Monthly Archives: March 2009

Diminished Returns

I get furious every time I read something like this. Yes, I get that some young people are totally irresponsible with their first credit card…I was.  However, for those that don’t have wealthy parents or full ride scholarships, (like someone who carries a “D” average in High School but can dunk a basketball, for instance) credit cards provide a bridge between the time a student is in school, until the time they can begin earning.

Part of me would be more sympathetic to the banks that issue the cards if they weren’t so damn deceptive in their business practices.  It has always irritated me that credit card issuers are able to arbitrarily “adjust” the interest rate on your card.  Again, if interests rates soar, I can see the need for banks to raise rates…but that is seldom the case.  If you are late with them, or, late with another card you hold, or, in dispute with a vendor or retailer, or, EVEN IF THEY DON’T LIKE WHERE YOU USE YOUR CARD, they can and will raise your interest rate.  The rate hike is almost never proportional, that is, it is frequently doubled, or even tripled!

Many grown-ups have trouble managing debt.  Expecting a college freshman, straight out of high school, to be able to manage theirs is ridiculous.  I think that is the point, maybe.  Do banks intend to saddle young people with crushing debt that could take a lifetime to repay?  I’m beginning to think so.  If not, why aren’t they more selective?  Or, why not lower card limits?  A $2500.00 credit limit can do a great many things….pay for a car repair, books, etc.  Easy, nearly limitless credit drives up prices for everyone, and allows colleges to charge nearly anything.

I wish credit card companies were banned from campuses.  If you can ban alcohol, you can ban credit card companies.

For years, we have told our young people to seek degrees in law or business and the easy life would follow.  I’m wondering about those kids and their parents that mortgaged houses and sacrificed for years to send a kid to school, who is about to graduate this June with a degree in business.  It will interesting to see how many years working at Circuit City it will take to justify that pricey diploma.  Oh, wait.

I know that credit cards and college costs are only connected by the barest of threads, but both seem more than a little predatory on our young, emerging workforce.

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Counter Intuitive

Well, just when I finally make up my mind about raising chickens, (I’m going to throw caution to the wind, and probably a few chickens to the hawks, but, I’m in) I read an article in The Farm Show about two guys that raise sheep, and sell the wool.  I have no interest in shearing sheep per se, but what caught my eye was that the sub-quality wool, typically thrown out because it has no value to fabric makers or what have you, now has a market:  as insulation.

Anybody out there ever live on a sheep farm?  I have acreage, good grass, even in Winter, and produce enough hay to supplement…but I have no idea whats involved with raising/shearing sheep.  Ever since my goats became small, horned horses, I am hesitant to introduce new animals here until i know more about them.  Maybe i should visit a sheep farm. (Ranch?)

I can’t believe I’m considering even more mouths to feed around here.  But mark my words, I will eat a fresh chicken by Summer’s end.  First, though, I have to talk the Primary Wife or The Missus into plucking the sonofabitch…

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Mesmerized

Normally, I don’t read or share stories like this one. I hate the paparazzi, I hate “tell all” rags and websites, and I usually stop reading HuffPo about a third of the way down because I don’t care about celeb “news”.  But I had to share this for one reason…it is entirely coincidental to my day yesterday.

I took the Primary Wife to Opry Mills Mall yesterday so she could pick up something for Supermousey’s B-day.  As malls go, I don’t mind this one too much, it has a Sun n Ski sports shop that I like, and a tool store that carries hard to find stuff, and I can kill hours drooling over saws, clamps, pnuematic accessories and air compressors.  Normally, I walk fast through the other parts of the mall, as it is filled with pushy kids hawking everything from sea salt scrubs to hair straighteners.

But, its the Shammy guys I love to watch.  I am in awe when i see them at work.  I’m pretty comfortable giving presentations, to 4 or 400 people.  But I just couldn’t do what these guys do.  Once they get a couple of gullible tourists at their kiosk, they launch into a demonstration/presentation/sales-pitch that is a throwback to carnival barker days.  Constant chatter, constant engagement with their audience.  What they really do well, though, is instantly recognize buying signals, and they can close one person while still presenting to the rest.  It really is a thing of beauty.

I laugh when I see people walking through that mall clutching their little yellow towels they over-paid for.  And there are a lot of them.

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Damn Good Read

Totally appropriate for “Feel Good Friday”, since I find this article hopeful rather than pessimistic.

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FGF- Please No Cowbell Jokes

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A Legend in The Making

What?  Drawings aren’t legal currency?  Who knew?  God this made me laugh.  Be sure to read the bottom exchange.  I dare you not to LOL.

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Torching The Toyota

There is truly nothing new under the sun.  In another life, I was a claims adjuster for upstart company that specialized in sub-standard insurance policies.  It was a pretty good place to work, and they treated their employees well, and I thought they gave their customers a fair shake.  In fact, they were the only insurance company that would consider hiring me as I lacked a college degree.  They dominate that market today.  Because we had a high risk customer base, it was important that we have a good investigations unit, and as a subrogation specialist, I interacted with them frequently.

So I had to laugh, just a little, when I read reports that owner perpetrated vehicle insurance fraud rates are skyrocketing. The article, though reporting on something somewhat sobering, is often pretty amusing.  The police detective in charge of the fraud investigations is quoted as saying that “sometimes they find owners that still smell like gasoline”.  One 19 yr old kid suffered 2nd degree burns torching his girlfriend’s car.  Heck, I remember a case where two neighbors thought they could just swap cars, each report theirs as stolen, and not have to make any more payments.  Some people get even more creative.

Of course its a sign of the times, but just like homeowners with no stake in their house, car buyers that put little or nothing down have no stake in their vehicles.  Believe me, if you had even a 20%  interest in your car, you would find a way to sell it before setting it ablaze.

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Finally!

The grown-ups are home.

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“Find Your Way Home”

fywh-cover

Around three weeks ago, I was asked to read a copy of a book and “review” it here at The Chronicles.  It was the first such request made of me, and I was a little flattered and a more than a little uneasy, since I have no formal training as a reviewer, or as an editor.  I wasn’t afraid of being ridiculed, but I didn’t want to let anyone down, and I knew how much this book meant to those that worked on it.  For awhile, I struggled over the format of my “review”, and eventually, I just elected to let the words flow and be confident that my awe and respect for the effort would be clear to the Reader.

Its funny, to me anyway, how we manage to parse, slice, bend, and compartmentalize God.  Some time ago, I made my peace with the idea that God indeed exists, and I am usually hesitant to share my perspective about him/her.  I don’t intend to write about that today, but I think I need to reveal the filter through which I accepted this opportunity.  The boiled down version of my “belief” is that God doesn’t just exist inside each person, but that each person is simply God, manifested as an opportunity for himself to experience his own creation.  To me, if imitation is indeed the sincerest form of flattery, then surely the act of actually becoming is the sincerest form of love.  With the exception of the last chapter, (and I make this point not to quibble, but to at least try to remain consistent with my own beliefs) I feel that the women of Thistle Farms have produced a small book,(I actually carried it in the back pocket of my jeans on my way to sit and read it) with an immense message of transformation, hope, compassion, and love.

The book is a quick read, at least the first time.  I found much more between the covers on the second and third read, though.  Consider just the first word in each of the Chapters:

Proclaim

Cry

Find

Think

Let

Forgive

Unite

Show

Laugh

Consider

Listen

Lose

Remember

Every one of those words is powerful and important, no, crucial, to those seeking what I have come to believe is Grace.

Midway through the book, there is a page that carries with it a single proclamation:  I am from

I think the words written on that one page affected me the most.  I too, am “from” many things, some from long ago, some from this morning, that I am grateful to be from and not “in.”  I may have the message wrong, but to me, the women in the book have decided that forgiveness is immediate, and that you must extend that forgiveness to yourself first.  Experience forgiveness, become forgiveness.  Experience love, become love.

I’d really like to see this book made available to those who find themselves incarcerated.  I’d like to see it on High School Library shelves.  I’d like to see it on tables, displayed at churches everywhere.  I intend to have my children read it when they get a little older.  I hope that by doing so, it will let the Women of Magdalene know how much their words meant to me.

I wrote about my visit to Thistle Farms here.  It was interesting to do this a bit backwards.  I didn’t read the book, become interested, then visit.  I visited first, then read the book.  Both experiences offered much.  I hope that a few others will be moved to offer these women some exposure for their collective effort, perhaps some might even be moved to get involved in some other way.  I am grateful that I had this opportunity, so, to everyone at Thistle Farms, Becca, Carolyn, volunteers and staff, and, of course, to the women themselves,

Thank you.

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FGF For Supermousey

What do Supermousey, Sarah Vaughn, Maria Carey, and Quentin Tarentino all have in common?

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