Nifty Effects of the Eclipse

Each of these circles is an overlapping image of the sun.

Know how I know?
Because this is what it looked like at the height of our partial eclipse:

Aug 21, 2:55p

Same tree, same sun, big moon.

Here it is 8 mins prior:

2:48p

And 5 mins later:

3:00p

Fascinating to see the sun sliver slide around the moon’s shadow (and create new tongue twisters).

For further comparison, here it is almost 40 mins later. There’s still a chunk of the moon’s shadow on the left of the images, but the shadows aren’t as sharp because more visible surface area of the sun = more locations for the light to originate from = reduced spotlight effect.

3:38p

We weren’t sure at first that we’d get to see any of the show because a thunderstorm let loose about noon (fantastic nature show in and of itself), but it cleared around 1:30. By then, things were already in full swing, and the sun was nearly 30% gone.

As the moon ate up more of the sun, the light started to feel…wrong.

It’s hard to describe; “flat” doesn’t really capture it, but it’s the only word you think of in those moments. And it’s definitely not the same as when clouds cover the sun. I took a couple of pictures, not sure the difference would show up for my auto-focusing, point-n-shoot.

Then I did the side-by-side:

3:02p & 4:00p no filters/alterations

(Though there were clouds at 3, they weren’t near the eclipse.)

So there you have it. More fun with science thanks to the eclipse.

A Credit Card That Can Help With Your Debt

There’s no denying that most debt is bad, and that credit card issuers don’t have an incentive to help you get out of it. After all, they make a lot of their money from the fees and interest rates they charge borrowers.

But once in a while, a card will offer an attractive sign up bonus that can actually help. This is the case with the Barclaycard Ring Mastercard.

It has 0% apr for 15 months, and 0% on balance transfers made within the first 45 days of account opening. But it shines with no balance transfer fees.

Most cards offering a 0% introductory rate charge around 3% for balance transfers. It may not sound like much, especially when compared with a high interest rate currently imposed on the debt, but the best way out of debt is to have it cost you as little as possible.

There are a few cautions to make this work, though (assuming, of course, that you’re approved for the card in the first place).

  1. Do not charge anything new to this card. The goal is to reduce your debt, not add to it.
  2. Don’t transfer more than you will pay off in about 14 months. That way, you won’t have a balance when the introductory offer ends and the regular interest rate kicks in (currently over 13%).
  3. Do not, under any circumstances, forget to pay at least the minimum each month before the due date.

As an example, transferring $1400 from a card charging (a modest) 12% and paying $100 per month will pay it off 2 months faster and save you over $100 in interest. Savings are even more dramatic on debts with higher interest rates.

 

As an aside, I’m not getting anything for recommending this card. I just know that when I started digging my way out of debt, offers like these helped me gain traction on the slippery slope of high interest rates.

Mindset Mindset Mindset

I’ve always had an interest in personal finance, but lately, a few things happened that brought it even more to the forefront:

  • I downloaded a copy of University of Berkshire Hathaway while it was free on Amazon
  • Berkshire Hathaway had their annual shareholder meeting, so it was all over headline news
  • A friend asked me about the debt management company I used to escape my debt

I was originally going to do a post about one effect that growing up poor can have on your future financial perspective. But as I thought about it, I realized I was describing the symptoms of “poverty mentality” (Stephen Covey, author of The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, refers to it as a “scarcity mentality”).

Whatever you name it, it boils down to a defeatist attitude. The thinking that no matter what you do, “The System”, or “The Man” is designed to keep you down. Some people blame Republicans, some the Democrats, many look accusingly at large corporations…

The truth is, in spite of all the policies and laws in place, in spite of ANY circumstance, YOU determine your own level of success or failure.

Years ago, I saw a sign that used two men holding donuts to depict the poverty mindset. One looked at how large the hole was, so his donut appeared like a thin string around it, while the other focused on the donut itself. His was big and fat around a tiny middle.

Viewing life through a lens of lack—the money you don’t have, the opportunities only the rich are afforded, the time it would take to make any changes—ensures that you will stay in your nice, safe, current situation.

But there is NO reason you have to be stuck where you are today. No reason you can’t get out of debt or move toward your own definition of success. It all starts with where you focus your attention.

An interesting example of this mental shift in action is in the movie Back to the Future (1985). In the beginning, Marty’s brother (Dave) is wearing a fast food company uniform. At the end, he’s in a suit, saying, “Marty, I always wear a suit to the office.” All things being equal, a bit of self-confidence set the whole family on a completely different path.

In coming posts, I’ll be sharing how I got out of debt, as well as my thoughts about what I learn while determining what to do with money next.

Please Hug a Nurse

Sometimes, patients just have a horrible, rotten, no-good day. Their fight has been long and difficult, and just when it seems like things are finally stabilizing, they get a million times worse.

Kudos and hats off to the nurses who are kind while forging ahead and doing what must be done. We can’t thank you enough.

The Great Wall

My husband and I have enjoyed going to movies as much for the viewing experience as the actual flick. We choose opening nights for certain shows simply because of what happened when we watched Snakes on a Plane. We knew that was going to be crazy, but we didn’t expect to find a kinship with others who were there for the same reason. It made the whole night so much more fun.

So when we first saw the trailer for The Great Wall, we knew we were in.
And when our local theater promoted an IMAX Fan Event, date night plans were made (hello extended Valentine’s celebration!). Knowing the theater had only sold 11 tickets by the time we left to get there only made things better. Popcorn, souvenirs, AND room to breathe. Ahhhhhh.

We knew little of what to expect. The trailer made it seem like there might be dragons…or hordes of zombies reminiscent of World War Z. I hoped for the former. There were neither. =)

It’s important to note that going in with few preconceived notions makes it a lot easier to enjoy the story, because you’re not worried about it living up to anything, and it’s free to be what it is.
In the end, as the opening studio logos rolled, I just wanted it to be good.

The first spectacular thing for me was all the rich colors. My ever-knowledgeable husband says this director is known for his use of color in his films and that’s a big thing that draws me in. The different colors and styles for the armor were enthralling, as were the different fighting styles.

Yeah, I haven’t seen a battle use a wall so well. Ever.

And I was enjoying it so much that I didn’t realize until the end that I’d seen a weapon used that I’d made up for my novel. So so cool!

That Matt Damon is awesome goes without saying. So was Jing Tian. And oh my goodness did I love the women’s role in the fight.
I had similar ideas for fighting styles in my novel, but seeing it on the big screen was even better than what was in my head. Awe. Pure awe.

Though this is fantasy, there are things I imagine are logical for the time period, and certainly for the story. Just because they had gunpowder didn’t mean they’d perfected every use for it. Yet, they were pretty inventive with it.

Yes, there’s death and gore. But the whole thing was very well done. I have no criticisms because we got exactly what we were hoping for: a fantastic experience with a movie we didn’t have to turn our brains off to watch. Intelligent story, great characters, and action that leaves you breathless and saying, “What a ride!”

This movie is not for the feint of heart (or stomach), but is very enjoyable.

(Movies it makes me think of for slight comparison: 13th Warrior, Reign of Fire, John Carter, LOTR The Two Towers, Pacific Rim, Braveheart)