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Archive for May, 2008

Badger your teenagers about this!

May 30th, 2008 at 01:26 pm

On a very busy highway section where there is some curving, lanes merge and one needs to really pay attention, a car with a young guy - late teens, maybe early 20s just crosses the solid line(his lane did not merge) without even bothering to look in the blind spot or signal. DH swerved to the left, it was just great luck there was no car there at the moment - he had no time to look and the road was congested.

What got to me is that the young driver continued on blissfully unaware of any of it! Parents should DRILL it into their children's heads not to do that. It is just the matter of time before he causes somebody to get hurt. Maybe parents should let their teens drive when going somewhere with them and observe and continue to teach. I understand that some people feel that on an empty highway in the middle of nowhere it is no big deal if you do not turn and look in the blind spot every single time. It has to be an INGRAINED HABIT, second nature to the driver or these things will happen. So it is always a big deal!

Anyone knows Munich?

May 28th, 2008 at 09:02 pm

I am trying to find a hotel with a decent rate for Oktoberfest.... but rates double and nicer ones are already sold out.

Marriott is only available with expensive "stay anytime points". Otherwise it is 400 euros per night.
That is way too much!

I looked at VRBO, hostels and B&Bs. Anyone knows some other options?

Feeling poor and miserable

May 27th, 2008 at 09:33 am

This weekend it was bad:

We went out for brunch and after, since the weather was so wonderful, went for a walk around Brooklyn Heights. It was lovely - the light wind, the smell of trees and plants. We were walking on tree-lined blocks with old brownstones and I was thinking that trees and birds are such a luxury. It is amazing to have a flat in a quiet area and see trees out of your window. So I looked again in the windows of real estate agencies, and lovely (yet not large) 1-2 bedroom co-ops or condos in the area are in the 1.3 million range. Looking at the listings one gets the impression that if all you can afford is 500K or less you are "bottom of the barrel" and should not even be looking at real estate. It is so frustrating.

My dream of 700-800sf apartment with trees outside, permission to have a washer, a kitchen that would fit a 40" table, and not more than 1 hour commute is out of reach. Not to mention a place with some charm/character...

I was in Ikea yesterday, looking at some furniture and room setups. And I saw things like walk-in closet, double sinks, room for shower AND a bathtub... it would be absolute luxury to have space for that. Most of the furniture I would consider would not even fit in my apartment. Not to mention things that I can't consider - such as kitchen islands... I cannot get any of this because it all hinges one one premium and super-expensive item - SPACE. at $1,000 or more per square foot it is not the cost of the furniture thats the issue.

We make relatively good money, but whenever I think about these things I feel so poor. During this walk all I could think of were people who lived in these condos, and how I have little chance of ever being one of them. It made me miserable. I have to work on myself, it is just hard sometimes...

“Well, I’m already here” argument always leads to big spending

May 22nd, 2008 at 02:06 pm

As always, our vacation grows much bigger than initially planned due to that argument. I don’t know how to fight it – it seems valid to say “if we are already here at this glacier, I may as well pay extra $300 to hike across it. It is a unique experience and when is the next time I am coming here?”

So, planning upcoming vacation in September, I started out with 7 days in Paris and 6 in Amsterdam. Than Eastern Europe (cheaper, and I speak/understand some languages).
Now I realize that we’ll be there during Oktoberfest, and Munich is not far from Paris by train. It seems a shame to waste an opportunity to experience this festival in Bavaria, even if for 3-4 days.

But this will be expensive – hotels are either already sold out or charge a much higher price for these dates. Besides, to really experience the festival we will drink a lot of beer and eat special dishes made there (again with Euro it is pricey).

And than… Munich is close to Vienna and more flights leave from Vienna… after that Eastern Europe (visiting some friends who now live there) min 8 days.

I need to make an estimated budget, but it is really hard to project how much we’ll spend – considering that a lot of spending is of the “I am already here, half way across the world variety”. I want to experience French cuisine, explore beautiful places… That is the point of going.

But each time I promise myself that the vacation after that his going to be modest and simple. Yet, each time we spend more and more.

I am afraid to make an estimate – I have a feeling that sum would furnish our entire apartment beautifully.

My food rant.

May 19th, 2008 at 01:41 pm

1. I hate green fruits/vegetables that are engineered to look ripe. Fruits/vegetables are supposed to be fragrant and be tasty (many people don't know that). Even those labeled "organic" in most cases lack these qualities.
2. I do not like that bakeries will try to sell you a day old croissant and other pastries without blinking an eye. They are not edible, I have had to return them.
3. I wish that sushi/perishable items that are supposed to be made daily would be deeply discounted by the afternoon (like in Japan).
4. I wish there were bread shops, like in Europe, where they do both morning and the afternoon deliveries -- so you could get warm bread in the afternoon as well (and could buy 1/4 loaf too).

This is a rich country and we can afford good food, yet we don't demand it and therefore don't get it.

Tracked spending - week 2

May 13th, 2008 at 03:37 pm

07-May-08 Wednesday
$25 11 yogurts, milk, chocolate milk - farmers market (week supply of dairy)
$4 breakfast pastries, farmers market
$4.50 tiny apple cake
$3.25 greens for 1 salad (for dinner)
5.98 cup of raw sliced almonds (nice to roast before tossing them on Haagendaz)
$1 tiny onion bread (to go with salad)
$1 two cucumbers
$2.99 16 oz strawberries
$3.83 1.3 lb stem tomatoes
$14.49 2 toothbrushes and a razor pharmacy

$66

08-May-08 Thursday
$1.75 bagel w cream cheese (made coffee at work) food
$2.71 pineapple 0.7 oz food
$1.94 watermelon 0.6 oz food
$4.57 prosciutto 0.25 lb food
$0.75 tiny bread food
$15.17 4 packs of swiffer wet on sale Pharmacy
$26.89

09-May-08 Friday
$5.25 toasted bagel with cream cheese, toasted almonds food
$5.37 big cup of watermelon (lunch) food
$57 dinner at the Mexican place (includes half a pitcher of frozen Margarita)
$67.62

10-May-08 Saturday
$27.50 Dry cleaning
$28 Dinner with friends at Saigon Grill - our share)
$55.50

11-May-08 Sunday
$30 Sunday brunch with friends - our share
$6 Grom ice cream cone
$0 ($78 of stuff from Crabtree and Evelyn - gift card, so does not count as spending)
$18 to go supper and Mon. dinner from a Korean-Russian home-cooking place
$54

12-May-08 Monday
1.5 Cheese danish (made coffee at work)
2.1 Edamame snack
9.78 6 pairs of dress socks (these things have to be replaced)
8.31 Lunch - box blackberries, box raspberries, cup watermelon
21.69

13-May-08 Tuesday
$5.50 Contribution to birthday breakfast at work (bagels with cream cheese and lox, coffee, fruit)
$2.99 cup of sliced mango (lunch)
$8.49

The summary:
Week 2 summary
$112 food
$39.44 pharmacy items
$27.50 dry cleaning
$121 eating out

$300 Total
(as opposed to Week 1 Summary:
Week 1 summary
141 student loan
105 roth
200 gift/help grandparents
171 for the house comfort
151 eating out
22 cats
15.75 dry cleaning
92 clothing
38 misc
80 food

1015.75)

I did quite well! Next week we are going to costco so it will be higher again (got to stock up on kitty litter/fancy feast) and I have had my eye on Roomba for quite a while.
But for now, I think I've been quite reasonable.

Tracked my spending for 7 days - results not so good.

May 7th, 2008 at 10:29 am

Especially considering that it is not my month to pay rent, and that DH pays all car/commuting expenses and bills (+ sometimes he buys groceries and dinners/fruit for the juicer...).
His spending is not listed here.

30-Apr-08 Wednesday
$2 Almond croissant (breakfast)
$8.66 Tuna salad wrap (lunch)
$19 10 yogurts and 1 small milk (week supply)
$4 1 bunch of asparagus
$5 ruffle tickets at work
$22 3 packs of dry cat food (wellness and evo)
$60 Wed total

01-May-08 Thursday
$4.78 Pancakes and coffee from deli (breakfast)
$11 lock for the gym
$12 hair bands from nice accessory store
$3.69 pack of tea to keep at work
$0 half of tuna salad wrap from yesterday (lunch)
$13.49 bar of ski wax off ebay
$44.79 Total Thursday

02-May-08 Friday
$1.50 coffee (breakfast) $12.91 0.6lb fresh pineapple, 0.6lb fresh watermelon, tiny chocolate bar (lunch) 1lb of good coffee to have at work
$151 Wolfgangs steakhouse
$141 student loan
$100 automatic transfer to ROTH
$406 Total Friday


03-May-08 Saturday
$15.75 Dry cleaning (1 jeans hemmed, suit jacket for DH cleaned)
$80 Marshalls (2 beautiful Tahari dress shirts $40 each - good value)
$36 bath mat and shower curtain liner
$132 Total Saturday

04-May-08 Sunday
No spend day!
Mainly due to 5 borough bike marathon that promised street closures/traffic
I made Belgian waffles with fresh juice and coffee for brunch at home)

05-May-08 Monday
$1.50 Apple turnover breakfast, made coffee at work
$7.58 lunch
$135 Pottery barn - set of towels, robe, matching fabric shower curtain
$144.08 Total Monday

06-May-08 Tuesday
$8 breakfast, milk to keep at work (for coffee)
$5.70 1 cup of edamame, 1 seafood summer roll (lunch)
$200 gift to grandparents, by Western Union gifts/charity
$8.40 book of stamps
$222 Tuesday Total


Recurring/planned
30-Apr-08 $2,613.71 Discover bill paid (10 day ski trip in march)

30-Apr-08 $561 Visa bill paid (where they don't take Discover)

Good things - we only went out once this week, so even with it being a steakhouse it was less than we usually spend on eating out (3-4 dinners a week at $50 average + 1 brunch).
And we did not go anywhere this weekend.

In defense of pottery barn - it was the first time I got to buy towels (we still towels I brought from my moms house years ago). This weekend I cleaned my bathroom to perfection - every tile, every nook of the cabinet, wiped every bottle and threw out everything I would not use. To complete the final stage I bought this extra stuff (this is not an every week occurrence).

Still $1,009 in one week is not where I want to be. If we bought a house it would be impossible.

I got to do better!