Thursday, October 12, 2006

An Experiment - Friend Reboot

I often wondered what would happen if I stopped communicating with all my friends. What would happen if I stopped calling or emailing all my friends? What if I deleted all my contacts in my cell phone? What if I deleted all the names in my email account? How many people would contact me? How many people would remember me?

The friend reboot implies removing all the initial contact with all my old friends. I would have to make new friends. I can also keep the old friends that decided to contact me despite my lack of contacting them. This is similar to a computer rebooting, when it starts again, but only with friends.

Can I handle this, though? Can I survive the risk of losing all my friends? I am not sure. The reward is spectacular - only the loyal, true friends would stick around, while the bad friends would be removed. I wonder when I will be performing this experiment. It will be a surprise to me, too.

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

I Would Like Some Manners With That!

As I get older, I realize that people around me get ruder. Instead of focusing on the negative in people though, I would like to salute all those people who are good, nice, do what they say and show up on time.

I have a lot of respect for people who show up for meetings when they say they would. It's nice to know that when I make plans with a friend, they will be there at the correct location and on time. Some even call me and confirm the meeting.

I had this happen to me this week. I was supposed to meet a friend this Monday. I had a busy weekend and forgot to call them over the weekend. On Monday morning, I remembered our meeting. An hour later I got a call confirming the plans. How good is this? A confirmation call from a friend.

A few weekends ago, I had plans with another friend to go to the movies. When I called to confirm the plans for the time, the whole movie plan was canceled due to them helping someone move. Why not call me and tell me the plans were canceled?

What happened to manners with my so called friends? What happened to people not canceling plans last minute because 'my dog ate my homework'? It's one stupid excuse after another.

The problem with my so called friends is that they can't say No to anyone. If they already made plans to see a movie and then someone else asks them to help with a move, my friends can't say: 'No, I made other plans.' Instead, they agree to help with the move to please another friend.

Perhaps I am bitter because my so called friends cancel plans with me last minute all the time. I do wonder why they have to please everyone and simply can't say No. Is it to avoid conflict?

Yet, I do want to salute those few friends who I can count on to be there for me, even if it simply means to be somewhere when they said they would. These friends have manners. How simple of an idea this is; yet for some, it's difficult to accomplish. I would like for all my friends to have some manners.

Friday, October 06, 2006

ARMs - Kicking And Screaming

An interesting topic as of late in personal finance has been home mortgages. Especially, mortgages with adjustable rates or with ARMs that start out with fixed rate for a few years, and then adjustable rate kicks in. And when it does kick in, the consumer will be kicking and screaming on how high the rate is.

The housing market slowed down significantly, even here in Florida. It's not all that bad because of the baby boomers still moving here for their retirement. So, there will always be a demand for houses. But, not as much as in the past few years. Plus, older people prefer condos, which are built in every corner of Florida.

What will happen to all those people who bought houses with ARMs mortgages? Once their fixed rate expires, and they are forced to pay more per month, they will be forced to sell their houses. Yet, in a slowing housing market, they won't be able to. They will be forced to foreclose and lose their house.

Do I feel bad for these people who signed up for the ARMs mortgages? Somewhat. I don't feel bad for people who are stupid enough to sign on the dotted line, knowing the risks of adjustable interest rate. I do feel bad for people who didn't get the explanation of what will it mean when their adjustable rate kicks in - their mortgage payment will be significantly higher.

These people wanted to live in a house that they can't afford, i.e. not within their means. They enjoyed the good life for a while. Now, the reality sets in, as they figure out where to get more money for their monthly mortgage payment.

If only they bough a cheaper house, got a fixed mortgage rate, they wouldn't have these problems. But, why should they live in a smaller house, when they could 'buy' a bigger house? After all, a typical American's mentality is 'if I can get away with buying a bigger house right now, why should I worry about how I will pay for it later?' This is strikingly similar to the credit card mentality. Go figure?

Thursday, October 05, 2006

To Charge, Or NOT To Charge - That Is The Question

It's a sad fact that Americans live in a society where people desire bigger, better things. The concept of simple life is looked down upon. People want a new car, a bigger house, 500 channels on TV, high speed internet, clothing, jewelry, grande cafe lates, any time, all the time. The simple life doesn't imply depriving yourself of these wonderful things, but accepting the lifestyle within your means.

People think it's normal to buy things that they can't afford - 'let's charge the credit card and worry about it later.' After all, credit card is a loan that you can pay back now or later. Very few people who I speak with on a regular basis buy things that they can afford. The majority of people purchase things while not having money in their banks. They are not even thinking of 'money in the bank' when they pull out their credit card.

'Do you really need that big screen TV?' 'Of course I do! How am I going to watch all those shows in high definition? Plus, all my buddies have one.' They charge the TV on the credit card; meanwhile, an insurance bill comes due, and all the money from the bank went to pay part of the TV payment. So, they are forced to charge the insurance on the same credit card. Plus, the groceries are bought using the same credit card.

Who benefits from all these purchases? The credit card companies, of course. The credit card companies figured out a way to get money from consumers, through interest, because consumers can't say NO to purchasing that big screen TV. I do have a lot of respect for these companies. After all, they can sit back, relax and watch the consumer get into a bigger debt.

After all, it is entirely consumer's fault for getting into debt. Who bought that big screen TV? The consumer. Did the credit card company 'make' the consumer buy the TV? No. Could the consumer afford the TV? No. When will the consumer learn their lesson and buy things they can afford? After filing for Chapter 11/bankruptcy? Probably not.

There are a few problems that I would like to address here. First, we are living in a society where having possessions makes you seem popular, i.e. rich. And second, people have the means to 'be popular', i.e. having lots of possession that they can't afford, by having credit cards. Should there be a law not allowing people to charge up their credit card(s) to the unbelievable limits? Absolutely! Unfortunately, while the credit card companies are making money on consumers who can't say No, such law will never come into effect. And why should it? The credit companies say that this is a free country and people should be allowed to do whatever they want, including getting into 30 thousand dollars debt.

It's sad to know that so many people will never learn to live within their means. They will forever buy things that they can't afford, get into a bigger debt, pay interest to the credit card companies, buy more things, etc. It's an endless cycle. And it's sad how many people live inside this cycle and never get out.

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

Very Dead

The Dead Sea is located on the East side of Israel, South of Lebanon and North of Egypt. It divides Israel and Jordan. I had to look this up on the map, in case you were wondering how I know these details.

I heard of the Dead Sea for many years and always wondered the origins of its name. The 'dead' implies nothing lives in it. Perhaps no fish but some plants? The reason for this is because of high concentration of salt in the water. This is due to heat in the area. The water evaporates, leaving salt behind. So much salt that salt-bergs form on the surface of the Dead Sea. These are just like ice-bergs, but made from salt, not ice.

The buoyancy is so high that people have no problems floating on the surface. And if they ever want to dive under the surface of the Dead Sea, they need to put weights on their bodies - to be heavier.

It must be fascinating to be able to float freely in the Dead Sea. But perhaps it would be more fascinating to see large pieces of salt floating on the surface of the sea.

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

Right or Wrong?

I often wondered whether people can tell right from wrong. As children, we were taught by parents and teachers that some things that we do/say are right [and we might be rewarded for them], while other things that we do/say are wrong [and we might be punished for them].

Yet as adults, I see people make mistakes and do wrong things countless times. As adults, do we still consider whether our actions are right or wrong? Do we think about this before we do something? Or are we living in a society where 'make mistake now and apologize later' is accepted?

I wonder whether people enjoy getting caught. Is this their way of getting attention? Why do thieves steal and liars lie again and again - is it for the thrill of getting away with it? Or is it for the trill of getting caught? Or both? Perhaps it's because they don't know any better - they are simply stupid.

There are various categories of people who do wrong. Some do it, knowing that it's wrong and either want to get away with it or be caught. Others do it because they don't know that it's wrong and it's something to do to occupy the time.

In any case, I wonder where were these people when they were young and their parents and teachers taught right from wrong? Were they absent from school that day? Were their parents also absent? Perhaps this explains a lot.

Monday, October 02, 2006

Jesus will NOT save me

My friend M. and I have countless discussions about Jesus, God, and Christianity. He thinks that one of his purposes in life is to convert me to Christianity and for me to believe in God/Jesus. I do enjoy our discussions and might even miss them when he will finally realize that I cannot be saved and, according to him, if I am not saved, then I will go straight to Hell.

When I tell him that I don't believe in heaven and hell, he has a questioned look and asks: 'Then what will happen to you when you die?' I reply with the fact that energy can neither be created not destroyed. Since we are made of energy, when I will die, my energy will be transferred into the earth. I can even go as far as saying that my consciousness will be transferred to the universal consciousness.

He cannot understand why I don't believe in Jesus being my savior, considering that I live by many Christian beliefs. These beliefs are don't lie, or cheat, be open with people, don't kill, respect people, live an honest life, and in general be a good person. These beliefs are not Christian - they are human. The only thing that I am missing is the belief in God/Jesus.

My friend is amazed with the fact that I practice more Christian beliefs than the actual Christians do, who also supposedly believe in God. I ask my friend: 'Isn't it a good thing that I live by these 'human' beliefs?' He says: 'Yes. But you're so close in living a complete life in which you also believe in God - you're so close, so why not go all the way?' Living as a good person is different than believing in something that I don't know whether it exists or not.

Another set of discussions that we have is when he tells me of fables that he reads in a book [that he likes to call the bible]. He honestly believes that everything in this book actually happened, no matter how supernatural it sounds. This is usually followed by my famous example of my fable called Moby Dick. The fables that he reads are just as likely to have happened as my Moby Dick fable.

His argument is always: 'So many people believe it, so it must be true.' I reply with 'People will believe anything if you give them enough time.' I try not to give him hard time about his fables, I simply refuse to believe them as facts.

I do wonder if he will ever give up trying to save me and either move on to someone else to save, or perhaps we can discuss other issues in life.

Friday, September 29, 2006

The Ever Changing 4th Dimension

By 4th dimension I mean 'time'. The 'ever changing' implies that it never stays still, it's changing, updating, moving, evolving. At least compared to the other 3 dimensions

Of course, one can argue that all matter is not standing still either, the atoms are moving, electrons are spinning, so the solid matter is ever changing also. Yet, this argument is difficult to see with your own eyes, unless you have a powerful instrument, of course.

The time, though, is easy to see, and how it changes. Yet: how does it 'change'? It seems that the 3 dimensions are directly related to the 4th and one cannot be expressed without the other. The solids cannot exist without movement of the atoms, movement needs to be expressed with time, and time needs the solids to be viewed. You need all 4 dimensions or nothing exists at all.

My Audience - Yes, I do mean: YOU

Well, Hello, there! For anyone who's reading this, I would like to know: 'Why?' There's nothing deep or philosophical here, or ever will be. These are simply words, put together in a sentence form, that mean nothing to anyone, especially me, and I am hoping, you. The nothingness and meaningless of words is all you'll ever find here.

Happiness - as I see it

Lately, most mornings when I wake up, I feel happy. It's not a very unusual feeling for me considering that I am a positive individual. I smile as I get out of bed; and then get on with my day.

There's nothing wrong in being happy. Yet the society of today might not think so. I should be seeing a therapist, taking drugs for my depression, finding things wrong with my life, etc. Whatever happened to enjoying life as it is right now? When can one stop and smell the roses?

By no means am I dismissing the importance of choosing good actions that will improve ones future. By 'enjoying life' I am not implying to start doing stupid things right now that might potentially hurt you in the future. So, why am I labeled as weird for being happy right now?

When someone asks me 'How are you?' and I reply 'Excellent', I get a double-take, as if the person asking the question would rather hear about my horrible day. There's nothing wrong for feeling good. So, here goes nothing: I am happy right now. There, I said it. Take it or leave it.

A beautiful sunset and a purpose

I saw another beautiful sunset tonight in St Pete. I should say that I was fortunate to see it - it was breathtaking. Rich reds, blues, purples, whites, covered the west this evening, as I biked amongst the houses in my neighborhood.

Today, I decided to start yet another blog - this blog. This was not planned, thought out, or put on my to-do list. It was a spontaneous decision. This is extremely rare for me to act on instinct, very out of character. Which brings me to the purpose of this blog. Perhaps blogs don't really need a purpose, they just 'are'. But I should state mine in any case.

Some people keep blogs to express themselves, to write down how they feel, what they think. These will be mostly my reasons also. Yet, a part of me wishes to be someone else here, to pretend, to act. My serious nature doesn't allow me to be anyone else; yet here, I can be anyone I wish to be.

Interesting numbers:
5 - (number of cats I saw on my bike ride)
2 - (number of people I saw mowing their lawn)
1 - (number of kittens I saw play by the road, then be adopted by a woman exercising)

Thursday, September 28, 2006