Seven hundred billion or else

Posted by Ginkgo100 | 11:31 AM

Here's what you could do with $700,000,000,000 (from jbreazeale, from dihard):

  • Give every person in the US $2,300 or give every household $6,200. (Think about it another way: this will cost each person in the US $2,300.)
  • Pay the income taxes of every American who makes $500,000 or less a year.
  • Fully fund the Defense, Treasure, Education, State Veterans Affairs and Interior departments next year, as well as NASA.
  • Buy gasoline for every car in the US for 16 months.
  • Buy every NFL, NBA, and MLB team and build each one a new stadium - and pay your players $191 million each for a year
  • Create the 17th largest economy in the world - roughly equal to that of the Netherlands.
  • Or you could pay off just 7% of the $9.8 trillion national debt
But to hear about half of Washington D.C. and most of the people I've heard on the radio talk, instead we MUST buy a bunch of bad debt with it RIGHT NOW OR THE SKY WILL FALL IN ON OUR HEADS!

I wonder what you think of Dave Ramsey's so-called "Common Sense Fix"? It certainly sounds like a better idea than what was defeated in the House yesterday.

My first child

Posted by Ginkgo100 | 2:50 PM

I have never done a meme in Blogger before, but I was tagged by Mile Hi Mama, so how could I refuse?

1. Were you married at the time? Yes

2. What were your reactions when you found out you were pregnant? My first child was quite deliberately adopted, so there was no moment when we first "found out" we would have a child. But there was a moment when our child went from being a "theoretical baby" to an "actual baby," when we got a referral with a photo, a name, and a history. Those who know me in person know that I am usually reserved, but I recall hugging my usually hands-off co-workers.

3. How old were you? 27

4. How did you find out you were pregnant? When we got the referral, I was at work, where the agency called me. I was helping a new employee get situated, so I wasn't at my desk, and they paged me overhead, which was pretty unusual. But it was an unusual phone call.

5. Who did you tell first? Probably whatever co-worker was standing next to me

6. Did you want to find out the sex? Keeping this a secret was not an option. We had to choose at the get-go. We said "either," so they put us on the boy list because it was shorter.

7. Due date: Once we got the referral, we knew the arrival would be several months later, but had no information beyond that. They were a tense few months, during which every phone call made us wonder if we would be heading to the airport soon.

8. Did you deliver your child early or late? We missed the Chinese New Year, during which our child's home country essentially closes down for a month. So I would say "late."

9. Did you have morning sickness? No.

10. What did you crave? Same old things. The advantage to doing it my way is that I got to keep drinking alcohol throughout the whole "pregnancy."

11. Who irritated you the most? Internet trolls.

12. What was your first child's sex? Male. Still is.

13. How many pounds did you gain throughout the pregnancy? I maintained a svelte figure the whole time!

14. Did you have any complications during your pregnancy? The whole process of adoption is complicated to begin with. We had to get fingerprinted by two different agencies and get visas from two different governments. We had to have a home study and almost needed a follow-up home study (expensive) because the delay was so long, the original one nearly expired. We had to undergo 20 hours of special training to be adoptive parents. There were more complications after arrival, including a misspelled birth certificate, a lost passport, and a three-year delay in getting a Social Security card.

15. Where did you give birth? The municipal airport

16. How many hours were you in labor? I can't even remember how long it was between the plane's scheduled arrival and the time the escort brought our child to us. It seemed like it was over an hour, but maybe it was less. Between the referral and arrival dates, five very long months. The total time from our first talk with the agency to arrival was just under 14 months.

17. Who drove you to the hospital? I don't remember who drove to the airport.

18. Who watched? My extended family.

19. Was it vaginal or c-section? Aviational.

20. Did you take medicine to ease the pain? Ah, no.

21. How much did your child weigh? 18 pounds. Now that's a big firstborn!

22. What did you name him/her? His first name is after a contemporary saint, one middle name is shared with his adoptive father and grandfather, and the other middle name is his birth surname.

23. How old is your first child today? Four

I tag Kimberly, Tammy, Katie, Susan, and Anna. And anyone else who may happen to read this post and who wants to participate. Leave a comment to link to your answers!

Hurricane Ike: Aftermath

Posted by Ginkgo100 | 8:58 PM

In the area of northwest Houston and Spring where we live, enormous 100-foot Loblolly pines were snapped in two. Limbs the size of whole trees were scattered about.

Every yard was littered with fresh green tree limbs and branches. One neighbor's gutter was ripped off; another's ceiling collapsed after the roof sprung a leak; and a third had a huge limb fall on it, opening a large hole in the roof. We lost a single panel of trellis fencing, so I am considering us very lucky.

Our neighborhood has no power and our street is typically the last to have power restored when there is an outage. After hearing quotes ranging from two to four weeks for electricity restoration, we migrated to my sister Milehimama's house, also in the Houston area. Hers is a newer neighborhood with underground power lines and they have had electricity since earlier today.

Countless fences are down. But in northwest Houston, the damage is far less than that experienced by those on Galveston Island and the Bolivar Peninsula. Some in the news media are making loud noises about not being allowed to see West Galveston or the Bolivar Peninsula. Bolivar was completely submerged by storm surge. The official death toll according to the TV news is nine in Texas, but that will doubtless rise.

Thanks be to God, we are all safe.

Hurricane Ike blog: Back after almost 48 hours

Posted by Ginkgo100 | 6:33 PM

We lost power in pretty short order Friday night. Our house still needs power but we made it to my sister's house, which does have power. I only have a moment to update but will add more later — stay tuned!

Hurricane Ike: 9:45 p.m. local time

Posted by Ginkgo100 | 9:45 PM

Live blogging Hurricane Ike continues. The outer eye wall is approaching the coast and should make landfall in a few hours. Here in northwest Houston, perhaps 50 miles inland, the wind is not yet intense. The effect is eerie, tree limbs waving against a dark sky. Sustained winds of 75-110 are expected right here from midnight until the early morning hours.

Eyewitness 13 news has their poor sports reporter out in the field. I imagine the most dangerous thing he expected to experience in his job was a flying baseball. Actually, flying objects are currently the most dangerous thing for him.

Chambers County, located east of Houston, is expected to be entirely inundated. Galveston Island, Port Bolivar and the Bolivar Peninsula, and High Island will experience sustained winds from 100-120 mph, and gusting hurricane force winds are reported from Galveston right now.

I will be keeping this up as long as I can. You can subscribe to make sure you get updates immediately. Over a million people are anticipated to lose power before this is over.

Hurricane Ike: 9:00 local time

Posted by Ginkgo100 | 9:02 PM

Winds outside are ranging around 41-46 mph, according to the news.

This storm is flirting with Category 3, but the storm surge will be that of a Category 4 or Category 5 storm.

The eye is very wide, about 60 miles across. If the eye narrows, the winds in the eye wall will become much faster due to the conservation of momentum. Let's hope the eye stays large!

I wish so, so badly that we had had an opportunity to make plywood shutters. The windows are all taped so that in case of damage, flying glass will be lessened.

Our older child doesn't know what a hurricane is, but he is excited and doesn't want to go to bed. Our younger child is still a baby. The animals are spooked, but that could be attributed to the fact that a new kitten joined our household this week.

Hurricane Ike: Video of the winds before the storm

Posted by Ginkgo100 | 8:43 PM

I took this video to show the wind intensity in northwest Houston about 7:00 p.m. This is the amount of wind you would expect from a run-of-the-mill thunderstorm. Hurricane force winds are yet to come, but will be here overnight so I won't be able to film them (even though we have unboarded windows).

Hurricane Ike: Photo post

Posted by Ginkgo100 | 8:02 PM

I took these photographs around 7:00 p.m. local time.

I felt I was foolhardy to be driving around at that hour, as the wind was picking up quite a bit. This even more foolhardy person was taking advantage of the wind to fly a kite.

Many local business have boarded up their windows, and they have some choice words to say about Hurricane Ike.

"Friendly Donuts Open" (I doubt it.)
"Don't Like Ike Wife Beater!"

"Bring it on"
"Just Like... Ike and Tina..." (with picture of a hurricane)
"We're rollin' down the river" (with picture of a boat)

"Take A Hike IKE!" with picture of hurricane track

This neighbor created some art in their driveway for the storm.

Hurricane Ike: Texas Governor Rick Perry

Posted by Ginkgo100 | 5:45 PM

Notes from the press converence with Texas Senator John Cornyn and Texas Governor Rick Perry:

The governor's office has urged the federal government to expand the federal disaster area from 25 Texas counties to 88 counties. They are asking for federal government to take over responsibility for debris removal, water pumping, and individual homeowner assistance.

Hurricane Ike will have a big effect on the national economy because 25% of refining capacity is expected to be lost. (No matter where you are in the country, go fill up all your vehicles!)

Hospital and nursing home residents from Brownsville, Texas, near the Mexico border, to Louisiana have already been evacuated.


Meanwhile, the clouds are getting darker outside our northwest Houston home. I prefer not to give out my address, but we are located in the vicinity of FM 1960 West and Kuykendahl Road. You can Google Map this. Hurricane-force winds will arrive here around midnight. The eye will arrive here around 5:00 a.m.

Hurricane Ike bloggers

Posted by Ginkgo100 | 4:59 PM

Are you live-blogging Hurricane Ike? Leave a comment and I'll link to you in a future post.

Hurricane Ike: 4:45 local time

Posted by Ginkgo100 | 4:45 PM

  • East Houston is beginning to flood near the East Freeway and Uvalde. See map for location. This flooding is due entirely to storm surge.
  • In Quintana, at least two houses, have been washed away. Quintana is due south of Houston and southeast of Galveston, on the coast near Freeport.
  • A huge warehouse fire has broken out in a building which normally stores and repairs boats. on the east end of Galveston Island. Firefighters have had difficulty getting ther. It reportedly contains two 500 gallon diesel fuel tanks.
Source: Channel 13 Eyewitness News

Hurricane Ike: 4:10 p.m. local time

Posted by Ginkgo100 | 4:10 PM

It's cloudy outside with light breezes — no sign of the storm yet. That will change soon.

It has been reported that 10,000 people are already without power closer to the coast. Eight- to ten-foot storm surge is reported, and is expected to increase by ten more feet. Storm surge is nothing more than the rise of sea level. Waves are expected on top of the surge, which will do damage to buildings. Already a buoy off Galveston Island indicated 17 foot waves.

Blackhawk helicopters are evacuating residents near the coast.

Storm surge is not a big worry in our area. We are high enough above sea level, as well as high off street level.

Coming: What to expect from winds.

Hurricane Ike: 12:30 p.m. local time

Posted by Ginkgo100 | 12:30 AM

Partly cloudy and breezy right now. Winds will pick up this afternoon.

We are in the direct path of the hurricane's eye as predicted by NOAA. At 7 a.m. the storm's center will pass right over us.

Hurricane Ike

Posted by Ginkgo100 | 1:10 PM

Our Road to Black is located near Houston, Texas, which means we are under a hurricane warning from Hurricane Ike. I will post updates on the storm in this space.

Our house is far from the areas in danger from the storm surge and is located high off the street, so flooding danger is as minimal as possible. This was not an accident; we intentionally sought a home that would be safe from water. I am concerned about the wind, though, because there are a lot of trees in our neighborhood and they haven't been trimmed in a while.

Stay tuned. Better yet, subscribe.

30% off shelving for my readers

Posted by Ginkgo100 | 10:23 AM

This is a sponsored link, but it's a pretty good deal if you are looking for shelving. I recommend you only make a purchase if you are already planning to buy shelving — an impulse purchase won't help you on your own Road to Black.

Click the link below to get 25% off, then enter promo code SS5 to get another 5% off, for a total of 30%.

25% OFF All elfa Shelving Systems

You will have to pay shipping, but as I said recently, online shopping still can cost less than in-store shopping because it cuts down on those little impulse purchases.

Using GNUcash and Double-Entry Accounting

Posted by Ginkgo100 | 9:00 AM

Since I took over responsibility for bill paying, I used the old-fashioned pencil-and-paper method. Tracking our expenses and income was new to me, and I felt more comfortable and "in control" when I held the pencil in my hand. I knew the feeling was an illusion — there's nothing about a pencil, as opposed to a computer program, that gives more control — but it was nice to have.

A couple of months ago, I decided the time had come to upgrade and start using financial software. I had already consigned the pen and checkbook to the past, replacing them with online bill paying from my bank's website.

The software I settled on was GNUcash. I was attracted by the fact that it is open-source — and free.

GNUcash uses double-entry accounting, also called two-column accounting, which is different from the simple category system used by other financial applications. Each entry in an account has a corresponding and opposite entry in another account. For example, if I paid a utility bill in the amount of $100.00 from my main checking account, it would be deducted from that account as an expense; but it would also be added to an expense account.

Here is a shot of the page for my checking account with the $100.00 bill. See that the money is recorded as a withdrawal and noted as a "transfer" to another account, in this case to Utilities. Since this is an expense type of account, the transfer column refers to it as "Expenses:Utilities".

At the top of the page are tabs for each account. The left tab labeled Accounts lists all of them, and the user chooses which ones to open and look at. If I open the Utilities account, this is what I see:

Instead of Deposit and Withdrawal, the corresponding columns are called Expense and Rebate, but they amount to the same thing. If my utility company credited money back to my checking account, I would record it in the checking account tab as a deposit, and it would show in the Utilities tab in the Rebate column.

On paper, double-entry accounting would require typing in an entry twice, but GNUcash automatically makes the record in the second account as soon as you save it in the first account. I could just as easily save the record in the Utilities account if I liked, and it would be recorded automatically in the Checking account.

Split transactions are possible in GNUcash, too.

Although I have heard many people, first-year accounting students among them, complain about double-entry accounting as confusing, I find it intuitive. I like it better than a "categories" system.