Home > Archive: September, 2010

Archive for September, 2010

3 days in the trenches (err, in the new job)

September 25th, 2010 at 07:13 pm

I started the new job and finished up my first week. The 1st day was probably the worst, mainly becus I wasn't kept busy the whole day and felt rather useless and unproductive.And being new, I was anxious to demonstrate my value. Plus, the circular floor plan confused me and I had trouble remembering which way was the kitchen, and how to get back from the restrooms without having an ID badge yet.

I met my boss the 2nd day. On the third day, I felt better, because I just decided to start working on a project we discussed the day before, even though I wasn't explicitly told to forge ahead, but she did say during my interview she wanted someone who could work well on their own.

I'm just used to being given specific instructions on what is expected of me, and that didn't really happen here. I don't yet know if that's her style, or perhaps she wanted to see if I'd take the initiative. They consider me a "consultant," but really, I'm just someone who has a lot of experience and was hired through an agency.

I emailed some preliminary work I'd done to my boss on the 2nd day (she works in another state and is only up in my office 1 or 2 times a week), and then started second-guessing myself that perhaps I shouldn't have done so becus she hadn't asked me to do it, she might think I was jumping the gun, or working a bit helter-skelter when we weren't all on the same page. Then I started thinking, gee, maybe they'll fire me.

So I was relieved when she emailed me back, made a few simple comments on what I'd written and suggested I run it by another person in the office.

When I showed him what I'd done, I also showed him more copy I'd done by that time, and getting some positive feedback from him was reassuring so that I'd have more confidence when showing it to my boss and her boss.

What I really liked about my new employer is they gave me a choice of what hours to work, as long as someone from the dept. was there while I was. So I moved my starting time back a bit (to 9 am) so as to give myself more time in the a.m., and perhaps more daylight. Nothing I hate more than 1. getting up in the dark and 2. rushing to get ready for work. Becus I have just a half hour for lunch, not the mandated hour i had at my last job, I get home a half hour earlier, too, which is great. Yes, I'll miss having a full hour to walk on my lunch break, but there's not a lot of places at the new place to walk without getting in your car anyway. And if I ask myself if I'd rather have an extra half hour at lunch, or an extra half hour at home, the answer is simple.

On my 2nd day there, I invited the other new writer who started the same day I did to check out the cafe in the building. We brought our lunches outside and talked. i discovered that in his last job in another city, he was working in the building right next door to mine. Then I discovered that he worked a year at another employer's of mine that I left 11 years ago. Small world. He joined about a year after I left, so we never met.

Becus I'm working on contract now, I've been asked to keep my weekly hours to no more than 40 hours, so this means I don't have to worry about staying late for appearances as so many salaried employees do.

The people in my group are very professional, but also very friendly and approachable. I have my own roomy cubicle and even that is better than the "open office, collaborative" environment at my last job, which really just meant NO PRIVACY. Ironically, my employer at that time got an award for its innovative, architect-designed office space, but if anyone had bothered to ask any employee what they thought of it, they would have said they hated it, becus we all did.

My first project is actually fairly interesting and will require me to review each of the 100 or so courses they now offer, in order that I can write a synopsis of it in the catalog I'm writing. It's a great exercise for someone new to the company.

The building I'm in is very contemporary, in a newer corporate park with lots of big companies. It's 10 stories high and the nice thing about it is that you don't see miles and miles of parked cars and parking lots becus we all park in low-profile parking garages. In front of my building is a large circular drive and in the center there are lush flower plantings, tables and chairs for employees to eat lunch in and a large fountain. It's all very nice.

I am feeling the results of having lived a year extremely frugally while I wasn't working. I spent a total of about $600 (!!!) on clothing the week before I started the job: 1. 5 blouses, 2. 1 lightweight jacket, 3. 1 sleeveless vest, 4. 1 sweater, 5. 1 suede jacket, 6. 1 pair of shoes, 7. 4 pairs of slacks, 8. a pair of corduroy pants.

The clothes were really needed becus as it turns out, they don't really dress business casual, altho Fridays you can wear jeans.

But I didn't stop there. Today I went to a craft show and bought a bracelet, a watch, a necklace and some earrings. The prices at several tables was unbelievably affordable. At one booth, they were selling gemstone jewelery sets of a necklace with matching earrings for $25!

Of course, we can't forget the $725 I spent on a new computer a few weeks earlier. (That was before I even got the new job.)

Clearly I am feeling a little out of control and I'd better reel it in. I can afford it now, but it's not my intent to spend all the extra money I make. I'll be adding an extra $1,000 a month to the mortgage payment and $1,000 to my money market account for savings.

I was looking forward to just chilllin' today, but shortly before the new job, I got a huge new freelance assignment from my oldest freelance client. I didn't want to turn it down becus I intend to keep freelancing when I retire and I don't want to destroy connections. So I said I could do it (it's a 40 to 60-page case study he needs to submit in order to get a very valuable license designation) but I could only work on it on weekends. He just wants it done by the end of the year, so he was ok with that. I intended to start work on it today but he wasn't home when I called. well, the ball's in his court now.


September 21st, 2010 at 12:44 pm

No, these aren't my measurements, they're my heat settings, starting today.

Yes, I joined the No Heat Challenge, but I figured I would allow myself one true luxury: not freezing my butt off in my own home all winter. It's truly one of the things I hate about winter, aside from the shorter days and cold outdoor temperatures, not to mention snow.

Soooo, these will be the warmest settings I think I've had.

Here they are, broken down by time sequence:

Wake up at 6:30 a.m., 66 degrees.

Leave for work, 7:35 a.m., 63 degrees.

Arrive home after work, 6:30 p.m., 66 degrees.

Evening cool-down at 8:45 p.m. and thru the night, 62 degrees.

In past years, I've had the daytime temps while I'm at work much cooler, in the neighborhood of 59 degrees. But one of my new cats, Waldo, has short hair and seems to get chilled very easily.

Since my recent experience with his infection has shown me what a challenge it can be getting him to the vet, I'd like to keep him as healthy as possible. No sniffles!

And the temps while I'm home have never been warmer than 65 degrees, so 66 will be living in style!

I start the new job tomorrow. Getting REAL nervous!

Sustainability of the earth... and my wallet

September 19th, 2010 at 01:34 pm

Yesterday I went to a Sustainability expo. The keynote speaker was one of just 26 certified trainers for the Transition Towns movement.

I hadn't heard of this before, but it's based on taking action now (rather than wait for politicians to get their act together) to respond to two inevitable events: 1) peak oil, which many say has already arrived, and 2) global climate warming.

It's not a question of "if," it's a matter of "when." Those few people who still question the science of global warming can't help but remind me of those idiots who say the Holocaust never happened.

There are transition towns across the country. There are more, I think, in the west, an area that always seems to be more forward-thinking than the rest of the country, save for Vermont and Massachusetts.

It's a grassroots effort where people use a community-based approach to conserve energy and natural resources, reduce fossil fuel dependence, shop responsibly and maintain a green home and garden. (Personally, I love the idea of getting together with neighbors to share use of certain things, like perhaps a lawnmower and other garden tools, bulk buying of groceries, etc.)

The great thing about going green is that green behavior is always good for your wallet as well as the earth.

I've always had an interest in environmental issues, but they tend to get put on the back burner while other things take precedence. However, I always try to incorporate green behavior in my personal life, by:

* avoiding use of the clothes dryer
* reusing my own grocery bags
* driving an old Honda Civic
* growing an organic vegetable garden
* turning the thermostat down in winter
* installing CFL light bulbs
* getting a home energy audit
* reducing junk mail
* driving less and combining trips
* maximizing driving efficiency by avoiding speeding, or accelerating or braking quickly
* eating less than 1 meat meal per week
* not living in the biggest house I could afford
* curbing spending on useless or unnecessary items
* pursuing a minimalist lifestyle, using only what I really need (this is a work in progress)
* recycling as much as possible, including certain plastics, metal cans, newspapers, junk mail and electronics
* using a battery-charged lawn mower and weed whacker
* finding ways to reuse items rather than tossing them in the trash (library donations, Craig's List sales, gifting to friends and family, Good Will)
* avoiding the purchase of one-use food goods in over-packaged, non-recyclable containers, or disposal paper plates and cups. Walking out of a store carrying my purchase of one or two items WITHOUT the bag (but with the receipt).
* Cooking primarily with my toaster oven/convection oven instead of the full-sized oven. Using the energy-efficient microwave often.

On my list of future things to do, I'd really like to start a compost pile and give up using my car more, but in this area, the car is King.

I'm also interested in the concept of "co-housing," but have yet to tour one of their communities in Massachusetts. The idea is that you give up your private backyard, and the isolation that goes with it. Instead, you dine together in a communal dining room,sharing responsibility for meals, and you share outdoor living space. I have mixed feelings about it, but it's something I'd still like to explore to see how it works in practice.

Today I will be caulking interior windows; the home energy audit I had 2 weeks ago revealed small loss of warm air in the the window trim that goes over the windows themselves. The cracks were too thin for the guy to caulk, but I'm confident I can do it myself.

Mysterious overture at Costco from handsome man

September 16th, 2010 at 08:25 pm

Here are some random Thursday thoughts...

Briefly spoke to recruiter; looks like my start date for the new job will not be this Monday, but this Wednesday. Fine with me; it'll be a short work week and I can EASE into the f/t schedule. (I have a terrible time staying awake from about 1 to 4 pm and must drink gallons of strong tea.)

I found a dead squirrel in my yard this a.m. I wanted to make sure it was dead so I held off on burying it, but i guess i should do so before the torrential downpour tonight.

Went to Kohl's to do more clothes shopping for work and i found 2 very comfortable pants that with coupon cost $15 each. They have elastic waistband but look very professional. I think I'm all set on pants now. Still can't find blue shoes, but I did pick up a pair of good brown leather shoes I dropped off at the cobbler's. He lowered the heal by a half inch and it made a huge difference, so I let him have a second pair i have of the same shoe, in black. Gee, maybe i should give him some leather boots i rarely wear for the same reason; heel too high.

My neighbor's begun the process of paving his gravel driveway, which is about 200 feet long and goes alongside my house. Dump truck and other heavy equipment making a racket all day, starting at 7:10 am. HATE IT. They've left now.

Waldo is still shaking his head but now i think it's becus the vet put a sticky ointment in his ears which is sort of leaking out now. His fur's a mess, and he doesn't like the taste of it and of course I can't clean it up for him, although he will rub his head against me, so now I've got ointment smears all over me. Eww. He has completely forgiven me now, so that's good. No more stares that say, "You betrayed me."

I got a big freelance project from a longtime client; didn't feel i could turn it down altho i'd rather not be bothered with it now that i'm starting a new job. Somehow, I'll have to squeeze it in. I already told him I'd have to limit my freelance work to weekends, and luckily his timetable is "this year," so i have time.

I picked up a nice set of 9 glass food containers with locking lids from Costco today. $30 - $6 coupon = $24, or $2 and change for each container, which i thought was a decent price. I just don't trust plastic anymore, or anything made in China, for that matter. Sheetrock, anyone?

At Costco, I got in a conversation with a guy who was behind me in line but asked if he could rest his case of water bottles on my cart. We talked about BPA and he got into a story telling me about these shakes he drinks for breakfast with pea extract for protein, various fruits and flax seed.

I let him go ahead of me since all he had was the water. He said if you want to know more, give me a call, and gave me his card. Since he talked so much about smoothies, i assumed he was in the business of selling them or something, and I was surprised to see that "Karl" is actually a certified financial planner with offices in NYC, but lives local to me.

Was he interested in me or something? I noticed no ring on his finger. If so, it's been a while since i've been hit on! Wow. After passing 50, I feel completely asexual. How flattering.

Got Waldo to the I'm broke

September 15th, 2010 at 05:20 pm

I scheduled a vet visit for Waldo today for his ear infection after seeing that he would enter the open cat carrier to go after treats I threw in there.

Once he stepped inside, I closed the door very quickly on him becus he is SO quick, I didn't want him to bolt out of there.

He was very upset, but surely it was better than having the Cat Wrangler return. Now that was traumatic.

Anyway, the vet, who got his schooling at Cornell, seems to be very good. He used a gas mask over the cat's face to sedate him and thoroughly cleaned out his ears, gave him an antibiotic injection. I also asked him to check out his teeth and luckily, they were fine. No more teeth needing to be pulled. He gave me more antibiotics in pill form to start giving him. The culture results indicating what kind of infection it is won't be back from the lab for 10 days, but i guess knowing what it is would help indicate which antibiotic to give him, although as i said, he's got me starting him on them right away.

I thought I was prepared for a big vet bill. I was thinking $200-something. Umm, no, the bill was $405. I nearly keeled over. Let's hope I don't have to return with him.

Right now, Waldo is back home but hiding in the basement. I feel terrible becus I brought some food down there for him (I didn't feed him since last night becus i had a feeling they might have to anesthetize him to clean out his ears) and when i walked away to clean the litter boxes, I saw Waldo slink away to hide behind my well tank. In other words, he's afraid of me.

I sure hope he gets over that soon. I hate the thought that this would set him back. He's made such great progress. I also need him to accept treats from me so i can hide his pills in them. I doubt that will happen today but am hoping for tomorrow.

Relieved of Jury Duty..Phew

September 15th, 2010 at 12:03 am

Today was the day I had to report for possible jury duty. When it was my turn to be individually interviewed, the judge was reviewing my form on which I wrote I'd been out of work for a year and just got a job offer last week.

She said, are you trying to say you'd rather not do jury duty? I said yes and she said to the plaintiff's and defendant's attorneys, in this economy, I'd be inclined to dismiss this juror. Do you have any questions for her?

Neither did, and so I was free.

The case would probably have been interesting. It was a criminal case involving a 44-year-old man (he was there during the proceedings) who robbed and cut someone with a knife on a street corner in broad daylight, 1:30 pm. I didn't feel much pity for him.

Hooray. It would have really put a kink in my plans for this week.

When I got out home from jury selection, it was such a nice day that i was able to sufficiently motivate myself to work on the door and 2 windows on the west side of the house, meaning, caulking and scraping the top trim above the door and windows, which doesn't last long since it's fully exposed to the elements.

Tomorrow I hope to repaint them.

I also started weeding the long neglected backyard perennial beds. I mostly concentrate on the front yard becus that's the part viewed by any visitors, plus it's sunnier and more open and I guess I gravitate toward that more.

I also planted 10 allium bulbs.

Tomorrow is painting those west facing windows, bringing the cat to the vet in the morning and on to Kohl's with a coupon to wrap up my clothes shopping in advance of starting the new job.

I still don't have a specific start date, though I'm planning around it being this Monday. Maybe tomorrow I'll email my contact at the agency and see if they've finished (or started) their background checks on me. Truth be told, I'll really like to have an additional week before I start, but don't know if that will happen.

If I had another week, I could possibly get more insulation in my attic and sneak in an overnight trip to see my dad. And maybe a single kayaking trip.

Magnificent Monday

September 13th, 2010 at 09:59 pm

It was a busy day.

This morning I left for an MS luncheon sponsored by Teva Neuroscience, the makers of the drug I take. They usually have one of these a month, and since I wasn't working, I've attended 3 or 4 over the summer. They're usually held in a nice hotel and are dinner and a physician lecture, but this was a lunch at a rundown pizza joint called "Italian Pavillion."

Still, it was a free lunch. I had 3 slices (!) and a cannoli for dessert.

Afterwards, I dropped off a pair of work shoes at the cobbler's. I wanted him to take a half inch off the heel becus I find the ideal height for me is 1 1/2 inches; the heel was 2 inches, and it just makes me tired walking around in them after a while. His charge is $20, which I thought was a little high, but while I knew i could probably shave a few dollars off that by going elsewhere, this place is just a few miles from home. If I like how they turn out, I have an identical pair of shoes in another color and will have him do those as well.

Then I went for a mammogram.

After that, I stopped at the bank to make a deposit and also to buy some postage stamps (at S&S). Then I went to Wal-Mart to stock up on Fancy Feast for the boys so I don't have to make a special trip there once I start working.

After that I stopped at Xpect Discounts, the place I go to buy Revlon Color Silk at $2.99 a box, but for the 3rd consecutive time, I saw they were out of "Light Brown" and still hadn't restocked it. Annoying, plus I'm all out so will have to go to Walgreens, I guess.

I had to call a special court number to see if I indeed need to show up for jury duty tomorrow. It was confirmed. DARN. That really will screw things up if I get called; I was counting on using this week to do last minute stuff before I start work. I hope I don't have to waste the better part of a day hanging around there waiting to be called in. DARN

I was hoping to get Waldo to the vet finally for his ear infection. Another shelter worker loaned me 2 really large carriers. I've set them up in the bedroom and have thrown cat treats in there so Waldo gets used to walking in there. Once I have an appt. set up (they're closed on the weekends) I can simply close the door, SO much simpler than having the cat wrangler here, who, in any event, never called me back when I asked her for help a 2nd time, so I can only presume she doesn't really want to.

Sunday stuff

September 12th, 2010 at 08:35 pm

I'm trying to make every day count before the job begins. My start date is still TBD, but I'm guessing it'll be 9/20.

So yesterday I spent $200 on clothes. I got 3 pairs of slacks ($25 ea), 1 blouse ($10), 1 sweater ($52), a 1ightweight jacket and 2 bras ($14 ea). Everything was reasonably priced, except for that sweater, and I'm debating whether I should return it. I mean I like it, but I'm not in the habit of spending that much on one piece of clothing. I got everything at Macy's, and between my coupon and all the sales they have, it's sometimes hard to tell exactly what price an item will ring up at the register.

I was also looking for a good pair of shoes in navy, but could not find navy anywhere, except in suede which i don't like cus once it gets dirty or scuffed, it's hard to clean. I also wanted navy pants, but again, the clothing industry has something against this color, for I could not find navy slacks.

I think I'm going to get a half inch taken off the heals of 2 pairs of leather shoes I have. They're just a little too high to be comfortable in all day long. I meant to do it years ago, but at about $15 each pair, I hesitated. Now I think I'll do it as the shoes are in good condition.

Yesterday I also caulked, sanded and repainted the tops of the outdoor trim above 3 windows on the house. I'm glad I'm getting to this, though I'm not sure I'll be able to do the rest of the windows. Next I have the back of the house, which will be easy to access.

I started reading a big fat Nolo book on estate planning, just to brush up. I probably should do a review of variable annuity product features. It's been a while.

I made a BIG pot of chili today so I could use the tomatoes from the garden I cooked up yesterday. I had to use it today becus there is NO room in my freezer. So I added green bell peppers from the garden, plus dried kidney beans I soaked and cooked beforehand, plus onion and ground turkey and chili powder.

I just saw the second half of a charming movie on Channel 11 (WPIX) about the life of chidren's author Beatrix Potter. It starred Renee Zellwiger and it was just delightful with wonderful scenery. I was entranced.

I really need to lose weight. There's nothing like a department store dressing room mirror to make that painfully obvious. I've been telling myself to walk all day, but have yet to go.

Another Craig's List sale...firewood

September 10th, 2010 at 12:42 am

I sold a pile of firewood to someone today for $55. I measured its length, depth and width and calculated it was about 40% of a cord, so I priced it low for a quick sale. Just one guy responded, but that's all I needed.

I went to the recruiter's today and filled out a bunch of paperwork for health insurance, permission for background checks and stuff like that.

It does appear that if I wanted to keep my COBRA, I'd lose the subsidy, so it would be cheaper to go with the recruiter's plan ($250/month) than COBRA sans subsidy (about $500/month).

I plan to call my COBRA administrator tomorrow just to verify I can't keep the subsidy if the recruiter's company offers health insurance, and that I can't get COBRA back if the contract job ends and no perm job materializes.

I will only be on the recruiter's health plan for 2 months. I'm not eligible until I've worked 30 days and then you start on the first of the month, so that means I wouldn't go on it til Nov. 1.

I'll be able to order the one med I take on an ongoing basis, the Copaxone, using my current plan, and it's a 3-month supply that would take me into January, when, hopefully I'd be able to pick up the employer's plan as a permanent employee.

So I may not even use the recruiter's health plan at all, but I'll still have to pay out a total of $500 for the 2 months' coverage just so I don't have a lapse in coverage. If I did, that would enable future insurers to deny me coverage of my pre-existing illness for a year. Don't you just love the ins and outs of our current health system?

I just need to pick between the POS and HMO plans they offer. I can't remember the difference, but I guess I'll do a quick online check to make sure that either or both list my current doctors as in-network. If my doctors are in network for both plans, I'll just choose the plan with the cheapest monthly premium.

Using to calculate deductions from my future paychecks there, I see I'll net $5449 a month. I can live on $3,000 to $3500 a month, so with that nearly $2,000 surplus I'm tempted to save half and apply the other half as a prepayment to my mortgage each month.

Tomorrow I'm going clothes shopping, but not before I do an inventory of my closet. I'll list how many pairs of slacks I have for instance, and can fit into them, and in what colors; same for tops. That way I won't accidentally duplicate what I already have.

I'm still about 11 pounds heavier than I was before I was laid off, and that bit of weight make a big difference in how clothes fit me. If I haven't lost that weight having so much more time available to lose it, I doubt I will once I go back to work. One can dream, though.

Got a job offer!!!!!

September 8th, 2010 at 10:02 pm

I got a job offer today, contingent on my passing the background checks, which will be no problem.

I spoke with the recruiter and will meet with her for the first time tomorrow to give them a voided check for direct deposit and fill out a bunch of forms.

She expects I will start in a week or week and a half.

I haven't even met the hiring manager (!), nor have they asked for references.

This is the full-time contract job that will last the rest of 2010 and then I would presumably and hopefully renegotiate my salary for a perm position with the company for 2011. My hourly pay will be $50 an hour x 40 hours = $2,000 gross a week.

Sing with me now, "I'm in the money, I'm in the money...."

I have emailed my contact at the other place I interviewed at and explained my situation and that if an opportunity existed for me at their company, I would need to know fairly quickly.

In the event they came through with an offer as well, I doubt it would be as highly paid as the first place, but if it was competitive and a decent offer,I might just go with them becus that job is a perm job while the other one is a contract job with no guarantee it'll go perm in 2011, although that's the plan and they don't think there will be a problem.

So I'll be curious to see if I hear back from the 2nd company, one way or the other.

September marks my one-year anniversary of my layoff in 2009. A year is a long time not to have worked, so you can imagine my delight and excitement at the thought of landing such a high-paying job.

Still, it's going to be a demanding job and I have all the usual feelings of nervousness about whether I can do it. The commute is longish (45 to 50 minutes) and I'm sure it will be an adjustment working for such a large company (about 2,000 people in this location).

But anyway, i spoke to my friend,my father and my mother about it and now i'm telling you! It was all I could do to restrain myself from yelling outside from my front door step, "I got a job!"

Soon, I will be an expert on all things estate planning-related.

I have been living like a pauper for so long, but you know what? I don't plan to change things much once I start; I plan to sock away the max, although 401k eligibility won't happen til 2011 if all goes well.

What I sold at the garage sale

September 8th, 2010 at 12:21 am

So, if you're curious how I made my $27, here's what I sold:

* 3 Beatles records for $3
* An unopened piece of florist foam for .75
* A VCR for $10
* An Indian style throw rug (small) $9
* A book I got for free, $5

I hung around the house most of the day waiting for the vet to call. The 7 days of meds for Waldo's ear infection doesn't seem to have done anything, and I'd left the vet a message asking if we could try something else.

Anyway, by the time he called, I didn't have time to bike ride to the farmer's market, but I did drive over. I bought a loaf of bread ($6) and 8 oz of pesto sauce ($8). Not cheap, but a treat.

I also made a quick drive over to Costco cus i was out of milk. I can no longer get 2 or 3 gallons at a time and freeze some as my freezer is completely full of garden produce. While there, I also bought a rotisseries chicken that i had for lunch and a fresh pineapple.

I was on the phone again with Dell tech support to get help in taking apart my old computer so i could remove and destroy the hard drive. I succeeded in removing it and then took out in the driveway where I proceeded to pound it with a hammer. The metal is hard and it took a while to really dent it up good, until I could shake it and hear pieces rattling around inside.

It was a hot, summer-like day; I believe the rest of the week will be much cooler,and more fall-like.

Tomorrow will be very busy: a run to the vet to pick up more meds and probiotics for Waldo, a dump run with my old electronics to recycle, helping my neighbor drop off all her unsold garage sale items AND I want to start work sanding and then repainting the top trim on my first floor windows. I noticed the other day when I was doing touch-up painting on the exterior from a ladder that the top of one window I was near was all peeling; if I let it go it will quickly rot as it's exposed to rain and snow, which in fact collects on it. It should be slanted or something, but it's not; it's more like a shelf.

It should be fairly easy to do becus I would only need to do the first floor windows; the 2nd floor windows are protected by the gutters and soffits and the first floor is easier to access by ladder than the 2nd floor. Plus, I only need to sand and repaint the top of the trim, not all the trim around the windows. So I figure I have 8 windows to do. I'll start with one and see how it goes. Of course, it'll take longer than a day to do but if I even do just 1 a day, I'll feel like I'm accomplishing something.

This week should be a good time to do it; no real rain forecast and cooler than we've had, but still warm enough for painting outside.

I've been picked (again) for jury duty in a few weeks, but i doubt i'll be chosen becus of a certain job i had investigating insurance fraud cases years ago. I think that will disqualify me, according to their questionnaire.

My days are always filled with things to do; I don't know how I'd squeeze a full-time job back into my life.

Garage sale a success

September 7th, 2010 at 12:47 pm

We must've spent 6 weeks getting ready for my neighbor's garage sale.

The sale took place on Saturday and Sunday, and my neighbor netted about $335. I brought a few things over and made $27. My friend Shawn, who cuts my neighbor's lawn, also sold some stuff.

At the end of the day, I put a few items down by the road with a "Free" sign, including a small sleeper bed, a wobbly coat rack, upholstered chair, ironing board and old filing cabinet, plus a real tobaggan. Every one of those things was taken.

Now she can park her car in the garage!

Tomorrow I'll help her load all the unsold stuff to drop off at either the landfill, Good Will or the Senior Center for their white elephant sale.

She's thinking about having her NEXT sale in the spring becus she has a houseful of unwanted possessions, and what we sold this weekend was just the stuff stored in the garage.

She said she might use the money to take all of us out to a nice lunch. (She had 2 other friends who showed up for the tag sale.) I urged her to spend it on something she's always wanted but couldn't afford, so now she said she might buy a digital camera with it. (She's always used those disposables, which are so not practical.)

All I can say is that it sure was a lot of work, but I enjoyed it becus I'm a natural de-clutterer.

Yesterday, I got up on the ladder and did touch up painting of three separate spots on the front of the house where the paint is peeling. Actually, the paint is peeling all over the place, but these were among the most visible places. I plan to forestall painting, or possibly vinyl siding until next spring.

I also got my new printer hooked up to the computer and I cut up the last of a huge 7-foot length of that Tree of Paradise branch that had fallen in my yard a month ago. I added it to the small wood pile growing in my driveway which I plan to try to sell on Craig's List for some cash. As soon as I calculate what fraction of a cord my pile represents, cus I know a cord goes for $200 around here, delivered.

Today I'll be biking over to the farmer's market for a nice loaf of whole grain bread. I may also read the local weekly paper at the library, a favorite haunt of mine, and I hope to hear from one or the other of the 2 jobs I interviewed with sometime this week.

back in the groove

September 2nd, 2010 at 12:10 am

My computer problems are now mostly history, although I still can't print; my new printer has been ordered and should be here on Friday.

I'm loving my enhanced 4 GB of memory; what a world of difference it's making.

A technician came to the house last night and replaced the motherboard, memory and power supply on my brand new Dell, and whatever was causing my problem was fixed by those replacements.

As for what's happening with that job interview, I had, I can tell you now they're doing a background check on me, so I guess i'm still in the running.

On top of that, I also have a phone interview set up with a large financial company in my area. They need a content writer for their continuing education programs, to focus largely on estate planning.

This, after many months of inactivity on the job front.

After that phone interview, which I'll spend all morning preparing for, I'll head south to do another focus group thing with a potato chip company. I'm the "floater," meaning I'll only be interviewed on my potato chip eating habits should one of their scheduled participants fail to show up. Either way, I'll collect $125 for my trouble.

On Friday, I'm having my home undergo an energy efficiency test, complete with blower door test to detect hidden drafts, up to 25 CFLS bulbs, insulation around doors and windows, etc. The work is subsidized by the electric company and normally costs $75, but I got a discount coupon from the Sierra Club website so i only have to pay $50, and i think the cost of those CFL bulbs will practically add up to $50, so it will be worth it.

I'm curious what that blower door test will reveal. This is a 75+ year old house so I certainly expect drafts to be present, although they don't seem severe enough that I really notice them, except for under and around my doorways. The windows seem ok, but who knows?

I went to the bank that holds my mortgage and gave them a check for $22K to apply to my mortgage, bringing the balance down to $38,000. I didn't plan it this way, but having done that means that with my normal payments, I'll have the thing paid off in 6 years, which is the same timeframe I'd been planning on for the many years I've prepaid the mortgage.

I still plan to continue with prepayments, once I get a job, so I expect and hope to pay off the mortgage before the 6 years are up.

Now I don't have to feel so bad as I continue to pay 6% on my mortgage (can't refinance when you don't have a job) and my investments make around 1.2%.

About $12,000 of that $22,000 prepayment came from a taxable mutual fund I liquidated. That will be considered taxable income, but I still think that even with that I should remain in a lower 15% tax bracket.

I'd been planning all year to do a Roth IRA conversion becus i knew my tax bracket would be low, since I'm unemployed. But I decided that paying down the mortgage would have a bigger impact on my finances then doing a big Roth IRA conversion.