I realized last night that I started this blog a year ago. I registered it in October but didn't actually post until December.
Thanks to all who have read it (nearly 42,000 site visits) and commented on my postings. I enjoy doing it and it is nice to know folks enjoy reading it.
Happy holidays to all. Have a wonderful, safe, healthy and prosperous New Year!!
Viewing the 'General stuff - not money-related' Category
I realized last night that I started this blog a year ago. I registered it in October but didn't actually post until December.
I haven't posted this month (except the survey income) so thought I'd try and come up with something to report.
I bought a new microwave (see prior report). I spoke to my friend who fixes appliances and he said don't bother. It is 16 years old and not worth repairing. We'll probably save more in electricity conservation than it would cost to repair. So I went to Wal-Mart and got a GE unit for $55. The first one was damaged when I got it home, but I exchanged it yesterday and the new one works fine. I used it to cook grits this morning. We lost a chunk of counter space, but we'll manage.
I took my wife's van in for service last week. With a coupon, that came to less than $200 which wasn't too bad at all. It recently turned 100,000 miles and is doing fine.
Some guys at my synagogue play in a weekly poker game and have been inviting me to join them for years. I finally did 2 nights ago. Everybody buys in for $20 - it is more about having fun and socializing than making big bucks. We played for close to 4 hours (way past my bedtime) and I lost a total of $7.00 which was just fine by me as I had a fun time. I can't see myself playing weekly, but I will join them from time to time.
My wife's birthday is on Monday. I'll give her her gift on Sunday, probably, since I work late on Monday. I know she doesn't read my blog, so I can share what I got her. We tend to buy each other practical gifts, but good quality/luxury versions. She is always complaining about her bed pillow but doesn't want to spend the money to get a better one and isn't sure which to get. Anytime we travel and stay at a Marriott, she always loves the pillow, so I ordered one from Marriott's website. It was $65 which is extravagant for us, but if she likes it as much at home as she does at the hotels, it will be well worth it.
My wife has been stressed out this week because they have been doing a special project at work and she has had to work lots of extra hours. She normally works part-time, a few hours a week, but this week has worked every day and a few days were 9am to 6pm which she hated, but at least we know it was just for this week. After today, it is back to the usual. The only good thing, which I appreciate more than her, is the extra money those hours will bring in. 50% of her pay goes to her 401K, so this week will give that account a nice boost.
Nothing else comes to mind right now, so I'll stop here. I hope everyone has a great weekend.
My trip to Chicago went well. Except for a flight delay leaving due to fog, everything else ran smoothly. The weather there was beautiful - sunny and clear. Not that I really got to be outside at all.
I landed there about 5:00pm Monday. There was a car service waiting to take me to the hotel about 10 minutes away. I checked in and put my bag in my room and went down to register for the conference. Dinner wasn't until 7, so I relaxed in the room a bit. At 7, I went down and they had a small reception and buffet dinner which was very nice. There were 11 doctors plus several reps from the pharma company and the company running the conference. We ate and talked for a couple of hours and I was back in my room before 10.
Yesterday morning, I went down to breakfast just before 8 and the conference started at 8:30. Other than a short morning break and lunch, we were in the room until we finished up around 3. We handed in our eval forms, got our checks and got right on the shuttle to take us back to the airport.
It was an interesting conference and I enjoyed meeting some other docs and discussing various things with them. It isn't something I'd want to do regularly and I'm glad I don't have a career that involves a lot of travel, but it was fine and the check made it worth my while.
I took my car to the body shop Monday morning (see my previous post for the story). The administrator from the company involved in the accident promised he would pay the body shop directly. So today, I called the shop at lunchtime to see if the car would be ready as promised. They said it would be and should they call the other company directly regarding payment. I gave them the number and they called back a short time later to say the payment was made and the car was ready.
I picked it up after work and it looks terrific. Far better than it looked BEFORE the accident. The detailed the whole car, inside and out. Plus, the left front fender was repainted and the front bumper and grill and light assembly is new. It matches quite well, but it isn't hard to tell which parts are brand new and which are 10 years old.
I had to front the money for the rental car but I will fax over the receipt next week and don't anticipate a problem getting reimbursed since they handled the body shop bill so smoothly and promptly.
So an unneeded ordeal, but one that was resolved very easily.
This isn't a financial post, just so you know.
I went for my semi-annual periodontist appointment today. I always feel like I'm on a construction site. First they go at me with the metal picks. Then they get out the powerwasher and blast me with a high-powered stream of water. Then they finish me off with the mint-flavored sandblaster. I always joke that next time, I want them to do my face and give me a dermabrasion treatment at the same time.
We got home Saturday afternoon. We had a really great trip - did lots of fun things in New Hampshire. If anyone is ever thinking of visiting the state, let me know. I'll be happy to share lots of tips we gathered during our 2-week stay.
Went back to work yesterday. Busy, as expected, and lots of messages waiting for my return. I got through some of them, but still had plenty left at the end of the day.
I was actually off again today as my wife was scheduled for surgery on her hand to remove two growths on her fingers. Everything went well and she is feeling fine. Just a bit awkward having her left hand all bandaged up.
Tomorrow, I really need to start attacking the stack of charts, messages and forms at the office. Fun, fun, fun.
I did find time this morning to do one medical survey, so that earned me a $30 Amazon certificate. I tried to do more later in the day but couldn't connect with the call center (the survey is done online while speaking with a rep by phone at the same time).
I haven't totaled up the vacation spending yet. I'm really curious to do that and see how we made out. The first half of the trip was quite cheap as the hotels were free on Marriott Reward points and we hardly spent anything on activities - just on food. The 2nd part of the trip, we did more activities that had fees associated with them, and the last 4 nights, we paid for our hotel. I'm guessing that we spent somewhere in the $2,500 range for the 2-weeks including everything, but that's really just a ballpark estimate. I'll post when I have the final numbers.
My daughter graduated elementary school today. She is now officially a middle-schooler. How time flies. We stopped in to see her first grade teacher to get her yearbook signed. Jen is now taller than her. In fact, she's taller than her fifth grade teacher also (and taller than her mother). I know we haven't aged or changed over the years.
After graduation, we went into Philadelphia to Jen's favorite restaurat, a vegetarian Kosher Chinese place in Chinatown. We stuffed ourselves full of steamed vegetable buns, scallion pancakes, moo shu vegetables and more (and brought home plenty of extra for lunch tomorrow).
We're getting together with some family on Saturday to celebrate also.
We took the plunge and bought DD her first cell phone. We've been researching it for a few weeks. We checked the prepaid options but finally decided to add a line to our Cingular/ATT family plan. On the surface, the prepaid option looked cheaper. However, with her on our plan, calls she makes to our cell phones (or us to hers) are free. Also, any friends she calls who are on the Cingular/ATT network would also be free.
We never use all of our plan minutes and, in fact, have about 4,000 rollover minutes stored. So even if, with her, we now use all of our plan minutes, we've still got a cushion of rollover minutes so we wouldn't generate any additional charges.
We did opt for the phone insurance for now until she gets used to carrying and caring for the phone.
Of course, while we were there, DW started looking at all the nice new phones. Her phone is almost 3 years old. I upgraded last year after losing my phone. The clerk said she was eligible for a free upgrade - just had to pay for the new phone. She looked at the options and liked one that was $29.99. We decided that would be her Mother's Day gift. She's been wanting a new phone for quite a while. We rarely splurge like that or upgrade things that are still working okay, so it was actually a hard decision, but she's happy to have a nice new phone with more modern features.
My mom offered to buy us Broadway show tickets for our anniversary this year so I went online to pick a show. Since it will just be my wife and I, I wanted to pick something adult oriented. Otherwise, our daughter would have been upset that we weren't taking her, as we all love going to the theater.
We chose Avenue Q which from what I know about it is definitely not a family show. We'll be going in July, the weekend of our anniversary. We're looking forward to it as we haven't been to a show for a couple of years.
We finally figured out our summer travel plans. In my last post, I said how we were looking at New Hampshire, Boston, and Rhode Island. Well, the more we researched New Hampshire, the more things of interest we found throughout the state. And after checking the Boston guides again, we realized that on our last visit, we had hit almost all of the sites that we were really interested in.
So the final decision is that we will be spending the whole 2 weeks in New Hampshire. We're starting with a 1-night stay in Hartford, CT to visit family. Then we will move on to Manchester, NH for 7 nights. We'll use that as our base for exploring the whole southern part of the state. Then we'll do two nights in Lebanon to see some sites along the western border before ending up in Franconia in the White Mountains for 4 nights. Everything but the Franconia part will be free with Marriott Reward points. So the grand total hotel cost for 14 nights will be under $400.
For anyone planning a trip to New Hampshire, the state tourism guide is pretty worthless as it is horribly disorganized. The site that we found that was extremely helpful was www.newhampshire.com. They break the state down into several regions and have a list of 10 things to see and do in each of those regions.
Now we just need August to come soon.
I realized that I haven't made an entry for a couple of weeks. It seems like we've been busy non-stop with one thing or another. I'm on a few committees at our synagogue, busy with work, attending some school things with DD, etc.
One thing we've started doing seriously is figuring out our summer vacation. We've been tossing around ideas for a few months but I think we've finally narrowed it down. Now that DW isn't working, we can do a 2-week vacation rather than 1 week. That helps a lot in the planning. My main criteria was that I wanted to use our Marriott points as much as possible. We usually use them every other year to pay for at least part of our trip. We currently have over 100,000 points. If we plan it right, that may well cover just about all of a 2-week trip.
Anyway, last summer we went to Stowe, VT and loved it so we want to head back to New England this year. As of now, we're planning to start in New Hampshire. We've been paging through the state tour guide (which is really poorly organized) and the AAA guidebook (which is very well organized) to get some ideas of what sites we want to visit.
A couple of weeks ago, DD asked if we could go back to Boston some time. We were there 3 years ago and though we had a great time and saw some neat stuff, we barely scratched the surface of all the area has to offer. So after NH, we will head to Boston for a few days.
Finally, as we move toward home, I want to spend a few days in Rhode Island - Providence and Newport. We've never been there but looking through the guide books, there are numerous places of interest that we'd like to see.
We haven't worked out the exact itinerary - how many days in each place - but we're getting there. The main thing I want to figure out is where we want to stay in each locale so I can book the rooms. So that's where we stand for now.
We are the cookie family this year, meaning we are in charge of ordering, storing and distributing the cookies for our troop. We just got back from picking up our initial order - 200 CASES!! That's 2,400 boxes of Girl Scout cookies! Our living room is stacked 5 high with cases of cookies. We can't actually sell until Thursday (we can take orders, but no money), but if anyone is in the neighborhood and needs cookies, come on by.
Our garage used to be a total mess - barely room to walk through it to enter the house. A year or so ago, I finally buckled down and cleaned it out pretty well and it was great. Then my mom decided to sell her house (my childhood home). I still had a ton of stuff stored there. You guessed it. I helped clean out her house and all the stuff ended up in our garage. Back to just a narrow path from driveway to door.
It was a beautiful spring-like day today, 71 degrees in January. I took the opportunity to spend some time in the garage, though not as much as I had planned. I did manage to pack 4 carton boxes with stuff to go to Goodwill. I didn't get to drop it off today, but I'll get it over later this week. That barely made a dent in the appearance of the garage, but it got me motivated to keep at it. I'm not sure what we're up to tomorrow, but if nothing is going on, I will get back in there and do more cleaning and organizing.
ETA: My biggest problem is I always hold out hopes of selling the stuff we don't want. We've done a few yard sales in the past, and have done well with them, but the stuff piles up far faster than it sells, and last year we never managed to have a sale. At some point, I just get to the point where I'd rather have the space than the money. Decluttering is very therapeutic.
Just in case you had any doubts that the concept of personal responsibility no longer exists in this country, Pfizer just released a diet pill for dogs. Seeing as more than 2/3 of American adults are overweight or obese, I guess it should be no surprise that our pets are also getting fat. People overfeed themselves and overfeed their pets. And since people are sitting around all day rather than getting out and exercising, their pets are sitting around right with them.
There are lots of people who keep trying to come up with all kinds of excuses about why people are getting fatter (even though the answer is quite simple) but with dogs it isn't tough to understand. These are creatures that are 100% dependent on someone else for their nourishment. Feed them too much and they gain weight. If your dog is getting fat, stop feeding him so much and run around with him more. As a medical professional, I find the fact that any credible scientist even suggested producing this medication to be quite disturbing. I can only hope that one of these days people will wake up and start taking responsibility for both their own health and their pets' health.
I'm not one for resolutions, but I did start back using our treadmill today. I go on and off the exercise wagon over time. I've been off it for a while. Though I haven't really gained any weight, I've definitely developed a little stomach that didn't used to be there. I'm hoping getting back on an exercise routine will help out - it has before. So I will shoot for at least 3 times a week doing 30 minutes on the treadmill.
Did another 30 minutes today: 1/3/07
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