Birthday and budget

I had a birthday! It was awesome. There was dinner at Szechwan Gourmet, tuxedo chocolate mousse cake, and board games with friends. I blew out all 26 candles in one go… does that mean my wish comes true? :D

Anyway, it’s a new year, and I’ve compiled my yearly budget overview (from my monthly spreadsheets that track every dollar I spend). It’s quite interesting.

This year’s total expenditures is $12,356.83, which is a slight increase from last year’s $11,664.02. It’s a bit more than half of 2009’s year in San Francisco, which was $22,757.64.

The largest average category of expenditures (besides rent, of course) is food at $281.57/month, followed by “Transit” (airplane tickets, bus fare, train tickets) at an average of $86.58/month.
Naturally, that category also has the largest variance, ranging between $0 and nearly $600 in different months. Food ranged between $226.11 and $457.59 (if you ignore June, which I spent in Thailand, resulting in a $0 food expenditure for the month).
The lowest variance is my “Personal” category (DVDs, music, card games, KoL donations), which averages $49.97/month and ranged between $49.63 and $50/month. (I limit this category to $50/month, so this is not a surprising thing.)

It’s actually amusing to look at the differences in averages between this year and 2009 (my last full year in San Francisco). Rent is now $491.71, from $1587.05, but food is now $281.57 from $110.96. This is probably because I’ve been eating better plus the higher food prices in Pittsburgh.

Yay spreadsheets. I guess I’m over $1000/month on average now, but it’s good to know I’m still around that.

Life, Carcassonne, and Zeke

It’s a new year. I guess I should probably write something here.

My photojournal and stats page have both been updated through the 1st. People haven’t changed much in the last 4 months. It also seems like most of my time has been spent with Owen (and Greg, obviously), which also makes sense given we’ve been doing more board games and general wandering things.

I mentioned in my last post that I got Carcassonne Wheel of Fortune for Christmas. One of the green meeples in the set was the wrong size (a larger meeple, normally from the Inns and Cathedrals expansion; proof that even they can’t tell the two sizes apart). I contacted Rio Grande and they sent me a replacement normal sized meeple. It was super simple, and I’m glad Rio Grande is awesome and stands behind their games.

So we attempted a 6-player game with all of the tiles (base set, Wheel of Fortune, and Inns and Cathedrals) and all of the meeples (15 a person, plus the scoreboard, plus the large meeple). The result was kind of insane. No one ever ran out of meeples, despite placing almost every turn, and the game lasted many hours. Here’s the final result.

Since then, we’ve figured the normal 7 meeples is much more reasonable, and we’ve played a few games with all of the tiles, including this one where we managed to make a 99-point city (and made Greg sad because he didn’t get points from it). (It’s in the upper left of the photo.)

I also ordered two additional colors of meeples (orange and pink) from Meeple Source. They’re slightly different from the standard meeples, and seem to be inferior quality (and weren’t cheap either), but it’s nice to have the ability to play 8-player Carcassonne.

I really, really like the wheel though. Not only does it provide a better start tile (automatically split into three fields; although there seems to be a tendancy for at least two of them to join up as the game progresses), but the wheel spaces themselves are really interesting. In particular, plague is useful as a way to take back pieces that are no longer useful, and all of the various point scoring spaces mean your people stuck on the board are still worth something throughout the game. Yay.

Keith also got us a copy of the Catapult expansion (from Austria; so it’s in German). We haven’t tried it yet, but I’m trying to figure out some house rules for the fair tiles in the (likely) event that the catapult itself isn’t any fun to use. We shall see.

In other fun things, Zeke came to visit for a few days after Christmas, and there was much board gaming and Ke$ha.

As you can probably tell from all of the above, I’m still loving my 35mm f/1.8 lens and wondering why I didn’t get it sooner. It has pretty much been my exclusive lens since I got it, only coming off the camera a couple times when I needed the 18mm end of my 18-200mm. (Surprisingly, I don’t miss the ability to zoom in at all, like I thought I would. And 35mm is wide enough for most things.)

Life has been full of people and photos and board games and is generally awesome for it.