February Spending 2015

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2015 February spending budgets in nyc

February Budget Spending in NYC

Income: Taxes

I received my taxes this month and they are being distributed between my cat’s upcoming surgery, my recent 36 hour trip to LA, and my savings account. I’m not particularly looking for steady side income but would like to maintain earning extra money at least once per quarter this year. I’m available for cat sitting in nyc. Or web analytics/seo optimization projects. Also, merit increases will be coming up at work soon so I’m being hopeful for that. Especially because my rent just increased in February (however, it will not increase again for two years).


hedwig on broadway john cameron mitchell

Spending: Going Out

I continued my hedonistic streak of going out with friends this month. It felt great to be social again. Although it seemed like I was fairly busy all month long, it turns out my booze and eating out spending were both less than $150 each. That actually works for me and is sustainable. It was great seeing friends so much and I would like to keep that up. Sometimes I get into hibernation mode and it’s not always a good thing.

I also spent some time this month getting out of the apartment but being alone. I saw two Broadway musicals and one major movie alone. It was quite nice. I didn’t want to be couped up in the apartment but also wanted the freedom to just spend the day how I wanted to. My entertainment spending was $150 this month, though most of that was for Hedwig and the Angry Inch, which I paid full price for.


Santa Monica Beach California

Santa Monica Beach

Vacation: 36 Hours in LA

There will be a full post on my overnight vacation to LA but here are the spending breakdowns:

  • Food: $95
  • Booze: $36
  • Flight: $297
  • Hotel (share): $50
  • Ferry to Catalina Island: $75
  • Car Service to/from JFK: $100

Total: $650

Sure, I could have saved a hundred bucks by taking the A train 2+ hours to JFK instead of a car service but, honestly, there was no way I was doing that to catch my 6a flight. I didn’t make any purchases at all on the trip; no souvenirs or gifts. The short trip helped in that way, we didn’t really have time to shop.


Scarface Cat

Scarface Cat

Looking Ahead

Well, I’ve seen every Broadway play I had a major interest in so I won’t be doing that spree again soon. I will begin limiting my social activities but only to find a balance between going out and not feeling guilty about going out. Or really focusing on only happy hours to wane that guilty feeling I get when it comes to spending money on myself, sometimes. I’m hopeful that I will get some sort of a raise this year and am not sure what I will do with that yet. Either increase my 401K percentage or increase the amount of my monthly automatic savings deposit. Although, realistically, I will have to start feeding my cats prescription cat food for a little while and at $40/case, that is another expense I need to budget for.

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Confronting, Not Attacking, Gossip

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Why Gossiping is so Toxic

Never Believe Second-Hand Information like Gossip First

After being hurt by gossip in high school, I make sure to avoid it as much as possible as an adult. Whenever I hear someone say He said that she said or Someone told me this, I immediately stop listening. Heresay doesn’t hold up in court. Why should it hold up in your life? We all know the game of telephone. Word, motives, and ideas all get lost in translation. Gossip is not a sustainable form of communication. Things will get mixed up along the way.

Gossip, in general, is not a productive habit. One of my favorite sayings is: Small minds discuss people, Average minds discuss events, Great minds discuss ideas.

If you spend your energy talking about other people, your mind will never grow.

Unfortunately, even if we never partake in gossip, others may still gossip about us. There are assertive but not aggressive ways to handle this situation. Most importantly, do not assume the gossip is actually true. Don’t attack someone or defend yourself solely based on gossip. You can simply frame a question in a non-threatening way to confront gossip directly without too many feelings getting hurt.


How To Confront Gossip And Avoid Drama

Situation:
I’ve been friends with Vicky for several years. More recently she began declining my invitations then avoiding me altogether. One of our mutual friends said that Vicky was mad at me but didn’t give a reason. I feel hurt and confused because I lost a friend and don’t know why.

Don’t Say:
“Why are you mad at me?”
“So and so said you are mad at me, why?”
“Why aren’t we friends anymore?”
“I haven’t heard from you, did I do something wrong?”
“I know you’re mad at me but I didn’t do anything wrong.”

These questions and phrases all have the intent of either attacking your friend or being defensive. Either way, you’re assuming that the gossip you heard is true. Don’t do that.

Instead Say:
“I haven’t heard from you in a while and wanted to make sure you’re feeling okay. Is there anything going on that I can help with?”
“I miss spending time with you and your friendship is important to me. If you would like to talk, please let me know.”
“I hope you’re feeling okay. If you need anything, please remember that I’m here for you.”

You don’t actually know if she’s mad at you. You heard she was. But that is not a direct source. You don’t need to defend yourself. You also don’t need to attack your friend. Ask open ended questions for the person to be able to explain themselves and not feel threatened. Remember, even though you heard the rumor first, you need to believe the direct source and not the rumor. You really have no idea what is going on. Many times these are misunderstandings.

The same goes for the opposite, if you heard someone said something mean about you. Don’t sak, “Why did you say that? Why are you so mean?” Instead, bring it right to their attention. “I heard some things about you recently that were pretty hurtful. You are a good friend and if something is bothering you, I want us to talk about it.”

You can only control your reaction and your response. Sometimes, if the other person believes gossip about you, there just isn’t anything you can do.


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Life Updates: Kinky Boots on Broadway + Big Hero 6

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Kinky Boots on Broadway NYC

Broadway: Kinky Boots

Last Sunday it was below zero with the wind chill so I decided to take another chance on a Broadway lottery. Who else would be crazy enough to stand outside for cheap tickets? Turns out, practically no one! There were 20 of us, total, who entered the Kinky Boots lottery. Every single person won a ticket; to the point where people in groups were passing on tickets. When all was said & done, the theater still had about 30 tickets to hand out. It was fantastic.

I won a 7th row Orchestra seat for $37. If you’re trying for a Broadway lottery, I strongly suggest going on an extremely bad weather day.

The show itself was great. I was a little spoiled by watching Hedwig earlier in the month, which I will always love with all my heart. Kinky Boots was a great story, fun songs, and nice lesson. I’m not sure I would pay full price for this one but I definitely enjoyed the show.


big hero 6

Movie: Big Hero 6

Since I had nothing else to do on that chilly Sunday, I decided to watch a movie before trying my hand at the Broadway lottery. Probably because of the Oscars, the Times Square Regal theater is currently still playing Big Hero 6. Sure, it was $15 but I really had wanted to watch this in theaters and missed it earlier in the year. I am so glad that I was able to see it!

This was absolutely one of the best movies I’ve seen in a long time! It was hilarious and yet also incredibly sad. I cried. Twice. I also laughed out loud harder than I have for any movie. (Hairy Baby!)


NYC Bars Round-Up

Continuing my hedonistic February routine, I visited some more NYC bars with friends as I seek out social company this month.

Here’s a quick round up: Uncle Barry’s (Park Slope) has easy-but-fun Trivia Wednesday nights at 9p. It’s a great bar at other times too. Bonnie’s (Park Slope) has the best wings in the city. Soda Bar (Prospect Heights) is a laptop-friendly bar with wifi plus a $3 drafts happy hour noon-7p daily. Shorty’s has another location in Flatiron if you need a sports bar with decent food. Beer Authority (Midtown) is still my go-to for a beer before a Broadway show. They have $5 select drafts on Sundays. Peculier Pub (Greenwich Village) is still frequented by college kids and needs to clean their tap lines.


Best Of Internet: Links

I read some pretty great things on the Internet recently!

Satire
Hardcore Singer Accidentally Swallows Microphone – The Hard Times (2/12/15)

Introspective
Am I Optimistic? – An Exacting Life (2/19/15)

Invention
Dole has Created a Wearable Banana – Dole (2/19/15)

Books
Non-Fiction Books About Women’s Bodies – Book Riot (2/19/15)

Westminster Dog Show
Reviewing the terrifying dogs in Westminster’s ‘Working Group’ – SB Nation (2/17/15)

Nostalgia
Radio Shack Catalogs Archive

NYC
Hot Dudes Reading on Instagram

Programming
Falsehoods Programmers Believe About Names (6/17/10)

Sewing
Love Lola

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Use The Word “Recovery” Instead of “Rest”

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Use

In race training, Rest Days are very important. The idea is you don’t do any physical activity to give your body a rest. Give it a break for a day or two, especially when you are in intense training. Running everyday can result in injury. In general, doing too much too fast too can result in injury. An artist friend decided to make a new year’s resolution to draw every single day instead of just once a week. A few weeks in, keeping up the streak, he seriously injured his wrist. No matter what you’re doing, rest days are important.

Rest days are important in our day-to-day life as well. We need to give ourselves social and emotional breaks. However, as you sit at home all day being a slug on the couch, watching back to back movies, tv marathons, and playing video games… it’s easy to feel guilty about that.

We make ourselves feel that if we’re not doing anything “productive”, it’s not worth doing.

Believe it or not, sometimes resting is being productive.

Recovery Days Not Rest Days

Stop calling these rest days. Call them recovery days. Because, physically, your body or brain is not actually resting on rest days. You, yourself, are resting. But your muscles aren’t, they are recovering. Your muscles are repairing themselves, growing stronger, getting leaner, or tighter. Even while you sit on the couch, your muscles are actively recovering from the physical activity you did yesterday.

This is the same for our mind. If you were out all day yesterday or the past few days, running errands, making plans, shopping, visiting with friends, or networking at events, you need a day to emotionally recover. Your brain needs to repair its energy level and to process the friendships and connections you’ve made.

For some reason, we feel guilty about this. Resting. Relaxing. Feels like it is something to be done when all the other tasks are done. That it is something to do “if there’s time.”

Treat Recovery As A Task

Add “recover” to your to-do list. No, sleeping isn’t necessarily the same as recovering. Recovery is a process. Physically it is a process for your muscles. Mentally it is a process for your brain. Treating recovery as a priority is a part of making plans and living life as an adult.

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Baking Perfect Chocolate Chip Cookies Recipe + Tutorial

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perfect chocolate chip cookies recipe

I’ve always freely shared my recipes because when it comes to baking, it’s more than just a recipe. Every little thing matters. The temperature of your ingredients, the types of measuring cups you use, the style of baking sheet, cooling methods, etc. It all makes a difference. And especially for chocolate chip cookies which are the finickiest type of cookie.

Previously, I shared some tips for making the perfect chocolate chip cookies but thought a video tutorial of this would help clear up some confusion.

In the video below, you’ll learn baking steps that many recipes leave out including test batches, adjusting temperatures during baking, and why cooling racks are so important. Watch the video all the way through then follow the perfect chocolate chip cookies recipe. Because no recipe can save bad baking.


Baking Perfect Chocolate Chip Cookies

This was originally created on Snapchat; follow me as lintacious


Perfect Chocolate Chip Cookies Recipe

Dry: 4C Flour, 1t baking soda, 1t salt
Wet: 2 Sticks Butter, 2C Sugar, 2T Molasses, 3 Eggs, 1 1/2t Vanilla
Chocolate: 8oz Chopped Semi-Sweet Chocolate

  1. Whisk dry ingredients in small bowl; set aside
  2. Beat sugar, molasses, and butter in a large bowl; then add eggs & vanilla
  3. Add dry mixture until just combined; Stir in chocolate

Follow video directions above for baking: 350 for 8min; 325 for 3min; Cool on pan on wire rack for 3min; Cool on wire rack until firm.

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Weekly Updates: Hedwig, Android, Numenera

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Hedwig and the Angry Inch with John Cameron Mitchell

Broadway: Hedwig and the Angry Inch

Although I saw Hedwig and the Angry Inch on Broadway last July, I was still excited to see it again. This time with John Cameron Mitchell, the original Hedwig. At the first show, I missed some of the on-stage shenannigans from my balcony seat and was pleased that I was able to see all of the stage from the mezzanine. Also, sadly, the tickets were much cheaper overall since the big name Neil Patrick Harris wasn’t starring.

John Cameron Mitchell was amazing! The entire show was just as amazing as the first time. The Origin of Love is one of my favorite songs and I loved how they set-it up in the show.

Now, this second viewing was actually quite different from the first. I saw the show on a Tuesday but while performing the previous Saturday Mitchell hurt his knee causing some following shows to be cancelled. The Tuesday show I saw was the first one he performed in after the injury. He performed with a knee brace!

Because of that, a lot of the stage presence was modified but not in a hindering way. Mitchell fully incorporated the injury into the act making fun of it while also making special accomodations to not injure himself further. There were some disappointments, like the introduction wasn’t nearly as epic as it should have been. But it was a much more raw performance and actually fit in well enough with the show. Broadway actors always impress me and even more so in situations like that.

Even after seeing Book of Mormon recently, I would easily recommend Hedwig over any other show on Broadway right now. It’s just that good.


NYC: Friends + Booze

Commonwealth Bar, Brooklyn

Commonwealth Bar, Brooklyn

Rabbit Club's Bathroom, West Village

Rabbit Club’s Bathroom, West Village

Part of my grieving process last fall was to sit at home alone watching college football; and it was exactly what I needed at the time. Now on to phase 2 of grieving, which involves spending time with friends and/or alcohol. Thankfully this is pretty easy to do in the city.

I went to two new-to-me bars recently, Commonwealth Bar in South Slope and the Rabbit Club in the West Village. Commonwealth had a $4 drafts happy hour. The bar itself was alright. The location is convenient, the first bartender was surly, and the place was fairly quiet. I’d go back. Rabbit Club is a fairly discreet bar on MacDougal Street without a clearly defined entrance. It has fancy beers and is super dark and I think they played a lot of Sleater-Kinney. I don’t remember a ton about that bar, which is slightly embarrassing considering it was a Sunday night. But I had a lot of fun with my friends and that is the important part.

I also visited two of my favorite bars, MacDougal Street Ale House also in the West Village and Double Windsor in Windsor Terrace Brooklyn. MacDougal Ale House is a basement bar with great deals on drafts, is good for groups, and lets you bring in food. It’s empty earlier in the night which is when I’m usually there. Double Windsor is a large bar/restaurant right off the F/G near Prospect Park. It’s cash only and both the bar & the kitchen are separate & self-serve. It’s a little weird at first because there is no table service but that just means no surprise check at the end of the night. The only downside of this place is that it’s really popular at almost all times of the day so coming here with a group is tough.


Cats: Scarface’s Upcoming Surgery

Scarface cat

After discovering that my 3-year old cat Scarface has a bladder stone, I have scheduled a surgery to have it removed early next month. It seems to be the most guaranteed option at the moment. I know he will be much more comfortable to have that all taken care of as well. The vet quoted the surgery costs ranging from $725-$1,025 so I’m guessing it will be in the middle. I already received my Federal tax refund and am planning on using that money for these expenses.

I know it sounds like a lot of money. And I used to say that I would never spend that much on a cat. But this is my cat and I love him so much. I do have limits, though I really don’t know what they are. He is my responsibility and I accept that. Besides, this cutie totally has my heart. Who am I kidding? I’d do anything for these little guys.


Editing NaNoWriMo is painful

Editing NaNoWriMo

NaNoWriMo: Editing Complete

For the first time, I completed the initial editing process of one of my NaNoWriMo stories. It was actually very interesting and even eye opening. There is a lot of work that needs to be done if I want to turn this into an actual story. Even though I have no plans for it, I will continue the process of editing & revising. Character development and timelines is something I really need to work on. It’s difficult to get a sense of how slowly or quickly a character is changing while you are writing it. Taking a step back to read through everything really helped me see where I need to focus. I may not do anything else with this but the fact I finished editing it all is a pretty big accomplishment for me, so I’m happy about that.


Androids

Tech: Android

Late to the game as always when it comes to technology, but I’m finally using my Android Moto X phone that I actually bought several months ago. I never really bothered to learn Android and stubbornly continued to use my iPod Touch. Well, after losing the cable for a few days, I surrendered to Android and haven’t looked back.

So far, I’ve fallen in love with Fenix as a Twitter client. Chrome on Android runs smooth and I love having the synced bookmarks. All Google app (Maps, Mail, Calendar) runs far smoother than on iOS, which is a nice surprise. I was thrilled to learn that I can install third-party keyboards and am currently using SwiftKey. It is perfect. A few other apps I’ve grown to love is ereader Alkido and file manager Astro. I don’t quite understand Launchers. Maybe Android Kit Kat is better and those aren’t needed now? Anyway, I’m totally happy with Android now and glad to be able to have both options of mobile operating systems at my fingertips.


numenera core book

Games: Numenera Table-Top RPG

I am currently in the middle of my first table-top role playing game campaign. We are playing a Monte Cook game, Numenera. Although I have played computer RPG’s before, this style of playing is very different. It’s so open-ended which is really fun yet also overwhelming at times. The GM really has to be on-point, but what an amazing way to be creative. We have only done one campaign so far and plan to do six, so I’m looking forward to how I will feel about the whole thing when we’re done.

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Using The Pomodoro Technique

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tomato timer for the pomodoro technique

There are quite a few different productivity methods out there but the Pomodoro Technique has been the easiest one for me to adapt and has been successful at actually increasing my work efficiency. This technique is beneficial to two types of workers: 1) Procrastinators who don’t know where to start and keep putting off projects, or are easily overwhelmed by large tasks; and 2) The ultra-focused who spend countless hours on a task forgetting to take breaks & eats. Although the second type seems more productive, it’s also unhealthy.

The pomodoro technique helps you balance out large tasks by breaking them into smaller ones using units of time.


Let’s use the following example: I have to write a report on the year-over-year traffic change in two websites. That is the large project. Breaking it down a bit, first, I know I need to collect the data from the two years for both websites. Then I need to analyze. Then write my findings. Okay, let’s get started.

25-Minute Blocks of Work Time

Set a timer (I use EggTimer) for 25-minutes. Now, start your first small task. In this case, it is to collect data for one of the websites. Do not take any breaks during this time period. Stay focused on this task. Don’t check Facebook or even your email. You will be able to soon. Twenty-five minutes is a very manageable block of time. It is enough to be productive but not too much where you’ll get distracted. If you finish the task during this block of time, move on to the next. If you don’t finish when the timer goes off, don’t worry, you can pick it up after your break.

5-Minutes Breaks

When your timer goes off, set it again this time for 5-minutes. Now you can take a break. Check your email, social media, go to the bathroom, stand up and sit back down. This is just a short break. You shouldn’t really be leaving your desk or going too far. This also helps give your mind a break, which surprisingly, will help you be more efficient at the project.

Just as many times you need ‘another pair of eyes’ when reviewing a document you have read a thousand times, it is the same when you are working on a project or solving a problem. While you may think to yourself, “I can’t get up until I solve this,” the mere act of getting up and walking away for a second will help you re-focus. So when you sit back down, you may see something you hadn’t before.

Again, five-minutes is a manageable period of time. It’s not so long where you will completely lose focus. But it is just enough to get yourself back in check. This is also a good time to re-assess what you’re working on. If you have already spent 25-minutes on something that you thought would only take you 5, you might want to go about it a different way. This is better than getting an hour into it just to realize you could have done it better from the get go.

After your 5-minutes is up, get right back to your task.

2-Hour Chunks of Productivity

After four Pomodoro cycles, essentially two hours, take a 15-minute break instead of the usual 5-minutes. In this 15-minutes you can leave your desk, use the bathroom, get a snack, chat with a co-worker. This gives you a chance to stretch your legs and re-focus your body as well as your mind. We all know that sitting for long periods of time isn’t a healthy practice, so this is a good reminder to just get up.

Of course, when it’s lunch time, feel free to take that as you normally would. Then when you get back to your desk, start-up the Pomodoro timer again and get right back to your task.


I am one of those who has difficulty getting started and staying focused, but using the Pomodoro method has really helped me to pay attention to what I need to do. Sometimes that 25-minutes feels like a really long time but the timer always goes off in the end. This has also really helped me break-down large tasks into more manageable portions. I would spend hours on a project (also while being easily distracted) that I could have finished quicker if I had actually split it into smaller tasks.

There is no requirement for this technique other than a timer, which we now have readily available on our computers or phones. No excuses for not trying this out.

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Jury Duty: What You Need To Know

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Brooklyn Supreme Court

Brooklyn Supreme Court

Recently, I was selected to be a juror on a civil trial. I had always wanted to be a juror and was looking forward to the experience. The common description of Jury Duty is “boring”, “inefficient”, and “a lot of waiting around.” I really thought those would be exaggerations but they weren’t.


Kings County Jury Summons for Civil Court

Kings County Jury Summons for Civil Court

Jury Summons

The process starts when you receive a jury summons in the mail. It can be for the State or Federal court. It can be for a Civil or Criminal trial. You don’t get to choose. The address for the specific courthouse will be on the summons. Along with a phone number for you to call the night before to see if they need you to come in.

In other states, I never had to actually go in when I received my summons. For this one, I did. I received a pink jury summons card for the Brooklyn Civil Courts. From what I can tell, everyone’s experience is different as it depends on the state, the way the courthouse is run, and even the particular judge of the case. So I’ll detail my personal experience but just keep in mind that your situation may vary.

The jury summons card instructed us to arrive at the courthouse at 8:30a. As a juror, every time you enter the Brooklyn Supreme Court, you have to go through a security check. Every time. In the morning. After lunch. Each day you attend court. It’s a pretty easy process, you can keep your coat on. Just remove your watch and belt. However, this of course can be a time consuming process so leave some time for this.

Once inside, you’ll proceed to the room number on your summons. In my case, it was one of the first rooms we saw, labeled Main Jury (room 260). In New York State, you are paid $40/day for jury duty if you are currently employed but your employer will not pay you while on jury duty. If you are a student, you will not get paid as you wouldn’t normally. Basically, if you’re missing work and losing money, you’ll get $40 for each day. Most full-time employment will pay at least 3 days for their employees. I am grateful that my employer covered my full time at jury duty.

What To Bring

You’ll spend the first hour and a half answering questions, filling out a survey, writing on your summons, then submitting your summons cards to the pool of juror names. Bring a pen. They kind of provide pencils but, really, it’s easier if you bring your own.

The court house hours are 9a-5p. If you do not get selected as a juror, it’s likely you will have to stay the entire time. Bring a plastic water bottle. You can bring in a full water bottle or any other drink (coffee) as long as it’s not a glass container.

You need to stay in the Main Jury room or the Juror’s Lounge in order to hear your name. Bring snacks/lunch or change for vending machines. You are given a lunch break from 1p-2:15p but you can’t leave the area otherwise. There are some vending machines so bring change or dollar bills. Also, if you go out for lunch, you will need to go through the security line again. You can’t reheat food or anything but you can easily bring snacks & a sandwich.

Starting at 10:30a, they begin calling names to go into the jury selection process for the different cases. Your name may be called right away, not until the afternoon, or not at all. This part is boring. You will have to simply wait around. Bring entertainment including books/smart device/laptop/etc. There is free wifi in the Main Jury room and throughout the court house.


waiting around in the jury selection room

The Selection Process

Throughout the day, you may hear your name called. You can hear names being called over the PA in the Main Jury, Juror’s Lounge, and bathroom inside the lounge. So you are confined to those three areas. Except during lunch. When you hear your name called, proceed to the room as directed in the announcement.

For each jury selection, they put 20 people in a room, randomly select 10 of them to question as potential jurors, then select 6 to be jurors on the case and 2 as alternates.

If you get selected as a juror, you will be officially assigned to the case, sworn in to the court, then dismissed for the day. The clerk will tell you when your trial starts and what time to return to the court. It could be the next day or it could be two weeks from now.

If you were not selected as a juror, you are dismissed to go back into the Main Jury room. You are not discharged from jury duty. Your name goes back into the pool of available jurors and you may get called again for a different case.

Again, your experience may be different depending on the type of court you are in and the type of case. This pertains to my experience at a civil court.

Being a Juror on a Trial

I was selected as a juror on a civil trial, breach of contract case. We were told the trial would take 3-4 days. It ended up taking 6 days – non-consecutively. The break in my usual routine was more annoying than anything else. Some days we had to be to the court house at 9a, some days 11:30a, and some days not at all. So you really have to pay attention to the judge for your next directions.

The trial itself is far more boring than what you see on TV. The main reason is that most of the lawyer’s bickering cannot take place in front of a jury. The jury can only base their decision based on questions that have been asked and answered and documents in evidence. So if anything else is discussed, it is not for the jury’s ears. So a lot of times, we sat in the court room for merely minutes before being asked to leave again so the lawyers can argue. Also, on TV it shows the lawyers going up to the judge to bicker but for us that happened out in a hallway so we didn’t hear it.

When not in the court room, we have to wait in the deliberation room. This was a very small room without decoration, one table and eight chairs, some windows, and a bathroom. We cannot leave that room except for lunch or other special permission. The officer of the court was like our chaperon the entire time. She would bring us into the deliberation room, follow us out, lead us into the court room, etc.


jury booth in a court room

The Verdict

The deliberations process was far more serious than I had expected. To request any sort of evidence, we needed to write it on official paper as a standardized request. Then we wrote our verdict on a worksheet of sorts that was specially created for the case. Also unlike the movies, the jury foreman did not read off the verdict; the judge did. Apparently this depends on the judge.

For my case specifically, we found the defendant guilty of breach of contract. Not only did we have to decide guilty versus not guilty, but we also had to write down the amount of money the defendant owed the plaintiff. This meant reading pieces of evidence like contracts, deeds, addendums, receipts, etc. Fun times.

With all that said, I am very grateful to live in a country where we have this type of justice system in place. Sure, it’s broken most the time. But in this case, two men were bickering over money and a jury of their peers was brought in to solve the problem. I actually am glad to have performed my civic duty. And also glad that I don’t have to do it for another seven years.

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Comfort Food Recipes: Sloppy Joe’s & Sweet Potato Fries

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home-made sloppy joe's

Look, I am not a fancy eater. I do not have a sensitive pallet. I grew up on casseroles, meatloaf, and comfort foods. Including sloppy joes; or should I say Manwich (that name? wtf). Quite a few years ago, I was given a Sloppy Joe recipe and was blown away that you could make this delicious meal without the help of a can. And although the name itself makes you think of informal cookouts or midwestern supper’s, this is a quick and easy meal that is actually perfect for the wintertime. Ground beef with a sweet + spice sauce thrown in a hamburger bun. It’s a perfect solo meal. Plus, ground beef is cheap. Of course you can also make this with turkey; even cheaper. To make this ‘healthy’, feel free to add vegetables. Although I prefer to serve comfort foods with sweet potato fries. Because yum.


Sloppy Joe Recipe


  1. Brown ~1lb of ground beef; drain grease, keep in pan
  2. Mix into the browned beef: 1/2C ketchup, 1T brown sugar, 1t worcestshire sauce, 1t ground mustard, 1/2t garlic, 1/4t onion powder, 1/4t salt, 3T water, 2t chili powder, 1t vinegar
  3. Stir and simmer 10-15 minutes; to taste
  4. Toast a hamburger bun before serving, this helps it from getting soggy while eating


This recipe is really flexible! Add more or less of whatever you don’t like. Double everything to make these sloppier (juicier). Add more brown sugar for sweeter, more vinegar for a cut to the taste. You can also add chopped onions, peppers, or shredded cheese. I actually prefer these more plain. I don’t like my comfort foods fancy.


oven baked sweet potato fries

Oven Baked Sweet Potato Fries Recipe


  1. Slice 2 Sweet Potatoes in half lengthwise (for long fries), then put each half flat side down, and cut into slices so you get rectangular shaped long fries
  2. Put raw fries in a bowl and mix with olive oil, salt, brown sugar, cornstarch
  3. Place raw fries in a single layer on a baking sheet
  4. Bake at 400 degrees F for 30 minutes, then remove pan and flip over the fries with a spatula
  5. Put back in the oven for 15 minutes, or until other side is cooked


These are something I make often, usually as a main dish actually. Hey, it’s just me here. Yes I am eating only sweet potato fries for dinner. Delicious.

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January Spending 2015

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2015 January spending budgets in nyc

January Budget Spending in NYC

Income: Cat Sitting

This year I’d like to make some attempts to earn extra income once per quarter. I successfully did this in January by cat sitting over the holidays. I love cats and don’t consider changing litter boxes & filling up food bowls to be much of a chore. Checking in on a cat every day for a little bit each time is definitely worth the couple extra hundred dollars I make from it. Ideally, I’d like to continue doing this as it’s not time consuming and, well, I love cats.

Spending: Cat Health

Unfortunately, my little cat, Scarface, is having some urinary problems at the moment. I spent about $350 at the vet in January for some lab tests & x-rays to discover he has a bladder stone. This will cost upwards of $500-$1K to have it taken care of. Then additional costs throughout the rest of his life, since he’s only 3-years old. These were unexpected, but the future costs I will be able to budget for.

Spending: Food & Booze

At the end of last year, I killed it in not eating out or spending money on booze. Well, those glory days are over because I am definitely back on the wagon. Now, I’m not going crazy or anything, but I am definitely feeling more social. Plus, I don’t like being cooped up in my apartment as much in the winter time. So this month I reached out to friends for drinks, explored the city and enjoyed some meals myself, and just generally was out and about more often. Just being out all day means added costs for eating out. I am okay with the $160 grocery spending but would like to keep eating out & booze costs closer to $100 if possible.

Spending: Miscellaneous

Some other costs this month included renewing my Amazon Prime membership (categorized under entertainment). Also, I signed up for the Brooklyn Half (categorized under Health). I made a decision at the end of last year to sign up for less races this year because of the costs. This Half was $85, which is fine. I may sign up for another spring Half as well, that’s also in this price range. Mainly, I will not be doing $40 10K’s and no 5K’s this year, unless it’s super super cheap. I do love the motivation of races but, really, I just don’t want to put my money there this year.

Looking Ahead

For February, I am expecting more cat health costs, which will hopefully be offset by receiving my tax refund. There will likely not be any additional income (unless someone would like to buy my Kryptonite bike chain?).

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