Sunday, September 28, 2008


Disclaimer: I'm not the smartest guy when it comes to the Economy. Admitedly there is a lot I don't understand. That said...

With all the doom and gloom talk over our current financial situation (bailouts, bank failures, etc...) there is a thread of conversation that I keep picking up on, and I have not heard anyone address this directly.

So this is how I'm hearing it stated...
The banks lent out lots of money via mortgages to people who could not afford them.
(lots of finger pointing as to why this happened. Some blame the people, some blame the banks... I blame the banks. If was out and out fraud on behalf of the people, then they should be prosecuted.)
So, now, the banks have loaned more money that they have. Because of that, the banks (and this is the key point) have stopped lending (even to other banks) because they don't have the cash.
This giant bailout, is to give the banks a pile of cash, so that they can again start lending.
So, here's the part that bothers me... you mean to tell me our entire economy could collapse because people would not be going into debt anymore?
I understand the importance of borrowing money in the form of a loan. people need certain items 'now' that they are willing to pay (in some cases HUGE) interest on. But there's something underlying all this economic talk that bothers me in the sense of keeping people in debt.
Is that what truly runs our economy? Is that why we're the 'richest' country in the world, because we have the most debt? Why does this seem backwards to me?
If someone can explain this to me in 'laymans' terms in a comment, I'm all ears. And thanks!

If nothing else, these bank failures and bailout talks have showed me one thing... I personally am SO FAR removed over any sort of decision making in this process, it's clear to me that class is a very important issue when it comes to this money aspect of America. I saw this recent chart, and it was another example of who could run our country. Who is more like me? (well, neither, I don't own a house, or a plane, or a bike, but I do own one car).
If we let a RICH person make the decisions, we the people will foot the bill and remain in debt. If we let an average guy (I know, Obama's got some $ too!), he (or she) might be willing to hold the corporate big wigs accountable.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Movie Review: The Orphanage

I watched a good movie tonight called, The Orphanage. I should warn those of you who have a phobia of subtitles, that this is a spanish movie with subtitles. Personally, that doesn't bother me. I've seen so many good movies with subtitles, that I would never rule out a movie just because it was in a different language.
I should say also, that I feel like I've seen every horror movie out there. It is a genre I've always enjoyed, until one day when I sort of 'out grew' them. I no longer liked any of the slasher style movies. Once you've seen 2 slasher movies, you've seen them all. And lets face it, in today's violent media, a slasher movie is not that unusual (sadly). For example, on Saturday, on television no less, I've seen about 3-4 people get brutally stabbed in a tv show or a tv movie. I'm not sure how this violence ends up on TV, but it does.
So, when a "horror" movie comes along that interests me, to put aside my cynicism and give the movie a rent, I'm very happy when I'm entertained. Let's face it, you wont be watching any great acting in these movies. So that's always a strike against it, but sometimes you find a movie that rises above that in story, and makes for a good movie.
Tonight's movie was "The Orphanage". It wasn't a horror movie per say, but more of a psychological thriller with some supernatural topics. My only complaint was that some of the sub-stories were not explained in much detail. I felt that certain parts of the movie were cut out. But, for the most part, it flowed fairly well. The filming was well done. One of the producers was Guillermo del Toro (Pan's Labryinth), and I'm not sure how much of an influence he had in this movie, but I felt that I could see his fingerprints in some of the cinematography - especially the use of color changes to influence mood.
There were a few disturbing shots that I certainly would not recommend this movie for kids (It is an R rating). But you have to expect that in any sort of horror movie.
I won't describe the storyline at all... the less you know the better, because parts of the film are predictable.
Overall, a good story, decent acting, some creepy moments, and some nice cinematography.
If you like any of these, I'd suggest it's worth a rental.

Note: I'll link to the wikipedia page, here, but I should warn you that the plot synopsis is WAY TOO DETAILED. Best not to read any of it.

Friday, September 19, 2008

two political ads...

This was funny (and sad) to me this morning as I checked my google news.
McCain and Obama both released an advertisement today that appears to be the same exact attack message. That both senators consulted the wrong person for economic advice.
But... McCain's ad is based on a newspaper quote: The commercial's main charge is based on an April story in The Washington Post that said Raines has "taken calls from Barack Obama's presidential campaign seeking his advice on mortgage and housing policy matters." Reporter Anita Huslin says Raines told her that during an in-person interview.
An Obama spokesman called the ad's contention "a flat-out lie," saying Raines has "never advised Senator Obama about anything, ever."

This is political mud slinging at its best. I'm not impressed by either ad, and think neither campaign should have run the ad. Here's a tip... if you're Obama, the first words should not be "John McCain" and vice versa.

Tuesday, September 09, 2008

UFO shoots rocket with beam of light

This is a crazy story that appeared on Larry King Live.
video via LiveLeak.

I'm not sure if the video shown is a recreation or actual footage.

Monday, September 01, 2008

a one day get-away

First a bit of a back story... I've wanted to get a gps unit for a long time, but could never really justify the reason to get one other than, "That's cool". I'm not much of a traveler when it comes to cars. I pretty much live in a 10 mile radius of my home, work, friends, family, movie theater, grocery store. So what did I need a gps for? I tweeted this and at the urging of some family units, they recommended, "get one first, then go on a road trip!"
Hmm, the more I thought of this idea, the more I liked it. I had taken a road trip several months ago (maybe a year?) to a Cabela's sporting good store, and it was a horrible drive! I was by myself, had my google maps to get me there, but didn't print the reverse directions. It was night, it was pouring rain! trucks barreling down on me, it was a miracle I got home in one piece that night! I could have REALLY used a gps at that time.
So, I decided to go for it!
I've found a key issue with my gps unit (a Garmin nuvi 350), it really stinks on driving directions if you know how to get to a certain place! I've found that by testing it in my local neighborhood, it has taken me down wrong streets, told me to make wrong turns (ie: A left on a highway with a concrete divider!), and when I have it set for "fastest" route, it sometimes takes me a mile or so out of my way, just trying to keep me on a faster highway. I've found that my years of driving the area, I know all the shortcuts, and optimum routes... BUT then I realized, that is not the purpose of this unit. The main point of these gps units is to get you somewhere that you don't know how to get to!
So this holiday weekend I decided on a road trip. Just a two day (over night) adventure. Basically, It didn't matter to me where I went, just as long as I got far enough out of my home town to make it feel like I went somewhere. A sort of mini-vacation.
All said and done, I enjoyed it.
I had some problems even getting directions to the hotel. Google maps was telling me one address, and the hotel website was telling me a different address! Same street address, just different zip codes! Never did figure that one out. I finally decided that google maps was wrong (gasp). I printed out a bunch of google maps, with the right address, and familiarized myself with my USA road atlas on the best way to get there. I decided to not trust my gps, and to force it after a certain point to get me there via the route I wanted to take.
Well, as I started to approach the first gps recommendation for a turn, I decided to throw my original intentions out the window! :) I decided, to just trust the gps unit (who I've nicknamed "moses" because he was known for being lost in the desert for 40 years!).
Long story short, it got me to my destination with only one minor problem (I panic'd and took an exit too early, it luckily was not a major deal at all). Then on the way home it took me a totally different route, which surprised me.
I ended up having a great bonding experience with Moses, and now trust him. I have to remind myself though, to always bring a map/atlas as a backup though. To fully trust a little gizmo on where I am, with no maps... I'm not ready to do that yet.
As for the trip itself...
It was a nice little get-away. Nothing fancy. I stayed at a "Days Inn". A bit pricey for my liking (I'm cheap, I admit it!) for about $83 a night. Room was clean, but the building itself needed some attention. (ripped wallpaper, dirty scuff and yuck in the elevator, a general musty smell, soda machine out of order, etc.) But on the things that counted, I felt like it was clean (sheets, towels, bathroom).
The area I went was in upstate New Jersey. It felt a bit like going back in time at points. There was a certain 1950's feel to the architecture (or older). The town was very small. No walmarts, no gas station convenience super stores, etc... there was really 3 places to choose from for food, a local diner/bar, an Italian restaraunt, and a pizza shop. I choose the diner/bar. It turned out to be really nice inside, and they had a nice menu. I had planned on going back there for dinner, but since I had a late lunch, I was still full around 8pm.
While, At the diner, I asked the waitress about a place to fish. I pulled up my gps maps, and showed her two lakes not too far away, and said "can I fish here?" Well, the waitress at first hmmed, and hawed (what do those words mean?) then finally said, I don't think I'd recommend it. She said there are houses and condo's all around the lakes. (made me sad, to think that it's really difficult in Jersey to find a lake to fish at). She recommended a local spot that she said there are always people fishing at (after her asking the guys at the bar). I took her advice.
It was a tiny creek, under a bridge of a busy road, and next to a plastics factory. (welcome to NJ). Seriously, it too made me sad, that this was the only "hot fishin spot" for these people that live up in foothills of some NJ mountains. (hills, to you people who have real mountains).
But, it turned out to be just a great spot for me on my mini-vacation. I ended up catching a tiny 6" bass! I couldn't believe it! It had made the whole trip worth it for me.
If nothing else, this trip made me miss my days of being outdoors on a more regular basis. I used to camp a lot, and fish a lot, then slowly that just faded away. I think now, I'll plan my next mini (or real) vacation around getting back into the outdoors. It's nice to know and be reminded, that my entire world, is not just limited to suburban sprawl of strip malls, and gas stations.
For what it's worth... I still am faced with the moral dilemma of fishing. I enjoy it (usually) immensly (especially when I actually catch something!), but every time I go, it bothers me that I'm hurting another animal (fish) for my enjoyment. I think that will be a struggle every time I go, and I'll have to learn to live with it. Some say the fish don't feel the pain, but I'm not buying that. What I can only hope for is that it's like getting your ear pierced, hurts a bit at first, but overall not a big deal.
I'm curious too... I wonder how much the prices have gone up for a nights stay at a campground. I can remember $7 a night, maybe $15 for a 'nice' state run place. Something tells me I should prepare myself for a shocker. That's a topic I'm sure for another blog post.

Oh, one more thing...I THINK I might have seen a bald eagle! I only got a quick glimpse of it as I was driving on a twisty road. I didn't have time to get a good look at it. By the time, I found a driveway to pull over on, I had lost it. But it was a hawk like bird, that was brown body, and had a white head. I won't swear to it, but I'm pretty sure. I WISH I got a better look at it!