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Archive for April, 2012

time to suspend my savings goals

April 27th, 2012 at 04:16 pm

Everything now is about getting the house up for sale. Not sure if I should immediately pay off the HELOC or let it go as I spend $ on curb appeal projects. I have another 21 years left on the HELOC, and $37K before I hit my max.

So I abandon the car plan and YNAB for now.

I must call about landscaping the front and back, bridge loans, and maybe even a Bellingham real estate agent. I need to call its School District Admin office and see how they accept/treat children with graphomotor difficulties. I went to a meeting yesterday at my son's school: I still don't understand his teacher other than that he has two dozen kids, an overloaded schedule, and a high priority to make sure his students can write competently and that he himself meets the metrics and expectations the district gives him. He doesn't entertain the possibility that my kid is bored/frustrated with his class, because I guess teachers think if you have special needs or some sensory problem going on, your brain is supposed to be stuck on that and not at all racing so fast and finding the pace of the class slow. I want a cognitive test without 130-level ceilings to see if my kid's . brain is doing much else. There are programs for the highly capable but if you're hindered by a disorder that makes writing or fine motor actions grievously poor you don't get accepted.

It doesn't make sense to move to a city with 1/10 the population and expect more understanding and experience, I guess.

Weirdness: all the other properties are going up except my and my friend's. She's got just under $120K left on her mortgages and I have just under $130K on mine.

weekend ramble

April 23rd, 2012 at 02:03 am

Animal Control came. The Great Dane in its small pen barked for close to 60 minutes, maybe 75 minutes on Friday at dinner time, when it's inconvenient to have pink noise or the mp3 player on for dinner prep twice... I no longer record when it barks during the day, because I can slip headphones on and ignore it, but I can't ignore it at dinner: I have to hear timers beep, phone ring. I've discovered pink, white, and brown noises on binaural beats are as beautiful to hear as a newborn's first cry.

Dismayed by low Zillow estimate. Don't know how 38% growth in market value over 12 years happens to just us and only us, but others have higher ones. New roof, new heating system, new insulation, new windows, new kitchen, new bathroom. Just because everything except the roof haven't been added in the last two years doesn't mean that Zillow's priced it in.

I am doing an employment novena for my friend and he is doing one for me. All I know is that after the "holy water", purple candle burning, Blood Sugar Blues tincture and magnesium, the nasty cortisol-fueled thought racket at night doesn't happen.

We missed out on the car buying days event sponsored by the credit union. Oh well. September or August, we should have a newer car. Unless we've moved, in which case we will definitely have a better car.

Robin Gibb woke up from his coma. I'm positive Barry Gibb's singing to him did the trick: Barry can hit the notes that can recharge certain parts of the brain. Oddly "You Should Be Dancin'" hit the mp3 shuffle play as I typed this. I am sorry I did not think to play the Bee Gees when my mother had her cancer. Maybe Paul McCartney couldn't sing high enough to put Linda McCartney's cancer into remission. Two deaths in a week is just greedy anyway.

My spending focus is on the house.

Birth and Death and IKEA

April 18th, 2012 at 04:54 pm

my birthday rolled around. Parents dead for over a decade so they're no fun. Nifty presents are all colourful: Raoul Dufy print mug, flowers, rainbow Swatch watch, a mystery book. And now a double-scoop of custard: Kit Kat plus vanilla! Five-star Yelp review comin' up!

Deaths: Dead Pool 2013 is already slated, thanks to recent announcements, plus a NY Times online feature about obituaries, including dead pools, so now I have rich sources of names. I'm envious of the people who made their dead pool lists as global and varied as possible: mine was mostly US-based. My friend who gave me the Dufy mug is ranked ten on a big deadpool, I am languishing at position thirty-seven, eighth from last. No money is involved there though. Happy with my current position on a money dead pool.

I'd been secretly hoping I'd get a 38-point bump by today on my for-money list. I am sure I am not the only one.

Dead Pool UPDATE: Dick Clark passed. He's on my list. I better let the fair administrix know.

Thanks for the birthday greetings and wishes! I only wish I had the stamina and focus to keep cheer every day and pass it around as well!

Finished the second of Kyril Bonfiglioli's Charlie Mortdecai crime novels: this one is not so much fun, less violent and more domestic than the first, Don't Point That Thing at Me.

Close to broke again (but not poor) after a trip to IKEA. Hoped to pay with credit card, balance well into the three digits after birthday dinner, gifts, and auto repair and maintenance charges, but didn't have a PIN. I did get a coupon for $1.08 off my next IKEA purchase, and the kid had a fun time at the cafeteria: all the Swedishness reminded him of Team Alfredsson in the NHL All-Star event, where at least six Swedes from Ottawa and Vancouver were on Alfie's team. And what Canadian teams made it to 1st round in the playoffs? That's right, Ottawa and Vancouver. Fortunately IKEA is cheap and I didn't buy more than what I could carry. IKEA's having a "living room event" next week: maybe I'll finally get that Ektorp sofa bed and matching chair.

Scrabble players, according to a University of Calgary study, really are smarter than most. I feel this is another handicap preventing me from employment. Maybe the real handicap is not knowing what jobs are available where puzzle-solving and pattern recognition are valued and earn ample compensation. Too many people I see at school and at shopping who are hired ignore, disdain and yawn or foolishly argue and lie. I used to think it was me, but I've had great experiences at other places and think I must have crossed the divide into "those kids are rude and have no sense of privacy" codgerdom. I'm happy with that.

Never sorry about birthday budget busters

April 15th, 2012 at 03:37 pm

Went to La Fontana Siciliana downtown for birthday dinner. Pricy, but worth it for the hidden splendour of a fountain, and to be spoken to in genuine Italian, and in English with heavy Sicilian accents, and to have an hour or two of low-level noise. We were kidless that evening and did not order wine, so kept bill down to under $100.

We started our kidless adventure with an Income Tax cocktail and beer at Cafe Racer. A small barking dog and the tinniness of Van Morrison's "Cyprus Avenue" blaring hurt our ears so we escaped upstairs until the music changed or the volume was turned down. Italian sex comedy music followed so we returned to the bar to be friendly at the request of a regular.

What else? Bought grasses for the front, herbs for the side. Looked at a house for sale near an exquisite bakery on the west side of Seattle. Supposedly an open house but the agent was nowhere to be found, so we snuck into the garage and went to the backyard for a look-see.

Rented "Uzumaki" which seemed vaguely familiar in spots, and "Miranda" which is a comedy written by and starring a woman with my head on my friend's 6'3" body.

After the tax payment, I'm a little better than where I was financially six weeks ago. I can let up on the scrounging and fasting and denial.

It's a slow day, these are my wins

April 13th, 2012 at 06:26 pm

Filling up tank for $3.995/gallon: win!
Going to Costco and finding Cheerios and apple juice cheaper than the last visit: win!
Fresh factory-produced bread for under $2: win!

Erik Satie plus un chat avec ennui: réussite! - warning, French language, but there are subtitles.

The tax payment came out of our account today. I feel as if I'm a post-surgery patient with a malignant growth just removed: weak but hopeful and glad the ordeal is over! I have under $300 in chequing, and that's before the $100 HELOC payment and the $25 automatically added to the certificate of deposit, the $67 for aikido lessons and the $25 monthly payment for our phone. I better transfer some dough from Money Market Account. What I would really like is a good ol' cocktail.

Into the spending pit I go

April 13th, 2012 at 03:47 am

or is it investing pit?
Getting numbers of painters and landscapers.

Spent $330+ on car service: Oxygen sensor was starting to go, that would explain getting below 22 mpg, which I didn't think was possible with our car. Spent $50 on a Nine West watch at Macy's. I wanted a watch, longed for the Betsey Johnson watches available at Nordstrom but we're poor, so we paid for a watch we are to pick up on the 25th or later, at 25% discount.

naturally if we do move, we will be buying a new car with some proceeds. Not that there's any difference between doing that and buying a car with the HELOC...

Dirtnap for Dollars update: Pneumonia brings family around for emergency visits.

April 5: The Colour of Spring

April 5th, 2012 at 03:27 pm

This is safe and lovely, especially on a sunny morning. If it weren't cold and I weren't limping I'd go trippin' through daffodils and tulips. Older people can enjoy Blossom Dearie's "A Fine Spring Morning" or Donovan's "Lullaby of Spring", young'uns "Spring" by Saint Etienne or "Magical Spring" by Ride.

The spring has lifted the housing market and thawed the values. I'm feeling bold enough to mail my tax payment, and to plan my post-tax spending: car maintenance, hair colouring (I get a 'consideration' discount for a book I unloaded on my hairdresser), dental exam, needed pants, shirts and sleepwear. I also attempted sit-ups last night. My appetite is back and I'm sleeping through most of the night now. Although my hockey team has clinched its division it cannot do what the NY Rangers did and clinch its conference.

Tonight is silent film and vaudeville night, with dinner at a Cajun/Creole restaurant. Yeah!

It's National Poetry Month: I am trying to get into the spirit of it, by reading beyond Wendy Cope and the Modernists. Break the Glass by Jean Valentine won the Pulitzer Prize for poetry but I am not moved by its contents. The Dickinson and Baudelaire collections are all out on loan at my library. I'll probably go retro and take out the Coleridge collection, read Elizabeth Bishop as well, and borrow Pokemon Dad's 2009 published book of poems for the kid to read and bring to school: he can point to the photo on the back and say "I know this man!"
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Finance: this is a tight week. I'll probably have under $50 in chequing by the time the paycheque comes. Feh. VISA to pay, more Lenten donations... did I mention that I based my Lenten offerings on the performance of my hockey team, that has now won seven games in a row? Watch them slack off after Easter and give St. Louis the conference winner title.
I paid $45.19 for gas this week, our tank down to a never-before-witnessed .6 gallon of fuel. Why so low? Tax payment and budgeting for March. I overspent that month's budget by $850 as I shunted $1170 of the income to the 1040-V payment.
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My Struggles: my attempts to help my kid with his writing are ineffective, inefficient and feeble. His teacher called us into a conference to discuss my kid's handwriting difficulties. It only took oh, three workbooks of writing, a call and interview with a psychologist, a call to the school district's Speech Language Pathologist and a subsequent call from the SLP assigned to our school to bring on this conference. I do not like my school district. I do not like the school PTSA: "We're going to entreat you to contribute and then not respond to you when you offer to volunteer, okay? Because that's what makes us great, okay? I don't feel you're a team player with community spirit if you demand a response from us for niggly details like when and where to show up, okay?" I don't have to like my son's teacher but I feel I must trust his experience and approach to helping my son succeed, though my son's grades aren't any evidence that his teacher and I are doing any good. At least DS's teacher acknowledged I was aware of the problem and trying to help, and at least I was able to walk away from the meeting knowing that his teacher did not rule out the possibility of a disorder or a disability.

I went to a (Movie) Orgy last night

April 1st, 2012 at 06:46 pm

I left at intermission, after this. Children saw this live, but I can't say it is safe for any animal lovers. It's from Buster Brown Shoes-sponsored "Andy's Gang" television show for children, hosted by westerns character actor Andy Devine. Andy introduces Midnight the cat and Squeaky the rodent as they perform "Jesus Loves Me, This I Know." I wonder how many children grew up to be animal activists and atheists. The only bright spot was Vito Scotti.

You've been warned. It's from a 4hr 40min compilation video collection "Movie Orgy" from famed director Joe Dante. It had to be screened for free because the production and distribution were free, but I wanted my money back.