Friday, October 19, 2007

Journey of a Thousand Miles

A journey of a thousand miles starts with a single step. Today I start my journey.

  • I am now 42 years old, and I'm renting a bedroom in a friend's apartment because at the moment that is all I can afford, though I've been working for 24 years now.
  • I just negotiated what I hope will be an acceptable payment schedule with a law office representing a collection agency representing a bank that took over another bank that I opened a credit card account with twelve years ago. The balance is three times the set credit limit of the account I opened, because of long-standing delinquencies. From that time until now I could probably have paid the account many times over, except for a very old habit of letting things go until, and often way past, the last minute.
  • Because of this longstanding habit, my credit rating is somewhere in the 400s. I'm driving a six-year old car that was probably meant to last only five, and only God knows what will happen when it needs major repairs, or when it gives out completely and I try to get another car.

With all that said, I'm stating my goal now: to buy a house. It won't happen this year, or next. It may not happen until sometime in the next decade, if then. In all likelyhood it will be a repossessed or foreclosed house, a fixer-upper, or something along those lines. And it may even turn out to be, not a house, but a condo or a co-op apartment. And it may very well turn out to be somewhere outside the NYC area, where I was born and have lived all my life. But I'm making it my goal to get a house or something owned in my own name in order to significantly improve my financial situation. I don't want to be rich, but it's time for a change.

I'm tired of just scraping by.

I've been saying that to myself for some time now, but now I will start putting myself on the spot by saying it to others. The part about buying a house I may keep to myself for awhile...

I've also been saying for years that I wanted to start some kind of business, and I've researched just about every manner of business that could be started and run by mail-order and possibly online, but up until now really haven't taken any steps to put the research to work and get something, anything, off the ground. Today, that changes.

What prompted this decision? Well, it’s been on my mind for awhile now due to the chronic near-brokeness, for one thing. But the decision kind of made itself last night, while I was out driving around and around my new neighborhood trying to find somewhere to park. I was thinking, "if I had my own house, with a garage or at least a driveway, I wouldn't have to be out here wasting time circling the neighborhood looking for a space."

In any situation you can never predict just what the "last straw" will turn out to be, but I think that was it. When I was in my former neighborhood, I had the same problem, since only about every third house had a driveway or garage. I swore that my next apartment would be somewhere with more parking. That didn't happen.

But it will.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Bush, Cheney, Obama: ALL RELATED?!,BSX-News-wotreea09.article

Bush and Obama have a common ancestor.

Cheney and Obama have a common ancestor.

Bush and Cheney have a common ancestor.

Each of the common ancestors is a different person -- none is common to all three.

So far, though, no sign of any of the three being related to any of the Clintons…

Go figure.

Monday, October 15, 2007

Westchester Tornado

I thought I had posted this a long time ago. This is based on the Wikipedia article Westchester Tornado...

The Westchester Tornado was an F2 tornado that touched down in central Westchester County, New York at around 4:00 p.m. EST on July 12, 2006 with winds that at times exceeded 150 miles per hour. The tornado may have began on the Rockland County shore of the Hudson River, moving at 25 mph across the river toward Sleepy Hollow, just north of the Tappan Zee Bridge. It began to cut a 200 to 300 yard wide path straight across Westchester and into Fairfield County, Connecticut. While no deaths were reported, it is very rare for F2 or greater tornadoes to strike the New York Metropolitan Area, due to tornadoes being rare on the Eastern Seaboard. Enough damage occurred to cause an appeal for FEMA funding.

On July 12, 2006 a strong south westerly wind on the surface acted in conjunction with a strong upper level jet to cause conditions to become ripe. The tornado spawned as a waterspout over the Hudson River in the southwest quadrant of the storm and traveled in the northeast direction, something that is distinctive with most tornado causing thunderstorms. Once it reached the Westchester side of the river it became a tornado and roared up Beekman Ave., one of the main streets of Sleepy Hollow. The tornado reached F-2 status as it crossed over the Sleepy Hollow village line into Hawthorne. From there it tore across Hawthorne, New York, destroying a California Closets office and warehouse. It then proceeded up Stevens Ave. and crossed into Valhalla, New York inflicting much damage. It finally crossed the Kensico Reservoir and caused slight damage in Greenwich, CT before going out to the Long Island Sound.

The tornado left much of Hawthorne and Valhalla without power and many streets were covered with trees for much of the next few days. Power was restored to most of the area within the next two or three days, with some areas regaining power within the next week.

The article says the tornado "may have begun" in Rockland County, but there was documented damage in Grandview, on the Rockland side of the Hudson River, before the waterspout crossed the Hudson and became a tornado again in Sleepy Hollow. It picked up a New York State trooper’s car while he was driving along the Sprain Brook Parkway, dropped it, picked it up again, and dropped it a second time. The trooper was bruised a bit and spent a couple days in the hospital; the car, though, was totaled, since the first drop was nose-first.

But before it reached the area of the Sprain Brook, it tore through the area of Tarrytown Lakes, near the former Rockefeller estate. There are new houses that were recently built in wooded areas that had for decades, maybe centuries, been natural growth. I have to admit wanting to see that some damage had been done (without hurting anyone) to send a message that it's better to leave nature alone, that not all "progress" is actually progress. But, alas, though there were downed trees all around the area, none of the houses appeared to be damaged.

T.I. = I.D.I.O.T.

His lawyer says there are two sides to every story. Yeah, his client's and the truth. Anyone should know that a convicted felon is asking for trouble when he tries to buy, not just handguns, but machine guns and silencers. I don't claim to know all the details, but even if it was a setup, he deserves whatever he gets for falling for it.

Some chuckles

The original email said "Only in America" for the first few, but I'm sure they're fairly universal, especially the first one...

Only in America...
  • drugstores make the sick walk all the way to the back of the store to get their prescriptions while healthy people can buy cigarettes at the front.
  • people order double cheeseburgers, large fries, and a diet coke.
  • banks leave both doors open and then chain the pens to the counters.
  • we leave cars worth thousands of dollars in the driveway and put our useless junk in the garage.
  • we buy hot dogs in packages of ten and buns in packages of eight.
  • we use the word 'politics' to describe the process so well: 'Poli' in Latin meaning 'many' and 'tics' meaning 'bloodsucking creatures'.
  • they have drive-up ATM machines with Braille lettering.


  • why the sun lightens our hair, but darkens our skin?
  • why women can't put on mascar a with their mouth closed?
  • why you don't ever see the headline 'Psychic Wins Lottery'?
  • why 'abbreviated' is such a long word?
  • why it is that doctors call what they do 'practice'?
  • why lemon juice is made with artificial flavor, and dishwashing liquid made with real lemons?
  • why the man who invests all your money is called a broker?
  • why the time of day with the slowest traffic is called rush hour?
  • why there isn't mouse-flavored cat food?
  • why Noah didn't swat those two mosquitoes?
  • why they sterilize the needle for lethal injections?
  • why sheep don't shrink when it rains?
  • why they are called apartments when they are all stuck together?
  • You know that indestructible black box that is used on airplanes?
    Why don't they make the whole plane out of that stuff?!
  • If con is the opposite of pro, is Congress the opposite of progress?
  • If flying is so safe, why do they call the airport the terminal?

    Now that you've smiled at least once, it's your turn to spread the stupidity and send this to someone you want to bring a smile to (maybe even a chuckle) other words, send it to everyone. We all need to smile every once in a while.

Breast Cancer Site Needs Your Help

I thought this was one of those bandwidth-wasting chain emails at first, until I did some checking and found it to be legit. The Breast Cancer Site has arranged for sponsors to donate towards free mammograms for women who can't afford to pay for them in exchange for clicks on a banner on the site. Here's the text of the email I got this morning:
Please tell ten friends to tell ten today! The Breast Cancer site is having
trouble getting enough people to click on their site daily to meet their quota
of donating at least one free mammogram a day to an underprivileged woman. It
takes less than a minute to go to their site and click on "donating a mammogram"
for free (pink window in the middle). This doesn't cost you a thing.
Their corporate sponsors/advertisers use the number of daily visits to donate
mammogram in exchange for advertising. Here's the website! Pass it
along to people you know:

Friday, October 12, 2007

Odds and ends for today

Intelligent Design: What’s the Big Deal?

I subscribe to Wikipedia’s Featured Article of the Day by mail, and today’s article is Intelligent Design. This is basically a way for religious-minded individuals to frame “creation” in a way to hopefully get around the objections of those who reject creation accounts on “scientific” grounds.

Personally, I don’t see the supposed disconnect between religion and science. After all, the root meaning of the English word “science” is “knowledge.” Wikipedia’s article on science defines it as follows:

“Science (from the Latin scientia, 'knowledge'), in the broadest sense, refers to any systematic knowledge or practice.[1] In a more restricted sense, science refers to a system of acquiring knowledge based on the scientific method, as well as to the organized body of knowledge gained through such research.”

In other words, science is what is known. The fact that a particular group of scientists don’t know, for example, how the earth was created, doesn’t make the method used any less scientific. It just means that they don’t know or cannot reproduce the method. Many times arguments against creation accounts are no more than the egos of the objectors acting out.

World Trade Bomber has a change of faith

According to reports in today’s edition of the New York Daily News, convicted terrorist Ramzi Yousef, who detonated the truck bomb that destroyed a basement garage in the World Trade Center in 1993, has abandoned Islam and is now a Christian convert.

The report states that he has stopped reading the Koran, shaved his beard, and even eats pork.

I’m sure that there are conspiracy theorists claiming that he’s putting on a show in hopes of getting some kind of early release from prison (which could never happen in a post 9/11 world, especially since he’s serving a life sentence). But, in fact, even a discussion of changing religions could get someone killed by fundamentalist Muslims, to say nothing of eating pork. So I’d have to say this is real. And if it is real, he’d best hope that he never gets out of prison. Because if he did, he could never be at ease – besides those who would be willing to hunt him down over the bombing, there would be people who consider his “conversion” as blasphemy.

Kid Singers in NYC? OK. But Baby Races?

A ten-month-old baby was just crowned “fastest crawler” at a “Baby Derby” in Union Square, in New York City. He competed against seven other babies in crawling along a ten-foot-long course, sponsored by Babies “R” Us as a trial run for races to be held this weekend at the American Baby Faire (?!) in Long Island’s Nassau Coliseum.

Maybe I’m overreacting, but this seems just a little bit exploitive… but then somebody thought the same thing about 17-year-old American Idol winner Jordin Sparks and fellow contestant Sanjaya Malakar, who turned 18 just after the performing the New York shows on this years American Idol tour. The organizers got hit with fines after a clerk at the NYS Labor Department took note of the fact that Jordin and Sanjaya, both featured performers, were under 18. She did some digging, and turned the info over to investigators who then found that the company that organized the tour didn’t have the correct permits filed for using underage performers.

I know that laws and standards exist for a reason, but there is a huge difference between teen performers who have parents, managers, and so on with them to monitor them and make sure they’re not being exploited or overworked, and kids enslaved in some sweatshop making sneakers or pocketbooks for pennies an hour. It was “only” a $5,000 fine, though, so they didn’t get too carried away, but I still think it probably should have been let go.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Interesting quote from Charlize Theron

Esquire magazine's annual poll claims that Charlize is the "sexiest woman alive." She is a good-looking woman, though I have major qualms with the idea of her being the sexiest alive. (Esther Baxter, anyone? Somaya Reece? I could name others...) But she had an interesting quote in the article; after speaking about working with director John Frankenheimer, she made a comment about, as the paper said, "a different kind of American director -- one that frequents the Oval Office instead of the back lot." She says, "I grew up in a country that learned the lesson that you can't impose your way of life on 26 different kinds of people just because you call yourself righteous... I think there are lessons this country still has to learn."

NY Daily News article: Charlize winner of battle of the babes

Great book

i've been reading The Tipping Point, by Malcolm Gladwell. It's a fascinating book about what makes some trends, fads, and ideas take off, while others are dead in the water. It first came to my attention when the phrase was chosen for the title of a CD by Tha Roots. But I guess if that's gonna be my criterion for choosing books to buy then I have to get Things Fall Apart next -- that was a Roots CD title also...

Tuesday, October 09, 2007

Fred Thompson needs to do his homework

In today's NY Daily News it's reported that Thompson has hired ex-Virginia senator George Allen to be a top advisor to his presidential campaign team. Allen was forced from office after the controversy that came out of his using a racial slur (macaca) to refer to an Indian-American man who was tracking Allen's campaign for a political rival. He claimed he didn't know what it meant, but what kind of person calls people names without knowing what the name means? And even if he really didn't know, why did he feel the need to single out this particular person for namecalling? I'm sure questions about this will come up on Thompson's campaign stops. If he wants to be President, he'd better be ready.

Wikipedia article on macaca