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January 2005

being frugal

January 31, 2005   

It’s been a long time since I’ve truly tried to be frugal, but I think it’s definitely something I need to do right now. We have a lot of things to pay for right now. I think the TiVo (and the various accessories I spent money on) was my big purchase for the year, so I’m not going to buy anything else for entertainment that costs anything near that this year.

Now that I have Netflix, I don’t spend any money on DVDs. I have been thinking about getting a library card instead of buying so many books all the time. I probably spend $50-80 every time I go to the book store. I will go this weekend to sign up for a card. The other thing that I should do is make a book donation while I’m there. I have tons of books that the library could use. I don’t know if I’ll have time to get a box together before I go, but I definitely should do hat. I also have clothes I need to sort through and donate.

Cooking dinner at home more often will help save money, as well as help us eat better, so that’s definitely something we’ve been trying to do more. I think that we have more than enough good kitchen tools now, so we have to aggressively halt any cookware-envy in its tracks.

Other than these things, I’m not sure where the hole in my pocket comes from. Well, there is the money I periodically send to my mom, my dad, and to my sister. But pretty soon, hopefully, I can stop sending money to my sister and my dad, for different reasons. And my mom now has two boarders living at the house, so she is generating a steady, albeit small, income, which is great news.

I think after plugging up those holes, I should be able to throw a lot more into my second mortgage (which is a variable rate), expecially if I lower my 401(k) contribution. I’m pretty certain that my 401(k) portfolio is not going to outperform the interest deficit created by my second mortgage and the one credit card I have a balance on, so I am going to lower my contribution and throw that money into those problem areas instead.

Seppo and I have chosen a date, but it’s not fit for public broadcast yet, until we are rock-solid on the date. It’s more of an internal deadline right now. Heh. All I can say is, I’m sorry, Joe. 😀

reflections on december

January 25, 2005   

I’ve harped on this for months now, but I think I learned a lot about the writing process. I haven’t had this much of a learning experience in a very long time, so I keep coming back to it. Some things I learned were:

  • You write by writing. Yes, it is a truism. Shush. Everyday, if you can. The “muse” is not going to inspire you if you don’t write. Most of the inspiration comes from having you having so many ideas in your head that some of them merge and meld and become a story. If you aren’t writing, you aren’t thinking about your story as much as you could be, so you are going to be short on this so-called inspiration.
  • You shouldn’t be so afraid of writing a word that isn’t just perfect for the scene, because it’ll make you afraid of writing a phrase that isn’t just perfect, then a sentence, then a paragraph, then a scene, then a chapter, then a book. Then you’ll have nothing, rather than some good and some bad writing. There is a backspace key for a reason, so stop being a chicken. Leave a note to yourself to come back and fix that word/phrase/sentence/etc. but just keep going.
  • I’m not so good without a general outline. I can write scenes and dialog ok, but I can’t come up with the actual story arc on the fly.
  • I can make at least one reader laugh and feel sad at appropriate moments. It’s a really good feeling to hear someone chuckling as they read something you wrote.
  • The editing process of a book is no less important than the editing procress of a movie. It’s not just replacing some words and fixing typos. Sometimes, you’ll have to shuffle around your scenes, some will need to be “reshot” and some will be dropped altogether. Many new scenes may have to be written to make the story flow correctly. The story might get cut in half, or grow to more than twice the original size.
  • I’m definitely doing this again this year! I loved the feeling of accomplishment, and my first complete read-through made me think that it wasn’t all that bad for a first draft.

what’s that in the wind?

January 24, 2005   

I believe it is called “change”, and not the kind that clinks around in your pockets.

I got an email from my sister on Saturday. She was clearly upset and had some sort of a fight with my father. He told her that he was going to have to remarry because he was too young to be alone. I almost just wrote a rant, but I decided against it. The bottom line is that my mom is finally willing to get divorced, since he brought it up. My dad wants $3K so that he can move out, but he asked MY MOTHER for the $3K on Sunday on the phone in the same conversation he said that he wanted a divorce.

Ok, I just had to repress another urge for a rant, but it’s passing now.

Anyway, the long and the short of it is that we (mom & older bro & sis) are trying to figure out if it’ll just be easier to fork over the money (which we can’t really afford to, by the way) so that the sis won’t have to live with the monster while mom & he are going through divorce proceedings, or if we shut down the money pipe now. I’d like to shut it down now, but on a pragmatic level, it keeps the sis trapped with him, and everyday with him is like another day of sucking on the tailpipe of a car. She is so stressed and tired that I don’t want to put her through his oppressive presence for any longer.

I told my mom that I was willing to put up my third of the $3K.

short catch up

January 21, 2005   

Blogger just ate my post. Oh well.

I had written something about my sister coming to visit, my work environment going all topsy-turvy, receiving my CafePress order (and being quite pleased about it), and getting a TiVo stand-alone unit.

It’s been mostly good.

Seppo and I decided to pick a date by the end of this month. A meta-decision is better than no decision. 😀


January 11, 2005   

I just called CafePress, just to make sure that nothing was wrong with the PDF file that I sent in this time, and they said my order was shipped out this morning!!! I am so excited!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

before i forget

January 11, 2005   

Last Friday, my work had a reorg.

Today, I met a very famous national figure.


January 10, 2005   

I recently picked up a new “word” the other day.

fanwank: To fill in plot holes or explain away lapses in continuity in fictional works by coming up with (often convoluted) explanations of how it could have happened.

“But David used Sarah’s real name even though he never knew her before she changed her identity.”

“He could have read her file. He had access to it in episode seventeen and there were a few minutes when he could have flicked through it.”

There is a whole lot of fanwanking on the Lost forums on Television Without Pity lately.

my letter to my senator

January 6, 2005   

Dear Senator Boxer,

I am writing with no other purpose but to thank you as profusely as I can for showing the courage and conviction that all statespeople should — but often find themselves unable to — in standing up for all of our votes, especially those of our fellow Americans in Ohio.

A great many details went wrong in our last election, and many things have gone wrong in the interim elections for years. Largely, as a nation, we had been able to ignore them because the system as a whole at least appeared to be working to ensure everyone’s votes. It seems that the nation has had an awakening in the course of the last few elections, and the myth that we wanted to believe about every vote counting and the sanctity of our right to vote were shattered forever for many of us. The documented stories that came out of this election were appalling. While I, too, did not hold out hope for a change in the final results, I feel that it was of the utmost importance that we as a nation address the issue of voter intimidation and various means of disenfranchisement, whether executed by purposeful individuals or merely a result of unfortunate circumstance. Each and every one of us should know for certain that our vote can and will be accurately counted in determining our leaders, and I applaud you for helping to bring this to light.

I am proud to have you as my senator in my home state of California, and want you to know that your works do not go unacknowledged. This act of courage will not be forgotten.

You can send your own email here:


January 6, 2005   

There was some problem with the PDF files I submitted to CafePress, so they cancelled my order. 🙁 Everyday, for the last week, I checked the order status page every 5-10 minutes that I was in front of my computer, heart beating rapidly with anticipation with the hopes that this time, this click, this refresh will be when my order goes from “Production” to “Shipped”. I felt so deflated. My voice broke embarrassingly when I spoke to the customer service people.

Seppo has kindly offered me his help to get it straightened out. He is very good to me.

I got two set of double-spaced, fixed-width, single-sided printouts for editing purposes from Fedex-Kinko’s today though, so at least I have that to work with.


January 5, 2005   

I am unable to keep from looking at my order history page. I peek every ten minutes or so, checking on the status of my last order. It has been listed as being in production for the last three or four days now.

The book I picked up in my last Amazon order, called something like Math-A-Day, is not very good. By that, I mean that it is too simplistic. I wanted to get challenging problems that could be done in fifteen minutes to an hour, but what I have are somewhat trivial problems that can be done in less than fifteen minutes. Perhaps I could use it as for warm-up exercises so that I can get in the right frame to tackle IMO-level* problems. I have a couple of books for that, but I need to train because they are totally unintelligible to me right now. I remember when they weren’t. Like anything else, you have to constantly hone your skills or you lose them. They seem vaguely familiar, but it’s like seeing someone you haven’t seem in twenty years.

* IMO refers to International Mathematics Olympiad. Geeked!