Scrapping Paper

Here is what I can’t figure out: why does my bank allow me to make electronic payments for free? I have all my account information with them and I can just log on, enter amount for the account I want to pay, and BOOM, done.  I don’t have to write checks and payments both get there and get processed sooner.  It saves me time, saves me money, and is way easier and faster.  I just made two payments this afternoon. It took me all of two minutes.

OK, I do get why they make it free. It saves them time and money as well. I worked at an organization that processed payments and we encouraged people to take advantage of electronic billing and payments.  Handling a paper bill and a paper check once it arrived too way more time and effort than having it enter the system on its own. Still, I keep waiting for the catch. Heck, we used to pay the day care center electronically through the bank. Since the center did not accept electronic payments, the bank mailed a check. I guess that worked better for the bank. It certainly worked better for me.

I do get a few statements in the mail still. The bill for one credit card we hardly use comes in the mail, for example. And I still make charitable contributions mostly by paper check. I buy many fewer checks these days. I am always surprised when I run out. I order those online.

In fact, I get most things by ordering online–clothes, Christmas gifts, bandages, seeds, flavored syrups, books, music, whatever. A while back I subscribed to a service called YourMusic, which sent CD’s once each month for 7 bucks each. Add CD’s to your queue and they get sent automatically. It is a good deal, except I had to get those CD’s in the mail. Now I just use iTunes. I rarely read a paper newspaper, either. I read it online.

I have been reading The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peal Pie Society. It consists of a collection of letters. I am fully engaged in the story. I want to be reading it right now, in fact. I have not yet given up paper books altogether (although I have enjoyed a few on my iPod Touch). I have realized by reading this book, however, that I never write letters anymore. I used to write scads of them. It used to be the thing to do when I was in my teens and twenties. Now text messaging has become the norm. Letters, however, have a tangible and emotional substance to them. They can be held. They last. I have stopped writing them, as have most people in the 21st century. This has its convenience and certainly saves resources. We do miss something by giving them up, however.

I don’t feel that way about bills. Send me an email notice and let me look it up through the magic of the internet. I get far more unsolicited crap in the mail these days than anything of use or worth. Thanks for your good work, I want to tell all these organizations looking for donations. I would love to help but I give to others and you don’t make the cut, so stop sending me mail. I tell them that often–I either send an email or just stuff the contents back in the return envelope with a note. Still, I’d rather they did not send me something I did not ask to receive. They would save a lot of money by not mailing me all that junk. They should talk to my bank.

I have plenty of paper files hanging in file folders, but I am trying to cut down. Do I really need those bank statements from the past seven years? I doubt it. Tax returns I’ll save, although it is unlikely I will need those either. One of my summer projects is to clean out the closet. I will pull out the recycling bin and drop it next to the closet and transfer contents from one to the other. And when I  am done I will leave the dust on my journal and get online right here to tell about that exciting adventure. As if that is a good idea.

Getting Crap Done

That was the theme of the day.  I was up earlier than I wanted this morning.  Our kids get crabby when they have to get up at 7:00 to get ready for the day.  Today they had the chance to sleep in.  They both were ready to get up at 6:15.  What gives?  So I was up early enough to stir the coals and get the fire going without matches.  Or even kindling.

Saturday has become bill paying day.  I get some satisfaction out of taking care of my debts.  I would prefer not to have so many.  I am working on that one.  Have you seen refinance rates lately?  Crazy low.  Should we wait to see of they get even lower?  If we do it now, we win.  If we do it later, maybe we win more.  Gamble gamble.  Anyway, I paid some bills.  Online and through the mail.  I like online payments.  Less waste, quicker, no stamps required.  But the plow guy doesn’t take online payments.

I baked bread again as well.  It was fair.  Maybe I’m not letting it rise enough.  It was cold today.  It think the thermometer rose to 15 but it was -4 when we rose this morning and stayed in the single digits for hours.  We went for a snowshoe, the four of us, around the front field.  The sun shone without wind so the ten degree air was fine.  We had toast when we got back inside, although the slices were not as tall as I would have liked.

Our compost bin is pretty frozen solid.  It is a tall peak of icy food bits.  Orange peels and pear cores spill through the grate.  C’est la vie, right?  Things will thaw at some point, although we are predicted to have a high temperature of five on Wednesday.  That is the high.  That should kill off some of those wooly adelgids and other invasive species.  Not to mention a few deer ticks.  The disease-carrying blood-sucking bastards.  I added some height to it this afternoon.

Any minute now we have friends on the way.  They plan to drop  off their children and take a night off.  A little sleepover for the tykes.  They should have a fine time.  Hopefully they will keep the strife to a minimum.  If they get too wound, we will plunk them in front of a video with a big bowl of popcorn.  I’m not too proud to say it.  We deprive them of television enough that it will be a treat anyway.  I have a dish of mac and cheese ready to pop in the oven.  That should be a hit, along with butter-soaked fresh bread.  Maybe they will even eat some carrots.

The temperature will get below zero again tonight.  I need to keep the stove stoked.  We’ll keep it warm inside while the vermin freeze to death outside.  I took a bucket of ashes out earlier.  They melted a little snow and they froze into a gray goopy mass.  It was like art.  Only not.  I will make some more art tomorrow.  You watch me.