Monday, November 23, 2009

Comments, comments

Recently, I've gotten some comments that are less than stellar. These have mostly been on old blog posts and I found out I can moderate posts older than 14 days. This seemed a reasonable compromise to me, as I really don't want to moderate. I spend too many hours away from the computer and wouldn't be able to moderate in a timely fashion.

Just today I got a post on a recent blog entry that seems a little racy. I can't guarantee that the link that was posted is to a porn site, but it sure sounds that way and I'm not going to test it.

So what to do? Do I turn on moderation and only allow legitimate posts? Or do I just accept this as part of the cost? It actually shows that my blog is hitting higher on some search engine somewhere, so I guess that's a good thing.

(Note, I posted this entry twice. In the process of some other clean up, I deleted the first entry).

The Xbox caper - Score: Parents 1, teenager 0 (second try)

(Due to what seemed to be "unusual" comments, I deleted this post and I'm reentering it).

Seems this 15 year old boy was having a good time with his Xbox when his mean old parents took it away. Feeling deprived of his rights, he decided to call 911. Apparently, he became a little shy and hung up the phone rather than talk to the 911 operator.

Fortunately for all of us (except the teen in this case), 911 hang-ups result in a dispatch of police. After all, the person who called 911 could be in need of assistance. So police traced the call and arrived at his house.

Once they were there, the teen asked the police if his parents had a legal right to take away the Xbox. While the article doesn't explicitly answer that question, the police did advise the young man to listen to his parents.

The article goes on the say "There's no indication of why the video game system was taken away or what the teen was playing. The Xbox, along with other up-to-date video game systems, include parental controls which can lock the system and prevent a child from playing."

Seems the parents may have used their own version of parental controls and that their version was quite effective. Score: Parents 1, teenager 0.


Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Is your cash well?

I recently saw an ad on TV for an installment loan from a company named CashWell. The ad went out of it's way to point out that this was NOT a payday loan, it was an installment loan with little or no paperwork. Sounds too good to be true, walk into a storefront and walk out with $1500 without a lot of paperwork or one of those nasty payday loans.

So, I checked into CashWell installment loans. According to this website, the rate on the loans can be as much as 248%. Rates are lower for higher loan amounts, but in my state the lowest rate is 207%. Say for example, you borrow $1000 and agree to pay it back on a bi-weekly basis over the course of the next year. My amortization schedule generated by Excel shows a payment of $92.20. At the end of the year you will have paid $2,397.11 for this loan. Not a bad return for CashWell.

I've spoken before about payday lending and it's cousin title lending (see here and previous posts). This new type of "installment" loan falls into the same category. At best, it's something to be avoided. At worst, it's something to be outlawed.

Monday, November 16, 2009

In real estate - everyone's an expert

Some of you know that our house was recently on the market. "Was" is the operative word. The contract we had with the sales agent expired and we've decided to pull the listing all together. Oddly enough, we had a showing on Saturday - the last day of the contract. If that prospect shows any promise, good, otherwise we'll stay where we're at for a while.

Everyone we've talked to about the sale has reasons that things didn't go well this time. We've gotten references of 3 or 4 agents and we appreciate them. We've also heard from people who can explain what we need to do different.

It occurred to me that real estate is one area where everyone knows something. They have good ideas (and many are truly good) and aren't afraid to express them. It's been an interesting 3 months and I'm sure it will be interesting when we put the house on the market again....

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Happy Veteran's day and thank you for your service

I made calls to some veterans and veterans family members today. Hopefully I didn't forget any.

I should also thank some of my blogger friends - DJ Black Adam at who is a former Marine. Steve over at is former Army. I thank you (and the others I'm sure I missed) for your service.

I spoke to a parent of an active duty Airman and thanked him for his sacrifice, for letting his son Stephen go to Baghdad. He said he wasn't sure he had any choice in the matter and I reminded him that it didn't mean it was any less of a sacrifice on his part. He had a lot of sleepless nights and worrisome days. The son is back stateside and even at home for another week before he heads back to Texas.

To Adam who served and "played" in two deserts (Afghanistan and Iraq), to Kevin who is in the reserve and working towards full time duty when he finishes school, thank you. We are very proud of you.

To David who "played" in Iraq the first time around and spent 22 years in the Air Force, and to Ed and Peggy who spent 4 years in the Air Force (and found each other) I say thank you. Your service ended several years ago, and I'm not sure I realized how important it was at the time.

And finally, for my dad, who spent 4 years in Japan "typing letters to generals' wives", who planted grass in Seattle before he went over there, then had to cut the same grass when he came back, thank you. Your service was always in my mind growing up. It gave me a respect for the military and all it does for us.

Saturday, November 07, 2009

Where do you cross the line in the workplace?

It's been a busy week and I haven't been able to blog. But I saw this news article today and had to comment. The headline says "Massachusetts Man Says He Was Fired for Telling Colleague Her Gay Marriage Is Wrong".

The story is that Peter Vidala worked at Brookstone and a manager from another store visited. While she was there she commented on her impending homosexual marriage (which is legal in Massachusetts - where both Peter and she live). Peter returned with his views opposing the relationship. As a result of his negative comments, Peter was fired. He was told that he was "entitled to (his) own beliefs," but that "imposing them upon others in the workplace is not acceptable."

In part, I agree with Brookstone. However, they didn't do adequate research into why Peter expressed his beliefs. Apparently, the manager explained about her upcoming marriage and "mentioned four times that she had married her partner." Now it's highly possible that she was excited about her marriage (I was excited when I got married and probably told people a lot), but mentioning this four times is a little excessive.

In fact, Peter said he felt "intentionally goaded" and that "she knew how I felt about homosexuality." If that's the case, the manager was wrong to bring up the issue and Peter was being harassed for his beliefs.

In today's world, it's very likely that we will all have to work with someone who believes differently. We should be able to express those beliefs WITHIN LIMITS without fear of recrimination. Likewise, if we are offended by someone's beliefs, we should simply express that we don't want to discuss the matter and that should be the end of the discussion.

The manager in this case violated this principal. When she realized (or if she knew ahead of time) that she was discussing something that offended Peter, she should have changed the subject. Brookstone should not employ managers who intentionally cause divisiveness.