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Fun With Numbers

A few days ago (this past Monday) I did not get in my car and drive it for the first time in over 5 weeks. I ended a 37-day streak of driving that started on Saturday March 06TH and ended on Sunday April 11TH. During those 37 days I drove 609 miles – an average of about 16½ miles per day. The 37 days surpassed a 28-day streak this past November and December. It’s the longest streak since a 41-day streak in January and February 2020 just before the start of the global pandemic.

How do I know all of this ? I record my odometer’s starting and ending mileage each day on an Excel spreadsheet. I do it for fun. I’ve been doing it for over 6 years. I work with Excel spreadsheets all day long in my professional career, and I play with them and learn from them off-work at home on my computer. What I learn at home I apply at work. There’s very little time available at work to learn how to do something new on a spreadsheet, so I get smart at home. I have a bunch of unique spreadsheets that I use at home that keep track of the day-to-day operations of my life. I collect the data, and I analyze the data. I perfect the analysis expertise as well – because – that’s also part of my professional career. I analyze historical data in order to make wise and efficient financial decisions to successfully support the mission. I’ve been an Analyst for the USAF for the past 36 years.

Oh – one last thing – you know that music chart that I present every Monday here on my blog ? It’s been fueled by an Excel spreadsheet for the past 25½ years !

All rights reserved (c) 2021 Christopher M. Day, CountUp Ministries

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1980s Money News

The Washington Star

TOMORROW – the 07TH of August – is the 39TH anniversary of the end of my very first job. On that date back in 1981 one of the two major daily newspapers in our nation’s capital – ‘The Washington Star’ – published its final edition after over 128 years. It went bankrupt, and most of its equipment was bought out by its longtime rival ‘The Washington Post’.

I was a newspaper carrier / “paper boy” for The Star (and The Post). As a rare afternoon big city newspaper I delivered The Star to the homes around my McLean Virginia neighborhood every day after Junior High School. (I was in the 8TH grade at the time.) That final edition of The Star was a collector’s item, and many of those newspapers that were delivered on that final afternoon by carriers just like me all around the Washington D.C. area were stolen. It was also sold out at all of the stores. An institution had ended.

That was my very first paid job. Very soon after that I was pursued by a local distributor for the competitor – ‘The Washington Post’. They wanted me as their “paper boy” for my neighborhood, and I accepted. I delivered The Post every morning up until a few days before I left home and joined the Air Force right after my 18TH birthday.

I also delivered during the week for The Post’s new competitor – ‘The Washington Times’.

So I delivered a lot of newspapers around my neighborhood from early-1981 until mid-1985. Additionally I earned money cutting some of my neighbors’ lawns during the growing seasons (not winter). I made a lot of money from age 13 to 18. I learned how to interact with customers. I learned how to manage and save money during those critical teen years. I even got my own checking account back then. I got to buy a lot of my own things for fun. I also got to buy my first car to help me deliver newspapers. (That was a major upgrade from my previous newspaper delivery method – via 10-speed bike.)

Nowadays the newspaper carrier is pretty much an extinct job. In fact the newspaper itself is fading fast.

All rights reserved (c) 2020 Christopher M. Day, CountUp Ministries

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1990s Driving History Life Money Music Radio Travel

My Top 5 Hits RETRO – 1999

Every Friday night I post the Top 5 of one of my classic hit music charts based on personal preference and influenced by radio airplay from either 10, 20, or 30 years ago this weekend (rotating each week). Here it is – for the week ending Sunday May 16TH 1999:

  1. “The Hardest Thing” – 98°
  2. “I Want It That Way” – The Backstreet Boys
  3. “Livin’ La Vida Loca” – Ricky Martin
  4. “Special” – Garbage
  5. “That Don’t Impress Me Much” – Shania Twain

Good solid pop music back then – with Garbage being the anomaly.

I like to do this from time to time. Looking back at my checkbook register is a lot of fun. Back then I wrote a whole lot more checks than I do today. (The only checks I typically write today are my weekly tithes to my church.)

So 20 years ago this week I got paid. I got paid today too. My net pay back then was about 58.6% of what it was today. That’s good progress.

My telephone bill for a month of service 20 years ago was $52.85. Last weekend I paid $78.99. You may be thinking, “Why do you even have a telephone bill ?  It’s 2019 !” There are many logical reasons why I still have an “old-school” land-line telephone. I get very few telemarketing calls on my cell phone – because I rarely give out my cell phone number. I give out my longtime land-line number instead. The telemarketers call that number. I also live deep in the heart of hurricane country. During bad storms cell phone towers lose power, get damaged, or topple over. Most of our standard telephone lines are underground and operate continuously during and after hurricanes.

I paid my Chevron bill during this week 20 years ago. Gas was cheap back then – about $1.25 per gallon. It’s more than twice that amount today, but I’m not complaining about $2.70 per gallon. I remember when it was approaching $5 per gallon. I’m planning a road-trip in about 4 months from South Florida to North Texas and back. That’s about 3,000 miles. At $2.70 per gallon and about 42 miles per gallon with my car that’s a little less than $200 in gas. I got this !

You know 1999 was not that good of a year for me – privately and professionally. It was a rather forgettable year, or I’ve just chosen to forget about that year over time. The music of yesteryear brings back those memories – good and bad. As Shania said, “That Don’t Impress Me Much”. I feel the same about 1999.

It’s halftime my friends. I’ll be back on Sunday afternoon and Monday night with two more blog posts for this weekend. Enjoy your Saturday. Go make some good memories that you’ll cherish for years to come.

All rights reserved (c) 2019 Christopher M. Day, CountUp Ministries

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Advertising Annoyances Food History Holidays Home Money Television Travel

Saturday Night Retro

Saturday November 27TH 2010
Volume 3 / Number 12 / Edition 109

Late last night I returned home to Miami to begin my 24TH year of living here in America’s Riviera. It was a very nice American Airlines flight – due mainly because I sat in First Class. While checking in at the self-service terminal at AA at DFW I was offered the opportunity to upgrade my reservation from coach to First Class for $105. It allegedly included Dinner. After mulling about it for a good half-minute or so I decided to do it. The $105 turned out to be a very good deal for me. As it turns out there is no charge for baggage for First Class passengers. That alone saved me at least $25 – possibly as much as $60 due to the fact that my checked bag weighed 54 pounds (above the standard limit of 50 pounds per bag). I was able to board the aircraft first – a full 40 minutes before takeoff time. I sat in a very comfortable seat in the very first row – right by the window – my favourite place to sit. I enjoyed lots of elbow room on both sides of me and ample leg room in front of me. Earphones were free if I wanted them.

Here’s what else I enjoyed as a First Class passenger – a bowl of hot mixed nuts (absolutely delicious and quite a bit hot), a warm moist towel (to clean off my nutty hands), a (real) glass of Sprite on the rocks, a (real) glass of bottled water, a large salad with blue cheese dressing (delicious), a chicken piccata (pretty good with the dipping sauce provided), white rice (it was OK), mixed vegetables (good), a warm roll with butter (very good), and a nice slice of pie for dessert (surprisingly tasty). All of this was served on real plates and eaten with a real fork and knife and cloth napkin. The meal was unbelievably plentiful and delicious for airline food in 2010. I realize that back in the day airline food was complimentary for everyone, unlimited, and award-winning, but this is an enitrely different era of budget-cutting flying. I was very impressed with it all.

After the nice meal the rest of my First Class flight experience was quite relaxing and comfortable. I could hear what appeared to be an uncomfortable baby crying virtually non-stop throughout the entire flight way back in the coach section, so I was very thankful to be sitting in Seat 1F. You know it !

More perks of First Class flying included the fact that I was the 2ND person to exit the aircraft at MIA after landing, and my suitcase was among the first to appear on the baggage carousel. I returned home less than 90 minutes after my plane landed. My next airplane adventure probably occurs next May.

It was another enjoyable Thanksgiving Week vacation with my family. We actually celebrated Thanksgiving and Christmas together – a family tradition for the past few years. I’m looking forward to my next trip back to Dallas Texas. Who knew that after watching every single episode of “Dallas” ever made all of those years ago that I’d be visiting the real city and its metroplex. I wouldn’t want to live there, but it’s quite all right to visit the area a few times per year.