Friday, June 29, 2007

Business: Full Speed Ahead

Okay, maybe not "full speed," but we're making some progress.

A few months ago, I posted about possibly starting a web design/development business with Keith. We decided to go ahead and give it a shot because it's the kind of business that doesn't take a lot of money/dedication to start. You just kinda tell people you're open for business and see what happens.

That was how I thought of it, anyway. Of course, it's required significantly more effort than that. We've been busy re-designing the websites of three family/friend guinea pigs, so we can offer a portfolio of successful sites to prospective clients. I've also been really busy on the business end, registering our business as an LLC (still in the works), creating a basic contract, coming up with rates and standard packages to offer. Oh, and we still need a website of our own--minor detail.

Our original goal was to be "open for business" as of July 1, so it was a clear split for tax purposes between working from home and not. I don't know about that date anymore--I'm thinking it'll still be sometime in July, but not by Sunday. Definitely not by Sunday.

I'll let you know when there's more news. I know you all can't wait to hire us and pay us lots of money so I can quit my day job!

Thursday, June 28, 2007

Financial Blogs

I've decided that one of the reasons I've been such a slacker on the blog lately is because I've been too busy reading other people's blogs.

Specifically, personal finance blogs. I'm addicted! You get financial advice, which I crave even though 93% of it doesn't apply to me in any way, shape, or form. But you also get a glimpse into someone else's life, as they tell you about the trials and triumphs of their own financial dealings.

Right now, my two favorites are The Simple Dollar and An English Major's Money. So when I don't post, go check these out because I was probably too busy getting caught up here to keep track of my own blog.

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Virtual checking

So I've been pondering switching to virtual checking because of better interest rates. We currently bank where I've been a member for the past 7 years. Really, we've only stayed out of convenience and have never really considered our options.

Our current checking account has a flatlined 0% interest rate. Our savings gets a whopping .2% interest and has a $300 minimum or else we're penalized. Last year we made an anemic $9.41 in interest.

On the other hand, ING Direct offer Electric Orange accounts (aka checking) with 5.3% Annual Percent Yield and savings accounts with 4.5%APY.

However, you don't have paper checks readily available. If you want to write a check, you have to go online and fill out the information and the check will be mailed out. So check-writing is no longer a spur-of-the-moment activity. In the past year, we've probably only written a handful of checks, and I can probably count on one hand the number of those that needed to be filled out and handed over immediately.

But still. It makes me kinda nervous. Also, they pointed out at the Well-Heeled: 20something Money blog that Washington Mutual offers a similar APY AND instantaneous transfers between savings and checking accounts. Which I guess means that ING doesn't offer that.

Has anyone taken their banking complete online? Good idea or bad idea? (Bob B., I'm looking in your direction since you're my finance buddy.)

anyone done it? Advice?

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Real Simple

For Christmas, I asked for a subscription to Real Simple magazine. My parents gave it to me, and .... 4 months later .... I started receiving it. (How can it take 16 weeks to activate a magazine subscription?!? But that's a whole different blog entry.)

I remember reading the magazine a few years ago and liking it. Their instructions on knitting a scarf is what first inspired me to try knitting. Now, countless scarves, one shawl, and two baby blankets later, it's one of my favorite hobbies.

So I was excited to get the magazine again. Their tagline is "Life made easier" and their "about" page says that the publication's:
concise, useful strategies, coupled with a clean, inspiring design, focus on making busy women’s lives easier, from preparing a fast, healthy breakfast to getting a good night’s sleep. In essence, Real Simple helps its readers do what they need to do, so they have more time to enjoy what they want to do.
I always thought this translated into bringing simplicity in your life. Focusing on what you have and making the most out of it. But after getting this magazine for a few months, I realized I was wrong, wrong, WRONG.

Apparently your life is easier if you buy LOTS of stuff. All the magazine offers is suggestions on what to buy in different categories of your life. In the most recent issue, I heard what I should buy to make traveling with pets easier (including a tent for the dog), what kinds of wine I should purchase, which brand tooth whitener is the best, and how to eat ice cream without drips (cake cones are a no-no, they say). Really? This is really supposed to make my life easier? Simpler?!?

And there was a Hummer ad on the back cover.

Monday, June 25, 2007

Ahead and Yet Falling Behind

Firstly, sorry I was such a slacker last week on the blog. No good reason--I just didn't get around to it. Sorry about that--this week will be better. As a matter of fact, by virtue of this post it already is! Isn't it great to set low expectations?;)

But on a much more productive note, I had a fabulous weekend. Saturday we ran errands and hung out. And Sunday morning we had a race--the 17th Annual A Most Excellent Race. I was pretty nervous about it for several reasons.

Ever since I started running 3 years ago, I've had a goal of finishing a 5k under 30 minutes. This isn't a particularly fast time by any stretch of the imagination, but to me it was a challenge--and obviously a difficult one as, 3 years later, it still stands. I thought I had a good chance with this race because the course is about a mile from our house. It's the same streets that we run every day. They're flat, and I know them like the back of my hand, which can be a huge psychological advantage, I think, when you actually have a sense of where miles 2 and 3 will come up.

However, I've been sick and pretty much out of commission for 2 weeks prior to the race. On Wednesday morning, Beckett and I ran the course to get an idea of what to expect. Shockingly, we finished in 28:50--clearly under 30 minutes. Even granting that I may have been slightly off in my route plotting (e.g., cutting a corner here or there), the test run showed that I should be able to finish in under 30 minutes.

I kinda did the test run to show myself that it wasn't going to happen, and take the pressure off for race day. But obviously, I had the opposite result. Luckily the weather on race day was gorgeous and it all went well. I managed to keep up a good pace and finished in 29:14. Yay for me!!! I finally met my running goal--which is also another check on the New Year's Resolutions list.

Of course, being the person I am, as we sat in the shade by the side of the course, waiting for others to finish, I felt a little bereft. Adrift. What would I do without that goal? I suppose I have to come up with another one now. But doesn't this mean I can never again be satisfied with a race over 30 minutes? I just don't know how to feel!

Other than the angst of a goal-reached, it was a fabulous day. Especially the part where we walked the dogs and stopped for some gelato. Mmmmmm .... so last week I fell behind on the blog, but met my running goal for the first time ever. You can't have everything, right?

P.S. And everyone should wish Keith a "Happy Birthday" today. Now he's old, just like me!

Friday, June 15, 2007

Camping Pack List 2

After work tonight, we'd headed off on our second camping trip of the year. Two weekends in a row! Unfortunately, this is the last camping trip we have planned, but hopefully we'll be able to fit in one or two more.

Last weekend, it became apparent that Keith and I haven't camped by ourselves very much. Most often, we camp with our families, who tend to provide some of the basic necessities that we forget about, like trash bags or water. We're still learning what we need to pack, and what we assumed we own, but really don't--we've always borrowed.

A week ago, Keith and I were the first to arrive at the campsite. We eagerly set up the tent and Keith got a great fire going. We sat down, ready to roast some hot dogs .... and realized we didn't have any cooking sticks to roast the hot dogs on. Problem.

My parents arrived shortly, however, and we used theirs. Last night, I went grocery shopping for the weekend and bought some brauts to cook over the fire tonight. On the way home from the grocery store, it occurred to me all over again--we don't have any way to cook them. Unless we cut them up and put them in the pie-iron pizza cookers, which just isn't the same.

Probably Jen and Ben have sticks. They camp a lot more than us, and are just generally more prepared. (I mean, they're parents--they have to be prepared, right?) So probably we can just use theirs. But it's the principle of the thing! Some day, we're going to camp on our own. And we're going to want hot dogs, and marshmallows, and all sorts of other things that are cooked over a fire on sticks. We should be ready for that situation.

So I've been trying to figure out where to get these things, and exactly what they're called. First I tried Dick's Sporting Goods--no luck there. Then I tried Cabela's, who is--according to their website, the "World's Foremost Outfitter." No luck there either. This is crazy!!

Finally, I found them at Summit Camping Gear. According to this site, they are Camping Forks. And ready to be shipped today. Which is great news but, sadly, will probably not help us out tonight. But at least if I put an order in when we get back, for the next camping trip we'll be one step closer to self-sufficiency.

Thursday, June 14, 2007

The Cleveland Accent

Keith has been claiming for years now that there's a Cleveland accent. Something about the vowels in "milk" and "pillow" that seems to grate on his nerves.

I can't say I ever really noticed a Cincinnati accent, other than the peculiar use of "please" instead of "excuse me" when a person didn't hear something.

This morning I took a quiz: What American accent do you have? I was surprised to learn that Cleveland is considered a Northern--rather than a Midwestern--accent.

My results are below. Other Clevelanders--are you the same?


You have a Northern accent. That could either be the Chicago/Detroit/Cleveland/Buffalo accent (easily recognizable) or the Western New England accent that news networks go for.

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Overindulged Pets ... on a Budget

I often think our pets are overindulged. Spoiled rotten. Pampered beyond repair.

Beckett gets walked/run twice a day. He gets treats every morning. We've installed a second waterbowl on the back porch, so when he's outside 12 hours a day, he doesn't even have to come inside to replenish his fluids. Did I mention that I put a CD on for him every morning when I leave for work?

And of course, Gomez is not left out. The house is littered with her toys. She gets her food dish topped off and fresh water every morning and night. And it's generally understood that we spend all our time praising the animals, telling them how wonderful/intelligent/amazing they are. They just take it in stride.

But even though our attitude may be overindulgent, it could be a lot worse. Beckett's daily "treats" are a handful of cereal or some peanut butter. And Gomez's toys are all twist ties, milk jug rings, or twine. We may overindulge our pets, but at least we don't break the bank doing it.
Hopefully we'll be able to say the same thing about the kids, someday.

Monday, June 11, 2007

Camping Pack List

I like packing for camping. I realized this on Friday afternoon, as we hurriedly threw everything into bags for a weekend camping trip with my family. There's no worrying about having brown and black shoes to match all of your outfits, or if people will be wearing skirts or pants to a dressy event.

Jeans, shorts, sweatshirt, a few t-shirts. Just the basics. And after the first night, everything smells like campfire smoke anyway, so you might as well just wear the same clothes all weekend.

Obviously camping has its own set of specific necessities--bug spray, sunscreen, matches, shower flipflops. But even with all that, it feels much more low maintenance than packing for a civilized trip. At least, that's my story until we show up at the campsite next weekend and realize we forgot the tent.

Friday, June 08, 2007

Room for Resting

Two days in a row now, this lady has completely freaked me out.

In my normal routine, I head out to lunch about 12:30. I stop by the restroom on my way to the lunchroom. After diligently washing my hands, I go to eat lunch.

But for the past two days, I open to door to the restroom and there's a woman right there, apparently passed out on the couch. (To clarify, the door opens on a small sitting area, separated from the toilet stalls and sinks by a wall partition.) I have several problems with this:
  1. Obviously, she can't really be dead to the world. I mean, the door opens noisily about 2 feet from her, if that, and people must be constantly going in and out. So she's just pretending to be asleep.
  2. Who actually rests in a restroom?!? I don't actually find it to be a very relaxing place, even with a couch and sitting area. You take care of business and get out of there.
It's just very alarming to open the door, your mind on other things, and to have this dead body a few feet away. If she's still there next week, it might be worth walking to another restroom in the building. I don't think my heart can keep taking the shock of finding a person resting right there.

Thursday, June 07, 2007

At War with Myself

There's something else about being sick that I've realized, quite painfully, for the past 2 nights at 3 o'clock in the morning.

I've been taking many, many drugs. Cold and allergy pills. Generic Dayquil. Cough drops. Nasal spray decongestant. I take them all, simultaneously, so that I can function throughout the day.

And I do make it through. I may whine a tad, but I do manage to get to work, stay upright in my chair for 8 hours, and drive home. Where I take all the meds all over again.

But at 3 o'clock in the morning, the meds have all worn off. I wake up, coughing and unable to breathe because my nose is completely congested. My mouth is completely arid from breathing with it hanging open all night, and my chest hurts from the latest coughing fit. I stagger to the bathroom for another round of meds.

It's at this point I realize I'm at war with my body. Until then, I could pretend that the cold is passing, and I'm feeling better naturally. All of these medicines aren't really doing that much, right? Only when my body reverts back to its natural, miserable state do I realize how much the medicines were doing until they're not doing it anymore.

So now I'm afraid to ever be devoid of medicine again. Maybe tonight I'll set my alarm for 2:30, so I can wake up and pop a couple pills before that terrible 3 o'clock realization that I am still truly, horribly sick. Maybe in a few weeks I'll scale back the meds, and see if I can actually breathe on my own or not.

Wednesday, June 06, 2007

1st Ever Annual

I remember having this argument when trying to start a literary journal on-campus. Myself and the other editor pimped our writing contest as the "First Ever Annual" contest for the journal. Others argued that it couldn't actually be an annual event until the second year. Until then, it's a one-time only thing. So a "first annual," according to these people, is an impossibility.

I was just reminded of this because blogger is pimping the Pixelodeon Fest that's being run by someone they know. (Ahhh, to know the right people.) In the description, it says:
Pixelodeon is an annual independent video festival recognizing innovation, inspiration, and community in global online video. This is our inaugural year!
So is this correct or incorrect? Does anyone really care either way? At least if it's wrong, I'm not the only one to ever make that mistake.

Tuesday, June 05, 2007

Being Sick Sucks

And being sick when you're a temp and don't get paid for sick time is even worse. We just took off 3 days for the funeral in New York. Then we had last Monday off as a holiday. And this week, I'm sick, courtesy of Keith's family at the funeral.

It's not enough I haven't been able to sleep for a week because Keith is hacking up a lung every night. No! I have to get sick, too.

Looking at Word's clipart depressed me even further. I searched on the word "sick" and it came up with all sorts of sick people laying in bed, being cared for by others. These sickies got to relax and get better. But can I do that? No! Because if I stay home, I don't get paid. And I've already done too much of that.

So I pop various pills and elixirs in the morning, arm myself with cough drops and Kleenex, and head into work. Where people give me the evil eye for showing up and possibly infecting them. But if you would pay me to stay home, I would happily do it!

Then, I head home. And since Keith's sick too, there's no rest to be had. We're both miserable, and we still have to walk the dog, make dinner, clean the kitchen, etc.

Can you tell I'm really a wuss when it comes to getting sick? I've been wallowing in self-pity for a couple days now, so hopefully that means this cold will be on its way soon.

Friday, June 01, 2007

Not Traveling

It's Friday afternoon, I get off work in a few hours, and I feel fabulous. Because tonight, I'm going to go home.

That's it! I'm just going home. I'm not going to Cincinnati, or New York, or Louisville, or even to my parents' on the West side. This weekend, I'm just going to be home.

We do have some errands to run, but I think we can keep them to within a 10-mile radius of our house. Otherwise, we're going to get things done around the house, and maybe even relax a little bit. Sleep in, read a book.

And the best news is that, for June, we don't have any big trips planned. We're going camping, but that's local. So by the time of my sister-in-law's wedding in early July down in Louisville, I might actually be ready for another road trip!