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Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Financial Woes

Alternately titled: "Why I will always be poor"

I checked my online banking site before leaving work today (to see if tomorrow's paycheck had been deposited, which it had not), and went into the bill pay service to check the newest bills and schedule a few payments. My new electric bill had arrived and I almost had a heart attack when I looked at it. $113!! Did I mention that my apartment is less than 900sf? This is the highest it has ever been and I am wondering if there's a problem with my meter. It was high last month too, but not like this. And I tried to view the detailed bill, but there was an (all too convenient) error with the PG&E billing site. I probably have the paper bill somewhere in my house, but may have filed it somewhere this weekend while sorting through old mail.

Then, I checked my mailbox when I got home and had a notice from the DMV that my registration check was not honored by the bank. And this was a 2nd notice (when I never saw a 1st). After I returned to my apartment, feeling ill and annoyed (the current PMS situation does not help), I did actually find the 1st statement, which they sent right around Christmas and I had not noticed (stupid of me and I can't blame them for that). Then I checked my online bank statement history and lo and behold, there is no withdrawal for the registration payment that should have hit the bank in November.

I'm not blaming the bank for this one (nor am I blaming myself). I place the blame directly on the DMV online payment site. This was the first time I had paid my registration online, and I'm thinking it will also be the last. I don't understand how I received my registration stickers when the payment wasn't honored. I had no notice of returned check (wire request?) from the bank (which I would have received along with a fee, I am positive). So I conclude that there was some error with the site, which could have been mine, but I doubt it, since I triple check the account numbers every time I have to enter them manually. I don't think the bank ever received the payment request.

Damn. So, tomorrow I guess I will spend my lunch hour getting a certified check from the bank (since I'm being treated like a criminal and the DMV won't accept a personal check), then heading over to the DMV to pay in person. And, because of this error, I have to pay extra late fees and a service fee. It's about $70 more than I originally owed when I attempted to pay it online on the due date.

But I apparently have at least one friend on my side. I received a check from my good buddy Victoria (she's got a secret, you know), for a whopping $0.60. Looks like I overpaid on my last bill. And don't think I won't cash it either!

Now, I'm feeling better after my relaxing hot shower, and am going to go post in the The Cooking Corner.

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Random Bits

I may have been imagining things, or perhaps experiencing a sleep to waking hallucination, but I could swear that my cat Gracie looked up at me and winked this morning. You know, with one eye… Maybe she knows something I don't?

I worked from home today, which Gracie seems to enjoy, since she gets all this extra attention from me. You know, I think she thinks it's a game to complete an obstacle course over my open file and lap…Jump on lap, from lap to writing area directly over moving pen in my hand, back to floor by my hand. Repeat. A lot.

Around 3pm today, I started hearing what sounded like very bad drumming, or even worse guitar strumming. I was convinced it was one of the downstairs neighbors messing around, and thought to myself that it wouldn't be annoying if they were any good…then I opened the back door to check on where it was coming from and realized that it was actually the high school marching band practicing. Gracing wandered out on the balcony in the light drizzle, intrigued. With the door open it didn't sound so bad, but it was way too cold out today to leave it open. The noise was distracting, so I decided it was time to use my iPod… I hope my bad singing along didn't bother my neighbors...

Now she's smiling! And searching for the band...

Later, there will be some actual honest-to-goodness baking going on. Yes, in my apartment even. We're having yet another pot-luck tomorrow at work, with a breakfast theme. I found a recipe in an old Weight Watcher's cookbook for Pumpkin-Apple Bread, so thought I'd try it out. Don't worry, the cookbook is recent enough that it's a normal recipe without anything weird in it…like the old WW cookbooks my mother had. I'm still trying to decide between a loaf and mini-muffins though. I had most of the ingredients on hand, so only needed to run out and pick up a few things at lunch today (like buttermilk and eggs), and was actually motivated to start when I got home. (The kitchen is actually really clean and organized right now, thanks to my mother's weekend visit and our collaborative efforts - what a difference it makes!) But, work got in the way…does it count as a work-related duty to bake for the departmental pot-luck?

If the recipe is any good, I'll share it in the recipe blog. I haven't posted there in forever, and it's about time!

Monday, January 21, 2008

Jury Update

I didn't realize so many people were waiting for the outcome of my jury status...Oddly enough, I received a few comments, and emails asking about it. So, here's the story. (Sorry Christyn, you've heard all of this already...)

Yes, I got there on time...technically. Jury duty began at 8am, and I was parked in the jury specified lot by 7:54am (irritated already that it took me 15 minutes to be able to turn left onto the street to take me to the lot...not a good intersection - no stop sign or light, and plenty of traffic going straight!). I had to walk a block or two to get to the courthouse and then remembered the security issue (you know, when I saw the two very slow moving lines that ended with the metal detector right inside the doors). Luckily, I was not even close to the only juror still standing in line to get in. There were quite a few of us out there, clutching our little summonses and complaining about the traffic near the parking lot.

Once in, I found the jury assembly room, which was much larger than I had expected and kind of reminded me of a lecture hall from college (only with a much more current color scheme, and a section to the side with tables and chairs). It was pretty packed, but I found a seat before the welcome talk began and continued reading the book that Moriah's mom had given me on vacation (Four to Score, by Janet Evanovich).

Good thing I brought it along, because it was a few hours before the judge came in to discuss what case the jury selection was for, and how she was handling the selection. Instead of hauling us all into the courtroom to begin calling up groups of jurors, we had to either file a hardship for the judge to review or fill out a questionnaire if we were not going to try to get out of it. Those that filled out the questionnaire were dismissed, but told to come back on Tuesday morning for the actual jury selection. But, since it was this case, it hit a bit close to home for me, so I filled out the hardship questionnaire. I didn't think I could handle it, because of my sister's fatal accident years ago, and didn't think I could be impartial. So, that's what I said (with a bit more detail for the judge).

It took a few more hours for the judge to review all of the hardship requests (which was most of the prospective jurors that had reported that morning), but finally someone came in and started making the announcements of who was dismissed, and handing out the letters for our employers. Mine was one of the last 20 names called, after a psyche-out from the lady reading off the names. (She put down her last sheet of paper and announced that was it for the hardships, then said she was just joking...not funny!)

So, I went to work afterwards, but really didn't get anything done, since everyone was asking me about it, and I'm a bit of a talker...this included at least a half hour (if not more) spent discussing jury/trial stuff with my boss.

Anyway, I don't have to go for the selection tomorrow, which is a relief. I really was worried that I'd be called for it, and have to sit through 4 weeks of trial (which is the estimated length of the trial) and look at photographic evidence of the crash scene and victim's families' testimony. Just thinking about it brings up too many memories and emotions of my sister's crash, and knowing what my family went through, I'd probably be in constant tears in the jury box. Which leaves little sympathy for the defendant, though his defense is stating he is developmentally delayed and had a seizure causing him to lose control of his car. (From the article, it doesn't sound like there's a really a delay, but rather a seizure disorder of some sort...that was not diagnosed until after the crash - very odd...)

Anyway, I'm glad the decision for this one is not on my shoulders. I'd hate for this trial to end in a hung jury again, since it has previously, and this is the re-trial.

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Holding Court

Sort of...I need to appear for jury duty tomorrow. It's funny, because before I checked the court website last night, I had a very strong feeling that I'd have to appear. Much to my surprise, I was still on telephone stand-by. This was soon eclipsed by the losing of the keys incident.

I don't so much mind that I have to appear...I suppose I'm due, since with the many summons's that I've received, I've never once (until now) had to actually appear. I don't really know what to expect, other than probably a long wait in the jury assembly room which may or may not amount to anything. I don't really want to be chosen for a case, but it's not my decision. We'll see what happens...

What I do mind group has to be there at 8am. :( I so don't do mornings, as you all know, but I will make this work. No staying up late tonight! (Which I shouldn't be doing anyway.) The next group that was called doesn't have to show until 1pm. Why couldn't that have been my group?

Anyway, I'm off to work on the great Christyn's baby blanket and watch what I think is the newest episode of Project Runway...

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Panic at the Cubicle

More like panic in the restroom, but I didn't want the title to give you all the wrong idea.

I am a moron. Okay, maybe I'm being a little hard on myself. I should rephrase that with a less self-deprecatory slant... I make poor handbag choices.

I'm writing this post from work, at 7pm. Yep, because I stranded myself here. Not on purpose of course. It's totally my purse's fault. My accessories are out to get me.

I was ready to leave the office at 6:15, after packing all of my necessary files to take home with me, since I'm scheduled to work from home tomorrow. So far so good. (For those who don't know yet - my usual hours are 9am-6pm, so I wasn't really lingering that long.) I headed to my last stop - potty time (my mother trained me well). I completed washing my hands with the cheap stinky soap they are now supplying (I never knew soap could smell so unpleasant, but this stuff does!), and went to pull my car keys out of my purse.

Now, I know I put them in my purse this morning after getting out of the car, because I distinctly remember double-checking to make sure I didn't lock them in the car. I'm not sure what good this does, since I have usually already locked said car prior to making sure the keys were on me. Anyway, they are not where I remember placing them. The problem was, I didn't drive anywhere today. I went to pick up some cheesecakes with Christyn at lunch, and she drove. (No, I did not have cheesecake for lunch, but the thought did cross my mind. And Christyn's.)

So I rummage through my purse searching. Nothing. Check the coat pockets - nothing. Check my jeans pockets - nothing. Now really, what sense did checking my jeans have? If my keys had been in my pockets, I'd have been in pain a while ago, and it would have been obvious.

Trying not to panic, but figuring that I could call the Hyundai road assistance number if necessary to let me in the car (and hopefully start it for me?), I head back over to my cubicle to see if maybe I took out the keys when I pulled out my jury summons earlier. (Which I do not have to appear for tomorrow, but have to check again tomorrow night for a possible Thursday appearance.) No keys at the desk.

I took everything out of my purse, and pockets, and they are nowhere. Visualizing my poor sad keys abandoned at the parking lot of John & Jill's Cheesecakes, where I bent down to pick up a dollar (free money!) earlier, I made a last ditch effort and called Christyn to check her passenger seat.

Hallelujah! There they sat, in the footwell of her car. They must have fallen out of my purse while we were driving. (Here's the purse connection - if I could choose a purse that actually zipped closed, this might not happen. On the other hand, I've had zip closure purses and always fill them to the point of un-zip-ability, so that solution is out.)

Of course, my first thought was to tell her not to drive all the way back down here, and to offer instead to meet her halfway. Duh! Can't start car without the keys. So, she was loading her car with grocieries when I talked to her, and had to run home quickly before heading back here. I feel bad for inconveniencing her - I totally owe her big time now. So, this post is dedicated to Christyn! Right now, her happiness is KEY! (haha...I crack me up.)

Maybe I should finish up that baby blanket I meant to finish before her 6 month old was born...(it's actually in progress now, again! Third time is a charm, right?)

Monday, January 14, 2008

Vacation Update - Part I

Hi all. Yes, I'm back from my vacation, but just now getting around to updating the blog.

After checking all of the weather/traffic info last Friday, I headed out of my house around 3:45pm, after the worst was over. Unfortunately, after I was already on the road, Hwy 17 was closed down. It didn't sound like it would be closed for long, but it wasn't open yet when I got over to it. That was okay though, since my friend and her parents were stranded in San Jose with the road closed and all.

So, it took me 2x as long to get to Santa Cruz than it should have, but at least I made it there safely.

Then there was all of the stumbling around in the dark. Santa Cruz had been without power since 8am on Friday, and it didn't come on until 6:20am Saturday (I know this was the time, because I looked at my watch when the living room light went on and the printer woke me up making noise...).

Moriah and her husband and sister and I all hit the local diner for breakfast, then headed back to Merideth's house to wait for the parents to pick us up. We were on the road around 11:30am, and drove through the steady drizzle to Rancho Arroyo, where we spent the night in Moriah's grandmother's old farm house.

We got a pretty early start on Sunday morning, and made it to Anaheim around 1pm. It was too early to check into the hotel, so we gathered our tickets and headed into the park. First we hit the Matterhorn, where there was a small line, and Moriah's parents promptly abandoned us for good seats when only 2 were available (they were given a hard time about this for some time...). Here's the back of their heads as they start their family fun without the rest of the family.

We also hit the Haunted Mansion on Sunday, since it was going to be closed starting Monday, so it was our only chance. It was decorated for Christmas, inside and out.

It was pretty neat that it was all done up as the Nightmare Before Christmas, but I think I prefer it the normal way (my favorite, you know).

We stopped at a taco shop in Downtown Disney for a light mid-afternoon snack before heading back to the hotel to actually check in. It started to lightly sprinkle as we finished eating. By the time we were done checking in to the hotel, it was raining pretty steadily, but we didn't let it stop us. We bundled up and headed back out.

I have never been to Disneyland when the lines were so short! It was like we owned the whole park. (I don't know if I could ever go back in the middle of summer - we didn't wait over 20 minutes for anything until the very last night.) The Christmas decorations were really great too - here is the best shot I could get (in the dark and through the rain) of Cinderella's Castle.

More later - I have a lot of pictures to mess with still and need to send them out to Moriah to share with her family.

**Special thanks to Jill, who sent me a long email of park tips. Unfortunately, I wasn't able to read it until getting back, since all the power was off in SC before we left. Jill- we did actually eat at that Mexican place you mentioned.**

Friday, January 04, 2008

Rarin' to Go

Well, I had planned to leave around 1pm for the first leg of my journey...but the whipping winds outside my window have waylaid me. I decided I'd push it back an hour or two until the major advisories were lifted, and hope that none of my roads are closed. I re-checked the weather channel and the local/bay area traffic, and it looks like the worst has cleared, so I'm venturing out. Wish me luck!

I just hope my friends' flight was able to land okay!

I'll be back in a week.

Wednesday, January 02, 2008

Count Down to Disney!

3 more days until Disney Land! Uh, that's if I'm counting right...I believe our reservations are for the 6th-9th, but I'm off of work starting Friday, so I can drive down to my friend's parents' house. I'll be spending the night there before we all drive down together on Saturday.

And no Dad...I haven't figured out the new GPS unit yet (um, it very possibly may still be in the box, just as you oh so brilliantly guessed in your email). I am planning on setting it up and downloading the necessities tomorrow night, and then test-running it on the way to Moriah's parents' place. I've done the drive a few times before (it's pretty straightforward), and have good directions from Moriah, so I think it would be a good time to test it.

Okay, so I haven't been down to DisneyLand in years (since that time I went with your family, Kerri!). Does anyone have any must see advice for me on the stuff that may not have been there in 2003? (The re-vamped Pirates ride is a must-do already...along with my usual haunts - which includes the Haunted Mansion - my favorite.)

Tuesday, January 01, 2008

Happy 2008!

I hope everyone had fun ushering in the New Year. Here's the only shot of me from the night with my friend Kristin, taken before midnight. You can't really tell, but the hats do say Happy New Year on them. And I'm trying to see if she's stopped making faces at the camera, which is the exact moment her husband chose to snap the photo. (I would have done the same, I am sure!)

So - here's to a whole new year of fun, good health, great friends and happy families!