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Friday, July 31, 2009

Adjustable rate EVERYTHING!!!! I admit my recent posts on this blog have turned somewhat curmudgeonly. In my defense...there IS a lot going on in this old world that could turn even the most ebullient among us into ill tempered puddles of goo.

Case in point: I opened the mail the other day and saw a flyer with the headline, "Satellite TV - $9.95 a month!"

I've prided myself on only having broadcast television for most all of my life. And now with 30 plus HD broadcast would take a lot to tempt me to pay for something I get for free.

But this package promised 150 digital and all the local channels, plus a complete Cinemax package, free dual channel recorder, and free set up and activation.

So, they had my attention.

Then I turned to the fine print.

You had to sign a 24 month contract to get this price and package. And the clincher: After 6 months the prices revert to the "Current Price Structure" of said package.

Translation (for anyone not already there): At the end of 6 months you will have NO idea what your TV package will cost, until it switches over.

It could be $20 a month...but what if they decide the "current value" of the package is $100.00 a month? $200.00 a month? A thousand a month? could cancel...for a price!!! I didn't even bother finding out what that fee would be. But other companies charge hundreds for the privilege.

So it got me to thinking...why would anyone sign a contract where payments are a moving target?

Why would anyone agree to obligate themselves to make payments that might...probably will go up...and not have any idea as you sign how much that might be.

So why sign THAT contract? Why have credit cards that can change the percentage and minimum payment you owe at ANY time? Why have a Home Loan with an adjustable rate?

I had a girl fiend in California 20 years ago. She had an adjustable rate mortgage on her home that could only be raised a certain percent per year. The bank told her it also could have been adjusted down as well. They must've had to stifle their laughter when they said that.

So what happened? Every year the bank raised her rate to the highest interest rate it could...and in a few years she was struggling to pay her increasing larger loan and eventually walked away from her home...and a sizable down payment.


Will $9.95 seem like a good deal when you get your first bill with the new rate 6 months from now?

If a company cannot agree to a set payment for a set service...and has an option to change the rate at a given time...RUN!!!!!!!!!!!

And while you're at it...take some sissors to all your credit cards.

You'll thank me later.

: )

Sunday, July 26, 2009


I'm 40 something guy...taking college classes again, so I spend many days around young men and women, many half my age and more.

Recently I began noticing something: Most of them are much shorter than I am.

Some background:

When I was young, my grandfather was a 6 footer, and my dad was 6'1". My parents told me Doctors had said that I could be as tall as 6'4".

Eventually, I did grow to be nearly 6'2"...and after years of squeezing myself into back seats, airline seats and searching endlessly for pants with a 36" quite glad not to have grown into those predictions.

In high-school, many of my friends were 5'10" and taller. Some towered over me.

In the late 70's in college, I felt like I was in average in height. Perhaps a bit taller than most...but not a freakish giant either.

But recently I began to notice that most every male in my college classes were 5'10" and less. I look over the heads of most all of them with few rare exceptions.

I wondered if there was anything to this. Whether it was a trend...or a local phenomena. Or if I just imagined that the people from my generations and those before us...were actually taller.

Entering "Americans getting shorter" in google gave me the instant answer: YES! It seems from research and studies...we ARE.

So why is this happening?

My first thought went to the change in the way families now eat.

When I was a kid, almost everyone ate meals prepared at home. There were few fast food restaurants to be found...and eating meals out were rare occasions.

My mother cooked balanced meals, NOTHING was fried, and she always included plenty of fruit and vegetables

But now: According to a study by the Social Science Quarterly:

"[...] we can conjecture that there are differences in the diet of U.S. and European children that could affect human growth. For example, U.S. children consume more meals prepared outside the home, more fast food rich in fat, high in energy density, and low in essential micro nutrients, than do European children."

And from another link in reference to the same article:

Now, with an average height of 5′10″, American men are now significantly shorter than men from countries [such as] Denmark (6-footers) or the Netherlands (6′ 1″). In fact, Americans –men and women — are now shorter, on average, than the citizens of every single country in Western and Northern Europe.

So Americans are becoming shorter...and it would seem our diet is at least partially too blame. (Other research points to other causes including our overly medicated society)

I'd write more on the subject but I'm meeting the neighbors and their kids at McDonald's.


NEXT post: Why in the world are Americans getting fatter???

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