Archive for the ‘life’ Category

Too soon?

Sunday, November 22nd, 2009

I decided to get a fake tree this year so why wait? I’ve always had a real tree before but they need to get watered every day and I’m traveling too much right now to ask a friend to come do it that often. I actually was still going to wait a little longer to decorate but Target had some deals going on and I couldn’t buy one and not put it up. I’m going to have to find a candle or something to give me the real tree smell though.

PSA – backup your files regularly

Saturday, August 8th, 2009

I got home from work last week (been away Mon-Thurs almost every week this summer) to find my hard drive dead. I had a blue screen with the error “STOP: c0000221 Unknown Hard Error \SystemRoot\System32\ntdll.dll” and could not even boot in safe mode. I ran the diagnostics and got the error “Error Code 0F00:0244 Msg: DISK_0 – Block 381272282: Can’t read, replace disk or remove Write Protection” on about 20 blocks until I just killed the test. So clearly the drive wasn’t in good shape.

Now I’ve had hard drives die on me before, about four times maybe. The first time I had absolutely nothing backed up (oh and it was the week before all my final projects were due). I paid a tech company $200 after they told me getting my files wouldn’t be a problem, then they stalled for a week before finally telling me they couldn’t retrieve anything. And wait, I also owed them $15 more for some fee they forgot. Obviously I was thrilled with this company, especially since I was pretty poor at the time and $200 was a whole lot of money. So after that first hard drive died I bought an external drive to back my files up to. I backed things up religiously at first, but got lazy about it over time, so every time a hard drive died after that, it ended up being a while since my last backup and I always lost a good amount of files. You’d think I would learn but at one point I ran out of space on my computer’s hard drive so I started keeping some files on my computer and some on the external drive, and not a backup in sight. I’m lucky my drive didn’t die while I was doing that. I finally bought a new computer in February of this year (my laptop was seven years old at that point any way) and got all my files consolidated in one place, then did a backup of all my documents, pictures and music onto the external. Although at this point the external was now six years old so couldn’t really be trusted to last much longer any way. I got lazy again of course, so my latest backup for the current disaster was from March 3rd. Five months of files gone. Awesome.

I’ve had luck retrieving some files before by booting with a Knoppix CD and then transferring files off of the messed up hard drive to an external drive. This time the drive couldn’t even be opened. My mom has had luck before by connecting the offending drive to an external case and plugging it in that way. I borrowed the case but the connectors didn’t match. I went ahead and put the drive in as a secondary drive in my computer and was greatly (and pleasantly) surprised to find that I could read the files! But wait, I had set them to private and didn’t have permissions to get to them. A quick boot into safe mode to change the ownership fixed that and I am currently retrieving my stuff. Since I couldn’t read the drive from Knoppix, I have no idea why I can read it now, but I’m just trying to get my files as quickly as possible before it stops working.

I was lucky this time but I don’t expect that to last. I bought a second internal drive and a copy of Norton Ghost so now I’ve set it up to mirror the main hard drive every Sunday night. This way the next time my hard drive dies I won’t lose files and I also won’t have to spend a whole day reinstalling everything and redoing all of my settings as well. I finally am learning. I’m going to also set up my documents to copy to the external drive once a week so I have those in two backups. Who knows how much longer the external drive will last since it’s already outlived all of my other hard drives but I’m still going to have the extra backup while it’s there.

Moral of the story: Backup your files if you don’t want to lose everything and have no one to blame but yourself. It’s very annoying.

Personal Finance

Thursday, January 1st, 2009

I read this article by Suze Orman the other day and it really made me take stock of my finances. Besides that, it feels like everyone I know is buying houses recently while I continue to waste money on rent. Not that I even know where I’d want to buy a house at this point but I would like to own (sort of) something at some point in the near future. Any way in the article she mentions having 8 months worth of expenses saved in an emergency account before saving for anything else. I have 10% of my paychecks going into a 401K but I don’t count that in my savings since it’s not supposed to be touched until retirement, so besides that I don’t have anywhere near the emergency fund I should (according to that article, but most people say 3-6 months). I’ve been more concerned with paying off debt since I hate to have that hanging over my head and I have a whole lot of student loans. I know “pay yourself before anyone else, etc etc” but even though I don’t really count the money in my 401K as real money, I was using that as my paid myself excuse. So I just set up my accounts to transfer money from checking to savings every time I get paid, around another 15%. This was after figuring out all my monthly bills and seeing what was left over and it’s more than enough to save a decent sized chunk and still have plenty to pay down debt. I just haven’t figured this all out before due to laziness. I’m young, there’s always more time to save, right? But the sooner started, the more interest made in the end.

I also figured out a spending budget to stick to so I’ll stop impulse buying. Books are probably the biggest culprit there. I even have a ton of books I haven’t read yet and there’s also the library, although granted my local library is tiny and almost never has what I’m looking for. I already try not to go into book stores because I end up with a huge pile of books in my arms before I know what hit me (but they’re from the bargain table!), not that shopping online is any easier (have to spend enough for free shipping!). So no more looking at amazon.com for me. My motorcycle was also a big culprit this past year but I have everything I need at this point so no need to buy anything but gas and oil really. I have everything I need for camping and more than enough supplies for all my other hobbies too. I don’t even go out that much any more, mostly just to friends’ houses, and I never went to restaurants very often any way since I consider that a huge waste of money, so there’s not much to cut back on there. And I’ve never been one of those people who buy clothes and shoes constantly. In fact, I hate shopping for that stuff since it usually involves going to a mall, probably my least favorite place on earth.

I’m using Mint to keep track of everything. It’s like MS Money or Quicken, but web based and free. I used to use MS Money a long time ago but my hard drive died and my backup file turned out to be corrupted so I lost all my info and got annoyed and didn’t start over with it. I had actually signed up for Mint a while ago but I didn’t really like the way it was working at the time. A lot of changes have been made since then so I like it now. They also support a lot more financial institutions so I can see all my banks, credit cards, loans, even my 401k. You can categorize and tag every transaction so it’s easy to see where your money is going. It’s even pretty good at guessing the correct category. I only had to change a few, whereas MS Money almost never got it right. And you can create rules for the ones it misses so it doesn’t miss again.

I’ve also been reading a ton of personal finance blogs. My favorite is Get Rich Slowly. That one’s been in my feed reader for a while but it was one of the blogs I never got around to reading lately. I’m mostly caught up at this point. I just added a bunch more blogs so I’ll have to get to those too. Any recommendations for blogs or books on the subject? I’ll even try to get the book at the library, I swear!

Seven Deadly Sins

Monday, December 15th, 2008

I’m invited to a party for a couple who can’t get married due to being gay but just moved in together and are having a “living in sin” party instead. Everyone has to dress up as one of their favorite sins or sinners. A sin being one of the seven deadly sins, or a sinner being something like a pimp, gay priest, pregnant nun, Jack the Ripper, etc. I think one of the sins itself would be most fun but I’ve found or thought of so many good ideas that I can’t choose which one I want to be. Help!

Envy – Envy is associated with green, and what better costume than the green man suit that Charlie wears in It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia?

Gluttony – I could dress as Bacchus, the god of wine, in a toga / tunic and drink from a bottle of wine all night.

Sloth – Sloth from the Goonies might be better suited to a man, and the face would be a little tricky, but I’m pretty sure it would be the coolest costume there.

Lust – Lust would be the easiest thing to dress up as, just wear something sexy, but I’m pretty sure 95% of the girls will do this one. I wanted this dress any way and was going to use the party as an excuse to buy it but turns out it’s backordered until March. Some kind of stripper costume would be more suited any way.

Greed – The Grinch? Scrooge? A few Christmas ones could work here.

Pride – Elizabeth Bennett from Pride and Prejudice. I think this one would involve a lot of explaining myself to every person I talk to though.

Wrath – I haven’t thought of anything particularly fun for wrath but it could involve just yelling and cursing and being generally angry all night.

I guess I’m leaning towards envy or gluttony. The green man suit is just hilarious, but it would also be fun to make the tunic and wander around with my own personal bottle of wine.

best mail ever

Tuesday, October 28th, 2008

fun link

Thursday, September 11th, 2008

Things My Girlfriend and I Have Argued About – I obviously missed the boat on this one since the writer’s had four books published since the website but it’s hilarious. Seriously laugh out loud funny. Lord knows I enjoy arguing about the most ridiculous things. Case in point: On a phone call with my brother tonight, I was trying to convince him to give me a hat from his ladder company to wear when I need to cover my helmet hair. He says baseball caps look stupid on girls and since we have an attractive family, he won’t help me shame the family name by providing me with a hat to look stupid in. Oh, and also it will make all my babies ugly. Because the hat-wearing seeps into your genes obviously. And the argument went on into other ridiculous directions, amid equally ridiculous arguments about other ridiculous things. To be continued at dinner tomorrow. I will get that hat.

Macy

Friday, June 20th, 2008

Congrats to Julia and Adam and big sisters McKenzie and Michaela! The new addition is so cute.

Free Hugs Philly

Thursday, December 27th, 2007

I saw the Free Hugs video on youtube last week. It’s been there for a while but I missed it before. I thought it was a great idea, and if you just search for “free hugs” on youtube you’ll see pages and pages of videos of people doing it all over the world. It’s really inspiring. Of course I wanted to do it and called my brother right away since he’d be into something like that too. So we planned for last Saturday and got some friends to join us.

In total there were 6 of us. We started out in Rittenhouse Square but got kicked out for soliciting. I was handed a whole list of things you aren’t allowed to do in the park, things like playing ball or frisbee, skating or biking, or generally anything that I thought parks were for. We were however allowed to solicit outside the park (although I still object to “soliciting” because the hugs were free). We moved to the entrance of the park, and eventually to the corners of 17th and 18th on Walnut since tons of people were out shopping. The response was fantastic. People were a little skeptical at first, but were quick to follow suit when other people hugged us. Even if someone didn’t hug us, they still laughed at us, and either way they went by smiling so we brightened their day, which was the goal. We had people calling us over to hug them through their car windows, people jumping out of their cars at red lights to run over and hug us real quick, bus drivers wanting hugs, people handing us their babies and sending their children over, we even got hugged by a neighborhood watch Santa. Some people would see us and start running so they could leap on us, some people picked us up and twirled us around. One group of girls saw us down the street and started singing “what the world needs now, is hugs, free hugs” as they came towards us. I think we got a better response since people were in the holiday spirit, and some people really, really needed hugs, like the girl who came up to me after her credit card and shopping bags had just been stolen. It was a great experience. One guy was so appreciative of what we were doing that he invited us to come have dinner at his restaurant when we were done, and came back a little later with a gift certificate for us. Turns out he was also the chef, and let me tell you, this place had the most delicious food. It’s a little Italian byob on 20th street called Caffe Casta Diva. I highly recommend going there and getting the gnocci and the poached pear for dessert. I’ll definitely be back since it’s not even super expensive, maybe $20-25ish for an entree. After dinner we went to Chaucer’s for a few drinks. As we were sitting at the bar we heard the people behind us talking about how they had gotten free hugs that day so we turned around and introduced ourselves and ended up hanging out with them and their friends the rest of the night.

We will definitely be doing this again. Check out www.freehugsphilly.org for when.

it’s beginning to look a lot like…

Wednesday, December 5th, 2007

Got my Christmas tree up yesterday, just in time for snow today!  I actually did have to brush snow off my car very early Sunday morning too, but this snow is sticking around on things besides cars.

crafts / Christmas

Friday, November 16th, 2007

This past week I’ve been catching up on some knitting and sewing I’ve been meaning to do for a while. I really haven’t done much of anything in the way of crafting in several months. I travel so much for work that I’m rarely home and then have so much other stuff to get done when I am. I had some baby gifts to finish up though, and I decided to make some things for Christmas as well. There are a few unfinished things I want for me too, and soon since they’re winter items. I also taught another friend to knit and had planned to help her with sewing, so I’ve been to JoAnn’s a few times this week. I should not go there. I already have probably 25 projects with materials already waiting for me at home, but I always get more. I’m delusional when it comes to predicting the free time that I’ll have to work on all of this.

I’m in the Christmas mood already. I bought a couple of new Christmas CDs so I’ve been listening to the music already for the past week (alright, the past 2-3 weeks). It’s not the stuff they play over and over on the radio though – I tend to have different genres of music that just happen to be Christmas songs, so I need more than the 3 week window where it’s acceptable to play holiday music. I’m also planning on getting a tree for my apartment this year. I already have tons of ornaments that have been gifts through the years, and some other random decorations. I’ll wait to do all that until after Thanksgiving though. I do have some restraint.

Some less common holiday album recommendations:
The Gypsy Hombres – Django Bells
The Chieftains – The Bells of Dublin
Randy Travis – An Old Time Christmas
Just Can’t Get Enough: New Wave Christmas
Genuine Houserocking Christmas

I also love standards like The Nutcracker and A Charlie Brown Christmas.