It's all about perspective

Archive for October, 2007

Memories

I found a one use camera a few years ago during one of the many moves I’ve had to make over the years. When I found it I had a good idea of what was on it, and because it was so soon after a breakup, I decided not to get the film developed because I did not want to wrestle with harsh feelings mixed with good memories.

So I re-found that same camera a few days ago and decided it has been long enough that I can deal with it. I went to the local Wal-Mart, which made a part of my soul die, and took it to the 1-hour photo center. Thinking that my friends would be fashionably late as the usually are, I figured I would have enough time to get them that night. I was pleasantly surprised that they were not late and called me to inform me as such. So I left the film there safe in the knowledge that I could come get the pictures the next day.

That night, while we were celebrating the birthday of my good friends’ wife, we saw many different costumes come wandering through the establishment we chose. From the Mystery Inc. gang, to the mummy, to Robin, to the “Dick in a Box” guys.

Then she walked in.
(more…)

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Consciousness

As a burgeoning sociologist, my colleagues and classmates are constantly talking about the differences that: separate us, bind us, keep us downtrodden, keep us uplifted, or just generally keep us. We have had a very limited opportunity to study these things with two tragedies: Hurricane Katrina and the California fires.

Reading through news stories, blog posts, and listening to news programs, it lifts my heart to know that the discussion is not focusing on one aspect of the problem. No one seems to be focusing purely on race, or class, or economic status, or education. It seems that the talks are on all of those subjects and several not listed. Unfortunately I am seeing a deadlock in the discussions.

It seems that since we, as a society, are unable to put one single perfect all encompassing label on the problem, we are leaving it, frustrated that the problem is too hard and multi-faceted to tackle. What is happening to the discussion? There are many of us out there who are blaming it on one single thing, yet these people and their arguments are quickly becoming passé to the grand majority of the country when confronted by other arguments who say it is something completely different.

This may seem like a very clear “duh” moment, but it has to be said. There is no single perfect label to place upon this mess that Katrina and the fires of California have opened our eyes to. The problem is systemic; meaning that it has integrated itself into every aspect of our lives, is perpetuated from several different angles of society, and has as many outcomes as it has reasons. (more…)

Oops!

The title of my last post was, “and now for something completely different.” While it may be referring to something completely different, Wil Wheaton chose to use the same title on an earlier post for his blog. I must have read it the day before and my overloaded and addled brain must have thought it was so cool that I had to use it too.

Sorry Wil Wheaton, I didn’t mean to step on your toes.

And now for something completely different…

For decades the housing market has been taking advantage of people with little means. Until very recently, (say the last six months), almost anyone could get a loan on a house whether your credit score indicated you should or not. Loan companies along with banks have almost ignored the scoring system that is in place to not only help keep them out of trouble but to keep the consumer out of a debt they could not afford. The effects have been devastating, and all across the country the foreclosure rates are staggering:

In Baltimore, Maryland, last year there were 947 people that lost their homes. This year an astounding 7001 were kicked out on the street. That is up 8,785 percent!

In Phoenix and Tuscon, Arizona, 777 people lost their homes. Unfortunately, 2,414 people were foreclosed on this year. An increase of 311 percent.

There is a great many reasons for this to occur, but part is due to shady lending practices from subprime lenders that didn’t truly care if you could afford the loan or not. It is these people that are getting hurt in the worst ways. They try to refinance their loans and because their credit scores aren’t up to what is being touted as, “tightened lending standards”, they fail to refinance and are forced to foreclose. But then they see what pickle they are truly in as they slowly realize after submitting several applications that the lending market has tightened up like Fort Knox: they aren’t letting anyone in. Forced to go back to renting, they are then shocked to learn that they still owe the money on the house! Prices are falling and lending practices have tightened, as this family has realized, but while houses are coming down in price, the banks are not lending to as many people, and because of that their home is not being sold. They are still on the hook for the loan until it is sold. Sadly, if there is a difference in what the house is sold for and the price of the loan, the family will still owe that difference.

There is help for those millions of people who were loaned money they never should have been. The U.S. House is putting forth legislation that might “allow those who can show they were approved for a loan they could not afford to sue their lender for refinancing or a new loan.”

The Mortgage Reform and Anti-Predatory Lending Act of 2007, introduced by Representative Barney Frank D-Mass., introduces a new concept called assignee liability where it “[…] would ensure that investment banks and other securitizers monitor the quality and underwriting standards of the loans they fund.” I for one certainly hope that it passes, as the predatory practices of these money lenders have already hurt far too many people.

Personal accountability can only go so far if your lender is telling you that you can afford this loan when in reality you can’t.

As soon as the House of Representatives website (clicky) allows me to download the text of the bill, I will post it here for everyone to see.

Yay for mouth pain! pt 2

Naps are a wonderful thing. Especially after a particularly draining session in the torture dentist’s chair. If you have never had the exhilarating experience of the first part of a root canal, let me be the first to tell everyone to go out right now and ask their dentist for one!

My face still hurts and it is quite difficult to talk. The painkillers that the good doctor injected into my gums is starting to wear off and I can finally feel my nose. Not being able to feel one side of your nose is a very strange sensation, especially when it is combined with everything from the top of your cheekbone down to the bottom of your jaw.

I am alive, but barely.

Yay for mouth pain!

I am leaving in a few moments for a dentist appointment. The goal: to scale and plane one quadrant of my teeth, and while he’s in there, treating me to my very first root canal! I’m so excited I think I’m going to go have several stiff shots of jack before I go.

So I probably won’t be making it to work tonight. The last time I went to the dentist, he gave me morphine! I was worthless after that until the next day around 2pm.

Have I mentioned I’m not looking forward to this?

Phunk

iTunes, you are the bane of my pocketbook. Every time I say to myself that I need to slow down on the iTunes purchases, I find something that I absolutely have to buy. Like these two remakes by Shawn Lee: Hey Ya and Clint Eastwood.

Shawn Lee’s Ping Pong Orchestra’s piano and harmonica filled rendition of Hey Ya is full of soul, funk, and easy listening. They turned what was a dynamite Hip-hop song into a long lasting easy jazz riff with just enough pop to keep you on your toes. The song’s background noises bring the listener to a dimly lit bar, complete with small, dimly lit, circular stage that the band mills around on, getting into their own groove to the complete delight of their listeners.

The original Clint Eastwood already lent itself to the slower side of things with its head bopping rhythm and light attitude. Shawn threw a low electric bass and high pitched electric lead and combined it with his own style of composure to make it his own.

I loved both of the originals, but the renditions put forth by Shawn Lee gave me a newfound respect for them, and gave me a new artist to get to know. This time I am glad I let my wandering fingers find new songs to buy. Check Shawn out on iTunes or on his website, www.shawnlee.net.

Happy listening,

Until next time!

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