Author: leilani

Gainfully and Stuff

Gainfully and Stuff

After my last entry, I guess I should clarify – for those who don’t follow me on Facebook – that we’re not in imminent danger of starvation. We’re doing reasonably well, though I’d breathe easier with a few more cash flow options.

I did invest a couple of hundred bucks (literally only about $200) on some stock. Pot stock, sort of. The legal marijuana option is a hot topic, and I figured I’d gamble on 100 shares of what I think would be considered penny stock. It’s legit enough to be offered through my eTrade account, but pretty sure instead of the NYSE, it’s traded in back alleys somewhere. Rather than investing in direct marijuana sales, I invested in a website (Leafbuyer.com) that’s a kind of Priceline.com for legal weed – where to find it for less, etc. I don’t personally use the product. I’m not a prude about it, nor am I stupid. I think the market’s too strong to dismiss. If you want to get high and it doesn’t harm anyone, go for it. If you’re doing the medical version thereof, good for you! If I can make a buck or two from it, better yet.

I logged into my investment account on principle, knowing that a week into things doesn’t mean a thing, I lost I think $4 in value (for all 100 shares combined.) Given the fiasco in the White House has sucker-punched all markets, I honestly consider that pretty good. Besides, it’s only been a few days AND I wasn’t going to invest anything we couldn’t afford to lose.

We also did a different type of preliminary investment, and we’ll see where it goes. Stock photos are big deals these days, but the low-cost options are being gobbled up by the big boys. I used to have a $10 a month membership, which Adobe acquired and tripled the cost. If I absolutely had to have it I’d probably pay that, but like most designers, I can’t justify shelling out that kind of money unless it’s making me some significant money. I belong to a lot of author forums, and most bemoan the loss of reasonably priced sites. I have some connections to photographers and I personally can do other types of illustrations via Photoshop. Figuring our upgraded hosting, we’d only need about 5 subscriptions at $10 a month each, and we’d be making a little bit of money. (This is operating on the thought of paying photographers a percentage, too – otherwise our profit margins would be even better.) Anything over that would be gravy. The spousal unit and I can easily handle upgrades, and spousal unit knows photography well enough to approve and reject submissions. He got voluntold for the job.

Could end up making pennies, or could take off. 100 subscriptions – not a huge figure, obviously – would put us squarely in the black and pad our income nicely. 300 subscriptions would be enough to pretty nearly replace my income as it sits now. Not that I’d retire with that, not for a single website. But there are other types of businesses that would be doable for similar investments. If this one comes together, we could expand into other areas. The idea is as much as possible, keep the upkeep and outlay on the low end.

Meanwhile, back at the ranch – er, job – I’m on a pilot team for a new program. I take all promises from this company with a grain of salt, mind you, but the scuttlebutt is it might spell more money, because the scope of the job will change significantly. We shall see.

Potter’s Field

Potter’s Field

My grandson, the one who was counting to ten at ten months and so on? He’s starting kindergarten this year. Lest you think I was exaggerating about how smart he is, his mom told me he’s reading Harry Potter books now. BEFORE starting kindergarten. I mean, granted, there are little ones reading newspapers earlier, but not many in that age group have either the ability or the stamina to get through a full fledged novel. Little Guy also knows how to multiply and divide. Ya think he might get a little bored by kindergarten? Just a wee bit? It pisses me off, because his parents kept him BACK a year. He was supposed to start last year. Unless something drastic happens, I assume he’ll get moved ahead at least a little, but I hate seeing him handicapped that way. At least if he was with us and bored to death at school, I could work with him and try to keep him engaged, but that’s not an option. Bad enough the schools seem intentionally designed to stomp out intelligence these days..

Meanwhile, back at the black hole of mental processes that’s my business plan, I think I spied a glimmer beyond the event horizon. It can’t happen for a couple of more days, but the plan is to drop a couple hundred bucks into some stock purchases. It’s chump change in terms of stock buys. I believe this little beast may technically be considered “penny stocks”, though it’s on the NYSE. (A lot of the penny stocks aren’t.) We shall see if my hunch plays out. I’m not betting the proverbial farm on it, but we can risk that much without going up in financial flames. I’ll be less cryptic if and when the purchase goes through successfully. Then I’m closing eTrade and not looking for a few months, because I’ll drive myself nuts if I follow it daily.

I’m giving hubby two weeks to come up with a viable business, then I’m done. I suggested an option for us for a mostly hands-off business (vending machines). He turned up his nose at it. I told him at the end of two weeks, if he doesn’t have a better idea, I’m going ahead with whatever I decide at that point. To be fair, it most likely won’t be vending machines, because while they require very little time invested, they also make very little money. It’s not worth investing a few hundred bucks for $15-20 a month income, which is well within the realm. (Keep in mind when someone calculates the income from vending machines, it’s ALL vending machines, including the 25 cent gumball machines. They make very little money but you also have a lot less invested in them.) The reason for the ultimatum is we have mumblethousandmumble in savings, specifically for this purpose. I closed out a retirement account so we could start a damned business. And the longer we wait to start the business, the more that money’s likely to be pissed away with nothing to show for it. If that happens, I’m going for the jugular. We already did this once, I followed hubby’s grand ideer I already knew would tank. Two years later, we spent it all and have nothing to show for it. Never made a single penny. So while I’m not going full screaming-banshee on him, neither am I waiting while he hems and haws for two or three more years.

Hubby accuses me of being impulsive.

I DO jump too fast sometimes. But most of the time (case in point, aforementioned stock), you snooze, you lose. Can’t tell you how many times that’s happened. I refuse to snooze. Cutesy rhyming 100% on purpose.

The Wanderers and Future Tycooons

The Wanderers and Future Tycooons

The past couple of weeks have been challenging. No vacation time this time around, but we did do a drive into the mountains last week on my day off.

saguaro-lake
Yes, Arizona DOES have lakes. Several of them, in fact. Most, including Sauguaro Lake (shown here) are artificial, created through a series of flood control dams on the Salt River. This used to be a huge swim party on the weekends, with virtually everyone from Phoenix migrating to the lakes. Now, thanks to spiraling access fees, the crowds have thinned substantially.

superstition-back-large
Click on the smaller image to see a larger view. This is the back of the Superstition Mountains, the part you don’t see on postcards and their ilk. What’s tough to see from any photo is how rough the landscape is. Sitting all the way at the top it looks like there are skyscrapers in clusters. In fact, it’s clusters of vertical stone buttes atop larger almost-vertical stone buttes.
tortilla-flats-hangman
This cluster of buildings is Tortilla Flats, a tourist spot between the lakes. Please notice the hanging man over the front door. Out west, we take gallows humor literally.Nearly as I could tell, there are two restaurants and one general store. Along the front porch are such novelties as a real wooden Indian (oxymoron much?) and one of the old automaton carnival fortune tellers in a glass box.

 

tortilla-flats-ladies-room-2
This little, erm, lady is part of the decor in the Tortilla Flats ladies’ room. I imagine comparable artwork embellishes the facilities for gents, though since hubby didn’t visit I can’t swear to it. I tried to take a photo of the hallway just beyond the white door, where ceiling and walls are papered with real dollar bills. Sadly, that photo didn’t turn out well enough to post.

burn
This blackened mesquite skeleton marks where one of dozens of wildfires ate through acres, before the rainy season kicked in. We were sort of lucky this year – there were no half-million-acre fires kicked off, though one of the fires took out several homes in the tiny town of Dudleyville.
Dirt Road
We went rockhounding up in the mountains near Payson and this well-maintained dirt road welcomed us. Despite recent rains, there were no muddy spots preventing access.Sadly, our trip passed a somber sight along the way: further down the hill, searchers still had the streambeds ribboned off. They were trying to recover the body of a man whose entire family was taken out in a flash flood. I believe he was the 10th known victim. They were bracing to potentially find more, as they estimated as many as 100 people were at the popular swimming spot when a flash flood washed through.

 

lookout
I know this isn’t the sharpest photo. It was blown up to show the ranger station at the top of Diamond Point. This is a fire lookout and these men and women have a tough job. It’s a long drive up dirt roads, into an area where bears, rattlesnakes, and mountain lions call home.

oak
Okay, this one’s pure whimsy, because it gave me a huge smile to discover real, actual oak trees in this part of the world. Arizona has a native oak species called Live Oak. It’s more shrub than tree, has tiny compound leaves, and itty bitty acorns. I didn’t realize the real McCoy lived up in the higher elevations until we were up there last week.

My captions were being snarky. Hopefully they all convey when I push the publish button.

Our travels have focused largely on rockhounding lately, and we’ve found some intriguing goodies. We picked up a fairly large nodule of turquoise last week. With turquoise going for $$ per gram, it’s a pretty piece to discover. We also found several geodes and various other unidentified species, though pretty sure I know what some of them are. G found one ginormous chunk o’ rock with huge crystal formations. Haven’t yet figured out what kind of crystals they are, because I haven’t had a chance to examine them. I know we have quartz up the wazoo, particularly in that part of the world. But we also have a number of other native stones, including several which are known to exhibit crystalline properties. We’ve found garnet clusters, for example, and wulfenite, etc. I’d need to do more research on these – look at crystal behavior, hardness, fluorescence, etc.

G bought his metal detector a couple of weeks ago, then bought a second one at a yard sale for $3 last weekend. (Considering they cost around $100 and up new for a fairly decent one, he practically stole it.) Go figure. He also bought a rock tumbler, so a few of our discoveries are in the early stages of becoming polished beauties. It’ll be interesting to see how they turn out.

Meanwhile I’m looking at other business options. My work situation is at best volatile. You sure can’t count on anything. I was approached about teaching, which I’d love, but I’m not egging those chickens yet. I started looking at franchises, with a friend pegged if we need someone to answer the phones. So far all the “franchises” under $20,000 have been pyramid schemes. Umm… how about no?

Off the Beaten Path

Off the Beaten Path

Lotsa photos ahead.

We did the first leg of our photo-centric road trip Tuesday, heading south toward Tucson. Stopped short of the big city, hitting all the tiny outposts along and off the highway. I knew some of these towns existed, but hadn’t ever been there. Keep in mind we went hunting for old and crumbling edifices, and not all the homes we saw were as bad as the ones I’m posting. Many of these places nonetheless qualify as “ghost towns”, because  they grew to bursting around mines, then the mines ran out and so did the neighborhood.

Our road trip was in honor of G’s birthday, which is today. The featured cake picture is also from today.

Click on the smaller photos below to see them embiggened.

This boarded-up house sits in a place called Winkelman. Its downfall was a one-two punch: the mines ran out, and their tax dollars left with them. Unfortunately the little community had just voted in a huge school bond, saddling this type of home with thousands of dollars of property tax, far out of proportion for what it should have been.

Thia little row of cabins was too perfect not to  photograph. They’re situated in Oracle, Arizona, just a smidge north of Tucson.

Not everything in these little communities were in ruin. This barber shop was neat as a pin. Contrary to what you might think, the roads are paved, though they’re certainly nothing fancy.

This building collapsed, its roof unable to hold its weight any longer.

This is the inside of the abandoned service station. The outside  of the building is several photos down.

When we stopped at the Tom Mix monument, we were struck by the enormity of the crows Those birds are HUGE.

Stucco failed after decades of neglect

This used to be the local equivalent of DQ. Now it’s dry milk – and everything else.

The reverse of the Dairy Fresh sign.

Most of our trip was open desert like this – except power lines. At no point did we hit a point where there were no power lines in view.

This empty edifice was also in Winkelman.

Late as it is in the summer, we were surprised to see fruit still clinging to cactus. Usually some critter or another would have feasted on it by now.

Different type of cactus, but still more fruit. And yes, most cactus fruit is safe for human consumption. You can buy cactus jelly and cactus candy at several little stores statewide.

This old stone garage actually houses an equally dilapidated Toyota pickup. I simply couldn’t put all 200+ photos on the blog page!

We went from patches of all brown, to sections like this where greenery prevailed. There were a few plants still in bloom, after 120 degree weather a couple of weeks back.

As the sign says, this chopped-off trestle marks the entry to the town of Hayden. It was getting late enough in the day we didn’t have time to drive into  Hayden, unfortunately.  That’s an adventure for another day.

Desert wildlife? Well… not technically wild. G tried to pet this gorgeous creature, but the horse wasn’t having it.

An altogether different critter here. This  man-sized kachina sits outside an antiques and collectibles store in Oracle. He’s one of hundreds of amazing and kitschy outer ornaments on site.

There were several places in town where old mining equipment was on display. This little tractor was in front of a business.

This is a tiny part of the Ray copper mine. The tailings from this massive open-pit operation stretch miles.  The hillsides look like patchwork quilts, with sections of different colors throughout. This photo was taken at a visitor outlook, showing just one small section of the mine.

This monument commemorates Tom Mix. He died here in the 1940’s. His car was caught in a flash flood.

This is adjacent to the Ray mine. It shows the state of the landscape before mining stripped everything away.

Not far from the Tom Mix monument. I’d been all over the state before, but hadn’t ever driven this particular stretch of road until this week.

Another view of the mine. Hard to capture the scope. It’s gigantic.

This little cowboy teapot was inside the antiques place at Oracle. (Yes, I know the pictures are all disorganized. So sue me, lol.)

Not falling down, but definitely bright yellow with purple trim. You can’t ignore bright yellow with purple trim.

Not just the houses were abandoned to the elements.

This is the sign outside the abandoned gas station. This spot is near Florence, Arizona, at the earliest leg of our journey.

Inside the antiques and collectibles store. Anybody want a ginormous metal spider? Est. 36″ across, give or take.

These two smokestacks rise above the landscape. Can’t recall their exact location -maybe Mammoth, AZ?

And I’m finally getting around to showing you the gas station I’ve been talking about in other photos. The door was collapsed to one bay, leaving the building open to the elements.

And more outside the antiques and collectibles place in Oracle. Love the welded skeletons and other “people” statues scattered over the property. Big skeleton,  in this case!

Another view of the kachina man and his surroundings. I think he’s the sentry for his corner.

Not sure where we saw this old tractor. I think it may also have been in Oracle, but not sure it was at the antiques and collectibles site. There was an old mining vehicle nearly everywhere you looked in that little town!

One last shot from the exterior of the antiques and collectibles spot. Most of this stuff is for sale, if you’re in the market for kitschy antique-ish goodies.

I believe this brilliant orange tow truck still operates. It certainly brightens up its corner in Dudleyville!

Do you remember the abbreviated train trestle at the Hayden sign, above? This is its other half, across the street.

Love that the green paint on this wagon has survived the Arizona sun, for who knows how many years.

In other news, the job interview was kind of a bust. I drove the 30+ miles this morning, only to get a call saying the interview was rescheduled to 3:30. I started back, only to get ANOTHER call saying no, now it was 12:30. Then when I arrived and signed in with the security guard (who took my photo for a badge, one he put my name on). A few minutes later a woman came on to ask if I was there. The guard said no. Luckily I overheard and corrected him.

The interviewer had NONE of my information, had the personality of a cardboard donut, and about the same attention span. I won’t rule out a job altogether, but not holding my breath. This was someone clearly not prepared and who just as clearly didn’t want to be there. For this I’d been rescheduled not once but TWICE in the same day?? I emailed the temp agency recruiter and told him as much, for what it’s worth, and asked him if he had any other openings for me, because I felt like this company didn’t have it together at all.

In For a Penny

In For a Penny

I’ve seen the gradual implosion of my current working conditions, as one after another good person is slammed into a quivering heap. People make mistakes, particularly in an environment where literally everything changes by the minute, and literally every manager tells you something different. Considering that, to watch good people get ground underfoot pisses me off to no end, and it’s emptying the building at the speed of light. Add to that pay cuts totaling thousands of dollars per month for a lot of our top performers (each), and it’s pretty easy to identify a company poised on the brink of going out of business.

Not only is the above not an exaggeration, it’s just a small slice of the big, messy pie. I’ve been reasonably lucky to date, escaping any major grinding sessions. (I assume they just haven’t gotten around to me yet.) The atmosphere did a full 180-degree turn from when I was hired, and adding to that, the administration did precisely what they swore to me verbatim, “We’ll never [do].”

The image associated with this post? That’s what this job is feeling like. I push every day, and every day it doesn’t budge.

I have the luxury of a small financial cushion, if needed. However, it’s possible it won’t ever be touched. I am being actively recruited for another job. It’s one which, if it turns out to be as promising as it sounds, would make a huge difference in our living situation. The pay would be well over double what I now make, plus benefits and perks. In fact, it would come damned close to triple my current income. Kind of a big difference, far too big to dismiss or ignore. I didn’t seek out the job. The job sought me. We’ll see whether or not it pans out. If it doesn’t, I’ll start looking in earnest, before things go any further down the rabbit hole at my o’dark thirty job.

I’m perfectly calm about things, and not walking out until I have something else lined up. But I expect to give two weeks’ notice and be walked out. That’s the company’s pattern, and I’m fine with it.

Archives by Date

August 2017
M T W T F S S
« Jul    
 123456
78910111213
14151617181920
21222324252627
28293031