It's a new year, and despite a lot of emotional ups and downs so far, I have to say that I suspect this time around the sun will be far preferable to the one before. Not that I have any chance to go back and revisit the previous year in any meaningful fashion, mind you. Being of strictly three dimensions curved in four-dimensional space, I am limited to monodirectional motion through spacetime's w-axis. This at times seems like a real pity, because I bet I could finally roll over a Pac-Man machine if I went back to 1986 enough times.

Today is, of course, "Friday the thirteenth", which means exactly as much as you wish it to mean. I'm a big believer in make-your-own-magjickq. For the spelling of "magjickq", by the way, I have to blame a friend of mine who apparently got it from her girlfriend's polite teasing of the "schools" of "philosophy" that teach that any "will-to-power" "belief" system use an "alternate" spelling from the "authoritative" one found in the "dictionary" to separate it from mere parlour tricks and making David Copperfield "vanish". So, if consulting your horoscopes or reading your tea leaves or asking the nailbunny a question today means a genuine from-beyond-the-stars answer, do it! Make your own reality. Be or build your own sex goddess. Launch your own head!

Today's featured Wikipedia is on game theory. Game designers, take note! This will help tell you why Monopoly sucks and go is beautiful. I should probably spend a lot of time looking at this, too.

This was going to be a post on the general cluelessness of people on the internet, based on the fact that I received an e-mail that I thought at first was asking me for my e-mail address, and I was all prepared to rant about this at length, until I went back and reread it to confirm the exact message and found that the author wanted my "mailing address", which is not a stupid request at all since I'm trying to find out information about a class action lawsuit against one of the companies in which I'm invested. So, I suppose instead I should turn this into a post about always double-checking one's facts before saying or doing anything stupid like posting on about the general cluelessness of people on the internet.

The last couple of days have been a royal roller-coaster of emotion for many reasons, most of which boil down to "Kristy doesn't have her head screwed on right". I'd say I'm under a lot of stress, but the truth is that most of it is generated internally. I am probably my own single biggest source of angst and frustration, mostly because I have all these ideas and no followthrough on any of them. I've had projects languishing for weeks months years too long that really deserve some love and attention:

  • Child of Man isn't dead, but it hasn't moved past chapter eleven since the last time I talked about it in public. I feel stuck on this one exchange that needs to be good because it's the point at which the transition happens from plot points being added to plot points being wrapped up. I'm at the turning point and starting the downslide into the climax, and I really need to make this next section happen well. Part of my problem, too, is that my writing in general has suffered because of the many times I've convinced myself that writing "just isn't appreciated in the fandom", a rant I've made before or at least supported in principle when other people have made it. I used to be able to tell myself I wrote for my own happiness. Once I was happy without needing to write, my output plummeted. It's very disappointing.
  • Doomsday Lotto is still in search of an artist, and a finished site design. I know how I want it to look, but I haven't even updated the headline tracker in a wile, so I'm kind of afraid to go looking at it to find out how much data I've actually lost because the New York Times has changed its layout and I haven't. Any artists looking for an ongoing project?
  • Short stories in general still feel more comfortable to me, but I haven't cranked any of those out in a while either. That whole "writing for money" thing feels like a weird and beautiful dream I had once, and now I'm awake. That's not really the right attitude to take; that should be the awake state, and this should be my unholy nightmare.
  • My investment account hasn't really been touched in a while, which is irksome. I'm still putting some money aside now and again into it, but not as much as I'd like. Plus, there's now a class-action lawsuit against one of the companies in which I'm invested, accusing the management of the company of withholding information to keep the stock price elevated. I may have less than a hundred shares in their business, but they still represented the largest percentage of my holdings at the time they collapsed, and even now they're still the second-largest chunk of my portfolio. Seeing the suit, I'm tempted to sell, but I'm afraid if I do that the money I've lost on the investment will vanish completely; at least if I hold them I'm getting dividends out of the deal, and as a REIT, they're obligated by law to pay those.
  • The big reason that I'm not spending more on investments is my debt. It's down for the year, but it's still over where it should be... which is to say I still have debt. The mortgage doesn't bother me, but the credit card debt does, even if the interest rate is nice and low. Current trend predicts that I'll have that paid off by end of 2007 if I can keep up the payments I'm currently making, faster if I can drop bonus checks and tax returns on it, slower if our expenses keep going up and my income doesn't match it.

I actually had a reasonably long talk with a friend of mine not too long back about money, and more specifically how it is that despite making twice what she does, I don't have any more take-home play money at the end of the month than she does, and often less. So, in the interest of research and discovery, I actually sat down today and updated my budget spreadsheet for 2006. If I did my math right and the guesses I've made about Jessie's and my expenses are anywhere close to accurate and Tanya and Shay both pay their rent and utilities on a regular basis, I should have five thousand dollars left over at the end of the year.

That's five thousand dollars worth of "miscellaneous", for the whole year. No, that's not a mistake. That's around ten percent of my income, a little more net, a little less gross. That doesn't sound like a lot, compared to what I theoretically make, but consider that out of the rest I'm covering two transitions, paying a mortgage, climbing out of debt, paying bills, doing all that stuff that has to be done to keep a house in order. New clothes aren't included, nor are video games that aren't our monthly-payment ones, but eating out is covered under groceries. Basically, if it's fun, exciting or new, it's not in the budget and comes out of that extraneous bucket.

Maybe I should start including an extraneous bucket in the spreadsheet, the fun-and-games budget that gives Jessie and I some psychological constraint on what we can and can't afford to spend. I don't know how much it'll help. Maybe it might even help to get some extra savings accounts. I should start budgeting my investment or retirement options; currently my balance transfer rate is lower than my estimated ROI on the stocks and dividends I've got.

The original intent of this post was to serve as a one-off joke on something silly that arrived in my inbox, and it's turned into a much larger dissertation than I'd intended. Ultimately, I suppose my point is new year, new dreams, new hopes, new changes.

Big money, no whammies.

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