Monday, December 29, 2008

We have lousy carma

We made it six years. We've really tried to avoid this, but it's inevitable. Six years of marriage, and all the juggling, hand-wringing, and long discussions to work things out, and we can't avoid it any longer.

We're getting a car payment.

John totalled our car on the way to work day after Christmas. The roads were bad; he took his usual exit off the freeway and the car in front of him fishtailed, then stopped. He'd left a lot of distance between them but it wasn't enough considering she just stopped suddenly. We actually had the body shop do an estimate on the repairs. $7,998 - and he stressed that that was by no means final, since there was a lot of damage and he couldn't see parts of the engine clearly. Definitely a total loss.

I tried to convince John to go car-free for a while. I thought it would be an interesting social experiment, not to mention that it would save us over $400 a month (including a car payment, gas, insurance, maintenance, registration, etc.) I tried to bribe him with a new camera; no go. I don't know that I could really go without a car for 6-9 months - it would be really inconvenient - but it would have been interesting to try. I suppose I could just see how long I can go without driving, but I'm not really motivated to inconvenience myself without the reward of saving money.

So.

We bought a car today. It should be a good car, and I think we got a fair deal. The loan has a low interest rate. I HATE knowing that I am paying interest on something that is depreciating in value, but I like having a stereo and power locks that work.

And since we're fairly convinced that our other car was cursed, it's just as well that it's gone.

Right? Right.

Friday, December 12, 2008

Funny Odds and Ends

#1
Last night at work, my more advanced students read an adapted version of the O. Henry story, "The Gift of the Magi." As you may recall, it's the story of a young, poor couple, Della and Jim, who each sell their most prized possession to buy a Christmas present for the other person. They discover in the end that their gifts are useless, as he sold his watch to buy combs for her hair and she sold her hair to buy a chain for his watch.

So, my students are reading along, and the tutor asked John (my forty-something Korean student) to read the characters' dialogue. John starts reading, and he used this very high, very dainty voice for Della and a very deep, manly voice for Jim. It was very, very funny to hear "Oh, Jim, you still like me, don't you? I'm still me, aren't I?" coming from a Korean man reading in a girly voice with a thick Korean accent. The other students were nearly rolling on the floor. I so wish I'd had a tape recorder.

#2
I'm trimming chicken Thursday morning, getting ready to stick it in the freezer, when Trea drags over a kitchen chair and climbs up to supervise. She observes me cutting chicken fat off the breasts with my shears for several moments, then comments, "Girl, you're fast!"

Why thank you.

#3

This actually happened a while back, but it was pretty funny. We've decided to start giving Trea a tiny allowance and teaching her about tithing. So, Sunday morning comes, and I give her ten dimes. Then I explain that we are going to take one dime and give it the bishop of our church so that he can help people. And she says, "Mommy, you can give all my dimes to the bishop to help people." I'm getting all misty-eyed and choked up over how adorable and generous she is, when John walks over and ruins it. "Trea," he says, "that's money. You can use it to buy stuff."

"Oh," Trea responds as she pulls back her dimes. "Well, I need it to buy a Barbie Dream Castle."

#4

Talked to the detective in charge of the Case of the Stolen Car the other day. He got a fingerprint and has a suspect he is looking for. The guy's name is Justice.

John has long had a theory that giving your child a "virtue" name - Hope, Charity, etc. - guarantees they will be the exact opposite. Which is why he won't ever let me name a baby Chastity. Or Justice.

#5
Adia is very funny, but it's not the type of thing that translates well into writing. We are endlessly amused by her attempts to sing, to boss Trea, and to generally make her wishes known. I often get the feeling that she is using language just to see if it works (if I say drink, they get me water! That's cool! Wonder if it will happen again. . . .it did! Wow. I'll have to remember that next time I'm actually thirsty).

I also get the feeling that she is certain she has been talking for months, and the tall idiots in the house have finally started to acquire language.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

I have a brilliant idea

Outsourcing is a problem for our economy, right? So, let's start saving the U.S. government and the states some money with outsourcing. We can start with prisons. Anyone committed of a crime with a sentence of, oh, more than 2 years (subject to a cost-benefit analysis, but I think that is a long enough sentence to offset the cost of the plane ticket) gets sent to prison in a developing country. Thailand comes to mind. We'll pay them slightly more than the cost of actually maintaining the prisons; given what I've heard about Thai prisons, and the much lower cost of labor and food, we'll still save boatloads of cash. Maybe we can arrange some prisons in Spanish-speaking countries, or African nations. The prisoners would come back bilingual! Maybe we'll make it so they only have to spend a couple of years there, and then they can apply to finish their sentences here and take advantage of educational and vocational training programs, since I do think that is important. Still, it's a win-win. We'll save money and the host countries will make money.

And honestly, I think most American prisons are a little too comfortable. This program, though, will be reserved for multiple offenders, or those convicted of truly heinous crimes (rapists, pedophiles, murderers, etc.)

I think I should write my representatives. Who's with me?