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Not back to school but books are hit

September 10th, 2015 at 03:47 pm

The teachers are striking (and in some cases, unusually fetching har har).
Seriously, I am stumbling into "home schooling" which is little more than:

[*] lurking on teachers' websites, mostly from other school districts, and grabbing links to curriculum topics and exercises in PDF or .ODT or .DOCX form to copy onto the kid's USB drive;
[*] hounding him to read his calculator's manual and play with the features so he's comfortable when the school year starts for real;
[*] speaking to him in French, hoping it'll evolve into conversing with him;
[*] having him journal about and use ADHD coping strategies;
[*] getting books from the library relevant to curriculum topics;
[*] torrenting etextbooks;
[*] acquainting him with the power of apps like RedNotebook; cloud storage like OneDrive and GoogleDrive; mindmapping applications;
[*] screaming at him to get off the freaking game and YouTube websites and have one tab open to Khan Academy.
Today I'll buy him some workbooks and assemble some mechanical pencils so he can start Algebra, and borrow US History books from the library. We have James W. Loewen's Lies My Teacher Told Me (given to me by my m-i-l, a US teacher) of which the striking history teachers approve. It's more managing and babysitting. Pulling lesson plans every two hours out of my scatterbrain is nothing like teaching so I don't feel like I am scab labour. If anything I'm doing the teachers a big favour by reducing their workload (my kid has an Individual Education Plan and is on the "special" side, neurologically. He's developmentally lopsided at what seems to be a 60 degree angle: college-level reading and vocabulary and performance in oral examination, grade 3 sentence writing and information retention). I feel my contribution'll mean more to his teachers than Starbucks and Top Pot doughnuts contributions.

Magical Saturday

September 5th, 2015 at 09:32 pm

We, not the royal, martyred, sarcastic we but the family plural we, are cleaning. That is magic in itself. I couldn't find the $300 cheque made out to me until I opened a book called _Smart but Scattered_ and there it was, wedged between pages. You rest a spell and let that irony seep in. You see, when there's $300 to be found, I find also motivation to pick up every white piece of paper and determine if I need it or if it can go elsewhere. I also found $33 credit slip to one of my fave used bookstores. In a search for the cheque (I offered a "dessert place of your choice reward" to the finder) the spouse found instead a softcover overdue library book the tot could not bother to remove from an open sack a whole thirty inches away from his internet-obsessed carcass' six-hour parking spot for... twenty-five days. "No, I'm not an addict! Durrrrr. Oooh new gaming video on YouTube. "

We have already splurged on a Rug Doctor rental to clean a rug. A futon cover is in the wash, as we'd like to sell the futon and the coffee table and make a new, minimized household for ourselves.

I chose the old school fill in with pencil home account ledger instead of, YNAB, GnuCash or KMyMoney. It won't keep track of my stocks and funds, but do I want to look at that stuff right now? My psyche is fragile.

I am down to below 152 lbs, just a little over 1.5 kg away from my goal weight.

August update

August 2nd, 2015 at 01:43 am

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.

Got something to let out, thankfully not my clothes

June 27th, 2015 at 07:51 pm

I've lost a few inches on a low carb, high fat diet, and I didn't even exercise. I was scared at first to check my weight, because the sizes I wear are those reported by those who report a weight I was at just before I gave birth, and the sizes I want to wear are reported by people my height who are around fifteen lbs or seven kilograms or just over a stone less than that. My gut is still bigger than I want it to be though. I'm thinking maybe I should exercise to cut it.

I just learned this week about ketogenic diets, just joined reddit this week and am learning lots.

The healthfulness of the diet I initially found questionable, especially after my messy, scary blood clinic episode. I have since added potassium chloride to my dining table, and put a few shakes of it into my drinking water, and supplement with magnesium. I do miss my toilet-bowl wonders, those daily affirmations I have a healthy colon, though. The body's grabbing its glucose from fat stores and not from ingested carbs, so I let less out than a government or St. Louis Cardinals online database.

I am having more coconut oil, a little more these days. Working up to five tablespoons a day.

For the vegans and high-fat diet fans, a

Text is recipe and Link is
recipe for cold brew coffee with vanilla coconut milk. Low-sugar people, well, maybe do without or reduce the coconut sugar.

It is summer: I feel I must change the landscape of my lawn to get the house ready for sale next year, but I have so little cash and am such a newbie I'm paralyzed by lack of ideas, knowledge and resources.
I may need some help/push in the right direction for where to begin.

A plus: the house now has greater than $300K equity.

The boy received his McDonalds stock funds. I wish the Direct Purchase Plan stocks we have performed better. Slow and steady may win the race but they have to rely on momentum zippers stalling or reversing.

A missed the period momentary panic

June 3rd, 2015 at 05:30 pm

I missed the period key when making an online "micropayment" toward the Home Equity Line of Credit this morning. Instead of 4.32 I paid $432.00, or close to six months' principal automated payments.
I had a chance to cancel, but I didn't see the amount clearly (no glasses, little caffeine).

The benefits are that my HELOC is five months closer to being paid off; I have less interest and more principal to pay next billing; my equity, mortgage paid, and principal paid numbers are up. Instead of having an "Oregon zip code" balance outstanding on my house, I have a "Honolulu zip code" balance outstanding.

The HELOC interest rate and term are higher than my car loan's rate and term as well, so I've saved myself some interest, maybe $140.04, or seven months' interest on the car loan. I don't mind so much the automatic $100 withdrawal requirement imposed by my credit union. I know someone who, seven years after borrowing on her HELOC funded by a major bank, is still paying interest and no principal.

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.

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.

Half-interesting end of month post

March 31st, 2015 at 10:55 pm

It's already April 1 in Japan, Australia, and everywhere east of Sweden.

Despite putting $200 in stocks this month, I am behind the beginning of March for that category. Overall assets gained $403.18 from beginning of March. Cash assets increased by $1869.79. Debt went down by $1138.07.

Money Market Account up $453.53. I have a hidden cache of reserve funds for mortgage and car payments (monthly), car insurance (semiannual) and motorcycle (annual), so tomorrow, on the West Coast's 1 April, my Money Market Account will look like it's up by $1502.51.

As an aside, I would really like it if agencies and entities, entreating people to enter dates like "02-02-2015", would use a clarifying example such as either "02-24-2015" (obviously mm/dd/yyyy) or "mm/dd/yyyy". "02-02-2015" does not help people like me distinguish between dd/mm/yyyy and mm/dd/yyyy styles of entry.

My Car Loan principal balance, tomorrow, will be less than half of the original loan. It'll be the halfway point of the end of the loan, if I don't pay it all off beforehand, and I do plan to pay it all off beforehand. This $282.21 monthly expense is messing our tight budget over, especially when DH's employer wants him to pay for gas and coffee and lunch. Having him work at home was so much cheaper.

My mortgage interest paid since September 2011 will be half of the total amortized interest over the twelve-year term. The total interest I pay from April 2015 to September 2023 will equal the amount of interest I paid from September 2011 to March 2015. Isn't that crusty?

GnuCash 2.6.6 was released March 30. Minutes after I asked on Twitter how to configure reports for printing, I read documentation on how to configure budget reports for printing. That is how I roll, along with the tumbleweeds.

Oh yes, sending an echo of gratitude to the SA blog commentator who shared the Roast Chicken with Lemon Halves and Rosemary Crammed Under the Skin and Up the Cavity recipe. I prepared it again on Sunday and we love how tender the chicken meat is.

Out of budget bounds by $358 and the month's not done yet.

March 27th, 2015 at 10:33 pm


thirteen cents under for Animals.
thirty-three cents under for clothes.
fifty-eight cents under for Hobbies.
eighty-one cents under for Gifts.
$117 under for Entertainment. Attributed to free movie tickets my son either won or earned, YouTube, and heaps of DVD box set library holds coming to us.
$30 under for Supplies.

Money market account finally back above $10000, so we now earn the penultimate weakest interest rate. Progress.

$28 over for dining, which I upped already for the dinner out earlier in the month.
forty-five cents over for phone service.
$15 over for gifts: postage for overseas correspondence and domestic stamps, before learning we still have over a dozen domestic staps.
$163.42 over for auto. Did not budget for license renewal and car tabs renewal, together summing to $191.75 when they took me by surprise.

Mortgage payment processed a few days ahead of schedule. Fine. Good to know I can wait in excess of five weeks, and three pay periods, before paying mortgage for May. That will redirect $1000 to our Islands Getaway.

$279.49 over for interest (mortgage)
$288.11 over for taxes (real estate)
$201.60 invested in stocks that have since depreciated in value.

My budget for April will be different. It won't have $1356.82 going toward real estate tax, mortgage interest, house insurance, and principal payment.

I have eighty dollars remaining in the food budget until March 31. I average $17/day for groceries for three people, and our frozen animal protein takes up most of our freezer space so I anticipate half of the eighty dollars going to dairy, grains and vegetables.

I have paid over thirty dollars in excess principal to reduce monthly interest on our HELOC and car loans.

True confession: I struggle with my budget because my family and I never plan weekly meetings, never chart in the open our budget, and frankly I don't know how to markedly increase cash flow without spending more money or stealing outright (which I will not do, surveillance is everywhere and my conscience, although selective, is cruel and unrelenting) or disposing of household members. Our budget parameters are strict as they are. I don't know where to look online for meaningful savings. I mostly see "deals" for consumer or processed food items I don't buy.

Hodgepodge Equinox

March 21st, 2015 at 09:26 pm

I nearly forgot my password. Eight attempts, then attending to some other tab on my browser I notice the caps lock is on. I toggle caps lock off, type by finger memory on the qwerty keys rather than the number pad keys, and I am in!

The etymology of the word equinox is not related to horses. Discuss.

The meaning of the word discuss is somewhat related to the word discus in that there is tossing around going on. Discuss.

- 10 Smart Ways to Save $ on Clothes Yes, I was surprised that "buy sweatshop-made clothes with midrange or budget-class department store or chain fashion stores for 16-25 y.o. females tags from a thrift or consignment store" was not one of the smart ways to save money on clothes.

- Negotiate Your Bills with the Silent Treatment Has this worked for you? If yes, how?

I received a Capital One® Quicksilver® Cash Rewards Credit Card offer. Does anyone have experience with this card? According to one review on NerdWallet
this doesn't have foreign transaction fees.