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Archive for August, 2011

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The other day, I was reading how Wells Fargo, my bank, was planning on charging a monthly fee of $3 for using debit cards to make a purchase.  This is not to withdraw money from another bank’s ATM, but simply the act of making a purchase.  Go out to dinner and pay with your debit card?  If you do it only once, that’s $3.   It is not per transaction, thankfully.

Starting in October in five states, Wells Fargo & Co. will charge customers $3 per month if they use a debit card to make purchases. Customers can avoid the fee if they don’t use their card or by signing up for certain checking accounts.

Source: Detroit News

Wells Fargo doesn’t say anywhere on their site that they are planning to do this, and as of yet I haven’t received any notifications in the mail.  Yet this really annoys me.  I refuse to pay this outrageous fee, even though it is $36/year and I waste way more money than that on plenty of other purchases.  Why should I have to pay for access to my own money?

Luckily, I have plenty of other banks accounts.  The only reason I use Wells Fargo is because my mortgage is with them.  Since I am not planning on taking out a loan any time soon, I could just close all of my accounts with them, saying “See you.  Thanks for pulling a Netflix!” (Netflix is raising its rates by 60% and admitted in a blog post that they were going to anger customers but didn’t care).

But whereas with Netflix I don’t have any equivalent options to stream TV and movies, with Wells Fargo, I do.  There are other banks that don’t pull stunts like this.  The only inconvenience is that Wells Fargo has ATMs everywhere while my credit union does not and if I ever wanted to withdraw cash, I’d have to do it ahead of time instead of the assurance I need that I can find a Wells Fargo just about anywhere in the United States.

The alternative to using debit cards is to use credit cards, specifically my American Express, or to use cash.  The problem with Amex is that not every place takes it.  The problem with using cash is that it is a hassle to track in my spending reports.  This leaves me with various options:

  1. Stay with Wells Fargo and absorb the $3 per month.  This is the least attractive option on principle, but still is convenient.  I can withdraw money from ATMs but can never use the card to pay a merchant.  The solution is to bury the card deep in my wallet so I never accidentally use it, move over my primary account to another bank and then set up automatic bill payments to pay my mortgage.
  2. Dump Wells Fargo and switch to using cash.  As discussing above, I could do this but I’m still stuck with a Wells Fargo account for my mortgage, and I don’t like paying with cash because of the inconvenience (difficult to track and I have to carry around loose change).

  3. Dump Wells Fargo and switch to using credit cards.  As above, not every place takes Amex, but if I pay with Amex more I get points (which I use, contrary to what Dave Ramsey says) and I have always paid off the balance every month anyhow (plus I can automate that bill payment).  In the few times I can’t use Amex, I just use my other debit card.  The drawback is that I can’t use ATMs anywhere but have to be very opportunistic.  I’m also stuck with the Wells Fargo mortgage.

On the other hand, it may not even matter because I might have an account that doesn’t have these charges and I have a high enough minimum balance.  But don’t make me pay for accessing my own money.  There are plenty of other options out there.

Including using cash.

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This post is dedicated to my friend Shaun Warkentin.  While I don’t know if he’s ever done this, I know for a fact that he has wanted to.

Have you ever been at a traffic light wanting to turn right and been stuck behind a line of cars?  We all have.  But lo and behold, just off to the right, there is a parking lot that you could cut through.  Rather than waiting for the light to turn red, why not cut through the parking lot of the convenience store or gas station, save yourself 30-60 seconds and continue on your merry way?

Don’t do it.

Why not?  Because it’s illegal.  One day several months ago, I allegedly did that very thing.  Yet seconds after I pulled into traffic into the perpendicular road, a set of flashing lights lit up behind me.  I pulled over and as it turned out,  I was cited for allegedly cutting through a private parking lot in order to avoid a traffic signal and was given a ticket for committing that infraction.

Great.

Luckily, through work, I have a pre-paid legal plan that I pay for every month.  One of the deals is that each year, you get to have a lawyer challenge one traffic violation “for free” (the premium covers it and you don’t have to pay anything extra).   I looked up a traffic lawyer, gave him my case information, and then he went to court for me.  That was all I had to do.

The result?  The traffic ticket was dismissed.  It didn’t go on my record or anything.  It’s clean as a whistle (other than the one accident I had 3+ years ago which was my fault).

Still, I learned my lesson.  Every time I have the chance to stop waiting so long at the lights, I resist the temptation to cut through a parking lot.  It’s not worth the cost.

Even though I still won.

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Now that the marriage of myself to my beta wife is coming up soon, a certain question is coming up.  All of you who are married recently or have a certain condition know what I mean.

When are you having kids?

Notice how there is a presumption within the question.  It’s not “Do you plan to?  And if so, when?” it’s “Since you are clearly going to, when do you plan to start?”

The question is phrased in various ways and not nearly that direct.  It’s statements like “So, are you guys planning on having kids, even though you’re not yet married and have other things to sort out?” with a smiley nod.  Or “If you want to have kids, you need to get started soon” (since I am 32 and the BW is 29).

I always knew that the question was coming, and others have talked about it, but I couldn’t relate to it until it actually started happening.  The fact is that if we divide up our life into phases, the phase that the both of us have planned is between now and the end of September, and to a lesser extent the end of the December, and that phase includes getting married, taking a trip to New Zealand, and moving all of the BW’s stuff from her place to my place and figuring out a plan to either sell her place (preferable) or rent it out (more likely).  Beyond that is up in the air.

Don’t worry, if we’re going to have kids, rest assured you will all find out on Facebook.

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As the wedding between myself and my beta wife approaches, there are a couple of questions that come up frequently:

  1. How’s the wedding planning coming?

    This has not been a major issue.  We have slowly but surely plowed along and taken care of all of the big things.  Both us us will be glad when it is done, though, and both of us want to get this story going.

    All I can say is that I am glad we didn’t stretch out this engagement to many more months.  That would not work for me or my beta wife.  Seriously, how do people drag this out for months or even years?

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  2. Are you getting nervous?

    The answer right now is no.  I don’t think I’ll get nervous until either the week before, or possibly even the day of (I don’t get nervous before magic shows until right before I go on, but 20 seconds after I start it goes away).

    This is something I am looking forward to, and don’t want to back out of, and I think any feelings I have are a combination of anxiety, excitement… and maybe some nervousness if I really focus on it.

    But overall I am feeling pretty good.

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My beta wife and I were picking up some bubble tea recently and we were discussing the fact that she had to go to work, while I was going to go down to the restaurant where we are holding our reception and pay for the rest of it (I had put down a deposit and second deposit).

BW: What are you going to do today?

Me: I’m going to head down to the restaurant and pay for the rest of the reception.

BW: Did you remember the form that shows our reservation?

Me: No, I forgot it at home.  But they should have a copy there.

BW: Hmmm (using a tone that implies this is a total disaster).

(seconds later, no other conversation occurred during this limited time frame)

Me: I guess I could go home and get it.

BW: You don’t have time; it’s no big deal, they’ll probably have a copy there.

Me: That’s what I just said!

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Several years ago I made a decision to cut back on eating a lot of sugar.  I did this because:

  • It has no nutritional value.
  • It is bad for your teeth.

Now, I eat it sometimes.  Occasionally I have some chocolate or candy.  But I try to watch what I have and consume it once in a while instead of several times per day.

The problem is that my stomach developed an intolerance to high doses of sugar.  When I eat something really sweet*, such as a milkshake from Tech City Bowling, my stomach protests by becoming nauseous either later that night or the next day (my stomach protests lots of things; I think it might be an unemployed university student).

I somehow forget this all the time.  For instance, last night I was a my beta wife’s aunt’s (?) place.  They were celebrating one of the girl’s birthdays.  While there, they had some cake from the Cheesecake Factory.  What did I do?  I had a piece of cheesecake and it was really good!  I ate the whole thing!  I decided to have a small piece of a second cake but I didn’t have much, it was too chocolately for me.

I thought that was that.

Unfortunately, I got to work the next day and at around 10 am, I started to feel nauseous.  My stomach was woozy and I wondered whether I would be able to go all day without exhuming its contents, if you know what I mean.  But only an hour or two earlier, I felt absolutely fine.  Even now as I type this, a few hours later, I feel pretty good.

But for a few hours I did not feel good.  My stomach was protesting and I thought to myself “Why do I feel this way? Oh, yes, the cheesecake.”

How do I know it was the cheesecake? I don’t know.  But there are many times when I have a very sugary snack and later that night or the next day I am paying for it.  And each time, I think back to my memory and ponder “What did I eat?” and frequently the common thread is a dessert that is rich in either sugar or milk or a combination of the two.  Cheesecake fits that.

And I do this often.  I can never seem to remember that if I eat that stuff, I will pay for it.  I remembered once and was proud of myself.  But yet I always forget for the next time.  I keep thinking that it must be a coincidence but it usually isn’t (there are times I have eaten other foods that have made me violently ill but were not sugary; I tell you, my stomach is a hippie liberal that protests everything).

I need to carry around a card with me that says “Don’t eat the super sugar, you will pay for it later on!”  Maybe that would fix me.


* Sugary drinks like Pepsi and Coke are fine.

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The other day I came across a program called PDF-XChange Viewer.  It’s a program that lets you read Adobe pdf files. 

But PDF-XChange is everything that Adobe Acrobat Reader is not – it’s fast, loads quickly and isn’t bloated with tons of unnecessary stuff.  And why is it that every time Adobe upgrades their software they default it to the way I don’t want it?  I have to set up buttons to zoom in, select text and so forth. 

PDF-XChange is way better than Acrobat, so much so that I uninstalled Acrobat Reader (that way I don’t have to upgrade it every week).  The only annoying thing is the integration with Ask.com (huh?).  Fortunately, you can turn it off.  But other than that, it’s much better than Adobe Acrobat.  Go ahead and give it an install and let me know if you agree.

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A few months ago I installed Google Chrome.  I’m not sure what version it was, maybe 9?  Anyhow, I used it for a couple of days and stopped.  I didn’t like it.

Well, fast forward a few months and I have changed my mind.  I use two browsers – Internet Explorer 9 and Firefox.  Both of these have a similar user interface as Google Chrome.  I use Internet Explorer because to browse the sites on the corporate network, I have to use it.  It natively integrates with the internal applications.  Unfortunately, it crashes so much.  Whenever I click on a link that opens a new tab in IE, and that link is not an internal site, IE crashes.  I’d say that it crashes 10-15 times per day.  True, the one tab is the one that crashes but it brings up a popup window that doesn’t go away.  There’s no error window or anything, I have no idea why it crashes so frequently.  It may be unique to my computer, but I don’t have the patience to debug it.

That’s why I have my backup browser, Firefox (which is actually my primary browser for anything not work-related).  Unfortunately, I went to a website the other day and tried to do a search (Webjet.com) and Firefox wouldn’t work.  I couldn’t enter in anything into the search fields nor the date fields.  Even though I typed stuff in, the window said “You must enter in a departure city.”  Great.  The Javascript isn’t working.  Whatever.  I couldn’t use Internet Explorer on this site either because it kept crashing. 

I had no other options.  “I guess I could install Chrome and try this website.”  I went to Chrome’s webpage, downloaded it and ran it.  To my pleasant surprise, the website (Webjet) worked.  And it was fast!  I was shocked.  Shocked!  Webjet is such a slow site but on Chrome it was responsive.  And Chrome loaded really quickly!  In fact, it loaded most other websites quickly, better than either Internet Explorer or Firefox.  And I was used to the user interface because Internet Explorer and Firefox look the same way.  So basically, Internet Explorer always crashes, Firefox doesn’t work with some important websites I visit, but Chrome is fast and it doesn’t crash.

I hate to say it, but Chrome is the browser at the moment that is working best for me.  I resisted for so long… but dang, that browser is treating me well.

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Spending habits in 2011

When I first took Dave Ramsey’s course on Financial Peace, I resisted the idea of tossing away my credit cards.  Carrying cash was too inconvenient for me.  Yet in the class, I became swayed to try it.  The rationale is that even if you pay off your credit card bills each month, you’re still more likely to buy 15% more for stuff (i.e., buy extra stuff) than you would normally do if you weren’t using a credit card and were instead paying cash.

I decided to try using cash for a while.  It worked for a while but eventually I reverted back to using my plastic cards.  I did this for two reasons:

  1. The points – One of Ramsey’s criticisms of credit cards is that one reason people use them – to get points – is not a good deal.  Most points expire worthless so you’re using something that doesn’t help you much, if at all.

    But I use my points.  In April of this year, myself and the beta wife went to Utah and rented a car.  I used my points that I had earned to get $100 off of the rental car.  Now granted, $100 off the rental price is good but the card’s annual fee is $100 so it is a wash, but I do use my points. Saying I should get rid of my credit card because I don’t use the points anyhow is like saying I should get rid of my toothbrush because I don’t use the toothpaste.

  2. The hassle of tracking cash – I like to use Mint.com to track all of my spending.  This works well except for tracking purchases made with cash.  Those are not entered in, obviously.

    This means that if I am going to track my spending myself, I have to enter in all of my cash purchases into an Excel spreadsheet.  That is a royal pain in the posterior.  It got to be so much of a pain that after doing it for three months I fell off the wagon and haven’t gotten back onto it. 

    I think that not using cash means that I spend more money than I might normally, but I don’t think it makes that much difference.  Mint.com still tracks all of my ATM withdrawals.  I can view my cash purchases based upon that (this does mean that if I pay cash at a restaurant, it goes untracked as part of the Food/Restaurant budget).

I went to Mint.com and got a pie chart consisting of all of my spending for 2011 thus far.  You can see it below:

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In the above, the Travel category includes travel for work (it pulls my American Express Account from work) and Uncategorized = ATM withdrawals.

There are a lot of non-negotiable costs involved in my spending this year.  I have to pay my mortgage and HOA dues.  I have to pay my utilities (and since I live on the ground floor my heating costs have skyrocketed compared to my old apartment).  I have to pay for gas and I have contributed a good chunk towards donations.

The only places where there is some wriggle room is in Shopping (3% and I needed to replace some clothes as my belly has gotten bigger in the past year) and Restaurants.  But together, that place where I can cut costs amounts to 5% of my spending.  That’s not enough of a difference maker to want me switch back to spending cash instead of credit.  If my negotiable spending is 10% of my total spending, and I spend 15% more because I am spending it all on credit, then 15% of 10% is 1.5%.

So, I can save 1.5% of my total spending this year if I spend cash instead of credit.  That’s not enough to make me want to take the time to enter it all into an Excel spreadsheet instead of taking the small hit of 1.5%.  I calculated that to a numerical value and I can make up for that by writing two articles for an online magazine that pays me a good chunk of cash for each one (and I’ve already written four this year).  I also lose that much through bad trades on the market; if I want to save that $1000, I should stop making poor trades (somewhat achieved this year).

I’m going to stick to using my credit cards.

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Charity updates

Earlier this year, I commented that I planned to give more money to charity.  Well, that goal is being achieved.  I have given money to a local church, to Engineers Without Borders, to the American Red Cross, and to the Ayn Rand Institute.  I still plan to give some money to Doctors Without Borders and a new one I discovered a month ago, Room to Read (a charity that builds schools in the developing world).

I prefer giving money to the latter four organizations not because I think that their work is more important but because the company I work for will match my donation 100% up to $12,000 per year.  I’m no where close to that but it’s nice to be able to get a two-for-one.

Because of a couple of large expenses this year that I didn’t foresee (roof replacement cost for the condo, wedding) that has impacted my giving somewhat but I still plan to get to at least several thousands in charitable giving.

That’s a pretty good goal for 2011.

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One of the things that annoys me about my beta wife’s vehicle (a Honda CR-V) is that the outside key lock doesn’t work on the driver’s side.  You put the key in and turn and nothing happens.  It doesn’t even turn all the way, it gets stuck halfway there.  It’s annoying.

And even more so, one of the irritating things about Hondas in general (I used to drive a Honda but I don’t know if they have changed the “design”) is how unlocking the doors isn’t all that intuitive.  On my old Honda, if you unlocked the driver side door (using the keys, not remote unlock), it only unlocked the driver’s door.  In order to unlock everyone’s door, you had to unlock the passenger door first.  This is a weird way to do things although there are some uses to it.

But back to my beta wife’s car, because the door lock is so messed up, this leads to awkward openings of the vehicle.  In order to unlock the driver door, you have to unlock the passenger door, crawl across and physically unlock the door lock.  You cannot use the electric locks because that unlocks all the other doors except for the driver’s door.

In order to lock the car, you have to close the driver side, open the back passenger door and press the door lock which then locks all of the doors in the vehicle.

You can see how awkward and annoying it is.

The first couple of time I drove the vehicle, this seriously irritated me.  So much so that I said “Carol!  When I get some money together I am getting that car door fixed!”

Yet now that I have driven it a few times, I have started to get used to it.  It doesn’t bother me so much and is liveable.  When I go to the car I say “Oh, I have to unlock the passenger door first and crawl across.”  When I get out of the car I say “Oh, I have to close the door, open the back one, reach around and lock the door.”

In other words, it’s lame but I don’t mind as much.  And I knew that would happen.  When you first encounter something you don’t like, you are appalled by it.  You want to change it as soon as you can.  But after you live with it for a while, you find it annoying but not especially so.  It’s a minor inconvenience.  My left hip is still sore but it’s feeling much better than only a few months ago (my right hip hurts a lot more, though).  I can live with my left hip for the most part.

Or stuff in my house.  I wanted to change the floor badly when I first moved in but now I can live with it.  Having to live with unpleasant things for a period of time dulls your sensitivity towards it.  It’s like that at work, too.  There are a bunch of things that we’d like to change and when new people start, they’re all “Well, why don’t you change this?  Why don’t you change that?  This has to change!”  But the thing is, we all thought that but now that we’ve been doing it for so long like that, nobody cares… except new people.

And so it is with this car. I knew that eventually I would grow to tolerate it and that’s what happened.  I should have gotten it fixed while it still irked me so much.

Maybe I’ll do it one day.  Or not.

Meh.

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Before this wedding started, we had a plan.  That plan was that we would have a reception of about 120 people.  It was also based upon the assumption that only 80% of the people we invited would say yes.

That is not quite working out to be the case.

I had a contingency plan (as is my style).  That contingency assumed that it was far more realistic that we would get 140 people instead of 120.  You see, I don’t live in Fantasy Land down on 123 Make-Believe Lane, I live in the real world.  I had mentally budgeted for this but assumed that there would be a few people who wouldn’t say yes.  After all, various folks all said “Oh, you’ll only get an 80% acceptance rate or so, if that.  Don’t worry, you’ll be fine.”

Those people have no idea what they are talking about.

Before we handed out all of the invitations, I made a list of the people who I thought I would invite and would probably say yes.  This included people from both here in Washington and back in Canada, not too mention a few others.  I figured that most of them would say yes.

As it turns out, I was right.  Everyone from out here in Washington (other than two couples who are tardy in their responses) have accepted the invite.  As we started getting responses back, I thought to myself “See?  I was right to plan for more.  Good thing I am a mentalist and can foretell the future otherwise we’d be freaking out that we have to order more tables than we had originally planned.”

But speaking of getting responses back, we are currently at 135 people.  Last week at this time, we were 67.  What can I say?  Half the people waited until the last minute (the deadline was Sat, Aug 6 whereas today is Thurs, Aug 11) to RSVP.  Sorry, that’s not accurate; 40% of the people waited until the last minute.  Another 10% came in after the deadline.  I have a sneaky suspicion that others will do the same.

It just goes to show that if it weren’t for the last minute, nothing would ever get done.

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My fiancée and I met up with a wedding planning co-ordinator and we let them know what we were planning to do for the ceremony.  We’re not doing anything too extravagant, it’s just a simple event (the cost of which is becoming difficult to contain).

When we were asked what music was going to play after the pronouncement, I lobbied for the Final Fantasy Victory music.  I think that would make a fantastic piece of music, but my fiancée vetoed it.  Well, what about one of the interludes?  Perhaps when we’re doing something like lighting the candles, we could play the Final Fantasy prelude theme.  That got vetoed, too.

I thought about pushing for perhaps the Legend of Zelda Kakariko Village song, but that’s too slow.  The odds of hearing any video game music at this wedding ceremony are exceptionally small.

But don’t count out the reception!

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Cats

Over the years, I have had a lot of cats.  As my beta wife and I are considering getting one, I think back to the many I have gone through.  The list I have below is by no means exhaustive, but just goes to show you I have a lot of experience in dealing with cats.


Scooter

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Scooter was Hampton’s mother (Hampton described below). She was the friendliest cat we ever had. She was completely black and even from a young age, enjoyed being around people. Even if there were large groups around, she would still come and hang out with the people.

Scooter had her own unique personality. She learned that when my mother called out the name of our dog “Misty!” at the front door, it meant food was coming. Thus, if you ever wanted to call for Scooter, you would simply call for the dog. Scooter loved the dog. We used to think that maybe she though she herself was one. This was never confirmed, but she followed the dog around a lot. The dog just tolerated her.

Scooter’s one drawback was when we kept Hampton.  She didn’t get along with him when he got older. She would growl at him and strike out at him. Sometimes they would get along, but rarely. He did nothing to antagonize her (other than attack her head from time to time), but it didn’t matter. She didn’t enjoy his presence.

Spooky

imageWhile Scooter and Ham were good cats, Spooky was the opposite. She was a dumb cat. It’s not that she was mean or nasty, but instead was too skittish. Unlike every cat we ever had, she would always run away from us. It was rare that she ever allowed herself to be picked up or played with. We gave her plenty of chances but she was the same right up until the last day we saw her.

I’m not sure why this was; we got her at a young age and she had Scooter as a friend to show her as an example. She never warmed up. That’s one type of cat I would never want again.

In this picture of her, the only one I have, it’s hard to see her nose and mouth but she was black with long fur.

Hampton

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Hampton, also known as Ham or the Old Ham,  was one of the bigger cats we had, and did we ever put him through his paces.  He was very hyper and when he was younger, he used to run around the place and get into all sorts of mischief. 

He also had this peculiar habit of eating boxes.  We had a room where we stored firewood and sometimes he would sleep in there in his box.  However, he would chew on the box.  By the time he was finished over a period of several months, Hampton had managed to devour three sides of the box, leaving only thin columns.  I never figured out why he did this.

Molly

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Molly, who’s original name was Max, was a cat we picked up after the deaths of Hampton and Scooter (which occurred in the same year).  When we first got her, she was wild.  She was skittish and not very friendly, even a little mean.  She was an unpleasant cat.

Yet we worked with her and a remarkable transformation occurred.  By playing with her a lot, and harassing her, she became both friendly and docile.  She was nice to be around.  If you would have seen her when she was a kitten to when she was an adult, you wouldn’t know she was the same cat.  It was odd that she became a good cat while Spooky never did.

 

Java

imageCompared to the others, Java has put up with more abuse from my brother than any other cat.  We have had her ever since she was born and she is probably the best cat we have had (we’ve definitely had her longer than any of the others).

Java is very friendly and loves people, but not large crowds.  Lots of people cause her to hide, but amongst her owners she is very friendly and personable.  As she has gotten owner she has gotten more “cat-like”, but she still likes to hang around people even if she doesn’t feel like being picked up and held.

She has definitely fatter as she has gotten older but she still likes to go hunting occasionally and drop off dead rabbits and birds at the door step.

Grady

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Grady, also known as Gradybird, Gradel or Goober, is a cat I only “had” for three months.  He was the neighbor’s cat and would wander into my place.

He was very friendly and playful and liked attention.  He would rub his head up against everything and even sit on you and knead his paws.

Yet Grady had a nasty side to him.  He could be very temperamental and strike out at you and leave deep claw marks.  You could never full trust Grady because you weren’t sure when his personality was going to flip to mean Grady.  Still, I miss him because he was fun to harass and poke a stick into his belly.


A big reason why our cats have always been so friendly is because they put up with a lot.  I have seen a lot of other people’s cats and they are not always so mellow.

Kittens are easier to deal with because I can train them from when they are small.  Once they get older, they are set in their ways (kind of like people).

Will I get myself another cat?  We shall see!

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A pair of magical stories

Yesterday, I was doing some walk around magic for a community event put on by a local church.  This type of magic is pretty easy for me, I just walk around and find people and perform the same tricks over and over again.  Here are a couple of stories.

  1. I wanted to do a book test.  This is where I have a person select a word from a book and then I guess what it is.

    Before I started to perform, I put a little spin on the effect: I wrote the word that they were going to think of on my left leg underneath my pantaloons.  The idea was that just as I revealed the word, I would roll up the pant leg and show them their word.  Pretty cool, huh?

    I then went and did the trick and went through the motions.  However, right at the very end, just as I revealed it, I said “Hold on” and bent down and rolled up my right pant leg revealing… nothing.  The word was gone!

    Thinking quickly, I said “Uh, never mind.”  I then completed the trick by just saying what their word was and everyone was amazed.

    What went wrong?  Did the ink wear off?  Nope.  It turns out that I rolled up my right pant leg.  I should have rolled up my left pant leg.  D’oh!  Brain cramp!

    Gotta remember those types of things.

  2. I next performed a trick for a kid about 10 years old or so by the name of Sammy.  Sammy was interested in magic and when I was finished, he asked me to teach him a trick.

    I’m never too keen on revealing anyone a magic trick’s secret.  I’m slightly more keen on teaching something.  But the problem is that most people are so enamored of magic that they want to amaze all of their friends without taking the time to learn the art’s intricacies and, even more so, taking the time to master the trick.  It’s work and isn’t something that is picked up in 3 minutes’ rehearsal.

    Still, I decided to show Sammy a trick.  Sammy is not yet a muggle.  Adults I never show anything unless they beg, but maybe, just maybe, Sammy will keep up his practice.  I decided to show him a simple coin vanish, one of the first ones I ever learned and still use today because it is useful.  I showed him the mechanics and then watched him practice.

    Later on, he showed the trick to the mayor of Redmond.  He messed up the first time and then got it the second time, although he performed it exceedingly poorly (i.e., guilty hands).  Still, maybe he’ll keep practicing and will perfect the move and will become a sleight-of-hand master.  His desire to learn and then immediately perform it is what impressed me; kids are so much more malleable and they have a desire to do the cool stuff which is why I helped him.

    Maybe I saw a little bit of me in him.

Those are my two stories.

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