Wednesday, February 28, 2007


Between the TSA "3oz baggie" and "improved online security measures" I've just about had it with being safer and more secure. I'm willing to take the risk that the vast majority of people on my plane just want to get where they're going while acknowledging there's some inherent risk in air travel (less risk than for driving actually - see disney post below for example of my recent near miss) than fly without my first aid kit and extra water bottle from home. I would rather have someone steal $30, or even $300, out of my checking account than have to answer "who was your first grade teacher?" to be allowed to get at my money.

If you ever want to get into my N.etB.ank account and they ask you the "security" question, "What is your biggest pet peeve?"(*) the answer is no longer "homophones", it is "security". There's no harm in me telling you all this because I have to write down the answers to these questions very specifically and keep the whole list both at home and work. I tried being vague but I can't decrypt my notes in the three trials I get before they disable my account. So now, my account is LESS secure because anyone rifling through my desk looking for this information will find it. I do a bit of cryptography on the actual passwords themselves, but sometimes I screw up and write it out wholesale. The security enforcers tell you not to write down your passwords, but I did so just before moving to make sure I wouldn't lose access to anything and was a little surprised to find I have 50 usernames and passwords on semi-regular rotation. I'm sorry, but I just can't remember that many passwords AND usernames! So I have to write them down, which means I'm now less secure.

I did give Ne.tba.nk the feedback that they should only ask the security questions if you're moving a vast percentage or a predetermined sum of your money because I always get stuck on the damn things when I just want to toss off a $30 check to pay the utilities or something. And I'm doubly screwed because the more often you log in, the less often they ask the security questions but most of my bills are on autopay (thank you N.etban.k for that, at least) so I don't log in very often.

After collecting my various and sundry usernames and passwords for banks, online stores, credit card accounts, blogs and other things where a password is a good idea, I really don't want to log in to read your damn news. "Just register for our site, it's free! Now, pick a password and username..." Um? NO. I would rather not, thank you. I will answer your user profile survey, I will pay a dollar each for my iTunes, but I don't want anymore usernames or passwords, thankyouverymuch.

The new and newer TSA rules I may have to revisit in a future rant because they're useless placebos that makes us measurably less safe. But today, I'm cranky about the "improved" bank security and I'm trying to be at least a little coherent.

* Sorry to all of you for whom "excessive use of quotation marks" is your biggest pet peeve.

Warm White

I've been a little stalled on the Condo upgrades. One, my architect is a PhD student and tres busy and I think I'm the last project on her list. So while I've made some choices for the kitchen and bath, I need to get her professional opinion before placing orders. I haven't been thinking about the bedroom at all. I've been shopping for a couch and space planning the living room mostly. The computer desk is the kicker, but I think I've got a solution that works, even if I have to build a new desk myself. Maybe dad can visit and help.

I think the general stalling is because of deferred decisions, as are most of my procrastinational tendencies. I chose a great accent color (an orange called "Arizona Desert" that matches the tile), my architect chose a great "punch up the energy in the cave" color (same bright green as the blog), and the "warm white" I picked to go between them looks great on paper scraps but is just too yellow on the walls.

I think that my dissatisfaction led to stalling because I found it hard to admit that the color is wrong, wrong, wrong because it was a fair amount of work to get it up, and now all the bookshelves are in front of the walls. Then I wasted time soliciting the advice of all and sundry to validate my feelings of wrongness. I even had a lady at the designer sofa store insist on picking out a better white and I think it's spot on. I've just got to suck up the fact that this white really is the wrong one and do it again. There's a reason that Benjamin Moore paints has 240 colors of "white" on display. I did manage to get a sample of the sofa lady's choice (Seashell) at the paint store down the street on saturday, so that's progress.

The other deferred decision is the couch. I think the Hamra leather sofa with left hand chaise from IKEA is the best choice. The seats are comfortable, the size is right, the back is relatively high and it's tailored well. It's about $200 more than I'd hoped to spend, but not unreasonable for a major piece. I don't love the Jetson's legs on it, but they're ok. It would be nice if it were an inch or two higher so maybe I can get straight brushed nickel or tapered wood replacement legs. The big decision is whether to get the cream color or the orange and to actually lay out the cash. I LOVE orange. But again, this is the wrong orange. I can always get orange accent pillows. Once I actually get the dang couch.

- - - TV interrupted me with something that MUST be addressed - - -

I'm sorry, but is NOT allowed to use "I'm a Punk Rocker, yes I am" to market their cars. They might not be my grandmother's C.adi.llac, but they are not punk rock, unless they have been utterly beaten up, shag carpeted... I take it back. is NOT punk rock, even with 40 Ramones bumper stickers and torn fishnet seat covers.

Monday, February 26, 2007

Got Disney?

So my parents (and, apparently FW2) got a many many inches of heavy wet snow. I got Disneyland!!! [insert big, cheese-eating grin] It was my first trip to Disneyland and I had a great time. I'd been to Disneyworld in Orlando in High School, but it's really not the same (too vast, less well kept). I have to agree with my parents that D.Land is better.

The impetus to finally go came because I had some friends come into town this weekend who invited me to hang with them at Disney. Fortunately, my workplace is encouraging vacations this quarter and I'm employed and SoCal residents can get a 2 day pass for the price of 1 day. Inside Disney wasn't as expensive as I thought it would be and I managed to stay under my budget for the trip. The budget and sanity were also helped by staying overnight with a friend who lives about 20 miles from Disney instead of my 66. (Thanks for the Hot Toddy kit! And *yes* I remembered a hostess gift.)

I got to see Hon and Bun again and their very small child, who makes a nice 38# arm exerciser. Additionally, another college friend and his wife were along. You'd think 5 adults and 1 toddler would be overkill babysitting but it worked out really well - we could split up into child care/child free groupings to go on fun rides. And Disney has some excellent accommodation policies (such as switch and fast passes) for parents, as well as general park attendees. Speaking of general park attendees, Disney must be doing a great job being accessible to everyone as I have to say, I have not seen such a high concentration or diversity of visibly disabled people in many a day. And everyone but the overtired toddlers seemed to be having a great time.

I think a lot of how much one enjoys something is dependent on 2 things: the inherent goodness of a thing AND how well that goodness matches expectations. There are few places that have higher expectations than Disney and from my perspective they really lived up to that high water mark. I can recommend the Character Breakfast. I also enjoyed the Chili Peppers tunes on Sp.ace M.ountain and Califor.nia S.creaming. The place was clean, well maintained, friendly, and lively. The scale of D.LAND is small enough to do a lot in a day without running out of things to do. Their "city" planners are second to none for traffic flow. Their alternative passes make the trip so much more accessible (than 20 yrs ago...), and they can sell atmosphere like few others.

So, good things from today (this won't do it justice):

  1. Disney trip went great. Disney lived up to my expectations, in a good way. I got 77300 on my second try on the Buz.z Lig.htyear ride. And I got to hang with some of my very best friends and a new one.

  2. The "new one" (wife of college pal) knows all the words to The Animaniacs "Countries of the World" song AND "The Battle of New Orleans". And she has a pleasing voice and sings on pitch. Sorry to all in the Indy Adventure ride who had to listen to "united states canada mexico panama haiti jamaica peru...fiji australia sudan" to a can-can tune, but it is a rare, rare day when I meet someone else who can sing the nations song.

  3. I drove around an accident on the way home with no problem. A car forward and on my right started twitching back and forth after what seemed kind of like an evasive manoeuver when some dumbass tried to merge into him. It was a "kind of" because he was trying to go fast into the far right lane from the second lane in, but someone there sped up and tried to merge left without (I'm speculating) looking first. [I have no objection to the first, but you have to make sure there's space.] So there was some wobbling. At some point the car just pointed left and started in across the left 3 lanes of traffic. Fortunately, they were still going forward at about 80mph as well as sideways so I, in the 3rd lane, took my foot off the gas a little, let him scoot by just in front of me as I went a little right, and saw him hit the wall at a favorable angle for airbag deployment and function.

    Then in my rear-view, I saw him bounce off the center wall and back to the second lane where I believe a minivan stopped shy of smashing him. (Hopefully the people behind them stopped too.) While I could easily have been in the left lane, I was in the 3rd lane in order to leave myself more options for just such an eventuality and it paid off, along with noticing that something was amiss. I will admit there was luck involved for me. It could have been a LOT worse for him and for me. But I saw the accident brewing and took evasive action and got by unscathed. I checked out the next exit sign as I drove by and called in the emergency and location. Bits of silver car sprinkled across 3 lanes of traffic on 101N does constitute an emergency.

  4. OOh! C.ourt.ney Co.x, now of Dirt fame, is on L.eno. Shiny. Must watch.

Sunday, February 25, 2007

Double Plus Good

What could be better than a new book by one's favorite author? TWO new books!

Got NYT Bestselling author Suzanne Brockmann's newsletter this week, and good news! Not only is she finished with Force of Nature (*FON), her 11th installment in the SE.ALs/ Troubleshooters series, but she's having fun cranking out yet another novella which should be out a mere 2 months after FON. The best piece of speculation from the board IMHO is that this will be Jules' story. Here's hoping.

The only problem is that FON doesn't come out until August, if the current publishing schedule holds. Which is a nice birthday present, but I'd like it NOW, please! I just hope it gets decent billing this year. I think H.arry P.otter #7 is coming out in July which throws the bookselling industry into an absolute tizzy. Must love Ms. for making reading popular again.

Off to D.isneyl.and tomorrow! Wish me luck.

* FON - my former use of this acronym was for an Econ class for "Friends of Owen and Noemi". We had a group of friends who would meet and discuss issues of trying to live sustainably, and what does that even mean anyway. It came out that some of us (namely Noemi and Owen) were practiced in the voodoo of economics and the rest of us weren't but needed to be. So when O & N got a teaching gig, they'd try out their lesson plans on us early in the week and teach the real thing a couple days later. And that is how I took Economics without ever having it grace a transcript. I had been looking back at how I'd spent my evening time w.r.t. continuing ed and noticed a gap. Nope. That was the volunteer year...

Saturday, February 24, 2007

Show me the Oscar

Disclaimer: I said my next post would be my road rules. I'll get to that, but not yet.

I have spent my entire life up until very recently ignoring southern California. Ask me to find the capital of Norway and 3 ways to get there from Bergen, I'm your girl. Yet I only found out today where Hollywood is. (If the wonderful lady who gave me the tour my first week out here stumbles across this, I was so turned around that day, I couldn't find any of that stuff again but the IKEA.) I don't really pay attention to the academy awards unless I have a friend who wants company for the viewing. It turns out my "twin" is a big movie buff. So we went on Pilgrimage to the Kodak Theater at Hollywood and Highland and got our pictures taken holding an Oscar (8.5 pounds if you're curious).

It was a nice vacation day. On my vaca days I like to have 1 primary goal, and then not worry about the rest; it usually falls in place as I undertake the journey. We got up late, took leisurely showers and headed down the coast. Today, having someone along, I felt comfortable stopping for dinner somewhere with a view in Malibu. Far from getting brunch, we ate dinner at M.oonsha.dows. It turned out that 3:30 was a great time to go - you get your pick of tables and order off the lunch menu. They had creative, tasty food in reasonable portions that wasn't much more expensive than the Ch.eesecake Fact.ory and the waiter was cute. And the ocean today was busy enough to be interesting but not rough enough to be scary or annoying.

It was good that we stopped for refreshment when we did as we spent the following 2 hours in rush hour traffic, but as it was all traversing Sunset Boulevard (with a brief Rodeo drive detour), I've no complaints. We finally decided to pay for parking and got on with it. We got to walk on the plastic protected red carpet, go up the stairs, get pictures, etc... We saw the "Meet the Oscars" exhibit and played with the trivia quiz. The twin talked to everyone about everything. We sat in a nice hotel lobby and ate our takeout while watching people. (If you're a guy, the uniform this year is white shirt, black suit jacket, then jeans and shoes of any sort.) About the time I started turning into a pumpkin, scads of people in skimpy club wear started streaming as we were strolling out. I wondered if a switch got flipped, or a chute was opened that they all showed up at once. I realized that the reason I don't usually go clubbing is that I don't have a posse to hang with. I think if I had friends who enjoyed that sort of thing, I'd go. Especially since I'd have a chance to dress up more often.

Monday, February 19, 2007

Hey Ladies!

I had a good holiday weekend, even if it was short because don't get monday off. Can't really complain though as I'm taking vaca next weekend.
  1. I got to hang with my "twin" this weekend in a spa hotel her work paid for. I met my "twin" when our book club went awry and decided to get fit. We worked out for a year, posting our efforts and encouragements online, then went to a fitness camp run by Navy SEALs. Good stuff. I can drop and give you five. Usually. Anyway, we didn't really personally connect online but after she picked me up at the airport to go to camp, we started finishing each other's sentences, and saying "really, me too!" a lot. (I think I already posted this. Oh well). I met her actual brother this weekend too. He recommended flax seed for boosting omega-3 fatty acids in the diet. I'll have to check that out as I don't like fish much, nor the mercury we've allowed to pollute our fish.

  2. On saturday afternoon during some down time, someone from our online book club called up somewhat randomly to tell me about a booksigning in my town for Robert Crais next month, I found out I was vacationing in her town. So we all three went to dinner and had a nice chat.

  3. I took my BodyRev and actually worked out. Did the legs and a kludged version of bootcamp, if you're checking up on me :) Our patio overlooking the duck pond, lemon tree, and edge of golf course was just the right size for "move, move, kick-in-the-door" and my cardio mix on my iPod helped make me bouncy. The exercise helped enable the beer consumption. Had a fine hefeweizen at the Yard House in Palm Desert.

  4. Fambly: Talked to both grandmas; they're doing well but snowed in. My brother had a record sales day this week and it happened while his boss and his boss's boss were there; good work with good visibility. Whoo hoo! Mom and Dad seem to be doing fine (with no lingering peanut butter illness) but need more sleep. Did I inherit a refusal to get sensible sleep?

  5. Got a call from a friend who is working on life goals. We traveled together in Greece a few years ago after she left our day job to travel the world. She's been stuck in a rut recently and finally figured out a path forward. I'm much relieved for her because she has been unhappy and unable to fix it. And I'm hoping she finds a place she likes so I can come visit.

  6. I LOVE my Mazda 3. I had a fun chunk of driving today. Me, a little blue h.onda hatchback with a wonky merc.edes sticker on the back window and a big, white N.issan truck cut a fine path through the holiday traffic. Not racing, just easing on down the road together, a bit faster than everyone else. Yes, I am that driver you love to hate. Zoom Zoom! (Next post is rules for the road.)

Thursday, February 15, 2007

Friend Bonanza

This post is going to meander all over. I've got lots of things to be happy about today. And some energy to be happy about them.

But first, my mom got caught in the case of the tainted peanut butter. P.eter Pa.n with batch number starting with 2111... she's ok, but has been feeling off all week. Dad made breakfast toast (good) and piled on extra PB (bad) this week. It was kind of funny though because when she described her symptoms to my brother and I, in different conversations, we both said, "so you're pregnant?" Ha, Ha. If I take after my mom, I have another wonderful 24 years of hateful nature to look forward to, but it will eventually end in a flashing internal blaze.

Another way I am a genius! I keep emergency rations of canned soup at work. (That's not the genius part.) Soup companies now sell full sized cans with the pull tab tops which is convenient for work. The problem is that the last snap to remove the lid sends flecks of soup everywhere - fore, aft, on the counter, on the can, and on my shirt - usually in a staining tomato base with a hint of oil. I think I've solved the problem though. I put a little piece of tape over the edge of the lid on the side opposite the tab and rub it on well. Then when I carefully open the can it doesn't give that last little flick of doom. Try it, you'll like it!

Good things came my way today, and this week generally. To count would seem like I was keeping score, and I'm not, just keeping track so I don't forget how blessed I am, so UL tags today.

  • Got a nice letter from a friend reminding me to be nice to myself and be patient with the ennui after uprooting my whole life, then inviting me on a brief vacation up in San Fran. I love hanging out with those ladies. (Yes, I plan to see a doctor about the intermittent fatigue! If anyone has more suggestions for tests to get, please post.)
  • FW2, who needs a week away, is coming to visit early in the summer - this will make once for each coast! Now I get to start figuring out what to do with tourists.
  • A friend has a friend in the Id.le finalists. She might get to come see Haley and me.
  • A local friend let me invite myself over so I can more conveniently hang out at Disneyland with yet more friends who will be in town soon. And she has dogs not cats so I can both play with her pets and breathe.
  • I get to hang out with my "twin" this weekend at a spa hotel in Palm Desert while she schmoozes for work. She's the friend who when one of us describes how we think or act, the other usually says, "Really? Me too!" I should really pack or something. (I was convinced yesterday was thursday, but wasn't ready for today to be thursday. I'm not always a genius, especially if it involves time.)
  • A fellow Bourne Identity movie fan from my online book club sent me a lovely piece of fan fiction to fill in some time with Jason and Marie in the farmhouse. Really well done. I can't write fiction, but I wish I could have written this.
  • I'm held accountable for my exercising by publicly posting my weekly efforts. And the inventor of the BodyRev is offering me and many others in my online book club personal and group fitness advice. Some days I forget how nice that is for him to do. Yes, he's selling a product and we're buying, but this is like getting the personal trainer free with your gym membership, and worth a lot more.
  • I found out that some other friends share an opinion I have. It's a negative opinion so it's hard to test the waters but kind of a relief to know all the same.
  • Had another productive day of doing engineering tasks at work. One of my poor tools lost its mind during a power blip, and it's still down, but that just gave me time to back up the software and clean up the recipes for the documentation update. And I learned more about how to access the on-tool data plotter which is non-intuitive. Got to fiddle with data in JuMP too.

It sounds really generic saying "friend, friend, friend" but I can't be dropping names left and right without permission and I'm not good with nicknames. So sorry if that's hard to read, but what a friend bonanza after my stint at wallowing in loneliness! Thank you all!

And now I have to go actually and exercise. Thinking about exercise doesn't seem to have the same benefits as actually doing exercise. And I've worked to hard on these abs to let them down. I get a secret kick out of knowing that this chubby grrl can do real toe pushups (as can others of those friends listed above).

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Diving deep

After checking out another blogger who is trying to record the good stuff, I'm going to try her tactic and take bad things and find the good for my daily three. Here's my attempt to spin period cramps, lonliness, and stinky stuff into something positive.

  1. Drugs. Ibuprofen is my miracle friend today. I hadn't realized how much so until my dose wore off in the middle of a meeting that rambled on forever. Ten people presented their updates in 45 minutes. The last guy? 18 minutes. And then we still had to wait for the manager's summary. I had massive cramps hit about 10 minutes into the meeting. I didn't leave to go deal with it because we were screaming through the agenda and looked to be done ahead of time. Not so much. If being pregnant is as distracting as cramps are, I have a lot more respect for my pregnant colleagues standing up to the plate, because I was distracted as heck. At any rate, despite all my other allergies, I'm extra fortunate not to have any known allergies to drugs, or family history that precludes me taking the pill.
  2. A colleague invited me to lunch today, which was nice, and welcome. Usually we just go out on thursdays as a group. I ate lunch with friends almost every day at my last job, so lunch here is more lonely and used for running errands, usually, except for today.
  3. Someone put on lip gloss at a meeting today and I could smell it. It smelled awful, but my sniffer was working after a week out of commission.

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

straight up

Happy things (going back to basics, less whining)
  1. Got through most of my action items for the day at work and got excused from a meeting I had hoped I wouldn't have to go to.
  2. I managed to stay awake tonight long enough to exercise. I did my BodyRev bootcamp workout in 2 sections, but had to watch the abs stuff because I fried my back yesterday. (Tried the tanning my way to a better attitude option and the salon didn't do a good job recommending the correct time. I'm just enough pink to make twisting or laying on carpet not so much fun.)
  3. Chatted with my brother. Turns out we both didn't like doing proofs in math, and we both thought of that today. Strange, but cool.
    Going to pop in 2 more that came to me.
  4. Also got to chat with a good friend from Boston last night. Needed that. I miss my friends. And this one is very insightful about lots of things. I learn a lot from her and we have fun.
  5. Dirt. My dirty little vice for when I've had too many design shows. Although a brief google search for any viable link seems to indicate that I'm the only one who likes it.

Monday, February 12, 2007

Some days I purely hate nature (TMI)

I spent most of this weekend asleep. If "the body obeys the brain" then my brain was saying "you are sleepy now". I'm pretty sure it's because of my period, but it could be exacerbated by the sinus infection, it's a little hard to tell. I'm thinking it's time to go back on the pill. After having been so medicated for half my life, I decided to risk going au natural for a while, and I gotta say, I don't like it. My skin has gone to hell in a handbasket, and the fatigue is almost indescribable. I really can't afford to lose a day and a half of my life once a month because my period drains my energy so badly I feel like I'm swimming through jello. I think if the vomiting had started up again, I wouldn't be writing this post, I'd be medicated again long since.

Saturday started out ok: I got up at a reasonable time, went to the hot shop and got my ornament mojo back, then picked up some yummy Indian food. But after I came back and ate some medium spicy chicken tikka masala and matter paneer, I fell asleep on the couch for 4 hours. It seemed a little unnecessary. I woke up for a couple hours, puttered on the 'puter, and went to bed.

Sunday, however, was really bad. I hit snooze for a couple hours, finally got sick of it, turned the alarm off figuring I'd just get up, and slept for another 2 hours. At which point, I dragged myself out of bed, had a bowl of oatmeal and some hot tea, then fell asleep on the couch. I woke up for about 5-8 minutes every half-hour to 45 minutes, enough to realize that the room design I'd seen the start of was long gone and we were in another HGTV room. Around 4:30, my friend called to say we were on for dinner.

It took me about 15 minutes to shake the cobwebs from my brain, I picked up my BodyRev intending to do a full legs workout and could barely lift the thing. It's 10 pounds. Normally I use it fully weighted with no trouble on the routines I'm familiar with. I struggled through about a 1/3 of the legs routine then gave up and showered. The movement and shower woke me up enough that I didn't feel unsafe driving in to Westwood for dinner (about 35 miles).

I met my friend for dinner, which was nice since we've been too busy to get together for way too long. We had half servings of stuff at Jerrys, which was still rather a lot of food. And after another brief stop, I came home. I can't hang at her place because I'm allergic to her cat. And I'm still fighting my sinus infection (I may have to give in and go find a doctor) so I can't risk even a brief stop there.

I made it home ok, patched yet another hole in my aerobed (really need to get it replaced), checked my email, and went to bed. Oh, on the advice of my friend, I also rigged up a really bright full spectrum light to go off around the time of my alarm using my christamas light timer and the huge bulb I'd bought for some eye therapy thing. I think it'll help, but it was a rude shock this morning.

So. I'm awake today. More so than yesterday. I'll see how it goes. But I think I've got to get to a doctor and fix this problem I have with nature. If I were living in a nomadic society, between my period, my terrible eyesight, and my severe allergies, I think they would have left me in the snow and moved on.

Friday, February 9, 2007


It turns out that California taxes everything. Twice if they can. I never understood why people called it Taxachusetts when I'd always paid higher taxes elsewhere. Mass sales and income taxes were reasonable 5% levies. CA tax is almost 8% for sales tax and 9% for income tax, which is a LOT of money. There is also a new CA law that if you bring a car into CA within 12 months of purchace, you owe a "Use Tax" which is the difference between the sales tax you paid out of state and the CA tax rate.

I think the intent is that for residents or part time residents, they don't buy their cars in states with cheaper taxes to avoid paying taxes here. But its a rude shock for people who bought cars in, for instance, Massachusetts, paid the 5% sales tax, then paid an additional 2.5% exise tax, who only then get credit for the 5% sales tax. In other words, I just paid $700 to register my car in California. This was an additional burden to me of $400 after paying $850 in sales tax, $80 for registration and fees, $430 for exise taxes and $55 for two parking stickers. And for this I get a plate that spells VEX backward.

For my happiness helper today, I'm going to try getting a tan. I've been feeling pumped up all week but that was probably the p.suedoe.phedrine I was taking for the sinus infection. Now that I'm feeling better, it's making me jittery instead of serene. And I remember that the last time I built up a base tan, didn't burn in the sun, felt fanstastic about myself and studies support this notion. Strike a match on that.

Wednesday, February 7, 2007

N is for Neville who died of ennui

If you're a H.arry P.otter fan first and foremost, you might be thinking of Longsbottom. But in this case the phrase is from Edward Gorey, and I have no ill will toward NL.

Despite having an allergy induced sinus infection, I'm starting to come out of a fugue of several weeks duration. I can only hope my energy level stays up so I can do some productive things and enjoy them. I get this weird cyclic ennui coupled with periods of frenetic energy that I can't/won't tame. It's not bad enough to be something I would be medicated for (at least according to quizzes on the internet :) but it's still frustrating because it's hard to do anything involving routine - like wash dishes or exercise or pay bills. And that's why god made N.etbank autopay. The other stuff I just get to when I get to it and don't beat myself up when I don't.

Anyhow, I feel the fog lifting and I'm off to exercise, even though it's midnight. I had a nap earlier before seeing Astronaut, Captain Heidemarie Stefanyshyn-Piper, USN at an engineering society dinner. The timing was funny becuase of the bad press of the psycho astronaut this week. But S-Piper gave a great talk about what a space shuttle mission to the internatinoal space station is like along with pictures and videos. Once upon a time, I wanted to be an astronaut. But it turns out I'm not athletic or competetive enough and I have bad vision and even worse issues with bureaucratic authority. So while we both grew up in MN and went to MIT, I'm a process engineer and glass blower, and she's an astronaut. And I think I'm ok with that. Not that I'd turn down a ride into space.

Tuesday, February 6, 2007

Paid in Full, almost

Since moving, I've been racking up various charges, getting reimbursments in various ways, and going to one of several bank accounts. I finally sat down tonight, figured out where the money was, and put it where the money wasn't. I typically use 3 credit cards: 1 for daily use, 1 for online use or where they don't take card 1, and one for carrying a balance at 0% (because why not?).

But I biffed the minimum payment on the balance carry card and that prompted me to action. I didn't want to add to it, and I was getting alarmed at the size of the other cards I'd been, frankly, ignoring with impunity thanks to N.etBank autopay. I finally got the relocation money though, and it was enough to pay off the first two cards and have some left over. And believe it or not, I had been saving money, so I payed off a hunk from the last card too. Enough to make it less scary, and probably will help get financing if I need to finance kitchen cabinets.

I'm always really scared before paying off loans, for some reason. So far I think I'm 100% for feeling a LOT better afterward, so I don't know why I do this. Partly, I want to have cash reserves, but at some point, it's better to not have the monthly payment. Now if only those stock options pay out, I'll get back in the black on my liquid assets.

Blogger Shasta just posted something about personal savings rates being the lowest since the Great Depression. I think this is a pretty telling financial indicator - mostly that the middle class is living hand to mouth these days, and we can't afford our lives, not that people don't want to save money. In my case, I bought my first home at age 34, it's one of the 10 cheapest in the county, and still my monthly costs are over twice what I paid in rent last year. It made sense to buy out here though, and I wanted to get into the market, and that can always be a time of slim pickings.

But it scares me that after paying down $40K in student loans and bringing $25K to the closing from my non-retirement savings, I'm pretty much wiped out. I earn almost twice what the average FAMILY OF FOUR live on, and after funding the minimum 401K for the company match, housing (cheapest in county), transportation (reliable Mazda3 is new, but economical -drove prev used car for 6 yrs), food and minimal health care (allergy meds and monthly accupunture), my disposable monthly income is about $100. And that just ain't right. Especially since it costs at least that to get my hair done well enough to show my face in LA. And I can't complain about the salary, but I can complain about the cost of EVERYTHING. And how CA taxes the bejesus out of income and sales tax and cars and everything. Oy vey, maria!

But I'll still give happiness a shot.

  1. Sinus Rinse is helping me manage my sinus infection without losing 5 days out of my life. I'm not at top speed, but I can mostly breathe. Enough to pay off the credit cards. Whew! Time for benadryl, now.
  2. Did the canadians find a cure for cancer? Wouldn't that be the bees knees? More genius, and such an elegant mechanism.
  3. I got this kick ass new bench for my patio. I haven't managed to part with it enough to move it from the living room to outside, though.

Saturday, February 3, 2007

Someone else is smarter than me

I just saw these Flower Urinals on "I Want That" on HGTV. Super cool!

Also, why the abhorence of urinals in private homes? Women everywhere bitch and moan about seat up vs seat down, the yellow sprinkles around the rim, floor, etc that they didn't put there, so why not put in a urinal? My mom, while watching a design show during her visit, made the comment that men and women were not meant to share bathrooms. I think the biggest problem is toilet hygiene. My dad is 6'2" - the toilet is low, there's gonna be splatter. Then I saw a bathroom remodel on tv the other day where the wife went on and on about the things I just mentioned, but absolutely refused to put a "hideous" urinal in "her" perfect new bathroom. But she put in a bidet. WTF???

I have been to Europe several times and there are often bidets in hotel bathrooms. Yet I've never figured out a way to use a bidet that didn't gross me out in the extreme because it always seems like nasty things would splatter in/on the nozzles and be hard to clean. I do have one friend who likes hers, but they seem to baffle Americans, at least this American. If I ever do a bathroom remodel in a bathroom bigger than I have now, especially if I'm living with a guy, we're getting a urinal and that's that. It will save fights over the toilet seat which will only need to be down. It will reduce gross yellow splatters because it can be set at a reasonable height. It will save on flushing water. (Do they make urinals with willie rinsers? That could be a fun feature) And if I find a guy to share a bathroom with who has a lot of savings, we can even go with the floral urinal, or something more manly if he objects, and if it winds up looking hideous, we put it behind manly saloon doors :)

Friday, February 2, 2007

Some days I think I'm smart.

And yesterday was one of those days. I came up with some great ideas that would make my life better. They might come to something; they might be utter crap. But as of right now, I feel like a genius. And I'm ok with that.
  1. When people call into a customer support help line, the call needs to accomplish 2 things:
    1. fix the problem they called about.
    2. vent all the angst this problem has caused them to a real live human
    I therefore propose that customer service agencies hire 2 types of people - counselors types that will listen to you bitch, allow you (I mean me) to work the frustration out of your (really, my) system, and then soothe you (me) enough to talk to the technical specialists without wanting to bite off their heads just to see if they taste like chicken. I think it would make everyone happier, except for those poor counselors manning the bitch line. I do think it would allow companies to retain technical staff longer because they wouldn't be dealing with people in need of a rant.
  2. A production machine software interface as ubiquitous as Microsoft Windows is for office applications - easy to use, runs on a standard PC or cheap workstation, but without all the bogus "value added" memory sucking applications or the tendency to crash. When manufacturing equipment software crashes, tools have to be requalified which is both annoying and expensive. This fantasy software interface would allow various types of users do these following things
    1. operate the tool without being able to screw around with system settings (basic)
    2. view the system functionality real time without altering it (basic)
    3. manage the process settings/recipes (basic) and manage the global process settings (advanced)
    4. perform routine maintenance and address alarms without having the ability to override major interlocks which are there for our safety (basic); perform manual operations and troubleshooting, change system settings and set interlocks (adv).
    5. system account management; backup functions (basic); superuser who can override anything (advanced)
    6. Database access (basic); database manipulations (advanced)
    7. Download database and run info to a network (basic); update the tool from the network (advanced)
    8. make sure the access page for running the tool doesn't allow the tool to be messed with by accident if a higher user level leaves themselves logged in by accident (or has some scheme for logging out higher level users)

    I'd be psyched if some Linux guru or the like could make the standard platform and GUI that could handle this so I don't have to learn something new for every tool, and tool vendors aren't forced to overlay their functionality on Windows, which isn't built for this kind of thing and crashes a lot.
  3. A passenger seat in a car/SUV which can be used forward or backward, like the seats of a European train. One way to effect this is to have a doublesided seatback which can flip from one side to the other. This way, new mothers can put rear facing car seats next to them so they're not freaking out about whether or not their newborn has stopped breathing in the back seat while tooling down the highway and can concentrate more on driving safely. The seatback being flipped forward would deactivate the front (but not side) airbag(s). It would also be possible for the younger kids to sit here as I also advocate for the backward facing seatbelt or harness (perhaps built for the youngins) to be built into the backside of said seatback. This has the added bonus of being able to kick ones siblings stuck in the forward facing back seats while lording over them the temporary possession of the coveted shotgun seat.

    A little problem with this would be making sure large adults don't sit backward in such a way that it obscures driver visibility, but that might be less of a problem for SUVs. (It turns out that people like to ride on trains with me because I prefer the backward facing seat for reasons that are unclear even to me.)

    I came up with it after watching a commercial about an SUV which said that it was designed by re-thinking everything, yet looked like just another mid-ought SUV. I realized that some van companies have done a good job with backseats that can fold up and away, cover hidden compartments, and other cool things, but that they hadn't messed with the passenger seat enough, and even with my native antipathy toward kids, I think it's barbaric to make moms abandon their infants in the backseat where they can't offer comfort if they start screaming. And I think it's unsafe for people to have to drive around being distracted by screaming infants. So yeah, this idea is all about me being safer on the highway, and my memories of the thrill of riding shotgun in the airbag years, but I still think it's a genius idea.
I think that should be it for tonight. The wine has worn off and I've got to go watch "Dirt". I have to say that C.ourtney C.ox chose her new vehicle well. I like it.