Sunday, December 14, 2008

jingle bells and rain

It doesn't rain here very often. I mean, it's foggy and drizzly a lot, but no real downpours. My dental hygienist who grew up here told me she thought she was being bombed when she went to Florida and experienced her first real thunderstorm. At any rate, it's raining today. ICK. Cold, wet, actual drops and puddles and it's all VERY un-Christmaslike. *grumbles*

I've been very busy this week with various appointments, errands, shifts at the yoga studio, getting ready for our Christmas party. Yesterday I actually woke up without my alarm, and managed to wash, dry, & fold three loads of laundry, make a Christmas playlist, change my sheets, and dust the living room before getting myself to yoga (to practice, not to work), and THEN make dips, candy, drinks, and put on a party frock for our shindig. I certainly considered myself some sort of domestic goddess, or demi-deity at that point.

Buuuuut, our party was kind of a dud. It was fun, but we only had 10-12 people (I think last year we had 40-50!), so although it was quiet and nice, I ended up feeling like I did a lot of work for little payback. WAY too many leftovers. Not to mention that I just went through all of my photos and I don't have a single good one. I am not so sure about these bangs. And I think I need to lose some weight. Or maybe the bangs make my face look fatter than it is. Also, I have been somewhat sneezy this week, and I am never sick. Blurg, I think the weather is effecting my mood. (Affecting?)

In other news, my first week of the new budget went well, and I leave for Texas on Friday! Oh, and there's a new recipe up over at Food, Glorious Food.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Best Reason to Carry a Camera With You at All Times in San Francisco:

A) You take a bus you've never taken before and on your way through Japantown you pass this place:

B) You're walking down the street in your own, normal neighborhood and spot this guy just hanging out in a tree:

Which is more awesome? You decide.

Monday, December 08, 2008

my first Christmas present of 2008

How about this little guy?????

I got him in the mail today, courtesy of one Miss Julia. I love love love him! Jule and I have always been mighty good gift buyers (2 years ago we each got the other a dvd that we already owned- brilliant); this is the perfect example of thoughtful gift-buying. Jule knows I love owls, and knows I love Christmas ornaments, and I can't imagine a better hand-picked gift from my favourite cousin. I have named him Uncle Billy-- kinda has the same eyes.

Busy week- I've been working at the yoga studio, getting ready for our holiday party, and generally living (and loving) life how I do each December when I'm free from The Man for a bit. Today I made some satsuma-ginger tea bread (I am still not a baker by nature but I'm getting a bit better, I think) and dinner for my roommates. (Recipes to follow shortly.) Tomorrow is movie day with my boy Seth-- Slumdog Millionaire, I believe, and Burmese food for dinner. I also have to get some stuff together for a holiday party on Thursday that requires a food bank donation, and I think I have a dentist appointment and a haircut before the week is all said and done.

Oh, and tonight we shared Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer (the 1964 version, natch) with our roommate from El Salvador. I think it's fair to say his life has been changed. I'm so glad they still show it every year, and it hasn't been re-made by Pixar or Disney. Who could one-up the Cowboy That Rides an Ostrich or the Charlie-in-a-Box? Or the Abominable Snow Monster with no teeth (thanks, Hermie)? Now THAT's what I call Christmas!

Wednesday, December 03, 2008

tightening the financial belt

OK. Deep breaths. In addition to watching what little money I have in a retirement plan dwindle to complete bullshit amounts, we have just been informed by our CEO (who probably makes a 6-figure salary) that we will not be getting raises in 2009. Also, our 2oo8 bonuses are being held off until March. Can you just hold off on Christmas, too? Thanks.

Now even though I've never made a lot of money (or even what most of you guys would probably call a little money), I've never really budgeted. I just get what I want, if & when I can get it. I know, I'm 32 and should know better but honestly, I'm just not wired to think that way. But I am going to start self-inforcing some rules.

Starting January 1.

So, I have 2 checking accounts. One is for my "base" salary, and the other is for whatever, if anything, is in my check over that amount (expenses, per diem, etc). From that 2nd account I pay my corporate American Express, in full, as soon as I get paid, whether it is due or not. Sometimes if I have been on the road a lot I have some extra money, and when that happens I pay bills from that account instead of my base account. That makes for a nice month. Twice this year I paid my rent out of that account and it was SWEET. So, I'm keeping this arrangement; I think it works for me.

Rule #1- In effect January 1, I am living on a fixed $X/week. Out of my checking account, I will have only the following withdrawals: rent, electricity, cable/internet, cell phone, and my allowance- $X/week, in cash, to do what I do. Everything else will go to that pesky little thing called "debt and saving up for grad school." This allowance includes (but is not limited to) groceries, laundry, bus fare, movies, eating out, buying books, buying clothes etc. (Obviously, special circumstances will have to be made every once in a while; for example, if I go to the dentist or get my hair cut, or renew a yearly magazine subscription, or something else I do a handful of times a year or less, I will pay out of my checking account, etc. This rule is not the fancy china; it is for everyday use.)

addendum: due to my almost constant travel schedule, partial weeks at home will get $X/7 per day.

And that's it. I will get out my $X every Friday, and if I run out on Tuesday, I'm eating at home for the rest of the week, and that's that. On the flip side, if I have anything left of my weekly funds by the following Friday, it will go into a coffee can in my bedroom, with the idea that at some point I will have enough for an extra night out, or want something that costs more than my weekly allowance will allow. For real, I'm using a coffee can.

Rule #2- In effect January 1, on the road, I am keeping track of my per diem. No more than $Y/day, which my company gives me, period, which means, in theory, that every week I'm on the road will accumulate an extra $X in my checking account. If I go somewhere super awesome, like New York City, I will allow myself my company's $Y/day + my normal $X/week.

Rule #3- no more cabs in my home city. I am taking the train or the bus, period. Just because I don't feel like waiting is not an excuse. I can't afford it. The jig, she is up.

Rule #4- find a boy to start buying me dinner and stuff, preferably one that is into girls. (OK, this one is not a real rule. But going on dates every once in a while could have potentially positive financial side effects. Why are married people the ones that get the tax cuts when clearly those of us who only have one salary and no one to help out when things are tough are more in need of one?)

What do you guys think of my plan? Are there any gaping holes? Did I leave anything out? My head hurts.

Tuesday, December 02, 2008

December in LA

Being in LA in December always reminds me of LA Confidential, to the tune of Yes, I'm Still Mad that Titanic Beat it out for Best Picture Back in 1997, You Academy Voters are Ridiculous.

My flight last night was delayed almost three hours. My 1-hr flight. Soooo irritating. Then I sat next the most fidget-y girl in the entire world-- she pushed every button she could reach, talked to her husband/boyfriend/douchebag "Baby" in an outside voice the entire time, and ps> he was in the seat behind her, not beside her- and they were both in middle seats so she didn't even turn around, just talked, and she was carrying Indian food. And also? I want to throttle whoever invented touch-screens. Or at least whoever sold them to Virgin America. Why, oh WHY would you put touch-screens in the back of someone's seat? Have the people that made this decision ever taken a flight with someone poking the back of their seat the entire way? Or, ever taken a flight, period? Stupid, stupid, stupid. In addition to music, TV, and being able to text message people in other seats (I wish I were kidding), they have games like Mah Johngg. Now, I love Mah Jongg, maybe more than the next girl, but seriously? A game that is ALL TAPPING? ON THE BACK OF MY SEAT? There are not enough caps to explain how long that hour flight was. There were, however, enough cocktails at the hotel to make me get over it. And that number was 3. Don't judge. They were basil gimlets and they were my dinner, because obviously, the kitchen was closed when I got here at 12:40am.

ANYway. So, I love JJ Abrams' shows. All of them. I don't think Fringe is getting a very good following, but I love it. It's part Alias and part X-Files, well- more like X-Files with Sydney Bristow 2.0 heading up the team. And because it's JJ Abrams, there's a shadowy possibly-government-based conspiracy called "The Pattern" and always a cool unexplained phenomenum-of-the-week, like butterflies with razor-sharp wings that can cut you to pieces but they're really all in your head. Anyway, for some reason I really love it when JJ Abrams can find little ways to give his own shows shout-outs in his other shows, like that time on Alias when Sydney had a party at her apartment and "You All Everybody" was playing in the background. It's so snarky and genius of him. So this week on Fringe they were looking through a suicide victim's apartment, and found an airline ticket from New York to Omaha... and the airline? Oceanic, of course!

Bwa-hahahahaha. Genius. Ohhhhh, I can't wait for January!!!!!!

Oh, reaching out to the masses here-- don't ask me how, seriously- don't, but somehow I managed to accidentally delete my iTunes library, and even though it wasn't a big deal to re-import all my files, I lost all my playlists. Grrrr~ They are still on my iPod though. Does anyone know how to get the playlists from my iPod back into my iTunes without 3rd party software? And if I have to, does anyone know of a good freeware I can try? Thanks~ I don't want to have to sit down with my iPod and recreate them all by hand. That seems like a daunting project.