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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.

Challenge of Dealing with Disappointments & Drawbacks

July 20th, 2015 at 01:51 pm

I am a week away from departing for the homeland. This week I eat down the stores and learn how to responsibly dispose of the food, detritus and distractions that are not good for us. I was going to plan an exercise regimen but maybe burning the calories as a human whirlwind may be more constructive. With the weight loss my hormones are rebalanced: an estrogen dominance thickened my waist, an estrogen deficiency brings the return of hot flashes. The release of body heat, perspiration, hormones and ketones was a heady scent-stew that sent my cat racing into our bedroom, right for ME, to check up on me. Cats are insanely gifted at smelling things.

I have learned that my returned right to vote has been overturned by a province's Court of Appeals -- not the province I most recently lived in, but the nation's capital happens to be in that province.

Also learned that I need more information and to share more information with my optometrist. We are stymied by insurance's irrational and unexplained restriction on quantities for renewal. My plan B, with doctor's blessing, was to head for a Canadian pharmacy, but the optometrist wrote out quantities for over 90 days, which Canadian pharmacies will not fill, and furthermore I require a Canadian physician's approval for filling the prescription. My field of vision and intraocular pressure remain stable: I won't qualify for a seeing-eye dog anytime soon.

The circumference and weight loss is still working, even though I remain wary of its drawbacks. Down to 40 inches, or 101.6 cm in the hips, and 32.5 inches or 82.5 centimetres in the waist. Not low enough to buy new clothes. The family is not touching much of the refrigerated leftover starches I made for them. We have learned so much about metabolism of carbohydrates, gluconeogenesis, insulin resistance, glycine, trace minerals, benefits of bone broth, intermittent fasting. One man improved his glaucoma with a ketogenic diet but his personal experience and three paragraphs of Adelle Davis' _Let's Get Well_ are not a sufficient base of evidence for me. The man suggests he may have had undiagnosed diabetes, the symptoms of which reversed with metabolic adaptation. Adelle Davis suggested supplementation with wheat germ, fortified milk, lecithin, and B vitamins. Milk gives me stomach cramps though.

The interesting thing is until I went on this low-carbohydrate diet I was going through butter at the rate of a pound a week. Butter is fat, and is important for keeping a high ratio of fat to carbohydrates. But because I'm not using it on pasta, potatoes or bread, and instead for eggs and vegetables and with olive oil for sauteing animal protein, I seem to have a lot more of it. The vegetables I eat now: cauliflower, asparagus, tomatoes, celery, leafy greens don't use so much butter, except for green beans.

Debt-wise, some karma monkey is chucking wrenches into my works to pay off the car loan: buying new tires for the bike, bimonthly utilities, semiannual vehicle insurance, a new computer to take up north. The good news is if we switch to T-Mobile, we can use our phone on Canada networks. Right now I lose $1.25 in minutes cash per month on Canada's 911 service fees. And the Canadian dollar is dropping. I'll still be buying dairy on my way to the border though.

I'd been paying so much attention to macros and summer reading I haven't been inputting my numbers.

Off-topic, possibly off-putting

June 12th, 2015 at 08:45 am

At one supermarket, I won't say what chain or what location, I seem to get free food without asking. I don't consider it stealing: stealing is when you're in the aisles and you take merchandise with no plan to present it for purchase at checkout, you exit the supermarket with goods unpaid. That to me is stealing. Even popping grapes at produce is stealing, in my book. When you present all the merchandise on the conveyor belt, with your bags and coupons you signal to the checkout counter staff your intent to purchase. Anyway, I ended up with free halibut (!!) one time and yesterday free organic chicken breasts, both items I put on the belt with merchandise I was charged for. I believe that if one's going to get free food always get the good stuff, none of this spray cheese or Dinty Moore stew business. I believe what happens is that the checkout "override" for original price (I'm no spender, I wait for the halibut and chicken to be marked down half-price before it goes in my basket!) doesn't go through, the food package sports a "freeze or use by" today's date sticker, and the counter person either doesn't scan it at all, or says "whatever, there's a line forming and we can't sell it tomorrow, enjoy your free food." This happens only at one location though, not the one closest to me.

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I made the difficult decision to stop blood donations. In March I had a vasovagal response of vomit and lightheadedness, on Wednesday I had an epic "Elvis moment" response: passing out on the throne, coming to on the floor (okay so Elvis didn't revive in August 1977), skidmarks on clothes and floor and my lunch and dinner exiting the entry way on my Marimekko top. I had to wear a Tyvek blue shirt, and be wheeled out in a chair to the donation area, with my puked-on Marimekko shirt in a plastic bag. I felt like such the rock star (Amy Winehouse, Janis Joplin, Jimi Hendrix...). If I knew how to prevent that, I would continue with the blood donations but let's consider: I made the appointment on Monday morning when a blood bank volunteer telephoned me; I said to her I did NOT want to throw up again; she said I should be well hydrated and start drinking a lot of fluids immediately; I consumed 80g of protein and 84 fl. oz of water Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday. Wednesday I made my own electrolyte drink of lemon, honey, water, baking soda and sea salt, and sucked down 24 oz of that prior to blood donation. My vitals were a little high but lowered within three minutes at first check at the blood clinic. A nurse called me the next day to see how I was, and to try to identify what could have caused this severe vasovagal response. She wasn't the investigative sort, which is a pity, I'd have trusted someone with medical training to advise me on preventing this. She said it was unusual for someone who's given 3 gallons cumulatively to suddenly develop this reaction. If the only advice I get from the blood bank crew is the advice I already followed, it's obviously not going to help me.

So many people in this country eat tons of carbs, sugars and starches: why don't more of them give blood? They probably wouldn't be passed out with their pants down in the bathroom.

I did eat some sugary bakery treats yesterday after Wednesday's debacle. I wanted some evidence that life is still living, and a chocolate eclair and strawberry danish were pretty convincing...
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My husband tossed my handmade soap away because the plastic container was warped. :-(

Exasperation Level Reduced by $700

May 27th, 2015 at 06:22 pm

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.

A 2015 Challenge I don't want

January 9th, 2015 at 08:49 am

That punch-in-the-stomach moment when you learn that your paycheck income is reduced, and you don't have enough $$ to pay in full one loan so you can have a comfortable surplus. 2.6% reduction from 2014's paycheck. What about COLA? What about our rising property tax and vehicle taxes? Maybe we'll end up with an income tax refund again. I'd rather have the taxes withholding and some other things settled than struggle 51 weeks of the year.

I really need to have a talk with my spouse. I can see some necessary changes:
1. My kid will have to adopt the schedules and routines I've been nagging him about because I will have to get at least a part-time job.
2. We may have to restructure a loan, or pay one loan off in full by liquidating what's left of our cash.
3. The spouse may have to play with contributing to some retirement to get smaller tax amounts deducted from the paycheck.

To save money we'd have to spend money, and that paradox eats at me. I'm very sore at my brother. I suppose I should be thankful he died before my kid's passport was approved and that the two nations where my kid holds citizenship take their sweet time processing "emergency passports" where it's no use trying to take him with me. I'd have 3x the expenses to pay back...

Looks like a family meeting and several brainstorming sessions are in order... After the semiannual insurance is paid, though. What's not on the table, liquidating any assets whose annual return exceeds the annual interest rates charged to us for our liabilities.

I'll get there, but where is there?

January 4th, 2015 at 04:58 pm

Yesterday I had the sick feeling I'm horribly behind financially. That must be a progression from "everybody dies young in my family so why bother saving." The feeling squirmed in as I listened to a woman talk of her spouse's retirement, her planned purchase of a second vehicle, college savings. I have a second vehicle but I wouldn't take it out when it's 2 degrees Celsius. Looking at GnuCash and my budget, I see maybe $150 leftover per month. I'll feel much better when I can eliminate one debt. Someone I know is planning to pay off her car loan this year, although she is considering borrowing from her 401(k). I may just sell some CDs if I feel like joining her in her car loan freedom.

Something I'd like to save up for is a delayed 20th anniversary vacation. I didn't get one last year. We were supposed to go to Hawaii this Christmas, and that didn't happen either. When the net worth improves by $2000 I'll start making reservations at places in the Gulf Islands and on Vancouver Island. Fortunately I don't have to go far to have an "exotic island getaway." My dad was married to his second wife for 22 years; my mother didn't make 20 years with any of her three husbands, and neither did my brother. I did surprise the woman in the first paragraph that I had been married for that long: I hope it's because I don't look like someone who's been married for twenty years.

Maybe start buying foreign currency so I can save a little bit. Maybe convince the spouse to put some aside, if there's a match by employer. I did put $100 into my kid's college account but can't think of what equity to purchase with it. Maybe an ETF with a few more hundred dollars.

I have started exercising, however gently and sporadically. It's the building of a habit that matters, right? I did sit-ups today, started "bouncing" and shoulder shrugs, from Chinese Healing Exercises while watching movies, restarted tracing my meridians. Everyday I had been walking at least a mile, until today, so now I'm bouncing, trying for 1000. I think adrenal exhaustion might be a large part of my expanded waistline. Seeing connections between my eyesight and adrenals and blood pressure and caffeine and adipose. I suppose if I didn't have any hope of a happy golden age there's always the combo of energy drinks and alcohol to speed up the blood clots to take me out. Honestly, I don't know why someone would have that combo at all, let alone regularly enough when one's been hospitalized for blood pressure like 240/120mmHg and has sky-high creatine phosphokinase levels from muscle tissue damage stemming from surgeries on TWO shoulders, but if you ever thought "yeah, my four-year-old doesn't need me and I don't need to see him/hr grow up" or tune out people like your doctor who advises you to cut out the energy drinks because you know everything, I suppose Monster or 5HrPerformance plus a beer can make up for years of bad financial planning. Just make sure you do more than tell your sister you're PLANNING to make a will, and go make a will.




Must be how Scrooge got started

December 23rd, 2014 at 10:53 am

"I'm coming to your city. I'll call. Let's get together."
No call. No meeting.
Cards I sent out from BC: eleven.
Cards received from BC: two.
Package sent from BC to NL November 27. Told twelve business days (Mo - Fr) delivery.
Package still not in NL as of December 23.

Illustrious mail-order supremo bookstore (not global e-tailer, not the first one you think of) offers free shipping on orders fulfilled before Dec 15. I check my spouse's wishlist on the global e-tailer, then check for copies available at mail order bookstore (2, according to website. Website also claims inventory updated HOURLY) on December 12 so I put in an order that very day. December 16 I check supremo bookstore tracking, gift not available. I call to ask "what goes on" they say the retail area sold one copy, another can't be found. They have newer editions in a warehouse on the southern part of the state, twice the price, won't arrive at Christmas. So I had to use the global e-tailer, the one that's a poor citizen and doesn't pay taxes, the one that treats its warehouse staff like convicts, and the global e-tailer ensured my orders arrived before Christmas. Honest, I do try to support "indie" and "local", but lying to me about availability of items and not alerting me when there's a problem with my shipment does not help!!

Honestly, I am going nuts thinking what I did wrong. Was it the expressions of gratitude? Was it the effort of getting a book autographed by its author up to another country in time for Christmas? If I told the universe to spread its cheeks and mudslide on me it must be in some non-verbal, unconscious way.

The most thoughtful people I've encountered this season are my former sister-in-law who doesn't even celebrate Christmas, and my mom's cousin who knows my pain as he lost two sisters at once much too young. In short, the people with whom I share a great and untimely loss. Even the cemetery where I delivered my brother's bones to be interred sent a card. A Catholic business entity is more thoughtful than my so-called Catholic relatives.

Here's how I'm whiling the holy days: Buster Keaton 3-film set; Umberto Eco paperback; Dorothy Sayers paperback; Making Space by Thich Nhat Hanh; Middlemarch, Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell, Gravity's Rainbow, film "Le Corbeau" and DVD of "The Life and Times of Vivienne Vyle". Plus cleaning, cooking, exercising, writing, plotting, walking, whatever it takes to reduce reduce reduce and get clear clear clear.

Update: All it took to snap me out of this funk were -- a two-car collision at the nearest stoplight intersection. I don't have a neck brace, don't have to wait for an ambulance, won't be spending Thursday dozy from painkillers, won't have holiday travel cancelled with perhaps no deposit returned. Plus, my spouse cooed with delight at the Monks CD I brought home. Protopunk on a dark night is reviving! Plus an intuitive three-card Tarot spread: The Magician - (Reversed) Five Swords - Ace of Swords. Kind of a "get clear, wake up, smell reality" thing. I have electricity, people to hug, food to eat, and apparently lots and lots of media for escapism. Not so bad.

Fast Funerary, Financial Five

October 9th, 2014 at 08:45 am

1. Today was my first day braving the online banking since my 23 September departure. Ten minutes ago I paid the mortgage, the first time I have been late. Normally, five days before the end of the month, I schedule payment on either the first of the next month when it is due, or the last day of the current month. For obvious reasons I did not do this.

2. My brother died intestate, it appears, as nobody came up to me in e-mail or at the funeral, or the vigil, and said "hey I was a signatory to the will, and I'm telling you this because you've been named executrix." I am back home now, and if a will had been found, I would still be in Japan, and I dunno, probably bill collectors would be hassling my family by now. I don't usually recommend dying intestate, but that may be preferable to keeping an executrix without an income of her own overseas for at least seven weeks in a country where she doesn't know the language nor the customs.

3. If one has a digital or soft copy of a will, keep it on an external USB HDD or a flash/thumb drive. My brother's e-life is now in a laptop damaged from transit from Abu Dhabi to Osaka. I don't know what priority his widow has made data salvage: some sensitive news about their relationship was broken to me by his confidants, not by his widow, so she might be as willing to view his communications as I am willing to look at my credit card statement. If the data is salvaged, and there is a will on there, I'm gonna be p****d.

4. I paid for interment of "my half" of my brother's bones. Plus a few days in Vancouver in a downtown hotel for Canada-side estate duties; my brother died without a will, but he did send me a "if anything should happen to me" e-mail six months ago, with instructions, including his stated intention of procuring life insurance for his family, making a will, and appointing me executrix.

5. I abruptly left the home 23 September 2014, but I did print out all my internet account userids and passwords from our database and left them at my husband's workdesk before departure. Not as a "if anything should happen" precaution, but as a "I expect you to take care of things while I'm gone" message. Guess what: not everything was taken care of while I was gone.

Oh yeah, for those of you who might care and have oodles of altruistic facebook contacts - here's a

Text is GoFundMe link and Link is http://www.gofundme.com/f0ldvo
GoFundMe link to my bro's funeral expenses fund. This goes to his widow and child, not to me. My expenses are my responsibility.

Answers urgently needed! International airfare websites

September 22nd, 2014 at 11:19 am

Reposted from forum:

My brother, 44 years old, died last night. In Japan. I am in shock racing into grief.
(I know this is very young, and I will tell you it was from a lung malady, not from selfharm or a traffic accident or what usually takes the lives of men under the age of 50.)

His wife asked me to fly over. I need this information fast. I don't know if compassionate fares work for overseas flights.
Will my 12 yo child need a passport to fly with me?
Are there fare discounts or freebies for children?

Update: My cousin who is a travel agent found a flight for me. I am going alone. I now have some Japanese Yen, a tasteful black dress and black flats (no sense going as Godzilla-in-mourning) and maybe I'll have ticket info (website timed out on my cousin when she booked as me). I am still kind of in shock but prone to sudden crying fits. I am very thankful I have two places to stay at in Japan, and I'll be there for probably a week so I don't burden my sister's parents, who know very little English (I know even less Japanese). My mom and dad are both dead and I am struggling with minor details and what to do for Japanese funerals and how I'm going to communicate across the sea: do you think maybe my sister will let me have my brother's laptop?

How weird is it that today's SavingAdvice article is about men and heart disease? My brother died of a pulmonary embolism.