Home > Archive: November, 2008

Archive for November, 2008

weekend doings

December 1st, 2008 at 03:54 am

Saving log - $3 tip box
Spending log - 0$

Saving log - $0
Spending log - $5 groceries and lost $7 out of pocket

Did the gym laundry Friday night, then returned the gym bag to work Saturday afternoon and walked part of the way home. As long as I was at work, I put in a few dollars to show the tip box some love.

Walked Saturday and Sunday - it is getting harder to do the full trip because I much prefer to walk during daylight. When it gets dark by 4:30, that's my deadline, and it if takes about 3 hours, I have to start at 1:30. Not complaining particularly, weekends are for a bit of laziness. Even if I have only two hours, walking is good, because I made these three observations:

1. Listened to Marketplace radio. The piece talked about the price of eggs and the correspondent let slip that she pays $3.35 for a dozen. Yikes! Still the rationalizations flew: "But LA is so expensive and I have them delivered." Cry me a river. Here's a hint: buts cry out for a creative solution in times of trouble. Do you really have to have your eggs delivered?

2. Same radio show, except the piece talked about re-setting children's expectations. If only we can tap into peer pressure. What if everybody's teen was told, "nope, we can't afford it."?

3. Discovered that while my new hoodie is a magnet for sidewalk small change, its pockets expel dollar bills. Time to be more careful where I put my change. Sucks.

More signs of the times: the North Seattle Goodwill is doing brisk business, even on a Sunday (Monday's when the new stuff gets laid out), even at 4:30 in the afternoon.

Where am I going to get my colon cleaned now?


Ah the seamy underside of the holidays...

thanksgiving day scores

November 29th, 2008 at 02:32 am

Saving log - $0 tip box
Spending log - $3.35 bagel, coffee + $1.61 yerba mate + $3.60 for 2 pie crusts

Saving log - $0 tip box
Spending log - $3.35 bagel, coffee + $17.41 many, many storage containers

Duvall Thanksgiving was a lot of fun, with a lot of food made for 4 people. Leftovers! We scored:

1. One large yogurt container of homemade pumpkin pie filling. Score because 2 pie crusts are way cheaper than one filled pie at the grocery store. Pumpkin pie is cooling comfortably on the counter. Now I all I have to do is ignore DH pleading, "is it ready yet?" No - not until its cooled.
2. Raw turkey liver. I love turkey liver. Its my tradition to fry up the liver with a bit of sage while the turkey roasts. Thank G*d none of my friends and acquaintences like turkey liver. More for me.
3. Goose fat. Cassoulet in January. I got several plastic bags of dried beans from sister. I gave the Duvall friends a bag of sister's dried beans.
4. Turkey bones. Not all the bones that I would have gotten had I hosted, but guests in general rarely get bones. Soup in a couple of days. Yippee!

Next week I'm going to brownbag it with the leftovers and I have a fresh supply of plastic containers. My homework with the new trainer is to hit the gym at least two more times a week in addition to the one hour per week with him. Unfortunately everybody seems to want to schedule over my time. The solution I've come up with is to hit gym at lunch (yeah, busy, the locker room will be like high school), then eat at my desk. Nobody schedules anything at noon, hah hah. Since I will have leftovers next week, it gives me a big break to try out getting into the habit.

early paycheck

November 26th, 2008 at 04:39 am

Saving log - $5 tip box
Spending log - $12 lunch

We're getting our paychecks early this month - normally its the last day of the month, which this month falls on a Sunday. On a weekend, we get paid on the last work day of the month, which in other months would be Friday. Of course this month Friday is not a workday (hopefully its not your workday either), so the last workday of the month is ... tomorrow. 5 day early paycheck.

I finally got the hint and decided to cut off my recurring T-bill buying. For laughs I looked at what I would have earned on a 4wk $4,000 T-bill: 16 cents. The money that would have bought the T-bill now goes into the Treasury's no interest account, and I move that back into ING. What $4,000 will earn in ING in 4wks: $8.43.

I've been noticing more living thrifty articles. Here's

Text is one from Alternet and Link is
one from Alternet.

Happy Thanksgiving!

2 performances

November 24th, 2008 at 02:39 am

Spending log - $15 gloves, hoodie + $21 groceries

Realized as I began my six mile walk that it was far colder than I was dressed, so I picked up gloves and a medium (cut large) grey hoodie at Walgreens. It was a toasty warm hoodie, but it also seems to be lucky in another way: I found change on the sidewalk within a block of putting it on. I also found 11 cents as I cut through the Safeway. Basic gray lucky recession hoodie.

On my walk toward Fremont I saw this performance:

Coming back, I walked past them again. No babies in the baby buggies, all had enigmatic smiles.

The second performance? My blog. For laughs, I put in my blog address into

Text is Typealyzer and Link is
Typealyzer - which analyzes your blog according to Myers-Briggs.

My blog: ESFP.

They got the feeling, perceiving bit right. I'm flattered a bit - I just don't think of myself as a performer in any sort of way. Typealyzer seems to do a very quick analysis. I think its checking for verbs and active/passive voice on the first screen of posts it sees. Methinks for laughs I'll bore you all with a couple of heavy duty analysis type posts and see if it changes thinks a bit.

and that's where I was on Saturday

November 23rd, 2008 at 03:57 am

Saving log - $0 tip box
Spending log - $11 lunch

Saving log - $40 DRP
Spending log - $7 brunch + $65 groceries

At the grocery store. Shopped for my contributions to the Thanksgiving feast and to take advantage of the frozen corn, pea, and green bean sales. I also picked up one box each of chicken broth and stock. I also picked up some hard cheeses.

I didn't walk this today - I cleaned the kitchen. Clutterfree! It gets me that DH tends to be clueless about cleanup - or rather, he tends to be clueless about the follow-through. He'll wash, but he won't put away, or he'll leave it soaking in the sink. He is the anti-fly lady. I also got rid of the ancient condiments lining the baseboard behind the stove, and moved all the non-condimenty things back there. Condiments get nasty quick over the heat of the stove.

Then I tried the

Text is roasted cranberry sauce and Link is
roasted cranberry sauce recipe from Saveur - it is fantastic, and only about 15 minutes of cooking, 1 hr of waiting around. (actually, I'm an inveterate tinkerer, so I've already added my own additions and deletions). I also tried a new
Text is sweet potato recipe and Link is
sweet potato recipe which was also fantastic. The very opposite end of sweet potatoes with marshmallows, but it uses a lot of butter.

blew the nsd

November 21st, 2008 at 04:22 am

Saving log - $0 tip box
Spending log - $12 groceries

DJ friend took me out to lunch. That, along with breakfast food at the all staff meeting, made for a no spend day as of 6:30pm.

Unfortunately I "blew" it on cranberries, broccoli, sweet potatoes, and an orange. I'm going to try out a roasted cranberry sauce. In it, you put sugared cranberries on a cookie sheet with a bit of orange peel, cinnamon stick, thin strips of jalepeno, then bake for 15 minutes.

But I am here in the midst of the November grocery bonanza. Organic broccoli for $1.49/lb, even cheaper than regular; frozen green beans, corn, peas, peas and carrots each for $1/lb. I know where I'll be Saturday.

up the down escalator

November 20th, 2008 at 04:32 am

Saving log - $4 tip box
Spending log - $9 lunch

Watching a guy do a very frugal 15 sec stair step workout. It wasn't busy, so he ran up the down escalator.

We got all of our temp staff here and orientated. Orientation included food, so I didn't have to tear into my breakfast/ energy bar stock. I got a little SBC coffee card which I will hold in reserve. Plastic in the bank, as it were.

Put my tip box squeezings in for this month.

Made the Thanksgiving Day plans - we are eating with the Duvall friends. It made sense because if they come here, they have to put the poultry away for the night (otherwise the free ranging cougar gets her own Thanksgiving) or they have to come here early to leave early to put the poultry away. When it gets dark at 5pm, it puts a crimp in the festivities.

403B doings, part 5

November 19th, 2008 at 05:12 am

Now that you've set up your 401K or 403B, its time to maintain it.

This corny saying on Wall Street might help you: The trend is your friend, until the end.

To tell you the truth, I found that this post was the most difficult to write. And this is just the introduction. The classic advice: diversify and allocate according to your target age and risk, set up your percentages, check them every six months or yearly, then rebalance if your percentages get out of whack - definitely do if your target allocation is off by 4-5% or so. Rinse and repeat until retirement.

In these times, the classic advice - buy and hold with a touch of dollar cost averaging - is unsatisfying to say the least. The classic advice works if risk is unchanging, prices are gently variable, and the general economy is stable. Then the classic rules apply - stock prices and bond prices move in opposite directions, you can equities "buy on the dip" because you are confident that equities will come back up after giving you that buying opportunity. Once upon a time the trend, your friend, is gently up.

Unfortunately, while you might be stable and consistent as you put money in, the market that you are investing in is clearly not.

We are now at the end of the trend. We know now in late 2008 that risk was extraordinarily high when the general economy snapped. Now stocks are down over 40%, bonds are down over 6%. Both being down is unusual. Only cash is up, and only about 1-2%. The trend is volatile - downdraft, then up rally, then downdraft again. We know that a new trend will form, but when? And if the trend is gently down, what then?

To be fair, you can't time the market. You especially can't time the market in a 401K because, at best, your money is put in as you earn your paycheck. At worst, money is put in quarterly, even yearly, or worst of all, when your plan administrator damn well feels like it. Most people don't have the training or temperament to watch their accounts - I think of myself as a stable gal but heck I get excited (want to buy more) when things go up and bummed (want to sell) when they go down.

Still, there has to be something between the poles of set-it-and-forget-it and mad money trading. I'm trying to find a middle way.

back in the saddle again

November 19th, 2008 at 04:58 am

Saving log - $0 tip box
Spending log - $6 lunch

I went to the gym yesterday and today. 186.

Well, I'm going back in. I've signed up with another trainer at the gym. This time I've signed up for only once/week, leaving me to come back at least one more time during the week. I'm trying for the element of being a bit cheap, but also go for what works. If I put money on it, I make the meeting.

Turns out that I'm now regular enough so I still get the grandfathered 2006 rate, a good 25% off the 2008 rates.

I decided to take the plunge again because I think that a trainer is an inducement to make progress, and a trainer can devise different exercises for me to freshen things up - challenge my body to figure how to do new things. Not to mention, I'm a bit of a pleaser and have an audience so I will try harder. Smile

The three months that I had working out on my own were valuable. I didn't slip, I think I'm as strong as I finished up. Alone I maintained well and I think I can push myself. However, just like you can't tickle yourself, you really can't surprise yourself either. I suspect that's the main reason why gym rats usually have a training buddy. Even if its competitive - "watch this?" "I'll bet you can't do that" *CRASH* OW! - seeing the buddy do something novel and trying it yourself adds that element of surprise.

For an novel exercise, the trainer had me do a plank (stationary pushup) with hands on a ball. I could hold the plank on the ball for 30 seconds, surprising myself. Usually we did side planks or regular planks or climbing planks or with one little ball in one hand or hollow planks but generally flat on a mat.

Yikes - I just realized it had been three years to the week since I first started going to the gym. November is a good time - get a counter impulse for the holiday eating season - and I miss the busy resolution season.

a salute to Harold's Chicken

November 18th, 2008 at 05:57 am

Saving log - $3 tip box
Spending log - $9 lunch

Ah memories - on 60 Minutes, when Michelle Obama talked about Barack Obama's first apartment in Chicago near

Text is Harold's Chicken Shack and Link is
Harold's Chicken Shack, it brought me back 25 years ago when I lived in a brownstone apartment across from the Hyde Park Harold's Chicken Shack, when it was on 53rd and Kenwood.

The apartment itself was a dive, but it had three distinct advantages.

1. You didn't have to give directions. All one said was, "across from Harold's Chicken". None of this counting blocks or figuring the cross street. You either knew it or you were a Martian. Such a timesaver.

2. Dead of winter - and there were a few weekends when it was -80F with the windchill - a hot meal was across the street.

3. You could look down at a lovely colored neon sign (a cook with a cleaver going after a chicken) whenever you liked.

The Harold's Chicken that I knew was strictly take-out. No tables, no chairs. You walked in, pop machine was on your left, you turned right, walked past the nasty fake wood paneling, and past the handwritten cardboard sign of the rules:





Zen poetry in disguise.

You ordered through a microphone, put your money under the clear bullet-proof slot. You waited for your chicken (they fried it to order), and when it was done (with enough Frank's Hot Sauce to drown it) the cashier put it through a bullet proof carousel.

Prices? In 1984 I think it was $2.75 for a white half, $2.50 for a dark half. It made my weekend budget go. I ate there so often that the cashiers would complement me on my haircuts. Oh yes, I liked the soggy fries, but I didn't like the wonder bread. Giving away the wonder bread primed me for a life in non-profit service. Smile

There you have it: a Chicago institution.
Even have their own blog -
Text is and Link is

November sunday

November 17th, 2008 at 05:55 am

Saving log - $0 tip box
Spending log - $3.38 coffee, bagel + $5 apple, clif bars + $10 sushi

Another 5 mi walk, however it was up Queen Anne Hill. Walking up it felt like Everest, but at least I could still do it. As a reward for going up the hill, I got a few snacks at the kaiten sushi place, more pieces, fewer rice rolls. Next week, I go to the gym.

Queen Anne is a fairly swank neighborhood of Seattle. Even here, I noticed a lot of For Rent / Vacancy signs for November. The university is on a quarterly schedule - in a normal year the signs go up in late August or September.

The seasonal clif bars came in. At a $1.38/bar, it was a seasonal splurge for work.

signs of the times next door

November 16th, 2008 at 04:25 am

Saving log - $0 tip box
Spending log - $14 brunch, coffee + $8 produce + $11 groceries

The weekend could not come any sooner. Today, after a leisurely brunch and coffee, DH and I teamed up to buy some fresh produce. Many good things for under a dollar: .69/lb apples, .99/lb cauliflower, 2 for $1 cucumber. The only things I got for over a dollar were red grapes $1.49/lb, and a box of salad for $1.29. The only rule that works for me with plastic boxes of salad is to check the bottom of the box for liquid. Clear liquid is bad, brown liquid is don't buy it ever bad.

Last week was so awful that I didn't even get to the gym once. I walked only 4 miles - to 50th and Greenwood and back, with a detour to Sakya Monastery to turn prayer wheels. They gave such a calming wooden squeak as they wheeled around.

Right at the beginning of my walk, the first block, I ran into this sign:

I've seen this green sign before. The last time was on 8th NW at least a couple of miles away, which means this neatly handwritten sign is not the product of a single desperate seller, but a marketing ploy. I remember when the house behind it was sold - for about $390K back in 2006.

won a book

November 15th, 2008 at 05:00 am

Saving log - $5 tip box
Spending log - $6 lunch + $20 beer, snack, dinner

The office had a drawing at our internal United Way campaign. I won the other Obama book, Dreams of My Father. Another co worker on my floor won The Audacity of Hope. We can have a little lending library in the lunch room, a place even more convenient than the library. Got a certificate for our floor's first place in the Halloween decorating actually we just won bragging rights. And brag we will.

Had a beer and dinner with DH, and I tried the snack that I've always wanted to try - fried crunchy pigs ears with mustard @ 4.99$. They were french-fried strips, no curve. Tasty, crunchy, like fries with third and a fourth dimension. DH had one, and had no more, so I had the rest. I felt like Mike Tyson, bearing down on these guys. I probably won't order them again, but it was great to try them and have nearly everything but the squeal.

now its insulting

November 14th, 2008 at 05:59 am

Saving log - $6 tip box
Spending log - $9 lunch + $.40 banana

Again with the busy. The CFO (who is, during our bosses' leave, is our acting boss), kindly reminded me that a little bit of overtime, strategically deployed, can be appropriate if its a busy hump.

Took a look at the T-bill interest this month: 22 cents. Now its insulting, pops. Time to think about taking scfr's T-bill "breather" myself and move the money into ING. I can move it back if the interest improves.