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Old 12-20-2010, 10:59 AM   #6421
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Yesterday we routed underground irrigation around the big mesquite - it had surrounded it's bubbler and was getting way way too much water, so I had terminated the pipe, given it a new bubbler, and left a 2' stub to go around it if there were any orphans in the watering system downstream. Turned out there was one shrub not getting a drink.
The gal had a great time laying in the sand and scratching out a trench - a return to her childhood days building cities and houses out of rocks and twigs in the 29 Palms desert sand.

Using up perishables prior to flying north for a couple weeks - makes for some interesting meals.

Cat people: we will have someone dropping by to say hi to the tuna cat and make sure she has food & such - but do you think a radio on low is good or not? She will be all by her lonesome in the house...
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Old 12-20-2010, 11:11 AM   #6422
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Thank you Martha. I am back. To answer your question, I was in Guatemala - the needs there are huge. People have nothing.
If you are so inclined, it would be nice if you posted about your experiences there.
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Old 12-20-2010, 11:20 AM   #6423
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Had a long money chat with our 18-year-old adult. She's gone through a lot of experiential learning in the last four months, and she's beginning to believe that us ol' phart parents might actually have a point about the saving vs spending lifestyle debate.

Of course now she has to translate sentiment into action. She can track her expenses and put together a budget with the best of them, but it still seems to be a theoretical exercise to her. Then it's largely ignored until the weekend is over or the credit-card bill comes in, followed shortly afterward by a reaction of "Holy crap, where did all the money go?!?"

She's not in debt (as far as she's willing to admit to us) and NROTC gives her a $250/month stipend, but she's going paycheck to paycheck with no slack for surprises or emergencies. The bane of her savings ambition is the college campus' ZipCar franchise. (I was pretty much on restriction musters locked down during the first three years of my service-academy days so I never had this "problem".) She thinks nothing of renting a ZipCar for running errands out in Houston... followed by a little shopping... and maybe a little dining... and maybe meeting her friends later...

Now that she's on break and has some time to reflect she's beginning to realize that convenience comes at a cost, and the cost of having her own campus car rusting in the dorm's parking lot is pretty darn high. She's finally accepting that she really doesn't need to own (or rent) a car in Houston, and if she gets overseas duty when she's commissioned then there's no sense in buying a beater to get around town (and pay all the ownership expenses) just to have to unload it again after graduation.

When she goes back, we'll see how she does with her free student pass on the local rail/bus lines.

This money/lifestyle coaching gig ain't easy.

Otherwise she's been a pleasure to have around. There's nothing like dorm life to make your progeny a bit more appreciative of home's little luxuries. South shore still has some swell left over from the weekend, so I think we'll do a little more surfing today followed by taekwondo tonight.

In between I'll finish plowing through the last 100 pages of Sorkin's "Too Big To Fail". (Between him and Michael Lewis I've had about enough of the history of the credit crunch.) When you read about the lifestyles of Wall Street execs, it's all too easy to understand why there's been a populist backlash. Even so I had no idea about company cars, drivers, Manhattan traffic, constant business travel, Washington-NYC shuttles, automated phone logs, and public website calendars. What a horrible infrastructure for a life.
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Old 12-20-2010, 11:21 AM   #6424
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Went with DW to visit her favourite mare. In the evening we attended the lighting up of the very modest community Christmas decoration: it pales to really nothing when one sees your decorations. Then again, we donīt have neither the tradition nor the means.....

For those who might be interested, the lights read "Bo Nadal", Galician for Merry Christmas.
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Old 12-20-2010, 12:30 PM   #6425
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Today was housecleaner day.

I played Santa with a twist. The lady who does my house once a month has 2 boys, ages 10 and 6. I made up a card with cash (her holiday bonus) inside and wrote "Do Not Open Until Christmas" on the envelope.
I asked my cleaner to open it on Christmas Day, telling the boys it is from me and Mr Boston.
I asked her to tell the boys they have to split the cash equally, or they can get something bigger that they can both share. She will take them to a store to catch the "after Christmas" sales, armed with a calculator. She will let them do the math themselves, with her help on the calculator for sales tax.
If they want to set some aside for a food treat, and use the rest for
toy(s), no problem. She agreed she will be sure to let them decide.

Little tycoons and negotiators in training!
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Old 12-20-2010, 03:06 PM   #6426
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ER'd Since 12/31/01 -

Just realized I'm coming up on 10 years...
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Old 12-20-2010, 03:12 PM   #6427
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I started reconnecting with old friends on Facebook. It's amazing how many people my age (late 50s) are signing on to find old friends. So far I've had 3 responses to my messages.
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Old 12-20-2010, 03:40 PM   #6428
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I finished wrapping my wife's presents while she was at the store with my oldest daughter. We've got 3 of 4 children home for Christmas along with our first grandchild. Retirement has allowed me to spend some time with them. If I was working, I'd be at work instead of trying to make the baby smile. (That's my to do list for the rest of the day).

I also sent a note to the Illinois Railroad Museum telling them I'd like to volunteer. I like working on old stuff if I don't have to keep it in my own garage. I liked to play with trains when I was a kid. I'm looking forwart to playing with the real thing.

I think they've got heated workshops. If not, I'll find something else to volunteer at.

The best thing about retirement is the freedom. I mostly liked work when I was working but now I can go from liking what I was doing 70% of the time and raise it to 90%.

Lorne
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Old 12-20-2010, 07:57 PM   #6429
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Nords View Post
Had a long money chat with our 18-year-old adult. She's gone through a lot of experiential learning in the last four months, and she's beginning to believe that us ol' phart parents might actually have a point about the saving vs spending lifestyle debate.

Of course now she has to translate sentiment into action. She can track her expenses and put together a budget with the best of them, but it still seems to be a theoretical exercise to her. Then it's largely ignored until the weekend is over or the credit-card bill comes in, followed shortly afterward by a reaction of "Holy crap, where did all the money go?!?"

She's not in debt (as far as she's willing to admit to us) and NROTC gives her a $250/month stipend, but she's going paycheck to paycheck with no slack for surprises or emergencies. The bane of her savings ambition is the college campus' ZipCar franchise. (I was pretty much on restriction musters locked down during the first three years of my service-academy days so I never had this "problem".) She thinks nothing of renting a ZipCar for running errands out in Houston... followed by a little shopping... and maybe a little dining... and maybe meeting her friends later...

Now that she's on break and has some time to reflect she's beginning to realize that convenience comes at a cost, and the cost of having her own campus car rusting in the dorm's parking lot is pretty darn high. She's finally accepting that she really doesn't need to own (or rent) a car in Houston, and if she gets overseas duty when she's commissioned then there's no sense in buying a beater to get around town (and pay all the ownership expenses) just to have to unload it again after graduation.

When she goes back, we'll see how she does with her free student pass on the local rail/bus lines.

This money/lifestyle coaching gig ain't easy.

Otherwise she's been a pleasure to have around. There's nothing like dorm life to make your progeny a bit more appreciative of home's little luxuries. South shore still has some swell left over from the weekend, so I think we'll do a little more surfing today followed by taekwondo tonight.

In between I'll finish plowing through the last 100 pages of Sorkin's "Too Big To Fail". (Between him and Michael Lewis I've had about enough of the history of the credit crunch.) When you read about the lifestyles of Wall Street execs, it's all too easy to understand why there's been a populist backlash. Even so I had no idea about company cars, drivers, Manhattan traffic, constant business travel, Washington-NYC shuttles, automated phone logs, and public website calendars. What a horrible infrastructure for a life.

Allow me to indulge in some old fartness: Dorms with shared bathrooms...no car...off campus dining once or twice a year...always hated shopping...
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Old 12-20-2010, 08:13 PM   #6430
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Old 12-20-2010, 09:22 PM   #6431
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If you are so inclined, it would be nice if you posted about your experiences there.
I also would very much like to hear of your Guatemalan adventures.
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Old 12-21-2010, 01:40 AM   #6432
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Went to the bank and then went to pay my tax today - since I ER this year, IRD has adjusted and reduced my tax payable after receiving my application for withholding tax for 2011 on grounds I early retired. I paid my first installment today. Next and last installment is payable in April 2011 and then hopefully, that's the last I should hear from the taxman. By the way, if this does not make any sense to you all, please note that I reside in Hong Kong and pay Hong Kong tax. After that, went for lunch to celebrate and did some window shopping. Bought nothing.
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Old 12-21-2010, 08:56 AM   #6433
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Wrote and mailed the check to pay my property taxes for what, I hope, is the last time. If the house doesn't sell in the next year I'm going to be very annoyed.
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Old 12-21-2010, 06:00 PM   #6434
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I made a "Pepsi-can Stove" as a Christmas present for DD (don't worry, not the only present), since she's recently gotten interested in backpacking. It's definitely the best backpacking stove money can't buy.

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Old 12-21-2010, 08:20 PM   #6435
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Bought 10,000 batteries.
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Old 12-21-2010, 08:40 PM   #6436
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Bought 10,000 batteries.
Why?
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Old 12-21-2010, 08:53 PM   #6437
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Why?
Funny, DW asked the same question.

I have four grandsons who are all getting a bunch these things for Christmas. Knowing they'll no doubt go through a lot of batteries, I started looking for a bargain - and stumbled across this: Button Cell Battery 10,000-Pack for $25 + $6 s&h

Oh, and when I responded to DW's question she said, "You've got no excuse now - get some hearing aids!"

At least that's what I think she said...
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Old 12-21-2010, 11:17 PM   #6438
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I saw many patients in 10 days. Many children too, and many of them without shoes, who are malnourished, and abandoned to all sorts of trades. In Antigua for example, there are many children called "los basureros" (garbage collectors) living from the food they find in rubbish. Kids fight for a piece of candy.

Close to the border between El Salvador and Guatemala, you can see hundreds (if not thousands) of houses made of plastic. The luckiest owners have a metal sheet to protect their belongings when the weather is windy. I have no idea how these people make a living.

While examining patients I saw many of them with frail bodies, distorted with pain. People look so much older than their actual age. Many patients have conditions such as "las manchas" (skin infections), "la gastritis" (from the frijoles / beans-only diet and the unsafe drinking water they use) etc.

I went to an "aldea" (community) where hundreds of people live without "banos" (restrooms) - the restroom is just behind a wall. Once in a while someone burns the excrements with "la gasolina" when the smell is just too much.

UTIs and STIs are a huge concern, as most people do not use any form of contraception. When talking to patients, many of them do not even understand the word "contraception". Many patients cannot read or write. Many girls get pregnant from 12 years of age, and I am sorry to say that it is sometimes from a relative. Many women are abused, sexually and emotionally. I had to call social services every time I was made aware of such incidents. Who knows how these social services will follow up. I cannot write any more details on this topic out of decency.

Words fail me, I am sorry. Just thinking about all this brings tears in my eyes. You cannot cry in front of patients - sometimes it just hits you afterwards. Now I need time to reflect, but I just cannot wait to go back and bring more vitamins, shoes, and clothes with me - especially for the children.

I am also aware that I am writing these lines on an "early retirement" board, and most people on this board may have different priorities in life. I wish I could take some of you one day with me on one of these missions. It puts all our problems in perspective - we have so much here. We are so privileged.

Take care everyone.

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I also would very much like to hear of your Guatemalan adventures.
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Old 12-22-2010, 05:02 AM   #6439
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I saw many patients in 10 days. ...
Thank you for posting this. Very sobering.
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Old 12-22-2010, 06:00 AM   #6440
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Obgyn65:

Thanks so much for telling your story. As difficult as it is to tell, I think we need to hear it. When I was in the military, I went to places where such grinding poverty exists. I thought then (and still do) that all Americans should have a chance to see what that is like. We would almost certainly complain less about our own problems.

I am thankful that there are people like you, with the skills and the compassion to make a difference in the world.

Gumby
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