Restlessness

Restlessness. It is what I am these days. These days? What kind of a dimension is that? Call it the last 3 or 4 months. Remember the attainment of routine that I so proudly held aloft, just a year ago? That feeling has been replaced, or at least heavily modified. I got tired of it, I just outgrew the freshness of an exciting, but rote track walked daily. This makes me sad, somewhat. Disappointment in myself sometimes creeps into my mind, and I usually push it aside with the thought of time being a cure.

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LGA-MIA-EWR

Booked a flight to Miami (MIA) from LaGuardia airport (LGA) for a visit next month in late June.

LaGuardia (LGA) → Miami (MIA) → Newark (EWR)

A rough outline of the costs involved:

  • 15,000 Avios miles redeemed:
    • 7,500 LGA-MIA ($168.10 equivalent fare ) – $0
    • 7,500 MIA-EWR ($168.10 equivalent fare) – $0
  • 1 night in Hilton Bentley South Beach ($402.10 equivalent rate) – $0
  • 3 nights via Airbnb in the Wynwood Arts District ($325.00 total equivalent rate) – $153.97
  • Transportation:
    • Public Transportation – $0
    • Uber × 3 – $0

The itinerary has been a joy to assemble!

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Seven Steps

Internet explorations can take a person to such strange lands. Finding a place to stay for a night in Cincinnati and then a second night in Washington took me over to Couchsurfing. After a quick search in the DC area it turns out that there are quite a few hosts. One in particular, Jordan K, really stood out with his 268 references. Reading through his profile it is apparent that Jordan isn’t a guy just offering up his couch. “There is a lot to see so be prepared to walk until your feet fall off!!!” is how he ends his couch description. By linking directly from his profile to “How to Be a Good Guest” on CouchWiki, it appears Jordan fully endorses the cultural sharing aspect of Couchsurfing.

What a cool guy!

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Debt Free!

Milestone attained. I’m debt free!

No longer have I the big scary education loan or distasteful car note. Nope. All paid off as of January 2015, and on schedule too!

Instead I’ve recently taken out a $2,500 ‘loan’ from Capital One. Not wanting to miss out on contributing to my Traditional IRA for tax year 2014, I took my VentureOne credit card over to Target and loaded funds onto a Target REDcard. Once loaded, the funds were withdrawn to supplement my linked bank account. From there it was simple to transfer the full $5,500 to my Vanguard retirement account. That account holds just 1 fund, VTSMX Investor Shares with a lowly 0.17% expense ratio.

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Manufactured Spending

It’s called “manufactured spending,” and I am not on the cutting edge of this hobby. Unlike with computer hardware, for me manufactured spending (MS) is a strange, new and exciting unexplored world, people have been pursuing this hobby for at least 2 decades. Consider the following scenario:  You apply for a credit card with a lucrative sign-up bonus. The bonus, however, is awarded only after spending a certain amount of money—usually a lot—within a given time frame. How to spend so much? Enter the hobby of creating the appearance that money is being spent, when actually it is not. Briefly, this is one out of many methods to do so:

  1. With a new credit card holding a lucrative bonus behind a big spending barrier, meet this threshold by buying Vanilla Reload gift cards (VGC) at a CVS, Duane Reade, or Walgreens pharmacy store
  2. Unload these gift cards into an American Express Bluebird account from a Wal-Mart Money Center kiosk
  3. Transfer the funds electronically from Bluebird to your bank account
  4. Pay off the credit card balance from your bank account as per usual

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Left Bank Shooting

Sunday was a blast! A friend and I met up and walked from Newport to Hoboken. The sun was shining with only a slightly-too-chilly wind. Because the day was so gorgeous, so full of opportunity, he had asked if I wanted to accompany him on the day trip. Of course! Despite a late and somewhat upsettingly emotional night out drinking in the West Village, I figured a walk outdoors in good company would set me right. Good choice.

We’re shooting with a Leica.

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Hoboken Street Corner

Toward the latter half of the day, we met up with 2 others and headed over to an incredibly picturesque abandoned building in Jersey City. With the setting sun, the light was just right.

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Good Conversations

They’re few and far between, but when we have one it never really leaves. The glow fades slowly, revisited often in smiled memory.

This days marks the 1st of January. In two weeks I will be staying in coastal Connecticut for a weekend. On the trip there (and/or back) I will visit a total of 10 Family Dollars in order to deposit to my AMEX Serve account ten (10) One Vanilla gift cards, zeroing out their $500 balance in each transaction. This represents the second half of an AMEX Business Gold $10,000 spending requirement, and moves the process along nearer to the 75,000 Membership Rewards points goal.

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Biking Staten Island

Last weekend I rode my bicycle through Staten Island. It was fun. The ultimate destination was back home, though. The route I actually mapped was a circuit, connecting:

  1. My apartment
  2. The temporary Bayonne Bridge shuttle bus from downtown Bayonne to …
  3. The shuttle endpoint in Elm Park on Staten Island
  4. Clove Lakes Park
  5. The Staten Island Expressway!
  6. Fort Wadsworth near the Verrazano–Narrows suspension bridge
  7. South Beach Boardwalk
  8. The Staten Island Ferry
  9. Financial District and Wall Street
  10. World Financial Center
  11. Paulus Hook in Jersey City, taking the Light Rail to …
  12. 45th Street in Bayonne
  13. My apartment

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Spending

A year has come and gone, and I have since passed smoothly across the 1st anniversary with my current employer. Speaking with those around me, it feels as if I have begun late in the game, and perhaps I have. Always a little behind my peers, even ever since grade school. It was bound to happen:  I am now working amongst team members already in their second and third year. I’ve now began realize this constant trailing in a new and unexpected way.

Not that it has truly impacted my life performance. The benefit of maturity amongst peers has always seemed a position of strength, a credit and asset, another layer of professionalism laid upon my personal veneer.

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