Category Archives: Random Thoughts

Basics of Debt Mamagement

Taking a series of courses on money management should be a required part of obtaining your high school diploma. Too many kids graduate without a clue as to how to balance a checkbook, how to avoid debt, how to get out of dent, etc. It seems to me that for the most part, “The Man” is perfectly ok with our school systems producing future credit card slaves and expecting young ones to pick up Money Management basics on their own, or through their parents–who may be just slightly less ignorant.

How do we as a culture expect to plug the holes of our nation’s sinking economic ship when we don’t do enough to educate our kids on money management, etc.?

A Turd for a Turd

So I had these Mexican neighbors who owned an ugly Pug (they’re all ugly). The neighbors were nice, for the most part, although in reality, we did not see or speak or see each other that much. My job as a metaphysical guru prevents me from having much time, so I get up, go to work, and come back late. In any case, the chihuahua, and the neighbors’ kids, were an entirely different matter.

The dog started leaving turds all over my front yard. I came across them whenever I cut the grass. One time, I got done mowing to notice a yellow flat turd stuck to one of the mower’s wheels. Absolutely nasty. I saw the Mexican kids out in their front yard with their stupid dog, and I walked up to them, saying, “I would appreciate it if you clean up after your dog. I had to scoop up a ton of turds today.” They simply looked at me and nodded. I thought I had made strides, but I continued to find those stupid yellow turds all over my front yard.

A couple of weeks after I talked to the kids, I was out mowing the yard, and again, noticed a ton of turds. I don’t know what got into me, but I proceeded to scoop up all the turds into a pail. I looked at the pail, which must have had at least a good 20 or so turds inside. I tried to say a quick mantra, “Breath. Relax. Be one with the universe. Do not resort to an eye for an eye. Be the better person. Turn the other cheek.” Etc, etc. I did this for a good 5 or so minutes, but in the end, I tossed the turds all over their front yard! “See how you like cleaning out tons of dog shit.” I thought as I walked back into my house.

What happened? Why couldn’t I control my nature? In that very brief moment, I failed to see logic and went with raw emotion. I lowered myself to their level, and worse, I felt good about it. How can I lead thousands of people as a Guru, and yet I acted so petty? What kind of an example is that? After much pondering, I came up with the following assertion:

“Our nature is not divine. It may come from a divine creator, but we are not divine by default.”

Of course, this goes against the teachings of my bizarro counterpart, but it’s the truth as far as I can tell. See, the difference between me and the Deepaks of the world is that I’m willing to admint that I’m human and I don’t know it all. What I know is that tossing all those turds in the neighbors’ yard felt damn good. Am I proud of it, certainly not. Would I do it again? I hate to say it, but probably. Shit, what kind of a guru am I???

Semi-Artificial organ transplant achieved…Cyborgs next?

Andemariam Teklesenbet, a 36 year old Swedish patient with an advanced case of cancer, received the world’s first artificial trachea transplant. Doctors concocted a revolutionary way to accomplish this, which included building a trachea out of a plastic (artificial) material and coating it with the patients own cells to avoid rejection.

I find this utterly amazing. To think what medical science will be able to accomplish in the next few decades with this as a baseline starting point. Here is a link to the USA today article.

I am looking forward to seeing what we will accomplish in the field of regenerative biology. I pray to God for a day when people with neuro-muscular ailments or spinal chord injuries/nerve damage will be able to receive treatment and healing. Stories like this make me appreciative of the human intellect with which we’ve been entrusted.


Black Friday: Consummerism Gone Crazy

I need an Alka-Seltzer right about now.

After a Thanksgiving evening of food, discourse, more food, tv, more food, nap, more food, etc, I am a prime candidate for that Chinese diet tea that makes things move, if you know what I mean. The menu consisted of 2 turkeys (one baked, one fried) and an array of delicious and very rich side dishes and desserts. At about 10pm, I hit a food coma that kept me out of commission until it was time to go home in 33 degree weather–not fun.

So here I am, with a boiler full of Thanksgiving and ready to hit the sack. If I play my cards right, I can get 4 hours of sleep and still make it in time to catch some Black Friday deals at some of my favorite stores–NOT.

The Black Friday phenomenon is now ingrained in our American culture.  Many stores open before 7am to lure countless poor saps.  Hell, many stores open at midnight. I remember working retail as a young man and having to open the store at 6am for this “special” day.  I remember people waiting outside in the cold for the doors to open, thinking: What the hell is wrong with them?

What makes folks get up so early in the morning after a Thanksgiving celebration? A whopping 20% off certain items? Really? And now, most stores are taking full advantage of the American consummer’s gullibility and itch for that ever elusive deal. They bank whole campaigns around this Black Friday concept.

Not me.

I refuse to participate in this madness. Keep your 20%, I’ll go to the store when the lines die down, when my stomach is no longer pissed at me, when I’m good and ready. 

I wonder when this madness started?  Early 90s? Mid 80s?  I certaily don’t recall anything like Black Friday prior to this, then again, kids don’t remember this kind of stuff, usually.  And yes, it is madness, right up there with the popular Keeping Up With The Joneses and the Fill Out This 26% Interest Credit Card, Get A Free T-shirt phenomenons.  Besides, Black Friday certainly doesn’t need me–it is doing quite well on its own.  There may come a day when Thanksgiving becomes more synonimous with Black Friday than with turkey, or even, well, giving thanks.

Crazy Commutes — How Long Is Too Long?

The past few weeks haven’t been the greatest in terms of traffic.  If I were to travel to my work on a day without the usual work day traffic, it would take me slightly more than an hour.  That wouldn’t be so bad, but of course, that’s not my usual work trip.  On “good” traffic days, I average about an hour and a half each way.  Add a little fender bender, construction, or some guy on the side of the road with a flat tire and you can easily tack on an extra half hour.  Any serious accident, and you’re talking maybe 3 hours to get from point A to point B.  During these times, I sit in my car and stew as I inch my way towards my destination.  There are few things more frustrating than sitting in traffic and not moving…especially on a hot day.

So why do I–and many other Americans–do this?  Why do we put ourselves through these terrible commutes?  My observations:

– Home prices in the San Francisco Bay Area are ridiculous!  I would love to live in a place like Alameda, California…if I could afford it.

– Alas, living in the Bay Area would mean renting a smaller home or apartment.  Doesn’t sound too bad until you throw in the kids and spouse into the mix.  It’s hard enough to keep our sanity living in our current home.

– Stability.  I’d hate to uproot my kids from their school, friends, etc.

– Greed?  Sometimes I wonder if I’m greedy for wanting to keep a certain standard of living.  In this case, living in a 2000 square foot house vs a 1000 square foot (and possibly more expensive) apartment.

But seriously, is an extra thousand feet of living space worth putting yourself through a hellish daily drive?  If you think about it, you are killing a good 2 hours daily.  That is time you will never get back.  I tried listening to language lessons during my commute.  It works…but it can get old.  The bottom line is: the commute is long and I will never get used to it.  That being said, I will probably keep doing it  (if it’s up to me) until I win te lottery.

Check out my daily morning drive here:

The Commute