Friday, October 28, 2005

CONSUMER ALERT: Bank Charges Interest to Save You Money!

I stand in stunned silence at the latest ad campaign from a national bank. The idea is that when you accumulate your "spare" change, you save money. Let's say your coffee-la-de-da, costs $3.10. The bank will charge your credit card $4.00, depositing the "change" into your checking or savings account. Sounds great, right? WRONG! Oh gullible one!

Let's do a bit of math. I will be charitable and say your credit card interest rate is only 20%. Those temporary teaser rates work out in the Banks favor, trust me. After all the fees and add-on charges, they get you for around 20%. (This also takes into account the "average daily balance" nonsense.)

$**.90: Your "saved" change.
$-*.18: Interest at @ 20% on $.90 - you owe.
$**.72: Your theoretical financial increase. ($.90 - $.18.), You have to pay something for this service.

But wait... It's worse then that!

$*4.00: Actual charge to your credit card.

$**.80: Interest @ 20% on $4.00.

$**.90: Your "saved" change.
$-*.80: Your total interest @ 20% on $4.00.
$**.10: Your actual financial gain!

You lucky dog! You put in $.90 and get back $.10!
Such a deal!

Sunday, October 23, 2005

My First Week as a Blogger: I am amazed!

(ID characteristics have been changed to protect privacy).

I originally set up this blog, so I could post comments on other blogs. Now that I've generated an audience, I don't have time to comment on other blogs! I collect news and other articles from all over the world. I received a wonderful article grousing about political correctness. (One of my FAVORITE dead horses to beat!) So, I fired off an email to the author, in England. I asked about the rules for re-publishing, as I wanted to share the article on this blog. To my shock, I was given information and a positive review of my work, which may be published, in a free paper for the disabled in Manchester! (I've been up for less than a week, and am already international!)

Now that I have a blog, I'm constantly on the look-out for the strange, funny and/or interesting. Since I'm a hopeless news junkie, I was grazing through my 200+ items from NetNewsWire. This week's picks will be posted on this blog under: "The Absurdity Report". I had a problem, how to pull the feed from my aggregator onto my blog. A few clicks and a download later, I'd captured my desired stories. (Eventually, I'll actually read up on how to do what I'm already accomplishing!)

Last week the internet seemed to stumble for a few days. Friends, I'd notified about, my blog, were unable to find it. Even after warning one of my favorite atheist friends, that I do speak of God, this person was unhappy that they couldn't access my work.


I'm astounded that some folks are writing two paragraphs, in discussion groups, lauding my praises - huh? (I'm still getting used to having an audience!) No, I don't like (understand, or appreciate either opera, or hip hop), I have been properly chastized. Opinionated... I'd be a boring read if I wasn't opinionated. I do agree, however, since God chose to save me, (this fool), I am working on giving grace to the person, but not to the actions. Thanks to one and all!


My friend Phillip, who is to creativity what a Jack Russel is to dogs. (Jack Russels are like an animal on speed). They will sit in your lap and tremble. I thought the animal was having a seizure. The owner informed me, the dog was perfectly healthy and so full of energy! (This black and white medium-sized dog is featured on Disney's Dr. Doolittle.)

I have spent a lifetime worshiping order. The old me would never have published on the net, or anywhere else, without a Master's degree in English. I actually read instruction manuals before using a product. I plan my life to be stable, predictable and (to my shock) boring.

Then came Phillip. A man who enjoys leaping into the air, just because he can. His wife, the practical one in their marriage, gently reminds him to make sure: a) he's standing on a diving board, and not a cliff, and b) There is a body of water, underneath his perch.

Phillip jumps anyway. His response: "Wow, a canyon... once I get out of this cast, I can do something with this!" I have never met someone like Phillip before. His love of life is contagious and intriguing. He introduced me to Skype, (computer based telephony), file sharing and digital photography. This was not a plan on his part, just his way of operating. I got Skype set up, but didn't really know what I was doing. I then started receiving text messages.

Phillip and I chatted for awhile and then the first file download request popped up on my screen. The day before I 'd changed my preferences (after reading, the Mac desktop was unstable). Now, I'm staring at three download requests. I okey'd them, but couldn't find the files! You know, when the guilt forces you to organize/neaten-up? Then you can't find anything for three months? I scrambled to locate the files, while Phillip continued our chat. A leisurely affair, ranging from the serious to the comical. I love it - and him.

Phillip is extremely busy. Not hearing from him for a week or two means nothing more than he's busy. Meanwhile, I've made several new friends on Skype. My friend in Vermont introduced me to his friend in England. (oh, my, the entire country of England is sexy, oh, that accent!)

I adore my male friends. They are wired differently from my female friends. Have you ladies beheld the famous male preen and strut? Not to mention, the sense of daring-do, which will cause a normally sensible male, to spend two hours working with your cell phone, to implement a feature? I've thrown out questions of curiosity, where I am not looking for a change in my phone, but just a factoid. My phone has been whisked away, only to return with amazing improvements. The best part, for me, is how self-satisfied a man is, at the completion of one of these fishing expeditions! I truly enjoy the male spin on things.

I am now on a three-way conference call with Vermont and England, with two gents, both from an electronics and engineering background. Its around 2 PM in California, 5 PM in New York and 10 PM in England. We were actually speaking to one another via Skype and our computers. Suddenly, England got an idea: how fast can we text message? (Bigger boys, just have bigger toys!)

My machine suddenly began emitting a stream of audio signals, alerting me to the presence of text messages. No easy pace here. One word per line, or random letters began marching down my screen. Vermont thought this was great fun and tried to 'get to California first'. I'm watching my text message screen scroll like a set of TV credits. I'm amazed we can speak and type at the same time. While all this text stuff is happening, there is no loss of conversational banter.

I added my own contribution by singing the beginning of 'The Rubber Ducky Song'. Then my text screen stopped moving, while the signal kept repeating. I happened to notice a new person had joined the growing list next to the text screen. Phillip! How cool is this? I figured,

I'd answer his one or two questions and we would be done. WRONG! First, he can't find my blog (At least a third of attempts have been failing, but I'm getting rather fast at typing it all out again!) Back to Vermont and England, who are now attempting to share phonos with me.

Then Phillip is back. He jokes about my blog, but then moves into a serious philosophical and religious discussion. Mind you, his observations are terrific, but I was still basking in the afterglow of 'The Rubber Ducky Song'! I can't switch intellectual gears like that! But, I bet Phillip could handle it! (Humor won out.) I bid Phillip temporary farewell, and returned to the inter continental frolic.

I realize now, that, like Phillip, I bore easily and LOVE new stuff (change). This has come as a total surprise to me. Phillip, you the man!

Monday, October 17, 2005

Humor / commentary: Bank Stuffed Animal Giveaway... What?

Recently I heard a commercial for a local bank, celebrating their birthday, by passing out "cute, fuzzy bears". If I’d been drunk, that would have sobered me up quick. I felt the world tilt, and was sure Rod Serling would appear any moment, informing me I'd successfully arrived in hell. After over thirty years of dealing with banks, I guarantee I'd never frequent one passing out stuffed animals. What's wrong with this picture?

Every industry has a personality. Banks are; exacting, accurate, profit-oriented and dare I say it, anal retentive. Occasionally a few of them go through a phase in advertising how "friendly" they are. Give me a break. They led the way in denying employee benefits to tellers and other wage slaves, by offering only part-time work. The doors at my bank are always in high rotation, with the turnover, and I’m going to believe that someone "knows" me? However, when I need real help, these folks have done a good job.

I Had a small business attempt to double-bill me, claiming the bank didn't do their job and "lost" my money. When I ran this tale by an accounts officer, he suddenly bestowed upon me, a business card and internal management contact information. They may not be friendly, but I'd hate to be on the wrong end of their legal department. I'd get very worried, if my big, impersonal bank presented me with a fuzzy little bear.

This is a mixture of inappropriate images. Like having the guy who runs the local funeral home pass out samples of his wife's chocolate cake, while you’re burying uncle Charlie. I considered where it would fit to be presented with a cute fuzzy bear. The flower shop, candy store, or a local fast-food restaurant. It would not even make sense, to me, if the luxury hotel I favor, handed out stuffed animals.

I'd love to speak to the advertising crew that dreamed up this craziness. Their demographics must be amazing. So trot right down to your local bank’s birthday party... And with cute "fuzzy" in tow, meander to the nearest bar and drink a toast, or seven, or eight, until this all makes sense!

Sunday, October 16, 2005

There Will Never Be Another 1st Blog...

My purpose is to react to the crazy, (and getting crazier), world around us. I'm in Northern California, but have a strong ID with Porto Rico and New York. It has been my experience, that I have a different take on most things, as my mother was seriously mentally ill. Learning to survive the Psychotic Rage teaches a child things they should never, never, have to know.

But as a born again Christian, I have found peace, but not always with my fellow believers. I tend to give the over wrought self-righteous believer a run for their attitude. I do not suffer fools well. Getting it straight about what Christianity truly is, seems to be the major battle ground. Its a relationship with God, first, not a performance for people. You can do all the right things for all the wrong reasons and leave a trail of confusion and sadness in your wake.

I hope to simply react to things around me. I love music (and lyrics), books, personal development (of all kinds), God, most people and animals. I have discovered the joy of computers (I'm a Macintosh user), the internet, digital photography and developing programs in Real Basic. I have known a difficult life, where for almost 20 years, all I wanted to do was die. Finding religion did not (immediately) change that set of problems. Christ, is not a quick-fix. We all want the 60 Second Miracle. If we were to receive it, we would not have the internal maturity to maintain it! I had to learn that the very hard way.

I was born almost three months prematurely. My parents were both alcoholic and my mother was clinically mentally ill. She would fly into psychotic rages over anything. I learned to be very attuned to what others are feeling as a result of this set of early childhood experiences. At 52, I'm finally getting around to learning to listen to myself and not focus so much on everyone else. For so long, I used 'taking care' of another as a way to avoid looking into my own problems and issues. Now I'm learning to make my life something that may actually assist another via demonstration, instead of pontification. I hope as you drop in and out of my musings, that you are bettered for the experience. Three friends of mine have committed suicide. I will cover some very serious issues, as I hope to reach that one really desperate soul before they attempt to end their lives. I tried it, and lived. I hated God, because He refused to let me in His office. Everywhere I went I heard it had been a miracle that I was still alive. (It was). Now, some 20 years after the fact, I live the kind of life I never even dared to dream of having. Growing up in spite of a rough beginning is the hardest job you will ever (unwillingly) embrace. I really resisted getting into therapy, as I felt that 'they' made a mess' and I wasn't going to waste my time, 'cleaning up after them again!'. Only one problem with that thinking. My immediate family had passed on and I was still attempting to destroy myself, experiencing loss of time (I'd swear it was Monday, but it was actually Friday, and Tues. through Thurs. just were not there for me) and I still longed to die.

I gave my Doctor a six week window to show me why life was worth it. (He showed me unconditional affection, and built the beginnings of my new life). G. B. I can never thank you enough for our years together. I finally saw that if I didn't get rid of the disease inside my mind, that I'd eventually kill myself. I'd read enough to realize that suicide is no escape.

One book detailed how a mother followed her still living daughter around, saying she was sorry, while her child's life spiraled down as a result of her mother killing herself. I know that being the final person spoken to, by someone who commits sucide brings on problems of guilt, sadness and anger. "If I'd known... I would have / could have /should have..." Many friends and relatives of people who commit suicide, end up suicidal themselves, because of a misplaced sense of responsibility. I remember screaming at a doctor, who told me to stop rescuing a suicidal group member. "You mean, I should just let her die!" The doctor screamed back: "YOU ARE NOT GOD!". M. S. I will always remember how that rocky session liberated me from a lifetime of taking on things that weren't my problem.

I love my friends. People who have suffered with me through the insanity of my (at times), untreated BiPolar Disorder. People who are standing with and beside me, as I journey forth. People who are teaching me a sense of adventure. People who share their souls with me. My heart overflows with joy.