Archive for February, 2009

Feeling Generally Distracted

I’ve had a hard time concentrating over the past few days. My mind seems to be wandering in a million different directions all at once. I’m not sure why I feel so restless and distracted. Whenever I get this way I tend to clean the house. I’m not sure why, but somehow or another it seems to calm me.

I compiled a list of book suggestions based on last week’s post and planned to walk over to the library this evening. Unfortunately, I ended up having to work until 7:30. By the time all was said and done it was dark and late, so I decided to clean out my bookshelves instead. I’m trying to follow the rule of taking one item out of the house for every one item I bring in, plus I figured I might find a few books for donation.

Digging through the shelves I found at least ten or fifteen books that I’ve only half read. I decided to pull them out and leave them in a big pile in the living room. I would really like to finish most of them before I head out in search of new reading material.

While I was cleaning I also came across a bunch of unwanted items and posted them on eBay. I doubt any of them will sell but when I’m distracted and restless it always helps to rid the house of clutter.

February 27, 2009 at 4:25 AM 1 comment

Should Overweight Citizens be Financially Rewarded for Exercise?

According to this weekend’s edition of Parade magazine a number of countries are coming up with inventive ways to fight obesity.

In Japan, health officials are measuring the waists of citizens over 40 and asking overweight individuals to undergo diet counseling. In Germany the government is spending $47 million on healthy-eating, sports programs and tougher nutritional standards for school lunches. The government is also “asking candy makers to stop targeting young children and encouraging software companies to develop games that force players to move.”

While some countries are trying to assist their current citizens, others are combating the financial and health issue by closing their doors on the obese. New Zealand, for example, bans people it deems too fat from immigrating to the country in the first place.

Great Britain is taking a more interesting approach. The country is currently recruiting overweight individuals to wear electronic tags that calculate how much they move and how many calories they burn. As an incentive to exercise the participants are rewarded with store coupons and extra days off work.

This approach seems to be an innovative extension of preventative care. The government hopes to pay a little money now to get people into shape, so that it can avoid paying a lot of money later on obesity related diseases.

It’s certainly an original solution to fighting the epidemic of obesity. The question is this… Is money and/or time off enough incentive to exercise? I bet a lot of individuals would be interested in the money, while others would be more attracted by an extra day off work, but would either incentive provide individuals with enough motivation to actually rise off of the couch?

Either way I can certainly see why Great Britain is willing to give this a try. After all if the individuals don’t exercise there should be little cost involved and if they do exercise it could save the country a lot of money.

February 25, 2009 at 1:00 AM 10 comments

"Eating It Down" — The New Phrase In Our House

Over the weekend my husband coined a new phrase. Whenever he wants us to make do with the food in our house he tells me we have to ‘eat it down.’ So for example, if he thinks we have too much chicken in the freezer, he’ll say we have to ‘eat down the chicken.’ This is his special way of telling me have plenty of food in the house and that I should avoid going to the grocery store until we eat everything we’ve already purchased.

For the most part we’ve been trying our best to eat lunch and dinner at home as often as possible. I’ve also managed to spread out trips to the grocery store. Although I still stop in for milk and produce every week I’m trying not to visit any of the inner isles of the grocery store more than twice a month. February is a short month, but so far I must admit this plan is working.

Today I bought deli meat, chicken, milk and produce, I also snuck into the condiment isle for ranch dressing and ketchup, but otherwise I managed to avoid all of the inner isles. I’m giddy to find out how much money we’ve saved on food by eating at home this month. It’s not that we’re trying to deprive ourselves, I’m just interested in how low our grocery and food bills can go.

February 23, 2009 at 4:15 AM 4 comments

The Credit Crisis Visualized

An exaggerated, but very funny cartoon about the credit crisis:

February 22, 2009 at 4:25 AM 1 comment

The Search for a New Job Begins

When I began working for my employer, nearly ten years ago, I absolutely loved my job. I loved the people I worked with, the environment, the mission of the company and the technologies I developed. For the first few years I came to work excited, I worked long hours and I was proud of the work I accomplished.

Of course, as is often the case, as the years wore on my feelings began to change. After years of working under the same management and bureaucracy I began to feel annoyed, bored and stifled. Around the five year mark I polished my resume and engaged in a couple of interviews.

I was eager to look elsewhere, but I quickly found that each job sounded exactly the same as my current one. Each position seemed to entail the same amount of bureaucracy, outdated technologies, slow systems and even slower people. Not only that, but with a new job I’d be starting over from scratch, I’d have less vacation and less benefits.

Although I was offered other positions I ultimately decided not to quit. In fact, I went back to my job with a renewed sense of excitement. I felt re-energized in my work. I might face the same problems day-in and day-out, but at least I was doing so while building a pension, contributing to my 401(k), and accumulating extra days off.

Of course, as time wore on my feelings soured again. Around the 7 year mark I considered leaving again, but then significant medical problems halted all of those thoughts. For awhile my medical issues trumped everything else, and whether I liked my job or not, it paid the bills and allowed me to take time off to visit doctors and physical therapists. I trudged through my job, because in all due honesty I had very little choice in the matter, and very little motivation to do anything other than focus on getting well.

Now here I am, at the same company I started with nearly ten years ago. Over the last few years the company I loved has almost completely disappeared. The technology is dated, my favorite co-workers have abandoned ship, and most recently my commute has quite literally quadrupled.

I think it is now time to reconsider my career. How long can I continue to hang on to a company when I feel that I am attaining no personal or career growth? Yesterday after a long discussion with my husband I decided to begin looking for a new job. I know the market is not the best and I might not find exactly what I’m looking for, but thankfully I can remain at my current job until I find something more appealing.

It is with mixed emotions that I look forward. My current company has been amazingly good to me. They have provided me with wonderful opportunities and amazing benefits, but as the days go on I can’t help but feel that the ship is sinking beneath me. I know I might not find what I’m looking for, but I’ll never find anything if I don’t start looking.

February 20, 2009 at 4:59 AM 6 comments

Books that Inspire You

I have a stack of books in my house that I’ve thought about reading a million times over. I pick them up, leaf through a few pages and then put them back down. Some are non-fiction books like The Four Hour Work Week. I was so excited to buy a used copy of this book on, but I was bored from the moment I opened it. At one point the author suggests putting down any book or reading material that fails to interest you or provide any knowledge or meaning in your life. Well I must admit that I closed that book and put it back on the shelf the minute I read that sentence.

I’m currently reading Gorgeously Green, which to be perfectly honest I find enlightening and a bit scary all at the same time. The author suggests reviewing the ingredients in all of the products you use in your home or on your body to search for and eliminate any with toxic materials. I marched upstairs, reached into the bathtub and started reading through the list of unpronounceable ingredients on my shampoo, conditioner, and moisturizers and nearly threw everything into the garbage can.

In an effort to get my mind off of the toxins leaching into my skin and hair I borrowed a copy of Confessions of a Shopaholic. I’ll probably finish this one, but 112 pages in, I’m not feeling particularly entertained by it. I sure hope the movie is more interesting.

Since I’m not having much luck in my book selections lately, I was wondering if any of have recommendations. The books can be fiction or non-fiction, but I’m hoping for something that will either inspire, enlighten, or at the very least entertain me. If you have any suggestions please leave a comment below.

February 17, 2009 at 4:35 AM 11 comments

A Great Little iPhone Application

While patiently waiting for over an hour at the doctor’s office I began to peek through the App Store on my iPhone and came across a sweet little application called the Gratitude Journal. I immediately fell in love with the cute little Buddha Baby depicted in the application and decided to spend 99 cents to install it.

The Gratitude Journal enables users to create lists of items that they are thankful for each day. Users can attach a picture to each journal entry and even rate the day to see which ones are the best. Each time you create a new entry you are presented with the words, ‘Today I am grateful for…’.

Since I downloaded the application I must admit that I am searching for items in the day that I am grateful for, and somehow the mere act of searching is making me feel more and more grateful.

If you don’t have an iPhone or you don’t want to spend .99 cents downloading this application I suggest creating a small journal of your own. Any small pocket sized memo book or spiral notebook will do, but I suggest keeping it with you at all times if possible. I find myself jotting down moments as they occur or just after they happen and I strive to find at least three events or people each day for which I am grateful.

I’ve written about similar journals in the past. There is something inspiring and enlightening about focusing on the good in your day. I hope you will be inspired.

February 16, 2009 at 4:55 AM 1 comment

Considering Buying a Camera

Since I bought my husband a Nikon D40 two years ago he has become a semi-professional photographer. He started shooting sports, then special events and most recently weddings. Of course, he’s upgraded all of his equipment and purchased new bodies and lenses as his career has progressed. His photographs have gotten better and better over time and everyone agrees that his photos are amazing.

Unfortunately, he tends to keep his camera equipment with him at all times, so although we own a ton of expensive camera equipment it’s really not available for my use most of the time. I find myself thinking more and more about purchasing a camera of my own. I’m inspired by my husband’s photos and the photos of bloggers who post photos every day.

The trouble is… I’m not certain that I’ll really take a lot of pictures if I buy one. I might be excited right now, but as time progresses it may just collect dust on the shelf. So rather than buying a new or used camera right away, I’ve decided to try to earn the money for it by selling items on eBay. If I can earn at least half of the money in the next month or two then I’ll feel more justified in making the purchase.

February 14, 2009 at 4:40 AM 4 comments

Am I Too Trusting?

On January 31st I sold two sets of basketball tickets to two brothers from Baltimore. When the brothers arrived to pick up the tickets one of the brothers immediately paid me in cash for one set of tickets. The other brother reached in his pocket, then hesitated and asked if he could send me a check for the other two tickets later in the week.

I really wanted to get paid for both sets of tickets that day, but I ultimately agreed that I could wait for his check to arrive. As a sign of good faith I handed over both sets of tickets. I waited a full week for the check, but it never came. I contacted the second brother and asked when he mailed the check. He told me he hadn’t mailed it yet. Then he asked if I could wait a few more days to be paid.

Again I begrudgingly agreed to wait and even suggested that he pay me on the day of the game, but as time passes I am now beginning to wonder if I will ever be paid.

February 12, 2009 at 4:50 AM 13 comments

Budgeting Software for Your Cell Phone

Does anyone use budgeting software to track spending from their iPhone or Blackberry? At the suggestion of a friend I’ve tried out a few iPhone applications, but none of them really seem to have everything I’m looking for. In the short term I downloaded Balance, which is the most basic of applications. I’m currently using it to key in purchases so I don’t have to carry around a bunch of receipts.

If any of you have used budgeting or tracking software that you like please let me know. In particular I’m looking for an application that will seamlessly allow me to transfer data from my iPhone to my home computer.

February 10, 2009 at 4:55 AM 7 comments

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