Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Troubles in Consultant Paradise

Remember that great-paying consultant gig I had last month? This month it's not so great. At the beginning of the month I quit it, which I posted on about here. I was first told on the 4th he was going to mail the payment that week, then on the 9th was told the check was on his desk and his wife was in the hospital delivering #4. Nothing then heard from him, so I e-mailed on the 15th.

I get a response on the 17th that one of the controls that I had worked on did not work and he was not going to pay thousands of dollars for a control that did not work. After further discussion, he did not try it out in the past 2 weeks. I did not say it, but the payment was for the hours I had put in working on a dozen different controls.

Yesterday we came to an agreement that once that control is working that he will pay me through Google Checkout by credit card (and pay me the fees associated with it). I e-mailed him this morning the specific features that the control needs to meet in order to be considered working and that after it meets those requirements and he has reviewed it, payment would be sent and work between us is complete. Once I get his confirmation, I'll wrap it up tonight and hopefully we'll be done with this by the end of the week.

Oh the joys of doing everything you can to get out of debt!

Saturday, May 17, 2008

Garden Update

Wild fruiting tomatoes growing in my yard: Last year we had a tomato sprout up in our back yard that we didn't plant and it fruited, they were nice small round fruits. This year I have probably 50 of them sprouted up all around my yard. I first thought they were weeds, but the leaves are tomato like. I let some of them grow and I'm starting to have fruit growing. I'm keeping the seeds to these babies! If you have an idea for a name for a tomato plant that fruits naturally by Mid-May in Chicago weather, let me know.

Rest of tomatoes: We still have 32 plants, but only enough room for maybe a dozen more. I'm going to see if neighbors want them and then put the rest on Craigslist.

Beans: Sprouting everywhere! Bug eating them, suspect it's the flea beetle I've been fighting elsewhere in the yard

Radishes: Still fighting the flea beetle, going to mail in a request for a refund on the bug killer spray.

Hardening Off: I've learned this year how important hardening off is, otherwise I get plants that lose leaves outside from the shock. I'm hoping I have an OK garden this year.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

IRS Rebate Received & Waiting for Other

I checked our bank account this morning and it has been received ($1330). It is going straight to Capital One next week for our settlement payment with them. Can't wait to say on the 21st that they're no longer in my wallet taking my money.

The one thing that may put a hamper on settling is I am waiting on getting paid for the programming work I had done on the weekend. I spoke to the guy a week ago and the check was on his desk waiting to get mailed (his wife had just had a baby, so he wasn't in the office for 2 days). I haven't heard from him since and been checking my mail daily, e-mailed him on Thursday night and no response yet. That check is for $2100.

For now it's nice to see our bank account at almost $3K. Too bad it'll be back down to $0 in a couple of days.

Saturday, May 10, 2008

Garden Update

I'm having a wonderful day over here, been outside since around 8 AM playing in the yard. Here's what's been going on with the garden:

- Finished putting up fence, need to put in a couple of posts but overall it's up.

- My mother-in-law is visiting and she purchased for us 105 tomato cages for the garden, I have put out about a third of them already.

- Planted 30 tomato and 8 dill plants. I'm only starting to see what 150 tomato plants will look like and I'm getting scared. Even spending just a minute on a plant every day will be 2 & 1/2 hours. I'm thinking I'll have to plan a rotation and visit each plant every 3-5 days.

- Planted rest of the peppers and finished tearing up the front yard.

- My mother-in-law also bought us some strawberry plants since I killed most of the ones we had planted due to not having mulch around them. The ones she bought have a bunch of leaves and should take hold. Planted them and put down mulch around them.

- Spinach looks like it will be ready in 2 weeks, getting bigger every day.

- Been fighting flea beetles on my radishes, sprayed with insecticidal soap.

- Peas and green beans have been doing great.

- Grapes are starting to form fruit, pulled some off so that we get nice-sized fruit this year (haven't taken care of it before, so it only produced leaves).

- Onions are at green-onion size, I'm suspecting we'll have plenty once the tomatoes are ready to be picked (if not sooner).

- Planted cilantro outside.

- Started some cantaloupe and parsley inside. The cantaloupe are almost breaking through the soil already.

Thursday, May 8, 2008

I Quit (High-Pay Night Job)

The past month my weekends have been rough helping a startup with a web application for their first client. The project is such a mess that only this past weekend I found out that 4 other developers quit working on it in the past month, leaving just me and the manager. Basic items such as being able to identify who the currently logged in user is are broken. Other problems included the manager breaking items I had worked on every week.

All of this means I'm back to working 1 job, though my garden can be a job at times (fighting flea beetles). I did take the first certification test for MCTS and passed this past Saturday. The next test will be harder and I have already started studying for that as well.

The pay was great for the job, but I've learned well through this that sometimes all the money in the world don't make a job worthwhile to do.

Sunday, May 4, 2008

Shopping for Cookware

I knew it would happen sooner or later, I was hoping for a September time-frame. My wife was cooking a couple days ago and the handle came off while she was cleaning the sauce pan. Another sauce pan is now leaking at the handle and I suspect it's going to have the same fate.

Here's our choices:

1. One of our roommates has a set in their room they brought with them, we all use in the house (but I'd hate to damage their set).

2. Purchase a couple of cheap pieces to tide us over. Our current set we bought 3 years ago from IKEA.

3. Purchase an entire set with 10 year warranty. I'm looking at the Simply Calphalon Stainless 10-Piece Cookware Set for $139.99. They are the 18/10 stainless steel kind I've heard recommended, though they have the aluminum core versus copper.

4. Purchase a high-end set with a lifetime warranty. These normally are in the $300+ range, have the copper core instead.

For now I'm leaning toward a mix of #1 and #3. If I get paid for my work this weekend quickly, then I'd be looking at us purchasing #3 at the end of the week. If they're slow at paying, I'd be looking at #3 next month and we'll go with #1 until then.

One interesting item I did comparing the 10 year warranty and the lifetime warranty was saying "If I had $300 today, what would be the best purchase in the long run?". I took the difference between the two options ($160 on the low end), decided to put it toward something making or saving 6% (i.e. my mortgage) and figured out how much I would have after 10 years. For the Saving 6%, I came up with $96 after 10 years (and my original $160). For the investing at 6%, I came up $126.54 (and my original $160). At a higher investment rate (8%), I could buy another set every 10 years without touching the principal and having extra leftover ($45).

Thursday, May 1, 2008

Garden Update

Our garden is coming along very nicely. The peas have grown nice and healthy, the spinach looks like it will be ready to eat in 3 weeks, the green beans and radishes sprouted, Brussels Sprouts and Kohlrabi and Celery took well to being transplanted. We even had the asparagus try to produce a head (very small one, but a head still), though we cut it so we would have better production next year. Some of the onions are 6 inches tall already. The pepper plants that were mushy have taken well to being outside.

Planted This Past Week: Quite a bit has been planted this past week, just this morning I planted some basil, 3 types of cucumbers, and 2 types of beans.

Planting This Week Outside: 4 Broccoli plants (stragglers of the group), Dill, Tomatoes (both did not get outside due to concerns of frost).

Still to Plant: Parsley, Cantaloupe, Corn, Peppers, Eggplant (probably all around Mother's Day)

Work To do: Our front area has about 25 sq feet left to be torn up, will be working on today and Sunday. Our fences are up in the front, will be putting up the fence for the back probably on Sunday. We're almost to maintenance mode for the garden/farm.

Problems: The lettuce crop pretty much is decimated from the frost we've been having, I'm using it as a learning experience and I'm just planting more seeds every week to see who will win.