Monday, March 31, 2008

Why is it that no one, including people who supposedly have degrees in English, understands the proper way to use commas? It isn't that hard, folks!

Or maybe I only think it isn't hard because I had to teach it to middle school kids.


Today sucks.


The details are...basically, the subprime mortgage mess screwed me out of a car.

My credit scores are better than they were in January (except for one bureau, because my student loan company stopped reporting to them for some mysterious reason). I have more money to put down. I have been living in the same place longer, and I have been working in the same place longer. I am the most financially, emotionally, and otherwisely stable I have been in my adult life. I haven't had a late payment on anything in over three years.

But I can't get a car unless I can give them $3800 down. On a $15000 car. Even if I purchased gap insurance, there is nothing they can do for me. I don't have $3800.

I'm just so frustrated. Because people were irresponsible enough to take out mortgages when they didn't have enough to pay them, and because mortgage companies were handing them out like they were...water, without verifying income and without a care about what would happen when interest rates adjusted, the rest of us, who don't have credit scores in the 750-800 range but who are responsible people who don't seek out a car loan until they have the money to actually pay a note are screwed.

I have no idea what I'm going to do. I can use the money I was going to use on a down payment on repairs instead, but am I just throwing good money after bad in a car whose power steering pump is failing? I think that is the most expensive repair outstanding, though an A/C compressor might give it a run for its money.

This is why I wish either that BR had better public transportation (if I took the bus, my 10 minute commute would turn into about 2 hours with about 2 miles of walking - part of it on a highway), or that I had insurance when I racked up the medical bills that are screwing me up right now (though for one, I did have insurance - the urgent care center billed the wrong insurance account, despite me providing them with the correct one multiple times). I wish capitalism didn't suck as much as it does suck sometimes. It's still better than the alternatives, I guess, but still...


Well, I got turned down for financing for a car. The same lenders who wanted to throw money at me in January now want 30% down on a 15K car. Not going to happen.

Stupid subprime mortgage mess. Stupid predatory lending. Stupid universe.

On a completely unrelated note, I hope those kids from yesterday are OK. They've been on mind pretty much constantly. Prayers would be a good thing.

Sunday, March 30, 2008

I might have done something really stupid tonight.

I was at the car wash tonight because, if everything goes well, I might be buying a new car tomorrow. That has nothing to do with the stupid thing, though.

So I was vacuuming out my car, and there were these two kids digging through the trash cans for aluminum cans. I couldn't hear them (because of the vacuum), so I just assumed they were young environmentalists who were planning to take the cans to recycle. It isn't farfetched - this is a college town, after all, and I've seen stuff like that before.

Well, after I finished and I was closing my doors, the boy came up to me and told me they (they were brother and sister) were trying to get together enough money to spend the night at the Salvation Army (they don't have a shelter here, but they do have a situation kind of like the YMCA in all those old movies).

Now normally, I'd just say "I'm sorry" and move on, or I'd say, "No, but let me buy you dinner." But something (and I have to think it was the Big Guy) told me that these kids were different. I honestly didn't have any money, though, so I asked them to stick around while I went to the ATM (I didn't tell them that was where I was going, of course).

Well, I went and got them some money, and when I came back, they were gone. Turns out the owner of the car wash chased them off, and they went over to the gas station a little ways up the street (thank God I saw them). They didn't want to take the full amount I was offering ($40), but I gave it to them anyway. I also got some of their story. It seems that the long-term shelter they were staying at in Lafayette closed, and that there were no spaces in any other shelters there (for those of you in PA, think...Johnstown when you are trying to conceptualize Lafayette in terms of size. A city, but a very small one). They decided to come to Baton Rouge (as did a about 12 other people - they all were given free bus tickets, though these kids had their parents' van...but I'm getting ahead in the story).

Well, they went to St. Vincent de Paul when they got here, but they wouldn't take both of them because the girl is still a minor (she's 17). I asked them how they ended up homeless and it turns out their parents died last year. They couldn't continue to get Social Security payments for the girl (I'm guessing because her brother doesn't have legal custody - he's only 23 and doesn't have a high school diploma, so he doesn't have any kind of a stable job), and his job wasn't enough to pay their rent, so they ended up on the streets. The guy said that since they had been here (Friday) he's applied at all the fast food places and stores along the main drag in my neighborhood, but it's hard to find a job without a permanent address and when you haven't bathed in several days.

I got the sense that there was more to the story that they weren't telling me, but there was an air of truth about them and and their story. The didn't look addicted, and I didn't smell alcohol, and I could see inside their van that every thing they owned in the world was in there. In addition to giving them some cash, I pointed them in the direction of a youth shelter here. He's too old to stay there, but she can, and they will help her get her GED if she wants it, and to find a job and all that good stuff. If she can stay there, he can stay at St. V de P, and maybe they can help him find a stable situation. I also gave them my cell phone number, and told them to call me if the youth shelter couldn't help them.

After I did my grocery shopping, I drove by the shelter and I saw what looked like their van parked on one of the side streets. I realized that I didn't know what to tell them if they did call me, so I e-mailed the director of pastoral ministry at St. Al's CCC and asked if I could send them her way if they call. I would normally have directed them to my church, but frankly, we don't have the kind of resources the CCC and the Catholic Church in general have here.

I don't know if I did the right thing. For all I know, they took that cash and went to their dealer somewhere and are getting high as I type this. But I honestly don't believe that. Even though it pains my little bleeding heart, I'm savvy enough to know that most people are just giving you a sob story. But I really did get a good vibe from them. Maybe it was the Holy Spirit whispering in my ear that I should help them. I don't know.

So maybe I got taken advantage of and enabled an addiction. Or maybe I gave a break to a couple of kids life has treated pretty shabbily. Only God knows, I guess.


I've been quiet lately, I know. I haven't said much of any substance. I've had deep thoughts, but the utter inability to put them to...whatever you put them to when you are posting to cyberspace rather than writing on paper. Sorry, everyone. I'm just in a slump.

So instead, I suggest you go read this post by Reverandmother (who I really should link to in my sidebar sometime. She has expressed my feelings on the whole Jeremiah Wright - Barak Obama thing much more eloquently than I can right now (as I said in her comments).

While you are there, read some of her other posts. I enjoy her blog a lot.

Friday, March 28, 2008

I sometimes wonder if growing up not-well-off will skew my perspective on money forever. I fret over spending money I have on things I need, but I'll spend little amounts on stuff I don't but that I like.

Perfect example. I need a new pair of summer shoes that are not tennis shoes or Birkenstocks. I love my Birks, but they just aren't dressy enough for church, for example. I found a pair I like, the look nice, they are comfortable, and they are $30. Now, I can afford $30, even though I just spent $70 on a new pair of tennis shoes (I have bad feet. I can't get away with cheapies with shoes I wear every day). But I've been spending the better part of the day agonizing about whether or not to buy them. Don't even get me started on my new car issues.

But I'll buy small luxuries without even thinking about it, like a vase I wanted to add to a collection I have, or an art card. Added up, these things are more expensive than the shoes I need more than want.

Sigh. My parents did a lot of good for me, but they really screwed my up where money is concerned. Of course, the jobs I had after college that barely paid more than minimum wage didn't help, but still.

Thursday, March 27, 2008

I Have Cramps

Big, ugly cramps. Not only in the usual place, but across my back.


At least I know why I've felt icky the past few days.

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

A little meme...

...for your reading pleasure whilst I deal with my current dry spell.

1. Your rock star name (first pet, current car): Muffy Breeze

2. Your gangsta name (fave ice cream flavour, favourite type of shoe) Vanilla Tennis Shoe

3. Your Native American name (favourite colour, favourite animal): Green Dog

4. Your soap opera name (middle name, city where you were born): Lynn Pittsburgh

5. Your Star Wars name (the first 3 letters of your last name, first 2 of your first name): Not answering this one because it is only one letter off from my real last name.

6. Superhero name (2nd favourite colour, favourite drink): Blue Green Tea

7. NASCAR name (the first names of your grandfathers): Frank John

8. Stripper name (the name of your favourite perfume/cologne/scent, favourite candy): Au Lait Caramel

9. TV weather anchor name (your 5th grade teacher’s last name, a major city that starts with the same letter): Hudzinski Harrisburg

11. Spy name (your favourite season/holiday, flower): Autum Lily (though that sounds more like a stripper name to me)

12. Cartoon name: (favourite fruit, article of clothing you’re wearing right now): Cherry Socks

13. Hippie name (What you ate for breakfast, your favourite tree): Sausage Biscuit Oak

Saturday, March 22, 2008

Here's a question for the ages. When The Ten Commandments was released in theaters originally, how the heck long was it? I haven't been watching it, but it's been on since 7, and it's still going strong. By my calculations, that makes almost 5 hours. Even allowing for about 45 minutes of commercials, that's insane.

I love The Onion, but this is horrible, and in really bad taste.

Shame on you, Onion writers!

Thursday, March 20, 2008

I don't understand the concept of calling off work just because you feel like it. I guess I wasn't raised that way, but I have never called off just because I didn't feel like going in. And there have been lots of days when I have gone in when I didn't feel well, particularly when I was teaching and couldn't find a sub (we were responsible for finding our own subs at the school were I taught, and there was only one or two subs on the list at any given time).

Maybe its a maturity thing.

I wish I had called off today. I only got about 3 hours sleep last night, and I'm on my last legs. I still have church ahead of me, too.


Sorry I've been so quiet, internet friends (and real-life friends, for that matter). I have lots I've wanted to write about, but every time I sit down to write about it, I hate the way it sounds so I don't click publish.

Oh, and I have recovered (more or less) from how sick the fish at the church fish fry made me. It's a shame, too, because it was really tasty.

Saturday, March 15, 2008

I think my church poisoned me.

More later.


OK. Just let me get this off my chest. I'm about to express an opinion that may not be popular with parents out there, but I don't really care.

The Louisiana Legislature just passed this bill. Basically, it allows parents of private school students to take a deduction of up to $2500 of tuition, books, uniforms, etc for each child on their taxes. Parents of public school kids can do the same for uniforms and books.

This makes me angry as a non-child having person. Families with children already get all kinds of breaks on their taxes. I know it is expensive to raise children. But why should single people and married people without children shoulder so much more of the tax burden in our state? It's discriminatory.

And don't get me started on the private school tuition part. If parents want to send their kids to private school, fine. That is their choice. My parents did it for elementary school. But the key word there is CHOICE. No one forces parents to send their kids to private school. I'll grant you that the public schools here leave much to be desired, but is the answer really to take more potential money away from the public schools?

I am utterly and completely opposed to this. I will be letting my legislators know (if I can figure out who they are), and I am saying right here and now: Governor Jindal, if you sign this bill, I will lose respect for you and your administration. And I am one of the Democrats who supported you both times you ran for Governor.

I'm starting to think that my friend who never votes for Republicans, no matter how much better they seem as candidates, has the right idea.

Stupid state.

Thursday, March 13, 2008

Fran Drescher was in the premier episode of Fame, the early 80's TV series.

Just thought you all should know.

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

It's 8 a.m., and I'm at work about 2.5 hours earlier than usual. I shouldn't have to pretend to be alive before the sun is even all the way up.


Monday, March 10, 2008

Just saw in the paper that my aunt died yesterday. I have deeply mixed feelings about that. I sent a plant. I'm embarrassed to admit that I sent the least expensive plant I could find (and that was pretty expensive).

I need to process this more before I say anything else.

Quick Note...

I'm putting this here because I'm hoping someone will do a search and find this.

If you are running (or trying to run) Windows Vista Home Premium with less than 2G of RAM, upgrade your RAM. I had been having nothing but problems (blue screens, freezes, "Superfetch" errors, etc.) running on 1G. I upgraded my RAM this weekend and it's like I have a completely different computer. It's amazing. I've been using my computer continuously for the past 11 hours, and I have had absolutley no issues. It's amazing.

Just a piece of friendly advice...

Sunday, March 09, 2008

I skipped church. Yes, I feel guilty. Yes, I'm already punishing myself. But I have to work (which I'm doing from home), and the time change really threw me off last night. Plus I feel kind of crappy. Headache (when DON'T I have a headache, though?), congestion (allergies, I think), and general blahness.

I have a post semi-written that I may or may not post when it's done. Just letting you know I'm still alive.

Oh, and Louisiana elections are just as screwed up as the rest of the world (except PA, which, despite using the old lever machines, always seemed to run smoothly). I'll explain later.

Tuesday, March 04, 2008

I Love Rowlf!

Maybe one of my Ohio readers can help me out. What is so difficult about elections up there? This year they run out of ballots. I seem to remember issues in 2000 and 2004 as well. Can't they just print extra ballots, and use the ones that aren't needed as scrap paper or recycle them or something? I know they are experiencing record turnouts, but they've had record turnouts in most big states (Louisiana did not have a record turn out. In fact, it was very low. But people were still recovering from their Mardi Gras hangovers, so I guess that isn't a shock.). Couldn't they plan ahead for that?

And why are they still using paper ballots? Enter the 20th century folks!

(And yes, I know it's the 21st century. I'm being all ironic and sarcastic and stuff.)

Elmo Ruined Sesame Street.

That is all.