Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Make Waste, Not Haste

Well, in addition to playing a crappy game of basketball today (what the $@*& happened to my confidence?), and having a frustrating day at work, I found out that we wasted $365 yesterday. That was the cost of an appraiser, in the interest of pursuing refinancing our house.

I knew our home has lost value (as everyone's has), but our circumstances (good credit rating, current mortgage is with a Freddie Mac affiliated bank) qualified us for a %125 loan-to-value refinance.

Since interest rates are low it would have not only saved us money on our monthly payments, but also in overall interest paid, and we would pay off our loan at around the same amount time as our current one, by paying just half of the $200 monthly savings back into the loan.

Zillow and another similar web site estimated us at only %107 loan-to-value, and the mortgage broker thought we could even skip the appraisal. He ended up being wrong though, and unfortunately the appraiser estimated the L-to-V at approximately 133% - screwed!

Monday, November 16, 2009

Essential Guidelines for Good Parenting

The more time I spend around people (friends, family, acquaintances, etc) with children, the more I have come to realize that there are very, very few good parents out there. I would even go so far as to say that maybe only 1 out of 7 familes are doing a good job of parenting.

I know, I know - everyone thinks that they are good parents (including myself, most of the time). And I also know that no one, including myself, is perfect (my patience is too short at times, and I don't spend as much time with them as I would like to due to being overly busy).

There are many aspects of what I would consider good parenting, including developing a relationship with your children (by spending time with them), listening to what they have to say (even if you don't want to hear it), providing for them (putting a roof over their head and food on the table), and protecting them (to the best of your ability anyway).

However, there are three simple absolutely essential guidelines that I have decided are the very bare necessities for good parenting.
They are as follows:
  1. Love your children. Give them hugs, kisses, and words to encourage them and let them know on a regular basis that they are loved, accepted, appreciated, adored, etc.

  2. Teach and guide them. Children come into this world knowing absolutely nothing about it, and there is a whole lot to learn. Any a-hole who relies solely on teachers in school to do the job is negligent in their duties, especially because books alone aren't going to get them through life smoothly and/or successfully.

  3. And finally .... DISCIPLINE THEM! This is the one that I see performed the least. Even many couples whom I greatly love and respect - as people, as intellectuals, and even as Christians - refuse to discipline their children adequately!

    But what do I mean by "adequately"? It's pretty damned simple - if they are doing something wrong, and you tell them as such, then they do it again - then they need to be punished! Ok, fine - maybe you can tell them again and they can be given a second chance. But after that it's not sufficient to redirect them, ignore them, or laugh about it like they are being cute somehow - DISCIPLINE THEM, DAMNIT!

    I'm not saying you should be a Nazi who doesn't let your children express themselves and make mistakes, but if you don't discipline your kids when they do things that are wrong then they are not going to learn that a) you are in control and they need to obey you, and b) that what they are doing is wrong and is not only a bad choice, but it's not an acceptable way to act - in society, in school, or especially in my house!

    There are many methods of discipline to choose from, and I know that most people disagree on which one(s) are the best to use. Options include putting them in time out, grounding them to their room, taking away toys or other items, or even spanking them. But in all honesty it doesn't really matter which one(s) you choose - just pick one and USE IT!

Thursday, November 05, 2009

Are You Talking to Me?

After playing basketball today during lunch (see previous post), I was stretching in the gym and talking to a guy who only plays ball once in a great while. We were both talking about exercising only sporadically and the struggle against weight gain.

Then he mentioned something about how it's easier for me though since I'm a natural athlete. I think I just shrugged it off and continued with a different aspect of the conversation. But a short while later his comment struck me as really interesting.

Me?? A natural athlete? Of all the people who knew me back in grade and high school, who the heck would ever have thought that I would ever, ever, ever be called naturally athletic?

Back then I was always the last to be picked and the worst one on the team. And it's still not unusual for me to have a really crummy game and even downright suck. But I'm tall, fit, and can move fairly fast, especially for my age (38). And if my confidence is high and I'm feeling physically good (enough sleep, some recent exercise, etc), then I can sometimes bring a pretty darned good game.

And maybe, just maybe, with all of the basketball, ultimate frisbee, and a continuous effort to stay somewhat fit - maybe I've actually made myself into someone who really is athletic.

Basketball Bragging

I've been playing basketball now for a couple of years - sometimes at work during lunch, and more recently in an "E" league (the lowest ability) for two seasons. Generally, I am not very good. And often I really truly suck.

But then there are the occasional exceptions, the good days. Well, today was one of them. In fact it was maybe one of my best days of basketball yet. Today, there even were oohs, aahs, and "damn!s" directed toward me on the court. The other guys were even talking about it in the locker room afterward.

For starters, there is a guy named Jason who played ball in high school - he's a couple inches taller than me, he's fresh out of college (young), in great shape, and undoubtedly the best player on the court at work. Well, today he intercepted a pass in the back of the court and was heading toward the basket at full speed. But I poured on the gas to catch up and just as he was about to drop it in for the easy lay up - there I was. Bam! Denied it!

Then later he had the ball in the back court. I was going in the same direction as him and a little ahead of him, but then I changed directions and swiped it right out from under him, then sped behind him for a layup. I also intercepted several passes (including one intended for him), grabbed another steal or two, and made about 2-3 baskets in each of the first two games (we only play to 11).

Maybe playing with Bill (full court) on Monday helped. Or maybe getting more sleep than usual lately helped (it's honestly a weird feeling for me not to be tired). Or maybe it was the cooler fall weather, or a combination of all of the above. Whatever the reason though, I was on.

It wasn't a perfect game though- Jason did pay me back later by cold beating down one of my shots. And I did miss several other shots too, including an easy layup after one of my steals. But it was good enough to get numerous compliments, including from Jason. And I can't say that it didn't feel good. Now if only I could play like that consistently!

Wednesday, November 04, 2009

Pictures of Pomegranate Paradise

<-- The tree after already picking about half of the fruit.

It's Pomegranate season! And the tree in our backyard had fourteen fruits on it this year. It would probably have more, but at least 2/3 of the tree was getting choked out by a neighboring tree - I have since trimmed it up though so the P-tree will get more sun and hopefully produce even more fruit next year.
While it takes a little bit of work and a lot of mess to extract the seeds/fruit (that red juice squirts everywhere), they are really sweet and tasty and as you can see we all have fun opening and eating them.
counter stats