 30th.

I'm gluing glass onto mesh and making my second piece. Goin' solo on this one!

Have all but two of my yard sale frames painted. Time to take a look at pictures.

tourist silly season

July 14th, 2011 at 09:30 pm

Its July in Seattle, the height of the tourist season, and everybody is looking to make a bit of coin off of them....

on the eve

April 28th, 2011 at 07:52 pm

On the eve of both my 49th birthday and the royal wedding of young William and Kate, I have only one thing to say:

"You kids! My day! Get off my lawn!"

I mean seriously, why are you getting married on cheap ol' Friday? Surely all parties involved can afford/ muscle a booking on a high class Saturday wedding?

Then again, with British austerity, perhaps not...

On a lighter and fiscal note (not that above wasn't light or secretly fiscal), I got my last payment of the bird flu study. $50! And I get paid. The only issue there is that I'm still fighting illness. I would take the day off to recouperate except that because I'm changing banks, this paycheck happens to be a paper one. And rent has been scheduled. I don't pick up the check and deposit it, payments are gonna bounce.

Rule One

January 16th, 2011 at 07:12 pm

Sister paid me back for her half; I deposited it and sent it to ING. No doubt I'll be sending her 5K back for my yearly farmette support...but that will be after we get back. And I'm now over $39 in finding dirty money since mid-July.

I've been developing the habit of downloading the weekend podcast of Marketplace Money. Its the personal finance arm of NPR's Marketplace. Both shows I've been glued to ever since the economy went down in September 2008. Anyway, the latest series on the podcast is that the producers have button-holed a person asking, "what's in your wallet?" ...and the person describes their wallet and pulls out and describes their contents.

I can tell you right now why many Americans have spending problems.

Sometimes first, but usually second on the list after the cash. The credit card. In your wallet.

Rule one for beginning frugality: take credit card out of wallet. Bring card only when you are on an errand where you absolutely need one, remove it in the daily use wallet.

I'm telling you, if you routinely carry the credit card, you routinely use the credit card. Having to fetch the card from home when you see something you must have is a built-in cooldown period.

Now it could be that in a few cases a person got caught running an errand and had the credit card. And it could be that for a very disciplined few - like Monkey Mama, for instance - carrying the card and putting every thing on it works.

But really, for the beginning frugalist, make it easy on yourself. Much easier to avoid using the card when the wallet and card are unlinked.

3 easy ways to boost your 401K

September 23rd, 2010 at 08:29 pm

I had a laugh scanning some of CNN Money today. My favorite giggle inducer was 3 Easy Ways to Boost Your 401K. I'll link to it here, to keep me honest, but I'll tell you what gave me the giggles.

Easy Way 1: Up your contribution. (They gave the example of 6% to 10%). Wow. Mind blowing. Insert two smart-ass remarks here. 1) How EASY will that be when you are living paycheck to paycheck? 2) How do you make a small fortune? Start with a large fortune...

Easy Way 2: Change your asset allocation to get an 8% return. Hah hah. Shall we take accounts? Cash - interest is at best 1%, 10yr treasury bills at 2.7%, bonds at about 3%, dividend stocks at about 2.6%, regular stocks variable between some negative number and 20% if it was a smashing single year. And we apparently blithely forget the "past returns are not indicative of future results". So where is that dependable, sure-fire EASY 8% gonna come from?

Easy Way 3: Work until you are 67. Just don't get a psycho boss, a health issue, or God forbid, be a 50+ year old standing in the unemployment line. But those are EASY to avoid, right?

Its not the advice that gave me the giggles, but the EASY. Investing is worthwhile, but not EASY.


April 5th, 2010 at 09:35 pm

Saving log - $0
Spending log - $15 brunch + $25 thrift store + $7 bookstore + $21 Fred Meyer
Found money - $.10 (Safeway floor)

Saving log - $0
Spending log - $3.88 coffee, bagel + $.50 apple + $8 lunch
Found money - $.24 (road, floor, planting strip, bus stop)

Saving log - $7 tip box
Spending log - $990 2 HighDef copies of a film, getting it in shape for SIFF + $1.75 coffee + $.50 apple
Found money - $0.14 (escalator, road, planting strip, in front of outside vending machine)

Quichies are just like quickies, only spelled funny. They can be tasty and chewy and cheesy even. Pull up a chair, sit a spell, and dig in.

A slice of ham and cheese, quichie lorraine:
Finished my buying and picking up two copies of a High Def version of a mockumentary film to be shown at SIFF ... in other words, being an Executive Producer. If your wallet is flush (read the whine at the bottom) and you are in Seattle May 28 or June 1, check it out. If not, well, check out the trailer for free.

A skinny slice of plain quichie:
Yesterday, I picked up a wheat penny. Fun, I thought, a penny older than I am. Today I picked up another wheat penny. Coincidence? People diving deep into their change jars? Discuss.

Quichie slice, with some pretty fruit slices for presentation:
Went shopping again at the thrift store and bought a beautiful grey jean jacket with intricate embroidery and little crystals. Fit in a lovely way. $15. DH wanted my Pendleton XL jacket that I bought five years ago and have been wearing even though I am now officially swimming in it. Also broke down and bought a clip type MP3 player/FM radio for the long walks and jogs. $21.

High tech quichie:
Did my first text coupon last week. I was buying some CDs (low tech), saw a little sign to text something to a number for a 20% discount. I did so (nervously!), and for 10 cents (what it cost me to text) I received a text back to show the clerk. $6 savings. I suppose I will be inundated with text ads soon, but I can delete them before I read them at no cost to me.

Whine with that quichie?
Just to pile on with others getting roped into drama of broke people buying of meaningless stuff... To me, its not that someone is buying the thing. Free country. Its not even that someone broke is buying the thing. Again free country; one is free to be irresponsible. Its the whining and cajoling that gets me. Shut up about it, wouldja! And what is so wrong about saying I can't afford it and leave it at that? Its a perfectly good reason. No, no, you can afford it. People are taking on becoming the cajoling and hectoring arm of the advertisers themselves....for free.

safe, effective, vaguely stupid

January 17th, 2010 at 08:16 pm

Saving log - $0
Spending log - $3.88 coffee + $.60 apple + $.35 pack of gum (see below)
Found money - $0.44 (edge of bridge, sidewalks)

Saving log - $0
Spending log - $13 brunch + $2 cookie + $10 dinner
Found money - $0.16 (sidewalks, parking lot)

This is a story about a coin rescue gone too far. It worked out, but boy I looked odd ... even for me. If you are hesitant to pick up coins in public view, this is not a technique for you!

My tale begins as I walked across the Fremont Bridge. Now I've walked across the pedestrian walkway on this bridge for months and most times I've noticed three coins on a moss-covered concrete pad two feet below the walkway at the south lip of the bridge.

Of course, since I could not touch them (there's a three foot railing and wire mesh between railing and walkway), I could not count them. Over the months, off and on, I thought about how I could nab them. Today I thought it was their day to be rescued, so I walked onward and considered my plan.

The basic thought was a long stick with some thing sticky on it. About a block away I searched for some sticks and found a couple suitable - about six feet, relatively straight, firm, but not really large so as not to attract horrid amounts of attention - and set those aside. For the sticky, I thought of gum. I can get some gum. I kept walking and found a little grocery store, bought the 5-pack of gum for 35 cents, chewed a piece.

As I walked back, the first hurdle became apparent. I hate gum. The first couple of chews was all right, but over-chewing and popping? Gaack. It just activates the gag reflex in me.

Still, I persevered and chewed some more. I had the silver wrapper that would make for a smooth pad on the end of the stick and I knew that the gum would stick to it (who knew if gum would stick to the end of a wet stick?). Also along the way, I picked up a plastic tie. So when I got back to the stick, I had everything.

I halved the gum wrapper paper side out, wrapped the meaty end of the stick with the paper, tied it down, plunked the gum on top. The whole thing looked like a demented pool cue. Demented pool cue in hand, I walked back to the bridge. I hung away from the crowd - this is something that will embarrass even me.

My first tack was to slip the stick through a hole in the mesh and press down on one of the coins. It worked, kinda, but as I pulled out the stick, the coin slipped. I tried it again, and same thing.

Third tack was to hope that the stick was long enough to go over the railing. It was long enough, barely. I had more control, but the gum at the end wasn't sticky enough. I chewed another piece quickly and stuck the second wad on top of the first.

That did it. I extracted one coin (dime), then the next (nickel), then the nastiest one, which I thought was a nickel, but it turned out to be a corroded quarter. After the rescue, I broke the stick and threw it away.

Luckily I only got looks as I rescued coins - to the MacGvyer goes the spoils - but even I have to admit that I went a little overboard.

$21.00: 535 pennies, 19 nickels, 85 dimes, 21 quarters, $1 bill.

slice of life at Ross

January 9th, 2010 at 07:26 pm

Saving log - $0
Spending log - $14 breakfast + $42 stuff at Ross (gift card)
Found money - $0.39 (road, sidewalk, escalator railing - again!)

I was shopping at Ross Dress for Less - using a Christmas gift card. First off, I'm:

a size 12!

or at least I am by that pseudo house of fashion. We'll see how 12vy I am, but this pair of size 12 pants fit me perfectly - no "if I lost a couple of pounds" fit.

As I was getting dressed in the dressing room, I heard from the next dressing room over small children voices and the familiar clink of coins falling on floor. Add dressing rooms to the list of places to find change. I found a penny on the floor of an empty room - however it was glued to the floor!

Still, being a size 12 was exciting enough for me and got me through the exceeding long checkout line carrying pants, top, set of stainless steel mixing bowls. And I was waiting in the long line, moving along, I noticed one final thing that made me wonder. A 20-something woman 2 people ahead of me had an unopened 12 oz bottle of beer in her right front pocket. (Bottle cap said Rogue - a well known high-end Oregon beer brand).

It took me aback. Why was she carrying it? Leftovers from a party last night? Way to keep the edge off as she waited?- it was a screwtop, after all. She had a normal size purse and nothing in her left - no place to hold the other five. She moved all right - no stagger - and seemed normal enough.

I mentally thanked her, though. Musing about that beer bottle made the time pass by.

After getting out of Ross, I soo wanted to get a cookie. Then I remembered that I was now a size 12 and had standards to uphold.

my turning point

August 21st, 2009 at 09:24 pm

Saving log - $2 tip box
Spending log - $1.75 coffee
Found money - $0.10 (sidewalk, 1st Ave)

Saving log - $1 tip box
Spending log - $1.75 coffee
Found money - $0.01 (sidewalk, Greenwood Ave)

I can't say that I've had a St. Paul on the road to Damascus moment in being frugal. I was always a good saver, and had a reasonable amount of discipline even in college in the early 80's when I held myself to $10/week (this when a Saturday Harold's Chicken white half came to $2.75).

I graduated from college, worked for a year, applied to grad school, got into grad school, got my grad degree, moved and became a journeyman scientist, well for each leap I saved up about $2K for the move. It was always paycheck to paycheck but with 2K savings.

Where I really fell in my youth was in the money management arena. During my bad old days, my money management skill consisted entirely of: Look at ATM balance, I have $x in my checking account, therefore no spending. I hated it when the bank's monthly statement came in - I never looked at it. Too depressing. My spending was hit and miss - paycheck week I could be social, the next I had to be super frugal and was a pain to be around. Even up until my early 40s I felt like my money was managing me. Worse, when money manages you, you feel on edge in your job ... you have to keep that job no matter what because you have to keep the money coming in, no matter what.

My first big break was getting a PDA for Christmas. I found a free checkbook program and began putting in my checks, ATM trips, paycheck. Then I put in my savings. I put in my credit card balances, then I put in my 403B balances. I found, to my surprise, that even though I owed 15K in credit card and student loan debt, my net worth was positive.

My second big break came when I finally paid off my student loan. I was lucky (not skillful, particularly) that I took out loans only during my undergrad years; I grit my teeth and lived on the meager stipend during my grad years. Still, I realized that in 1984 I had $15K in student loan debt, 0K in credit card debt. In 2002, the tables were reversed. I had $0K in student loan debt, $15K credit card debt. I used the satisfaction that I got out of paying the student loans to inspire me to pay off the credit card debt, which I did in May 2005, a few months before I started this blog.

My third big break came a bit before the other two, strangely enough. DH gave me a share of Coke (KO) and started my first Dividend Reinvestment Program (Drp). My granddad used to invest in penny stocks in the 70s and had a lot of fun ... this before index funds, 401Ks, IRAs, or even Drps. All there seemed to be after passbook savings accounts were stocks, bought in 100-share round lots. Anyway, as I got a grip on the credit cards, I began to put in $50 every month or so into KO stock. I treated it a bit like a letter to a long distance friend. You get the mail, open it, and respond. I used to mail the check back within a week of getting the receipt of the last payment.

So really I had a lot of little money management revelations. For the longest time, it was paying off credit card $300-400/ month, putting in some $266 in the 403B every month, putting in $50 into KO, adding savings at the top of the month, tip box in the middle of the month, living within my means the rest of the month, and noting the transactions into the PDA. I didn't care about being splashy - I went for relentless. I decided to learn by doing with investing, never paying more than $100/ pop, but doing it over and over again.

Working small, gradual, and relentless meant I learned enough to handle two inheritances - as I describe in my blog. I really shudder to think about how I would have handled the inheritances when the money was managing me.

I've said it several times, and will probably say it several more - don't wait for the "big money" to learn how to handle money, the "small money" has a lot to teach you.

thank you for smoking

May 17th, 2009 at 07:50 pm

Saving log - $0 tip box
Spending log - $3.88 coffee, bagel + $.69 apple + $11.50 conveyor belt sushi

Today I found .12 on the ground. I generally find a coin here and there (pennies mostly) every couple of days. Often, like Disneysteve, if I find one, I find another - so that is a good little rule.

As a public service, and to the determent of my own coin hunting, I thought of coming up with a checklist of reasonable places where I find stray coins. I've been hard at work thinking about it, but the places that I've found coins are so varied - sidewalks, parking lots, bus stops, on the floor of the bus, in front of my driveway, on the road along the curb, pedestrian intersections, behind the paper honesty boxes, in front of ATMs ... in other words I can give you an inelegant, exhaustive list that isn't very easy to remember.

Later, it hit me the thread that most of these places share: they are high foot traffic places where people wait for a few minutes, stick their hands in and out of their pockets and then leave. Fine, but as you are walking along a sidewalk, hard to tell those high traffic hotspots from ordinary sidewalk.

Or is it? I suspect not. One of the things that some people do as they wait and jam their collective hands in their collective pockets is smoke. And when the bus comes, friend comes, cigarette is finished, what happens? Some of the butts go into the can (thank you), some land on the sidewalk or whereever.

I submit to you a very simple rule: the more cigarette butts on the ground, the more likely you will find change on the ground.

Let's be clear here. I'm not saying smokers are more likely to drop change. I'm saying that cigarette butts are a reasonable marker to identify those good coin hunting places where a lot of people wait with hands in pockets, yet have to leave in a hurry.

I'm probably also saying that street sweepers and those business folk who keep their front sidewalks clean are my competitors - if you sweep a butt, you probably are sweeping coins too.

The rule isn't perfect - I've found coins in our front driveway (neither of us smoke), close to gas station pumps (not supposed to smoke there), on bare sidewalks. Still, today, there were a lot of butts (even a joint where I found that dime) where I found my change today.

If you are a coin hunter, let me know if this rule helps you find more change!

Do you know you're dead? (really, really long)

March 22nd, 2009 at 09:36 pm

Last night was the night of ghost hunting at the workplace. In a nutshell, nothing dramatic happened (jokingly, DH asked me to rinse off outside if I got slimed and I stayed dry), but it was fascinating nonetheless. Right off the bat, no pictures just words.

A little background - a month after and ever since we moved into our new digs in November 2003 (our last day in the old office fell on Halloween - no joke), we've had reports of odd sightings of people and emanations. The two incidents that I knew about before last night were - 1.) a month after the move, a self-described psychic who was a fundraising temp staffer in 2003 described that she saw shadows of people counting money. Not unhappy, they were just counting money. 2.) Another fundraising temp staffer a couple of years ago said she saw a thin man in an overcoat walking quickly then turning left into a wall.

Last night I heard about several more stories through the years: a cleaning staffer saw a man in hip boots, dark coat, and scars sitting in a cubicle in the 1st and 3rd floors; the daughter of the facilities manager said to her dad that she was trying to talk to a man in a tall hat on the 1st floor; as the events manager came up the back stairs ran into a gate that opened and slammed shut; the same fundraising temp staffer who saw the overcoat man heard bag rustling and stomping coming from the 1st floor and she was the only person in the building; and a couple movement-from-the-corner-of-the-eye sightings in the old bank vault on the lower level.

So I come to work at 7:30 pm to a dark building, with one of the ghost hunting team on point to greet us and meet his team. The completely dark building was part of the setup. The facilities manager cut the lights and ran down the backup lights. Everything we did was either in the dark or by flashlight.

On our team of co workers were: the facilities manager (dad of the daughter), director of IT, me, the fundraising temp staffer who saw the overcoat man and heard the stomping on the 1st floor, 3 co workers who were very, very interested (all women, interestingly enough). On the ghost hunting team: 9 members, including a woman who attracts ghosts, and later on, a 10th person, the president of the ghost hunting club back from giving a ghost underground tour of Seattle. (Wow, there is one.)

The ghost hunters all setup behind the reception area. They came with a lot of equipment, IR cameras, EMF detectors, MP3 recorders, digital cameras, and headlights. They and by extension, we, looked like spelunkers. We were split into 4 teams: generally 2 ghost hunters teamed with two of us. I was with the temp staffer who saw the overcoat man (she was a good friend of mine). We were to go to each floor - LL, 1, 2, 3 - and stay for 1 hour in rotation. (It was to keep everybody from hitting the LL and the vault all at once!)

Another of guy ghost hunters set up stationary IR cameras on the straight ways on each floor.

Most of the night, we would walk around the dark corridors of each floor in turn to keep them from getting lost. The IR guy would continuously videotape, every so often the woman ghost hunter would photograph the corridors or cubicles. As they asked questions about the building, we would answer them, and they'd tell us a bit about what they were doing - the IR camera was to identify hot spots, the digital camera with the flash was to identify shadows. Apparently our computers would give spurious readings on EMF detectors so we didn't really use them...but other teams did. We learned that many of the sightings are 'residuals', where an entity doing something re-appears over and over again, like a repeating tape. 'Hauntings' are when you communicate with the entity.

We did a complete walk around of the floor, then we would sit down in a common area and tape. We would ask questions, let them hang in the air. Most of them were open ended - please talk to us, we want to talk to you, why do you stay? I'd ask a couple of questions: sometimes ghosts react to voices that they are familiar with or that are different, so we were encouraged to speak up and ask questions. Then after a bit of taping, we'd play it back. So out of politeness, we mentioned our stomach growlings, or in my case, a rumble a bit further down. Smile

Oddly enough, we heard things on the 2nd floor (where there were no sightings) that sounded like clicking heels. We (meaning our team) didn't really see or hear anything on the LL, nor on the 1st floor. The ghost hunters said for some of these places 4 teams would confuse the ghosts - that they wouldn't know who to communicate with. The 3rd floor we got a little bit in the main conference room. The woman ghost hunter asked me if I had shifted my seat and when I told her no, she told me that she thought she saw movement or a shadow behind me.

On the 1st floor we caught up with another team and the president. It was fascinating hearing the different styles, especially with the questioning. One was a bit more provocative, he would ask questions designed for a response, such as:

Do you know you are dead? Smile

That team sat in the conference room near where we heard the clicking on the second floor. They ran their tape and apparently got a mysterious knock in response to the questioners knock.

After the 4 hour tour, the teams all gathered together. Here's where it got interesting. The women who attracted ghosts could not stay in the vault on the lower level - she sensed a heavy, unfriendly presence, and when she sat in the 3rd floor main conference room her chair vibrated the entire time. Another team, trying to get at the man-with-scars angle, asked about being a fisherman and heard a cat meow. Another smelled a perfume smell in the lower level, in the cubicle next to mine. The hunters noted the 2nd floor issues. The man in the overcoat was hypothesized to be part of the bank. It was noted that the vault was probably at ground level in 1870's Seattle. Fascinating that several entities might be involved, coming from different times and places.

What the ghost hunters wanted was a history of the site, floor plans of the buildings that came before, go through tapes that they got, give us a report. They also want to set up and run an IR camera in the vault and the 2nd floor conference room over a weekend.

I can't say I believe any of this, but I have to respect the equipment, the lore (I hesitate calling it a science) and the know-how. Good people, too...with a very interesting hobby.

OT: pranking the creationists

February 12th, 2009 at 08:25 pm

Saving log - $0
Spending log - $0

You have to wonder whether astrology actually worked on Feb 12, 1809 - both Abraham Lincoln and Charles Darwin were born today 200 years ago within a couple of hours of each other. Most of us in the United States think that Lincoln's birthday was the bigger deal, Darwin's less so. Not me - as a former scientist, Darwin is definitely the bigger deal.

Not to mention that I could celebrate Darwin's birthday in a unique Seattle way: The Discovery Institute (creationist think tank) is across the street from our offices.

Figure 1. Matter of fact it shares a wall with the back of my gym at left. So to the left, inside people pursue fitness to prevent natural selection, enhance female choice, perhaps allow for a little forced DNA repair in the tanning bed; to the right, none of that.

Figure 2. The prank itself. Not terribly elaborate or destructive, and perfectly legal. It felt very good, despite being part of their video surveillence tape. Happy 200th, Chuck!

A special citation to the fellow conspirator, eg the picture taker (clearly not me). We've gotta keep an eye on these guys.

ran the numbers

October 8th, 2008 at 09:05 pm

Saving log - $1 tip box
Spending log - $13 lunch

I looked at the totals of all of my accounts and compared them to the numbers that I ran on my net worth on 6/30/2008.

I've lost $25.7K since late June.

Today, my dividend stock portfolio, about 4% of my total net worth, is down about 16%. KO is still showing a profit - my average share cost of KO is $42, so it has to drop a bit more before I lose money. WEC is also showing the barest of profit (8$). In other words, both have "the margin of safety".

If KO gets down to $42, I think that's when I will buy more. The rest of the DRPs I will maintain the discipline and dollar cost average. Dip implies a drop and then a rise. Well, while I believe in the rise, it looks far, far away.

In May last year, I re-allocated my 403B holdings to (for me) a very conservative mix - 30% bond, 20% cash, 10% gov bonds, 40% stock. (I was 90% stock, 10% bond). I blogged about it quickly, but didn't discuss it much in real life. I figured I would get teased for trying to "time the market". I'm glad I did, and would do it again - I'm down about 10% on the 403B holdings.

The rest is cash and cash equivalents (T-bills, I-bonds). Most of grandma's inheritance is still in a cash money market in Vanguard. Vanguard is participating in the Treasury Guarantee program, so if it "breaks the buck", we'll all be standing around burn barrels to keep warm.

So far I've kept my nose above water and have done much, much better than many. I do want to explore getting out of the very conservative mix of my 403B (stocks are about to get cheap enough for buying on that margin of safety), but I want to do so in a thoughtful, calculated way. I plan on blogging my thoughts, calculations, and analysis. I've been giving advice to others about looking into what they have in mutual funds and making reasonable decisions based on that. Time to practice what I preach.


October 7th, 2008 at 07:59 pm

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

SWOTs are a kind of old school brainstorming technique. I'm going to brainstorm here a bit and apply the answers to my investing and financial plan.

S - Strengths - strong cash position; patience; somewhat diversified (403B, IRA, Roth, taxable, cash equivalents, individual stock); no outstanding credit; still have a job w/benefits including health insurance and a bus pass; ability to save; can live cheap; good health; stable relationships; optimism & gratitude; ability to think and learn; a taste for being contrarian.

W - Weaknesses - emotion (unless you're Vulcan, you have that problem); my investments already have a lot of moving parts; need to experience things to learn them; a taste for risk; tendency to cheerlead and weigh positive info more strongly than negative info; incomplete analysis; too much/incoherent data; being contrary by itself is not a good enough reason to do things.

O - Opportunities - stocks are dropping to levels that I can afford; real estate is beginning to drop to levels that I can afford.

T - Threats - macro economic uncertainty (deflation, inflation, stagflation, hyper-inflation - do I have all the -flations?); political uncertainty; will I have a job?; mis-timing how low asset prices can go (they can keep dropping); as I buy, I tie up money that I'll need for other things.

night tour of Seattle

October 5th, 2008 at 06:38 pm

Saving log - $1 tip box
Spending log - $13 brunch + $5 grocery (produce) + $5 night trip

On Saturday night, DH and I took the night Seattle Trolley Tour. Its run by MEHVA - cost was $5 for a 3 hour tour. It was very fun and historic ... however, you will be sitting on a historic bus/trolley for 3 hrs, so a word to the wise: there is a certain amount of stamina required. Again, MEHVA - a non-profit - collects buses and trolleys, but to keep them in good condition, they must be driven around. They would be driven around anyway, so MEHVA charges the rest of us to ride along.

Our chariot for the evening - a circa 1940 trolley. This trolley runs completely on electricity: two poles attached to the roof of the trolley run along a double electric track about 25 ft above the ground.

Since we could only go where the double electric track still exists, and the 68 yr old trolley doesn't have enough of a counterbalance to handle the top of Queen Anne Hill, our itinerary was: from 2nd & Main, Beacon Hill, International District, Pioneer Square, Pike Market, Belltown, lower Queen Anne Hill, then back downtown, Eastlake, over to the University District, Montlake, Capitol Hill, then 2nd & Main again.

It was the perfect time to try out the night landscape setting on my new camera ... so let me re-phrase that: its the perfect time for me to inflict night camera pictures onto my blog readers.

Inside the trolley - they went all out and maintained the old placards, too. Hmmm, I should look into that.

King Street Station - where the Amtrak goes. I seem to remember that this station is also being renovated.

Hey, who let the Alaskans in? (N.B: Washington state is the closest in the lower 48 to Alaska).

Close up of some neon on Stewart St.

I apologize right now - no tripod, no sharp night pictures of the Seattle skyline. Maybe next year. You'll have to settle with the artistically blurry ones.

One of the layovers - this one in Queen Anne. At our layover in the University District, we were swarmed by college students who were fascinated because the trolley looks so different. It warms my heart that they were interested. DH and I suspect that we had a couple of college stowaways riding from the U-District back to downtown. Touching that we were cool enough that they would do it.

The Saturday night action on the street. We were stared at and waved to numerous times. Funny story - as the trolley was navigating through Queen Anne, a young couple got to the driver's side of their car. I suspect that they were hitting two social events last night because when the young man got to the car, he took off his shirt to change presumably for the second event. The middle-aged woman watching him in the trolley began to shriek with laughter. I still think she owes the bus driver a big tip. Big Grin

In short, cheap, fun, historic, green. What's not to like?


September 6th, 2008 at 07:02 pm

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.

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.

not an anthem, but a soundtrack (long)

June 4th, 2008 at 09:54 pm

This is not an anthem for my life, a la Merch; its more like a soundtrack every time I cross this street ...and I cross it often - I work three blocks away. From the musical Little Shop of Horrors.

Alarm goes off at seven
And you start uptown.
You put in your eight hours
For the powers that have always been.
Till it's five P.M.

[BUM 1]
Then You go

Where the folks are broke.
Where your life's a joke.
When you buy your token,
you go
Home to skid row.

[BUM 2]
Yes, you go

Where the cabs don't stop
Where the food is slop
Where the hop-heads flop
in the snow
Down on Skid Row

Uptown you cater to a million jerks.
Uptown you're messengers and
mailroom clerks
eating all your lunches at the
hot dog carts.
The bosses take your money
And they break your hearts.

Uptown you cater to a million whores.
You disinfect terrazzo on their
bathroom floors.
Your morning's tribulation,
afternoon's a curse
And five o'clock is even worse

[BUM 3]
That's when you go

Down on skid row
Down on skid row
Down on skid row
Down on skid row!

Where the guys are drips.
Where they rip your slips.
Where relationships are no go.
Down on skid row
Down on skid row
Down on skid row
Down on skid row!

Poor! All my life I've always been poor.
I keep asking God what I'm for,
and he tells me "Gee, I'm not sure
sweep that floor, kid."
Oh, I started life as an orphan,
a child of the street
Here on skid row.
He took me in, gave me shelter, a bed,
Crust of bread and a job
Treats me like dirt, calls me a slob,
Which I am.
So I live
That's your home address.
Ya live
When your life's a mess.
Ya live
Where depressions' jes'
Status Quo.
Down on skid row

Someone show me a way to get
outta here,
'cause I constantly pray I'll get
outta here
Please, won't somebody say I'll get
outta here
Someone gimme my shot or I'll
rot here.

There's no rules for us.
'Cause it's dangerous.
Where the rainbow's jus a no-show
Where the sun don't
Past the bottom line
Go ask any wino, he'll know
I'll do I dunno what to get outta skid
But a hell of a lot to get outta skid
People tell me there's not a way outta skid
But believe me I gotta get outta skid


Yesler Street, Seattle, the original Skid Row. A hundred and twenty years and thirty feet lower the traffic was logs. Today the traffic is equally mindless.

the spirit of whatever

April 19th, 2008 at 07:19 pm

Saving log - $0 tip box
Spending log - $3.60 coffee, doughnut + $6 garage sale + $14 brunch + $15 grocery

Well, we had it all weather-wise at the Greenwood Garage Sale. No takers on my invite from this blog, however in the spirit of karmic whatever my housemate from my grad school days walked by, training for the Susan G Komen walk. Hadn't seen her in 15 years! We caught up a bit, at least as much as one could in 5 minutes.

Apologies if I missed you if you showed late. I came about 15 minutes early, then waited the academic wait of about 10 minutes after 9 ... but deals await and there is no rest for the wicked!

Across the street from the pick up point, they were setting up for my first stop of the day.

A little flea market/plant sale/bake sale in the lower parking lot of the Phinney Neighborhood Center.

We had snow, we had rain, we had cold. Mad props to any life form having sex outside in this weather. Not even drunk University of Alaska college students would think of it! Big Grin

Since hunting for cheap deals in bad weather seemed so very Scottish, the bagpiper at the church rummage sale at 70th and Greenwood fit right in. Slim pickings at the rummage sale.

For 6$ I bought: 1 small hammered metal dish, 1 bundt pan, 1 scent diffuser, 1 barbeque fork with a thermometer attached for DH, 1 deck of "Wall Street's Most Wanted" playing cards (Broken Arrow, I'm thinking of you here). DH wanted to try bundt pan meatloaf, I don't bake, hence no bundt pan until now. I bought some aromatherapy scents in Paris. At the time, I thought, "why buy the scent diffuser and waste the space in my luggage when I can get one in Seattle?" I priced simple ones in the $15-$20 range. This one's battery powered with a little pump. $2.

Not bad for a couple hours work. I met one of my coworkers shopping. We both agreed that we were hard core, but it was too cold to keep at for more than a couple of hours.

Pick up the money already, putz

March 31st, 2008 at 09:44 pm

Every so often the question comes up. Do you pick up change from the street?

And the pros and cons come up which boil down to this. Pro: the money's risk free; con: my time is precious, and by G*d, I'm not the type of person who picks up pennies from the street. In case you couldn't tell by the subject line, I'm a pro change picker upper. I know I won't convert a con change picker upper people but I do want to provide a little food for thought.

First of all, you have to be in the right position to even pick up change from the street. If you are already in the right position, you're already un-American. You can't be in a car. You have to be on a sidewalk or in a lobby, walking. You can't be on a cellphone. You shouldn't be pacing and staring off into middle distance, listening. You have to be on a sidewalk, & basically unproductive - not doing deals, not selling something, not ordering someone around. If you're just walking, so much for your time being precious; might just as well train your eye searching for little metal circles.

Second of all, do you pick up change in other aspects of your life? Change that collects in the bottom of the washer/dryer when it fell out of your pants? You pick that up. Change on the carpet of your car that you tossed in your hurry pulling out of the drive thru? You'll pick that up, sure, especially if there's a toll involved. Change that you sucked up in the vacuum bag? Nasty, but you'd rescue it. Change between the couch cushions? You'd pick that up. Matter of fact, isn't that the first place you look for pizza and laundry money?

Here's a news flash. Picking up change from any of those sources, some even nastier than the sidewalk, doesn't change your net worth one iota. Its money you already have that you've moved into your pants pocket from an alternate pocket. Sidewalk change is new money.

Lastly, there's the I-make x-dollars-per-second-its-not-worth-it argument. That only works if your pay is docked when you pick up change. Otherwise, if you find change at night or on the weekend, your pay that hour is $0. Picking up the coin means your pay is $0 plus coin. If you find the coin during lunch and you are making a salary, you pay that hour is $salary plus coin. Think of it as a tip for being alert.

I don't have any reason to convert a non-change picker upper into a change picker upper. Why make competition? Change that you pick up means change I won't. All I ask of you is this: if you see sidewalk money, point it out to me. I'll pick it up.

new commitments

March 11th, 2008 at 08:45 pm

Saving log - $0 tip box + $35 Drp 1 + $40 Drp 2
Spending log - $1.55 coffee (16 oz size), $6 lunch

Put money into two of my Drp stocks. They aren't going gangbusters, but its nice to be able to put a little something in when stocks are cheaper.

I finished figuring out what I want to now put into my 403B. 2007 I had to pay tax with a penalty, and I want to avoid that. I figure the most strategic way to avoid it is to increase my 403B to the max.

The maximum that we can put in is $15K; from my latest paycheck (end of February) I've already put in $1170, I can change quarterly so I will have put in $1755 by the end of March (quarter 1), so I have $13,245 to put in for 9 months. That works out to be around $1470/month, or $735/pay period. I used the paycheck calculator, first putting in what I was doing already to see if the numbers were about right. They were within $5, so I increased the percentages by 5%, then 2.5% until I got a 403B withholding close to but under $735. 37.5%. I drop my paycheck by 300$ and that's per paycheck - $600/month. I can do it, but it will take some getting used to.

The other commitment was to the trainer. I've had a heart to heart. I've basically been 185 (sometimes as high as 190, or as low as 183) for over a year. Is the plateau an issue? What kind of new goals should we go after?

I thought about this over the weekend, and I came to some conclusions:

1. The weight plateau doesn't bother me - unless I stepped on a scale, you wouldn't guess that I'm 185, and these days, maintaining and not increasing weight even during the holidays is an achievement.

2. What does bother me is my waist. Legs, arms, chest, back, butt, even upper waist have become more defined and I'm happy with their progress. My lower and mid waist are stubbornly resistant. Don't get me wrong - the ab muscles underneath have gotten a lot stronger - they just are still cloaked by the fat on top.

3. Weight training is great and I enjoy it - but right now its the same moves with increasing weights. Not too much to learn after you get the form down and you figured out what muscles get targeted. I suggested that I'd like to learn some pilates and yoga moves and with that my trainer brightened up. We did a couple of them today - the v sit keeping the chest up and moving the arms up and down. Pumping arms up and down gives you something to do while you are holding that darn v sit...my mid back is very stiff.

Conclusion is that we are going to work on an inches goal, specifically for the waist. Not that you can spot lose, but something's bound to happen. Big Grin

gradually, then suddenly

February 13th, 2008 at 09:53 pm

Saving log - $1 tip box
Spending log - $3 coffee

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

Attended a workplace all staff retreat with breakfast coffee and lunch provided, so I managed to have a no spend day today. Yesterday I brought a lunch and I knew that I would have a no spend day the next day so I splurged and had the delicious $3 drip coffee. Averaged out over two days, its just a bit more than my usual.

The retreat was interesting as these things went. I had a minor epiphany during the retreat with the concept that relationships usually succeed or fail gradually, then suddenly. It came from a Hemmingway character, when asked how he became bankrupt, said, "gradually, then suddenly."

The speaker at the retreat generalized it to all relationships, but since this is a financial blog, I much prefer to keep it in its original setting. How many of us got into serious debt gradually (through denial), then suddenly?

For the bloggers here wrestling with their debts, please remember that denial is a powerful, long lasting emotion. It makes the gradualness of your financial situation so easy to take ... much easier to take than facing the sharp shock of reality. And who among us remembers exactly all of the items we got into debt over? Wonderful or necessary, it doesn't matter - only the denial remains.

All of us savers, though, saved our money gradually, then suddenly. Compound interest is the classic gradually, then suddenly situation. Our 401Ks didn't just magically get big, it took time for most of us to start our 401Ks, decide on the amounts, increase the amounts over time.

Several of the new bloggers here talked about the courage it took us more established bloggers to blog about the mundane. Money management itself is all about the gradual, then the sudden, all about all the little mundane choices to save small amounts consistently over long periods of time, the fact that putting $44 into savings while taking out $40 from the ATM is somehow different, and better than just saving $4.

Right now its all about you all out there discovering the same thing. Try it. Saving will be gradual for a long while, but when it turns sudden, it becomes amazing.


January 27th, 2008 at 06:05 pm

Saving log - $0
Spending log - $3.36 coffee & bagel, $60 clothes

Didn't feel like working out at the gym. It was a nice day so instead I did a little shopping - bought several more long sleeved solid colored tops that I use year round - and did the mega 50 block walk.

I did a little detour. DH sometimes cuts down streets I never travel along, let alone walk down. On the corner of one street he drove, we saw an asian temple, so during my walk I walked past it.

I've lived in Greenwood for 8 years. Darned if the neighborhood still surprises me. This is a Tibetan Buddhist monastery founded in 1973. Its stupa (the white shape) is on the right, with prayer wheels circling it.

The red sign in the left corner invited you to walk around the stupa clockwise, turning each prayer wheel clockwise as you do so. Didn't have to ask me twice. It was very relaxing to hear the wheels turning as I walked. And I forgot to get ATM money afterward.

N.B.:According to Images of America: Seattle's Greenwood-Phinney Neighborhood, this is Sakya Monastery, the only Tibetan Buddhist monastery outside of Tibet. The head lama is 3rd in rank below the Dali Lama.

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