Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Surgery Tomorrow!

Wish me luck. My knee is getting scoped. Hopefully, the ACL is not torn.

Monday, September 28, 2009

Polanski – Bring him home

And throw his ass in jail. The idea that France and Poland are demanding his release is repugnant. He plead guilty and he jumped bail. I hope they finally put him in the dark jail he belongs in.

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Bull or Bear – Costs Matter

Credit to Scott Burns for writing the quote above. Today's column, Which mutual funds let you keep more of your money?, is an outstanding example of his writing on financial topic.

Think about it this way, if you had to run a race carrying a heavy anchor (aka – expense load), how well do you think you would do?


Saturday, September 26, 2009

Toyota Purchase – Was I wrong?

Because my wife and I wanted to become "campers," we tried to purchase a new Toyota Tundra with enough towing capacity to meet our needs. Unfortunately, things went wrong with the dealer. The first time we tried to take delivery, the "tonneau" cover installed was not the model we thought we had agreed to. As a result, we rejected the truck and walked on the deal.

The next day, the sales manager called and offered to make things right. He did, however, state it would take two weeks for the cover to come in. While not ideal, it was not unreasonable. Unfortunately, when we arrived to pick up the truck, it was missing the steps that were part of the deal. Simply put, I was not happy.

While running an errand at lunch, I went by the dealership and noticed the problem. To make sure things were right this time, I called the salesman and expressed my concern. He said he told the service department that it had to be installed by 5pm.

When we arrived to pick up the vehicle, I could see them washing it for delivery but the steps were not installed. The salesman said they told the steps were on backorder. He offered to add it to the "we owe" list. I said no and the deal did not close.

Was I wrong to believe the dealer owed me a call BEFORE I showed up to discuss the problem? Had they told me before I arrived, I might have agreed to delay closing or accepting the truck as it.

In terms of our new strategy, we decided to defer the purchase for some time. My current vehicle is reliable transportation. For camping, we will tent camp or rent an RV.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Newspaper Bailout – Bad Idea

The dim bulbs in Washington have a new, stupid idea. They want to bailout the newspaper industry using our dollars to "help them become non profits." Freed from t he need to make a profit by attracting readers and advertisers, they would likely move further to the left.

Coffee and Hookers?

What could go wrong? Before you operate an adult establishment, make sure you talk to legal counsel.

Bikini-clad baristas charged with prostitution in Washington State


Thursday, September 24th 2009, 5:01 PM

EVERETT, Wash. — Five Washington state baristas charged customers to touch their breasts and buttocks at an espresso stand where servers wear bikinis to draw business, police said.

The five were charged Wednesday with prostitution. Charging money for that kind of touching falls under the city's definition of prostitution.

The Everett Herald reports the women were charging up to $80 to strip down while fixing lattes and mochas.

During a two-month investigation, detectives also saw the women lick whipped cream off each other and pose naked for pictures at the Grab-n-Go Espresso stand in Everett, about 30 miles north of Seattle.

Owner Bill Wheeler told KCPQ-TV employees sign a policy prohibiting the kind of behavior alleged by police. He said anyone caught doing anything illegal would be fired.

The women, ages 18 to 24, were not arrested, said Sgt. Robert Goetz. They were expected to be in Municipal Court in a few weeks to answer misdemeanor charges.

Police have received more than 40 complaints in the past year of women exposing themselves at coffee stands. Goetz said the department investigated Grab-n-Go because it had the most complaints.

"This was about alleged conduct, not about what the women were wearing," he said. "They could have been wearing parkas and if they continued to conduct themselves that way, we still would have filed the criminal charges."

Undercover detectives began posing as customers in mid-July.

During one visit, a barista allegedly told a detective that for $20, she and another barista would give him a show. He paid and they bared their breasts and pulled down their undergarments.

The women also charged customers to play "basketball," a game in which customers threw wadded up money at the women, who caught the money in their underwear, detectives said.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Bank Fees – Competition v. Regulation

In a normal world, competition would force banks to lower/eliminate excessive bank fees. Unfortunately, life is not perfect and neither is competition. Forced by competition to offer "free" checking to just about anyone with reasonable credit and a paycheck, banks have managed to capture income from consumers through the back door:

  1. The banks want you to use debit cards because they capture fees from merchants. When you write a check, no fees for the bank.
  2. While they might pay "interest" on certain checking and savings products, the big banks pay consumers so little that it might as well be zero. For example, one of my banks, Wells Fargo, is paying a whopping .05% interest rate on their money market account in my state. If you go below $3,500 in balance, they charge you $10 per month.
  3. Back-End Fees: Overdraft protection (which you may not want) generates billions of dollars for banks every year. This product is so profitable, they won't let customers "opt out" of the service.

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Looking to get into Camping

My wife and I are looking to get into camping. Although it may be expensive, we are probably going to rent a camper or a RV in April. In August, when we go to Bristol for the races, we will probably tent/camp.

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Don’t Forget Rollover Bonus

For people with CD's about to mature, it is important to check out the rate the bank will pay if you rollover the CD. In my case, ING Direct is giving me an extra .15% to do it. With the bonus, the ING rate becomes very competitive and there is no need to go through the hassle of moving the money to another bank.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Death Penalty for Shoplifting

If it wasn't a true story, the arrest of two Walmart employees for beating a suspected shoplifter to death would be funny. While not a Walmart fan, I doubt their reaction was official company policy.



Sunday, September 6, 2009

Spending Spree - Labor Day

Yesterday, my wife' and I's hatred of our frontloading washer came to a head. With good sale prices and zero percent financing, we decided it was better to spend $500 on a new machine than to spend another $200 getting the machine we hate fixed. In addition, we bought a snow blower in preparation for the season. While it will cost us money as compared to the plow guy, we hope to get a better job done (when we want it) and the payback period should be 2-3 years.

Friday, September 4, 2009

$40 for College Football PPV?

Wow? To see my Texas Longhorns play a patsy in the first game of the season, they want $40 for the PPV. If Texas doesn't win by 30 points, I'll be shocked. While I enjoy Longhorn football, I won't be springing for this PPV.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Kiplinger’s: Wrong on College Expenses

Kiplingers has published an interesting article on 10 Things College Students Do Not Need. The full article is located at:

Having spent NINE years getting undergraduate and undergraduate degrees, I feel I am an expert on college spending. While I agree with many items on the list, I do not agree with the following:

1 . A Car – In cities like Boston/NYC, their advice is certainly true. In many rural/suburban areas, a car is more of a necessity. In particular, a student who intends to work off-campus may need a vehicle. Of course, that does not mean a new car. In college, I had a 5 year old car and my sister got a 7 year old car. If they need a car, get the child a "beater" car that only needs liability insurance. If the child will come home for holidays/summer, it should be reliable enough to be driven home.

2. A high-end laptop or desktop computer: The article is confused on this point. On one hand, they advise getting a basic laptop while warning they may lack things like a DVD player or storage space. When I started graduate school, I took a computer that was inadequate for my needs. Ultimately, I had to buy a new computer 3 months into my program. Because it was an "old" computer, the experience did not cost me anything but time. A laptop bought for a freshman needs to last 4-5 years. Getting a "cheap" computer will likely mean buying a 2nd computer a few years later. My advice – get a mid-tier laptop. NOBODY gets a desktop. Get an extended warranty b/c laptops are notoriously finicky.

3. Printer: They advise against getting a printer without recognizing that time is money. Going back and forth the lap to print a paper is not always a practical solution.. My advice: get an inexpensive black/white LaserJet (not ink). While they may cost more upfront, one cartridge will last for a long time. We got one for under $200 that is fantastic. It is MUCH better than the inkjet (aka the "money pit") that it replaced.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Idiots @ Cash4gold

Apparently, the bozos running the business have not heard about the 1st Amendment. They are trying to sue over a report on their business practices. The complaint is available at: