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history, a nickel at a time

November 23rd, 2013 at 04:45 am

In the last couple days I "followed" an historical group live tweeting JFK through 1963; its called JFK_1963. It was an interesting Twitter experiment, sort of a "what if" Twitter existed 50 years ago.

(My non-smart phone gets texts, I pay a nickel in time for each.)

It probably doesn't go without saying, but I'll say it - following its tweets today on the 50th anniversary was very affecting and poignant. I was almost 2 the first time, so I didn't have any competing memories where I was nor had any sense of time. Today, in Seattle, on PST, the timing was everything. Before I woke up, JFK was having a breakfast meeting in Fort Worth. By the time I was waiting for the bus, JFK landed in Dallas; when I stepped off to get my morning coffee JFK was in the motorcade; within my first 5 sips of hot coffee, the Cronkite news flashes began. 33 tweets in all, some with humor, some with rumors, most with exceedingly careful wording (journalists took more care in those days, or was it that our imagination?), and the sad end at the end.

All that history for a $1.55 in tweets.

I know how Voyager feels

September 19th, 2013 at 04:43 am

You might know that I love following space flights. Perhaps you've heard that Voyager 1 reached interstellar space. What you might not have known is that it reached it about a year ago ... some measurements seemed to tell scientists they were there, some didn't and that's what caused the confusion. Its not like there was a big ol' sign like you see on the interstate.

So it seems to be with financial freedom. One kind of thinks that if they had $xM, then yes. But really, who knows? You could be there or several years out.

The raise kicked in, but I don't think its particularly enough. I'm going to back down my 403B contributions - they will still be quite high, and I will easily get all the match.

This evening I also got a letter for another vaccine study. I had a good experience with the previous one, and the payment for participating is quite nice ($540). I think I will collect more info.

everyday superpowers

June 9th, 2013 at 09:21 pm

This came up in a conversation about fruit. Yeah - somehow my conversations get wide ranging. My friend remarked that a pineapple that she got from her friend fresh from Hawaii was not nearly as good as one she got from her own cheapo fruit stand.

"I know. Its really who picks it out that counts," I said. "I'm pretty good at picking produce out myself."

The friend looked at me and said, "that is a superpower, you know."

In addition to the produce picking out which helps the food budget, but I also have another financial superpower: in writing or in email, I get what I want.

It's only in writing, not at all verbally. When red-flagged by the IRS in 1989, I wrote the letter supporting my case. The IRS backed off. When Capital One tried to bill me twice/month and dinged me for only paying once, I faxed my case and won.

It got me thinking - what other everyday superpowers does everybody have?


April 30th, 2012 at 02:59 am

That's me. And somehow today made me feel a little sad. I wonder if its a mid-life crisis, more like the thought that very soon my life will change. Right now the routine works pretty well, with a job that I can still save money from, inheritance money which means that I fund my 403B to the maximum, no serious problems ... just...

I want to be a bit lazy. I like my work, but I hate the rush, the complexity, and the deadlines. Along with the paycheck, the medical insurance and the bus pass are very, very useful and would cost me plenty to replicate.

I love doing mosaics, but can I make at least a partial living from them? Can I sell them?

I'd prefer not to rent any more. I'd like a little garden, not to mention making things like decorative walls and backsplashes. Even if it would be possible (hah hah) to do that with the rental, I couldn't take it with me.

I'm certain that its my "this is it?" mental cry. I have to keep reminding myself that "it" is good and much better than many others.

2nd snow day

January 19th, 2012 at 10:28 pm

Luckily, the office was not as nutty as they have been previously - the office has been closed and I'm on my second snow day. DH's office (IRS) tried opening but they closed at noon.

Walking is okay - still have my Yaktrax and they are the best 20$ I ever spent. The neighborhood businesses tend to be open when their employees are living nearby. I thanked the Safeway for being open. Saw two little girls looking under the Coinstar machine - one pulled out a quarter. Heh heh - good to see the habit being passed on.

Other than that, the usual soul searching - are we weenies in the snow, why are we weenies in the snow, could this be handled better, could this have been predicted better? Once upon a time I would have been among them. Now - yep I'm a weenie. I hated snow and ice when I lived in the midwest, and came to Seattle because I wouldn't get much of it. While I would prefer that Seattle wouldn't shut down in the snow, it does, and you can either b!tch about it or deal with it.

In other words,

Text is "go on board, dammit!" and Link is
"go on board, dammit!"

So in that spirit - this is what I'm doing this afternoon...

chore vs hobby

January 3rd, 2012 at 05:34 am

Read this interesting

Text is article about weight loss and Link is
article about weight loss last Sunday. Since weight loss and saving money are aligned a bit, hear me out because this blog post has a lot to do about money.

The article was particularly interesting to me because I appear to be one of those rare persons who has managed to keep the weight I've lost, um lost. Although I can't seem to lose lots of weight in one smooth movement, I seem to lose the 10lbs, then plateau, then wait for some change to lose 10lbs, ...rinse and repeat several times. I'm right now at 166.6 (40 lbs down since November 2005) and have managed to survive this year's holiday carb-fest.

Anyway, much of the article described what it takes for others (and me, frankly) to sustain the weight loss. Basically near constant monitoring, food and exercise diary, treating yourself as a data point. In a sense, the weight loss maintenance takes on its own place in the calendar. Its really become a hobby, something that requires energy, attention, thought, discussion.

Thinking about that, I had my first epiphany: most people think of eating as a hobby, and exercise as a chore . Most of us vary our eating, can tell you where good restaurants are, and hate cooking themselves because that's a chore. The weightloss sustainers inverted this - they essentially try to make eating as much a chore as possible. They cook at home, they try eat as consistently as possible and measure it. On the other hand, they try to exercise as much as possible - walk, garden, gym, bike and try to mix it up. Vary it, talk about it, measure it and journal it. They try to turn it into a hobby.

My second epiphany came when I thought about saving and spending because they parallel weight loss. Most Americans spend as a hobby, save as a chore. I mean when we blog about others buying that 50K countertop, well what are they doing? Spending as a hobby. They save (or try to) as a chore. Pay yourself first - try to make it automatic ... which works mechanically, but boy not very much fun.

The thing that gets me about the bloggers at saving advice is that we all try to think of saving as a hobby - play games, try different things, journal and discuss what we do or what we've discovered. We also try, at least, to put some aspects of chore into spending. Spend on needs first, then wants .... and not just any wants, needed wants if that makes any sense.

And then investing. You are turning the spending hobby on its head by saving, but buying money.

Now the chore piece ... I don't really want to discount it, make it sound awful because its really not. Chores are important they are necessary and they can even be semi-fun. Just not as fun as a hobby.

yeah, gimme friction

December 17th, 2011 at 07:07 am

At the risk of sounding and getting a ton of hits and disappointing the pervs out there, I'm talking about the cashless,

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frictionless spending.

Frugality is all about the friction.

Seems like all of society is out there telling you "make it easy" and get with it, while are all here to say "stop for just a second" and "don't be a spending sheep" and "do you really, really need or want it, upon a few seconds of further consideration?"

Contrast cashless buying with layaway. Primitive, but that less than instant consumerism can give you a
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different way to demonstrate gratitude and compassion.

back to rable-rousing

September 9th, 2010 at 02:52 am

I'm sure I've spelled that wrong.

There's been so much discussion here in the states regarding who is middle, upper-middle and rich, all with the move afoot to increase taxes or get rid of tax breaks to the "rich".

How about my definition of rich, aka who would get taxed or non-untaxed?

Rich: President of the United State's salary and above. The POTUS salary happens to be $400,000.

1. President takes one for the team and can tell people so.
2. For the business/owner/CEO: Are you really taking more risk than the president? Really?
3. For the public sector guy: How did you manage to make more than the President of the US?
4. For any athlete whom you don't like: You are not having a better year, either.

marketplace money

September 8th, 2010 at 05:28 am

First off, its my favorite show and it was my Sunday afternoon date - walking or jogging from my Sunday coffeeshop to the Fremont Bridge. Precisely 3.11 miles.

Now my NPR station is moving it to exile at 5pm. Wha? Time to complain!

But this last Sunday the episode was fantastic because of the juxtaposition between two stories. First off - data mining. Apparently when you pay with plastic, one throws off a tremendous amount of data which banks, credit card companies and businesses slice and dice with wizardry.

(And why I much prefer cash)

Second off was HAMP. Home modifications. And how these very same banks, credit cards, and business manage to lose paperwork, don't return phone calls, etc - incompetence with equally mindblowing skill and wizardry.

It amuses me that if a fiscal entity sees a profit in it, information is treasured; if the same entity fears a loss, incompetence is treasured.

Hey, KUOW? Moving Marketplace Money? What are you treasuring - information or incompetence?

Jackie Handey part 2

July 23rd, 2010 at 04:04 am

Screenwriter friend again.

He is now volunteering to help program events at the Everett Theater, which is now getting an upgraded sound system.

The Everett Theater with a stage and screen has a number of lectures, concerts, etc. Screenwriter friend is being tapped for movies (has a number of cult movies already) and whatever interesting things he can do, and emailed us for suggestions.

I had one and it was a real Jackie Handey wild idea.

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Part 1 for other brain farts that I've had just to give you a sample.

How about this: you program a so-bad-its-good-film and at the same time you mike up live several teams of comics/improv artists/free range smart asses to produce live smart ass remarks, talk back at the screen, point out cameos, riff on continuity issues? It would be a bit like a live Mystery Science 3K, a bit like Rocky Horror performance art, even a bit like straight DVD commentary, with perhaps scoring (not quite sure how it could be done).

I'm calling it film karaoke, for the lack of any better term.

Screenwriter friend is genuinely mulling this wild idea. He knows of a number of improv troops that might take a whack at it. I wonder if its been tried before?


June 21st, 2010 at 02:33 am

I read this

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article in the New York Times magazine today and it got me thinking. That last sentence is especially chilling. "For too many people, the cycle of craving and debt that drives our treadmill existence simply canít be broken."

Should I really pity the Joneses' because they are trapped in a merciless cycle, unable to regulate their impulses...?

Or do I fear them because bullets always trump gold. If people really have issues with impulse control, best not to flaunt. And by flaunt, not even mention that you don't have the same issues they do.

Bad times means that when the cycle of that fever breaks it will be a miserable desperate situation for too many people. I wonder how many people that is ... and are they all concentrated in New York City?