Saturday, March 29, 2008

Green Nerds

You already know we're nerds, so it shouldn't surprise you that we participated in one hour of darkness tonight as part of a global climate change initiative. Earth Hour, now in its second year. Check it out. Small action, but pretty cool.

PS -- I swear I did the whole hour, but I think my computer clock is off because it says I posted this at 8:55 ... not the case.

Friday, March 28, 2008

NH's idea of Spring












Dear Mother Nature,

You do realize it is March 28? Just checking.

Regards,
First time in NH


So yes, we got more snow today. Schools were even closed (which means J’s community and senior centers were closed, although he still worked). I think we got up to 6 inches and now it’s mainly just raining. The good news is that I’m pretty sure we now hold at least the second spot for the snowiest winter record. Yahoo!!!! I haven’t seen confirmed reports, but we are somewhere around 115 inches this year. The winter of 1873/74 still holds first place with 122 inches. Apparently winter is not over just yet, so we’ll see if we can steal the record.

The funny thing is that we were seeing signs of spring just this week. Though the roads still have some massive potholes and frost heaves, you could see grass, dead albeit, but it was there.

Thursday, March 27, 2008

We ran out of luck

We lost our game last night. I’m pretty bummed about it because it’s a team we should have beaten. I don’t think we’ll have a chance at the playoffs with this loss. We only have 3 games left and they are all against good teams. Last night’s team was decent, but I think the cards were against us. It was a 10 o’clock game, we were missing some of our players and the other team had like 15 people on their roster so they were subbing every three minutes. Plus, one ref really hated us or something because he made some bad calls. For example, J scored. The ball made it over the line ever-so-slightly before the goalie picked it up, but nonetheless, it was over. Yet, the ref said it was not a goal. Definitely a crappy call. On a bright note, I did score! And it was legit.

Some of our team is going to play in the next session, but we are not. We will definitely rejoin in the fall. For now, we want to get outside and play! Can’t wait to dust off our kayaks off and get in the water!

Speaking of spring (which I think NH is skipping this year), J sponsored an indoor tag sale through his town Saturday. So we reserved a table and will try to get rid of some of our crap. Amazingly enough, some of the stuff has never seen the light of day through two, maybe three or four different states. I’d say it’s high time to junk it. Whatever does not sell will go to Goodwill because if I have to move it one more time . . .

Monday, March 24, 2008

Coffee, lotto anyone?

My parental units departed this morning. It was really an awesome visit. My dad (Big on Lotto) was in great spirits, despite some big medical issues coming up. I love seeing him like this. It’s hard when you have a chronically ill parent and you are not there in person to see how they are REALLY doing on a day-to-day basis. Not that I want to live with my parents again. No sir, this trip definitely reminded me why I love being on my own! Smooch—love you Mom and Dad. I have to be careful of what I say now that they know how to read my blog …

So as I predicted, we didn’t do much of anything, which was fine. Lots of visiting and quality time together. Sunday was probably the most memorable day. After Mass with a priest that is either a twin or impersonator of Eugene Levy, we ate at an awesome restaurant that J and I love, but hardly go to, The Common Man, and had some good laughs during the meal. Those of you that know Short on Coffee know she doesn’t drink alcohol. J got a Bloody Mary and I got a Mimosa and for some reason, Short on Coffee felt compelled to join the drinking and ordered a Screwdriver. I think she took maybe three sips, but she definitely had a little buzz going on. The fun proceeded at home as Big on Lotto tested us all for diabetes. Short on Coffee, J and I ate some good desserts at the restaurant and Big on Lotto, of course, had none. So after he tested his blood sugar following the meal (which was a “high” 190), he tested all of us and we were under 100. Diabetes is certainly not something to joke about and we do feel bad for my poor Dad, but it gave us all a chuckle in the moment. Some good memories were created this visit.

Also, now that the parental units have left, we can turn back down our heat! Yahoo! Usually our bill goes up $100 or so when they come to visit. Luckily, we don't pay our heat here in NH. BUT, we were still cooked chickens most of the time.

Overall, J was such a good sport with the in-laws. He always is. Makes them coffee nonstop and puts up with their “elderly” ways (Love you again, Mom and Dad). This visit infringed on his March Madness watching, but he didn’t complain once. I mean, he did complain about how his bracketology is screwed, but that's a different story. But thanks J! I guess I will get my own dose of “in-laws” when J and I go to Chicago for a long weekend visit, although I’m not sure it compares.

Friday, March 21, 2008

Score!

My mom brought us good luck in soccer yesterday. We killed the other team. They stopped counting the goals, but it ended up being something like 15-1. So since we were ahead by so much, I played up (I usually play defense). Everyone was trying really hard to set me up for a goal. Finally, I scored. Twice! Once off my shoulder and once I kicked it in. J scored too! After our game was over, the team that was playing next said they needed some girls, so one of my teammates and I stayed and played a second game. Boy was I hurting last night!

Okay, back to entertaining the parental units. Just wanted to share my exciting news:)

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Snow Delay

So my parental units are finally coming to NH for a visit. We’ll call them Short on Coffee and Big on Lotto. They tried for Thanksgiving, but my dad got really sick and they couldn’t make it. Even though my dad’s health is still up and down, they were determined to give it a second try. For now, their trip is delayed. Not because of his health, but because of the snow. Snow? In mid-March? Why of course! We still have a good 2 feet on the ground, though it has been melting these last two weeks. In fact, I have even seen grass in some places! But, the skies opened up and dropped the white stuff down again. The snow is supposed to turn to ice, never a good thing for the roads. And if you think I have a hard time on the back roads around here, I shudder to think about my parents trying to handle them. Some of you may have had the horrifying experience, I mean pleasure, of driving with my dad. He is not a patient man and cannot follow instructions. In any case, hopefully the storm will pass by Thursday morning and they can be on their way. We don’t have much planned for the weekend because, well, they’re 63. A whole lot of eating out, which J and I are actually really looking forward to! March Madness starts tomorrow too, so J is very pumped. He has his bracketology all configured.

Just a little more on snow before I go (hey, that rhymed). It is official. This winter has seen the second highest snowfall (a little over 110 inches) for the area since 1900! In 1995/96, they had 113 inches. I’m sure we will pass that by the end of the season, which is expected to be in June. Last year, they got 19 inches the whole year! We moved here just in time …

Saturday, March 15, 2008

Cut summer camp, cut snow plowing, cut everything!

J and I had a unique experience today. We went to Town Meeting. As unexciting as that may sound, it was truly invigorating.

A little background for you. Most NH towns are not run by city managers, city councils and mayors, you know the people you elect to make decisions for you. Instead, they are run by selectmen, but more importantly, the townspeople themselves. This is our first experience with this form of government. The five selectmen are elected for three-year terms. Basically anyone with a few friends can run. They meet Monday nights to talk about everything from land acquisitions to how to manage town business. The meetings are … comical. Maybe the wrong word to use, but from my experience, the five people never agree. So they argue. A lot.

This time of year is particularly interesting. Town departments propose their budgets, the selectmen recommended changes, then the departments take their changes to a budget committee, who obviously try to cut wherever possible to keep taxes low. So the budget committee presents their revised (read: cut) department budgets at town meeting and the residents vote on it. Have I lost you yet? The main idea is that in NH, you “live free or die.” With no income or sales tax, property taxes fund everything. And it’s all transparent, so people get to decide ultimately where their money goes.

Town meeting apparently got out of hand last year. With crazy increases in property taxes, people were fired up. They wanted to save money every way they could. The town submitted a petition to vote out the recreation department … oh, and the fire department. By a difference of 150 votes, the rec department was saved by the townspeople. This would be the reason the last recreation director left. Mind you, we were not aware of this when considering the job and the move. But, we’re here now, love it and J is up for the challenge.

This year, the budget committee and the residents attacked summer camp. J requested $16,000 to pay for camp counselors. Everything else for the camp (supplies, events) comes from a different part of J’s budget. The committee wanted to cut the $16K primarily because they think summer camp is a babysitting service for rich people and it’s a “want,” not a “need.” Did I forget to mention that this $16,000 divided amongst all the townspeople would cost approximately $6 per family with a $300,000 house? So for the last few weeks, J has been working hard to crunch numbers and be prepared for endless questions from those who disagreed. When it came down to that agenda item at town meeting, there was heated debate. Let me put it to you this way. The whole meeting lasted 4 hours to discuss 21 articles. Summer camp was debated for over an hour. It came down to a ballot vote. By a difference of 70 votes or so, summer camp will live.

This means we will be staying in NH another year! But, this is certainly not the end of the debate on recreation. Nor the end of selectmen stories.

Monday, March 10, 2008

$225,000

Do you ever dream about retirement? Daydream at work and think, oh I can’t wait until the day I can kick back and do nothing but vacation, travel and read books? Of course you have. We all do. But I have some bad news folks. The latest report from Fidelity Investment is out and a couple aged 65 years will need $225,000 in order to retire right now and cover their medical expenses.

$225,000. What? I cannot even fathom having that amount. The even worse news for us 30-something-year-olds is that this figure is only going to grow. Since 2002, the estimated amount has grown 41 percent. Since last year, it’s increased 4.7 percent, or $10,000. If it continues at this pace, we’ll probably need somewhere in the neighborhood of $500,000!

And this is just to cover health costs. Not daily living. Not luxurious travels for which you worked so hard. Not the possible stint in a nursing home.

This has to do with many things. First of all, it’s unlikely that any of us will have employer-sponsored health insurance in retirement. Not like my dad who retired from GMAC after working there 30 years and now has full coverage (including dental and vision) for him and my mom. I mean, I know people who don’t even have job-based insurance WHILE they are working, let alone after they retire.

The second thing affecting the estimate is that people are living longer. This is not to say that people are living longer with perfect health, hence the high medical costs.

Coupled with a lack of post-retirement health insurance is the fact that no one retires from a job with a pension anymore. That means we have to take savings into our hands! Now that’s a scary thought!

The biggest problem with having to save THAT much money during the next 30 years for me is that I like to live and enjoy life in the moment. I am a saver. I’ve always been a saver. But I save on a small scale for a short-term reason. A big trip. A kayak. Eye surgery. J and I have some big plans about what we want to do with our lives. Banking $200K for medical bills still 30 years away is not one of them and I don’t really want to sacrifice our big ideas for a future that is unpredictable. Still, this number did scare me. It’s one of those struggles I have a lot … the balance between carpe diem and being sensible.

I will say that thankfully, my employer was pretty diligent in getting me to start a 401(k) from the beginning of my job and now it’s just natural. I think I have a good head start in there, but nowhere near the amount experts anticipate I will need. And J? He has his piggy bank that he calls his 401(k). We won’t go there. And I will get off my soapbox now. My point--better start saving your pennies.

Friday, March 7, 2008

Babies!

I'm happy to announce the arrival of Antonio William, the first babe of one of my college roommates, Chile. Antonio was born March 4 weighing 7lbs 7oz, 21.5 inches. I haven't talked to Chile yet, but I can't wait to hear all the details! I am taking a trip down to Philly to see her and her little one (and some other friends) in April. Very exciting! Here's a picture of the lil' guy.


And since we're on a topic of babies, I'm posting a picture of BFFcoworker's baby because it's really a cute one. She's almost 3 months now!

Thursday, March 6, 2008

LMAO

I overheard some old bitties at J's senior center commenting about his dress as he walked by one morning ...
Old bitty: "Oh geez."
Other Old bitty: "What?"
Old bitty: "That J must own two outfits. One in brown and one in green. He wears the same colors all the time!"

Monday, March 3, 2008

Igloo update, Beantown, popping hips

The first igloo is a bust. We got another foot of snow Friday night into Saturday, and we haven’t gone out into the backyard to check for sure, but most likely we won’t be able to salvage it. But, we are still determined to build an igloo. So we will start from scratch this coming weekend. No worries.

After the snow subsided Saturday, we headed to Boston for the rest of the weekend. Surprisingly, we did not get lost the whole time! We hung out with AlwaysGame Saturday night. Some background on AlwaysGame … they lived in Danville for 5 weeks in 2006 as they were moving from Alabama to Beantown. Why Danville? Because one set of their parents lived there (and still do). In their brief time living in Dville, we hung out with them practically every weekend. It’s awesome we live close again! So we started Saturday with an early dinner and ended up in the middle of a pub crawl. We only did 3 of the 7 bars, but that was still an accomplishment. The night ended up AlwaysGame’s house with some game-playing … of course.

Sunday, we met up with Roid, his fiancée (I should really give her a name) and theFr, who was in town for work. It was a quick lunch get together, but still very fun.

The last order of business is J’s health. At Wednesday’s soccer game, there was an incident. J was going after the ball, as was the other team’s goalie. They collided and there was a loud crunch heard by everyone. J said he thought for sure he broke his leg. Fortunately, well unfortunately for the goalie, it was the other guy’s ribs breaking. J still had an injury. The doctor determined that while he did not break anything, he still did some joint/muscle damage. I know I’m a medical writer, but I don’t know really how to describe what happened. His hip popped out of the socket, then immediately back in somehow. Not without a lot of lingering pain. He is hobbling around like an old man, no offense to old men. Hopefully he’ll be scheduling some physical therapy this week. It’s doubtful he’ll be able to dance or play soccer this week though!