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Archive for July, 2008

semiotics of the bus placard

July 31st, 2008 at 08:34 pm

Saving log - $0 tip box
Spending log - $.50 coffee + free lunch/coffee + $1.50 (3 bananas)

The day is done. Tomorrow is the first day of vacation, which will be taken up entirely by laundry, cleaning the house, and packing.

But wait. I sat in the back of the bus on my route home, zoning out, listening to tunes, avoiding eye contact and ignoring children misbehavior, all while scanning the bus placards.

Now bus placards are a class specific medium - you see the usual, devoted to the stereotypes of bus riders - the cheap and the poor. Tonight there was the Jobdango placard for the un- and underemployed, the change the world placard for the idealistic underemployed just out of college, the don't-be-an-ass-on-the-bus placards in matching English and Spanish, the alternate forms of transportation placards (on the not-in-your-car bus? Try the not-in-your-car train/amtrak, or even try the not-in-your-car car - the Zipcar). All well and good. The Moneytree payday loan placard fit right in.

But what do I spy? I blinked again.

A condo ad. Interesting. But it gets better. Said condo advertises studios and alcoves(?) for 200K, 1BD/1BA for 300K, 2BD/2BA for 400K, and work lofts for 500K. Notice the irony here? When the buyer shows up and signs and initials, signs and initials, and finally is asked "how did you find out about this condo" is anybody going to really say ... bus placard?

Sure. Big Grin

I do love the fact that they are brazen about the prices. None of this old "prices start at xxxK" to lure you in before you are horribly trapped at the realtor. Brownie points for that. Just a glam upper class placard proudly slumming with the lower and middle.

The piece de la resistance was: the glam condo was a 1/2 placard. Pulling the punch a bit. I can't imagine that even a full size placard costs all that much. If you are selling a series of 1/2 million dollar anything, along with a larger series of slightly cheaper apartments aren't we talking about 30-40 M worth of construction? Spring for the full size bus placard. You're good for it ... if you sell one.

Its almost as if the glam placard is destined to do exactly the opposite of what advertising supposed to: no one swayed by it could do anything about it or would admit to having seen it, and there is the strong possibility that the developers are sending signals that they will have to drop the price.

extra equity raise

July 30th, 2008 at 08:50 pm

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

Today was another training day. What is it about training that is both so "yes, that makes sense" and so tiring at the same time? Also, when I was in my 20s and it was my job to get trained (college/grad school), I was adept at learning something then keeping it in my head for months and months while I learned the connecting thing. Now? Unless it is solving a problem that has been bugging me, its gone from my head in a few days.

I must need that vacation. Aug 1 through the 15. Don't say you weren't warned. Smile Montana, a cabin in the mountains, and a creek runs through it.

Also got an email from the COO that I will get that 2% extra equity raise along with the 4% raise. Word to the wise - always document your projects...and if someone gives you a kissy thank you email (especially if your boss sends you one), save it.

li'l shocker

July 29th, 2008 at 07:54 pm

Saving log - $2 tip box
Spending log - $1.86 coffee (1 more!) + $12 lunch + $1 apple

My trainer is leaving the gym to start her own training business. Quite a shocker on the friendship basis, but my credit card is cheering. I feel a little guilty about that.

I've learned a lot from her. I've worked with all but a couple of pieces of equipment, learned a lot of exercises and calisthentics, the form I should have, the muscles I should work, how to put together a workout routine, and she would write out the workout routines as do them. I've saved them all.

Her official last day will occur when I'm gone on vacation, but since we have three sessions to burn off, she's going to come back in to the gym for those. Yet another reason not to burn a bridge on your old job - you never know when you need the infrastructure. Smile

I'm going to aim working out at the gym on my own for a few months, use the workouts as written and get a routine - weigh myself weekly. My clothes give me a decent reading - about as good as a tape measure.

My fear is that routines will become too routine and that I'm more likely to blow them off because I will only have the feel better aspect, not the feel better plus holy crap I'm throwing away money if I blow this off - especially when my schedule gets crazy. We'll see.

I am getting better though. I enjoy my cheap long walks and enjoy the fact that a few people have told me that six miles is long ... it really isn't. I still have the goal to begin to jog them. I'm starting to run for buses...and catch them.

Good luck to you, trainer. Birdie's out of the nest.

2 1/2 servings

July 28th, 2008 at 09:25 pm

Saving log - $1 tip box
Spending log - $1.86 coffee* + $6 curry

*A co worker gave me a $5 coffee card as a thank you for helping her out on a project. Because I buy the 12 oz straight drip coffee, I figure I have about 2 1/2 servings of coffee.

Very useful this week. I'm again at the end of the month with $40 to spare so I'm feeling the frugal burn.

Decided to again go to the curry place. I looked more deeply at the menu and discovered that all the curries not on special all went up about 10%. I know how the owner's funding the $3.99 special. I would have eaten the special, but brown lentil curry is not my thing.

Going on vacation August 1 through the 15th, so I've suspended heavy duty saving and buying DRP stocks until I get back.

the quick and the dead

July 27th, 2008 at 07:42 pm

Saturday
Saving log - $0 tip box + $35 drp
Spending log - $15 brunch/coffee + $12 produce

Sunday
Saving log - $0 tip box
Spending log - $3.25 coffee & bagel + $4 latte & cookie

This morning we stopped into our local Sunday coffeehouse, expecting a fairly quiet coffee and Sunday newspaper reading. People were swinging from the rafters! We asked what was up ...

Owner: We got refugees from the Tully's Coffee across the street (87th/Greenwood). They closed.

Us: Huh? That was quick.

And it was quick - Wednesday nothing was amiss. The notice went up on Thursday. By Saturday they were closed. By Sunday, you can see the newspaper shroud along all the windows. About as fast as the Alaska Deli downtown...although at Tully's least there was a note.

There seems to be a spectra of closure styles.

You have the never-ending closure style of the Oriental rug stores in Pioneer Square. It wouldn't surprise me if those stores have only two signs - an Everything Must Go Sign and a Grand Opening sign - and the owner flips a coin to determine which one they put up for the month.

You have the political statement closure: a news-worthy proprietor who is retiring or the rent's going up. I call it a political closure because it usually takes several months with some local ain't-it-a-shame or shed-a-light-on-other-issues press. I lump the Starbucks closures in that category. Anybody go to that Starbucks on Dexter and Aurora? Its on the list.

You have the clear must get out by the end of the month sale and closure. My CD place was one of those. Burn off as much inventory in that last month as you can, with the goal of leaving only dirty carpet on the first.

To me, the oddballs are the really quick closures. Last year, the Denny's in Ballard closed with incredible speed and no particular warning. One Saturday we ate there, the next Saturday that Denny's sign was down, and the place was boarded up. Now this Tully's. Perhaps it makes a little bit of sense when a multi-branch company does it - they move the inventory out within a few hours, leaving cricket chirps behind.

But the Alaska Deli? Still a mystery - it was in the midst of construction, but it had been in the midst for a month or two, it was clearly marked Open with clear sidewalks. Frankly, with all the construction guys swarming around it should have been doing the business of its life. May 30, it was selling coffee; June 2 the door was locked. The extra mystery is that the Alaska Deli's stock is still mostly there even now. (this pic was taken in early July)


I'm probably reading too much into these quick closures. But a business has some sort of relationship with its neighborhood, and its customers. Do these quick closures tell us that we don't care or that we might care too much?

WaMu watch

July 25th, 2008 at 08:07 pm

Saving log - $3 tip box
Spending log - $1.50 coffee + $11 lunch

No bankers falling out of the sky...


(WaMu Tower on the left; WaMu Center on the right. I took this snap in December when it was nice and gloomy)

odd mail

July 24th, 2008 at 10:56 pm

Saving log - $4 tip box
Spending log - $1.50 coffee + $22 groceries & lunch

Peaches were at .99/lb at the downtown supermarket, so I picked up some along with a plate of california rolls for $3.79. Nice to see 2004 prices for a change.

My mail contained a notice for a class action lawsuit for Coke shareholders of record between 1999 and 2000. During that time, KO dropped from $80/share to $30-$40 and so far hasn't recovered completely from it. Plantiffs are suing that KO misled the company finances, etc. I'll have to research this a bit more - the possibilities are to take it, ignore it, or file for exclusion. This was about the time that DH gave me a share and started me off of DRiPing. I had one share and was working on a bit of another at the time. I'd be shocked if I get a check for more than single digits.

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.

stooping to the tricks

July 21st, 2008 at 10:08 pm

Saving log - $1 tip box
Spending log - $1.50 coffee + $8 lunch

The shorts I bought yesterday didn't fit, so I returned them. Their sizing fooled me. I did manage to find another pair of shorts that did fit. So I recouped $19.

I had a hair more than 100K in my community bank account. I trimmed that down to under 99K and put the proceeds into ING. Just didn't want someone to say, "why didn't you keep it under the limit?"

Found an interesting article in the paper today.

Text is http://seattletimes.nwsource.com/html/nationworld/2008063100_consumers210.html and Link is
http://seattletimes.nwsource.com/html/nationworld/2008063100...

First of all: this isn't particularly bad yet. And I haven't really noticed all that much frugality out and about. I see folks afraid but still driving around. I still see very few pedestrians, few bicyclists, and now its again easier to get a seat on the bus. I hear more complaints, but little clever thinking. I see a bit more fear - concentrated if you have lost your job or your house - but the fear feels spread out and low grade from the average person. Kind of like "nothing to see here, move along.."

I'd like to think that a new wave of permanent frugality is at hand, but right now everyone appears to be hoping against hope that they won't have to stoop to the tricks.

Speaking of tricks - my PDA off/on button now refuses to work. I thought about replacing it, but DH taught me that the all the buttons turn on the PDA. The sneaky way of using what you already have. Turning the PDA is a bit more problematic, because none of those buttons turn things off. You have to set the automatic shutoff to 30 seconds or a minute and let it shutoff by itself. Better to teach myself a little laziness than spend on a new PDA.

two urban walks

July 20th, 2008 at 09:54 pm

Saving log - $0
Spending log - $50 clothes + $30 groceries

This weekend I walked about 4 mi each day. My itineraries:

Saturday - Golden Gardens/ Shilshole Marina/ top of the Burke Gilman along Skyview Ave/ Hiram Chittenden Locks/Fish Ladder/ Market St in Ballard

Sunday - north on Greenwood Ave/ 105th to Northgate/ Mineral Springs Park/ Northgate Mall

Didn't find any change on the sidewalk, but there was no admission to get into any of the parks, the fish ladder, or the Locks. So they were both nice, cheap urban hikes. I will still have to think about the ultimate destination. If its to a mall, then there's the thought of shopping. It sounds so dang obvious, but if you want to avoid spending discretionary money, you have to avoid going shopping.

macroeconomic musings

July 19th, 2008 at 08:06 pm

I'm trying to figure the big pieces of this economy out.

In the last few years, we've had a big expansion of money (dollar bills are only a small bit of the money supply) as folks buy houses and re-fi and HELOC. Banks bundled it up and sold it to other entities, then used the proceeds to make more loans. In other words, they expanded credit and manufactured money.

Now, as banks write down their debt, that "paper" money is being destroyed. So if money is being destroyed, that should be deflation. Inflation is the increase of the money supply, deflation is the decrease in the money supply.

Deflation usually causes lower prices. When fewer dollars chase the same amount of stuff, those dollars are precious - they buy more. Therefore prices are supposed to go down.

Clearly they are not - there is another, stronger element going on.

Deflation is also supposed to strengthen the dollar, because again, fewer dollars buy more stuff. But if you compare the dollar to the price of oil... well, you could look at it from the perspective of the oil - that barrel of oil has the same value, yet if it takes more dollars to buy it, those dollars are weaker.

So what we have here is a deflated (fewer) in number, yet weaker dollar.

cheap week

July 18th, 2008 at 08:49 pm

Saving log - $3 tip box
Spending log - $1.70 coffee + $5 lunch

Had $10 in my pocket today to finish the week. My cheap curry place kept my cheap week on track. I began the new tip box cycle by adding $3.

I managed to spend only 40$ this week, including lunch with friends and few groceries. It required buying a foot-long sub and eating it over two days, hitting the free lunch going away party, and hitting the cheap curry place.

I haven't been to the cheap curry place in several months - miracle of miracles, its still running its any-vegetarian curry and a drink for $3.99 + tax (and I tip decently). Its line, as usual, was huge. Next door, the $5 sub place: crickets.

oh and I did a little work too

July 17th, 2008 at 09:23 pm

Saving log - $2 tip box ($42 in total)
Spending log - $0

Had a good cash flow day; all saving, and no spending.

Breakfast was taken care of by the all staff meeting, where I presented DJ friend with his 5 year service pin. Lunch was taken care of by a going away party, where I grabbed a couple of extra wraps for afternoon snack. I also went to a meeting where there were many mini candy bars, which I promptly scooped up and set in a cup by our printers and copiers. After all our printers and copiers know when you are upset.

In between free meals from the workplace, I found out that: I lost my own service pin (pooh!), I'm now back down to 184, I can compose an okay haiku under the gun in 15 minutes, and as I ducked out to deposit my tip box earnings from this month I found out that my WaMu branch (the main one in downtown Seattle) looked serene and calm.

Deposited $42 into brick and mortar savings this month.

Tonight I found out that I hit it lucky, of sorts, in buying more MI. The transfer agent on that one buys on the 14th of every month. My 100$ bought at its very low on Monday. The stock rally yesterday and today of bank stocks is mystifying on a broad scale, not so baffling on a day to day. This week everyone's relieved that its only bad, not apocalyptic. Mr Market is particularly manic depressive this week. Time for folks like us to keep on an even keel.

I also discovered tonight that I set up my monthly buy of IP for the middle of the month. After this buy, I now have more than 25 shares, so could and did opt for full dividend reinvestment.