Friday, December 31, 2010

Sunday, December 26, 2010

New Years Resolution???

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I don’t make a lot of New Year’s resolutions. The last biggie I accomplished was to quit smoking. I made that resolution many times before it actually came true in 2000. I made several resolutions in 2010 and there’s one that as of yet hasn’t come true, but I’m always hoping. It’s a personal one that I won’t talk about here, but there is one reader that knows what I’m talking about. If it doesn’t come true by the end of 2010, I’ll recycle it for 2011.

I do have goals for 2011. One is to increase my personal savings. That was tough last year, but the economy seems to be taking a turn for the better. Let’s keep our fingers crossed on that one. I retired from the Air Force in 1994, but that’s not enough for me to be 100% retired, so I work 4 days a week doing sales. I would like to cut that back to 3 days a week in a couple years. Work is getting in the way of hobbies and traveling, but I do have to finance them somehow.

I’ll have to budget to get some more traveling in. My mom is getting up in years, so I need to make it back east to visit her more often. I also want to get more in state traveling done. This is one large beautiful state, and it takes a bit to get around seeing as much as you can. A lot of places in Alaska you can only get to by plane or boat, so it can get expensive. I don’t have the financial or media backing that our more popular resident has.

I would like to add 2 more lenses to my camera bag. So budgeting in other areas should help with that. You often justify some unneeded purchases when you’re single. My usual excuse is, I worked for it, so I deserve it. The real question should be, do I really need it and will it slow down the purchase of what I really want. Photography is a fun hobby, but it can get expensive. I only buy the best when it comes to anything and camera gear is no different. I doubt I’ll ever be at the level of where it pays my expenses, so in the mean time, budget.

I think my system to make these goals come true will be to have self control. Stay focus and make what you want happen. Look for that light at the end of the tunnel and see what’s at the end, then go for it.

I hope everyone has a Happy New Year. Be ready though, because it’s going to be awesome!

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Local travel only for us over the holidays!

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As the years have gone by and my family here in Alaska grows and grows, traveling to visit family outside (lower 48) for the holidays, has become less frequent to it just doesn’t happen anymore. The time it takes to travel, the headaches for checking luggage, going through security and dealing with the crowds is just way too much for this old guy. According to, it’s 4,344 miles driving from Anchorage to where my mom lives in Maryland. When I flew there this past summer, it took almost 12 hours and it cost about $700. Now to fly for the holidays to visit her, it would cost over $1400 plus the new extra fees. That’s kind of pricey for me, especially with still having to deal with Santa Clause in Alaska.

Another drawback is I will only fly on an American made aircraft. If Boeing didn’t design and build it, I’m not flying on it. I’ll spend the extra money or take the extra time to make that happen. I spent a 20 year career working on American made aircraft and I know firsthand there are none better.

So, with 3 kids who each have spouses and 4 grandkids between them, my Christmas will be at home in Anchorage. I’ll spend the day cooking a ham and all the fixings. They’ll arrive after 3 to open presents and then have dinner. By then they will have visited with other family members that won’t be coming over here.
Even though Anchorage has an excellent public transportation system, it’ll have limited service for the holiday. Parking in the neighborhood will be a little tight, but we’ll make it work. Our snowfall for the year so far is on the mark, so no problem with having a white Christmas.

They’ll be no travelers coming in to visit for the holidays. It’s hard to expect someone to go through the same travel pains that you no longer will do yourself. Besides, they’ll have their own immediate family to share Christmas with.
Sometime during that chaos and mounds of wrapping paper, I’ll call mom and pass the phone around. She’ll have had her Christmas with my brothers and sisters and it’ll be getting close to her bed time. There’s a 4 hour time difference between her home and mine.

We have a lot to be thankful for. The new addition this year will be my son-in-law. He and my daughter just got married this past weekend. Last Christmas he couldn’t join us for the holidays because he was deployed to Afghanistan. This year he gets to enjoy our mayhem.

Christmas will be at home surrounded by my children and the family they have made. We’ll be eating good food and sharing all the presents that Santa left for us. I hope everyone’s Christmas is safe and as enjoyable as ours will be.

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Taxation with little representation?

I had a little trouble trying to write this week’s post. The questions were based on the Bush tax cuts. You know, what you thought about them, do you think they should be extended, and stuff like that. To tell you the truth, I’ve had little time to think about it.

Right now Alaska still has a senate race going on, if that’s what you want to call it. Let me bring you up to date. Lisa Murkowski (R) is in office, Tea Party backed Joe Miller (R) runs against her in the primary and wins. Lisa decides she wants to fight to get her job back and runs a write-in-campaign and wins by over 10,000 votes. Joe files a legal challenge against the state which asserts that Alaska law prohibits misspelled write-in-ballots from being counted and bars the state from applying more lenient standards for write-in-ballots than other ballots. He has also cited several irregularities, such as voters casting ballots without having showed identification, and some ballots allegedly having been filled out by the same person.

A federal judge last month stopped the certification of election results in response to Miller's first lawsuit; on the condition that the candidate brings his legal challenge to state court. A decision declaring victory for the incumbent would be appealed by Miller to the state Supreme Court.

The judge presiding over the dispute in the Senate race is expected to rule on Friday, but any decision is likely to be appealed by Republican Joe Miller, who refuses to concede to Sen. Lisa Murkowski.

Senator Murkowski's current term ends on Jan. 3, two days before the Senate reconvenes for the new session. If this fight drags on, Alaska could be left with only one senator until the dispute is resolved. That means the next Senate would be a 99 member body as it returns to take up important issues like tax cuts. Murkowski could also lose her leadership positions if the new Senate convenes without her.

The Alaska GOP, which initially endorsed Miller, has called the race for Murkowski and has repeatedly urged Miller to "end his campaign in a dignified manner." Senator Murkowski has already declared herself the victor. Some of Miller’s highest profile supporters have either gone silent or moved on and urged him to do the same.

This needs to be settled and settled fast. If not, it could cost Alaska millions of dollars in federal tax cuts, Earmarked Funds, etc. Status of the Bush tax cuts? Alaska has bigger problems to consider right now.

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Get your bush orders in now!

This year’s budget for holiday gifts is about the same as last years; however I’m being more cautious and making every penny count. I have three kids, their spouses; and four grandkids. I’ve also noticed that this year I’m also turning into my parents. I don’t know what the younger kids do or play with. I don’t know their games or who their super heroes are. You have to get it right for the young ones and you have to get it right for all of them. Heaven forbid if you hit it right for one and not the others. It might look like you have favorites. Well I do. I love them all and I make mom help me with a list.

One third of my shopping is done and three quarters of it has been done online. I lack the time or the patience to go to the malls and fight the crowds. I have found some pretty good deals and haven’t paid any shipping.

Shipping is important. It always cost more to send it to Alaska. When I first moved here, the only people that shipped to Alaska were Montgomery Ward’s and Sears. That was it for the big stores. You could order from their catalogs and have it sent to their store and you could go pick it up when it came in. No one else would touch shipping to Alaska. Some people told me on the phone that they only shipped to the United States. That’s where I thought I was. Now a day when someone says free shipping, my first question is if that means Alaska too. If they say yes, I hold them to it. The big companies that have moved up her like Petco, Wal-Mart and Best Buy have learned that there is money in bush orders. That’s shipping to towns and villages in interior Alaska known as the bush, where there are no big stores, just the local general store.

How I’m treated shopping tells me who I’ll shop with next year. I have my few local stores I always hit and then my favorite places online. The big guys have already done me well. Everything I’ve ordered has arrived within a week. Free shipping is usually five to nine days and they have been getting it here in seven or less. With my personal schedule as tight as it is, Santa sure can use a little help.

Make your list, make your shopping plan, local or online, and then get to it. All of my holiday shopping will be done by December 15th. Like I’ve said before, I’m a guy. That will be the soonest I’ve ever had my holiday shopping done. If I can do it with minimal stress, anyone can. Hey, that’s nine days away. I better get cracking!