Thursday, November 26, 2009

Happy Thanksgiving to All

Just a quick note to all of you.  Thanksgiving is a great time of the year.  Sometimes it is so warm and other times it is like the middle of February.  This year it looks like it will be nice and most of all, it will be spent with some of my family.

Mom and I spoke this evening and did the run down.  Two pies and cake she'll bake tomorrow, and put out the serving dishes and such.  I'm making the salad for the dinner and the special salad for mom and I.  My salad is a vegetable salad - it has just about everything in it and is very colorful and good.  I'll be making a fresh vinaigrette dressing.  She puts the turkey in the oven about midnight and by the morning - the bird is just magnificant!  I've picked up various types of bread for dinner - a soft loaf and two crusty loaves.

 I'm also bringing another Thanksgiving tradition - the indian apples.  Now if you look up indian apple and get the defination - it's not Podophyllum peltatum, native to North America; also known as May-apple, mandrake, wild lemon, raccoon-berry, and wild jalap. It's pomegranates.  I remember as a kid enjoying them to no end and always sad when we finished them.  That tradition has been passed on to my nieces and nephews.  It also seems that I'm the "incharge" on getting and supplying the indian apples for Thanksgiving and Christmas.

What are you traditions?  Are you passing them along, remember that those experiences that are passed along are great memories for down the road.

Enjoy your Thanksgiving!

PS - The Macy's Day parade begins at 9am!

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Great Shopping and a Christmas Gift!

Ho Ho Ho!  Merry Christmas.  I know we haven't finished Thanksgiving dinner yet, by the way, yum yum!

A little while ago, I need to return an item to Macy's.  If you know me, I really dislike shopping.  So just before the expiration of the return period, I got it returned.  That lead me by the winter coat area.  Last winter I got away without replacing my winter coat.  I've had it awhile, it is showing wear.  It's a great coat, black, boiled wool JG Hook - classic lines.

So I'm going through the racks, more and more of the same - geez, where are the 'classic coats'? Until I turn around and on the end of a rack, this lone coat calls out to me.  With one look and touch, I fell in love.  It was so soft and with great texture - it was made from Alpaca!  It was so ridulously priced at almost $500.  When did winter coats get that expensive?  Though it was a sale  40%, and if you put it on your Macy's card - another 15%, and if you don't have a Macy's card and open one on the spot, then you'll get another 20%!  Do the Math - 40 + 15 + 20 = 75%  Now the coat will cost $187 - such a deal and I took it home.

So you say - what does the dishes have to do with the coat?  (it's a story and a half as I take a long breath)   It is easy - the new Macy's card gave me a 20% off anything I could charge for that day and the next. Hmmmm.  So I go and get a new pair of gloves for my new coat.  Then up to housewares - there must be something I can use and get this great discount.

Bottom line - I was looking through the fine china.  My china that I got right after college has served me well.  I've used it and used it on a daily basis, and it is now showing all the good lovin it has had.  Several pieces have just broke as the chips have finally become cracks.  While getting china was very low on my list of things, it would be nice to set a great table with dishes without chips and cracks even if it only for me.

So I mixed to patterns - Macy's Hotel brand and Lenox's Tin Can Alley.  Two plates from Hotel and two plates and the bowl from Leneox.  Actually they look great together and the sales clerk was liking the mixing of the two patterns. Neither pattern had enough of the right size plates.   I'm keeping my cup and saucer from my first set.  Now get this, the patterns were on sale, and if you purchase them and charge them on your Macy's card, and of course it is in the discount period - voila!  I have purchased eight placesettings for a net $49 per place setting - yes - bone china!

If you want to give me a Christmas Gift that I would really love - how about sponsoring a place setting?  Mom and Dad have laid claim to two of the place settings.  Thank you Momming and Daddy!

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

House Guest

About a week ago I had the company of my former neighbor and assistant, Leslie come and stay with me in her worl-wind trip through Connecticut.

She's been on the road over the last couple of years, first moving from CT to Asheville NC, then to Cape Gerardo MO, and now in the Lake Country of Texas.  What a treat for me to have her come and stay with me.  While she had an itenerary that would have your spinning, we got to visit quite a bit in-between our respective schedules.  She arrived on Thursday and we went out for a quick dinner at Joey Garlics. What great sandwiches - enough that we had lunch for the next day!

Friday she ran around between events, I was gone most of the afteroon as I was preparing to give a seminar on Saturday.  Her plans kept her visiting with friends and she stayed over night with one of them.  We met up between my seminar and charity event for a quick chat. I had made that lovely barley mushroon soup and there was enough for Leslie to have a big bowl and take a nap.  As she said, "you go and do the charity thingy, I'll catch a nap with KC and we can visit when you get back."  And we did.  It was like being back at ole Woodsedge, hanging out telling stories and discussing the events of the day. 

On Sunday, her daughter Shannon came to pick her up and that was another treat.  I've watched this young lady grow up over the years and am as proud of her accomplishments as if we was a niece of mine.

So it is my time to get down to visit Leslie - at least she is in a warm place now.  Thanks for being such a great guest! 

Monday, November 23, 2009

Great Quote

“The joy of life comes from our encounters with new experiences, and hence there is no greater joy than to have an endlessly changing horizon, for each day to have a new and different sun”

From Into the Wild - by Jon Krauer

I found this quote in my library or book travels.  It amazes me how I come across such items in life.  I know that it is when you are open to the day at hand, then you are able to accept the gifts given to you.

This quote may really sum up my perspective in life.  Each day is quite exciting.  Okay I'll admit that some of the day may seem mundane, though even a simple chore is one to take some pride in completing. 

In a few days we will be celebrating Thanksgiving.  Are you going to take time to celebrate, say thanks, or have it be a day, with lots to do, and get it crossed off a to-do list? 

I wish to each of you - take a moment, whatever that is to you and say and give thanks to all that you have received in your life.

Friday, November 20, 2009

Great Yoga Night

We had not only a yang practice last night, we added some yin practice. Quite different and both thouroughly enjoyable.

After a painful neck problem that was cause by my hip be out of place, and with lots of therapy, chiropractic, and massage, I was cleared to begin some type of exercise as long as it didn't jarr the joints.  So a little less than two years ago I began taking a yoga class.

The class is offered by Parks & Rec (least expensive class around) and is about an hour and fifteen.  Cynthia is our instructor and she is wonderful.   It is the quickest time spent, though the most relaxing time.  I usually feel the results of the poises for a couple of days.  Not an ache, it is an energy that has been awaken within.
If you a looking for a more controled exercise, looking to get limber and build strenght, I truly recommend checking out a class.  It is very peaceful, and really a chance to relax in a somewhat busy life we have.

Omm ..........

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

New Furnace - chicken soup

If the last couple of weeks and this past weekend were not busy enough - the company I hired to do my furnace, air conditioning, water heater, air purifier, humidifier began work today. Oh yeah and lets not forget the gas line to the fireplace!

They were here today to bring in some of the equipment and take more measurements. I am having them put my water heater in a basin so that if it leaks in the future, it will shut off and will pump the water out so it won't go all over the floor.

It's a classy group of guys. This is the same company I used for the mechanicals in my old condo. Not only is it the same company, it is that same team of guys! To start off just right, the owner, Ugo Sr., brought me lunch from Il Panino Restaurant. Great chicken soup, bread of course, and chicken cutlets with mushrooms and macaroni! They only do breakfast and lunch and the food is the best home cooking on the Avenue.

How better to start the process of changing all my mechanicals! Yum Yum

Saturday, November 14, 2009

The Speech

Wow - what a day! Even with the damp weather we had, over 100 folks attended the FOCL - Friends of the Connecticut Libraries seminar today.

Our first speaker was Timothy Cole, inspirational as he discussed the various generations of individuals that we have. Like the Gen X, Gen Y, Baby Boomers to name the younger bunch. He disucssed the differences that each generation has and how "we" as Friends Groups need to address each (in a general way) when we are looking for new volunteers.

After his talk, we split into two group. I was the speaker for "Things your Treasurer Should Know" and Carl was the speaker for "Used Book Sales in Connecticut 2009". While I didn't get to hear Carl's talk, his handout is remarkable. He had gathered surveys for more than 50 friends groups. The survery cover days of sale, pricing, category breakdown, bag sales, and how books are disposed of at the end of the sale. There were two graphs that gave a profit by # of books, and a profit by the population served. It was the popular of the two talks.

My talk was full, with more than 40 treasurers and board members coming to take part in a full packed disucssion on the treasurer duties, record keeping & reporting, and budget preparation. There was alot of participation with lots of questions and comments. Unfortunately, I couldn't finish all the slides prepared, though those slides were included in their handouts.

Overall - the FOCL puts on a great seminar! Those that were able to attend went away with lots of food for thought. There were another 40 folks on the waiting list and rumor has it, we will be putting on this seminar in the spring!

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Soup time of the year

It is that great time of the year when I begin to make a soup a week.  Over the last couple of weeks I made a tomato white bean - one of my favorites, a potato cheese soup, and a quickie minestrone one.  Tonight I'm making a version of two-mushroom barley soup.

Begin with a yellow onion, carrot, and celery stalk all finely chopped and cook until it is translucent 2-3 minutes or so in some oil and butter.   I then added the left over of some white wine to get the bits up from the cooking so far.  Add 1 lb of sliced mushrooms and raise the heat to saute until mushrooms begin to soften. This is where I changed the original recipe - it was only 1/2 lb of mushrooms and 1/2 oz of dried porcinis.  There were no porcinis so skip it and keep going. 

Once the mushrooms are soften, add 2 to 2-1/2 qts of your favorite stock - today's choice - chicken. Since I added the wine, I cut back on the stock.    Throw in a couple of bay leafs, S&P, I added some dried parsley and some thyme and cook for about an hour or so until the barley really puffs up and the soup becomes thick.

Oh - one more addition - I cooked up two links of my favorite chicken sausages from the D&D and added them to the soup.

YUM YUM  That's one thing I love about cooking - you can always add and subtract to make a recipe - sometimes you come up with just the twist that makes it truly your favorite.

Tomorrow's lunch is going to be really good!

Saturday, November 7, 2009

Lending Club

Well the October numbers are out - I've averaged about 12.45% for the month, that's an annualized rate. Not too shabby. So far, all notes that are in pay status are paying and I'm awaiting a few more notes to complete the funding activity.

What is this? It is P2P or Peer to Peer lending. Folks gather toghether at a site, pool their funds, and then lend their funds to folks that need loans. Why only let the credit card companies and banks and etc make all those exhorbitant rates. The site does the paper work, recieves a small percentage of the collections, and the lenders win, the site wins, and the folks that need loans win.

Lending Club is just one of those sites. In order to get a loan through them, you must have at a minimum a 600+ credit score and several other factors. LC has keep up their integrity and not let anyone come through the door. You, the borrower, are assigned an interest rate based on the amount (maximum is $25K) asked for and your credit history information. Then after you make your application, you wait up to a total of 13 days to find out of the Lenders will fund your loan. Some loans can fund in 48 hours, others go to the last minunte. If they do, then you'll have the money in a day or two. Of course, the lenders might not feel you are credit worthy and not fund your loan.

Just some currents statistics :
From May 2007 through today - LC funded 7,220 loans for a total of $65,389,575
LC denied 75,896 loans for a total of $711,131,686

There are lots more information - This is not an endorsement or a recommendation - see the small print. If you are interested, contact me here, and I'll send you a link that will get you a $25 bonus if you would like to sign up and take a look around. Or go to the site and in the referral code - put in - smartfinancing.

Interesting concept - Let's see how November turns out.

Friday, November 6, 2009

My next Speech is coming up

Back during the summer I recieve a email from Carl the President of Friends of Connecticut Libraries, FOCL with an inquiry if I would be their guest speaker for a seminar in November. I responded 'of course, anything for the Friends."

In less than two weeks, that date will arrive. The topic will be "What Your Treasurer Should Know". This one is to be from my professional side of my work. So back this past summer I began writting the outline, reading all sorts of books, and before long some six pages of single spaced outline came out. Geez - and I didn't do the exhibits or the content yet.

Carl was checking as I was looking over the outline one evening and exclaimed 'it's only a hour or so, not a three credit college class!".

As this time has drawn near, and in the last week or so, I've had to organize the information and pare it down to what could fit in a hour session, making sure that the attendees will be able to recieve some good content and go back to their Friends group inspired with new tools.

So far, the slides are almost complete, yes a MS Power Point presentation with all sorts of goodies installed! Now it is attempting to streamline the information.

tic toc, tic toc.... I'll keep you posted!

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

The Greatest Voice We Have

Did you? It still makes me wonder why there is the amount of apathy in the world. Ok - right here in my back yard. I work the polls each year to sign up members of my community for a library card. So over the years, I have seen the ebbs and flows of the number of citizens that come out to vote.

It is only a mayorial election, oh it is only a dog catcher election. I say and so what! For a well run community, whether it be your small town, neighborhood, condo association, non-profit group, the state or the nation, it is your duty and your right to get out and speak with the vote.

If you need some inspiration - here are some quotes that might move you to vote in the very next election you can .....

~ Bad officials are elected by good citizens who do not vote. ~ Andrew Lack

~ Those who stay away from the election think that one vote will do no good: 'Tis but one step more to think one vote will do no harm. ~ Ralph Waldo Emerson

~ The ignorance of one voter in a democracy impairs the security of all. ~ John F. Kennedy

~ There can no longer be anyone too poor to vote. ~ Lyndon Baines Johnson

~ Vote early and vote often. ~ Alphonse
~ Voting is a civic sacrament. ~ Theodore Hesburgh

By the way - Christy and I worked the Ruth Chaffee elementary school and signed up 18 folks for library cards in our two hour time slot.

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Day Light Savings Time

This is the world clock - at normal time - for my time zone. By the time you see this it will be way past the offical end of day light savings time for the year 2009.

So what is the story about changing the clocks. Do we save time, have more 'free' time, and does everybody do it? The easy answer NO, Maybe, NO.

Personally I don't mind it either way - though finding an extra hour today is a bonus to me. It's the change in the spring, generally at a crucial time in tax season, that takes me a day or so to get adjusted. Sitting outdoors for an evening summer concert is really nice - though I'd do it whether or not we changed the clocks - it's warm!

Changing the clocks was conceived by Benjamin Franklin in 1784 though it didn't get attention until World War I in 1916 when Germany and Austria first put it into practice. This policy came about to save power (electric) consumption.

There hasn't been anything standard about going in and out of Daylight Savings Time or Summer Time as it is referred to in England. The railways in the England, the US and Canada were the ones responsible to set a Standard Time. They needed to set their schedules back in the late l800s. The US got on board March 19, 1918 when it first adopted standard time zones as suggested by the railroad. The law was repealed in 1919 and left setting time at a local government option. The law was back in and out many times until President Nixon and then President Johnson in 1966 finally found a method that could be used for DST and is what we practice today(almost). In fact the Department of Transportation is responsible for all "time" matters. Hmmm makes me wonder why they can't fix the roads in a timely manner? :)

Back to my questions:

Do we save time? No - it's the same twenty-four hours. It is how we view the clock. If you don't use the time, it's gone. You can not put that hour in a box to take out later.

Do we have more free time? The thought of enjoying an extra hour of sunlight in the evening was a good idea back in 1918 and it probably did save energy. Here I'm equating free with savings. Though today, this may very well be false. Many American's have the luxury of an automobile and whether or not it is sunny (except for some sports) can drive somewhere to enjoy the extra hour, therefore expending a different kinds of engery. And with the advent of additional home conveniences, such as the microwave, computers, electronic games, heck, it took until 1955 when 80% of American homes had electric refrigerators. Air conditioning - a convenience used during the DST time of the year wasn't available when certain surveys were done back in those days. Gee whiz, last I checked my A/C uses electric!

For those folks living closer to the North and South Poles and those affected by the amount of sunlight can have more health issues and may actually be helped with DST. It has been studied that there are more traffic fatalites after the end of DST as walkers and drivers have to adjust. There are inconclusive studies about the criminal element during non DST months.

Does everybody do it? Those that live on the equator, don't because it doesn't matter. Either way you cut it, they have 12 hours of day and 12 hours of night. Japan, most of India, China and most of Saskatchewan don't do it. In the state of Indiana, well most of Indiana, didn't until 2005 yet they observe two different time zones! They found that DST actually cost them more and the cost was attributible to "social costs". Farmers dislike it as their day begins with the dawn and not because of a clock. Did you know that it takes chickens more than three weeks to adjust to the one hour change? Some countries have compromised mostly due to strattling the time zones, such as Kathmandu, Nepal is 5+3/4 hours ahead of GMT, and Calcutta, India is 5+1/2 hours of GMT.

So what to do? Get going with your life! I mentioned the other day - I look forward to the Winter Soltice - around December 21st as it is the turn and summer isn't too far away. Nice to be looking ahead of time.