Sunday, July 22, 2007

Changes . . .

I see him every morning as I drive my truck around the fairgrounds to our stand. In the mornings cool, he carries his wash bucket and towels from one Footsie Wootsie to another. His daily rock is to set themup bright and shiney for the new fair day. He looks up and grins as I motor past. His shoulders are slumped, his hair grey with years but his cheerful recognition is hard to ignore. Basil Rathbone face, like a street character in a Dicken's novel, Jim is his name.

Only, I see him in my mind's eye because this year as the fair opened we got the news that he'd passed away.

Thursday, July 19, 2007

Thursday, the 19th

Every day is an adventure so they say. Today, we started off with our setup crew missing so instead of breakfast we got sweat and groans. No that's not right. What we really got was the pleasure of doing it right, no esplainin' just clean the display, put away the fruit, get the counters set with cash registers, and smile alot while we remembered the old days when we did it all. Start at 6 AM pulling the produce from the coolers, setting up the stand, making the first of the day fruit boats, then working the back counter to keep it full of bowls for display and manning the cash registers too. Finish up at night, cleaning up and counting the day's receipts, then jumping in the truck to go to the LA Produce Market and buy the next day's produce. Back at the cooler to drop the shipment and whoopee, it's 6 AM and time to start again.

Meanwhile, more Volumetrics. Both T and I are thinking about this now. She is even testing her Jenny Craig food against it.

And I'd like to write more but my shoulder is too sore from the muscle strain I got the day before yesterday.

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Tuesday, the 18th

Well, here’s a new idea. Since I don’t feel the same about writing to this blog in a crowded bookstore, why don’t I write it in my notepad and then just copy it in later? I know you’d think I would have thought of it before but I didn’t, so there.

Meanwhile, let’s get back on topic. It takes a certain kind of spirit to work as a vendor/carney on the fair circuit. Independence slathered with flexibility. Obstinance and durability and the ability to smile through the pain. And like many of the personal and financial choices you make in life, choosing to work as your own boss in this manner can reward and punish you in equal measure. You beat up your body for six months and then you’re on vacation until the circuit begins next year. But when you are up close and watching the turtle like intensity with which these men and women slog through each day so that they can answer the question, "Didja' make any money?" with a sure and sly smile its hard to see past the pain of sore backs, swollen joints, and sleepless nights. I know for myself it takes at least a week to get in shape. My hands ache and my shoulders are as tense as the cat lady's tail. But not many quit. They stick around and even though their children now run the show the old ones are there in the background ready to help or join in on the complaining with stories of their own.

Volumetrics: About that cottage cheese, I haven't gotten to the part in the book where it's explained how something that is 45% fat grams can be a low energy food but I am taking thier word about it until I find out different. It is fun though to do the math on so called health foods and diet drinks and see where they are really at.

Sunday, July 15, 2007

May the milk of kindness . . .

Man oh man, what a month this last week has turned out to be. I figure I can count it that way because I have been working 20 hour days and logging sleepless nights ever since we moved up here last week. My body just flat out aches. And because I haven't been blogging, feedburner somehow has lost my feed or my email or something, my mind is chock full, as they say, of ideas and observations. It's strange though to be sitting in Borders doing this though. I miss my home office and the great sounds of while I'm composing. But . . .
so what?

Volumetrics is quite an interesting read especially if you are surrounded by fair food. One our friends, Chicken Charlie, has made a fortune the last couple of years by deep frying just about every thing in the food chain. His crispy cream hamburger was quite a hit last year. Ironically, he got his nickname because he bought a stand that sold broasted chicken which was supposed to be the alternative to deep fried southern chicken when it first came out. Still, because our stand, Terri's Berries, makes great all natural fruit smoothies, and serves up gloriously colorful fresh fruit bowls, I think I'll survive. Nerves and worries are the enemy right now. We devote about a third of our year to this business and we know it must stay successful in order for us to keep on keep'n' on. What I am discovering in Volumetrics is a way to think about food and a strategy for working on the weight loss I need to accomplish and maybe learn how to lighten the stress factor too. Fact of the day, the energy density of cottage cheese, one of my favorite foodsis 1.

Meanwhile, back to the fairgrounds, where I am spending a little time looking at the age of my contemporary stand owners. Man, they are getting old. And, the new generation, is not that young either. Too bad, because there is plenty of money and independance in this business if you are not leary of working for it.

Monday, July 9, 2007

It's a new day

Today is the day we move up to OC. The stuff is packed, the bikes are in the truck and away we will go.

Sunday, July 8, 2007

Problems in dreamland . . .

Yesterday, I found out that the email subscription is not working anymore. So I tried contacting feedburner about it but so far they have just acknowledge receiving my request for help. Meanwhile, I decided to try and find out what had gone wrong myself so I went to feedburner and checked my setup and discovered that for some reason the delivery system at godaddy had been rejecting my emails and thus had triggered an automatic deactivation of the account. So I reactivated it, but still today no new posting has occurred.

Saturday, July 7, 2007

It's going to be wild

This fair bodes to be a wild one. First, and foremost, we have an almost new staff. Of 22 employees only six have worked for us before. Second, the new fair management has seen fit to rearrange the layout. This means that the traffic pattern will change and, most importantly for us, it means that our competitors may have been placed in front of us. The only thing we still have going for us is that our product is unique. We sell fresh fruit and all natural smoothies to which we have added a whole line of chocolate dipped products. Oh well, at least the set up is done almost. And we are experienced at this. But on the other hand, as we've gotten older we have grown to like the idea of managing rather than working the fair.

Today, by the way, is the fourth day of my use of the fair as a way to diet and exercise. Volumetrics. Lets see how its gone. I started out with weighing myself. 201 at 5'11''. We have been working every day, lifting, sweating, and putting in 10 hour days. Unfortunately, the eating plan has been sketchy. Since we're busy setting up, someone usually just runs to a fast food place and then we scarf down whatever we've ordered and get back to work. Then there are the old friend's meals. Since we only see these people once a year, we usually spend our evenings with one group or another eating a big meal and drinking a lot of iced tea. So four days in and I'm at 200 lbs. But no worries mate, at least I'm thinking about it.

And on another tack, there have been some more interesting developments in the real estate purchase we are pursuing. As everyone knows the lending market is in the throes of resizing itself. What this means is that the loan offers keep coming but the guarantees are less valuable. Almost every thing the lender promised at the beginning of this process has been restated to the lenders advantage. The lock-in rate is really not locked because our finances have to be verified at least twice. It seems that we will need extra insurance even though we are putting 20% down and the rental property we are buying is for sale way under appraised market value. And now that the wheels of the deal are moving, we are fair bound and less willing to spend extra time renegotiating what we thought was a done deal. I keep saying we've done our part and now lets let escrow do theirs but T is a worrier so I have to let her. Oh well.

Thursday, July 5, 2007

We are off to do the fair.

I always look forward to this time of year. We pack our bags, computers, whatever books we are reading, and head up to OC for a month and a half of working, bike riding, beaching, and this year blogging about the way things work during fair season. First off, I have to think about how to say this. Every year when we start getting ready, say in April, I begin thinking about how I have to get in shape enough to be ready for the lifting, and carrying, and the long hours, and the other stuff I like to do while I am near a lot of good dance places. But somehow, this year thinking about this stuff didn't turn into doing anything about it. Maybe it was the weather, or the fact that our real estate business took up a lot of travel and thinking time, or maybe it was that I was spending so much time pecking away at my keyboard and reading through the blogosphere. Anyway, here I sit.

So in awhile, T. will be back from the bank. We pay all bills and make all the deposits and try to touch all our financial bases before we leave. I, meanwhile, have started reading Volumetrics and have decided that I am going to use it as a strategy for eating this summer.

And I have been doing some thinking also about the nature of this blog. I am interested in the world of personal finance but I am very hesitant to give other people advice. Hence, I find it real difficult to compose lists of things other people might do to live more frugally. I also am very non directive in my relationships with people. So as this summer progresses I hope to find a consistent voice through this blog that will let me explore my interest without boring the occasional reader.

Tuesday, July 3, 2007

Some days . . .

I've just been hopping around the blogosphere this morning trying to decide if anything is worth my time. Wrote a leapfrog response over at Helium, then dropped in own my emails to check out GRS and The Simple Dollar. Trent seems to be increasingly concerned about his children, while J.D. can't wait to head to Europe. Next, I came over here and looked at the Carnival listings, and decided that and the wealth building one had some interest for the future though I'm really not interested at the moment. And finally, I picked up my copy of David Liss's The Coffee Trader and started thinking about the review I'm getting ready to write.

Sunday, July 1, 2007

Buying a Rental Property, pt.4

This story just gets better and better. One reason, maybe the main reason, that my partner and I haven't purchased a home is that the amount of interest that one pays over the life of a 30 year loan sticks in our combined craw. I am reminded of this as I look over the loan lock-in documents for our recent rental property purchase. For a loan of 103K at 6.875% we will be paying $143,131.82 in interest. Since it is a rental property and a tax deduction and the renter will be paying 100% of the mortgage, we can swallow this info fairly easy. But think about it if it is a home purchase. Yes, we get to write the interest off but we still have to pay the mortgage out of our pocket. And since home prices in our area, the beach in SoCal, are hovering at $550,000 to $780,000, the resulting interest we would pay for just the lower amount would be close to $700,000. Imagine the retirement fund we could have with $700,000 invested in an index fund over 30 years. Oh yeah, I should mention that our current rent for a large 2 bedroom, 2 bath, with office, and clubhouse and swimming pool is $1600 a month.