Saturday, May 31, 2008
I had no occasion to ride the bus today, so this tattered and torn pass has only sentimental value now. I am still debating as to whether or not to buy another pass for June. It seems to only make sense with gas prices rising through the stratosphere, but I've has reservations because I will be out of town for much of this month. I will definitely continue to shop for my meals. I had never really quantified just how much money I was flushing down the toilet by eating out every day.
I spent more money today. In fact, I spent the most money on a single meal on the last day of the month. $20 went towards my tostada salad, calamari, and dos equis at the Jolly Time restaurant in Old Town. That leaves me with $34 and 3 hours to spend it. I just might.
I'll offer my final insights on this little experiment from the road. I am leaving for Washington DC tomorrow at noon. I'll be there all week.
Friday, May 30, 2008
Amtrak win. It's more faster.
Well, it's day 30, I have $53 left, and one day to go. I could have driven to work today, as I still have gas in my tank from my purchase yesterday, but you know...I figured it just wouldn't be right to not ride the bus in on my last day. I don't know if more and more people are starting to ride MTS because of the gas prices, but the bus was more packed this morning than I have ever seen it. And it was hot. I suppose the weather was so agreeable for the whole month I never realized that the bus either 1) is not air conditioned 2) has a broken air conditioner.
I brought a couple pieces of chicken and some beers with me today. The plan is to have a little fiesta at lunch and toast the upcoming end of $500 May. But I will offer no eulogy or epilogue yet. We still have another day to go.
Thursday, May 29, 2008
I is tired.
Tuesday, May 27, 2008
All I can say is that the weekend was as relaxing and as perfect as I could have hoped for. I really can't wait to go back. There is something about the desert that instantly puts me at ease.
Gas was almost exactly $60 for one tank (thank you..come again), and bills were almost precisely $150, so the numbers posted in the previous entry are mostly accurate. That leaves me with about $80 and 5 days to go. At this point it is hard to think that I would go over. I've noticed that this has brought about some level of complacency, so I've decided to try and finish up without spending another dollar. Its seems plausible, as I have enough food to last me through the week (even after bringing a whole bag of chicken to share in palm springs) and no more planned expenses. I suppose I should plan some kind of mini-celebration for the 31st...
Sunday, May 25, 2008
I'll make a real quick blog post here while im on vacation. Its sunny and 80 and Rancho Mirage and im anxious to get back out by the pool. I'll make a more complete post tomorrow or Tuesday. The pictures tell the story. CLick on any of them for a higher resolution.
Friday, May 23, 2008
Wednesday, May 21, 2008
The bus was unusually packed when I boarded at Old Town. Also, we had to wait a little while before getting on because an enormous man in a motorized wheelchair had to be accomodated. The way this works is that the bus actually "kneels" down using air bags, and then deploys a ramp to allow the handicapped person to roll on. Once on board, the seats in the front are folded up and the wheelchair is secured by the driver using safety straps that are built into the floor and frame of the bus. This effectively removes 5 seats. All the other seats on the bus were occupied, and for the first time since I started riding transit, I had to stand for nearly the entire ride to work. Hey, no big deal, I'm happy to use my legs and grateful that I have them.
One of the stops before I get off is the VA hospital in La Jolla. This is where the majority of the passengers disembarked, including the massive man in the wheelchair. The driver got up and unstrapped everything, but the chair wasn't budging. The driver tried and tried but the thing wouldnt move. The chair itself had malfunctioned and was broken. The man in the chair started to offer advice on how to find a handle that would release the brakes...a sort of "manual override". But the poor driver just couldn't get it to work. Frustrated by the driver's ineptness, thats when the 400lb.+ man STOOD UP, picked up the motorized wheelchair by one end(had to weigh over 100 lbs.) and shoved it down the ramp. My mouth agape, I watched as he exited the ramp, flipped some knobs and switches on the chair, sat back down and sped away.
Monday, May 19, 2008
Sunday was another gorgeous day. We started it out by boarding the Hornblower Inspiration for a 2-hour brunch cruise around San Diego Bay. I had been out on the evening "booze cruise" a few times, but in all the years I had never gone out for the brunch edition. I definitely recommend it if a leisurely cruise around the harbor and a buffet meal is the kind of thing you enjoy. Not more than a few hours passed before I found myself eating yet again, this time at a friends backyard BBQ/pool party extravaganza. I should be clear that i am not actively seeking out free meals. It just happened that way.
On Friday night, I splurged and spent $15 on dinner and drinks. I knew I would be eating like a king for free in the upcoming days so it was not a irresponsible decision. Saturday was a gorgeous day and the early part of the afternoon was spent at the beach. The marine layer was hanging over the coast so the sand by the bay would have to suffice. What a wonderful, 100% free, way to spend a day. There happened to be a car show going on at the park that we chose. I certainly hit my quota for Corvette viewing for the year.
The IRS recently contacted me and asked for back taxes from a poker tournament win in 2006. I neglected to claim it on my return that year because the Rio failed to send me a W-4 or 1099G or whatever for they should have sent me. I figured that they didn't report it so I didn't write off my losses. Turns out they did. So I had to mail the IRS an amended return claiming the losses that would offset the winnings. This required me to purchase a stamp. I honestly cannot remember the last time I used the mail to send something, so I had no clue that a regular first-class postage stamp now costs a whopping $0.42. Jeesh. I scrounged for two quarters and went by the midway post office to make my purchase from a vending machine.
The rest of the weekend a bit later.
Thursday, May 15, 2008
Last night was Wednesday poker night. The first part of the evening was mostly entertaining. Later on, a tragic comedy played out that I will not detail here. Let's just say it left me questioning many things, not the least of which is the subconscious impulses that many let take control of them on a regular basis. So , yes, that is why I awoke tired and disenchanted.
I'm halfway through the month and have about $350 left. I'm definitely going to spend more money on food this weekend, enough to last me through till the end. I will have a more solid idea of where I stand after that, but things look optimistic that I will come in well under $500.
Wednesday, May 14, 2008
Tuesday, May 13, 2008
Entertainment is going just fine. When you're forced to do things that don't cost any money, you get a bit more creative with your time. I'm doing more reading, writing (obviously), and getting even more exercise apart from my daily walks and skates to and from the transit stops. I'm getting as creative as I can with my photography given the simple nature of my camera. I might be drinking too often. When you don't have to worry about driving anywhere, its easy to drink more frequently. I'm not drinking to excess, mind you, just more often it seems. That might have something to do with the numerous bottles of whiskey I received for my birthday back in March.
I've not considered what to do with the extra money should I come in way under $500. Suggestions?
Monday, May 12, 2008
I had to go into work on Sunday night. I was going to be in late, so I checked the routes and was disappointed to see that my way home (the only one available that late on a weekend) would take me almost two hours. Knowing that I would have to be back in early the next morning, I elected to drive my car. It didn't technically cost me anything as there was still gas in the tank. After leaving work, I took advantage of having my car and drove to the Palomar club to play cards. I sat down and rather quickly was up $200. Two hands later I had already lost that $200 in a very silly manner. I was irritated enough by it that I thought it best to leave before I did something stupid out of spite. I left up $12...but that total is seperate from $500 May, as poker money comes from an entirely different pool.
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It was my first time on the green line since they put the new trolley cars into service. They are pretty plush. Same can be said for the Transit Center at SDSU. It rolls right into the center of campus and pops you out right by the Aztec Center. Luckily for me the art building was a nice gradual downhill ride through campus all the way from the station. A little bit of searching around and I found the right room. The exhibitionist is pictured at right.
Saturday night and it was time to head off to a reggae show in Ocean Beach. I drank some booze of the free variety from home, rather than pay for beers at the show. However, at one point during the show, the band members were expressing their desire to quench their own thirst in between songs, and I decided that I could allocate a few bucks to the cause. After all...I am ahead of schedule. So I grabbed a beer for me, one for M, and one for Paul, the guitar player. He was very appreciative and I felt good about my decision. The show had a great vibe, and we stuck around until they finished their set. Right about the time that they wrapped up, I looked down at by feet in the spot I had been standing almost all night. Right next to my toes was a $20 bill. Now, I know blogs are self-indulgent, and it probably is starting to sound like I am making myself out to be some kind of a boy-scout.I can assure you that is not the case, but I kid you not when I say that my first instinct was to start asking around if anyone dropped a $20. Of course seconds later I realized there really was no point in doing that as there was very little chance that the bill would find its way to the person that actually dropped it. So...major financial windfall for me! Instead of being down $12 on the night, I actually profited $8. In no way was it depressing.
Saturday, May 10, 2008
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Thursday was open mic night in South Park. I knew my route would take so long that I had no time to go home after the gym and wash off...or even eat. So during a transfer I actually had to buy food from a taco shop. The total was $7.14, by far my most expensive meal yet in May. That brings me down to $349.21. The fine folks at Rebecca's said I could bring my smelly carne asade plate inside and eat it there. Within moments this fellow appeared out of nowhere. I asked him, "Does anybody feed you?" and gave him a little bit of steak.
A new guy named Alexander, who just moved to San Diego from Michigan played his alto sax. I think at one point he might've played the theme from Sanford and Son. Later one of the coffee house regulars invited him back onstage to improvise with him. It was by far the best song of the night. And the always entertaining Kellis played as well. I played fingers with these people and tried my best at an online poker tournament. Two Kings is better than two Queens. Usually. I caught the #2 back up into North Park, but the #10 wouldnt be by for another 25 minutes to bring me home. So I skated down University figuring I could get halfway home by the time the bus came by. University Ave has hills. Mostly downhill from North Park. Yay. It was a nice casual ride until I got going a bit too fast and caught a wheel on some gravel going up onto a sidewalk. The skatedboard stopped, and I kept going. I bruised my elbow and skinned up my shoulder. Ow.
Thursday, May 8, 2008
Going uphill is obviously only possible on slight grades. I did it this morning. It gives me quite the quad burn, but only in my right leg. And then there is the whole thing that I won't be getting as much exercise...but I suppose there is really nothing to stop me from just carrying it when I feel like taking my time and walking. There are a couple of nice places to skate on the way from UTC to work. One of them is my parking lot. They keep a nice fresh coat of smooth blacktop down all the time.
Wednesday, May 7, 2008
When you're walking a lot, you get more time to look at everything around you. There are signs literally everywhere, for everything. I suppose I sort of knew this but never paid it much mind. I saw this one today, nicely framed by the trees. As I was taking the picture a blind person walked up to me and asked me which way the Braille Institute was. "Never heard of it" I said, and walked away.
Tuesday, May 6, 2008
Once again my walk into work brought me across some things that I stopped to take a look at. (Oh btw I did go and slimjim that guy's car yesterday at lunch and turn off his lights. Forgot to leave a note though.) The wreck pictured here happened just as I was approaching the intersection. The Crown Victoria flat out rear ended the Explorer after skidding a good 20-30 yards because she was hauling ass down a wet street. She smashed into him and sent both cars spinning and up onto the sidewalk. The airbag deployed in the Crown Vic and everyone walked away fine. Here's the crazy part. Just before all of this happened. I had just crossed Genesee and was walking down Executive Drive when I saw a baby rat on the sidewalk. It was breathing and obviously alive, but it wasn't moving and didn't scurry away when I walked up. I thought it was weird so I took a video.
Ok, so big deal. There is some kind of semi-paralyzed rat hanging out on the sidewalk. Well, what was he doing there? Saving me from getting runover maybe. The time I took to stop and record his weirdness is the just about the same amount of time that would've put me right on that corner in time to get creamed by the slippin' and slidin' Fords.
Ty little guy.
Monday, May 5, 2008
A strange thing seems to happen. No matter what time I set my alarm for, or what time I actually get out of bed...I seem to leave the front door at almost the same time everyday. Its like an internal clock that will spend a little more time in the shower, or decide to shave because we are running early. My intention was to wake up a bit early and go running (apparently this is the best time for your body to do cardio) but I mustve reached over and snoozed in my sleep because I don't even recall waking up. So I will go running at lunch instead.
On the walk to the office, I saw some poor dude left his lights on his remarkably well-maintained late 80's Buick. I was gonna go into the front of the building it was parked near and give the license number, but there were 8 buildings and no guarantee this guy was in any of them. I'll run by there at lunch and check again. Beleive it or not, I have a slimjim in my office (total coincidence), and I'm gonna break into this guys car and turn his lights off if he hasn't already. I'll leave him a freaky note. "Congratulations! You've been saved by the phantom headlight guy! BAM!" I had better be careful because the area is patrolled pretty heavily by SDPD.
Well I figured out that I am not really saving that much money by not driving. The bulk of the savings comes from food. Breakfast is an instant oatmeal. Bought in a giant 48 pack that cost 7.49 from Costco, it equals out to $0.24 a day. Lunch is tuna from a 5 lb can. I bought two of them for a total of $21, equaling about $0.67 per day. Lets go ahead and say that its not enough tuna and I need 10 more lbs. That will jack it up to $1.34 per day. Dinner is a chicken breast at $0.53 and a Cup O' Noodles at $0.47 for a cute little total of $1.00 per day. I drink lots of water but that is free at work...so $0.00 there. Beer and whiskey are also not paid for, so...I'm looking at about $2 a day on ingestibles. My guess is I was spending about $20-$30 a day on food, not including nice dinners out. Wow.
In other news, skateboard delivery was delayed a bit. So I will be hoofing it for a bit longer. Also, I am going out to Palm Springs on the 28th for vacation and driving may be unavoidable. But perhaps not. I'll take a look at Greyhound schedules and get back to you.
Sunday, May 4, 2008
Sunday is Boot Camp in the Park day. A friend of mine basically runs us through a bunch of stretching, balance and strength drills for about an hour or so. We meet at a park in Golden Hill, just next to the Balboa Park Golf Course. I had to plan a new route to get over there. It turned out to be really simple.
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The Trolley was a bit slow due to heavy traffic and I missed the #2 bus. So I just started running down Broadway until the next one came by. I encountered my first "crazy" on that ride. Sitting directly across from me on the sideways benches was a middle aged Mexican man, dressed like Milton from "Office Space" complete with tie and coke bottle glasses. He was mumbling to himself about someone following him and seemed to be calling out the cross streets in Spanglish... "Next is Broadway y vente cinco."
The workout was good. I stopped in to see some friends afterward and then took the same route home. I'm just starting to clean up the remaining garbage from yesterdays tournament. The positive environmental impact of my little project has made me more aware of other simple changes I could make to do my part. I already recycle the large amounts of plastic, glass and aluminum we go through. But it occurred to that I dont even need to consume that much even for these tournament. Just cleaning up I found 18 bottles of water, most of which are more than half full. I suppose thats understandable, people don't always want to drink every last ounce that is in the bottle. I could fix this easily buy buying 5 gallon jugs and using plastic cups (that are washable and re-usable) Same goes for the beer. I can just get a half keg instead of cans.
On a work note... today is a big day for my company. We are launching our mobile television service with AT&T. Before this we were only available through Verizon. We have high hopes that the competition in the marketplace will stimulate advertising and marketing of the service. Alas, we had some concerning issues with one of our content providers which will probably result in me clearing my schedule and remaining on standby through out the day. In the end there is nothing I can do is the content is not being sent from the head-end, but management sometimes feels better knowing that all hands are on deck and ready for anything. I will give it a few hours and see. The issue for me is that I have relatived in town and was planning on spending my day with them up at my parents house. I would ride with my brother and grandfather there. But in the event that I had to go into work...it would obviously throw a wrench into things. In all likelihood I will just pack up my things and head into the office. I have plenty of things I can work on while I am there.
Oh, yes...today was the big poker tournament. We had a big turnout, and a nice big prizepool. First prize was taken by this man.
Plan on getting some excercise tomorrow and then maybe try the beach. Busses go staight to PB from Old Town.
Friday, May 2, 2008
Good morning! A picture at my trolley stop... and a certain someone requested a video...so here ya go!
I've started to get a feel for the schedules and routes. Everything seems to pretty much go by the half hour...that is to say...if you miss one bus/trolley there will be another one by soon enough. But not always. I found that out this morning, when I got off my bus at UTC, expecting to board another to Mira Mesa ( I would get off just one block from my building) only to find the last morning bus leaves at 8:30. Doh! So, I just hoofed it to the office...and that's fine. The weather is gorgeous and the excercise is good. It looks like I will be taking that walk daily in the morning, as I would have to get up before 7 am if I wanted to hit the last bus connection. That's just not going to happen. I took the steep walk uphill last night, and it was fine. I was huffing and puffing a little, but again, that is not a bad thing. This will be my route.
I did not get a chance to get over to Costco and buy my food, so I just sort of scrounged around in the fridge for dinner. I ate a few carrots, some pineapple, and a glass of tomato juice. I will get over there this weekend for sure...probably on Sunday. Tomorrow is the big poker tournament and we are getting pizza. Yay.
The San Diego MTS website has all the information needed to plan a trip, but often times it is very slow, and sometimes does not work at all. I assume it is maintained by the city, so it should be no real suprise that the server isn't top notch. But never fear, Google comes to the rescue again. In some cities, San Diego being one of them, google maps will give you an option to plan your trip using public transit. Did you know that?
Thursday, May 1, 2008
Most days I carry my laptop and a full gym bag from my bedroom to the trunk of my car. Now since I will be walking a mile to and from bus/trolley stops, I need to figure out a better way to haul my stuff. Somehow I managed to cram it all into this one backpack, with no real room left for even a book.
It works out fine. I had to ditch the towel and toiletries that I kept in the gym bag. I guess I will shower when I get home. Somehow I think I will still not be the smelliest guy on the bus.
The Trolley stop is just under a mile from my house. Its downhill the entire way, which makes it an easy stroll with which to start my morning. I've actually considered taking a different bus home to avoid climbing back up this hill pictured at right. I will try it tonight and then decide.
The Trolley takes me one stop to the Old Town Transit Center where I hop on MTS Route 150 to UTC. Most of this is Freeway with no stops until we get up to La Jolla. It gets off the 5 at Gilman and then stops frequently to pick up a gaggle of UCSD students on the way to class. After a a few stops through campus to drop them off, it goes on to the VA Hospital and then finally over to UTC. I get off just before the Terminus at the corner of Gennesse and La Jolla Village Drive. From there its about a mile walk to work. I realized I could really cut the time if I used a skateboard. If anyone has one I could borrow...please let me know.
So for the last few years I've tried, somewhat unsuccessfully, to spend $500 or less (excluding mandatory payments such as rent, car, insurance, and loan repayments) during the month of May. This year I am trying to take "$500 May" more seriously. Gasoline in San Diego costs about $4 per gallon. The drive from home to work is 13 miles. With a stop to grab some breakfast and a slightly different route to avoid traffic...about 15 miles. Have fun with the interactive google map below. That's my route I would normally drive. if you want... click on "view larger map" and then click on "Take Public Transit" to see my options.
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Based on the manufacturer's information my car will average about 25mpg on the trip. So I figure I am using about 1.5 gallon of gas per day just driving to work (probably a low estimate). So thats $6 a day in gas, times 31 days in May... $186 in gas. Just to work and back. I am guessing it might be hard to stay under $500 if I drove. So I went ahead and bought a bus/trolley pass.
The pass cost $64 and is good for all buses and trolleys and coaster shuttles. With the pass and another buck I can ride the coaster if I want to go somewhere far. So, I figure I've knocked at least $100 out right there by riding mass transit to work. I will post later about the experience(s). I've done the subway in Boston, New York, L.A., and the Trolley here in town, but this is my first experience with the Bus. I will take photos and post them here with my stories.
A big spending point is obviously food and drink. Tonight I will go to Costco (I will either try to get a ride from Sean or use the last gallon of gas in my car) and go stock up for the month. I am guessing that I can survive somewhat healthily for a month on canned tuna and not much else. So that is pretty much my plan. Tuna and water. I really have no idea what a case of starkist is going for these days. I will let you know tomorrow. Its gonna hurt like hell, but I will not pay for an alcoholic beverage this month. Luckily for me, I have 4 or 5 bottles of scotch, and a monthly poker tournament that I am hosting. I buy the food and drinks with money from the entry fees, and there is generally some beers leftover. Yay.
Entertainment. Yeah. Well, I guess I will be playing more guitar and reading a lot. There will be the Wednesday night poker games (poker is and always has been completely and totally separate from my regular finances) to inject some fun into the mix.
So far $436 remaining.