Thursday, May 31, 2012

Financial Planning

We're nowhere near the nitty-gritty yet, but in looking at the spreadsheet that I've kept for about 10 yers of long-range planning assumptions, we've made an interesting discovery.

Apparently, the last time that I updating the value of our 401k's in that spreadsheet was when the stock market was in a slump.  The market's somewhat stronger now. As a result, the current value is about 15% higher than the spreadsheet thought it was.

Now, this does not address the important question of short-term liquidity -- after all, that's where we live, day to day -- but it's definitely pleasant news.


 From Abtruse Goose.

Wednesday, May 30, 2012


Everyone likes an underdog who succeeds.  I'm blown away.


I don't know if these pilots were very good or very stupid....

Air Borne

Monday, May 28, 2012


Nothing dramatic, and yet -

We're buying a new dish washer.  We're replacing the shades in the den, and adding valances.  We're getting an additional bed for guests.  We're changing my mother's living room back into a bedroom. We're getting four new chairs for the kitchen table.

In a week, barring disaster, my daughter will be a high school graduate. In two, she'll be on her way to Ohio for the summer with Glassmen. And in three months, she'll be a college freshman. Around the same time, my wife will,  probably, have taken early retirement and be contemplating whether she even wants to go back to work.  And some time in there, with luck, our French guests will be here.

Some things won't change.  We're not tossing pictures and such that my mother accumulated.  That tangible history - can't do that.  We're keeping her sofa, too.  And my daughter's room won't be touched -- though my wife vows to clean it thoroughly.

Changes.  Some big, some small.

Ballet Up!

Found here.


I think that 90% of body piercings are stupid, and the remaining 10% are actually not bad, though still overkill and stupid.

But then I saw this.  And thought Not for me, but...hmmm.....

Sunday, May 27, 2012

Just Playing

I don't tend to spend a lot of time thinking about sex toys.  Those that are aimed at women, I find moderately funny.  Those that are aimed at men, I find more than a little creepy.  That these things help perfectly normal people achieve pleasure in a way that doesn't harm anyone else - this doesn't affect my impression of them. They're just strange.  Even the all-American capitalist win for the guy who developed the Fleshlight -- yes, there is such a thing, and no, I'm not going to describe it - and as a result is now very rich doesn't make it more acceptable to me.  It's just - strange.

Nevertheless, this New York times article about the Tupperware-type mainstreaming of sex toys, intrigued me.


The other day, I was told by someone who should know that I care too much about other people. People who you wouldn't think I would.  People not part of my family. Told rather strongly, in fact.  And it's true, I do. Not everybody, not most, but some people, yeah.  No idea why.  Something about them slips through my defenses.

Like this girl, who wrote a note which appeared on the Post Secret site:

Dear Frank,

Last night, I attended your PostSecret Event at the University of Oregon. Not only was I blown away by you and everything you do and the secrets that others have shared with you, but I was blown away by the community I am lucky to be a part of.

For months, I have felt so alone here. Last night, I decided to share my secret at the microphone. Right after, I received a hug from the stranger behind me. Not a pity hug, I could feel that she really meant it. After the show, I was approached again a few times and received encouraging words from people I knew and also total strangers. When I returned to my dorm room, I was Facebook messaged by an acquaintance, and emailed by a girl whom I didn't know, but recognized me from a mutual class. It was all so touching, honestly.

Here I have been, in my dorm room for months thinking I'm the loneliest girl in the world, while I'm surrounded by this wonderful community of caring people. What I'm really trying to say is, thank you, Frank, for bringing me closer to my community. And GO DUCKS!

I'd just like to give her a hug. Which, no doubt, would creep her right out.


Last Week

This week coming up is my daughter's last full week in high school.  It's not really a full week -- she's off tomorrow for Memorial Day, and she only has to go to the school for three days; two for about an hour each day to take a final exam, and one for graduation practice.  And that's it.  My daughter will be done with high school, and ready for college.

Us, I'm not so sure about.

Saturday, May 26, 2012

Where We Are

My daughter now has three great and two good grades.  She's still got exams, but I'm delighted.

Friday, May 25, 2012

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Well, Well, Well

My wife didn't lose her job....but she may choose to go.

There is a possibility that HP will offer her a retirement starting in August, coupled with a very generous up-front payment of several months salary.  It's not definite.  If she takes it, she tells me that she will look for another job, though not one in the high-tech field.  Working in a candy store might do nicely.

The only downside, other than loss of income after that payment runs out, is that she's working on a massive project, and she hates the idea of abandoning them.  Having seen the effect of losing people, both on the project and on the team, she doesn't want to do that to them. But when balanced against the likelihood of being summarily laid off - well, that's a tough choice.

So things are improving, slightly.

Tuesday, May 22, 2012


Apparently, we've entered the stress lottery -- my daughter tells us that her calculus final will include material from last year, when she wasn't in the class, and last night my wife bit down on something, and now her tooth hurts.  Hmmm.... I feel as if I ought to wrap myself in cotton wool for a while.

Monday, May 21, 2012


I needed a little cheering up on this glum, rainy day in central Pennsylvania -- my wife's probable loss of her job is a downer, even if we are in a strong enough financial position to weather it.  I just don't like that kind of thing, for several reasons.

So I wanted something that would cheer me up.  This article, which is now several months old (gives you an idea how backed-up my RSS reader is), about a woman who started a small cafe in an unfashionable corner of London, and in the process brought gentrification there, did the trick.  I delight in knowing that such people exist.  I don't have the guts to do it, myself, but that she and others do is wonderful.

Interesting Week

My wife's probably going to be notified on Wednesday that she's losing her job.  The actual termination may occur this week, or it may occur some time in the next two months.

My daughter now has 3 great, one good, and one moderate grade.  I'm delighted.  It's all due to her own effort.

I'm Sure There is a Downside

From Science, Love, and LSD

Saturday, May 19, 2012


HP has announced that they intend to lay off about 30,000 people, which is about ten percent of their workforce.  Most of the layoff will be just that; a few will be retirements.

We figure there is a two out of three chance that my wife won't be employed by the end of the week. And about a one in four chance that she'll be offered early retirement.

Not sure if Irony is the right word -- she may be fired in three days, but right now she's putting in extra time to help on a task that isn't hers.  Do the corporate oligarchs appreciate this?  Hell, no. 

Thursday, May 17, 2012


Most of this post is a direct lift from Bill's Journal.  I must say, I find that I agree with the sentiments herein more than I would have ever suspected.  To hell with propriety.

Someone somewhere this morning uttered the word muse, a word I had not given thought to in so many years. Why not and why now? I could say back when I considered my muse, its comings and goings, with its wildly erratic behavior, its brilliant performance when it was showing off, I could say I was young and foolish. Perhaps a better explanation is to show the muse in action at its best and demonstrated by the Englishwoman, Jenny Joseph, in her wonderful poem, Warning, for I myself have reached that certain age.

When I am an old woman I shall wear purple
With a red hat which doesn't go, and doesn't suit me.

And I shall spend my pension on brandy and summer gloves
And satin sandals, and say we've no money for butter.

I shall sit down on the pavement when I'm tired
And gobble up samples in shops and press alarm bells

And run my stick along the public railings

And make up for the sobriety of my youth.

I shall go out in my slippers in the rain
And pick flowers in other people's gardens
And learn to spit.

You can wear terrible shirts and grow more fat

And eat three pounds of sausages at a go

Or only bread and pickle for a week

And hoard pens and pencils and beermats and things in boxes.

But now we must have clothes that keep us dry
And pay our rent and not swear in the street

And set a good example for the children.
We must have friends to dinner and read the papers.

But maybe I ought to practice a little now?
So people who know me are not too shocked and surprised

When suddenly I am old, and start to wear purple.

Absolutely True

Red Cell

An excellent book, totally plausible to me and very well writtten.

Monday, May 14, 2012


With about two weeks to go in the marking period, she now has bearable, though not stellar, grades.  Two great, one good, two not good. If she can just survive the remainder of the month, and then the finals, she'll be cool....

Sunday, May 13, 2012


I'm always a little bit fascinated by the idea of customer service -- of delivering a product in auch a way that the customer is delighted. I like to know what it takes to supply that level of service. I'm also a bit intrigured by what happens when the customer comes to expect that level, but no longer appreciates it. So, when I was in line at the bookstore for something, and saw a book titled Concierge Confidential, with a subtitle that suggested that it talked about exactly that sort of thing, I picked it up, leafed through it, and bought it.

This book is a perfect example of why I should not do that. It's a terrible book. Basically, it's a guide to how to be a poser -- how to toss around famous people's names so that others will do what you want. The author does have a track record in that general industry (if you expand the idea of 'service' to include 'personal toady to powerful Los Angeles film industry people' and 'singer making huge fees on a cruise ship' ), and he does know how to get magical things to happen, but after an hour of reading, and flipping forward ten and fifteen pages at a time, I gave up on it. It just wasn't worth it. I felt somehow soiled by his tips. I just didn't want to know. 

I think I'll go back to Red Cell.

Saturday, May 12, 2012

Thursday, May 10, 2012


Some days don't seem to be made for anything except being lazy.

Tuesday, May 08, 2012


One grade just edged up from absymal to not good.  So thats two greats, one good, one not good, and one abysmal.  Three more weeks...

No, I was here...

Sunday, May 06, 2012

Google Search

A little on the geekish side, but still fascinating.