Monday, April 26, 2010

It HURTS Me to Stay Out of This

I do not become embroiled in political rants if I can help it. It becomes really difficult to maintain my veneer of politeness in the face of political disagreement. HOWEVER, I do enjoy being snarky, and there is a ridiculously ripe opportunity that I have to forego for the sake of familial harmony...

One of my cousins' Facebook status is, "I'm A BIRTHER and I'm proud of it!!! mmmmm be a birther, you be a birther, wouldn't you want to be a birther too? (sung to the tune of Dr. Pepper)."

Someone asked Coz to clarify what a 'birther' is and he explained that it's someone who doesn't believe that Barack Obama should be president because he is not a legitimate American citizen. For some reason, Coz thinks that having a non-American father matters (it doesn't if you were born in the U.S.) and that Obama was born in Kenya (he wasn't). He then goes on and on and ON about Obama issuing an executive order to block the release of any information about him (he actually did the opposite). His evidence? Search after search after search for Obama documents relating to his birth and residency return nothing. But, if Coz believes these things to be true, of COURSE he would rant about it. I mean, who wouldn't?

Here's what is making my eye twitch: my cousin keeps spelling the President's first name, "Barak." Which is wrong. So I REALLY want to reply to his comments and tell him that maybe Coz can't find any info about the president because he's spelling his name wrong.

But I fear that would cause a hairy eyeball at my son's forthcoming Baptism, so I'll just leave it be.

Sunday, April 25, 2010

A Sound Investment Plan

I have decided to go all Gordon Gekko and dive into the stock market. Okay, wade into the stock market. Slowly. Like, an inch at a time until I get acclimated even though the pool water is like eighty degrees.

Of course, we've been investing for some time now in Reponsible Things like retirement accounts and college savings plans. But I actually wanted to select specific stocks instead of the 2040 Retirement Fund. Ugh. 2040. Really? I've got another thirty years of office work ahead of me? (I know, I know, I shouldn't carp about being gainfully employed in This Economy*. But seriously, THIRTY years?)

Thing is, those funds have pretty reliable returns on investment, but I don't get to choose the companies involved. So what, right? Well, me, I'm kind of bossy, and I want to hand pick the stocks myself. But I am all sorts of lazy about research, so if I was all, "I hear Toyota makes a dandy automobile!" I'd have lost my shirt.

BUT, I have figured out a way to feel OK if whatever miniscule amount I invest disappears into the ether! The stocks I will choose will totally be a reflection of my family's brand and product loyalties. Here's what I find hilarious about this autobiographical investing: if I lose all of my moolah, that kind of means that we suck. Or at least the marketplace thinks we do.

I am determined not to suck.

Here are my rules:
1) I will not invest more than $50 per month.
2) I will only buy stock in a company if we have personal, good, experience with their products.
3) If it's between me and Bud Fox, I'm totally sending him to the chokey.

I started this last month. I bought a share of Netflix. Thus far in April, I've purchased some ING and SiriusXM. And guess what? THE MARKETPLACE INDICATES THAT I DO NOT SUCK! That's right. I'm up twenty bucks. Boo-yah! I am a financial GENIUS!

I will keep you posted on my inevitable ascension to Warren Buffet-land.

*Everywhere you turn people are talking about THIS ECONOMY, so I think it needs to be capitalized. Many people are really and truly impacted by the downturn in the economy, but I think there are an awful lot of people who are using it as a catchall reason for any financial problems they might have. Like buying things you cannot afford. Honestly, I think this is the only financial education that anyone needs.

Friday, April 23, 2010

Things and Stuff

I have been thinking about stuff lately. I'm not using "stuff" as a catch-all term for life, the universe, and everything. Nah, I mean real and actual STUFF.

Why all this mental capital spent on such a blah topic?

Well, we moved at the end of last summer and went through The Great Divestiture. Except, not really. Because I was also quite pregnant at the time. In my non-pregnant state, I am able, with stunning speed, to make decisions about stuff and whether to keep it, toss it, store it, donate it, or sell it. In my pregnant state, I am able to sleep on a couch. So, during the move, it was up to my husband to make these evaluations. He chose not to do so. What he chose to do instead was to pack random crap together. I guess it isn't totally random because I know what he did. He packed stuff that was geographically close in large boxes labeled "Stuff: Basement." This results in things like Christmas decorations getting packed up with detergent. Why? BECAUSE THEY WERE NEXT TO EACH OTHER IN THE BASEMENT.

I have completely given up on finding that collection of IKEA bolts for the love seat I'm trying to put back together. I'm sure I will find them in a Connect Four game box five years hence.

Anyway, I'm thinking about this because, just as I've gotten most of our stuff unpacked and deposited in what I've deemed the correct nooks and crannies around our house, I have to begin the Great Repack. This happens every time there is a period-of-life shift.

Examples? My maternity clothes, which I've not really worn for the past couple of weeks, need to get out of my closet. They need to make room for the work clothes that I'm wearing since maternity leave is dunzo. And Boy the Second? Well, he's a solid size 3-6 months, so I need to boot those too-small baby clothes out of the dresser. This is also known as The Most Hated Chore of All Time. I don't know why, but this particular activity really pings my hoarder instinct and I get vertigo when I'm trying to figure out if he really can't wear that adorable monkey outfit anymore.

But I will overcome it even though I'm not quite back to my usual self (i.e., I'm still recovering from the pregnancy brain shrinkage). I mean, after those closets get cleared out, I need to decide what to do with those photos and pieces of art that I have deemed unworthy for my new home's walls.
The fun never stops around here! Jealous?

There's more that I have to say about this, but I have to go because the tower of boxes that I've saved for packing all these things is about to fall over on me....aaarghhh...

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Dear MDOT,

Please contribute a chunk of your operating budget to Maryland public schools so that they can teach everyone to read faster. Why? Because traffic slows to a freakin' crawl every time you post something on your highway signs.

Listen, I totally understand that you want to keep the general public apprised of the happenings on the Old Line State's highways and byways. But could we maybe restrict it to real alerts? Like accidents and road closures? Could we maybe leave off the time estimates from point A to point B? 'Cause here's my time estimate: every one of these signs adds five minutes to my commute when you put anything at all on there. Seriously, the message could be "Have a Nice Day!" And suddenly people hunker over their steering wheels, panicking that they are going to miss some vital information, like Martians are attacking or the JFK Tunnel is shut down. In my sixteen years of driving, something like that has only happened three times. Not the Martians bit. The closed-tunnel-magnitude calamity.

I feel a little better now.