Tuesday, February 09, 2016

TWTW: February 4th through the 7th THE BIG GAME (Not TM)

I started the week off with a cold.  I had a cough, a sore throat, and produced enough snot to fill buckets. With all the snotting and coughing I didn't get a whole lot of sleep. Both Monday and Tuesday I was pretty useless at work. Of course my Boss would say I am pretty useless at work most days :)

I spent the rest of the week trying to catch up and waiting for my contract for extra work to be signed. It still hasn't been.  Oh and my Tax Return came in. I am rolling in money.....

On Friday I finally got the brakes fixed on the car. $450 later and I am not rolling around in soo much money. I feel like driving around everywhere and slamming my brakes all the time since they are so new and shiny.

Saturday afternoon, I decided to enjoy the nice weather we had by going for a walk.  I wore my running shoes for the walk and decided to try and turn it into a jog.  Now I haven't run consistently since I think April so my walk/jog mostly involved walking. In fact after only a few short bursts of jogging my ankle and foot started to hurt quite a bit.  But hey maybe I'll start up running again.

Sunday brought to us all THE BIG GAME(not TM), the Superb Owl. I joined some friends at a local watering hole.  We all brought bits of food to make a potluck and sat down to enjoy a mediocre game of Football(American) and snicker at a few of the commercials.

I looked into some interesting things about the trademarked term Super Bowl (GAHH I SAID IT!!!!) I joked above about not using the real name.  I can talk about watching Super Bowl 50 and my thoughts about it. What I can't do is claim to have some sort of official sanction to use the name or to use it in advertise. Now the NFL has been so litigious that many people refrain from saying it all together. For example Colbert came up with the superb owl name even though he legally could use the trademark for parody.

Tuesday, February 02, 2016

TWTW: January 25th through 31st 2016 New Brakes? The deuce you say

Not my Car

When we last left our hero he was marooned at home with a very flat tire.  Our hero also forgot to finish writing the last TWTW post.  On that Sunday, I put the spare on. It took some effort.  I hate those little jacks that come with cars these days. You crank and turn and finally you've moved the car an inch.  The spare itself didn't have much air in it, but it had to be better than the completely flat thing I showed you last week.

On Monday, I eased the car the two blocks to the nearest air pump and filled the spare donut up to the required amount.  It was at 12P SI and needed to be at 50.  I then drove to a local mechanic and  had them look at the tire and the brake warning light. They patched the tire up nice and good and it only cost 25 dollars. The said I needed new brake pads and new rotors. The quote came to over 400 dollars.  That seemed a little excessive and unnecessary. I had looked at the brakes and rotors when I replaced the tire and they seemed ok. I paid for the tire and left determined to find a cheaper brake solution.

Tuesday I met with some people about possibly doing some work for them in my off hours.  On Thursday I signed the contract that will bring me in some needed extra money for the next few months. Since I will be using my free time on this new project, I don't know how this will affect my voluminous blogging.. HAHAHA  see it's a funny joke since I don't blog much.  The scratchy tickets just weren't giving me the extra boost of money I needed :)

The two highlights of the weekend... the three highlights of the weekend were: or should it be; ;'. >  stupid English punctuation. The weather this weekend was amazing. It hit 59 degrees F on Sunday. I went for a jog. I forgot to record the jog with my phone so did it really happen? I also made three bean chili and on a whim decided to throw in a couple of table spoons of cocoa powder.  Really a good combination. I think we forget cocoa can be used in things besides sweets.  I spent some time researching brakes. Things have changed since I was a young lad working at an auto parts store. Brakes are now made of a much harder substance than they used to be.  They last longer but do a number on your rotors.  So I think since my 2007 has the original rotors they probably do need to be replace.

Peace out!

Monday, February 01, 2016

Music Monday: U2 - Electrical Storm

The air is heavy, heavy as a truck
We need the rain to wash away our bad love

Tuesday, January 26, 2016

TWTW: January 18th through 24th 2016 CAR BROKEN!!

I spent last week trying to get my work computer to function properly so I could do my job. I am happy to report that it worked without a problem the entire shortened work week.

On Tuesday, I went to my local favorite taqueria, El Charro. I schedule my Wednesday trip as my one lunch I allow my self to eat out a week. I knew I wouldn't make it on Wednesday so I went a day early. A few weeks ago his cook quit so he has been making all the food himself. Being a slow day he didn't have his waitress their either. He spent the entire time I ate talking my ear off about how he wanted to buy a small farm to have cows and chickens. I think he is lonely without his cook.

Friday morning I got up and went out to my car to drive to work. It didn't take me long to realize something wasn't right. My front driver tire had become completely flat over night.  I got a ride to work. The windchill was seven F so I didn't want to be outside fumbling with the spare. The warning brake light had also been coming on so I already wasn't to sure about driving.

Also on Friday my W-2 from my employer became available. That same day I did my taxes electronically and it got accepted by the IRS. I should see my refund in a few weeks if not sooner. This really does highlight my changing relationship with money. In the past I have waited until the week of April 15th to do my taxes. I have always gotten money back. It has only been the last two years that I have done my taxes as soon as possible so I could get my refund early. Just another symptom of my just not really noticing money.  Oh and that refund would be spent as soon as it hit the bank account. Who am I kidding, that refund was spent well before it ever got to me.

Thursday, January 21, 2016

How I am Getting My Finances in Order: Part 1 The Problem

Debt My Eternal Companion

For almost all my adult life I have had credit card debt. Usually a large amount of it.  For one brief shiny moment in the early 2000s I had no cc debt. Even then I still had a car loan. I lived under a vague sense of dread. I knew it wasn't good to have so much debt but I tried not to think about it too much. I would look at what I earned and justify that I could make the payments and would eventually pay off all the debt. Maybe I just needed another raise.

Poor Attempts at Tackling the Problem

I tried some lame attempts at dealing with my CC debt.   One of my earliest efforts was the debt-o-meter.  I graphed out on paper all  my debts. I naively looked at how much I made and calculated how quickly I would pay off the debt. I had no actual budget and I completely ignored the fact that I was paying interest on that CC debt. The amount I was paying off never came close to what I thought it should be.  I think I gave up after a few months.

Another one of my classic debt handling techniques was the balance transfer. I would get a  new offer for a 0% APR transfer for 12 or 18 months or even a new credit card offer with a balance transfer.  I took advantage of these always with the justification that I would have plenty of time to pay it off before I had to start paying interest. I remember one particularly big transfer when I got my Discover card. I think it was an 18 month offer.  About three or four years later I looked back at the discover card and its' balance was almost as I high as when I had first made the transfer.  I had only been making the minimum payment that entire time. I actually had to check if I had been paying interest. That is how out of touch with my money I had become. 

Honestly Assessing the Situation

I finally came face to face with the problem when I started using the mint website. I entered all my various account numbers and there staring back at me was I giant number.  I tried to rationalize the big scary number for awhile. Then one day I did the unthinkable. I calculated how much in total I was paying in interest charges. I then extrapolated that to get a ball park of how much I had paid in interest over the previous ten years. I think horrified would be the word to use for my reaction. I knew I had to actually do something and thus began the process of getting a handle on my finances.

Why Debt is Horrible

You might be thinking what's the big deal, debts not that bad. Everybody is in debt. Two realizations made me determined to overcome my debt.

Interest is a very powerful financial tool. In the long run you want to be using it to make you money. When you owe you are paying interest.  Especially with the high interest rates on CCs you are just burning your money for no reason.  It dumbfounded me when I realized how much money I had simply thrown away because of my lack of financial sense.

Debts are chains. Debts control you and restrict your choices. You are beholden to the person/company that holds that debt. They have claims on your choices. Want to switch careers?  Sorry you wan't make enough in the beginning to cover your debt payments.  Want to move? Sorry you can't afford the initial outlay of money to set up the new situation. Being open to opportunities has been one of the main motivations for me to get out of debt. You are also chained down by fear and stress. If you lose your job how will you make the payments?  If your car breaks down or someone gets sick, how are you going to pay for that? Debt is a vicious cycle of dependence and exploitation.

Tuesday, January 19, 2016

TWTW: January 11th through 17th 2016 COMPUTER BROKEN!

Warning: techy post ahead

Half way through Monday suddenly my work laptop's screen went blank. After a second it popped up a drive error and then went to the BIOS. There is a menu in most bioses, biosi, bioseseses?  anyway you tell the computer what you want it to boot up from.  When I looked in my BIOS no options to boot from existed. I appeared the drive had disappeared. When I checked the hardware settings the drives (it has 2) showed up.

I grabbed a bootable Windows 10 USB disc from the IT guys and set about trying to fix my poor laptop. I tried to do everything I could to repair or fix my Windows. Nothing worked. I couldn't restore. I couldn't fix the master boot record. Nothing worked. On top of that everything took forever. The computer seemed to be walking through molasses. I decided to just re-install Windows. I had everything important backed up. I made my big mistake when I decided to just use one of the existing partitions on the SSD instead of formatting everything.

I spent Tuesday getting Windows installed and setting up all my work stuff on the computer. During the process I could tell something didn't seem right. Everything went very slowly.  The laptop which used to take maybe ten seconds to boot up now took over a minute. I noticed all sorts of disk errors in the log.

After struggling for a day I tried to fix these problems on Wednesday afternoon. I decided to scan the discs to see if I could find any problems. The second I tried the computer went blank and  went right back to the BIOS.

This time I decided to do things correctly. On Thursday I low level formatted both discs and then checked them for errors. None showed up so I re-installed Windows 10 again from scratch. By Friday I had everything installed and set up. The discs were not complaining in the error log and the laptop was back to booting up in seconds.  Fingers crossed I actually fixed something.

Like last Sunday, this Sunday was extremely cold.  Instead of making chili like last week this Sunday I chose to make chorizo tacos and imagine I was spending the day somewhere warm.

Tuesday, January 12, 2016

TWTW: January 4th - 10th 2016 What is Work?

It was the first full week back at work after the easy days of the Holidays. I settled back into the routine easily and the week passed quickly.

Friday I got the good news that my Dad finally had been discharged from the hospital. He got to sleep in his own bed and my Mom got to no longer spend all her time at the hospital.

The weather forecast for the weekend called for a couple of inches of snow on Saturday (YEAH) and it to be really cold on Sunday(BOOOO). In anticipation of the coming cold weather I went out in the rain(not snow) on Saturday and bought what I needed to make chili. Nothing quite as good on a cold day then a steaming pot of Chili. As my chili simmered on the stove, I watched football and waited for the snow to start. I kept waiting for the snow to start. We go no snow of consequence. MEGA BOOO!!!

Sunday dawned frigidly cold.  I think the high temp that day was 11F. I staid in, cleaned, and watched football(American).  I decided to bake some bread to fill the place with wonderful smells. I had a lot of energy during the day and wanted to get some stuff done. I realized that when I have a lot of energy I become very ADHDy. I would run over here and do a little bit of something, then get distracted by something else and get a little bit done. I realized I needed to make a list and do one thing and get it done. Then I moved onto the next thing. Then I got bored and did nothing :)

Random highlight of the week. I bought a five dollar scratchy ticket and won twenty-five dollars.