Friday, July 31, 2009

life update

Wow, it's been over a month since my last much for my promise for weekly updates. I guess I just don't really fell like I have super-important stuff to say. Anyway, here's what's been going on in my life lately.

I took a week off of work a couple of weeks ago; I guess you would call it a stay-cation. I didn't go anywhere because, with her new job, Jenny doesn't have enough vacation time built up for a week off. I did get some work done around the house, though. I weeded the backyard, brought in trunkloads of mulch (anybody have a truck I can borrow, for crying out loud???), planting three trees in our yard, and did a touch of painting. A touch more painting than I could have done, but a fair touch less than I should have done. I'm particularly excited about the trees- we have a flowering tree in the front yard (Cranberry? Cranapple? I forget, gah!), a flowering tree in the side yard (Pear), and a mighty (well, certainly not yet) Pin Oak in the back yard. We decided to get the trees because we only had one in the yard, and sadly, it's dying. It's lived a full life, I'm sure- it appears to be an old growth tree, possibly older than our 87 year old house.

We went to the Botanical Gardens a couple of weeks ago. It sure was crowded, but we were pleasantly surprised that we didn't have to pay to get in. Evidently, admission is free on Saturdays before noon. The vistas were beautiful, as always, and the Japenese Garden was especially compelling. I even ran into one of my colleagues there. After the Gardens, we decided to try out Ted Drewes. Evidently, we were bad people for having spent 6 years in St. Louis and never having gone to Ted Drewes. It was quite good. Probably not worth a trip to South County for in and of itself, but certainly one of the best ice cream-style snacks I've had in a long time.
We had dinner at the Boathouse in Forest Park, and I highly recommend it. It used to be that there'd be 1-2 hour waits for dinner on the weekend, but they've expanded their seating, and we were in within 15 minutes. Major bonus- dogs are allowed for patio seating, so Penny got to enjoy dinner with us.

I'll be starting classes in the Fall semester, so less than one month away, and it's finally feeling "real" to me. To be honest, I'm a bit nervous. Not so much about whether or not I can handle the classes, but more along the lines of just how much free time it's going to take up. I really like my free time, so time will tell just how people taking classes will or won't be!

Jenny's job is still going well. She is getting rave reviews from customers, and she has settled into the workflow. It's nice to see her not coming home miserable.

Well, I'm running long, so I'll finish up for now. One question before I go- I'm "hoping to" get a Wii for my birthday, which is coming right up- August 7. Oh, and it's my 30th(!!!) If you have/have played Wii, what games would you recommend?


Monday, June 22, 2009

long time, no see

Sorry about that, it's been awhile since my last blog. I'll try to be better in the future. Emphasis on try. Anyway, what's been new with me? Well, as of today, I am officially enrolled in a couple of courses at UMSL for the fall semester. That's right, starting in late August, I will be officially pursuing a Master's degree. I'm shooting for an MBA at this time, but I'm leaving the door open for a Master's in Information Systems. A lot of the classes are the same, so I have at least a little bit of time to decide. I'm thinking that an MBA would likely open more doors for me, but if I want to, say, teach at the college level, then a Master's in IS would likely be the better option. The trouble is, I just don't know what I want to do. I'm thinking mayble I'll try to teach a class or two as an Adjunct (part-time instructor, one who usually teaches a class or two on top of a full-time job) late into my Master's degree. Then I can get a feel for whether or not I like that, or if I should stick with a more business-oriented I career.

Jenny and I (and my friend Jeff) went to a place on Saturday called The Map Room. Unfortunately, it's in South City, so it's not exactly next door. However, we really enjoyed the place. It's fairly new, I think it's only been open for a few months. They bill it as a coffee and wine bar. We didn't sample the coffees since it was so hot out, but we had fresh Sangreas and a bottle of wine (not all of it, I had to drive home...) The prices were superb, closer to what you'd expect at a grocery store than a bar. The atmosphere was also great, with comfortable seating and a homey feel indoors and a comfortable patio. Every Saturday night, they show an old movie on their patio screen, and serve free popcorn, so we were treated to an outdoor screening of The Barefoot Contessa while enjoying our wines and popcorn. The proprieters were also very friendly. So, if it sounds like I'm begging you to go- I am. It was such an enjoyable experience, but it was far from a full house. This is a place that deserves to stay in business, and a lot of businesses are struggling in this economy, so I hope many of you will take the opportunity to try it out.

Well, I think that'll do it for now.

Friday, June 5, 2009

how we met

Hello again. It's been awhile since I rapped at ya (I don't remember what that reference is from, but I picked it up somewhere), so time for another blog.

Sunday, June 7, will be our 6th wedding anniversary. That's right, Jenny and I have been married for 6 years already, and we've been together for 11 years. Since I'm 29, that qualifies as more than a third of my life- wow. It's interesting how things come together. We met online not only before meeting online became popular, but even before meeting online was considered embarrassing. Some of you have probably never heard of ICQ, but it was the original instant messaging client, before there was AIM, MSN or Yahoo messenger, and well before there was Myspace or Facebook. We both would chat with people on ICQ, and she happened to find me and start talking to me one night (while I was "working hard" at my computer lab job).

We chatted every day for about a week, and then I made the next step and suggested that we meet in person. Our first date was actually a group date, where we saw a Shakespeare play at SIUE, and then went out to IHOP afterward (or was it Waffle House? Denny's? I don't remember...) The first date went well, so we continued seeing each other. This was toward the end of the spring semester, and soon she went back to Macomb, IL for the summer. I went to Macomb to see her soon after for her birthday, and at least for me, that's when things changed and became more serious. We saw each other at least a few more times over the summer, and talked a lot when we were apart.

Once the Fall semester started up and we could be together a lot more, we continued getting closer, and it soon became evident that we were in love. I was very hesitant to say those words, because she had told me that when her previous boyfriend told her that he loved her, she was, well, let's just say she was not at all impressed and she let him know it. But, because I knew it was real, I took my chances, and she did something that I still haven't gotten use to- she immediately responded back with "I love you too". No thought, no hesitation, no games, she knew how she felt, and she wasn't afraid to say it.

We talked about getting married, and decided to wait until we had graduated college before actually going through with it. So, Christmas day of our last year in college, I gave her a Build-a-Bear in a wedding dress as her gift. She thanked me for the bear and started to set it aside, so I had to suggest that she pay closer attention to the bear. She found the ring, I asked her to marry me, and just like when I told her that I loved her, she just immediately said "yes", before I had even finished my sentence. No thought, no hesitation.

Fast-forward to our wedding day... I remember the pastor saying not to expect the wedding day to be perfect, because it never is- something always goes wrong. Well...our wedding day was perfect. I can't think of a single thing that went wrong. A lot of the credit for that goes to our wonderful parents! Soon after, we honeymooned in Jamaica at the Couples Ocho Rios resort, which was absolutely beautiful. We had a lot of fun there, and we hope to get back to Jamaica sometime.

Now, 6 years later, a lot has changed in our lives- we've gotten accustomed to the married life. We have a house, lots of bills, and a wonderful dog, Penny, who is very much a part of our family. And I am just as much in love with my wonderful wife as I have ever been. I couldn't ask for a kinder, more caring person to spend my life with. We have a lot of fun together, whether we're running around busy, chatting, or just sitting quietly next to each other. Plus, it certainly doesn't hurt that I think she has become more beautiful through the years! So, happy (early) anniversary to my wonderful wife, and here's to many more happy years together! I'm not sure how I got so lucky as to be with you, but I'm sure glad I did!


Wednesday, May 27, 2009

how's life? update

No national news and commentaries on this one; just an update on our lives right now.

Jenny is a few weeks into her new job, and deep into training. She says that she still likes it, so that's great. Obviously not too much to report on that front, since things are going well.

The big news right now, for me at least, is that I slipped and fell down a staircase at work last Wednesday. Fortunately, nothing is broken, but I did hurt my foot pretty good (or bad, as the case may be). It hurts pretty much all the time, but the pain is dull and not too bad, so it's bearable. I feel really bad, because it happened on Jenny's birthday, so it kind of took the spotlight off of her- not to mention that we had to reschedule dinner plans. Anyway, she has been really wonderful, taking care of both me and the stuff that I normally take care of like mowing the grass, cooking, etc.

We hosted a Murder Mystery Dinner Party last Saturday as well- our second one. We had a lot of fun with that, dressing up and acting out parts.

Well, that's all for now.


Friday, May 15, 2009

Friday's Update

So, what's new in our lives (and my strange brain) since my last posting? Well, let's see...

Jenny has finished her second week at her new job. She says that she enjoys it so far. She's currently in training, and will be for at least the next few weeks. She recently made the comment to me that she doesn't "wake up dreading going into work" like she did with her last job, and so that's quite a change for her, and a positive one at that.

I'm working through a VERY busy period at my job right now. It should calm down the week after next, but this has been a pretty brutal week for me, especially with a few extra time-consuming projects on top of the normal crunch time. Not to say that I hate my job or anything like that, but I'm definitely looking forward to getting through this busy time.

This next topic has nothing to do with the economy, but a friend blogged about the Miss California USA controversy, and I have my own thoughts on that which I figured I'd share. You know me- I tend not to shy away from controversy...

(first off, a video to get you up to date with the controversies)

First, I think it's ridiculous that she is being trampled for her belief that gay marriage is wrong. Whether you agree with her or not, there is no need to attack someone for his or her beliefs. Proponents of gay marriage tend to consider themselves open-minded, but there is nothing at all open-minded about attacking someone else for having a different belief than you.

Second, I think it's ridiculous that she is being attacked for her past pictorials. Whether or not she is telling the truth in that the most risque pictures that have been revealed are candids never meant for public viewing is irrelevant. Did you see pictures or video of her, or any of the other contestants, in the swimsuit competition? It seems stupid to me to on the one hand judge a woman on her body in a swimsuit competition and on the other hand condemn her for past pictorials which included risque photographs. I think there is a line to be drawn, and if the pictures were pornographic rather than artful, then I think that would cross the line. But if your competition celebrates a woman's beauty, don't disqualify her for showing her body outside of the competition...

Finally, I'll go ahead and throw out my views on gay marriage, just to be extra controversial... I think there should be a state-sanctioned union, with no direct influence from religion. That union would provide the benefits currently ascribed to married couples. Straight and gay couples can join into this state-sanctioned union, which exists solely for purposes of taxes, benefits, etc. People can choose to be married by the church, and be married in the eyes of God, and the state will ascribe the benefits of a state union to them. And people can choose to enter into a union by the state, and the state will ascribe the benefits of the state union to them. That way, the state benefits that a couple receive have no basis in religion (separation of church and state), gay couples can receive benefits, and the religious institution of marriage (a church-ordained union between a man and a woman) is preserved.
To me, that seems like a win-win scenario, and the best option. But I understand that a lot of people disagree with this viewpoint.
That's a wrap for now

Wednesday, May 6, 2009


I don't have any specific topics today, so I'm just going to ramble on and see where it takes me.

Jenny is on day 3 of her job right now. She says that it's interesting, but so far it's mostly just training, with not much hands on. I think she's anxious to get to the job. I'm still plugging away at my job, although with the end of the semester fast approaching, it's getting a whole lot busier. Not overwhelming just yet, but that will probably happen right after the semester ends, since one of my two student workers is quitting. Between trying to find a replacement, and being down at employee, it'll be rough.

One thing that has been weighing on my mind recently is that all great empires of the past eventually fell. The big one that most people think of is the Roman Empire, of course. It was the world's center of culture, learning, prosperity and comfort. But the empire eventually fell against a greater military might. You also have the Byzantine Empire, also known as the Eastern Roman Empire. This empire fell most to an insufficient military as well. Then you have the Egyptian Empire. Greatest empire of it's time, but it fell due to a combination of its military actions depleting its treasury and environmental concerns. Yikes! Sound familiar?

So, given that even the greatest empires in history have all fallen, where does that leave us? As US citizens, we live free in a country (empire) that is greater than any empire to ever come before us. We have enjoyed diverse culture, unprecedented gains in knowledge, centuries of propserity, and we have been quite comfortable in our shoes. The world is our playground- literally. We've just been sitting pretty on the top, without a care in the world.

Maybe it's time to start caring. On top of our usual huge government waste, our government is spending trillions of dollars trying to prevent a repeat of the Great Depression and trillions of dollars on the "War on Terror", which we will not be able to effectively fight until we end our dependence on foreign oil. Where does this money come from? You'll hear the phrase that we're borrowing from our future, because future taxpayers will have to bear the tax burden. Sounds good as long as you don't have any kids of your own, right? Not so much- we're borrowing money RIGHT NOW, and that money doesn't magically appear from the future, where the lowest tax rate is 75% just so we can pay interest on our debt. No, that money is coming from other countries, like China (at almost $750 BILLION). But what happens when our debt becomes so big that other countries no longer trust our ability to pay it back? At our current spending rate, that could very well happen. But that's OK, I'm sure developing countries with rapidly developing military might and technology won't mind when the US files for Chapter 11...


-Douglas Hughey

Thursday, April 30, 2009

new job starting soon, good Monster deals???, seesawing economy

Ahoy out there! It's been I guess about a week since my last blog so off with the lid, and away we go.

Jenny will be starting her new job next Monday, which means that she has about 3.5 more days of freedom before she jumps back into the workforce. She's enjoying a relaxing week off, and of course nervous about starting the new job, but Penny, our dog, is ready for her to start... Much like people, Penny has no problem letting you know when you're disturbing her rest. She'll let out a *sigh*, followed by putting her head down, or if particularly perturbed, walking out of the room while looking back accusingly whenever she gets annoyed. This happens enough even when we're both at work most of the week, but with Jenny being home and interfering with her naptime, I hear that Penny is running out of patience. What a rough life this dog must live!

Many of you non-geeks have probably never heard of Monster Cable, but it's a company that sells cables for audio and video components. Their cables are, by all reasonable accounts, SEVERELY overpriced. I mean, $275 for a cable to connect your Blu-Ray player to your HDTV? Gee, doesn't it do the exact same thing as this $25 cable? (answer: yes, yes it does.) Anyway, they have issued a press release, stating that they will be lowering prices on their cables to make them more accessible to people in the economic recession. Wow...I wonder what the $275 cable that functions the same as a $25 cable used to cost??? Please note that I am in no way arguing that Monster Cables are of inferior quality- they are quite good quality. But if I'm paying an extra $250 for a cable, I'd like a free Blu-Ray player with it at least.

I've noticed that people I know who have lost jobs are starting to get interviews and even job offers, which is great. On the other hand, the news still seems to paint the picture as pretty sour. What do you think- is the economy improving? Or are we in for a long and wild ride still?


Friday, April 24, 2009

Joke- difference between regular Americans and congress

This joke was forwarded to me in an email, and I thought it was pretty funny, so I decided to share:

One Monday, a florist went to a barber for a haircut.

After the cut he asked about his bill and the barber replied, 'I cannot accept money from you. I'm doing community service this week.'The florist was pleased and left the shop.

When the barber went to open his shop the next morning there was a 'thank you' card and a dozen roses waiting for him at his door.

Later on Tuesday, a cop came in for a haircut, and when he tried to pay his bill, the barber again replied, 'I cannot accept money from you. I'm doing community service this week.' The cop was happy and left the shop.

The next morning when the barber went to open up there was a 'thank you' card and a dozen donuts waiting for him at his door.

Later on Wednesday, a college professor came in for a haircut, and when he tried to pay his bill, the barber again replied, 'I cannot accept money from you. I'm doing community service this week.' The professor was very happy and left the shop.

The next morning there was a 'thank you' card and a dozen different

books, such as 'How To Improve Your Business' and 'Becoming More Successful.'

Then on Thursday, a Congressman came in for a haircut, and when he went to pay the bill the barber again replied, 'I cannot accept money from you. I'm doing community service this week.' The Congressman was very happy and left the shop.

The next morning when the barber went to open up, there were a dozen Congressmen lined up waiting for a free haircut.

And that, my friends, illustrates the fundamental difference between the citizens of our country and the members of our Congress.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

hip hip hooray

Sorry everyone for the radio silence. My wife wanted me to wait on announcing that she got a new permanent position until after she had a chance to tell people (which is only fair, considering that it is her job). So, umm, yeah, my wife got a new permanent position! I don't want to talk specifics, as I've read too many stories about "I talked about my job online, and they fired me for it", but I will say that it's a somewhat HR job at a company that does HR, so that's good. The bad is that it's a substantial pay cut from her previous position, and there's a definite possibility of having to work some to many weekends in the near future. However, it's a company that we've heard good things about, and it's big enough that there should be plenty of advancement opportunities down the road. And, it's a permanent position. So, yeah, we're pretty stoked.

I want to say first and foremost, thank you to everyone who kept us in your thoughts and prayers. Thank you to everyone who offered us assistance, whether it was job leads, networking, taking us out for food and entertainment, or ordering a huge box of tasty goodness delivered from Omaha Steaks. Thank you to everyone who has just simply read this blog. It has provided me with an excellent outlet to release frustrations, aggressions and my thoughts.

I'm trying to decide if I should continue the blog or not. I'm considering continuing it, but updating on a less frequent basis, maybe once per week or so. And maybe branching out a bit in terms of subject matter, who knows? Anyway, here's hoping Jenny's new job goes well and grants her new opportunities, and here's hoping for the economy in general to improve, and soon!!! Just keeping up on my Facebook page, I am aware that quite a few of my friends have been laid off and are still searching, so please keep them in your thoughts as well!


Friday, April 17, 2009

FIX IT, and VP Joe Biden visits St. Louis

I've been so long-winded lately, I'll try to keep this one short, and go easy on the anger.

I saw a funny video posted on a friend's blog, and it's perfect for my blog, so I'm going to go the 'immitation is the sincerest form of flattery' route and post it myself. it's a clip from Saturday Night Live, and I found it to be very funny.

I also wanted to mention, for those of you who didn't catch it, that Vice President Joe Biden was in St. Louis today, specifically on the campus of the University of Missouri-St. Louis. He came by to speak as part of the Middle Class Task Force, and he spoke about affordable higher eduction. While I was merely a stone's throw away at the time, attendance tickets were very limited, so I did not get the chance to be personally enlightened.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Heather's response to my earlier blog

First off, if you haven't gotten a chance to read last night's blog post, be sure to read that, below. This one isn't the "new blog" promised last night.

I wanted to mention that on the blog post entitled "Still Waiting, Celtic Woman, Easter and Christianity", I received an excellent response regarding Christianity from Heather. I have since responded to her comment with further thoughts as well. So, if you are interested in the religious aspect of that post, please be sure to check out the comments section for more discussion, and please feel free to add to the discussion yourself, regardless of your personal spiritual point of view!

I also wanted to mention that, to be honest, at times I wish I could have an unwavering faith in everything Christianity teaches- I think it would certainly make things easier on me to be a "mainstream Christian".


Wednesday, April 15, 2009

job search update, credit card rate increases, Tea party

OK, now that I've probably upset my very Christian parents with my religious admissions in the last blog, on to something else...

While Jenny still has not heard back from option 1 (the one she should have heard back from over a week ago now), she did do a face-to-face with another option today, and they told her that they would like her to come back for a second face-to-face next week. So, good job today, Jenny! Not exactly a high-powered (or -paying) position, but it's a great chance to get her foot in the door at a good company for once *cough*. She is also partway through week 2 of her temporary data entry job, and they want her back for at least another week. Not great pay, and she hates data entry, but it's still better than unemployment. They really like her work, so maybe that will pan out into something else interesting, who knows?

I heard on the news this morning that a lot of big banks are drastically increasing the interest rates on their credit cards, as much as a 100% increase. And these are the same banks that received bailout money from taxpayers. So, yeah, the companies are taking our money to remain afloat, since they're "too big to fail", and then they're taking our money to remain afloat a second time by doubling up interest rates on credit cards. Gee, I wonder who could be affected by huge interest rate jumps on credit cards? Maybe the poor and the working class, who can't afford big purchases outright? The people who are losing their homes because they can no longer afford their mortgages? Here's hoping our government puts their foot down on these companies for this, yet another 'screw-our-customers-while-we-get-rich' business idea.

Next off, how many of you have heard of the TEA Party going on today? The TEA Party, short for Taxed Enough Already, and set to mimic the Boston Tea Party, is a protest not of taxes, but of what the government does with our tax money. Protesters voiced concerns over rampant government spending as our tax dollars are used to bail out companies and to try and stimulate the economy. I really don't know what to think about this. I mean, on the one hand, it's absolutely sickening to think about how much money is being spent in efforts to fix the economy- money that puts us further into debt, making us look even more to the rest of the world like a bad credit risk. On the other hand, if that's what it takes to get us out of this mess, then so be it. Deficit spending certainly seemed to help with the Great did World War II. But let's get back to a balanced budget as soon as we can once the economy picks up. So, what do you think??

One fun note- for those of you who haven't seen the video, there is a clip from Britain's Got Talent making the rounds. It's a woman who everyone, judges included, expects to make a huge fool of herself on the talent show, but, well, that doesn't exactly happen.


Monday, April 13, 2009

Still waiting, Celtic Woman, Easter and Christianity

After the past couple of political rant blogs, I figured I'd go back to a more intimate perspective for this one. Oh, and good news- I noticed that you can open up comments for anonymous posters too, so now you can comment even if you don't have a google account. So, well, that is at least one less excuse not to comment... Anyway, We're still waiting to hear back from the one possibility that I spoke of last week- the interview process is evidently not finalized yet, so, well, here's hoping. There is also another possibility for a face-to-face that has opened up, so I'll try to keep you apprised on that possibility as well. In the meantime, we're doing good with saving money, but we did splurge on a cheap dinner Saturday night. I promised my wife that as payment for doing the data entry temp job, since that is more money that unemployment would bring in, we'd go out to dinner at the end of each week that she worked.

So on to the Celtic Woman concert (which, I might add, was paid for back in December, so it was not a recent splurge). First off, here they are...

For my male readers- Wow, right? But I digress- on to the concert. I had built up such high expectations that I was really concerned that I would come out of the concert a bit let down. Fortunately, that was not the case. The only letdown for me was that we were further away from the stage than I had hoped. I mean, we bought the most expensive tickets, and we were on the ground level, very close to center, but we were rather far back on the ground level. Hmm....
At any rate, the show was fantastic, and to my surprise, about 2/3 of the songs were from the A New Journey DVD. This was a good thing, because that meant that we already knew a lot of the songs. They even performed my favorite, At the Ceili. Of their new songs, my favorite was Isle of Hope, which is also the name of the tour. Overall, a great experience, and a nice escape from the pressures of everyday life.

Since yesterday was Easter, I figured I'd throw mention that as well. Jenny and I went to church with some of my family. We're the oft-lamented Christmas-and-Easter Christians, so that's not something we do very often. Our personal spiritualities just don't center around church-going, and we both very much question the message of many modern Christian churches that you have the choice of either accepting Jesus Christ as your personal savior or spending an eternity burning in the eternal torment of Hell. That just doesn't jive with "God is Love". I mean, if "God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten Son" to save us, then why would this loving God condemn millions of people to eternal damnation for, quite simply, missing the boat? I mean, if I happened to grew up Muslim, and never got around to question my beliefs, that could be me burning in Hell for eternity, right? Yeah, that just doesn't make much sense to me. Not to say that I don't believe that Jesus is the Son of God, and the Ressurection and all that; I mean, a loving God certainly would send his Son to die for the world, to create an easy path to salvation. But if Heaven is a very exclusive club, consisting only of members whose core belief is that they are the chosen ones and the vast majority of the world just didn't make the cut, that just doesn't sound much like Heaven to me. We do want our kids to attend a Christian church of some sort, but probably one that is less exclusive than the Baptist (me) and Catholic (Jenny) churches that we grew up in.

Anyway, on to other parts of the day. Jenny and I visited my Grandma right after church. She has spinal stenosis, which I gather is not much fun (as an understatement). It's essentially constant severe pain in the back. Which makes my constant not-so-severe pain in the back probably seem like a walk in the park. My Grandma will be having surgery tomorrow to hopefully significantly lessen the pain, so please keep her in your thoughts and prayers.

After that, we went to another Grandma's house (my step-dad's father's second wife, to be specific), for lunch and depressing conversation. Well, the depressing conversation wasn't a given by any means, but that's certainly what the visit entailed. Between my Grandma's back, my Aunt's slew of health problems, cousins' health problems, and altogether general malaise of the world, conversation wasn't particularly bright or peppy. Less I sound like a grouch, I did enjoy the visit. I just wished that there were more positive things to talk about.

Well, this has already turned into quite a long post, so I'll bid you adieu. Just remember, you can now COMMENT anonymously!


Friday, April 10, 2009

Welcome to your new job, Mr. President!

I submitted this picture to an online contest for "When wishes come true, with disastrous results". I decided to go for the disastrous results of Barack Obama's wish to become president.
Please note, I don't mean that his presidency has been disastrous, just the situation in which he now finds himself.

Thursday, April 9, 2009


Well, another day, and still no call back from the one company where we thought Jenny had a really good chance at getting a job. The interviews went great, we were told a decision would take two weeks, and 2.5 weeks later, we're still waiting. And losing hope. Rapidly. Not hearing back within two weeks- not a good sign. And did I mention that there are NO other prospects whatsoever right now? Sure, she's still applying for jobs like our well-being depends on it (oh, wait, it does), but no calls are coming in. Jenny is so frustrated right now. And I think she is starting to lose faith in herself. After all, she went from being a successful manager at a company that she was with for over five years, to companies showing no interest in her whatsoever now even for jobs that she is over-qualified for. And yeah, she is required by Missouri Unemployment to apply for at least 3 jobs per day, so that comes to at least 21 jobs per week, and no calls coming in at all?

For my part, I am starting to get really angry. I am very angry at the ridiculous "too big to fail" companies whose executives, due to greed and greed alone, made bad investment after bad investment. The executives knew things would eventually crash and burn, but every last one of those clowns became millionaires many times over in the process of destroying our economy with bad investments. Those crooks are sitting pretty in their million dollar mansions, laughing as the peons scramble just to survive.

I am very angry at our government officials, who are so corrupt that it's merely a joke (A corrupt politician walks into a bar...Oh, wait, you've heard this one before?) These clowns don't have their constituents' best interests in mind, just their own. These government officials go to bed with these big corporations, taking huge payouts, but we're the ones getting screwed. And if you want something to really blow you away, take a look-see at where US Treasury Secretary Hank Paulson worked before President Bush nominated him to the agency that regulates too-big-to-fail companies. But Hank Paulson didn't single-handedly blow up the economy any more than George W. Bush did- it took the concentrated greed of a lot of business executives and a lot of government officials to screw us up this badly.

So what do we do? Well, we can start by holding these greedy clowns (wow, I sound so cartoonish when I edit the words that I'm really thinking for appropriateness) accountable for their actions. We are in the mess that we are in now because big business and our own government are very corrupt. The Republican party and the Democratic party are full of corrupt politicians, and we deserve better. We can no longer afford to blindly elect our officials- we need to know who and what we are voting for, and we need to VOTE. Forget party lines, vote for the Independent candidate to can't afford a national TV campaign because he's not taking kickbacks from corporations, if that's what it takes. And these humungous corporations are full of corrupt executives, and we deserve better. You can vote them out too- support your smaller, local companies.

Well, that's all for now. Sorry for the ranting, but seeing my wife so miserable just makes me so angry at the people who put her there. And yes, I am purposely leaving her previous employer out of this, even though that requires quite possibly the biggest self-editing of all...


Tuesday, April 7, 2009

...the one-eyed man is king

This post might come across as incendiary and ill-conceived , so if you need to take a moment to gather your pitchforks and light your torches, please do so now. I'll start off by coddling popular opinion, in an effort to deceive you into getting to the "what is he thinking?" stuff...

I will freely admit that George W. Bush, as President of the United States, had an excellent opportunity to make our country a better place- and failed. The country did not get better during his tenure in office, it got worse. Any arguments yet? Didn't think so. We are now in the worst economic decline since the 1930's, and the Bush administration failed to prevent this from happening. Of course, the Bush administration is only one part of the puzzle, and I think it is grossly unfair to place all of the blame for our current mess on one person. After all, our political system is divided into three branches for a reason. And nobody prevented this decline of our country- not the President, not Congress, not businesses, not the American people.

So, what happened? I heard an interesting idea presented a few days ago, while attending a "Final Four" party. This in no way covers everything that is wrong with our system, but hey, it's a start. The idea was brought forth that elected government officials should wear suits similar to those of race car drivers, loaded up with sponsor logos, so that the American people can know exactly which companies have bought them. When you think about it, it makes sense- you need a lot of money to run for office, and that money comes from campaign contributions. Those campaign contributions are NOT FREE. Sure, our elected officials are thankful for the votes that officially put them in office, but they also know where the money came from. They have promises to fulfill, and not just to their constituents, but to those who funded their way into office. One of my favorite quotes comes from Douglas Adams, in his book the Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy: "Anyone who is capable of getting themselves made President should on no account be allowed to do the job". That goes for any elected official who needs serious campaign contributions to get into office.

Still with me? Good. Now get those pitchforks ready... I received a free subscription to Rolling Stone recently, and I have gotten maybe 8 or 9 issues. It really blew me away just how politically biased Rolling Stone is. You see, they get it- they understand that the Republican party is inundated with greedy liars who care more about themselves than the good of the country, and they often burn George W. Bush in literary effigy for his role as king of the party for 8 years. But then in the same breath, they espouse the virtues of the Democratic party and everyone in it, hoisting President Obama on high as THE ANSWER to all of our problems, because not only is he the King of the Party that is Right and Just, but he is quite possibly the Greatest Man Who Has Ever Lived.

(catch your breath if you must).

I just don't get it. I mean, how can you see right through the lies of the Republican party, but then buy the lies of the Democratic party hook, line and sinker? I hope I'm wrong here. I REALLY hope I'm wrong, and that President Obama rocks our political system to the very core. I really hope that President Obama and the Democratic party bring forth the change we need, and bring our country and our world to a much better place. But you won't catch me holding my breath...

So...should I be on the lookout for flying tomatoes?

Friday, April 3, 2009

Temp jobs, Aldi's, Celtic Woman, and Check Engine Lights

I was a bit worried after Wednesday's post, where I found myself scrambling around a bit to come up with topics for the blog. Was I running out of ideas? Could i really only come up with a couple of weeks of posts on something as big as the recession? Well, I've got a few ready topics this time around, so hopefully Wednesday was just an 'off' day.

Jenny got a temp job through one of the temp agencies that she has applied at. She will be doing data entry work for a company for the next "1-2 weeks, maybe more". She is not exactly excited about doing data entry 8 hours a day, but I think she realizes that this is a great opportunity for her to prove to the temp agency and the company she will be working at for the next couple of weeks that she is a hard worker with a lot of great skills and ideas. Who knows, maybe this could lead to her next permanent job? If nothing else, the pay will be better than unemployment, and the unemployment well will dry up that much later, so I think this is definitely a positive.

I forgot to mention in Wednesday's post that, based on getting multiple suggestions to the effect, we shopped at Aldi's last Sunday. Jenny was a bit miffed the whole time we were there, being accustomed to shopping at 'ritzy' Schnucks. But the simple truth is that, as she mentioned afterward, every single item that we bought at Aldi's, milk included, came in at under $2.00. The store was also clean, much less crowded than Schnuck's, and we were able to get about 80% of our groceries from them. Overall, a positive experience, so I'm sure we'll be going back.

I am happy to report that my Check Engine light has turned off. I had tried to disconnect the battery, as suggested by quite a few people, but either I'm completely incompetent under the hood of a car (the most likely scenario), or my battery terminal screws are a size somewhere in between both 7/16" and 1/2" and 11mm and 12mm. I swear to you, 7/16" and 11mm were both too small, and 1/2" and 12mm were both too big!

In closing, I wanted to mention a concert that Jenny and I will be attending next weekend- Celtic Woman, at the Fox Theatre. I was searching for Celtic music on one day, happened across this DVD, which had the surprising combination of more than 300 reviews and a 5-star rating. Usually, when you get that many ratings on, even the good stuff tends toward 4 or 4.5. So, i took a chance, got the DVD for Christmas, and immediately fell in love. A few days after Christmas, I bought two orchestra pit seats to their show on April 11. I am REALLY excited about seeing Celtic woman live, having been so blown away by the DVD. If you're interested in checking them out, but you're not ready to commit to buying a DVD, they have plenty of videos available on Youtube.

Well, that's it for now. We have a busy weekend ahead of us, with a "Final Four" party on Saturday at our friends' house, and a dinner on Sunday. See ya! Oh, and I'd love to see some more comments here. Blogspot doesn't track views, so I have no idea how many (or few) readers I have.

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Bleeding Blue, Get the door, its...oops, the Global crisis, Stimulus bonus

Here on the homefront, well, we're just waiting and hoping right now. After the two initial positive instances, we haven't gotten any calls from other interested parties. This despite a lot of applications being sent in, so that's a bit of a letdown. But, the harsh reality is that there is a lot of competition out there for jobs right now.

On a fun note, I went to the St. Louis Blues game on Saturday night. A buddy of mine got some free tickets from his employer, so it didn't cost us anything. In fact, not only were the tickets free, but they were very good ones too- just about at center ice, down on the first level, and in the "Club" section, where the chairs are leather(ette?) and the ticket price includes all you can eat and drink, beer included. And the game was really good too, going into overtime before the Blues won. So, yeah, that was pretty sweet!

Yesterday, Domino's Pizza got caught in a mistake. What was it? A customer happened upon a coupon code that was never greenlit for use- one free 1-topping medium pizza, for carryout only. That's right, one FREE medium pizza. About mid-morning yesterday, corporate pulled the plug on the coupon, but they ended up giving away 11,000 free pizzas by that time. Yours truly even got one, and boy does free taste good! Remember those deals websites I mentioned last week? I found this deal on spoofee.

Here in the US, I think we often tend not to think about what goes on in the rest of the world. But there are a lot of countries out there that are very upset with us right now, not due to the War on Terror, or the Iraq war, or Afghanistan, Guantanimo, should I go on? Nope, they're mad at us because of the global impacts of our economic crisis. Of course, not everyone blames just the US, and the US in all fairness should not, in my opinion, be held solely to blame for the worldwide problems. In any event, there's quite a bit of information out there about the G20 Summit protests going on if you're interested in the topic. Oh, and I even grabbed some pictures for ya, courtesy

On another topic, here's a good article talking about the stimulus money that will soon be making its way into our paychecks. It has some good information about certain risk factors, so I think it's a good read.

That's all I've got for now. Sorry for the delay in updating; my long weekend threw me off a bit.

Friday, March 27, 2009


Well, I just finished the GMAT about an hour ago. And I scored exactly in the range that I was hoping for, so that's a huge load off my shoulders! Not to say it wasn't difficult- it was VERY difficult, but it's so great to have beaten it!

So, who wants to take a poor man to celebrate? :)

Thursday, March 26, 2009

GMAT, cutting the cable, Dilbert

Well, the big thing on my mind right now is not actually the economy, or our place in it. Nope- it's the GMAT. The GMAT, short for Graduate Management Admission Test, is a test that business schools require you to take and get a certain score on in order to enter into the graduate school. The scoring goes between 200 and 800, with 500 being the average score that a test-taker will get. Keep in mind that the average GMAT test taker is someone who has a Bachelor's degree in Business and is interested in furthering his or her education, so average on this test ain't is not exactly the same as average on the ACT. For my business school of choice, a 500 is the minimum requirement. I've been studying now for a few months in the hopes of breezing past that 500 mark, but I've got to tell you, I don't think I have ever felt so stupid in my life as I do when studying for this thing. Complicated algebra, geometry, sentence structure, analytical reasoning, and don't even get me started on data sufficiency- it's enough to humble just about anyone. Anyway, my test is TOMORROW. So everyone, please wish me luck! I get results immediately, so I'll let you know if I passed (got at least a 500). And if I don't pass, well, if I happen to never mention the GMAT in this blog again, you'll know why.

So what's "cutting the cable" all about? I'm referring to your cable TV, or satellite TV if that is what you happen to have. As we talk about ways to save money in a bad economy, especially if your income just dropped significantly, I think everyone should consider 'cutting the cable'. Why? Well, is it just me, or do TV service providers only have 3 packages? You get your Basic package, which is barely more than what you get free over the air (OTA), and it's about $35/month. Then you get you Advanced package, which comes with a lot of bells and whistles and hundreds of channels that you're never going to watch, but the price goes up to about $70/month. And then the Premium package comes with additional channels that you actually might want to watch (HBO, Showtime, etc.), but comes in at over $100/month.

Jenny and I cut our cable a couple of months ago when our bill went up to $90 (in order to better serve us, of course), and we really haven't looked back. The vast majority of the shows that we watch are on local channels and thus available for free OTA, so long as you live within about 50 miles of the station and have a decent roof-mounted antenna. But what about the shows on channels that are not available for free (such as stuff on USA and FX)? Two options- many stations are making full shows available online, for FREE. Also, with all of that money that you're saving on not paying for TV, you can spend $10-15/month on a Netflix account and rent TV shows as part of your package. So there you go- unless you're a huge sports fan, it's actually quite easy to do without, and you save yourself a bundle of money each and every month.

Finally, I wanted to call your attention to a Dilbert strip today that I think perfectly satirizes our current economic situation. It also does a good job of summarizing my rant yesterday in just 3 frames. Check it out!


Wednesday, March 25, 2009

The waiting game, assigning culpability, cutting the cable, Foxy Lady now hiring!

Hello out there. So, not to get too specific, but Jenny has now successfully completed two, umm, instances. And now we wait, and hope for the best. And I'll be honest, patience is not one of my virtues :). Of course, we're still on the lookout for other opportunities, and she is actually finding stuff out there, so the market hasn't completely dried up at least. In fact, I've noticed in the past week or so that some headlines are starting to break the mold of "We're screwed guys" and leaned toward some degree of positivity.

To whit, a lot of people are looking to assign blame in this economy, and it seems a lot of blame goes toward a) the government and b) ridiculously huge corporations. I certainly think that both are culpable to the degree to which the government could have implemented better policies/incentives and large businesses could have tried for a business model that doesn't revolve around a pyramid of debt stacked on top of more debt. But then you also have the consumers who, in our efforts to live the American dream (promised to us as our birthright by both the Government and corporate product/service advertisements) have made poor financial decisions time and again. I'm not saying "let's all blame the little guy", but as consumers we are the foundation of the economy, and if we are strong enough to resist the temptation to consistently spend more than we make, then the economy will have a strong foundation.

One other item I wanted to bring up is media culpability. As I mentioned earlier, we are finally seeing the occasional headline that is positive, but otherwise, we are drowning in a sea of negativity. And when it comes to speculation, which is what the stock market and a lot of spending habits are based on, bad makes worse. In other words, if you go around telling everyone that the economy is in the toilet and the stock markets are crashing, then people are going to stop spending, and they are going to pull their money out of the stock market. And then the economy will be in the toilet and the stock market will crash. So, hey media, for the sake of the current and future welfare of not just the US economy, but the world, how's about we try not to perpetuate so much negativity? You're only making it worse, in this writer's humble opinion.

And finally, on to the lighter side... I read an article in a newsletter that I subscribe to (Bizarre News, available through GopherCentral), entitled Strip Club Plans Job Fair. Apparently, the Foxy Lady strip club in Providence, Rhode Island has decided that the current unemployment problems warrant hosting a job fair to find new talent to serve as "dancers, managers,
DJs, bouncers and bartenders". So, if you live in the area, and you need a job... Sorry I am not able to direct link to the article, but if you go to the Bizarre news link above, it's currently posted under the main headline "The Drinks Are On Utah".

Well, that's it for now. I realize that I got pretty opinionated on this one, and that I didn't go into much depth regarding our personal life, but I'm just winging it here. If you want to hear more personal stuff, let me know, and if you want to hear more opinion, let me know that too! Thanks!

Monday, March 23, 2009

The difference between hard times and hopelessness, The power of e-Prayer?, and deals websites

Well, to start with, i had mentioned my wife having "possibilities on the horizon". That would be today, and tomorrow. So, hopefully this morning went well, and please keep us in your thoughts tomorrow!

So, the difference between hard times and hopelessness. What does that mean? Well, that's what we have been finding out lately. I've pretty much taken the hard line that "we're poor now", "we're broke", "it's hopeless" etc. But I'm beginning to see that in order to be truly hopeless, it's not just a lack of money, but also a lack of people who care about you. Our family and friends have been very compassionate and helpful since Jenny lost her job. It's a great feeling to know how much you are cared for, and that even in the darkest situations, other people will so readily serve as a beacon of light and hope. Well, there's your mushiness for the day. What about e-prayers?

My favorite tech news web site ( posted a link to an article about a company that is selling e-prayers. Essentially, you type your prayer in, and a computer will use text-to-speech to recite your prayers for you. After they get your credit card payment, of course. You know, in case you're too busy to pray for yourself each day. Now I'm probably not the best person to give an opinion on this, because my relationship with God does not include long daily prayers or anything, but seriously? I think there is a word for something like this, and I think the word is sloth. Also, not to be presumptuous or anything, but I just can't see God putting too much thought into prayers introduced by HAL 9000.
So, how is this relevent? There seems to be a lot of prayer going around lately, and a lot of "we'll pray for you", due to the economic times. So, yeah, there you go.

And finally, I have used a few "deals" web sites for a few years now to get great prices on stuff, and I've really saved a lot of money, so i figured I'd throw them out there for other people in need of bargains. I know this sounds like an ad pitch, but I promise you I'm not getting paid to say this (and boy do I wish I was!) So, if you're interested in good deals, check out the following web sites, or just google something to the effect of good deals web site.,,

Well, that's all I've got. I see I've got a few people reading these now, so thanks for showing up, and I hope you enjoy.


Friday, March 20, 2009

Rays of hope, AIG benefits tax rate

Hello again. Is anybody out there? Without being able to track views, I pretty much feel like I'm talking to myself here, but oh well.

My wife has a couple of possibilities on the horizon. I don't want to mention specifics, but face-to-face interviews are good, so we're very excited about this. Let's just hope that something great comes of it! As a result, for the first time since the lay off last week, we actually have hope. It really goes a long way in brightening your day, I'll tell you that much.

Otherwise, we're still doing everything we can to save money. We found out how much she is going to get for unemployment, and we're not sure if the amount is pretax or post-tax, but it's actually not terrible at all. It's literally a fraction of what she had been earning, but it's at least a fraction where the numerator isn't too far off from the denominator. Depending on how much money we can save by simply NOT SPENDING, we may not have to dip very far into savings while she's diligently searching for a new job.

I wanted to post a link to an article that I got a good laugh out of. I guess technically it's an article about the 'misfortunes' of certain people, but the people in question are, from what I understand, very well-off, and the misfortunes involve a significant (how's 90% sound?) tax on bonus earned by executives at AIG. I am very proud of our Government at this moment- while they did not (maybe could not, I don't know) prevent AIG from giving promised bonuses of hundreds of thousands of dollars to executives (the executives who made the decisions that drove the company into the ground), they swiftly implemented a 90% tax on these bonuses. I think that is just fantastic. Here's the article. In all fairness, I also heard that some of the executives had already voluntarily given their bonuses back. To those executives- good for you!

Well, that's all for now. if you're reading, I'd love it if you'd post a comment, just so I know that I'm not talking to any empty room!


Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Craigslist, St. Patrick's Day, car problems, oh my

I figured this might be a good opportunity to provide links to economic information that I find online that may be able to help others. Or really anything else that I find interesting. So, let's start with that...

First off, here's an interesting article on CNN regarding the unemployed turning to Craigslist for help. I found this one to be particularly interesting, especially the fact that people are finding help.

Next off, Yahoo! Finance has an article for those of you still employed, and looking to keep your jobs.

And finally, in the spirit of St. Patrick's day (I am 1/4 Irish, after all), MSNBC has an article entitled The History of St. Patrick's Day.

Now, on to more personal business. I mentioned the Check Engine light on my car in yesterday's post in somewhat of a joking manner. I just wish that I could laugh about it. I'm not really one of those "God is out to get me!!!" types of people. Well, maybe somewhat, but I'm not too bad about it. But when my wife loses her job, and a couple of days later my car's Check Engine light turns on...well, I've gotta wonder if I spent a previous lifetime killing bunny rabbits or something. In all seriousness, it seems that at least for me, I go through periods in my life where bad news tends to pile up on top of itself until I feel like I'm drowning. This is definitely one of those times. I find myself wondering, rather fearfully, just what other bad things are going to happen right now. For example, how safe is my job?!?

This may sound like the ravings of a mad and/or depressed person, and while madness is never completely off the table, I think I tend to have a fairly reasonable outlook on life. In any event, if I am depressed now, rest assured that this too shall pass. It's just difficult to rise above the turmoil when you're neck-deep in it. I can imagine that most people, when they look back on their lives, wish that they hadn't made such a big deal out of so many little things. I sure wish I could be better about that. And I sure hope that when I look back on my life, this period does in fact turn out to be "no big deal".

I'll leave you with a song verse from one of my favorite bands. Unfortunately, it aptly describes my mood today:
She dances in a photograph
When it was good to joke and have a laugh
But that was yesterday, if only today

The verse is from Flogging Molly's song Factory Girls. If you haven't heard of them, and you don't mind music that can get heavy/fast, check them out. They have quite a few videos on Youtube. Since the sound is very Irish, today's the perfect chance to discover them!

Monday, March 16, 2009

Blog the First

The purpose of this blog is to chronicle the experiences of my wife and I as we do our best to survive the current economic recession. That I am even writing such a blog is surprising to me, as just one week ago, I was actually feeling a little bit guilty that the recession had not yet effected us in any way.

Well, that's not true- there were positive effects in the sense that retailers have lowered prices and provided great discounts to entice consumers to still shop at their stores (or at their restaurants, as the case more often was for us). And there were negative effects in that our Roth IRA accounts were coming in with net losses, meaning that if we contributed, say, $1000 over the course of a year to an account with $2000 in it already, the total amount in the account by the end of the year was somewhere below the hoped-for $3000+. Also, our Direct Deposit savings account took a hit, going from a 4.5% return to about 1.5% now. We have considered ourselves lucky that most of our money is in the savings account, not the IRA's. You see, we're 29, so even with a 25% decline in value for our IRA's, it didn't hurt TOO much.

So, what happened? Well, my wife lost her job last Friday (March 13. Yes, Friday the 13th. No, I don't believe the date is particularly unlucky. This was just an unhappy coincidence in my mind.) Anyway, my wife's salary was a bit higher than mine, so now our total income is less than half of the previous amount, whatever we get from unemployment notwithstanding. And despite the fact that we have always lived with the motto of careful consumption, a 50%+ cut to our income hurts. A lot. Don't get me wrong, I make OK money, and we're not going to be going to the poor house just yet. But we have already implemented a series of what we consider to be big lifestyle changes, and we still will most likely be a ways from breaking even.

What kind of lifestyle changes? Well, that's a tricky one. Remember I mentioned the "Careful Consumption" part? If you do a Google search for "ways to save money", and look at the lists provided, the odds are, we already were practicing most of the items on the list. So, there's not a lot to cut back on. Here's where we are going to cut:

1. Food. Our average weekly food expenditures probably come up to about $140. That's groceries, one nice meal per week, and eating out for lunch a few days a week. New amount? $50. We will make it for this week (grocery bill was total $40, and no eating out for any meals at all). And we hope to keep to that number until my wife finds a new job. Let's hear it for fresh fruits and vegetables, butcher shop meat prices, noodles (including Ramen), and inexpensive large dishes that provide for multiple leftovers.

2. Entertainment. No more movies, bars, concerts, really anything that costs any money at all. We're going to hold onto our $14/month Netflix subscription and subsist on that and free entertainment options. Speaking of $14 monthly movie costs- we don't even have basic cable, so you can't cut that. We're close enough to downtown St. Louis that a $30 outdoor antenna gives us 90% of the TV shows that we would watch anyway for free.

3. Any item that is not a necessity. No clothes, furniture, accessories, toys (tech), no big purchases, nothing. In fact, as soon as I find some black masking tape, the "Service Engine Soon" light that just popped up on my car today will be just a memory. At least until the car breaks down on the side of the road.

4. Savings payments and big purchases. That's $1000/month right there, but only about 1/3 of my wife's previous monthly take-home. We've been paying $800/month into our savings account ever since we paid off our cars. And we have a $200/month revolving "big purchase" line of cash. That may sound like a lot, but think of it this way- if you want a new $800 TV, and you have the cash, do you buy it? If it's me, the only way I'll buy it is if the $200/month revolving line of cash is available. If I'm still paying off that new computer that I bought 4 months ago, the TV is going to have to wait, cash in hand or not.

Well, that's all I've got on cuts right now- other ideas, please let me know.

One last thing; pursuant of the capitalist nature of our society (you know, that imperfect system that, at best, didn't prevent this recession from occurring), I have opted to tie my PayPal account into this blog. So, if you're reading this, and you happen to be feeling sorry for me, and/or you just want to get rid of some of that "survivor's guilt", please feel free to donate. If you're in a similar situation to me, well, I hope you enjoy the blog anyway, and take care of yourself, not me.