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Archive for November, 2006

Net Worth

November 25th, 2006 at 09:07 pm

I started keeping track of my net worth on NetworthIQ around the same time as I started keeping this blog. It's good to see that things are moving in a positive direction. Increases are mostly a result of increases in the estimated worth of my house (I use Zillow.com for the estimate for my house, and also Kelly blue book for an estimate on the worth of my car) and the rising value of my retirement accounts, since what with the unexpected $5000 in veterinary expenses I've had over the past few months, I've actually spent a little more than I've brought in in income during the past 5 months.

Happy Buy Nothing Day!

November 24th, 2006 at 12:41 pm

My kind of holiday. I remember vividly attending the chaos that accompanies Black Friday sales 30 years ago, and have avoided shopping malls at this time ever since. For years now, I've made it a point not to enter a shopping mall between Thanksgiving and New Years...not too difficult since I probably only stop in at a mall 2-3 times a year.


Check out the home video below and the organization that has promoted the concept for the past 9 years, http://adbusters.org.


http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BMhQy9ZikZs

A few more List items

November 22nd, 2006 at 02:36 pm

26. I worked during college as a proofreader/copy editor for a professional academic journal. The editor actually tried to hire my *mother,* who was primarily a book indexer and reference librarian. My mother said that I was the one who did all of *her* editing, so the editor gave me a test and then hired me.

27. Also during college I hired myself out as a statistical consultant to graduate students in clinical psychology who were math phobic. I had taken a year's worth of statistics as an undergrad and had taught myself SPSS and BMDP from the manuals, and I ended up doing the analyses for two dissertations. Sometimes I think about going back and getting an M.A. in statistics now.

28. When I was in high school, my school was very active in a state-wide program called "Reform in School Education" (RISE) that involved groups of faculty, administration, students and community members to come up with suggestions for improvement. I was active all through high school and my senior year was the city-wide representative for high school students for this program.

29. Later on in college I continued my involvement in educational policy: I served as the undergraduate "Research Coordinator" for the Student Educational Policy Commission at UCLA and once made a presentation in front of the faculty senate that successfully convinced them to make a policy change.

30. Three dreams that I want to pursue at the point where I need to spend less time earning money are to get involved in local history organizations (I am fortunate to live in an area where there is a lot of pre-Revolutionary War history around), to get involved in local politics, and to become much more involved in making music.

31. I've been involved for 6 years in a local voluntary simplicity support group that meets for monthly potlucks.

32. I am Jewish by birth but went through a serious Buddhist phase in my early 30s. I went on a meditation retreat the result of which was an insight that it was time for me to explore my Jewish roots, which I promptly did. I was very active in the congregation that I joined for the next five years. More recently, I have found that most of my friendships are with Quakers (via the simple living group) and my lapsed-Catholic sweetie and I have agreed that if we get married we will join the Friends meeting.

33. I have a wealthy cousin in NYC. One of my fond memories from graduate school is visiting NY, where I stayed at the YMCA and had them move my room several times until I found a floor where there were mostly students rather than down-on-their-luck men, and then going to meet my cousin for lunch at Sardi's, where he was greeted by name by the maitre-de, and for dinner at another restaurant, where his wife was telling me about how sitting on the *first* floor was de-riguer while the *second* floor seating was declasse--when who comes sweeping down from the second floor but Bernadette Peters, who was at that time starring on Broadway in "Sundays in the Park with George." The trip was a vision in contrasts.

34. Three of my favorite places in the world: a patch known as "Henry's Woods" in the local state park, where a plot of conifers stand by a stream and create a cathedral-like space; the Temple of Dendur at the Metropolitan Museum of art; and the 17-mile drive in northern California (though the latter is sadly developed compared with what I remember from my childhood memories).

35. I've had the honor of standing on the Supreme Court dias. An old boyfriend worked as a clerk for Justice Rehnquist back in the late 1980s and he took me on a tour of the building including the courtroom and up on to the dias when I visited him while I was in D.C. for a job interview.

36. I went to a nursery school run by a bunch of psychoanalysts since my mother was in psychodynamic therapy at the time. No wonder I turned out rather neurotic!

Catching my Breath

November 22nd, 2006 at 01:00 am

I've cancelled class tomorrow--from past experience I know that no more than 15-20% of students will show up the afternoon before Thanksgiving. I don't know why my school's administration insists on having classes the day before anyway--every other school I've taught at cancels classes the day before to give students the opportunity to drive safely to their destinations. Of course, students will take every opportunity to take the whole week off that they can, and that's a pain too--it's the "give them an inch and they take a yard" phenomenon.

So I have a 5-day weekend for what has been an unexpectedly hectic term. There's some grading to do and letters of recommendation to write, but I also have a little time to myself for the first time in a while anyhow. I haven't thought about anything much beyond work and Henry for a long time.

It's actually kind of scary having the mental space since I know new challenges are ahead--but at least I can avoid thinking about most of that until the end of the term in mid-December. The time I take off this weekend can be for play, not planning.

Now that the leaves are gone, I can see the sparkle of water on the river from my front porch when it's sunny and at night. It's just a glimpse, but that little view gives me the same sense of space opening up too.

I think I need to take up meditation again and practice letting the river of my thoughts run by me rather than getting as caught up in things as I have of late.

Late List

November 19th, 2006 at 05:59 pm

I see that while I've been busy grading and tending Henry, many of you have been posting interesting lists about yourselves. I'm still catching up on reading those. In the meantime, here's mine. Only 25 items...I'm not *that* interesting.

Twenty-five things you may not know about me

1. I was born in Hollywood.

2. I play the flute. Quite well in fact. I've played duets with the principal flutist of the Oregon Symphony and performed on stage with members of the Albany Symphony.

3. When I was a child, I lived near the abandoned set for "Hello Dolly." Although there was a "No Trespassing" sign, the gate was loosely locked and it was easy for a 10 year old to sneak inside, which I did several times that year.

4. I have a PhD in social psychology and did a post-doctoral fellowship in personality & psychopathology.

5. I am taking classes towards a post-BA certificate in accounting (all the requirements for an accounting major, minus the general BA requirements).

6. I was given a stuffed Basset Hound (Cleo for the People's Choice bassest) when I was born and got my first "live" basset at six. Henry is my third basset, or fourth if I count the dog whom I fostered for a year but did not adopt because of aggression problems.

7. I'm still good friends with the first boy I ever had a crush on.

8. I once went white-water rafting on a Class III river in Alaska (this is SO not me....this was only because of that then-boyfriend of mine).

9. I've done 3 driving trips back and forth across the country, taking a different route each time.

10. I've seen 40 of the 50 states--almost all the exceptions being in the Deep South (plus Hawaii).

11. Despite loving to travel, the only places I have been outside the USA are in Eastern Canada (Toronto, Montreal, and thereabouts).

12. I once spent 7 weeks in a hospital. I did not eat during that time (until the last day) but was fed intravenously.

13. I learned Transcendental Meditation at age 13.

14. I took tennis lessons starting at age 8. Never did master the game.

15. I was kicked out of swimming school at age 3 for calling my teacher a "bastard."

16. I took Yoga for gym class during high school.

17. I met my sweetie when he taught a class called "Creativity for Non-Artists." Nothing happened during that first year I took the class from him (my mind was on getting ready to move out of the area), but when I moved back, I learned that he still had kept two of the little sculptures I'd made in class and had them on top of his refrigerator...unusual for him. The relationship has always felt like fate.

18. I've lived for 23 years in California, 6 in Michigan, 3 in Vermont, and 14 in Pennsylvania.

19. I decided to become a social psychologist before I ever took a class in the subject, and to move to the East Coast before I'd ever been there for the first time.

20. I am also very active online on a Walking discussion board and my regular walking buddy is the former "walking editor" for a national health publication. (She provides great incentive to keep me going!)

21. I lost 95 pounds one year. Gained about half of it back, though, in the subsequent 7 years. Still much better than where I was!

22. I made my first money working as a street performer. The old Los Angeles County Museum of Art had a big plaza on which street performers gathered each Sunday. A friend of mine and I went each week and earned quite a lot of money for our efforts--probably because we were by far the youngest performers there. (Late edit: we played flute duets.)

23. I used to teach at an environmentally oriented liberal arts college, where my proudest achievement was developing a new course called "Simplicity & Sustainability."

24. More recently I taught a class called "The Psychology of Money and Happiness."

25. I firmly believe that the best way to learn something is to teach it. Thus I'm not an expert on much of what I teach; more an impassioned learner.

Weekend

November 13th, 2006 at 12:03 am

Yesterday was sunny, so I spent about 3 hours putting the garden away for the winter and lugging 8 leaf bags full of trimmings over to the local compost center. Then in the evening, my sweetie took me out to dinner--the first time we've seen each other in a month, since he's been so busy with web design jobs and I've been hovering over Henry.

Today it was gray and drizzly, so I've been doing indoor jobs--mostly preparing for the week ahead at work, plus doing a little cleaning. I'm having an overnight house guest on Tuesday, so I've got to make sure to do at least 2 more hours of cleaning before she arrives. Somehow it's easier to clean even inside when it's sunny.

I looked around online and found a place where I'll be able to get Henry's medications that he'll be on for life for $43/month (plus shipping & handling). That compares to $73 if bought at the local vet. I'll purchase a 6 month supply with my next paycheck.

Henry's also been put on prescription food, and that's expensive too. Looks like that will cost over $100/month. There aren't as many places that sell pet prescription food online as places that sell the prescription meds, and the places that I could find that carry his prescription food are out on the west coast, meaning the shipping cost will be high. So I don't think I'll be able to cut the cost below that. I spent about 10 days home-cooking for him and that was costing about $5/day, so the vet food is less expensive than that.

I'm greatly looking forward to getting Henry off of Prednisone--or at least, to decreasing the dose, since he's slated for a 6 month course to fully get the inflammation under control. But two more weeks and I get to cut his initial dose in half. Hopefully that will cut down on his incredible raging hunger. Unless he gets about 3000 calories a day (for a 72 pound dog--that's twice what he needs) right now, he starts whining and within half an hour builds up to outright howls, and when I'm not home, he starts pulling stuff off of the shelves...not at ALL his typical behavior. Mon-Wed-Fri I can limit myself to 4.5 hours away from the house at work, but Tues-Thurs are full days, so I've had to hire someone to come in and feed him and let him out mid-day.

I'm really praying that once I can cut the dose in half the 'roid-rage hunger and execessive drinking/peeing will subside to a reasonable level, since it will be another 5 months until he's off the prednisone altogether.

Geez, if not, he'll probably be a 92 pound rather than a 72 pound basset hound.

At least the $$s going in the right direction

November 7th, 2006 at 02:46 am

October was a perpetual money drain...I spent well over $6000, nearly 3 months' worth of normal expenses, in one month. That's over $4000 in veterinary expenses plus the usual household expenses.

Things are beginning to get back to normal. Henry is recovered from surgery, we have a diagnosis, and he's on meds which are beginning to help. Still awaiting the full results from his food allergy panel so I can figure out what to feed him over the long haul. It turns out that he's borderline allergic to the ingredients in the vet-prescribed food he *had* been eating, so I've been feeding him ground chicken and mashed potatoes until I get the full report from the vet. One of the meds he is on is prednisone and it is making him VERY hungry. He asks for a snack about every 90 minutes (or less) when I'm here. I give him just little bits but he's going through about 1.5 pounds of ground chicken (which cooks down to just over a pound) each day. I also decided to hire a pet sitter to come in and check on him during my two long work days each week, since he's now making mischief and getting into trouble by looking for food when I'm gone too long. The higher dose of prednisone is for a month, then we cut the dose for another 4 months and taper for the final month. I'm hoping that once we get to the lower doseage his appetite is a bit more under control! Between food and the medications he's now been put on for life, he's turning out to be an expensive pupster...but a very loved one!

I managed to pay off a big chunk of the debt that had grown on my credit card through all this...I should be out of debt by years end and then back to accumulating savings--as long as nothing else goes wrong!