Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Admire/Hate Dichotomy

A little known fact about me if you primarily know me through social media: I love business. For some reason, I don't think it comes out when I type. In person, I think I definitely talk about financial planning/business enough that you would know it's one of my interests. In social media world? Not so much.

It's not something that translates well to blogging. There are all sorts of blogs about fashion, being a mom, recipes, exercise, politics, celebrities...but business? Maybe I am blind, but I don't see many. I subscribed to several many years ago, and then they all seemed to stop.

I love to read companies' annual reports. It's fun to see how they spin negative stuff and all of their projections for the future. I like reading financial statements. I like doing fundamental analysis.

I would enjoy dissecting an annual report as a blog post, full of captioned photos with snarky commentary. It's my blog; I could. But I'm not to immune to the 97 ways I bore people to death. And then it becomes "work" instead of "fun."

And I'm the boring kind of financial planner that prefers long-term planning over get-rich-quick daytrades. Oh, there's money to be had there, don't get me wrong. But when you work full-time, have a child, have hobbies, there's only so much time you can put to daytrading, and if you want to do it right, you have to put in the time.

There is one company that I am in particular awe of. They are marketing geniuses, and I wish I could have even a small fraction of their marketing wisdom. It's a huge company, and you could look at any of a number of facets to their empire.


What I as a 30-something am particularly impressed with is how they take vast amounts of money from the people of the world for vacations. I know a variety of people in different income levels, and they seem to ALL give thousands of dollars to Disney to be entertained on vacation, whether it be Disneyland, Disney World and/or Disney cruises.

Back in my day being a kid, you went to Disneyland for a day and Disney World for two days. Now, you go to Disneyland/California Adventure for a MINIMUM of 3 days, you do several character meals, if you have a girl you buy her favorite princess dress and get her hair done at the princess hair salon, you buy picture packages, you stay in one of the themed hotels (at $400/night). There is no way to come out without giving Disney at least $2k of your money. I'm sure Disney World is a week-long adventure that sucks even more money out of you.

I don't understand why so many people are so completely and utterly FINE with this (unbalanced) exchange, in my opinion. Maybe being in the "happiest place on earth" for a few days is worth it to all of these people.

My daughter is learning about Disneyland from a lot of her friends. Because they all have gone, and some have gone multiple times. She doesn't bug us that much about it, but when we ask her about where she might want to go on an upcoming vacation, she does list Disneyland at the top of her list.

What? You don't want to go to the park an hour away that charges $16 for admission, and you can ride the 9 rides as much as you want and see a ventriloquist show? And don't forget the pony rides! Come on, that's pretty amazing!!! (And so cheap...without a plane ride...and without excessive souvenirs...and you get to sleep in your own bed!) I'll toss in an ice cream cone if you're really good!

It is with great trepidation and disdain that I look into booking  a Disney vacation. And since I'm cheap and have this weird admire/hate dichotomy going on with Disney, I want to give Disney as little of my money as possible. Of course, I can't get out of paying for park admission tickets ($300 a day for 3 of us!), but I can refuse to stay at a Disney hotel and choose to give Disney as little dining/souvenir money as possible.

They are marketing geniuses that are trying to take over the world, attacking the discretionary spending portion of every family's budget.

Thursday, October 9, 2014

The Stressed Out Reader

I love to read. A lot. I read about 100-130 books per year. While I have a few favorite genres, my taste can be very eclectic. It's actually been more eclectic recently because I've tried to intentionally force myself out of my comfort zone.

I really enjoy keeping track of what I have read in Goodreads. There you can put in reviews for each book and rate each book. Sometimes a book they advertise on the site piques my interest and looks familiar, and it's nice to look it up to see if I've read it already (my history goes back to 2010, and if I read it before then, I've probably forgotten it anyway). Because I log when I finish each book, it's a nice historical record as well. Goodreads also gives recommendations for other books if you particularly like a book.

Goodreads also has a "want to read" shelf. It's really easy to add books that look good onto this shelf with a click of a button. So much so that my "want to read" shelf was getting really huge. And books have sat languidly on that shelf for years. For some strange reason, seeing a book sit there for YEARS stresses me out as well as the sheer number of books that I have on that shelf. For the past few months I've been intentionally reading the books that have sat there for a number of years. It's nice to reduce the average length of time a book has sat there, but at the same time I realize my reason for reading the book is somewhat odd.

So I've changed strategies. With more and more e-books available via the library, I've decided to add books on my library wishlist. The date added isn't looking at me forlornly, and I have to select my wishlist instead of seeing it every time I log in. It's not as stress-inducing for this task-focused, overly-prone-to-guilt book lover.

I went ahead and deleted all of the books on my Goodreads "want to read" list that are available at the library as an e-book. There are still a few that are only available in hard copy, so I'll keep those on the stress-inducing Goodreads "want to read" list. What's nice about having huge library e-book wishlists is that I can go in and see what e-books are available for immediate checkout that are in the genre I'm hankering to read. It seems much more convenient and less stress-inducing.

I will definitely keep track and review every book I read on Goodreads still.

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Random Thoughts

1. I started National Novel Writing Month early. I'm at 20,000 words with the objective being to write 50,000 words by the end of November. The goal of National Novel Writing Month is to write all 50,000 words in November. I know I won't be able to do 50,000 if I only have November. Starting early is okay, right? Can't believe this is the 4th NaNoWriMo I've taken part in!

2. Trying to have a healthy October. My vices are sugar in all its various forms. This will be tough. On the upside, I will eat kale smoothies, chia seeds, unsweetened almond milk and veggies without dips/dressing. I'm either "on" or "off" when it comes to this stuff, usually changes by the hour. As always, I've been working out. I'm really good at that with the exception of running; holy crap, I hate running. It's just the food part of the equation where I suck most of the time.

3. I'm still wearing flip flops in October. It's called holding out. Who knew I had such fortitude?

4. I've read 107 books so far this year. Last year I read 126, so I seem to be on track.

5. I had a test at the hospital that took 10 minutes in August. I've had some intermittent breathing issues over the past few years; it all started when I'm pretty sure I had whooping cough in 2010. I was feeling gasp-y all summer, went in for this dang test. It showed nothing was wrong. But the billing for this 10 minutes is driving me nuts! They sent me a bill for $44.15. I paid it by credit card the next day. And since then I've gotten two separate statements saying I owe $44.15. I've called each time, spending half an hour on the phone, I've faxed my credit card statement, I don't know what else to do. Just credit me the dang $44.15 and be done with it!

6.  I found recent pictures of my dad's/grandparents' house in Pittsburgh on Zillow. It looks so different now! My dad and grandparents never took care of it. Or if they did something to it, it was a very shoddy, temporary fix. It fills my heart knowing that it is loved by its new owners...and that dastardly shag carpet is gone!

Wednesday, October 1, 2014


I hate feeling trapped.

Literally - I hate being in crowds and physically feeling trapped in a small space with no way out - subways, airplanes, crowded meeting rooms, concerts, etc.


Metaphorically - When I was 15 and 16, I was dating a guy who had a lot of problems. It turned out that his problems ran deeper than I even knew, but of everyone he knew he shared the most with me. And I became placed in this trapped position. Should I stay loyal to him and not share what I knew with an adult who was in a better position to help him than I was ... OR should I "tell" on him with the aim of getting him help and risk him hating me for violating his trust? I chose to stay loyal to him. The situation ended crappily and, while I stayed loyal to him by not violating his trust, I don't think I was being a very good friend because I ended up not doing anything to help him.

And so I'm sort of in a similar position now in this damned if you do/damned if you don't scenario. I feel trapped. I'm trying to take my time and think things through. The path of least resistance is to do nothing, and it's tempting because it's easy. It's harder to stick your neck out and risk losing a friendship and being hated.

I have to think about what I would want if I was the other person.