I like the movie, but
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John
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Hi. I just wanted to write a quick blog to say hi and let you know I am doing OK. I think I will skip this month’s Costco shopping. I will go next month to pick up a turkey. Below is my chit-chat. I will keep in touch. Be safe.

Ladies in Lavender (2004)

I don’t have Amazon Prime. I refuse to pay for Prime membership. I am currently on 30-day trial membership, so I checked out their movie library. I enjoyed Ladies in Lavender (2004). I like this kind of movie. Judi Dench and Maggie Smith are two of my favorite actors. You can’t go wrong with any movie with them.

The movie was based on a 1908 short story by William J. Locke. The online book is available from gutenberg.org for free. I guess the copyright had expired.

EBook – Ladies in Lavender – 1908 William J. Locke

Anyway, in the movie, the sisters appeared to be old – in their 70s. I mean, they looked like they were at death’s door. I could smell Bengay with my eyes. But, in the book, two sisters were 45 and 48. So, instead of Judi Dench and Maggie Smith, Catherine Zeta-Jones and Nicole Kidman should have taken the part. The sisters were supposed to be juicy… you know… they were supposed to be MILFs.

I like the movie, but… just saying.

Costco Shopping – September 18, 2020
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John
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25th Costco Shopping in 2020 – $147.87 today / $1,821.66 this year

I took a sick day from work so I could go to Costco first thing Friday morning when it’s not busy. Sick day was justifiable because I got 2 vaccines today, shingles and flu.

Costco Vaccination Process

Before going to Costco, I visited Costco’s immunization page and downloaded immunization consent form. They wanted 2 copies. I didn’t make an appointment, but I went to Costco pharmacy at 9:15 AM (unofficial opening hour). There was nobody in the line. The process was smooth.

  • A gentleman greeted me at the “Patience Counseling” window. I gave him my immunization consent form.
    • I filled out a short questionnaire to declare I was not sick.
    • He checked my insurance card and settled the payment. ($29.53 total).
    • He checked the temperature off my forehead.
    • I was told to wait 15 minutes and go to the pickup window
  • At the pickup window, I paid $29.53 with my HSA debit card.
    • Afterthought – I was stupid to use HSA card. HSA account earns high interest, just like 401k. I should grow my HSA account until I retire. I will pay all my medical expenses with cash if I can.
  • Several minutes later, my name was called.

Costco Adult Immunization Program

Christmas in Costco

I enjoy looking for the first sign of Christmas in Costco.

As I do every year, I took pictures of Christmas decorations and sent them to several friends. As always, they texted me back with “Already?” “Too soon” and “Yikes” – They knew I was loving it.

European cookies are back for the season. These cookies are part of my life. I have never run out of these cookies for over 10 years. Every year I buy a few cans of these cookies and freeze them. I enjoy them every weekend with coffee.

I saw a cool Halloween decoration and an interesting kitchen item (pictures below).

I spent over 2 hours inside Costco warehouse. Members only savings saved $15.80.

One Rotisserie chicken, a hand sanitizer, and Whisps chips are for my friend who can use a cheer up gift.

Strawberries were just OK (not bad). It was about 7 out of 10 on taste scale.

I came home, took a shower, put away food, vacuum-packed rotisserie chickens, and made chicken stock with the bones. I finally had time to rest around 3 pm. I was exhausted (don’t get old). It’s a lot of work to live alone and do everything alone.

I guess my next Costco shopping is when I get a Thanksgiving turkey. This year’s turkey will be epic. -E-P-I-C-

We survived 6 months of pandemic. Perhaps we repeat this a few more times. God bless everyone. Please take care.

Extreme Saving – Paying myself first
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John
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Many of you know I was poor all my life. I desperately needed to save for retirement, but I had absolutely nothing saved. Fortunately, my new job offered a retirement plan. I started late, so saving for retirement is important to me, especially because I live alone – and likely to die alone.

2020 has been a scary and unstable year. I was hit hard financially (long story skipped). Things are now looking semi-normal. So, I assessed my financial situation and made the needed adjustments for 2020. My plan is extreme. But I am going for it.

It’s September now. For the next 4 months (the rest of the year) I will receive 8 paychecks. For that 8 paychecks, I am investing 50% to 401K. This will put me back on my retirement track. After investing 50%, I will take home 33% of my paychecks. This is extreme. It looks like this.

I am paying a less amount of tax because I am paying tax from 50% of my paycheck. That’s another benefit of 401k. You pay less tax.

This is an unrealistic reduction of take-home pay. But I had to try this. I will make a game out of it. I will make it a personal challenge. It doesn’t matter how I do it. I will survive the next 4 months with less cash. This is for my retirement. I imagine myself 30-40 years older, possibly immobile, and still living alone. I am giving him my money. Hence paying me first.

I am lucky that I’m healthy and have a steady income. There are millions of us without income and/or cannot pay rent. I know how it is to be poor. But this pandemic is different. It’s scary to imagine what’s happening to them.

For now, I will survive the next 4 months. I shall take it day by day. I will cut down on everything. There will be no more Sunday coffee and no more online shopping. My Costco shopping will look sad for the next 4 months.

Today is September 10, 2020. So, 10 days down – 113 more days to go.

Please take care. I will talk to you soon.

I Cancelled Cable TV
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John
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Related Blog: Cable Price is Insulting (Jan 22, 2019)

I have hated cable companies my entire life. They slowly jack up the price little by little. And, before we know it, we’re paying $120/m for cable TV. Cable companies should lower the price as we stay loyal to them. But no, they screw you again and again.

Millions of us, including myself, gave up our retirement and pay $70 – $150/mo on cable TV. In America, poor people receiving food stamps have cable TV. If we were to invest $100/mo all our adult lives instead of paying for cable TV, we could have almost one million dollars, possibly more, when we retire. Think about it. I am sick to my stomach.

Anyway, they raised my cable price yet again, to $150.40. $150 was my personal limit. I promised to myself that I will not pay more than $150 for cable/phone/internet. So, I called Spectrum and said I will not pay over $150.00. I would take a 40 Cents discount or else.

Instead of giving me a 40 Cents discount, they stood firm and granted my request to end my cable service. They seemed eager to let me go.

Good.

One hour later, they sent me a bill for internet & phone services for $104/mo. So, I called them again and got rid of stuff I don’t need. Now my monthly bill for internet and phone was down to $79.98/m. I think that’s still too much.

I joined Hulu and signed up for live TV & enhanced DVR for $64.98/mo. Hulu is just like any other cable TV provider. I get most local channels and the picture quality is just as good. I purchased Fire Stick 4K for it ($40). Now my monthly bill for Cable/Phone/Internet is $144.96.

I will never pay more than $70/mo for television service. $70/mo still seems too expensive to me.

As I make more money I feel more bitter towards cable TV. It’s not just the money. But, by watching too much TV, I am eating away my opportunity to become a better person. Television is just as harmful as drugs and fatty foods. I just sit alone at home and watch TV aimlessly, instead of looking for love or pursuing my dying dreams. I enjoy TV instead of enjoying life. That’s pathetic and sad. Now I understand why a lot of intelligent people don’t have a TV. They were not snotty, but they were truly better than me. I must do something about it.

For now, I am glad I cut the cable. No more cable bills that creep up. Cable companies can kiss my ass.

I shall regroup and try to lower my bills further.

Related Blog: Cable Price is Insulting (Jan 22, 2019)

Ever-increasing cable bills.

3 hot sauces I always keep
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John
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My song of the day – Purple Rain. I bought this tape back in the 80’s.

I have 14 bottles of hot sauce. It’s fun to try different hot sauces. To me, it’s an inexpensive activity to get my mind off of what’s going on in the world. I am not a crazy hot sauce guy. I can comfortably enjoy the SHU heat scale of 40,000. This means, I can handle spicy food better than average people, but I am not in the extreme tier.

I don’t need 10 bottles of hot sauce. I only need three. My 3 favorite hot sauces are Tapatio, After Death, and Crystal. Tapatio and After Death have been my favorite for about ten years. Crystal became one of my favorites after my trip to New Orleans.

*SHU (Scoville Heat Units) – measurement heat of chili peppers.

  • Tapatio – Super cheap, super tasty, but not very hot (SHU 3,000). They are made in California, but Mexican folks love it. If you go to authentic Mexican taquerias (restaurants), you are likely to see Tapatios. You will rarely see Valentinas, which is a Mexican counterpart of Tapatio.
  • After Death – It is expensive and hard to find. I will be lucky if I find this online for $10. It has a SHU of 50,000, which is way too hot for me. But I mix this with Tapatio. I’ve been mixing Tapatio and After Death for about ten years, and I really like the taste of that mix. Depends on my mood, I can make a mild or strong mix. Because it’s too hot, one bottle lasts a few years.
  • Crystal – Cheap and not very hot. To me, Crystal is more of spice than hot sauce. Crystal is a true Louisiana product. A few years ago, I visited New Orleans and tried a lot of different food. Everywhere I went I saw a bottle of Crystal on the table. I had such a memorable experience in New Orleans. Since then, I always keep Crystal in my house. I replaced Tabasco with Crystal. I respect Tabasco for its history and taste. But, Tabasco is too expensive for what they offer. Frank’s Red Hot can also replace Tabasco. They all have that vinegary taste. To me, Tabasco is for rich people.

I went to Costco in New Orleans and took a picture of Crystal Hot Sauce (left). New Orleans will always be special to me.

I have some Asian spices as well. But I didn’t include them in this line-up, because these Asian sauces need their own weight class. Fried Chili in Oil is not hot at all. Sriracha comes in a 28 oz jug because we use a shot glass full at a time.

I will talk to you soon. Keep in touch.

I send special love to those who are alone and feeling depressed.

No urban legend
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John
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Some of you may have heard of this story and not sure if you should believe it or not. Many people categorized this story as an urban legend. But I tell you… I vouch to you it really happened to me about 25 years ago.

I was still living with my parents. It was a lazy Sunny mid-day afternoon. I went to the bathroom, bent down, and raised the toilet cover. To my horror, there was a huge rat inside the toilet bowl. It was vigorously thrusting its body, trying to get out of the toilet. The sight of it, along with the sound of water splashing, was absolutely terrifying. In a split second, I was driven into extreme terror and stress. I can see why some people die from a shock. I slammed the toilet cover immediately and gave it a flush. With that, the evil rat was gone.

The entire nightmare lasted about 10 seconds. But I still carry a scar from that trauma.

In January 1994, I woke up in mid-air when the historic earthquake hit Southern California. That was a terrifying event. But millions of other people shared that terror with me. The entire world sympathized with us. Even President Bill Clinton visited, and my mother got to shake his hand. That earthquake was one of the top traumatic events of my entire life. But, I don’t really think about earthquakes anymore.

A rat in the toilet is an entirely different game. It was pure horror with nobody around to make the ordeal less stressful. I cannot explain why, but I never told this story to anyone, but I kept that feeling of terror to myself. If I tell this story, then I’ll have to “touch” that subject. And I would not touch it. Since then, I never use the toilet in complete darkness. Every time I open the toilet cover, I am mentally prepared for a rat or a snake. It’s not likely to see a rat again, but if I do, I will not jump, because I am absolutely ready for it – for the last 25 years.

Yesterday, I finally looked up online for “rat in the toilet” and found many web articles about how rats can swim up toilets. After that, I called my friend and told her about the experience and the fact that I am terrified every time I use the toilet. She cracked a joke about Mickey Mouse looking for friends because Disneyland is closed due to Coronavirus. We laughed. With that laughter, a small part of me was set free.

I always keep the toilet covers down.

The only thing that’s worse than finding a rat in the toilet would be finding two rats in the toilet. F me….

Sitting by the window before sleep
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John
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I brushed my teeth and put on my retainers. I am so sleepy.

I haven’t gone outside for 19 days now. Because I live alone, isolation really feels like isolation. I am not the type of person who talks to himself. So, my mind is running everywhere, but my mouth is shut all the time. I’ve been having crazy vivid dreams every night. My mind is not completely clear.

I worked all day in my living room. Later I ate turkey gumbo while watching The Conners.

It’s midnight. I was about to turn off the lights and go to bed, but I heard the birds singing outside in the dark. So I set by the window for a while.

I have a big tree in my front yard, and a family of birds lives up there. I’ve been enjoying their singing for several years now. I just love hearing them, especially in the morning and at night. This is my sound when I wake up in the morning. I will be sad if they move away. Sometimes I don’t hear them for a few days. But they always come back and sing.

I remember hearing them when I was in Georgia. It was the same voice, but they sang a different song. That fascinated me. Ah~ Georgia… I miss Georgia. Is there any place prettier than Georgia? The rain, the greens, Waffle House, Piggly Wiggly, and nice people…

I wish I have a nice watch with a moon-phase calendar. Moon-phase calendar on a watch is cool. How much is the cheapest moon phase-watch? I shall check it out tomorrow.

What do I eat for dinner tomorrow?

OMG, I completely forgot to file income tax. I think the deadline had been extended.

OK, I’m going to bed now. I will continue tomorrow.

Just remembered this song after 34 years
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John
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I am healthy and still working.

I just remembered this song after about 30 years. I like these two songs. The video is fun. It’s a classic 80s. This was my time. I hope the new generation is enjoying their time as much (Twerking and daggering… But, there isn’t actual penetration. So, I guess that’s being “innocent” by today’s definition. Anyway, it’s their time now).

The Blow Monkeys – Digging Your Scene

The Blow Monkeys – It Doesn’t Have To Be That Way • TopPop

Personal Update – April 6, 2020
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John
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I am healthy and I still have a job

Water damage trauma

  • I am terrified about future water damage in the house. I learned that water leak such as this is common. You are likely to have water damage in your house before your house gets robbed.
  • For immediate peace of mind, I installed a water-detecting alarm system with 10 sensors.
  • I plan to re-route water pipes. That means I will install entirely new water pipes running over the ceiling. That will cost $5K or more.
  • I now turn off the main water valve every night, or every time I’m away from home.
  • I will install a remote switch for the main water valve. So, I can turn on and off the water with a smartphone.
  • I shall replace my water heater that’s getting old.
  • With that, I hope I don’t go through this traumatizing event ever again.
  • Coronavirus pandemic is multiplying the level of anxiety and stress.

Recovery and repair

  • Phase 1 was emergency recovery work – to stop water leaks and dry the interior of the house.
  • Phase 2 was repair – replace damaged carpet with new flooring.
  • It took 4 days to dry my house. Those 4 days were miserable with noise and heat. I slept over at my friend’s house for 4 nights.
  • They found asbestos in the bathroom and the laundry room. My insurance company sent people for quick clean-up. For that, we had to wait 8 days.

Insurance Process

  • My insurance company sent an adjuster to my house and gave me the Dollar figure on how much it would take to repair my house. I told them I would use my people for repair, so they would write me a check. Now, it is up to me to use that money wisely.
  • I claimed 7 items for property damage with detailed pictures. And received $1.200.00

Rainy Day Fund

  • I have a rainy day fund. It takes one full day to move money to my checking account. This emergency fund is allowing me to keep calm and take care of everything that’s going on.
  • First few days, I wrote a few checks in the amount of over $12,000.00. Then the insurance check arrived afterward. I could have used my credit card. I could have asked my guys to hold my checks for a few days. But, it was easier to write checks and say “The check is good”. My mind was at ease.
  • Things are moving smoothly because I could pay my people quickly.
  • We are living in a scary time. Many people lost a job at my work. If I didn’t have a rainy day fund, I would have a mountain of stress and worries. I live alone, so money is my strength. I am glad I saved during my good time.
  • From this point, I will save for not just one, but two disasters taking place at the same time. For example, I can lose my job and need a new roof at the same time.

Please take care. God bless everyone.

My closet room
I Stand Corrected – Toilet Paper
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John
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(I am healthy and I still have a job)

At first, I listened to the initial news and media reaction about toilet paper. A few weeks have passed since then. Now I see more in-depth reports.

There are two kinds of toilet papers, ones we use at home and ones we use in public locations such as work. Since people are staying home, there is much more demand for residential toilet paper.

This report (below link) makes sense. I stand corrected about toilet paper.

Hoarding not the only reason for toilet paper shortage

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