Dense Blog Advisory

Lots of words, people. Lots of words.

Things You Won’t Find in Arkansas: Jimmy Hoffa, Basic Literacy, Thai Food February 26, 2009

Filed under: Arkansuck,Grammar Police — indiakonstanze @ 4:05 am
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Spotted in Little Rock: a sign telling drivers about an ongoing road improvement project, with the following tag line: “Little Rock…Making Improvements for It’s Citizens.”

You’d think a city government responsible for the health and welfare of 183, 133 citizens could manage to spell one of the most basic words in the English language. Then again, this *is* Arkansas. These people marry their cousins even though it’s illegal, microwave babies, and think cell phone holsters are the height of sophistication.

Most of us learned the difference between “its” and “it’s” somewhere in grade school. This is a contraction, in which two words have been jammed together in a noble effort to eradicate writer’s cramp. I realize most people think grammar is lame and don’t understand why anyone would care, but it isn’t lame. It does matter, and everyone should care.

After all, someone who works for this city wrote that slogan. Someone proofed it. Someone produced the sign. Someone probably proofed a draft of the sign. Is it really okay that none of these people can read, spell, or operate a computer well enough to use spell check? And these are the people in charge of an entire city? The people I trust with my general welfare on a daily basis? It is not okay that they can’t spell, because if they can’t do that…what else can’t they do?

There are things that separate us from the animals, and these are things we should always hold dear: showers, soap, Mongolian BBQ, and punctuation. Just think…if language became a free for all, your boss could write you an email that said, “Bold for the good word and fix it’s tree,” and you’d have to figure out what the hell he/she meant.

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When Religion and Politics Don’t Mix February 18, 2009

Filed under: Hot Topics,Life, Whatnot — indiakonstanze @ 3:00 am
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So the girls and I were talking at lunch about the octomom-I can’t even capitalize her nickname because that would be giving her some sort of pop culture status instead of the straitjacket she so clearly deserves. Anyway, one of the girls said that her friend had gone to a fertility doctor who implanted every single one of their fertilized eggs, believing the number of embryos that implanted and remained viable was “in God’s hands.” (Aside: apparently the Anglican church has a different view.)

How the hell does someone with such a laissez-faire Christian philosophy come to be sticking fertilized eggs up a woman’s hoo-ha anyway? Would becoming pregnant not be “in God’s hands” in the first place?

So, according to this guy: You are not playing God when you connect an egg and sperm to create an embryo, resulting in what most (if not all) Christians believe is a sacred, inviolable life. However, you are playing God when you choose to implant, say, three embryos instead of six or eight because you are denying those other embryos the right to life.  But doesn’t he understand that those embryos wouldn’t have been there in the first place if he (not God) hadn’t created them?

This guy is basically saying, “I’ll turn on the ignition but I won’t drive the car.”  Then he denies all accountability when the car slams into a playground full of children.  Well, the car wouldn’t have hit anything if it hadn’t been started, now would it?

WTF??

In a perfect world, people would have to prove their ability to financially support the number of embryos implanted, even if it’s nearly impossible for each embryo to remain viable. You want eight embryos implanted? Better make $250,000. Don’t make $250,000? Tough cookies. Oh, you say, but I need every embryo implanted at once because I can’t afford to do this procedure more than once….it’s so expensive! No shit, Sherlock.  Try raising five babies at once…you think that comes cheap? If you’re already worried about the cost of the procedure itself, then you can’t afford kids.  There are plenty of kids out there who need a loving home, so adopt one of them and let your genes go quietly into that black night.  Unless you’re Bill Gates or something, it’s no big loss…except to the kid who goes unfostered or unadopted because of your selfishness.

 

The Money Pit: The Untold Secret of Home Ownership

Filed under: Hot Topics,Life, Whatnot — indiakonstanze @ 2:28 am
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I will now reveal to you, my dear readers, the secret about owning a home that no one in the whole freaking world will tell you: IT IS COMPLETE AND TOTAL BUNK. It does not make you any money. It will always cost you money. Don’t believe me? Keep reading.

First off, the people who say it’s a great investment do so because: (1) they think paying rent is like flushing money down the toilet—you don’t own anything and you’re not building equity; (2) they have no nomadic instinct whatsoever, and (3) they care deeply about paint color and/or the kind of tile on their countertops. Now, let me prove mathematically, why these arguments are all HOOEY.

Rent vs. mortgage: Okay, we all know that you pay a crapload of interest on your mortgage, and you pay it up front. You do not pay interest on rent. If you buy a house for $205,000 and had no interest and a monthly payment of $1200, you would pay off your home in 171 payments (14.24 years). But that doesn’t happen. Instead, following the strictures of my own home loan, you pay $1200 bucks a month for 30 years at a fixed rate of interest. That’s an extra 16 years of payments, for a total of $230,400 that you pay over and above your principal. That means you’re paying $435,400 to own your home in 30 years. At that rate, it has to more than double in value just for you to BREAK EVEN.

Now, let’s not forget about homeowner’s insurance. Mine currently runs about $650/year, and it goes up by about $50 a year. Even if we say the price rises $50 every three years, you will pay $23,850 in 30 years of ownership IF you have no claims that cause your rates to rise more than my built-in inflation. This brings our 30-year total to $458,850.

And we also have the delightful surprise known as property tax. My property tax is about $3,000/year. Some urban areas run as much as $10,000/year and rural areas as low as $800/year. If I use my own tax amount as an estimate and assume the amount due every year does not change. I will pay $90,000 in tax over 30 years. Our grand total is now $548,850, just for the bare minimum a homeowner has to pay.

This is not including homeowner’s association dues, maintenance fees, landscaping, yard service fees, remodeling, refurbishing, appliances, etc. Over 30 years, you have to expect some of that. How much? I have no idea, but $1,200 a year seems a VERY low estimate ($100 a month for lawn service/maintenance and association dues). So let’s throw another $36,000 in the pot, for a revised grand total of $584,850, all for a house that started with a $205,000 price tag.

Still with me? Now let’s compare this to an apartment. My rent will likely be a bit less than a mortgage payment, but just to be generous, let’s say I increase my standard of living throughout that 30 year period. Let’s use $800/month for five years, $1000/month for ten years, $1200/month for 15 years. That gives us $384,000.

Renter’s insurance will cost me about $120/year. Let’s use the same metric for judging this potential cost increase as we did for homeowner’s insurance, just to be fair (an 8% increase every 3 years). This puts us with a 30-year total of $5,205. Not too shabby. This boosts our total to $389,205.

With an apartment, we have no property tax, so nothing is added to our total. We also do not have homeowner’s association dues, maintenance fees, landscaping, yard service fees, remodeling, refurbishing, appliances, etc. Some eager beavers might beg their landlords to let them repaint, but let’s just say you’re content to call the manager when the toilet clogs and that’s it. You have no additional costs added to your total.

Let’s compare:

30 years of home ownership: $584,850

30 years of rental: $389,205

The renter saves $195,645 over 30 years.

Now, for those who say the benefit of buying is to have a rent-free place to live after their mortgage is paid, that $195,645 saved could either (a) buy a decent house in a lot of parts of the country, in cash, if that money were socked away over 30 years; or (b) pay for 13.5 additional years of rent at the $1200/month price.

If you buy a house when you are 30 and live there for 30 years, you are 60 when your rent-free livin’ kicks in. If you had rented those 30 years, your 13.5 free years would get you to age 73 and a half. Not too shabby. In those 43 years of renting, you would never have had to fix your own roof, toilet, stove, or refrigerator. You could save just as much, if not more, of your remaining paycheck as a homeowner could, giving you at least the same (if not more) savings to see you through from age 73 and a half to death.

Equity? Good luck getting that in today’s market, and good luck pulling it out of a bank when you want to use it. With markets tanking right and left, you can no longer count on an easy $30,000 whenever you feel like it. For that matter, good luck getting the steady 4% a year increase in value I projected to try and make my home’s value double just so I could BREAK EVEN on my investment.

And what happens if you want to move? If you rent, all you do is ride out your lease, and lose a portion of your deposit ($100? $200? Unless you let your dog crap on the carpet, you’ll probably get most of it back). If you own, you have to hope your home has appreciated enough to compensate for the commission you will need to pay an agent. After all, in some parts of the country (mine), agents will blackball “for sale by owner” homes, thus forcing you to pay them if you truly want to sell. Add in closing costs (full or partial, depending on your agreement with the buyer), and you might be even more screwed. Plus, if you want to buy again, you have to have another down payment…don’t tell me you didn’t save another $20,000 in between the insurance and property tax and general repairs?

So. We have established that renting does not flush money down the toilet…in fact, it saves you enough to buy a home, eventually, or rent 13.5 years longer for no extra cost. It allows you to move at will, without paying an agent $8,000 every time. It does not allow you to tear down walls and paint everything pink, but hey, if I want that, I can do it when I buy a house at age 60 with all the money I’ve saved in renting for 30 years.

So the next time I’m at a party and someone asks me why I don’t want to own a home, I will direct him or her to this blog posting and smile smugly. Then I will pay cash for the cosmetic surgery that erases my smug smile lines; after all, I’ve got $195,645 to burn.

 

Mama, Don’t Let Your Babies Grow Up To Be Copywriters February 15, 2009

Filed under: Do Re Me,Life, Whatnot,Write On — indiakonstanze @ 1:42 am

Let me share with you a typical day in the life of a copywriter.  If you were pondering this as a career field, I can tell you right now: stop.  You’d have to deal with shit like this:

The Life Cycle of a Corporate Advertising Email

Two weeks ago: Write email. Use company database for product info; told to write about a pant’s new spring colors.

Three days later: Rewrite email. Now told to write about two pants and their three lengths; no one cares about spring colors.

One day later: Rewrite email again. VP decided price point should be mentioned ($30) and headline should change because…oh hell, because it’s Tuesday.

One day later: Rewrite email yet again. VP decided model’s blouse needs to be mentioned, too. Let’s mention GDP of Uganda while we’re at it, just for the sake of completeness.

One day later: Proof email. Someone messed up the VP’s changes, marked on proof copy. Wonder how hard it is to look at black pen marks on paper and hit corresponding keys on keyboard. Anyone capable of downloading fart noise app for iPhone should be capable of this.

Friday morning: Receive summons from VP to discuss rewriting email again, along with internet marketing analyst (IMA) and product development woman (PDW). PDW now wants to talk about a buttload of things that are not in the database from which we are allowed to pull info (wrinkle resistance, new pockets, versatility, washability, etc.). Wonder why we have database in the first place since no one uses it but me; should eliminate this altogether and employ Dionne Warwick or Shirley MacLaine instead. They could probably just look at a photo of the pant and say, GODDAMN, NOW THAT IS SOME WRINKLE-RESISTANT SHIT AND THANK THE FUCK GOD THEY FINALLY ADDED POCKETS TO THAT BITCH.

Later Friday morning: Rewrite email for 4th time. Send copy to IMA; wait for new proof.

After lunch: See new proof with VP, IMA and PDW. Realize IMA has rewritten my rewritten copy, making it awkward and jumbled. Ask self why the fuck I even bother to come to work…why not just paste “your words here, you illiterate shit” into every blank page of every assignment.

PDW says we have to say “the GREENWICH fit” instead of “GREENWICH fit” because of how the phrase is trademarked; gee, it would have been nice to, um, I don’t know, LOOK THAT SHIT UP IN A DATABASE OR SOMETHING.

PDW wants to know why we mention “non-iron” before “machine washable” in bulleted list of features…does not make sense, she says, because no one irons before they wash. Was not aware features of shirt had to correspond with actual order of tasks necessary to clean said shirt.

PDW wants to know why we say “available in great new spring colors” without also listing standard boring-ass colors they always come in. Boring-ass colors not mentioned earlier, not in database, not the point, not important to anyone, but what the hell, let’s waste another 10 minutes of our lives talking about it.

PDW wants to know whether correct phrasing is 2-ply oxford cotton, 2-ply cotton oxford, or oxford 2-ply cotton. Average customer doesn’t even use 2-ply toilet paper; don’t think wording about yarn and weave is really going to resonate.

PDW wants to know why we mention “non-iron,” “machine washable,” and “special finish gives a just-pressed look right out of the dryer”; apparently unaware that each characteristic applies to a different household appliance. Invent one machine that does all three and you’ll get one friggin’ bullet point.

Finally: After hashing out every damn point until PDW is finished, sign off on final copy of email. Would sign a declaration of war with Iran if it meant getting that stupid email off my desk. All those man-hours for a three-line email that less than 2% of recipients will even open. Way to go, [company that will remain unnamed].  Keep on keepin’ on.

 

Meet Killer February 13, 2009

Filed under: Ruff Stuff — indiakonstanze @ 3:29 am
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Okay, let me introduce you to our official mascot.  His name is Killer, and he’s a Great Dane.  I’ve had him since he was about 5 weeks old, and he is a hoot.

He’s almost a year and a half old, and I think he’s reached his grown-up height and weight.  He’s only 130 pounds, which I think is kinda shrimpy for a Great Dane.  I feel a tad cheated because he’s basically girl-sized, and I wanted a freaking monster of a dog.  But he’s lovable and so much fun to run with.  I’m not completely heartless.

Killer’s likes include dairy products, hauling ass across the backyard, drooling, and hitting on other dudes at the dog park.  Killer’s dislikes include dry food without any wet food or milk mixed in, bedtime,

Hello! My name is Killer, and I'm the mascot around here.

Hello! My name is Killer, and I'm the mascot around here.

and any loud noise within a three mile radius.

He’s very skittish, and will run and hide in a corner if you shake a plastic bag at him.  Last night, he skedaddled across the kitchen when I shook a box of macaroni and cheese.  For some reason, he thinks it’s awesome to greet me by clamping his mouth down on my arm.  He’s not really comprehending my “no cashmere” clause.  We need to work on this.

Any other Dane owners out there?  What do your guys weigh?  Are they big Scooby-Doo-style chickens, too?

If you’re interested, check out what the AKC says about the Great Dane breed.

Or, check out Gibson, the world’s tallest dog.

 

Insert Catchy Title Here

Filed under: Do Re Me,Life, Whatnot — indiakonstanze @ 2:06 am
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So this is only my first blog…but it would be really cool to have an awesome first line.  No pressure or anything.

I had a farm in Africa…whoops, scratch that.  It wasn’t really a farm and I just took some pictures and left.

It was the best of times, it was the worst of times…except it’s not either (yet).

It is a fact universally acknowledged that a man in possession of…whoa, in possession of what?  Dude, you can get arrested for that.

Oh, forget it.  Let’s be real. The world is going to hell in a handbasket.  Life is hard.  In the immortal words of Mark Mallman, “I was looking for substance…but all I found were substances.”

So let’s just have some fun, okay?  More later when my dog isn’t trying to feast on my arm.