Wednesday, May 7, 2008

Annual Purchase Limit

I hadn't noticed this one until the Bureau of Public Debt sent a reminder email. They've reduced the limit on annual purchasing of savings bonds to $5,000 per person. It used to be $30,000. The last time the limit was $5,000 was in 1973.

I'm not even going to try to guess the real reason they did this. But what it means is that one of the best places to keep cash without losing purchasing power to inflation, the I Series bond, is not as useful as it was.

I like I Bonds. The rates are continually adjusted to keep ahead of inflation. Right now, they are at 4.84%. They are sold at face value, have a minimum ownership time of 1 year, and only a 3 month interest penalty if sold before 5 years. You can buy directly from the Treasury Direct website for free, so there are no account fees or transaction fees to reduce the return. The interest income is even exempt from State income taxes.

Of course, I'm being a bit silly, because I've never bought $5,000 worth of I Bonds in one year. But I had planned to use them as the major cash component of my portfolio. They'd certainly be doing better than the stock I bought last year.

Friday, May 2, 2008

More Optics Gaming

I am now the proud owner of a board game with a Class II laser warning. We can blame Karen, because she said that when I was first talking about PRISM (the DS game) she thought I was talking about Khet. She also mentioned that they were selling it at Gamer's Paradise in Woodfield Mall. The sales dude there introduced it as "laser chess" because of how the pieces can be moved. I'm terrible at chess, but I do have an affinity for bouncing light around with mirrors.

He also mentioned that one can purchase a pair of beam-splitting pieces as an expansion. Then, he started to explain what those would do. At that point, I did let him know I was an optical engineer. (Flashbacks to engagement-ring diamond shopping, I do already know what an index of refraction is...) He then said that there are rumors of a second level that can be added on. I assume it will really start looking like that funky chess from Star Trek.
But now that I think on it more, that could have safety issues because it brings the beam level closer to eye-level.

So, who's up for a game? With Blinky Lights AND Shiny Objects?

Thursday, May 1, 2008

Fun Fun Fun

Why has it been so difficult for me to learn to let go a little and have fun, or even to take control and make fun happen? It would seem that fun is what other people have while we are getting work done. I'm in the last year of my twenties, which is, I think it has been said, when we are supposed to be having all of the craziest fun of our lives. I started my twenties at Rose (party central, if you count Denny's runs at 2 am on Tuesdays). Then, when that was over, I got a real job, got married, and we bought a house in the suburbs. Work Work Work.

In an attempt to shove a decade worth of fun into the remaining two-in-the-tens-place time I have left, I have a proposal. Let's get together and do something fun! I'll still put in my hours at work, and I'll still get the laundry and the dishes done, eventually. But, I want to GET OUT. To DO MORE. But not BY MYSELF all the time!

Example 1: last Friday at lunch, a coworker mentioned she would be going to a party at a local nightclub. I indicated interest and she said I should go with her and her friends. So, I bought my ticket online, then went to the mall between work and home. (I had no appropriate shoes, or dress, or purse, or...) We got to the club (heat) at midnight and danced until they closed at 3 am. I have never done anything close to that before. Fun Fun Fun.

Example 2: Karen and I have season passes for Six Flags this year. Woo Hoo roller coasters!

Other ideas, please let me know if you are interested: cookouts, bowling, bicycling, camping, zoos, botanical gardens, concerts, fancy parties, dancing, road trips, canoe-ing, volunteering, 5k races, museums, photography trips, walks, shopping, Rocky Horror (I drove to Ft. Wayne to see my first "live" show, thanks to Carrie and Lucas), improv, downtown, pick-your-own, cooking club, karaoke, spa day, video games, picnics, hiking, scotch tasting, and just hanging out. Maybe even at Denny's at 2 am.


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