Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Freudian Typo?

So, just now on the local Fox affiliate they ran a story about President Obama's plan to get the banks under control.

The large intro headline and the tagline that ran under the story as it played both said "Obama plans to reign in banks".

Which is pretty much what some people expected, innit?

Monday, February 23, 2009

Among The Things I Have Forgotten

In my former life...back in the day...before kids...almost 20 years ago, to be exact...I worked as a mortgage loan processor for a savings and loan association. Do S&L's even exist anymore? I don't think there are any around these parts, at any rate. Maybe they all vanished in the great Crisis. I know the one I worked for got bought up by another S&L, which was bought up by a bank, and who knows what it is now. Wait...this is all starting to sound familiar.

Anyway, way back then, we refinanced a lot of mortgages when the rates were plummeting during the heyday of the Reagan Revolution. When a customer wanted to refinance we tried to help them figure out which combination of rates and points saved them the most interest over the period of time they were likely to own the house. There was a calculation we used to figure a break-even point where it made more sense to go with a higher rate versus paying more points.

As I recall, the way it worked was like this: Customer needs to refi $200K loan. Interest rate X will yield a monthly payment of $1,000 and customer will pay 1 point. Interest rate Y will yield a payment of $1,100 and Customer will pay no points. Since one point would be $2,000 and the difference between the payments is $100/month, the break even point is 20 months. So, if Customer plans to keep the house for longer than 20 months he will save money by going for the lower rate.

So, this makes perfect sense to me if Customer is paying that point in cash at closing. (Although maybe we should take the equation further and estimate how much interest he's losing by not investing the money instead. But we'll assume he banks at Wachovia and gets .05% on his savings account, so it's sort of a non-issue.)

What I can't remember is this: Does this break-even calculation work if Customer is financing the points into the refinanced loan? The points are, in effect, getting spread out over the life of the loan and thereby making the payment higher. But the lower interest rate is also making the payment lower...and that's where my brain got all creaky and started yelling at kids to get off its lawn.

Anybody got an answer for me on this? Any wild guesses? Anyone? Anyone? Bueller??

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

American Idol Season 8 Winner Prediction

Season 8 of American Idol has now begun, and I decided to make some predictions about the outcome. Surely I've been watching long enough to know how this show works, right? Okay...predictions, but first some presuppositions:

• Someone, maybe it's the viewers...maybe it's the producers who are occasionally led by what the viewers want...will pick a winner and that winner will be presented to the public at the end of the show. The winner will be the contestant who is most likely to make money for the show, its producers, its associated companies, and its advertisers.

• Someone, perhaps the viewers or perhaps the producers, prefers that there be a balanced variation of gender and ethnicity and musical style in the winners from year to year.

Based on the above presuppositions we can look at the past winners and the current crop of contestants and predict a winner, or at least a category of likely winners, for this season. First of all, the gender/ethnicity/style categories for the past 7 seasons:

Season 1 winner: Kelly Clarkson is a white female whose singing style is, according to Wikipedia, Pop Rock. (I'm going to rely on Wikipedia for the style information so as to avoid referring to most of the female singers as "shrieking divas".)

Season 2 winner: Ruben Studdard is a black male whose singing style is Pop, R&B, and Gospel.

Season 3 winner: Fantasia I'm Too Sexy For My Last Name is a black female whose singing style is R&B.

Season 4 winner: Carrie Underwood is a white female whose singing style is Country Pop.

Season 5 winner: Taylor Hicks is a soulful white male whose singing style is Classic Rock, Blues, and R&B.

Season 6 winner: Jordan Sparks is a black female whose singing style is Pop/R&B.

Season 7 winner: David Cook is a white male whose singing style is Rock.

Okay, what do we need for balance this year? There have been 4 white winners and 3 black winners thus far, so maybe we need an ethnicity balancer. So far, none of the winners have been Latino or Asian; if we need balance we are past due for a winner in one of those ethnic categories.

There have been 4 winners who are at least partially identified with R&B, so we can have another year off from that...and there was very great rejoicing. There have been 2 winners identified with Rock music, and one of those was last year's winner, so it's highly unlikely that a rocker will win this season. Only two winners are in the Pop category (which seems odd...isn't this show all about the Pop?) so that's a ripe possibility. Carrie Underwood is the only Country singer who has managed to win thus far, and since it's been several years since her win it might be Country's turn again.

In terms of gender balance there have been 4 female winners and 3 male winners. Obviously the men need to win this year, right?

So, what do we need for our ideal winner? A male Latino Country singer! Uh oh. As far as I can tell there is no one in the Top 36 who fits that description. We need Gabe Garcia...the runner up from last year's Nashville Star. Unfortunately we ain't got him, so where do we go from here?

A male Latino Pop singer? A male Asian Pop singer? Hey, lookie there at the selection the producers thoughtfully provided for us in this year's Top 36. We have Anoop Desai, Jorge Nunez, and Kai Kalama!

I'm going to throw in another variable just for this particular year of American Idol...the Obama Factor. The USA's historic election of Barack Obama is recent enough that Americans are still in "Obama Mode" in their decision-making. I'm predicting this will affect the AI results. President Obama was born in Hawaii, although he is not of Hawaiin ethnicity, he is of mixed ethnic heritage, and he has an unusual name with a melodic flow of vowels and consonants.

Based on all of the above criteria, my prediction for winner of American Idol Season 8 is: Kai Kalama!

Monday, February 16, 2009

Sunday, February 15, 2009

"Ch" Is Also the Beginning Sound Of...

CHat...which we had today with the CHeerful and CHarming Esbee of Life in Forsyth when we came upon her shopping for school snacks at Costco.

After church this morning we first stopped at Lowes to look at ceiling fans and debate which metal finish would best coordinate with the various metals in the kitchen. Then we headed to Costco to pick up a few things we were running out of.

I saw someone who looked familiar as I was distractedly wandering near the Health and Beauty department, looking for Natalie who had quickly located the soap she was sent to find and had moved on to the Dairy aisle to wait for us.

After we finally caught up with Natalie, and proved once again that all three of us adults really DO need these cell phones, I caught my breath and grabbed Natalie's arm.

Me: Did you see Esbee? I think it was Esbee, in the pink top, did you see her?

Natalie: (after trotting around corner and back) Yes, that's her!

Me: Did you say hi?

Natalie: No, that seems a little too stalkerish.

Me: (to Tom) We need two cartons of the eggs.

Me: (to Esbee who came around the corner suddenly) Hi! Are you Esbee?

Esbee: (looking ever-so-slightly wary) Yes, did I say something to offend you?

That will go down in my memory as the perfect blogger greeting. "Yes, did I say something to offend you?" It succinctly sums up the angst that so many of us feel about meeting Real People who have read what we write.

After we assured her that she had said nothing that we found offensive, and after we had introduced ourselves via our secret bloggy code names, we went on to have quite a pleasant CHat. I really enjoy getting to meet other bloggers and have speaking voices and mannerisms to put with the written "voice" I've grown used to reading.

As for Tom, he said very little as is his wont, but he was apparently also CHarmed by Esbee. CHarmed to the point that he didn't remember about the eggs I wanted him to pick up till we were all the way back home. :)

As we got done talking, Esbee CHastised me about my recent lack of blogging and CHallenged me to get back at it more frequently. Hey, at least writing this post was easier than trying to come up with CH snacks!!

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Keep Left Signs?? Boo!!

Now I know why I like to's all part of my life plan to become one of these ladies:

20 balls of wool a day! I'm going to have to work up to that.

Friday, February 6, 2009

Cheating With a Facebook Meme

So, on Facebook everyone who is anyone, and a lot of people who aren't, are being tagged to do this 25 Random Things About Me meme. Since not very many of my blog readers are on Facebook, and vice versa, I thought I'd let the agony of this exercise do double duty as a blog post. Because I am Lazy Like That, but y'all knew that.

1. I'm not good at doing memes.

2. Or maybe I am (sinister laugh). See how I just blew two of the items with that randomness?

3. I was very, very, extremely, terribly shy when I was a child. Except at home.

4. I got over it, but I still find it hard to function well in large groups.

5. I'm not "shy" any more, I am "introverted". Which is much more fashionable, dahlink!

6. I wanted to have 6 or 12 kids, but God in His wisdom only gave me 2. And considering how often I crave peace and quiet, that's a good thing. Although God uses my kids considerably in my sanctification, so maybe I would be more like Him by now if I had more kids?

7. My favorite color has always been blue, but now that blue is fashionable I feel my loyalty waning.

8. I don't know what to pick for a second-favorite color. I like to wear red, but saying red is your favorite color sounds so...bold, or something.

9. Pink, I could compromise and say pink. Geranium pink, leaning toward coral, not Barbie pink.

10. I love words. I get words "stuck" in my head and have to pronounce them over and over, with the emphasis on different syllables.

11. I used to be able to make snap decisions, but after I got married that ability went away. Probably because I married Mr. Analytical. Now I overthink things even more than he does. :)

12. I find it easier to talk to men than to women, to the point that I butt into male conversations most inappropriately. If I ever have to receive church discipline it will be for arguing with men about politics. I also immensely prefer having a male boss to a female one. This might be because I have two brothers and no sisters and my mom has never been the girly-girl sistery type.

13. My dad taught me to argue when I was very young. My mom says that when I was a toddler (younger than 2, at any rate) I would hang out in the bathroom to watch my dad shave. He and I would argue while he shaved. He would say something like "So, do you like that bathmat over there?" and I would say "It's not a bathmat, it's a RUG!" We would go back and forth "bathmat!" "rug!"...presumably until he got done shaving and went to finish getting ready for work. Apparently my dad can argue and shave at the same time without cutting himself. :)

14. I use adverbs such as "presumably", "apparently", "inappropriately", and "definitely" a lot. And, yes, I did check the online dictionary to verify that those were adverbs before putting them on this list.

15. I just asked Colin to help me with this by telling me a random thing about me. He said, "You stay in front of the computer almost all day." Ouch...

16. I like tea, hot or iced, no sugar or sweetener, sometimes lemon. I do not like coffee.

17. I am a cat person. I grew up having cats and dogs as pets, but never really developed a big love for dogs. I mean, I like them...I just don't want to live with them.

18. I'm a cat person to the point that I feel like I can think like a cat, which is sometimes helpful. To my cats I am The Mom Cat, and they know that if they do not obey they will be punished cat-fashion...I bop their noses lightly and hiss in their faces.

19. If you knew how really weird I am under the surface (oh, maybe you do?) you wouldn't think #18 was so strange. :)

20. I almost never feel properly dressed or comfortable in my clothes. I never have, and quite possibly (adverb!) never will.

21. I make myself a detailed to-do list every day. If I didn't I would feel as though I never accomplished anything. By "detailed" I mean I have things on there like "eat breakfast" and "read newspaper".

22. I never know what to eat for breakfast. It's supposedly (adverb!) the most important meal of the day, but I put it off for hours until I get hungry enough to just grab anything and eat. I need to have a breakfast cook on staff who will have a perfect nutritious breakfast prepared and ready for me the minute I hit the kitchen in the morning.

23. Natalie had a book when she was little called "Meanwhile, Back At The Ranch", in which the heroine of the story received a "wall-to-wall refrigerator with built-in automatic foodmaker". I want one of those.

24. My favorite season is Fall. My favorite days are cool, crisp, and sunny. Second favorite would be cool and misty.

25. Because of #24, if I could live anywhere in the US I would choose either Colorado or the Pacific Northwest. Outside of the US, I would pick Ireland. Or Wales...but I would worry about the nocturnal badgers.