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lucky me

August 12th, 2013 at 03:52 pm

First day of vacation, and lucky me, I was NOT on 2nd Ave downtown on a Seattle bus at or around 8:45am ... which I would have been during my normal work schedule. Neither Seattle bus that the shooter went on was my bus, thankfully.

Unlucky me though - while I had fun the night before at the Duvall friends house watching a new episode of Breaking Bad, then stayed overnight talking about it - I came home to find that V.I. (kitty) pooped on my bed and the sectional. I'm certain it was a statement for leaving her home overnight - both poop placements were definitely where l'il ol' me had resided not 16 hours before.

Turns out that the Duvall friends themselves are lucky, in that they are running (or in this case, not running) a dead disposal. You might remember that my new sink is now too deep for the disposal, so the plumber removed the disposal and I kept it, thinking I could sell it or manufacture good will. Well, I am manufacturing good will by donating my disposal to them.

Nobody had Eydie Gorme in the death bet, but her NYT obit was good reading. Who could have guessed that her high school classmate was Stanley Kubrick? That's as good as Jack Klugman and Charles Bronson sharing a NY cold water flat in the 50s.

chanelling my inner boy

July 30th, 2013 at 09:10 pm

Tomorrow is payday, and I am left with $100. Today all I bought was a coffee. I'm in slightly better shape than last month, where I had to withdraw savings to finish.

Today, though, after brought-from-home-lunch I had heard that the tunnel replacing our Viaduct had started. Turns out that it hadn't, but I did swing around during my walk to pay my respects. Couldn't see much of it between the cranes and the ditch and the sheer amount of stuff parked around it.

Hadn't realized that this project would intrigue me so - I guess I'm channeling my inner boy.

...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.

funny this and that

March 23rd, 2012 at 09:31 pm

Work is easing up a little. My boss, the director of the department, is on leave and the biggest project she had me on was developing the department budget. Got it done today which means I can finally, finally go back to digging myself out of the swamp of work.

I had a number of interesting experiences this week. Wednesday I went to the pre-construction open house to the Northgate light rail station. Our quick way to get home from I5 is going to be used as a staging area. No surprise and sacrifices have to be made. The big controversy is more parking versus a pedestrian bridge coming from the community college. Its building up to be a choice between one or the other - depends on whether you think the cars are coming from the north or to the west.

I left soon after a 70 yr old woman complained that the station will block her view of the Olympics. A quick calculation is telling that by the time the station is built, the view is going to be the least of her concerns. To be fair, this project is not made for her particularly. Its not even made for me, who is pushing 50 next month. 9 years from now I'm thinking of retirement, not commuting after all.

The next wacky thing this week is finding out that Saturday a Hollywood production is being filmed nearby AND that Gary Busey is in it. Somebody on our crew has him on their list. Never been able to "throw" the results before!

And today, I took a little stroll near Occidental Park (Pioneer Square) and walked past three news crews. I asked a local about and he told me that the lawyer defending the US serviceman charged with the killings in Afghanistan... well, his office is nearby. So they are waiting.

Good To Go

February 25th, 2012 at 10:17 pm

It, um, means something different out here in Seattle. Last Super Bowl Sunday (5th) we went over to the Duvall friends to watch. In late December, the 520 bridge turned into a toll bridge, so getting there we took an alternate route. That night though we thought, eh, screw it, let's play, see what happens and report out.

So we took the toll bridge. The traffic on it was beautiful, FYI. Apparently cameras are set up to take a shot at your license and mail you a bill if you don't have a Good To Go account.

Which is what we got this Friday (24th). Its no biggie - 3.15$, and its good to know that it takes a hair under 3 weeks to get the bill.

We tend to go there few times a year, definitely not enough to get a monthly weekly pass, but I'm looking into starting an account and putting a few bucks in it for the I'm-tired-it's-night option.

another reason for not carrying my credit card

May 25th, 2011 at 09:45 pm

So I got a new credit card from Chase - a 1% and 5% cashback one. I only put the credit card in the wallet the day I plan to use it (never carry it just to carry it...too dangerous).

The day I put it in the wallet, I learned about another reason not to carry it; the credit card conflicts with my bus pass card as I tap the bus pass on the reader. The bus pass has a chip and a radio signaler in it so that it can store and compute the fare when you tap the reader to get on and tap it to get off. Apparently the credit card also has reader to store what is being charged and whether I get 1 or 5%.

Easy enough fix - just pull the bus pass card out of the wallet, but an even easier reason to not use it unless necessary.

Light rail near me

May 17th, 2011 at 09:56 pm

Some of the very old time readers might remember that I live in the Seattle neighborhood of Greenwood, about 7 miles north of downtown. And a few of the merely old time readers might remember me being excited enough about Seattle light rail to post about it.

Well, plans are afoot to get light rail to north Seattle - yesterday the two gigantic borers near the University of Washington were christened and began digging south, hooking up to the northern most downtown stop. Five years from now light rail should reach to the UW. Great, but still 4 miles south of me.

Tonight I went to an open house for a light rail stop at Northgate, which is about 1.5 miles east of me. The place was packed - a good 150- 200 came. The route and placement of the station has been pretty much decided - tunnel most, popping up some, and an elevated stop next to the Metro transit center. Multiple plans for what the station would look like, and multiple plans for how the buses will interact with the light rail.

Comments from the crowd were mostly good, although it was weird to hear the "how come its not across the street?" versus "its gonna wreck my property values because its so close". Can't win.

For a good twenty blocks the rail line should run in a channel alongside the interstate, so there was a lot of concern about making sure neighborhoods to the west (namely me) could use it. Two road/sidewalk overpasses would be maintained - on 92nd and on 103rd. A couple of comments about community college students not being able to use it. What happened to college students these days? I thought nothing of walking many, many blocks. And this community college campus - like many college campuses - ain't tiny. 12 blocks walking shouldn't be anything.

Matter of fact, the open house was about 8 blocks from the transit center which would be where the light rail line would be. I walked home from the open house. Took me 45 minutes to walk home, no biggie. Ride itself would take about 13 minutes from downtown to the stop.

The real time lag though is that the light rail will come to us in 2020. I'm probably going to be a little less spry by that time.

surprise frugal guy

October 3rd, 2010 at 07:38 pm

It made me smile when I read this in the New York Times this Sunday. Let's just say that the character he plays on Mad Men would be more likely to hitch a ride on Apollo 11 than in a bus.

And I subscribe daily to the New York Times (have been for over 20 years). Pricey, but I read whatever catches my eye and pick something up daily, so its worth it to me. Online news, despite being "free", is just not the same, one tends to read whatever maintains your worldview rather than whatever catches your eye.


June 17th, 2010 at 08:30 pm

Saving log - $2 tip box
Spending log - $1.75 coffee + $14 produce
Found money - $0.12 (road, self serve car wash)

Saving log - $9 tip box
Spending log - $1.75 coffee + $4 groceries
Found money - $0.27 (road, parking meter, Safeway floor)

Saving log - $100 to ING
Spending log - $1.75 coffee + $17 lunch
Found money - $0.27 (bus stop, sidewalk, parking lot, Safeway floor)

We got a better grip of the costs of the beef, we pay on the wet hanging weight (the intermediate step between living creature and finished), and we pay for butchering. Storage - beef must be hung for about 3 weeks at close to freezing to break rigor mortis and for taste - is free, and the rancher will deliver so we won't pay for that either. The current estimate is that a 1/4 (100 pounds) will run us about $850, probably a bit more. My chiropractor is in for half of my quarter, so each of us will be saving our pennies - more than 42,500. Big Grin.

I haven't talked much about found money lately. I even found a penny each of the days that I was out on the beef weekend. Lately the coin hunting has been pretty good. My total, with 29 days to go for the year anniversary, is $47.10: 1,045 pennies, 42 nickels, 169 dimes, 42 quarters, 2 $1 bills, 1 $5 bill, 1 10 pence coin worth 15 cents. I just might make $50 for the year!

We got our ORCA transit cards today - we use them on July 1. So far HR only cares if you give the card to someone else to use when you are at work. They don't care if you use it over the weekend.

Got brave and looked in on my 403B. Hadn't since stocks took that really big jog down a month ago. Its held its own, and I'm still over $110K.

....and catching up, period

June 8th, 2010 at 10:12 pm

Its been a week. Apologies! So let's see...

Film. Sister enjoyed my tale of the film and said, "hey, submit it to the Milwaukee Film Fest in the fall". So we did - at least screenwriter friend applied, slipped the DVD in, and I paid the submission fee. $50. We also applied to Chicago, which is happening a couple weeks later. Since the film was made by a student, student fee was also $50. Chicago, though, suggested an additional $2.50 as "protection". I used to live in Chicago; "protection" made me laugh. Oh well, if dead men can vote in Chicago, they probably can make movies too.

Beef. We are going to "visit" the beef that we bought. Since our little consortium put a down payment on a whole cow, we can pick the animal. I plan on pictures, although I'd rather pick the steer that looks like it might be involved in a tractor jacking, if you know what I mean.

Work. Performance evaluations are done! Now its the final push for the end of fiscal year pledges. Instead of a bus pass, we are going to get work Orca cards. A bit more pricey a month, but much more flexible - it will work with 4 different transit systems. And because it does that, the card stores when and where it was used. And it because it does that, a co worker asked the basic question of HR - Are you going to monitor our trips? We got a confused answer.

Printer. I have been printing all the Paris photos out on the $20 HP printer I bought at the Greenwood yard sale. I got medium-end (not highest, not lowest) HP paper. Works great! But so far its $15 for 100 sheets, and I ran out of ink - $45 cartridge which should last for 500 pictures. Yikes! I have to console myself by breaking it down.

(15$/100) + (45$/500) = 15 cents for paper + 9 cents for ink. 24 cents per picture. That makes me feel better.

Oh yes, I nearly forgot. I had some good luck finding money over the last week.
$45.93: 1,018 pennies, 41 nickels, 163 dimes, 41 quarters, 2 $1 bills, 1 $5 bill, 1 10 pence coin worth 15 cents.

Car stats for the March challenge

March 31st, 2010 at 08:39 pm

Saving log- $0 tip box
Spending log - $3.88 coffee, bagel + $11 conveyor belt sushi
Found money - $0.06 (road, floor)

Saving log - $0 tip box
Spending log - $1.75 coffee + $10 groceries
Found money - $0.32 (floor, road, parking meter, bus stop, Safeway change cup)

Saving log - $0 tip box
Spending log - $0 (free coffee)
Found money - $0.22 (road, sidewalk, bus stop)

Saving log - $2 tip box
Spending log - $1.75 coffee + $11 groceries
Found money - $0.01 (bus stop)

$31.47: 787 pennies, 30 nickels, 127 dimes, 29 quarters, 2 $1 bills, a 10 pence coin worth 15 cents.

Commute log
3/28 - 1 mi car, 5 mi walk (up Queen Anne Hill!), 5 mi bus
3/29 - no car, 2 mi walk, 12 mi bus
3/30 - no car, 1 mi walk, 13 mi bus
3/31 - no car, 2.5 mi walk, 16 mi bus

Normally, I use the car about 3 mi/week, entirely on the weekend. In a normal month w/4 weekends and with extra errands 2x/month, that runs to 18 mi by car. This month, my total car miles was 14.

Finally, I learned about One Bus Away. Its been a fantastic transportation month!

One Bus Away = frugal joy in Seattle

March 28th, 2010 at 09:10 pm

...Well, it is if you live in Seattle/King County, and Tacoma/Pierce County.

Its been a dream of mine, as I wait patiently (or not so patiently) for the bus at the bus stop, to figure when my freaking bus will come.

I discovered One Bus Away. True to my frugal roots, I use the SMS system on Net10 phone. No fancy iPhone necessary!

All I do is:
1. Look for the bus stop number. If you are waiting at a shelter, the stop number is in yellow somewhere along on the side at the roof line, usually facing the road. If you are at a stop with no shelter but with a schedule on the post, its in the code of the upper, upper left hand corner. xxx - bus stop number - yyy.
2. Text Onebus bus stop number to 41411.
3. You get a text back with the list of buses and the time expected in minutes.

Its not free. It costs me a nickel/text, but after last week waiting futilely for the express 5, its well worth it. I tried it out and the times were accurate within a minute or two.

The first time you text, it asks you what your zip code is. I think its to keep the Seattle bus stop numbers filtered from the Tacoma ones, etc.

made the most of a missing bus

March 25th, 2010 at 08:19 pm

Saving log - $4 tip box
Spending log - $1.75 coffee + $1 bag of spinach
Found money - $0.16 (sidewalk, Safeway floor)

Saving log - $0
Spending log - $1.75 coffee
Found money - $0.08 (road, Safeway floor)

Bless the FC Sounders fans (soccer) and the return of the rain. They brought the spare change back onto the sidewalks. In another week or so, baseball begins, and with the Mariners fans. Between the two sets of sports fans, spring is here and I'll have to get used to lots of traffic on 1st Avenue. we'll see what that means for found money. Its not to hard to figure out what it means to the buses. Tonight I waited, in vain, for my 5 express bus that is supposed to come at 5:38pm. Started waiting at 5:30pm, gave up and caught the 6:04pm 15 bus. Grr. What's really frustrating with the 5 express bus is that I'm waiting at the first stop. I can see if I'm waiting in the middle but there's nothing to make it late.

All was not lost however. Screenwriter friend's son has a film that has been booked into SIFF (Seattle International Film Festival). I'm helping out by paying for transferring the DVD into HD, and as a result, I'm in the credits as an Executive Producer. My task as an EP in the next couple of days is deliver the film to the studio where they will render and make 2 copies in HD. (Screenwriter friend had the choice to get just one, but I insisted - you never want to make just one copy of anything. Why beg the gods to screw you over?) The studio that I'm going to is on the 15/18 route, about a block north of the Interlake Whole Paycheck. And no taking the express 15/18 - express wouldn't stop.

That reminds me - transit log
3/24 - no car, 3.5 mi walk, 11 mi bus
3/25 - no car, 2 mi walk, 14 mi bus

I still have the weekend when I'm likely to use the car, but my car use (DH driving, me sitting in car) is about 15 - 16 miles per month. This month, I've reduced the me sitting in car by about 3 mi. Not great from a mileage standpoint, but fantastic from a percentage standpoint - about a 20% decline.

late February weekend

February 21st, 2010 at 06:50 pm

Saving log - $0
Spending log - $3.88 coffee, bagel + $1.70 apple, energy bar + $5 newspaper, pastry, espresso + $3 produce
Found money - $0.03 (planting strip, floor in front of counter, under bus stop bench)

Saving log - $0
Spending log - $14 breakfast + $2 green tea + $60 restaurant meal for 2
Found money - $0.18 (driveway, sidewalk cracks, gas station parking lot, bus stop, road)

Saturday I felt I slipped - pricey, and calorie-laden meals. They were delicious though, and the company was great. I did score a doggie bag - tonight's meal.

As far as the calories are concerned, I tried to partially walk them off. The real issue with super-yummy restaurant food is the same as with an illicit drug - when the body gets a taste of the high life, its much harder to hop back on the straight and narrow - in this case, the frugal and healthy straight and narrow.

I caught a break - a produce stand was along my walking route - I caught some deals on broccoli crowns for $.49/lb, cherries for $.99/lb, roma tomatoes for $.89/lb. It does mean that tonight's meal is broccoli crowns and I had to pick out a few sub-par cherries from the bag.

As I was waiting for my bus, a woman started a conversation with me. As we were going through the small transit talk - eg this bus is running about 10 minutes late - boy was I sorry I engaged. All of the conversation below was hers. -

So much traffic, she thought (I thought fine), I have a Zipcar account (I thought okay), but I think I'll be buying a car because I just need one (I thought whatever!). I don't see how anybody is going to lug their stuff to the airport on light rail (then don't I thought)...
And the airporter barely got me to the airport on time.

Then I suggested that she mail her stuff. Oh no, I'm not allowed to lock it, she said. And the TSA and no doubt the post office is going to steal my stuff - they all have in the past (!). Mental rolleyes. Yes, life is PITA. I guess my expectations are minimal - I'm still at the simpleton stage where despite being held captive in a metal tube I'm joyful that you are flying me at 25,000 feet and you're landing me safely.

My final volley was that I treat flying like prison - stop packing the fancy stuff. Oh, she said, I don't pack the fancy stuff and hate that attitude - you are giving in to awful behavior and giving away your freedom and privacy. Rolleyes again - awful behavior has happened throughout time, the US in the 21st century has not curbed the market on awful behavior.

Funny how negative stuff during travel really doesn't happen to me. I manage to get places on time, when my baggage doesn't make it it does 12 hours later, and I'm healthy enough to lug and smart enough to not pack a ton to lug. I'm not saying that bad things don't happen - it just feels like a lot of stress tends to be induced. Then when you have real stress actually induced by other people, you have a double burden.

It was warm this weekend, but really not warm enough to strip the patio table successfully - so I was smart enough not to try. I did plant a row of shell peas this evening in back of a patch of garlic growing nicely, and put some innoculant in the furrow. Both blueberry shrubs in the pots, bought last year, are covered in green buds. Grow guys grow!


February 10th, 2010 at 09:20 pm

Saving log - $3 tip box
Spending log - $1.75 coffee
Found money - $0.10 (parking lot)

Saving log - $0
Spending log - $1.75 coffee
Found money - $0.57 (road, sidewalk, bathroom stall floor, bus seat)

Made ya read, eh? Smile

Yesterday was low-grade bizarre. First off, I found a quarter on the road in the morning... nothing like finding money 20 minutes after you wake up to make it a happy day.

Then, coffee in hand, thoughts of work ahead of me, I crossed the street on 2nd & Cherry, and was way-laid by a car containing a middle aged immigrant couple from Portland trying to get to the Federal Building. You have to know that the Federal Building is several blocks back from where their car was pointed, with a lot of one-way construction cone chess in front of them. Their main problem is that when they read Jackson Federal Building, they thought it was near Jackson Street ... which it is not. Two different Jacksons: Jackson Street for Andrew Jackson, Jackson Federal Building for Henry "Scoop" Jackson. (For Michael Jackson, give it a few years)

The couple begged me to hop in their car and help them navigate.

Well, I did. The quarter made me feel lucky, I guess. I sat in the back seat and got them to 4th Cherry, then left about 4 blocks on Madison, then 2nd and Madison.

Turns out that the wife had an appointment with the passport office so she had to make it in reasonable time.

The driver asked me if I was sure that I knew the way - it seems a little weird to ask that AFTER I'm in the car, so I didn't take it personally and interpreted that as a holy crap there's a strange woman in the car comment. I just said with pride that "my husband works there". And then I got to point at a very large concrete 70s skyscraper-crossed-with-bunker building. "That is the building you want," I said. Got her there on time.

It took all of 15 minutes out of my day, but it added a bit of surreal fun. And afterward I found some more coins, including another quarter on the bus in that thin crack between the wall of the bus and the frame of the bus seat. Most of the time I jam my morning newspaper in there; from now on its time to take a peek just in case.

$24.35: 595 pennies, 24 nickels, 102 dimes, 24 quarters, $1 bill.

winding down

January 25th, 2010 at 09:26 pm

Saving log - $7 tip box
Spending log - $1.75 coffee
Found money - $0.01 (road)

Saving log - $0
Spending log - $3.88 coffee, bagel + $2 apple, bulk catnip
Found money - $0.02 (crosswalks)

Saving log - $0
Spending log - $14 brunch + $5 mocha, slice of banana bread + $12 groceries
Found money - $0.27 (sidewalk, road)

Ever since DH pointed it out to me, I've been noticing that there are no advertising placards on the inside of buses these days. Only stuff about Metro (our transit entity), how to prevent the flu, throwing money away if don't fill out your census form, maybe a couple of jobdango ads. Probably due to the recession; the pendulum has swung from this gem. I suppose I shouldn't complain.

Feels like less and less change to find out there. Over the holidays, everyone was spending money and careless about coins. Now? Mostly pennies, maybe a dinged up dime or two.

Everything is winding down, quiet and blah.

$22.02: 562 pennies, 19 nickels, 92 dimes, 21 quarters, $1 bill.

Merry Christmas

December 24th, 2009 at 06:41 pm

Saving log - $0
Spending log - $1.64 coffee + $8 stamp sheet + $6 lunch + $20 groceries
Found money - $0.27 (sidewalks, Safeway floor)

Saving log - $12 tip box
Spending log - $0!
Found money - $0.13 (sidewalks, Safeway floor)

Merry Christmas on Christmas Eve! It has been rockin' and rollin' at the neighborhood Safeway - lots of spending, lots of change rolling around on the floor. In the last two days I've found 3 dimes on the Safeway floor. Not a lot of Jingle Bells on the radio this year - I've been hearing We Need a Little Christmas over and over this year. Fits the mood general mood: Cheer up, dammit, think of the children Wink!

Well, I've been joking with people this year - I'm saying the non-PC "Merry Christmas" and I invite you to hear whatever holiday is appropriate. And when I hear a Happy Chanukah or a Blessed Kwanzaa, I respond in kind. We are, after all, in the same business: wishing our fellow human beings all the best, cheering ourselves (bucking ourselves up?) for the start of winter.

I had Christmas Eve off today, so I spent an hour at the gym (found a penny there), then I ran a couple of errands: stamps, and I obtained an ORCA card for transit trips. ORCA stands for One Regional Card for All - a super duper card that you can load money on, it keeps track of your transfers, and its good for nearly any transit system in the Seattle area. The card is free currently ($5 in February), but you load it with your own money. My current pass is good for unlimited rides until July 2010. I suspect that we will still get fresh passes in July, but you never know - it could be that we get a work version of the ORCA.

I got an ORCA card for myself because there is one interesting feature/fault of the cards - in keeping track of your transfers, it lists where/when you used your card. Quite a bit had been written in the local papers about the privacy issues. ORCA cards from employers can possibly mean that your employer can use it to establish where you've been - Saturdays, playing hooky, committing a crime, etc. I got a spare ORCA in case I need to use one for personal use, and if nothing else, if I get visitors, one more to load up and let the guests use. (and then I can find where they went! Smile)

remastering airport trips and tunes

December 22nd, 2009 at 08:25 pm

Saving log - $0
Spending log - $1.75 coffee + $11 last Christmas gift
Found money - $0.13 (road, sidewalk, bottom of puddle)

Saving log - $0
Spending log - $0
Found money - $0.04 (under bus seat, sidewalk)

Did a frugal reconnaissance mission this last Sunday afternoon: I rode the light rail all the way to SeaTac. (I have a bus pass that includes the light rail) The ride took about 40 minutes in relative comfort, it ended up one escalator ride and about 200 feet from the spiral parking lot. Everything was reasonably well marked and delinated - the sidewalk was covered from the elements (a bit breezy), continued along the outer edge of the spiral parking lot, skirted past the elevators of the parking lot, hooked up to the mezzanine - up 1/2 flight to the United Air counter, down 1/2 flight to baggage. It was a little 1/4 mi walk on concrete w/no people mover belts, so I'd pack light and be prepared, but frankly its a two minute walk further than the far edge of the spiral parking lot. Definitely something to keep in mind if I coming in.

I also walked back and checked out where to go away from SeaTac - turns out that the light rail station is over Tukwila International Blvd where the hotels are - one covered crosswalk away.

The potluck and white elephant sale happened at work yesterday. It was great because most everyone brought their potluck "A" game. My pumpkin ginger raisin turnovers v.2 disappeared entirely. Interesting gift was unwrapped at the white elephant sale: vinyl records! Had to steal that as a Christmas gift for DJ friend. DJ friend and I flipped through the records - Bee Gees, Diana Ross, Chuck Magione, CCR. DJ friend is in the process of picking up re-mastering skills as the first step to using the records for remixing, so he's planning on re-mastering the vinyl for practice. Wonder who gave away the vinyl?

60th dime

December 20th, 2009 at 12:20 am

Saving log - $0
Spending log - $13 coffee, lunch + $74 kitty food, litter, Christmas toys + $50 last Christmas gift + $20 groceries, baking items
Found money - $0.39 (driveway in front of auto shop, Safeway carpet, Whole Foods floor, bus stop)

Saving log - $3 tip box
Spending log - $1.75 coffee
Found money - $0.27 (bus stop, coffeeshop carpet, gym floor)

Have been extremely lucky in my found money hunting - 2 quarters in 2 days. I also found my 60th dime. Total so far: $14.16: 326 pennies, 13 nickels, 60 dimes, 13 quarters, $1 bill. I don't think I have too many secrets to give away - the more I walk, the more I notice. I especially look for sharp, perfect circles - the coins I've been finding are not really bright and shiny and at night they don't flash like a piece of foil would. And December is shaping up to be a great month for change. My hypothesis for that is more people shopping, more people using cash, and more coins passing from pocket to pocket. We'll see what January brings.

Speaking of shopping, I finally got the Christmas shopping done. $360, including the shipping. Now its a potluck dish for Monday - the operations departments do a holiday potluck lunch above and beyond the official one last Thursday. I speak for myself that I am very happy its over. Has anyone noticed that this Christmas seems a bit... well, subdued compared to year's past? I like it. This year the lights are pretty, but not full out eye-popping and in your face, and I've either gotten very good about ignoring the Christmas music or there isn't as much as in other years.

I picked up a snow route booklet on the bus to store for work. Today the new light rail now goes all the way to SeaTac airport. Since my Flex pass works on light rail, I might just check that out for informative purposes - looking forward to the $2.50 ride, avoiding taxis at $50 or even the airporter at $30.

pouring even when you don't suspect

November 16th, 2009 at 11:12 pm

Saving log - $9 tip box
Spending log - $1.75 coffee + $20 copay to chiropractor
Found money - $0.12 (counter, sidewalk, bus stop)

Put the tip box money, along with a $6 dividend check, into the bank today. Since I bought personal trainer time, I had a large credit card bill. I saved enough to move savings into checking to pay the cc, rather than use any of my EF.

Got very rainy and windy tonight, so much so that even when I walked on the furthest edge of the sidewalk, I got really splashed by a car plowing through the gutter. Grrr. At least 10 minutes before, I found that dime at the bus stop. It cheered me up a tad.

And on the bus ride tonight the driver apologized for the short bus. "My bus broke down in the rain and I could only get this one," he said.

I couldn't resist and muttered loudly, "Yeah, its not like it rains a lot in Seattle." It put everyone in the back in a party mood.

I also found out that I'm going to keep a sharper eye on my local banks, even more than I had planned. Washington state has over 25% of its banks under stress. Again, pouring when you don't suspect.

big city finally

July 18th, 2009 at 08:42 pm

Saving log - $0 tip box
Spending log - $12 breakfast
Found money - $0.10 (on the floor of Metro bus behind the driver's cage)

Actual, actual light rail came to Seattle. Finally. DH and I took a free ride on it today. I'm sending pictures because light rail to Seattle has been so long in coming, its like saying I went to the moon - who would believe me unless I produced evidence?

We started from home by taking the 48 (aka the 40-late) to the Rainier Beach stop, then went south to Tukwila (the SeaTac airport stop will be done in December), got off at Tukwila, and then came back into the bus (now bus/light rail) tunnel at Westlake - heart of downtown Seattle. We live in north Seattle; we had to take the bus home. In a few years, hopefully that will change.

Rainier Beach stop at ground level.

Tukwila station - free rides produced a lot of interest, but the trains ran every 7.5 minutes so the lines moved pretty quickly.

Inside a light rail car.

The end at Westlake

Oh yes, the fares will be between $1.75 - $2.50. My bus pass that I get at work covers it. Free for me, unless I'm laid off.

advanced transit tips

December 18th, 2008 at 09:49 pm

For your own snowy commute:

1. Buses have the usual issues with starting and stopping on hills. Of course you do not want to wait at a bus stop on the middle of the hill, but...
2. If you have the chance to pick your stop, from say, different places downtown (evening commute), the best stops are:
3. stops close to where the bus begins or ends. Buses lose time as they plow through the snow. If the bus is coming directly from the bus barn or from where it rests, its probably close to on-time. Because its at the beginning of its route you have an excellent chance of getting a seat.
4. stops where the bus transit time is measured. Lets say you are looking at a schedule and it says bus "comes from intersection x". Intersection x is better than where you are (unless you are at intersection x Big Grin) because it is usually is comprised of two arterials, multiple buses use the stop, its usually flat, and buses try to be on time for it. In snow that's an impossibility, but there it is.
5. better likelihood that a place nearby exists where you can get a hot cup of cocoa. You just don't want to be out there by yourself for hours.

And a tip for walking: if you do have to walk in the ice and snow, if you are walking on an east-west street, walk on the north side sidewalk. The north side sidewalk is going to be less icy because the sun, traveling along its southern course, is going to warm that side of the street and soften & melt the ice more quickly.

a little extra upper body

November 3rd, 2008 at 08:32 pm

Saving log - $2 tip box
Spending log - $9 lunch

All that walking around north Seattle heading from house to downtown, all while noting bus stops paid off today.

I live in North Seattle, my usual morning bus crosses into downtown via the Aurora Bridge. I caught the bus while lugging about 15 pounds of canned goods (food drive), and congratulated myself on my luck. The intercom on the bus was on, the dispatcher mentioned delays on Aurora. I settled in because that's fairly usual.

We got to Fremont Ave (the very pretty leaf-strewn street in the post below). Traffic was backed up, we didn't move, and the dispatch estimated a hour to hour & half to get to downtown.

Time to get off, even lugging the cans. The aisle seat woman and I chatted as we walked along Fremont from 42nd to across the Fremont Bridge. We saw at least three large police vans and fire trucks on Aurora. The aisle seat woman crossed headed on Dexter. I had cans, so I waited on Nickerson to catch the 17. Everything was late, but I caught it, stood in the aisle, did the penguin-chick thing with the bag of canned goods. Got into work at 9:45. I was sooo happy to dump those cans!

Turned out it was a jumper on the Aurora Bridge. You know, its so odd to want to off yourself in such a public way as jumping off a bridge during rush hour. Suicide is not really an extrovert's activity; its not entertaining so what's the audience for? Talking you down? Cheering you on?

The odyssey this morning was useful. I found two pennies while I was walking.

.14 - .02 = .12 to get to .31. I now have this week to find 12 cents on the street.

Found out that our floor won the Halloween decorating contest. I chatted a bit with the organizer - if we weren't so politically correct, our floor would have swept all the categories, so we got Best Overall.

I bonds got their new interest rates today. 0.70% fixed rate 4.92% cpi for a total rate of 5.64%. Still not fantastic, but better than the last batch with a fixed rate of 0.0%.

the way we live today

September 7th, 2008 at 09:14 pm

Yesterday I walked for 6 miles, today I took it easy, and just went for 3. And I caught a couple of football games. So darn lazy.

This weekend, I have been noticing several effects of the current recession.

1. More restaurants are taking cash only, no credit cards. Along with gas stations, a couple of other restaurants are offering different prices for cash vs credit card.

2. (this during the week) Seattle buses are now filling up so much that they have to pass stops.

My 5 bus had an increase of 9% ridership.
My 28 bus had an increase of 15% ridership.
My 15 bus had an increase of 5% ridership.

Advanced bus rider tip: If you see a large group waiting for the bus at your stop, walk backward along the route to the previous stop.

3. This is very funny in a mean sort of way.

4. One WaMu banker went out the window, metaphorically.

$5, 4 hr tour

July 13th, 2008 at 11:24 pm

Saving log - $0 tip box
Spending log - $5 ticket + $20 beer and lunch

Tried out the Metro Employees Historic Vehicle Association's bus excursion today. It was a 4 hr trip - 1 hr to go to Snohomish, 2 hrs at Snohomish, 1 hr back, for a straight $5. No gas surcharges, no nothing.

DH and I waited at 2nd Ave S and Main - two blocks east from Elliott Bay Bookstore, paid our $5, and took off. It was a little back in time - we rode on a Metro bus, circa 1976. Since we were in the past, my pics will be in black and white (ha ha).

Before Starbucks (what! I can't bring my $5 coffee on the bus!) and before headphones, there was this sign.

I chatted with one of the MEHVA drivers. Apparently its easy to collect buses but to really maintain them, the bus has to be driven, and driven a fairly long distance. They drive the bus anyway, and they charge money to defray costs.

Snohomish itself was a pretty little sleepy town with a lot of antique and furniture stores. Didn't really feel like antiquing, so we walked around along the river, made fun of shop names (Seafood Grotto does not encourage me to eat seafood!) and window shopped. We had a beer and a sandwich at a saloon. Nice, but then we were plenty sleepy during the ride home.

Summer is fleeing...

Next $5 excursion is a night trolley tour on October 4th, and a fall foliage tour on October 19th.

late in, late out

July 11th, 2008 at 11:26 pm

Saving log - $4 tip box
Spending log - $1.70 coffee + $11 lunch (included paper and a soda)

Well my morning bus was late and I was quietly vibrating during the ride because I thought for sure I had a meeting first thing today. Turns out that the meeting was an hour later, so phew!

Then a co worker waylaid me the last thing as I was getting out for 30 minutes, wanting to dole a little whine with his bitch session. My heart was heavy as I waited at the stop; I was 8 minutes late according to the schedule. But it turned out that the bus was late.

"Boy, am I so glad you are late!" I said to the driver. He had to do an impromptu re-route; the Fire Festival closed off his regular route.

Speaking of the Fire Festival - it was a nice free stroll. Its a big deal with competitions and an obstacle course. I'm 1/32 Scottish; about the only genetic attribute that I chalk it up to is having a strong fondness for guys wearing kilts. (real kilts, not those fake Utilkilts.) How many of them does it take to set up a tent? ... 3, it looks like.

the year of the frugal tourist

July 9th, 2008 at 08:59 pm

Saving log - $0 tip box
Spending log - $1.50 coffee + $9 lunch

The theme today is tourists. Specifically, I've been noticing a certain type of tourist... the one that squints out the bus window, then their map, trying to figure out where the ride free area ends. In past years, it didn't seem that noticeable - most of the time the tourists were just a tad frightened of the bus and would either taxi or walk. Or they weren't frightened, so what about $1.75 (last year's fare)?

2008 must be the year of the frugal tourist.

In the spirit of knowledge for all you frugal tourists out there, let me teach you a useful memmonic for the streets of Seattle: Yep, Jesus Christ Made Seattle Under Protest.

Y - Yesler
J - James/Jefferson
C - Cherry/Columbia
M - Marion/Madison
S - Spring/Seneca
U - University/Union
P - Pike/Pine

then on 1st:

Then after the 3 B's, usually I don't much care (nor should you) because you are out of the ride free area and its $2.25. Smile

bus pass tax writeoff

June 18th, 2008 at 08:45 pm

Saving log - $1 tip box
Spending log - $1.70 coffee

Another creamy bean lunch brought from home, so I didn't buy lunch and thus I had a very cheap day.

We got a notice from HR that our bus pass was going to be paid "pre-tax" versus how it is normally paid - post tax. I think the implication is that our bus pass is going to be treated like our 403B - deducted from our income in such a way that we don't pay taxes on the bit of the salary that funds the pass. Not sure what our yearly bus pass costs us ... I'm thinking its about $200. Every little bit helps.

Speaking of transit and bus passes, I ran across this article in the Seattle PI.
The article didn't tell me anything that I didn't already know - I'm riding with many more people.

What was especially interesting was the comments - the Soundoff link at the bottom. The fascinating thing was the reasoning of the many bus haters out there. The hating part was interesting - of course the one person who puked on your shoes on the bus is going to put you off. Funny how ones' first car breakdown or accident, more scary and catastrophic, doesn't put the bus hater off nearly so much. Must give car another chance, whiplash be damned!

But the truly fascinating thing was...why hate the bus so strongly that you tell the rest of us in such gory detail? Why?? Wouldn't you want to encourage as many people as possible to take the bus? We know you are already never going to ride, but wouldn't you understand that if everyone else took the bus, traffic would be lighter and you will have a better, safer, faster drive to work? You would use slightly less gas with no stop-and-go traffic, and if demand for gas drops slightly with the same supply, price should drop slightly too. Win-Win-Win. Wouldn't you want that? C'mon! If I was a bus hater, I wouldn't say anything - or I'd encourage folks to take the bus, then snicker in my sleeve.

Or maybe they secretly take the bus and want to get a better seat? Dang I'm confused. Big Grin

People are smart .... Bwahahhahaha!

just watching the show

June 9th, 2008 at 08:10 pm

Saving log - $3 tip box
Spending log - $1.25 coffee + $10 lunch, snack + $10 grocery

Not much going on, had a nice quiet day.

Watched the I-5 traffic on my way to work. Still heavy, even though we've passed $4 and are gaining on $5. These days, if you can possibly save money by taking the bus, no matter how out of the way, well, why wouldn't you? And now there's the report that if you want to tool around town in a scooter you need an addendum on your license. You need more than that these days, there are still plenty of SUVs tooling around with you on the road. Frankly, I think traffic will get even nuttier before it gets better. All the sane drivers say, "holy crap, who cares who I have to sit next to? I'm saving $500!". That thins the herd a bit, but it leaves the insane drivers, the recalcitrant ones, the ones that didn't get the memo. I see a bit of a difference in parking lots, but out on the roads there is still a lot of denial out there.

Sister gave me an update. The toilet, water heater, and water softener are in at the farmette, but she and her partner stayed in Milwaukee, battling the rains and the flood. Apparently they got 4 inches, had to make sure that the gutters were clean so they could do their job, and their basement was leaking. It could be worse.

The farmette land is low, I wonder if the place got touched by the floods. Darn glad no one's farming most of it - they'd be behind. Knee high by the fourth of July is a milestone and that's only three weeks away.

new routines this week

June 6th, 2008 at 09:59 pm

Saving log - $0 tip box
Spending log - $1.25 coffee + $1 coffee + $5 farmers market

Ate the other half of the foot long sandwich I bought yesterday, so it was a low spend day. I bought another cup because I got the afternoon yawns.

Now that the deli is R.I.P. (no official word or sign on the door), for coffee this morning, I went back to the place I had frequented before. The woman working the espresso machine asked me how I'd been and what happened to me. It had been over two years since I had disappeared, so its a little embarrassing but amazing on two counts: that I'm that memorable and that she's still working there in a high turnover retail environment.

Gas prices took quite a jump here in Seattle - DH tells me that even the Arco, the rock-bottom cheap place for gas, is now at $4.11. The paper here is talking about raising bus fares again (we had one in March). With my bus pass at $10/month for an unlimited number of rides, it pays for itself the first week of the month. But price hikes are happening everywhere. My workplace renews the yearly bus pass at the end of the month. Here's hoping they raise rates after I renew.

Money's now very tight at the end of the paycheck ever since I hiked up my 403B to take care of my tax bite in 2008. I'm proud of myself for keeping my head above water, and still saving at the same rates, but the checking account stands at $180 with a week left to go (get paid on Friday the 13th next week). I'm feeling the frugal burn.

And I think I'm going to be the very last American to get my stimulus check.

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