Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Music For Married People

I ran across another gem when listening to my mp3 collection at work that I had forgotten about, titled Love Cocoon and written by a little-known Christian band called Vigilantes of Love. One of my college roommates told me about it.

Listen here.

Read the lyrics here.

Here's a quick review from Parting Shot:
Described by Bill [the writer] as "a Biblical Song of Solomon set to a Rolling Stones sort of groove," this song was released as a single off of Slow Dark Train against the wishes of the band. This same song caused the album to be banned from many Christian bookstores.

Sunday, May 20, 2007

Watch What?

I primarily have two watches that I use, one of them has a black band and the other a brown one. This is so that they can also be an accessory for my brown and black shoe/belt combinations, because I'm fashionable that way. Unfortunately, my fashion sense ends not too far from there.

Although the battery for my black one died with the hands stuck at 9:15 about 4 months ago, I still keep wearing it as a fashion accessory when I'm wearing my black shoes and belt.

Yes, I have been asked for the time since then and yes, I instinctively still look at it myself with the hopes of finding the correct time.

Thursday, May 17, 2007

Boycott This, pt 2

This post is a result of Jen's comment to part 1, because my thought is that when a comment grows to four paragraphs then it should probably just be a post.

I really wasn't trying to point out that California gas is more expensive. That just happened to be the first chart that I came across that broke down the a gallon of gas into its individual cost components. What I was actually trying to show is how very little of the gas price is actually profit for the oil company. It's probably a very similar percentage for all of the other states too. California just has higher taxes and higher processing costs because of the stricter environmental requirements.

I know it sounded like I was trying to criticize people who don't reduce their usage, but to be honest I really don't care much about it. Personally, I carpool mainly to save money. If it helps the environment or decreases the demand then that's just an additional bonus to me. I was mainly speaking to people who complain the loudest, but don't take any action themselves (Al Gore types).

The reason that gas prices increased after Katrina is the same as why they would increase for plywood or fresh water or anything else. I hate to beat a phrase to death, but in a capitalist economy it's either increased supply or decreased demand. "By shutting down 20 percent of the country's oil- refining capacity in a single day - and boosting prices nationwide by more than 45 cents a gallon on average in a week - hurricane Katrina has exposed just how stretched the nation's refineries are. Now industry and Congress are looking at how to boost capacity." [reference].

And yes, gas prices do differ greatly, sometimes even right across the street from each other, which actually helps to further promote several of my points. First of all, that helps to demonstrate that gas companies obviously aren't coordinating their prices. Secondly, that's the glory of a free market economy - you can go wherever the heck you want to get the gas! I personally prefer Chevron because I have talked to several mechanics and other knowledgeable car people who state that their gas is the best for your car (due to the Techron additive). But generally if there are two stations next to each other and one has significantly cheaper gas, then most likely the more expensive station is going to have to lower their prices eventually - otherwise their pumps won't have any cars parked in front of them. That's the beauty of competition for the consumer!

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Boycott This

So yesterday was apparently a national gas boycott day. While I didn't fill up my car yesterday, it was only because I still had gas in it. I'm not a big fan of boycotts and I'll tell you why...

Here is a breakdown of what determines the price of a gallon of gas here in California. Scroll down to see the current month.

As you can see by the chart, the oil companies really don't make much profit off of a gallon of gas. And the chart doesn't even show their costs for further research and exploration.

Although it feels much better (and easier) to point the finger at the oil companies and yell phrases like "price gouging", the only real way to make prices go down for any particular product, including gasoline, is to a) add competition b) increase the supply or c) decrease the demand.

Since there are already plenty of oil companies that are competing with each other to get your business, I don't think adding new competition will change anything. And I think the idea of them coordinating together on the prices are ridiculous, especially since there are regulatory bodies in place to ensure that this doesn't happen.

Ways to increase our supply include offshore drilling, exploration in ANWAR, building more refineries, etc. The primary reason that most methods of increasing the supply have not been pursued is because of the strong political pressure of environmentalist groups.

Ways to decrease our demand are basically either a) driving less or b) using more fuel efficient vehicles. Truly, while paying such high gas prices really sucks, in the long run the high cost will cause our consumption to decrease. This is not only because we'll make more efforts to car pool and maybe even ride the bus, but also because manufacturers will continue to make more of a concerted effort to build cars that consume less gas, since people are putting a much higher priority on gas consumption when they purchase a car. This is supply and demand again.

If you really want to point a finger, then I would suggest pointing it at your local environmentalist for not allowing the supply to increase. And maybe yourself for not reducing the demand.

Saturday, May 12, 2007

Attitude Adjustment (Unanswered Prayers, pt 3)

Well, we finally sold our old house last Friday (5/4/07)! For almost the last eight months though, I have been wrestling with the lack of an answer to our prayers for this. It sounds like a silly thing to wrestle with, but the potential consequences were financially disastrous. Ugly words like foreclosure and bankruptcy were beginning to surface.

While we knew we were taking a risk in this house endeavor, we felt we had God's blessings on it, especially since He seemed to answer our prayers when all of the necessary pieces fell into place for purchasing and moving into our new house. After paying both mortgages for a few months though, we began to question our decision, and more importantly to wonder if we were mistaken with what we perceived to be God's direction. And if were not mistaken, then why would we be led here only to be allowed to fail through circumstances beyond our control?

A few months ago, I decided to go through a three day juice fast about it. At the end of the fast, a phrase popped into my mind that really helped to turn around my attitude for a while. It wasn't an audible voice, but it did clearly pop into my head out of nowhere, as if a voice had spoken. It simply said "It's an adventure!"

It's the challenges in life that make it exciting, even though I may not understand or appreciate the purpose behind them. How boring would life be if it was always predictable, if there were no struggles to overcome and everything you wanted was just given to you.? How would you learn and how would you grow if all of your prayers were instantly answered?

Of course, I would never purposefully choose these challenges intentionally, but I hope to remember the words that popped into my head and to retain this attitude (although I'm admittedly skeptical) the next time I'm in the midst of another difficult circumstance(s).

Wednesday, May 09, 2007

There is Hope for the World Yet!

Less people watching TV!

The conservative candidate (Nicolas Sarkozy) won in France!

Here is the best article I have read yet about global warming, tilted Not the End of the World as We Know It. The author covers so many angles about not only whether it's factual, but also what the consequences would or wouldn't be even if it is factual.

When Power Tools Attack

Wow, two stories in the same day pertaining to power tools and purposefully self-inflicted injuries.

In La Habra, Calif

In Cologne, Germany

So what can we learn from this? When secluded and/or reclusive, it's a good idea to stay away from power tools, especially if you live with your parents.

Monday, May 07, 2007

My Kind of Weekend

  • Sold our old house, met the buyers and handed them the keys, appliance manuals and garage door opener.
  • Hired a baby-sitter and went on a great downtown date (and celebration). First we ate dinner at a nice restaurant. Then went to a nightclub for dancing to a band called Wonderbread5.
  • I finally reconquered the yard at our new house (I had been spending all of my weekends maintaining and fixing up our old house).
  • Attended a surprise birthday party for a friend of ours.
  • When the kids went down for a nap, we did too.
  • Had dinner at our neighbor's friend's pizzeria while watching some fights, even though they were only boxing.
  • Rented a good movie called "Invincible" with Mark Wahlberg, based on the true story of Vince Papale.
  • Church in the morning.
  • Took a short afternoon nap.
  • Replaced the spark plugs on my car. It was missing a cylinder, but now it runs fine.
  • Attended a birthday party for a friend's son from church.
  • Paid bills and balanced checkbook (to me, ridding the bulletin board of financial obligations and getting rid of our stack of receipts is a good feeling).
  • Watched the latest episode of Spike TV's The Ultimate Fighter (downloaded the bittorrent).
To summarize, we finally jumped the hurdle of a major challenge (house sale), had a really good date night together, accomplished some major chores, got some sleep, spent some good times with friends, enjoyed the outdoors during beautiful weather (at both parties), relaxed by watching a good movie, and enjoyed a tv show too. Life is good, if even just for the moment.
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