Delicious Weekend!

Delicious because of all the tasty food I've eaten the past couple days! For those of you in Los Angeles, we have something called DineLA going on right now (until February 8th) . Basically, you get a 3 course meal for around 50% off from some of the top restaurants in and around LA.

M and I have been doing a LOT of cooking recently, so I thought it was time to give ourselves a break and indulge in some (discounted!) fine dining. M also got a promotion/raise last week, so I wanted to take him out to celebrate.

Today, I had the best sushi I have ever eaten in my life... omakase (chef's choice) style... so the buttery deliciousness just kept coming and coming. Even better, it was free! My dad (super generously, because it was really expensive) treated me. It wasn't on the DineLA list, but I've been wanting to visit forever.

Next week M and I are going to try one more place before DineLA ends... I better get to picking! I'm excited. I love trying new places!


Work has been hectic this week... Besides having a ton of 1Ls to help (they have a memo due and are freaking out), I have to completely learn a really complicated program and then make a presentation to my boss's boss. I feel like it's a complete waste of my time. I'm never going to use the program and I sent them links to plenty of tutorials so they can figure it out themselves.

On the bright side, I have an interview at a new job coming up in the next few days! It's not exactly the area of law I'm interested in, but it's something. We'll see how that goes.

What's sad is that out of 20 resumes sent out, I only had 3 responses... :\ I guess 3 is better than none.

In case of a disaster...

M and I have been stocking up on "disaster preparation" items lately. I think it's motivated by (1) the whole landlord/firetrap situation, (2) the movies we've seen recently, and (3) all the disasters we've read about on the news. Oh, and the earthquake we had on Friday! (It was small, but I - and sorry for the TMI - was sitting on the toilet, and my immediate thought was "oh my god, it's the big one, and my pants are down around my ankles." I yelped (loudly), and jumped up. Then my mom, who was visiting, rushed into the bathroom to see if I was ok... Yeah... Embarrassing).

M purchased two flashlights last week (one was a wind-up, one was heavy-duty). Today, I just snagged a fire/waterproof hanging file safe. M was initially reluctant about it, but I convinced him it was worth it. We also have a small fire extinguisher, a first aid kit, and lots of bottled water.

Are there any other disaster prep related items that you think are worth spending money on?

Health Issues

I was thinking about Shtinkykat's reply to this post. She said "a high deductible health plan is the way to go, esp. if you're young and healthy." I have the young part down, but I'm starting to wonder about the healthy.

A few years ago (maybe as many as 8), I was playing tennis with my dad, and something happened to my knee. The details are a bit fuzzy in my memory, but I think I twisted it. It was fine after a few days, but ever since then, I've noticed a popping sound and sudden pain (lasting for a minute or so) in that knee when I got up from a sitting position. It used to happen rarely so I pretty much ignored it, but I've been noticing it happening more lately. Maybe it's from the cold (other than last week, when it climbed into the 80s, it's been the coldest I've ever felt since I was a child - though I have to admit, that's no lower than the 30s). I've also noticed a twinge when I'm on the exercise bike, or going up/down stairs. My mom tells me a bad knee "runs in the family."

On Friday morning, I woke up with a painful wrist (bending it downward hurts, as does bending it upwards, though to a lesser extent). I had been doing some heavy lifting at my job last week, so I assume that coupled with my daily computer use has aggravated my wrist (or elbow, since I've read that the problem usually originates elsewhere).

I have 3 doctor's visits (at $30 each), before I have to start paying towards my deductible. I've already used up one. I'm going to the dermatologist tomorrow, so that should use up #2. Maybe instead of running to the doctor for my wrist/knee issues, I should be focusing on exercising more. There were some simple exercises that a couple sites recommended (straight leg raises, maybe using the Hand Helper, or wrist grips).

Has anyone out there dealt with similar knee/wrist issues, and do you recommend a free way to fix them?

Glasses Woes

I still have a few December goals to finish up, and today I went to Lenscrafters to get one out of the way... only to be reminded how very costly things can get when you procrastinate. :(

I bought the glasses in December '07. A few months ago, I somehow got a scratch on the inside of one of the lenses. It's been bothersome, but I didn't want to spend the time to get it fixed. I learned today that the only way to get rid of the scratch is to replace the lens. I also learned that until December '08 I could have gotten 50% off the price. Since the year is up, I have to pay in full - $320. I think this is the cost of replacing both the lenses, not just one. (I asked a couple times how much it would cost to try to clarify, but the one saleslady had to keep asking another... I think (hope) there was some miscommunication between them). But even for both, that's really shocking. That's more than I paid for the designer frame AND the lenses!

After she told me that number, I stared at her for a while, and then said "uh... I'll think about it", and hightailed it out of there.

For now, I'll just continue living with the scratch... I'll probably have to get a stronger prescription in a year anyway (if my descent towards blindness continues), so it's just not worth it. One thing I'm not familiar with is getting glasses/lenses on the internet. I've always gone to Lenscrafters. Does anyone know of a website where you can send in your frames and get your lenses replaced for a decent price??

Extra Renter's Insurance... Without Our Consent!

M and I received a very strange letter in the mail today. It was from our renter's insurance. The cover letter thanked us for adding "Appliance Protection Plus" to our plan. Enclosed was an insurance policy, telling us our monthly premium would be $10.99/month, beginning in February.

Problem is, we never signed up for this. We've only communicated with them once in the 2 years we've been covered by them (and that was just to check that both my and M's names were on the plan). Our premium is automatically deducted from M's checking account once a year.

Even stranger is that the policy only covers (1) Air Conditioning; (2) Heating System; and (3) Water Heater. Ok, maybe that's not so strange - I have no familiarity with this type of policy. It just raised the hairs at the back of my neck because we had mentioned to the landlord that our heater wasn't working properly, and he knows our air conditioning has always dripped a bit... But, just a coincidence. I have to keep telling myself that. There's no way that the landlord could have contacted our insurance and had this extra plan added... right?? Although he does have our social security numbers (from the rental application)...

Either M or I are going to call tomorrow and get this thing sorted out. Maybe it was just an error on their part. But it just seems so... suspicious. Or am I being paranoid?
UPDATE: Our landlord IS involved!! I knew it!

Let me back up my story to a couple weeks ago. Our landlord was incessantly calling us and when we called him back, we found out he wanted our account number at the gas company. He said he needed it for the building insurance, and that all the other tenants had given him their account numbers. M gave the number to him, and although we found it perplexing (and M asked the gas company why the landlord would need the number; they didn't know), we didn't think too much about it.

Fast forward to today. M spoke with the insurance company, who said that our GAS COMPANY signed us up for the plan in early January (days after we gave the acct # to the landlord). M then called the Gas Company, and the rep there said they had no record of signing us up for anything and also would never do that. So then M called the landlord, who confirmed that yes, HE HAD SIGNED US UP. He said we could "take it out of the rent." Shouldn't he have informed us of this BEFORE we received this letter from the insurance company? Also, why is this in OUR names? Why is this not in HIS name? I'm so infuriated right now... Despite it only being $11/mo, just the fact that he was able to sign us up for this without our knowledge!

New Job?

I applied to six different jobs last night... about half were part-time, half were full-time. I won't leave my current job if I don't get at least $15/hr (Law Clerk) or at least $25/hr (Paralegal). Law Clerk will look better on my resume, so I'm willing to accept less.

There's one in particular I'm really interested in, because it's in the exact field I want to go into once I graduate. But I'm sure I'll be going up against a lot of competition, because legal jobs at those type of companies don't open up very often. (Sorry, I know I'm being vague... but it's a small field, and I don't want to take any chances. ;))

I was planning to wait until sometime in February to begin the hunt, but I was feeling dissatisfied with my job yesterday and impulsively (while in class, oops) decided to apply to everything decent I could find.

Hopefully I'll hear back from someone soon! The wait is always torture.

Update: Job 1 - Filled! 5 more to go...

Free Food!

I didn't get to watch the inauguration this morning because... well, I was sleeping! (I watched it as soon as I got home though) My school had an inauguration celebration all day, so I got a lovely free lunch - chicken fingers, chicken wraps, egg rolls, and cupcakes! YUM. I love free food :D

Broken Door

I decided to rearrange the furniture yesterday, which unfortunately resulted in a little accident...

I was attempting to shove our recliner through the bedroom door, and I ended up breaking one of the hinges (the door is no longer attached to the bottom hinge). I was stupid to think I could fit the chair through without picking it up, but I was feeling stubborn, knew I couldn't lift the chair, and didn't want to wait until my bf got home.

So now I'm looking through DIY websites, and feeling intimidated (I need, among other things, a drill, saw, wood chisel, and butt gauge?! what the heck is a butt gauge?)... Do you think this is something I can fix myself, or should I just hire someone to do it?

Update: We tried the matchstick and wood glue solution... and the door's fixed! Guess I didn't need that butt gauge after all... I can give it back to the dominatrix. ;)

Weekend Fun

I had a friend who was supposed to come visit today, but she just canceled. We always have a great time together, but I have to admit feeling relieved. I have a ton of stuff to take care of today. Some errands to run, a stack of dishes to wash, two rooms to clean, laundry to do, closet to organize, school books to post on Amazon, purses to post on Ebay, reading to catch up on, notes to review... WHEW.

Once all that's finished, I can focus on enjoying the weekend!

Saturday, my friend and her bf are coming over to eat brunch with me and M (my bf, who I've decided to "name" to make blogging about him easier ;)). Afterwards, taking a cue from SP, we're going to the Getty Villa, and maybe (if I feel like being a complete copycat ;)) up to the beach for some tide pool combing.

Sunday, I'm channeling my inner child... off to Disneyland with my family! M dislikes Disneyland (!! how is this possible?), so he's going to have the day to himself, part of which he'll be spending bonding with his little brother.

It's not going to be a cheap weekend... I'm estimating $30 on Saturday, and $100+ on Sunday. Let me rephrase - it's going to be an expensive weekend. Maybe I should've said no when my mom asked about Disney, but it'll be nice to have a day where I can completely take my mind off work/school/landlord issues.

Speaking of my landlord... I filed a complaint. But now I'm at a crossroads, and struggling with which path to take. I'll explain more in a later post...

Already Behind?!

The past week and a half has been really hectic... I feel behind with everything. I haven't exercised at all; haven't even jumped on the bike during movie-watching. I've completely stopped flossing my teeth (which is really bad with the braces). School started last Thursday, and I've at most skimmed the reading. That's partially because I've been so busy at work, which is usually where I do my reading... I all of a sudden have a ton of trainings to do, topics to learn, strategies to plan... yikes.

I know it always takes me awhile to adjust to the work/school schedule after break... and the whole mess with the landlord over the weekend didn't help. And the fact that work has actually been work, right off the bat, doesn't help either.

I'm stressed! I should take the weekend to pull myself together, but I have a ton of social outings that I can't put off (because I've been putting them off for weeks). At least I have all of Monday to myself... hooray for school holidays in the beginning of the semester! (but boo to the fact that we don't have another holiday until April!)


One good thing that came out of my power/internet-deprived weekend was... muffins. Baked by ME, the girl who turns her nose up at food-making (it's man's work, I say! along with foot-rubbing, floor-scrubbing... yeah, you get the drift ;)). Reverse sexism aside... it was FUN! And they turned out PERFECT!! Of course, there was a ton of mess to clean up afterwards... but it was worth it. :)

Here's the recipe, if anyone's interested... The 3000+ reviews and 5 star ratings don't lie! They were even delicious coming out of the fridge the morning after.

I think I'm going to start trying to bake/cook more things... It really isn't fair to let the cooking burden fall solely on my bf. And I think it'll help us eat out less... hopefully saving us some money (though I admit going straight for the $8 gourmet cheeses at Ralph's! gulp).

I used some of the Borders gift card I got for xmas to buy a "recipe for every day of the year" calendar... Maybe I'll try something out later this week. :)

Fire Hazard

The problems with my apartment/landlord continue...

The handyman just left, after replacing the breaker (and the power works again in both bedrooms, for now). But he told me two really alarming things - (1) there was something wrong with one of the wires in the fuse box, and had it touched the wall, there would have been a fire; and (2) the building needs to be rewired b/c the outlet wires are the "wrong size"and this is also a fire hazard. The handyman said he told the landlord this, but the landlord says it's "too expensive" to fix.

I'm not sure what to do with this information. Should I complain to the LA Housing Department? Should I first get my own electrician to come look at the wiring and obtain an affidavit of his findings? I really don't want to get the handyman fired (he was so nice and forthright), and I assume if I make the complaint now the landlord would be able to figure out where the info came from. Maybe I should write a letter before I make the complaint? Or write letters to the other tenants and ask if they want to all meet?

Does anyone have any suggestions??

Update re: hating my landlord

On Saturday, the landlord and handyman returned and the handyman was instructed to remove the breaker from the fuse box. That breaker controlled BOTH bedrooms, so we ended up without power in either room. The handyman said he was not coming back that day, so we had to call the landlord (who had left a few minutes earlier) to ascertain when the breaker would be replaced. The landlord first told us we could "just use an extension cord" (!!) but after pressuring him he said it would be fixed on Sunday.

We lived without internet (modem/router is in our bedroom) for the rest of Saturday (we had errands to run, so my withdrawal pangs were postponed), and that night we played Scrabble and rented a DVD.

Sunday, my bf's dad brought by an extension cord (he was at the hardware store and called and asked if we needed anything), so my bf was able to get the internet working again. I left to visit my mom before the landlord showed up. After he did, my bf called me and relayed that the landlord had dropped off the new breaker. Bf also pointed out to him a spot on the wall which we suspect is mold (landlord said "spray windex on it" ?!), and asked when the garage door to our complex will be fixed (it's been stuck open since last weekend). Apparently that's getting fixed today, and the landlord mentioned several times that it was going to cost him $3000 (are we supposed to sympathize?). Unfortunately, when bf called the handyman, he said he wouldn't be able to make it until today.

I'm now waiting alone for the guy to come... I'm hoping the landlord isn't going to tag along again, so I can talk to the handyman in private, maybe get him to check some of the outlets. I'm looking forward to not having to shower in the dark anymore! It's creepy. :p

As for moving, our lease is up in June, so we'll start looking in April... if we can't find anything, then we'll stick it out here for another year. It would be better to move this year, because I'll have time to battle the landlord for the deposit (and battle against paying his "paint provision" -- he had an illegal provision in the lease requiring us to pay for new paint if we moved out in less than 3 years). Next year I'll have the bar to worry about... I don't need more stress from my living situation. Maybe we can move into a place that's $400 cheaper -- my budget deficit would disappear!! But it'll be tough to find a place for $1700/mo in this area... and there's no way I'm going down to a studio. I can't live in such close proximity with another person, not even my bf!

I hate my landlord

He is old, crotchety, and nosy. He speaks to us in a disrespectful way (I assume he thinks he has some right to be chastising and condescending, since we're young). He complains that we don't stay in communication with him, but he doesn't have e-mail, and in order to get in touch with him we have to leave a message with his answering service (which is supposed to field calls from ill patients - he's a doctor - man, do I feel sorry for those patients), and when he calls back it's from a "blocked" number. When he leaves us voicemail, he merely states his name and his number, never the reason for his call. When he needs something, he calls incessantly, when we need something, he takes his sweet time.

When he finally does send someone over to fix something, it's clear he picked them up from the street (as he is cheapcheapcheap). 90% of the time the "handymen" don't speak English, and he will try to instruct them how to do their repairs (which is comical, as he tries to raise his voice to get them to understand). 90% of the time the repairs are shoddy, but since they have all been minor, we have lived with them.

Why today have I decided I "hate" my landlord? We've been having problems with our electricity in one room. The electricity works for a moment, and then it flickers and all goes out. We've actually been having these problems for a year, but we rarely use that room, so we didn't pay much attention until a few weeks ago, when my bf decided he was going to buy a new desk and put his computer in there. We sent a letter and spoke to the landlord on the phone about the problem a week and a half ago. Suddenly this morning (while we're sleeping) he leaves a message that the electrician is coming "soon." A few hours later, the doorbell rings. It's our landlord, by himself, wanting to come in and be shown the problems. Apparently, he doesn't think he needs to abide by the 24 hour written notice rule. I was still in bed at this point, because I assumed the electrician was the only one coming and that I didn't need to be present. Then I began to hear the landlord's voice, chastising my bf, going on and on about how we have "too many wires", "too many electronics" and that's what's causing the power to go out. We have NEVER had any computers in that room, nor have we tried to plug in more than a light, which my bf explained. However, the landlord is also extremely stubborn, and so he repeated his theory several times, saying that we would have to pay for it if the unit needed to be rewired.

This building is at least 20 years old. If there are wiring issues, it's because of normal wear and tear. We have 1 tv with 1 computer in the living room. We have 1 computer (with 2 screens) in our bedroom. And if the electricity worked, we would have 1 tv, 1 computer, and 3 monitors in our second bedroom. How in the world is that TOO MANY ELECTRONICS?? And where does he get off dictating to us how many electronics we should or should not have, especially when we previously had NONE in the room that's giving us problems? He is looking for someone/something to blame, so he doesn't have to pay for the normal wear and tear in his building!

I also have to point out that, in my opinion, we are perfect tenants. We always pay the rent on time. We are quiet, we rarely complain (we prefer not to deal with him).

Anyway, back to the rant... the "electrician" finally shows up. The landlord tells him to go look at the plumbing (we've had a small leak in our bathroom), and my immediate thought is "why is the electrician looking at the plumbing??" But of course, it's because he's an unlicensed, uncertified handyman. At least he spoke English this time, and he seemed at least semi-competent. His young son was trailing him around the house, which really made me scratch my head. He got finished with whatever he was doing in the bathroom and goes over to the fuse box. The landlord then proceeds to tell him to get a screwdriver and take off the fuse box cover! Handyman refuses to do it, says it's "dangerous", and the landlord begins arguing with him, telling him it's "easy" and then attempting to do it himself. Handyman walks out, and the landlord says "ok, we need to get more tools. we'll be back later." That was 2 hours ago.

I'm actually hoping that the handyman either doesn't come back or he comes back and screws up, so we can hire a real electrician, get the room fixed, and then deduct the amount from the rent. And then I would love to see the landlord try to sue me.

The gift card that keeps on giving!

I've been using a cash gift card I got from work last summer to pay for food at school. The card is supposed to have $50 on it... but I've been using it for months, and I just used it for a $5 meal today! Either I'm spending much less on food here than I thought (I set my budget at 50/mo), or the card has malfunctioned and has an unlimited amount of money on it!! I would really like to believe the latter. ;) There's probably some way I can find out the balance, but I'd like it to remain a mystery. Every time I go to the cafeteria and use it, I say to the cashier "I'm not sure if this still has money on it......" I think I've said that at least 10 times now! I feel such pleasure when the card goes through! haha. Well, we'll see how much longer it lasts... crossing my fingers it's forever. ;)

Update: Yep, as of last night... the balance is depleted. I jinxed it! ;P

Updated Budget

JW (from We Need to be Debt Free) has been doing his budget in Google docs, and I thought it was a great idea, so I did the same! :)

Is it working properly? I don't really use Google docs, but I thought this feature was really nifty... makes updating the budget a heckuva lot easier too! No more adding and subtracting for me! Woohooo

I realize I have a $233/mo deficit... I'm going to see how my spending looks this month and then tweak the budget to try to get rid of it... but I'm not sure if it's possible.

Health Insurance

I finally called my health insurance company today and switched around my plans, so I don't have to pay $300+ to the dentist anymore.

I switched my dental to a PPO costing $39/mo, and raised the deductible on my health PPO, lowering the cost to $60/mo. So now I'll be paying $99/mo, $10 less than I was before.

I'm a little concerned about the deductible being so high on my health (I raised it to $5000), but I'm just crossing my fingers that I won't have to ever deal with it.

I figure I'll have this plan for 3-4 months, get 2 cleanings (worth $158), maybe one filling ($148), and end up saving about $150. After that I'll hopefully have a full-time job again including some lovely pre-tax health benefits...

In Limbo

I feel a bit financially in limbo right now. My Mastercard that had a $0 balance in the beginning of December now has a $700 balance. BUT I'm waiting for all the returns I mailed in to go through, and I recently received several hundred dollars for Christmas/birthday (currently sitting in my savings account). I have a $200 charge for school books sitting on my Visa. BUT I have my old books to sell on Amazon to offset the cost. I only have $200 left in my checking. BUT I'm getting a $11k loan payment on Friday.

So I'm not sure where things stand right now. I'm pretty sure that once the returns go through and I use my gift money that I can get the Mastercard balance back down to zero. And all the purchases were within 20 days, so I think I'm safe from interest charges.

How did I wrack up that balance? I bought a rice cooker (gave our old one to my relative), a pots and pans set (also gave our old ones to my relative), paid for my creative writing class, and got a haircut/dye the day before my birthday party. And the rest is all clothing (which is being returned).

I can't say I feel entirely guilty about what I bought (other than the clothing, which is why I'm returning it. I fell victim to a 33% off coupon), but I should have waited until I had cash.

Hopefully when all is said and done, and I update my sidebar on Saturday (after I've made my payments), it'll still show progress being made on my debt!

Productivity feels good

The house is nearly clean... just have some receipts to file away, the bathroom to organize, and some trash to throw out, and I'm DONE. I found a place to to take all our empty boxes - a recycling center that's open 24-7! We actually have three different ones in close proximity to us, so it was much easier than I thought it would be to get rid of everything.

I would like to eventually scan in all my receipts and throw away the paper copies... I keep them in filing boxes right now, but I have at least 7 of them and they take up way too much room. Scanning all that is going to be a major undertaking though... I think I'll have to save it until spring break.

I now have two days to accomplish the following goals:

  1. Change my health plan to a HMO & dental plan to a PPO
  2. Write letters to Macy's and Capital One requesting that the negative marks be removed from my credit report (has anyone ever done this before? Is it hopeless? They're both re: late payments, but neither are entirely my fault)
  3. Access my 401k (I haven't checked this since I quit my job 6+ mos ago)
  4. Put my old books for sale on Amazon
  5. Put my bf's keyboard, an autographed book, and at least one purse for sale on Ebay
The video game my bf and I have been playing will be finished tonight, so it won't be distracting me anymore. ;) If anyone's interested, the game is Persona 4 (a RPG, or role-playing game), and I LOVE it. It's a long game (almost 100 hours), but so engrossing, you don't notice the time passing... the voice actors are awesome, probably the best I've ever heard, and the story has everything you'd want - humor, romance, mystery, drama, depth... I could go on and on raving about it, but I'll just say this - had I paid for it (my bf and I got it as a Christmas present from his little sister), it would have been the best $50 I had ever spent on entertainment. Way more worth it than any movie.

Cleaning Frenzy

I've been on a total cleaning kick the past couple of days. Now that my relative's completely moved out, I want the apartment to be back under my control (um, and my bf's control... though thankfully, he doesn't want any :p). Our biggest problem is empty boxes - they're EVERYWHERE. I was going to flatten them and bring them down to our trash, but I know only a fraction of them will fit (and I don't really want bf and I to be the trash-filling-culprits). Does anyone have an idea of where I could take them? Maybe a recycling center? I did a search on google and found someone who mentioned renting a trash container... but I'd rather keep the boxes than spend money getting rid of them. My dad's coming over to visit tonight, so if I don't find a place to take them, they'll have to temporarily be hidden away back in the closets.

Last night, I started sifting through my closet to find clothes to donate. I found quite a few that either no longer fit or I never wear, so those went straight in the bag. I'm looking forward to freeing up the room in the closet! I also had bf search through his surprisingly large pile of jeans (about half of which didn't fit, and he knew they didn't fit, he'd just bought new ones to replace them and never bothered getting rid of the old ones). I found a really easy way to donate too - a large donation box stationed outside our local grocery store.

Hopefully I can get the apartment completely cleaned and organized by next week. I found out I don't start school/work until Wednesday, so I have a little more time - what a relief!

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