Archive for February, 2008

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That’s Fierce

February 28, 2008

Yes, I watch Project Runway.  Last night was the episode when they finally decided who would show at Fashion Week.  I have to say, I don’t agree with the judges.  Chris’ collection was thought provoking and much more interesting than Rami’s.  I still think Christian will end up winning in the end, but we will see.

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“White people don’t use hair oil.”

February 27, 2008

I work at one of the import chains that has not gone out of business.  We have an eclectic mix of employees:  Bolivian, Peruvian, Iowan, Ethiopian, etc.  Sometimes cultural differences jump out.

Por ejemplo, the Ethiopian girl (let’s call her Amira) I work with brought me an oil infuser asking if a customer can open it and smell it.  I said no, since it would be unsaleable if the customer did not like the smell.  So, I told Amira, “Tell her it looks like…”  I look at the box, “bergamot, whatever that is.”

Amira replies, “Bergamot, like the hair oil.”

Trying to be diplomatic, I told her, “Katie and I don’t use hair oil, Amira.”

Looking confused, Amira asked, “Why not?”

So, I finally just blurted out, “Amira, white people don’t use hair oil.”

The two other black people in the room, both of them born and raised in the US, both started cracking up.  Amira accepted it all silently, but she sat all through her lunch break looking very bemused.  To this day, I still don’t think she completely believes that I don’t put oil in my hair.

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Goin’ To The Chapel…

February 26, 2008

Friday we leave to go to my cousin Monica’s wedding.  She is getting married in the lovely city of Pensacola, Florida.  I wish we were going a few months later when it will be hot and the ocean will be warm enough to swim in.

My cousin Monica is an interesting person. She is a nurse now, but in the past she has been a cheerleader, a dancer for a sports team and even a Hooters girl.  Her “papa” met her mother overseas, and he brought her back with him.  She was a Chinese national, so my cousin is half white and half Chinese.  She’s a pretty girl, and I think she supports my idea that people of mixed heritage are more likely to be good looking.  (See Jessica Alba, Freema Agyeman, and Halle Berry.)

I’m excited to see my family again, and I’m sure Ritsa is going to be stressed out by them.  My family is a handful to deal with at times, since they like to tease and annoy the people they like.  However, I find them relaxing.  I wish we weren’t going to only be there four days, but you take the time you can.

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My Favorite Music Site

February 25, 2008

Looking for free and legal music?  Check out Jamendo.  It features music put out by artists granting the people that download it the right to copy it and distribute it legally.  There aren’t any big name artists on the site, but there are some good ones.  My favorite group is Tryad.  Their music is easy to listen to samples and electronica featuring a lot of piano and some nice vocals.

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Evil Kevin Spacey

February 24, 2008

That is who Mike Huckabee is.  I have photographic evidence!

evil spacey
  good spacey

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Obama is a Cylon…

February 23, 2008

… He has a plan.

Steven Pearlstein – There’s the Beef – washingtonpost.com

Pearlstein does a great job of debunking the FUD that Clinton’s campaign has been spreading about Obama’s lack of substance to his message of change.  The plans themselves are pages and pages of dry reading, but Pearlstein does a great job of pulling the substance from them.  So, if you are considering voting for or against Obama, give the article a read.  Information is the lifeblood of a good democracy or republic.

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Down With The Payments

February 22, 2008

Most people think of mortgage companies requiring a down payment as a way to protect the lender. They even require you to buy insurance if you cannot make the 20% down payment requirement. Standing on the outside watching the mortgage meltdown, I see things that could have been prevented if only people had made significant down payments.

WARNING: MATH AHEAD!

Say I bought a house four years ago for $500,000, not too unreasonable for the Washington, DC area. If I borrowed the entire amount with an ARM and a low teaser rate hoping to refinance into a fixed-rate mortgage and my house lost 10% of its value bringing it down to $450,000, I would be stuck with an upward-adjusting interest rate on a $500,000 loan and an increasingly bad financial situation. However, if I had made a 20% down payment, I would have only owed $400,000 on a house now worth $450,000. That would have given me room to refinance and let me prevent a larger jump in payments.

So:

$500,000 – $0 down payment + rising interest rate – drop in house value = you are screwed

$500,000 – $100,000 down payment + rising interest rate – drop in house value = you may be able to pull it off

The other side to the 20% down payment coin is that accumulating enough money to make that down payment requires you to be fiscally responsible enough to gather that money. This is something that has been neglected recently with 80/20 loans, piggyback loans, and/or loans for 100% of the value. They allow people with enough income but not enough discipline to get loans they are unable to keep up with.

Equity is something you should start with in a house, not hope to accrue through a rise in property value and a long history of payments.