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Archive for May, 2006

May list of good & evil

May 31st, 2006 at 07:29 am

Month of May things I'm pleased with:

- Electric bill only $53 total (split between two of us)
- Paid double on smaller college loan (chipping away)
- Gasoline, only $50
- Target expenditures, less than $90
- Made a charitable donation


Month of May things I'm not so pleased with:

- Groceries, $300 total (split between two of us)
- My eating out costs, $75
- Medical costs, $185
- Clothing and shoes, $270
- Gifts, $200
- Savings only $50


Clothing, gifts, and medical costs really took a big chunk out of this month's budget. I have no idea why we spent so much on groceries.

To answer a comment from Thrifty Ray a while back, yes, I have been using my new camera. Smile It's great. I've been cutting back a little bit only because it's expensive to get the film developed. It's really fun to learn how to use the camera and play with all the dials!

In an effort to celebrate our anniversary frugally, I requested a rebate check from our credit card (we get money back from purchases). It should pay the bulk of whatever we end up doing (camping? B&B?). We also have a couple of restaurant gift certificates that we could use.

My family is visiting this weekend, so we need to make another trip to the grocery store. Using a list this time!

May/June goals

May 30th, 2006 at 11:57 am

May Goals:
~ Pay double on smaller college loan: YES
~ Limit groceries/Target/eating out to $300: NO, $320
~ Drive to work no more than 5 times: NO, 8 times
~ Put $100+ into savings: NO, $50
~ Donate $25 to charity of choice: YES

As you can see, my progress in May was minimal. I'm not posting any June goals because I can already see that the month is going to be rough. I'm also sick of posting goals and not being able to attain them.

Calgon, take me away (and bring lots of money)....

Inderal and Imitrex

May 26th, 2006 at 09:42 am

Visited the doctor this morning and came away with prescriptions for Inderal and Imitrex, and a CT scan scheduled for next week. My blood pressure is just fine, but Inderal is sometimes prescribed for headaches. We'll see how it goes.

Inderal will be inexpensive but Imitrex is pricey. Luckily I shouldn't need the latter too often. I haven't had a migraine in a while, just the persistent daily headaches. New prescriptions mean more money taken out of my dwindling emergency fund. This has been an expensive month.

The doctor and his nurse were both wonderful. It was worth putting up with the appointment-setter to see them.

Still nervous about the CT scan...still not sure why.

much shorter personality test

May 25th, 2006 at 07:21 am

This is a much shorter version of a Myers-Briggs test. I'm still an INFP/INFJ.

I'm seeing a doctor tomorrow to discuss my headaches (and the potential CT scan). It took a lot for me to call and make the appointment, and I still can't quite figure out why. The receptionist was rather rude after I stated that my emergency contact is my domestic partner (and I'm single, since the only options were single, married, divorced, separated, and widowed). I couldn't quite figure it out - how does my living arrangement affect her? I was irked at first, but now I'm thinking whatever, my life is my life, and if I don't want to get married, that's my business. It's just too bad that they don't provide an option for "in a happy relationship but not married" and that there are more negative options than positive ones.

Looooong weekend...I'm so looking forward to it! I feel like I could sleep for a week.

frugal travel blog

May 24th, 2006 at 12:22 pm

I just stumbled upon a interesting travel blog on the New York Times page. The writer is traveling the world in 90 days, frugally, and updates every Wednesday.

Beginning

Week 1

Week 2

He links to several travel-related websites. I'd never heard of this one before - couchsurfing.com. Check it out.

certificate of rent paid

May 24th, 2006 at 07:57 am

I finally remembered to call my previous landlord and ask him for a 2005 certificate of rent paid. Once I get that, I should be able to file for a property tax refund. It kept slipping my mind (by law, though, he was supposed to send it to me in February). Last year I received $291 back - this year will most likely be less, but something is better than nothing.

I agree with what Thrifty Ray commented on in my last post. The thing is, I find it difficult to be a model employee when I'm unhappy with my job. It's hard to stand out from the crowd and tap dance my way to a better salary when I have to pry myself out of bed to trudge into work every day. Part of it is perspective - I could force myself to love it! - but that's not really authentic. If going to a private college taught me anything, it's that faking it makes me nauseous. It's not as if I make it obvious that I'm unhappy, but I find it hard to go above and beyond.

Well, we'll see. I'm still looking for a job that makes me happy (or at least doesn't require a tractor trailer to pull me out of bed in the morning). I do appreciate the suggestions.

In other news - tonight - more authentic Mexican food! Big Grin I've been corresponding with a friend of a friend via email in Spanish. Tonight we are all going out for dinner and I'll get to meet her in person. Mmmmmmm Mexican food.... (sorry Jeffrey!)

I need some anniversary gift ideas. SO tends to buy me really expensive electronic equipment and then my gifts seem silly in comparison. We have some cash back coming to us from our credit card...maybe I will suggest we go to a nice bed and breakfast and use that cash to pay for it. Hmmm....

I'm not the only one

May 23rd, 2006 at 08:08 am

Had a weird thought this morning as I groggily got out of bed. It will take me five more years to reach the $40K mark at this job, assuming I get another raise in December, and the same raise each year after that. Ick. Five years? I'll be 32.

I attended a benefit concert last night and talked to an acquaintance. She is probably about 10 years older than me (as many of my friends seem to be) and has had several high-paying, high-profile management jobs. She is seriously dissatisfied with her current position, though. I felt a small amount of comfort when I asked her what she really wants to do, and she said she has no idea. She has the luxury of taking a long sabbatical to figure it all out, though. Wink

I just started reading No Parachute Required. It's geared toward recent college graduates, but hopefully I will get something out of it.

I'm going to start a "Musts Before 30" list...

3% isn't bad, I guess

May 22nd, 2006 at 12:40 pm

Apparently my employer does not offer percentage raises, but dollar amounts. I got a $1000 raise, which essentially amounts to 3%. I'm not complaining; just slightly disappointed. It makes me miss the yearly 6% increases I received at my last job (except for that year when no one got a raise).

I'm still making a full $2000+ less than I would be had I stayed at my previous job. I don't miss it at all, but I am still envious of my friends of equal standing who are making waaaay more money than me.

At this rate, it's going to take forever to pay off my student loans. The current total stands at $13,054. *sigh*

I revamped my budget a bit, and I'll have $1000 back in my emergency fund in September, and pay off my smaller college loan in October. Here's hoping nothing goes wrong between now and then!

Potential Upcoming June Expenditures:
- CT Scan/doctors appts/chiropractor
- Cats need to see the vet & get microchipped
- Donation to friend's double marathon event
- Anniversary gift for SO
- Landlords are getting married (gift)
- Father's Day gift
- My favorite aunt's partner is retiring (wish I had enough $$ to make the trip!)
- Parents might visit
- Sister will most likely visit

job review

May 20th, 2006 at 09:59 am

Yesterday's job review went pretty well. Suddenly my nice boss was nice again. I decided to express my frustration with the office environment, and now she is on a mission to help me make friends. I told her that was unnecessary but that I wanted her to know that it's been a difficult transition for me. To go from one environment that was generally very warm and chatty (almost too much) to an environment that's cold, sterile, and silent....well, it's been tough. I went from a place where my boss was yelling for me every two minutes to only talking to SO all day long. Very strange.

I have two bosses - one did my review, and the other one is doing my raise. I find that odd. I won't find out what my raise is until Monday morning.

This morning I made roti (aka chipati) bread. It's like a thick, whole wheat tortilla cooked on a dry skillet. The only ingredients are whole wheat flour and water, but it's delicious. I had never made it myself before but it turned out pretty well. I'll have to make a nice soupy Indian dish to go with it. However, tonight we're going to a Greek restaurant for a friend's birthday, and then to the Da Vinci Code movie (if it's not sold out).

Headache today, a carryover from last night. SO pulled out the Mayo Clinic medical handbook and read the entire CT scan section to me this morning. I'm feeling a little better about it. I'll call the doctor's office on Monday. I'm going to have to take out more $$$ from my emergency fund to pay for it, though.

Today is my favorite aunt's birthday. She is an amazingly strong, capable, sweet woman, and I have always adored her. Hopefully she and her partner will come visit next month. I haven't seen them in several years. They will both finally be retired this summer, so hopefully we will see more of them. Off to make a happy birthday phone call!

CT scan

May 19th, 2006 at 08:38 am

My chiropractor thinks that I should have a CT scan done because of my headaches. The chiropractic treatment is not really helping them and she is concerned.

I have an irrational fear of that machine. I didn't even realize I had this fear until she told me I should have the test done.

I have no idea if my insurance covers CT scans, and I have to call to find out. Their website will tell me that the estimated cost for a CT scan without insurance is $350-400, but it won't tell me what my actual coverage is with insurance. I have to call a doctor to make an appointment as well.

Ugh...

interview

May 18th, 2006 at 12:17 pm

Thanks for your well-wishes! I had a job interview today (the one I was hoping for). I had to do an hour-long pre-test which analyzed my personality, and then today I had a three-hour interview. They required me to take three tests today and do two interviews. The last interview was the most absurd interview I have ever done. It was with two people, only one of which was actually there (the other was on speakerphone from Texas), and every single question was, "Tell me about a time when..." Awful. Truly awful. These questions weren't just like, "Tell me about a time when you had a big project to finish and how you did it." They were like, "Tell me about a time when you had a big project to finish, and the person you were working with made it difficult, and you had trouble finishing it, and what you learned from that experience, and what you would do differently, and and and..." Every single time I answered a question, I had to ask what the rest of the question was, because there was no way I could remember every variable they set up. It was insane. I think the actual work might be interesting, but I didn't click with anyone I met, especially not the boss. So, in short, no way.

The nice thing is that I took the rest of the day off (since they had me block off 4.5 hours of time for the interview - yeesh!) and it is a gorgeous day. I had a picnic lunch with SO and now I'm going to see if I can meet my friend who is on maternity leave for a walk.

My job review is tomorrow...I'm going to take it with a grain of salt (or maybe a boulder of salt) like you've all said. Smile

I feel like I'm way overqualified for these jobs and starting to feel like I'm a little old too, since everyone is fresh out of college. More brainstorming about where to go next, coming up!

BTW, thanks for the ideas with the cats. I could close off the spare bedroom. The strangest thing about it is that I have TONS of plants in the house - I just counted, and there are 40. The cats only touch the spider plants (and seedlings, apparently).

May money & seedlings destroyed

May 17th, 2006 at 08:57 am

I have to cut back on chiropractic appointments. I had to pull $75 out of my emergency fund to pay for them this month already, and my fund is down to $125. I'm not going to be able to contribute anything to it this month, unfortunately.

Tonight I have a neck-cracking appointment and I'm going to have to tell her that I need to cut back to every two weeks or longer. I've been feeling a lot better...not 100%, but a lot better. She wants to solve the mystery of my headaches...I don't have the money to do that right now. I'd rather keep up with monthly massage appointments, which definitely help my body overall, rather than spend all I've got on weekly cracking.

I'm way overbudget this month. If I can stay out of Target until June, I'll be doing ok. I've only budgeted about $40 for groceries ($80 combined) for the rest of the month, but I think we can swing that.

My mom loved her Mother's Day gift. I got to see my parents for about 24 hours last weekend, which was nice. Smile I hadn't seen them since Christmas. They paid for way more in that 24 hour period than they should have - lunch, dinner, breakfast, gasoline, a new rain jacket for me - but fighting it just makes them more adamant. I guess since I so rarely see them, I should just try to enjoy it. I love my new rain jacket (essential in MN in the monsoon seasons of spring and fall). My old one was a men's size XXL and came down almost to my knees! This one actually fits. Wink

I have tried three times already to grow basil, tomatoes, and pepper plants. The cats are fascinated by the grow light and the little seedlings underneath it. I have the seedlings covered up with a tupperware container but the cats work to pull it off. Every time, they have managed to make off with one or more of the dirt pods. Last night I came home to dirt spread all over the kitchen and dead seedlings. I have to start all over again. I'm not sure where else I can put the grow light and the seedlings...I'm about to give up on this. I don't understand the fascination! I have a hard enough time trying to grow plants from seed - I don't need their interference!

Tomorrow is a big day in job-world...please send good vibes my way! I'll update tomorrow.

latest photos

May 11th, 2006 at 09:29 am

Taking a break from soul-searching for a minute.

SO and hiked around a park near our house the other day and I took these photos. I'm still trying to figure out how to get the best photos out of my 35mm camera...practice makes perfect! Too bad it's so expensive to get them developed.





I'm an INFP

May 10th, 2006 at 10:35 am

Thanks for all of your support. This is such a nice place to visit and express ideas.

I've taken the Myers-Briggs personality test, the Kiersey Personality Sorter test, and many others on the internet for years. I most often get INFP (sometimes INFJ). Interestingly enough, SO is an INFP as well.

Live Career offers a free assessment test if you're interested in knowing what your type is. You have to register (free) and the quiz is 100 questions long - it takes about 20 minutes.

I'd love to hear what your personality test results are!! Post them in your blogs or here in the comments field if you have a chance.

I've been looking up ideal INFP careers this morning and found several interesting websites. If you know what your type is, here's an extensive careers link: Ball State University's personality type & careers page.

There's also a Jung Type Descriptions page that tells you what you're like and what careers would be good and not so good for you, based on your type.

I found this site fascinating as well: Murray State Myers-Briggs information page. The descriptions are very detailed.

I found a few lines from the last website interesting:

- People with INFP preferences have a great deal of warmth, but may not show it until they know a person well. They keep their warm side inside, like a fur-lined coat. DEFINITELY - is that why I've made no friends at my current job?

- They stick to their ideals with passionate conviction. I'm not going to sell my ethics for a $5 book! Stick Out Tongue

- They want their work to contribute to something that matters to them--human understanding, happiness, or health. They want to have a purpose beyond their paycheck, no matter how big the check. although if the check is big, I'm not going to complain!

-In the long haul, what INFPs choose as a career must serve their own idealism. If it doesn't, they can become restless and stressed and their work can become sloppy and counterproductive. restless - CHECK! stressed - CHECK!

According to all of these websites, I'm on the right path with my job search. My "favored careers" are all things I'm interested in. I just have to pick something new and run with it, I guess! What to choose...that is the question.

what's with this week??

May 9th, 2006 at 08:12 am

I just had a meeting with my boss because she sent me a scathing email yesterday about a project I was supposed to lead (and didn't know it). It was a bit of a misunderstanding but the meeting left me feeling worse. She was rather condescending. The best part is that I have a full review next week...I can't wait to hear about how I need to be coddled and have horrible communications skills.

I was so upset last night that I spent the whole evening searching for a new job. SO and I were brainstorming on what sort of job I'd do well. I love researching, so it would be fun to be a researcher at a private investigation firm (how does one get into that?). I like baking, but bakers don't get paid much. Could I be a sonogram technician? How about a kindergarten teacher? (I balked at the last one.) Wink I've been trying to break into newspaper/magazine/book editing for five years with no luck. It seems like it might be time to give it up.

I'd a like a job that doesn't require me to have a supervisor and doesn't require me to supervise. That's pretty much impossible, I know. I don't want to be a salesperson, either. We floated around the writing idea again...I'd love to write full time. I have story ideas. I just need to get over the fear of failure and criticism.

No word from that job interview, but I'm hoping I'll get a call today. That would definitely make this week a lot better.

beware half.com

May 8th, 2006 at 09:48 am

I have a few things up for sale on half.com, and I've sold things in the past. Over the weekend, I had a guy buy a book set of mine and send me this email:

I have just purchased a book/tape/card set from you on half.com to be shipped to [woman's name & address]. Can you do me a BIG favor. I am fixing a mistake I made with this customer. Will you please e-mail me immediately if you are missing the tapes or cards. Also, will you e-mail me when the book ships? I really appreciate your help here. Regards, [man's name & his bookstore's name]

Two minutes later I get this email from him:

One more thing i forgot to mention. Please do NOT include an invoice with this order.

After I got the second email, I realized that he wanted me to ship this book set and essentially pretend to be him. Excuse me? Am I your personal shipping service? What if the customer paid him $10 for the set and he's buying mine for $2? Not cool. I wrote to half.com and presented the issue. Here's what I got in response:

Thank you for writing in to Half.com customer service with your concerns about drop shipping for your buyer. I will do my best to address this.

Half.com does support drop shipping in every way, shape, and form. What I mean by this is buyers asking for the order to be shipped to another location. However, from what you've described it sounds like while this buyer isn't technically asking for you to lie, there is an element of withholding the truth. If you feel uncomfortable in doing that I'd recommend that you cancel this order and refund your buyer.


I was a bit surprised by their response. Not only is it unethical to withhold the truth, it's disrespectful to me and misleading to the customer. He should have offered a refund to her, not tried to use me. This guy's got a big bookstore on half.com - I'm a home seller.

I decided to give the guy a refund rather than sell my ethics for a mere $5. Give me a break. I'm removing all of my stuff from half.com and either putting it elsewhere or bringing it to the used bookstore. Too much of a headache!

What happened to ethics in business? It will be interesting to see if this guy leaves me negative feedback for not doing his bidding.

love/hate relationship

May 8th, 2006 at 06:54 am

I have a love/hate relationship with Minneapolis/St. Paul. While driving along the freeway this weekend I remembered all the reasons I love it here...lush trees, beautiful spring weather, flowers everywhere, lovely vistas of the Mississippi River. We went for a walk last night and the weather was just gorgeous. Walking to the bus stop this morning was wonderful...lots of rabbits scurrying about, fresh air, warm temperatures. Why can't it be like this year-round? Why can't I pick up the Twin Cities and move them to a more hospitable climate? There's so much to do, so many places to shop, lots of great restaurants, wonderful libraries... I just wish I could stand the winters!

Hoping, hoping, hoping that I get an interview call today or tomorrow.

I had a busy weekend...lots of shopping, a basketball game to attend, and a haircut/color. My hair color looks awesome. I don't know how my stylist does it, but she is amazing! and she charged me $10 less than I thought she would, so that was a great deal, too.

I had to take some money out of savings for my chiropractic appointments. It's worth it, though - pain-free moments are slowly becoming more frequent. Smile

checked credit score again

May 5th, 2006 at 12:07 pm

I got my second free credit report for this year, and everything looks normal, except for a few weird address things. I can call and get those fixed, though. They removed the duplicate student loan, so that's great.

The only thing I'm a little bummed about is my credit score. According to Equifax, it's 765. Experian said it was 779 in January. I know they are different companies, so they're bound to be different...I was hoping it would be higher rather than lower, though.

I'll get the next one in September and see what it says! Equifax was a whole dollar cheaper for the score.

cross your fingers for me!

May 5th, 2006 at 06:58 am

I have another potential job opportunity on the horizon. It's in the hiring manager's hands now, and I won't hear more until next week. I really hope I get called in for an in-person interview, but there is a ton of competition! It would be a fascinating editing position and I would get paid more, I think. Keep your fingers crossed for me!! I am so sick of reading the material I'm editing now. Boring with a capital B.

Upcoming spending: Chiropractor tonight ($25), haircut and color this weekend ($90). I don't have anything else planned yet.

I've been meaning to go walking for the last few evenings, but my neck has been bothering me so much. Last night I had a massive headache and it has slithered over into today. Ugh. Sometimes I'd like to remove the pain receptors in my head.

I gave up diet pop and anything with aspartame in it. Every time I drank it, I noticed I developed a rash down the front of my neck. Not good! I don't drink regular pop either because of the calories, so I am straight up water now. Not a problem, since I've always loved water and usually drink about 100 fl oz a day. Having a full 32 oz water bottle on my desk is essential! At least I know that my headaches aren't caused by dehydration.

Here's to a pain-free weekend!

apple zucchini muffins (yum!)

May 3rd, 2006 at 07:34 pm

Tonight I made a ton of apple zucchini muffins, and let me tell you, they are delicious. They'll be great this summer when everyone is swimming in zucchini (and apples, if you're near an orchard!).

Here's the recipe, from Moosewood Restaurant New Classics cookbook:

Apple Zucchini Muffins

makes 12 muffins (although I doubled the recipe and it made 38!)

1 1/2 cups unbleached white flour
1/2 cup oat bran
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp salt
2 eggs
3/4 cup plain nonfat yogurt
3/4 cup brown sugar, packed
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1 cup grated zucchini
1 cup peeled, cored, and chopped apples

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Lightly oil the muffin tin. Place a paper liner in each cup.

In a bowl, sift together the flour, oat bran, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, and salt. Stir to mix evenly.

In a separate bowl, beat the eggs until pale yellow. Add the yogurt, brown sugar, and the vanilla, and beat until thoroughly mixed. With a rubber spatula, fold in the zucchini and apples. Stir the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients until just blended.

Spoon about 1/3 cup of batter into each muffin cup. Bake for 15 minutes, rotate the muffin tin in the oven to ensure even baking, and continue to bake for another 10 to 14 minutes. When a paring knife inserted into a muffin comes out clean, the muffins are done.

Remove the muffins from the tin and place on a wire rack. Serve hot, warm, or at room temperature. Allow to cool completely before storing in a sealed container.

Per 2.75 oz serving: 144 calories, 4.1 g protein, 1.5 g fat, 29.8 carbohydrates, 0.4 g saturated fat, 44.3 mg cholesterol, 16.4.4 mg sodium, 1.3 g total dietary fiber

sunshine day

May 2nd, 2006 at 09:04 am

This morning I went to the dentist. I hadn't been in about a year and half since my insurance changed and I had to switch dentists. I had a very nice Russian hygenist who was more gentle with my gums than anyone, ever. I liked her a lot, and now I have sparkling teeth!

Groceries last night = $49 for my half
Target last night = $8 for my half

I browsed through some cookbooks over the weekend and found recipes for low-fat apple zucchini muffins and tofu sloppy joes. Planning to try those out this week, now that I have the ingredients.

May is an expensive gift month.
- Dad's birthday: $57
- Mother's Day: $41
- Friend's birthday: $10 gift, dinner??
- Aunt's birthday: $25 donation to charity (I wasn't planning to spend anything, but she's my favorite aunt, and it corresponded with one of my goals)
- Mom & Dad's anniversary: $31

I spent $30 last night on 4 new t-shirts, since I regularly manage to slop something on myself, no matter how hard I try not to.

The sun is shining today!! A high of 70 degrees is predicted...perfect.

frugal? me?

May 1st, 2006 at 02:38 pm

Frugal things I did last weekend:
~ Didn't buy a birthday card to go with a gift (don't most people toss them anyway?): saved about $3
~ Brought beer from home to the birthday party instead of stopping at the liquor store: saved about $12
~ Bought a birthday gift that had a coupon attached to it: saved $2
~ Read a library book instead of buying one: saved about $7
~ Made caramel rolls instead of going to Perkins for Sunday breakfast: saved about $10
~ Made calzones for Sunday dinner instead of ordering pizza: saved about $15
~ Fast-forwarded through recorded TV shows instead of watching the commercials: prevented many "I want that" moments

I shot an entire roll of film with my new camera (or so I thought) and was all set to rewind it and get it developed, when I discovered that the film had never loaded properly. Lots of potentially good shots, gone with the wind. Saved $4 on processing costs, I guess. Stick Out Tongue I was sorely disappointed, though. That will teach me to be a wee bit more observant.

The last several days have been rainy, dreary, and depressing. I wish I loved rain. I enjoy it now and then but endless days of it really get to me. Last year we had something like 23 days of rain in May - I hope this year is not a recap.

I just read a blog elsewhere in which a woman complained bitterly about not getting the amount she thought she was getting from her parents for her wedding. Now, I'm not one for weddings, but saying that the average wedding costs $25,000 and planning to spend that much just seems crazy to me (unless you are sitting on $25,000, are independently wealthy, and a wedding means the world to you). Just because other people spend that much doesn't mean you have to.

If SO and I ever get married (don't hold your breath), the wedding will be small. Really small. As in, I'd like to elope, but I think we'd disappoint a lot of people if we did. I certainly don't expect a penny from my parents or his - I'd rather have them be happy in retirement, should they ever retire!

April's end...May's beginning

May 1st, 2006 at 07:40 am

APRIL GOALS
~ Pay double on my smaller college loan: YES!
~ Limit groceries/Target/eating out to $300: NO, $37 over goal. Pleased with groceries at $105 and eating out at $89. Not so pleased with Target at $143.
~ Drive to work no more than 5 times: NO, drove 8 times.
~ Put $600+ into savings (if tax return comes): NO, what was I thinking? $175.


MAY GOALS
~ Pay double on smaller college loan
~ Limit groc/Target/EO to $300
~ Drive to work no more than 5 times
~ Put $100+ into savings
~ Donate $25 to charity of choice