Tag: money and finances

And he walked on down the hall

Another long workday.  My hours are going to increase for a while until we get over the hump, which will hopefully be sometime in mid-March.  In the meantime, I expect longer days.  More than likely I’ll start getting up earlier, working from home until Kelly is up and ready to go and then head into the office.  I’ll do my best to keep the evenings clear, but we’ll see how things go. 

I ate lunch today, but didn’t take a lunch break.

Finally got around to moving an automatic payment from an old account to a new one.  That took way longer than it should have.  Paid the auto insurance bill.  I’m annoyed as all heck that in Virginia you can’t pay the entire year in advance (I was able to do that in Maryland).  Apparently, in Virginia, the policies are written to be six months.  I just hate having to remember to pay these bills.  I went to set up automatic payments for it, but they automatic payments are deducted monthly and charge a $5 service fee.  You can’t do automatic payments if you pay the whole thing up front.

Avalon finally got the new website up so that I can once again pay the rent automatically.  Recall from a while back that I had this all nice and working, and then Avalon decided to cancel it all so that they could revamp their website.  After a few months, they got the new website up and announced it today.  Thrilled, I went to it and couldn’t for the life of me figure out where to set up the payments.  Long story short:  the site only works with Internet Explorer; no Safari, no Firefox.  Fortunately, I figured this out by logging into the site on a whim using Internet Explorer on my work laptop.  The message that indicates this is not displayed when you log in using another browser, only using Internet Explorer.  I was able to set up my recurring payments, but I’ve got to say that this has been a customer service disaster from end to end.

I also paid the water and cable bills today, now the only two remaining bills that have no eBill mechanism and no way to do automatic payments.  (Not entirely true.  Cable does, but it involves calling customer service, and I’m through with that for a while.  It’s easier to pay the bill via BillPay.)

We booked our travel to warm and sunny Albany, New York.  Yes, there’s no place like Albany on Valentines Day, and that’s where we’ll be, visiting strausmouse  and rmstraus  in the dead of winter.  The original plan was to drive but I’m in no mood to spend 14 hours of my weekend in a car.  So we bit the bullet and bought fairly reasonable plane tickets.  Nonstop from Reagan-National.  Total travel time should be under 2 hours and that includes going to the airport.

Kelly’s belly seemed to have a growth spurt over the last few days.  She is looking increasingly pregnant.  We have a doctor appointment tomorrow morning.

I’m going to try and squeeze in a little pleasure reading before heading off to bed.  I’ve got the fireplace going, now all I need is a glass of chocolate milk.

Time keeps on slipping, slipping, into the future

I was busy most of the day today–another cold day here in the metro DC area–and even as the day ended there was no relief in sight.  I managed to talk my way into a meeting that I thought started at 2 PM, and did start at 2 PM, only in the wrong time zone.  So I rushed home from the office in time to call into a two hour meeting that lasted from 5 – 7 PM.  By the time it was over, I was hungry.  I had some tomato bisque soup for dinner and made a grilled cheese sandwich to go along with it.

A few odds and ends taken care of today.  I managed to squeeze in a haircut this morning.  I finally got around to adding Kelly to my auto insurance.  She can cancel hers tomorrow.  I also met briefly with our financial adviser to begin the process of planning for the coming family expansion and all that it entails.

The February SCIENTIFIC AMERICAN came in the mail today, as did the March ASIMOV’S and the December/January BULLETIN of the Science Fiction Writers of America.  Also a few statements from the insurance company, indicating that they have now paid for some of our OB doctor appointments.  (Originally, they were trying to bill Kelly’s insurance first, but since she canceled her insurance when she got on mine, there were some delays in payment until the computer records were sorted out.  It has all now been resolved.)

No reading today.  No writing either.  I’d like to get started on the second draft of "Homecoming" so that there might be a chance that I can finish it and get it in the mail in the next 10 days.

As I write this, I notice that the counter in the kitchen is a mess and that’s my fault.  I need to get it cleaned up.

And I need to get back to the gym.


Workin’ 9-to-5

I felt a little sluggish throughout the rest of the day yesterday–cold too, and that’s probably because the saline they put back in me was freezing!  I didn’t end up cooking last night.  I was going to make Taco Salad but decided to hold off until tonight.  For one thing, there were leftovers we could eat.  For another, AJ and Denisse might come over tonight and I thought the Taco Salad would be a good dish for everyone.

I received the December 2008 "Double" issue of ANALOG in the mail yesterday with part 3 of Rob Sawyer’s Wake.  It reminded me that I still have the finishing touches to put on my workshop story, and get it sent out.

I get paid today, but I always get my pay stub a day early.  This paycheck sets the record as the biggest paycheck I’ve ever received.  Remember that I get "sabbatic" pay when I take time off.  That is, when I take vacation time, my company pays me an extra 5% of my salary.  This was originally done as an inducement to take time off because many people were working themselves to death.  Since I got a decent raise back in June, and had two full weeks of sabbatic pay on this paycheck, it represents the single largest paycheck I have ever received.  In relative terms, it is nearly 5 times as big as the first paycheck I ever received here, just over 14 years ago.

Today’s reading: SCIENTIFIC AMERICAN (Nov. 2008).

I can’t get this garlic taste out of my mouth

Up at 6:30 AM and into work shortly thereafter.  For some reason, I didn’t feel as productive as usual today.  Work has seemed relatively quiet all week long, but it just seemed to drag a bit today because I couldn’t get the engines firing on all 8 cylinders.

I made dinner again tonight.   This time, it was a caesar salad with a homemade dressing, and linguini and homemade pesto sauce.  Once again, thanks to strausmouse  and spouce for the recipes.  Very garlicy!

I got a $40 check from Washington Gas today.  This is hopefully the end of a ridiculous merry-go-round with the gas company.  The short version is that they said I owed them money.  I called and they said their computers made a mistake and I didn’t owe them money.  Next I heard from them was through a collection agency saying that I owed them money.  So I sighed and sent them a check for the amount they said I owed.  Today, I got that money back.  It cost me nothing, but heaven knows how much money the gas company spent on this debacle.

I watched most of Barack Obama’s 30 minute ad spot tonight.  I am so ready to vote for him and have this election (to say nothing of the executive government of the last 8 years)  over with!  I have no doubt that Obama is going to win–and at least in the electoral college, probably win pretty big.  I just can’t wait for it to be over.

Today’s reading:  NEW SCIENTIST (October 25 issue) and SCIENTIFIC AMERICAN (November 2008).

Financial “crisis”, part 1

Yesterday was the last real crunch day at work.  Today and Friday will still be busy, but I think I got through my tough part yesterday.  I’ve been working steadily all morning, but the pressure feels somewhat off.  Two more days left in the fiscal year, and we may actually meet our project goal.

Kelly and I worked on the seating chart for the wedding yesterday.  We think we’ve got it more or less nailed down.

When I got home, I watched the most recent episode of The Shield, which was waiting for me on the DVR.  After Kelly went to the gym, we walked over to Shirlington for dinner.  We used part of our "date night" gift that he11o_sunshine  and stubiebrother  got for us.  We ate dinner at Guapo’s, and I had an amazing, bacon-wrapped shrimp fajita dish.  The shrimp was stuffed with cheese and jalepenos, wrapped in bacon, and there was an excellent garlic butter sauce to go along with it.  It was the best meal I’ve had in a long time.

Issues with my old Credit Union account.  I no longer use the account; we have our accounts at a local bank now.  I thought I’d had all my automatic payments moved to the new account, but I apparently missed on.  The account was overdrawn yesterday.  Fortunately, as a member in good standing, the credit union covered it, but it was an annoyance that had unintended side-effects.  And to add to the misery, I found out that I owe about $35 on the water bill for the old house.  The final bill was never sent to me.  It was sent to the new tenants who were justifiably confused by the whole thing.  I had a similar problem early in the week.  When I switched the gas service from the old house to the new house, I was told that I would not beassigned a new account number.  My BillPay kept paying the bills, but I received a statement saying that I owed two months worth of gas service.  Guess what?  They changed the account number.  The payments on the old bills were going into the ether.  I guess that’s the danger of automatic payments.  Nevertheless, I prefer these little snafus to having to remember to actually make the payments each month.

We’re supposed to get some rain today.

Reading and writing

Another busy day at work today.  I managed to find myself in meetings from 11 AM until 3 PM.  Looks like I’ve got the same schedule on the books for tomorrow, too.

I finished John Scalzi’s The Ghost Brigades at lunch today.  I loved it.  I was very tempted to rate it 4.5 stars, but in nearly 400 books, I’ve avoided half-star ratings, and I felt I couldn’t break my streak, so I gave it 4 stars.  Nevertheless, it was a great book, the rare sequel that I felt was even better than the original.  I took that and Rainbows End back to the library at lunch, only to find that the branch doesn’t open until 1 PM on Tuesday.   So after work, I dropped off those books, and then headed to the Central Branch library in order to pick up the next book in Scalzi’s series, The Last Colony.  (I’m nothing if no obsessive.)  I started it right when I got home, and so far, so good.

Lots of mail today, mostly junk, but more wedding gifts arrived today.  I forgot to mention that yesterday, Kelly’s wedding dress came in (as promised) and so she is all set for a fitting on Thursday.  (Maybe I did mention this.  I’m too lazy to go check right now.)

I paid a few bills this afternoon.  Kelly headed over to a friend’s house after work, and left me at home where I could do some writing.  I worked on what I think is a crucialflashback scene in my workshop story and managed to do a little more than 1,000 words this evening.  It probably needs some fine-tuning, but I think it’s capturing the tone and feel I am going for and I’m pleased with the results.

Incidentally, in this story, I’m naming characters after friends.  There’s a Norman, a-la vickyandnorm , as well as a Dr. Straus (strausmouse ) and Krupp (kruppenheimer).  I’ve never done this before, but I’m finding it amusing.  I certainly hope they will forgive how poorly I sometimes treat their characters.  Krupp and Straus, are, I must admit, redshirts.

Get! Rich! Quick!

We had a production push this morning for the project portfolio software that I’ve been working on for the last year or so.  There are eight business units that are part of the overall push, and today was the third one that we pushed into production.  It meant a long morning for me, running some final tests, then doing the production push and validating the results.  I think it went well, overall.

Otherwise, a relatively quiet day, which was nice for a change.  The weather started out muggy, but ended up beautiful.  I came home from work and read for a while (I am really, really enjoying Scalzi’s The Ghost Brigades, which is a sequel to Old Man’s War) and then I managed to fall asleep on the couch for 40 minutes or so.  Let me be clear that this was not due to Scalzi’s book, which I was fighting tooth and nail to keep reading.  I was just exhausted.  I didn’t sleep well last night (at least not until around 2 AM) and I think I needed the extra sleep.

Picked Kelly up from work and we had scrambled eggs (with cheese and peppers) for dinner.  Watched a little TV and then headed to the gym.  The gym was unusually busy.  No ellipticals available.  So I ran on the treadmill.  I ran for 15 minutes before my knee started to act up.  It was the longest treadmill run I’ve done in years, about 1.25 miles.  I was pleased even though it wasn’t all that far.  I didn’t push it though.  My poor knee is getting older and can’t take that much and I need to treat it well.

Finally got around to paying my Virginia property tax today.  $24 formy car.  I imagine I’ll get my sticker sometime soon.

Kelly is going out with a friend after work tomorrow and I plan on making some good progress on the workshop story.  I’ve got a busy workday tomorrow on the books.  Something like 4 hours of meetings, if I remember correctly.

Apparently, we are in the midst of financial chaos today.  Oh goodie.  Perfect timing for, say, an election year.  Am I the only one who sees this housing bubble debacle as nothing more than a rerun of the Dot Com bust back at the turn of the century?  Only instead of technology, it’s financial companies.  I guess this is what happens when people try to get rich quickly.  Thank goodness I’ve never wanted to get rich quickly.

The roads must roll

Just finished up 4 scene critiques for the writers workshop.  Professor Gunn has us working on "setting" this week.  I think I have two more critiques to write, but those scenes haven’t been submitted yet so there’s not much I can do.

Very productive day at work today.  My Universal Importer for the Big Application we’ve been working on for the last year got it’s first trial run and was successful, which made me happy.  I spent all morning on it.  It was one of those days where I got into the office, disappeared in code, and when I came up for air it was 12:30.  I had to interview someone this afternoon, and then it was back to work on the Universal Importer.  I headed home around 4 PM.

Comcast called me early this afternoon.  They wanted to see if they could troubleshoot my phone problems now, rather than have me wait for a technician on Monday.  "Monday?" I said, "I was told he was coming today between 3 and 6 PM."  Turns out, when the Comcast rep said, "Tomorrow between 3 and 6," she meant "Monday between 3 and 6".  They called me back around 4:30 to do some troubleshooting.  They were going to remotely reset the modem or something.  They also told me that the phone number we’d been assigned was never "registered", whatever that means.  In any event, they solved half the problem.  I was able to make an outgoing call from the house phone tonight, but still not able to receive an incoming call.  So the Comcast tech will come on Monday.

Did some banking today, depositing various checks.  When I got home from work I found our engagement pictures on a CD in our mailbox.  There are 91 pictures, many of which came out really good.  Especially the pictures of Kelly.  At some point, we’ll make some of them available.  I also had a message from the concierge that they had a package for me.  I walked over there and would you believe they couldn’t find it.  They were very apologetic and asked me to come back tomorrow–they’d have it all sorted out.  Stay-tuned.

Paid the credit card bill and that means the honeymoon is paid for in full now.

Spoke to Mom briefly this evening.  Also spoke to vickyandnorm.  I did laundry when I got home from work.  It was my first time using out washer and dryer.  Kelly likes doing laundry, but I badgered her into letting me do some today.  She made us scrambled eggs with mushrooms, peppers, and cheese for dinner.  High protein.  We headed to the gym around 8:30 and I got in a decent chest and back workout.

I’m 172 pages through Rainbows End and it’s slow going simply because there isn’t enough time in the day.  Tomorrow we’ve got Poker Night; Saturday is the Think Tank softball tournament (if it doesn’t rain), and on Sunday we’re planning on wrapping up what’s left of our wedding to-do lists.

And if that isn’t enough, when I checked to see if Dad’s tux had been added to the list tonight, I discovered that it had–except they spelled his first name "Dan".  This is remarkable only because I spelled out his name when I called to have him added.  I’ll get it changed on Sunday when I go in to get fitted.

To shower and to bed…

Happy Birthday, Casey!

Delivery by invisible hand

When I got home from work last night (and had no power), I found waiting for me a check from the Federal Government for $270 and change, which apparently is my share of the Economic Stimulus Package. According to the treasury’s schedule, I wasn’t expecting this check until next month. It got here early, I guess.

Does anyone know if this stimulus plan has been working? Is this an example of Adam Smith in action? The check did mysteriously appear at my house. Delivery by invisible hand is definitely possible. How much did it cost to print and deliver all of these checks, not to mention the two notices I received telling me that I’d be receiving a stimulus check? You know, the post office has been hit hard by this thing called email. Are we really sure this is an economic stimulus check and not a postal stimulus check?

It seems to me that the most defiant thing I could do with this check is to buy a savings bond. (Or pay for gasoline.) That would stick it to the Republicans for sure, but of course, it would also negatively affect my fellow citizens (in the same degree that my jumping up and down affects the orbit of the earth). So I think I will use it to stimulate the economy. There are, after all, wedding expenses to be paid. And Kelly and I were out looking at flat panel HDTVs this past weekend. My stimulus check will by me roughly one quarter of one of those.

Weekend update

We had a busy day on Saturday and a less busy day on Sunday. We were up early on Saturday. We were supposed to go to Annapolis with AJ and Dennise, but I had a message from them in the morning saying that they wouldn’t be able to go.

First order of business was getting to the bank to open a joint account. We were at the bank 15 minutes after it opened and it somehow took over an hour to get our account setup. That seemed a bit excessive to me, but at least that’s done.

Next, we cleaned out a good portion of Kelly’s storage area, throwing some stuff away and setting aside other stuff for donation. We then headed over to the donation site and dropped off a carload of stuff.

Then it was off to my house for a quick stop, and then on to Annapolis. We had lunch at Buddy’s. After lunch we decided to walk to the site of a restaurant that is a potential location for our rehearsal dinner. The walk was about a mile but it was a pleasant one. We walked back and decided to stop into the Calvert House to take a few pictures. From there, we walked to another hotel where we reserved a block of rooms in order to see what it was like.

We left Annapolis and headed back toward home, with two brief detours. First, we stopped at Costco to look at flat panel TVs. We found one we think we like, and I need to ask around a bit about it’s features, knowing little about what to look for. I made some notes. While there, I found that HBO’s miniseries John Adams had been released to DVD and I bought it. David McCullough’s book, John Adams is perhaps the single best piece of non-fiction I’ve ever read, so I was anxious to see how the miniseries was done. Finally, there was some grocery shopping and we called it a day.

Sunday I was craving pancakes and we went to IHOP for breakfast. I surprised myself by demolishing in minutes my plate of strawberry banana pancakes, sickly sweet though they were. After breakfast we went for a walk around the lake and then decided to head out to Bowie to do some shopping. I got new hiking shoes, to replace the ones I got 4 years ago, the bottoms of which had worn flat. I also got a new shirt for our engagement photo shoot on Wednesday. On the way there, I saw an accident happen. First I saw it happen before it happened, then I watched in anxiety as it happened. We were stopped in some traffic and there was an intersection without a light. I don’t block intersections so I stopped before the intersection, leaving a gap for cars to make turns through. A minivan approached from ahead and made a left turn into the space we’d left in front of us. I assumed he’s slow to to check cross traffic in the lane next to us. I glanced at my side mirror and saw an SUV barreling down the lane. In that instant, I knew there was going to be an accident. The minivan crossed in front of us and never stopped, never looked. The SUV had no chance–it broadsided the minivan. It didn’t look as bad as I though it would, but it got my adrenaline going. The driver of the minivan was an idiot as far as I am concerned.

Kelly headed home around 1 PM or so and I spent much of the rest of the day watching the remaining episodes of John Adams. It was spectacular. It did both the book and the reputation of HBO films justice.

And Sunday evening, we confirmed that we have an officiant for our wedding.

Thursday evening

Busy day, lots of meetings, and more meetings to come tomorrow. I got my state refund check in the mail today. $219. Since I’ll be in Santa Monica next week, I’ll deposit it as the credit union in person for a change, instead of mailing it in. I also got my pay stub for my paycheck tomorrow and my W-4 changes went through. The total change resulted in me paying about $300 more federal tax per check. Ouch! But maybe I won’t owe any money next year.

I got the May issue of F&SF in the mail today, along with my bill for my 2 year renewal.

I did a little bit of writing this evening, doing about 300 or 400 words on “If By Reason of Strength…” It’s coming along.

Spoke to the Norm half of vickyandnorm on the phone this evening.

Nearly 600 pages through In Memory Yet Green. Beautiful weather today. I’m taking the evening off to watch Smallville and The Office.