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Archive for October, 2011

"Inside Job"

October 31st, 2011 at 06:02 pm

My Business in Literature and Film class finished viewing and discussing the Charles Ferguson film, "Inside Job" today.

We had a very interesting discussion about it, and I'm wondering if any of you folks out there saw it?

Since it's about finance, I suspect you have!

I'd be interested to hear your reactions.

Back from Minnesota

October 29th, 2011 at 03:40 pm

DD and I have just come back from a marathon drive, at least for us.
In less than 36 hours we drove to Minneapolis for the funeral of a dear friend's mom, stayed overnight at a decent-ish motel with a pool, swam, slept,ate their free breakfast, bopped into say hello to MN family, went to the funeral,had lunch with MN friends, and drove home. A couple more outside errands for today, then grading, homework for DD, and finally late late tonight, we pick up DH home from the UK, I hope.

The driving, motel and meals together with lunch and flowers probably cost us $300, yet it had to be done.

No decluttering done for me either, but I pledge to find three days in the upcoming week where 27 things will go.

Ah--for a restful week.

Against All Odds

October 27th, 2011 at 03:02 am

I was almost convinced today would be disaster filled.
I didn't finish DD's Halloween costume until 10 last night, hadn't copied my midterm exams, didn't buy enough Fruit Gushers for the classroom party, and had to be in the classroom with exams in hand at 8--after accomplishing all the rest of that.

Yet it all worked. Everything that could go wrong instead went right. We were in and out of the grocery store in two minutes, DD's costume was a huge success, DD at before-school care in time, and I picked the one working copier at 7:45. I was in such a surprised and good mood that I e-mailed my slacker student who hadn't shown up for the exam and let him take it during my office hours. He's a mess; a nice boy who is just not mature enough for school. And he was completely freaked out I let him take the exam. It seemed like I owed the karma account a deposit or two!

On the financial front, my inside source at the "fancy" grocery store, a current student, confessed her store was ending their loss-leader specials next week. I ran in there on the way to DD's costume parade and bought 12# of ground beef (super lean and just ground) for $1.49/lb. I probably should have bought a lottery ticket!

A Few Items Pitched

October 25th, 2011 at 05:50 pm

Like Paulette, yesterday was a maze of challenges, but this morning I took a break from my online class to go through the bathroom cabinet. There I found more hotel soaps for Op Christmas Child, several very old lotions and massage oils that have been properly disposed of, and a can of Garnier Volumizing mousse (volume is rarely a problem with my hair). All have been dispatched to the best possible homes.

Since the class is was still whining on their discussion forum, I leapt into the kitchen to toss some stale cookie to the squirrels, combine some near-empty boxes, put some extra bags of lentils and rice in the food shelf bag, and located the brown sugar I knew I had purchased.

One more sweep revealed three empty jewelry-size containers that can go to the church holiday bazaar folks. I'm only at 14, but that's more than half! More later!

Stressed? Not me!

October 24th, 2011 at 07:31 pm

Why does stress seem to roll off some days,and other days, the slightest thing sets people off?

My students are exuding stress lately. My lit class had papers due today, and in the past hour I've had two students in my office crying. One probably needed a referral to the Student Accessibility Center to help her with her reading, but she's reluctant to go. The other was crying so much that her false eyelash fell off. I'm not sure if they're getting lots of pressure from parents, grades, work, or whatever, but stress levels seem to be at an all-time high.

The parking ramp cashier's computer malfunctioned, and wouldn't let the gate go up. Three people got out of their cars and started yelling at the cashier. Very helpful behavior. A bunch more started honking. Yep, that's going to help things.

Things are going to go wrong. I can either deal with it positively or ramp up all that angst. Many days I'm at the epicenter of the stress storm, but sometimes watching someone else's idiocy can help me deal with my own.

My DVD player malfunctioned in class. Classroom support came out very quickly with replacement speakers, and we were up and running again in 20 minutes. As we were waiting, I asked for clean jokes. We had a riot telling jokes until the new speakers arrived.

But I wish I knew why some days things like this are fun enough--and other days pure torture.
Sunshine? Sleep? Blood-sugar levels?

Today I spent some cash on parking and a bit on coffee. I have purged nothing but will be back on board tomorrow.


The Weekend

October 24th, 2011 at 03:10 am

It was a busy one here, especially without DH. DD had a birthday party to attend yesterday, and we spent some time yesterday morning picking out a gift, then heading to the craft store for more add-ons. I also picked up the tag board for her Halloween costume there. For reasons beyond my ken, she's wants to be a KitKat bar.

I purchased the stuff, stopped at the spice shop for pickling spice for the green tomatoes and also got an apple pie blend and a lovely free sampler of spices. I think it'll be a Christmas gift for someone, but not sure who.

We did lunch at home, got her to the party, I came home and wrote half my midterm exam, then headed back to pick her up. Then a Target trip, where overjoyed to find my favorite shampoo on sale, discovered upon return home that I'd bought the conditioner instead of the shampoo. We had coupons for free burgers so ate them for dinner, got "Rio" on redbox, which she really enjoyed. I dozed through about 20 minutes of it--really need more sleep!

Today was a similar thicket of church, errands, baby shower, laundry, homework, and dinner. DD made her handbell debut at church so we had to stay for both services. After her part at the second service, I hid out in the choir room and read homework, feeling vaguely guilty about working so much on Sunday. But it had to be done.

Now to finish those midterm questions....

Just in From the Garden

October 22nd, 2011 at 03:26 am

It's a little strange to be picking tomatoes at 10;20 pm? I just heard the frost forecast and decided to salvage what I could. In came all the potted herbs, and I went out for a last harvest. There were red tomatoes hiding, a couple straggly peppers left, and lots of green tomatoes.
I guess I'll wrap the green ones in newspaper like my mom did and look at pickling some of the green cherry tomatoes. My habits get odder and odder without DH and his regular schedule. Our usual Friday night has a bottle of wine and Newshour. Instead DD and I ate glorified snacks and watched Harry Potter 1 for the 127th time.

I've never pickled tomatoes before, but it sounds like fun. Any experienced picklers out there? It's been a long time since I "put up" anything.

My Gloomy Day

October 21st, 2011 at 05:12 am

Nah, it's not really that bad, but I do miss DH. The prospect of another 10 days without him isn't brightening my world.

One of the things that is weighing heavily is this lovely news item from my dear friend, the governor:
UW must take 38-percent of the $174-million in non-specified cuts which are budgeted for state agencies over the next two years.

Since the UW system accounts for something like a whooping 5 percent of the state's budget, I can't quite see why we're taking a 38 percent hit. Could it be because we've been among his loudest opponents? Nah, he couldn't be that small-minded, could he?

If people who bemoan university spending could come see my office, they'd be shocked. Students are almost always shocked. I'd say 50 percent walk in, look around, and say, "Nice office" or "Nice digs."
Could it be the 1960s yellow metal desks? The 1979 model telephone? The floor that gets washed once a year? The fact that three of us are assigned to that office?

Budget cuts in my department mean two things: no more hiring, thus cutting lots of programs, and larger class sizes. I'm back to disgusted, depressed, and dejected.

DH in the Air

October 20th, 2011 at 04:44 am

Dh left for his mum's funeral this morning. But judging from the weather around here, he's not the only thing in the air. Lawnchairs, bits of fence, Power lines, and lots of branches and leaves have been flying around with our 50+ mph winds.

It's a little like the Wizard of Oz here, and half of our community is without power now, so I'm going to bed too--before it happens to us!

Better updates tomorrow---

Remember that $700 the state owes me?

October 18th, 2011 at 08:10 pm

I just got an update from payroll that thanked me for my patience while waiting for the refund from health insurance overpayment. Who's been patient? Not me!

To tax my patience even further, they told me I probably will get it in my November 1 check. I will not not not fill the page with my wrath. But I'll bet you can feel it!

Into the New Week

October 17th, 2011 at 04:57 am

A month late, DH and I got a babysitter for my birthday celebration. We needed to spend some alone time together before he's off for two weeks for his mum's funeral. So we busted the budget and had a fabulous dinner with fabulous wine, then went elsewhere for coffee, drinks, and then a movie. How decadent. How lovely.
I had great butternut squash bisque with gorgonzola and pepitas. DH, who professes to really like cheap wine, was suitably wowed by the deep oaky Chard. Wow--I like food.
But we also ran the numbers to see if he should borrow a friend's car in England or take public transport to his dad's house. The train has become really expensive, but it now looks like he'll take the bus from Heathrow. He hates flying and has been anxious and upset, so he'll never sleep, and I hate to think of him driving in that condition. Plus it's 150 pounds cheaper, the way I see it.

I'm winding up to mid-semester so have lots of work, but I did get some Christmas gifts purchased for him to bring to his family. Saves a bad exchange rate and expensive postage later.

After last night's luxury, DD and I went to yet another grocery store harvest fest after church today. She loves all the autumn decorations, and got to dip caramel apples, watch kettle corn being popped, eat free hot dogs and apples, and sip apple cider. All that and Honey Crisp apples for 99cents/lb.

I love my clothesline

October 14th, 2011 at 04:28 pm

It's a little odd to admit this, but I really love my clothesline, and I've been thinking about why I feel so attached to it.

First, it's a great penny saver. It's cheaper than the dryer.
Second, it's good for the environment.
Third, I love the way everything smells when the laundry comes in from the line.
Fourth , most importantly for me, it gets me outside to admire the day. Those first precarious spring days when I'm not sure it's warm enough to use the clothesline are so hopeful. The June mornings when it seems like everything is possible are so invigorating. These blustery yet blue October mornings I watch the busy squirrels,the wacky chickadees, and the woodpecker who is strangely attracted to our patio furniture. The dog sits outside soaking it all in, and I am away from the computer, the grading, and instead free up my brain. All of that, guilt free.

What else can do all this? The tomato patch--but that's another post!

Rainy Thursday

October 13th, 2011 at 02:59 pm

It seems like a quiet peaceful morning here today, and I'm as close to caught up on class prep and grading as I've been in a while. Maybe there's some time to spend thinking about money a bit?

One of DH's friends has offered to loan him a car while he's in the UK for his mom's funeral. We're still not sure whether he'll take him up on the offer, but it would be handy for him to get around without relying on his siblings for transportation. Yet there are drawbacks. We'd have to figure out insurance coverage, and he'd have to take it from the mainland of the UK to the island where his family lives. That means an expensive car ferry trip, so we need to talk it through.

Other things I need to think through include perhaps doing some early Christmas shopping this weekend, and sending over Christmas gifts with him. We also need to get more yard work and winterizing done before he goes. Our usual crop of autumn basement mice have appeared, so DH has been patrolling for entry spots.

We'll have increased child care expenses with him gone. We hardly pay anything now--only for late start mornings for DD at the YMCA-- but I need a sitter to watch DD for the two evening classes while DH is gone and for a baby shower I've committed to attending.

My expenditures, like Mamasita's, have been light this week because we've been so busy. I've spent cash on coffee, but little else. I had leftover chicken,spinach, and feta penne yesterday for lunch yesterday, and as I was about to hit the vending machine during last night's class break, someone offered me (wow) a slice of chocolate macadamia tart.

Rainy days make me think deep thoughts, so I expect I'll probably post again later today.

Some Good News on the Airfare

October 11th, 2011 at 03:16 am

Man, I was a disaster at school today. Students were tired and distracted and so was I. But it's been better since I got home, ate lunch, and had a quick nap.

DH's family finally confirmed the UK funeral date as October 21, and remarkably, I found we had enough FF miles to get him there and back for free. Well--free and $275 in taxes and fees. But still much better than the $800-1000 we were looking at. And seats available!

Our only other expenditure today was a check for school lunches for DD.

DH is not sleeping well, thus neither am I. But I'm now calling it a night and hoping for all the benefits of a good night's sleep.

Kids' Sleepovers Always Fraught?

October 10th, 2011 at 02:45 am

DD had a friend over for a sleepover last night. We took them out for pizza, then they came home to watch a movie. But DD can never sleep with someone over--and usually they're both so tired it's tough on all of us the next morning. Her friend slept in one of the guest room beds, but at midnight, DD came crying in to sleep with us.

Are all kids' sleepovers so fraught with anxiety? I remember loving a sleepover with friends, and I feel like a big meanie when I limit hers but they're so tough on her.

We spent nothing today except at church, listened to the Brewers win the first game of the NLCS, and I graded papers. Beautiful weather here so we had a walk too.

No definite word yet on M-I=L's funeral date, so I'll wait to book until tomorrow. My F-I-L seems to be doing well. He's in his 80s, and they were married 59 years. I love him to bits, and if insurance wasn't an issue, I'd love to him live with us in the US.

Harvest Hoopla

October 9th, 2011 at 04:24 am

DD and I went pumpkin shopping this morning and stumbled on the nursery's fall harvest fest. She got to create a bat pumpkin, have cookies, cider, balloons, and a hay stack toy hunt all for free. Next we went to the grocery store where we stumbled upon yet another harvest fest. This time it was apple pie, cider, face painting, and more pumpkin painting--again all free.

I am the in the bottom ten percentile for craft interest and skill, but as I was about to put DD's toddler chair in the car for the charity shop, I thought--I should spray paint this and put the pumpkins on it. I had dark green spray paint left over and did it on the spot. It's very cute. At HF#1, they had spray painted pumpkins with polka dots created by placing round stickers on the pumpkins before painting them. So I did one of those too. It's very cute.

Between that, the Brewers winning the conference, and the fabulous weather, it's been a lovely day.

Cleaning House

October 7th, 2011 at 07:15 pm

I'm trying to stay away from my ungraded papers today and clean the house. DD is having a friend over for a sleepover,and well, my house really needs a thorough cleaning.

All of that leads to not spending anything, which is a happy situation as my payroll shortage still hasn't appeared. No definite word on my M-I-L's funeral date. It seems they might have a burial first, then a remembrance service in 10 days or so. Perhaps that will get us better airfares.

I spent $30 at the School Book Fair last night, and bought a pie at the bake sale.

Back to cleaning!


Bereavement Fares?

October 7th, 2011 at 01:20 am

Has anyone out there asked for a bereavement fare?
My mother-in-law died last night in the UK, and we're trying to figure out how to get my husband there without spending a small fortune.

I'm a very good cheap flight finder, but once we know the funeral date tomorrow, I'll call to find if those bereavement options are worthwhile.

Needless to say, we're all tired and flagging here.

The best news I've had all week was the free Ziploc bags and dishes I "won" in a Johnson Right @ Home promotion. We started laughing at each other because all three of us thought it was so fun!

My poor DH. It's hard to be so far away from family at times like this.

Server Problems?

October 5th, 2011 at 06:19 pm

Is it just me or are we having server issues? I couldn't log in last night at all and was bereft at the thought of a night without checking in with everyone.

No money spent yesterday except for DD's piano lessons which seem to do no earthly good. How much do folks pay for 30 minutes of children's lessons?

Monday Moves

October 4th, 2011 at 01:54 am

Not much shaking here. My classes went well, and I showed a 1968 documentary called "The Salesman" about door-to-door Bible salesmen. It was made by the Maysles brothers before they made "Gimme Shelter."

I sold a book, paid for postage, and that, apart from my caffeine fix, was the only money spent today. The money-in-the-bank soup was excellent.

Sunday Night

October 3rd, 2011 at 03:26 am

"Dinner in the fridge is like money in the bank," said my mom so often that it made me groan. And my big batch of soup will be money in the bank tomorrow.

I spent three hours today helping a colleague who is beset with hoarding problems try to get her nursery ready for twins due in a couple months. Four of us spent hours filling dozens of boxes, and I estimate we got maybe 25 percent of it done. Her husband moved the boxes downstairs, but I think we all knew she would relent and keep them, so we took three boxes a piece and hauled them home for the recyclers. It was pretty bad. One box had eight or nine purses in it, but the cat had obviously spent weeks on top of it, and there was a thick mat of cat hair covering it and several others.

It was very sad to see how they live. They're smart people but cannot handle daily upkeep of their home. I came home, took a shower, and slept for an hour. Ugh.

So the week will begin with me late to bed, under prepared, but with money in the metaphorical bank.

Paulette: despite the beautiful day, no exercise except cleaning someone else's house. Sigh

Them Apples

October 1st, 2011 at 10:51 pm

I've begun to tackle the magnificent pile of apples picked the other day. I made cranberry apple crisp for us and apple cake to take to a housecleaning party tomorrow.
We've been busy little fall bunnies here--DH put up half the storm windows, I cleared downed tree branches, made soup, did laundry, and cleared up vast piles of paper. Then I graded papers. All this while listening to the Brewers beat the Diamondbacks. Man, I love baseball. My parents were both baseball fanatics; my mother used to hide behind the sofa when bad relief pitchers came to the mound. I end up spending lots of time explaining it to DH, but much of it, I suspect, goes right by him. That is exactly what happens when he does cricket play-by-plays for me.

It's cold here so a warm house with lovely food seems the best thing that could happen in my world right now. Oh, and my second job check came. Very satisfying day indeed.