Thursday, July 31, 2008

It's Thursday! WTF?

It has been a hot and pretty stinky week. I don't mind the heat, it's the humidity that is killing me. That gives me one more reason to move out of this area and to Las Vegas. I wish I could. It would take beau-coup bucks to move, which I am living barely check to check now a days. I have been informed through the grapevine my rent will increase, along with the cost of everyday living here on the north coast of the US. I don't want to start running up credit cards for everyday purchases, that will only get me into trouble.

Well, the tipping point is getting quite near. I have to make some decisions, should I just suck it up for another year? If I move to Vegas, will I just be one more poor transplanted "sucker"? I know my BF won't want me to move, and if I moved to PA, I would take a HUGE pay cut in my profession.

I placed an ad on Craig's List under housing wanted. I received two responses. One wanted to know how much I can afford; I replied and never heard back and the other was selling homes. Nice.

My dear daughter who I love is costing me a small fortune. She has applied for jobs but hasn't even been called for an interview. She has an appointment tomorrow with a disability employment specialist for job training and/or employment. That should help, I hope. Her SSI disability check doesn't cover what she needs every month. I don't know how others who live on their own with the same amount of money exist. After rent and food, there is nothing left over. I am not crying poverty for myself, I am employed full time. My daughter has a redetermination meeting (for Medicaid) with the case worker sometime in August and as I am her rep-payee I'll be attending. I'll have to ask the caseworker if there are any clothing vouchers available for my daughter. It's usually a voucher to a thrift store, not new clothes which my daughter would want. There is a wonderful organization in Lake county that helps people like my daughter with everyday things and I will need to take her there for some assistance. There is no shame in asking for help.

All my utility bills have nearly doubled. I turn down the A/C when I leave for work in the morning and she turns it up when she wakes at 11am, and it is always running.
She said 75 degrees is too hot, but I greatly disagree. There is no "lock" I can use to shut it off. The computer is also running during the day. She leaves the lights on all night, so I have had to remove some of the light bulbs. This is a living nightmare for me and I am at my own tipping point here.

Short of moving into a cave, I feel stuck. My daughter has it too easy, while I am slowly losing my mind.

I wanted to add a little more since I am on my lunch at this time. I spoke with a friend here about my situation. Costs with everything are going up and now may not be the time to move. I managed to call a few apartment complexes to get a general idea of what they are charging. One was close to where I now and the price was lower...but...they charged a flat $80.00 per month for water, sewer, trash collection. That fee made it a bad deal. The cave is starting to look a whole lot better. The office of Ohio Consumers Council are holding public sessions for customers of Dominion East Ohio to speak out about the proposed rate increase for "delivery" charges of gas. It proposes to be a HUGE increase that will break the budgets of all who heat with DEO gas. I know a few co-workers who will speak at the session and I am hoping to speak out as well. If this increase is approved I maybe better off living in a cave! I kept my thermostat below 65 all last winter and really froze and I had huge bills.

I also have been listening to many others opinions as well re: the economy. The housing hasn't hit the bottom yet and the credit cards are probably next. Last night on the national news, a story on car leases, well the big 3 will probably discontinue them, as they are losing money, figuring if you can't afford to but that "luxury" car you should not be able to lease it. Chrysler said no more leases. I lease my car, and have two more years remaining, maybe things will change. I drive a Toyota Corolla, hardly a luxury vehicle!

I have cut back on a lot of purchases. I don't usually buy the daily paper, except when I need newsprint for Cosmo's crate. I usually pick up the free weekly Scene magazine, as it's free and just the right size. I only drink a "fancy" coffee beverage when I have a buy one get one coupon or if it is a treat from someone else. I guess I am spoiled.
I have a stack of coupons from Borders I have to use up before the summer ends. I have stopped buying books, gasp, this was a hard thing to do, however I occasionally make a rare purchase at Half Price books. I take out videos and books from my local library, as does my daughter. Except for my planned vacation at the end of August, I'm only going local the rest of the summer. Community fairs and festivals, that's about it. If I had a good discount to Cedar Point I'd go. I really wanted to stay at a state park in a rented cabin, (20 miles away) but it is too much of a cost right now and I have no supplies. I shop at the lower price food stores. I signed up for all the "perk" programs for pet stuff, ect. I subscribe to a few "cheapskate" email newsletters. I haven't resorted to dumpster diving, yet.

I really think I should cancel my vacation to Las Vegas, but I'd only receive a credit on the airfare, good for one year, and I don't know what will be in the coming year, so we will go. I'll just suck it up. I hope my daughter isn't expecting gourmet food! I have checked a few of "doing Vegas" on the cheap. Just Google "cheap Vegas", there are tons of sites out there. I don't know how safe downtown Vegas is, but I'll soon find out. No, I'm not looking for the 99 cent foot long hot dogs, just some reasonable entertainment and good food, not crappy buffets. Speaking of buffets, all you can inhale is not the way to go. How much can you eat without exploding? I just want good quality food. I love seafood, Asian, and several other "ethnic" cuisines. Mass quantities of "green" and "brown", yuck! Think: Vegas Vacation with Chevy Chase. My daughter becomes bored pretty fast, and I need ideas.

I've made up my mind. I'll stay in the same place for one more year. I'll start a savings account and keep a budget. I'll do a direct deposit from my paycheck so it will be easier to save. I'll have to raise my daughter's rent to cover expenses, this she will hate, but tough! I already take a commuter bus to work, if I buy a monthly pass, I save more, but for the months I am at work the most, i.e. no paid holidays, but that is a crap shoot, what if I become ill, then the savings is erased. Currently weekly pass is $30.00 for 11 rides (get one free), monthly pass is $110.00. There is a lot of competition over gas prices, and they have dropped. My last purchase was $3.61/gal. Currently I have 40 cents off per gal at Giant Eagle. I have maxed out my flexible medical account for this year, so I will have to pay out of my pocket for any medical co-pays and meds.

I have the basic digital cable package from TWC which consists of cable, high speed internet and phone service. The price I pay is a shade over $100.00, ( I have two TV's with DVR service) which includes the taxes, of course. I did the math, checked other carriers and compared prices and this was the best deal. Now, if they decide to change my rates, that's grounds for a price war, as they are in hot competition with the new ATT Uverse, or whatever they call the service. It is not SAT service, which I don't want as the little beasties here vandalize the SAT dishes, I was a victim last year. No, I can't be without TV, internet, and phone. I have a cell phone and have a very good corporate discount, like 23%, and the bill is very reasonable, otherwise I'd have a pay as you go plan. My heating/cooking gas is through an aggregate community program called NOPEC, but I still have to deal with the DEO delivery charges and taxes/fees. I just signed up for the budget billing program. I need to call the Illuminating company to see if they have budget billing as well.

Sunday, July 27, 2008

RenFaire and the rest of the weekend

The weather could not have been better this past weekend. My BF;Jim, Cosmo and myself went to the RenFaire on Saturday. The theme was Pirates. They were pretty well represented. Also billed were Vikings and Warlords. There was a small Viking encampment adjacent to the Checkerboard Stage in the back corner of the faire. We spoke to the Vikings and they had their display of authentic and original artifacts, some a thousand years old. What a display of artifacts! The main character a burly looking clean shaven head had his Norwegian Elkhound in tow. The dog's name was "Otto". Cosmo and Otto played a bit together, although Otto was much larger, there was not a problem. I didn't find anyone who was playing a warlord.

We spoke about our heritage and I said I was thinking of getting a DNA test to see what my real heritage is, but I told him where my grandparents were born and he said more likely than not I have Viking blood in me. You see, my grandmother was born in Russia, which he stated the founders of Russia were Vikings, and then the rest is of German and Hungarian heritage. I better brush up on my history.

My BF was a bit disappointed on the food and drink selection and that money had to be exchanged to "pounds", well I called them "chit". Think: script paper. It was exchanged dollar for dollar, and if you had any left over, well tough luck, better save it for next year. The food was the typical finding you see at a county fair or festival. Nothing to write home about. I had a pepperoni roll and some ice cream and a diet Coke. He has a sausage sandwich and a beer. There were roving entertainment and many in costume. Parents had there children in tow as well. The place was awash in pirates big and small.

I wish I had taken more pictures, but Cosmo; who joined us demanded more attention and managing a camera with a dog is not an easy task.

On Sunday all three of us slept late. After taking Cosmo for a walk, Jim and myself went to Borders for coffee and then to a local Chinese restaurant for lunch and went to do a bit of shopping and went home. After another long walk, we went to the beach for a walk in the adjacent park and then back home where Jim packed up his things for the journey home to Pittsburgh.

My dear daughter also had fun and about 40 minutes ago she returned home. I'm ready for bed now as I must wake at 5am.

Friday, July 25, 2008

TGIF Finally!

Well I bribed my daughter to stay with her BF this weekend, and it only cost me $30.00! She has been seeing him for a while and he is very reliable and trustworthy, plus he lives less that 15 minutes away. He has his own car and is a college student. I also have all his information, should the need arise. Aren't I stealth? He lives with his father in a home adjacent to Lake Erie, a very nice area.

My BF is coming in from Pittsburgh tonight after work. I'm doing the happy dance now. I have no goodies in the home to consume and my fridge is bare. Looks like I'll have a nice dinner somewhere. Totally out of Diet Coke as well. My BF, Jim hasn't met Cosmo yet, and I am sure they will get on well together.

Hopefully the weather will cooperate this weekend and we can visit the Great Lake Medieval Faire. This weekend's theme is Pirate's invasion: Pirates, Vikings, and Warlords--Oh My! The venue is also pet friendly and for an extra $5.00, I can bring Cosmo. The bad news, it looks line rain tomorrow, so I may have to conjure up alternative plans. There are also several local festivals in the area including the Little Mountain Heritage Festival, a few church festivals, (gotta have those Slovenian sausages), and several movies that were just released. Every church festival I have been to had a gambling tent and beer for sale. No wonder people line up for confessions! I have heard good reviews about the X Files movie. A new bar and grille has opened not too far from me and it maybe worth making a visit.

Monday, July 21, 2008

Review of my long weekend.

My SO and I had a wonderful time this past weekend in Pittsburgh, PA. Friday night we saw Blue Oyster Cult up close and personal. We were joined by Colonel Smitty and his spouse, Katie who drove in from Washington DC. In record time I must say. Being pressed against the stage afforded us the best view and a surprise at the end. After attending a huge amount of rock concerts since my teenage years (and never having anything to show for it, albeit ticket stubs and memories) I was given the guitar pick from Buck Dharma. Mrs. Colonel also received a pick. My SO was pretty green with envy and the Colonel's brother who is a huge BOC fan will be pretty jealous as well. After the concert we made our way to a local seafood restaurant for some beers and food. The food was typical seafood fare. The fried clams were delicious, but my crab cakes were horrible. They tasted like dough. My SO commented on the fried clams as tasting like the old "HoJo's. All three of them consumed Black and Tans and I had a Sam Adams Boston Lager and two Diet Coke's. The Colonel and Katie then left for Washington, DC arriving at 3am. Smitty said he slept until 7am and then did a five mile run. Wow, now thats Army training!

On Saturday my SO and I went to Zele to the Horse Trading Days for a bit of shopping and fun. We stopped for lunch at the Z cafe and he had a fried fish sandwich and I had a Philly steak and cheese sandwich and we shared Sweet potato fries. The sandwiches were good but the fries made me a bit sick. I think they used poor grade cooking oil, who knows, what made me a bit sick. OK, I know, TMI. It could have been the hot and humid sunny weather. I probably should have consumed more water. We both slept like bears that night, and I didn't snore that much, well I think I didn't.

On Sunday, we both slept in. We had breakfast and then went to Borders and did some shopping. I was on the hunt for a winter Penguins coat, but had no luck. I did however buy a cap and T-shirt. We both went back to his house and I finished packing and left for home. The drive was fine up until the monsoon rains. The temperature went from 92 degrees to 71 in a matter of five seconds. I must have hit a huge cold front. It went from bright sunshine to black skies which lasted a good 45 minutes of treacherous driving.

For your viewing pleasure I present several photos of the BOC concert, myself and Mrs Colonel, showing our Buck Dharma guitar picks. (Please scroll down further to view.)

The song list :

This Ain't The Summer of Love
Before The Kiss
Burning For you
Shooting Shark
The Vigil
ME 262
Cities on Flame
Buck's Boogie
Black Blade
The Last Days of May
Don't Fear The Reaper

The Colonel and Katie have invited my SO and yours truly to the BOC concert in Lancaster, sometime in September. Lancaster is a long way to drive from Mentor,OH, so I'm not 100% sure I can drive there. I also have an Iced Earth concert the same week, and I purchased the VIP package and took the following workday off. I don't think I'll be able to get another day off from work. But, I can try, won't cost a thing to try. My SO is a professor at a small liberal arts college in Pittsburgh, and sadly he won't be able to attend Iced Earth, due to his class schedule. He is a huge IE fan. BOC also played Erie,PA Saturday night and someplace near Canton,OH last night. I wish I would have had more energy to see those shows.

Somehow while editing I deleted the paragraph on how well my dear daughter, Chelsea took care of the Cosmo this past weekend. I am very proud of her as she was able to tear herself away from myspace to care for Cosmo. She even bathed Cosmo and he smelled oh so clean until I took him out for his walkee and he managed to pick the bare dirt filled spot in the lawn to roll around and deposit his scent. He is continuing to improve on the leash and really tries to sit on command. However, even with the improvements, I think it's off to puppy school pretty soon. Cosmo is just one of those puppies you fall in love. He is so chipper especially when I come home from a stressed out day at work, which lately has been pretty frequent. He makes me forget about my problems.

Well, I am back at my desk now, at work, of course. I showed off my "Pick of destiny" to all my friends and they are a bit taken aback, asking me what I had to do to get the pick. Well, they have heard stories about rock stars and groupies. I reassured them I didn't have to do anything to get the pick. Like, they really believed that one!

Thursday, July 17, 2008

A few random photos

I'm trying to find some spare time at the end of my stressed out day to edit some photos that are trapped on my hard drive. I hear them yelling at me, let me out of here! I have added the Willoughby Lost Nation Air Show from last weekend, The National Aviary in Pittsburgh in June 08, and a few from Las Vegas in May 08. Also, Blue Oyster Cult from the Mahoning Valley Rib Burn-off June 08. My daughter Chelsea and I were in Red Rock Canyon when this photo was shot by a friend of ours who lives there and was most gracious to show us the city in her beautiful red convertible. The curly ram creatures were in a public park grazing on the grass. We were on our way back from the Hoover Dam (see photo) and stopped for a perfect Kodak moment. The creatures were totally oblivious to us and could care less who was watching them. The dancing fountains were just across the street from Planet Hollywood (where we stayed), and yes, that is the Bellagio. The weird plant life is located in Red Rock Canyon. The two colorful birds were co-stars of a flight in motion show which was quite entertaining. The bald eagle is an injured bird and does not fly and was viewed through protective glass. We shared the company of the Klingon at Quarks Bar in the Las Vegas Hilton after being blown away during the two Star Trek ride attractions. However, he didn't have a lot of kind words about Worf from the Next Gen.

It's only Thursday.

My last day at work this week, I'll be in Pittsburgh tomorrow visiting my SO and attending the free BOC concert. My SO's good friend from the military will meet us at the concert. I know he has a very busy schedule and it is a long drive from Washington, DC. Saturday will be spent visiting the Horse Trading Days festival in Zele and a promised ride on the incline, the one (they have two) I didn't ride last year, plus a walk around Mt. Washington. Albeit cooperation from the weather. On Sunday the usual visit to Squirrel Hill for the requisite falafel sandwich and some culture. I was also told by my SO about the availability of purchasing a Pens winter jacket, as I can't find one on the NHL website to my liking. Yea, I'm from the Cleveland area, but I am a huge Pittsburgh Penguins fan. I really wish they won the Stanley Cup, they were totally awesome this past year. Go Crosby and Malkin! It looks even better for the coming year, as they re-signed most of their players. Detroit just had a more experience team, and most of their players were nearing retirement. My SO just referred to them as a bunch of "old Swedes" wanting to win the Cup one last time. No offense to the Red Wings or the Sweds. "Geno" Malkin I was told had the flu most of the playoffs, correct me if I am wrong. But he was still a threat to be dealt with. I was able to follow some of the games on the VS cable station. With luck I'll be able to see a few games at Mellon arena. I hear a new arena is in the works, but who knows how long it will take to complete.

I'm still waiting for the shopping list from my daughter to appear in my in box. I'll go to the store after work and visit the "money god" so she has some spending money for the weekend. My daughter has been eating way too much junk food and then she complains that nothing fits her. Oh well! Heaven forbid she gets a job and spends her own money. I have no doubt she will be very busy taking care of Cosmo this weekend. Cosmo is turning out to be such a "mensch". My parents haven't met Cosmo, but I'm sure they will soon.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Cosmo the Jack Russell Terrier

As promised here is a photo of Cosmo. As soon as I can figure how to color correct the eyes, I'll edit the picture. I purchased him from a local JRT breeder in Willowick, OH this past June. He was one of five boys in the litter. He has beautiful markings and a hyperactive white nubby tail. He is a six month old intact JRT. He's a real good boy and loves his toys. Don't they all? He is sitting on my daughters lap who is a bit camera shy right now. He is nearly crate trained. Cosmo loves the dog park and taking rides in the car. Cosmo is doing great on his leash and is very friendly with the other canines in the area. Two weeks I had him at Fairport Harbor beach (managed by Lake Metro parks) and he tested the waters of Lake Erie. Unfortunately a very large hound barked at him and scared the bejesus out of him. Cosmo is usually good with large canines, but this one was a total nut case. Fairport Harbor beach is the only one in the area that has an area designated just for the canines.

I had a problem with him doing his business outside (he just didn't want to go) so as a fan of the doglady, I emailed her last week and she gave me great advice. She is published in the local paper on Thursdays. To reach her:

I am feeding Cosmo BilJac dry puppy food now and it seems to agree with him. The food is made in a special process and very digestible. It also produces small waste, which is a bonus for yours truly. It is locally made in Medina, OH and came recommended by a co-worker who raises and shows AKC Bearded Collies.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Lost Nation Air Show Willoughby OH 12 July 2008

Here are a few images I took from a recent local air show this past weekend. Along with the various war birds present there was a WWII reenactment for US, German, Italian, and Russian soldiers. It was quite a sight to be had. One group who frequents the show was absent due to scheduling problems. I missed the US Nurses and their display. The WACS has a very nice display. The show was hampered by a lasting rain shower on the 12th lasting several hours. I took shelter under the wing of the Douglass C-54 "Spirit of Freedom" which participated in the Berlin Airlift in 1948. I purchased a t-shirt commemorating the 60th anniversary of the big lift. The purchase also enabled me to enter the plane and it was totally amazing and throughly restored to its original condition. One of the volunteer crew members stated to me that it costs US2000 dollars to fly for one hour. There was a B-17 "Flying Fortress" and B-25 "Mitchell" on display as well and were offering rides at a cost of US400 dollars. The MiG-17 buzzed my home frequently on the 11th before landing. He was so low the Soviet insignias were visible. The AT-Stinson Reliant was offering rides for US60 dollars, and well worth it! I was able to speak to the very young and handsome pilot of the P-51 "Mustang" while the plane was ferried into the hanger during the downpour. I wish I had the skills to fly. Rounding out the show was the C-123 "Fairchild", CJ-6A Chinese Air Force trainer, and several other smaller planes. This show seemed smaller than in previous years maybe due to the price of fuel, that is my best guess. I along with my daughter enjoyed the show and am looking forward to the Cleveland National Air Show this Labor Day weekend.

Hypersnap and Photoshop

These are two photo editing programs I use, DUH! It just takes time to edit photos, I need a few extra hours everyday to finish my projects. Can't I just keep the sun from setting? Yea, I have heard it all, so easy a caveman can do it, but wait there's more! When the tax deduction was ten she was already making her own power point presentations. Holy shite! I need a drink.

Now for some fun...we are going back to Vegas next month. Planet Hollywood will welcome us both, well, welcome my money in their casino. Found a better, much better price on (WN), Southwest. Flew last May on (CO) Continental and the price was good when I purchased the tickets, it was right before they raised the fares. Now that WN hedged their fuel, they have the best prices, but I really don't see how long it will last. CO now wants over $900.00 r/t CLE to LAS for the both of us. The hotel prices seemed to have dropped this summer. Well, DUH, who wants to go there in 110 degree heat besides me the idiot? I plan to spend plenty of time in the pool area, which I hope has improved since my last visit. My dear daughter really favored the Miracle Mile shops, especially the ABC stores and of course the in house Starbucks. My dear daughter wants to go to the 40/40 club. A glorified sports bar. Oh well.

Do what you love and you'll never work a day.

No, I am not the author of that phrase, but I really believe it wholly. I'm the mom of an 18 y/o daughter and a six month old canine, named...drum roll please, OK more cowbell for all you BOC fans.....Cosmo, the Jack Russell Terror, oh I mean Terrier. I am a social worker by trade for the past fifteen years with the same agency, a miracle in itself. I have just completed the testing requirements to become a Certified Information and Referral Specialist through the Alliance of Information and Referral Systems, aka AIRS. The test seemed as difficult than the social worker boards I passed 15 years ago. Now that's all I need, more letters after my name. I have earned enough CEU's for several doctoral degrees, but still only possess a BA. I will, however accept any and all donations to fund a masters degree at MSASS.

I also love military history and am a novice war gamer. I frequent air shows and reenactments of all military eras. I listen to mostly hard rock and several genres of metal. I have been seen in the audience of Amon Amarth, Heaven and Hell, Megadeath, and Blue Oyster Cult, just to name a few. I also listen to NPR during the day. My dear daughter says I'm turning into "grandfather" as he listens to NPR. I'm a big fan of the BBC's "World Have Your Say", having been in their audience when they were in Cleveland. My hopes are to visit the crew in London in a years time. My favorite channels are the History Channel I and II, Discovery, Science, several non-premium movie channels, and the two local PBS stations. I am sort of fed up with local and national commercial TV stations.

This weekend I'm driving to Pittsburgh to see BOC. I'm leaving the tax deduction home with the pupster and hopefully both will be alive when I return Sunday. My friendly Laketran commuter bus driver said, "Who goes to Pittsburgh? Well, I go to see BOC, attend the Horse Trading Days in Zeleinople, and stay with my best SO. My SO's good friend from the military may be in attendance. In the coming days I'll post pictures, so please keep my blog in mind when you are in need of some off beat humor and sarcasm.