Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Being in a great multi-cultural city is tough on the wallet

$20 on dinner at Rosalind's—a great restaurant in Little Ethiopia.

$1.09 on a Twix because I was dying for sugar this afternoon. :(

Monday, July 27, 2009

Student loans ... never ending

$85.67 student loan payment on July 13; it's auto-deducted so I forgot.

I still have well more than $7,000 left to pay. :( I am now more than 12 years post graduation, so more than two years post technically when I was supposed to have finished paying them off. :( But I re-fi'd a few years ago and they changed the terms to a lower interest rate but for 20 more years. Once credit cards are paid off, which should be in two months, I will up my monthly payment a lot. Oh yeah, also noted today that I've lost nearly $2,000 on my retirement savings since opening up my account.

I hate money.

Viva socialism!

$5.15 at Target for floss and some processed food Spanish Rice.

$10.98 at Albertson's for sliced turkey, a 20 oz Coke and a new jar of Miracle Whip Light.

$23.46 at Trader Joe's for milk, naan, pasta noodles, muenster cheese, chicken sausage, a dozen eggs, a soychorizo burrito, bananas and mac and cheese.

$20 for lunch at Tara's the amazing Himalayan place around the corner from my apartment.

$4.79 at Mitsuwa (Japanese grocery store) for Salmon sashimi and a pack of Soba noodles. Btw, at Albertson's the same pack of Soba noodles costs like $5.69 vs. $1.99 at Mitsuwa. It's like buying Canadian beer in Arizona or Mexican beer in Buffalo.

I hate my car

... OK, that's not entirely true. But I haven't been very happy with my 02 Saturn SL2. It's not been all that reliable. I mean, it's fine, but I just don't love it the way that I loved my first Saturn—though I do love the people at the formerly Saturn of Torrance.

Anyway, car insurance bill today (if I weren't paying that bill I wouldn't feel so anti-car right now) ... $108.32.

Sunday, July 26, 2009

$9.85 in Big Mike's six-inch chicken and cheese sandwich, with garlic fries and a Coke. So worth it, though.

Saturday, July 25, 2009

$25 on Dodger game, in which I sat in gum on my seat and saw about 50 shots of this skinny woman's ass crack. She was wearing too-tight, too-low jeans and she couldn't stop standing up to dance and cheer. Best part is that she was wearing a belt buckle (huge comboy-sized) that said "White Trash." You think?

I am a judgemental asshole.

Good game, though. I forgot how gorgeous the view is in Chavez Ravine.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Helping small business

$9.65 on pastries from Le Maison du Pain.

25 cents on parking in front of the French pastry shop.

$62.50 taking good friend out to dinner at LaLa's (Argentinian) on Melrose.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Beer, couscous-stuffed salmon, brie, baguettes, sliced peppers with friend ... priceless

$8.69 at TJs for beer and uneaten popcorn as part of a good chill night having dinner with framily.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

A little death of change

One of first and chief complaints against the Darth Vader presidency of Dick Cheney and his puppet W. was the refusal to disclose who (specifically which energy industry execs) met with the Vader to discuss what would become the White House's energy policy and goals. The Vaders declared that these were essentially confidential matters that were outside the need to know of the public. Ultimately, they were supported by the courts.

This flew in the face of everything I'd been taught in communications law, that information is assumed public unless a compelling reason (national security, chiefly) can be demonstrated to keep information private.

Throughout his campaign for president Barack Obama repeatedly criticized the Vaders for conducting business outside the scrutiny of the public's view. And yet, now Barack and co. have decided to kill some of the hope and change that they have been squandering throughout the first seven months (waiting forever to stand up for hardly any rights for same-sex couples and still refusing to support same-sex marriage) ... by refusing to disclose which health care industry execs have met with White House staff to shape the massive overhaul of our broken health care system.

Here's an exerpt from the L.A. Times story:

Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington sent a letter to the Secret Service asking about visits from 18 executives representing health insurers, drug makers, doctors and other players in the debate. The group wants the material in order to gauge the influence of those executives in crafting a new healthcare policy.
The Secret Service sent a reply stating that documents revealing the frequency of such visits were considered presidential records exempt from public disclosure laws. The agency also said it was advised by the Justice Department that the Secret Service was within its rights to withhold the information because of the "presidential communications privilege."

Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics said it would file suit against the Obama administration as early as today. The group already has sued the administration over its failure to release details about visits from coal industry executives.

and more ...

As a candidate, President Obama vowed that in devising a healthcare bill he would invite in TV cameras -- specifically C-SPAN -- so that Americans could have a window into negotiations that normally play out behind closed doors.

Having promised transparency, the administration should be willing to disclose who it is consulting in shaping healthcare policy, said an attorney for the citizens' group. In its letter requesting the records, Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics asked about visits from Billy Tauzin, president of the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America; Karen Ignagni, president of America's Health Insurance Plans; William Weldon, chairman and CEO of Johnson & Johnson; and J. James Rohack, president of the American Medical Assn., among others.

"It's extremely disappointing," said Anne Weismann, the group's chief counsel. Obama is relying on a legal argument that "continues one of the bad, anti-transparency, pro-secrecy approaches that the Bush administration had taken. And it seems completely at odds with the president's commitment . . . to bring a new level of transparency to his government."


A few times a year

I get McDonald's for breakfast. Today was one of those times. $5. And it was worth every fucking penny as I was toiling away during my 13th hour at work. But, I'm not bitching. Was beyond superproductive today and it was almost entirely spent editing, which is the best part of the job. We're gonna have a damned good fall at L.A. Youth, provided there's still paper to print on.

Monday, July 20, 2009

Razors are not cheap

$14.29 on razor refills. $12.69 on Pyrex glass food containers. I have now been scared enough by stories about plastic food storage (particularly when used in reheating) that I've made the switch to glass. $6.49 for 160 dryer sheets with Febreze freshness builti n. With tax the total at Target was $36.73.

$7.35 on a super tasty Gallego's burrito and a side of rice (which is for later).

$15.24 on sliced turkey, loaf of bread, potato salad and 24 slices of cheese at Albertson's.

And I dropped stuff off at the drycleaners but I won't be getting my pants back until Thursday or probably next Monday, so I won't be paying for that until then.

75 cents on parking meter.

Sunday, July 19, 2009

It all evens out in the end

After seeing Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, I am square with Amy moneywise. I did drop $3 on parking and then another $28.33 on gas.

As for the movie, very good given the managed expectations that characters aren't nearly as dimensional as in the books and that the story has to be altered. Surprised by different treatment at the end, thought the tonal shifts were done well. Effects were excellent as was the wand salute.

Friday, July 17, 2009

1 hour 25 minutes from a spend-free day

$23.27 on comic books. A totally frivolous (in that not needed) purchase ... but in my defense I'd fallen so far behind on Astonishing X-Men that TFAW.com doesn't even have in stock two of the issues I'm missing. But I picked up two Buffy season 8s and four Astonishings. At least it's reading material, right? Speaking of ... time to read more Gravity's Rainbow by Thomas Pynchon. Soon a blog post about not being smart enough?

Thursday, July 16, 2009

I am not spending a penny (tomorrow)

$12.66 on TJ's fresh-squeezed orange juice, a soy chorizo burrito, onion bagels and blueberry cereal bars.

$80 on five tickets to Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince in IMAX for Sunday. $64 of this will be reimbursed though.

Filed under soooo worth it: $37.56 at Din Tai Fung taking one of our alums who recently graduated from Berkeley out to dinner for the best dumplings I've ever had. MMMMM, dumplings.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Bean, Coffee

$5 on Black Forest iced blended. But the new fan is worth every penny of the $39.99 that I paid.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Perfection ahoy -- damn the costs full speed ahead

Well, I'm only spending 99 cents today on a song, Joan Osborne's "Spider Web," as part of the perfect song mix double CD. Another 99 cents on a single-able version of "Ode to Joy" from Beethoven's Ninth Symphony—maybe the greatest work ever conceived by a human mind. But I seem completely incapable of spending zero cents in a day. :(

Damn forgot yesterday's bills ...

Sprint $107.35

Car payment $180.

Monday = errands = spenday

Picked up two shirts at the cleaners (I usually iron, in fact I like it because it's relaxinng, but these shirts don't iron so well at home; I just can't get them very smooth), at $3.

Mini-run to TJs for organic bananas, sliced crimini mushrooms, roasted red/yellow peppers and roasted piquillo peppers for $7.33.

$10 on an amazing lunch at Cafe Brasil. I love Brazilian food.

$30.42 at Albertson's for the bigger grocery run: some sliced turkey, sliced turkey ham, two jars of pasta sauce, two boxes of pasta, one box of jambalaya mix, bag of shredded Mexican cheese, bag of potato chips, box of Stouffer's French Bread frozen pizza and a bag of Udon noodles.

But I was also really behind on shit at home, so didn't go out to dinner with my friend, which honestly I regret, because I was really looking forward to that. Suddenly this blog is turning into me outing myself as a processed food-eating, cheapskate loser. :/

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Weather dominator

I love the apartment I live in for the most part. We've been here more than two years and the hardwood-laminate floors, granite countertops, high-end washer/dryer, superpowerful microwave, big living room still make me happy in the way one should be happy at home. But that doesn't mean things are perfect. We're on the top floor of our two-story building so we get the risen heat to keep things warmer among other features that keep us warmer than desired in the heat of later July, August, September and early Santa Ana-ed October. We've got no screen door on our front door so we can't move air that way. Our windows are largely blocked by huge shrubs that dissipate the breeze. And for my bedroom, I've got vertical sliding windows, which I always thought were not window-fan friendly.

Until today. I present the Holmes HAWF-2043 Twin Window Fan. Check out these features ...
  • Draws in cool air, exhausts hot air, or exchanges air with outside
  • One-touch electronic control: two speeds and temperature selection
  • Thermostat turns fan off/on to maintain selected comfort level
  • Fits double-hung, vertical slider, and casement windows 24 to 37 inches wide
  • Extenders permit custom fit; 12-1/4 inches high overall, with 8-1/2-inch fans
Now it just has to work of course and fit as-promised. The feature I really wanted (bseides fitting into a vertical sliding window) is the ability to vent the ambeint hot air. Combined with the ceiling fan I am hopeful of a much more comfortable summer of sleeping.

And the price was only $39.99 on amaon.

Change of pace

Because I hate the environment more than I hate anything else, I went to the beach in Orange County this morning for my Sunday skate. And it was awesome. Huntington Beach is gorgeous. The water is soooooooo much bluer than Venice and Santa Monica. Sadly, though, the skating path is spotty. Along Huntington Dog Beach and through the state beach it's very smooth. But as I skated north from the city center to that area it was too narrow and extremely bumpy.

The coolest discovery though was this giant water tower that's also a rentable beach house. It's the Sunset Beach Water Tower. Until I just went to the website, I was thinking of proposing this as the site of our next grad school reunion. But it costs $4,000 a week to rent during the summer. That's never gonna happen. Seriously, ever.

Spending for the day: $24.63 on gas. $17.06 on soy chorizo burrito, brie, chicken sausage, baguette and provolone at TJs.

Saturday, July 11, 2009

Do I like gourmet cupcakes from Beverly Hills? Guilty as charged

$5.75 on my share of two Sprinkles cupcakes, one Triple Chocolate (which isn't on the menu but was available because of Twitter ... mmm Twitter) that I split with Amanda and one Strawberry (because I absolutely couldn't resist).

Tuesday morning, Laura tells us a story about how she missed out on a free lemon cupcake from Sprinkles, the gourment cupcake shoppe in Beverly Hills. If she had whispered the secret word of the day, she'd have gotten a free one and that day's selection was lemon, her favorite, which she had even ordered.

So all week we'd noticed that Sprinkles was using its new Twitter accounts to alert customers to free cupcake deals and also when the Sprinklesmobile would be out and about (of course it was near our office during a time we were chained to our desks).

And so Friday I resolved that if they Tweeted again Saturday morning on my way to work, I'd pick one up (and since I was there get one for Amanda). As I left my house at 8:35 nothing. To maximize my chances of catching an alert on my Palm Pre, I drove surface streets rather than freeways to work taking the Sprinkles detour. As long as I saw the 411 on free deliciousness before I passed the store, I'd get cupcakes.

When I got to Beverly Hills, I hit refresh on my phone's browser at a traffic light and voila ... today's offer was for Triple Chocolate (chocolate cake, frosting and ganache). Wow, I love chocolate and I love free. However, I realize that I don't have any money for parking meters. Do I risk it? If I get a parking ticket this will officially be the most expensive cupcake ever.

I risk it. Cupcakes are worth the stretch. When I get inside and the associate asks me what I want I say, "One Key Lime ..." and then whisper "one triple chocolate." She smiles.

"Those are great," she whispers back. Triple chocolate aren't on the menu but today they're free according to the Tweet I glanced at.

As I'm getting rung up I am literally almost drooling surrounded by the ├╝ber-cheerful Sprinklers and comforting aromas of baked sugar and chocolate.

"OK, Mike, that's one key lime, one strawberry and one Twitter. That'll be $9.75," she says.

"What? I thought the Twitter was free," I reply trying to hide at least some of my incredulity.

"Oh, they usually are, but today it was just to get the secret flavor, which is so good. It's one of my favorites."

"Oh, OK, well of course I still want them." As I leave I check my phone and of course the Tweet never mentions anything about a free cupcake today, just that you can get a secret flavor if you know how to ask.

Always read the fine print. Or in this case, just read what was actually sent. The lesson as always, I'm a dope.

Friday, July 10, 2009

Grocery shopping is a must

With a friend of a friend who I now consider more of just a friend in town Monday, I didn't get to grocery shop. That means I am hurting for snackage at work, which means I spent $1.65 on a bagel this morning at the Coffee Bean.

I hate Ticketmaster. I just bought two tickets to see Phoenix and Metric at the Greek. Face value = $35 per seat, so $70 for two. The final bill ...


That includes $10.55 "convenience" charge per ticket. Then taxes, et al.

I love Amazon.com's mp3 store, though. I am currently downloading Radiohead's Amnesiac album. Cost ... $1.99.

Thursday, July 09, 2009

Come on 7-11

I wanted to just buy a banana as a snack after my lunch, but the 7-11 down the street had one person working the register while two guys were on smoke breaks, which resulted in a line of customers snaking through the store around to the Slurpee machine. I ended up buying a $2 Cottage Double.

Wednesday, July 08, 2009

I couldn't resist spending ...

Even though it was only 99 cents today on "Coffee and TV" by Blur as part of the perfectsong mixCD project.

Tuesday, July 07, 2009


$1 on a Snickers since I wasn't able to hit the grocery store yesterday.

30 cents on parking meter this morning.

$19.24 on groceries (sliced turkey, Ingelhoffer's sweet and hot honey mustard, Tillamook mozerella, Jiff peanut butter, bag of BBQ Ruffles). I saved $2.84 buying things on sale. I'm sorry for making fun of you, mom.

99 cents "Pandora" by Cocteau Twins. The final song needed to complete the "perfect" songs mix CD. Coming soon to a blog near this one. Well, it's the final song needed to complete the original batch of people asked, but I have one final person to bring in. However, mixing starts now.

Monday, July 06, 2009

A sad day for breakfast on the West side

Maxwell's Cafe on Washington Boulevard in Culver City has changed hands and the breakfast burrito that I grew to love—it was the first food in Los Angeles that I hearted—has changed. It's no longer offered with red and green sauce. It now comes with meat or veggie sausage and guacamole, which has touches of cilantro, inside rather than just plain avocado. :( It was still good, but it wasn't the same and I don't know if it'll remain my fave breakfast place.

For the blog ... $33.05 breakfast for two though I vowed not to spend any money Monday, good fortune (insert fake laughing here) intervened and I pal'ed around with a good friend of a good friend and made my own new friend (move to L.A. in two years Mor).

$180 on car payment that I forgot to send in June. I'm a dope. Seriously, though, the push to be more green-friendly led Chase Auto Finance to send a new quarterly statement; rather than sending a bill every month (and postage and envelopes) they send three payment stubs once every three months and its incumbent on me to remember to send them. I forgot. phuk. Should I finally switch to online bill pay?

I debated about including credit card bills, but have opted against it, only because I am accounting for July expenditures here (and those were June costs).

Sunday, July 05, 2009

Like begets like?

I spent $7.84 on a new album from Irish folk-rock singer Cathi Bruns. While checking a secondary e-mail account I noticed I had a bunch of updates from one of my favorite artists, Gemma Hayes, a singer from Ireland who I've seen perform a bunch of times in Los Angeles. Gemma Hayes was recommending Cathi Bruns, who appears on the tiny label Amie Street, Inc. records.

Though this purchase went against my July mandate to change my spending habits, my urge to support an indie artist and indie label won out. Plus, I figure that someone like Gemma would be recommending something I would like. I followed Rachael Yamagata's advice to check out Stina Nordenstam and was very happy with that.

Anyway, based on the 2.5 songs I've heard so far, I have absolutely no regrets with this purchase. It's definitely got the coffeehouse singer with an acoustic guitar vibe going, but whoever said that has to be a catergorically bad thing?

Plus at $7.84 it was priced to move. To compensate though, that means leaving Regina Spektor, The Decemberists, Lily Allen, Camera Obscura, Tift Merritt and Conor Oberst all unpurchased this month.


$5.31 at Subway for dinner, that included my drink since I wisely got only a 6-inch sweet onion chicken teriyaki.

Saturday, July 04, 2009

Resistance in futile

$10 burrito and Coke at Baja Fresh. I know full well that I am seeing a movie tonight and getting dinner beforehand and a concert tomorrow. Holidays are a tough time not to spend. No eating out Monday at all or Sunday for lunch.

$25 for dinner (club sandwich and two pints of Guinness).

$15.75 for one ticket to see Up in 3-D again.

I forgot to add like $30 for gas.

Friday, July 03, 2009

A day of fiscal discipline

75 cents to a guy who said he needed a dollar to buy his monthly bus pass. I literally had only that much on me at the time. I resisted the urge to get a great Gallego's burrito or beer tonight, even though we left work a little early and I have a three-day weekend. The accounting blog has already worked its "magic" on my wallet.


See ya Sarah Palin. I have no idea what you're thinking for your future. I hope you spend the time being a good grandmother and figuring out a way to have a better relationship with your grandchild's father. Based on the judgment you've demonstrated thus far, I don't have much hope of that.

Wednesday, July 01, 2009

Return of the accouting blog

We're challenging our students at L.A. Youth to track their spending for seven days, so I'm bringing back my accounting blog for July. Hopefully this will also help me from hemorraghing money, which happened the last couple months. I loathe the arrival of creditcard1 bill.

$4 for Caramel Iced Blended at Coffee Bean downstairs from work.

$1.50 on Sprite from 7-11 to settle stomach ache, which may have resulted from the Iced Blended on an empty stomach.

$865 for rent.