Archive for November, 2007

Carrying Out a Plan

If there is one thing I have learned as this blogging life has grown, it is that wanting to do something isn’t the same as doing it.  When I think about losing weight, I want to be thinner but, guess what, without following a plan that leads to changing my eating habit so that I eat less, I’ll still be wanting when I step on the scale.

But stepping on the scale is a part of my plan, so I had better get doing or get ready to be depressed.  Yes, you read it right.  I step on the scale first thing in the morning (right after I pee) to start the day and at night just before crawling under the covers with T.  I even do it in the middle of the day sometime.  Here’s the deal.  Quite a few people will tell you that losing weight is a mental process and that the scale can make that process harder because the progress you are looking for doesn’t always show up.  It becomes the reason to quit and go binge so that you’ll feel better.  But just like in everything else that is part of a plan, you really do need to monitor what is happening.  Check your weight, see how much looser your clothes are, and keep a chart on the way things change from week to week, month to month.  Remember you are creating a new habit and you want it to last a life time. 

Matter of fact you might even try this new service to keep yourself on track.  Yes, that’s right, get creative and have fun, and email yourself about the various elements of your plan of which you want to keep track.

Meanwhile, keeping track of money isn’t something either T. or I do naturally.  We both deal with lot of cash transactions daily and are used to paying as we go.  Our new saving’s plan is helping us with this.  As mentioned before, we are in it together and making some nice progress.  This week we reached $1400 in our account and we have started looking into where we want to put this first lump sum when it reaches $2000 by mid-December.  And no, it wont be going into Christmas presents unless we want to consider the reaching of the goal itself as a present.

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A Funny Thing Happened

It has to do with trying to understand this coming election.  I want to believe that all the talk and all the apparent discovery through the debate/caucus process is going to yield someone that I can believe in to do the right things for this country.  Not just the right thing for some individuals but for the whole country.  But for that to happen the world as we know it has to change and that my friend doesn’t happen so easily.  The funny thing is that it does appear that we on the internet blog whirl are becoming the center of whatever it is that is going to happen, and that to me is really funny.  All my writing life I have been trying to reach the world and now because of the internet it is reaching out to me.

Meanwhile, this editorial  in the LA Times caught my attention.  In it an exiled (I can guess why) Iranian discusses and dissects the current government of Iran and its foreign/domestic policy as a double standard lie.  The thing is, that if you replace the country named Iran in the article with one named the current government of the US you may see some startling parallels in the practices of each.  I have to believe that people who think about the US and Iran and probably China too, have a really hard time seeing any real differences.

But the funniest thing that happened is that T and I sat down together and watched the Democratic Debate on CNN instead of the NBA game between Dallas and San Antonio.  I can only hope my friends don’t find out.  But that isn’t the only thing that makes me smile.  We really enjoyed listening to and watching the whole interaction though I have to say the most fun was listening to Kucinich and watching CNN try to amp up the animosity they hoped to find amongst Clinton, Obama and Edwards. 

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Planning and diets as Partners, pt.2

It has been a week of ups and downs.  Last Friday, as we were totally up our week’s expenses, T. told me she felt sick.  We spent the day nursing her at home but by midnight things were going south.  Next thing we knew, we were in the emergency ward at Scripps and she was taking a CT scan.  Lucky for us that our company has a health care plan.  Monday, her regular MD referred her to specialist and he put her on an immediate diet to prep for a colonoscopyon Wednesday.  Talk about your emergency funD.

Anyway, our plans in other regards have been moving along just fine.  We now have $1250 in our shared savings account and between us we have lost 33 lbs, 13 for her and 20 for me.  More importantly though, we both have expressed the feeling that the planning is turning into a habit.  Awareness of frivolous spending and cognizance of eating more than we need are becoming, in just the short month since we began, a comfortable habit.

And I am really liking the savings and the feeling of thin that comes when I rub her stomach.

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Recess iz in

I have been waiting to find someone who would mention this fact because it has long been one of my contentions that part of our failure to understand our own culture is that we deny the facts in favor of the fantasy.  England’s George Monbiot writing in the Guardian on Oct. 9th, however, finally crossed the line in this post about welcoming the coming recession.

The exception is housing, and in this case the growth in value is one of the reasons for exclusion. A new analysis by Goldman Sachs shows that current house prices are not just the result of a shortage of supply: if they were, then the rise in prices should have been matched by the rise in rents. Even taking scarcity into account, the analysts believe that houses are overvalued by some 20%.

Here in California 20% seems really low.  Six and Seven bedroom McMansions jammed up against each other so that the developer can maximize his or her income.  Six or Seven bedrooms when the average family size has shrunk to 2.5 children. 

George’s point is that we will never cut back unless forced to do so and now that the recession is at the gates, there is more and more reason really to throw them open and let it in.

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Making money

T. has developed a rather interesting short term earning project which I have decided to use myself.  For the past two years she has taken advantage of credit card offers for 0% loans and balance transfers to set up interest earning cd accounts with her credit union.  The first one she worked was for $20,000 at 4.75% for six months.  She paid the credit card its monthly charge and collected the interest on the money from her cd.  A cool $950 before taxes.  Then she did a balance transfer for $6000 for 13 months at 0% that she turned into a personal loan to her sister at 3.5% for the same time period.  Another $210 in profit.  This year she started with a 27,500 loan at 1.9% for 6 months which she was able to bank at 5.1%.  That’s another $850 and on top of that she was able to do another balance transfer for 21,000 at 0% for 13 months so that when she pays back the remainder of the original amount of 27,500 (approx. $4000) she will have  continued to earn money on OPM for 19 months.  Since she has investment property tax write-offs available, she figures all of the earnings will be tax free.  And of course, she has rolled the earnings into short term cds, too.  

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A few late breaking headlines

“The economy gains 166,000 jobs” shout the headlines from the LA times.  Viacom profit shoots up to 80%, while GM apparently finds it tougher in China – profit slid to 14% even though the volume of cars sold rose to 27% of the total car market yell some others.  The news is mixed as they say.  Ford eradicates 60,000 jobs, Yahoo apologizes to congress (but not to the Chinese man, Shi Tao, it helped send to prison for 10 years) and I begin to sense a pattern here.  For every up there seems to be a down.  Factory orders are up but Chevron fails to cash in on high oil prices and lays the blame on California’s lower pump prices ($3 a gal ???) instead of the massive buy back program its huge profits have allowed it to use to increase its share value – over $30 billion of buy backs in the last two years.

Yes, now I see it.  It is all in the ebb and flow.  But if you Google share buy back, you will see where your money is really going.  I see where they punished another CEO with a 165 million dollar buy out the other day.  Well, never mind that, it’s a free market economy, isn’t it?

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More plan than diet for now

Just got back from a great little trip to LA where T. and I got to see the Clippers home opener.  We have sort of bonded around the team, T. and I.  And we got to see a little of the town, too.  I forgot how much there there is there.  We drove around and eventually found our Ramada Inn and then scouted out the Staples, got dinner, surveyed the new Nokia, Neal Young was playing, and the amazing number of new buildings that have come in to take up all the parking spaces.

We are actually signed up for 20 games this year spread throughout the season, and this one was a good start.  The team showed some poise by not losing it in the third quarter.   And some self confidence when they actually used defence and good shooting to get into Lawlor Land, past 100 first.

And I am proud to say our eating plans worked too.  Liquid meals for me, Jenny for T., then dinner together sharing a steak salad, cheese cake, with a dessert of nachos and cheese at the game.

Expenses were kept low relatively (about $400 for the day and a half trip) and with our current saving’s plan any additional extra-curricular stuff has to be matched anyway so our net worth will increase a little even as we kick out the jams so to speak.

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