I learned something very interesting tonight. Investing can be almost as fun as shopping. OK, almost, and I’m new to it so I’m talking out of my ass, I realize.
Still, tonight after work I did two things. I went shopping at Target and Kohl’s, looking for a vest. I didn’t find the right one anywhere and spent about 40 minutes digging through sale racks. I almost bought a furry black vest that said “FILA” in large blue letters, at Kohls, but thinking it was tacky, and as the line was long, I left it there.
When I got home I decided to invest (wow after after not finding a vest, I just realized that!), for the first time ever. I had converted an old 401K into a rollover IRA a few weeks ago.
My bank kept telling me, “Now you have to invest it”, and emailing me this tool. They really love to email the tool. I have about 6 copies in my inbox right now. I thought “oh, they probably automatically invest it in something like the “Saving Until You Are Old And Decrepit” fund. Whatever man.
But tonight I was bored enough to do something about it so I called them.
Now I should say that Fidelity has the WASP-iest sounding brokers in the world, and they are all men. I’m picturing a bunch of Indians with really good voice training saying they are “Jim Tate” or “Jonathan Peterson” or “George Michael” but good for them and their nice acting skills.
I should back up a little. I had actually done my research and figured out that I’ll never be able to retire. If I want to have $45,000 a year by the time I’m 65, I’ll have to invest well over half my monthly income in 401K. Forget it! Assuming that I’ll be still be a poor college student at age 65, I can at least do something good with my money because poor students always care about the environment and besides, who cares!
With that in mind I have been researching “social responsibility funds”. Because, for me, the quality of a fund depends on the types of companies it invests in, not how bullish it is (is that the right word?). And there are a lot of social responsibility funds but, as this article points out, they all decide what is socially responsible to them. Most exclude alcohol (I LIKE alcohol, alcohol is GOOD), cigarettes (I don’t care!), and weapons manufacturers (Now we’re talking. I like to exclude weapons manufacturers!). So in the end you have to do some research down at the level of companies.
Based on this article, I decided that a good fund would be Parnassus. They are doing OK, they invest in public water (yay! I don’t like water bottles everywhere!), and Autodesk (CAD software – plus I used to work at Autodesk and they were nice).
So back to tonight. I called 1-800-whatever and spoke to a very knowledgeable man who explained about the difference between funds (a group of stocks) and stocks (individual companies). He said I could find out about the different stocks using the research tool that he’d be happy to email to me. They do love to email that tool.
He connected me to a trader and, after a brief hold, I seriously heard the following:
“LOOKS LIKE THAT STOCKS GONNA TANK, BRO!!”
“Uh, I’m calling from the outside. I’m a customer” I said.
“Oh I’m sorry, I was not paying attention. Um. Uh.” (puts on a professional tone) “What would you like to do tonight, ma’am? Are you logged in?”
“Yes I am and don’t worry. I thought it was funny” (he’s probably snorting coke off a prostitute’s butt right now).
So after that he showed me the very complicated steps of going to the home page, clicking “trade” and entering the stock symbol and clicking “buy”. When I did it all without a problem he said “well look at you!”. Look at me! It’s almost as fun as shopping!
And that was my first experience investing. I may do it again. I definitely like the fact that even if recycling is a joke, I could possibly be supporting public water, low-cost homes, vests in colors that I like, or any number of things that make a difference.
Now you can download More Mayonnaise #7 and travel back to Summer 1984 in super-subcultural Southern California, a time when post-punk music, thrift store clothing, gloomy goth, surfers, and 50s and 60s nostalgia made anything possible and everything fun. Loads of fashion photos and an interview with Nina Hagen. Enjoy, kiddies!
Now that I am getting back into sewing, I can make anything I want! All I need is a few good patterns, some fabric, a night, some coffee, and some upbeat 80s music like “Pretty In Pink” by the Psychedelic Furs. My life turns into an 80s movie montage. Actually I only have 1 pattern, but it’s a wardrobe pattern and wardrobe patterns have everything on them!
After I woke up on new years day, 2016, feeling like I want to be more mod, I bought Butterick 2179 on Etsy.
I can spend literally hours looking at vintage patterns on Etsy, ordering them, and never making anything. So I decided to turn off my computer and start sewing. I love this pattern so much that I want to make everything on it, but I started with the shell top. I finally determined that my 1962 size is 14, which translates to a modern 10. I don’t understand the numbers, I just go for anything that says “bust 34” (which is nonsense because of course mine is much bigger!).
Anyway the top was really easy to make. A shell top can be worn with anything, a straight skirt, a full skirt, or capri pants, and looks great. I love the back buttons (confession – I’m terrible with zippers!). I chose light blue, because that was the only color I had 6 buttons of, but they worked! My fabric is a thick “fake shantung” in dark red. Perfect for the 60s style. I definitely think you should keep the fabric as true to the style as possible. So use gingham, fun prints, or stripes in 60s colors like avocado or orange. Nothing purple. Did you ever see Gidget wearing purple? Or Sissy from Family Affair? No way Mr. French! They didn’t wear purple in the early 60s.
I love to sew but have had a hard time talking myself back into it as a hobby. Why bother? In the 80s clothing was more expensive. But clothing is so cheap now, and most every style is available at the mall. But here are some good reasons: you can set your creations apart with buttons or thread. You can probably get a sleeveless shell at TJ Maxx, but it won’t have all the darts that they used in the 60s. It won’t have the high neck that is so unsexy that it’s cool, and it will probably be made out of something stretchy or in a tropical print with little metallic sparkles that you may not like.
Best of all, you can spend 6 hours driving around and hunting for your blouse. Or you can spend 6 hours sewing, feeling creative and listening to the Psychedelic Furs, Arctic Monkeys, Shangri-las, and New Order, and then have time left over to try new hairstyles. I can guarantee which choice will make you feel happier in the end! Happy sewing!
As someone who has been sewing since the age of 10 (that’s 20+ years) and programming Java since the mid-1990’s (yes I am old!), I am constantly amused at how similar the two activities are. In both practices, you are basically taking things apart and putting things together. Most people can envision how this works in sewing, but trust me, it’s not much different in programming. You put together smaller objects, like you would put together the pieces of a garment, and then you sew the objects together into a larger program. In sewing you finish off the edges so that things won’t unravel. In programming we do this by declaring final classes and static variables. In both you pick apart threads and you join threads together, which is never fun. OK the threads are already woven in sewing, but you still pick them apart sometimes. In both activities you have to patch things occasionally. In both we use patterns. These patterns are templates of how to do things to make something useful, and if the patterns are good, we use them again and again.
Finally, sometimes our sewing creations are a joy to create and turn out wonderful and useful, and sometimes they turn into a lumpy ugly mess that we spend lots of time reworking until we finally throw them away.
Can you think of other ways that programming and sewing are similar?
I know that guys are breaking the gender rules of fashion a lot lately. They are shaving their chests, legs, wearing spandex pants, and plucking their eyebrows. I know all this because I work with the 25 year old set. But they missed the one thing that makes guys so cute – eyeliner!
Eyeliner was huge in the 80s, for women and men. I remember being really bad at it! I never got the hang of liquid eyeliner, so I tried with a pencil and just smudged it. But eyeliner was something that could make or break your goth look, or “death rock” as we referred to it in the 80s.
Think Robert Smith in “Let’s Go to Bed” or any other video that the Cure made. I think Robert Smith slept in his eyeliner!
And the adorable and witty Noel Fielding of The Mighty Boosh. Now he can do no wrong, so any amount of makeup would probably look good on him, but eyeliner suits him perfectly
There are many more who look great in eyeliner. Such as Conor Oberst from Bright Eyes. Eyeliner? Well maybe he just looks like he’s wearing it, becuase his eyes are so beautiful!
And how about Prince? Now that man could wear some eyeliner! Eyes you could get lost in.
I guess that is why he made them into the Purple Rain poster, complete with the eyeliner. But maybe that’s a woman’s eyes. At any rate, it’s great eyeliner!
So kids, that just goes to show, eyeliner looks great on anyone, at anytime. Now go practice!
Does pop music need to go along with memories in your life? There is a lot of good pop music – Radiohead, Modest Mouse, Flaming Lips, the list goes on, which I got into late and does not accompany any memories from my own life. I enjoy it just as music, for its own sake. It does not remind me of any lost lovers, or first time experiences, or nights out with my friends. It does not even remind me of some ground breaking new music genre discovery, because music genres have splintered so much or I don’t pay attention to them now.
Then there is the pop music that triggers those memories, like “She Sells Sanctuary” by the Cult. That reminds me of being in high school in Southern California, and going to the Scream and looking for the underground L.A. of Bret Easton Ellis, though we lived in working class Long Beach. Or Japan, “Obscure Alternatives”, which reminds me of 9th grade and played it on my headphones constantly, because I had discovered glam rock. Or “Los Angeles” by X, that reminds me of going to Melrose and the whole feeling of Melrose, L.A. sun beating down, bright pavement, kids in 50s dresses with red lipstick and driving old cars. And not every song reminds me a new music discovery. There is “If There is Something” by Roxy Music, and I had just met this guy. We had been out all day and had gone back to his place. I was about to leave, because I didn’t feel anything for him. But then he put on this song and started kissing me and everything changed. We ended up being together for the next year.
And then there is Nick Cave. Nick has been with me for years. When I was 14 and my best friend gave me the “Mutiny” album by the Birthday Party, watching Wim Wenders films like the breathtaking “Wings of Desire” and being taken in by those scenes of Berlin and Nick Cave in the cavernous club while Solveig Dommartin danced in a dreamlike state and the dark carnival music. Or the other songs that went along with films, not really real experiences, but very powerful images that made a big impression when I was young, like “Cat People” by David Bowie or “Bela Lugosi’s Dead” and The Hunger and those great scenes with Bowie and Deneuve roaming after dark with sunglasses on, in search of blood.
I would love for Radiohead to be part of my identity and have that power over me, but the truth is that I feel like an outsider looking in with them. I know it had something to do with the 90s, and early 2000s, and penetrating dark traumatic feelings, and sex and sadness. It’s the kind of thing that I might have had experiences to, had I been born later. But to me it’s just good music.
Why do songs sound better when you have a memory to go with them? It’s not that they sound better, they just sound deeper. You did something to them, or they changed you at a time when you were young. They might have made you what you are. I think that a lot of people can’t imagine music without these associations, and that is why they stop listening to new music after their 20s, when they stop trying new things as much. But for us lifelong music fans, we just have to accept that as we get older the music will not be as personal. That doesn’t mean it won’t change us at all. Maybe music changes us even as we get older, and our life experiences are not so dramatic, but we don’t see those changes until later. I’d like to think that in 20 years I will realize that Radiohead really did become part of me, even in my 40s.
I’m in a very negative and honest mood today. The truth is – I hate NJ. I have been living here for the last 10 years. When I came here, I thought it was New England. I had lived in Boston for 3 years and liked it there. but I quickly learned that this is not Boston.
Why do I detest NJ?
Weather. It’s either freezing, like this winter which has been endless, or in the summer it’s a sticky swamp. There are a few pretty seasons in between, and the leaves do get pretty in the fall, but it never lasts long enough.
People – Sorry. I hate you guys! People here have the worst accents. It’s nasal and harsh. I hope never to get one. Men and women around my age segregate themselves, according to ancient Turkish law or something. The women sit around and talk about cooking. Men talk about sports. Young men talk about trucks or games. Bruce Springsteen is a safe musical conversation choice for everyone. NJ people are just rednecks who do not live in the country.
The problem with the people of NJ is that they think these are great topics.
What do I want to talk about? How about video art? How about the books of Milan Kundera, or the music of Joy Division, or Radiohead, or Amanda Palmer? How about old buildings? How about the movies of David Lynch?
At least in other places that were dirty and industrial, such as the Soviet Union, or North of England, or Detroit, people hated it there and that led to interesting movements in art or something. Here in NJ people mostly just live with it and go to the mall, or Florida, so nothing interesting comes of it and nothing changes.
Potholes – The NJ Department of Transportation estimated 300,000 potholes that need to be repaired after the endless winter of 2014-2015. They are still there, and they are ruining my car.
Surroundings – There is nothing worse than NJ in the winter. Did I mention winter? First of all, NJ has bad planning. Anyone can just build anything anywhere. So they put businesses in houses and houses in businesses. Then there are power lines snaking in and out of everything. Then most of Central NJ is paved over and full of traffic, oil and litter that people throw from their cars. The combination of disentegrating houses, torn up sidewalks, dirty snow and litter all over the place makes winter into a fossil fuel mess, so I usually just stay indoors.
I wish I could give this a happy ending or at least make it a learning experience. The only thing i would say is – what if I liked everything all the time, and everything was happy, all the time. Yeah, that would be hell, too.