Archive for July, 2008

I am tired of listening to all this subprime mortagage news especially with regards to having the government do more to bail out “victims”.   For the past 3-6 months, the news media have  been making the issue that the government is not doing enough to protect middle class citizens.  Presumably the  government is also not doing enough with laws to prevent loan companies from having the ability to provide shady loan contracts.  I am not saying the lenders are not at fault,  I do however believe that the fault is not all theirs.

Subprime loans consist of various types of arrangement – 2 year fix and remaining at adjustable rates, interest only payments, etc (For more go to

With the amount of media focused on how much lenders are “scamming” victims and how little government is protecting the victims, it makes me wonder if “so call victims” have any responsibilities at all.  How do one consciously signs up for a 30 year loan when they only know of the fix rate interest for the first 2 years? what about the next 28 years?…  How could one who claimed they cannot read the contract, can trust themselves in speculating that the interest rate will decrease or maintain the same after the first 2 years?

Whatever happened to the idea of “Living beneath ones means”?   What happen to “Earn a dollar and save a dime”.  I rarely hear about savings anymore, all I hear is credit cards and credit limits.  Do people not understand what the word “Credit” mean?

I have no problems placing blame on businesses (lenders, banks, etc) or the government, but equal blame needs to go to those people who signed up for these loans. The media needs to stop portraying the lenders and government as evil entities and the borrowers as the helpless victims.   People need to have some self responsibilities.   The media rarely mention the borrowers being at fault, probably because that will cause a stir.   Can’t imagine many who want to watch much of the show if the host refers to the viewers as “dumbasses”.  I know I won’t want to watch it….   it’s difficult to handle the truth… it’s easier just to blame someone/something else.

If you can’t tell that I am venting,  “I AM VENTING”.    I should have never watched Lou Dobbs, mind you I did not watch the whole show, I just watched enough to set me off!  If it’s not the freaking fence, it is the subprime mortgage.


Peoria in the news

Peoria was indirectly in the national news twice yesterday.  Most prominently was President Bush’s visit for a Republican Party fundraiser.  Bush usually stops by for some trade or transportation press conference with CAT as the backdrop, so this was a bit different.  The fundraiser was held at the Weaver Farms, just a few minutes from our house.  They reportedly closed off  I-474, and much of the surrounding War Memorial drive stretch, as the motorcade passed.  They surrounded the farm with City of Peoria dump trucks and some semi trailers as a temporary barricade.  For $500 you got lunch and a speech, and for $5000 you got a picture with Bush.  The whole affair lasted about 2.5 hours, and then Air Force One departed back to DC.

Aaron Schock is the primary beneficiary of all this and will have an even larger campaign war chest following the event.  Which brings me to a gripe:  do his fundraiser proceeds get debited for what it cost to fly Air Force One round trip, manage a battalion of Secret Service and state police, mobilize City of Peoria resources and block off roads?  I doubt it.  Who pays that bill?  The event was not public, and the press wasn’t even allowed in.  Schock would have probably had no problem winning in November anyway, so while it’s always interesting when dignitaries visit, this latest trip seems a bit wasteful.

On a completely different note, our Peoria Chiefs made the news by being part of a messy brawl in Dayton.  The worst part by a mile was Peoria pitcher Julio Castillo winding up and beaming a fan in the head with a baseball.  (The guy was injured but not seriously.)  Castillo has been charged with felonious assault, had his passport held, and I hope his baseball days are done (at least in the US).  If so he may well be sent back to the Dominican Republic to think for the rest of his life about what an insanely stupid thing he did.

(Both photos are from The Peoria Journal Star)

It’s pretty painful to watch a stock you bought at $45, like I did with Washington Mutual, plummet to $19, where I gave up and sold it.  On the other hand it’s quite redeeming to watch that stock continue to go way, way down, now to $3.23.  This is a positive (for a change) lesson in cutting my losses I won’t soon forget.

In any case, what a shockingly bad market……….



Just a quick note giving our thumbs up to the new Disney/Pixar movie, “Wall•E”. It’s a great movie for kids and adults. The animation is of course excellent (as they all are anymore), but what is really novel is the story itself. By far the most original I’ve seen in years (trailer).  Though there are some heavy enviro/political overtones, the points of comment are really fundamental to the whole plot and didn’t get annoying.

4.5/5 stars.  Go see this one on the big screen if you can.



When we moved back to the US, we had already purchased my parent’s VW Passat as a primary car, and I began looking for a second vehicle.  Nothing caught my fancy, and I settled on a little 2004 Kia Spectra:

2004 Kia Spectra, perfectly ordinary

The Kia was an OK car, and the interior looked just about like my 2000 Civic, but there was nothing very fun about it and the city mpg was pretty poor.

About 6 weeks ago I officially decided I’d consider buying a new car.  It didn’t take me long to realize that not much even in crop of new vehicles was very interesting, so I seriously began mulling over getting a Prius, which I’d driven for a few days in Nevada and quite liked.  The fuel economy was a major draw, but I also just liked the car: looks, handling, interior gadgets, etc:

Prius rental in Nevada, planting the seed.

A month ago I plunked down a $500 deposit and ordered the car, sight unseen.  There was not a new or used Prius within 100 miles, and the Toyota dealer didn’t even have one to drive or show.  Had I not already been familiar with the car, I’d have been SOL.  Five weeks ago they told me it would be a 2-3 month wait, and when I ordered the car a week later it had become a 3-4 month wait.  I called some other dealers in the region and got the same or worse story.  The local dealer said his Prius selling rate had gone from ~1/week to ~5/week in a matter of a few months.  I decided it would be worth the wait.

1 1/2 weeks ago I received a call at work: for unknown reasons, a guy who was way up in the queue had canceled his order and stepped out of line, and he had ordered the exact same car that I had (color/interior/packages).  They offered it to me. Yes, I took it!  I scrambled to post my Kia for sale, rather than get killed on the trade, and managed to unload it in 24 hours.  Thank you

Yesterday, I picked up the car after work and have just been getting familiar with it.  There are a LOT of interesting things about this car that I’m not used to, and I’m having a lot of fun discovering them.  Though the Prius is known for its “green” audience and people mainly know about its 47 mpg (city), I can tell you this is by far the nicest car I’ve ever owned.  The build quality and materials are excellent, interior layout is good, and the whole car is very very well designed.  I think it looks good too!  I’ve posted some photos on Flickr.

2008 Prius, in all its new car glory.

By the way, if you’re interested in one, I wish you the same luck I had.  I at least hope you’re patient.  The dealership just told me that they’re taking deposits on new Priuses…. for delivery as early as next March!

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