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Archive for November, 2009

went to the doctor...

December 1st, 2009 at 06:11 am

and the news is disappointing but hopeful. My aunt sent me a book about the St. Paul VI Institute in Omaha and how they treat women's infertility. It was a good book, but I couldn't drive to Omaha for checkups as they suggested. But, it turns out that there is a doctor in Salina that has been trained their way, and I met with her last week.

Basically, they treat the woman's entire body and not just her ovaries. They don't throw birth control pills at you and don't throw clomid at you. They try to get your body healthy, measure estrogen, progesterone and other hormones on a regular schedule, teach you to recognize your fertility markers and encourage you to eat healthy (low carbs in my case because of PCOS) and exercise. I don't think I have ovulated in the past two months, and I have been charting my basal body temperature, and it has been mostly below 97'. (The lowest number on the chart is 97', so that was a clue that something was wrong.) I think it might be thyroid, especially since at my first appointment from when I was pregnant the doctor circled the thyroid numbers, but didn't say anything else about it. (That shocked this new doctor. She said the thyroid can be very instrumental in getting and staying pregnant.) I feel a lot more comfortable with this doctor and my specific problems compared to my previous doctor that didn't even know that metformin can be prescribed for PCOS, and who had to call another doctor after my miscarriage to discover she should have had me on progesterone the entire time.

So, either PCOS and thyroid problems are making me gain weight, or my weight gain is exacerbating my PCOS and thyroid problems. So, we get to lose weight.

GAH! It seems like an impossible battle. But, if I don't do it, I won't be a mom. It is that simple. So, a lot of hard work is in front of me.

I started the diet today, since my last Thanksgiving thing was yesterday. Doing Atkins, which has worked for me in the past, but is really hard to stay on. I need to work on proceeding up the levels instead of staying on the induction phase forever and then stopping cold turkey. Made a yummy italian salad dressing from scratch to put on my salad tonight and DH made steak. Leftovers for tomorrow!

I played in an alumni basketball game for our high school on Saturday and played a little paintball on Sunday. Today I worked out using an old VHS tape I was going to throw out. It is a Power 90 tape I had from back when I was in college. It used to be so EASY (I was used to working out 3 hours a day for basketball, so I didn't even break a sweat then) and now it was terribly hard. I am looking forward to getting to level 2 because he is kind of annoying on the tape in level 1 Smile

I went in for a blood test on Friday, but haven't heard the results yet.

I have an appointment on Tuesday to meet with the person who is going to teach me the Creighton Model Fertility Care System (charting your mucus) to tell when you are ovulating. It will also give an indication of how your hormone levels are doing. It is very interesting. We have so much information we can get about our bodies if only we know how to read it!

I really think it is a shame that medicine has shifted towards the pill for PCOS and IVF and other non-natural remedies for infertility. Many doctors I have gone to don't actually know much about a woman's cycle, or don't want to follow up to see if you can regulate it any other way. The message seems to be "acne? take the pill. PMS? take the pill. PCOS? take the pill. athlete's foot? take the pill." I mean, goodness, it is not the panacea to all female problems. In fact, I think it may mask some problems, and be treating the symptoms, not the problems.

I don't know what all this is going to cost out of pocket. She is treating PCOS, so it should be covered by insurance, but I don't know about the Creighton Model teacher. Probably not.

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In money news, I have figured out my debt snow ball (can't remember if I blogged about this yet, but too lazy to look). Tomorrow the last payment for the ambulance ride from 3 years ago will be paid. My debt snowball is currently $335 (pickup, table and Bandit surgery), so I was able to send the entire $320.50 that was left with no problem. Add the normal ambulance payment of $36 and the new snowball is $370. (I like round numbers. So sue me.)

Next is the house. We owe about $1300 on it, but we aren't really on a set schedule to pay it off as it is private contract. DH would like to pay the entire thing off by the end of the year, but I can't send that much out of the bill bucket. We would have to sell something. We are selling calves in January, so maybe we will use some of that money to pay it off. But, if it comes out of the bill bucket, I'll be able to for sure send $565 on Jan 1, maybe $10 more, depending on the electric bill. That puts the house pay off by March 1 at a minimum. Of course, that won't grow the snowball because we hadn't been making regular payments (with the previous owner's blessing, by the way) but another debt will be gone.

One bad thing is that our smallest debts are also the lowest interest rates, and even though I know in my head that paying off highest interest rates first makes more money sense, I think I need to follow a system. DR seems to be a good one, so there you go. The next debt is a credit card with $1477 currently on it at 0% interest, then student loan of $2590 at 3.125% interest. I should get through these by the end of next year.

I guess there are my goals for 2010:
1. pay off house
2. pay off capital one
3. pay off student loan

That is all the further out I'm going to project, except that my preliminary numbers show I can get us out of all of our non-farm debt in 3.5 years (though technically, all the credit card debt did come from farm purchases. it just feels differently than a bank loan, though.)

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I have been wanting to get a preliminary estimate of our taxes finished so I can convert my rollover IRA (from my old 401k) to a Roth IRA this year. I want to roll over enough to keep us in the 15% tax bracket, and not get in the 25% bracket, as I see taxes going up and up and up in the future. We may look back at 15% with longing and nostalgia. Hell, we may look back at 28% with nostalgia. I learned tonight that I will have more wiggle room than I thought. We bought about 60 cows cows this year, and I can section 179 as many as I need to bring the income level down to 15%. I didn't know if I had to do all or nothing, but a friend of mine who does farm taxes said I could do a specific dollar amount, not even a whole cow! So, figuring we didn't pay any taxes last year, lost my $92,000 job, I was on unemployment for 6 months, and my new job is only $60,000, AND having $72,000 of wiggle room from the cows, I think I can safely move $20,000 from IRA to Roth IRA. I still want to go through the receipts and do a better check, but if I don't get to it in the next week, I'll have my adviser pull the trigger. I can always recharacterize it next year before I submit my return, so the only risk is not doing enough, I suppose.

Thank you Nex-Tech Wireless

November 11th, 2009 at 04:51 am

Months ago, we switched our phones from Alltel to Nex-Tech. They had better service and were cheaper. We got free (adequate) phones, a $50 sign up bonus and $200 per line we switched. So, $400 total. This went to pay off the early termination fee that Alltel gave us for quitting that contract early. It is a good deal, but if we break the Nextech contract within 2 years, we have to pay back that $200 per phone AND pay another $200 per phone. So, they really got ya once you sign up.

We got on a promotional plan, which was 1000 daytime minutes, 1000 text messages and 1000 night/weekend minutes. Since April, the highest bill has been $83.59, and the lowest bill was $64.14. Except this month...$329.41!!! I about crapped myself. I called Nex-tech and said something must be wrong, because we had never had that high of a bill. I called Friday, and the guy then couldn't make any changes because his supervisor wasn't there, but he did say that he would investigate which real plan (vs. promotional plan) would be better for us, and he could retroactively apply it to this bill. We would just have to keep that plan for 3 months before we could change it again. The customer service guy took my number on Friday and made a point to call me back today.

He told us to go with the Nationwide 1300 plan, which is unlimited Nights and Weekends, unlimited Mobile to Mobile (which means any Nex-Tech or Kansas Alltel phone...and hardly anyone around here has any other cell phone except those. My brothers and sisters in KC are the exception, but I text my brother, rarely talk to one sister, and talk to the other alot. Come to think of it, I think that Nex-Tech has an agreement with Sprint, so all calls to Sprint are considered Mobile to Mobile as well, so they would be free, meaning KC family would be free too!), 1300 anytime minutes, 10 free calling circle, and $.35 per minute outside the coverage area...meaning outside of Kansas, Nebraska, Oklahoma, Texas, Colorado or Missouri. Any calls when I am at work, or on the way home for about 20 minutes, will count towards the 1300 minutes, because that is in the "nationwide" part, not the "in coverage" part. That plan will be $62.46! A savings of $261.95. I couldn't believe that they would do this retroactively!

Kudos to you, Nex-Tech. I was ready to beg and plead, and if that didn't work, just suck it up because I did sign the contract, but you made things very very easy.
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Well, we have had a productive two weeks. Two weeks ago, we had beans to cut, wheat to plant, milo to plant, cows to move home, bales to move, feed to bale, and calves to wean. DH had to help our landlord with his wheat, his soybeans and his milo as well.

Well, as of today, we got the beans cut, the milo cut, the wheat planted, and the calves half weaned. The landlord's wheat is planted, his soybeans are cut and I think his milo is almost cut.

It has been a stressful two weeks. Er, and I didn't help matters by getting mad that DH was helping the landlord and other neighbors instead of doing our work (in my mind). I think that I have a legitimate beef about that, but I think I had better get used to it because that is just how he is. He would give you the shirt off of his back, let you take his pickup and walk, and give you the food off his plate...and nice though that is, sometimes it is a little much, especially when I am the one juggling bills and trying to make sure that we pay all of our obligations. If your beans are still in the field, it is a little hard to sell them to pay bills.

I say we have the calves half weaned, because we do it a little different than most people. Most people get the cows and calves in, sort the calves off, let the cows out in the pasture, move the calves a few miles away and put some grain out for the calves. The cows stand around mooing looking for the calves, the calves stand around mooing looking for mama, and after about 3 days (with both cow and calve hoarse from effort and exhausted trying to find each other) they finally give up calves start eating. The calves have a high chance to get sick at this time, because they are constantly roaming the pen, aren't drinking water, aren't eating anything, and bawl something awful.

We use something called "Quiet Wean". They are little plastic yellow nose flaps that you put into the nostrils of the calves. It is sort of like a bull ring that people used to use to lead bulls around? Anyway, the ends of the plastic have little balls on the end so that there is nothing pointy inside their nostrils, but it can't easily come out. The plastic flap then covers the mouth when they try to nurse, but they can drink and eat real food just fine. That way, they are around mom, but learning to eat by themselves. After about a week, you separate them, and they are fine! They naturally weaned themselves, and when you put them in the pen, they just start eating and drinking right away. You have to get the cows in twice, a week apart, so some people don't like to do that extra work, but we think it helps protect them from illness and stressors. You have to buy one per calf, but you just wash them and use them the next year, so not a big expense. We actually used mom and dad's this year, and when we take them out, they will put them in theirs. They cost $2 a piece.

We get them here:
http://www.quietwean.com/howitworks.htm

psst, fuck you FTC. I didn't get paid to just write that review, and didn't get any free samples, so go look somewhere else to catch bloggers in your evil little web.

Why am I forced to pay a checkoff?

November 7th, 2009 at 05:57 am

Whenever you sell wheat, corn, milo, soybeans or cattle (and I think mushrooms, hots, cotton, well, most any farm commodity) you are forced to pay some amount to the marketing board associated with that product. For instance, for wheat, the Kansas Wheat Commission gets $.01 per bushel for any wheat changes hands from producer to 1st purchaser in 2008. In 2009, it is going up to 1.5 cents per bushel. For soybeans, it is 0.5 percent of the market price per bushel sold.

For cattle, it is $1 per head every time you sell anything, calf, cow, bull for seedstock or beef.

These programs are marketed as being for research, expanding domestic markets and expanding international markets (marketing). They started off as a true check off, where by if you wanted to contribute, you would opt in and pay this amount. Eventually they began forcing everyone to pay under penalty of fines ($5,500 per instance for cattle).

For some of the check offs, you can request refunds for your money and actually get it back (wheat and corn). For milo, you can apply for the refund, but they haven't yet decided if they will pay it back yet. That decision will come in 2011, but you have to have your form in 60 days after you sell the product. (!) You can't get a refund of soybeans or cattle check off dollars.

Whenever I talk about getting this money back, everyone says "it is for research" or "They came up with 'Beef. It's what's for dinner'". The Supreme Court said it is constitutional. But I think it is akin to having to pay union dues and not wanting to join the union...and Kansas is a right to work state!

This year, the Kansas Wheat Commission brought in $3.56 million dollars! And now they are upping the tax from $.01 to $.015. So, conceivably, next year, they will bring in $5.34 million. Of course, that depends on the size of the crop.

You can download forms to get the money back for corn and milo, but for wheat you have to request a form in writing, and they stamp a certain voucher # on it, and if you sell at different elevators, they have to send you multiple vouchers (you can't copy them). Why, in this day and age, should you have to do that? Man, just put up a web site where you can enter your name, if you have to have it for "tracking purposes" (whatever that means), and let me get my form. The only thing I can think of is that people will get tired of calling in and requesting a form, so the wheat commission gets to keep the money. Here is my email trail to the secretary trying to keep me from getting my form:
Me: "Is there any reason this can't be put on the internet so producers could download it without you having to bother with sending it out?"
Her: "The reason it is not put on our website is because we need the written request whether it be e-mail, fax or by postal mail for tracking purposes."
Me: "So if, for instance, I gave the form you are sending me to my parents, they couldn't use it? It has to be tracked specifically to me?"
Her: "The request really needs to be made in the name of the person that the form is for."
Me: "Why? Is that the law? If you get a filled out form that you haven't already tracked, will you not process it?"
Her: "We have a database that is cross-checked. If they are not in the database a new entry is made. No, we process all requests."
Me: "We sell wheat at two different elevators. Do I have to request another one, or can I just make a copy of the one I have?" - this email was after I got the first one I requested in the mail.
Her: "You need one original form for each elevator that you sold wheat to. I will put another voucher in the mail to you."
Me: "This is just plain crazy. What would it take to change these crazy rules?"
Her: "If you would like, you might want to call and visit with your Kansas Wheat Commission representative Dean Stoskopf – PH: 620-653-7573." psst. Don't try to call that number. It is disconnected. Thanks a lot, secretary. But I did find his number, and I did get a hold of his wife. He, this "representative" (that I have never had the opportunity to vote for) is supposed to call me tomorrow.

Oh, yeah. Have I mentioned that wheat was $2.00ish per bushel during the 40's and it is $5.00ish now? Man, that's some savvy marketing. Hell, with inflation, the price went down!

Their web sites and pamphlets reek of unionization, socialism and misdirection. For instance, a quote from Teddy Roosevelt in on the Wheat propaganda paper: "Every man owes a part of his time and money to the business or industry in which he is engaged. No man has a moral right to withhold his support from an organization that is striving to improve conditions within his sphere." Um, no. I have every right to withhold my support from any organization I choose. It also says: "A large portion of the check-off goes towards research to improve wheat varieties....A recent study evaluated the wheat breeding program at Kansas State University, the sources of funding and its return to producers. The cost of running this program is $4.8 million and returns an economic value of $89 million to Kansas." Hey, that sounds good, huh? Except $4.8 million is about a million more than the entire check off program brought in last year, and in fact, the checkoff only spent around $911,000 in research. So, they are trying to take credit for the entire $89 million return to the state, while only contributing at most 1/4 of the money.

This just burns me. I do not want to join the Kansas Wheat Commission. I don't want to join the Cattlemen's Beef Promotion and Research Board. I don't want to join the soybean board or the milo board. And I don't think they should be able to make me.

Thoughts about being alone

November 5th, 2009 at 02:51 am

Very not financial. Maybe controversial. But I would like to hear your guys' thoughts...

My cousin C is 28 years old. She has recently been having trouble with an ovary, and had a cyst the size of a softball that burst. She had to go in and have exploratory surgery, and in the course of that, they determined that one ovary had a growth in it, so they removed the burst cyst, removed the ovary and the fallopian tube on that side. She still has the other ovary, but they are still running tests, and it might be cancer such that they will need to take everything out.

C is single and has never been married, though has had quite a few long term boyfriends. She has no kids. She is staring in the face the possibility of being infertile (and in her mind, alone) for the rest of her life, and in fact that life might not be that much longer, and it is tearing her apart.

I saw her yesterday and had a good visit. During the course of that visit, we started talking about how people who are married, and have kids, and especially are married early, just don't "get it". It is a conversation we have quite a bit.

I talked to another cousin J the other week. She just turned 30, and hasn't been on that many dates, let alone had a boyfriend. Obviously, no kids. J has another cousin, B, on the other side of the family that is also 30 and is having her 3rd kid. J's aunt said "B better quit having kids pretty soon...she's already 30!" J said "Remember who you are talking to here." It really upset her. Her cousin is too old to have her 3rd kid? And she isn't even remotely close to having her 1st? Again, some people just don't "get it".

As a reminder, I didn't get married until I was 30. And I miscarried and still don't have a child.

My sister R (who got married at 20 and had a daughter at 21) asked me today how C was doing. I told her the medical stuff and told her that C is still working through the same old stuff, but now it seems to be much more in-your-face. My sister said this:

"I feel sad that C does not see her self worth. It seems (without knowing all the whole details so I may be WAY off) that she gets in relationships just because she is lonely or because she insecure? She gets into a relationship but she does not commit to it or allow this person to get too close to her and jumps out. But she is lonely so she gets back into it. I think though, her sadness comes from some sort of unfulfillment that I don’t think that men and babies will be able to fill…"

I do acknowledge that sometimes people get in, and stay in, or go back to, relationships that they shouldn't be in because they are afraid to be alone. If you want to be married and the person you are with isn't the person you want to marry, you need to move on. But, the last sentence really got to me. After thinking about it for awhile, I wrote her back this:

"Don't take this the wrong way. But I'm going to say it anyway. As for the wanting husband and kids thing, I think that it is really easy for someone who got married out of college to not be able to get the utter frustration and despair you have when you are 10 years out of high school, dating ALOT, and be no closer to being married and having kids than you were the day you graduated. It is the only thing in this world that we do that working harder at won't help with. You just have to meet the right person. There is nothing you can do to change that. It is completely out of your hands. In that portion of your life, you are revving up your motor, but no one will change the light to green. Rev, rev, rev, still stuck there. That sucks. And now you have something wrong with you that may make it impossible to have the kid you want so much? I think she is handling it pretty gosh darn well. I wish once she knew that the person she was with wasn't the right person she would break it off right away instead of it lingering, though.

Look, when you are single, you are, by definition, selfish. What else is there to give of yourself too? Your relationship with God shouldn't change whether you are married or not. You can volunteer or whatever, but if you actually think that is a good solution, think about this: give up your husband and volunteer instead. No comparison, right? How about this: give up your daughter and volunteer instead. There is nothing that can replace your marriage bond or your bond with your children. If you think that is incorrect, please tell me what you would voluntarily give up your daughter for, in an across the aboard trade. NOTHING. So if you don't have those bonds, you are missing something. Nothing can replace those things. It doesn't equate to your self worth, but it is something that you are missing.

I probably got on a rant here that wasn't justified. But we talked about this last night. Heck, we talk about this all the time. I talked with J the other day, and she and I talked about the same thing. I know I am married now, but I still remember what it was like 3 and a half years ago before I met DH. Exactly the same. And people just don't get it.

Ok, off my soap box. I would like to hear what you say about my rant Smile"

This isn't going to piss R off. She knows that I am very thoughtful in all I do, and she will read this in a spirit to try to really get what I am saying. (She responded to say she would write back later when she had time to think about it.)

But, I wonder, what do my saving advice friends think? Am I way off base here? Or am I on to something?

BNSF and Berkshire Hathaway

November 4th, 2009 at 05:03 am

woohoo! I bought 100 shares of BNSF at $79.79, and just found out today that Berkshire Hathaway is buying the whole company! Either we will get $100 a share, or equivalent shares of Berkshire Hathaway! Yippee!

That is all for today. Too tired.