Procrastination (But I Digress)

Friday, October 24, 2008

Stupidity is not a liability

This is a quote I heard this morning. Someone talking about the ridiculous problems we have in this country with our economy quoted Napoleon "Stupidity is not a liability for Politicians" It's frightening how well it fits.

There's a new tv show called "Life on Mars" about a cop who gets hit by a car and wakes up in 1973. The look of horror and disbelief on his face when he encounters blatant, unapologetic prejudice is how I feel watching Palin. It's painful to realize that this person could be President someday. I was so naive and dumb to think it just couldn't get worse than Bush.

I got an e-mail from a friend who said that there's going to be a reverse Bradley effect in this election. [The Bradley effect is where people don't want to appear prejudice so they said in the exit poll that they voted for the popular black candidate for Governor, but in the booth they voted for the white guy.] Republicans will tell all their friends at church that they would never vote for Obama and then in the privacy of the voting booth, they'll realize that its the only choice that makes any sense.

Napoleon ended up losing and in exile, right?

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

History in the Making and Color me Green

I saw a frontline episode last week about the current presidential election. It was presented in the way that you would present a historical event, showing the highlights with commentary by a number of analysts to put it into context. They simply touched on the highlights and explained the deeper meanings of the events. Maybe I watch too much public television, but the events that they showed were the important events that I remembered, especially with regard to the changes I've felt in John McCain over the years. But I started to cry when Obama spoke about how he loved his white Grandmother who was at times racist. That I had missed. I already admired his ads that while critical of McCain, criticize the policies and not the man. As much as I've always admired Hillary Clinton, I am completely convinced that Obama will make a better president. I am afraid for our country if we fail to elect him and I am thrilled for our country that we are lucky enough that he is willing to serve as our president. I believe that we have some very difficult times to come (baby boomers are going to take a big bite out of social security any minute now and it's not even on the radar given all the other problems we are facing). Obama is inspiring and intelligent. We need that. Someone said that they wanted to vote for Obama, because he will look like a good president to the rest of the world. I think they are right--he would increase our esteem overnight. I want to write a letter to McCain and apologize for not choosing him--as much as I admire his independence and straight talk, I do not agree with his policies and I am frightened by his constitutes (as he seems to be at times as well).

In other news, I bought gas for the first time since I purchased my new car 16 days ago. It would only take a little less than 4 gallons and the guy at the gas station was kind of upset to give me so much change back. I'm averaging over 40 miles to the gallon. I saw a program about solar energy on PBS last night--I really think I need that. I think I have greenitis.

Thursday, October 09, 2008

Planes and automobiles

My new car is lovely--nice new car smell--every surface is new and shiny. I am disappointed with the leather, though. It feels like cheap vinyl and it gets really hot in the sun. I had something very soft and luxurious in mind when I ordered it. I prefer it to the alternative which was that sticky microfiber cloth that I can't stand, but I'm still disappointed. And then there is the seat. Something is wrong with the seat. I just can't get comfortable. I guess I am getting used to it and it will save gas which was really part of my goal, because driving is somewhat taxing on my derriere. Saving gas is rather cool. Usually after one week of driving, I am down a half of a tank of gas and really glad that I haven't used a whole tank of gas. It's been one week and the fuel has only moved 1/10th of the way down (there are little bars). The computer says that I am averaging 40.1 miles to the gallon and I've gone over 100 miles, but the fuel gage is so cute with all those bars still in place.

I went on a plane this week for a business trip. I had to book at the last minute and was pleased to pay less than $300 to go to Sacramento. There was a time that I would have considered it ridiculous to spend more than $100 to fly somewhere in state (and still not have been able to afford it), but I was actually pleased to get this price. Of course, I forgot my book, but I was able to look at the magazine of all the cool things there are to buy that no one can afford on the flight there.

After court, I had about two hours to kill so I walked over to the Hard Rock Cafe for lunch. Yes, I bought another tee shirt. I was trying to do the math and I think I have owned over 100 tee shirts from there. After I purchased the tee shirt I realized that it would not fit in my purse and my briefcase was stuffed, so I was a little concerned about bringing it on the plane, but I made some room in the brief case. At one point I was staring into space looking at a commercial for the Hard Rock Cafe hotel in Chicago, day dreaming that I should go there and a manager stopped to say hello. She told me that I could join the Hard Rock Cafe club to get discounts at the Hard Rock Cafe and went into a speel. Now I don't buy into clubs, I don't use coupons, I don't buy warrantees, etc., but this gal had me at hello. There's a list of all the Hard Rock Cafes around the world on the back of the card--that alone was worth the price of admission.

My seat was too small on the airplane--sardines have more room in a tin can. With my thigh smashed against my neighbors thigh I remembered that I paid for this privilege and was happy with the low cost. Lamenting at the sorry state of my life, I ran across a quote from Dennis Leary in his book about America which was something like, we are so privileged in the US and have been for several generations, that we don't even realize it and feel completely entitled to more.

Thursday, October 02, 2008

The Irs and bad plumbing are ruining my good news

Do you want the good news first--I am the proud new owner of a prius. When I was searching on the internet for information about hybrids, the commentators all rated the prius the best and one even called it the King. Me, I was sure that if it was the best, it would cost more than I had and only be available in an ugly color. So I went last night to test drive a honda civic hybrid. I have a honda accord now and I like it a lot--heck, I love it and I don't want to give it up, but if I don't buy a new car now while I have the funds other things will come along and then I won't have any money and my seven year old car will break down and I will be very, very sad. Adrienne is looking for a car and my honda is a great car--it'll last another 10 years (well, maybe 10 is stretching it).

I hated the honda civic hybrid. They are going for the sports car look on a car that has the drawback of being rather slow. Well, I don't want a sports car. I'm pretty conservative in my style (ha, ha, I said that I have style). Anyhoo, the honda guys were very nice--I told them that I wanted to look at a few other options and I think deep down they knew that I was not buying that car. The internet said that there was a toyota dealer in Glendale and Sirapi said that her sister had a Camry hybrid that she loved. Norm also has a Camry hybrid that he recommended, so what the heck, I'll take a look. I walk into the Toyota dealership and it was pretty quiet. There was a guy in a white shirt who looked like he might work there, so I asked him about the camry. He said, oh yes, and thus started his very enthusiastic sales mode. Rocky used to be a truck driver--he takes me upstairs and we walk around for hours in the heat while he goes back and forth trying to find a camry, but finally after he says sorry we don't have any, I find one. It is red. I am not buying a red car. It only gets 32 miles per gallon and after looking at the civic hybrid, my heart is set on 45. Rocky will not be deterred. Why don't I try a prius. You have a prius on the lot I ask, oh yes, says Rocky and I can get it any color you want, because we have them in stock so we can trade with other dealers. I liked the mint green that was not on the internet. The colors of the prius on the internet were awful, but Rocky says, we can get you green, gold, anything you want. While he's going back and forth looking for keys and such, I check out the stickers in the eight or so prius' that they have on the lot. The price is right (well outrageous, but within what I was expecting to pay), the mileage is not the average between 40 and 45, like the Civic, but 45 on the highway and 48 in the city--that's right higher mileage in the city than on the highway. So I'm not liking any of the colors too much, but Rocky is promising me any color I want, so I agree to a test drive. I fell. Completely and irrevocably in love with that car. There is a camera in the back so that you look at a screen to see when you are backing up. The controls for the radio and climate control are on the steering wheel. It was a smooth ride and the acceleration was very good. The back seat folds down making a great deal of space in the trunk area.

So I am telling myself that I am not buying this car tonight, but I'll let him give me a price and see if there are any surprises. Of course there was a surprise. They wanted me to pay an additional $5,000 premium because there is such a demand for the prius. I knew there had to be a catch so I said thank you and got up to leave. No, no, says Rocky, let me see what I can do. Long story a tiny bit shorted, I signed a contract and I own a dark grey prius. It's nice and conservative (I didn't want to wait for him to try to find a mint green or gold and then find other reasons to charge me more money).

So this morning should be a red letter day--I should be shouting from the rooftops with my overwhelming joy and I am-- when I forget the other stuff. The bad news is that I woke up at 6:19 a.m. to the sound of water flowing. A lot of water flowing. I thought it was just too loud to be a shower running, so I went outside to see if the sprinklers had run amuck. Sure enough there was a large geyser going off in the back yard. My sleepy eyes could not focus on the sprinkler controls so I just unplugged the thing after pressing every button. The water didn't stop. So I called the plumber. The office opens at 7 a.m., do I want to call it an emergency or wait until 7 a.m.. Knowing that my bank account was a whole lot lighter with my latest purchase, I said, I'll wait. Five minutes later, I called back and said I can't wait--the water was just gushing and gushing. At 7:30 someone finally came. I have no idea what this latest in a long line of plumbing problems is going to run.

Then there is the irs. A few years ago I finally had a few extra bucks and I have been contributing to an ira--it was long overdue and I was so happy that I was finally able to put something aside for retirement. Last week I got a letter from the irs and they said I do not qualify for the deduction, because I have a retirement plan. No I don't. What are they talking about. That's just silly. But wait there's more. This year I have a bunch of money that needs to go into a self employment ira. I really need to protect this money in a retirement fund--it is very important. But if the irs thinks that I am already in a retirement plan, then I can't do it. This will be a financial disaster. I look back at my old tax return to figure out why the irs thinks that I belong to a retirement plan. Horror of horrors, there is a check in a box on the tiny little w-4 that I get from the school district for my little part time teaching job. I belong to the teachers retirement fund. I think I actually have about $200 in that fund. My current tax liability for losing my ira deduction is over $2,000. But wait, there's more--no further ira deductions while I belong to the plan. So I call the school district and beg to be dropped from the plan. I will have to separate from service (terminate my employment, abandon my class, ditch my unruly group) for six months to get out of the plan. But wait, there's still more--I haven't worked for the school district in a year. If the irs had told me about this problem last year, I could have fixed it. I'm doomed. I'm going to spend all my money on iphones and prius's and stupid plumbing and really stupid taxes and stuff I don't need and I'll be a little old lady with a walker going to court. I guess I better call my insurance agent, now that I have a new car. I'm sure that they will want me to pay them more money too. Good news completely destoyed.