Showing posts with label holidays. Show all posts
Showing posts with label holidays. Show all posts

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Merry Christmas

I hope everyone has a good Christmas (or whatever else you celebrate).

Spend time with family and relax and generally give doom a week or so off. Like work, it will be there whenever you get back to it. Eat lots of good food and drink plenty. Spend time with friends and family. Give and receive gifts.

Things over here are about as good as they can be. Holidays should be spent with family and friends, anything else is really sub optimal.We are doing just about enough to keep the walls guarded, the lights on and people fed. This means a decent amount of time to relax or watch movies or think or whatever else folks do. 

Personally I am just kinda hanging out. Eating some good food and relaxing. Lots of time to think about life and other stuff. Really it is probably more like a lazy Sunday than the holidays but it is what it is. Next year I have a high confidence I will be with family so that is something to look forward to. 

Anyway before I go I just want to remind you not to get too stressed or succumb to the petty inevitable junk that comes up. Life is too short, just take a deep breath, have a couple sugar cookies and focus on the good stuff.

Merry Christmas!!!

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Budgeting for Christmas and the Holiday Season

It is pretty early yet but we are approaching the holiday season so it is time to start thinking about how to not let it ruin our finances. I am going to come out and say I don’t think this one is really that hard. Seriously it is checkers, not chess.

Total Expenditures:
I am not going to tell you how much or how little to spend. Provided that you are not going into debt and are continuing your other financial plans (bills, investments, savings, and such) on schedule then spend as much as you want to.

Events and Gatherings
Most people with normal lives have jobs, family, friends, a couple clubs or associations and who knows what else. This means a slew of parties and activities and such. Many of these things are cheap but some cost money, potentially a lot of it. Being choosy about what you really want to be involved in is a darn good start. Do you really need to go to the annual hockey game and bar night with 3 guys you barely liked back when you worked with them a decade ago? If you do in fact like the guys but don’t want the expense suggest a cheaper activity, possibly at an alternate time. You might just find they could cut out the expensive evening also.

This is where I could say something about the spirit of Christmas and family and all that but I am not going to. Gifts are a big one that gets a lot of people. I think that in general it is a lot easier to be reasonable in a family where other people are reasonable. Both Wifey and I are part of solidly reasonable families. We don’t buy gifts for random uncles and cousins or anything but with both of our families and some close friends the list gets long in a hurry even when we are pretty strict about it. Here are some strategies I have found work to keep everybody happy and costs in line.

With pretty much everybody we exchange gifts with there is an (approximate) agreed upon value. Often it is unspoken and other times it is spoken. In my family over the last few years we have had kids born and people get married and various income changes. We have had discussions about how these various events affect gift giving.  At times when things are particularly tight for an individual we have found that giving people a heads up that for whatever reason gift giving is going to be a bit lighter than normal works really well. Here is a hint, they know it already and don’t care. I don’t know anybody who wants somebody close to them to hurt their self financially to give gifts. The emphasis is on making sure nobody gets unpleasantly surprised, has an awkward moment or hurt feelings.

Budgeting for Gifts:
You certainly want to plan for this one and might want to save a bit of money out of every paycheck for a couple months if money is tight. I and then we did this for a long time. In the last couple years our income has gone up and our expenses have gone down which gives us more disposable income. That coupled with our relatively modest gift giving means we don’t need to save up this year.

My advice is that you (or you and your spouse) figure the total amount you have to spend on gifts, give it a 10% haircut and then decide how to divide it up figuring about how much you want to spend on each person. My experience has been that if you plan to spend 25 bucks a person some gifts will be 21 and others 28 so it sort of averages out and with the 10% set aside you have a small cushion. We have used both cards and cash for gift shopping but typically use cards. If you don’t have the discipline to do that then take an envelope of cash to the store.

Tipping: I hear about this on the TV every year and to be honest I don’t get it at all. Is this some sort of an east coast thing? Is it a big city thing? The list of people they talk about tipping and the amounts are staggering to me. I know folks typically make more money over there (on paper at least as it is largely eaten up by much higher cost of everything) but it seems nuts to me. My folks used to give our paperboy a card with a few bucks if he had done a good job and I think MIL gives a bigger than normal type to her hair dresser around the holidays but both of those are for one person and are a small amount (20 or less I think). Maybe the news is totally out of reality but it seems like some folks are sending giant wads of cash to all kinds of people. Maybe it is a cultural difference but it seems ridiculous to me. We don’t tip anybody just because of Christmas.

Giving:  Times are really hard for a lot of folks right now so consider that in your financial planning. If you can afford it and want to then good for you, if not that is fine also. We do gift giving for a few kids via those tree things. In general we are cheap and I am heartless (Wifey has a big heart but is also cheap so that keeps it reasonable) but little kids shouldn’t have a bad Christmas because their parents are having a hard time or just plain suck at life.  If memory serves me correctly we have also done some food bank donations in the past. Both are causes we will continue to support in the future.

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Happy Thanksgiving

Well it is Turkey Day. This is the second time I have spent Thanksgiving in a war zone. The first was a lot easier, maybe in part because of the rose colored glasses of time but mostly because missing my wife and kid is very different from the rents, siblings, extended family and friends.It was as good of a day as it could be. The dining hall did a bang up job. They had everything I wanted and it was all great. Things were pretty quiet and I got to do some reading which was nice.

I have been thinking about what I am thankful for. I am thankful that we aren't worried about keeping a roof over our heads, buying groceries and other basic things. I am thankful that we are able to have Wifey stay at home with Walker. I am also thankful that they are home with family. She gets a bit of help with kiddo when she needs it and if anything happens I know they are in the best place they can be. That is a huge thing off my mind while I am over here. I am also thankful for preparedness books in kindle format, gymnastics rings, bumper plates, crocks, lightweight boots that you can run in, one point adjustable slings, pmag's and my snuggie. Yes, you heard that right I have a snuggie in Afghanistan and it is great.

Well I hope that everyone has a great Thanksgiving. Enjoy great food and drink and time with family. Who knows what can happen by this time next year.

Saturday, January 1, 2011

Happy New Years!!!

It is a new year. I hope you all have a great night. Personally I am going to bed in about 5 minutes.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Veterans Day

We got a long weekend because well, as my Dad said it would be pretty messed up if we worked Veterans Day. Veterans Day is certainly a good one but I will take any excuse for a 4 day. Wifey and I did some various errands this morning and pretty much just hung out for the rest of the day. Didn't do anything big or special. No parades or celebrations or anything like that. I just didn't really feel like doing much of anything special. Wifey asked what I wanted for dinner (tacos) and suprised me with some Heineken which was cool.

Maybe I should say something cliche about sacrifice and honor and all that but I just really don't want to. I am a veteran in the most literal sense of having personally been in combat and just don't really feel the need.

I can say that everybody is mentally affected in some way by combat. How the mental stuff  comes together from your past experiences and personality and whatever experiences you may have in war is truly intangible. I am not going to use value based words like weak or strong but for whatever reason the way people react to the same stimulus and experiences is not at all consistent. It absolutely is not A+B=C. What will profoundly affect one person might not do anything to another.

One interesting thing about OIF and OEF is that our soldier survivability has improved dramatically. Body Armor, new advanced medical training implimented down to the soldier level (in particular needle chest decompression) and better/ quicker access to higher levels of medical care are responsable for this. However an unfortunate second order effect of this (particularly quality body armor) is that while fewer soldiers are dying we are seeing a lot more amputee's. Basically with an IBA or OTV and a helmet on unless the face/ neck gets injured or one is completely vaporised there is a pretty  high probability of survival. If you have ever spent any time near Landstuhl Regional Medical Center or Walter Reed you have almost surely have seen the real scars of war up close.

I think about these seriously wounded soldiers (and marines, airmen, etc all) a lot. I don't think you can see a young man missing multiple limbs and covered in 3rd degree burns and not consider it. I think about what their lives are going to be like. Hopefully they can find some kind of a meaningful career and a good relationship and build a life for themself. Unfortunately I believe the statistics aren't optomistic.

Despite my intentions otherwise this got all heavy and depressing, sorry folks. To be honest I just find veterans day really depressing. It is a testimant to my personal functionality that I do not spend it alone in a dark closet with a half gallon of whiskey.

Monday, November 1, 2010

quote of the day

"If you're old enough to dress like a hooker, you're too old to trick or treat." 

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Happy Mothers Day!

Hey to all my Mom readers. Enjoy your day!

Saturday, November 28, 2009

What Do You Want For Christmas?

We went Christmas shopping today. Got all sorts of stuff and now that is done. We ended up at a book store and even though you aren't supposed to buy yourself stuff in this season I couldn't resist purchasing End The Fed by Ron Paul

I got to wondering what people want for Christmas and how much of it is Prep stuff vs various other stuff. So what do you want for Christmas?

Here is my Christmas List:
1. Boot Dryer.
2. Book: The Creature from Jeckyll Island
3. Amazon Gift Card (to buy books or whatever)
4. An emergency candle
5. First aid stuff.
6. A black stocking cap. Just the normal type.
7. A Cleaver.

Most of the stuff I want is prep or vaguely liberty orriented. A boot dryer is number one because I wear boots to work and it is wet here. 

Thursday, November 26, 2009


Today is Thanksgiving. Y'all are probably about to get on the road to go to Grandma's house or drinking a cup of coffee in a leasurely manner or maybe even still sleeping as I write this. Today has been a pretty chill day for us so far. Woke up late and tossed the bird into the oven. Had some coffee with a bit of Baileys in it this morning which is my own little holiday tradition. Been sitting around watching TV and  fiddling on the net while Wifey bastes the bird every half hour.

I have spent some time today thinking about what I am thankful for. I am thankful that I was born to a good (amusingly crazy and a bit drunk) family in the greatest country in the world. My life would be a lot different if I was born in socialist statist Europe, the backwards Islamic fundamentalist oven that is the middle east or the dangerous, AIDS ridden, starving, nepotistic dump that is Africa. I am thankful to have an amazing wife. This year in particular I am thankful to have a good stable job which supports us. I am also thankful that instead of being in some sandy dangerous hell hole I'm sitting in my Man Chair drinking a beer. Lots of folks in my line of work aren't so lucky these days.

Thanksgiving is a pretty awesome day. Giant drumsticks, stuffing and pie are darn hard to beat.

There is however one thing about it that has always bothered me, that awkward hungry time between breakfast and turkey time. You never really want to eat lunch because there is going to be a huge meal but it is always too late to comfortably wait. Most folks do some sort of orderves but they usually come out like a half hour before dinner time. It is just sort of an awkward anticipatory period that I am not a fan of.

AXN is having a bad American 80's TV show marathon today it seems. First it was Knight Rider and then Miami Vice. Maybe it is their normal schedule I duno because I don't generally watch TV all afternoon during the week.

Anyway I don't really have anything productive to say today. Oh yeah on the bright side apparently MIL got us a navigation system for Christmas. It sort of got spoiled because we were going to buy one today and she had been hinting at it then Wifey sort of asked so we didn't duplicate efforts. In any case we are going to eat pretty soon so I am going to wrap this up.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Veterans Day

It has been a pretty quiet Veterans Day here. Woke up late and had a leasurely morning which was nice. Wifey made breakfast sandwiches with bacon which was nice. We ran around and did a few errands which was boring if necessary. Got the essentials for Thanksgiving which is good.

Watching some movie about WWII on the TV and having a quiet evening.

Thank you to all of those who have served and are serving now.

Oh yeah and Happy Birthday to the Marines!

Monday, September 7, 2009

Labor Day

Well it is Labor day, or at least the Monday we all get off for the holiday. I had planned to write that Labor Day is probably the only thing the Commies ever gave to me. Then again I got to reading about it and sort of think it is worth remembering that the whole Communist/ Socialist thing came to significance because of the abuses of large industry and government.

[While this isn't a fully thought out and formed opinion] I sort of think that at that place and time the Labor movement brought some balance to the relationship between workers and employers, particularly large ones. Being able to strike and collectively bargain are essential for a fair (yeah that word has a lot of emotion in it) relationship. Some of the obscene wages and benefits given to essentially semi skilled laborers these days are ridiculous and these can be pointed to as coming from this movement but then again people working 12 hour days for starvation wages and getting busted up by LEO's when they try to organize for collective bargaining was pretty fucked up also.

I think that America is in some ways a better place at least in part because of the Labor Movement (though if it is better on the whole could be debated).

Anyway I hope you all enjoy your day off of work.
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