Category: Living

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Christmas Presents

Santa brought some good gifts this year, but some wallet busters, I might add. I’m not that happy with the presents given to my wife, who I think deserves much better than she got. Simple presents, but stuff she wanted, appeared under the Christmas tree. Goodies included a delightful iPod case, CD, and DVD.

For my daughter, my wife took care of the thoughtful presents, while I tackled the tough task of finding adorable and unexpected manga items. Through Google search, I found many of the gifts, some purchased on eBay and almost all paid for using PayPal, regardless of seller. 

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The Christmas I Couldn’t Forget

When I was in fourth grade, my parents both had jobs—a novelty in Northern Maine during the late 1960s but start of a national trend.  Dad worked as a supervisor at the food processing plant and mom was night manager at a local hotel/motel. Financially, those were good years, when both my parents generated income. My mother would later lose her position, after the elegant facility burned down under mysterious circumstances. But that’s another story.

Christmas Eve, when my three younger sisters and I could open one present, I hardly could contain my want. Actually, I couldn’t contain it. My parents had gone out to food shop, preparation for feast as part of a spectacularly planned Christmas Day. They could afford to spend more on us that year than ever. Quite excited were they to give to their kids. 

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I Don't See the Justification

Yesterday’s SouthCoastToday.com story about a student’s investigation by the Department of Homeland Security is breath stopping. Apparently, the “senior at UMass Dartmouth was visited by federal agents two months ago, after he requested a copy of Mao Tse-Tung’s tome on Communism called The Little Red Book“. I have to admit that Mao’s communist manifesto wouldn’t be on my reading list, but like this kid I probably would want it for research on a college paper about communism.

Cold War is over, right? The war on terror is against Muslim extremists. Right? Last I checked, Muslim extremism doesn’t have much in common with atheistic communism. So why is a kid filling out a university library book request on communism, “leaving his name, address, phone number, and Social Security number” getting “visited at his parents’ home in New Bedford by two agents of the Department of Homeland Security?” And I have to ask: The Feds are monitoring library book requests now? 

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Steve Makes a Good Case

In today’s Washington Post, AOL founder Steve Case eloquently argues that Time Warner should split into four companies. He writes that in early 2002: “I proposed to the company’s board that it was time to ‘liberate’ and split the conglomerate into four freestanding companies—Time Warner Cable, Time Warner Entertainment, Time Inc. and AOL—each with its own strategy, stock, balance sheet, management team, and board.”

He contends that the four units would “benefit from the separation” and “that other parts of Time Warner would achieve similar results if set free from the conglomerate. Time Warner has proven to be too big, too complex, too conflicted and too slow-moving—in other words, too much like a classic conglomerate—to seize new opportunities”. He sees big potential from separation, and I can’t disagree. 

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Pop!

The Dec. 19, 2005, Business Week piles on more worrisome indications that the housing bubble is deflating. The story focuses on Loudon County, Va., once one of the hottest real estate markets in the country that is now cooling off. As sales slow, sellers are cutting prices. According to Business Week, “From August to October, the median sales price for houses dropped from $506,100 to $480,000”. I expect falling selling prices and rising days on the market to be the norm in most housing markets, if not now within a short time.

I first blogged on the housing bubble in August, a year after I started warning people trouble was coming. Coincidentally, not a week following the post, a good friend asked me about real estate as an investment. She had come into inheritance money and looked to help another friend, who had been successfully speculating on houses in Pennsylvania. I strongly recommended against real estate as an investment. I hope she took the advice. 

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Where Do They Go?

Every few nights I come down into my basement office—oh, about a half our after the lights go out—and kill crickets. Those pesky varmints are a real pain.

Occasionally, though, I’ll catch one about before the lights have gone out and kill it. Last night, like other times when I squashed one, I was too lazy to clean it up. Like other times, the cricket carcass disappeared overnight. 

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The Right Choice

My wife hauls me off to church every Sunday (and that’s not a bad thing). I teach Sunday school, which gets me out of the service. But last week, older kids organized a scavenger hunt for fourth through sixth graders (I teach the middleschoolers), so I had opportunity to sit in the service. Lucky, too.

The pastor announced she would step down at the end of December. After two-and-a-half years, she felt it was time to make room for new blood and a new way of doing things. I thought: “This is how it’s supposed to be”.