Wednesday, July 28, 2010


Maybe it's just the heat that's getting to me, but I've been getting frustrated by many, many things lately. If you'll humor me for a few minutes, I'd like to vent my frustrations. Then, I'll try to lighten the mood a little with some things that have happened that have made my frustration either go away, or at least make me forget that I am frustrated.

Probably the thing that has made me the MOST frustrated is, indeed, the heat. I don't have a problem with cold weather, because heat is easier to come by than cold. Let me explain what I mean. Houses and cars that either don't have air conditioning or have inefficient air conditioning will most of the time have functioning heat. Since all machines (including our human bodies) produce heat, staying warm indoors is easier than staying cool indoors. Also, in the summer, one can only remove so much clothing to remain decent in society. In the winter, one can add extra layers both under and over our clothes to stay warmer. There are, of course, exceptions to this, but in our temperate climate in the Southeast, that will suffice.

The main reason I am frustrated by the heat is because I don't have air conditioning in my car. My car is older (1997) and has a fair few problems, but for the most part I can overlook those and get everywhere I want to go. When the temperature outside is above 90 degrees, however, not having A/C is almost unbearable. To remedy this, I have had my car fixed two summers in a row several years ago to recharge with freon. This was not a permanent fix, however, because I obviously had a leak, since the next summer the A/C would not work. I took my car in yesterday to see if I could have the same relatively inexpensive fix, only to find out that I would need to replace my compressor, a fix that would cost around $1100. I don't exactly have $1100 that I can throw around, so I guess I will go without A/C for another summer. Isn't that frustrating?

Another thing that has been frustrating to me lately is something I'm sure my avid readers will have noticed. Normally I would be so delighted to receive comments on my blog, the more the better! In recent posts, I have gotten many comments from people I don't know that are obviously written in some Asian language. This is frustrating because I don't know what these comments are saying, and they are clogging up my comments with odd characters. Luckily, this is easy enough to fix. I am now moderating my comments, meaning that I must approve all comments before they are published to my blog. If any spam-related comments or comments in a foreign language come in, I will have the option to keep them from posting. So, to my devoted followers, don't become frustrated if your comments do not show up right away; as long as they are in English and not spam, they will be posted ASAP.

Ok, that's enough venting for today. In happy news, work has been going well, and I am looking forward to the day when our store renovations are finished so that I can be full-time. It hasn't been especially eventful, but then that's not a bad thing. I have learned so much since I started this job, and for that I am grateful. It has been frustrating to just float along day-to-day, wondering when I would get the benefit of being a full-time employee, wondering if this job was worth the frustration that sometimes I deal with. But then I have days where I thoroughly enjoy even the most mundane things that happen, and spending time with some really awesome pharmacists! Now that's a good day.

Another thing I have been looking forward to is our visit to Atlanta starting this Saturday. Family is extremely important to me, and I always enjoy our visits. Not only are these visits a break from work and the ordinary routine, but they allow me to return home relaxed and refreshed. Food, games, and interesting conversation: what else could you want?! So, if you will be there next week, I look forward to seeing you and enjoying my time there. For all my other readers, I'll see you when I get back. I hope this blog doesn't frustrate you, and that you stay "upbeat and positive!"

Sunday, July 18, 2010


People always say that it's "never too early" to put aside for retirement. Well, how about at age 23?

I've taken two steps in the last 6 months to ensure that I'll have enough money set aside for retirement, whenever that might be. I'm in no hurry to retire; I would find myself bored without something to do every day. Plus, right now I enjoy going to work, and couldn't imagine a time (right now) when I wouldn't have to work. But, I digress. (Sorry Kathy, I just thought it was appropriate.)

Around the first of this year I started making contributions to a work-sponsored retirement 401k account. The bank in charge, in cooperation with the company, takes a portion of the weekly pay check prior to taxes and invests it. The company gives an incentive to employees by matching 50 cents for every dollar invested, up to 3% of the weekly pay check. I elected to contribute 4% of my earnings every week, but of course that is supposed to increase the more money I earn. But for now, it's a fair percentage. I am investing back in the company and the bank, and in return I receive free money from the company and the interest it all earns in the market.

A couple weeks ago, I decided to open an IRA account through Discover Bank. I have had a Discover credit card since my first year of college, and it has been a very positive experience working with Discover. I wasn't really sure if I wanted to invest in an on-line bank; the idea of not having a brick-and-mortar building to go into was a little strange. But hey, you can do that with renting movies, and a lot of people get their prescriptions by mail order; how different is this? I wouldn't have just picked any old bank though; I picked Discover because I have been a customer of theirs for over 5 years, and have come to trust their practices. Not only that, but their rates are so much higher than any bank I had found around here, so that was a major bonus. Their IRAs are invested similarly to CD accounts, so I chose a 10-year ROTH IRA CD account. The 10-year CD had the highest interest rate, and since the money invested was taken out of my "don't touch this unless completely necessary" savings account, I figured I could do without that money for at least 10 years, if necessary.

A thought that kept occurring to me when I considered investing in retirement was that I didn't want to end up like one of those elderly people that still had to work. It's one thing to want to work at that age, but to rely completely on that income was a little scary for me. There is so much talk about Social Security not being around when I reach retirement age, and I have to admit that's a little bit scary. But, I choose to be proactive instead of reactive, and these two options I chose are my ways of doing so. I don't want this blog to turn political, but I know some of my readers choose to do so; I just hope that our lawmakers do something to fix the problems associated with Social Security to ensure that my generation and my parents' generation can still rely on that money. And that's as political as this post gets.

By the way, this is my 150th post on Blogger! I just wanted to send a most sincere Thank You to all the readers that I have gained in the last 5 years. Most of you are family and friends, some of whom I have never met or haven't seen in years. This is a great way to keep in touch and to let everyone know what's going on and what I'm thinking about. I hope you have enjoyed all these post as much as I have, and I look forward to many, many more to come! I'm not sure if I'll ever catch up to Kathy, but I do intend to try, so see you soon!

Wednesday, July 07, 2010

The Heat Is On

I am not a fan of the heat. I only like the hot months because it means I can go swimming and get some sun to this pale skin. Also, it's nice to step outside and see plants in full bloom and animals frolicking everywhere. But I do NOT do well in the heat.

As if anyone needed reminding, many areas in the country are seeing record high temperatures. As a result, this is putting a strain on the aging power grids, especially on the east coast. According to the news tonight, many cities are seeing record energy usage, most of which I can imagine is being used to keep everyone cool during those 100-degree days. Here in Tennessee, we haven't seen any 100-degree days yet, but with today's high being 98, I'll bet those days are coming soon.

In our house, we set the thermostat to 78 in the summer and 68 in the winter (at least that's what I set it as; sometimes I find it changed to accommodate someone else's "need" for a little extra air or heat). Since we got a digital thermostat, we have been able to control our energy usage a little better. As compared to years past, we are saving about 10-15% on our energy bills every month, which really does add up over the course of a year. I (almost) always turn off lights if no one is in a room, and don't leave electronics turned on if I'm not using them. While we don't have compact fluorescent bulbs in all our lights, I have two lamps in my room that use them, and when our current ones run out, I intend to get the energy-efficient ones. Yes, they do cost more initially, but they last so much longer than the traditional incandescent bulbs, and therefore save money in the long run.

So what was the point of this post? I'm sure I won't be influencing anyone to do anything different or to enlighten anyone with novel ideas. My point, and I do have one, is to share what I do to conserve energy. I truly believe that if every household were to follow similar principles, there would be so many fewer problems with energy, not to mention saving everyone a little bit of money. Personally, I have never witnessed a blackout (knock on wood), and I intend to never experience one, but I think we can all agree that preventing those would be a plus. Even small steps can make a huge difference, so I guess I'm challenging everyone to do what they can in their own lives to make a difference nationwide. What do you think?