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January 27th, 2008 at 06:05 pm

Saving log - $0
Spending log - $3.36 coffee & bagel, $60 clothes

Didn't feel like working out at the gym. It was a nice day so instead I did a little shopping - bought several more long sleeved solid colored tops that I use year round - and did the mega 50 block walk.

I did a little detour. DH sometimes cuts down streets I never travel along, let alone walk down. On the corner of one street he drove, we saw an asian temple, so during my walk I walked past it.

I've lived in Greenwood for 8 years. Darned if the neighborhood still surprises me. This is a Tibetan Buddhist monastery founded in 1973. Its stupa (the white shape) is on the right, with prayer wheels circling it.

The red sign in the left corner invited you to walk around the stupa clockwise, turning each prayer wheel clockwise as you do so. Didn't have to ask me twice. It was very relaxing to hear the wheels turning as I walked. And I forgot to get ATM money afterward.

N.B.:According to Images of America: Seattle's Greenwood-Phinney Neighborhood, this is Sakya Monastery, the only Tibetan Buddhist monastery outside of Tibet. The head lama is 3rd in rank below the Dali Lama.

fake pledging

November 30th, 2007 at 11:20 pm

Saving log - $1 tip box
Spending log - $1.19 coffee + $8 lunch + $25 poker game

Crazy, crazy day today. I work for a large non-profit in Seattle, who shall remain nameless (initials are UW). Today we organized and readied pledges for processing from a large company. From my perspective it was fun, putting pledges in piles, adding things together, taking a box of unruly and making it "ruly". Just a few observations on the process.

1. Fascinating looking at personalized/ artistic checks. It makes you wonder what kind of adult writes a Kenny Chesney or a Scooby Doo check. Since artistic checks come in a series you have to wonder ... for every Kenny Chesney-guitar pose check, do you get the Rene Zellweger handing-you-divorce-papers check? Big Grin

2. Checks are a magnet for another kind of transaction - badly filled out checks. A fundraising staffer showed one check which had the money amount written on the to:line, where our name of our non-profit is supposed to go. Nothing else. We can't cash it. I was pretty sanguine about it. "Fake pledging at its finest," I said.

Fake pledging happens every so often. Its a badly filled out check or a pledge form. Sometimes the check bounces, sometimes the "donor" wants his gift to go to a place that we can't send it (a place that's not a non-profit). If you are new to the non-profit biz, you think, "how can the person be so careless?" The old hands to this biz just smile. Fake pledging. After all, if the person is paying a mortgage or rent ... they know damn well how to write a check.

Fake pledging is perfect to the passive aggressive employee. They appear to follow the herd and pledge, and if they do it in the sight of others they aren't bothered for the rest of the fundraiser. They don't have to go through the discomfort of saying no. Best of all, they spend no money - when the fake pledge gets to us, we can't cash the check so we don't book it.

Too bad the employee who didn't want to participate couldn't say no... they could save themselves a check, we could save some time, and we would have no one to laugh at.

Farmette tour pt 1 (very long)

October 4th, 2007 at 08:04 pm

I know you are curious, so as threatened, pictures of the farmette. These are shots of the house and barn. Warning - long, long, long, with lots o' pictures.

House - facing west. This is the side facing the barn, which we will see later. The foundation got recently fixed.

House - facing east. This is the side facing the garden and the property now owned by the Wisconsin Dept of Natural Resources. We'll see that later, too. We never ever used that porch.

This is the north side of the barn and the now fixed up milkhouse. The red barn door is now new, and there aren't many diamond windows around on barns these days. The house would be behind you and to your left.

Inside of the old shed on the east side of the barn - all you would do is take a few steps to the left of the previous picture. This old, 20 ft shed contained the old, copper-bottomed still my grandfather (father's side) used to make whiskey during Prohibition.

This is the south side of the barn. The barn is actually in the shape of an upside down U - The milk cows were generally led in the central courtyard before milking and went there during rainstorms. Nowadays, the solar panel stands proud on the left. Its generating power - kind of fun watching the inverter go in reverse, sending power back to the utility.

Close up of the three poles. We installed three poles in case sister and I wanted to install two more solar panels. Under the three poles lay a trenched copper cable which delivers the power to the farmette. In the background, the southwest corner of the house is peaking through the trees.

Close up shot of the back end of the solar panel.

Close up of the courtyard where the cows lay. The flooring - ahem, compost - is like scotch: very well aged.

This is the south west corner of the barn. That little blue-green thingee sticking out is the automatic manure spreader - how cow manure got out of the barn.

Grounds and fields next.

the fugitive (long and funny)

September 15th, 2007 at 03:44 pm

It was a bizarre day at work yesterday. We interviewed for my temporary helper. The first interview went with only a minor, non-bizarre hitch, but the second one... well, you hear about it maybe as a joke or urban legend. What happened was this:

The HR person on our panel confided in us that she wondered if she would make it - interviewee wanted to come in at 11 am, rather than 10:45. One of our panel had to leave at 11:30, so to get at least the 45 minutes, HR was insistent - 10:45.

At 10:45, the person was waiting for us. We ushered her into the room, and while we were all standing, introduced ourselves. Interviewee, a woman, introduced herself - and solved the mystery about how we were to pronounce her first name - then said that she had to use the restroom. Fine, the HR person (a woman) escorted her to the restroom, maybe 30 ft from the interview room.

Back in the interview, while we were waiting for the interviewee, we chatted a bit about this and that, listening. DJ friend, who was on the panel, told us about the little whooshing sound people make as they walk on the carpet between the cubicles.

Minutes pass. I make a joke that the interviewee will be interviewing at 11:00 am. But we thought - well, zippers, snaps, putting yourself together, the fact that women have number 3 to deal with, etc. A few minutes after that, the other woman on the panel and I went to the bathroom to check.

Bathroom empty; interviewee gone.

Other woman and I make a cursory pass along the cubicles in case she got lost. I went and chatted with the front door receptionist. She described the interviewee, saw her go in, didn't see her go out.

Oh boy. The four of us on the panel each took a floor to make sure she wasn't hurt, hiding, lost, committing a crime, etc. I took the second floor and chatted with a coworker little about our "runner". Other than the fun fact learning that visitors to Bill Gates' mansion are given a name tag with a GPS unit in it... well, we saw or heard nothing odd or amiss in a bathroom, stairwell, cubicle, office, store room.

Interviewee went poof. The HR person scratched her head. No shows, yes; but she never had anyone bail out at the interview stage before. Someone thought that maybe she thought that she could count us as one of the three contacts/week needed to collect unemployment, but that would mean the definition of contact really stiffened up in the past 15 years.

One thing's for certain - she had a transporter and we didn't.

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.")

Get 'r done, the girl version

August 12th, 2007 at 07:54 pm

So Duvall friends told me they had no ripe blueberries...

And they swore they had no ripe huckleberries...Cripes, this is the most huckleberries ever I've seen on a bush. I must not get out all that often, I guess.

The Duvall friends were interested in doing pickles and marmalade. Are you crazy! I told them that berry jam is easy with no botulism potential. And the quick pickle steps usually had the "put in salted ice water for hours" step, which means canning the next day. The only problem with the jam is what couple can really go through a quart of jam in a reasonable time and without an insulin shot?

So we picked up some pint jars in addition to the quarts we got from the other friend. They'll use the quarts in the next few weeks. I showed them what you look for when you go through jars. We got one bad cracked one, one with a rough spot on the rim (I use those, but that one gets opened and put in the refrigerator after canning), and one mayo jar. No mayo jars as a canning jar for me.

We picked berries for a couple of hours, doing grizzly bear style picking - stripping the berries, rather than picking each one. For the huckleberries it still meant a lot of stripping for a small volume and it meant a lot of cleaning of leaves, berry stems, bugs, overdone fruit. My advice: use a fair amount of water. Leaves float, and the overripe stuff tends to sink and dissolve. Still it took about an hour to clean and pick.

The first step is to measure, which is a bit of a craft, because if you pack them down, you change the volume. This is 4 cups of blackberries, 7 cups of blueberries, 2 cups of huckleberries.

We made two batches of jam - 6 pints of a blueberry huckleberry lemon combo with added pectin, and 6 pints of a straight cooked-down blackberry blueberry number with sugar. The Duvall friends took lots of notes, but they did fade in and out, something you can't do during canning. Something about hot boiling water and hot boiling sugar that keeps you on task.

Here's the waterbath canner in action, steam surrounding it.

The batches of jam. Blackberry on the left, huckleberry/blueberry on the right.

Turns out that the added pectin number did something strange. It passed my fork test for jam, which means that it would jam up, but it seems jammy at the top and syrupy at the bottom. Tastes fantastic though. The cooked jam number took forever and ever to cook - it never really fully passed the fork test - but it jammed up nicely in the jar. Tastes great, but blackberry is always stronger than blueberry in my book.

tractor fair

August 12th, 2007 at 07:03 pm

Spent Friday night and Saturday in Duvall Washington, at the north edge of the county. The Duvall friends invited us to the tractor fair Saturday morning and early afternoon. Not only did it harken back to a more frugal time, it was a blast!

This is an International Harvestor (IH) tractor M - a tractor that my dad had and "Nut" borrowed as a ransom. This one is in far, far better condition.

These weren't just for show - they had to run enough to participate in a parade and some, for a tractor pull. This is one of the oldest tractors restored and running - a 1919 Allis Chalmers.

The 1919 tractor with one of the newest tractors - from 1981.

It wasn't just tractors - any old engine or gas fired appliance that could be restored seemed to appear. This is a gas powered washer. You primed the beast using the pedals at the bottom.

And a more detailed shot of the gas iron. Inside the base of the iron was a pilot light! To a farm wife, the question "did I leave the iron on?" had a whole new dimension.

image, funny story, and outta here

June 26th, 2007 at 07:50 pm

Saving log - $5 tip box
Spending log - $1.84 coffee, milk + $5.45 lunch

Nothing, nothing, nothing happened today. I mean I always think of something to write about, but today absolutely nothing financial happened to me. (Okay, when I got back from an hour of gym, I got 22 messages, all from a fax machine.) So little has happened today that all I'm going to do is post the image, tell a story, and get outta here.

Its summer, and the poppies are out...

Which reminds me of a story.

Back in the 80s, I went to a housewarming party in West Seattle. It was a charming little place, tiny front yard with a little deck, and a high fence. I went into the backyard and came chest to face with a clump of 4 foot high red poppies, the flower and ovary capsule swelled up the size of a baseball. The real (ahem, illegal to grow in the US) thing, if you know what I mean. I remarked on it to the new owner ... how could I not? He smiled and told me that when he moved in the entire garden was comprised of two plants - these huge poppies, and dill (!) While he enjoyed opium poppies as well as the next knowledgable non-DEA agent, he wanted a little more variety. So he dug all of the dill and most of the poppies out and composted them.

A couple of days later, some of the older neighbors came to visit, and were very, very disappointed to find that the new owner had dug most everything out. It turns out that the old owner was the daughter of a Chinese missionary and used to make a "medicinal tea" with the poppy leaves. The neighbors remembered with a certain amount of fondness that they would all sit around, sipping tea and dreaming about how they would renovate the kitchen.

So I say to you ... if you want to get away with something, have a good story. Don't want your opium den busted? Invite your neighbors over for tea and dreams.

Paris pics, pt 1

June 3rd, 2007 at 08:59 pm

A quick itinerary:
18th - L'Opera & the neighborhood around the 1st arrondisement
19th - Madeleine Church, Rue Royale, Invalides, Napoleon's Tomb, Champs Elysses, Arc de Triomphe
20th - French lunch with the Parisian side of DHs family
21st - Notre Dame, Ile de Cite, a little bit of walking around the Rive Gauche
22nd - Montmartre; Dali Museum
23rd - Louvre, Place de Bastille
24th - 2nd french lunch with MIL friends, a nap, then an evening at the laverie automatique. Smile
25th - Le Defense, Effiel Tower
26th - Marche aux Puces (Flea Market); walking tour of the Pallisades
27th - Versailles
28th - Picasso Museum, Pompidou Center
29th - Rodin Museum, Musee d'Orsay
30th - Pere Lachaisse Cimitaire

Thank you, Paris Metro and the Paris Museum Pass (PMP)! We managed to get to museums before the crowd did early on, but we got the 2-day PMP for the 28th and 29th. The PMP doesn't pay if you calculate it against admissions, but boy it does in terms of time and aggravation. The cheap person waits an hour in the rain, the frugal person gets the PMP and walks right in.

These pics aren't exhaustive - they're just some of the fun ones.

From the hotel room balcony

The cafe scene along the Champs Elysses is not as intimate as one would like Smile

A nice atmospheric from the top of Notre Dame. Sepia setting, not sunset.

I have a ton of great Louvre snaps, but I just love this one. What you would really get if you tried to wrestle a big cat to the ground.

The laundromat next to the boulangerie...

Damn, its big...

Well you get the idea. Might just as well stop before y'all fall asleep. Big Grin

Klondike musings

January 15th, 2007 at 07:54 pm

Saving - 0$
Spending - $20 chiropractor + $3.50 coffee, cookie + 5$ lunch

Today DH and I were off, but since the chiropractor was next door to work, it didn't really feel like it. Got my neck and back popped; another set of errands got us to the Pike Market and then it was back to the car.

On the way back, we made a little pit stop at the Cadillac Hotel where the revamped Klondike Gold Rush National Historical Park has their new digs. Fabulous place to visit, and for the frugal, the price is right: free. Course we made a suggested donation and took a look around.

The Klondike Gold Rush occurred 1896 - 1899, but there is so much similarity between Americans of a 100 yrs ago and us today. There was an economic panic in the early 1890's. News of gold sparked gold fever in hundreds of thousands of desperate people. Crazy decision 1 - to go. Seattle made almost $1B (today's money) provisioning prospectors - everybody had to have a year's worth of food and gear for the Yukon, which happened to be in Canada. In other words, 1 ton of gear. Crazy decision 2 - to buy.

Most of the trip was by boat, but there was a mountain pass that a prospector had to cross...with 1 ton of gear. Most had to hoof it, going up and down that pass over 30 times, taking a pack of gear up the hill, then sliding down, then up the hill, then sliding down. I'll bet it got old after the first trip. I felt for those prospectors, doing something insane just because they made those first two crazy decisions.

Lesson 1: How much had I bought in my early 20s on a credit card that I was metaphorically lugging up that pass over and over again?

And when the prospector got there... the good claims had been taken already. Some worked other claims or bought them. The guys who really cleaned up were ones selling donuts and coffee or fresh vegetables. One guy took one look at his claim, then looked at all the scurvy going around, and farmed it. 20 hrs of daylight, giant vegetables, big bucks.

Lesson 2: The entrepreneur sees the situation as it is. Its rarely the original situation that provides the opportunity.

Final amazing stat:
For every 100,000 people who started out
40,000 made it to the Klondike
20,000 prospected for gold
60 people found more than $15,000 worth of gold
30 people kept at least half of their gold after 5 years.

Lesson 3: A lottery's a lottery, no matter how its dressed up.