It’s been a while since I wrote here, and I’ve been thinking about returning for some time, I’ve just never found the time in concert with the full impulse to write prose.
First, I’ve been making music again, both by myself programming trackers and much better programs and equipment, and in an all new project with my friend, simply called Stereolover.
Second, I have a girlfriend now, which means I’m on the laptop more often than I’m on the desktop, and out more often than I’m home.
Third, my credit continues to steadily improve; although I still think of myself as broke, I’m not completely drained like I used to be. The student loans that used to be the main cause of my debt problems are no longer defaulted, and my payments are steady and, relative to my income, small. Yes, it will take me a long time to repay them, but if it has little effect on my lifestyle, so what? That means that next year something unprecedented, something I have not experienced since 1998, will happen: I will receive a federal tax return! (if I don’t owe…)
The title here refers to recent plunge of the Dow Jones Industrial Average. Work gave me a 401k, so I pay attention to those sorts of things… The current/ensuing (depending on who you ask) recession is a great equalizer that, to be honest, makes me to seem much better off than I really am. I have an unfair advantage that my lifestyle is already prepared for things to be more expensive than I can really afford, so this year, although this summer did indeed financially kick my ass too, my work benefits when people don’t want to drive to the store, and our workload has more than doubled. I worked 45 to 50 hour weeks pretty much all summer long. Our company was purchased by our main competitor, who has converted us to a world class facility and gave us raises so that my salary is now comparable to what I would make if I pulled up stakes and got a new, similar job in a different city. It feels terrible to think about sometimes, because in a way I benefit from others’ misery. To be honest, though, it’s just luck.
These are times that have the potential to equalize. I have written before that many of the ideas our culture takes for granted were created during times when the economy was poor, and those ideas exploded and became popular once that poor economy improved. The brave and wise know, this is not the time when you exit the plummeting stock market: this is when you enter. If you are of the good fortune to have $3000 laying around that you really don’t need, the wisest use of that money is to buy stock in a company that you know will still be here in 2010, then be incredibly patient.
I don’t make enough money to mess around in the stock market, besides the funds in the 401k, so beyond the retirement fund I have to settle for boring bank accounts which make piss poor interest, but rest assured: so much money is being poured into preventing total catastrophe right now that interest is probably going to climb very quickly once this mess is over, otherwise inflation will ensue. With that in mind, if you have variable debt, like a credit card, work your ass off to pay it down while you can. Yes, that’s hard to do right now, but do your best so you don’t get caught out.
HSBC Direct has turned out to be a decent place to save for me; their interest rate, while only amounting to a few dollars a year for me, is almost as much as most banks’ money-market accounts, and it’s turned out to be pretty easy to move money to and from the account. They even refund ATM charges when you withdraw. For those worried about bank failures, HSBC was one of the first banks to come clean about their unmeasurable debts, so their name is not mentioned on the “look out” lists like WaMu and Wachovia were. My only disappointment about their position in this mess is that they aren’t one of the players doing all the buying up. Maybe that’s why they’re stable and their rates remain good? Otherwise, in general principle it is best to have money stored in several places so that you cannot possibly lose it all. My case is no exception, and I’m considering getting another backup account after or during Christmas, but that depends on how things go.
It’s a bit difficult to write about this because many of the people around me, and indeed my best friends and my girlfriend are in no position to be thinking about saving or conserving money. It’s simply a different way of thinking and assessing a situation. Most of my friends look forward to tax returns, thinking of what sort of toy they might buy themselves when it comes, and I’m no exception: I’m looking forward to my return, too- I haven’t had one in eons… but I’m going to use half of it to pay down debt, and save the other half. I might even try to put some in a CD account if the return is large enough. I’m not used to getting a return, so I know I don’t need to budget it into my lifestyle. I realized that it’s simply a matter of perception because of a terribly short conversation with a friend that I’ve abused for advice a bit too much. (I wouldn’t take it for granted if the advise didn’t always turn out so well… I’ve had quite a few friends like that, and I’m starting to understand why they tend to rotate in and out of my life. I use them too much. I become a pest that asks for advice without giving much in return. More on that another time.)
It hurts to have to seem to be stingy in the company of friends, but I know what happens if I overextend.
As an endnote, HSBC Direct, the easiest way to save without visiting a building, is reached here: http://www.hsbcdirect.com/
I’m trying to post musical creations to the odeo player on the right, and I’m considering making some little animation bits so I can create video to put pieces on YouTube, since pretty much every person on earth goes there, it’s a much easier place to get people to visit to listen than pretty much anywhere else. I’ll post if anything like that happens.
I’ve deliberately saved the links to things I referenced in the article for right here:
The Stereolover project, we have at least two songs available in iTunes at the time of writing: http://profile.myspace.com/stereolovermusic
My page in SounDevotion Competition (my best finishes are two fourth places): http://www.sdcompo.com/profiles.php?n=chunter
My profile in The MOD Archive: http://modarchive.org/member.php?80307
Famicompo Mini Classical: http://midr2.under.jp/compo/c1/index.html
Famicompo Mini V: http://midr2.under.jp/compo/vol5/index.html
I did not place well in the Famicompo entries, I have some NES-programmed tunes that are mediocre but were interesting experiences.
Lastly, the trackers, my main computer-music making tools:
Chibitracker, by Juan Linietsky, a rather big influence on my computer music work:
Renoise, a pay tracker that gives a modern feel, like mixing and VSTs, to the music tracker: ttp://www.renoise.com/
If anyone that remembers me from the toy store reads this, we represent The Giraffe where I work now.
I hope everyone does okay- I know things will happen that can’t be helped, but way better times are going to come once everyone is used to surviving the big money mess. The pessimist in me expects to find out that my busiest Christmas in years didn’t make the company enough money to keep our facility open… but things don’t seem nearly that bad right now.
Lastly, I want to apologize for not having written anything sooner. I know I owe a lot of people phone calls right now. Hopefully, this is the beginning of a good run of entries, but we’ll see.
See you next time.