Sunday, August 30, 2009

Museum of Glass - Tacoma (and other sights)

Museum of Glass - Tacoma, Washington
Martin Blank - Fluent Steps - photo from August 2009

I've been wanting to get down to the Museum of Glass for many, many months. With my daughter in town the excursion made top of the list. Quite frankly, I had no idea how far south the adventure is. We drove for an hour south to get from our house to the museum. I've been getting spoiled with everything else I've seen being so much closer. The Museum features an Hot Shop Amphitheater. This alone is worth the trip.

The Hot Shop enlists several glass artists to heat, form, blow and otherwise shape amazing pieces of glass art. In the photo below I hope you can see the bright light in the center is the oven (one of four). The gentleman sitting with his back to us is forming the glass. I thought I caught his name as Ben. I'm sorry now that I didn't go ask. The gentleman sitting to the left is ready to blow in the blow tube or pipe. At one point or another each person on the floor was helping with the process.
For the afternoon show "Ben" used black glass, according to the the woman with the microphone. While it was being heated it became every color under the rainbow. Fireworks and fluid glass - I was absorbed in the exhibit. Once formed everything goes into the annealing ovens for a slow cool down process to reduce stress to the glass. It'll be days before the finished product is ready.

As far as the galleries...there is more interesting glass art available at the local shops in downtown Seattle than displayed at the museum. Go for the Hot Shop Exhibit.

Speaking of downtown Seattle, after the museum Daughter and I headed into downtown to visit Pike's Market and meet her brother. I love this sign for Sister's Sandwich Shop.
Of course, music is everywhere. This man, Jonny Hahn, brings his piano down to the street and plays some incredible tunes. He's been there for years as far as I can tell. Amazing to have a piano on the streets.

Of course, the fish at the market is always fun. We stood around and watched fish being expertly flung. Well caught every time. Fish twice caught.
This may be one of the last times this year for being a tourist with guest for quite some months. I do have a friend coming up to visit - this week even. But, this isn't the typical tourist guest. I'm looking forward to relaxing with someone near. Being a tourist is one thing. Getting out of the house is another. I'm looking forward to some company.

Saturday, August 29, 2009

These are the days

My youngest daughter is visiting me in Seattle this week. She graduated high school this last June. None of my children make me feel old. Yet, typing that just now, I realize there's a lot of time that's gotten past me so far. I only wish for a time machine to go back and enjoy those times I should have enjoyed more.

For these days though, yesterday I was leaving for work as my youngest slept in the living room. She looked so peaceful, and so much like the child I had watched sleep over the last 18 years that I just lay down next to her and watched her sleep. I was washed over with the knowledge that these days are few and very far apart. How old will my baby be before I get this chance again?

Thursday, August 27, 2009

How we spend?

I pulled this blog entry up from Jonah Lehrer's blog - Frontal Cortex. Before I let you enjoy the read, maybe an update here would be good.

I have been being rather good about sending to my other bank account the full 10% of my paycheck. Currently, I'm paid weekly. So each week for a total of three whole weeks I've been sending in my moola. This week, the last week of the month, I turned around and spent it all. I don't feel bad. I got my truck registered in the state of Washington. I was able to get the emissions test and the the car registered and plates on the vehicle before they expired from Wisconsin. I know for a fact I just saved a ton o' money for citations that can't be written. I know for a fact I just saved a ton o' nervous energy too.

I feel good about how I spent my savings. I know, I know...I get to start all over with the savings thing. But, this was totally cool. I had the cash to take care of business. I'm looking forward to sending into savings another 10%. It's true I can barely afford my bills by keeping this 10%. But, when I do actually send it into savings I'm finding that I make do on what is left. This hurts a whole lot less than I thought it would.

I leave you with Jonah...He makes some truly heartwarming points.

Money and Happiness (
Posted on: August 27, 2009 11:52 AM, by Jonah Lehrer
Drake Bennett has an interesting and nuanced article in the Boston Globe Ideas section on money and happiness. To make a long story short, money can buy us some happiness, but only if we spend our money properly. Instead of buying things, we should buy memories:
A few researchers are looking again at whether happiness can be bought, and they are discovering that quite possibly it can - it's just that some strategies are a lot better than others. Taking a friend to lunch, it turns out, makes us happier than buying a new outfit. Splurging on a vacation makes us happy in a way that splurging on a car may not.
"Just because money doesn't buy happiness doesn't mean money cannot buy happiness," says Elizabeth Dunn, a social psychologist and assistant professor at the University of British Columbia. "People just might be using it wrong."
Dunn and others are beginning to offer an intriguing explanation for the poor wealth-to-happiness exchange rate: The problem isn't money, it's us. For deep-seated psychological reasons, when it comes to spending money, we tend to value goods over experiences, ourselves over others, things over people. When it comes to happiness, none of these decisions are right: The spending that make us happy, it turns out, is often spending where the money vanishes and leaves something ineffable in its place.
Any attempt to put these findings into practice, however, has to contend with the subtle but powerful ways money itself channels our thinking, and the ways it plays on human attitudes about sharing and scarcity. Recent studies have suggested that merely thinking about money makes us more solitary and selfish, and steers us away from the spending that promises to make us happiest.
Why don't things make us happy? The answer, I think, has to do with a fundamental feature of neurons: habituation. When sensory cells are exposed to the same stimulus over and over again, they quickly get bored and stop firing. (That, for instance, is why you don't feel your underwear.) This makes sense: the brain is an efficient organ, most interested in the novel and new. If we paid attention to everything, we'd quickly be overwhelmed by the intensity of reality. Unfortunately, the same logic applies to material objects. When you buy a shiny new Rolex watch, that watch might make you happy for a few days, or maybe even a week. Before long, however, that expensive piece of jewelery becomes just another shiny metal object - your pleasure neurons have habituated to the luxury good. (Of course, your Rolex can become a problem for everybody else, since it raises the material expectations of all those poor souls wearing less expensive watches. These people now feel inferior, since their Timex has been devalued by the costlier item. [Such luxury items are known as "positional goods," since part of their appeal is that they signal your social position.] Multiply this same psychological phenomenon across a full range of consumer products - from clothes to cars, stereos to shoes - and you can begin to see the "
hedonic treadmill" that afflicts people in developed countries. Not only do their brain cells automatically adapt to their state of wealth, but those same neurons are constantly being bombarded with a new set of expensive expectations. Of course, not everybody can afford a Rolex or a Lexus, which means that we are constantly being disappointed.)
That, in a nutshell, is why material possessions don't make us happy. As Bennett points out, however, investing in pleasant experiences is a much better alternative:
Money spent on experiences - vacations or theater tickets or meals out - makes you happier than money spent on material goods. Leaf Van Boven, an associate psychology professor at the University of Colorado, and Thomas Gilovich, chair of the psychology department at Cornell University, have run surveys asking people about past purchases and how happy they made them.
"We generally found very consistent evidence that experiences made people happier than material possessions they had invested in," says Van Boven.
Why? For one thing, Van Boven and Gilovich argue, experiences are inherently more social - when we vacation or eat out or go to the movies it's usually with other people, and we're liable also to relive the experience when we see those people again. And past experiences can work as a sort of social adhesive even with people who didn't participate with us, providing stories and conversational fodder in a way that a new watch or speedboat rarely can.
In addition, other work by Van Boven suggests that experiences don't usually trigger the same sort of pernicious comparisons that material possessions do. We like our car less whenever we catch a glimpse of our neighbor's newer, nicer car, but we don't like our honeymoon any less because our neighbor went on a fancier one.
Another virtue of experiences is that, while material things get diminished over time (we habituate to the pleasure, and then have to deal with the inevitable repairs), pleasant memories tend to become more pleasant. We forget about the delayed flights and jet lag but remember the lush rainforest hike, or the fancy meal in Paris. The vacation might be long gone but it's still making us happy.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009


I posted a photo of my poor truck some time back when my son had a fender bender. I believed it was only insured for liability - being an old rusted hunk of new transmission and all. Nope. That's not the case. I've been paying for full coverage for three years longer than I thought I was. Damn, it's cheap to insure this thing. The bumper munching was all it took to total my vehicle.

I'm gonna take the money and keep the truck. It ain't pretty. But, it's paid for. It's mechanically sound. All it needs is some fresh plugs and filters and the gas gauge will be kinder to me.

That make one credit card paid in full. Small windfalls are still windfalls.

Monday, August 24, 2009

Two month delay

Well over two months ago I was still putting in applications and submitting resumes for open positions. I haven't been actively seeking a permanent job lately at all. This contract gig is working out okay. It's temporary. I know this.

While I was out of town this weekend -sometimes it is good for the soul to leave town and get a different view - I received a phone call from one of these job posters. It took an entire two months -and then some- before they were able to get the interview process.

I have an interview Wednesday for a position I may actually be qualified for. Now there's an original thought!! Send prayers and blessings and calm for me.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Step One

Rinse and repeat. That 10% I'm supposed to put aside each pay period...yep, done. Scratch that off my list of "to do's" until next week. I spent no money last week other than gas for the car. Rinse and repeat.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009


Total and complete tired. I think I had something I wanted to write here. I can't remember now.

Referendum 1 - Seattle Style

I'm sorry I wasn't here in 2003 - according to Google search of Seattle Referendum 1

"With a no vote on Seattle Referendum 1, voters were firmly rejecting the city's "four-foot rule," which would have banned lap dances by requiring exotic ..."

When I was really looking for...

"Your vote to APPROVE Referendum 1 will uphold common sense local policies that encourage use of reusable “green” bags. Right now, the average Seattle ..."

That "common sense" thing gets me. If it were common sense there wouldn't be a need to put a 20 cent fee on it (plastic bags, that is).

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Sock trolls

The good news is it's been eight months since (well, since Wisconsin) I've lost a sock in the dryer. The bad news is the sock trolls have finally caught up with me half a country away. I sure hope Santa has an easier time catching up with me. But then, he's not a troll (and I'm holding his purse).


Monday, August 10, 2009

Step One

I did it today. I paid myself first. I paid myself the entire 10% that is promoted through the ages. Now we'll just have to see if I do it again next week.

I have always wanted to do that - pay myself first. Without automatic deposit I actually have to do it myself. There's nothing automatic about this. It's kind of nice having an active hand in my own affairs.

"When I started to put that 10% into savings FIRST even when I knew I was not going to have enough money to pay bills or buy groceries. Every single month that I put money into savings before I paid bills or bought groceries, I made my savings goal and somehow I managed to pay the household bills and eat. I didn’t pay all of the bills but I could not have paid them without saving anyway."

It's a start. I gotta start somewhere.

Even the best of friends...

Even my best of friends can worry me at times. Sunday night I went to dinner at my friend's house here in town. My son had gotten off work so I dragged him along. My friend is incredibly interesting to me. I love all the varied interests my in-town friend has. She does glass work, and floral arrangements. She is a competitive archer as well.
Except when she gets hold of my son.

I just can't leave these two unattended for a minute...

Friends and family...what a strange mix.

Sunday, August 9, 2009

Stuffing the Attic

I've been thinking of this paid-in-full challenge I've put myself up to and even in this first week I've made it harder on myself. I bought shelves for my closet, a pair of jeans and a blouse - all new, all off my credit card. There seems to be a back-lash occurring in my brain. A tantrum of Not-gonna-do-it mentality going on in my attic.

Going through my financial totals earlier this week I found I wasn't as bad off as I had believed I was. Does this mean I am trying to make myself as bad off as I had originally thought? Why does my brain get to play all these games? Who really gets to have the fun here?

In the meantime today I am in penance. I am baking biscotti (thank goodness for the cooler weather) to send to my brother for his birthday this week. I'll be mailing that down to San Diego to him. I'm reading last week's Sunday NYTimes - which, for my entertainment, could last an entire month. And I'll be putting together the shelves this afternoon, and possibly taking the blouse back to the store - I'm not convinced it's necessary (very pretty, but unnecessary).

There are a screen load of blogs and web-sites available for commiserating and idea swapping for every side-note of financial independence. I've been reading a few. Stuffing my attic with positive motivators, as if I couldn't think of enough postitive aspects to this project to begin with. One such blog keeps me thinking Her post lead me to Then the mother-load was found at I've found I have plenty of company out there.

I've mentally settled in at my new home. Just not physically. I would like a real mattress rather than the air mattress I have to add air to each night. I am convinced at this point that the pointed backs to one of my earings put a small hole into the mattress. It's a slow leak, but a leak nonetheless. I have four pieces of furniture; a desk, a dresser, a television stand and a buffet (only the tv stand did I purchase - $20). My chairs are two folding camping chairs and a woven seat ladder-back chair; all donated to the cause of starting my new home. The two "dinner parties" I've hosted were enjoyed picnic style on the floor on a big outdoor blanket - no table or chairs for "proper" dining. Learning what is necessary, what is socially acceptable, and what is comfort in the furnishings world has been interesting. As people come to my home and I find ways to make each person comfortable I've learned a different take on what is expected. Everything so far has been accepted. It's up to me to make myself comfortable.

Next weekend I'll be camping online at to find that furniture that will make me comfortable. I'll be checking into the regular ads to find that store that every other time of year sells mattress and box spring sets for $100 yet doesn't seems to be in existence when I need them (like now). And depending on the bed situation I'll either throw extra money at a credit card or be resting like Sleeping Beauty.

Can I keep some of this biscotti for me?

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Season 3

Welcome to Season 3 of Breath-e. I'm always up to some project. I feel like I'm getting somewhere when I have something to work on. In retrospect Season 1 was the goal of being a non-smoker. I may yet get there. Other than this last weekend, I've been getting closer. Season 2 was the most crazy with the loss of my job and making the leap to reach the brass ring of my dreams by moving across the country. That was wonderfully and powerfully successful. This next season I am reaching for the goal of being paid up in full on all my debt. Time to be debt free. I'll keep the back story going of Tourist for a Year. I'm enjoying that and I've always done it on the cheap.

I got there once, debt free. It was kind of like losing all that weight and fitting into size 2 Levi 501's. It lasted about a month - the jeans and living with no debt.

I live in a debt acceptable society. I recognize that. If it were so accepted, why do I feel guilty when I open the mailbox, or choose 'ignore' when strange phone numbers call my phone? The ignored phone calls will go away when I'm done catching up. I'm miffed to be playing catch up. I enjoy a good game of catch. Just not catch up; or with catsup or ketchup - both being rather gruesome and somewhat messy.

So Season 3 begins with me sprawled on the living room floor with all my bills fluttering around me hiding the calculator and my pen while I ponder the numbers on my yellow note pad. Can I do it in a year? Can I do it in 9 months? How hard do I want to pound at this beast? I'm not as bad off as I lead myself to believe. I own my vehicle outright. I'm just beating around a couple of credit cards, old medical/dental bills and one new medical charge (see ER visit for my earache). Do I want to own my own home someday? I'd like the option. I'd like to remember what it's like to have a nest egg again. Maybe something I can "touch" before I'm 59 1/2. Ah, the sweet savor of in the bank (or money-markets nowadays).

Last time I had cash I bought stock. Google and Qualcomm being my most notable purchases. I don't know that I would do that again. Jones' Soda took a fantastic dive when Hansen's Soda edged ahead. That one will be a good tax write-off...add that to things to look into. I think Jones' is worth about 5 cents a share right now (I kid you not). A friend once told me stocks are no good unless you are willing to sell and hear the cha-ching. If that's the case...I've held on too long - by a couple years. I do wonder that there is any safe haven, liquid, that allows me to feel a little more at peace with my decisions - and ready for distress, or better yet adventure.

Now that I'm feeling at home in my new home...let the games begin. Tight-wad city here I come. I wanna hear those pennies scream. And hey, maybe I'll open a bottle of champagne for each and every bill paid in full. I don't know that I've ever had 6 occassions for champagne in one year.

Monday, August 3, 2009

Fast Lane

Lee Oskar

Clubbing on a Friday night and then running up 5 flights of stairs from the waterfront to the city, up 5 dark city blocks downtown at 1 am to catch the last bus of the night- don't tell me I don't live in the fast lane. Thank you for running with me. And Lee Oskar, among others, are worth it.

There is nothing like live music - Lee is a must see!