Halloween Humbug

Posted by Ginkgo100 | 3:00 PM

I confess that I am a Halloween humbug. I just don't care for the whole thing. It's not a real holiday (do people get the day off work? are the banks closed?) and it is not terribly clear what it "celebrates" (death? fear?).

We dress up the kids, take them trick-or-treating, and hand out candy to the neighbor children. We like pumpkins. But I don't go any further. No Halloween lights, no fake spider webs, no weird sound effects coming from speakers near my door.

Being a Halloween humbug means I don't appreciate other people's Halloween decorations. Autumn-themed decorations are nice, but death-themed ones, not so much. They're eyesores, to be frank.

You want your front yard to look like a cemetery? Really? You want a decaying skeleton on your mailbox? Are you sure about that?

I don't have principled reasons behind my humbuggery. It's an aesthetic thing. Halloween makes people forget their good taste. Even the colors are ugly.

Am I the only Halloween humbug? Do you enjoy creepy Halloween decor? Or would you, like me, rather skip straight to Thanksgiving cornucopias and corn stalks?

A Tour of My Purse

Posted by Ginkgo100 | 3:32 PM

Jennifer F. of Conversion Diary invented this meme: a photo tour of your purse. She seemed to think people might find it boring. Hello, Jennifer! This is teh Internets! People love being voyeurs here — and exhibitionists. Case in point: I'm sharing my purse too!

I must have cleaned it out recently, because it contains surprisingly little detritus — very unusual for my purse. An odd bit of trash or two did not make it into the photos.

Fossil purse with Precious FeetCoach brand handbags are all the rage in my area. I am much too cheap for Coach. It's amazing that my purse has a name brand at all (Fossil). It was on clearance, what can I say? Its predecessor came from a craft booth at some event and was replaced when it could no longer be held together with safety pins. Notice the Precious Feet pin. I'm hoping one of my pro-choice friends will ask me about them at some point.

The main compartment in the middle contains only my wallet and Dave Ramsey's Financial Peace University envelope system. The wallet contains NO CREDIT CARDS (only my debit card). The envelope system contains $12, which is all we have left of our monthly food budget. Oh well; we are still working out the kinks of the budget. Confession: I used the debit card to buy food today and to get $10 of those $12.

Cleaning cloth and Epipen juniorThe snap pocket is usually the least cluttered because it's not as easy to access. I have the special cleaning cloth for my glasses (I concealed the name brand, but they're the ones where the guy in the restroom hallucinates that his eyes are talking to him), and an Epipen Jr. for my older son, who is allergic to fire ants. I hope I never have to use it, but I keep it handy just in case.

Motorola cell phoneFinally, my cell phone. (Oh look, I have voice mail!) I have actually been meaning to write a post about how we save money with our cell phone plan. Guess I'll save the story for another post.

Not pictured are my keys. I keep those in a designated place in the house; otherwise they would be frequently lost, variously in my pocket, in my purse, or on a random surface. I try to be very disciplined about putting those keys in the same place every time I enter the house.

Like Jennifer, I can't stand the idea of being caught waiting with nothing to do. When I think I may have to wait somewhere, I try to bring a book with me. There are usually one or two books or magazines in each vehicle. And my diaper bag currently contains not one, but two pencil puzzle magazines.

That's it for my purse. What's in yours?

First debt is paid off!

Posted by Ginkgo100 | 10:08 AM

"If I were assured of your eventual destruction I would, in the interests of the public, cheerfully accept my own."

So said Sherlock Holmes to his nemesis Moriarty in "The Final Problem." Fortunately, destroying our Moriarty did not require anybody's destruction. It did require us to finally receive some money we have been waiting for. Using some of that money to work on getting debt free was a priority.

In fact, Moriarty is more than dead. It was overpaid by $15 due to a miscommunication with the company. And here is the evidence of his demise from my bank's website.

Goodbye, Moriarty! We won't miss you!

Shopping for Cheap, Nutritious Food

Posted by Ginkgo100 | 7:00 AM

Bright Hub has a good article on saving money while shopping for nutrient-dense food. This is an important issue if you are trying to save on your grocery bill, since it seems the cheapest foods are often the least nutritious (think ramen noodles and boxed macaroni & cheese).

When is it worth it to spend a little extra for improved nutrition? Barilla Plus pasta, for example, is made with legumes and is higher in protein and fiber than regular pasta with a comparable taste (unlike whole wheat pasta, which is, let's admit it, gross). But it also costs twice as much. I think this is often worth it; regular pasta is quite bad for people trying to control triglycerides (a category recently joined by my dear husband), not to mention diabetics. And as the article points out, foods with better nutrient profiles are more satisfying, so you need to eat less. Of the "big three" nutrients — protein, carbohydrate, and fat — protein also keeps you feeling full the longest. My personal experience is that it works better even than high-fiber food to maintain that feeling.

Do you know of any good "deals" on cheap but nutritious foods?

OH NOES! Teh stock market is collapsing!

Posted by Ginkgo100 | 7:00 AM

Stock prices are down. Down, down, down. And I've been surprised to hear people talking about cashing in their stocks.

The mass media seem to portray the stock market as something that reflects fundamental objective reality (like a textbook), or something that controls our destiny (like a god), or something that tells us what to do with our money (like Ann Landers). The truth is that it is a market. It's about buying and selling. And buying and selling are heavily influenced by emotion.

The stock market is ruled by the basest and most fickle human traits: greed and fear.

When the market is down, that is the worst time to cash in your investments. You're supposed to buy low and sell high, remember? This is the time to buy and hold. Buy diverse, that is, and hold for at least five to ten years.

Dave Ramsey says the stock market has never lost money on any single ten-year period. Even during the Great Depression, if you bought diverse stock at any point and held it for ten years, you would have made money.

When the Dow is sinking like the Titanic, don't go buying in the stock market for the short-term, and don't gamble on any single stock -- but above all don't sell the long-term investments you have. Keep the college fund and the retirement accounts! If you have liquid cash, consider buying more! It's on sale.

I Want My Laptop Back

Posted by Ginkgo100 | 10:46 AM

The biggest inconvenience with my laptop is the power cord. To me, it looks like a black rubberized electrical cord. To my baby, it looks like a game, a treasure, and a meal all in one. He tugged on it one too many times, until the power jack inside the computer broke. It's in the shop now.

I want my laptop back. My desktop is slow, it doesn't have all my bookmarks, and it's not in the TV room. Those are all problems I could have predicted. But I didn't anticipate every troublesome aspect of using the desktop. I also have a four-legged problem.

We have a new kitten. (In LOLspeak, we can has new kitteh.) He just jumped on the keyboard and did a Google Adsense keyword search for lkjlknk.

I miss my laptop!

Sound Not Working? A Fix for Vista

Posted by Ginkgo100 | 3:01 PM

The other day my computer crashed. I mean blue screen of death crashed. It even said "Blue Screen Error."

When I rebooted, my computer's sound didn't work anymore. The control panel said "No audio device is installed." The computer's ability to recognize the built-in speaker (which always worked before) was gone, vanished, kaput.

A Google search revealed that this is not an uncommon problem with Windows Vista. (Shocking, I know.) There were lots of questions in various forums around the web and not a whole lot of answers. People reported having reinstalled everything under the sun with no luck. I even found a YouTube video on fixing broken sound, but it was a video of a guy talking — you had to have sound to get the information on how to fix your sound.

Luckily, there was one answer to one forum post: System Restore.

I ran System Restore, and the wizard said it didn't work. But the sound on my computer works again. I'm not sure if that's a fail or a win, but the bottom line is that just trying System Restore worked when Vista declared "No audio device is installed."

I'm posting this in the hope that someone Googling for the same problem finds this solution useful someday. If that's you, post a comment!