Monday, September 29, 2008

My Take on the Bailout

Disclaimer: I do not want this to be a political blog, but the current crisis affects us all and at this point is beyond partisan politics.

Hoo boy!

So Bush's $700 billion bailout plan has failed to pass. I don't know if this is good or bad. That's the whole problem. No one knows if it is good or bad. No one knows if it will fix anything. I do know a few things. I know that Wall Street tanked today. That means my pension is worth peanuts. But I also know that JP Morgan Chase bought out Washington Mutual and Citicorp bought out Wachovia. That means I still have a bank account. I know that I have seen other things rushed through congress that weren't particularly good ideas, that with a little more thought might have turned out better.

I see a lot of people on message boards freaking out that we will all be standing in bread lines if this doesn't pass.
I see a lot of others angry that we are bailing out the rich with nothing helping the little guy.
I see a lot of little guys wondering why they should give a rat's patooty if all their neighbors lose their homes, cars, retirement funds, because they don't have any investments so they have nothing to lose.

I repeat. Hoo boy!

I'm no economist, except for trying to run my own household, which has held up fairly well so far. But I do have an opinion on this. I think it was right to fail today. Wall Street is waiting to see what goodies they are going to get. They don't want to sell out for 20% if they think the government will give them 80%. But they need to face this on their own for awhile, not just be handed free money. The worst of these banks NEED to go bankrupt and be bought out by solvent banks with better lending practices. We need to return to regulations that were put in place after the Great Depression to prevent this kind of mess. If we just hand them the cash, nothing will change and in a few months it will all go down the toilet again.

As I type, Europe is bailing out some of their own banks. As I already mentioned, solvent banks are buying out bad banks in this country. We need to let that take its course. Then see what is left, see what REALLY NEEDS bailing out, not just who wants to save their butts and their "golden parachutes". Congress needs to go back to the table, clean up the now 110 page bill (it started out at 3 pages) and decide to do what is best for this country. Not what is best for their buddies, not what is best for their personal accounts, not what is best for their reelection bids, but what is best for America. We can't just stop the bleeding, we have to heal the wound.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

The Next President?

Introducing what could possibly be the next President.... of the Anime Club.

The Anime Club is currently a student sponsored club celebrating all that Japanese cartoon stuff.
They are attempting to be school sponsored so that they can hold fundraisers to attend conventions and such. This involves a lot of planning and paperwork. Part of that is showing what the club intends to do in the future. As all of the current officers are graduating seniors, they need to show that the club could continue to function in their absence. And so my sophomore son Rock Star has been proposed to be Club President next year.

He looks excited, doesn't he?

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Sheepishly Peeking at the Interim Reports

Ah, interim reports. Love 'em, hate 'em. The kids usually hide them. I tell you, I have smart kids. They are just incredibly lazy when it comes to homework. Oh, it is hard to admit you are a failure at motivating your children! And I hate to admit it, but they are not entirely truthful when it comes to homework and their grade status. So when Rock Star said he was doing "OK", I had to assume that it meant that he might be passing a class. So when he actually brought home his interim report and SHOWED it to us, I was stunned. There were B's. Lots and lots of B's! Sure, I'd like to see A's, but from a D-F student, B's are good. He gets a cookie.

Girlygirls grades weren't as good, but we know if we light a fire under her she will get it in gear and bring them up. That kid has brought home lots of A's in the past. But she's failing boating. Boating? "It's just an elective." Arrrghhhhh!

The problem with smart kids is that they know just how much they have to do to get by. If they care. If they don't care, they will find plenty of other things to do. But after 10 years of beating my head against a wall, Rock Star seems to finally get it. He's figured out that he wants to get somewhere and if he doesn't work, that's not going to happen. I think he has looked at the economy and realises that working at McDonald's all his life is not going to cut it. Girlygirl is not so tuned in yet. She's still in instant gratification mode. Perhaps if she SEES us give Rock Star a cookie?

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Black Friday Already

So I'm getting out of my funk.

There's good news on the Black Friday front. While we may be pinching pennies, those teens will still want SOMETHING that either plugs in or has a battery or two for the holidays. So you might as well try and get it on the cheap.

According to dealnews, electronics are looking good with Ultra Mobile PC's for $199, Blue Ray players for $149 and large screen (42"+) HDTV's starting at $499. says that Ace Hardware listed their ad in August with a GPS at $89.99 and digital picture frames at $59.99. For Dad, there's an 18volt Makita drill kit for $49.99. These are some good deals.

Of course, it's way early yet. And there are tons more to come. How to afford all this even at a discount? Well, I'm saving up some premium points and should be able to pull out $100+ in gift cards, doing some surveys here and there and looking to have a garage sale to get rid of some of the junk really good stuff we have now.

Optimism is good and makes you feel better. But then so does an Amaretto Sour.

Monday, September 22, 2008

I'm in an Economic Funk

I'm afraid I'm in a funk today.

I've been paying too much attention to politics and the economy. It's a good thing to have knowledge, I guess. But it is still depressing. I had to pay some bills today and make a bank deposit. Of course the deposit wasn't bigger than the bills, so more out of our savings. I did the grocery shopping and even with coupons it was $118. I try to keep it under $100 but it is getting harder and harder to do. Thankfully one of our local grocery stores, Publix, has staples at a lower price all the time. Ground beef for $1.97, milk $3.79, bread $.89. It helps. I used to shop Winn Dixie because they had marked down meat on Mondays. But they stopped that about a month ago, so no bargains there.
We don't buy a lot of "stuff". The kids are too old for toys. They have electronics from birthdays and Christmas so we don't spend on those. Clothes are at the beginning of the school year and when they need them. Hubby and I buy clothes when ours fall apart. When we do need clothing, we hit the thrift stores first.

So when you already buy on a "need" instead of a "want" basis, and all you see is everything going downhill, what do you do?

How are you managing in these times? What do you do to be frugal and pinch those pennies?

I have a few websites that I follow:
has great tips and coupon codes also has codes. has frugal ideas for cooking but doesn't seem to be updating the site. is written by the original writer of

Where do you look for ideas?
How do you keep happy about all this? I try to be an optimistic person, but the news just slams you with more each day.
I think I'll wallow in self pity for tonight and make a good start tomorrow.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

The 529 Savings Plan

The 529 Savings Plan differs from the Prepaid Plan in several ways.
Again, different state plans have slightly different options. The Savings Plan is essentially an investment account with tax deferment or tax-free if used for educational purposes. Plans invest in mutual funds with a variety of static and age-based options. Like the Prepaid Plan, some states have residency requirements, others do not. The minimum initial deposit can range from $25-$1000. Subsequent contribution minimums are usually $15-$25. These accounts will accept contributions up to a balance of between $200,000-$300,000 depending on the plan. Many of these plans have small enrollment fees, as well as account maintenance and program management fees generally less than 1%. There are also broker sold plans that will have higher fees, but come with the benefit of receiving advice from an experienced financial planner as opposed to doing all the homework yourself.
Some of these programs are also linked to rewards programs such as Upromise that contribute purchase rebates to the account.

These plans are more flexible than the Prepaid plans as you can contribute at will and move your investments around as you like.

Benefits of this type of plan include the following:

1. Federal and state tax breaks.
2. Donor control of the account
3. You can change plans or beneficiaries frequently offering great flexibility.
4. Generally there are no income limitations or age restrictions for the beneficiary.


1. Some plans will be considered against financial aid.
2. There are penalties for non-qualified withdrawal.
3. Treated as a gift for gift-tax purposes.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

The 529 Prepaid College Plan

So here's the deal:

In 1998, Section 529 of the Internal Revenue Service Code created certain types of educational savings plans. These plans are operated by the state or educational institutions to help families set aside money for future educational expenses. Every state in the union currently has at least one type of 529 plan available. The two main types of 529 plan are the Savings Plan and the Prepaid Plan.

I will attempt to explain the 529 Prepaid Plan today.

Prepaid plans allow you to pay all or part of college costs in advance. State sold prepaid plans cover costs for in-state public colleges but can usually be converted if the student wants to attend an out of state or private school. The Independent 529 plan is a separate prepaid plan that can be bought through the Tuition Plan Consortium for participating private schools.

There are several options, depending on the state, for these plans. You can cover tuition, fees, dormitory costs and combinations of the above. You can plan for 1 year or a 2 year college or 4 year college. Generally you enroll directly into the program through the appropriate state agency. Enrollment periods vary. Some, but not all, states have residency requirements for either the purchaser or the beneficiary. Payment plans can include lump sum, 5 year plan, or fixed monthly payments. Costs vary widely depending on the length of the plan, which fees are included and the age of the beneficiary at the time of enrollment.

One of the most important benefits of the prepaid plan is the ability to "lock in" the tuition rate at the time you purchase the plan. Plans have a built in interest rate that is applied to cover the projected cost of college when the beneficiary is of age. If the inflation rate of these costs exceeds the projected cost, your payments stay the same and the actual costs are still covered in full. In my opinion, the peace of mind that comes from knowing you won't have to pony up more than you have budgeted for is priceless.

Other benefits are:

1. Investment growth is tax-deferred. Payments made for the beneficiary's college costs are federally tax-free.
2. Some states have tax benefits as well.
3. Once you enroll, the plan takes care of itself. The plan's assets are controlled by the plan's program manager.
4. The plan is flexible and can usually be transferred to another beneficiary.

Some drawbacks do exist:

1. Some plans can be counted against financial aid.
2. There can be penalties for withdrawing funds from an unused plan.
3. The plan constitutes a gift to the beneficiary as far as gift tax is concerned. However, it qualifies for the $12,000/year exclusion. You can spread this out over 5 years, effectively sheltering up to $60,000 per beneficiary.

As you can see, there are literally hundreds of combinations of variables that can affect the cost and usefulness of these plans. If you have teens and have not started saving for their educations, time is of the essence. When comparing these plans, that needs to be taken into consideration.

There are several websites available that show plan comparisons by state. is one that can help you with many of the details.

Up next: The 529 Savings Plan

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Plastered but Still Optimistic- the 529 Plan pt. 1

Well here I am covered head to toe in plaster. We had to fix a hole in the ceiling at our rental unit. This, after we had to get a new roof and fix the central air. Somehow my investment property is just not paying off. Of course I can't sell it either because the market is dead here. Great.
On a high note, the day the market turns around I can sell it with a new roof and fabulous central air.

It's a good thing I don't put all my eggs in one basket. I've got teens headed to college, you know. How's one supposed to pay for that? One number: 529. Once upon a time I bought two prepaid tuition plans for my little babies. I was laughed at by some. Why stick all that money in there? You could get more playing the market. (ummm....yeah.) The reason was that in my state the prepaid plan locked you in at the tuition rate when you bought the plan. So for a mere 10 grand a piece, my kids college will be paid for.

I know college costs are on the minds of a lot of parents out there. Even if you haven't started saving for your kids college yet, there are plans that can help. So, I will be offering you some information as the days go on regarding what you can do to lessen the sucking sound in your savings. But first I need to get the plaster out of my hair.

Monday, September 15, 2008

Last Minute-itis

Welcome to Monday!

We have been around all weekend, right?

So why, at 6:30 am Monday morning do we hear:

"I need my syllabus signed."
"Can you copy my project instructions?"
"I need to print my research."
"I need money for class pictures."

Did we not ask on Friday if there was anything we needed to deal with?

I swear sometimes that the second these kids get home from school their brains drain right out their ears. It is the proverbial "They would forget their heads if they weren't stapled to their necks."

It's a good thing that Mom and Dad never have anything urgent that they have to deal with so that they can spend all that last minute time, money and energy on the kiddos.

Is my sarcasm showing?

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Lest We Forget

Big News About the Littlest Things

At the European Organisation for Nuclear Research, on the outskirts of Geneva, scientists have started the Large Hadron Collider, a huge particle smashing machine meant to recreate the conditions of the Big Bang. Scientist hope to learn more about why particles have mass, dark matter and whether there are hidden dimensions in the universe.
There have been some obstacles to the 27km long, $9 billion dollar machine. Due to the complexity of manufacturing, the start and completion dates were pushed back 2 years and construction costs ended up being 25% higher than the 1996 budget. In March, a lawsuit was filed attempting to stop the experiment until it could be proved that the LHC would be safe. What were they afraid of ? That the LHC would create tiny black holes that would suck us into them and destroy us all. Scientists were more afraid of technical glitches or electronic failure.

But today the LHC came to life. Scientists applauded as they sent particle beams in both directions through the machines chamber. Now the fun begins!

One of the things they wish to accomplish is to prove or disprove the existence of Higgs boson particles. While proposed in 1964 by Scottish scientist Peter Higgs, it has never been observed. It is thought to give mass to matter. Scientists are a funny bunch, though. Dr Aldo Saavedra, a particle physicist at the University of Sydney has been toward this experiment for 10 years. In the scientific community it would define his career. Yet, he'd rather find something else.
"It's not much fun if you actually go and look for something that theories have been predicting for the last 10 years," he said.

Even British astrophysicist Stephen Hawking is looking for more of a challenge. He has bet $100 that the LHC will not find the Higgs boson.
"I think it will be much more exciting if we don't find the Higgs. That will show something is wrong, and we need to think again," Professor Hawking said.

Those scientists are wacky that way.

Tuesday, September 09, 2008

Everybody Sing!

I sang the Lord’s Prayer on Sunday. I sang a few other things too, but specifically the Lord’s Prayer. I hadn’t been to church in awhile. I work a lot of Sundays (and I had a nasty sinus infection for MONTHS so I couldn’t sing anyway), but I had this Sunday off. So I got to sing the Lord’s Prayer.

I like to sing. I’ve been singing since I was 5. I sang in the church choir as a kid. I sang in junior high choir. I sang in college. I sing in the car. I sometimes sing around the house. I sing show tunes. I sing the blues sometimes. I sing “Paradise by the Dashboard Light”. I definitely sang lullabies back in the day. But on Sunday, I sang the Lord’s Prayer.

If you ask Rock Star, he will tell you that I rarely sing. If you ask Girlygirl, she will tell you that I sing ALL THE TIME. (Hubby will say “I don’t know.” He's noncommittal that way.) I’m not sure why the difference.

On Sunday, when we got out of church, Girlygirl commented that when I sang the Lord’s Prayer, I had a “Victoria’s look” on my face.
I told her, “That’s because I know her secret!” ( I like to weird my kids out that way.)
“Huh? Oh. No.”
“Oh, you meant “victorious look”!

I suppose that I may have. See, when I open my mouth, I am really not sure what is going to come out! And I hadn’t sung in awhile, so I wasn’t too sure of myself. But my voice was there. It’s the one true gift I have. I’d forgotten that, because I hadn’t sung in so long. Everything else in my life, I have had to work at. But my voice is a gift. And because he gave it to me, I feel the need to give it back.

“For thine is the kingdom and the power and the glory
And my voice,
For as long as you give it to me.

It makes me cry sometimes. Like now.

I’m not a devout Christian. I’m quite liberal. I get there when I can. It means a lot to me deeply, though. If you aren’t Christian, that’s perfectly OK with me. You should sing anyway. At the very least in the shower or something.

According to a German study, singing is good for you. It releases endorphins that make you feel good. It makes you exercise your lungs and abdominal muscles. It boosts your immune system and increases your oxygen intake. It’s aerobic!! That’s my kind of exercise!

So sing. Sing when you enjoy it. Sing when it embarrasses your children. Find someone your age and sing songs from the 70’s or the 80’s. You know, from “back in the day”. I’m going to sing something today. I don’t know what yet. Any suggestions?

Monday, September 08, 2008

Zen and the Art of the One Word Conversation

We don't talk much here. Hubby and I can sit around for days without saying more than a few words to each other. It's not that we don't communicate, it's just that we are always so much on the same wavelength that it isn't necessary. Our friends think we're strange, as they have overheard some of our abbreviated conversations. Such as, on break at work:

"Are you thinking what I'm thinking?"
"We do have extra tickets."
"Book the hotel for Friday and Saturday."

The real gist of this dialogue was to surprise the kids with a weekend trip to Disney over the Thanksgiving holidays last year. It was completely spur of the moment and had nothing to do with anything else that was going on at the time, but WE knew what we were talking about.

This really doesn't bother me at all. In fact, in May, my mother was spending time at our house recovering from knee surgery as we have a more open floor plan than she does. I was stunned at how much she and Dad talk. I mean, all the time! It wore me out. I have learned to relish the peace and quiet of our relationship.

That said, I don't want my kids to get into the popular teen habit of the one word conversation.

"How was school today?"
"Meh." (OK, that doesn't even count as a word, really.)

"What would you like for dinner?"

"It's your turn to do the dishes."
*eye roll and heavy sigh* (No word there either.)

So I make it a point to have conversations, with them. Girlygirl tends to talk a lot in the car, so I’ll drag her to the store to see what is going on in her life. Rock Star tends to spill his guts in the hot tub. (Not literally, Ewww…). There’s a lot of prattle about Skittles dying her hair blue and not being able to play anything but Halo on the server. But I listen. My hope here is that when there is a real problem in their lives they won’t just tell me “Meh.”

Friday, September 05, 2008

Sunday is Grandparent's Day

In 1970, a West Virginia housewife named Marion McQuaid decided that America should set aside a day to encourage people to visit their elderly relatives. With help from her husband, Joseph, Senator Jennings Randolph (D-WV) and many grassroots supporters, the first Grandparents Day was proclaimed in 1973 in West Virginia by Governor Arch Moore. In 1978, legislation for a National Grandparent's Day was passed by the United States Congress and signed by President Jimmy Carter. It was decided that the holiday would be the first Sunday after Labor Day. September was chosen to signify the "autumn years" of life.

There are three purposes for National Grandparents Day:

1. To honor grandparents.
2. To give grandparents an opportunity to show
love for their children's children.
3. To help children become aware of the strength,
information and guidance older people can offer.

It's a wonderful idea. Children tend to have an innate sense of the value of grandparents. Grandparents tend to dote on the little ones and much love is shared by all. I loved listening to my Nana's stories when I was little. Her experiences of the 1917 flu epidemic, her years picking cotton and running moonshine, being tied to a tree after their house blew away in the 1926 hurricane were all very exciting and special to me. I loved looking at her "flapper" pictures and seeing her as a young girl and woman. She taught me to crochet and made me grilled cheese sandwiches. She passed away when I was 13. I miss her.

As we grow older, I think we tend to grow away from the elderly. We get involved with our own lives and forget the relevance of what they went through in their lives. Our technology passes many of them by and it becomes a chore to keep in touch with people that don't email and text message. We move away and don't call as much as we should. Many of the elderly languish in nursing homes, forgotten by their own family and friends. Grandparents Day reminds us to bridge those gaps and reach out to the elderly and bring them back into our lives.

I think that it is especially important to get our teens involved with their grandparents. Heck, a lot of teens don't even want to be involved with their parents! Grandparents seem so OLD and out of touch. Luckily my children are involved with their grandparents. My parents have always been their babysitters. We go to church together and speak nearly every day. Still, as the kids have gotten older, I see that they kind of write Nana and Grampa off on occasion and would rather be doing their own things.

So this Sunday, we will work on that. We will go to church, then take my parents out to dinner. I will make a point to get my kids involved in conversation and remind them of the value of their grandparents. They really aren't THAT out of touch with the world. Heck, Mom's a computer guru. Maybe she can help Rock Star catch up in that new Web Design class.

What are your plans? For ideas visit the Official National Grandparent's Day home page.

Thursday, September 04, 2008

Fighting For the Rock Star's education. Pt. 3

We have a winner!

Having not heard anything about Rock Star's schedule change, I called the school again. I was put on hold for 10 minutes, hung up and called again. They hung up on me. Whoever mans the phones in the guidance office don't seem to be too bright. I called again, bypassing the guidance receptionist, going straight to the main operator and directly to Rock Star's counselor.
She, of course, had never received my message with Rock Star's alternate choices. Go figure. We had a little chat and it turns out that there was suddenly an opening in Web Design 1. She immediately transferred him to the class, stating that it was a bit of a competition between counselors at this point to get kids into the classes they want. She also told me that they were dissolving the reading class altogether so they were going to have to change all the kids' classes anyway. I just managed to get Rock Star taken care of first.

She asked me if there was a way I could contact Rock Star before she could - if I could maybe text him. I told her no as I have disabled text on his phone and he doesn't have it on in school anyway. "Oh," she says, "He's a GOOD kid."
Well, yeah.

Rock Star came home and I asked if he had his schedule change.

"They are canceling the class and sent us all to band."
"No, you have Web Design!"

So now it is all official. I checked his schedule online and it is now correct. Oh the hoops we have to jump through with the high school bureaucracy! Persistence is key in these battles. But now, all is well.

Oh, and I got a big hug and a DQ Blizzard as a thank you.
I love that kid.

Wednesday, September 03, 2008

I Love My Local Wildlife

This is a Little Green Heron. He's trying to hide.

I love these guys:
Grampa is really cute.

Tuesday, September 02, 2008

Book Review: Octavian Nothing

I read my children's books. In fact, I often read them before they do. Not to censor, quite the opposite: If I find a book to be particularly compelling, I will recommend, cajole, bribe to get them to read it. The Astonishing Life of Octavian Nothing, Traitor to the Nation, Vol. 1: The Pox Party by M.T. Anderson is precisely one of these books.

Marketed for the "young adult" audience, Octavian Nothing claims to be for ages 14 and up. I find this to be extremely accurate as it's scope might be a bit much for younger readers. It is an interesting blend of historical fiction, maybe science fiction, gothic fantasy - in terms of genre it truly defies description.

Octavian Nothing is a teenage boy growing up in pre-Revolution Boston in a household of scientists and philosophers. He wants for nothing, dressing in the finest silks and receiving a classical education of science, literature, Latin and Greek, and violin. Eventually Octavian ventures behind a forbidden door and realizes that he is the subject of a grand experiment that makes him suddenly question his place in the world.

It is incredibly hard to review this book without the inevitable spoilers - one of which is key to the plot. The reader realizes just who and what Octavian is as he, himself, does. They learn the true nature of society along with him as he escapes the household and joins up with an American Patriot militia. Within are the recurring themes of national and personal freedom, science and myth, and the underlying atrocities and hypocrisy of the elite of society. This book is brilliantly written, effectively changing point of view from Octavian himself to that of a fellow soldier in the militia. At times it is amusing, at others horrific, heart wrenching, and truly touching.

This book will make you (and your teens) rethink the meanings of patriotism, freedom, racism and privilege and the consequences or triumph of individual action.

Read it.

Monday, September 01, 2008

Comcast Bandwidth Caps and You

On Thursday, August 28, Comcast announced that as of October 1, 2008 they would be instituting a bandwidth cap for their internet customers.
You can see their announcement here:

In a nutshell, they are limiting combined monthly uploads and downloads to 250 GB per month. If you go over that limit, you may receive a notice requesting that you reduce your usage. If you go over again within a 6 month period, your service will be suspended for a year.

How could this affect you?
That really all depends. According to Comcast (there is no independant data available), the average customer only uses 2-3 GB per month. Quoting their TOS:

"To put 250 GB of monthly usage in perspective, a customer would have to do any one of the following:

* Send 50 million emails (at 0.05 KB/email)
* Download 62,500 songs (at 4 MB/song)
* Download 125 standard-definition movies (at 2 GB/movie)
* Upload 25,000 hi-resolution digital photos (at 10 MB/photo)"

Under normal circumstances, you should be ok. However, there are some serious problems with this. So you have a family. You have 3 or 4 computers online at any given time. How is this chewing up your usage? Well, you just don't know, do you? Other than overclockers and serious gamers, most people don't. There are no meters in place to keep an eye on this, and Comcast has no intention of implementing one. You can find free meters online, but you would have to put one on each computer and add up the totals, but what about your Xbox or your Wii? They connect through your wifi, but there is no way to meter them.

According to, there are 5 devices that you need to watch out for to keep your usage down. The Slingbox, Xbox 360, broadband connected TIVO, Netflix Roku, and Vudu's set-top box. All of these can possibly use up a significant portion of your bandwidth depending on your usage. HD movie downloads are around 5-8GB each. Watch too many of those and you are going to be in trouble. What if you take classes online or telecommute? If you are a true "digital family" you may be in trouble.

Personally, the Rock Star games and watches videos online, Girly-girl video im's her best friend Skittles, Hubby plays bridge online, I surf A LOT, upload to my blog and back it up to my computer, and the kids have Wii-connect. How much bandwidth are we using? Beats me.

I really do understand the need for some kind of limit. There are abusers out there. But there are also legitimate users out there that want or need that kind of bandwidth. How fair is it to not let us KNOW what we are using? Every other metered service that I have (electric, water, cell phone, etc.) has a way for me to check my usage. I think that is my biggest issue here, and I hope Comcast reconsiders instituting some kind of meter for my cable modem that can show ALL usage. There are other issues as well, however - even if you aren't a Comcast customer. As HD becomes more prominent, will they up the limit? Will they upgrade their infrastructure to keep up with need, or just institute new limits? How does this affect other providers? There are already a few companies out there that limit usage to 5, 15, 30GB. Some are toying with tiered fees determined by usage. It remains to be seen what the true connotations of this new limit are.

I will give Comcast credit for at least stating what their limit is. Apparently this has been an unwritten cap for some time, so it is nice to have it official. I love my Comcast service and certainly intend to keep it. I have very few outages and the speed is significantly better than any of the other choices in my area. But I definitely will be watching these developments.

In the meantime, I'll be finding one of those free meters, guessing about the things I cannot measure, and making sure my wifi is secure so noone can piggyback on my signal.

What about you? Do you think you come close to 250GB and how do you plan to track it?