Tuesday, September 15, 2009

I really never get tired of New York at sunset


September 15: 82nd Street and Roosevelt Avenue, Jackson Heights

Tuesday, September 08, 2009

Excel = Love

DS Web: Office Sweets: "the world's sexiest excel spreadsheet"

Nature Calls

Earlier this summer, my apartment building finished work on a garden/patio/courtyard thing out back, seen here at its official opening party:

It's lovely...not that I've spent any time there...but I've considered it. Anyway, in the past few nights I've noticed an unmistakeable sound: crickets. Well, possibly just one cricket. But really? Crickets? Is there anything more annoying? In Queens, for god's sake?

This evening I heard something I'm pretty sure was a cicada. Or maybe a Mansquito. It was very unnerving. I live in the city because I don't like nature. I'm all about some oxygen-providing plants in a controlled setting, and the turtle in the pond is cute, but noise-making insects have no place here. Next thing you know we'll have wolves eating housecats and monkeys flinging poo at the windows.

I intend to call management and demand that concrete be poured over the whole mess tomorrow.

Saturday, September 05, 2009

On Twits

I reject the idea that technology has brought a scourge of rudeness to our society. Okay, true, the guy texting or twittering (I refuse to say "tweet," which I acknowledge is just as much an affectation as saying it) while having a conversation with you is probably being more overtly rude than he was before he had an iPhone, but chances are he would have been just as easily – if less noticeably – distracted before. Technology has provided new tools of distraction, but people have always zoned out or doodled during meetings, played Free Cell during conference calls, and read the side of the cereal box at the breakfast table.

Maybe, in a twisted way, it's better now. Now you know the douchebag on his Blackberry in the meeting isn't listening to you and can plan accordingly, whereas before you might have thought he was taking notes when he was really drawing spirals and spaceships.

Also: Oh hai. I've been thinking about blogging again. So, y'know, here's a post. Not a very good one...inauspicious start...

Sunday, February 22, 2009

On the Oscars

I hate the Oscars. Not the show. Not awards in general. No, I hate the way it turns me against the nominated movies.

I don't go to the movies much, and my Netflix queue is a mile long. So it's rare that I've seen many nominated films when the awards are actually given out. But it's also rare that I want to. Even before the nominations come out, I have this immediate, irrational distaste for "prestige movies." If something has even the faintest smell of Oscar-bait, I'm out. And after the nominations, forget it. I just assume it's pretentious and over-hyped and I don't want to see it.

While that's probably true of Benjamin Button, I'd probably like Milk and Slumdog and Revolutionary Road. But now I hate them, just because.

I do enjoy a good musical montage though!

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Caveat Emptor

Hey! Um, so I haven't blogged in quite a while, huh? I thought it had been longer, actually, but I did have to look to find that out. I've been feeling like getting back to it again lately, I'm not sure why. I've considered posting about shaving cream, Twitter, and video game boss fights, but of course, I'm back with a rant.

I was listening to Planet Money (which is amazing and you should all listen to it especially if you don't think you care about politics and the economy and don't know what's going on) and an otherwise very smart-sounding economist said something about people losing their homes "through no fault of their own" and I nearly threw my iPod out the window.

I've come close to blogging about this many times, but I thought, "Hey, I'm not that smart, I must be missing something." But I don't think I am.

Look, I know that lenders and brokers were "predatory," and I know that anyone who bought a home two years ago or so couldn't reasonably expect the bottom to drop out so dramatically. But what ever happened to "buyer beware?" Whatever happened to reading the fine print? To understand what you're signing when you're borrowing thousands of dollars? Especially the part about how the interest rate can change?

We need money education in this country almost as much as we need sex education. Maybe we can combine them. "Condoms cost less than babies!" College kids need to know that a credit card is not free money. Grown-ups need to learn that no one's going to just give you a house. There's nothing wrong with debt. Debt is useful. Debt can be a gift. But it is, by definition, something you have to pay back.

When Boy and I bought our apartment, we opted for a fixed-rate mortgage because, well, it's fixed. Our interest rate was higher than it would have been if we'd done an adjustable, but an adjustable, well, adjusts. And it does so unpredictably. We understood this in 2004, because we'd done our research. A higher rate now was worth less risk later. We knew going in what our payments would be, and we knew that if we did nothing, they would never change. We knew we could afford them. And that they won't go up, so as our salaries (hopefully) do, and the overall cost of living increases, their value will lower. We also, for various reasons, had to take a no-income-verification loan. The bank took a chance based on my good credit rating (unlike later, when they started taking chances based on nothing at all). But again, we knew we could afford it, or we wouldn't have done it. Because otherwise we'd be homeless.

Now, I should say that we had a fabulous, smart, ethical mortgage broker, which I know was the opposite of the case in all these sub-prime schemes. And those people should be punished. But I still don't see how that lets the borrowers off the hook. When I spend or borrow lots of money, it's as much my responsibility to do my homework as it is the salesman or lender's not to con me.

The situation has escalated, and is dire, and has so many effects elsewhere – I'm not saying I'm against bailouts or assistance (though I'm not saying I'm for them, either), I'm just saying "through no fault of their own" is bullshit.