Quicken Sucks: Why Can’t Personal Finance Management Be Easy?

Not long ago I ranted about online banking and eventually found a solution that didn’t involve swearing at financial institutions. At least until I tried to download my transaction history and import it into Quicken.

OK, so I tend to put this standard practice off. I should probably do it once a month, I do it more like once every four months. Yes, I procrastinate. Look at my lawn, realize it’s true and get over it.

So the other day I went to update my transactions and Quicken started giving me incoherent errors. Stuff about not having my financial institution’s information correct, not being able to connect with Quicken.com and other errors that made no sense. I checked everything, I made sure the info I was downloading from my bank was good, I even waited a few days in case Quicken was having a temporary glitch.

Then I found this:

As of April 30, 2007, in accordance with the Quicken discontinuation policy, online services and live technical support will no longer be available for Quicken 2004 users.

Quicken sucks.

Continue reading Quicken Sucks: Why Can’t Personal Finance Management Be Easy?

The Geo Dies, Harry Potter Freaks

Well, apparently I spoke too soon yesterday when I introduced you to the Geo. Today the Geo died. Going down I-35E. Just sputtered and stalled and then I’m sitting on the side of the road.

Abby diagnosed it as a failed fuel pump. I diagnosed it as catastrophic failure. So $92+ later the Geo is sitting in front of my house, awaiting its fate to be donated somewhere (it’s been a week for stupid expenses–yesterday I spent $150 to find out my water heater won’t explode).

Then tonight we went to Barnes & Noble at Mall of America, T-minus four hours before the release of the final Harry Potter book. Bad move. I don’t quite get the concept of a midnight book release. Reading a book isn’t a group experience. And it’s not like many people are going to actually finish the book tonight. Seems so much easier (and less freakish) to wait for the UPS man to deliver it tomorrow. Oh well, to each their own.

It was just over the edge when the Hagrid look-alike showed up and everyone jostled to get a picture with him. But I couldn’t tell if he was a paid Hagrid or just a fan who really fit the bill. Bizarre.

Swimming with the Geo

I find it hard to believe, but I don’t think I’ve ever talked about our second car on my blog, and that’s really quite a shame. Last year some friends of ours moved to the east coast and didn’t think their 1992 Geo Metro would make the trip. They wanted to get rid of it as easily as possible, so we traded them an air conditioner and $100 for the Geo.

The thing leaks oil, starts less than reliably, the wipers won’t shut off (until you pull the fuse, my usual remedy), you have to shut off the AC at a stoplight or it dies and the passenger door only opens some of the time (a fact I discovered when picking up a business colleague at the airport–he had to ride in the back seat when I couldn’t get the door open).

Anyway, that’s our second car. On to my story.

Yesterday I went to to the bank in the Geo and it started pouring rain. Pouring. It came so suddenly that the streets started flooding and before I knew it I was driving in six inches of water. Then I wasn’t driving anymore, I was coasting. Or maybe floating.

Continue reading Swimming with the Geo

Como Park Flickr Group

I’ve started a Flickr group for Como Park Zoo & Conservatory pictures. So far I’m the only member and we have over 100 photos. Kind of freaky, but I like Como Park and have lots of pictures.

Plus we just went there with the grandparents and that trip alone probably accounts for three-fourths of the pics. I also beefed it up with a few historic photos I found around the net (not sure how kosher that is with Flickr, but oh well).

So I’m kind of obsessed with certain locations. Como Park is one of them. Raymond, Kansas is another. The High Bridge in St. Paul is a recent obsession that’s starting to take root. Sometimes it’s neighborhoods I’ve lived in or just locations that have a history. I especially love digging up the history. Like this pic of the Como Zoo building in 1936 compared to 2006. It gets even more fun when you zoom in on the group map to see photos scattered across the park.

Web 2.0 is only fueling my obsession. It’s everything I can do to keep from filling in Wikipedia entries, forming Flickr groups and writing Squidoo entries (too late for Raymond, Kansas on that last one) on my latest obsessions. I just have visions of lame groups of one and hap-hazzard contributions scattered across the web for all to see (Squidoo already has a nice collection of those). But maybe I should just give in and ride the web 2.0 wave, embrace my geekiness–at least more than I already have.

Abandoned Buildings in St. Paul

I’ve always had an obsession with abandoned buildings. Lately I’ve come across a number of them in St. Paul along or near the Mississippi River that seem to be failed condo projects.

Head House Grain ElevatorThere’s the six-story Head House Grain Elevator that’s sandwiched between the river and a row of swanky new condos and apartments. It’s falling apart and plans to turn it into a restaurant or something haven’t happened yet. Meanwhile it’s looking more and more out of place and dangerous surrounded by all the newly finished construction and a split pedestrian/bike path right next to it.

There’s the former Island Station Power Plant that was supposed to become its own swanky riverfront condo but still sits as an empty shell of a decommissioned power plant. (I haven’t taken pictures of it, but you can check out this entire set of photos.)

Lowertown DepotAnd there’s the Lowertown Depot (pictured here), which was slated to become an earth-friendly condo and sustainable community. It’s still sitting there empty without even a fence dividing it from the Bruce Vento Nature Sanctuary. (And I can’t seem to find any history on the Lowertown Depot–speak up and share if you know some.)

That’s a lot of buildings with some grand plans that are going nowhere. I love the grand plans, but they need to go somewhere. I guess all the projects can’t be the Mill City Museum (they didn’t even need a roof to make their abandoned building usable). Some day I’d love to the be the man with the grand plans and the money to back it up. Monkey Outta Nowhere could use a cool headquarters. But I don’t see that day coming any time soon (plus I don’t make a very good real estate tycoon).

60 Years at Trout Lake Camp

Last week Trout Lake Camps celebrated their 60th anniversary with a “Buddy Check” reunion and the launch of the Project 365 fund raising campaign. Monkey Outta Nowhere did some writing and editing work on the “Buddy Check” brochure last year and we worked extensively with Taylor Design Works on the 32-page Project 365 booklet, which included detailed history and personal stories.

Writing someone else’s history can be kind of maddening at times (like when a separate publication does a similar story that renders details a bit differently from how you had them, forcing you to re-check everything), but I really love digging into history (in case you couldn’t tell), especially when it’s personal and detailed. I love seeing the connections of time and place and having it all come to life. Even something obscure as a camp in Central Minnesota I’ve never attended.

Fun Stories in my Family History

About a month ago I dove into the web 2.0 fun of genealogies with Geni.com. Since then my family tree has grown to include 1,800+ family members (which I believe puts us in the top 100 for Geni.com family trees, at least as of June 12) going back 48 generations to A.D. 314.

I found most of the information online, so it’s of questionable accuracy. I think anything going back to A.D. 314 would be of questionable accuracy. Here’s the short version: Several writers, a few massacres, a whole lot of dying in battle and then a kidnapping that created Ireland’s most-beloved missionary (how’s that for putting a positive spin on it?).

But if the stories are true…

Continue reading Fun Stories in my Family History

Where’s My Five Iron Frenzy?

About a week ago I popped in an old Five Iron Frenzy CD while I painted the basement and remembered how much I loved FIF. Loved the music. Loved the lyrics. Loved the concerts. They were my favorite band in high school and college, and if they hadn’t broken up they’d still be my favorite band (well, they could wrestle U2 for the top spot–which would be quite the battle: 8 on 4 in favor of FIF, and while Bono probably talks big but wouldn’t put up much of a fight, Larry and Adam look like they could crack some skulls).

I realized after enjoying a little nostalgia that I’ve yet to find my new Five Iron Frenzy. Aside from U2, no band has really come along where I enjoy their music as much as Five Iron Frenzy. I’ve discovered plenty of great music that I do like, but no group like Five Iron where I can devour every song on every album (OK, so FIF had a few duds, but I love most of their music).

I wonder if it’s because I’m getting old.

Continue reading Where’s My Five Iron Frenzy?