Let it be released from the mind

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

evaluating expenses

I love the technology and programs that Bank of America has put together for managing finances. They recently answered my prayers in re: to managing my "portfolio". So in the recent past you have been able to allocate any debits from the checking account to the type of expense it is--restaurants/dining, groceries, gasoline, paychecks, entertainment, mortgage, utilities, etc. This would then roll up into a budgeting analysis in pie graph form (and who doesn't love pie graphs?!?) to show you how your money was being spent over the course of time. You could analyze your expenses over 3 months, 6 months, one year, etc.

Now they've added a new component to this to make it even more efficient. You can now split your transactions to more accurately reflect the expenses. Before I would pay $670 on a credit card bill, and I would just allocate it towards whatever the greatest single expense was on that bill. Now I can split the transaction to say that $200 went to groceries, $150 to gasoline and the remainder to entertainment. This system is really only effective if you can link your credit cards to your checking account, and if you use your debit card a lot to take directly from yoru checking.

Because of our recent purchase of a used canoe, and having 1.4 million tickets to college football games, our entertainment expenses have now pummeled two former champion categories including mortgage. It's interesting when you look at expenses for a whole year.
Some interesting things I found looking at our expenses for ONE YEAR:

  • my gasoline bill was the same as the amount we spent on clothes and shoes for one year--3.34% of our total expenses for each

  • We spent close to the same amount on our travel as we did on our groceries, 7.11% and 8.11% respectively.

  • We are very giving people, and spent the same on gifts to others as we did on dining out for a whole year--6.36% and 6.29% respectively

  • All expenses related to our house totalled 9.42%, largely because of our expensive cable and telephone bills. When you combine this with our mortgage expenses of 31% we are living above what an acceptable range is for living expenses.

  • My gasoline costs have increased recently by .91% of our total expenses (from 3.34 to 4.25%) in the last three months despite me carpooling 2-3 days a week religiously.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

a few things that have been bothering me

Why do people write WVA? Virginians, stop claiming West Virginia as yours too. The abbreviation is WV.

This afternoon my tire abdominal muscles hurt. You know, those ones that encircle my lower abdomen? I have not felt the "burn" from my african dance class before, but it must be from that. So is it possible for you to exercise a muscle literally by just shaking it really hard? We have this one dance move in the Koko (I think this is what it's called--it's from Guinea) where we bend our knees slightly in a plie (plee-ay) put our hands in front of us and run with our feet as fast as possible. This not only shakes your bum uncontrollably, but basically everything else on your body that wants to move. This moves my tire a lot and I think I'll give another example which luckily doesn't suit me. Imagine a woman with giant bye-bye arms and her waving incessantly for a straight hour. Would that actually work her arm muscles, or does it just hurt from the sheer movement of said fat back and forth? I'm hoping that it's actually working my fat tire (hooray, beer) and not just fatiguing it. Amy has brought up the excellent point of those rubber fat jiggler machines that were in the 1950's that they'd show working people up in a huffy. I guess they were on to something.

With the release of Dark Knight there have been some incredible programs on cable channels like looking into the psyche of Batman, understanding the Dark Knight philosophy, the science behind his gadgets, etc. etc. I hope that you are understanding my sarcasm now... What D & I find interesting after watching about 20 minutes of the technology of Batman's suit was how thought out this was. Here's an interesting point--Batman is not actually fighting criminals. It's a movie. He doesn't have to have a special plate developed to stop bullets but still allow him to be light as a feather. He is not actually flying when they show him flying. He is not actually evading real bullets when they are shot at him.

Friday, July 18, 2008

How is it possible that the medical field has not come up with a better way to handle the whole peeing in a cup thing. We scrub arteries in hearts and make new bladders out of intestines but we can't make it a little easier for a woman to give a urine sample?

I got some blood work done today to establish a health "baseline" for myself. As a late 20-something I know I shouldn't be worrying too much about cholesterol. But I would think that doctors would appreciate me starting to care about my future health now and hopefully save them some money later (and their artery scrubbers). So she gives me a cup to pee in--a Dixie cup mind you. In college I would drink Jello shots out of these, and now you want me to aim the impossible aim into this? I hereby challenge you doctors. Find a better contraption for us poor ladies to use. It's been far too long and we're just not going to take peeing on our hand anymore.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

flowers of DC

I had such a wonderful weekend recently that I had to share it. You know how when you have absolutely nothing scheduled for a weekend, you still tend to do absolutely nothing. Like sit on the couch and watch TBS movies that you actually own already but still continue to watch with all the commercials regardless? Or play the Wii and realize three hours have gone by? Or just make fresh pasta because you're bored (this usually ends in anger for me however, so I wouldn't recommend it)?

Well, I took advantage of my completely free weekend for once, and despite the heat and humidity got out there and enjoyed DC. I layed in bed Saturday morning wondering if I could actually make myself run. I realized I couldn't, but that there were great things blooming in DC that I had nearly forgotten about. This was the first weekend that they were opening Kenilworth Park & Aquatic Gardens early for viewing the summer lotuses in full bloom. Waterlillies which I know nothing about were also blooming too. Apparently they only bloom during the day, and the lilypad and flower are rooted within the soil beneath the freshwater. Shout out to wikipedia.

Laika got really hot but enjoyed herself. She kept staring at this one guy that was walking towards us and wouldn't look at the camera despite my efforts. The guy was so friendly that he said he'd squat behind us so she'd look in my direction. Except when he stood up he stepped right in to the pond behind him and soaked his tennis shoes and socks and everything. I felt really bad but it was still very kind of him!

We finished off the morning by going to the College Park farmer's market where I bought a ton of fresh locally-grown plums and blueberries and peaches. I don't know much about plums and there were varieties there that I'd never heard of. Most were fairly small. I got a variety known as Shiro (Yellow skin and flesh; very juicy, flavor is mild, sweet. Usually fruits heavily. Ripens early August. Japanese type) and I think a Methley which has a taste out of this world (Medium to large, reddish purple fruit. Juicy flesh with a sweet, mild, distinctive flavor. Fine quality. Good for fresh eating or jelly. Self fruitful. Ripens late July to August. A good pollinator for other early blooming varieties. Japanese type. Vigorous.) I hope that if a description were to appear of me online, that the last descriptor would be VIGOROUS.

I went to the pool for an hour or two (Laika sadly not invited despite her attempts to attend) and finished the evening off with fresh corn and a NY strip and a bottle of Argentinian white wine.

On Sunday D & I made breakfast together to use up the rest of the smoked salmon I had leftover from Meg's bachelorette picnic. We made crepes (he is a crepe genius) and filled them with smoked salmon and herbed goat cheese. Had I grown a sufficient amount of chives they would've been included as well. But alas, they petered out early in the garden. I poached a few eggs badly and laid those on top. It nearly made us sick, all that cheese and salmon and runny egg yolk. But it was the good kind of sick.

The fam then set out on a car ride up River Road to McKee Beshers Wildlife Management Area after seeing pictures from this website one year ago. I had marked it on my Outlook calendar last summer hoping that I'd have the opportunity to see them this year. It was well worth the drive and the intense heat of the open field to experience a football field worth of flowers. It's a shame the flowers are planted there to attract birds for hunting, but I enjoyed seeing them nonetheless. Laika's always in the mood for a good pic, and enjoyed running up and down the rows.

Did I mention we finished off that Sunday evening with Watermelon Basil Margaritas? That was a nice touch to a refreshingly simple weekend.

Sunday, July 13, 2008

RNO 2008

It was an interesting one this year. It came way early, for one. Normally we celebrate our annual games in mid-August, but to make sure Amy & Adam could participate we held it the last weekend in June. The weather had been killer all week and humid as could be, making a ripe ground for flies and gross bags of crab shells the next day. But beneath the trees it was fine and we didn't get too muddy--until the Regatta race. I guess the Regatta was where things started to fall apart a bit. During my fourth or fifth time of racing the regatta, my shoulder separated as it slipped out from under me and I face planted in the mud. It was all laughs until everyone realized that I was crying like a blubbering idiot. Several hours (and days) later the arm was mostly immobile and painful as hell. But I soldiered through and dealt with the pain with beer and vodka.

Regardless of the pain and turmoil, the girls were tight finishing this year. Meg, Kelly & Liz were all tied with 10 points, and for the first time I didn't place as I came in with 9. I'll blame it on my shoulder. It should be noted that Kelly did in fact have the most number of first places amongst the three. But we settled in the style of game that no one can contest--toilet bowl ringer. Liz pulled out first in the end, getting by far the closest to the horseshoe pole with the toilet seat. Dan S. was the best at this game and made several ringers. Pat didn't even compete in 1/3 of the events, instead being lulled by the heavy A/C and Yankees game indoors, and still managed to get a bronze.

Two idiots hard at work getting rid of trees that were in the way of toilet bowl ringer (toilet seat horseshoes). Here's my mom once again trouncing me in Camptown Races. She's wearing her Roxanna fire house shirt, where in the '80's we would go during the summer for fried chicken dinners on the Eastern shore. It was a favorite family event with my grandparents when they lived in Swan Keys.

Above, FAM in heroic feats of strength, and the whipped cream pie-eating contest.