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Wednesday, April 29, 2009

yikes

My wonderful, amazing and superb real estate agent called today to say my condo buyer was having trouble with their lender and we may not be able to close tomorrow as planned.

They are working through the issue and the goal is to keep on target (or as close to target as possible.) My buyer is homeless as of the 30th so will be moving in and I'll be a temporary landlord. This makes me nervous, but I'm hopeful that by being in the unit he will have incentive to move things along.

Janie tells me that when they bought their home (and they put more than 50% down on the property) that their lender filled 8 days with creating special forms, things to sign, proof of whatever to provide. So, while glitches like the one today may be normal I don't like it and I'm worried it will all fall apart.

I was ready for the condo to sit on the market for a while, but not to sell it, only to have to "re-sell" it again in a month. Keep your fingers crossed. My "buyer" seems like good people and I want them in the house.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

The Mail...

Oh my...I've only been away from home for a week and the pile of mail was overwhelming.

There are a few things that are contributing to the enormous influx of mail coming through our little mailbox. The first is the wedding, every wedding vendor on the planet is vying for our little wedding budget. What they don't know is that we have selected out vendors and are mostly ready. I can't think of anything else that we're going to drop $$ on - except for the wedding favors and we've selected our items already.

The second major topic is "unemployment". There's all the 401k information, MegaBank pension plan information, Cobra info, the stimulus Cobra offset program (be careful with that one! Yes, you can take at 65% discount now on your monthly cobra rates but if you won't be able to write off the remaining amount on your year end taxes, and if your income is over $98k you'll have to pay it back. The sneaky letter from the cobra people didn't mention that.)

I also signed up for a business checking account for my little company and HOLY MOUNDS OF PAPER BATMAN! I got a check register the size of a small elephant, not one but THREE packages of deposit slips and envelopes, stamps, ATM cards and a badly written "thanks for joining the bank". I ended up devoting an entire filing cabinet drawer just for the checkbook and deposit slips. Likely in the next 9 months I will deposit 9 checks total. I told the bank dude I didn't need an entire kit -but I think it comes automagically.

Lastly, I finally changed my address with the post office and now we're getting all sorts of "welcome to the neighborhood" mail. I'm not complaining about that, the 10% and $25 off coupons to stores we already frequent are great!

Speaking of moving, tonight is the night that we're moving everything out of the condo. I'm hopeful to be done in a few hours as there isn't that much stuff over there anymore - but it's the pain in the behind stuff that is left. The dining room table, the bed... I rented a truck and we have enlisted cousin Anton again. It is so great to have 25 year old fireman in training in my life now. They are HANDY HANDY HANDY. I hope to be done early enough to enjoy "survivor night" with our friends. I've missed the last few weeks and want to get back in the groove.

All in all, mounds of mail aside, it is good to be home!

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Tips & Tricks for Diabolical Deeds from the “It wasn’t me” Craigslist killer

       1)      Use the Internet from your own house to find victims.  Only the super duper smart police people can actually track you to your home. 

2)      Set up a fake email address and name.  Of course, to do this you'll probably have to provide your real email address in case you forget the password.  (Security is important!)

3)      Look directly at the security camera in the place you're meeting your victim.

4)      Don't bother with hats or glasses, so many people look like you, so why bother?

5)      Take a souvenir or two!  Come on, she's dead; no one will miss her stuff.  Heck, if you take jewelry you can have your sweet unsuspecting fiancĂ© wear it and get an extra thrill.

6)      Act shocked and innocent when the FBI knocks on your door.  The more outraged you are at the mere suggestion that you did something wrong the better off you are.

7)      Go ahead with the planning of your wedding.  The urge to kill will surely fade once you've committed yourself to your college sweetheart. 

8)      Find your victims on Craigslist.  There's NO WAY they have logging of activities there… I mean the interface is terrible. 

9)      If you do happen to get nabbed by the coppers, claim insanity.  Don't let the fact that you're an above average student in medical school hold you back. 

Best of luck!

Monday, April 20, 2009

Weekend Recap

Jason flew in to San Jose this weekend and we took a lovely tour of Napa and Sonoma. My dream of driving around the sunny California countryside in a snappy convertible died upon the discovery that the trunk of our rental car didn't shut.

The replacement "luxury" car was a humongous Chrysler with the loudest air conditioning fans ever invented. I pretended my hair was blowing in the wind (which was a lot easier after the second winery).

If I had to live in California is would be in the hills somewhere outside Sonoma or Napa. Other than the fact that my friends would likely not move with us, I could be happy there.

We stopped by Dean & Deluca a store that is so fabulous that I'm grateful there isn't one in Seattle. It would be the downfall of my savings account. I would be there every day buying cheese, meats, savory treats and scrumptious bakery items. We picked up a bottle of
D2 wine that we have only seen on the wine list at el Goucho and took it back to our room.

We toured only three wineries Saturday. A place that only does sparkling wine, a little gem called Cakebread and a more "value" prices local called Sequoia. All three were wonderful in their own right.

We asked folks at two places where to have dinner and both recommended a little place called UVA. We couldn't get in until 9 so we opened our wine, had a buffet of wheat thins and cheese and then napped until 8. Funny how wine on the hot afternoon makes you sleepy.

Saturday topped out at about 90 and I wish we would have had swimsuits but we survived it.

Sunday we dined in the hotel and then explored the on property grape fields. We decided to go back to San Jose via Sonoma and stopped at Chateau St. Jean. I loved this winery. We joined the wineclub, ate a picnic on their stunning grounds and decided to never ever leave.

Reality set in and we joined the millions of people on the highways. Once back to SJ we returned our car and headed back to my hotel.

Jason's flight left at 6:30 so he was up at 4:15 and left me at 5am. I fell back asleep and woke up at 7 a bit sad. It was a beyond perfect weekend but Mondays must come....

We're trying to decide when we can do a Napa 2.0 trip. Hopefully we can work it in before the wedding.

When I get home I'll upload some photos from the weekend.

- Terri

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Lesson of the day

When you check into a hotel room be sure to either turn off the preset alarm for 5:30 am or learn how to turn the alarm off so you don't have to learn a new skill at 5:30 a.m.

- Terri

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

TARP Bonus -continued

MWR -

Oh, I am worried... MegaBank made several payments that fall under this "disqualified" amount

1) the standard time for service (which wouldn't count)
2) a "transition payment" that is a matching salary payment from 10-1-2008 to the last day of service (counts)
3) a 2008 annual bonuses paid in January (maybe)
4) A pro-rated 2009 bonus. (most likely)

The Adjusted Gross Income (AGI) limit seems reasonable however, it is easily surpassed - due to the combined severance/transition/bonus monies/unused vacation/salary/new job and spouse's income.

We are consulting an accountant on May 11th.

I am aware that this bill is not yet final, but the outrage about the million $ bonuses is reasonable and I can't see the bill falling dead. But, I feel a bit targeted.

One of the things that gets me is that if I didn't get a job, the AIG limit would be so far out of reach that it would be a moot point. But I did, so that means I'll pay extra taxes (if the bill passes.) Might I be better off not working? That is the childish emotional response, of course it is better to work even if I end up paying an unfair amount of taxes on a portion of my annual income.

I know that it is insanity to air my financial situation for the world to see, but this situation is beyond unusual. These "bonuses" have been part of the financial industry compensation for the last 50 years. Does that mean it's 'right'? I don't know. Severance payments, retention bonuses, annual bonuses are all part of business; they are not localized to the failing financial industries. If payments that entice an employee to stick around and work even though they know they aren't wanted is wrong then ban them across the board. That means in the telecom industry, the manufacturing and any other big business.

These payments are a way of saying "We know you can get a job but we need you for a short period of time, stay and we'll make it worth your while." In my case it was to transition some regulatory items over, but for most of my peers it was to support critical services until they were eliminated. Everyone I knew on the transition team (except for me) was working twice as hard and with more challenges than they had been before the "sale." These folks could get work right away and several turned down offers to move on before their end date - thus making the incentive payment successful.

I did think it was odd to get a bonus for 2008 considering the fate of MegaBank - but they did cancel out 50% because of company performance. They had/have a formula for how bonuses are calculated - 50% based on employee performance and 50% on company performance. Folks who worked on the money side were paid far less if anything because their 'performance' was tied to sales and clearly when the market tanks you can't argue good performance. However, can you say that the folks who processed the back office activities with less staff, same or better up time, and less budget didn't perform well? I don't think so.

The other thing that comes to mind for me anyway, is that not all these companies are "AIG" - accepting billions and still not performing. The MoreMegaBank that the FDIC gave MegaBank to accepted some TARP monies, but it wasn't used to keep the company alive. (If these companies used the TARP monies inappropriately, then they should pay it back - not the silly technology employee.)

Anyway... the bill hasn't passed. I feel fortunate to be whining about this because I am aware that even though this may be the only time in my life that my income may even come close to this amount that I am doing very well financially. I'll pay off my debt and put the rest in the bank and hope that at the end of the year we can use is towards the purchase of a home.

In the mean time, I'll continue to write my congress persons.

Monday, April 13, 2009

The business of business

My crazy severance check came today. I was oddly nervous about opening it - which I can't really explain.

Jason and I have done some math regarding the distribution of the funds. We agreed early on to pay off my HELOC, that's bank speak for home equity line of credit, which now that the condo has sold (fingers crossed things are moving smoothly) we have to do anyway. But I'll also be clearing up two credit cards leaving me with just a car payment. The rest, will go into the bank until after the wedding.

I'm nervous that we'll be taxed to high heaven on a big chunk of it (thank you AIG) and that if it comes time to pay my unfair 90% tax rate on this money that I earned that we won't have it. So, a CD it will be for us. (To clarify, I do not mind at all paying the highest taxes required of everybody in my tax bracket...I mind being singled out in a way that hurts my family.)

I'm also opening my business checking account today. My accountant tells me that it's just easier to run the expenses through the business and deposit the consulting $$ into that account vs. mingling it into my regular checking. Seems like a reasonable bit of advice.

All of a sudden I feel like a grown up. "Accountant" "Taxes" "My Family" wow...

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Saturday night with the future in-laws

Maybe it's the wine, but I think the fact is that I really like Jason's parents. We had a lively discussion over dinner about philosophy, economics and our future. Jason's "crazy right wing
republican dad" seems to really have our best interest at heart. We may not agree 100% on Obama but when it comes down to the values about raising a family and spending we are on the same page. (perhaps it's wrong that we value the right outfit more than we do a hefty savings account...).

I am happy to report that spending time with jason's family is well spent and that I appreciate our differences as much as I cherish what we have in common.

Seeing Colorado thru Jason's eyes is also pretty great. We headed throught the continental divide today and spent the aternoon at a ski resort town. Had lunch at the "Dam brewery" and then hit the outlet mall. Woo hoo, shopping!!!!

Tonight we had shrimp, wine and desert at Mr. & Mrs. B's house where they plotted a summer wedding shower for us.

The topic of the properness of eVites (email invitations ) came up and I heard one of Jason's moms friends sat " I don't get this MyFace or SpaceBook stuff. Regular mail is best!"

I love catching up on FaceBook, but agree that invitations to certain events should be done via the mail.

Anyway... We are enoying the long Easter weekend with the family and hope you are too (if that's your thing). If not, happy spring and ignore the odd chocolate hallow bunnies.
- Terri

Tuesday, April 07, 2009

Lost and Found

It was such a nice day yesterday that Jason and I decided to skip the gym and go for a little walk. We drove up to the Klahanie QFC and enjoyed a ramble through the greenbelt. When we arrived at the end of the path we decided to circle back on the road to the car thinking it would be faster.

It would have been had we turned the correct direction. You know me, so you know that we went the wrong way. As you can see by my beautiful map that the plain blue path is the route we had planned, but the pink is the way we went.

We realized we were closer to home and that route had sidewalks whereas to circle back to the car would have meant a narrow shoulder on a road where the posted speed limit is 35, but 50 is the norm. As it was getting dark we opted to get the other car and then drive back to retrieve the Camry.

On the positive side, it was a much better workout than we had planned and we decided that before we head off to the Canadian Rockies for a hike on our honeymoon that a hand held North American GPS device is in our future. We don't want our story to end 4 days after the wedding with us walking into the Rockies and never coming back.

Sunday, April 05, 2009

A good life

Jason and I have been busy this weekend with errands, getting my home office set up into a more workable configuration and a "celebration date".

My little Pottery Barn desk was cute and I still love it, but when adding a second workstation (the work laptop) it quickly became apparent that it was too small.

Using the excuse of a company write off, we headed to Ikea to get a better set up. I'm now comfortably sitting at a desk that can sustain two computers AND still has some space for the crap that will inevitably pile up.

We stopped at the storage unit after church today to drop off the old desk, some boxes of exiled DVD's and a media storage tower. Our storage unit is quickly becoming full. Not so full that we couldn't get to stuff if we needed it, but basically my single life is in boxes along the northern wall of unit 1024. I was smart enough to keep my two most favorite boxes of Christmas items up front. The wedding things are also using prime real estate near the door. It is wonderful not to have to have all the wedding things around the house. The invitations will stay here, but the boxes for the favors, the 8 boxes of recyclable candles, the ribbon and other who-ha is safely stored.

It hasn't been all work for us this weekend. We were quite happy to be reunited Thursday and opted to go out on a date Friday. We used a gift certificate and checked out the Bellevue el Goucho. (very nice!) Our reservation wasn't until 8:45 so we made a cocktail from the Bar d'Jason and enjoyed a leisurely transition from work day to night on the town.

The only drawback to our date night was that folks at a nearby table brought two small children with them dinner. I love kids and don't think that people with kids should be prevented from eating at a nice place. However, I do think that parents have a responsibility to be courteous to the other patrons by understanding the limitations of their child. If your child is use to being in bed by 9:30 each night, a 9:00 p.m. dinner outing may not be for you. Or... if your child is a screamer when she is bored... stick to a loud restaurant like Cheesecake factory, or pay attention to your kid! A place designed for quiet romance is quickly spoiled by the screaming of a bored, tired three year old.

Unfortunately we were sitting too near the family to avoid the noise and the place was too busy to request a different table. Other than this minor (honest, it was minor) we thought el Goucho was lovely. Our steak was perfect, the service appropriate and friendly. We didn't feel rushed even as the room cleared out. I recommend the New York Steak for two (as that's what we had and it was plate licking good.) One other nice thing is that we ordered a bottle of wine, which they didn't have but their alternate recommendations were great and extremely reasonable price wise.

We certainly can not eat out like that all the time, but as a celebration for selling the condo, starting work and general bliss over being together it worked for us.

I am definitely feeling blessed these days and hope that my happiness and joy aren't too sickly sweet to be around.

Inspection on the condo is tomorrow. Let's everyone keep their fingers crossed for only minor items. (or no items)

Friday, April 03, 2009

An open letter to Peter's Raccoon friend

Dearest Peter's Raccoon Friend,

As you know, with the passing of Peter in July it became increasingly difficult for me to live in the condo. The joy of a human companion has tempered this pain, but nothing would ever replace our wide, furry friend. You probably noticed the for sale sign that was posted Saturday. I do appreciate your not coming in to rip up the carpet or poop on the floor during the open house.

Well, it is with mixed emotions that I let you know that I will soon no longer own the condo that you and I both enjoyed so much. I received an offer from a small family to buy the condo and at the end of the month (provided all the legal mumbo jumbo works out) they will call the place home. All remnants and lingering smells of our buddy Peter will be replaced by a dad and his young daughter.

I will miss you and your wisdom. The information about eating your young will serve me well in these terrible economic times. I do hope that the new family will have a furry companion. No one could ever replace Peter in either of our hearts, but it is time for us to move on.

Please take care of yourself, and I will leave a hunk of cheese for you on the deck when we remove the last of the furniture.

All my respect to you and yours,

Terri

Wednesday, April 01, 2009

Mid-Week Status

Thank you for being patient with the delivery of any updates on how the new job is going.

 

In a word… GREAT!

 

I was on the 6:50 am flight Monday morning (ick) and in the new office by 9:20am.  I have spent the last 2 ½ days getting oriented, learning how to work in this new world, learning the campus, how to print documents.  Printing seems like a pretty easy task, but they have some special tool that makes printing “simple” but in actuality I haven’t been able to make it work very well.   It’s a big job, but I am just over confident enough to think I can pull it off.  We’ll see.

 

The people are nice, but since my allergies are in complete attack mode they seem to be avoiding me.  I am on my THIRD box of tissue since my arrival Monday.  I think I’m on the downside of this attack because my nose has stopped dripping uncontrollably.  I hope the flight home isn’t a repeat of my trip out as  I couldn’t hear all day Monday because I my ears were plugged from the flight pressurization. 

 

My hotel is alright, but now that I’ve figured out the train situation I feel pretty ok about not having a car. I did have to buy hair product at the Chevron convenience store because there really are no grocery stores nearby.   I’ll be leaving behind a bag of things that are silly to transport back and forth (like toiletries, workout clothes, casual shoes…)  The hotel has laundry so I can leave stuff that is clean at my desk and then only pack work clothes in a tiny carry-on bag.  I have SKILLS in that area. 

 

It is too early to count my chickens in this area, but my real estate agent called to tell me we have an offer on my condo.  Things could fall apart any anytime.  But… woo hoo.  If you’re interested in seeing the condo and the MARVELOUS staging that my agent did go here:  http://www.windermere.com/lid35428936

 

Keep your fingers crossed that I might be fully homeless soon.  (I’m kidding as I KNOW that Jason isn’t going to kick me out – he likes my version of meatloaf too much!)  Someone here in the San Jose office suggested that I priced my condo too low if I got an offer in the first week, but I choose to see it as it was priced JUST RIGHT.  I’m not making a bunch of money, but it won’t be sitting empty for ages and ages either.  I am HAPPY HAPPY HAPPY about this development.

 

That’s all the news there is for today.  I’ll be home at 10pm tomorrow and am looking forward to seeing whatshisface.  The phone is nice, but it doesn’t get up at night to get me water when I need it. 

 

Later!