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Colxn of HaZ CraZ thots

December 13th, 2013 at 09:43 am

If everyone who created SavingAdvice.com user accounts for the sole purpose of trawling the forums for W*k* *p N*w suckers or defending its value/payout structure started their own M*lt*-L*v*l M*rk*t*ng company, they'd be richer than they are now.

Why the asterisks? You know that search terms are what brought them here, right? You think they're bright enough to search with asterisks? I don't.
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Buendia, Life After Life was a terrific read. I had to put it down during the 1940 Blitz attacks, how Europeans then emerged from WWII devastation without post-trauma stress is beyond me, and because a bomb shelling killed Al Bowlly, my fave singer from that era, but I picked it up again and read. I perceive the headaches and heart strain as accumulated stresses of those other lives, and think Dr. Kellet must have gone through the same phenomenon, and possibly other characters.
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I am slightly insane. Every four months I think of consolidating my debt, and now that I've been to MortgageProfessor.com, I see now that doing nothing is the cheapest plan. The MortgageProfessor doesn't allow me to calculate for a 12-year refinance though.
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Mental note for 2014: Invest in data brokerage companies, 3-D printing companies.
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Judging from a certain person's Dead Pool winner list (and current lead), I would say that SavingAdvice.com bloggers have a talent for getting more bang for their buck
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More on slow-cooking: here's how to make over 30 meals in four hours -- frozen meal packs for slow cookers
link
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I am a few dozen dollars away from reaching the $100000 principal paid milestone. Should I meet this milestone before the end of 2013, or should I combine it with my Mortgage Principal "Digit Drop" for an extra shot of New Year Joy?
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I met Ken Jennings. I have not been called for Jeopardy!, but if I had been, I couldn't tell anyone except people who would wonder why they are sleeping alone. He wished me luck. The great thing about triviahounds is that they are at no loss for conversation starters. We couldn't talk for long as he was tasked to sign and promote some of his favourite books at a bookstore, so there were awkward moments of looking to see if people were lining up. I will say that he and I have similar tastes in fiction, plus he is the only person on the planet so far with whom I have discussed Chip Kidd.

Gotta save myself before I save money

April 25th, 2013 at 09:02 pm

I spent most of the week being gutted, despite the beautiful weather. I have a recurring dream, which is actually as common as the rotting teeth dream or showing up to class for exams despite never having attended lectures or seminars, of my dead mother having faked her death, and then coming back many years later, only to tell us she is dying for real. It's funny only if you hated your mother, or completely got over the grieving process. I am none of the above. Also gutted by the slap of modern-day apartment/house rentals' "pet rents" (deposits I understand, but $100-$200/month/cat? GMAFB.) which is not affordable on one salary.

So I smarten up and go back to work, maybe work a whole bunch of jobs when the house is cleaned up and decluttered, so I don't feel trapped by some idjit's untrained loud animal; or I refinance, take $$ out of the mortgage, and go buy an effin' house.

I have a nine-dimensional inner life, it seems. I only find out how crazy things are in there when I attempt to talk them out with my soulmate.

In-laws gave me $150 for birthday. I want to use the money wisely, but already it is trickling from the wallet for coffees and gifts for my sister-in-law. It bugs me that I feel I am no good for anybody, and that's probably the root of why I dream my mom faked her death to spend time with her third husband instead without having to be a parent, and this affects how I spend my days. I want the $$ to be divided by "this is a sign that I accept myself completely as I am" and "this is a sign that I am willing to make my life better" expenditures. Does that make sense?

I gave up YNAB for no reason other than being at the low ebb of vitality.

In Jeopardy! news, I met someone who'd been on the show and actually won a game. I sought her out, she was very accommodating and cheerful. Still don't know that I'll be called, but better I know this stuff and maybe get chosen for a trivia team at bars, than blank out on "College Team Nicknames" and "Organic Chemistry" and "NBA Retired Jerseys" on national television.

US of Archie - Jughead and Veronica are teaching me US History. Good thing I'm not using "Gilligan's Planet" to teach me about astronomy.

Also, have experimented with baking soda, honey, almond oil, and essential oils for cleaning the face. My Target-braned reasonable facsimile of Cetaphil is empty, and I am between the ages of when my aunt and my mom got cancer, so am avoiding parabens. I read that the above-mentioned concoction would cost about $15/year. Darn cheap!

back from Jeopardy! Audition

March 9th, 2013 at 09:43 am

or "Buster Brains and Brain Busters"

I feel the audition went well. Nobody knows right then if they got on the show. We all did "really well" on the written test, according to the Jeopardy! staff. I think I got up to eight wrong in every test, probably still passing. We're given eight seconds to write our answers, not in the form of a question. Now I know what I suck at and need to study.

Wikipedia has a good description of what goes on in the audition process

The staffers, I'll call 'em "Brain Busters" for they drive around in the "Brain Bus", warmed us up, had a question and answer session, made some Sean Connery references.

42 people at each session, three sessions a day, three sessions a week at one city. Twelve cities. Four hundred slots in the next taping year. This means I have a lesser chance at being on the show as a Canadian has at becoming Pope, and a Canadian team winning the Stanley Cup this year.

The hardest thing was coming up with five interesting things about myself. What I perceived as being difficult before I undertook it was the mock Jeopardy! play in front of the fellow aspiring contestants, with two other competitors. I buzzed in three times, all with correct answers. The competitors in each set all got to respond at least once. When they all blanked, the "peanut gallery" invariably came up with the correct response.


My favourite restaurant hands down in Cottage Grove, Oregon: Buster's Main Street Cafe. More Buster memorabilia inside!


Where is Brown? There is Brown! Mr. Brown lives in this town! (Seriously this is the Capitol building.) The governor's mansion is around somewhere, but we didn't look for it.

Temple Coffee in Sacramento is the best coffee in the country, but mind you I have never had coffee in the East Coast, nor in Alaska or Hawaii.

In-n-Out burgers are yummy, and the buns are superior to what you'd find at Wendy's or Burger King, but the fries were not all that. I need to try Black Bear Diner next time.

We fell in love with WinCo Foods in Medford. Easy walking distance from our motel, cheap cheap groceries in an EMPLOYEE-OWNED supermarket.

If the Jeopardy! people do call I have two-three weeks' notice. I would fly there and back. If the unlikely happens and I win more than five games, I would commute by air and make sure I smell fresh for the TSA Grope Patrol.


My secret weapon: "Potent" Potable capsicum & dill Brainalizer (alcohol-free, but loaded with stimulants), which I have not seen for over eleven years. Available next to Buster's, in the Bottle Shoppe. The Bottle Shoppe proprietor was super friendly and knowledgeable about "The General" filming. The best part of travel is lucking into friendly and knowledgeable locals who are unofficial ambassadors for their towns.

How we saved money:
1. Took the Prius. 45 mpg. Only four fill-ups in a 1500-mile jaunt.
2. Nibbled on Trader Joe's snacks on the way back after a huge breakfast at Rooster's in Medford. We went to Buttercream in Medford on the way to CA.
3. Used DH's Choice Privileges for reduced rates at motels.
4. Ate at cheap and cheerful diners with the exception of ten22 in Old Sacramento, which is reasonable yet wholesome and fancy by Seattle standards. Recommended!
5. Walked everywhere in Sacramento.
6. I had water everywhere, except for in the accommodations, where I had some Blood Orange San Pellegrino, frugally purchased for $2.99 a sixpack.

Jeopardy! 2013 Audition itinerary

February 12th, 2013 at 02:13 pm

Of interest mostly to people who live in the vicinities where we'll be dining and eating. Food recommendations heartily welcome.

March 4/5 sleep in Eugene, OR. Lodgings not yet booked.
Heading south.

March 5/6 downtown Sacramento, letter streets.
dinner probably in Redding or Ashland. 11:30 - 2:00 audition. Heading north.

March 6/7 sleep in Medford, OR. Lodging booked. Heading north.

Won't be posting much else for awhile unless I learn of some incredible, effective savings. Debt Reduction numbers will be updated, however.

If you want to share here an interesting fact about yourself or someone else, please do.

things I did to save money today

February 2nd, 2013 at 05:27 pm

We visited some libraries. I returned a book and some CDs to avoid fines: DH and DS borrowed items, I did not. We wrote Valentines at a cafe near a library and a post office: that was not money saving except we used a coupon to get one drink free.

We walked to get some money-saving microfiber cloths. Suddenly Frugal author Leah Ingram says they are a good deal. I used my Target RedCard. Then we walked downstairs with a 75-cent coupon to buy two Whisker Lickins packages for the cats.

We went to Safeway to bulk-buy cat food, which was on special for 20% off, and bought other things on sale for "poverty food week" like baked beans and meat for under $2.50/lb.

Total spent: $58.00
Total saved: $15.75

Speaking of poverty food week, here's my meal plan for the week

tonight: sausage, tomatoes, and cream farfalle
Sunday: pork katsu w/soba noodles in dashi
Monday: beef stew
Wednesday: potato pancakes w/sauerkraut
Thursday: beanie weenies
Friday: Shepherd's Pie

We drove to another library near a drug store to recycle a CFL bulb. From the library I took out a Berlin Philharmonic recording of some Paris songs and a book on how to be Smarter on Sunday (Jeopardy! cramming) and an Edward Abbey comic novel about environmentalists flirting with ecoterrorism.

Used the library to investigate quality plumbers with competitive prices for our water heater.

I'm a wee bit disappointed with _Suddenly Frugal_, although there are some good tips. For instance, if I know my child plans to continue with his chosen instrument, I could buy a used clarinet instead of renting. Nobody in my area watches rare silent films on VHS so I must advertise on eBay. But the author calls her food budget benchmark $180/week, which is what we spend roughly on food ourselves. Unless she has three teenage boys and two Great Danes, this is not really a frugal grocery budget.

My African-American History month reading is _Invisible Man_ by Ralph Ellison.

I'll yammer more on this later, but I am scratching my head as to how to live this well or less on the decreased take-home pay. I keep wanting to stretch and expand instead of constrict.

J is for January and Jeopardy! update, jumpin' jiminy

January 30th, 2013 at 02:20 pm

J is also for Jaunts and Jollities.

Jeopardy! - The letter streets of Sacramento are where the action is in March. Now I can ensure I don't stay somewhere 25 miles away and get lost or stuck in traffic or anything else anxiety-provoking.

How I saved money today: got free mustard with purchase of two Hebrew National kosher 12 oz frank packages. Such a deal. Saved 80 cents off celery at Target. Used the Redcard, saved about 15% all-in-all.

Debt payment report this month:
$697.35 paid to mortgage; $781.50 paid to car loan; $304.74 paid to Visa; $82.72 paid to HELOC. $1561.57 paid off. Foresee $12400 paid off for 2013, unless we sell house between April and July.

Glad I didn't sell any of my stocks this month:
21.51 to 22.49 this month for GE, 37.86 to 39.80 (WAG), 68.65 to 75.08 (wow) (PG). This is well beyond 3% annualized growth for all stocks.

I tried to get OverDrive Media Console to work with my 64-bit Windows 7 platform, and Windows Media Player 12, but there's DRM-wonkiness that isn't allowing WMP to play WMA nor WMV files. The DRM-free SAMPLE files from Overdrive work just fine! One of the leading library systems in the United States based on usage blocks Seattle residents from using its OverDrive DRM-protected electronic properties. Even though the ghastly entity that gave us Windows Media Player 12 is across the lake, I expect NO success getting this resolved. Everyone relies on useless scripts, and not on obscure, little-known DLL conflicts or a company's shyness in admitting its 32-bit app doesn't work on 64-bit systems, or where Windows 7 is installed from image. The lay people who are not employed as PC technicians or systems network support folk are supposed to figure this stuff out by themselves.

Gave blood last afternoon: our blood bank really needed it, they're at a five-year low for my blood type. They're also at a low in trained staff and volunteers. We made it to a great bakery and cafe one block up, but the energy my body used to digest the sugary treats used up remaining blood from my ankles, stomach, and brain. I did not pass out but I did make like a Muslim at prayer on the floor in the cafe. Then I went into the bathroom, did something natural twice, and lo! I felt way better and made it three blocks to the car unassisted! I felt awful, but the shooting at yet another neighbourhood hangout made me think that there are some innocent victims or cancer patients who need my blood.

The days are just packed/packing

January 28th, 2013 at 05:16 pm

Jeopardy! audition date is March 6, my grandmother's birthday. I hope this is auspicious. I am a lapsed Catholic but I will do a novena anyway. My spouse just claimed that week off for holiday anyway so away we go.

Even though my kid is supposed to stay in school, as he no longer has any friends who can put him up and we have no relatives nearby we plan to take him with us. The cats can make do with water and dry food for three-four days.

Filled car for just $2.60/gallon. I have a book out from the library called Suddenly Frugal by Leah Ingram. The two random pages I opened to while looking at it in the library were very specific to my situation (buying new water heater, decluttering for a move) so I saw that as a sign too. I have hopes for the book as I read its premise: everyone knows to do things like cut memberships, stop eating out so much, and cable when one has to reduce expenditures, this book shares the lesser-known ways of cutting back.

I wish I were always this receptive to signs. When I beg for them the most they are not forthcoming.

I just looked at the Suddenly Frugal website, and on the front page everything I am already doing is listed as a daily challenge: brewing coffee at home, using scrap paper for grocery lists, reusable bags, menu planning. Where do I have to go to find the really surprising, effortless, free things that will lower my bills and cost of living?

Sure Hope Karma Exists, Menu Plan

January 8th, 2013 at 01:23 pm

My friend and debt-buddy who referred us to an auto dealer qualifies for a $250 referral bonus. She might not have known this if I did not bring it to her attention: when I did she went through her mail and found the postcard advertising this promotion from the auto dealer.

The credit union reduced its 12-year no-fee mortgage rate. As I am committed to moving in the next six months I am not sure that a temporary $100 reduction in mortgage payment is worth it. The reduction might be worthwhile if my car loan and HELOC rates were higher than the mortgage, but they are not.

Kid is greedy: he'd been demanding some of my dead pool winnings, which he kinda got with a silver coin, $5 for his tooth I pulled out (OraBase benzocain is fun!), and the three-month extension on his clarinet rental. Just because it's not cash in his pocket to spend on LEGO(tm) does not mean he doesn't have it. Now he is attempting to negotiate a percentage for helping me in Jeopardy!

Menu for the next seven days:
- baked five-spice tofu, kale, carrots
- tofu coconut curry soup
- chicken coconut curry
- baked or broiled salmon
- roast chicken
- chicken leftovers put to good use
- bean soup