Dec 19, 2009

A Model Life

So I've been watching A Model Life with Petra Nemcova on YouTube (originally aired in 2007) over the last week. For the first couple episodes I felt "This is refreshing; what a realistic portrayal of the modeling industry." They don't try to embarrass the hopefuls. Everyone or no one could get a modeling contract at the end; there are no ridiculous elimination ceremonies. But as things progress, I find the show gets really depressing.

One of the best things about America's Next Top Model is the I-could-totally-do-that factor. Let's be honest, us ladies out there watching that show are full of thoughts like: "I'd pose like this and rock that set", "I can't believe that girl can't even pronounce that designer's name; if I were on the show, I could describe actual outfits from his last three years worth of collections", "She's doing well in the competition and I swear I'm prettier than her". Forget that. A Model Life is more like "She's taller than me by 3 inches and younger than me by six years and weighs less than me by 10 pounds and they're telling her that she'll never make it if she doesn't lose some weight." Welcome to the real world of modeling. I'm not surprised at all that A Model Life lasted one season and ANTM has been going for more than a decade now.

Also, I don't know why more people aren't saying this: Have you ever noticed that all the well-known models ("top" models, if you will) in this country are more the Victoria's Secret/Sports Illustrated types (Tyra Banks and Petra Nemcova included)? I can probably name twice as many models that have been on the VS runway than I could for all other runway shows combined and I follow the fashion industry more than the layperson. And yet the modeling competitions are always full of "I don't see her doing couture" "She needs to turn the sexiness down, she'll never be editorial posing like that", etc? That drives me nuts.

Dec 13, 2009

If you were given a bunch of money to start a business, what would it be?

Without doing any research on what the actual profitability would be, I'll base this on two factors: 1) how much fun it would be to do, and 2) my (probably skewed) perception of what the demand would be. Get this: a theme party planning business and/or party venue with costumes provided.

We all know I love dress-up theme parties. I know many of you do, too. However, those of us who have hosted dress-up theme parties can attest: the dress-up part makes some potential guests a little nervous and even deters some from attending. So how about this: the party planner not only hooks you up with decor and food and music and whatever else normal party planners do but also comes with racks of clothes in varying sizes and tables of accessories that fit the theme. Guests have full access to the goods PLUS advice from the party stylist (best job ever).

I'd start out with a couple themes and add new ones as the company expanded: Old South Plantation Ball, Victorian Era Garden Party, Roaring 20s Speakeasy, Roman Palace Feast, Wild West Saloon, Medieval Festival, 80s House Party, Pirates at Port, Old Hollywood Oscars Night, Masquerade at Versailles...oh the fun possibilities. Perhaps name each theme after a literary work or something ("Gone With the Wind", "The Importance of Being Earnest", "The Great Gatsby", etc.). A lot of the costumes could be used for multiple themes; a plethora of basic mens suits that could be accessorized in a variety of ways would be a necessity.

I originally got the idea thinking about those old timey photo places where anybody off the street can come in and dress up and get their picture taken in costume. Some sort of set for authentic-looking pictures would have to come with each party. And, of course, a small price to actually get a copy of the photo.

Those attending who enjoy putting together costumes themselves are of course welcome to come in their own outfits, though there will probably still be something for them in the dressing room. You may have the perfect dress for the event, but would you care to borrow this brooch or this hat or these gloves for the evening?

I've looked around to see if there are any companies out there that already do this and the only stuff I can really find are either murder mystery places (which I feel are different enough from us to not be much competition) or little girls birthday parties (princess parties, ballerina parties, that sort of thing). No competition either means I'm a genius or it's not a profitable business model. Since this all started with a hypothetical you're-given-a-bunch-of-money situation which will never happen anyway, let's go with the former.

Dec 7, 2009

Can you tell me who will still care?

Perhaps I'm biased toward my own generation, but I swear "MmmBop" by Hanson is way better than anything the Jonas Brothers have ever done. My trio of pop sensation brothers is better then yours.

And yes, that is the most important thing I've got to write after a month plus of no posting.

Oct 31, 2009

Julius!

So remember how sometime 3-4 months ago I told you that our fat orange wonderful cat Julius ran away? Wonder of wonder, miracle of miracles....Guess who showed up at our apartment Tuesday night!?

I'm pretty sure Whitney Houston was singing "I Will Always Love You" somewhere during the reunion of laughter and tears and purring and so much Julius affection.

He's really skinny (the once plump tummy is now concave) and has a few battle scars that weren't there before and his meow has gotten older somehow, but it's definitely him. And he's sitting on my lap right now pulling chunks of flesh out of my leg with his love claws. But I let him do it, because it makes him happy and I'm just so excited that he's home and alive and that I can fatten him up again and pet him and kiss him (he hates it but he loves it) and keep him warm and safe during the winter.

Tylor had predicted that Julius would come home once the first snow of the season fell, and I always felt it was wishful thinking and Julius was long gone, but I guess I should never give up hope on these things. Guess what else happened on Tuesday? The first snow of the season.

The kittens (who are getting bigger and bigger every day, but are still the kittens) aren't quite sure what to make of their new big brother. They don't get along particularly well: Julius seems to prefer a world where they leave him alone and he leaves them alone; they seem to prefer a world where they smell Julius every chance they get and swat at his tail whenever the opportunity arises. Tiberius has become protective of his cuddle time. If I'm petting him and Julius comes up, he'll hiss at him which is kind of cute because he's so brave to stand up to Julius who is still huge comparatively, but I would of course prefer that we all cuddle together. Fidel is a little terrified of Julius, who has beat him up on a few occasions over the past days (no major fights, but enough to make sure Fidel knows his place), but Fidel also idolizes Julius. The wonder on his little panther kitten face when he watches Julius jump onto counters he could only dream of reaching or open up cupboards when he wishes he knew how is so adorable.

The Catch:

We are only allowed to have less than or equal to two pets at our apartment. While it's fairly likely that we could get away with having all three without getting caught, there is a $2000 fine if you are caught with an unauthorized pet (ridiculous, I know, but it is on a contract that I signed so I have to live with that), and that's too much of a risk to be worth it. It's heart-wrenching to break up our family when it's just been made whole again (or more whole...I still wish Lyric were here, too), and I don't want to have to pick a cat to get rid of. I love them all so much. It probably makes the most sense to give away Julius because Tiberius and Fidel get along so well and they're who we've grown accustomed to having, but it still breaks my heart. And where could he go? If any of you reading this would be interested in or know anybody who would be interested in giving my Julius a good home, please let me know. If you'd like, it could be a temporary thing: our contract in the current apartment is up in six months and if we could find somewhere where we can have three cats after we live here, we'd be happy to take him back. Please let me know if any of you have any ideas.

Oh my sweet Julius kitty.

And since it is Halloween, but a kitty post, I'll end with what I would dress up each of the cats as for the holiday if I could only get them to wear anything:

Julius - Firefighter
Tiberius - Bumblebee
Fidel - 30s era Gangster

Oct 11, 2009

So I checked my personal email today...

and was shocked to discover that apparently I haven't been on there in a little over a month. Tons of unread messages. Sorry to those of you who try to contact me there. I just keep forgetting it exists. I spend very little time on a computer outside of work and when I'm at work I'm working. I'll clean it up today.

Sep 20, 2009

Twitter Post

Each bullet point contains 140 characters or less:
  • I feel like an old fogey when people talk about Twitter. "Who needs/wants that kind of new-fangled I'm-so-in-touch-ness?
  • The commercials for Apple Jacks where the main point was "They don't taste like apples?": Did those convince anyone to buy Apple Jacks?
  • Long ago, a French class spent a day listening to NPR so Mme Sacco could hear her name as a donor. Only time I enjoyed pledge drive season.
  • Becca, upon meeting Fidel: "Perfect name! He looks just like the cat from Pinocchio!" The cat from Pinocchio's name: Figaro. Silence from me.
  • Even in this format, It's hard to avoid bullet points like "Mm...pop tart" or "It sure is hot for September". Update for the sake of update.
  • Am I a terrible person if I give a good reference for an employee because I want him to get a new job so I don't have to deal with him?
  • Science Friday is the worst day of the week.
  • Limiting to 140 characters is harder than expected. But still a fun challenge. And I have yet to use "4" for "for" or any of that crap.
  • The editing skills I'm practicing will help with writing [Next Great American Novel]. My Biggest Writing Weakness: I'm an over-explain-er.
  • Though sometimes things are lost in the quest for ≤140 characters. I really wanted to use the phrase "predilection for over-explanation" in the last one, but couldn't make it fit.
  • And now, of course, I'm cheating by stringing "tweets" together that would normally be in the same paragraph.

Sep 11, 2009

Promotion Day

You are reading the blog of the new call center manager of the esteemed establishment I work for. Moving on up. Woot!

And on this same day, Trevor was promoted from supporting dial-up to supporting broadband, which hopefully means the people he'll be working with won't be quite as technologically behind the times.

One of my first tasks in my new position would have been to conduct a job interview for a prospective new collector, but we got a call from his father this morning saying he died of a drug overdose. Promising beginnings.

Sep 8, 2009

Kitty News

So in kitty news: Julius has been missing for a while now. Maybe I'm just a terrible cat mother? It's even more devastating than Lyric missing. Trevor and I have had Julius since before we were married. With his big lion paws and soft proud chest. I love Julius.

But we have acquired a new kitten. He is gray and white with black-man-hair-texture fur and a serious face. His name is Fidel. And he and Tiberius have kitten battles all day long and are great pals. I love Fidel.

Tiberius is getting really big. I didn't realize until we got Fidel how he's turning into a little cat instead of a kitten. Tiberius is at least twice as big as Fidel. He's getting close to cat puberty, so it's time to get the little guy neutered. We have an appointment for next Monday. I love Tiberius.

Sep 3, 2009

Coming Soon...

I promised Trapper that I would post yesterday and didn't, so I'm a terrible person. Every blogger has that person who is their "you need to post again" conscience, and Trapper is mine.

The excuses: I'm too busy to post at work and I rarely get computer time at home.

But it'll happen. Some sort of new post. The first step is recognizing you have a problem so I've at least gotten that far.

Aug 26, 2009

Huh.

I'm feeling a lot sadder about Ted Kennedy's death than I thought I would. Huh.

Aug 10, 2009

Alabamians and all the rest of those Get-Rich-Quick Dial-Up Users

I work in the online payday loan industry. Let me first of all say that I have respect for our customers and all ribbing is done in good fun. However, a good chunk of our clientele happens to consist of people from the South named Lawquinda.

My darling husband Trevor does tech support for dial-up users (aka people from the South with names like Twaquiqua), so he can relate (and even top a good deal of my stories).

Basically, our livelihood depends upon these people:



Coworker Emilie: "We should change our website to something a little more appealing to our clientele, like getyocash.com."

Needless to say, the rest of the day was spent trying to say "Get Yo' Cash, this is Emilie" in our most professional phone voices without cracking up.

Jul 30, 2009

Book Cart Drill Team Champ

Thank you All Things Considered, for giving me a really really good reason to be a librarian.

I can't decide if my favorite quote from the story is "Our carts at home don't do wheelies as well as the models we use here. These are full-competition models." or "There's a stereotype that librarians are boring. And I think they want to change that stereotype to 'librarians are crazy.' "

Dear my family,

I think we should all become librarians, because we would totally rock this competition. I know you agree. Thank you.

Love, Andrea

Jul 27, 2009

ANTM Dreaming

So I had this dream last night that I was on America's Next Top Model and they kept forgetting my wardrobe and makeup and stuff so everyone elses' pictures where all awesome and mine were just me standing there. But I somehow got to the top five anyway (and probably would've done even better if my alarm didn't go off during judging).

Anyway, I told a couple of my coworkers about it this morning and the response was "Do you watch that show 24/7 or what?" And then they related to me two other dreams I'd told them about ANTM in the last month. I had forgotten about both of them. Now I'm a little embarrassed.

Whatever, they won't be laughing when Tyra Banks crowns me America's Next Top Model.

Jul 23, 2009

Bureaucracy Sucks

For as long as I've known Trevor, he's been getting a monthly payment from the federal government, courtesy of the SSI program. This check has helped us out with rent and other expenses quite nicely and I've always been grateful for it.

I used to feel a little guilty about it because we weren't in Desperate Need, but I realized that I never felt wronged paying for the program with my taxes prior to meeting Trevor and we do have extra expenses due to his disability and there are jobs he could never get because of his disability, so...I suppose it's a fair program.

Anyway, the month of July rolls up and...no deposit. Figuring there was some sort of technical error, we call them up and "Yeah, you owe us $7000+." Apparently Trevor hasn't been qualified for SSI for nearly a year (makes too much money, I guess), but they didn't catch it until this month. It may somehow be our fault, but as far as I know, we've done everything we should have and filled out all the forms correctly and who keeps paying someone for so long for so much without just stopping the payment? And then stops it with no warning?

A couple days ago we got a letter in the mail that basically said "Send us a money order for $7000 and we'll call it even". Yeah, since we have that. Like we've ever had that much money at once. Not that we're going to go to jail or anything, they're fairly lenient about paying back, but most likely we won't be seeing a tax return for many years to come.

Anyway, this is just a frustrated rant. Good ol' government.

Note: I was *this* close to titling this post "And You Want These Guys To Run Our Health Care System?", but decided it wasn't entirely fair. I've heard plenty of horror stories of equal or greater value about private health insurance companies and/or private health care providers. The trouble with all of these systems is that they require humans to run things and humans don't do things 100% correct all of the time. Heck, even machines that run things don't do things 100% correct all of the time. Bureaucracy sucks.

Jul 11, 2009

Hair Help

I need to do something with my hair. It sits about 1-inch below my shoulders and is utterly shapeless. The goal is to go longer, so I don't want to take much length off, just shape it up into something that makes sense. I keep thinking layering things up will do the trick, but I have this dreadful fear that I'll end up with the Jennifer Aniston haircut we all sported during the 90s. I've also been thinking about some sort of loose perm for months now, so maybe this would be the time to go for that. Anyway, since hairstyle brainstorming is something that should be shared with friends, I'm enlisting your help. Any suggestions, helpful pictures, etc. are encouraged. Thank you.

Oh, and for the record, I have longish bangs these days, which are pretty flexible (the standard in-the-face bang, the piece-y in-the-face bang, the sideswept band, the slicked back and not really there bang, etc...I kind of do them all), so those will need to be taken into consideration.

Jul 3, 2009

Welcome Tiberius

Since the disappearance of Lyric, our family has been short a kitty and feeling it, so we decided it is time to get a new cat. After looking around a bit, we found the one for us, and he is, I am convinced, the cutest kitten of all time. He's sitting on my lap and playing with the tie to my pajama pants as I write this.

He's just two months old and cycles rather rapidly from super energetic/playful to super sleepy/cuddly. He's a longhair seal point of some sort with blue eyes and little lynx tufts at the tips of his ears. And he has the tiniest little meow and purr. He's adorable. I'll get some pictures of him up here sometime if I can ever figure out how to get pictures to the computer from my phone (my only camera) (I spent at least an hour trying to do that back on the post about Lyric missing, as I have some great pictures of Lyric there, but it ended with no fruit and a lot of tears).

We named our new kitty Tiberius after discussing a number of Roman names (to match our other cat, Julius). ("I like Tiberius." Tiberius was not a popular emporer. What a moody guy." "Well at least it's better than Caligula or something." "Whatever, Tiberius practically made Caligula into what he was, killing his whole family and introducing him to a world of decadence and vice at a very early age." "He wasn't all bad, though.") We liked the ring to it, and decided he's named after James Tiberius Kirk, rather than Tiberius the Roman emperor because Captain Kirk is a better man than Tiberius was. The deal was sealed by making his full name Tiberius Kirk Kelley. My brother-in-law Tylor lives with us, so they are Big Ty and Little Ty. Tiberius also answers to Tae Bo.

Julius has moved from hatred to annoyance to tolerance of Tiberius in the few days we've had him, so we hope that the chain will continue from tolerance to acceptance to friendship. He didn't get along with Lyric for the first week or so that we had him, but they soon after became good pals, so we expect that will be the same story here. When Tiberius first met Julius, he immediately ran up and nuzzled the heck out of Julius' legs (most likely Tiberius hasn't dealt with cats that aren't his littermates before, so he probably expected all cats to be nice) which was so cute except that Julius hissed and swatted at him in return. Tiberius now struggles with his desire for Julius' affection and his fear of him. He'll follow Julius all over the house, but will turn and run when Julius notices. Yesterday, though, there were a few very cute minutes when Tiberius decided that Julius' tail would be a fun thing to pounce on repeatedly and Julius just lay there contentedly taking it, so I expect things will be just fine in their relationship.

Speaking of those quick cycles, the kitty who was playing with my pants tie and who I couldn't keep off the keyboard when I started writing this is now sleeping in my lap. Man, he's so fluffy and tiny. I love him.

Jun 25, 2009

Rest In Peace, Michael Jackson

Farrah Fawcett's death would have been a huge story if it hadn't been completely overshadowed.

If only Anna Nicole Smith had chosen today to die...

Jun 20, 2009

Garden Party Failure

June 13th -- fabulous party scheduled, but postponed due to rain.

June 20th -- fabulous party rescheduled, but canceled due to rain.

And this week we're moving to an apartment in Orem and will no longer have a yard. Such a shame.

Why is it that ever since it's been warm out, the weather has been gorgeous all week, but then pours on the weekends?

Jun 18, 2009

Come Home Kitty...please

My cat Lyric has been missing for about a week now. It's really quite distressing for me, Trevor, and our other cat Julius. We've asked around the neighborhood, checked the local animal shelter, worriedly scanned the roadkill on nearby streets and no sign of him. I bought new kitty toys and cat food bowls and kitty treat food hoping that it would entice him home (I know he has no way of knowing that, but I'm not a rational person when it comes to my cats). He goes on outdoor kitty adventures from time to time, but he's never been gone for more than a couple days before.

Lyric is such a good cat. He's beautiful and has so much personality. And lets me hold him like a baby. And has wolf fur. And meows like he's been smoking for 30 years. And he's so affectionate. And I just love him. He's an important part of our little family. I've been crying too much lately, worried about him.

If he doesn't come home by the end of the month, we'll probably get another cat, which will be nice, but nobody can replace Lyric. Such a sweet cat. And if he never shows up and we never know why he disappeared, I'll forever explain it with a vision of an old lady taking him in. This old lady has grandchildren who visit frequently who love to play with and pet Lyric and they spoil him with all the people food he wants and she doesn't mind when he climbs up on the keyboard, which for some reason is his favorite place in the house to lie...he is happy there and it will be okay.

Jun 12, 2009

Engineering Challenge!

So today at my work, we did the following team-building exercise:

In 15 minutes, use these ingredients to assemble the tallest tower you can (three or four people per team; no added support from walls or ceilings or people) :

15 - standard popsicle sticks
12 - skewers (10"-ish)
10 - wood clothes pins
10 - rubber bands
10 - pipe cleaners
6 - 3" cubes of floral foam
6 - styrofoam bowls
5 - styrofoam cups
2 - standard containers of Playdough
1 - roll of duct tape


Since I am who I am (my engineer father's daughter), I took this task very seriously and was disappointed when at the end, my team's tower toppled over before measuring took place. The highest point in the rubble measured 8.5", so that was our finishing score. The winning team's tower was 96". Me and one of my coworkers decided to take our 15-minute break immediately afterward and attempted to assemble what we thought the winning tower would be (key to our plan: more duct tape than anything else), but at the end of our break we were only about halfway through the planned construction so that kind of failed.

So now I'm leaving it up to you. I triple-dog-dare you to build a better tower than the winning team. Perhaps as a FHE activity or a weekend activity with friends. You probably don't even have to buy all of the ingredients; I don't think any of the teams ended up using the Playdough. And then send me a picture and I'll show my boss and lie and say I did it. Because I'm ashamed of my failed attempts.

May 31, 2009

How To Dress For A Garden Party

As a lover of themed parties, I am very excited for the garden fĂȘte I'll be hosting in a couple weeks. However, some of my potential guests have already expressed the age-old question "But what will I wearrrrr!?" For those of you experiencing trepidation about this, I present:

A Tutorial

Garden parties have long been a way for sophisticated people to entertain guests while showing off the grounds on their estate and wearing fabulous outfits. Since the grounds of my estate consist of a average-sized lawn in average condition and one flowering bush that technically belongs to the backyard neighbor (that I'm praying is still in healthy-looking bloom by the time of the party), the fabulous outfit part is of utmost importance. The rules are fairly simple: dress up and dress for the summery outdoors. From there you can go a lot of different directions. (Another rule I would like to add is: wear something you wouldn't wear normally. It'll make it more fun, I promise.)

As garden parties have been around so long, every generation has it's own take on costume. Since I expect many outfit pieces will be coming from thrift stores, and as everyone has their own particular favorite styles, all eras are acceptable. Take your inspiration from whatever suits your fancy (and whatever you have the pieces for). Be Emma Woodhouse at a garden party. Be Scarlett O'Hara at a garden party. Be Daisy Buchanan at a garden party. Be Jackie Kennedy at a garden party. Whatever suits your fancy. (Men can similarly be Mr. Knightly, Rhett Butler, Jay Gatsby, Jack Kennedy.) I personally will be wearing a dress my mother bought for a dance in the late 70s/early 80s sometime, but it has a kind of turn-of-the-century feel to it (no more detail than that, it's a fantastic piece and worth coming to the party to see). Have fun with it.

Women

Wearing a dress is expected, though if you want to be the girl that rocks a white pantsuit or something, more power to you. Light fabrics (in color and weight) are recommended, as it will be warm out, but don't limit yourself if you are in love with that navy dress. When looking for a dress, feminine details like lace, ruffles, and ribbons are a good idea. I know you all have at least one outfit you wear to church or weddings or such in the summertime, so if you don't have the time/money to go all out, that outfit will be fine (particularly when paired with some good accessories).

The key to doing this right is accessories. Hats and/or parasols will help protect your complexion from the sun and add a unmistakable air of refinement to your ensemble (a slide show of appropriate and inappropriate hats here). Fans, gloves, brooches, handkerchiefs, etc. will also be excellent additions to your look. A collage of some appropriate accessories:

Men

Men should probably wear a suit. If not, then perhaps a dress shirt with a vest or sweater. Classic suit pieces can be worked into various personas: the prep student, the country gentleman, the old-school gangster, the barbershop quartet guy(?). Do what feels right to you. As with the women, fabrics should be light in color and weight (all of you who spent $1000+ on a designer white linen suit once and then never really had on occasion to wear it, here's your chance, you can thank me later). Ties and hats are definitely a good way to give your outfit a little flair. There are numerous options out there for ties and hats, so have fun with it. You may not, however, wear a piano key tie or one of those hats with a little spinner on top. If you show up in either, you will be forced to sit in a timeout corner while everyone else sips their mint juleps and gossips about you (in the most genteel way we can manage: "Harold has rather let himself go since Evelyn left." "It comes down to bad breeding, I say") . Other appropriate accessories include: handkerchiefs, canes, pocket watches, cuff links.

Follow these rules and this could be you:


Additional Tips and Inspirational Photos

Don't be afraid of lots of white. Labour Day is months off:

Do reconnaissance at other garden parties if you have the chance. Me and Extraordinarily-Well-Dressed Guy at a recent garden party (the party was pretty terrific; mine will be better):
Wear something you can move in somewhat for croquet and badminton. The Most Awesome Badminton Outfit Ever:

I hope this is helpful. See you at the party! (Note: if anyone reading this wants to attend, will be in the area on June 13th, and didn't get an invitation via facebook, let me know and I'll give you details.)

May 30, 2009

In Defense of the Payday Loan Industry

NOTE: SHORT TERMS LOANS PROVIDE THE CASH NEEDED TO MEET IMMEDIATE SHORT-TERM CASH FLOW PROBLEMS. THEY ARE NOT A SOLUTION FOR LONGER TERM FINANCIAL PROBLEMS FOR WHICH OTHER KINDS OF FINANCING (SUCH AS CREDIT CARDS, AN OVERDRAFT LOAN OR A LOAN FROM FRIENDS OR FAMILY) MAY BE MORE APPROPRIATE AND AFFORDABLE. YOU MAY WANT TO DISCUSS YOUR FINANCIAL SITUATION WITH A NONPROFIT CREDIT COUNSELING SERVICE AVAILABLE TO CONSUMERS EXPERIENCING FINANCIAL PROBLEMS IN YOUR COMMUNITY.

I've spent about 25% of my adult life working in the payday loan industry and am pretty much used to it by now: "So what do you do for a living?...oh, well, uh, hope you feel good about that." I hear it from my own coworkers fairly frequently: "I can't believe these people don't realize how much we're screwing them over." Yes, that is me, I take advantage of poor people who are lured in by the promise of quick cash and then are overwhelmed with 700%, 800%, 900% interest. I'm a loan shark. I'm a terrible person. I should probably switch to something more moral, like dealing heroin.

Anyway, I'd like to set the record straight for anyone out there judging me (yes, President Obama, that includes you and your support of the proposed 36% APR interest cap...since you totally read my blog...):

Let's consider, for a moment, a man named Harold. Harold works hard to feed/shelter/entertain himself and his family, and is generally able to do so, but rarely has anything left over by the next paycheck. Harold runs into some sort of financial emergency: an unexpected medical bill, a car repair bill, a check deposited from a while ago that he had forgotten he wrote. Whatever the case my be, he needs money immediately and won't have anything until his next paycheck, 12 days from now. He doesn't have any friends or family members who can afford to loan him the money. He only needs $200-$500 to get him through, and banks don't really give out loans that small. What is he supposed to do?

Whatever the case may be, thousands, if not millions, of Americans live paycheck to paycheck like Harold, and most run into financial emergencies at some point. For some it's their own fault, for others it's not, but the fact of the matter is they are there and and no increase in minimum wage or other government intervention I can think of will ever change that fact. What are these people supposed to do?

Now, let's go to a company called Hip Hip Hurray Early Payday (you would not believe how many hypothetical company names I made up before finding one that didn't turn out to already be a real company). This company has acquired some money and decided to divide it up into $300 lumps to give out small payday loans. The goal is to make money for the company, but not charge too much that they don't have any customers. The costs of marketing, credit checks and manual underwriting that goes into each loan before it is ever funded is about $60 (the amount varies somewhat from company to company on this, depending on how careful they are about who to fund loans to and how large the company is, but from my experience and research, $60 is fairly typical). So to be breaking even on a $300 loan for two weeks, the APR would need to be 520% ($60 times 26 two-week periods in a year divided by $300). A little higher than 36%, yes?

Except there is another factor: payday loans are high risk loans. A rather high percentage (it would be compromising to share statistics from the companies I've worked for, and I'm not really sure what industry average is, but let's just say you would likely be surprised at how high it is) of the loans that Hip Hip Hurray gives out never pay back even the full $300. So, unfair as it may be, in order to provide the service they do, the people who do pay back the loans have to cover the funds lost from the people who don't pay. So the APR would need to be higher than the 520% we already calculated to be breaking even. And obviously to be making a profit, it would need to go up from there.

Granted, many people don't pay off the loan in full on their first payday and pay more interest as they extend the loan, so Hip Hip Hurray can perhaps afford to go a little lower on the fees there. Some people think it's wrong to count on people not being able to pay off their loan in time in order to make any profit, but that's how the majority of financial institutions in this world work (banks, credit card companies, etc.) so Hip Hip Hurray is not too torn up about it. Virtually nobody takes a full year to pay off a payday loan, so for those who think that 800% APR means that someone getting a $300 loan is paying back $2400, that's just ridiculous. We're really not that terrible.

If our pal Harold decides to get a payday loan to make ends meet and has been smart about planning how quickly he will pay it off, it is quite likely that he will end up being charged less from Hip Hip Hurray Early Payday than he would be from his bank if his financial emergency causes a few NSF charges (not to mention it looks better for his credit to have received a loan and paid it off rather than to have gone in the hole with his bank). And it's entirely possible that his payday loan has saved him from future financial trouble that would be worse than the interest he will pay. I've heard many stories from people I'm funding loans to (because of the stigma attached to the deal, I think a lot of people feel like they need to justify why they're doing it to the company they're getting a loan from) about how they would loose their job if they can't pay to fix their car to get to work or how they would have to pay an insanely high re-turn-on charge if their utilities get turned off because they couldn't pay the bill...that sort of thing. It can be worth your money to get the loan in a number of situations.

So basically moral of the story: I'm not destroying peoples lives constantly at my job. I'm providing a unique service and charging what I feel are reasonable rates for it. If you still have a problem with it, I'd actually love to hear what you think, as I'd hopefully have an answer and can add another bit to my "payday loans aren't pure evil" speech that I give from time to time to friends and coworkers. And if I don't have an answer for it and discover the error of my ways...so be it. It'll be easy to find another, more fulfilling job right? Right?

May 24, 2009

I Love My Mom (two weeks too late)

I am incredibly blessed to be a part of the family that I am in. And one of the top reasons that my family is so awesome: my incredible mother. It's kind of a cliche concept, but I'll say it anyway because it's just so dang true: The older I get, the more I realize how much my mother has done for me over the years. And so, here is the post I meant to write on Mother's Day, but didn't really get to until today.

A Few Reasons My Mother is Awesome (incomplete list; no particular order):
  • Mom has always encouraged music in our home. She taught me how to play piano. She has attended about every band and orchestra concert I and my siblings have participated in (which is a lot). She has purchased so many instruments and music accessories and driven her children to so many lessons and practices over the years. She participates whole-heartedly in the sing-a-long fests that occur rather often in the car and at the dinner table in my family. Music has brought so much joy into my (and the rest of my family's) life and the time and enthusiasm Mom put into bringing it into our home has made that possible.
  • My mother has spent countless hours of her life up late helping make costumes and science fair boards and a variety of other projects for her children. Some of my favorite childhood memories come from those late nights with me and Mom up late, a little slaphappy, and making petit fours for French class or whatever. I admire her willingness to sacrifice and be there for her children with whatever they are doing.
  • Mom is one of the most kindhearted people I have ever met. To everybody. In kind of an odd way, living with her kindness has made me a much more open-minded person than I think I would be without it. She has a hard time with being critical of people, so I grew up hearing over and over things like "He's a good man, just doesn't understand...", "I'm sure she's doing what she thinks is right", "You don't know why he choose that, perhaps [insert explanation that paints him the the best light here]". And she's always on the lookout for ways to help the people around her. She's a good woman like that.
  • I can never doubt my mother's love for me. How excited she gets when I'm on the phone or visiting makes me feel like the most special person in the world.
  • My mother is also a smart woman. My father is more of an intellectual than she is, so I think growing up I didn't recognize this as much as I should have (don't worry Mom, I never thought you were dumb or anything, I just didn't always have as much respect for your intelligence as I do now). But she knows her stuff. She can hold her own in conversations about a wide variety of topics and loves to learn. She always fostered learning in our home and these days is a little bit of a look-it-up-online junkie whenever she doesn't know something, which is awesome.
  • I love Mom's ability to laugh at herself. She can be really hilarious when embarrassed and I think it's a terrific quality.
Anyway, I know most everyone thinks their mom is great, but I just love mine, thank you for indulging me. I admire so much about her and am grateful that she's been there for me my whole life. I can only hope to be as good of a mother as she is someday.

May 10, 2009

A Letter To The Producers of the English Language

To whom it may concern:

I have been using your product for my entire life (minus the while before I was trained in its use and a few semesters in Mme Sacco's class) and want to let you know that I'm quite pleased with it. It has met or exceeded my needs in nearly every occasion I've used it. However, I have a couple suggestions for the next patch you release:

1) Could you please make a short, one- or two-syllable word for "writing utensil"? I've brought this one up with my friends and family several times over the years, and we all agree that it's definitely in order. It would save us all the unnecessary conversation: "Can I borrow a pen?" "Is a pencil okay?". And I think you would find supporters of this in the marker and crayon industries, as their products are rarely requested for a writing utensil, but would fall under the category of the word you would create, and probably see more usage after its release.

2) I would also like to see a stronger, more positive adjective for someone who does everything with great care. You may have something like this, but I've been trying to think of one for a good long while (as it would be very useful when describing my cat, Julius) and can't think of anything. The only words I can think of for someone who thinks everything through thoroughly before acting or speaking have connotations of weakness, indecisiveness, fear. "Careful", "tentative", "wary", "cautious"...all great words, but none are quite what I'm looking for. And "thoughtful" has another meaning and may get confusing. There is an aspect of intelligence that this quality can signify, but there aren't really any words with that connotation. I'd appreciate one, and I'm sure plenty more of your consumers would find good uses for it.

Thank you for your time. Please feel free to contact me if you have any questions.

Sincerely,


Andrea
American Fork, UT

P.S. Not that this is why I'm writing, but I know that generally when people write into a company like this, they'll get sent coupons or samples, so I've attached a list of words and phrases I commonly use and don't need any more of. Also, I'd like to mention that I'm a huge fan of old-fashioned words/phrases and would greatly appreciate a life-time subscription to a Victorian exclamation or a Shakespearean insult or something along those lines.

May 7, 2009

Dangerous Dears

I love looking at classifieds. Even when I'm really happy with my employment, I will look through job postings about once a week. Even though I know I can't afford to buy a house at this point in my life, I will spend a hours every month looking at houses for sale all over the country (a typical project: Do research on weather, culture and such in Portland. Once Portland passes the test, set a price limit. Do research on the pros and cons of different parts of the city. Find the best house.)

But there is: one part of the classifieds that I must avoid. I want them all. Please.

Apr 22, 2009

Happy Earth Day Presents The Most Ridiculous Slate Environment Articles

I spend a fair amount of my internet free time at slate.com. I enjoy Slate because they tend to have interesting, informative articles about a wide variety of subjects and a high percentage of question-format headlines that are highly enticing to the inquisitive mind ("Why isn't there an iTunes for movies?" "It's 2009. Can a movie journalist still save the day?", "Why does Obama want us to forget about torture so quickly?", "How impressed should I be by Susan Boyle's vibrato?", etc., etc., etc.).

However, a certain department of the magazine, The Green Lantern, drives me completely mad. I am part of the Captain Planet generation and care about the environment as much as the next person, but you would not believe some of the articles they come up with. Things you would never think about the environmental impact of are scrutinized with such rigor that you're left amazed...who are these eco-nerds? The worst part is, there is rarely a conclusive verdict, so at the end you just kind of feel guilty about every option. Nothing humans do is 100% environment friendly. But the most overwhelming feeling is...who writes this stuff? And who reads it?

I have never, ever met anyone who micro-manages their life to maximize their ecofriendlyness. With the big stuff (how is my house powered? my car?), the environment at least gets a nod, but even then is not a deal-breaking factor. Granted, I live in Utah and it's not exactly the most concerned-about-the-environment place on earth, but still.

So today, on this Earth Day, I present to you the top ten most ridiculous Green Lantern articles:

Vegans vs. Vegitarians - Which is Better for the Environment?

Are Hardwood Floors a Crime Against The Earth?

Is Cash Better for the Environment than Credit Cards?

How to Send Flowers Without Destroying the Earth

How to Leave an Environmentally Friendly Corpse


Is Your Netflix Queue Destroying the Environment?

What Kind of Tree Should I Plant in My Backyard to Soak Up the Most Carbon?


Can Fun-Size Candy Bars Be Good For the Environment?

Are Revolving Doors More Energy Efficient? What About the Ones That Turn Automatically?

What's the Greenest Form of Birth Control?


I especially love the alarmist words: "destroying the environment" "crime against the Earth". You people with Netflix subscriptions and oak flooring in your houses might as well change your name to Hoggish Greedly. So terrible.

--------------------------------------------------------

Earth Day Trivia: When I was looking up the spelling for Hoggish Greedly for this post, I discovered that most of the eco-villains on Captain Planet were voiced by pretty big celebrities: Dr. Blight was originally voiced by Meg Ryan. Sly Sludge was originally voiced by Martin Sheen. Verminous Skumm was Jeff Goldblum. Zarm was Sting. Crazy, huh?

Apr 13, 2009

Happy Day After Easter / Every Now And Then I Fall Apart

How I Spent My Easter

While perhaps not the most fitting celebration of the Resurrection of Christ, Easter in our household mostly consisted of Mike and Trevor sneaking around the house and shooting each other with the dart guns that they got in their Easter baskets. Since this was Mike and Trevor, this involved a lot of elaborate scheming and the acting out of various male gun fantasies (sci-fi setting with laser guns, mafia hit men, cowboy duels, etc.). Brittany and I helped with the retrieving of ammo, the scheming ("Hey, could you help me for a second, I promise Trevor's not in here....Ahhahaha, he is in here!"), and were often held as hostages ("Do you want me to shot this woman?! Step closer and I'll do it!"). It was altogether a fine way to spend a Sunday afternoon.

Also we had an Easter Feast at the in-laws, that somehow turned into me and my mother-in-law singing the full Saturday's Warrior soundtrack while the rest of the family stared at us blankly and/or begged for us to shut up. It was altogether a find way to spend a Sunday evening.

Thoughts On Break-Up Songs


The man who owned my truck before I did was a very old man and he left in the stereo a very-old-man CD that Trevor and I enjoy listening to from time to time. Most of the music on it is from the late 40s/early 50s (a lot of Perry Como, etc.), and the few songs that are more modern are, well...the Carpenters.

Anyway, this morning I was driving to work and decided to listen to the CD rather than my usual public radio regimen (why I choose this morning instead of every single morning during the recent pledge week, I don't know). During the Carpenter's rendition of "Superstar", I had an inexplicable attack of sadness. A moment of introspection revealed the source of this sadness: I had never listened to this song during a break-up and here I am married and I never plan on having a break-up again. But the song would be so good for it. "Don't you remember you told me you loved me baby?" I know it sucks and I know that any of you currently going through a break-up want to punch me in the face for saying it, but man, heartbreak is an amazing emotional experience.

Music is never truly appreciated until listened to after a hard break-up. I don't care how cheesy that sounds, because it's true. You have not been truly human until you have bitterly sung along to the Whitney Houston version of "I Will Always Love You" after having your heart broken. Or something equivalent.

Certain people (males) have an alternate version of this which involves angry, Rage Against the Machine type stuff, but I refuse to believe that it has the same redeeming power as "Alone" by Heart.

It is very nice being in a very secure relationship, and I certainly wouldn't trade it for the oppotunity to sing "Unbreak My Heart" and feel it, but I'm just saying, enjoy those moments when you have them. It's a worthwhile experience. I will always love the Format's Dog Problems album for getting me through a summer of heartbreak. And music's a much healthier outlet than the ice cream or alcohol or whatever kids do these days plans.

Mar 28, 2009

Dreams

I had a dream about make-up shopping on Tuesday and another one last night, so today I went make-up shopping.

Somewhere out there, William Lauder and Bobbi Brown are laughing maniacally and congratulating each other on the success of their neurotransmitter.

Mar 20, 2009

Drinking the Lake We're Drowning In

One thing that has always been hard for me to handle is knowing that I will never be able to do or learn all the things I want to do in life. I will never be fluent in every language; it's unlikely I'll ever be fluent in more than English. My house will never be 100% clean and organized; I can't even stay on top of the dishes most days. I will never understand entirely the politics and economies and cultures of the various nations of the world regardless of the effort I put into learning as much as I can about that sort of thing. I will never read every book that would be interesting and/or useful to have read. And thinking about what I don't know about the sciences is too frustrating to bother with. I just want to meet every person who has ever lived on earth, have a good long discussion with them about their life and all the wisdom and knowledge they have acquired over it's course and experience everything they've experienced (skipping over parts that involve physical pain, of course; there are some things I don't care if I ever experience, and what it feels like to have your fingernails pulled off in a Vietnamese prison camp is one of them, thank you). After that, can someone please explain to me how everything that humans don't understand yet works? (Side note: Notice how people always throw a "yet" into a statement about the limits of human knowledge? I love that.)

I have to believe in life and learning after death. I'd go completely mad without it.

Mar 11, 2009

I'm still alive.

Work keeps me really busy, but I love my job. Minus overbearing perfume lady.

Life is good. Just living it...I don't really have much to say, but feel guilty when I don't update. Not that I should.

So...uhh...CUTE KITTEN:
Time for Papa John's.

Feb 22, 2009

Update #280

It has been a few weeks, so here are the exciting things that have happened since last post:

1. We spent Valentine's weekend in Vegas with some friends. 88% of the trip was spent with Chad (who goes by Kain, but I think that's stupid, so I'm calling him Chad) driving around saying "I know where it is; we just need to turn around here...oh no, that's not it, let's go back...no, hold on, I know where it is..." Nonetheless, it was a good time. We ate some delicious food, stayed in a trippy hotel that I'm pretty sure is haunted (The Artisan), and did some fabulous shopping with money we didn't have.

2. I bought a truck a couple weeks ago. It's an ugly baby blue '86 (same age as me!) (also the song, "Walk Like an Egyptian"!) Nissan pickup and I love it. Having your own means of transportation that is not walking is the greatest thing of all time. Those of you that live in the area and have need for a truck to help move things sometime, give me a call. The years of bumming rides need to be paid back.

3. A week ago, I busted my manager at work for embezzlement. This is by far the most exciting thing that has ever happened in my work experience. He, who I will hereafter refer to as "Justin Berry" because that's his name, was funding loans to his own accounts. Under my name. Yes, friends, Justin would log into our software as me whenever he was doing something illegal. Luckily, I was the one that first brought this to the owner's attention and luckily he did some of his "work" from his home IP address, so I wasn't a suspect for longer than maybe 10 minutes, but still...it makes me furious. I've worked side by side with this man for a month and I thought we were friends. I still feel a little sick when I think about it. He has been incarcerated and will hopefully be sitting in jail for a chunk of his life for this and I am now the senior employee (it's a very new company, Justin was the first person they ever hired and I was the second) (also, I got a payraise shortly after this was all cleared up), so I suppose it's all good now. But yeah, it's crazy. We're still working to straighten up the mess he has created. In all, it was around $7500 that he stole over the period of a month. Fun stuff.

Feb 4, 2009

You Think You're Doing Something Special...

Some of you on facebook may have already witnessed this glory of a roommate routine (ah, the roommate routine...) filmed shortly before I got married, but it has recently been uploaded on youtube, so the whole world can see:



However, while searching youtube for the clip, I discovered we're not the only people in the world who have done this. Not that I honestly think it's particularly special or extraordinarily creative, but are you kidding me?:



Our choreography is better. If only Savannah wasn't off on every single one of the bicycling parts...

Feb 3, 2009

My Research Skills Haven't Quite Reached Perfection...

Apparently February 3rd is the day the music died. I suck.

Feb 2, 2009

Trivia for All!

Yesterday (Super Bowl Sunday):
  • If the Super Bowl were a nation, it's gross national product would be roughly equal to that of North Korea.
  • Antacid sales increase 20% on the day after the Super Bowl.
  • The use of Roman numerals to denote which Super Bowl it is started with Super Bowl V and was used solely because the guy in charge of it (I can't remember what the position is called; NFL management is not an area where I have a lot of broad knowledge) at the time hated the name "Super Bowl" and wanted to make it a little more classy. (Also, I'm convinced the sole reason today's children are taught Roman numerals past Rocky V, is so they can know what Super Bowl we're on.)
  • More guacamole is consumed in America on Super Bowl Sunday than any other day of the year except Cinqo de Mayo.
Today (Groundhog Day):
  • Punxsutawney (known for their Groundhog Day celebrations simply because they put the most effort into it) has predicted six more weeks of winter over 90% of the time (since 1887), but this has been correct only 39% of the time.
  • Groundhog Day started as some combination of the Christian holiday of Candlemas, (celebrating the presentation of Jesus at the Temple) and the pagan holiday Imbolc (which marks the day exactly between the Winter Solstice and the Spring Equinox). I'm not exactly sure how this progressed into a groundhog predicting the weather. But Germans were involved. And possibly Native Americans.
  • Punxsutawney Phil lives off of dog food and ice cream and lives in a local library.
  • There is a plaque in Woodstock, IL (where most of the Groundhog Day film was shot) on the curb where Bill Murray's character continuously steps into a puddle that reads "Bill Murray stepped here". I really hope that someday human life is destroyed but this plaque survives and space explorers centuries later assume that Bill Murray had religious significance in our lives.
Tomorrow:
  • Alberto Gonzales was confirmed as Attorney General on Feb 3, 2005.
  • February 3rd is completely useless.

Jan 27, 2009

I <3 Nurds.

Last night I was reading an article about Dr. Seuss and apparently the first record of the word "nerd" comes from If I Ran the Zoo. This obviously spurred a research venture into the etymology of the word. And the reason I love nerds so much: they write incredibly well-researched articles (like this) about things like the etymology of "nerd", apparently simply for fun, and share them with the world via the internet. Thank you, nerds of the world.

Jan 20, 2009

Inauguration Day

I would say that one of the greatest tributes to our president's greatness* is the fact that at work this morning, while making calls to people who are getting $300 loans from a web-based payday loan company (aka people who are not the most well-off, educated, or politically aware), I could hear Barack Obama's voice going in the background of the vast majority of households. I asked a few about it and could hear the optimism in their voices as they discussed how proud of their country they are. "I voted for him myself," "He is the man to help us out of the mess the country is in," etc. And I know it's getting to the point of cliche these days, but I still love it: "Yes We Can." It is a bright day.

*I do realize, Mr. Cynical, that this greatness has not been tested with time and obviously there will be disappointments as Obama and his team are not going to be able to solve every problem, but please allow me this day, at least, to believe in hope and change and goodness in my country. And, even you can admit, it is refreshing to be free of that little bit of embarrassment that would come over you and the rest of us whenever someone mentioned the President of the United States over the last few years.

Also, you should all know that I got 100% right on the Inaugural ball gowns quiz on CNN (with no cheating whatsoever). Booyah!

Jan 14, 2009

They call me quiet; but I'm a riot.

Quick update since it's been a couple weeks:

1. Jan 12th was mine and Trevor's one year anniversary. It's really odd that it has already been a year, except for the fact that it's hard to remember life before I was married. We were both horribly ill on anniversary day, so we missed work and scrapped any plans to go out for a romantic evening. We were just sick together and played WoW (I have my own computer and WoW account now, so we can play at the same time, hooray!) and watched stuff on Hulu and we ordered a pizza and it was kind of great in it's own way.

2. I've had the song below stuck in my head for approximately one week now. I wasn't super impressed when I first heard it, but somehow during this time I have unwillingly spent with the thing, it has really grown on me.