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When I use a search engine for "best phone for me" I get outdated contract plan provider ratings, and listings five years out of date for phones.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

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.

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

A small surprise windfall!

June 18th, 2015 at 01:28 pm

I received a cheque for the sum of $230.10, for an overpayment made over four years ago at a medical office. Collect receivables immediately, treat accounts payable at leisure.

It's a windfall that opens a dozen possibilities for spending. I could get a phone and switch to Ting service, I could make a tiny payment on debts, buy some summer tops, get a protective case for the Raspberry Pi, buy a good Father's Day present, enroll my child in some athletics program, donate to the open-source development communities who provide software, pay for motorcycle maintenance... maybe not all of those options, but prioritizing is hard.

I understand now I don't have a clear idea how many carbohydrates the body needs per day. I'm going to aim for 40 - 60 grams a day, perhaps more if the majority of them come from vegetables. I'm not convinced one country's "food guide" or "food pyramid" is the best source of that information. I am also skeptical that 0g carbohydrate diets are sustainable; after all, 0g protein and 0g fat diets aren't realistic, why should 0g carbohydrate diets be? I'm just thrilled I can get through a week without sugar cravings or salt cravings. Although I did cheat on two days: plowed through a Chex Mix bag one day, and had a fudge brownie with ice cream on the other day. I want to thank Frito-Lay for reducing the sizes and raising the prices of their bags so I seek out snacks with some protein to go with the fats and carbs, like nuts and seeds.

I prepared mostly vegetables last night, some piselli e prosciutto, some Tomato and Red Pepper stew... if the leeks are still fresh I'll prepare them

Text is Provencal style and Link is http://www.cooks.com/recipe/c06x221u/provencal-leek-salad.html
Provencal style.

Forgot my ninth anniversary

June 7th, 2015 at 12:01 pm

It seems there were forums and perhaps blog problems too today, but I've no excuse for the past five days, especially when I blogged within that time period. I'm going to pretend we all were celebrating my blog anniversary too much and we blacked out, some of us waking up with spouses or bed-partners we didn't have or even know the night before. Did the database move for you too?

Dropped another inch from the waist, and one inch from the hip. I thought I'd fit into a size 12 black floral wrap dress I bought last week, and like the flowers in early June, I was busting out all over. My suspicions were confirmed when my spouse was ogling me. I: "Okay, I'm exposed too much, I'm changing clothes." He: "Noooo you don't have to do that..."

My new exercise plan, 10 minutes of exercise for every time I read or hear from the internet of someone doing something stupid. Like, a TSA agent saying "ma'am I have to confiscate this tube of toothpaste with three squeezes left in the tube because the container says 6 ounces. Those three squeezes can harm good American citizens flying the friendly skies. Those three squeezes can bring down the World Trade Center's Twin Towers." It always gladdens my heart when I find an American who considers this as asinine as I do. Maybe my blog post will motivate you to spend ten minutes doing something else.

I am eating more vegetables now though, feel lighter when I sit down and get up. Abdominal area is still thick. Legs and arms look good. I'm eating more of everything, but particularly vegetables in warm weather.



Frustration Level Nearing a Thousand Dollars

May 21st, 2015 at 10:07 am

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.

May 2015 update

May 1st, 2015 at 11:33 am

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 http://lifehacker.com/know-when-to-buy-a-new-car-with-this-flowchart-1700756625
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.

Two financial educ. websites - 1 poor, 1 great

March 4th, 2015 at 09:50 am

This Motley Fool just ain't what it used to be.

Slightly better than having one simple question unanswered is having a question answered incorrectly, because at least that shows people are logging on and looking at the boards. However, when I ask a HOW question I don't expect a WHY answer. If I report a broken link on the Fool site I don't need a link to another site the Fool doesn't own. Plus, after I registered, I had three teaser junk emails: "Here's Your Free Book! - Attached" (no attachment); "Here's Your Free Stock Pick!" (no company listed, no date of the release, they could be sharing something that was all the rage of 2004) and "you nearly entered something good" (clicked by accident a link for premium subscribers) -- no substance, merely clickbait. I read on the boards a tale of a newly registered person, who subscribed to a premium newsletter service of the Motley Fool, who fell for the clickbait and received an outdated stock pick. I suspect the Motley Fool's two-tier service policy is "answer only the questions of people who've paid, on premium boards so freeloaders can't leech information; send registered Fools who have poor reading comprehension to 'pretend' answer questions of people who haven't paid." I don't yet have a friendly way to correct responders so I'm staying mum there.

I think maybe a website more my speed would be

Text is Jubak's Picks and Link is jubakspicks.com
Jubak's Picks, with three model portfolios for dividend achievers, momentum investors, and blue chip buy and hold people, and recent, as in 24-48 hours, announcements of buys and sells. But don't follow Jubak on Twitter: four out of for the links of stories I clicked go to dead pages. I mentioned this twice on Twitter, and whoever posts to Jim Jubak's account doesn't read any replies.

I feel like the narrator in the Suicidal Tendencies classic song "Institutionalized" -- "all I wanted was a Pepsi, and SHE WOULDN'T GIVE IT TO ME." All I asked was a question that could have been answered with links to perhaps the Momentum Investing information, or the Day traders' Den board; and another question that should have, if read by the appropriate staff, led to corrective action but so far has not.

Text is Link du Jour and Link is http://www.wisebread.com/6-benefits-of-dumping-a-losing-stock
Link du Jour: Six Benefits of Dumping a Losing Stock

I dumped a stock two weeks ago - I'd held it for three years. It's risen $30 beyond when I dumped it. Because I suck at seeing the future.

I liked #2 of this article: "Value the Company -- Sell Overvalued Stocks"

Before you dump a stock, check its Price Earnings Ratio (PE Ratio). The PE Ratio will reveal investor confidence in a company's stock and what they are willing to pay relative to the company's actual earnings. To calculate the PE Ratio — divide the company's stock price by its earnings per share. The standard PE Ratio is anywhere from 15-30. Over 30 is an indicator the company might be overvalued. The PE ratio can be found on websites like Morningstar and Marketwatch.

Another way to value a stock is by calculating the company's Cash Flow Ratio. To do this, simply divide the cash flow from operations by its current liabilities. The cash flow should be consistent with that of similar companies. If it's higher, it's probably overvalued. Some say this is a better performance measure. This information usually can also be found on the aforementioned financial websites."

What, ho! Some curiosity and nonsense from Paulette

March 2nd, 2015 at 10:00 am

"Your tax refund is scheduled to be mailed by March 6, 2015. If you do not receive the refund by April 3, 2015, please contact us again. We are unable to take any action until then."

First and second mortgage balances sum to under $100,000.

I may re-register for the Motley Fool website. I had an account long ago but forgot my password and no longer have the email account I used for registering. I ask questions that are not in scope, I guess, for the Investing Forum here on SavingAdvice.com. Imagine anyone wanting to know how to evaluate stocks and time their purchases based on value and projected value!

Some of my brain is no longer accessible due to repeat head trauma, so I think wrong things like a stock price is determined on buyer and seller. So when stocks go up, that's due to higher demand, and less supply, and because sellers bid up the price. So when stock prices rise, it's due to transactions, more accurately, more buyers than sellers, more demand than supply. Someone must be bidding these stocks past fair value. Someone must be buying stock that appears overvalued and thinking that is not the case. How are they evaluating those purchases? How do they determine how much growth there is for a stock? I know people were buying $400K houses in Stockton, California in the mid 2000s, so I know there's a market for overvalued properties and assets. You will never convince me nobody on SavingAdvice.com ever bought anything overvalued without thinking the values were going to rise and coming up with a reason other than "buy now or be priced out forever." Heck, I've done it a few times with stocks. How do people know when or decide when they're going to buy something expensive? How do people determine condos in Manhattan or San Francisco or Vancouver or Hong Kong are a good deal? Or $400K houses in Stockton, California?

Visa and Monster have still gone up today, which suggests to me (remember, I am brain-damaged) that demand is still high. These companies' stock prices must come down sometime. Juniper Networks, Lucent, Yahoo!, Microsoft, Hewlett Packard, IBM all went down from high-flying PE multiples at some point. All I know is my fear that if I buy Visa now it'll tank 10% one week after I buy it, because I missed some timing signals. If I buy Monster now it'll tank 30% in a month because only after the buy transaction comes through will there be major announcements about how people with hypertension shouldn't touch it.

I'd had my eye on some stocks but they're overvalued to me. I keep thinking Starbucks, Amazon, Costco, VISA, Monster Beverage are overvalued, but lots of people don't feel that way. Look at the volumes from Friday February 27 2015: 4,311,727; 2,458,964 (58.6% of volume); 3,030,124; 1,982,831 (actually under average volume); 6,210,450 (6.3x normal volume for MNST). Even though I suspect Monster Beverages, and 5-Hour Performance Energy shots contributed to my brother's untimely demise, and the demise of young people, its ubiquity suggests lots of people have as great a death wish or the belief that as long as the beverage ingredients are listed and they include vitamins, no blood clots could ever show up in the lungs nor would cardiac arrest ever happen, because energy drinks are for active people. Every time I see Monster cans or tiny bottles of 5 Hour Performance at the drug store or supermarket I think of my grey-faced brother in his casket, the little altar of Asahi beer and Monster Beverage, his grieving widow, and his four-year-old boy. Everyone sees something different I suppose. Cancer deaths make sense to me, heart attacks from a half-century of smoking make sense to me, pulmonary thromboembolism deaths for non-smoking people who run, bicycle, do yoga, lift weights dropping dead at 44 do not make sense to me if energy drink consumption is not a risk factor. It must be my head trauma preventing me from making sense of this death, like it prevents me from figuring out the right time to buy high-PE stocks. Yeah, that's the ticket.