Saturday, April 23, 2005

After buying the ingredients for dinner last night, I carted my groceries out to the car. I follwed a big, strapping guy. His shoulders were so wide, that in order to touch his waist, he had to bend his elbows 90 degrees. He walked with his chest thrust out, and his shoulders rolling up and down. Ladies two counties over were watching this guy, his testosterone was so powerful.

The car he drove matched his virility. It was a big, four door diesel pickup, that, when started, sounded like a hundred people growling. As he put his groceries into his car, I walked past to find my car. I had parked next to a small Chevy. But when I came out, I discovered that the small Chevy had been replaced by two shopping carts. I cursed under my breath at people too effing lazy to put their carts up. Afterwards, I walked two slots down from my car to the cart corral, and dropped off my basket. When I got back to my car, I was parked next to three shopping carts! And the big, burly, brawny guy was walking four space up to get in his truck!

Imagine the scene, if you will: Directly across from this space full of carts, in the next parking lot row, was a half full cart corral. Three spaces down from the store was another one. Big, burly guy had taken the first space on the row, and was closer to the front of the store than to my car. So what does he do? He walks to the space next to my car where two carts already have been abandoned, and leaves his cart! I guess the extra few feet to the cart corral was too far.

Not only that, he had parked the cart a mere four inches from the side of my car. I guess he thought I was the designated cart putter upper.

I am writing my congressman and city councilman. I want stores that use carts to build fences around their sidewalks so that carts cannot get into the parking lot. A rider on the new law will make it a crime to park in front of the store to load. That way people will have to walk back and forth to their cars. I figure that after a year or so of that, they won't mind a short hike down to the cart corral.

Friday, April 22, 2005

Day two without cigarettes began with a quick trip to the grocery store for coffee. While I haven't been troubled too much by cravings, I know the next two days are going to be the most difficult.

I hope.

Thursday, April 21, 2005

The stars are in alignment, and the planets are lined up just so.

Last night, I smoked my last cigarette. On Friday of last week, I purchased a Buy 2 Get 1 Free package, and fully expected to finish it by Monday. But no, apparently, my body has been toying with me.

Just to make things more interesting, I ran out of coffee on Tuesday. I'll get some today, but the withdrawals ought be interesting.

Wednesday, April 20, 2005

Tom T. Hall

In some of my songs I have casually mentioned
The fact that I like to drink beer
This little song is more to the point
Roll out the barrel and lend me your ears

I like beer. it makes me a jolly good fellow
I like beer. it helps me unwind and sometimes it makes me feel mellow (makes him feel mellow)
Whiskey’s too rough, champagne costs too much, vodka puts my mouth in gear
This little refrain should help me explain as a matter of fact I like beer
(he likes beer)

My wife often frowns when we’re out on the town
And I’m wearing a suit and a tie
She’s sipping vermouth and she thinks I’m uncouth
When I yell as the waiter goes by


Last night I dreamed that I passed from the scene
And I went to a place so sublime
Aw, the water was clear and tasted like beer
Then they turned it all into wine (awww)

I like beer. it makes me a jolly good fellow
I like beer. it helps me unwind and sometimes it makes me feel mellow (makes him feel mellow)
Whiskey’s too rough, champagne costs too much, and vodka puts my mouth in gear
Aw, this little refrain should help me explain as a matter of fact I love beer
(yes, he likes beer)

Have you ever heard a song that sums up your life?

I hit 18 in the days when legal adults could drink beer. Don't even get me started on this whole issue. We could debate it for years, and never come to a consensus.

I didn't drink beer, however, until I hit 20. I didn't like it. Even when I started drinking beer, I didn't drink all that much. Yeah, on the weekends I did my fair share.

It wasn't until the end of my RJR career, when things with the job and The-Bitch-In-Austin-Do-I-Sound-Bitter were going south. I started drinking at least 6 beers a day, but more often it was 12. Hence my rotund belly!

After moving back to Fredericksburg, I stopped drinking as much, but I never stopped. When I started homebrewing, I could brew almost as much as I drank, though I don't think I ever really acheived that goal.

I have never, ever, missed a day of work because of a hangover. I've thought about it, but never did. Neither have I ever gotten so drunk that I do not remember what I did the night before. And while I have come home and gone to sleep, I never passed out while drinking.

Late last year, I decided to cut back. I began drinking less when I had to go to work the next morning, saving the hangovers for days off. I have enjoyed some success with this approach, but the hangovers have gotten worse on my days off.

Now let's look at the cost. Assuming I buy an 18 pack of the cheapest beer ($10) every three days, I still spend $25 a week on beer. That's $1200 a year! YIKES!

This one's gonna be hard!

Tuesday, April 19, 2005

Step One - Controlling Daily Expenses

It goes without saying that if I spend my money before I can deposit it, I will never get out of the hole I'm in. Therefore, I need to look at what I spend my money on, and reduce or eliminate these things. But, I don't want to live a monk's life--shut away from anything that might be the least bit fun.

A few weeks ago, I confidently posted that I was going to quit smoking. I lasted a day and a half.

One of the things one has to do to eliminate a bad habit, is to associate bad things to the habit that far outweigh any perceived benefits. So I sat down and wrote out some things.

Pros and Cons of Smoking
I enjoy it.

Each pack costs about $3. If I smoke a pack a day, I will spend $21 a week, $84 a month, and $1008 a year on cigarettes. Ouch!

  In addition to the cost of cigarettes, there are the costs of the paraphenalia: lighters, matches, etc. A much smaller figure, to be sure, but still money being spent
  Smoking will kill me. Cancer already runs in my family. Do I really want to rush headlong to the grave?

I think daily visits to Long Strange Trip and this site are in order.

Tomorrow, my other vice.

Monday, April 18, 2005

I have a difficult time controlling my spending. And controlling spending has to be the first step in getting my finances in order.

While I have also been decluttering my life, selling comics and dvds on eBay and Amazon, I've been depositing the funds in my account as quickly as I can. Unfortunately, I seem to have been spending the funds before they get into my account, and for the third time this year I am horribly overdrawn!

I hate reconciling my checkbook. With a passion. But I have to start doing it.

So going back to my goals post, I've come up with this goal: I will have no more overdrafts this year."

To acheive this goal,I need to do four things: 1)reduce my daily expenses as much as possible, 2) use check book software to help me do the math in reconciling my checkbook, 3) set up a routine that forces me to know what my checking balance is on a daily basis and 4) set up a system to organize my bills so I can pay them in the appropriate order, and minimize late fees.

Tomorrow, I'll post my thoughts on step one. If you have any advice on any of these steps, please feel free to share it.


The ever handy Aunt Annie said I could link to her method of arganizing bills.

Sunday, April 17, 2005

In the last couple of days, I've run across things that have forced me to delay a couple of posts I've already written.

First, there was a story about a skate park that has been closed because it wasn't hadnicapped accesible. What? A gal in a wheelchair was going to skate? A blind guy was going to get on a skateboard and let his dog guide him through the tubes? No. Picnic tables in the park do not meet disability height requirements.

Second, in the TrekWeb forums, someone started a thread about how liberal Star Trek is. While I agree that Star Trek is liberal, a user named Gene's Ghost wrote:

True believers of any of the original Star Trek humanities as put forth by the late Gene Roddenberry simply are not conservatives, because those Trek concepts are very much about lifting all of humanity to fulfill their own human potential. Everyone has a fair chance to become who they want to be.

Conservatives are all about keeping people down just long enough to take advantage of their misfortune for not being part of the elite and empowered. They are not their brother's keepers, and will always refuse to be. Why? Because being part of a loving and generous humanity cuts into their bottom line... and that's just unacceptable.

My response was, "My only disagreement with your blanket, but more or less accurate, generalizations is that conservatives choose to be conservative. This, I assume, is a bad thing in your view, so the last sentence of the second paragraph should read, "Everyone has a fair chance to become who they want to be, as long as they aren't conservative." That's why I often find liberals just as elitist, opniionated, and bigoted as conservatives."

Today, I ran across Pat Sajak's blog. He complained that he's had to stop having political discussions, because liberals tend to create their own rules when it comes to those discussions. "The moral superiority they bring to the table allows them to alter the playing field and the rules in their favor. They can say and do things the other side can’t because, after all, they have the greater good on their side. If a Conservative—one of the bad guys—complains about the content of music, films or television shows aimed at children, he is being a prude who wants to tell other people what to read or listen to or watch; he is a censor determined to legislate morality. If, however, a Liberal complains about speech and, in fact, supports laws against certain kinds of speech, it is right and good because we must be protected from this “hate speech” or “politically incorrect” speech. (Of course, they—being the good guys—will decide exactly what that is.)"

After that, I came across this article that tried to explain why Bush won the election. The basic premise of the article is an anti-liberal trend in the popular culture.

The extreme factions of both parties have gained control. There is no longer any middle ground. When a Republican or a Democrat wins an election it is a result of dirty tricks. When the either side loses, it's because the American public is too stupid to know what's right.