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cookies for all seasons

February 25th, 2009 at 09:00 pm

Yesterday I was at the grocery store watching the green cookies that two weeks ago were pink and it got me to thinking ... you can tell time by grocery store cookies.

Valentine's Day = heart shaped cookies with pink or white icing, with red, pink, or white sprinkles

St. Patrick's Day = shamrocks with kelly green icing

Easter = purple and yellow egg cookies or yellow chick cookies

Mother's Day = generic flower or rose cookie with red icing

Father's Day... nothing, unless those cookies were made of bacon

4th of July - stars or circle shapes in red, white and blue icing.

Cookie drought over the summer and fall, until...

Halloween - pumpkin or cat with orange or chocolate icing

Thanksgiving - "harvest-y" gold and orange circles

Christmas - big daddy of cookie holidays. Red, white and green circles, wreathes, bells.

New Year's - Christmas cookies 20% off.

Making me hungry!

OT: pranking the creationists

February 12th, 2009 at 08:25 pm

Saving log - $0
Spending log - $0

You have to wonder whether astrology actually worked on Feb 12, 1809 - both Abraham Lincoln and Charles Darwin were born today 200 years ago within a couple of hours of each other. Most of us in the United States think that Lincoln's birthday was the bigger deal, Darwin's less so. Not me - as a former scientist, Darwin is definitely the bigger deal.

Not to mention that I could celebrate Darwin's birthday in a unique Seattle way: The

Text is Discovery Institute (creationist think tank) and Link is http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Discovery_Institute_campaigns
Discovery Institute (creationist think tank) is across the street from our offices.

Figure 1. Matter of fact it shares a wall with the back of my gym at left. So to the left, inside people pursue fitness to prevent natural selection, enhance female choice, perhaps allow for a little forced DNA repair in the tanning bed; to the right, none of that.

Figure 2. The prank itself. Not terribly elaborate or destructive, and perfectly legal. It felt very good, despite being part of their video surveillence tape. Happy 200th, Chuck!

A special citation to the fellow conspirator, eg the picture taker (clearly not me). We've gotta keep an eye on these guys.

changing passwords

January 12th, 2009 at 09:18 pm

Saving log - $5 tip box
Spending log - $15 groceries

Did a little chore with the change of year - I changed all of my financial passwords. It means that I mostly try to change them only once per year, but its better than not changing them at all. And I have to change all of them. If I have to ask the question, "old one, or new?" its a failure.

the long view (2009-10)

December 29th, 2008 at 10:04 pm

Saving log - $2 tip box
Spending log - $0

Don't get too excited about the no spend day - yesterday I bought a couple of bottles of prosecco for New Year's Eve. ($30)

I've seen other bloggers post up their goals for 2009. A beginning of the year goal/resolution then see at the end of the year whether I achieved it doesn't particularly work well for me. And its a rare person who is inspired or motivated in January...

I do have two long term goals:

1. Be wiser in general with my money, which means adjust appropriately to the situation.

This year I realized in April that to pay less in tax, I should put more in the 403B and see if I can take the drop in the paycheck. My expectation was that interest would be high(er) and my stocks would go up. Didn't happen, but since stocks went down, the Roth conversion made sense.

I was pleased at how my original 60% bond and cash/40% stock held up. New 403B money is now allocated at 90% stock/ 10% bond. The new stuff added to the old stuff is working well, I've nearly caught up to my August high.

I do have to make money decisions a bit faster. I shouldn't have waited for t-bills to go to 0% before I finally moved them out. Oh well, better to make a good decision a bit slow than to compound rash decisions.

2. Buy a house in a couple of years.

I rent, but I am interested in buying on my terms. My general plan is to use 80K as a downpayment and get a 120K mortgage, which is about 2.5x my salary.

Yes, I know that there is no way (yet) that I will get a 200K house in North Seattle. I plan, unfortunately, on a severe recession in 2009 - 2010 to depress prices. I have the basic plan, the credit score, the location ... now its patience. In the meantime, I plan to be an observer at open houses, collect internet resources and become a total expert of the neighborhood. Watch and learn.

Buying a house might not ever happen, at $925/month rent for us is pretty sweet and a lot hinges on my success - keeping a job, the misery of others. Light years away, maybe, but its a star to sail to.

(not) procrastinating

December 10th, 2008 at 09:19 pm

Saving log - $2 tip box
Spending log - $19 groceries

Found an interesting article about

Text is procrastination and Link is http://www.newsweek.com/id/173335
procrastination, or more precisely, why we procrastinate on some issues but not others. The key is concrete-ness. Make an issue concrete and you do it, keep it abstract and you procrastinate.

Could it be that while I read and am entertained by the fiscal exploits of all of my blog friends, the act of blogging itself makes my thoughts concrete and keeps me from procrastinating? Write about it and you should do it or at least you have to write about it the next day why you didn't.

a girl can dream

November 12th, 2008 at 10:19 pm

If only it really weren't a brilliant

Text is satire and Link is http://www.nytimes-se.com/

For a little more info about this parody -
Text is here and Link is http://www.alternet.org/mediaculture/106835/brilliant_spoof%3A_new_york_times_satire_claims_all_problems_will_be_solved_by_july_2009/

RIP, Studs

October 31st, 2008 at 08:49 pm

Saving log - $0
Spending log - $12 lunch

Saving log - $6 tip box
Spending log - $9 groceries

We put the finishing touches on our "Vault of Eternity", did a little work, set up for the potluck, toured and took snaps of the other floors (the fear floor was very good - each cubicle had a fear), ate at the potluck, did a little work, voted for the favorites (of course it was us), cleaned up and broke down the decorations, did what I really wanted to get done that day.

Not a bad day until I found out that Studs Terkel died. RIP, Studs. Even twenty five years ago in Chicago, when I saw him perform in the red-checked shirt, he seemed old to my then teenage eyes. I learned from him that if you really embrace what you are, the name can't hurt you. One of the young college Republicans at the time called him a socialist. "Of course I'm a pinko socialist," he roared. "What's your point?"

Substitute "frugal" "cheap" or "thrifty" for socialist. Of course I am...what's your point?


October 7th, 2008 at 07:59 pm

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

SWOTs are a kind of old school brainstorming technique. I'm going to brainstorm here a bit and apply the answers to my investing and financial plan.

S - Strengths - strong cash position; patience; somewhat diversified (403B, IRA, Roth, taxable, cash equivalents, individual stock); no outstanding credit; still have a job w/benefits including health insurance and a bus pass; ability to save; can live cheap; good health; stable relationships; optimism & gratitude; ability to think and learn; a taste for being contrarian.

W - Weaknesses - emotion (unless you're Vulcan, you have that problem); my investments already have a lot of moving parts; need to experience things to learn them; a taste for risk; tendency to cheerlead and weigh positive info more strongly than negative info; incomplete analysis; too much/incoherent data; being contrary by itself is not a good enough reason to do things.

O - Opportunities - stocks are dropping to levels that I can afford; real estate is beginning to drop to levels that I can afford.

T - Threats - macro economic uncertainty (deflation, inflation, stagflation, hyper-inflation - do I have all the -flations?); political uncertainty; will I have a job?; mis-timing how low asset prices can go (they can keep dropping); as I buy, I tie up money that I'll need for other things.

welcome to Kondratieff winter

September 29th, 2008 at 06:58 pm

Saving log - $0 tip box
Spending log - $25 lunch (chipped in for a birthday lunch)

I don't know Julie Tuesday, but she was quite the philosopher today.

I was in a training session, so I didn't see the 778 pt stock market drop until I clicked into the news this afternoon.

That the bailout failed really didn't surprise me - the extreme left and the extreme right didn't like it, the partisanship on both sides is (and was) so poisonous that no one voting for it would get any cover. A Rep voting for it would be accused of raising taxes like a Dem, a Dem voting for it would be accused of caving in to Reps and everyone voting for it would be accused of believing a lie. Its what GWBush over-estimating the case of getting into war w/ Iraq did. If you lie once, you could lie again. Everything is now a possible over-estimate ... are we now into an economic apocalyse - or not?

I do think we are now in a first phase of very steep patch of

Text is deflation and Link is http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kondratiev_wave
deflation - money is disappearing, stocks are dropping, assets are consolidated, the credit bubble is popping, margin and debt is left to default, consumption contracts. This unwinding is a process with more pain to come - even during the
Text is GD and Link is http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Great_Depression
GD, its not as if stockbrokers jumped on Oct 30.

Fear is rampant. Still, when one of the IT guys is telling me its time to buy ... its not time to buy anything yet. Smile But it is time to window shop. And wait.

O risk! (and taking it in the shorts)

September 20th, 2008 at 09:35 pm

So part of the grand plan is to temporarily stop the short selling of 799 stocks. And actually its not just the US that is regulating it; several other European exchanges have also temporarily stopped it, while China doesn't allow it in the first place.

Probably that alone caused my financial stock to nearly double from its low last month (11.10$ low/ 29.50$ yesterday).

Shorting a stock is reversing the order buying, owning and selling a stock. When you are long, you try to buy shares for a low price, hold it for a bit, then sell for a higher price. When you are short, you borrow the shares from a broker at a higher price, then arrange a time for when you will actually buy and deliver the stock. You hope that the stock will be lower by the time you have to buy it.

Shorting is useful - the main use is to add liquidity. Short sellers, like long sellers, actually have to buy the stock (at the end, not at the beginning), which means more buyers. Liquidity is a fancy way of describing that with those extra buyers stocks get traded more often and at more price points.

Another use is that short sellers are good markers for risk. Short selling is much more risky. A stock can only go down to zero, but can theoretically go up to any price. And if the stock goes up (to any price), the short seller has to buy it, losing much, much moolah. Stocks that attract short sellers should tip everybody off that something risky is happening.

Without the short sellers and only the long sellers, stocks of course can rise higher - only the optimists are allowed to trade. But what if the risks aren't quite as well defined and there are no optimists to be had? Stocks then drop in a much more sickening fashion - you can find an optimist if the price is low enough. Without liquidity, sometimes it has to be very, very low.

We'll see over the next few weeks what happens. Offhand it sounds like the "cure" is worse than the disease.

historic times

September 14th, 2008 at 09:26 pm

Tomorrow will make fiscal history on Wall Street. Lehman Brothers will declare bankruptcy; Merrill Lynch will be bought out by Bank of America.

How this credit crisis is unraveling is unprecedented by the non-tin hats among us.

The asteroid has fallen, the dinosaurs are fighting or gasping their last. Its up to the mice to find their safe, deep holes and wait things out.