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(Jacq's Journal)
I just finished installing MovableType on my website. Effective immediately, I am only posting to that blog. You may read the site by adding cordelya_rss to your friends list, or you may read the syndicated version via a news aggregator by clicking this button:

Get a listing of recent comments here: cordelyacomment

An amusing aside... I began installing MovableType three days ago, but I only just found out today that LJ has been acquired by MT's parent organization, SixApart. To say the least, I was kind of shocked...
I just finished my 2004 tax filing. I didn't bother to check the mail until *after* I'd posted my last post, and behold! There was my W2 form! I have the envelope sealed, stamped, addressed, and ready to go, sitting on my desk. That has me finishing 46 hours earlier than last year's early tax filing effort!
Many cuts because I got long-winded...

Silk Tea Gown RetiresCollapse )
Adventures in DomesticLandCollapse )
Lightened up on the excess electronicsCollapse )
This week's personal finance update, or, how to fund my MDRF habit...Collapse )
NTS: In late March or perhaps April, go shopping at LL Bean in Freeport and buy x-country skis, hopefully at a clearance discounted price.

If I'd had x-country skis this weekend, I could have gone skiing right out my back door (so to speak). And if I have x-country skis in the future, I can go on the office ski trips and not have to rent skis (that is, provided that the ski place they decide to go to has x-country skiing.) I've come to the decision that downhill skiing is too hard on my body (and that's just doing the easy slopes) and that x-country is the right kind of skiing for me.
Good: I got a 3.5% raise beginning January 15th, 2005.
Bad: The new rent, starting March 1st, 2005, is increasing by 4%.
Ugly: The new rent WAS going to be increased by 5%, until I asked the leasing office to lower it.

Good: My sister graduated from USMC recruit training at Parris Island SC. There are some photos and video clips here: http://www.cordelya.net/gallery/usmcgrad Go look at your newest Marines!
There are no strings attached to this one...

Bad: My green Chev. Cavalier stopped working two weeks ago.
Ugly: Diagnosis by two separate service shops was that it needed a new engine
Good: I visited CarMax a few times this past weekend, and now have a new-used car, a car loan (yes, it's debt, but it's good debt... I'll get back to that in a minute), and an $800 check for the Cavalier.

Good: That $800 check is already in the mail and will be applied to my credit card debt
Good: Because I'll be so far ahead on my credit card bills, I'll be able to start funneling my rent through my major credit card.
Good: I earn airfare miles with that card.
Good: I will be able to evenly split between the 1st and 15th, with at $10 difference, all of my bills each month.
Good: I'm projecting a $760 Federal income tax refund, to also be applied to my credit card debt.
Good: That will leave me with a remaining estimated debt total of $600 (not including my recent car loan)
Good: The redistribution of my bills has shown that I can afford to pay my car loan without reducing how much I was spending on paying credit card bills.
Good: Beginning in approximately April, I will be able to steadily deposit $250 into savings (and not need to touch it) and pay twice the minimum payment due on my car loan each month, reducing a 3 year loan to approximately 1.6 years, and reducing the amount of interest I'll pay by who-knows-how-much.

Bad: I had three wisdom teeth yanked out of my mouth this morning. What about the fourth, you ask? It never existed in the first place.
Ugly: I'm craving a Fudd's Gardenburger with pepperjack cheese and guacamole.
Good: I've had several mugs of instant chicken broth, 8oz chocolate soymilk, and two 800mg doses of ibuprofen today. And one really long nap.
Good: I'm also applying arnica gel on a regular basis to help with the healing. This is just the sort of thing it's there for - says, "Relieves Pain, Swelling, & Stiffness" right on the tube...
Good: Already I can open my jaw as wide as I normally would, and I have no problems talking normally.
Good: I have a medical chit in hand that assigns me to "No Duty, SIQ*" until the end of January 20, 2005 and "Light Duty" (IOW, paperwork) until the end of January 22, 2005. *SIQ stands for "Sick in Quarters" for you non-military folks, and it means that I spend my recovery time at home instead of at the hospital. It doesn't mean that I get to spend the day at the mall or playing mini-golf.
Bad: I currently am not allowed to drive. Thankfully I can walk over to Safeway if necessary.

Tomorrow's task will be to call the NH-DMV to get license plates transferred to the new car, followed by calling my insurance company to have them take the cavalier off my policy. (I bought the new-used car before I sold the cavalier.)

Night-night.
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I installed a VoIP (Voice over IP) program on my computer - GloPhone in particular. You can get it at Download.com, just search for "glophone". Glo to glo calls are free, from anywhere in the world. If you have it installed on your computer, and want to share your number with me, this would be the place to do that. Comments are set to be screened, and I won't be unscreening them. Share your number with me, and I will share mine back.

Current Outlook: geeky geeky

Below is a copy of the letter I sent this afternoon to Comcast Corporation regarding the bad customer service I have gotten in the past two weeks. I seriously doubt that anything will come of it, but at least I got to bitch about it...


Dear Comcast,

I am writing in the hope that you can help me address a problem I have with the installation and repair at Comcast Corporation.

In the past two weeks, I have been trying to have my apartment's Comcast Digital Cable service changed to my name, from my roommate's name. I have been given conflicting information, incomplete information, and have in general been given the run-around by Comcast Customer Service.

I've been given conflicting information by the Customer Service Department. During one call to Comcast Customer Service, my roommate was told that it is not possible to do a name change on an account and that a whole new account would have to be set up. On another call, I was told that I could simply go to the nearest Customer Service lobby and complete a "Name Change" form, without having to stop and restart cable service. During one call, I was told that I could make arrangements for installation before the existing service was discontinued, but not have the installation done until the existing service was discontinued. On another call, I was told that I could not even arrange for installation until the existing service was discontinued.

I was also given incomplete information. When the Customer Service representative told me that I could go to my local Customer Service center, he failed to mention that it is closed on Mondays. I was very surprised to find it closed this afternoon when I stopped by on my way home from work.

In general, I have been given the run-around by Comcast Customer Service. I have been told to call back several times. I have been transferred from person to person to person. I have been unable to reach the appropriate department because the choice menus at 1-800-COMCAST are incorrect (the choice to order new Cable service sends me to Internet Support).

In closing, I'm not entirely certain that I'm willing to spend $76.00 a month to be abused as I have in the past two weeks, but until there is cable competition in Howard County, MD, it seems that I have little choice in the matter.

Because of this, I can't say whether I will remain a customer in the future, and I can't in good conscience recommend you to others.

Here is my proposed resolution to this problem: Here's what I'd like to see happen: Actual, prompt, and organized customer service would be a good place to start. Also, since Customer Service ran me around the past two weeks, I can no longer be home for installation on any day of the week other than Saturdays. During the last two weeks of December I was at home for an average of three workdays out of every five. So I will need a Saturday installation appointment.

Thanks for listening to me. I'll be even more appreciative once I receive your response.

Sincerely,
Me
http://story.news.yahoo.com/news?tmpl=story&cid=519&ncid=718&e=10&u=/ap/20050103/ap_on_re_us/school_dispute

Gay Couple's Sons Anger Catholic Parents

Sun Jan 2,10:05 PM ET U.S. National - AP



COSTA MESA, Calif. - Some parents and parishioners have accused the Roman Catholic diocese in Orange County of violating church doctrine by allowing a gay couple to enroll their children in a church school.



The group demanded that St. John the Baptist School in Costa Mesa accept only families that pledge to abide by Catholic teachings, the Los Angeles Times reported in Sunday's editions. Church doctrine opposes gay relationships and adoption by same-sex couples.


"The teachings of the church seem to have been abandoned," John R. Nixon told the Times. "We send our children to a Catholic school because we expect and demand that the teachings of our church will be adhered to."


School officials rejected the demand, and issued a new policy stating that a family's background "does not constitute an absolute obstacle to enrollment in the school."


The parents' demand would presumably prevent two adopted boys whose parents are both men from attending the school's kindergarten.


The Rev. Gerald M. Horan, superintendent of diocese schools, said that if Catholic beliefs were strictly adhered to, then children whose parents divorced, used birth control or married outside the church would also have to be banned.


"This is the quagmire that the parents' position represents," he said. "It's a slippery slope to go down."


The boys' parents, who enrolled their children at the beginning of the school year, declined to comment to the Times.


Some parents have promised to ask the Vatican (news - web sites) to intervene and some have threatened to pull their children from the school. Others are worried the boys' attendance will set a precedent, saying their presence is part of a larger effort by the gay community to change the church.


"The boys are being used as pawns by these men to further their agenda," said Monica Sii, who has four children at the school.
If a tall, dark-haired man is the first to cross the threshhold on January 1st (before anyone or anything leaves), you will have good luck throughout the year. Even better if he brings good luck charms in with him and leaves them. Bad luck to allow a female to be first, especially blondes and redheads.

Remove as little as you can from your home on January 1st (if you're going out, leave what you need to bring in the car overnight), or your potential prosperity in the new year is lessened.

Open all the doors to let the old year out so the New Year can come in.

It's all over at Snopes.com
My first day of Winter Cleaning has now officially begun. (If you're confused, read back a post or two)

I am now signing off, digitally. The computer is getting shut off in a few minutes and will not be turned back on until Monday morning, or perhaps not until Monday evening.

If you need to communicate with me, and the matter is of immediate importance, those of you who have my cell phone number can call me. If you don't have my cell phone number, you could always try asking someone on my friends list to send me a text message (via the LJ text message utility that is available only to people on my friends list), but I will leave it to their discretion. Otherwise, it will have to wait until Monday.

For those of you who celebrate, Merry Christmas.

Goodnight.
Liberty is granted at 11:30 today. Woot!

This means I have more time to get my holiday shopping finished and also buy my groceries for the weekend.
I received a holiday card in the mail today. Inside was a slip of paper (from my cousin Patti) with the following:
"By eight o'clock, Madam Pince had extinguished all the lamps and came to chivvy Harry out of the library, Staggering under the weight of as many books as he could carry, Harry returned to the Gryffindor common room, pulled a table into a corner, and continued to search. There was nothing in Madcap Magic for Wacky Warlocks… nothing in A Guide to Medieval Sorcery… not one mention of underwater exploits in An Anthology of Eighteenth-Century Charms, or in Dreadful Denizens of the Deep, or Powers You Never Knew You Had and What to Do with Them Now You've Wised Up."
- Preparation for Task Two, Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire page 488

During my master's thesis on the Literary and Ethical Traditions Underlying Conflict Resolution in J.K. Rowling's "Harry Potter'" series, I discovered some of her favorite authors and influences. While you're in the library or bookstore, treat yourself to-
  • Edith Nesbit's The Magic World (and other wonderful books),

  • Ursula K, LeCuin's Earthsea series,

  • Philip Pullman's His Dark Materials Trilogy,

  • Jane Yolen's Wizard's Hall,

  • Eva Ibbotson's Secret of Platform Thirteen,

  • Susan Cooper's The Dark Is Rising Sequence,

  • Madeleine L 'Engle's Wrinkle in Time series,

  • Jill Murphy"s Worst Witch series, and of course,

  • Rowling's other favorite authors and genres: C.S. Lewis’ Narnia series; Greek, Roman, and Arthurian mythology: and the works of Charles Dickens.


NB: Jasper Fforde has been called a "grown-up JK Rowling" (The Sunday Times). Fforde's books are clever, playful, and share Rowling's use of multiple genres, Book four in the Thursday Next series is due out July 2005, (The Eyre Affair is the first book,) Additionally, there"s a new series by Jonathan Stroud entitled The Bartimaeus Trilogy about a djinni (Bartimaeus) and his magician-in-training (Nathaniel) that's a true page-turner.

Enjoy 2005 Under the Influence of a Great Book!


Please excuse any punctuation or spelling errors I may have missed. I ran the paper through the scanner and let the computer do the reading (OCR) for me.


UPDATE: Speaking of Harry Potter, Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince is available for pre-order from Barnes & Noble. Click through from the link in My Library, and BN will give me $$ for the referral... *wink* *wink*
Today begins a week-long cleaning session. The plan, in detail...Collapse )

On Thursday evening, I am turning off my computer and I am leaving it off until Monday afternoon. I will still be reachable on my cell phone, but I will not be available for social time until Monday afternoon.
I am safely back at home. I had a wonderful weekend - it hardly seems that Friday was just 3 days ago!

What I did on my Winter Vacation in New York City:
Friday:
- Spent the morning on the train from BWI. Happened to "run in" to Caroline at the station - she was on the southbound side, waiting for her usual MARC train to work. So, we exchanged a few shouts, and then our trains arrived within minutes of each other.
- Spent the afternoon slovenly drinking coffee and reading a novel in the Barnes & Noble Cafe at the CitiGroup Center.
- Had dinner at a mexican restaurant on the Upper East Side. I had a vegetarian dish full of all sorts of vegetables I'd never eaten before. I don't quite know what they looked like, given the very low lighting.
Saturday:
- Went around the corner to Pick-a-Deli with mandrakan for breakfast. Got a whole wheat bagel with cream cheese and sliced lox. Yum!
- Wandered off on my own. Walked south on 5th Ave until I got to American Girl Place, then walked north on Madison Ave until I got back to where I started. Then walked over to 3rd Ave and walked south for a while, until it occurred to me that I might like to experience Whole Foods Market NYC style. So I called mandrakan to find out where one was, and promptly headed to Columbus Circle. Got lunch there (fresh pineapple and carrot juice!), walked around some of the other shops there, then hopped on the subway and headed back to home base.
- Had dinner on Curry Row, at a restaurant called Calcutta. This was my first experience of Indian food. Some of it I liked, some of it I didn't. Must sample a bit more before I decide for sure.
- Saw Stomp. Fantastic, though earplugs would have been appropriate, especially where we were sitting (four rows back and all the way to the left). The comedy they incorporate is just priceless.
Sunday:
- Had brunch at Mara's Homemade (a few doors down from Calcutta), a tiny little restaurant decorated New Orleans style. Breakfast consisted of challah french toast (which I was unable to finish since there was so much of it), milk punch, fresh lemonade, and there also would have been beignets, but we were too full!
- Back to home base, with a quick stop-off at the Bare Escentuals store to buy products that I can't find at Ulta. Had a lazy afternoon that included a nap.
- Dinner at Jasmine, a Thai restaurant. I ordered my usual, pad thai. I think I have a new favorite Thai restaurant - it was fabulous!
Monday:
- Walked across Central Park to catch the C train from 81st st. It was bitter cold (I bet it still is bitter cold, too). I stopped off at Columbus Circle to get another installment of fresh fruit and juices for my trip home. Continued on to Penn Station.
- The train was 45 minutes late into Penn Station, which wasn't really that big a deal, except that I spent extra time standing with my heavy bag on my shoulders because the only thing the status board said was "Stand By"

And now I'm back.