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Archive for May, 2015

My May balances are my June penance

May 29th, 2015 at 09:32 pm

Spent far too much money on food and dining out this month, overspent on most categories. I think the food splurges are because I'm so satiated by the protein shakes I don't think much about what the other two will eat. Or I don't plan the menus and we buy ingredients at the last minute. Or I don't get receipts from someone who takes money out of the ATM and I just assume he's bought lunch for himself with the money while at work. The only categories I haven't overspent are auto, animals, clothing.

The groceries overspending is understandable: I splurged for a 28 lb. "meat package" at a butcher shop, used a coupon, and saved 22%. I won't need animal protein until school lets out.

I made some

Text is Homemade Foaming Soap and Link is
Homemade Foaming Soap just now, with lemon oil and vegetable glycerin.

Of interest only to snafu: I just learned my constitutional right to vote has been returned to me. I'm going to fill out the forms, get my ballot I hope in time for the election, and then exercise my subsequent right to complain if the results are not to my liking. Also, when canvassers in front of supermarkets ask me if I'm registered to vote I can say "yes!"

of probably no interest: I started reading (and watching) Jonathan Strange and Mr Norrell, and I think it'd have been funnier if the war England was fighting in the book was the one in the New World. Strange's magic could be confounded by Ojibway or Oneida shamanism, Mr Norrell could grapple with the dilemma of restoring magic to respectability in England by helping the war effort, or saving the Library of Congress from burning by the British soldiers in 1814. I love Eddie Marsan in the BBC miniseries: he gives Norrell some emotional depth and expressions of pride & pain. In my head I imagined some cranky Ned Sparks intellectual.

Exasperation Level Reduced by $700

May 28th, 2015 at 01:22 am

The clarinet was found in our house. I took it in for repair to pads and replacement of cork, costing $86.70. So that's a few hundred saved. The retainer is... I don't know where. It's difficult for me to believe it's outside the house.

I've reduced my waist by an inch. My tops hang better now, no shaming skin bordering the hem and bottoms. The sad things are that my macronutrient intake is not sustainable, and the diet requires a greater outlay of $$ after week 3, but it's good to know that I can reduce my waist. How'd I do it? I upped my caloric intake and consumed more nonhydrogenated saturated fats, introduced digestive enzymes and probiotics, ate eggs daily. I avoid grains, sugar and milk. Sugar is especially bad for me as I wake up in the dark with dry mouth and night terrors. I'm sure I'd have made more progress with exercise.

The dairy I do have are yogurt and butter. It may have merely been water weight or glycogen stores that were flushed away, but hey, one inch went, plus! I have no salt cravings. The disappearance of salt cravings means potato chips with their salt and starch don't tempt me, so only nutritious calories go in. If I need salt I can use potassium iodide or pink Himalayan salt.

Frustration Level Nearing a Thousand Dollars

May 21st, 2015 at 05:07 pm

Someone (not me) in my family has lost a rented clarinet. He stopped using it because the keys needed repair, he had been told more than a handful of times to bring it home so it can go to the music shop for repair.

He told me it was in the band room, I learned from his band teacher he said it was in his locker. It is in neither place. He opened some unsecured lockers at school, telling me he was using one, he forgot the locker number. It's not in any locker.

I told him five times to soak his retainer in vinegar, as is weekly custom. I see three empty retainer cases in his room but no retainer. Today he jumped out his bedroom window rather than leave for school the normal way, walking out the front door.

I don't hit my child, being the victim of physical violence doesn't help anyone evolve into an emotionally healthy person who knows how to love and trust. I do remind him, but why do I have to remind him all the time? If he does things the first time, the most immediate, intellectually lazy, briefest time, he wouldn't be losing expensive items. That makes sense to me but it doesn't make sense to him. He doesn't explain his thinking. He repeatedly leaves things until I am at an anger peak, which doesn't resolve anything. I don't understand why he doesn't do his homework until he's goaded a fourth time. Where is the adolescent win in this? "I'm setting boundaries by deliberately not doing anything constructive or mandated, without any superior alternative!" That's a win? Not in my book.

I don't understand this behaviour. But it could also be that I am developmentally impaired, because I also don't understand how distracted driving reduces accidents on the road, don't understand how a twelve-second school-dictated recitation of blahblah is critical to achieving academic excellence, how sitting out of an election keeps mealy-mouthed lobbyist-teat-suckers out of office, don't understand the win in speeding up to stoplights that are already red, or speeding past a red light to stop at another one one block ahead, don't understand how texting is more important than the safe operation of a train, don't understand why violent schizophrenics are allowed to own guns in my state so they can kill my friends, relatives, and relatives' friends. I don't understand why criminals get neck tattoos, aren't they clearly identifying marks? When I go on my killing spree you can be sure I'm gonna get my facial birthmark removed. I don't understand why Microsoft would stop its Family Safety Services for Windows 7, which allows administrators of a machine to set time and filtering limits on non-administrator accounts, leaving me no other alternative but to babysit a teen while he uses the computer, or buy some time-limit software. I don't understand why his father doesn't help me with these problems, but rather coaxes our child into gaming on the PC. I don't understand why dumbass overseas "tech support" telephonies with autodialers would repeat-call numbers, surely belonging to mobile phones, even the ancient close-to-useless one I have, keep calling history. What will they say if I ever have a live connection and ask "you called six times but left no message. Why do you think I'd still have a virus on my computer six weeks later? why do you think I have no spyware or malware busters on my PC? Why do you think I run Windows?"

I know I am low on comprehension. Talk to me like I'm five.

Tech Money Pit: Bought a new printer

May 4th, 2015 at 01:02 am

So rough when the printer refuses to function on the weekend. Our Canon PIXMA coughed up a B200 error, which I'd seen before and corrected, but when we followed the same correction procedure, shutting off the printer, leaving it unplugged overnight, cleaning the printhead and drying it naturally, we had no joy, and customer support was off for the weekend. We suspect it was a damaged printhead and replacing it would be $100+ with tax and shipping. I'm sure Canon support'd just tell us to return it and get a discount for a new printer. Now that I read Amazon reviews for our dead printer I see that lamenting it is like when I attended a pet grief support for the loss of my 19-year-old cat. "It was 19! Did you think it'd live forever?" Two years is the lifespan of that printer. We did not know.

I found a better method of satisfaction. And no, no baseball bats were used.

I went to Consumer Reports 'Library Subscriber' site, looked at the home printers tested and rated, checked Office Depot website to learn it is having a Small Business sale with lots of printers on sale, and then visited our nearest Office Depot store.

Four of our shortlist models were available for poking, analyzing, price comparing. When we learned we could save an additional $50 for bringing our Pixma in for recycling, we decided saving $150.00 on an Epson WP-4630 retailing offsale for $299.99 was the way to go. But before that it was a tough decision among the Epson, the HP 8620 OfficeJet Pro, an Epson Expression 820, and a Brother MFC-J6720DW (I hope I got that right) Printer ink cartridges cost $101.00 (gaaah!) but they'll last a long while.

The Epson printer came with a CD for installing interface and drivers, but it works for Windows only.

My ginger bug is fizzing and smelling yeasty-sweet! Soon I can begin using it for homemade ginger ale! I wish I'd thought to ask the universe for a kombucha scoby. Maybe next week.

May 2015 update

May 1st, 2015 at 06:33 pm

Yesterday DH found our regular visitor black feral cat lying on our deck. It had been hit by a car and hobbled on its three remaining good legs to us. DH announced he'd take the cat to a vet. I announced we weren't going to pay surgery costs for a cat we don't take in at night. I telephoned the city animal control, seven minutes after the close of operating hours, and learned that the emergency vet hospital twelve blocks away from us has a contract with the city. We could take the cat in and not pay for its surgery: a win-win situation. Animal Control telephoned the hospital even to tell it about the incoming cat. So the cat is likely postsurgery, in a cage, doped up, maybe with four legs, perhaps with three. I hope it can be adopted. It's fairly people-friendly, just doesn't like to be picked up.

The feral cat was once a neighbour's kitten. The neighbour leased a house for over a year and did not make any rental payments, so the homeowner (a friend) was facing foreclosure when she returned from India, after tending her ailing mum. They abandoned the kitten when they moved. My neighbours don't waste opportunities to reinforce my notion that people are terrible.

Saw Consumer Reports' flowchart

Text is Know When to Buy a New Car and Link is
Know When to Buy a New Car. I would change the chart to include a question box "Are annual repair costs twice as much as insurance?"
I liked the Lifehacker reader comment

"A fixed expense -- with a new car with warranty, and a decent down payment will put you almost invariably into a safer, more reliable car."

My repair costs have been negligible. The real cost is the insurance. The car is more than halfway paid for, thanks to a decent down payment. I have a spreadsheet in which the anticipated principal paydowns and ultimate payoff balances vary depending on what our cash reserves look like. My debt philosophy can be summed up in one picture:

Experimenting with a fermenting a ginger bug, hoping to have some fine ginger ale or reasonable facsimile (i.e. "Dark and Stormy") on Mother's Day.

I created a personal NHL Bracket Challenge 2015 Paydown scheme, one dollar per point I have in the bracket challenge. The Western Conference (or Clarence Campbell Conference, as I like to call it) was hard for me, especially as I didn't know one team was content to just skate for a paycheque and getting into Round One was just enough for them to prove they improved with a new coach. The Prince of Wales Conference (or Eastern Conference to you) was much easier to predict. I'm at a lofty 56 points, 76 percentile, because I predicted the Wild to beat the Blues (wish I could beat the Blues, perhaps I should turn Wild), and the Capitals to wipe out the Islanders. Apparently many, many other people thought otherwise.