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A bad day ala Bliss Hunter

March 6th, 2010 at 10:27 pm

Some days things don't go right. After doing early morning errands, I returned and tried to open my garage door. As I lifted it, it jamed and I hear all types of noises inside. After some effort I got it open a few feet and was able to get in. Here one of the two spring / pulley / counterweight mechanisms came totally apart, with the spring flying to the other side of the garage, and some parts on the floor. Now it is extremely hard to open the door, and without the spring there is nothing holding it back from crashing back down. I found all the parts except the pulley, so until I can find where that spun off to, I can't try to fix it (if I can even do it by myself!).

And then my Apprentice Bliss Hunter moment came a few hours after that. I had talked with a woman online off and on for a few months, and we met two weeks ago where I paid for a modest lunch, and then we talked and walked for about two hours afterwards. I had a wonderful time, it was very interesting, and she seemed to really enjoy it. When we were leaving she made a point to give me a card and wrote her cell phone number on the back. This week I got back in touch with her and as she was stressed at work, I suggested since the weather was nice this weekend, lets go to the museums Sunday. We could take some sandwiches and a drink, and have a few relaxing hours. She says "That sounds wonderful" (on Thursday), and then today (Saturday) I get the message from her that she can tell we're totally incompatible and wishes me well.

I had very little emotional baggage attached at this point, but I soooooo understand Bliss Hunter's feelings when it comes to dating. If she had been less than happy with me when we met, I could certainly understand. Not everyone connects, of course I get it. But what is it with them having the same values as you, even having good dates, then just pretending it was the opposite, not wanting to even see if something special happens? I'm not really stressed about this, as somehow I found this was going too well to be real. Still the last year has totally jaded my view towards dating. And certainly towards the cries of women that the good men aren't out there. Spare me the tears, I just ain't falling for it any more. These women have issues, and I simply don't get what they are.

Apprentice Bliss Hunter, if you're out there, you're not crazy, and you're not alone. Keep your chin up, and do what you feel makes sense, not what others tell you. In the end all you can do is make yourself happy, at least that's something.

Thank G I don't have to deal with Verizon

March 1st, 2010 at 07:21 am

Subtitled: No wonder older folks don't like the internet / computers / modern technology. (Not much finance here, mostly rant)

Been visiting mother 2 states away and she asks me to help her with Verizon combined bill. She has the company take the money directly from her checking account for their monthly bills. On it is multiple credits and debits that don't make any sense, especially since she didn't change the phone or internet service in many months. Years ago I worked in utility billing, so I understand this stuff about as well as anyone, and I can't figure out what they're doing.

So I have the idea, hey, why don't we acess your bill history online, maybe that will give us a clue (Baaaad idea).

Before I start, let me say I build interactive business web sites for a living, so I was appalled at what I went through.

What all happened? First we try to register on a weekend. We go all the way through the registration process, just to have it say at the end, "sorry we're not able to register you now". You do NOT let someone go through a process if it is not available at the end. We try a few times over the weekend with the same result. No explanation as to why, or when we can register. That is insane.

Next we got registered Monday morning. We get on their site which is filled with a bazillion advertising and whiz bang thingies, but we just want to review bills, which is what the paper bill says we can do. When we go to the registration site it also says we can review bills online. We go to the manage account section, go to view bill, and all we get is the internet portion of the bill, and nothing about what was automatically taken out. WTF is this?

Then I find a link that says oh, if you have a combined bill, click here to access it (why we have to do it this way I don't know, but okaaaay). Try this link and immediately it asks me to log in again. WTF #2? You do not build a site that asks a user to log in again and again. That is really bad design.

Ok, we log in again, only to be put back at where we were before. WTF #3? (I don't think this one needs any more explanation).

OK, lets go the FAQ. There it has a section on what to do if you want to pay or view your bill. I go there and am told I can view and pay my bill online. How? No directions, just a link that says click here to go to view the bill. Guess what??? I am asked to log in again. (%#@#@!!!) After I do that, what happens? I am taken back to where I was when this all started (AGAIN). WTF #4. Who makes answers to FAQs without instructions on how to do basic things? I mean, really, who is this incompetant?

I do more searching and come across a link for a demo site that is supposed to show you how great it is to use their site. Ok, I try that one. What happens? Well nothing actually as the page never loads anything. Try it again 10 minutes later - nothing, half hour later - nothing. Well I have to admit, the demo does show how useful their site is.

My mother (& I) give up at this point and just decide calling will have a better chance to find out what the F they're doing.

No wonder older folks don't use the internet. They want it as a tool, not something whiz-bang. And when the basics dont' work, well of course they're going to go back to paying with checks, using stamps, and having the same more expensive slower life. And where I live I have the option of Verizon or another provider for service (thankfully I don't use Verizon!).

Its Baaaaaack!

February 9th, 2010 at 05:51 pm

For those who can't guess, that is the snow is back. Yowza, I got back in to the office for the first day this week, and already we're closed again for tomorrow. As a salaried dude, this sure don't make me sad. The local forecast was for 10+ with the majority of it coming from midnight to 8 AM. For this evening (6-midnight) the forecast was for 1 to 4 inches. Well after two hours (6-8PM) there was already 3 inches on the driveway, and it hasn't slowed down.

The only bad part about this (other than MORE snow shovelling!) is that I had signed up for a singles dinner for Thursday night, and its on the other side of town. This is making me wonder if they'll be able to have it now (and if I can even get there!).

Oh, and btw, the winds are supposed to pick up tomorrow as well. As I've told my relatives up north, we've now become the new snow belt.

Someone on the Washington Post site had the best comment for the start of tonight/tomorrow's storm - "All hands brace for impact!"

Thanks for nothing Disney

February 2nd, 2010 at 05:19 pm

And I really do mean that.

As part of my DRIPs I own some Disney stock, not too much, in the range of $1500 worth. Anyway, about two years ago Disney was buying part of some radio network called Citadel Broadcasting. Instead of just buying what they wanted, there was some type of stock swap involved (supposedly to cut down on stockholder taxes - though I didn't buy that even then). So because of this I became the new owner of 4 shares of Citadel's stock (which I think was $6/share back then). So I looked at this and said do I want to pay a stockbroker to get $24 less whatever commision I would have to pay (probably most of the $24), or just keep the junk. So I kept the 4 shares.

Now it looks like I should of just sold them and got whatever money I could (basically the stockbroker would have made money, not me!) I got a letter today that the company is now going into Chapter 11. At least I didn't lose much money with that fiasco, but couldn't they have figured if the number of shares was below a certain number (say 50?) they would just give the shareholders money instead as it wouldn't be practical?

So as I said, thanks so much for thinking about us small shareholders. Its great to know you really care. :P

I wish I could have had advice like this

September 3rd, 2009 at 07:30 pm

Warning: This is (mostly) non-financial related. (But the guys out there should like it!)

OK, you've been warned.

Ever see those interviews where they ask the person, if you could give your younger self advice, what would it be? Well here is my advice to my younger self, pretty much word for word.

http://wpcomics.washingtonpost.com/client/wpc/cand/2009/08/2...! I know the guys on here will know its true.

And here is another great one, just read about this guy's blind date, its even worse than anything I have put up with! http://www.match.com/magazine/article.aspx?ArticleID=7708!

Oh well, at least I can laugh about it now. As well, continuing to sell more books online (for the last 45 days I have sold 30 books!) also helps. More money - more space.

Books, books (and oh yeah, books)

August 29th, 2009 at 10:23 am

A sorta rant here, as I try to extricate myself from the overwhelming piles of books left with me from my ex. While this wasn't her only problem, it certainly contributed to her complaining she didn't have any money. She kept buying books, reading a few pages, then buying more books. I know because they are like new, and I often find book marks in them, usually somewhere within the first 50 pages.

Previously I could return some to Barnes & Noble without receipts and get store credits (I was able to get DVDs there for over two years without paying for anything!), but that isn't an option now. So I am selling on Half.com, and this month I have 15 sales (on top of another 25 sold earlier this year). I still have almost 150 listed, and I am still digging out books and listing them when I get the time. Plus I have probably another 200 in boxes that I already checked and won't sell for enough to bother with, so I either sell them at a yard sale for a pittance, try Craigslist, or give them away. Ugh.

I used to like reading books, and I do like to get some money from selling them, but this has really turned me off of books.

OK, rant over. And as an FYI, the sales for this month totalled about $75, so at least that's something worthwhile.

Squeaking by on $300,000

August 16th, 2009 at 08:06 am

Yes, that is the title of today's front page story in the Washington Post. Of course they understand how it will sound absurd, so in the story they go over the numbers for this family living in their own named house on Long Island Sound. The Post has been doing a number of stories on how the recession has been hitting people around the country, with people ending up in some really bad positions. But wow, this one sure comes at it from the other direction.

A few highlights:
A live-in nanny.
$75,000 in child support.
Her bonus will only be 90% of what it was last year.
She'll only make $50,000 on investments this year.

I don't want to be judgemental, but you can http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/story/2009/08/1...!

Ahem, any sympathy?

I expect to be single a very long time.

June 22nd, 2009 at 02:00 pm

Damn, if that isn't a depressing title, I don't know what is. As has been reported here by other single guys, meeting single women with, well shall we say common sense and some manners, is so near impossible that it really has effected me mentally this past month. (oh, plus the fact I was going through the dirt and junk of my father's estate this weekend didn't help.)

Before this month I just concentrated on family issues and meeting someone was sorta outta sight, outta mind, which seemed to work for me. But with my life getting back to normal (finally) it is just getting to me being alone all the time, and this time its affecting much more than it ever did. You go online at these match making sites and all you get is obvious scams its ridiculous. I hear its the same for women, but I just don't buy it. And worse, I live in a supposed area of many more single women than single guys. Really? Are they part of the packs of girls doing their best Valley Girl impersonations in the malls while they spend, spend, spend? If so, man, shoot me now.

And to end this on a somewhat better point of view, I have been trying to keep up the with P90X regimine (see my last post) and now I splurged on one (and only one!) of their high priced recovery drink mix canisters. I'll be trying it this week and coming back with a review. And btw, I have lost almost 10 pounds in two weeks, and there is starting to show signs of the workouts.

Well wish me luck, I haven't given up yet. Is expecting a reasonable woman my age too much to ask?

Save some money, cut your grass

June 12th, 2009 at 07:57 pm

Boy, its been a long time since I wrote anything here. Alot of crud going on in my life, and that sort of leads to the title of this. While I was out cutting the grass tonight, I did what I always do, sorta get into a mental zone, let my body go on autopilot to do the work, and let my mind go through a little self analysis. OK, maybe a lot. Anyway, as I was going over the mess of my life at the moment, I realized this is probably much more productive than going to a psychiatrist (Actually I am very much against going to one, unless you have severe problems ... but that is MHO). And of course the cost is $0 too.

My alternate title for this was going to be "I'm living in a Billy Joel song". Basically the song is (and I'm guessing the title here) "Only the good die young". Everyone "good" in my life in the past year has either died or gotten very ill. Not looking for sympathy, but really, for so many years I had so little of this go on close to me, and then wow, WTF happened? OK, I gotta stop going down this road.

One last thing - not to be an advertisement, but if you are looking at workout routines, and see the one called P90X, OMG is that insane. I thought I was in, well... maybe passable shape. After doing this for a few days I feel like a wimp. If you're not in so-so shape don't try it - I think they have an easier (and older) version called P90. Thats good to get started - I was using that as I found it at a yard sale last year. If I can keep up with this P90X, even if I don't do it as hard as they make it out, I have to get in better shape. I'm hoping I will be able to walk ok tomorrow morning. Aghhhhhh!

What are they spending their money on?

September 29th, 2008 at 02:04 pm

I know its always easy to criticize people and their spending, but really, how can some people not have a lot of money saved up? The local newspaper have this series where they are trying to get people out of debt. The current group are military folks, but this one couple, sheesh. They are making, according to the article, around $16,000 per month, but have terrible credit card bills, tax bills, etc... I have to give them credit for what they do for a living, and putting themselves up for scrutiny, but really!!!

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2008/09...

Sorry, just a little rant.

I had an OMG moment last night

September 16th, 2008 at 01:08 pm

... and I don't have them very often. (oh, btw, it has nothing to do with the stock market insanity either).

Background: In the past two plus years I have been getting myself knowledgeable about everything financial. I read items on the internet, finance mags, newspapers, and while I am not into day trading or other esoteric things, I am trying to build a solid net for retirement in around 20 years. I really thought I knew everything (or had a decent grasp anyway) of all things dealing with personal finance. I have co-workers that ask me questions now, I know so much on the subjects.

That said, I was... well stunned... by what I read last night. I'm a numbers guy, so it takes something major to get my attention. It was in the latest edition of Money magazine (sorry, no links are avaialable yet, Page 122 - Oct. 2008 issue). It basically describes how if you are retired, have a pension or other source of income that will give you say 25K per year, for every extra dollar you "earn" (and money you withdraw from a retirement plan will be taxed as "earn"ings), your effective tax rate can very easily be 46%. And that is based on current rates, it could go higher! I spend years saving money, and then the gov't takes half! OMG! Not if I have anything to say about it.

OK, I'm calm now. Its a money mag, so what do they recommend? One word - "ROTH"! I fortunately have two old 401k's I can move into a Roth account. There is the tax hit involved, but the more I ruminate this, the more I am convinced that the next year or two I will be setting up some major Roth roll-overs.

Seriously, if you are planning on having any moderately decent retirement, you need to read this.