I am on the 'budget billing' plan with my local electric company. This means that they bill me a set amount each month (easier to budget for, hence the name) and then in December each year, they 'true up' the account. In years past, this has usually meant a huge utility bill for me in December.

I've been very conscientious about being more 'green' this year. I have switched over to CFL bulbs where possible, made sure to turn off lights in unused rooms, etc. (Something I have historically not been very good about). Basically, I have a 1600-sf all electric home, and I pay $180/mo. for electricity.

I only have bill history going back to 2006, but here is what it has looked like the last few years:

2006 - $120.00/mo., final payment - $301.73
2007 - $135.00/mo., final payment - $274.78
2008 - $147.00/mo., final payment - $497.40 (remember this year really stunk)
2009 - $179.00/mo., final payment - $246.68
2010 - $179.64/mo., final payment - $134.38!!!!!!

Also, the good news for 2011 is that my budget billing amount is being reduced to $175/mo. Yeah, I know it's a small decrease, but in my mind, it's far better than an increase, and I'm going to continue to look for ways to improve my home's energy efficiency.

So for the first time in the last five years, my December electric bill was actually lower than my budget billing amount! That just put a little more into Santa's coffers, which is always a good thing.

Ciao for now.

17 years ago tomorrow, I arrived in Atlanta, Georgia. I arrived with a carry on back-pack and two duffle bags full of personal goods. I left my job, my car, my crazy husband and almost everything I treasured behind and came to Atlanta to stay with a woman that I met on the Internet. Courtney and her husband Fred opened their home to me when all I had was $600 to my name. I tried to tell her that I didn't know how long it would take me to get a job, to get on my feet, etc. Almost immediately after I got here, I came down with the Beijing flu and was sick for three weeks. She assured me that I was the sister she never had, and not to worry about it, we were family.

Courtney spent 18 hours a day on the Internet flirting with other men. She had a 2-year old son that they locked in his room at night (actually more like all the time... Courtney complained that he 'bothered her' while she was online) because he wasn't yet potty trained, and rather than buy a baby gate, they locked his bedroom door so he couldn't get out at night. Her idea of a nutritious meal for him was canned ravioli.

Because I wanted to repay her kindness, I started actually interacting with her child, cooking, cleaning and generally trying to pitch in any way that I could since I had very little money to contribute. This was my first mistake, because soon the comparisons started. "Courtney, why don't you write down some of Melinda's recipes, I really liked what she made for dinner tonight" or "Courtney, did you know that our son learned to count to five? Melinda's been working with him."

After I got well, I looked for a job, and I found one rather quickly. I started working the week before Christmas at a print shop in Norcross. Fred & Courtney transferred the note to one of their cars to me so that I had transportation. Good thing too, because after I'd been at my job about two weeks, it became my home too.

Courtney threw me out because she said that Fred had fallen in love with me, and didn't want to have sex while I was in the living room. I was 'cramping her style' because she had to get dressed every day, and their son was wailing when they locked him in the room and no one played with him. "He didn't used to do that, you're spoiling him with all the attention."

I came very close to calling DFACS on them. I knew that they rarely had nutritious food in the house, if the state of their house was anything like it was when I arrived. Most of the $600 I had arrived with had gone to stocking their pantry and freezer with nutritious food that didn't come out of a can. However, I decided it was not my place to judge, and I didn't do it. My co-worker Lois thought I should have done it, and in hindsight, I think I probably should have as well, but I didn't.

So, for the second time in my life, I found myself homeless. Luckily, it didn't last too long and I was able to start staying at the Suburban Lodge on Buford Highway for $179/wk. It was tough, but I had a place of my own, it had furniture and a tiny kitchen I could use. I lived on a lot of take-out and gradually things got better.

I've come a long way in seventeen years. I've achieved a level of stability I didn't think was possible for me. I was a rebellious gypsy with bad decision-making skills when I got to Atlanta all those years ago. I guess I have mellowed with age somewhat. I never realized how Fred & Courtney's putting me out on the street destroyed my faith/trust in people. As a result, I still keep people at arm's length.

But I'm a survivor, that's what I do. Survive, overcome the odds, and maintain a sense of peace/calm at my center. I don't know if I'm often happy or joyful, but I am always grateful and peaceful.

That's really not so bad.

Ciao for now.

Yesterday I acquired a new Netgear wireless router courtesy of Best Buy's holiday sale (I chose to buy online rather than camp out - free shipping, so what's the point of freezing?).

Today I acquired a remote control car for my nephew from 1saleaday.com. I had it shipped to my Dad's house, so his grandma will wrap the gift for me. I am still on the lookout for a holiday gift for my niece.

My boss & my co-worker are getting two-part gifts. One part is acquired, I need to go to Michael's for red/green tissue paper (to finish wrapping) and some plastic beads so that I can make their 'school color' badge lanyards to finish those off. I will probably try to swing by Michael's tomorrow while I'm out and about.

I'm in charge of getting a gift for one of the other bosses at work, but I have to finish collecting money before I can take that any further.

I started out this morning with breakfast at Panera Bread Co. I got to Omaha Steaks at about 8:05 a.m. I thought I might not make the first 100 customers, based on the turnout from last year. Last year I arrived at 7:30, and was like #40 in line. It took almost three hours to do my shopping last year. This year, there was no line. There were three other people in the store ahead of me, and it only took me 20 minutes to complete my purchase.

Came home and put the puzzle in the freezer together, and found out I still have a substantial amount of room left, which is good. Then I headed out and got a new set of wiper blades for my Sport Trac. Boy what a difference those made.

I had dinner with Luke & Chuck tonight at Red Robin. Definitely my favorite place to eat out. I've become friends with one of the servers there, Melissa, so it's always a great experience. They were on their way up to Lake Lanier for the lights tonight.

Tomorrow morning I am going DeKalb Farmer's Market with my friend Janet, who is in town for the holidays from Charleston, SC. I've been trying to make out my list for tomorrow, but so far, all I can come up with is spices. I'm sure there will wind up being impulse buys tomorrow. I'm also planning to go to Michaels and Target at some point.

Currently, no plans for Sunday other than more straightening up around the house. I got the mountain of laundry done earlier this week (Wednesday). My office is still a disaster though. It was the one room I didn't finish organizing before Dad came to visit, and it hasn't gotten any better. The rest of the house has stayed pretty clutter free, except for the fact that now I have a bunch of cardboard boxes to break down after my Omaha Steaks visit today.

Ciao for now.
tinuvial: (Default)
( Nov. 26th, 2010 12:03 am)

After a near-meltdown with my computer (bad LAN card and router), I decided to spend part of today doing computer maintenance. This really means going through and pruning my .pst folder in Outlook, and then I decided that I needed to prune my friends list on facebook. In order to be on my facebook you have to a) read my LJ or b) be someone I've met face to face. I'm not honoring any more friends requests for games, and have stopped playing all facebook games except for CafeWorld.

I had two Thanksgiving meals today, and didn't eat a bit of turkey. You see, I eat turkey year round, so it's not that big of a deal on Thanksgiving. And I stayed away from the sweets (mostly). Went to Ryan's for lunch and Golden Corral for dinner. Also got confirmation that Golden Corral will be open on Christmas Day. All of the food, none of the fuss.

I made my 'Black Friday' purchase today via the Internet (free shipping, no lines). Tomorrow I will camp out in front of Omaha Steaks (the only place I go on Black Friday) and then do two contracts. Saturday I'm going to DeKalb Farmer's Market with my friend J (who doesn't have an LJ).

One of my friends posted the true history of Thanksgiving on her facebook today. After realizing that this holiday is about celebrating our slaughter of Native Americans, I'm pretty sure I'm not celebrating it ever again. I understand the importance of gratitude, and maybe folks need a day to remind them about it, but I practice gratitude every day. It's one of the pillars upon which I base my life.

I've still got lots to do. I love Thanksgiving break each year mainly because it gives me four days to put my house in order, in a literal, physical and spiritual sense.

Ciao for now.

I am healing. I am focused on a goal. Results will take a while, but I'm OK with that. Combine those things together and it means that what little time is left over is more than likely still going to be 'me' time. I feel that in some ways, I have abandoned all of my friends in the last three years. This makes me melancholy. However, I also know that I have different priorities now. A different focus. Not only that, most of *them* have different focuses now. No longer as many singles, and certainly more parents. This is nothing to be sad over, it's just the way that life changes.

I have spent over a third of my entire life here in Atlanta. It still seems strange that I have lived here longer than any other spot, for I remember other places so much more vividly. Seattle marked my soul very deeply. I hope some day to return there and heal those wounds. The Central California coast beckons me back to rejuvenate myself. I will always love Monterey/Carmel/San Jose/San Francisco. I just won't live there again. Too expensive.

I am learning to quiet my mind. To hear those deep thoughts that need to surface. Some of them have been quite surprising.


Ciao for now.

Seriously? 10:15 p.m. already?

I'm not even half-way done with today's paperwork and prep for tomorrow.

Nothing pithy today, I'm afraid. I had a rough day. I need to stop being so hard on myself.

But thank you all for the love/support/comments.

I can. I will. I am.

Ciao for now.

As I started to work on my "Intro" post for the first week of LJ Idol, I realized that competing just to increase the readership of my LJ is the antithesis of what I am all about. I'm about living life simply, honestly, without caring what anyone else thinks of me. LJ Idol is, in essence, a popularity contest.

I'll admit, I had doubts that I was up to the challenge. While I do "write to be read" and not for myself, there is still the fact that I have a competitive streak a mile wide. A streak that I don't want to encourage, because it runs counter to my beliefs that we are all connected, and that competition diminishes the whole.

I want to write from my heart, about the things that give my life meaning. I do not necessarily write about the mundane, though it seem like at times, the mountain of laundry in my hamper is the biggest challenge in my life. I have wrapped myself in a cocoon of my own making the last couple of years, and the butterfly is beginning to emerge.

If I write things that other people want to read, they will find their way here. Either by word of mouth, or the vagaries of fate. Not by a deliberate self-aggrandizing competition. So in trying to introduce myself for the competition, I discovered I really didn't want to pay the price to be discovered.

I still encourage anyone interested in my newest writing project to sign up to be on the book filter. This is perhaps the most daunting task I have ever laid out for myself. Simple, yet daunting nonetheless.

I love you, my readers. I am grateful for every day that someone chooses to read the words that I share. I am grateful for so many things. The hum of the fan in my office, the changing colors of autumn visible outside my window, and the feel of the keyboard beneath my fingertips.

I can. I will. I am.

Ciao for now.

I am creating a filter for a special project I am working on. It will be on flock (which, as you know, I do not use often). In addition, I reserve the right to refuse membership if I do not feel I know you all that well (there are people on my friends list who rarely comment and I don't know in real life... not sure I'd be comfortable with them on this filter).

This is as many details as I am willing to give out in the open. If you wish to be included in the filter, please comment here. I will post all of the details on the filter in my first post to it tomorrow, at which time, people will then be given the opportunity to 'opt out.'

I am excited about this project, and look forward to sharing it with those of you who choose to read. The filter is necessary due to my participation in LJ Idol: Season 7, since I anticipate an influx of readers.

Ciao for now.

... who left the freezer door open? It's 39 degrees outside.

I had to break down and turn on the furnace.

Ciao for now.

I'm jumping into the LJ Idol thing. Which means my first post is "due" on Sunday. It's an intro post. I'm curious, people who've read me for a while, what do *you* think I should tell people about myself? I mean, as always, I'll be painfully truthful, but what do you find interesting about me? Why do you read me? (Especially those whom I have never met in real life?)

Ciao for now.
What the heck?

I'm in too.

Ciao for now.

Between my 'real' job, and all the mystery shopping work I've been doing of late, there hasn't been much time for anything else.

Dad & Marlene were here the last week of September, and that was awesome. Seems as though the trip raised Dad's spirit for a while, but today he was back down in the dumps. Keeps talking about how he's going to be 'pushing up daisies soon.' I wish I could get him to think more positively, he does much better physically when I'm around and keeping him focused on good things, rather than on the things that are difficult for him.

I never quite realized how negative Marlene was until I spent a week with her here. She's like mom in some ways, very negative (my dad tends to take on the attitude of those around him... I think he's naturally an optimist, but gets drug down very easily). At least she's not crazy like mom was, and I know she does care about him. I just think she got more than she bargained for.

She complained to me on the phone the other day about how she didn't know how much longer she could take care of him now that he was having trouble walking. I am not sympathetic to her in any way about this. I was in the process of getting dad put into assisted living (not a nursing home, just some where they would keep track of him and make him comfortable) when he married her. He married her under the agreement that she would not ever put him in a nursing home, that she would care for him to the end. When she made this agreement, he was in very good health, and I think she thought he would always be healthy.

It's getting harder and harder for her to manage him on her own. He can afford to have a nurse come in, but of course, she doesn't want to do that because I think she believes that would cut into her inheritance. I have no idea what my dad's will looks like any more, and as much as others think I'm getting a 'bum deal' by not getting anything, I don't look at it that way. Dad bought me the house, gave me lots of money around the time mom died, and I really don't need anything else from him. Honestly, Marlene deserves the money for what he puts her through.

I think I was right to have R pretend to be the 'boyfriend' while Dad was here. Dad asks about him every time I call now, and today, he asked me if I was happy. I told him that I was, and he seems to feel more at peace now. I was right in assuming that he doesn't like the thought of me being single, and provided him with a 'face to a name' of someone he believes will take care of me. Never mind that it was a charade, I did it to give him peace of mind. My being single is a choice, and some day, that might change, but it's not something I'm rushing into just so Dad will feel better about my living situation.

I love my dad, and even though he's 88 years old, I hope he'll be around for a long time to come. I think he could be, if he keeps himself out of the doldrums and focuses on what he can do, rather than what he can no longer do. I'm committed to going there twice a year to see him, in March and in September (the best weather-wise). I don't like to do holidays, especially now that Marlene wants to do holidays with her family (which is understandable). I just don't like big gatherings.

Anyway, I've rambled enough. Life is good.

Ciao for now.
tinuvial: (Default)
( Oct. 3rd, 2010 10:33 am)
Originally posted by [livejournal.com profile] neo_prodigy at Spirit Day

It’s been decided. On October 20th, 2010, we will wear purple in honor of the 6 gay boys who committed suicide in recent weeks/months due to homophobic abuse in their homes at at their schools. Purple represents Spirit on the LGBTQ flag and that’s exactly what we’d like all of you to have with you: spirit. Please know that times will get better and that you will meet people who will love you and respect you for who you are, no matter your sexuality. Please wear purple on October 20th. Tell your friends, family, co-workers, neighbors and schools.

RIP Tyler Clementi, Seth Walsh (top)
RIP Justin Aaberg, Raymond Chase (middle)
RIP Asher Brown and Billy Lucas. (bottom)

REBLOG to spread a message of love, unity and peace.

I made the mistake of discussing religion/philosophy with a co-worker today.

Her: But I thought you were a Christian?

Me: I was, but after I read Dr. Wayne Dyer's, "Change Your Thoughts, Change Your Life" I came to understand that Christianity is a derivative religion.

Her: What do you mean by that?

Me: It means that most of the principles expressed in the Bible can be attributed to the Tao Te Ching, which was written in 600 B.C.

Her: But that means that they copied the Bible!!!

Me: No, 600 B.C. pre-dates the bible by 600-700 years, as the exact date of the Tao Te Ching is still somewhat contested, but nonetheless, occurs before the Bible.

Her: No it doesn't, they copied the Bible.

At this point, the conversation devolved into such levels of stupidity that I feel less intelligent just thinking about it. I do not wish to inflict my friends to it, the above excerpt is clear enough.

I have no problems with Christians. I spent a long time being a Christian, and even being a lay speaker in my church. However, my intellectual pursuits have led me down a path that makes me question the validity of the Christian religion from a spiritual perspective. I feel now that it was more of a political tool to calm/rile up the masses in order to carry out the ruling class' agenda.

Observe. Choose. Create. Allow.

I have chosen Taoism. But I also allow and celebrate everyone else's right to choose their own path.

Ciao for now.
Hi Melinda,

Welcome! We now have official approval for you to join us on the committee. Your name will be posted to the IFPUG website as a committee member soon. We'd like you to join us on our regular conference call when the committee meets for the first time after ISMA Cinco on Friday, September 24 at 10:30 AM EDT. I will include you on the reminder note which will have the contact info to dial-in. We will discuss how ISMA Cinco turned out, what we learned and what we can apply going forward. We will immediately get into planning for the 2011 conference, and we will have a lot to do as we will be behind our normal planning schedule then. You will have a lot to work on regarding event planning and videoconferencing, and your skills and experience will be very helpful there. We hope you will enjoy working with us, and we expect that you will make a valuable addition to the team. Feel free to reach out to any of us meanwhile.


(IFPUG is the professional trade organization I joined this year in my quest to obtain my Certified Function Point Specialist certification.)

Ciao for now.

I have been cleaning up my email of late... Everything just kind of blurs together after a while, and it seems like I'm on a hamster wheel that I can't jump off of. Of course, you know what this means... I'll probably just have to do something crazy soon just to affirm my life. But not until the cast comes off. LOL

Ciao for now.

We all know the saying, "Necessity is the mother of invention," right? My current version, however, is "bodily injury creates necessity." I am amazed by how quickly I have adapted to a strange 7-finger version of typing, albeit with lots of backspacing and data correction. Typing for any extended period of time does make my left hand hurt. It also creates an economy of words that I am not known for... lol

The word from on high at HR hath decreed that no bra = no office. So, until my small motor skills return (aka, the cast comes off) I shall be working from home. (Verily there was much rejoicing). This means that if you are in the Alpharetta area and want to do lunch, I'm available. Would love to catch up with some peeps.

I have come to the conclusion that severe physical pain causes me to be maudlin. The only times in recent memory that I slip into the "oh woe is me" mood is when I am sick or broken in some way. Thank goodness that has passed and I am now focused on the way to retain the most productivity given current physical limitations.

Ciao for now.

I won't say that I am back to normal, however, I am finding my own funky typing style with the cast on, and that makes me a happy camper. Hung out with friends today. M rubbed my right arm down with Tiger Balm and I am feeling much better. (My right arm has been doing double duty since I broke my left hand). Didn't take any pain pills today during the day because I had driving to do, but will probably pop one soon and get some rest.

I think the Universe is trying to tell me to slow down some. Who knows? I kind of have to for the next four to six weeks... should get the cast off the day Dad & Marlene arrive. Will get a ruling from HR tomorrow as to whether or not I have to work from home for the duration due to dress code issues (can't put on a bra... lol). So, at the very least I'll be working from home tomorrow. Tuesday afternoon I have my follow-up orthopedics appointment.

My left ring finger has turned almost completely purple. No pain on the left hand side, the pain is in my knees (which are badly bruised) and right arm (which is complaining about all the extra work). Talking things out with M today helped me put things into perspective. He's a great sounding board. He knows me pretty well after all these years.

I have things I need to contemplate. I don't like the fact that others perceive me as cold and unloving. I think its my staunch independence that makes it so. Like this whole episode. I drove myself to the ER and back. Slept for four hours and then got up, made the orthopedics appointment, drove myself there, went to lunch, went to the pharmacy, and some 20 hours later, finally relaxed enough to take my first pain pill. I toughed it out. That's when I got maudlin because there was no one there for me. I've either pushed everyone out, or chosen only to keep those who are incapable of being there close to me. I do deserve better, but I'm afraid I wouldn't wish me on anyone. I don't know. I also don't like the fact I haven't remained positive throughout this episode either. I wonder what I'm trying to tell myself.

Anyway, the glass is almost over half full now though, and other than raising philosophical issues to ponder with myself, I'm a whole lot more cheerful than Friday.

Ciao for now.

OK folks, you know I don't often do this, but this guy is simply amazing.

Go here. Then, go to YouTube and subscribe to his channel here.

I went to junior high and high school with Jim. He's immensely talented, but very underexposed. I want to show him the power of social media. Please help by boosting the signal. If you're a jazz lover, I guarantee you his CD is worth buying. He needs to sell 25,000 more copies by the end of the year to get a wider distribution deal. I'm pretty sure we can get him there if you help me out. :)

Repost, repost, repost...

Ciao for now.

I had a bad fall today & broke my left hand. Ortho tomorrow. Sleep now.