35. Photography

Ever since I was a child I loved to take photos. I can thank my dad for that. He was the photographer in the family, and as each of his kids grew up, he or she became a photographer in the high school yearbook staff. My dad even built a darkroom in our garage.  In sixth grade, I got my first camera, a hand-me-down that used 110 film.  (Something like this, but probably older.)

Eventually I moved on to a SLR and during my stint as a yearbook photographer I developed film and printed photos, knowing the ins and outs of developer, stop bath, and fixer. I enjoyed the entire process from rolling the undeveloped of film into the cassettes to seeing the finished product of negatives drying on the clothesline in the darkroom to doing the final rinse of the photo after the sitting in the fixer.

As technology shifted to digital, I moved towards digital photography, using mostly my phone and several different point and shoot cameras and relying heavily on my cell phone. It was much more convenient (easier to manipulate the photo on the computer) and cheaper, too (you can take 100s more photos for the same amount spent on film). I bought a DSLR, then sold it because I wasn’t using it (too big, and too conspicuous).

Years passed, and I felt the urge to take photos again. So many choices!

So here is my new camera (taken with my cell phone):

IMG_6295

This will help fulfill #35 on my list, and will inspire me to take more shots than ever before.

One my first shots, with more to come. (My poor dogs will soon get sick of this.)

IMGP0009

Wilbur!

Baseball fan looking for a new team

(Stepping away from my 43 for 44 list for this lengthy blog post.)

Nineteen years can be a long time. Baseball careers may not last that long. My dog didn’t last that long. Heck, I’ve been married for a shorter amount of time (but we may pass that milestone).

But if you’re a season ticket holder for the San Diego Padres, it means nothing, at least to the front office.

Let me back up a bit. I became a San Diego Padres season ticket holder in 1997, jumping on the bandwagon after their 1996 season. 1997 sucked, but I didn’t jump off that year. The reward? The glorious 1998 season.  The decision to renew each year was a no-brainer: of course I would support my team. I wasn’t a full or half season ticket holder; I had a modest 13 game (at that time) package. I was happy to support an organization that seemed to appreciate my business, even if it was a drop in the bucket. At the time  it was a special thing to be a season ticket holder. Sure, you got the gifts all the season ticket holders received (like seat cushions), but you had the flexibility to exchange your tickets for any game you wanted.  And I understood why the full season ticket holders got baseball bats and got to walk on the field; they spent the money, so they should get the fancier extras.

As with everything, change happens. There were no more gifts in my renewal package, the ticket exchange policy became less liberal (no more exchanging Tuesday tickets for Saturday games), we now became “Members”…but I still renewed.

Until 2015. For the first time, I hesitated. The cost, the performance of the team, and the changes of the ballpark made me re-think if this was a good idea.  I hesitated long enough to be wooed by the 21 Service Team. A free game, free food, and the promise that we would be “grandfathered in” for the ticket exchange perk and we would probably get a good chance for All-Star Game tickets. So we renewed. And we renewed this year. Sure, we saw the ticket exchange perk removed from the literature, but thinking we were grandfathered in, we didn’t think it applied to us. (Such entitled thinking!)

Well, it doesn’t.  But just to make sure, I sent out this email:

Hello 21 Game Service Team!

My husband and I had tried to exchange two of our tickets for another game, but were unable to do so because Blue Members no longer had benefit.

Would you please let us know why we are no longer able to exchange games? We don’t understand why this flexibility was taken away from us. We have read the ticket exchange policy and understand that only half & full season ticket members can exchange games. (We are aware of Unused Ticket Nights, but in the past the dates were inconvenient for us and/or on days we already had tickets for.) We are long time season ticket members (since 1997) and we were told last season by a Padres ticket representative that we would be “grandfathered in.” Having this flexibility is one of the main reasons we have continued to renew our season tickets. We can only hope that a mistake was made and we will be able to exchange tickets in the future.

Thank you so much for looking into this!

I received a reply the next morning:

We made a decision last August to update our Membership exchange benefit.  A “2016 Ticket Exchange Policy” was included in your mailed renewal piece that you received in August as well as in the emailed renewal piece.  The first sentence of that policy states “The San Diego Padres Ticket Exchange Program is a benefit exclusively for 2016 Platinum and Gold Members.” We apologize if you missed that update when renewing for 2016.  

Ok, it was worth a shot. And upon further review, this is old news. But the wording, “The first sentence…” felt a little snarky. But oh well, perhaps this person was tired of answering this question. If she stopped there, it would have been fine. But she goes on:

This decision was made for multiple reasons including inventory demands and use and abuse of the ticket exchange benefit.  Just like airline tickets (Business Class vs. Coach), a car (Mercedes C class vs. S class), etc. when you buy different versions of a product you are rewarded with different benefits.  We have chosen to reward based on number of games you are committed to versus spend, location of seats, etc.  We felt it was important to continue to give Blue Members numerous benefits while differentiating that experience from the Gold and Platinum Memberships.  We understand that change is not always welcome but we hope you enjoy the season and take advantage of the 6 Unused Ticket Nights for the games you are unable to attend.

Now, this really bothers me. For me, the true colors of this organization really stands out. I may be a “Coach” ticket holder. Heck, you can call me a Yugo if you want. But removing one perk to make the others memberships look better, well, that sucks.

Final paragraph:

 Please reach out with any other questions and we will do our best to answer them. Go Padres!

Notice anything missing? How about a thank you? How about a “thank you for your nineteen years of loyalty?” How about a “thank you for supporting us for 19 seasons, and of which – if my count is right – 2/3 of them were losing seasons? How about a “thank you for purchasing tickets, even if our product isn’t First Class?” (sorry, that’s my snarkiness coming out)

I get it, money talks. The ones who spend more money will get rewarded. This is a business, and they want to be able to make as much money as they can. But I don’t understand how alienating fans will help their bottom line. Of course, it just makes more room for the visiting team fans, like the Mets game last Saturday.

I wish I could be the fan they want me to be. I’m just someone who will give you my loyalty and a bit of cash. Anything beyond that is beyond my means. And this makes me sad.

Tl;dr My breakup letter with the Padres.

Whelp.

Three months in, then I completely fell apart. Since my last entry:

  • Shopping ban has been completely busted
  • new subscription boxes ordered
  • no exercise
  • savings depleted
  • weight gain (and don’t get me started there)
  • and so on.

What happened? Holidays, complacency, lack of accountability…it led to a perfect storm of spending, eating, and lazing around. I think the only thing I’ve been able to keep up with is my reading.

Time to start again.

Week 13 (November 15 – 21, 2015)

Spending today complaining about yesterday won’t make tomorrow any better.

-Calvin Dillard (so says the internet)

Well, time to face the music.

  • $71.93 Groceries (Graze and Blue Apron)
  • $254.83 Household (A new Up3 charger and a Nespresso machine, and coffee pods)
  • $30.71 Eating Out (dinner out and then a trip to 7-11)
  • $41.97 Cosmetics/Personal Items (Shampoo, soap, and toner from Lush)
  • $1.00 Library fine
  • $63.81 Gifts (flowers for a friend – her mother passed away – and Christmas gifts)
  • $1400 Mortgage

Savings: $275; Withdrew $100 for Christmas gifts

I did horribly this week. This just illustrates the amount of creature comforts I have and that I DON’T need all of this stuff. If I simply reined in my spending, I wouldn’t have to work two jobs.

I did need shampoo and soap and toner – but did I need to buy it at Lush? The shampoo, yes. It lasts a lot longer than the other brands, and I can take it when I travel. Soap and toner…I should have gone to the local drugstore those items.

I thought I lost the charger to the Up3 (it was under my car seat), so I had to buy one.

Blue Apron and Graze. Luxuries I don’t need.

And the Nespresso machine. I have two coffee makers already; one is a Keurig and the other is a dual single serve/coffee pot brewer. I DID NOT need another coffeemaker. Especially one that will cost $1.10 a cup (and I drink 4 cups a day). But…

I went to the Nespresso stand in my local Bloomingdales to buIMG_5600y pods for my sister. (The only times I go to Bloomingdales is to use the bathroom or to cut through the store to get to the rest of the mall.) I always wondered why the line at the Nespresso counter was long. Now I know why.

Free Tastings.

I don’t know the name of the coffee I had. (Caramielizioleiosofzio. Or something like that.) But it was the best cup of coffee I had in a long, long time.

It stuck with me the rest of the day, and the next day, too. So I bought one. And I feel incredibly guilty.

Oh yeah, and I gained 9.9 pounds. This is what happens when I don’t go to Weight Watchers for three weeks, don’t track, don’t exercise and buy a CostCo-sized tin of butter cookies.

To do this week:

  1. Cancel Graze. I don’t need a snack subscription service. I could easily make my own snacks.
  2. Moratorium on Blue Apron. I like the service, but again, I can easily find the ingredients myself.
  3. Remember to pick up library books that I placed on hold.
  4. The only thing I can buy from Lush until my birthday is shampoo.
  5. Track my food.
  6. Do a 5k. It’s time for the Mustache Dache!

Week 12: Spending only (November 8 – 14, 2015)

Normally I start this blog post at the beginning of the week. But I’ve been avoiding it because I spent a lot.

Spent:

  • $57.37 – Groceries
  • $36 – Wax
  • $107.66 – Subscription box (3 months to GlobeIn)
  • $123.29 – Pet Supplies (dog food and flea control)
  • $7.65 – Eating out (just once!)
  • $75.87 – (planner refill+planner stickers+budget planner)
  • $9.70 – household (wrench for Vitamix)
  • $7.99 – Netflix
  • $50 – donation to LLS.org

Savings: $125

Week 11 in Review (November 1-November 6, 2015)

What I spent:

  • $45.40 Eating out
  • $20 Gifts
  • $40 Gas
  • $11.99 Groceries
  • $57.92 the cost of two virtual races (The 12ks of Christmas and the Mustache Dache Virtual Run)
  • $299.13 Bills (AAA membership, mobile phone, electricity)
  • $47 Subscription Box (Hampton’s Lane. I’m giving them one more shot. Already I’m seeing an issue.)
  • $67.02 (two pairs of shoes and a heel cup)
  • $36.17 (A Doctor Who expansion pack for Lego Dimensions. I pre-ordered this July.)

Savings:

  • $350. (I now saved enough for Christmas)

Progress:

  • #4. I completed my 4th 5k.  One more to go, but I still have to run one completely. I signed up for my 5th one, a virtual one that will take place during Thanksgiving Weekend.
  • #12 Weeding out photos. I completed two months (September and October 2015), deleting about 200 photos.

Setbacks:

I spent over $100 on things that I didn’t need. Well, I do need new shoes (the shoes I’m replacing need replacing. I am having heel trouble, and flats are giving me a lot of pain. The new shoes I bought have heels and will put less pressure on that part of my foot.

I could have cancelled my preorder, but this kit is the reason why I bought the game.  I ate out with a friend (that’s ok), but also ate at fast food places this week. Need to keep planning my meals.

I did not check weigh in this week – we had a 5k on our weigh in day.

Week 10 (October 25-October 31, 2015)

What I spent:

  • $120.62 Groceries (Blue Apron and a trip to Costco)
  • $29 Restaurants out
  • $44.95 Bills (Weight Watchers)
  • $39.35 Subscriptions
  • $116.99 Household (medicine, treadmill cleaner)
  • $7.26 Clothing (headband)

So much for my “no spending on food” goal.

Setbacks:

I did not complete my subscription box limitation. At this point, I have 6 active subscriptions. I was on the waiting list for Planned Chaos and I received notification that I’m eligible to subscribe. Right now, I’ll just do the one month. I won’t continue after that. I also misunderstood the terms of Audible. I thought I had three months for $1 a month. It was just 30 days free, $14.95 thereafter. I’m also contemplating another grocery service called Chef’d. It’s not a subscription service, but there’s a Weight Watchers option (which would be more helpful than the Blue Apron service, where the points values of meals can be as high as 23 PPV.

This week will be a high spending week. A pre-order will be coming in, and I need to pay some bills.

Not much progress on anything else; just some nibbles:

  • Lost 1.8 pounds. Still don’t know why that’s happening.
  • Started the photo weeding project. I have 23,000+ images and videos from the last 15 years. My goal is to whittle it down to the best of the best. I have every photo (but not video) archived using Amazon’s cloud service.

That’s it for the week. I’ll have more to write next week.