Friday, February 08, 2008

I paid for my hostel with the firm credit card.

After expressing my relief that, because I'd recently picked up a very busy project, someone else was staffed to a case that involves a shit ton of domestic and international travel over the next few months that I really don't have time for, the associate I was talking to exclaimed, quite seriously:

"But it's bourgeois travel!"

Thursday, February 07, 2008

Wish List

I did pretty good last fall. I pretty much quit buying things, anything, cold turkey. I haven't purchased a shirt, a piece of technological equipment, a new book, any kind of extravagance like flowers for the table or an expensive dinner out -- shit, I didn't even buy Christmas gifts this year (sorry fam). I've even cut my beer/entertainment (including the occasional case of coffee syrup) expenses by about 80%.

But to ease the withdrawal, I've been slowly making a list in my head of the things I need/want, and now that I have a teeny-tiny taste of money in my bank account, I'm bursting to run out and buy a ton of shit. Here's my list, in no particular order (certainly not "need"):

>> A haircut. omg I need a haircut. It's been, let's see, August, September...almost six months! ($200)
>> A new pair of jeans. I "grew out of" my good pair of jeans months ago, relying solely on the good people who grow cotton in the shape of winter sweaters to keep me from displaying it to the public en masse, but sadly, not from suffocating in them. (~$100)
>> Eye doctor appointment and new contacts. I'm so fucking blind, I can't even read this. What? ($200-300)
>> Prime lens and speedlight. Guess what? I'm shooting another wedding! I know, my friends are all crazy, but I love them. ($400)
>> Trip to California. I haven't seen my family in forever. :( ($300)
>> Artwork for my office. Really I just want to buy a bunch of prints from my awesome Flickr contacts and frame them, but that's still a buttload of framing. (maybe a few hundred)
>> A real piece of art. I think about this one a lot. I know exactly what I want and who I want it from, and I can even consider this one a little bit of an investment (sort of, at least in the respect that it will appreciate, but not necessarily that I will (or will be able to) sell it later), but we're talking a ton of dough for a totally non-functional thing. I want. (a few thousand)

You know what's not on that list? Um. A backyard fence ($3000), a kitchen renovation ($5000), a bathroom renovation ($10,000), and approximately eight thousand more trips to Home Depot (a million dollars + my empty black soul).

So I continue to not buy. But I did invest $200 into my brand new ING high-interest savings account today. Woo! And I'll be deducting $200 automatically from every paycheck (though I worry that's a little too much).

I'm going through the slightly agonizing process of refinancing right now, and it's looking like my mortgage payments are going to drop by ~800-900 big ones, thank the sweet baby jesus, and I'm still waiting for my tax refund and annual bonus.

Hello flattering jeans!

Sunday, February 03, 2008

So nine and a half foot ceilings are really great....

Until the first time the smoke alarm you just installed up there goes off and you can't reach it by standing on a chair and so you have to run around the house to find the six foot ladder all the while the oven is smoking and ahhh! Good times.

I've had lots to blog about but I find myself Trappd in Flickr lately and unable to communicate outside the venue of photo comments and pool discussion threads. Like blogging, I do enjoy how many good people I've met through that site; in fact I pretty much spent all weekend with friends from Flickr, one event which I'll blog about later (when I get the photos loaded, natch). Viva la intertubes!

Here are some mini-movie reviews:

Sunshine -- A+. It's only science "fiction" because it hasn't happened yet, but the science is so good and original and the storyline so fresh and kind of fucking scary, the whole thing will blow your idea of "good movie" out of the water.

Die Hard -- That's right, the first one, which I finally saw this weekend. Of course I always thought this was the one that happened at Dulles, so I kept thinking, "so when are they all flying back?" Anyway, it was spectacular and 1980's Bruce Willis was way hott. Like I have to tell you.

History of Violence -- Wha? The person who read that screenplay seriously thought, "Sounds like a great idea! It's so ridiculously predictable, but if we cast Very Serious Actors and write a musical score that screams 'Look Out For the Twist!' then people will be fooled into thinking there was a shred of original thought in it!" It's been a long time since I rolled my eyes that many times during a movie. I wish I hadn't sent Die Hard back to netflix already.

So anyway. Did my taxes today. Turns out I won't be getting a big a refund as I thought, but it will be enough to build the fence in the backyard. While digging into deduction land I found out that I can claim a portion of the $1700 insulation job I did in my attic under the Energy Savings Credit (which will no longer be available in 2008, because who cares about energy savings?). Also, I did my taxes by hand at first and discovered I'd be owing Washington, D.C. a whopping $4. I was, however, livid, because 1) the obvious, we don't get shit for our taxes in DC, and they seriously think I should pay more, and 2) I'VE NEVER OWED TAXES EVER. I still think of myself as a broke-ass student who can barely afford Raman (just take out the "student" part now). It freaked me out and I immediately looked up the forms to give my employer to take more taxes out every week. But then I did a little Turbo-Taxing and discovered I would, in fact, be owed a refund. I don't know why, though, which worries me, so I think I'm going to run the numbers through another calculator this week to be sure.

Speaking of which, do any of you guys use a CPA? With the job and the house and the investments I hope to develop in 2008, I think I'm really at or over the cusp of getting more benefits out of a using a professional then I'd lose at having to pay a couple hundred for it. Any recommendations? No, I won't be going to H&R Block.

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