Friday, June 19, 2009

The NFL's Newest Off-field Incident

If you’ve seen ESPN at all in the past few weeks, you’ve probably heard something about Cleveland Browns’ wide receiver Donte’ Stallworth being in court for a DUI which tragically resulted in the death of a pedestrian. If not, here’s the summary; Stallworth was hit a pedestrian while driving from somewhere to somewhere else in Miami. The man was jaywalking. He was killed as a result of the accident. And Stallworth’s BAC was over the legal limit.

He’s going to serve time. He’s going to lose his license, as it stands presently, for the rest of his life. He’s going to serve an incredible suspension from the league, imposed by Roger Godell. And he’s settled, or will be settling, out of court with the family to avoid a civil suit.

There are those that think the league has no right to suspend him. Incidentally, these are the same people that defended Plaxico Burress for this gun charge and Michael Vick about dog fighting. I have even read comments in response to ESPN articles that say the man is dead because he jaywalked, not because Stallworth was intoxicated.

Now that’s an interesting point. If Stallworth was sober, and the same incident took place, the man would be just as dead. That is, of course, that reflexes weren’t so impaired that Donte’ could have avoided the collision.

But as for the suspension, the league does have, and has had the right to adjudicate discipline for off-field incidents and behavior. They’re been doing it for years. So why now are people taking up arms? Could it have anything to do with the fact that a record number of million-dollar bonus baby retards are now engaged in off-field offenses with a feeling of invincibility?

Anyway, here’s my point. All these aforementioned retards can learn something from Stallworth. He screwed up. He is accepting the penalties of his actions. He has not made any excuses. He is not pleading his personal case with a woe is me attitude. What happened was a horrible thing. Could it have been avoided? Maybe. Maybe not. Either way, he’ll have to live with what’s happened. And he has conducted himself earnestly and contritely at every turn. I’m sorry that any of it had to happen, but his conduct in dealing with his punishment is an example that the rest of the league could stand to learn from.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

F150 vs Ramsey

Probably a little less than a year ago, my wife turned me on to the newest financial guru in the business, Dave Ramsey. I’m not into gurus, finance, and while we’re at it, I don’t much like talking politics/politicians either. Ultimately, I’m not real big on people who tell me how to do me, or feel the need to try to protect me from me. But she was really into this guy, listened to him on the radio, always was on his website, so on and so forth. I didn’t give it a lot of thought until I realized that my mom was saying very similar things independent of my wife, serving to me to illustrate that this guy might just be the real thing. At the very least, what did I have to lose by reading his book?

Now, ultimately, I’m not writing this to hype Dave, but seeing as we’re here, read the book. Here’s the caveat; you have to make it into, probably, the 7th or 8th chapters. Sounds easy enough doesn’t it? Well, it’s easy enough to read, but it’s hard not to get irritated and put it down. Why? Because you’re going to be told that in spite of your best efforts to understand the financial world that envelops us all, chances are, you’re still wrong. Buy a car for 0% interest thinking you were making a smart move financially? Wrong. Using credit cards at 0% to buy things to “beat the system”? Wrong. Getting some kind of consolidation loan (2nd mortgage, HELOC, etc) to get out of credit card debt? Wrong. And yeah, I know what you’re thinking because I thought all these were the best ways of doing things too. He’ll show you the math as to why that methodology is mistaken, but you can only lead a horse to water.

Bottom line: the only way to beat debt into the ground and keep it there, is to alter your thinking, dismissing everything you think you knew, and consider something new.

My wife and I decided to try it. And yes, it did require a new mentality. Yes it did require us to make sacrifices. But I was really surprised once we got underway with the whole thing, how much we really didn’t miss. Furthermore, it was surprising how much our lifestyle didn’t really have to change.

Here is the problem: I want a new car. According to Dave, it is something of a sin to buy a brand new car. Well, that’s not totally right. More accurately, it’s a sin to buy a brand new car at this point in my life. And that part isn’t the trouble. I can find something that I like that is a few years old with reasonable mileage. The problem is, that I want it now. That is not something of a sin, but rather THE CARDINAL SIN of the Dave Ramsey plan. You never, ever, ever finance a vehicle.

I was told that I could have a new car under the following conditions: the credit cards that I have had to be paid off…check. And the payments had to be equal or less than what we pay for the car I have now…check. If I was to hold on to my car for as little as about 10 months, it’s paid off. Anything after that is essentially profit. I can handle 10 months. What’s bothering me is in order to make the best possible financial decision available, I would continue to pack that payment that I was making towards making a purchase in cash later on. But that, however, means making roughly a $400 payment to myself for another 4 years! And that’s just no good. Stupid crisis of conscience. I guess that must mean I’m growing up…and it sucks.

Friday, June 12, 2009

Summer Flicks '09

It’s been a while since I have been excited about the summer movie season. Actually, it’s been a very long time. Movies have been getting more and more expensive, $10 per person in the Cincinnati area on average, and for that reason, it’s taking a more and more impressive movie to convince me to spend that amount. I’ve been a party to some pretty lousy investments in the past few years. But this summer has a host of films queuing up to be the next blockbuster.

So far, we’ve seen three.

Fast and Furious: The latest installment of what has been labeled “car porn”. Pretty cars, pretty people, some good driving, and not a lot CGI. No, it’s not going to do anything for the academy, and no, it’s probably not going to get many stars. But it was a lot of fun to see, and I thought it was totally worth the investment.

Star Trek: Easily the best movie I’ve seen in probably the last ten years. Easily one of my favorite movies of all-time. Yes, it was just that good. Totally worth it.

Terminator Salvation: I’m a Terminator devotee, but this one fell short I’m afraid. I didn’t much care for it. The production staff overlooked some aspects of the Terminator storyline, that a lot of people will overlook, and will irritate others. Thing is, they didn’t need to. I know that there are some points in sequels that are swept under the rug for the interest of making the next one. But that wasn’t the case here. It was like they started making this one, not having seen the first three. But these days, 2-1 is a pretty good record for movies in the theatre.

What’s left this summer?

Up: I’m really sorry that I haven’t managed to see this one yet. But everyone that I know that has seen it says it’s amazing. Apparently it’s worth seeing in 3-D.

Angels and Demons: The DaVinci Code didn’t do so well as a movie. But this book is often overlooked. Personally, I thought the book was better then it’s better-known sibling. But I’m not convinced it’s worth the money to see on the big screen.

X-Men Origins: Wolverine: I like Hugh Jackman, and I like Ryan Reynolds, but I kinda forgot about this one shortly after it came out. That doesn’t make a strong argument for seeing it in the theatre.

Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen: I thought the first one was pretty good. This one is shaping up to be at least as good, if not better. And incidentally, the name “Revenge of the Fallen” sure sounds a lot like the bad guys win, or at least don’t lose (a la The Empire Strikes Back). Be on the look out for a trilogy.

Public Enemies: Johnny Depp cracking wise as John Dillinger? Oh bring it on. This one looks awesome.

Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince: Take my ManCards away, I don’t care. I love the whole Potter series. I’ll be there

G.I. Joe: I’m really not expecting anything great from this movie, except to be totally entertained. I know there won’t be any Oscars given out for it, and it’ll probably get really lousy reviews. But it looks like it will be a lot of fun, and entertaining as hell.

Friday, June 05, 2009

Place to Go, People to See

I don’t know why I always seem to write things in lists? Maybe because I think it’s funny, or entertaining. Maybe it’s because that is the way I best quantify and process information. In any event, it’s what I do. So I was thinking the other night, while watching TV, about fictional places I thought were interesting, entertaining, appealing, or impressive. And from that, I started thinking about which of these I might like to visit, were they real. Now, this isn’t quite as hard as you might think, because more and more movies and TV shows are being set in real places. It would be much harder to, say, figure out five or ten characters that you’d like to meet. Of course, that said, that challenge will probably be one of my next posts, so stay tuned.

So here then, are the fictional places I would visit, were they real, or were I fake…

Springfield- I would love to have a Krusty burger, though now that I’ve typed it and read it to myself it actually sounds horrible, and some Lard Lad donuts with Homer and company. While we’re at it, let’s bowl a few frames at the Bowlarama, sit in the shade of the stature of Jebediah Springfield, and throw junk into Shelbyville.

Shermer, Illinois- If you’ve ever seen a John Hughes movie from the mid 80’s, you’ve seen or heard of Shermer, Illinois. All his movies take place there. It’s a magical place, where, according to Jay (Dogma) “all the honeys are top shelf, but the dudes are whiny pu#%ies…except Judd Nelson. He was f&%kinf harsh.”

Alren, Texas- Dale’s Dead Bug, Strickland Propane, and Sugarfoot’s BBQ. Oh yeah, and standing out in the alley with Hank, Bill, Dale, and Boomhauer talking about nothing that matters to anyone. Yup. Yup. Yep. Mm-hmm.

Hogwarts, England- Okay, Hogwarts isn’t really a city per se. But it is most definitely a fictional place, none the less. And to be fair, Hogwarts is really only part of the equation. While there, I’d have to take a trip through Diagon Alley. You know, for supplies and stuff. Black calderon? Check. Owl? Check. Wand? Check. Let’s do this.

Bon Temps, Louisiana- I don’t know what it is about vampires that fascinates people more than any other mystical monster? But for every Frankenstein, Mummy, or Zombie movie or TV show, there’s 5 featuring vampires. Bon Temps in Bernard Parish just barely edged out Forks, Washington. I think True Blood’s Bill is just a little bit cooler than Twilight’s Edward. But I would like to ask the Cullen family why they are able to survive in daylight?