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Molasses in January is speedier than...

November 30th, 2015 at 08:59 am

a mortgage payoff.

Just made 35% mortgage paid milestone after nearly 17 years in the house. Admittedly this is my second refinance of the house. Equity is at 78%.

Still dithering about a phone. I like to make use case scenarios, cost-balancing what-if scenarios, and have a list of what technologies and standards will meet our needs. DH likes to feel the phones while I get talked over in a phone store pumping out loud dance music, and springing on me in the store his input which I attempted four times to solicit at home in a quieter environment. This is why I don't have an updated phone.

When I use a search engine for "best phone for me" I get outdated contract plan provider ratings, and listings five years out of date for phones.

It's Cyber Monday and I want a phone. I'm grandfathered into a $25/month plan but I can't even use the phone for Web browsing anymore because the firmware won't do Transport Layer Security/Secure Socket Layer handshakes.

Why are we not with Ting? We don't know enough about technologies and service to determine if Ting will offer Canada service with the device we bring to it.

I feel like I'm 70 years old. Hate loud dance music in phone stores. Hate Top 40 hiphop w/screechy vocal fry female singing in restaurant with diner behind me trying to screech along to the music. 24 hours after the hip-pretentious diner in our own city we're in a hip diner in another city and it's playing 35-year-old goth/darkwave music which is beautiful to my ears, and instead of off-key singing the patrons next to us are talking with us about video game character plushies and the books they're reading and that we have read. Hearing persistent cough and blood pressure woes from the spouse. (Since I adapted to a low-carb diet and megadosed on Vitamin D and cod liver oil my BP is around 110/80. AND finally the majority of my size 12 pants are slightly too big, and the majority of my 10-11 pants are just right!) Out of touch with current mobile phone standards, technology layers. Clinging to personal privacy by turning off JavaScript on one browser and choosing what third parties on a website can use cookies or track me (web services for apps, yes; doubleclick, facebook, gumgum, google-analytics no).

Seasonal Cash Drain begins this week

November 13th, 2015 at 08:52 am

This morning I gave thought to our Christmas budget. The main person in my life is a Sagittarian, so I estimate $120 for his birthday. I won't share how I did it, but I managed to get about $160 worth of his Amazon wishlist items for $0. Thinking $650 for a cards-inclusive birthday & Christmas. My beau's birthday is one day earlier than US Thanksgiving, so my Can-Am kid is working on him to consider spending birthday time up north.

I plan to get a Bitcoin wallet, and buy one bitcoin. Several sites use PayPal for payment processing and PayPal doesn't accept our cards even when we use guest accounts, because our credit cards share the same numbers. It doesn't make sense to me that joint credit card holders should be punished if their credit scores are good and their accounts are in good standing. Bitcoin will allow pseudonymity and lower processing fees.

I live in a sucky school district. My kid's school budget has been slashed to nothing, as the school's administration exhausted its cash to retain one full-time staff person. The school lost 2.4 FTE funding after a teachers' strike. As of this writing six teachers have DonorsChoose.org projects. I'd like to see them all funded: I don't have enough cash to fund them all. I've promoted the URL a few places, including the school PTSA newsletter. However the school PTSA has its own Donation Drive, which I've given roughly half of my car accident money to. I don't know how to go about spreading the word beyond how I have already.

It seems I don't know a lot of things. But I have been learning some Python. And I did learn of a rare gene mutation (if you're of North European ethnicity, it's not that rare, maybe 1 in 20 have it, but if you're not white, you're extremely unlikely to have it, although I read an African-American's claim she has it) that I suspect my mom had and passed down to us. It'd explain my brother's death and my preeclampsia. I'm blood-clot free, I think, but my cat insisting I sit down 10 hours a day so he can rest somewhere warm will be the death of me. I'm no use to him dead though. Not even as a food source.

Paid off the car loan today

September 29th, 2015 at 01:10 pm

$5389.00 gone, but then, so are close to 24 months of payments and over $200 interest payments. I don't feel ecstatic, I don't feel anything, even though it was my decision. I got tired of the insulting "pay less per month on your car loan" (by extending the term and paying a higher APR) offers from lenders a credit bureau sold my spouse's info to.

I'm looking forward to affording cash payments for things like: a new mattress, new phone, yard cleanup. Looking forward to automating regular investments. I'll be giddy when the title is returned to us, weeks from now.

school rant

September 14th, 2015 at 01:11 pm

Language Arts I suspect is actually a Computer Tech course.

I secretly think that when teachers are keen on technology in the classroom, they count on families to supply their students with iPads, Chromebooks or tablets, even the families on free or reduced lunch assistance.

Although we are tech happy (four laptops, one Nook) and somewhat savvy, we are frugal. No "cell phones for everyone with apps galore." We are also privacy-minded. Or at least I am. We don't have Facebook accounts. So my kid had to create four accounts (Yahoo, Google, BlueStacks, Instagram) and download an Android emulator for his Language Arts class. He has no tablet, so we had to download an Android emulator so he could install a Google app, but for that he needed a Google account, and I don't want school stuff tied to his personal account,. No privacy with Windows 10, so we keep Windows 7. Naturally he and I ensured he used a pseudonym.

There was a Syllabus Quiz posted in Schoology.com on Sunday September 13 at 7:10 am but it expired at midnight, thirteen hours ago.
Our teachers are on strike, you see. They're locked out of their staff accounts, says the French teacher, but the Language Arts content was uploaded September 13, yesterday. And I'm the only parent subbed to my kid's teachers' blogs, and he's the only account subbed to the Instagram account created for his Language Arts class.

He (we) had better receive course credit for our efforts. He needs 40 books to read this year, five of them poetry. He's started with a Doc Savage pulp novel.

Not back to school but books are hit

September 10th, 2015 at 08:47 am

The teachers are striking (and in some cases, unusually fetching har har).
Seriously, I am stumbling into "home schooling" which is little more than:

[*] lurking on teachers' websites, mostly from other school districts, and grabbing links to curriculum topics and exercises in PDF or .ODT or .DOCX form to copy onto the kid's USB drive;
[*] hounding him to read his calculator's manual and play with the features so he's comfortable when the school year starts for real;
[*] speaking to him in French, hoping it'll evolve into conversing with him;
[*] having him journal about and use ADHD coping strategies;
[*] getting books from the library relevant to curriculum topics;
[*] torrenting etextbooks;
[*] acquainting him with the power of apps like RedNotebook; cloud storage like OneDrive and GoogleDrive; mindmapping applications;
[*] screaming at him to get off the freaking game and YouTube websites and have one tab open to Khan Academy.
Today I'll buy him some workbooks and assemble some mechanical pencils so he can start Algebra, and borrow US History books from the library. We have James W. Loewen's Lies My Teacher Told Me (given to me by my m-i-l, a US teacher) of which the striking history teachers approve. It's more managing and babysitting. Pulling lesson plans every two hours out of my scatterbrain is nothing like teaching so I don't feel like I am scab labour. If anything I'm doing the teachers a big favour by reducing their workload (my kid has an Individual Education Plan and is on the "special" side, neurologically. He's developmentally lopsided at what seems to be a 60 degree angle: college-level reading and vocabulary and performance in oral examination, grade 3 sentence writing and information retention). I feel my contribution'll mean more to his teachers than Starbucks and Top Pot doughnuts contributions.

Magical Saturday

September 5th, 2015 at 02:32 pm

We, not the royal, martyred, sarcastic we but the family plural we, are cleaning. That is magic in itself. I couldn't find the $300 cheque made out to me until I opened a book called _Smart but Scattered_ and there it was, wedged between pages. You rest a spell and let that irony seep in. You see, when there's $300 to be found, I find also motivation to pick up every white piece of paper and determine if I need it or if it can go elsewhere. I also found $33 credit slip to one of my fave used bookstores. In a search for the cheque (I offered a "dessert place of your choice reward" to the finder) the spouse found instead a softcover overdue library book the tot could not bother to remove from an open sack a whole thirty inches away from his internet-obsessed carcass' six-hour parking spot for... twenty-five days. "No, I'm not an addict! Durrrrr. Oooh new gaming video on YouTube. "

We have already splurged on a Rug Doctor rental to clean a rug. A futon cover is in the wash, as we'd like to sell the futon and the coffee table and make a new, minimized household for ourselves.

I chose the old school fill in with pencil home account ledger instead of Mint.com, YNAB, GnuCash or KMyMoney. It won't keep track of my stocks and funds, but do I want to look at that stuff right now? My psyche is fragile.

I am down to below 152 lbs, just a little over 1.5 kg away from my goal weight.

Brace Yourselves

August 30th, 2015 at 03:00 pm

Astounding pronouncements that may just CRUMBLE YOUR HEADSPACE

1. I try, really, not to judge Americans by their early-season presidential candidate nominees, out of kindness and to secure my mental health while I am south of the 49th parallel. It helps that none so far this election season comes from the one state I've lived in. However, I have no problem with Americans who judge Canadians by our political parties. The very fact some would know what our parties are and who leads them would now garner huge respect from me, as well as, yes, crumble my headspace. Judging us by our nation's political party leaders would be a mistake, as 98% of us don't have any say in who they are, and they don't stump province to province to make xenophobic, inflammatory comments to attract attention when they run for party leadership. Other than drinking, handshaking, applause and deals, I don't know what happens at Canadian Political Party Leadership Conventions.

2. In less than a week, despite the stock market correction and the drop in metal prices, the three criteria I delineated this spring for paying off my auto loan will be met, which means I could have no auto loan payment in October.

Cash.Balance - $5000 > Heloc.Balance + Car.Balance + $10000;

Car.Balance < 2 x CD.Balance;

Money Market Account > 2 x Car.Balance

Auto Accident Insurance Settlement on its Way!

August 28th, 2015 at 11:40 am

$300.

Reasonable considering I had no hospitalization nor prescribed painkillers. Driver-at-fault's insurance adjuster pleasant and very fair: massages will probably be covered once doctor backdates prescription; damages ended up being more than what claims estimator surveyed but they're paid; rental car coverage initially denied by computer, but ultimately allowed as I returned the car in original condition at the time and date my own car had completed collision repairs (extended beyond original estimate date); doctor's visits deemed reasonable: physical and post-treatment assessment of injuries based on severity of vehicle impacts.

Over $2500 of inconvenience, pain and annoyance I'm not on the hook for! Only the bottle of acetaminophen and bus fare to doctor's office and tips for the masseuse. Which is, in my view, fair. The $300 settlement covers more than those petty charges.

what's new?

August 23rd, 2015 at 09:58 am

I am on my ketogenic diet again, with the cheat of a chocolate chip cookie once a week. I am down to 155 pounds. A belt I bought in a fit of optimism a few years ago I can actually cinch three notches, and I know this because I've had to use the belt to keep my size 12 pants from sliding down to my hips. My circumference around the hips is now less than a metre. I'm excited by this because it seems to be the only medium-term goal I've succeeded at in six years. However, I get so few "yays", probably because I post my victories on a forum where women have lost a phenomenal (I mean one extra adult-woman) amount of weight, or because I post on another forum where women just aren't as adventuresome or carbohydrate-sensitive as I am. I'd like to lose 4-7 more lbs, mostly about the waist. Exercise would help but I am not cleared for exercise because...

...I am still getting massage treatment for my back and it still hurts sometimes. Paid for by the driver's insurance. My car's restored from the collision and it looks beautiful. We missed it; our rental car was not kind to my back and we lost touch with the "put the key in the ignition", "put the key into the lock" machinations of making the car go.

Cluster flies swarms popped up last week: yecch. Seems the men went on a swat rampage but we still have some. The important thing is there aren't enough to make our rooms terrible at night. They must have been dormant in our house for so many of them to show up at once. We have strips to catch the downstairs ones, as our windows are painted shut.

Back to school shopping has begun. Our little boy is taking Algebra which meant acquiring a TI-84+ graphing calculator. Until yesterday Office Depot had a sale, but even with that sale we'd have spent $50 beyond the price my spouse agreed upon for a private seller TI-84+, with cord and manual.

Won $40 Amazon.ca (yes, .ca) gift certificate. Worth about $30 US. Probably half of that would get eaten up by delivery, but better than nothing.

I am now putting extra payments to the car. I may swallow my pride and have some credit card debt for awhile, if it means getting rid of the $282.21 monthly payment. I'd still pay less in interest because the balance will be smaller and it'd be for a shorter term.

I have a new laptop, dual boot. I can either use WINE and have YNAB on Windows or I can use KMyMoney on the Linux Mint desktop or I can use pen and paper for accounts. I haven't been budgeting for the past two months.

August update

August 1st, 2015 at 06:43 pm

It is hot in BC. My friends are dealing with health issues. Everyone hates the government, but they hated the federal government since always, what's different here is the premier's obsession is Liquid Nitrogen Gas. I don't have my annual twinge-moan of "why don't I live here?" but have instead "I'm so happy I live where I do." I can't vote in either country, but boy is it fun to point to Donald Trump as Someone Else's Problem. People ask me if I've heard about Donald Sutherland's letter to the Globe and Mail. They gripe about the exchange rate.

My greatest friends right now: the US and Canadian border officers. I shuttle back and forth over the 49th parallel with the minor, and they're very casual about asking our relationship. I came back from an afternoon in Lynden, a pioneer town populated by Dutch heritage people, and very sweet people: someone apologized to us for stopping in the crosswalk as we walked (!). We were never in any danger, she was going far below the speed limit.

I'm not in town for the Greenwood Gumshoe, and I last up to three hours now before my auto accident injury complains to me, and I have garden watering duties in BC in the evening, so I am not helping baselle to another great year of winning prizes. Disappointed, because when we're all healthy and painfree, it's fun to walk around with the question sheet solving puzzles and interacting with the other gumshoers. If she wants to ask my spouse for help, he'll help.

I am off my ketogenic diet, but still am trying for low-carb and high-fat. I fit in my bathing suit with no unsightly bulges!

I have a new laptop: 477 GB for $240 US. So that's one savings goal accomplished. My sweetie already installed a network connection to our local wifi, bless him.