Category Archives: family finances

Do you own a Microsoft Surface tablet? — Buying Advice / Shopping Help

Do You Own a Microsoft Surface tablet?
Source: http://www.microsoftstore.com/store/msusa/en_US/pdp/productID.275275300

So… my laptop has been very glitchy the last few weeks. It does not have a virus… but it has a limited amount of memory, and it wasn’t great to begin with because cheap was all that I could really afford on a college budget. Well… it has served me through my first two years of graduate school (and helped write the Master’s Paper). Heck, this laptop has even traveled to the Philippines and back with me. But I am now looking into upgrading my laptop to a Microsoft Surface.

  1. I want more memory. My laptop has 2 GB… the base Surface RT has 32 GB, but I will probably get the 64 GB.
  2. I want a machine that will not choke under pressure. My laptop, twice, flipped out in the middle of important class presentations. I don’t know if you have ever had to give an entire presentation from memory… but I have had to do it twice. It is NOT fun. I think my laptop just got nervous though… because it was fine during practice… but when it came time to actually perform, the laptop folded under the stress and left me hanging. My concern with the Surface RT is that I have heard there is a learning curve with the new Windows 8. I think the learning curve is what brings the Apple Ipad into the picture… because no matter which one I get, it appears there will be a learning curve. Thoughts?
  3. I want a computer that does not freeze up. One of the reasons I have not been blogging as much is because sometimes my computer has just had enough. I do not think it is overheating… I just think it was an out-of-shape computer to begin with, and keeping up with the demands I need at graduate school level was a little much for this thing. So… when I lose an hour or more a day because of my glitchy laptop, it does cut into blogging time. NOTE: Our wireless has also been cutting out. I think the laptop freezing and the wireless cutting out are two unrelated problems, because my laptop does not need to be at home to have a freezing issue.
  4. I want something lighter. Hiking across campus to teach a class, and then hiking across campus to attend a different class, with a medium size laptop is not fun. I am hoping the Microsoft Surface will be the answer to my grad school needs… but I am still in the decision making process.
  5. FINANCIAL ISSUES: This is where it gets confusing, and if you have a tax answer, I would love to hear it. I read, somewhere, that for a computer to be tax deductible it needs to be purchased during the school year. Okay… I feel like my laptop will last through the summer… maybe, and give me time to get the new Surface in the fall. However, if there is a learning curve (see #2), then I don’t want to walk into class with a brand new gadget and look incompetent in front of students while I try to learn. If I buy the tablet over the summer, even if I want to use it for school, it might not be tax deductible for education related expenses. I hate tax laws.
  6. The other financial issue… the Surface is currently running a special that ends June 30th, to buy the tablet and get the keyboard with it for free ($119 value). I’m not sure if that matters as much… because if I waited until the fall to buy it, the price for the tablet itself may drop anyway. It would be nice if I just had $900 laying around the house that I could just spend without worry… but I am a graduate student, so going out to eat anywhere is a big deal.

Anyway debate is between the Microsoft Surface and the Apple Ipad 4 (or a new laptop). I want something that will last until the end of my dissertation. Should I get a laptop? Should I get a tablet with a keyboard? It’s not like I don’t have enough to think about while in graduate school. What would you recommend? Thanks!! 🙂

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Marathon Training Issue #7: Eating While Running 26.2 Miles

Seattle Marathon

What do you normally eat while running 26.2 miles? WHAT!? — You’ve never tried to run and eat at the same time? Well, that is my next issue as I train for the Seattle marathon. My body is a machine, and as such it needs fuel to sustain it for the duration of this run. I find that around 6 miles my fuel reserves have burned up. For the past two Wednesdays I have run 8.14 miles. So it is time to start eating while running to take my marathon training to the next level.

My main concern is getting sick. Have I ever thrown up before, during, or after a run? Nope. Not once. But for me to reach the finish line I will need to eat something… and I have never eaten anything while running cross country/5k races.

Have any of you tried LĂ„RABAR? This seem to meet a lot of the necessary requirements “I have” for food… Fair Trade, no-GMO, etc.

LĂ„RABAR

I need to eat something when I do longer runs… especially when I do the marathon length training runs. What are your thoughts?

In other marathon training news:

I am officially registered for the Seattle Marathon. Of the possible additional race options I purchased the post-marathon massage. It sounds awesome…

In addition, I have contacted a local charity. I am waiting for them to reply back to make sure they are okay with me fund raising for them during my marathons. If they say no for some reason, then I will try someone else! I am looking into using either crowdrise.com or IR4C.COM.

Thanks for reading! Have a great day!

Marathon Training Issue #6: Running For Charity?

Greetings faithful readers! As you know, I am taking foster care classes with my wife. In addition, I will be running in my first FULL marathon this December. On top of all that I am in the middle of writing my masters paper. Earning a masters degree has bogged down a lot of my “change the world” hopes and dreams. I’m stuck reading and reading and reading without doing much of anything to actually make a difference. Foster care will, of course, make a big difference to people when my wife and I get to that point. Continue reading Marathon Training Issue #6: Running For Charity?

Marathon Training Issue #5: Expert Runner Advice Wanted

Seattle Marathon

Apparently I have very little idea what I am doing in this marathon. I will be running in my first marathon this December. I thought I knew what I was doing until I saw the list of options to buy for the Seattle Marathon.

Those options are:

Bus Course Tour: ($20)

Post marathon Massage: ($18)

Carbo Load Dinner: ($23)

Lots of shirts, sweaters, etc: (various prices)

Acupuncture: (free)

Obviously this is not a crisis.

But which of the above options do I actually need considering this is my first marathon? I’m not going to be setting a land speed record in this event. My goal is to finish the race without stopping to walk. To do that, my main concern is wearing the right shoes (which I believe I have thanks to my wife).

The bus tour might be important but I’m not trying to win the race… just finish without walking. To me the only thing that looks worth while is the post race massage! What are your thoughts? Do dedicated marathon runners use the bus tour or carbo load dinner?

I am sure they are all nice things but I am on a budget.

In addition, I was slightly intimidated by the times the award ceremonies start. The men’s award ceremony starts 3 hours and 15 minutes after the marathon starts. I expect to still be running at that time. Seriously? I know the people who have a chance to win will beat me by at least an hour, but knowing they will be getting their awards while I am still running feels weird.

I hope the awards ceremony isn’t near the finish line. I don’t want to be in the background of someone’s award photo. I’m sure there will be an 80-year-old woman who passes me at the finish line… and then I will be in the background of someone’s award photo… getting passed by an elderly woman.

Budget Shopping: Challenges of Living in a Small Town

*I apologize, I had trouble publishing this post. Every time I published it, it appeared blank on wordpress.com and I had to completely redo it. I kept saving it as a I went, yet it still appeared blank. Even the saved revisions appeared as blank. Why? I have no idea. This fourth attempt is short… but at least it appeared!*

So I was frustrated today. I had to buy my first pair of new jeans in over 6 years. Why? Because living in a small town creates interesting budget challenges.

I once lived in Colorado Springs, which is one of the 50 largest cities in the United States. I had no trouble going to the Salvation Army, Goodwill, or some other thrift shop to find a couple pairs of jeans which did not have heavy wear marks or holes. That is not true for me now living in a small college town. Here I found only a few pairs of jeans in my size… but they had holes in them. Maybe it is related to the economy being down. Maybe people simply cannot afford to donate good pairs of jeans. Maybe it had to do with the size of the town because there were more people in Colorado Springs who donated (but that seems to create a paradox because wouldn’t that mean there were also more people who needed clothing in Colorado Springs?)

Whatever the reason, today I was forced to buy new jeans.

Marathon training is great. But I was not expecting my legs to become too large for my pants. A nice problem. However, I did not realize how expensive it would be until I started to look for pants at the local thrift shops and failed to find a single pair. Today I spent more money on three pairs of new jeans than I have ever spent. Not cool… especially on the budget of a graduate student. Oh well…

Budget Shopping in a Small Town, http://www.ishism.com