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Home > Archive: November, 2006

Archive for November, 2006

Why I rent

November 30th, 2006 at 08:50 pm

Thanks, guys for your advice. I'm going to tell lawyer friend about it so when I stick his name on the cc:line he won't be surprised. Except for the 70% weirdness, the landlord and the rental are fine. We aren't insane nutball tenants; if we do call, they respond quickly. Best of all the rent hasn't changed any in 5 years.

So why do I rent? Well to tell you the truth in the simplest and least bitter-renter sounding way, financially we can't swing it in any fiscal responsible way right now, circa 2006-2007.

The median price of a house in Seattle/ King County about 400K. As a matter of fact, Zillow.com estimates the price of the place we rent at 370K. DH and I together make 60-65K, and we rent our 2-bedroom digs at 845$/month. Even with the most evil, fiscally suicidal I/O, neg-am, no doc ARM loan at a bogus teaser rate we would still pay about $500/month more than we rent. And a loan like that means that I would still be renting - from the bank instead of a landlord. To afford a 30yr fixed, we would need to at least double, even triple our income.

So we cheap it out, save our money, and wait. After all, a house is like any other purchase - you want to get a better price. No sense being frugal in your choices, save your money, then turn around and overpay in the largest purchase that you'll make in your life.

That's not to say we aren't interested. We're saving our money - house prices can drop, or they can rise even further. Conversely, we can save for a down payment or we will sit on a ton of money and rent. Either way, we sleep well at night.

Well, maybe not DH. His side of the bed has developed a slow leak. (Select Comfort is basically an air mattress with a phd.) At least with air, it is a lot less messy. Because my side is just fine, right now we are swapping out hoses, valves, etc, to narrow down just what is failing on DH's side of the bed. (BTW, take your best shot - I'm going to either delete or treasure your comments.)

Slushy, goopy mess today but a lot less icy. 2 buses on my normal bus route didn't come, so it was plan B - down the hill to the workhorse bus. I was 15 minutes late.

Savings log - $2 tip box (finally deposited this month's scrapings today), 8.04$ coming from this week's T-bill, and payday.
Spending log - $2 coffee/milk + $7 lunch.

again with the 70%

November 29th, 2006 at 08:14 pm

Got the utility bill today from the landlord. Again, the claim is that according to our lease we should be paying 70%. Again, I will take the letter, edit the 70 to 50, edit the totals, print an image of our current lease (which says no change from the original lease), then print an image of our original lease which clearly says 50%. Since I have a .tif images of the two leases, I can and will do it over and over and over again.

What is the landlord smoking?

kashi - thanks for the tip on yaktrax. They look like chains that you can put on your shoes, like you put chains on your tires to keep your car from slipping. I was debating about ordering a pair, but then I thought - its November and I have a bad feeling about this whole winter. So I bought a pair.

Saving log - 2$ tip box + 40$ DRP.
Spending log - 2$ coffee/milk + $114.99 sewer, water, gas + 24.95$ yaktrax + 10$ lunch w/couple of co workers.

How did that happen?

November 28th, 2006 at 07:10 pm

Actually made it to work today. The office opened 2 hrs late in honor of the ice. Actually it was even more confusing - we were to assume that we were to start 2 hrs late, but to call back 45 minutes before the opening to check if the decision had changed.

Sigh. Home in North Seattle was iced over, and DH had the car. In other words, no way was I was going to make it on time in a mere 45 minutes.

As for moi, I assume that the decision makers at my workplace are insane and so far I have not been disappointed. I figured that the office would open and the message would not be changed. So I started off a full 2 hours before the office opening. I waited a good 45 minutes before a bus, stuffed to the gills, stopped.

During that time, one bus drove past and two training buses drove past. Now I can understand that this is a perfect training opportunity for driving on chains in the snow, but in the words of my co-worker, "why not train for the full effect and pick up hundreds of crabby, cold passengers in the snow?"

And again, to my fellow passengers...why are each of you bringing tens of pounds of crap in a backpack, insuring that you are a double lump in the aisle, pickpocket bait to a pro, and a pain in the ass to other people? I'm sure you didn't use all or even any of the crap you brought. I went fiscal commando again today, and hung my MP3 player and keys from belt loops, keeping everything in inside pockets.

Lo and behold, I was accurate. We started and the message was never changed. Never bet against insanity Big Grin

But one great, amazing piece of news. The trainer weighted me again today. Between last Wednesday and today (Tuesday) I managed to lose .75 pounds. How did that happen? I'd like to think its the red wine, the gravy tastings, and the three slivers of pie. A girl can dream.

Tonight I got a handwritten condolence card from the vet. Now I'm va klempt again. Talk amongst yourselves.

Savings log - $3 in the tip box. I now have 40$ and its time to hoof it to the bank.
Spending log - 1.50$ coffee + 4.50$ veggie sub sandwich


November 27th, 2006 at 09:08 pm

Am watching the Packer/Seahawk game, and I'm more of a Packer fan. Rats is the summary.

We only got a couple of inches in Seattle, so off to work I went. The commute was pretty light because everyone north of us was snowed in. Tonight I did a crazy thing and did my 8th Ave NW walk. Crazy because it was snowing a bit, there was plenty of ice and I was watching cars slip and slide around. I took it slow and discovered that my balance was much, much better than it had been in a long time. I'm never going to ice skate, but at least I'm not going to be as afraid of ice as I used to be. Tomorrow morning will be the acid test though. Everything will have frozen up good and solid and since I live on a ridge, its downhill no matter how I go.

But at work today I found that I'm in command for the rest of the week. My boss was going to come back today from the East Coast but was detained.

Giving my sister 8 months of a fruit of the month club for Christmas. Sounds silly but the fruit was fantastic. I knew I wouldn't have time to participate in cyber Monday, so I ordered Sunday night.

Not much saving today.
Spending - 1.37$ coffee (no milk in the deli) + 11$ chirashi (figured I needed the brain food this week).

Maybe snow day

November 26th, 2006 at 06:27 pm

Well, its snowing in North Seattle. Turned from rain to sleet to snow at about 2pm, while I was on my walk and trudging through to my errands. Didn't walk that much, but I'm expecting that if you're walking in the cold, you probably will burn off a few more calories because you are trying to stay warm in addition to getting somewhere.

There is about 2 inches on the ground as I type, and its still snowing strong. We tend to have snow days at work in parallel to Seattle Public Schools. If they're canceling school or starting late so do we.

Spending log - $9.77 (brushes and paint container for a craft project) + 22.26$ groceries at Whole Foods (WF).

WF because we were in the Roosevelt neighborhood going to an art supply store. Seattle neighborhoods are funny - the Roosevelt neighborhood has about 6-7 audio stores within 3 blocks of each other. The neighborhood that I live in - Greenwood - had at least that many antique stores. Go figure why businesses are so lumpy like that. Big Grin

I think I managed to get the only decent deals at WF, using my price book. It would have been about 15.00$, but I bought a bag of groceries for charity.

I think WF is so popular because its a prestige place to get caught. I wonder if that's a good general frugal rule. The chance of getting a good deal is in inverse proportion to a place's "coolness".

Spending log - $3.28 (bagel and coffee) + 5.76$ (lacquer thinner) + 2.50$ box of crackers

My black friday

November 24th, 2006 at 09:45 pm

Needed nice black pants for tonight, so I picked up a pair of Liz C's for 7.99$. Turns out that the thrift store has a black friday 50% off sale. So I got the pants for $4.35.

Great deals & no fights either.

Turns out that was the only good deal for today. The charity concert I was invited to and went to (wearing the pants) was a bore. Smooth jazz. The band was fine, the musicians individually were good, the people watching was interesting, but it was smooth jazz Kenny G-type stuff. Charity is one thing, but I had the distinct feeling that I was wasting an hour of my life that I was not going get back. Slipped away and fled during intermission.

T-day and today

November 24th, 2006 at 10:51 am

Hope you all had a tasty thanksgiving! DH and I went to Issaquah, the next town east of Bellevue, which is in itself the next town east of Seattle. The invites gave an official start time of 12:00 noon, with a dinner ETA of 4:00pm.

We got there at 1:30pm, and we were the first people there, as usual, so we were put to work clearing, vacuuming and setting up. DH and I are used to this. The one T-day we showed when we knew everyone else would show was the day that they were wondering where we were. And it was our way of getting caught up with the hosts -- a private party as it were.

There was plenty to clear and clean. The father of the hostess had gone into the hospital with cancer, so his living quarters had shrunk, so the excess stuff landed in the house. The hostess and I gave each other a hug in support.

But here's a frugal dilemma. When you find change when you are cleaning at home, its yours. When you find change when you are cleaning a friend's house, whose is it? I gave thirty-five cents to the hostess, who absently gave it back to me. I absently put it in my pocket, so when I got home, I found it again. I guess I got paid for about an hour of work.

The turducken roasting was late, but whew, it was in the oven not the smoker, so that was one gravy making hurdle gone. Gravy making went pretty smoothly - although my judgment was hamstrung by about 3 glasses of wine (helped with the whisking though) and the fact that there was only whole wheat flour.

The workaround was to make a butter/whole wheat flour roux to cook the flour for a good fifteen minutes before adding pan drippings and stock. Duck pan drippings hide the flour flavor pretty well and having a whole stock pot of poultry stock means that anybody can make great gravy then. Smile Host wanted the gravy a bit thicker than I did and thought that flour taste was still there, but those were pretty easy to fix, just keep the heat on a bit longer. Filled 3 gravy boats.

Didn't take any leftovers home, for which my metabolism is grateful.

Spending log - 3$ pumpkin latte & biscotti (gotta pace yourself)


November 22nd, 2006 at 05:02 pm

Weighed at the gym today. I'm at 190, so very, very close to the goal of under 190 by T-day. I guess if I took off my shoes, I'd make it! The goal for this holiday season is not to gain weight.

Yet another extremely rainy day and yet another bowl of pho. Because I was off today, I had a bowl at a pho place in my neighborhood that I wanted to try.

Am bringing a wild rice pilaf for Thanksgiving Day potluck. All it has to be is at room temperature. No fuss or production. Our host's kitchen is of average size. Sides that double as big production numbers are just plain rude.

I'm getting used to the house being quiet when I get home and am getting used to not having an audience when I take a bath. I still see my cat at the patio door though.

Saving log - 0$
Spending log - 1.75$ coffee, 6$ lunch

last day before a break

November 21st, 2006 at 07:50 pm

Got the rest of our department's temp staff trained, up and running. Just in time because we now have plenty of money and pledges coming in.

Canceled today's gym class yesterday (so I wouldn't get charged). I found it hard yesterday to get through the day when folks were asking me how my weekend went. I just wanted a couple of days to compose myself. Besides, because Thursday is not igoing to happen, we scheduled for tomorrow morning.

Tomorrow's my day off. All I really have to think about is what dish to make and bring. I have Friday off and so does DH.

My sick and vacation time is turning into PTO (paid time off) on January 1. Good news - we're getting it at 100% par. We can also cash out a week's worth each year. Since I'm healthy as a horse, I have about 350 hours of sick time. I'll have to figure out the most frugal way to play this.

Savings log - 2$ tip box, 50$ into ING, 35$ into a DRP.
Spending log - 2$ coffee/milk, 10$ lunch

Thank you all

November 20th, 2006 at 08:04 pm

I'm feeling a bit better today. I want to thank you all for your wonderful thoughts.

My cat's decline was gradual enough and he was a stoic. But by Friday he refused to eat anything, meowed like he was in severe pain and didn't put anything in the litter box, so off to the vet he went. His X-rays were a mess - a mass of abdominal cancer and a crystaline kidney. The vet couldn't find the other kidney.

I donated the rest of his unopened cat food - about 20 unopened cans and several unopened bags of Greenie cat treats - to the neighborhood PAWS cat adoption site. The folks at the site were very happy to see them, and it made me feel a lot better, too.

I plan to get another cat in about a year, but I'm a firm believer that cats appear karmically. They pick us. A cat will appear or a friend will introduce me to one. Until then, fond memories.

Savings log - 3$ to the tip box
Spending log - 862$ for the vet, X-ray, blood tests, euthanasia, and cremation. (My cat got a war souvenir - a pellet - when he had a run-in with a BB gun about 15 years ago, which we found out by an X-ray at that time. I had better see that BB in his ashes!)

the inevitable

November 18th, 2006 at 08:48 pm

From a fairly good day yesterday to a very bad day today. We put down our beloved 19 year old neutered male cat this afternoon. (the one who knows the name we gave him.)

I don't feel like blogging anymore today.

Total hoot

November 17th, 2006 at 08:52 pm

Savings log - 3$ + 40$ for a DRP.
Spending log - 2$ coffee + milk, 8$ lunch at the hideout, 25$ bubble bath & bath salts.

The "fashion show" was a total hoot. The costume of our manager (a woman) placed 5th out of 12. The COO won. You have to give it to the guy willing to wear a flouncy dress and vogue to Nelly Furtado. The best part was the shell-shocked look of one celebrity judge. Her open mouthed shock on several of the costumes said it all.

I don't know whether I've blogged much on my hideout. If you know Seattle or want to know Seattle, my hideout is a small Vietnamese restaurant with a counter and 10 tables at the Pike Market two doors north of the proudly self-proclaimed "1st Starbucks". :P As I was walking past that freakin' Starbucks, I had to trip over the mob of 20somethings excitedly snapping away with camera phones at its front door. Retail tourism - eew! Not only are we getting hounded by buying stuff, now we're supposed to be excited about taking the historical tour of the retail shop that forced you to buy the stuff?

Thankfully, the tilapia pan-fried in ginger and chili made up for it.

Many thanks for the comments on my list! I did alter it slightly. What I meant with the vodka comment was a dig at a vodka martini, not vodka drinks in general. I sometimes consider a Bloody Mary a health drink; a Virgin Mary is just a V8, right?

Loved Fern's comment about the items being character studies. I was aiming for that effect, or if spoken, a bit like a Laurie Anderson piece. Sometimes a good sentence is a short story.

The ghost in the house generally popped the door leading to the upstairs, and would produce a cold breeze, even in summer with a hot attic. I got the description from my mom. I always slept too soundly to get a peek for myself.

My list - made it to 50

November 16th, 2006 at 10:14 pm

That's why it took sooooooo long! (and that's why it is so long)

1. I follow only two professional sports – baseball and football. I do not wish to follow any more because I think you need a vacation from following stuff. I look forward to tossing out the sports pages in February, March, April. DH follows no sports. We once had a fight about what we were going to watch on Monday night. I wanted Monday Night Football, he wanted Ally McBeal.

2. In grad school, I managed to live on $550/month. I never bothered to take out supplemental loans. How stupid! I thought at the time. Now I say, “Whew!”

3. I owned a car for only 3 years of my life. During a very bad 6 week period, I wrecked and bought 3 used cars. I have not owned a car in 7 years.

4. I am the navigator on car trips. DH and I have a system that keeps us from going crazy. Default is straight, give at least ½ block warning, tell him the exit number, up to me to find and pick out landmarks and correlate to the map. We are actually quite good, even during advanced navigating jobs – Washington D.C. for instance.

5. Sometimes I have problems asking for directions.

6. I sleep like a rock. I have slept through: DH’s snoring, a category 3 hurricane, a typewriter blowing up (college roommate’s), a neighbor’s house on fire – okay my BF at the time woke me up and got me out of the house, but I would have slept through it. And I talk in my sleep.

7. That poem about driving in a blizzard through Reliance, South Dakota? All true. I believe that I was the closest to death at the time.

8. I cook, but do not bake.

9. I am the designated gravy maker during every Thanksgiving feast. Flour, not cornstarch.

10. I collect fortune cookie fortunes.

11. I have a very distinctive laugh.

12. At one point in the 80s, I lived in a shared household with my BF at the time and another housemate who later became my DH. Lawyer friend once asked me, “what do you look for in a man?” “Proximity,” I said with a sly smile.

13. I was a party girl in college.

14. My now nearly 20 year old cat knows his name. When DH and I lived in Arizona, we heard our neighbor call his dog. We came up and remarked that our cat had the same name. He told us that our cat always came before his dog did.

15. I did not talk to any family relation for 7 years.

16. I have learned to eat and enjoy asparagus.

17. To the best of my knowledge, I am not allergic to anything.

18. I am addicted to Sudoku.

19. I also do not, nor have any desire to own a mobile phone.

20. The worst grade I ever got in high school was in typing: a D. I hate to type on a typewriter – my fingers get performance anxiety. I learned computer skills starting in my sophomore year in college (1981) because I had the backspace key and you could send a print job to a laser printer and get a perfectly clean copy. My grades on papers suddenly went up at least one grade.

21. I have a PhD in botany. (Plant physiology/plant biochemistry)

22. One of my summer jobs during college was at Green Giant. I tested the sodium content of corn, and once in a while filled in for the canned corn taster.

23. Just like some people have a seasonal wardrobe, I have a seasonal mixed drink. My summer drink is campari and soda, my winter drink is an extra-dry dirty martini. Gin of course. What kind of lame-a$s drinks a vodka martini?

24. The house of my childhood – which we are trying to sell off as part of the farmette – is haunted by a ghost dressed in a fedora hat and 20’s garb that would go up the stairs. Anybody want to buy that house? It will be sold separately from the second property. Are you sure? One time only… Going, going, gone!

25. I take baths, very rarely showers. Not frugal, you say? Try taking a bubble shower! And if you are stressed and angry, a hot bath and a glass of wine is far, far cheaper than psychiatry (or bullets). I only take showers away from home – hotel rooms and in the gym.

26. I set my mp3 player to shuffle (aka random). A Julie Andrews song came up then one by Old Dirty Bastard. And no, it was not a mashup.

27. I taught DH one of my favorite car games: figure out the crop or the orchard. We farm families play practical games, none of this license plate nonsense. Sometimes it was easy – in North Carolina you could smell tobacco. Other times it would take us months to figure it out. When we were in Tucson, it took us until October to figure out what we had been driving through when we went to Phoenix: cotton.

28. I hate being photographed.

29. I once attended a botany class in college where I was the only registered student. The prof sighed at first but then brightened up and said, “if I’m teaching only one student at least its you. I can go as fast as I want because I know you’ll keep up.”

30. I am a night owl. My favorite hours to work are 12 noon to 8 pm. My best time to work is 3:30 pm to 5:30 pm.

31. I’m usually the cut-up during meetings at work.

32. The first time I ever had to use a key for a door was when I was 18 and in college in Chicago. The locks on the farm never worked. The first thing sister had to do when dad died was have the sheriff put padlocks on the doors of the house.

33. I can taste the difference between raw milk and pasteurized milk.

34. For the midwesterners out there: I find the smell of FleetFarm evocative. I walked into a FleetFarm in Montana, where most of DH’s family lives. One sniff and it all came back.

35. I like to find “found” food. Not dumpster diving, but blackberry brambles, plum, apple, pear, cherry trees, that sort of thing. When I find one in the neighborhood on someone’s property, I knock, introduce myself, and often will ask for a cut of their bounty. I used to pick and cure the olives along Olive Way on the University of Arizona campus.

36. Stores that have a lot of fiddley-stuff in them are catnip to me. Office supply stores, CD/DVD stores, kitchen equipment stores, five and dime stores, the dollar store, bead store…you get the idea.

37. I have more male friends than female friends. I have more gay friends than straight friends.

38. I have no wisdom teeth.

39. My hands are steady and I am good with them, which helped when I did experiments. I like to do crafts and work scissors quite well. However I cannot for the life of me cut a right angle.

40. Most dogs make me nervous.

41. My sister and I sound alike. I used to play a trick on my boyfriends in college. When they said something “good” (use your imagination), I would pause and say, “hold that thought, let me go get my sister!”

42. I worry that I will develop some of the same mental illnesses my mother had – depression, alcoholism, hoarding.

43. For you real old timers on the Internet: I created a newsgroup on Usenet (rec.food.preserving), then developed its first FAQ file. One year after I created the FAQ, I received a note that that FAQ file was one of 7 files left and lovingly saved on the last working computer at the University of Sarajevo, Bosnia during the Bosnian civil war.

44. I can usually make any piece of electronics work.

45. I find window shopping boring and stupid.

46. My first scientific love was astronomy. I used to amaze my college friends by telling them what star that was in the sky. (It was Chicago – only 12 stars are bright enough to be seen with the light pollution. Not rocket science.) Even now I can identify all of the constellations. The JPL and NASA websites are amazing to me.

47. DH keeps two rifles and a pistol in the bedroom. All unloaded. I have no desire to handle or fire a gun.

48. For 14 years, through 5 bosses, the name of my boss alternated between David or Bob.

49. I have never been outside of North America, yet if someone tells me they are from a foreign country, I know what countries that country is next to and its capital.

50. I totaled a 1975 Datsun with my face when my bike brakes failed on a hill. (Very cheap car – replacing a busted window cost more than the car was worth.) I have a noticeable scar on my upper lip from that accident.