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Archive for February, 2020: Wild Blue Yonder
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Archive for February, 2020

A strange day

February 29th, 2020 at 10:45 pm

Today has been an atypical day, filled with a number of unexpected events.

Dell Technical Support
This morning I tried calling Dell technical support as I was having issues printing from my new computer. The first person was on with me for 45 minutes, after which she told me since I was having a software issue, not a hardware issue, she'd have to transfer me, and the next person told me since my warranty doesn't cover software, i'd have to pay $239 to upgrade my warranty!! if I wanted to have them help me fix just this specific problem, that would still cost me $129.

I declined either offer and told them I'd just go on social media and tell everyone what I thought of Dell technical support, after which they offered to "escalate" the issue and have someone else call me back at a later time, presumably at no cost to me.

So we'll see what happens with that. I was pretty irate, having spent over $900 on a Dell computer, to have them telling me this.

Scrapping old computers
After that, I got really tired tripping over the components of my old computer, which was sitting unassembled on the floor. I had hoped to make a few bucks selling it but had no takers, and I know there are hundreds of other people trying to do the same thing. Both my computer and my mother's computer, which had been taking up space in a spare closet for 4 years now, worked fine but are functionally obsolete.

Microsoft, as you may know, no longer supports Windows 7, which I am told leaves it vulnerable to hackers, so that pushed me to upgrade my computer, which was really not that old. I think I got it in 2013.

With some difficulty, I took the tower of both computers apart and removed the hard drive, then smashed both hard drives with a hammer to destroy them.

I had considered keeping my mother's old hard drive and transferring all the data, but I'm not really sure what the point was. There is nothing I have missed these past 4 years, and reading her documents or viewing her images would just be a painful and emotional process.

I brought all of it to my town's transfer station today before they closed.

My friend and neighbor invited me to walk with her and her dog, so I worked out my frustrations with her as we walked.

Neighbor's marriage woes
Later this afternoon, another neighbor unexpectedly stopped by and confided in me his marriage has gone south. I had always thought of theirs as a great marriage. I was really surprised. So we talked over tea for quite a while. He has contemplated an affair. She won't see a therapist (doesn't even want to talk about it) , and they can't afford to divorce.

Now, as dusk descends, I am back to my own devices, considering myself lucky that I am not dealing with a late-in-life marriage crisis.

I filed my tax returns a few weeks ago and got my federal refund of about $1100 in my checking recently.

The stock market tumble
I'm worried about the stock market as I lost quite a bit on paper, even though I had only 50% invested in equities. All the more reason to get an immediate annuity for about $150K in 5 years to ensure regular monthly income that will cover most of my ongoing expenses and remove that money from stock market exposure. So I wouldn't have to lose sleep over future stock market fluctuations. It's a little too early to have done this now, as I would get a lower monthly income because of my younger age. Actuarially, waiting 5 more years is a better strategy.

The rest of the weekend will be devoted to cleaning the house, cooking, chillin' and reading.

Busy, busy busy

February 9th, 2020 at 12:55 am

Busy, busy, busy.

New computer
I decided to replace my "aging" Windows 7 Dell desktop since Microsoft no longer supports it, virus/security-wise. It was also getting incredibly SLOW, probably due to today's complex graphics.

I bought a new "all-in-one" Dell desktop (Windows 10) with a slightly bigger monitor of about 23" and NO tower, which I like a lot since too many wires makes it hard to vacuum. Everything is wireless.

I had considered a laptop, but I really like a large monitor, which doubles as a TV for me when watching movies on Kanopy. All you need is a participating public library (and library card) and you can watch some great free movies there.

I also bought a gadget to transfer all my files from my old computer to the new one; I made the mistake of having them put into the "cloud," so now all my photos are just dumped into the cloud by date and are no longer neatly organized by file. There were also tons of duplicate photos; I don't know why, but that's likely the reason why the system is already telling me I'm nearly full at the cloud and I would have to start paying a monthly fee for more storage there. So I'm slowly deleting the dupe photos.

I spent a while on the phone with tech support, because, to start with, I couldn't get the keyboard to work. who knew there is a tiny on/off switch on one side? Then there was an issue with the face recognition feature not working. Uh, duh, that's because I didn't push the little pop-up camera in the up position so it could actually see me. This is what happens when they give you no instruction manual. Sigh.

I spent most of Friday manually copying over all my bookmarks and reorganizing them by file names. I still need to connect to my printer and a few other things. Transitioning to a new computer is always somewhat traumatic for me.

Started taxes
I started doing my taxes last week but had to stop as I was missing one form, which I now have, so I hope to continue (complete) my federal taxes today??? I did another small backdoor Roth IRA conversion since my income these days is pretty low. I am kind of procrastinating by writing this post.

Gift cards...whoa!
I earned $200 in gift cards (it would be less if I opted for cash payment) from my latest Citi credit card, so I have gift cards for Macy's, Lowe's and Bed Bath & Beyond to use whenever I want. I don't really need anything right now, though I will surely find the gift cards useful at some point.

Moneywise, the computer was a big unexpected expense, but I'll just try to lay low on spending this month. If I spend on nothing but essentials, there's a chance I'll break even.

Bone health
Lately I've been thinking about bone health. My mother had osteoporosis. I have walked for exercise, for years, but I've read this doesn't necessarily help. So I bought a weighted vest after hearing good things about how they can help you actually build bone. You can put up to 10 lbs in half-pound increments in the vest; starting to wear weight very gradually.

I started with 2 lbs which I guess was too much because it gave me a mild backache. I eased off that and am now walking (when I think of it) with just 1 lb, evenly dispersed between front and back. I wear it under my coat and it's a little bulky, but I wouldn't be caught dead with it worn on the outside.

However, now I'm wondering if I should give up on the vest entirely. I remembered that last year, when I saw my neurologist for my annual visit, we had done an MRI; the great news is that nothing hadchanged since my last MRI 10 years ago. But there was mention in the report of spinal stenosis, and it mentioned a marked decrease in the cushioning between certain vertebrae. I brought it up to my neurologist, who didn't really discuss it with me. I feel he was only interested in the MRI for the MS.

Not sure if it's part of normal aging? Is wretched back pain a part of my future? I don't know. I have come across some exercises you can do to strengthen the muscles along the spinal column to perhaps alleviate the condition, although I feel no pain but am wondering if that's what's going to come. I have noticed a distinct clicking sound in my neck when I turn my head from left to right. I have a physical scheduled for next week so will talk to her about it then.

The funny thing with the physical, which I originally had scheduled for this past Thursday. I showed up for my 10:15 am appointment and while the door was UNLOCKED (it's in a commercial office building) no one was there. The computer at the reception desk was off. I called out "hello?" and no one answered. The hallways were dark. Very strange.

I couldn't figure out why the door would be unlocked yet the place vacant. Living in a town where a mass shooting occurred, I started to wonder if the staff was being held hostage and maybe a gunman was in the office. I didn't stay there long. I left messages with the answering service, who knew nothing. Finally, a staff person showed up, very apologetic. They had a one-hour delayed opening due to weather (just a little rain), and they had tried to call me but umm, I haven't been there in 2 years and I got my new iPhone since then, so they couldn't reach me. Even though I had just talked to them 2 days prior due to the possibly bad weather, and if someone had thought about it, they should have been able to get my new number by looking at the past incoming phone calls.

Learning to love sardines
I am trying to learn to love sardines. They are supposed to be very good for you: low on the food chain so less heavy minerals than other fish, even salmon, and good for brain health. I'm still eating mostly plant-based, but do eat fish 1-2x a week. I was afraid I wouldn't like it. I bought several tins of sardines a few weeks ago and the one tin sat on my kitchen table for 2 weeks.

I worked my way up to trying out one of the recipes I got and opened the tin. Hmmm, these don't look like sardines. Turns out they weren't. They were smoked oysters. I didn't realize other things besides sardines would be packed in those little tins and sitting so close to the sardines, I made a mistake in picking them up. I ate them in my sandwich and they were ok.

Then, yesterday, I tried the sardines, using the same recipe of mayo, mustard, lemon juice, chopped red onion and celery with sprouts on whole grain toasted bread. (I used spelt.) I mashed the sardines up well in the dressing, and this helped to mask any strong odor. It was a little fishy, but I got it down. I was hoping to eat sardines once a week. Still not crazy about them but I want to give it another try. If anyone has a recipe that really masks the flavor/odor by combining it with other foods, I'd love to hear it.

Job status?
There's a chance I may lose my job in another month or so, which is worrisome. The short story is this: a former (disgruntled) coworker who used to share my job with me saw an ad for my job, and it said they were looking for someone f/t. He texted me and said, what's going on?

I spoke to my manager about it the very next day, and he immediately told me they were looking to replace the woman who currently shares my job with me as she doesn't like to work late into the evening and was in fact leaving the office at 3:30 pm each day as she has kids. Another coworker who is not a trained editor was picking up the slack after she left, but I'm guessing that wouldn't be a permanent solution. (But why did the ad say "full-time?"

My manager did ask me if I was sure I wouldn't want to work f/t, and I confirmed that. He seemed very straightforward with me, and I thought I had nothing to worry about until a day or so later, when the recruiter who got me this job called me to again ask, what's going on? After I finished telling him there was nothing to worry about, that my former coworker was only "stirring the pot" due to sour grapes, the recruiter, a personal friend of mine, told me my manager had talked to him over a month ago saying he needed a f/t person. Recruiter promised to talk to my manager and let me know what he said, and even said he might "recuse" himself from looking for my replacement because he felt loyal to me. I told him don't worry about it, that it was his job.

When recruiter called me back, he said my manager was "torn." That he thought the current work arrangement was working out well, but at the same time he also thought it would be better to go back to a f/t position. But that he wouldn't be doing anything right away as he had a vacation planned coming up.

My manager doesn't know I'm friends with the recruiter, so I don't think he knows I know what he told recruiter.

So I don't know what to think. I'd hate to lose this job. It's not perfect, but it would be hard to duplicate elsewhere in terms of the money or the work. I just can't see myself returning to full-time, but I also see there are very few quality p/t jobs out there. I'd really have to rely on recruiters again.

I do know my employer has gone through several different people when they decided to let my former coworker go. He was furious because they never told him why, and he is still a little obssessed about finding out the truth, but he's asking all of us, his former coworkers, as if we would know.

I did apply for one job, which WAS f/t, but it was a one-of-a-kind job, working as copy editor for my local weekly newspaper. Having started out in journalism and having very fond memories of it, that would be almost a dream job, and I was willing to take a huge cut in salary just to work right here in town, fo the newspaper. But I never heard from them. I applied after seeing the posting for weeks, and then I stopped seeing their ad, so I suspect they found someone else. Sigh.

Fasting for health
On the health front. I have also begun doing 16:8 intermittent fasting, which means you fast for 16 hours and eat only during an 8-hour window. So, for instance, you eat your final meal/food at around 7 or 7:30 pm, sleep the night, and then don't eat again til close to noon.

There are a host of health benefits, although most people do it for weight loss. You're essentially eating 2 meals a day, and nothing in the evening. I have found it relatively easy to do, but have only been doing it a few times a week.