Sunday, May 31, 2015

Got something serious on my mind...

Yesterday I had a very relaxing and fun day with my old colleagues at Buyukada, the largest of the Prince Islands. Good food, lots of laughs and a good deal of walking around... Gill, I am sorry I did not take any photos. My bad!

I have another set of old colleagues whom I see very frequently but lately, I started having second thoughts about the dynamics of this group. Something has changed and I am not sure I like it. This is really difficult to explain but, it seems like there may be something more than just friendship in some people's minds about some of the others in the group. There are 3 guys and 4 ladies including yours truly in this group.

One of our girlfriends is getting a divorce and the other is not too far from the same situation with her husband. So, obviously these ladies are in a vulnerable state. They are very close friends. They seem to be having some romantic thoughts about their future sort of like a twentysomething would envision. Being a realist, I think they are opening themselves up for further disappointment.

What bugs me is not just this. There are two guys in this group who seem to be interested in either of these ladies. May be both of the guys like the same person but, I am not sure. I am just feeling uncomfortable when around them. This started a few months ago when we even did not know about the divorce situation. There is nothing out in the open but, I sensed subtle signs.

Last time we were together was a disaster. The girlfiriend who is getting a divorce got herself very drunk, totally out of character and, although I was ready to go home, they insisted on going to a bar after dinner. Two of our friends apologized and went home. I should have done the same thing but I was really worried that the remaining people had too much to drink and could put themselves at risk. Besides I had my car to take them all home as I  always do. So, leaving them behind with no car at night seemed wrong. Being the only sober person, I felt I had to hang with them. It was a huge mistake on my part. That night, I noticed more of what I had sensed earlier.

One of the guys insisted on going to a particular place and made us walk for a good 15 minutes. When we reached his suggested place, at the entrance, I told them that I was ready to call it a night and that I decided to go home. The place did not look right to me and the three bodyguards at the entrance were just too much. When I anounced that I was going home, the rest of the people decided not to go in as well. So, our friend who suggested the place got pissed and started an argument with me. Unfortunately, I was tired and fed up so, I ended up arguing with him instead of keeping cool.

Ever since that night, I was feeling that may be I needed a social break. However after yesterday, I realized that I do not need a social break but, rather a break from the group I have belonged to for such a long time.

I do not want to get together with them as a group anymore and I have no intention of sharing what I feel with any of the others.

Any suggestions?

Friday, May 29, 2015

Random Post

Today is my day off so, I slept in until about 10:30 a.m. Then I pulled my sheets off and washed them. They are now hung between two open windows. The cleaning lady comes tomorrow so, I need to put some stuff in order. I need to go through my wardrobe but, too lazy to do that.

The dish washer was full so I started that. I am now making a grocery list while drinking coffee. When I am done, I will go shopping.

Tomorrow, I will be meeting two old colleagues and we shall be going to the Prince Islands in the afternoon. They are really nice guys and I haven't seen them in ages. Hope, it will be a nice day. The weather ischilly today but, I am hoping tomorrow will be nicer.

Today is a nice, relaxed day.

Monday, May 25, 2015

No Spend Week!

I hereby oficially declare this week a no spend week! 

My spending has been spiraling out of control lately so, I decided to hit the brakes.

My car is provided by the company and all car-related expenses are paid. Lunch is also provided via my employer through a special debit card that can be used in various places around where we work. We have a kitchen at work where there is a sandwich maker. They provide breakfast staples so that, one can prepare a nice breakfast for herself.

My fridge and freezer are well-stocked for dinners.

I have also decided to be by myself during this week. Mom is back at her home until mid-June. So, instead of playing the social butterfly, I am staying home the entire week. I need some alone-time. Who knows; may be I can end up doing something useful like getting rid of some junk to make it easier for me during the move.

Someone at work mentioned that he has a friend who wants to rent out his apartment around where we work. I am hoping to go see the apartment this week. If I can rent directly from the owner, that would be really great. This way we can both eliminate broker costs.

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

When is the best time to move?

I need to move to where my new job is. The traffic in the morning is bearable but, in the evenings I cannot come home before 8:30-9:00 p.m. no matter what I do.

I have made up my mind to move but I am still contemplating about the time to do this. The schools will be closed around mid-June and most people who intend to move will probably do so after that before vacation. However, the Ramadan starts in June and although I do not observe it, a lot of people will do. Therefore, it will be tough on moving people to work without food and water during the day. It will be very hot as well.

Many people will go to their summer vacation spots during the Ramadan so, I am hoping that the traffic will be better. Besides at dinner time, many people are off the traffic to eat the first meal of the day. Therefore, I can take advantage of that time zone to drive back home.

My vacation is between August 22-September 10. So, may be I should move before the vacation but after the Ramadan. This window is about one month. It should be sufficient for me to find a place and move. I will rent out my own apartment but, there is no rush in that.

It would be best if I could rent a place starting in August and move before my vacation. This will also let me put away some money because a move may be expensive. Thank God, I have a small apartment and not a lot of belongings.

Monday, May 18, 2015

A visit to the Cardiologist

Today I took my mom and my sister's father-in-law to the cardiologist as they get checked every six months. I also made an appointment for myself with their cardiologist to see how I was doing. She is a very careful and good doctor.

I got an examination by the doctor, got an EKG and an Echocardiogram along with blood tests. It turned out that my heart is in tip-top shape. The doctor told me that despite being a high blood pressure patient for the last 17 years, and despite my weight, there is no damage to my heart. I think this is a gift and I should try losing some more weight and exercising to keep this gift in good shape.

Mom and my sister's FIL are also well and under control so, all in all this was a good day.

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Yes Mom!

I do not know if anybody is familiar with the old British TV series "Yes Minister!" which later became "Yes Prime Minister!"Sometimes, my life feels like that.

My mom is an interesting lady. She has a big heart, she is funny, she loves her family to the moon and back, she loves watching volleyball games and she is very very very tidy. This wonderful mom has one small fault (as for me). She wants everything her way, all the time and fast. She is very demanding when it comes to certain things like general housework or errands outside. When she has time to think things through, she usually comes around and agrees with me. (Don't get me wrong, I love my mom and hug and kiss her every day and tell her I love her all the time and I mean it but I am also getting old).

A few days ago I asked her why we were rushing to go to Ankara on Thursday. I told her that I was tired because of all the driving I do and it would be best if we were to go to Ankara on Friday. After all, I will stay there for a week, take her to doctors appointments, do her shopping and everything else that she needs. She looked at me very seriously and told me: "You never understand me, do you?" I said "Ok mom sorry if I missed something. We will go on Thursday as you wish".

Last night as I was coming home around 10 p.m., I noticed that someone broke my parked car's left rear-wiev mirror. I am now driving a company car and I had decided to take my own vehicle to Ankara so that my uncle can drive mom around when she needs it and whenever he is around. So, my own car is the vehicle I need to drive to Ankara.

I went inside and told mom that the mirror needs to be fixed on Thursday before we hit the road. Meanwhile my car is stuffed with things to be donated to a charity in Ankara and mom wants them dropped off before we go to her home. Now, getting the mirror fixed may take some time and the road is around 5 hours. The charity place may be closed by the time we reach Ankara. I also asked her not to wake me up too early in the morning because I need my sleep if I have to drive for 5 hours and the repair shops are never open before 9 a.m. anyway.

Apparently, she got upset because what she wants cannot be complied with but she also came to understand that Friday was a better option to hit the road. So, this morning she said "Why the rush? Go get the car fixed tomorrow and we can go to Ankara on Friday on a timely manner and drop off all that stuff".

I said "OK Mom!"




Tuesday, May 5, 2015

Property Taxes and Retirement Funds

In my country property taxes are not as high as they are in the US. Although I do not understand why we have to pay taxes on our residences; since it is the law, I pay them. In my opinion, one residence should be exempt from taxes. Actually retired people who own just one home are exempt from taxes but, property is a popular investment item.

Normally I pay the property taxes in two installments as allowed but, this time I just caved in and paid taxes in full for my residence, my rental property and mom's residence. Thank God, the property taxes for the other apartment I bought from my uncle early January, starts next year.

You may be wondering how much I paid for three apartments.... I paid just about USD 450.- for all.

My residence has the highest taxes, about half of the above number goes to my small two bedroom apartment since, Istanbul is more expensive than Ankara and my neighborhood is considered nice. Mom's home is a larger apartment which is also in a good neighborhood but, Ankara is cheaper.

I also decided to pay extra towards my retirement fund since it will be matched by 25% by the Government. This way, I made the maximum contribution that will be matched by the Government. Early June, there will be elections in Turkey and I am afraid Government will stop making this contribution or at least lower it to a smaller percentage.

Up until 2003, there was only Social Security in this country and now there is a supplemental system similar to 401Ks and/or Roth IRAs. I think ours is a hybrid of both. It is called a Personal Retirement System. I was skeptical at first but decided to join it in 2004.

Since the funds and the companies who were offering this were new, I was lost for quiet a while and did not earn much on what I contributed. The first 3-4 years were lost years. After I started reading about the retirement funds in the USA, I understood the logic and strategy and started making meaningful contributions and selecting better funds. It will hopefully be a nice chunk of money in 2023. You can either cash all of it or get paid over a period of time until the funds are depleted. With today's rules, it seems to be a wiser choice to cash it but, who knows how it will be regulated in 2023?

So, today I paid my taxes and made a good contribution to my retirement fund. I do not have to think about these things until January 2016. Happy!

Sunday, May 3, 2015

Refrigerator Issues

I bought my refrigerator back in April 2004 when I also bought my current residence. Up until last week, I never had any issues with it. Last week we started getting an alarm and the lights on the panel started blinking. Sometimes it would go back to normal by itself, sometimes I needed to turn it off for a few hours.

On Friday, the fridge started to sound the alarm and decided not to go back to normal. May 1st is an off day so I did not expect any technicians to be on call but, surprisingly they were. It cost me about USD 140.- to replace the electronic card that controls the fridge. Ouch! But then again, it is not so bad in 11 years is it?


Saturday, May 2, 2015

I hate it when people...

I hate it when people want to operate on their own timing and totally disregard your schedule when you need to do something together.

I will turn over the laptop I was using from my previous consultancy job so, I spoke to my friend last week and told her that the computer was ready and that I would be happy to drop it off at her place. She suggested to do it over the weekend and told me she would call me.

Today mom and I went to a Farmer's Market, did some other shopping and came back pretty tired so, around 4 p.m. I dozed off and slept until 7 p.m. or so. When I got up I took my cell phone tp look up something and realized that my friend had sent me a message asking if we would meet today. The day for me was over by that time. I am sorry but I am not dragging myself out in terrible traffic because she cannot plan her day and let me know in advance. I will drop the laptop off at her place tomorrow night and be done with it.

This is not the only friend who does this. There is another who would call me up to say: Hey T'Pol, I am going to have a manicure appointment in an hour and then I will have about an hour to have coffe with you before I do such and such.." Usually her plans would require me around where she lives which can take an hour to drive to when there is traffic. I am sorry, I do not operate that way. Yet, they never learn...

Friday, May 1, 2015

Coffee: A job perk!

Despite being a Turk, I drink Turkish Coffee occasionally. I prefer brewed coffee with milk and lately I had been spending way too much money at the popular coffee chains like Starbucks, Cafe Caribou and Cafe Nero.

Then I started working and I think one of the best perks of my new job is free fresh brewed coffee ready all the time! Love it! I have a cup in the morning and another in the afternoon. That's plenty for me.

I think, I am getting used to my new job fairly fast. I hope to work here for a very long time.

Driving to work is a hassle but; I am determined to move in July.