Sunday, August 30, 2009

Things I wish existed #1

Wow! My first ever blog post and it's a topic I stole from someone else's blog. Or, maybe not. After all, that guy's blog was about stuff HE wanted. Mine is completely different as it's all about ME. Anyway, on with my stupid wish...

Things I wish existed #1: A 24-hour movie theater.

You see, I'm one of those poor souls who, for my own reasons, has chosen to work the dreaded graveyard shift. The great thing about being a creature of the night is that very few others are out during these hours. This makes trips to Walmart a pleasure (well, as close to a pleasure as a trip to Walmart to buy soap, deodorant, and personal lubricant can be) because most of the unwashed masses, baby mamas, and participants in the "Jabbba The Hutt On An Electric Scooter" lookalike contest are at home sleping off their suppers of McNuggets and beer; leaving the store more populated with employees than with customers.

The bad thing about being a nocturnal beast is that very few others are out during these hours, which means that places which depend upon having butts in the seats (like theaters, restaurants, amusement parks, etc.) aren't open when there is a minimum number of butts up and walking around, looking for a place to sit. As such, my options for occupying my time at 3:00 AM are pretty much limited to pissing away said time online, watching crap TV, or going to Walmart.

Surely, there are enough 3rd shifters and insomniacs in the DFW metroplex to justify at least a couple of all-night theaters (don't put them all in Dallas, please). Then, I'd have a chance to see all of the latest "PG-13" and "R" rated blockbusters (more about why I can't do this now to be posted in a future blog if I get around to it). Because the theaters would be less crowded, some of their screens could also be devoted to showing the indie stuff, foreign films, and pretentious art house crap that people like me like to shrug at on our way to see "Explodinator IV: Revenge of the Dynamite".

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Happy days are here again...


Well, it's that time of year again. The time where Chris quits his job. Luckily this time he had two so only one will go. What does this mean? This means that Chris will be able to devote more time to working on creative stuff with me. This also means we will have time to play many more games.

It's a real pity that companies don't value their employees. They just see them as a disposable resource. Companies should take a look at an unhappy employee and say to themselves: 'this employee has been an asset to the company, what can we do to keep them?'
Oh well. Their loss, my gain.

Friday, August 21, 2009

This is interesting...

I ran across this neat app for websites called SnapVine. It's basically an answering machine you can build into your website and everyone can listen to it.

You click on Leave a Message by Phone and it gives you a phone number and code. You call it, leave your message and it shows up on the web app.

It has a very old school feel to me (like the Pubic Domain) but for everyone on the web (with a phone).

Anyway I added it to AccordingToWhim.com

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Every little bit helps?

Ok, here is a story of disgust, resolution, trail, failure, and eventually learning. All of which leads to basically a savings of 96 bucks a year.

I hate waiting for a haircut. Procuts is always so packed so I found a less packed hair place near work. I try to go and get there when no one else is there, in and out in a jiffy.

I have short hair. It's an easy cut; #5 on the top, #4 on back and sides, trim up sideburns, and square back. That's it. It take like five minutes to cut my hair so I hate waiting for that long to get seated.

Anyway one morning I went first thing when they opened. Apparently there were 2 people already there (one waiting). She said it would be about ten minutes then eight minutes later she says one of the people is running late and could I wait another thirty minutes...

That was the straw that broke the camel's back. I said no thanks and decided that was the last time i'd go there.

I have been wanting to cut my own hair for a few years now but I knew I'd have to get Candice's help so I had been putting it off. I finally bought a kit for 28 bucks with all sorts of stuff in it and we started cutting it at home.

On the second cut I decided to use the side/ear trimmer bit that would make the hair around my ears on the side shorter. Oops. It cut them wayyy tooo short. My hair looked really bad. Finally a couple of days later my boss trimmed up my rough looking hair (Candice couldn't bring herself to mess with it more) and it looked fine, no more mullet look.

I won't use that trimmer piece again and the next haircut I do will officially be 'free' since the first 2 cuts paid for the trimmer.

Sure it will save the me the cost of 6 haircuts a year which is only about 96 bucks, but it also saves on the time I'd have to wait and the wear and tear on a vehicle to go and get it cut.

Like not taking my shirts to the laundry anymore, this haircut economy will help (even if its only in the long run).

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Quotes – Nathan and Miguel, Read This Anyway

by Chris McGinty

Nathan is gone for the week, so I’m guessing he won’t be on here much. I guess it’s up to me to fill the screen with crap for him to read when he gets back. Perhaps. Quotes are always fun. Neither Miguel nor Nathan thinks so, but whatever.

Let me start with a quote from Nathan. This is his comment to my last blog. I include it here; because I don’t know how often people click the comments:

“You know Chris you have been going on and on for years making a career of telling me and Miguel that we never listen to you... you are right. Is that what you needed to hear?
“You were right, I needed to stop using credit.
“You were right, I needed to get a part time job to help pay it down.
“Heres the thing... I didn't want to... but you were still right.
“Now, let's turn the mirror onto yourself. You have been basically work 2 jobs for quote some time now. Have you paid off your debts?
“You should.
“You should get a 3rd job if needed. You should stop buying Dr. Pepper to save soooo much money.
“This is sound advice. It's easy to give good, sound advice.
“Not too easy to actually do it though, is it?
“Put that 'add-a-flvaour' in your Dr. Pepper and drink it!
“Peace out.”

Neat.

Before I respond formally, this is a quote column, so I’ll start by responding with this apt quote:

“Action is greater than writing. A good man is a nobler object of contemplation than a great author. There are but two things worth living for: to do what is worthy of being written; and to write what is worthy of being read.” - Ross Perot

Now with that crap out of the way, let’s deal with what Nathan said for a moment. Is that what I needed to hear? That I was right? No! Nathan, I knew I was right. If I wasn’t sure, I might want to hear it, just for confirmation, but I already knew I was right. I didn’t need to hear it.

I see a much bigger problem right now than your finances, or even my finances, but I think the problem starts with us. That’s what I’m writing about. I just thought I’d drag you through the mud, because you were acting like you were some innocent victim.

So the mirror on me. I started one of the essays saying, “I’m single and loving it, I’m broke and hating it, and I’m Swedeswitzerstan and neutral about it.” Exact quote, almost. I will actually turn the mirror on me in one of the future columns, but it’s not going to be the same thing, because I’ve done the whole thing. I’ve worked three jobs simultaneously, I’ve paid down debt, and I even stopped drinking Dr. Pepper for a couple of weeks once because I had enough money for rent and no more money coming in until after it was due. But that’s not really my issue. We’ll deal with me later. For now let’s look at some other quotes:

“If you can't stand a little sacrifice and you can't stand a trip across the desert with limited water, we're never going to straighten this country out.” - Ross Perot

“Chains of habit are too light to be felt until they are too heavy to be broken.” - Warren Buffett

“Anyone who stops learning is old, whether at twenty or eighty. Anyone who keeps learning stays young. The greatest thing in life is to keep your mind young.” - Henry Ford

“It is well enough that people of the nation do not understand our banking and monetary system, for if they did, I believe there would be a revolution before tomorrow morning.” - Henry Ford

“There is one rule for the industrialist and that is: Make the best quality of goods possible at the lowest cost possible, paying the highest wages possible.” - Henry Ford

“I don't get high, but sometimes I wish I did. That way, when I messed up in life I would have an excuse. But right now there's no rehab for stupidity.” - Chris Rock

“I just get things done instead of talking about getting them done. I don't go out and party. I don't smoke, drink or do drugs and I'm not married, that leaves a lot of time for my work.” - Henry Rollins

“So, one way or another, I found myself in a few movies. I take it seriously when I'm on the set, but I don't take myself seriously as an actor.” - Henry Rollins

“I sometimes fall into the trap of doing what I think I should be doing rather than what I want to be doing.” - Bjork

“It's funny how the hippies and the punks tried to get rid of the conservatives, but they always seem to get the upper hand in the end.” - Bjork

“I had a really good childhood up until I was nine, then a classic case of divorce really affected me.” - Kurt Cobain

”I started being really proud of the fact that I was gay even though I wasn't.” - Kurt Cobain

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Credit Crunch Nathan… The Denial

by Chris McGinty

In 2003, Nathan and I had a discussion about his debt. This was five years before I heard of Dave Ramsey, but I already had many of the same ideas as said Dave person. I won’t even get into what Dave Ramsey has said about these debt management programs, because I know that I’ve already advised Nathan against it.

I’ve pretty much stopped believing that anyone will ever listen to a word I say though. This goes very deep in fact. Miguel and I were discussing my writing the other night. It was an offshoot discussion of this blog. In our private group, I asked about promoting this blog, and all the other work we do. Miguel had an alternate take on the idea of promotion.

He asked, “Is it that we’re not getting people to our work, or is it that we’re not producing anything that people are interested in?”

Basically, he believes that it will do no good to promote our work, because no one will be interested. He believes that my sense of humour isn’t aligned with the rest of the world, and unless I’m willing to use more dick and fart jokes in my work, I will not appeal to most people no matter how I promote.

Put another way, I don’t say what people want to hear, and so people don’t listen. Interesting, huh? Nathan is still convinced that the credit card companies are to blame for what’s going on right now, even after I wrote a very clear, and funny if you understand more than farting dicks, piece about personal responsibility. Nathan points out that in a mere 4.5 years (really, that’s it?) he’ll have all the credit card companies paid off, and boy, will they have learned their lesson (the companies, not Nathan.)

So jumping back to the start, in 2003, Nathan and I had a discussion about his debt. My suggestion was to stop purchasing with credit cards, make cuts to his lifestyle, and get a part time job until he could get a little breathing room by paying off one or more cards. The result of this was us starting a part time business, which strangely was mostly funded by credit, and after we overextended ourselves, and Nathan quit his full time job (making the act of starting a part time business negligible to its original intention) the business failed. This was halfway through 2004 when it was finally all said and done. 4.5 years ago at the very least, probably closing in on five. But you see the parallel right? If Nathan had simply stopped purchasing with credit cards (which he has to do now anyway) and made cuts to his lifestyle (which he’s had to do anyway) back in 2004 when the business was officially done with, he would have no credit card debt now.

But none of that was what he wanted to hear. And people don’t listen to what they don’t want to hear. The way he’s doing it is better, because he’s sticking it to the man, oh yeah!

They already have your money, Nathan. And again, I know that’s not what you want to hear. Sometimes it’s the stuff we don’t want to hear that’s the best things for us to hear. I truly hope that your debt management program works, because if it’s the only way that you’re going to do what is best for you then I guess it’s better late than never.

And 4.5 years from now, if everything has gone as it is supposed to, I hope you don’t get back into the revolving door of debt, and say, “This is only to keep my credit score up, and I’ll be so much smarter about it this time,” because people are never smarter about anything when they’re using it as a justification for their actions.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Let Me Slip Into Something a Little Less Mainstream

by Chris McGinty


Ok, I think I’ll take a quick break from solving the world’s problems. I worked forty hours over the weekend, so I haven’t had a chance to cause a comparable amount of problems yet. Can’t make things lopsided you know.

I watched “Ghost World” tonight. It was quite good. It’s based on a comic book, which I guess the truth is, I’ve never heard of until now. It stars this person named Thora Birch, who I guess the truth is, I’ve never heard of until now. The interesting thing about Thora Birch is that she looks nothing like herself, not if you think she looks like the Enid character. You search pictures of her, and you can tell it’s the same person, but it’s just kind of not her. And I guess the truth is, I’ve never seen anything she’s been in until now. There’s a whole subsection of pop culture that I was unaware of, and it revolves around this actress somehow.

The movie also stars Scarlett Johansson and Steve Buscemi, both of who I’m familiar with, and both of who are in movies that have influenced me creatively recently. Johansson is in “Lost in Translation” which is a great movie with a great soundtrack. I seem to be the only person who thinks so, but whatever. I got the feel of an hour and a half long music video, which clearly appealed to me. Buscemi is in “Living in Oblivion” which I watched earlier this year, after seeing a small portion of it years ago. It’s funny movie about trying to shoot a movie. Yeah.

I sort of want to shoot a movie. Yeah.

There are times that I wonder why I bother with mainstream anything, which I know is sort of a silly thought, because I like a lot of mainstream things. I think I just sometimes get more enjoyment out of things that aren’t made to appeal to the largest audience possible. I’m not sure if that’s a good or bad thing. I just know I’m not going to question it too much as long as I’m entertained. I guess I just feel a sense of profound regret when I watch something as good as the movies I’ve mentioned here, and realize that I did in fact sit through Transformers. I’m glad I learned my lesson with the first one. Yes, I thought the first Transformers was good, but comparatively…?

Just excuse me. I get in these moods sometimes. I get over it soon enough. I’ll probably have a Seth Rogan fest by the end of the week.

Until then here is some music that you all should probably like, even if you don't.








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Monday, August 10, 2009

Credit Crunch America... The Result

As of the first of the month I will be on a debt management plan. I am using a company that basically negotiates an APR with the credit card company on your behalf and send the payment to them (via auto draft from my checking). This will cost me 50 bucks a month (or 2,700 for the life of the program IF I don't pay it off quicker).

This reduced the APRs for all 4 cards by about 3/4 (except BOA which SUCKS BALLS).

It's a 54 month plan. The cards will be paid off in 4.5 years (or faster if send additional payments).

It will not affect my credit rating (well only a small amount).

So all fur credit cards are going to loose a ton of money because of what THEY did.

Oh well.

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Money Advice from an (not an) Economist

by Chris McGinty

[Note: It's funny that you announce Wade joining the group when the subject has my name and my alter ego's name.]

I've thought about the economy frequently over the years, both national and personal. Money is sort of a hobby for me. Let me say this to start. I'm broke and deeply in debt. There are any number of my critics who have asked me why it is that I know so much, allegedly, but I'm still a financial failure. In their minds I think they believe this makes me less capable of understanding how money works.

To that I'll simply say, I'm twice divorced, but if I give you the advice, “Don't fight about money or cheat on your spouse if you want your marriage to stay together,” it's still valid advice. Money troubles is the number one cited cause of divorce. Therefore, I write today not to pick on Nathan for being a bad consumer, but to lower the divorce rate; or at the very least to knock money troubles out of the top spot.

Let's define, for a moment, living paycheck to paycheck, since it's widely agreed that that is what most Americans do. The base idea here is that you get your paycheck, you pay your necessities (food, clothing, shelter) and maybe indulge yourself a little if there's anything left. When your next paycheck rolls around you have no debt, and no money left over. I bet there are quite a few people who wish it was that tidy.

On either side of that Utopian view of paycheck to paycheck, there is a discrepancy between your paycheck and your spending. If you're lucky, you make so much that you couldn't spend it if you tried. You party 24/7 and have three drug habits, and yet there's still money in your bank account.

It doesn't normally work that way though. Usually what you save ends up getting used up for extra expenses. Many people perform this process in reverse, and if done right it does technically work. It's not the best way, but it works. This is where you borrow money to cover the extra expenses, and then perform the same function as you do when you're saving. You're taking so much off the top to handle emergencies, albeit emergencies you've already fielded rather than those you're anticipating.

This is such a complicated issue that it's hard to tell which way to go from here. It's like it needs to be a Choose Your Own Adventure. If you want to know why Nathan is a bad consumer, go to page 40,000. If you want to know why Ross Perot should have been president, go to pages 1993-2009.

When Bush started the bailout train (oh yeah folks, Bush is dancing the Cha Cha at the front of that one, and Obama has his hands on Bush's hips, and is dancing right behind him) I was reminded by economists who were for the bailout that I'm not an economist, and that's why I didn't understand why it was so important that the bailout go through.

It was a historic time because all economists were unified in their belief...

What? You mean they weren't. But if the reason I was opposed to the bailout was because I'm not an economist, and therefore didn't understand the far reaching... wait... Do you think that was - gasp! - false logic?

Well to all those economists who told me I didn't know what I was talking about, I only have this to say: “Don't fight about money and don't cheat on your spouse. You're not a playa like me, so you don't understand the far reaching impact.”

Here's the thing, for years there have been notable politicians, and even Ross Perot, who have said that we can't continue to borrow into the future. It'll wreck the economy they said, and here we are now with the economy wrecked. And that's why Nathan is a bad consumer, because he didn’t vote for Perot.

Nathan went into debt at some point and never came back out, like many of us, and like our country. I'm probably morally even worse off because I'm in debt to friends and family, including Nathan, who will probably demand full repayment after this criticism. Morally I’m worse off, but we’re both just as far in debt. Let's look at this for a moment Nathan.

The truth is that the bulk of my debt to you is the computer you got me into, so that I had the ability to help you with the ton of video editing that we've had to do over the last five years, and my portion of the business.

Any money I've borrowed since then I've paid in a timely manner, but what if I didn't? What if I borrowed $100 at the start of the month, paid it by month's end, but at the start of the following month I needed that $100 again, because I didn't have it to pay you back really? What if this continued on? I might always pay you back, but for all intents and purposes, I'm in debt to you for $100.

How long would it be before you said, “I can loan you $95, because I need to start seeing some of this money come back,” especially if you had always said, “Hey, I can lend you up to $500.”

You would start thinking, “If he ever has to borrow more than the $100, it would probably get stuck in the same loop.”

How quick would you say, “I know I said 500, but I won't be able to do that now?”

This is what's happening with the credit card companies. Your credit rating is not a measure of your financial responsibility. It's a number that will hold up in court if you claim discrimination: “Our decision to not loan money was not based on race, sex, income bracket, or what side of town the plaintiff lives on. Look, their credit score was simply too low.” Why do you think some employers use credit rating as a hiring tool? Just say "hire" in that sentence where it says "loan money" and "skill level" where it says "income bracket."

When you have a high credit score they start to look at the other numbers. How long have they had this debt? Is it creeping up or down? Do they owe more than they make in a year? Can they borrow more than they make in a year? And if they don't like the answers, they will bust out with the terms you agreed to (yes, that you agreed to) which includes the clause that more or less says, “If we predict a bankruptcy we're going to raise your interest rate, and with it your minimum payment, so we can recover as much as possible while you're still in the phase of just keeping up with it long enough to get in the house, before you just get tired and file.”

The best thing for both consumer and country is to just stop borrowing, and start paying it back. All economies involved will be better for it.

I still have plenty to say about our economies, but this will be all for now.

Join me next time when I either turn to page 725 to deal with why the recent raise in minimum wage is fixing the wrong problem, or as I take on the subject of trickle down economics, which gives more information to the higher numbered pages, so the editor can go through and give some of that abundance of information to the lower numbered pages.

Chris and Lewis Cannon

Oh yeah,
I had Wade join the blog.

On to other things...
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oJJvEiUgz20

The end gets cut off a bit (the closing screen lasts a little longer). I will have to fix that.

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

A Quick One Before I Head Off to Work

by Chris McGinty

Yeah, that guy does resemble me in more than one way. It looks like he’s better built though. Using my deductive reasoning, I’m thinking I’m probably smarter, you know, cos he looks better. Well, sort of. I mean, I’m cuter, clearly, but…

Listen, I haven’t watched it yet, because I don’t know when and where to watch it. Do you own it? Can I borrow it? Why haven’t you watched “Living in Oblivion” yet? I’m sure it’s not as true to life, but it does deal with some of the issue one faces when making a movie, even when one has financial backing.

Also, I haven’t watched it, because like with money, I’m great at managing time, but only when I have more coming in than going out. Speaking of which, while I’m at work tonight, I’m going to write my next blog which will probably be titled, “Why Nathan is a Bad Consumer and Why His Current Credit Card Dilemma is All His Fault and Why the Fuck Isn’t Miguel Posting, Oh Yeah, Because He’s Miguel and While We’re on the Subject, I Got a Notification of Your Last Blog, Did You Fix Something? (Part One),” although that’s a working title.

In case you skimmed past the title, I asked a direct question in there. Answer it. Oh, and I recently looked up the rule for passed and past. If passed is the verb, like “I passed the library on the way to the book store,” then, well you see. Where as if I say, “I drove past the library on the way to the book store,” well, again you see. The verb there is drove, so well, you see. It means I have to go through much of my writing and check myself.

Alright, going to work now.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Why haven't you watched American Movie yet?

I am telling you this is an awesome and somewhat familiar feeling documentary about Mark Borchardt, a very familiar character (ahem) who aspires to make movies. I won't comment on his likeness to Chris...


but needless to say its very interesting and somewhat inspiring and equally sad as well. Go check it out.

Sunday, August 2, 2009

Just got screwed over by the credit card companies

1.) Nathan has NEVER defaulted on anything.
2.) Nathan has made late payments on credit cards less and 5 times EVER.
3.) Nathan's credit score is in the top 5% of the nation.

This is how Bank of America (and in their own way Chase) made me into the typical bad consumer through no fault of my own...

DATELINE: June. Chase Manhattan sends Nathan a notice about both his Chase credit cards reducing his unused credit balance by a total of 10,000 (on 2 different cards).

DATELINE: July
Nathan: 'Oh my, my current 6 month APR special on my Bank of America card is expiring August 1st. I better get ready to transfer balances to make sure I keep in good standing and ensuring I am not paying too much in interest. First I'll just call Bank of America and see if they can reduce my interest so I don't have to actually transfer my balance off their card.

Bank of 'O'merica: Sorry we can't do that but can we suggest you try out our debt consolidation 'gold option' of credit. It's not a credit card, it's a loan that has an end in sight!

Nathan: Awesome. That would help greatly. I'll do it!

Bank of 'O'merica: Sorry although you have a 742 credit rating and are complete good standing and have had only one inquiry on your credit in the last 2 years you have too much credit card debt to get this loan.

Nathan: Too much credit card debt to get the 'get out of debt credit consolidation loan'? I no understand.

DATELINE August 1. Nathan gets a letter in the mail that reduces my available unused credit limits by $21,000.

...

Facts:

1.) Nathan cannot transfer any more balances because there is no available credit to do so. I am stuck with the prime rate + percent on all credit cards now. These range from 14% - 27%

2.) Nathan did nothing to initiate these reductions in his credit limits.

3.) Nathan initiated the 'let me help myself' process. He did not get into shit then try to claw his way out, he was being proactive.

4.) Through no fault of his own Nathan is now stuck and is forced to make some dramatic decisions.

5.) In the end I feel Bank of America and Chase will pay for what they have done becasue THEY pushed me into this situation.

6.) I have been responsible for more than 18 years with my repayments and would have continued to happily pay my debts and all the interest and fees if this did not happen.

7.) Bank of America and Chase have recieved more than 25 billion each in bailout money...

8.) The simple matter of the fact is that I am a nothing to these companies and my collapse means little to nothing to them.

I tried so hard and WAS a good consumer and this happened to me.