Archive for January, 2008
Recently, Tim signed up to receive Office 2007 if he bought something from this online promotion. He told me all he had to do was buy a $9.99 Cuisinart coffee grinder and he would get Office 2007 for free. Hmmm sounded a little bit better than true, but we needed a new coffee grinder. Our poor coffee grinder had tumbled off the shelf one too many times and, therefore, it was held together with chewing gum and string.
Over Christmas our daughter’s boyfriend Travis said “your parents don’t drink and they don’t smoke but they sure do like some “crack” coffee.” Tim has been called a coffee snob on more than one occasion. We laughed and continued to drink our Peet’s Coffee that Tim received as a Christmas gift, but I wonder was it an observation or a premonition of what was in store for us?
Before the package arrived I saw a mysterious charge of $34.95 appear on one of our accounts. I asked Tim if he knew anything about a charge from something called Seattle Direct. He said, oh yeah, that’s the $9.99 coffee grinder. I walked away wondering how a $9.99 coffee grinder morphed into $34.00 but didn’t say anything. A few days later, the long awaited coffee grinder accompanied by two packages of coffee arrived. If those are one pound packages, I will eat my bucket hat.
We laughed and said, oh well lesson learned. Anyway, we have a new coffee grinder. The thing didn’t like it at our house and was very uncooperative from the first time we used it. The lid wouldn’t settle on the lip right and it didn’t want to grind coffee beans at all. You had to shake it and jostle the beans around inside so that you wouldn’t grind a few beans into dust leaving the rest of the beans whole. We gritted our teeth and thought that eventually we would get the hang of the thing.
Three days later it died never seeing the arrival of two more pounds (!?!) of coffee. Hawaiian Hazelnut Kona Blend is certainly something that my resident gourmand would buy. Oh no, it isn’t. Needless to say, I ran to the computer to see what the latest charges would be. You got it, another $48.95 debited to our account. These must be some kick ass coffee beans.
Tim immediately got on the phone to SEATTLE DIRECT-remember this name and run, don’t walk away-the very polite young man told Tim that he had signed up for two pounds a month. Tim told him in no uncertain terms he hadn’t done anything of the kind and he wanted to be taken off the list and reimbursed for the cheap coffee grinder. The young man very slowly and precisely informed Tim that the company was only honoring the contract he had made.
And then it began, Tim started to rally the troops for the unfair business practices that had been foisted upon us. He posted about it here. When I went to the complaint board, a shiver went up my spine. Many of these people said that they had never signed up for the coffee shipments and some of them were receiving shipments of two pounds every two or three days and each time their credit cards were charged. Many of them said that the company was very unresponsive and that there was no way that any of them could drink that much coffee, but it arrived on schedule at least once a week. Not one of them said the shipment was one a month.
Now, Tim and I are heavy coffee drinkers, and we always offer a cup to friends and neighbors, but there is no way that we will need more than four pounds of the stuff in a month. For one thing, it is awful coffee. It is dry, dusty, not a bit of oil anywhere in sight. So here we are paying through the nose for coffee that we do not want, forced to drink it night and day to get rid of it, and waiting in horror for the next shipment to arrive on our doorstep. We are kind of in our own Nightmare on Denison Avenue. Or have we become victims of addiction in reverse? Remember, boys and girls, stay away from Seattle Direct.
And now, I am writing the post that I wanted to write yesterday. Each week on Sunday, George of Brewedfreshdaily posts his favoite secret from this week’s Post Secret. I could, of course, go to Frank’s website on my own and not wait until George posts, but it has become something of a habit for me. Ever since, we interviewed Frank Warren on Meet The Bloggers I have wanted to bring Frank and his travelling exhibit to Cleveland–one more goal for 2008. This week, this postcard curly hair really spoke to me.
When I was younger, I had VERY curly hair. I wished for long straight hair from the time I entered school. I wanted to have long braids. I wanted to wear pigtails. I wanted a permanent for goodness sakes’. All of my friends talked about the experience and I envied the smells, the beauty parlor, and all that it entailed. A bit over the top wouldn’t you say? I don’t think so. Each morning I had to rise one hour earlier than ALL of my friends so that my mother could begin the taming of the unruly curls that stuck out every which way on my head and had tangled into a good replica of Medusa overnight.
In high school, I took over the task of controlling the unruly locks. I ironed it. I tried taming it with orange juice cans attached to my head. It is a wonder that I didn’t see UFOs. In fact, I am sure that at times I MUST have picked up radio signals. And then, I went to college and then unruliness of the curly, red hair just didn’t seem to matter that much any more. I had finally accepted that my hair had won the war. No longer did I feel the need to battle it each and every day and wish for something that I did not have. I accepted myself and my hair for what we were.
When I did that, my curly hair and I had a great friendship for thirty-five years. Now, I wonder where it vacations in winter because my hair is poker straight from November until March when the curls will begin to arrive a few at a time until summer when they arrive in full force only to begin to dwindle as the temperature slides. I miss that big, curly hair more and more with each ensuing year, but maybe what I miss is the youth that it signified. I may not have the long flowing curls of yesteryear, but I do carry the lesson learned each day of my life. Accept who you are, make the best of what you have, and venture into the world, do not waste time with curls that have a mind of their own.
Dear Mr. Investor-
Your link to your blog has been deleted from my comments.
I thought I would take a few minutes to outline why. You probably won’t come to my site again since you made no mention of the post you linked to on your blog, so I doubt if you will see the reasons for the deletion, but I think it is important to spell it out here for myself.
I clicked on your link and visited your blog about investing from your personal viewpoint. In fact, I sent my husband an email saying that it was quite interesting. And then, I started to think. When I think, I sometimes change my mind, you see, and that is what happened.
I read your post through and saw that you linked to dealcatcher and frugal Alabama mom and oh there were at least five others, but there was no mention of “The Zen of Coupon Clipping”. Nothing, nada. And then, I thought you probably googled “coupon clipping” found my post from 2006 and others and linked your blog to each and everyone of us hoping to drive more traffic to your blog. Now, maybe you did that and maybe you didn’t, but I really don’t have any other explanation of how you found my blog and that post.
I deleted your comment. I don’t have a large readership and I really am not too interested in driving traffic my way, but sometimes it feels good when you get a comment like this one in January on a post you wrote in November just because, but I will tell you what doesn’t feel good– being used here or anywhere. And that is how I felt. So bye-bye Mr. Investor. Now, I must admit I get spam comments from audi and apple and on and on. I just delete them, but a part of me wanted to amplify what you were saying.
Your theme of getting out of debt, living within your means, the one about 401K Debit Card! Who are they kidding? was a great commentary. Unfortunately, it didn’t overcome the fact that I see blogs as being an inclusive, evergrowing network of people around the globe. Yes, I caught that you live on the West Coast. I think that the connections are what is important, and I just didn’t feel connected to you. I felt that you saw my blog as one more opportunity to promote yourself.
You see, Mr. Investor, I see the world as a place where social responsibility needs to be nurtured so that it grows. I would have felt that connection if you had only mentioned how you found my post and that I might be interested in the post on your blog. It would have taken you 10-15 extra words and this post would have been quite different. I would have linked to your blog, told people to check it out because you had some sensible things to say. You are quite young and you will probably learn the lesson of value added over the years, but not today and not from me.
Again, from the New York TIMES, a commentary from Bob Herbert on the blindness a culture of panders for years to the wealthy–the investment bankers and venture capitalists and big businesses, those who provide the richest emoluments for our elected representatives–and then tries to mitigate the country’s losses by putting a band-aid on the problems of people who work and have no lobby. He concludes:
I’d start with a broad program to rebuild the American infrastructure. This would have the dual benefit of putting large numbers of people to work and answering a crying need. The infrastructure is in sorry shape. New Orleans comes to mind, and the tragic bridge collapse in Minneapolis.
The country that gave us the Marshall Plan to rebuild postwar Europe ought to be able, 60 years later, to reconstitute its own sagging infrastructure.
There are also untold numbers of jobs and myriad societal benefits to be reaped from a sustained, good-faith effort to achieve energy self-sufficiency. Think Manhattan Project.
The possibilities are limitless. We could create an entire generation of new jobs and build a bigger and fairer economy for the 21st century. If only we were serious.
Required reading, from Paul Krugman. I’ll quote a little bit below, and you can then go to the New York Times and read the rest for yourself.
The global origins of our current mess were actually laid out by none other than Ben Bernanke, in an influential speech he gave early in 2005, before he was named chairman of the Federal Reserve. Mr. Bernanke asked a good question: “Why is the United States, with the world’s largest economy, borrowing heavily on international capital markets — rather than lending, as would seem more natural?”
His answer was that the main explanation lay not here in America, but abroad. In particular, third world economies, which had been investor favorites for much of the 1990s, were shaken by a series of financial crises beginning in 1997. As a result, they abruptly switched from being destinations for capital to sources of capital, as their governments began accumulating huge precautionary hoards of overseas assets.
The result, said Mr. Bernanke, was a “global saving glut”: lots of money, all dressed up with nowhere to go.
In the end, most of that money went to the United States. Why? Because, said Mr. Bernanke, of the “depth and sophistication of the country’s financial markets.”
All of this was right, except for one thing: U.S. financial markets, it turns out, were characterized less by sophistication than by sophistry, which my dictionary defines as “a deliberately invalid argument displaying ingenuity in reasoning in the hope of deceiving someone.” E.g., “Repackaging dubious loans into collateralized debt obligations creates a lot of perfectly safe, AAA assets that will never go bad.”
In other words, the United States was not, in fact, uniquely well-suited to make use of the world’s surplus funds. It was, instead, a place where large sums could be and were invested very badly. Directly or indirectly, capital flowing into America from global investors ended up financing a housing-and-credit bubble that has now burst, with painful consequences.
A few days ago I was browsing for a “Happy New Year” poem to post here. I googled “Happy New Year Poetry” and could not find much of anything I felt appropriate. It was all very bleak and fatalistic. The underlying theme was “just another day in a round of desparate days”. Click thru and check a few of them out for yourselves.
I decided I just couldn’t choose any one of those poems because there wasn’t any HOPE included. If anything, New Year’s is a time for renewal, for new beginnings, for change in a good way. Yes, maybe we don’t reach ALL of our goals or maybe things don’t happen quite the way we envision, but overall, if we do our best each day we are prepared and that is all we can expect.And then, it hit me. I would write my own poem to share. I did it. I doubted. I decided why not, and here it is:
Hope, Faith, Charity
All things considered
Perhaps, we should believe.
Peace on Earth, good Will To all
Yet again, should be our prayer.
Now Upon the dawn of the new Year
Each and everyone can
Wish upon a star.
You see above us far
Eternity waits, ever vigilant,
Ready to give, asking only- love one another.
HAPPY NEW YEAR!!