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Archive for November, 2008

Big things, small things, everything is going wrong!!!

November 21st, 2008 at 07:10 pm

Terrible week - just combination of disappointments!

I found out that I cannot take that exam - the position, besides requiring 2 foreign languages (which I have) required fluent French. And it is not one of my languages. All my other qualifications would have been perfect.
So there goes my best career chance.

I finally saw an apartment that satisfied all of our needs, was in our current area, and the mortgage would have been close to what we pay in rent. (that just does not happen in Brooklyn). And it was nicer than a place we live now. I was in love!
I called the agent and just now found out it is sold. It was the first time I saw anything I was so sure about(something that made financial sense) since I started looking years ago.
I feel like I lost "our apartment". Frown

My aunts cancer has started to grow again. Surgery is now out of the question.
Her husband is still unemployed and her cobra is going to run out.

I am getting sore throat.

DH had to cancel his business trip and won't make platinum in hotel stays this year.

Boss had to cancel his business trip (1 hour before leaving) and will stay here (more work).

DH got a parking ticket judgment.

I seem to have lost few hundred dollars worth of transit checks.

I missed my train and was late half an hour today.

I am getting depressed.

December is time to visit doctors.

November 20th, 2008 at 10:11 pm

I am going for a free appointment to see if Lasic eye surgery is for me - I have one eye that is quite nearsighted and correcting it would be nice.

And seeing a ENT doctor about tonsils.

These are both very non pressing issues. But...
It is time to set a dollar amount for a flexible health spending accounts.

And if I am having any surgeries I want to set pre-tax money aside for it.
So I need to be sure if I need it and get an estimate of how much won't be covered by insurance... In these matters planning can save some cash.

Career stress - decision to sacrifice 2 months of my life for a very slim chance

November 14th, 2008 at 04:30 pm

I have a chance to take a very difficult exam at work. It would require me to study intensively until February (that is after I come home at 8:30pm daily).
If I am admitted to the exam and pass it, I would be placed on a roster from which future positions may or may not be filled.
If I pass, and if they need someone, and if I got picked - than I would go through the regular multiple-interview process.
So even passing gives no guarantees.

It would be a job in a different field (that is very hard to break into without experience). It pays higher but carries a much higher workload/stress.

I can see why people prefer to coupon instead of trying to advance their career. In trying to save money you extend very little effort to get little result.
But the result is proportional to the effort and it is guaranteed.
While trying to climb the ladder requires a lot of effort and guarantees nothing for all that hard work. It is stressful.
You have to face high chance of failure/rejection/the unknown.
But it is a chance to change my life in a way that saving $1 on toilet paper and toothpaste will never change it.
Yet it is scary to want something so much and know that the odds are not so good. Yet there is a chance nevertheless, so I have to try.

So this weekend I will have to write an application essay to get selected to even take the exam.
I am trying to calm down and manage my emotions.

With the chances of disappointment being so high, would you do it?

I negotiated with online store!

November 12th, 2008 at 05:55 pm


I wanted a beautiful embroidered Sferra duvet cover and matching pillowcases. They were very expensive. I sat on it for a few month - to make sure I really want them.

They are never really on sale (the ones that I like) and sales on that type of things are not drastic anyway.

So I found the cheapest price (which was still difficult to swallow). It was from an independent online retailer. They had a field for a coupon code, yet I could not find one on the web - retailer is not big enough.

So I emailed them, complementing their selection and telling them how I liked the set but it was a little over my budget and that a coupon code would help.

They responded within a day with the 10% off code. So I saved $54 with a 30 second email. And I finally got a set I really wanted, not a "compromise" one. So now I will stop buying bedding.

Thoughts from my vacation experience - the Netherlands - quality of life

November 10th, 2008 at 05:54 pm


This fall we visited few places in Europe. Each one had something different I liked. I'll start with Holland.

It is a country with a high standard of living, and to me it is more about the the life balance.

Normal Dutch workweek is 4 days (8 hours a day)!

Main mode of transportation by far is a bicycle.

It is simply amazing how quiet the streets are and how ugly parking lots are not at all the part of the landscape. The country is extremely bike oriented – bike lanes are everywhere and cars really respect them. Bike parking is everywhere. People look very fit.

Everyone including doctors and many politicians get to work by bike. Babies ride in special baskets or in carts and bigger kids ride next to parents.
There are cars, but much much less, and mostly smaller cars – no trucks or SUVs.

And even people who have cars don’t use them every day – they still get around by bike and use cars when going out of town.

Dutch housing
Houses are much smaller and are mostly attached to each other.

Many people live in apartments.



The streets are just charming.
Many ground floor apartments, while having large windows, for some reason do not have curtains and I was peaking in while walking for hours.


Furniture is mostly modern and small, with air of space and light (there are tiny charming gardens in the back) Look very well kept and cozy. Small kitchens with beautiful appliances look very inviting. I would love to live in such a place.

Education
The semester for masters costs 1,500 euros per year for dutch students (I forgot to ask about bachelors, as our friend is doing his masters there.)
Since Dutch parents pay high taxes (about 45%) a lot of social things are subsidized – one of them is education. You need certain grades to get admitted to the university.
We pay about 40% in taxes, and do not get these benefits such as government medical care, subsidies college education for us and future children, extended maternity leave, etc… In US only the poorest people get these benefits(and they don’t pay any taxes)– yet the Dutch managed to provide it to all. I do not like it that while paying more taxes we are eligible for no benefits these taxes provide.

Good service/friendly people
Tipping is not obligatory, yet service is better. Service industry people depend mainly on salary and that cost is build in to the price and clear.

Multilingual
Not only does everyone speak Dutch and English, most people know a third, fourth, sometimes fifth language. I started to feel inadequate with my 3.

Tolerance
From light drugs, prostitution, porn, euthanasia, same sex unions.... Whether or not you I find this immoral, I believe that morality should not be legally enforced. That in itself is immoral and is a slippery slope. And outside the more seedy Amsterdam city center there was no visible evidence of these things. Smaller towns where all of it is still legal nevertheless are perfectly beautiful places. There was less pot in the university town in Delft than in NJ suburb.

Got nice bargains at the Pottery Barn.

November 9th, 2008 at 11:11 pm

And just in the nick of time - an hour later that finish was sold out.
both were on sale for $8.99 from $39




At that price it is reasonable to get it even for the rental apartment. Ours are very old and damaged, and I think it will spruce up an otherwise decent condition bathroom.
And I like that ceramic components are removable and therefore easily washable.

And the towel rack - $46 down from $180. I don't know if it would have been worth $180, but it was worth $46 to me.

So I am quite pleased with myself.