Friday, July 25, 2008

Vent, Breathe, And Repeat

In the old days, I used to pen rambling, *angry-man* posts covering a potpourri of subjects. Right now I am feeling nostalgic.

As a most Captious dude, every little thing that is wrong, illogical, or annoying pops to the fore of my attention. I have notebooks and scraps of paper where I jot all these realizations down. It's not uncommon for me to get up in the middle of the night and scribble one down. From 12:30 am last night:

- Why does my father, when you ask him if he's hungry, JUST HAVE TO LOOK AT HIS WATCH? What exactly is the correlation between the pangs of hunger and Eastern Standard Time?

What I really should do is, while he's nodding off in his armchair, I should stealthily put a piece of tape or something on his watch. Then, I will rouse him with my hunger question. How funny would it be to see him peeling off the tape before he answers? What a YouTubable event!

As pubescents, my brother and I used to put potato chips in our father's wide-open mouth while he dozed off. It really pissed him off.

Honor thy parents?

Well, the Commandments weren't posted anywhere in the house...

Last week, 53 year-old Greg Norman was leading the British Open by two strokes entering the final round. He didn't pull off what would have been one of the most amazing 'old coot' victories in sports history but he nonetheless played some amazing golf.

How infuriating must the media coverage have been for his ex-wife to bear? All they talked about was the "positive influence" of Greg's new wife - Chris Evert Lloyd Mills Norman.

I guess, more aptly, we should call Greg "her new husband".

With his old wife (a "negative influence"?) he only managed to win two majors and became the top ranked player in the world for quite some time.

Above is a pic of the two marriages that were destroyed. They were good friends and neighbors for years beforehand.

The wedding must have been weird for the kids:

Greg Norman and Chris Evert wed in the Bahamas on June 28, 2008. There were all 140 guests attended a sunset wedding ceremony. Evert's youngest son Colton Jack, 12, served as ring bearer, and sons Nicholas Joseph, 14, and Alexander James, 16, walked her down the aisle. The three boys were from a marriage of Chris Evert and Andy Mill. Also present were Norman's daughter Morgan, 23, and son Gregory Jr., 21, who served as best man.

For more on Greg Norman, see my prior post.

The problem with a rising oil price is that, well, it affects almost everything. For instance, high oil drives up the price of natural gas and coal - two other substitute sources of energy. Electricity rates nationwide are about to get raised drastically. Take California for example:

The rising price of natural gas is one of the reasons why Southern California Edison, the largest utility in California, recently warned customers it would be requesting a sharp increase in rates. Mid to high use residential customers can expect a rate hike in excess of 30 percent. For their overall system of 4.8 million customers, the average rate increase will be 25 percent.

I assume we're going to get slammed pretty badly up here in New England as well. Maybe those 'old coots' were on to something running around turning of lights in unoccupied rooms after all?

My wife took my 3.5 year-old son to see this new Pixar animated film Wall-E.

I believe the essence of the film is that humans destroyed the earth and everyone had to move to outer space. Somehow this "Wall E" robot was able to revive life on Earth. I didn't see the movie but my wife was disgusted by the eco-pagan propaganda. Read the reviews and form your own conclusions.

In my opinion, here's the problem with our current political *system*.

On one hand you have the party of Big Government, the outright socialists, i.e. the Democrats. And on the other hand you have the party of Slightly Less Big Government, the bull-market-capitalists and bear-market-socialists. Clearly, the latter is better than recreating the USSR as the Big Morons would have us do.

The failing of the GOP however is that it's decided to play "match play" against its fumbling opponent. The game of government, the appropriate and efficient administration of taxpayer monies should be stroke play. Republicans should be shooting for par, NOT trying to beat the socialists' quadruple bogey by one shot.

We need a new political party, an un-party with no *management* and no organized fundraising. We need just a collection of people to associate and work against our country's greatest *systematic risk* - the entrenched party duopoly.

As a nation we could fix just about any problem and any threat be it financial, military, or whatnot....but not if our tools are broken.

In the flat-Earth, internet age of today my prescription is more possible than ever - though it could still take many years to actualize.

Can someone please stand up and propose a plan to eliminate mail once and for all?

There's nothing that the mailman drops in my box that I have ever *needed*; nothing that couldn't have been sent electronically.

One side benefit of having had five different addresses over the past 7 years is that our junk mail is minimal. The longer you stay somewhere, the more you get bombarded with it.

Where are my good friends, the eco-pagan environmentalists when I need them? Think of all the dead trees!

If I were dictator, the US Postal Service would be near first on the chopping block.

Really, why the heck do we have one arm of the government disseminating needless trash to every house in America - trash that then must be picked up by another inefficient government entity?

The Boston Globe recently profiled this family and their struggles to keep up with college tuition payments. Of course, tuitions have been rising, the student loan market shut down, and HELOCs (home equity lines of credit) have become much more difficult to acquire thanks to the housing bust.

The Ferragutos are applying to borrow money through the loan program at Holy Cross, but do not yet know how much they will receive. Even with grants from the school and a work-study program, they will still be responsible for a $24,000 bill. Like many Americans, the family has tapped every available source to fund their sons' educations, including home equity loans, and borrowing against their 401(k) retirement plan. One year, Michael took out a student loan in his own name.

"It's always just a little more than we say we can afford," Maria said.

Especially since Michael, 20, a music and French major, is not getting the $6,000 music scholarship he was awarded last year. The school said the funds came from a limited endowment and were not available this year. In light of that, Maria has sent a letter of appeal asking Holy Cross to consider providing more assistance. The school reviews such appeals after the Aug. 1 tuition due date.

Meantime, everyone in the Ferraguto family is helping out. Michael works as a cashier at a restaurant, and he's selling subscriptions for Boston Baroque, an orchestra and choral group. His father, a salesman for a concrete company, drives a limousine on weekends to earn extra money.

So everyone is bending over backwards annually for $47,500 so this *kid* can study Music and French?

Couldn't he do that on his own, perhaps utilizing a free library, and spending a whole lot less than $200,000???

By the way, this type of all-out self-sacrifice is exactly how my parents were when sending their four kids to college. We had no restrictions on what we could or couldn't study. Of course, tuitions were at about half of today's nosebleed levels AND we got considerable grant money. Parents in the upper middle class are the ones who bear the biggest financial burden; these are the people who need to opt for state schools or even vocational schools to send the colleges the message that a degree today simply isn't worth what they are charging for it.

The richest line in the article quoted above is:

One year, Michael took out a student loan in his own name.

Egad! A twenty year-old collides with personal responsibility? What a *progressive* society we have today!

Why build up home equity? Why save for retirement at all if you are just going to flush it down the toilet for your children's *higher education*?

Alright, now I am sufficiently worked up for a Friday morning, it's time for my yoga.

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