29 October 2008

A Better Life

I read this article the other day and it really strikes me how little I identify with most of the people in these all too frequent 'my financial world is collapsing' stories. I can understand the medical hardships or trying to help a family member or whatever, but these are people with two kids and a mortgage who quit jobs with no other plans, people who didn't read their mortgage contracts, who essentially took on credit without considering that they were eventually going to have to pay it back. Everyone's whining about how Wall Street should have taken more responsibility...let's start at home, eh?

All personal responsibility ranting aside, financial decisions weren't what really made me want to write about this. Here's what was: there's a couple on the second page who lost their home after the father was demoted. They were allowed to arrange a short sale so they wouldn't have foreclosure in their credit history, which is great. They then found a rental big enough for them and their two children, ages 12 and 9. They've now been in the rental over a year, yet the mother has not bothered to put up any curtains, saying, "it's not our home...it's not my home."

I think this is inexcusable. It *is* your home, and much more importantly, it's your children's home. When things get tough, you commiserate with your husband, your parents, your friends. Not your kids. You don't have to pretend everything is perfect, but not creating a home for them is a pretty large offense.

Everyone always talks about how surprising it is that you need a license to drive, but not to have kids. I'd propose a test evaluating your sense of responsibility. We could use it to flesh out credit reports as well.

18 October 2008

Debate Team

I don't really understand the point of the presidential debates. This is, of course, only the third election I've been old enough to vote in (or pay attention to), but I have to wonder if the debates were always so canned. The moderator asks some totally obvious question, at which point each candidate launches into a pre-planned speech written for him by his campaign. Sometimes, the speech doesn't match the question, but this doesn't seem to matter either. Even the audience questions feel like plants that allow the candidates to outline their health care/foreign policy/tax/whatever plan for the fourth time of the night. I keep wondering if the candidates are using the teleprompter. They probably should be, as it would make the whole night go faster.

After the second debate, one of the criticisms of Obama's style was that he "took too much time to think after the question was asked." One analyst complained that "[Obama] seemed like he was considering all the options before he answered." What? How is this a problem? Failure to apppropriately memorize the canned speech?

In some ways, I suppose it makes sense. Being president isn't a pop quiz. You're allowed to (in fact, it would be best if you did) talk to your advisers, to come to a decision only after gathering all of the relevant information. So maybe a spontaneous debate is a silly way to differentiate candidates anyway.

But if this is the case, why bother having the debate at all? We could simply hand the questions over to each campaign, print up the transcript, and save ourselves the TV time. Less than three weeks to go.

09 October 2008

Break's Over

Bathroom-related humor never fails. I've been saving this one for a while (apologies to the one person who already knows about it).

Prior to August, any woman who began work on the 6th floor of my building was warned not to use the second stall in the bathroom. Nothing was wrong (or disgusting) about it per se, but there was an unfortunate structural stall defect wherein opening the door of the first stall created a squish effect that opened the door of the second. So you didn't use the second stall unless there was no other choice and even then, you had to be in a state of cat-like readiness so you could slam the door shut when it opened to avoid suddenly having a clear view of the handwashers in the mirror.

But then one day in August, I had no choice (it seems somehow too awkward to wait in line to pee when there's an empty stall), so I walked in and sat down with one hand waiting for duty (hee hee, duty). But then something white in the upper right hand corner caught my eye. Someone had macgyvered a little door clasp out of a plastic box. One side had been removed so it could be slipped on the door and a little handle was added with a utilitarian note reading "slide me to the right to close door"

And you thought people who work in finance weren't creative. Sky's the limit when it comes to peace in the bathroom.