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Archive for August, 2007

what would great-grandpa eat?

August 31st, 2007 at 10:40 pm

I finished Animal, Vegetable, Miracle: A Year of Food Life. It was about a commitment to eat off the garden or very, very locally for one year. Of course, such a thing is possible if you live on a bit more than a postage stamp lawn and in a state with well balanced agriculture.

I've also been reading and hearing about others making a commitment to eat food grown within 100 miles of one's locale. Local-voring, its called. I like the idea, but I've always had problems with such rigid rules. A bit expensive and a bit pretentious. At the very least, local-voring within the greater Seattle area will give you a massive caffeine withdrawl headache. (No coffee trees within 100 miles of Seattle). Bananas are good for you. Standing around the meat case tempting yourself with either the New Zealand or the Oregon beef means annoying other shoppers who just want to get in and get out. Nope, I want an easy rule to avoid total deprivation and at least not do the completely wrong thing. Big Grin So I've come up with my own semi-local-frugal-vore rule, short and sweet.

Eat what and from where your great-grandpa would eat.

Now I know I have a definite advantage here. My great-grandpa on my mother's side was a grocer during the Great Depression. (FYI, great-grandpa was still alive when I left for college.) The grocers' kids ate okay, however they ate what wouldn't sell, a frugal but possibly disgusting and frightening prospect in the Depression.

Still, coffee was not unheard of, neither were bananas. Fruit and produce, however, were sold in season from either North or Central America. Fresh food coming from places much further was prohibitively expensive, so great-grandpa wouldn't eat it. Sugar was just granulated, and also expensive, so it was a once in awhile thing. He was also, as you might have guessed, darn frugal. He also ate home cooked meals, no junk food, and only in his much later years ate things with a lot of strange preservatives. Except he had that unfortunate taste for Spam.

The great-grandpa rule isn't perfect, but it has to be better than having to bring a mental GPS unit when going to the grocery store.

frugal dilemma 2

August 31st, 2007 at 10:02 pm

Saving log - $0
Spending log - $1.84 coffee, milk + $15 chirashi lunch + $25 poker game

Paycheck came - yes, I am making $50 more/ paycheck, or $100 more a month. It justifies my raising my savings rate to $50/ each paycheck.

This evening, I played Texas Hold 'Em poker with lawyer friend, lawyer friend's partner (who works as IT support in a law firm), and 5 lawyers up on the 48th floor in downtown Seattle. Man that sounds like the setup for a punch line. I lost, of course. It was fun, but pricey, so it will be a once in awhile thing. Cracking the poker game and winning isn't cheap - $20 buy-in, $5 bounty (if you lose all your chips, you pay the person who dealt.)

And no, that is not the frugal dilemma, this is:

A couple of week's worth of Wall Street Journals, Investor Business Dailys., and a Barron or two. Stealing is not right, neither is littering...but recycling is a virtue. I was sorely tempted to take a Thursday or a Friday's paper. I didn't, but there it is...

hot not good

August 29th, 2007 at 08:21 pm

Saving log - $0
Spending log - $1.84 coffee, milk + $15 dim sum lunch + $11.04 grocery store.

We had some excitement at work at noon. The Director of IT felt the door of the server room and it was hot.

Hot is not good. The room was 99 degrees.

The servers all had to be taken down and since it was around noon, the first hour of no computer wasn't too bad. I told my co workers that I "give us about a half an hour of no Internet before we resort to savagery and cannibalism." Big Grin

We got back up at around 2:30, but as I left at 5:30 I couldn't save files, so tomorrow might be very interesting.

I work with

August 28th, 2007 at 08:04 pm

well, entertaining lunatics...

In case you missed them, the signs said:
Needs Good Home
Take Me. I'm yours.
Cheap & Easy
If I Could Talk

Oh yes, don't be fooled. The only thing more uncomfortable than those chairs would be a board with nails in it.

(And yes that's a vault door in the background. Our building used to be a bank. It cost too much to get rid of it during the remodel, so it remains as an historical artifact.)

Saving log - $1 tip box
Spending log - $1.84 coffee, milk


August 27th, 2007 at 08:25 pm

Saving log - $1 tip box
Spending log - $1.84 coffee, milk + $7 lunch (for 2 days)

Its a little tight for the end of this month, with a paycheck at the end of the week, and I'll have a couple of lunch meetings that I have to make and I need to save some money for. Today I did the footlong sub, gnaw on it for 2 days trick. Then, even with the two lunches out I should make the end of the month with about $60 to spare.

I looked at my Capital One credit card bill and I got the late fee charge again. The customer service guy was rude, but he did tell me where to send a written letter to dispute my charge (I double checked on the website - who knows what they teach customer service people nowadays?) and fax number. What is happening is that I've gotten in the habit of paying on the 20th when my bill closes on the 15th. Now my bill closes on the 20th, so when I pay my bill on the 20th, it might get posted to the previous month, making me just under the wire.

I faxed the letter and mailed it. There is no innocence about it - I was mad enough just to be straightforward, clipped, and direct. I gave them six months worth of data, told them why I was mischarged, and told them what I want to happen (shift my bill to close on the 15th). I have to say that I don't hold much hope here - when Cap One's mortgage business went under, it means they will grab money with both hands, customer be damned. Luckily the late fee is the only charge on it. If they aren't reasonable, I cut up the card and hand it to them.

Another MOMA

August 26th, 2007 at 05:53 pm

It came to me this afternoon as I was walking to the bus.

Enjoy what you already have.

Very simple - since you already have it, why spend on the new, improved version. We all might not be the "use it up completely" types, but even if folks actually used everything they bought we would not waste and toss out perfectly useful items.

it could be worse

August 26th, 2007 at 05:29 pm

We were going to go Saturday to lawyer friend's house on the coast of Washington (Hoquiam, to be exact) to paint and barbeque and get a change of scenery.

Unfortunately, we met up with a traffic jam to Fife, Washington (outside of Tacoma). A rollover accident causing 7 car pileup happened about 30 minutes before, blocking all the lanes. The State Patrol opened up the turnout, and we turned around and went back to Seattle.

On the way, we called lawyer friend, who got the whole story from someone else's call. Paint and barbeque canceled.

It was pretty disappointing, but it could have been worse. We got a late start, so the rollover definitely could have been on us had we gotten 30 minute earlier start.

oh this has got to be it!

August 23rd, 2007 at 08:00 pm

Saving log - $0
Spending log - $1.84 coffee, milk + $5.35 lunch

Spent $20 at lawyer friend partner's birthday dinner. Had fun, but I did notice out of the 14 people there a couple of people cheaped out a bit. I'm glad that if nothing else, keeping an eye on the money most other times means that I can shrug my shoulders and tsk tsk to myself. Keeping an eye on the my money makes me detail oriented, which means I keep an eye on everyone else's money too.

I collected $46 in the tip box this month. Deposited it yesterday afternoon at the bank.

This afternoon sister called me a couple of times. She got the notarized forms I mailed her, and as she was getting hers notarized by her insurance agent, she noticed a slight discrepancy - 74 acres instead of 73. So did that mean they bought slightly more, or what?

I reminded her that the property line was 8 ft further than the fence post. She called her lawyer who is arranging the sale about it - before she mailed the forms. Turns out that we are still getting the 7 acres (like only 6 acres is not a farmette, hah hah); the 8 ft extra did push it a little over.. The exact acreage was something like 73.7879. They rounded up the acreage in the contract. So sister will deliver the notarized contracts to her lawyer.

This has got to be it??!!!

Apparently even with 4-5 inches of rain, the gang is working - the post that the solar panels are going to sit on has been driven in, and the electricians are working at upgrading. I don't even want to think about it with all that standing water. Oh, and the solar panels are in the sheds.

voting for nutballs

August 21st, 2007 at 10:50 pm

Saving log - $0
Spending log - $.10 coffee

Well, had my dime spending day today. I feel almost as virtuous as I would if it was a no spend day. Made $180 in interest last month.

Voted this morning in a special primary. Normally its in September; this year's several weeks early. I voted an electronic ballot - its very rare that electronic gadgets fail for me, but not for many other people. It won't matter soon because King County is heading toward an all mail-in ballot.

I prepare for voting the night before by looking at the voters guide and writing down how I'm going to vote. It was nice to have a friend running for school board because I usually decide eeny-meeny-miny on those. But despite the planning, there's always one item on the ballot that I didn't decide on. When I pick blind it never fails that I pick the nutball. Too bad; nutballs are easy to spot in the voter's guide. Here are my EZ rules:

1. No more than two fonts in the candidate's statement. Regular and italic or regular and bold. As soon as you start with the regular, bold, italic, ALL CAPS all on a 1/2 page, well...do you really think that way?

2. No underlining passages whole passages and paragraphs. C'mon, it looks kind of stupid when you underline whole chapters in a textbook. If you think all of this is that important than none of it is.

3. Not keeping the use of capital letters to the first word of a sentence and proper nouns. Just because You have a Word you like doesn't mean You can Capitalize It.

4. No third person POV. The main reason baselle didn't vote for Bob Dole ... well, okay other than the fact that baselle normally votes Democratic.

5. A first name that's not obviously made up. This year it was Goodspaceguy Nelson. (actually his entry was pretty funny - "to glorify King County, ask that governments make it easier to make movies here.")

dime spend day tomorrow

August 20th, 2007 at 09:45 pm

Saving log - $0
Spending log - $1.84 coffee, milk + $20 chiropractor + $7 lunch (2 days) + $4.25 mailing

Hit the chiropractor and teased him about the Packers beating the Seahawks, or rather, what they looked like they Saturday night, the Garfield High junior varsity team. It was in good fun though - there are plenty of Seahawk fans in Wisconsin and Packer fans out here and each group will merrily abandon their team if the other's doing better.

With increasing my savings payments by another 50$ to $100 and with nearly paying off the credit card, I'm a little short of what I normally would be. I bought the footlong sub to eat over a couple of days. That and killing off the Starbucks card tomorrow means I might get away with a dime spend day tomorrow.

What I was real short of today was time - I was racing around all lunch hour getting the notary signatures on the 3 real estate forms I got on Saturday. It was unclear on one of the forms where the notary was supposed to go, so it was go to the bank, go back to call the lawyer in Wisconsin, get the story, go back to the bank and get the notary. Then copying for my files, then a hike to the post office to send the forms 3-day priority and get a tracking number, and finally an email to sister and sister's lawyer to expect the forms.

But soon it will be all over...really.

Tomorrow we vote in a special election.

MOMA - for Boomeyers

August 18th, 2007 at 10:32 pm

I'm surprised this one hasn't come up, so I'll do it.

Pay yourself first. Put yourself in as a line item on your budget, and give yourself a raise/ cost of living adjustment (COLA) every so often, especially if you get one from your job.

Remember that if your electric bill or the price of gas goes up a certain percent, you grumble, but you shell it out and manage somehow. And that managing somehow means the end of the month gets thinner and thinner. Paying yourself first when your paycheck is plump means you will do it consistently.

last of the real estate paperwork (maybe)

August 18th, 2007 at 07:16 pm

Saving log - $0
Spending log - $11 Denny's + $40 groceries + $26 CDs (1 a 2 record set)

The probable pentultimate gasp of paperwork for the 74 acres (second property minus farmette and 7 acres) came today in the mail, along with a few useful letters. It came from sister's lawyer.

In front of a notary, I'm to sign the Construction and Tenants affidavit and the Warranty Deed. Apparently the Transfer Return form is just for my files - sister, since she's readily available, is to sign that one. I get to call the lawyer and confirm.

And then sister and I each pay off the property taxes for 2007, now that dad's estate is no more (out of probate). I'll check with sister to see if we can use the joint checking account to pay it off. After all, its what I envisioned this joint account would be for.

According to the DNR letter, when this batch of paperwork is done, the Wisconsin DNR will get the clear title and cut us a check.

A couple of photos for today. This afternoon, it appears that fall has come a little early to Seattle. We got a spot of rain...

And another fall sign, lots of birds congregating on a wire. I felt a tad like Tippi Hedron as I snapped it. 'IMDB' Tippi Hedron for you young whippersnappers.

it was good spend, anyway

August 17th, 2007 at 08:30 pm

Saving log - $20 tip box
Spending log - $3 cherries + $2.45 groceries

I nearly had my no spend day until about 1:00pm. I had my Starbucks coffee from the gift card ($1.60 left - so Monday it will be coffee for a dime), and the co worker took me to lunch, even paying for the tip. We went to my hideout in the Pike Market (2 doors past the first Starbucks) and managed to trip over only a few tourists celebrating its 100th anniversary.

Also, the place does a strictly cash business - not tourist friendly either - so it was a lot of Seattle regulars chewing away.

I got led away from the no-spend path coming back through the market heading toward 1st Avenue. We had to slalom past rings of tourists camcordering street musicians (noticed few coins and bills in the hats, fyi), veered around lots and lots of looky-loos listening so sincerely and intently to the speaker proclaiming some blather that the Pike Place Market will never die...

Well, it will if you don't buy stuff! Its a market, guys. Markets sell stuff. If they don't sell enough stuff, they go away. I see it right now - not nearly so many produce stands as there were even just five years ago.

So there were a ton of tourists standing there like logs in front of a produce stand. I couldn't stand it anymore. I very publically bought a bag of cherries. Good karma there.

Then an hour later I gave the cherries to my trainer and the gym - because of the picnic yesterday we rescheduled gym for today. Good karma again.

It blew my no-spend day but frankly good karma, leveraged on both ends, doesn't come any cheaper.

1 down, 1 to go

August 16th, 2007 at 07:53 pm

Saving log - $0
Spending log - $0

Did it. Got one of my few no-spend days.

Used the Starbucks card to "buy" my 12 oz drip coffee (drank it black...no, no, no I want cream with it tomorrow), and I ate - gorged - at the office picnic. I shouldn't have had that piece of cake with frosting. Tasted great while I was eating it but it really, really got me even an hour afterwards. To think that as a little kid I used to enjoy that much cake preferentially going after the frosting.

DJ friend drove me home, but I could have also taken the bus.