Monthly Archives: March 2008

Crisis Averted

The three or four of you that actually read these e-mails I send out probably know that I’m geeky about almost everything. So it won’t surprise you when I tell you that I keep track of my checkbooks, investments and all other assets and liabilities on the computer in a program called Quicken. Last month I wrote two checks and paid the rest of my bills online or with a debit card. You can guess that I enter all that in a regular check register, but I also enter it on the computer every day or two. Rather than trust my addition and subtraction without a calculator, I use the computer program to tell me what my checkbook balance should be.

So last week I was paying some bills online and was entering the amounts in Quicken as I went. One of the checks was to a company that had sent me a refund a couple of weeks earlier. Since the computer knows it’s smarter than I am, after I entered the company name, it went straight to the deposit block (the last transaction) instead of the check written block. I didn’t notice, entered the amount, completed the account name and clicked on enter. After I had paid all my bills and entered the amounts in my checkbook, I looked at the balance in Quicken and wrote that number down in my check register. So a $356.14 check was recorded in Quicken as a $356.14 deposit and my account was overstated by $712.28. Not usually a problem since I keep a balance high enough to avoid any service charge. But remember, I just wrote a check for half of Jean’s new bike.

So I went to the bank today to get some cash for spending money and the bank said I didn’t have enough in my account for the $100.00 I asked for. I came right home, printed the online bank activity and discovered the error right away. My corrected balance was 35 cents. I transferred some money from another account to avoid any problems. There won’t be an overdraft charge, but I will get a service charge on this month’s bank statement. RATS!!! It’s only March and I’ve already made a mistake.

All four of you also probably know that I post each of these weekly e-mails in so anyone can read them. This e-mail will make my 200th post. I have posted 6 eulogies, 8 ramblings and 186 e-mails. I’m still waiting for the call from a college psychology professor asking if he or she can use the writings in an upper level psych class called “How Many Things Are Wrong With This Person?”. The “What’s Wrong With This Picture?” puzzles in the paper usually only have six or eight things. I’m guessing the answer sheet the professor uses to grade papers has possibilities in the high teens or low twenties.

Today is St. Patrick’s Day and I don’t have anything green to wear except my underwear (give me a break…they started out that color!). Anyway, if I get to showing my green clothes to anyone, I will have had way too much fun and someone should offer to drive me home.

Just (Looking For The Pot Of Gold At The End Of The Rainbow) Jack

Old Dog, New Tricks

Today is the day we switch from Eastern Standard Time to Eastern Daylight Saving Time. We all know that the purpose of changing the clocks is to transfer an hour of daylight from morning to evening. Science has proven that we use less electricity that way because we are more likely to turn a light on in the evening than in the morning. If it’s light one hour later, that’s one hour less that the light is on, so we save money. That way we have more money to build bombs to drop on people in countries we have invaded…scratch invaded…countries where we have come to their aid to give them a better life.

Anyway, not turning on the light in the morning has its drawbacks. This morning, when we were getting ready to go on our normal Sunday run, I reached for my running shoes and they weren’t where I usually keep them. Then I remembered that I ran in them Thursday and left them on the front doormat to dry. I had forgotten to put them back in the closet, so I went out, grabbed them, and put them on, all in the dark…remember, science says don’t turn on the light so I didn’t. I’ve felt really good on my recent runs and, about a mile into the run, I started thinking I was running with a couple of two-by-fours strapped to my feet. I looked down and I had mistakenly grabbed an old, worn out pair of running shoes that I use to mow the lawn at the cottage.

Of course, I’m too cheap to buy work shoes, and the old worn out running shoes are fine for that kind of use. After they’re worn out from running and have no cushion left and half the soles are worn through, I further break them down by walking around in wet grass and they go through several “wet-dry” treatments. Needless to say, my feet weren’t in the best of shape when I got done. Thankfully, I was able to use Brian’s Father’s Day present, a foot massager, to nurse them back to health. Just think…a foot massage with no paybacks.

I picked up nine cases of empty beer bottles from one of the guys in the Kalamazoo brewing club this past Wednesday morning. Most of them still have their labels. Most people wouldn’t care about that and would just put a sticker on the bottle over the old label, telling what kind of beer was in it. You know me well enough to understand that wouldn’t do. So I’ve been cleaning off the labels and washing the bottles. When I use them to brew, I’ll wash them again and run them through the sanitizer. With all the work it takes, these free bottles become costly based on time spent. If I were working, I’d go through that calculation, decide that my time is worth more than the cost of new bottles, and turn these in for the bottle deposit. But when you aren’t working, your time is worth nothing, and that’s why I’m washing bottles.

I usually don’t talk politics…well, maybe I do sometimes…and I never talk about how I agree or disagree with U.S. foreign policy…well, except for the first paragraph today…but I’m completely fed up with the Michigan/Florida primary fiasco. In Florida, the state Republican leaders moved their primary in violation with the national Democratic party rules and made their primary not count. Without picking on only the Republicans…in Michigan the state Democratic leaders did the same thing with the same result.

Now there’s a national debate as to how to fix it. In my humble opinion, it can’t be fixed. In all fairness, if we have a “do over”, we’re rewarding political arrogance and someone (us) will end up paying millions of dollars for it. If we don’t have a “do over”, Florida and Michigan voters won’t help decide the party nominee, and the party will probably not win back enough support from the disenfranchised voters to win in the national election. The sad thing in all of this is that the average voters on the street…you and me…are the victims. We had nothing to do with the changes, except for the fact that we elected these jack^&&*& to represent us, and if we re-elect them again, we deserve what we get.

Just (Sixties Protests Are Back…Vote The Bums Out) Jack

Shopping Trip

If a bunch of our friends weren’t going, and if we weren’t going out to dinner afterwards, there’s no way you could get me to go to a store, even a bike store, and spend two hours milling around looking for bargains. I spent the entire time being in other people’s way. If I stood in the corner, somebody wanted to look at something in that corner. The only thing I needed was Smartwool running socks and they were one of the only things not on sale. I did pass by a couple of bargains and, if I wore a XXXL or an extra small, I could have gotten a real deal.

Jean spent her time looking at bikes since I gave her half a bike for her birthday. Bill, one of my former friends, suggested to Jean that Jack should buy the back half which includes the seat, a custom seat post, custom crank arms, front gears, rear cassette and front and rear derailleurs since those components costs the most and Jean could buy the front half which would be cheap by comparison. I thought us guys stuck together, but I guess Nancy’s got him whipped into shopping shape and he’s trying to take the rest of us down with him.

After the shopping torture I was ready for a good meal with great friends in a nice restaurant. Apparently I had this black cloud hanging over me ‘cuz my meal came last. Not just the last one on the serving tray, but was one of those “Oops…they must have forgotten your Chicken Tortilla Salad” after everyone else had been served. It came five minutes later just as everyone was finishing up and trying to decide whether to get dessert or not.

If that wasn’t bad enough, we ran into the worst snow squalls driving home I have ever seen. Sometimes the snow will swirl and you’ll be blinded for a few seconds, but this went on for miles. I couldn’t see more than fifteen yards in front of the car and couldn’t tell whether I was on the right side of the road or not. The girls in the car looked out the side windows and let me know when I had wandered into the center of the road or was getting too close to the edge. I couldn’t see well enough to pull over and, if I had stopped, we would have been hit from behind by the cars following us. By the time we got to a business where we could have pulled over, we could see well enough to continue on. Why was it that I decided not to spend the winter in Florida this year???

This morning was the Elaine Standler Memorial Indoor Triathlon. Since I can’t get in the pool with my chlorine allergy, I couldn’t compete but did help out on the treadmills. The turnout wasn’t very good and I’m not sure why. It could be that tons of people have the flu or it could be that fewer and fewer people want to embarrass themselves in front of “those people” (the Trilanders). At any rate, after standing on my feet for three hours, I came home and did my Sunday run. I’m still not running far, but I’m up to six miles and I feel great.

Since I was running around noon and tried to avoid traffic, I ran on side streets as much as I could. Things went great until I ran up North Hanover street past Hastings Manufacturing Company. Just past the plant is an older neighborhood of homes that are small bungalows…the type of home you would expect in an industrial part of town. The homes are small but well kept and I was daydreaming as usual about bygone days. All of a sudden a Pit Bull and his younger mutt friend came running out from a house into the street. The dog looked like he didn’t want me there and I didn’t want him there either. I had my sunglasses on and looked him straight in the eyes where I saw a reflection of what looked like a huge Thanksgiving turkey on a serving platter with my head attached to the turkey neck. I stopped, turned toward him, pointed and yelled GO HOME!!! After about the fifth time, he turned and went back to his yard along with his yippy little friend. I’m not sure whether he was afraid of me or whether he couldn’t stand the smell of me messing my pants.

Just (I Guess I’ll Have To Start Carrying My Pepper Spray) Jack