livin’ cheap

one friend told me privately that bringing my lunch and making more of my own food is probably the best thing i could do to save money over the long term.

well, i did the math, and it turns out he’s right. i kind of figured he might be.

now, i’ve decided that netflix can probably go after july. there’s a couple more things i want to get from them, and then i’ll cancel my service– or maybe see if i can bump down to a lower rate with fewer movies out. and that, as it turns out, is the biggest bill-shave that i can muster.

next biggest is my earthlink service. i have DSL through them which includes 20 hours of dialup every month. now i very rarely use that dialup and it could probably go, though every so often it _completely_ saves my ass or the ass of someone i know. _but,_ and here’s the big _but,_ i’m pretty well entrenched in that earthlink email address of mine. now i might start switching over to an addy at a domain that i own, and that would probably be wise. but even so, i’ll give up that earthlink address very reluctantly.

of course, i could get rid of my land-line. that would save me a whopping $450 a year. although, then i’d have to switch over to cable for my internet access, which means that i _have_ to have cable. i’d rather be tied to a phone line than to cable. and i like my phone line, and voicemail, a lot. a lot. when the call comes that my dad is dying, or one of my grandmothers has died, i sure as hell don’t want to be struggling to hear. those calls will all be coming within the next few years.

there are other things i _could_ do, but really don’t want to. i could remove web access from my cell phone, or both web and picture access. i could force a couple of web sites that i host to pay their own way (they only cost me $12 a year though). i could get rid of my tivo, i could get rid of cable or bump cable down to basic. but you know what? i don’t really need to. and man, i seriously don’t want to.

some of you may be wondering where all of this is coming from. well, a couple of things.

first, i promised myself that, once the car was paid off (which it was in may), i’d start padding out my savings account– and so far that hasn’t happened.

i’m also working on padding out my 401k, so i don’t have to work until i’m 70.

apparently my response to not being micro-managed for the first time in 14 years is to fear for my job. after this week, i’m feeling a lot better about things, but i have really been feeling insecure off and on all year. i mean, i really don’t think i have anything to fear, but i just want to be _ready_ if, say, the owner of the company suddenly decides to retire and sells us off or shuts us down or something dreadful like that.

and of course, as i am sure all office workers do, i feel the restlessness. i feel the four white walls closing in on me every day, and the growing feeling that there will come a day when i just quit and sell the house and go live in the van.

i wanna be ready.

the up side

* i slept for nine whole hours last night!!

* i ate the lunch i brought. no hairs.

* i got my car inspected. no tickets. no driving around paranoid.

* due to the first item, i am fully able to appreciate today’s astoundingly beautiful blue sky and puffy white clouds.

* i get the feeling my boss is impressed with me this week. oop, better do that weekly report now!


so at work we’ve got a new back entrance that makes it very fast and pleasant to get to the edwards mill location of the char-grill.

today, i decided to take a break from my homemade lunches, with some guilt, and went to the char-grill.

ah well.

there was a hair in my burger. i didn’t find it until it was in my mouth. i nearly hurled on the spot, but hey… i have a strong stomach.

didn’t finish the burger.

oh that’s much better…

for those keeping score, i’d have to rate today a solid 7 in comparison to yesterday’s dismal 2 or 3. my evening choice of beverage last night was, as stated, gin and tonic, and i wonder how much that has to do with it? i know for certain that my body’s response to alcohol has changed in some disturbing ways in the last couple of years; i also know for certain that beer makes me feel terrible the next day in ways that other spirits do not. now i am highly suspicious of wine, which is what i was drinking sunday night. (and for the record– we’re talking about small amounts here. 2 glasses of wine with dinner, or two beers…)

at any rate, for whatever reason, i am in a much better mood today and very pleased to report that the scale showed a loss this morning… i’m now below a plateau that i’d been hovering at for… like almost a year or something.

i went to the dentist today, which while not enjoyable, is relatively painless and totally worth it. once again i contemplated getting braces. i went through a lot of orthodontics when i was younger, including having my upper palate split (didn’t hurt, just felt weird) and having jaw surgery after which my mouth was wired shut for six weeks and i was unable to talk at all. my wisdom teeth came in while i was in college and pushed everything back out of alignment before i could make it to my dentist. so for a few years i had that beautiful smile that you see me flashing in my senior prom picture, then went back to having buck teeth again. if only because my mom and i went through so much, i’d like my teeth to be straight again. my dentist also says it makes a huge difference as you get older in how well your teeth survive.

i’m off to the apple store after work, yet again… hopefully i’ll be wresting a working powerbook out of their sweaty little genius palms without too much of a wait, then off home to feed cats, self, and prepare for radio show.

for sure, it’s like totally the valley of death.

i am sure that some of you will get the music reference in that title.

i am, like, so totally going to be on the air tonight! 8-10pm ET. “”: or 88.7fm if you’re local.

my live playlist, will, omigod! be right “here!”:

also, i’ll be battling “a huge tide of merge personnel”: that will be sweeping into the station, all like totally full of enthusiasm and stuff.

one of THOSE days

nearly walked out of the house with my shirt on inside out i was so tired, could not wake up. caffiene at work revived me, but i crashed again later and sleepwalked through the afternoon. somewhere in the morning i got a mail from a friend asking me to adjust the thermostat

[ holycrap i think my neighbor just spanked his daughter for being outside in bare feet and pajamas ]

when i went to feed the cats. i’m feeding your cats? was my response. hm, i missed something. ok.

went to the apple store at lunch hoping to just drop off the ailing powerbook and come back for it later, which is what i did, but only after much waiting, and me getting kind of snippy with the staff over the wait. honest, i am very nice and patient usually… but it was my third visit to the store with a dead powerbook.

spent a good hour in charles’ office bitching to him, as always he lent an understanding and sympathetic ear. left, then promptly crashed. maybe bitching makes me sleepy.

ran back to apple store right after work; waited an hour while they work on my machine. i am sure they hadn’t touched my machine all afternoon meaning that my lunch run was a waste.

i note a man sitting at the genius bar who i realize, slowly, that i recognize from the personals. this is getting ridiculous, i think. and then i think, maybe it’s time to give up on the personals. i reflect on my ratio of happy results to unhappy results and realize that it’s pretty bad. maybe it’s insanity to keep trying.

finally after i am dying of hunger genius boy zach comes out of the back to say that i have a dead logic board. or, well, the airport port on the logic board is dead. we arrange that he’ll replace it and i’ll come get it tomorrow. i straggle home annoyed and exhausted. on the way out of the mall parking lot, i am stuck behind a car driving slowly yet erratically, with a large bumper sticker on the back that says…

WARNING!!! exposure to the _son_ may prevent _burning!_

ok, fine. just learn how to drive, please.

whilst trying to safely traverse the dead stoplights on duke street, oh so close to home, i am confronted with a truck bearing a similar WARNING!!!

once home, my advance food preparation completely saves my ass and i’ve got a proper dinner coming out of the microwave in under five minutes. after eating, i drag myself out to the cats that need feeding, and once home, i sit down, exhausted, and cry a little. my exhaustion cry. i think, “maybe i am getting my period soon…” and note that i’ve got 30 minutes to finish crying and clear some seating in the living room before friends come over.

now it is an hour later, no one is here, but the seating is clear, i am long since finished with my silly tears, dinner has suffused my body with contentment and i suppose the gin and tonic i am sipping is not hurting either. kitty is plastered to my side. it is nice to just sit and wait for friends.

so maybe my glasses were a little big… hey, it was the 80’s!

my mom recently dug up photos of me going to my junior prom, my senior prom (with my prom date, george), and on my high school graduation day.

“junior prom”:

“senior prom, with george”:

“graduation day”:

funny, i didn’t look all that happy on graduation day…

happy housewife

continually frustrated with my eating habits, and with a stronger than usual need to make progress on many projects at once, i decided to try something different this week.

i’ve spent most of today preparing breakfast, lunch, and dinner for the entire week.

much of that time was spent running around town buying things, and the actual cooking has occured in an intesive 2-hour burst which i’m now taking a break from. i haven’t made the lunches yet, and they’re pretty labor-intensive, but breakfast and dinner are largely ready to go with minimal cooking on my part in the evening.

my plan is to bring lunch each day, and drive down to Umstead Park– which is right down the road from work– to eat and write chapters for this book that i may or may not be working on. well– except on the days that i need to run errands at lunch, which now include tuesday (dentist appointment) and possibly monday (the powerbook needs to go BACK to the apple store– sigh.)

i’ve been very careful about what i’ve eaten this weekend, sticking with sensible foods that i make myself, and minimal caffiene. the result has been an astoundingly productive weekend. hopefully if i continue to eat sensibly all week, and have to spend minimal time in the evenings on food prep, i can also have an astoundingly productive week.

yesterday i spent the morning getting tons of stuff done around the house, including carrying four large bags of clothes to goodwill– and obtaining “a large number of inexpensive shoes”: that will be part of the 9 Westy project. the underside of my bed is now completely clear– there isn’t so much as a ball of fur under it, which is just how i like it. i find it sort of disturbing on some deep level to sleep on top of a dirty, cat-hair laden junkpile.

sarah came over in the afternoon, and we went on a supply run for fiberglass. we both have a need to work with it on our project cars, and decided it would be helpful and fun to try it together. while we were out, we spotted “this fabulous camper,”: which is actually _not_ a westy, although it is a volkswagen. as far as i could tell, someone had taken a plain vanagon, and converted it into a camper that is _similar to,_ yet different from, the Westfalia factory conversion. The paint looked new and the interior was super clean. Really a very nice machine.

We also spotted “six geek squad beetles”: all driving together. as you can imagine, i was pretty excited by this 🙂 and we had to follow them to see where they were going, which turned out to be best buy. we figured they were doing a demo or something in the store. they were all brand new, 2004 models.

anyway, we didn’t get far with the fiberglass, but at least now we’re ready to go.

i was supposed to meet sarah and georg at ooh la latte for the chicks rock benefit, but due to a slight cash flow problem i didn’t make it. this is only my second month with a check card. i held off on getting one until they actually forced me to get one, because i was scared of the dang thing… apparently for good reason, because my internal spending meter, which usually prevents these problems quite successfully, is outta whack. so instead of hanging out and having fun, i spent the evening watching “my absolute favorite bond film”: and figuring out my finances. i have to say that wachovia customer service _does_ kick all kinds of ass. i spoke with three different people and they were all incredibly nice and helpful despite the fact that i was, obviously, broke. the upshot is that i now have my online banking stuff working and i’m pretty enthused about that. i may even sign up for online bill paying.. we’ll see.

i really want to go see some movies this week. i guess i’ve probably missed shaolin soccer; i really want to see fahrenheit 9/11, napoleon dynamite, catwoman, and probably a bunch of others. i just never go to the movies any more, sadly. actually, i’d settle for seeing just _one_ movie in theaters this week.

kickin’ it old school

i didn’t hear back from the apple store today, so i decided to take the time to get the mail client on my tangerine ibook updated with my email from the last several days– the stuff that’s still on the mail server.

it was something like 1600 messages, almost all of which were spam. it took a couple of hours to download and sort it all, but now i can use email in a semi-normal environment, and that’s totally worth it. email is, i have to admit, a big comfort thing for me. i can and will go for long periods without it when the situation warrants– usually while travelling– and it’s not too distressing, but when i’m home, it’s such a deeply engrained habit to be constantly checking mail that i feel very wrong and kind of upset without it.

anyway, i must state again just how awesome my little tangerine ibook is. i’m so glad i never got rid of it. a co-worker offered today to buy it from me, and she’s not the only person who has expressed an interest. but i think i will hang on to this sturdy, adorable little machine for a good while longer. in fact, i’m thinking squishy will find a home inside 9 Westy. a good, sturdy, compact, and good-looking computer will be appropriate inside my sturdy, compact (and hopefully one day good-looking) van.

i think i will take this opportunity now to introduce you to each of my macs. i’m not saying that macs are a substitute for children, but they all cost me money, bring me great joy and consternation, and i have named them all (well– almost all). so in a really sad, hollow sort of way, it’s similar 🙂

first, i do have two very old macs that have _not_ been named (that i can recall). One is a “Mac Plus”: with no internal hard drive, but a 20mb external hard drive that’s about the size of a small cat, and sounds like a jet engine. This was the first computer I ever bought. I bought it used and was pretty much completely ripped off. I also have a “Mac SE”: with the original canvas carrying bag. It was free. Not a ripoff.

next oldest is my tangerine iBook, squishy. this was the first iBook model ever made. it was difficult to get at the time that i got it– TenPlus systems in Raleigh had a customer refuse delivery on it so they sold it to me. I loved this thing more than I can tell you. I used to make people hug it when they were feeling upset, because it really does make you feel better. It’s rounded and rubberized, and as christa can attest, virtually indestructible. one of the best form factors for laptops ever invented. owning a laptop revolutionized my computing life.

i replaced squishy with a white 14″ iBook (an “icebook”) called icemaiden. this machine enabled me to switch to firewire web cams, which made a huge difference in picture quality and size. it also allowed me to switch to OSX, which was reputed not to be compatible with the tangerine iBooks. icemaiden now has a completely dead hard drive, probably due to exposure to large magnets. i bought this new. one day dave and i walked into the apple store and asked the guys to bring us one powerbook and one ibook. the store was pretty new and they were pretty excited to be selling two laptops at once.

late last year, someone at work was selling a cube, and i decided to go for it. cubes are kind of special. actually, they’re very special. i bought it as much as a collector’s item as because it’s a nice, compact desktop that runs OSX and that i can hang a printer and scanner off of. it’s very buck rogers in the 25th century– all lucite and glowing blue lights. right now it has a dead cd-rom drive. it’s named foxy box.

this year i decided that i really, really, really wanted a lot more screen real estate. i have done some good design work on small screens, but it’s painful. literally. the more i have to move windows around using the trackpad, the more my pre-carpal-tunnel symptoms flare up. so i bought a refurbished 17″ powerbook and named it spacecase. that’s the computer currently in the shop. my sore wrists never really flared up during the roswell development cycle this year and i have to say that i just love that computer to death. it rocks my world.

i have also had, and sold: a dual g4 tower; a powercomputing powertower pro (a “clone”– one of the very few macs that were not made by apple); and a pismo– the first firewire laptop apple ever made. the pismo and the tower were for doing video editing… the power tower was the first really beefy, modern computer i ever bought, and i designed my first web site on it– the still existing wxdu site.

anyone who made it this far definitely gets a cookie 🙂