Tuesday, February 11, 2020

Dad

Mom called last night. They went to the doctor last week as my dad was feeling low energy. His blood pressure was low so they adjusted some medication. They went to the heart doctor on Monday and his injection projection is low, around 25 whereas 50 is normal. About 25 years ago he had cardio myopithi. At the time there was nothing much that could be done. A new experimental pacemaker was in development, a biventenicular device. He had it installed and made good recovery. My friend Billy always tells the story about going to the hospital and visiting back then. They gave him six months at that time. Billy tells it better.
So we will have to see what happens. There is a new medication that is supposed to help.

Monday, February 10, 2020

Retirement Planning

It is difficult to forsee the future. I think that is one of the things that holds me back a bit. What is the future going to look like? Who knows. Writing this now to get down and share my thoughts and plan.

I have been saving in earnest towards retirement for a while, maybe the past ten years. At 52, it is not a very long while to have been saving for retirement. I did have a IRA account through my school but rules changed and I could no longer contribute to that account so it has sat dormant since. I was not happy with the high percentage cost IRA's they offered after that so stopped contributions in that way. I do have a pension through the teachers retirement system. It is a good program if one continues to teach for the full thirty years on the rule of 90. Retiring from teaching after twenty years, not so much. 

I read a bit. The Mr. Money Mustache , I just found Get Rich Slowly, The Dave Ramsey fellow. It is all a bit overwhelming and too much. Today, I found a good article on $1000 a month in retirement, basically it is necessary to have $240,000 in an account earning at least 5% return in order to pull out $1000 a month. For every $1000 a month desired, one needs $240,000 in a "retirement" account.

In many ways retirement wise I am fortunate. I am basically single with no children. I have a good job that pays slightly less than the median household income in Oklahoma. I bought a house about 10 years ago in a rough part of town for abut $50,000 and got it paid off. My truck has 250,000 miles on it. Dining out is my biggest expense. Things are changing in my girlfriend just got a new house. We will be fixing it up and using the current house as a short term rental or an AirB&B.

I have a glass studio that breaks even on expenses and earnings each year. I do pay myself $1000 a month from the studio and put $800 (with a $24 match) a month into a Vanguard Simple IRA account. I do have a CPA for taxes and keeping everything in good order from a legal standpoint.

I have several savings accounts earmarked for purpose. I have an HSBC travel account. This account is funding through a couple of modest oil royalty checks from wells my father has given my brother and me.  The HSBC card can be used outside of the US without fees. We have been to Tulum Mexico a couple of times and it is a great place to visit. I opened the HSBC account with Tulum in mind as they have a branch so getting cash is easy. I have a summer travel account that pulls automatically from checking every month. I have a house and truck savings accounts where I funnel left over funds from checking at the end of each month. I did open a Money Market Mutual Fund account with the truck fund and put money in each month as if I were making a payment on a new vehicle so I am saving now for a new truck. It is not really recommended to save for short term in a fund like that but with so little interest paid on a standard bank account or even a CD it is a risk I was willing to take.

So with all of that as to where I am. I plan on teaching for at least eight more years to make it to 30 years teaching and retirement. I am unsure of health insurance at this point but I expect to be able to maintain membership in the health system provided by the state for teachers. I have a lot of little bits of saving in retirement accounts which should add up to a little bit of supplemental income in the future. It really seems okay but is a constant fear. I think more people fear over a zombie apocalypse then they fear over saving enough for retirement and they are probably hoping for the zombie apocalypse because they do not have anything saved for retirement.

There are lots of people out there who are experienced in the ways of retirement. Folks who are experts with advice. What is the best approach? Read and read some more. Talk to folks, meet with financial planners. I have a difficult time giving money to someone for taking care of my retirement. I met with a group a few years ago and they wanted me to transfer all of my accounts into their plan and they would take care of everything for a fee. I could not see a benefit. I met with my local recommended financial adviser to get an idea of if I am going in the right direction. Things look good but yes, they want me to move my accounts over to their program and they can get a percentage of my investments. I think a good financial planner would be one willing to work together to provide the best direction. Sign posts and goals to follow, not charging a toll every year or quarter. I think that is about it. If this helps you in anyway let me know.

Monday, February 03, 2020

Expenditures

I have been looking at my finances again. Wondering if I am doing the right things and if I am on the right track.
It is difficult to know where to start and if the 10,000 foot view is enough. I remain confused most of the time and reading from others I wonder sometimes. Many of the saving money blogs repeat the same information and appear to do very well. Making money doing what they love. Traveling. Residual income. Where do I fit into all of this?
Goals -
Daily Living -
Hopes and Dreams -
Fears -

seriously in the blogging field. Why would anyone want to read read what I have to say, and then why would anyone give me money for doing it too? And then how much work is it to keep it going?
Look at my blogging progress to start. I used to blog a lot. Then just stopped. Now just now and again. Wondering about my voice, authentic voice.

Goals -
8 more years of teaching to reach retirement. With the teacher retirement system it is really necessary to get in 30 years. The difference in monthly pension is huge between 20 years ($700 a month) and 30 years ($2300 a month).
The studio - it is good. It is difficult to project into the future with the studio. Many factors contribute to the whole success of the studio. It is in a good place and is still fulfilling.

Daily Living - the monotony of daily life continues for everyone. Cook, Clean, eat, sleep, work, play, exercise, Balance.

Hopes and Dreams - A lot of what if's.

Fears - many are not founded in experience or reality.

Take stock of the whole gets to be overwhelming.

What am I going to do today in order to make the dream for tomorrow possible?

Friday, January 31, 2020

Five More Seconds

Reading online today (https://www.getrichslowly.org/early-retirement-extreme/#more-237770) this quote jumped out at me, "It also resists incremental learning because it doesn't make sense or flow until all of the ingredients are known and snap together. (Much like the ERE philosophy!)"

I have been trying to sum up learning the process of glass blowing. It is very much a step by step process but the mastery of craft comes with the flow of each of the steps and being able to adjust when necessary. 

We were working recently and discussing the nuances of the glass. Knowing the steps and what to do next is great. It leads to the creation of beautiful things. Knowing why it is what you are doing is key. Learning to put pressure of different levels in different places to shape the glass leads to better design and better results. This is teachable and learn-able but only once a certain level of competence is reached. 

Heat is glass is key. Getting enough heat throughout to have the substance move to where you want it to go with ease and efficiency. The hotter the glass gets, the more difficult it is to control. Being on the edge of losing control. Once one becomes comfortable at the control at a certain heat, it is time to get more heat. Once you have the heat that is needed stay in for five more seconds. Learn to master the glass at that next higher level. It is amazing the difference that makes in the process. 






Wednesday, January 08, 2020

move up

I keep going back to someone said about 30 years ago... "You are not there yet.". Sort of like the oracle in the Matrix when she tells Neo he is not ready, he is waiting for something. It was in regard to enlightenment and rebirth.. maybe in the next lifetime.
It seems to me now I just stopped. Why pursue higher thinking, why seek enlightenment when we are simply not going to achieve it?

Friday, October 26, 2018

Fear of Economic Insecurity

So the big book has a promise that fear of people and economic insecurity will leave us. This would lead one to think that otherwise normal people do not have this fear. They are secure with what they have and what will come. But listening to podcasts and reading blogs there are a great many people who live with this fear. Many taking effective action to combat it and still others doing nothing to prepare for the future.

In his latest podcast Dax Shepard said something about the holiday and Snickers Bars, the Snickers tree produces so many Snickers and in my mind I must consume all the Snickers because I do not know when I will get so many Snickers again. Even though there are Snickers everywhere and I can get one anytime. Scarcity. Listening on to Brene Brown it stems from shame.

So the truck broke down last month. The head gasket blew and radiator fluid was leaking into the spark plugs and fouling the system. The dealer said $4000 to replace the head gasket. The truck is not worth fixing for $4000, or why put $4000 into a vehicle worth maybe $6000. I started looking for new trucks. I have been saving about $200 a month for a new truck for a while. I have $26000 saved, not enough for a new Tacoma. I started calling around and found a great dude at JJ’s that could fix it for $2000. The water pump was leaking so the bill came to $2700.

Anyway, this triggers me into worry about finances and saving and having enough. Obsession of the mind for the past month or so about money.

The house is paid for. It is a nice little house. It is in a rough neighborhood. It is a $50,000 house. I was able to pay it off in about seven years. It has one bathroom. Will need a new roof, new siding, and a new detached garage in the near future. Beginning to look for a new place with some land and space.

The glass studio needs a makeover. New shelves, a new glory hole, rebuild of equipment. It is doing well on the month to month but tight. There is always what we need, when we need it.

Accounts are in good order. Retirement is building, slowly but surely. With stock market up and down it does not pay to check balances but trust in the process. With retirement from teaching in nine years or so there is not a lot of time to save, purchase, and secure the future.

How to invest? Find a professional. Check out the FINRA analyzer to see true cost of funds. Open a Roth IRA ($5000) a year. Save every month. Open savings accounts to squirrel away money for various objectives (house repair, new truck, travel account...)

So I think the prospect of having to purchase a new truck set things in motion, along with needing a new house or update the current one triggered a new wave of questioning if I am doing the right things. So process, what I am doing? Where is income going? What are the monthly bills?

Monday, June 11, 2018

Late to the Party

Friday brought news of the passing of Anthony Bourdain (https://twitter.com/bourdain) Truth be told I have not read any of his books, I have not watched his shows on television. I wonder why, I love to eat, I love to travel. Commonalities exist and I never explored his being.

I listen to Marc Maron podcast and Mr. Maron reposted an interview with Bourdain from 2011. (http://www.wtfpod.com/podcast/repost-anthony-bourdain-from-2011) I have been listening to it in the truck over the weekend. It has been impactful. I sought out Bourdain's blog on Tumblr (http://anthonybourdain.tumblr.com/) although it has not been updated in I would assume a couple of years it is tremendous reading.

I started my college career wanting to be in the restaurant business. Eighteen at OSU, I was in the hotel/restaurant management program. It was great. I had a cooking class but did not know anything about cooking and did not do well in that class, never able to make a basic hollendaise sauce. When I moved to Cape Cod I got a job washing dishes in a great little Italian place, Lo Cicero's. I learned to cook there. Basic, rich, good, food. That time of life for me was simply fantastic. But, as it does life took turns and led in different directions. I think about my old buddy Scott. He was a chef. Tremendous talent in the kitchen. A wizard. In love with food and with life.

I would love to be a writer. I am not good at it. I do not have the time or the discipline. I do not really have anything to say. I try on occasion and compose a sentence in my head. wishing it was more than just a sentence.

I would love to travel more. But time and money and fear and life are constraints. To just get up and go. Find little hidden gems in cities around the world. No matter where you go there you are, or you always take yourself with you; so I am still me even though travelling and that is not always pleasant.

Is that the purpose? Reminding us to live fully. To take each day and be whole.

Thursday, March 29, 2018

The Road Trip - Kansas City

I have often thought I wanted to be a travel writer. I love to travel, I love to eat, I love to research places and what to do in new areas. I can't afford to travel and can't write well either. Even now what I thought sounded good in my head once written is a bit short and boring.

I have been saving places on Kansas City Google map for a while. I like the new feature in Maps where you can save places to a list. It is then easy to share the map list with others. The older MyMaps had similar features but did not mesh with Maps well. My Kansas City Map. We went to Kansas City for the weekend. It was our first time using AirB&B. Typically we stay in small unique boutique hotels, like Hotel San Jose in Austin or the Belmont in Dallas. We found a old hotel that had been converted into apartments in the Pickwick in the Financial District not far from the City Market at the Riverfront. It was a nice place. Photos of the room were better then the room itself. 

The way it seemed was people are living in the Pickwick and then they own places in the building they sublease or use for AirB&B. In talking with another guest he had a great room. Well furnished and hip. Our room looked like the furniture was bought at a dent and ding sample warehouse sale. It sounded like an appealing setup for the owner in they are there. Side income coming in. I don't know if it would be possible to have a mortgage on the rooms but it would provide a pretty good side income being able to rent out your rooms. Drawbacks for renting this way were the amenities; no new towels, no fresh sheets, no soap in the shower, no second key. Bonuses, it was quieter then a hotel of similar design, free parking, and the indoor pool was great. 

Kansas City was a nice town. It seemed very diverse. The buildings were older. The houses were tall, like three floors and narrow. Old construction. Lots of remodels happening. Parts of the city were being revitalized. Parts were modern and clean. It was a bit trashy in places, and seeing so much trash around was a bit depressing. Traffic was never really all that bad and it was pretty easy to navigate.

Food. Everyone says Burnt Ends... That is the thing KC is known for on the culinary scale. Our burnt ends are crunchy, gooey things. The KC burnt ends we had at Que39 were cubed fatty goodness. The brisket was tender and juicy with just thin layer of fat. The beans were good and had a few good bites of the burnt ends mixed in. We got there around 4:00, after our mani/pedi at Nail Spa 39, the little nail place in the same strip mall, and sat at the bar, by 5:00 the line was out the door. There were some other places on 39th street I wanted to try like the Meshuggah Bagels and MudPie but time did not allow. 

We started the Saturday at the City Market with coffee at City Market Coffee. We sat right in front of the small batch roaster. It was great smelling the coffee cooking. It was a nice cup. Busy place but we were there before the big crowds hit the market. Mara took a Yoga class at KC Yoga on the second floor of the building with Brown and Low restaurant. The elevator was wicked cool. While she was in yoga I had some good french toast at the City Diner. We walked through the market and split a sandwich at The Bite. It was tasty, a cross between a Latin and Vietnamese sandwiches and the potatoes was full of flavor. Houndstooth in the market area is a great clothing store. Nice high end styles with some sports coats I would of purchased if I had been in the market for a new one. we picked up some soap and a bag of chichronnes for the drive home. From City Market we went to the Crossroads area. We circled back to this area of town quite often.

I found a couple of new sketch books/journals at the art supply store (
artistcraftsman.comin the Crossroads, this was one of the best local art supply shops I have visited. Lots of great stuff. Across the street we had a cup of coffee at PT's coffee shop. Mara says it was the best cup she had in Kansas City. She picked up a tshirt at The Flying Pig Local Mercantile. I wish I had picked up some soap here instead of the City Market vendor. After that we dropped into RayGun, a Kansas City knickKnack store with tshirts and magnets, and quipy sayings. That's when we made our way to the 39th street area. 

After first dinner we headed to the Country Club Plaza district for shopping. They had some cool stores including a Telsa dealer/showroom. I found some Howler Bros. at the Moosejaw. The Tommy Bahama store had some great shirts but I am trying to maintain a budget and could not swing it. 

For dinner we decided on the Rieger. The small plates here are super. The fellow next to us ordered the bone in steak and I wish I had more room as it looked spot on. The kitchen is open and had bar seating. For a small room it was very loud and had a good crowd but we were able to get right in with reservations. Searching the Instagram location was great to see the place and the food. It was cool looking at the chef bookshelf out in the dining room. It is a great way to see influences and what the chefs are inspired by in their craft. 

Sunday Morning we had coffee at the Messenger Cafe and Ibis bakery. It brought up thoughts of Neil Gaiman and American Gods. Ibis I guess. Great flaky croissant pastries, nice smooth latte. I ordered a large but should have got medium so it would have been in a real cup. After breakfast we went to the Nelson-Atkins Museum. It is huge. I think going everyday would have been a good idea. Entry is free so it would be a neat place to spend an hour or two every day. There is a coffee shop there and they had a breakfast buffet on Sunday morning, we did not eat as we wanted to return to the Cafe Gratitude for lunch before hitting the road around two. We were pretty tuckered out after the trip and decided on Tuckers for dinner before heading to the house. The ride home seemed to go quickly. We listed to Marc Maron podcasts and really enjoyed the Tracy Letts interview. 

Friday was busy. We had a check engine light come on the Jeep coming into town. Mara got up early to head to the Jeep dealer to get it checked out. I went over to Kaldi's Coffee for a latte. It was really foamy, one of the foamyist lattes I can remember. It was nice but geared toward the city crowd they did not have anything but to go cups. I walked around the area quite a bit. The Power and Light District is nearby and there were theaters on every other corner. For Ingress players it was really nice to see Level 8 blue portals everywhere. Mara got a rental and found we wandering near the Folly Theater. We dropped into Made in KC a local artisan hub with some great coffee. Right next door was Tavernonna and we had a nice breakfast. The omelette looked great and they will do one made to order instead of having been limited to the menu choices. We headed to the Crosswroads area and Josey Records. Neat vinyl record store and it looked like there were more in the area. From there we went to the Kemper Museum, another free entry museum. With some permanent displays and rotating rooms it is a nice museum for an hour visit. The print works on display by Nkame were so impressive. If anyone is into print making you need to take a weekend and visit before the exhibit leaves. After the museum we stopped into Oddly Correct coffee for a Gibraltar. I do like a bit of sugar in my short espresso drinks but they do not have sugar, nonetheless it was a really nice cup. We scooted over to Monarch Glass and just missed them making works. It was great to get a tour of the studio and catch up with Jonathan Bolivar and to see his progress. We had to get to Landmark in Independence to pick up the Jeep. Jonathan suggested the Local Pig for a bite so we finally found it. Driving with Maps is difficult sometimes as I focus on the map and forget to look at streets. This is a butcher shop. What a selection of meat. I wish we had this place at home, if I lived in KC I think I would be at the Local Pig two or three times a week for picking up dinner. They even offer classes in the process. We decided we wanted to sit down place for supper so went over to the Jack Stack - Freight House. There was about a twenty minute wait so we sat at the bar and had some of the wings. That was some tasty chicken. We had beef ribs for dinner and sides. The cole slaw was a bit too finely chopped for my liking, more like long john silvers texture. The corn was wowza. After supper we drove around the city a bit and ended up in the BrookSide Neighborhood. It is a neat little part of town. We shared a Foo's frozen custard and called it night. 

Thursday we got up early to head to Kansas City. Our first stop was the Goat Hill Coffee shop. Wonderful first stop. We walked around the neighborhood and really noticed the architecture differences in OKC and KC. There were a couple of restaurants in Goat Hill that looked good and I wish we had time to swing back up there. We wanted to try the vegan Cafe Gratitude and were not disappointed. We found our AirB&B at the Pickwick and got settled in. We walked up to the riverfront and the City Market but were late for most of the stores in the market. The river was cool and it looked to be a great walking trail. I think some local boy scout troops could make a good Eagle project to find a way to clean up the area from all the trash. Wondering about supper and not being able to decide we finally got on Google Maps and that led us to Anthony's. That was some good classic Italian dining. Full of flavor and lots to eat. I had the spedini and it was great. Very different then what I get at Vito's at home. Trying to not eat dessert, I could not pass up the Canoli. It was so worth it. 

I know I went a little backwards in the timeline but oh well. I certainly highly recommend a trip to Kansas City. Like one of the t-shirts said it is "too much city for one state".



Tuesday, February 06, 2018

Oakdale Instructional Technology

I have been trying to figure a good way to share information with teachers. We really have a lot of options but I am not successful in implementing options. Follow through and upkeep are always a challenge. It is like becoming organized or keeping a journal. Daily action, daily goals, weekly upkeep and accountability.

Here is my latest entry on my Oakdale blog: http://oakdaleinstructionaltechnology.blogspot.com/2018/02/classroom-sandbox-class-and-reuse.html 

Thursday, October 05, 2017

Math Remediation

As a disclaimer much of what I write in blog form is brainstorming. It is a place for me to process thought and get them down. So things might be a lot disconnected.

I can not quite wrap my head around math remediation for college bound students.
Yesterday, State Superintendent Hofmeister said that families spend over 22 million dollars a year to cover the personal costs of math remediation for college students. I had the question on twitter why don't we give that 22 million dollars a year to the schools so we can prepare students with the math skills they need? I mean if the state wants schools to get students ready, they have a known cost. I do not believe the state thinks they should transfer those funds to schools. And then my circular reasoning says that 22 million is the out of pocket costs to families. But they are paying that money to the university. so it is costing the State that amount, the State just does not have to pay it, parents do. If it really cost the State money maybe they would do something to make a change? And then the State is probably happy that parents are paying for the remediation instead of the State having to pick up the cost earlier in the schooling of the child.

Students go through high school and take four years of math classes. Yet, those classes do not prepare them for college?

Edit: So in a quick search I did find a good article by Ben Felder on new math remediation classes being offered to high school students to get them college ready. http://newsok.com/article/5538665 The state department has a good article on the situation with much more detail at http://sde.ok.gov/sde/newsblog/2017-02-10/new-state-math-course-aims-reduce-college-remediation

Students have to take the ACT to get into the university in Oklahoma. I think the score for OU/OSU is around 24. I don't know what that means but I would think a score of 24 or more on the ACT would ensure students have the math skills necessary for college bound folks. And then I wonder as to the scores for local or community college and technology centers. This would be interesting. Much lower cost to attend. But I believe that remediation classes do not count in any way toward credit hours which is silly because students are paying for those classes. Could we not offer some sort of midway educational training for those students then?

I had parents who valued education to the extent I had a math tutor throughout my school career because I simply could not understand how to do math. I also had a language tutor because my ability to spell correctly was nonexistent. I need to look at my transcript to see what math class I had at UCO and my scores. I think I was able to take a course that made up for not taking a math class.


Wednesday, October 04, 2017

Teach

Wondering if the teaching students to be prepared for jobs that dont exist yet is also perparing them to not have training or desire to train for specific careers.
So people want to be a teacher yet they do not want to go to school to become a teacher. Why should they spend 2 years in college for something they will only do for six years.
The thought that people will have 7 distinct jobs or careers throughout working life why would we expect a person to devote 30 years to teaching?