noideadog: (natural dancer)
I thought I'd lost my headphones, but then I found them again. I know, not exactly world shaking news, but I was really pretty sad about the headphones. Joel got them for me for Christmas, and I hate losing things, especially when someone else took the time to pick them out. They're good headphones too. I listen to podcasts and audiobooks on them while I'm cycling to work and they don't fall out, even at the bumpy bits of the bridge. I felt crappy about not having them any more and then I found them where I'd dropped them beside my desk and it was weird: getting them back made me more happy than not losing them in the first place would have. It's exactly like a Biblical parable about sheep.

Tomorrow Joel and I become the joint Treasurers of our co-op building. This was not a hotly contested role and we're not madly enthusiastic about it. It's an extra box of paperwork to keep track of and we have to make sure we pay the co-op's mortgage, keep the taxes up to date, print out financial statements and that sort of thing, as well as reimburse our neighbours for money spent fighting squirrels or fixing the drains. We're going to the bank tomorrow to get our names on the house's bank account. After that, we're Responsible Persons for our building until the jobs change again in 2013... and we'll be faster about claiming Secretary or Chair or Maintenance Technician (not actually a job, unfortunately) then.
noideadog: (natural dancer)
Agh, my brain is full of snot. I left New York with a mild cold which Dublin, oh sweet Dublin, encouraged and cultivated until it became a lung-sucking, throat-grating lurgy of misery and infirmity. Why is it always like this? When I get a cold in Ireland, I have it for a month. In New York, it's gone overnight. Is it the damper air? Am I allergic to the homeland? Could it be the dangerous proximity to good chips? I don't know. Colds in Ireland have always beaten the bejesus out of me, and this one is no exception.

We got in on Friday morning, a bit spiky and distracted, but well enough rested to go straight to the office and do a reasonable day's work before having a tolerable pint in the 40 Foot Bar in Dun Laoghaire and turning in at 9pm. Why Dun Laoghaire? Because it turns out that Paddy's Day followed by a rugby weekend in Dublin doesn't lend itself to hotel rooms near the office; after a lot of searching, we ended up booking an oversized closet with a shared bathroom in Dun Laoghaire for only twice what a hotel room in the city centre would have normally cost. The economy was well served by the tourist industry this weekend: I've never seen Dublin so booked out. By Sunday though, all was deathly quiet. "Were you waiting in the rank long?", I asked the taxi driver outside the Burlington. "I was considering having my post redirected." I guess the crowds went home.

Now that the city's back to normal, it's obvious that prices are well down. We're staying in the Burlington for cheap as chips, and I keep being confused by the piles of change I'm getting back in shops. The best thing is the final death of the once-ubiquitous Only, a nasty creature that used to loiter outside cafes and newsagents, smarmily advertising unacceptable prices for sandwiches and groceries and all kinds of things. The Only was only ever attached to prices that were obviously outrageous. It was a sly and injurious acknowledgement that everyone present knew they were being taken, that they couldn't do anything about it, and that they had to pretend to enjoy it for the sake of the Celtic Tiger. Only used to make me so furious. I haven't seen a single one since I got here on Friday, and I've been looking out for them. Good riddance, Only. Stay dead.

Restaurants are still mental expensive though. What's going on with that, Dublin?

Saturday night was the long-awaited Commitments twenty year reunion concert. God, they haven't lost it at all. Andrew Strong still roars, and none of the others have been slacking over the last twenty years either. Even better than the music -- which was fairly brilliant, actually -- was just how happy they looked. Watching Bronagh Gallagher in particular, you got the impression that there was nowhere, NOWHERE, in the world she would rather be. I think most of the crowd felt the same way. Even the inexplicably terrible camera and video work (Were those slide transitions and animated burning letters supposed to evoke 1991? Homage to Powerpoint 2.0, maybe? And was setting the camera to autofocus and then going for a pint some sort of conscious artistic decision? "It was nice of them to let a high school student do their multimedia", Joel commented afterwards.) achieved its own bit of greatness: being part of the laughter when the screen said "God sent him." "On a fuckn Suzuki?" would have been worth coming home for all on its own.

But oh the cold though, the goddamn cold. I managed about forty minutes under my own support, then another half an hour leaning on Joel, and then I had to go home or fall down. From the reviews I've read -- here's a good one -- it continued to be a hell of a gig. And I moped on the dart on the way back to Dun Laoghaire.

Yesterday was dinner with my family, the first time we've all been together in at least a couple of years. I met my brother's new girlfriend (future wife, everyone in the family reckons), and saw my niece walking for the first time, and marvelled at how many of us there are when we're all together with husbands and boyfriends and girlfriends and babies and dogs and all. Look, here's my sibs!
From Drop Box
noideadog: (meerkat)
Minutiae's a fine word. mi·nu·ti·ae. Minooshay. Here are some.

I made bread yesterday. The oven is awful and I couldn't find the bicarbonate of soda, but I thought optimism and baking powder would win through. "Nothing made of carbs and buttermilk can possibly taste bad", I declared, quite wrongly. I ate it anyway, with so much gruyère that the horrible bread was masked.



My first Arabic class is tonight. I feel.. not nervous, but apprehensive. Learning things is challenging; meeting new people is scary; doing something new is unpredictable. I expect it will be fun after some initial discomfort.



In a fit of responsibility, I collected letters from my pigeonhole at work. They were packed quite tightly, and a couple of them seem to have been returned to sender and then re-returned to me. I should collect it more often than every four months. I should also read the letters more often rather than piling them up and hoping they aren't important. After eight months here, I took my first look at my payslip and realised that I pay

Federal Income Tax (15%)
Social Security Tax (6%)
Medicare Tax (0.75%)
NY State Income Tax (4.5%)
New York City Income Tax (2.5%)
NY SUI/SDI Tax (0.03%)
Medical (0.6%)
401K (15%)

(Numbers are hastily-calculated and approximate). Add another 23% for rent, and it doesn't leave a huge percentage to do stuff with. Somehow, knowing this makes me want to do cooler stuff. I wish the stuff didn't include $300 electricity bills.

Gosh, middle-class whining about money is boring, isn't it, but the $300 electricity bills do scare the shit out of me. We don't have any servers, and we don't cook or wash clothes in our apartment: if it's correct, we're using all of that just for laptops, running the dishwasher and the air conditioning (which I've turned up as warm as we can stand). The bills are estimated, of course. I haven't been able to find the meter yet; I do hope the estimations are laughably wrong.

A 401k is like a pension but more confusing. I also have a statement from them, cheerfully describing how my money is being thrown in the sea, like everyone else's, and I should be happy they haven't lost any more of it. I find it odd to have a retirement plan without any actual plans beyond the next two years, much less for retirement. I don't really expect to retire in the US. I suppose people mostly don't have detailed life plans though.


Finally, the winners of the Electrolux design awards are worth looking at. I particularly like the fridge.
noideadog: (buttercup)
Pretty much every purchase in the United States is accompanied by an offer to get a store-branded credit card. Amazon seem to have started it too. "Get the NEW Amazon.com Rewards Visa® Card INSTANTLY and you'll automatically get $30.00 back after your first purchase!" If you can handle the excitement. It takes two clicks through some very small print to find the interest rates.. but nobody cares about that sort of thing, do they? You can get $30 RIGHT NOW! Ugh. It's getting so I'm waiting for my local bodega to get in on the act. "You can get 50c back IMMEDIATELY on your purchase of a newspaper and a tin of tuna!! Just sign up now; it's FREE, sort of. [[[terms and conditions might apply don't worry about it it will be awesome look! look! kittens!]]]"
noideadog: (buttercup)

Nap pod
Originally uploaded by xymb.
Things I like today
- Nap pods. You sit in there and pull over the door, and adjust the height (with a button which makes a pleasing vizzzzzzwhirrrrmrrrr noise), and put on the headphones and sleep for twenty minutes. And even if you don't get completely to sleep, it's lovely. Mm, napping is great.
- California. It's no New York, but it's fun to be here, and a novelty to be able to see the horizon. And the lack of humidity is refreshing. Yum.
- Being in the 'View. (That's the centre of the universe, as far as The Company's concerned). I always get less done here, but it's for good reasons like catching up with people I don't see often enough, going to cool talks, learning things that hurt my brain, and meeting people who I previously just knew as usernames.
- Doing the sums and realising that 43% of my take-home pay goes on rent. It's a relief; I started to think I had a drug habit I was somehow hiding from myself. ("You do spend 9 times the GDP of Peru on comics", suggested Tiarnan)

Things I don't like today
- Sunburn. I sat under an umbrella, but the sun moved. I'm almost convinced I could smell burning, but that might be insane. Hurts like bejesus anyway.
- Fake corporate happiness. "We're thrilled you've decided to make the Residence Inn your home for this week! We're overjoyed to be able to offer you a mediocre breakfast! We're in tears of delight because you used the laundry service!!" Ok. Jesus. Enough is too much.
- Python. I'm still working on liking it, and it's still a slow, slow process. My objective of "write no shell scripts this quarter" is already hurting.
noideadog: (meerkat)
In February my tax accountant[1] said that my 2006 tax return was probably not overdue until November. I was all psyched up to do a tax return right that minute, so it was the worst thing they could have told me. Knowing how rubbish I am at this stuff, I added it to my work objectives for this quarter, so I'd eventually do it at the end of June. (My notes to myself from then include "print page 10 again. Copy the numbers more tidily. They're fine, just trust me"

And here I am, sitting at my desk, repeating out loud sentences like "If you or your spouse made an election to substitute Market Value in place of Income Tax due, and the specified date for determining your payment on account arises in 2006, enter Date on which share option originally exercised.. hm.. I .. hmm.. let's guess that I didn't do that."

The martinis my team had for afternoon tea are probably not helping.

[1] The Company gave me a tax advisor for moving here. I find it very funny except when I have forms to fill in, and then I find it scary. Apparently I'll owe tax in Dublin at the end of this year, and I'll appreciate them more then.
noideadog: (buttercup)
I've had a blackberry for 29 minutes and already I'm kind of irritated by it. A new record?

Today wasn't great. I mean, it wasn't terrible either, but I woke up tired at 8am, napped, then woke up exhausted at 9am. It was all downhill from there really. My toast was soggy, the coffee was bad, my first mail was from a HR person explaining that (for boring reasons) I have less money than I thought I had. Ugh.

Then a phone meeting with a financial consultant in Dublin who reckons that not having filed a tax return in 2006 is going to be a problem, that I paid taxes using the wrong form for the stock options I sold last year (and it's going to be a problem), and that since I'll be spending more than 30 days in Ireland in 2008, and was there for more than 180 days last year, I count as being "ordinarily resident". And that means that I have to pay tax both there and here. There's some tax agreement which means that there are some dull and complicated rebate things I can do to not have to pay as much as that sounds, but it's still going to be expensive and complicated and so very very dull. Ugh ugh.

The perky tax lady said "It's not that complicated" in a quite patronising perky tax lady voice. I told her how her computer worked and asked her to explain it back to me. (This is a lie.)

Oh, and I need to file a tax return which includes the interest on my credit union savings account. Like, a tax return for ten quid, or whatever the interest is. This seems so wrong to me, but the lady is a financial consultant, and I'm some loser computer person, so I guess she'd know.

Ugh ugh ugh. Is it so much to ask for to just be given free money and not have to understand it?

Anyway, by the time the tax thing was over, my team had all gone to lunch, so I slept in a budda bag for forty minutes and felt a lot better. The tax thing and the HR thing are both still looming (as is the substantial coffee spill I made thirty minutes ago), but sleep makes everything more manageable. And then I watched some tech talks and then I did some actual real work (win!) and then I collected my blackberry and now it's the weekend.

And thank christ for that.
noideadog: (booze)
Jonathan Strange and Mister Norrell has a character who is perpetually exhausted. Half her life has been promised to the fairies and as a result she lives in a half-waking half-sleeping state. Every night she dances at fairy balls. She can't not. Her wishes don't come into it.

By complete and irrelevant comparison, I'm perpetually exhausted. Every night when I get into bed, the book Jonathan Strange and Mister Norrell appears and compels me to read it. Every night I stay up late reading. I can't not. My wishes don't come into it.

All's quiet recently. My biggest excitement was that I paid off my entire enormous credit card bill and set up a direct debit to pay it in full every month. For the first time in my life I'm a functioning human adult. It can't possibly last. The other best thing ever is that it's very bright and dry, and Traditional November Despair still hasn't caught me. That can't possibly last either.

I see that once again my learned colleague esteemed flatmate hasn't bought any easily stealable food, so I have to survive on soft Teatime Assortment biscuits. Bourbon creams don't age well. How can anyone be expected to work under these conditions?
noideadog: (insomnia)
There's a nice thing where you drop ice into water and the ice splinters inside and it looks crystalised and really pretty. There's another nice thing where you go to sleep before 4am, but I don't know if it's as nice as the crystal ice. Especially when the ice is shaped like penguins. That's better than nearly anything.

I went to a mortgage dude today (expect this to come up at eight month intervals for the rest of my life if you keep reading my livejournal). Since last time I checked, the amount of apartment I can afford has moved from 230k to 261k. Unfortunately, the price of small apartments outside Murdererville has moved from 300k to millions and millions. I'll catch up eventually. It's more interesting than depressing so far. I'm filling in forms to be approved in principle, in case a Donnybrook millionaire decides I'm her natural heir and I need to buy a moving van to take me to my stuff to my new Ailesbury Road pad. That happens sometimes, I think.

[Poll #749765]
noideadog: (buttercup)
Hm. Looking at my SSIA online, I see that there were two months in 2003 and 2005 where no money was transferred in. I don't know whether the bank screwed up, or I had no money in my account or what, but whatever happened, that's two skipped payments. D'you think the bank could declare my SSIA invalid and take the free money back? I like the free money; it's my favourite bit.

Concerned, Donnybrook.
noideadog: (Default)
I'm going to MountainView and Santa Monica for work in January, and somehow it only occurred to me today that I don't have to come home straight away. 25 days holidays won't spend themselves. So I'm not flying home until the second week in February, giving me six days or something to fart around and be a tourist. It's hard to be a tourist in Americaland without a car, but I bet I can figure something out. And now i have that great pre-holiday feeling, but with the lvoely bonus of not knowing where I'm going to go. There's a lot to choose from. I am, as ever, ignoring the fact that I don't have any money and am racking up debt like a professional debt-racker. I'll figure that out when I'm old.
noideadog: (meerkat)
Does anyone want to go see Nightwatch? Or Howl's Moving Castle? Or Corpse Bride? Or March of the Penguins? Or Antonio Banderas Is OMG Hot - the Movie? Seriously, every year there are about three movies I really want to see and right at this very moment there are five. And new Harry Potter is any minute now, isn't it? How do people keep up? I need to start going on dates or something. (Nice simple solution there, yes.) Until that starts happening, anyone want to go see any of them?

Eircom have sent me a payslip, which implies that they're going to pay me tomorrow. I guess the HR lady wasn't kidding when she said nobody had been told I was leaving. It'd be fun to leave it and see how long they keep paying me for before demanding it back, but I don't think I'd be good with that amount of temptation to spend it. And I'd like a P45 some time. Poo. I'll call them tomorrow.
noideadog: (Default)
"Absolutely no capital expenditure this month", I said. "Under any circumstances. You have enough stuff. Do not buy any stuff. Even a new winter coat. _Especially_ a new winter coat.".

I bought a new winter coat. It's made out of leather and it cost €150 and it's absolutely the loveliest thing I own.

But no other capital expenditure this month. If anyone sees me buying stuff, cut my arms off or something.
noideadog: (Default)
Pretty much everyone on eBay accepts paypal these days so when I won a 1955 hardback copy of the School at the Chalet[1] for six whole pounds it was a pain in the arse to realise I had to go find currency. Sending a small amount of money from here to someone in the UK is loads of hassle. The exchange rate is poo, for one thing, and money orders and foreign exchange cost stupid commission and then you have to find an envelope and guess what the postage should be (and if you can find it in less than 10 clicks on anpost.ie you win today's prize, because it's particularly well hidden) and get the address and find a biro and remember to post it (the application to change my voting address has been at the bottom of my bag for two weeks now) and it's all more trouble than it tends to be worth. Anyway, someone at work had a £10 note and swapped it for some euros with the warning that it was from the Bank of Ulster and the eBay lady might not accept it as real money.

How does that work? Bank of Ulster money is still official currency, right? Why don't people like them? Is it because there aren't as many around so people don't recognise them as much, so they're easier to fake? I brought mine into a bank here and exchanged it for a Bank of England note, just in case and it's currently winging its way towards Dorset where the seller will undoubtably pretend not to have received it. Sending money through the post is pretty stupid.

On an entirely unrelated matter, isn't this gorgeous?

[Edit: Heh. I didn't mean to link to that picture, though it's a fairly handsome specimen of duckness. Link fixed. ]

[1] 9 hardbacks, 46 paperbacks now, if you care for such things. (I know it's not all that likely)
noideadog: (Default)
If I sell something on eBay, can I get paid with Paypal, and use that money to buy stuff on eBay, without having to get credit cards and bank accounts involved? Or is it more complicated than that?
noideadog: (Default)
All hail the great gods Sligo who saw fit to imbue my lowly bank account with their fortnightly blessing upon me. And well 'tis needed, for the Rent Ogre (like a rent boy, but bigger and ogrier) demands his tribute in but 13 hours.

Something's beeping at irregular intervals. It's making me mental.

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