Friday, March 27, 2009

update: the new frugality

So, we decided to get serious about being frugal, and I figured it was time for an update.

Through meal planning and coupon cutting, I have cut our food bills by more than 25%.
We took advantage of the low interest rates to refinance the house, cutting our mortage by more than 15%
We kept our car, and didn't get the 2nd one
And big big sacrifice -- the dog goes to daycare only one day a week

Where we haven't done so well: we booked two vacations for the year, still eat out too much, added a Netflix account, added HBO on Demand.

the next six months are about building savings and reducing debt. I'll post an update in September and we will see how we did.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

who knew?

Today, I was doing some reading for class, and stumbled across the ideal job description:

"those who are called philosophers, or men of speculation, whose trade it is not to do anything, but to observe everything: and who, upon that account, are often capable of combining together the powers of the most distant and dissimilar objects"

that's want I want, to do nothing and observe everything... where do I apply?

BTW, the quote is from Adam Smith, The Wealth of Nations

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

ten days, two papers

And so it begins. I have ten days to write two papers. Two completely different, no intersections at all, 5-7 page papers. The first is on The Problem of Atheism and Natural Rights. The second is on how sci-fi films create a world, a sense of plausible reality.

It's all very schizophrenic, and interesting and exhausting.

Sunday, March 15, 2009

I don't think that word means what you think it does

BONUS -- a reward for good performance.

That's what I always thought it meant, in a work context. But clearly I am misinformed. AIG is awarding $100 million in bonuses to the executives in the business unit that brought the company to the brink of collapse this year. AIG got billions in bailout funds from the federal government so they could stay afloat. So what performance are they rewarding with these bonuses? Why aren't they firing the losers? Why a bonus? If they have an extra $100 million floating around, why not use it to pay back a small fraction of the taxpayer's money?

How clueless can you be, and run a multi-national corporation??

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

the Catholic Church strikes again

The Catholic Church has its head up its ass again. I say this with all due respect. Seriously. The Church has condemned an abortion. Not surpising, except this abortion was performed in Brazil, on a 9 year old girl. No typo, folks. This poor girl was expecting twins, as a result of being raped by her stepfather. Her life was threatened by the pregnancy. The girl weighs 80 pounds. Her doctor says her body was just too small for one baby, let alone two.

Abortion is illegal in Brazil, except in cases where the mother's life is threatened. If the courts in Brazil can see that this is a compelling instance for abortion, why can't the Catholic Church? The Church is considering excommunicating the girl's mother and her doctor for participating in this "heinous" act. Apparently the act her stepfather committed is considered less offensive.

I hope the pope burns in a hell of his own making. I really do.

Monday, March 09, 2009

is DST really worth it?

I am a creature of habit. Really serious, deeply ingrained habit. So Daylight Savings Time is hell for me. It takes me several days to adjust to the time change. I feel out of sorts, cranky, disrupted and unsettled. I KNOW that it's only an hour either way. I know it. But my body doesn't. It insists on feeling like someone yanked the rug out from under my feet, and the feeling won't go away for another couple of days.

So really, now that we are not farmers anymore -- do we really need this? Does it really make a difference in our economy? couldn't we come up with a better scheme? I vote for let me get up when I'm awake, and go to sleep when I'm tired, and work when I feel like it. Doesn't that sound better than making everyone march to the same drum?

Wednesday, March 04, 2009

deja vu

This week, I had to read portions of Hobbes' Leviathan for my course on justice. Almost 30 years ago, as a college freshman, I was doing the exact same thing. I was in bed, reading the other day, when I was struck by this incredible sense of deja vu. And then I remembered. I was in bed in my dormroom, back in Denton Hall, struggling to get through the exact same passages. I felt the same, I really did. I was more successful this time -- I didn't actually fall asleep every two pages.

Back then, I remember being furious, absolutely furious with a dear friend. We were taking the same government course. I told her how tedious the reading had been for me. And she said it. The truly terrible thing. "Me too, until I found the summary in the back of the book." There was a summary? A SUMMARY?? I hadn't had to read the hundreds of pages of tedium? AAAARRRRRGGGGHHHHH!!!

This time, because I am infinitely more mature [no snorting from the peanut gallery, please], I actually read and followed the arguments. I can't say I enjoyed it, but I can say that I didn't fall asleep. And I didn't look for the summary.

Monday, March 02, 2009

good things

The DOW dropped 300 points today. It snowed. I'm cold. And you know what? Doesn't really matter. Things are good. GOOD. We have all we need. And increasingly, I am reminded what a big, big deal that is.

I was resentful this past week. Too much of my time had claims on it. I had work, and school, and our son had a ton of stuff to do. We had family stuff to do. And then it hit me -- I was cranky about good stuff.

I had family stuff to do -- I had family that wanted to spend time with us, and us with them. My son needed me to drive him places. Because he was serving dinner at a soup kitchen, going to a Habitat leadership meeting, worked in an East Baltimore park, prepping it for spring. I had classes to go to. Because I love going to school, and my work graciously pays for it. Poor poor me.

I had to go to work. Damn it. To a job I enjoy, with people I like, at a salary I only used to dream about. Poor poor me.

Sometimes I need to take a breath, and remind myself how damn good it all is.