captpackrat: (Scuzz the Rat)
Whoo, 1500th LJ entry!

I was at Sam's Club late last night when a huge thunderstorm hit.  You could hear the torrential rains even inside the store.  Fortunately they have a covered loading area, unlike Costco, so I was able to load the stuff without getting soaked.  I was also apparently the only person who brought an umbrella.

Picked up a 50 pound bag of popcorn.  That should last a while.

Last night I signed up for the Nebraska Lottery's free MVP program.  They gave me a coupon for a free Pick 5 ticket.  The jackpot is currently $102,000.  I went to the minimarket in town and got my free ticket this afternoon, then stopped next door at the Subway for a $5 footlong.  Laying on the counter was a coupon for a free MegaMillions lottery ticket, so after getting my order, I went back to the minimart and got that ticket.  That $5 footlong could end up winning me $31 million.

In case you've been living under a rock for the past week, Steam is giving away free copies of Portal until May 24th. Minimum requirements are a 1.7 GHz processor, 512MB RAM, a DirectX 8.1 compatible graphics card, Windows 2000 or higher.  If you meet those minimums, be sure to download.  If you don't meet those minimum requirements, GET IT ANYWAY!  Once you "purchase" it, you'll have it in your Steam account for life, so you'll be able to download and install it on a future computer.
captpackrat: (CA state quarter)
[Error: unknown template qotd] If there was some way to determine who lost the money, I'd return it. Otherwise there's little point in turning it in to someone who'd just as likely pocket it themselves.
captpackrat: (Bush Miserable Failure)
It was 5 years ago today that Bush proudly declared "Mission Accomplished in Iraq". 

Since then, over 4000 American soldiers have been killed and nearly 30,000 wounded (and this doesn't account for the psychological effects that may plague combat veterans for decades).  At least 90,000 Iraqi civilians have lost their lives (some sources estimate as many as one million Iraqi deaths); the number of Iraqi wounded or left homeless is unknown but likely well into the millions.  The current estimates are that the war in Iraq will cost at least three trillion dollars; that's about $10,000 out of the pocket of every single American.

Good job, Commander-In-Chief George W. Bush!
captpackrat: (Stamp)
First class postage is going up again, one extra penny May 12th for a total of 42¢.  If you buy some Forever stamps before that date, you'll be able to buy them at the 41¢ rate and they'll still be valid for First class.  That's a profit of 1 penny for each stamp you buy, or 2.4%  That's better than most banks.

Of course, it's not really much of a profit unless you use a lot of stamps, since there's really no way to convert stamps back into cash, but if you do, you've got 3 months to stock up!
captpackrat: (Gas prices + bush)
Bush wants to drop money from a helicopter, but this isn't going to do anything to help the economy, and it'll be just another $150 Billion added to the national debt.

What I think we need to do is reestablish the Works Progress Administration or something like it.  Use the money to offer people employment, doing jobs like improving freeways, repairing bridges and building schools and playgrounds.

$150 billion could provide $50,000 a year jobs to THREE MILLION people.

Employing an additional 3 million people and upgrading the nation's infrastructure would go a lot farther to stimulate the economy than just handing everyone a Christmas bonus.
captpackrat: (Homer D'OH!)
Battery on my car went dead flat again.  It's not the battery's fault, it's maybe a year and a half old and it's one of those fancy Optima Red batteries.  There's some weird electrical drain in my car that keeps killing the battery.  (I suspect it's the Motorola Bluetooth kit I had installed in early 2006.)  To make matters worse, the trickle charger I was using to keep the battery from draining quit working, so I don't have any way of keeping the car charged unless I drive it regularly.

Anywho, while I was at Wal*Mart buying a new charger, I noticed they had the Michelin Radius wiper blades.  They're a new kind of wiper that's just a single piece of spring steel, no complicated joints or framework like a normal wiper.  They were a bit pricey, $15 each, which is about twice the price of traditional wipers (but still WAY cheaper than the $50 SEO wipers from Chevy).  Since my 3 year old TripleEdge blades were starting to streak, and I had trouble with snow and ice last winter, I decided to give them a try.

I got home and found there was a $10 rebate on the wiper...  which is only good for wipers purchased between 9/15 and 12/31.   Today is 9/14.  D'OH!!!

I'll be near a Wal*Mart again tomorrow, so I'm just going to return the wipers (I haven't installed them yet), then buy another pair.  It'll be worth it to save $10.


Aug. 27th, 2007 11:53 pm
captpackrat: (Camera)

Folks had asked for pictures of my plushies, so here's a picture of my bed with plush.  Unfortunately, the vast majority of my plush are in a PODS container still in California.  These are the only plushies I have with me currently .  :(    Meeko, the green rabbit in the middle (originally my grandmother's) and the well worn rabbit at the head of the bed were the only 3 I brought from California, the others I acquired here.

On the shelf from left to right:  Sirius Starmate boombox, LED candle, lighter & incense burner, rabbit box, various Zuni fetishes, several skulls (beaver, rabbit, muskrat) and a raccoon baculum, rabbit fur medicine wheel bundle, two glasses with Thumper (one of which contains incense sticks), medicine cards in a leather case that I made and decorated, Chinese rat statue, and weather radio.

Storm clouds moving in.

"I'm hiding!"

Thumper "squashed penny" from Disneyland.  Modern pennies are made of copper-coated zinc, which is why this one has silver highlights.  An older solid copper penny would have looked better.

My new deck of Hanafuda cards.  I need to teach my SO how to play Koi-Koi.  It's a very simple game; the hard part is learning the cards.

Microprint on a $5 bill.  I love the super-macro function on my camera.
captpackrat: (Default)
After much deliberation, and seeing just how fast my brokerage accounts were outpacing my money markets, I moved most of my inheritance money into the brokerage account.  I've now got about 10% in cash instead of the 50% I had before.  It's riskier, but I made as much in 6 weeks in stocks and mutual funds than my money market would make in a whole year!

I sold off most of my porn stocks on Thursday, except for Penthouse International (PTHL.PK), which I was still in the negative.  Unfortunately, my 45 day free trading period expired Friday.  I thought I was going to be stuck with the stock, but luckily, it shot up to $0.0065 a share Monday, so I was able to unload all 16,000 shares, pay the commission and still make a (small) profit!  Whoot!

While driving into Omaha on Saturday, Animale's car started overheating really bad.  We pulled off the road and checked under the hood.  Coolant had started spraying from under the radiator cap and I could see steam coming from a couple spots on the front.  Fortunately we were only a mile or so from a Chevy dealer, so we were able to limp in.  We had to stop twice more on the way because the engine kept heating up so quickly.  Apparently the radiator was both clogged and leaking.  That's another $500 expense we weren't ready for.  I had been worried about living out in the boonies and the fact that taxi service would probably be insanely expensive, but I learned there was a local cab company and it only cost about $30 (with tip) to go 15 miles.  I paid $25 to go 3 miles in San Diego!

We saw Spiderman 3 on Saturday.  Ho-hum.  I think Stan Lee's mind is no longer in mint condition.

Huge storms on Saturday, but for some strange reason, they all passed right to the east and west of us.  There were tornadoes reported in Glenwood, IA, a few miles away on the other side of the Missouri.  There were also a lot of flooded rivers, including the Platte.  Here, we got a lot of rain, and one VERY close lightning strike (when the flash and the sound occur at the same time, it's hit less than 100 yards away), but no apparent damage.

Our ISP wasn't so lucky.  Lightning hit the tower housing their wireless transmitter, knocking them offline for a good while.  Service wasn't restored fully until this afternoon.

I've been running a fever since at least Thursday.  It got up to 100.8ºF (38.2ºC) Sunday night.  I'm not sure what the problem is, I don't really feel ill, other than a headache and a bit of fatigue.  I was coughing a bit last night, but I haven't today.  I've increased my intake of Vitamin C and garlic and started taking myrrh (nasty tasting stuff!), hoping to beat down whatever infection I might have.  I still need to rebuild my herbal medicine chest, just for these kind of situations.


Apr. 5th, 2007 11:24 pm
captpackrat: (Stock Market)
I've finally invested all the money I'd allocated (which was 1/2 of my inheritance).  Since March 21st, I've made over $600, with $100 of that just today.  Microsoft Money is projecting an annualized return of 61.9%!  Whoot!  Beats the crap out of bank rates!  That's not quite enough to pay for a house, but it's enough to pay most of my bills.

Only about 7% of my money is in stocks, 32% is in mutual funds, 11% in bond funds and 50% in a money market account.  The temptation is there to invest the money market money into mutual funds, which could result in some serious income, but that would be greatly increasing my risk exposure.


Mar. 31st, 2007 10:29 pm
captpackrat: (Think or I will set you on fire)
Geez, haven't posted anything in over a week, so here's a huge freaking updatethingie. 

Lots of thunderstorms this past week (I unplug my computer just to be on the safe side), and my SO and I have been driving a sick friend to work/doctor/etc the past couple weeks, so I haven't been online much.

Investments are mixed.  Sirius (SIRI) and DJ Wilshire REIT (RWR) have been sucking, as have the Janus Contrarian Fund (JSVAX) and the  Janus High Yield Fund (JAHYX), but Exxon Mobile (XOM), the Prudent Bear Fund (BEARX, heehee) and the Excelsior Energy & Natural Resources Fund (UMESX) are doing gangbusters.  So far after a week and a half, I'm ahead by $120.  In order to match what I could get at a bank, I need to make at least $50 a week.  I still have a good chunk of money to move into some sort of vehicle, probably more mutual funds.  Lots of prospectuses (prospectii?) to read.

My SO lost his job last week.  The company he was working for has been dropping people like flies.  Apparently they lost their biggest client.  He was feeling really depressed, then I reminded him he could apply for unemployment and he started feeling better.

Monday we went to a job faire just outside Offut AFB.  Both of us ran out of resumes.  I still need to follow up and send electronic copies to all the addressed on the business cards I picked up.   One of the companies there was a construction firm.  They weren't hiring for any IT positions, as they don't feel they need any in-house IT, but that's what my last employer thought before they met me.  ;)

OfficeMax had 2 gig SanDisk Cruzer Micro USB flash drives on sale for $25, so I picked one up.  Then I discovered that RadioShack had the 4 gig version on sale for $60.  My old 2 gig flash drive was nearly full, 4 gigs will really be helpful.  (I have Puppy Linux, the entire PortableApps suite, Office 2003 Enterprise + SP2 and a ton of other useful utilities on it, basically an entire software toolkit)

Also picked up a weather radio from RadioShack.  It has come in handy already (see below).

Chocolate-covered Ginger Altoids are strange.

Saw Meet the Robinsons today.  Much better than I expected.  I thought it was going to suck, but it was actually pretty darn good.  You just have to forget everything you know about temporal mechanics.

When we came out of the theater, it was pouring rain, there was a wee bit of hail, and there were lightning strikes less than a mile away.  Fortunately it let up pretty quickly and I didn't get too wet.  When I got home, I noticed my new weather radio was displaying something about a tornado watch.  It didn't go any farther than a watch though, at least in this county.


Mar. 17th, 2007 02:29 pm
captpackrat: (CA state quarter)
Anyone out there in LJ land use TD Ameritrade?  What is your opinion of the company?
captpackrat: (Gadget Parts Left Over)
I got one of the applications for a money market account in the mail today.

The disclosure handbook that came with it is 83 pages!  And that's not counting the actual paperwork.

I've got some reading to do today....
captpackrat: (CA state quarter)
Microsoft Money has a feature that lets you estimate your taxes. It got last year's taxes fairly accurately, but here's its estimate for this year:

captpackrat: (CA state quarter)
I still need to find a place to invest my inheritance.  The best CD rate I've been able to find is 5.35%, and the best money market account rate I've found is around 5.2%.   There has to be a way to make more interest than that!   My 401(k) from my last job pulled 9.3% last year, so I know there has to be a better way.

Those of you out there in LJ land who have investments, what type of investments do you have and what company do you use?
captpackrat: (Taxes)
I got my W-2 yesterday, so I worked on my 1040 and 540 today (actually, I started last night, but the craptastic ISP went down while I was downloading forms).  I had more forms to fill out this year than I've ever had before.

There's a couple credits people might want to look out for.  If you've had long distance, bundled or cellular phone service between Feb 28, 2003 and Aug 1, 2006, AND you have copies of all your bills, you can fill out form 8913 (instructions) and get a credit on the Federal Telephone Excise Tax you paid during this time, plus interest of between 4 and 26%!  If you didn't have phone service, don't have copies of your bills, or don't want to bother shuffling so much paperwork, you can skip the 8913 form and just take the standard credit of $30 for a single person up to $60 for a family of 4.  I got almost $80 in credit because I had bills going back to 2004.  I could have gotten another $50 or so if I'd had my 2003 bills available.

I also found you can get a credit for contributing to a qualifying retirement account (IRA, 401(k), etc) if your income is below a certain level ($25K filing single, $50K married filing jointly).   You can get from 10% up to 50% of the amount you contributed back as a tax credit!  You just have to file form 8880.

I'll be getting over $1400 back this year!  I think that's a record for me.  Whoo!
captpackrat: (Homer in the Land of Chocolate)
Well, my grandparents house has been sold, and I just got the check for my share of it.  I deposited the money into a local bank into a money market account, as it had the best interest without locking the money up for long term.   I need to search around to find a bank with a better interest rate, as this bank was only offering 2.25%.

Or, better yet, I should consider investing in stocks, bonds, or some other instruments.   My 401(k) is pulling about 6.5% interest, so I know I can do better.

I need to be careful with the money, as that is the last thing I will ever receive from my grandparents.  No blowing it on buying stuff, I need to invest it carefully.

It's nice seeing all those digits on my computer screen.

Bank notes

Nov. 22nd, 2006 12:06 pm
captpackrat: (CA state quarter)
I think [personal profile] mortonfox will appreciate this gallery:  Stuff People Write On Money
captpackrat: (Ratmobile)
Got the Ratmobile back, it's nice and shiny. Ford Exploder returned to rental agency, good riddance!

I also got the SS spoiler painted up. I bought that thing about 2 years ago, but I'd never gotten around to having it painted, let alone installed. So while my car was at the body shop, I had them paint it. And I made an appointment with my mechanic to have it installed next Friday!

The insurance company knocked $50 off the deductible because they didn't want to replace the glass, since the damage to it was so minor it couldn't really be repaired. Hurray!

Final bill:

Rental car: $0
Repairs: $50
Spoiler: $102


Stuck? Oh.

Feb. 3rd, 2006 07:25 pm
captpackrat: (South Park)
Got an estimate today for restuccoing the house. If I could have signed up for it today, it would have cost about $10,000 to do the entire house, since this is their off-season. Once spring hits, the cost will shoot up to $14,000.

The salesman offered a 10 year financing plan that would have cost about $120 a month. The house REALLY needs restuccoing, and I can afford $120 a month, so I started filling out the paperwork. Then the salesman remembered that it requires 25% down, and I CAN'T afford $2500 right now, so that pretty much killed the deal then.

However, I mentioned that I worked for a general contractor, and he said we might be able to work something out. That would be nice.

In the mean time, I need to try and figure out if I can patch the spots where the stucco is falling off. It's probably going to be a while until I can have the whole thing redone.


captpackrat: (Default)
Captain Packrat

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