Monday, January 23, 2012

3448 Jasper says "Cat Outside!"

Monday, January 23, 2012

Done is better than perfect.


Investment newsletters will usually tell you that during retirement you will need about 80% of your final pay to maintain your lifestyle. They go on to point out that it's less than 100% because you don't need to support a work wardrobe and will no longer have commuting expenses.

Bull poopy.

I guess they think you'll be just sitting in your house watching TV for the rest of your life. Doesn't work that way. You'll want to be active, and it doesn't matter whether it's golf, or classes, or volunteering, there'll still be expenses. Even more if you want to finally travel - even if it's only to visit the grandbabies. And they don't seem to consider inflation, either. I sometimes wonder if the people who write this advice are kids, who think 65-year-olds are decrepit and happy to just sit and knit.

The following is the scariest part. It's from a newsletter from the IBM 401(k) Plus Plan (an aside - "Plus" what?). It's absolutely discouraging, especially since corporations, IBM included, are gradually doing away with retirement plans in favor of personal savings plans.
"Someone who saves 12% annually over a 40-year career could expect to have enough savings to replace 40% of their pre-retirement income, according to Russell Research."
Um, you said I'd need 80% (and I think that's low; I think you need 100% or more if you plan to live through another 20 years of inflation), so where's the other 40-60% supposed to come from? Social Security? Not if the Repulsicans have their way and sh*t-can Social security.

Shortly after I retired, IBM announced that for people hired after a certain date, they were no longer going to maintain a retirement fund and pay a monthly retirement. Instead they were giving people a lump sum which employees would manage as savings toward retirement, with some kind of matching plan. (But, um, they didn't get raises to put into that fund to be matched, duh, so this was effectively a pay cut....)

It doesn't matter that when those people were hired they were promised retirement. Same as when I actually retired I was promised free lifetime health care. Yeah, sure. There was fine print, saying that the company could change the terms in any way at any time.

My friend Nancy had 22+ years in, and was 59 years old when they "lump sum"ed her. Know how much she got toward her retirement? $125,000. Total. She is now retired, and living with her daughter and son-in-law.

There's a lot wrong with all of that.

You'll have to save more than 12%. More like 25-30%. Nobody is paying anyone below the executive level enough to easily save 30%. Raises aren't happening - companies are pleading bottom line (even as the execs get multi-million dollar bonuses). The government is allowing companies to do away with retirement plans. Conservatives seem to consider social security to be some kind of welfare, without realizing that social security, since its inception, has allowed corporations to reduce what retirement incentives they had to offer to get the best workers. Corporations don't have to offer incentives any more. They are allowed to import workers and export jobs with impunity. The Man says there are very few "Americans" working with him these days. But the corporations still get huge tax breaks, and now with unlimited contributions they can buy all the politicians they want.

There's a LOT wrong with all of that.


Note - I am fully aware that no matter how much or how little you are paid, you CAN save 30%. I did it the first three years after I left Ex#2 because I was scared sh*tless. Daughter and I ate beans and hot dogs, I made my clothes, she wore hand-me-downs, and she didn't get the name-brand stuff to keep up with the "in" kids at school. It can be done. But it was hard, it hurt, and it needn't have, shouldn't have.

Sunday, January 22, 2012

3447 Rabbit skins.

Sunday, January 21, 2012

If at first you don't succeed, destroy all evidence that you tried.
-- Steven Wright --


I wear bifocals. The old style, with the visible line at the top of the bifocal section. People have been telling me I should get the progressives, where the division is not apparent, that the line "ages" me.

When I ordered these new lenses, I asked for progressives. They cost more, and the rep would get more sales credit for selling them, but I have to admire her honesty. She strongly recommended against them. She said I would hate them.

There is a large difference between my far and close prescriptions, so the "progressive" part, where the two blend, would be large. In that "shading in part", there would be a wide area of distortion, both at the top and the sides of that area. I would lose a significant amount of peripheral vision, and the close vision area would be much reduced. Right now I go from far to close with little eye or head movement. With the progressives there would be a jump where neither close nor far worked and I would have to move my head more.

If you get progressives when you first start needing bifocals, the difference is small, and the distortion is minimal. You get used to it. Your brain learns to ignore that area. And as the close correction goes up and the far correction goes down gradually as you get older (which is what happens), each increment is easy to absorb. But to suddenly jump into progressives now, she said, I'd never be able to adjust. They'd drive me crazy. The blur in the middle of my field would have me tripping over curbs.

I had already made it clear to her that I like a wide and deep visual field, and that I watch TV and do needlework at the same time, and therefore the looking down required by those skinny weasel glasses, as opposed to simply dropping my eyes slightly, would quickly make me seasick. She heard me and understood.

So, I'm staying with the little old lady visible lines. I like seeing well better than looking good. Vanity is a sometimes thing with me, easily tossed when not advantageous. If I really want the illusion of youth, I'll get a neck and face lift.

[] It's explained there, in almost the same way she said it.


Here and there and everywhere I'd been hearing about "Say Yes to the Dress". It's on Friday nights on one of those high-number cable channels. There's not much else on Friday nights, so I watched it three or four times.

It takes place in a fancy wedding dress store, where consultants help you find the perfect dress. The most common phrase from the brides is, "I want to feel beautiful". And then there's frustration, tears, pushing or snorts from their "support" - bridesmaids, sisters, mothers and future MILs - until finally The Dress makes her Feel Beautiful.

I don't understand. Your man doesn't make you feel even more beautiful?

Then there's the whole enormous cost of fancy weddings, which I don't understand. I've already ranted about couples with three kids who haven't gotten married yet because they "can't afford it".

But mostly I don't understand the dresses the consultants put on these women.

An apple-shaped woman (read big round belly) should have a fitted bodice, then a high empire waist that flows smoothly straight down in a soft flowing fabric with slight gathering, and narrows just above the ankle. It will make her look taller, slimmer, regal, and plays up her best features, which are her face and bust. Most heavy women have great lower legs, so she could even go to knee length. But over and over, they come out in dresses that are tight tight tight to mid thigh, then poof out into a tulle mermaid bottom. Worse, the tight upper part is "ruched" (I hate that word - whatever happened to gathered!) which is supposed to be "slimming" but never is and that makes her look even bulkier.

I don't understand why all the dresses these days seem to be strapless. I thought a bridal dress was supposed to look virginal, or at least modest, especially for a religious ceremony. I went to the David's Bridal website to check, and yeah, dresses with sleeves or even just covered shoulders are rare and special order. Aren't long lace sleeves beautiful?

I don't understand why so many dresses have that bunched up look to the skirts, you know, those random tucks.

Most of them look like if you dyed them pink, they could be '60s prom dresses.

I dunno. Maybe my age is showing. (Hey! You! Get off my lawn!)

Me? Three weddings. The first had one week's preparation. Ex#1 was in the army and had come home on leave for my college graduation, and declared he was not returning, was going AWOL, until I married him. I didn't want to, but I was incapable of "being responsible for his going to jail". I looked to my mother to say no (I wasn't 21, the legal age), but it was like she translated "he wants to elope" into "we're gonna have a wedding!" and went into action. I was married in a knee-length straight-skirted sleeveless cocktail dress, white lace over satin, and a short veil. There was even an official reception, my mother's side of the family and my parents' friends. I invited no friends. Nobody said anything about my inviting friends. I think my mother thought it was her party.

Ex#2. I wore a pale blue dress, suitable for the office, and a blue Jackie O pillbox hat with an eyebrow veil. Church ceremony followed by a dinner with friends of ours from the office, and members of his family.

Jay, the one that really counted. Judge's chambers. I wore a turtleneck sweater and jeans. Jay wore jeans, too. The "reception" was Jay and me, and our two witnesses: Daughter and a friend of hers, dinner at a local steakhouse.

I think maybe someday I'll pretend I'm getting married, and go to a fancy bridal shoppe and try on dresses. Just to see if they do have some kind of magic. No way I'd ever pay for one, even if I were getting married, but ... just to see if I suddenly Feel Beautiful(er).