spectating participant

May 31, 2006

grades are in - 3.833 for the semester

Filed under: school, life — suzanne henderson @ 2:05 pm

Before I’d even checked for my end of the semester grades, I was saying that if I get anything less than an A in a certain class, I’d challenge it and make a fuss over it. However, after viewing the grades and the continued realization that everything is done, I don’t really care. So, I got one B in my 18 credit semester, oh well. I’m not going to complain.

What I am proud of is that I finished out my degree with an overall GPA of 3.733 !!! Woot! I guess that one little B from this semester doesn’t really matter. I’ll get over it. :)

Yay! Now if I could get some motivation worked up to get other things done. Instead, I just want to sleep for the rest of the week. Already my mom has been asking me what have I gotten done, oh sigh, nothing yet. Maybe another nap? ha!

The one thing I’ll get done today is heading to the bank and returning some library book in PG County. But I’ll wait till the sun goes down some more and maybe we’ll even dip into the pool today.

May 30, 2006

Playa del Fuego

Filed under: life — suzanne henderson @ 11:28 am

I’m still randomly slapping the air to ward off the never-ending swarm of bugs even though there are not any there.

As usual, words don’t express much in terms of weekend greatness, so some highlights:

- Second Generation Fire Conclave - Alex spun fire for the big burn and was the last one spinning. Also, Sean’s son (much older than Alex) was also there spinning this time.

- Performance Art - we built a sidewalk and watched people use it all weekend long, making me smile each time.

- New People! Again, I’ve found that new people can be awesome and loved meeting new folks and seeing their excitement and energy.

- Bringing Projects - The Sudoku boards were great. Switching one from a number board to a color board was a great idea and it brought a lot more people in willing to see how it works. Guess there is more Math phobia than I thought. I’ve got so many ideas for fall.

- Watching Alex having a great time and all the great adults willing to throw a ball with her.

- Drumming, even if only for a while. I finally brought my drum and used it!

- Helping people set up camp and offering the simple solution of the complexly constructed projects.

- Seeing people respond on calls for volunteers in droves. Too bad we needed to make the call and too bad we didn’t make the call more often.

- Shade structure system that worked to give out more room.

- Seeing friends, getting hugs, and just talking with people.

I guess that is the majority of what I can think of now. Chris was great in helping making projects happen and I’m frequently amazed at how well we work together in making things happen. Things even worked so well that we managed to come home, unpack and then set up a new bed (along with some room re-arranging) before crashing for the night. :)

Other comments: I need to make better packing lists — I didn’t forget anything important, but I did leave behind a few things I normally use. Would have liked to see some better organization for some issues like parking and back gate — will be stepping up in fall to help make that a reality. Things felt a bit sexually heavy this burn, which I don’t really mind, but was a little surprised at how present it was and how hyper focused it seemed to be. I would like to see an organized daytime camp area - like theme camps, but not so micromanaged. This way camps that primarily offer daytime events can get traffic and we don’t run around the dead nighttime camps all day long to get to them — just my preference, wouldn’t like to see it actually happen.

May 16, 2006

1 paper and 2 finals to go

Filed under: school — suzanne henderson @ 9:27 am

I’m so close to being done but dragging and the effort needed to get this paper done in time. It is due tomorrow and I have a midterm tomorrow that does need some effort. I’m having a hard time figuring out where to start. Right now, I think I should read over some notes for my midterm to have started that, but that means finding them. That is still probably where I should start…

May 11, 2006

wedding help, on the way

Filed under: life — suzanne henderson @ 6:13 pm

My mom will be in town next week and we’ll be working double time on wedding stuff. Now, my original adamant declaration that I make my dress myself has gone out the window as I think about how much stuff still needs done. I certainly don’t want to let her take over, but I’ll certainly be using her help and will be happy to say that we made the dress together.

I actually called her today, hoping to have someone to talk to since things are feeling a little heavy right now, and we just talked for a bit. Think it is one of the first time I’ve really sought her out for support and I think that is a good thing. It was nice to brainstorm some of the things we’ll work on while she is here and also to hear her say “feel free to just tell me ‘mom, just leave me along for a little bit’ if you need to”. While I don’t think I’ll need to do that, I’m glad that she does at least perceive some of the stress that I’m feeling right now.

She is worried about me too, as mothers will do. But she worries that I’ve taken on too much and that I’ll make myself sick, mentally sick. I’ve been having a harder time sleeping lately, alternating nights of no sleep and sleeping pills, and days of headaches that is taking a bit of a toll on my spirits, but it is all still manageable and I’m not worried about things getting beyond control or “too much”.

And each day that passes is another day completed and progress is happening. So, I’m almost to a point where life will be easier just because school will be completed. Of course, as school ends, I add another task. Job applications and job interviews are filling the gaps where classes once were. Oh, how lovely the end of this year shall be when life has no more horizons full for looming tasks and obligations, just stress of making ends meet and fixing house problems with money we probably won’t have (it is good to have realistic expectations).

Oh yeah, PDF is coming up, did I mention that? And we get an extra day this year - so much for showing up early on Thursday since now it’ll simply be on time. ;)

And, closing got moved back to July 6th, 5 days post wedding sounds much better than 5 days pre wedding!!! Home inspection is Saturday at 1pm and I’ll have all my fingers crossed.

Oh what fun life is right now!!! Oh how I shall sleep when it is all done.

May 9, 2006

so we’ve got a house, but I’m not getting excited yet

Filed under: life — suzanne henderson @ 6:43 pm

So the house offer negotiating has ended and we’re going ahead with buying the house. However, the loan product we’re using, to allow us the most flexibility in terms of financing, has some strict requirements on the condition of the property and they may say that x, y, z must be fixed. The seller will fix nothing, as he has stated, and we’ve said that we’d fix minor things if the home inspection doesn’t turn up anything serious.

I should be more excited, but I guess that I am worried that the inspection will simply give us some horrible condition that we can’t manage. I feel the house is in pretty good condition, at least, as good as you’d expect for a house this is over 100 years old — and for a house that is pretty close to 200 years old (!). The original structure was built in 1818 and I think the addition was added in 1900 — the listing gives the date as 1900 but the tax records disagree. Also, it is currently occupied by a tenant that has been there since 1998 and while that isn’t such a bad thing, the fact that these are smoking tenants is. All carpet must go and the walls need some serious scrubbing to help ease out the smell.

So, I guess I’ll just wait and see how the home inspection goes. Guess I gotta find time to go to that in the middle of finals, oh what fun! However, I must say that life feels like it is sorta calming down or maybe it is the calm before the storm. Having made some progress on invitations and finals looming (and school will thereafter be OVER!) I’m feeling pretty good.

I sure hope this house things works out cause I do like the place and, well unfortunately, there is nothing else on the horizon.

May 5, 2006

wedding invitations at the printers

Filed under: life — suzanne henderson @ 9:37 pm

well, they are at the printers but they are not being printed. We finally agreed on a style and decided that we really needed to get kicking on this since they should have been out last month — I feel I’ve probably said this already, wow, I’m so lame lately. So, they are getting scored and cut to the right side. This will make assembly much easier when all we have to do is attach fancy papers and the embellishments and maybe I’ll even print the inside just to save us a little more time. I told me mom we would have them out before she got here, but that might not be true after all. We may get them back this weekend if the printer can get to them, but otherwise it’ll be next week (not like I can do anything with them before next weekend anyways).

So, I bought one of the papers needed - pricey stuff fancy paper can be. And then I discovered that the other paper that I was wanting to use was not in stock anymore — freak out! So, Chris managed to order it online before I even made it home to really bitch about it. So, that is covered and we’ll be in production as soon as the invitation and order shows up. Also got envelopes that we can begin addressing, though the reality is that neither of us have really compiled that list despite the many times we’ve said we should. Megan agreed to help us address the couple hundred envelopes so hopefully it won’t take us too long — it’s that return address that I hate having to write over and over again.

Book Review: You Can Do the Math

Filed under: review, books — suzanne henderson @ 8:33 pm

You Can do the Math

[You Can Do the Math: Overcome Your Math Phobia and Make Better Financial Decisions] is written by [UMD|University of Maryland, College Park] professor [Ron Lipsman].

First, I find it rather amusing that this book is written by a professor at my university. I’m not sure that it adds a lot to my interpretation of the book other than the fact that I can actually walk across campus and say hi to the guy if I wanted. In fact, I’ve considered doing so just because this to be a great book for someone like me.

I argue about how much I dislike math when it comes to math classes and homework and tests, but the reality is that I love having a formula to use to calculate useful amounts - like compounding interest or statistical significance. Professor Lipsman does a fabulous job presenting these concepts and formulas in a way that is easy to understand, and if you sit down with pencil and paper you will see just why it works.

The current period of my life is full of upcoming decisions involving home buying decisions, car purchasing, investment planning, and putting money away for my daughter’s education — this book is exactly what I need to be reading because it talks about all of these topics and more. Concepts like compounding interest and mortgage payment calculations are no longer rocket science — it is really quite simple.

Lipsman also addresses other financial decisions like insurance and gambling and how to apply mathematical formulas to them in order to evaluate their costs and benefits. Also, interests and tax brackets are given a lot of consideration and formulas are given that show just how an investment or situation for a lower-taxed individuals differs from a higher-taxed individual — this idea alone is quite interesting. The ability to calculate average return on investments, average inflation, and average taxation in order to truly see what something helps me get a full grasp on the full scope of investing and exactly how my money is or is not working for me.

Personally, I feel this book is a excellent (and essential) tool for everyone interested in their finances. Being able to understand the math behind it all, beyond the generic investment calculator, will really give you a look at the financial picture in full detail and really illustrate exactly why some investment and decisions are better or worse. However, while he does a good job of writing the book for a generic reader and it attempts to prevent math formula intimidation, I think his concepts are only really accessible if you’ve got a decent math foundation or a willingness to get out the pencil and paper and test his formulas to really bring home the concepts they illustrate.

This is not a book full of investment wisdom or get rich suggestions — this book is all about understanding the math behind all the major purchases and investments options presented over a life time. I feel it has underlying suggestive value because once you do the math, you’ll probably see what direction you need to take. Finally, the author has presented the information in a way that is both informative, mathematical, and amusing. And, his ideas might even be considered minimally politically charged and that makes me enjoy it all the more — someone with an opinion willing to put that out there along with his useful data.

Excellent book certainly worth owning!

The Housing Bubble Blog » The Bright Side Is ‘The Bargains Are Coming’

Filed under: life — suzanne henderson @ 7:38 pm

The Housing Bubble Blog » The Bright Side Is ‘The Bargains Are Coming’

I must say that reading things like this feels like good news. While we’re still sitting on the porch waiting for some action on the prospective home front, I like thinking that maybe something else is just around the corner if we wait it out a little longer.

May 3, 2006

housing progress

Filed under: life — suzanne henderson @ 3:07 pm

Sigh, this house thing is driving me nut. For some reason I thought it’d be at an acceptable point by the end of the week, but it doesn’t look like that will be the case. I guess I’m a bit disappointed with the general service or response with the agent we’re using as it feels like we’re just getting the very short side of assistance. I don’t know for once I think I’m probably taking a realistic observation of the situation and not just expecting the world.

We’re trying to put an offer on a house that is listing a bit high. I’ve done plenty of research at this point and I know what the house is worth and it is right in line with what we want to pay for it. Of course, that doesn’t mean that the seller necessarily understands what it is worth or perhaps he is just a little late jumping into the buying frenzy market that has disappeared.

I tend to feel that we’re getting less service from our agent because our purchasing power isn’t as high as other buyers and/or because we want to try for a house that we may not get. Yes, our offer is a fair bit lower than the list price but it is not out of line with the market price of that house, at all.

So, maybe we’ll be driving somewhere to make an offer this evening or maybe we’ll just be sitting on our hands until Friday and then have another weekend to worry about this and wonder if there is going to be anything else to show up. Sigh, I just want to get this over with but I am not willing to overpay on a house that will eat up a huge chunk of money when we attempt to update it.

Well, looks like the meeting we were offered today isn’t going to happen — I can’t tell if that is the agent’s fault or the partners’ [work’s] fault. Thursday is out because of classes. Friday afternoon it’ll be. Well, guess that means it’ll be on the market for yet another week, assuming no one else puts in a an offer, and perhaps thee seller will get a clue during that time. However, I don’t think he needs to sell it and therefore has no need to (after almost 80 days) rush it off the market.

Sigh. Just mostly disappointed with the overall process and service. Yet, this is the second agent and certainly not gonna give up and have to find another one. Well, maybe not, well, no, pretty certain I’m not. I’ll entertain the fact that I must might be a bit stressed about life in general and give her that ounce of credit that I could be overreacting/expecting too much.

May 1, 2006

Student loan: a dowry in reverse? - May. 1, 2006

Filed under: school, family, life — suzanne henderson @ 6:02 pm

Student loan: a dowry in reverse? - May. 1, 2006

It’ll soon be time to start coughing up some serious bucks for the student loans that have bought me a $35K degree in a field that can’t even use BAs. Thankfully I have no real interest in actually working in the field. But, I do have an interest in paying off my student loans and it’ll be quite the payment, I’m sure. All but the last year of my student loans have been consolidated and I’m not sure on what the payment is going to be just yet — I’m sure it is more than I’m currently prepared for, but it’ll get paid regardless.

However, this article made the following point which felt out of place:

“We now burden many young adults with student debt, sometimes massive in nature; the price being paid includes marriages delayed or foregone and fewer children. This is foolish public policy.”

Now, considering the title of this article, I can understand the addressing of delayed marriages and I understand how that leads to fewer children, but to argue that this a foolish public policy because of the implied lack of procreation seems a bit absurd. We don’t need to be reproducing like rabbits, in fact, my desire to have 7 children is totally irresponsible and inconsiderate of the environmental, social, and economic impact adding 6 more people (one has already been added) to the world.

Amassing major debt before one is out of college, especially undergraduate level, is a bad plan for starting off on the right foot - but it is the only plan for many students. Severely low-income families and most working class and middle class families simply can’t afford to pay for their child’s education and it shouldn’t be expected that they will, though it is a major issue they should at least consider and choose an appropriate plan of action suitable for their family situation. Education is a good way for people to get better paying jobs and improve their social situation. Of course, there are other ways too that parents might want to consider instead but it is a good starting point for many people. Starting off in the hole means that students need even more preparation for how to make sound financial decisions during and after college in order to make the best of their situation.

Another site recently stated an expectation and frustration that they were forced into debt through student loans because their parent’s didn’t make better financial choices and set up a college fund for them. Yes, we can hope that parents will look out for their children, but, no, we cannot expect that parents will always do so or do so to the extent of paying the tuition bill that comes due.

I worry that I will have nothing saved for Alex for college. However, I know that I will plan well enough to give her a strong supporting base for college in order to make it possible. I also point out that working hard in school for the right grades to get admission and scholarship packages needs to be part of her college savings plan. Yes, I am willing to help her out but I am not willing to write a blank check for the experience.

sleepless nights

Filed under: life — suzanne henderson @ 2:14 am

I’ve been told that deciding to buy a house can keep people up at night — it is true. We’ve found a house that I think we are interested in. It has many pluses and many minuses: school vs location, yard vs rowhouse, living space vs heating/cooling, price vs commute, etc. It has all of these things and we may be able to get it for the price we are looking for. Then again, we might not. But it is keeping me up as I worry about someone else coming along and buying it. I worry that we will get it and it’ll be the worst thing ever. I worry that we won’t get it and it’ll be a major loss in terms of potential. I worry that we’ll end up in a lesser school district if we don’t take it. I worry that I’m misjudging the neighborhood too much. I worry about spending money to buy it. I worry about finding nothing else and being trapped in apartment hell. I worry about future improvements and the cost of them. I worry about living within the current conditions. I worry and I worry and I worry and I don’t get any sleep. I worry that tomorrow will come and the house will be under contract and not under our contract.

My knowledge base for so many things keeps increasing and increasing as I worry and worry. I know so much about gravity heat and the efficiency, or lack of, for converted heating systems. I know more about plaster walls and old house quirks and annoyances. I know more about investment opportunities and community revitalization and development in local neighborhoods. I know more about zoning and upcoming tax laws. I know more about stress.

I have a presentation this afternoon. I have to administer and grade a practical exam this afternoon. I have to write a midterm paper and redo a historical figure essay for tomorrow. I have to develop a presentation for a class for tomorrow. I have to somehow make the world right.

Yet, I lay in bed considering the fact that I have no where to live. This is what is really driving me, driving me to get things done and driving me crazy. I do not accept unknowns, I do not tolerate leaving things to the last minute. I’ve had numerous situations where I’d have no where to live IF I didn’t find something. I’ve never let that impending date get so close. I don’t know how to juggle the wants and needs and costs in solving this issue. I don’t know how to stop obsessing and micro-focusing on this one property. I know it is a bad idea to get really interested in a property, especially one that is a small stretch to afford. But I need a place to live and honestly I really like this property and all the neat little plusses about it.

What I really need to to go to bed and stop obsessing over how to make it work, how to improve the property, how to do things that are not relevant to this weeks expectations and obligations. oh so many needs right now and exhausted resources for meeting most of them.