Monday Morning Mish-Mash

29 09 2008

1. Well, I broke down and joined the iPod revolution. I resisted for years, annoyed as I was by the constant barrage of little white headphones at the gym, the mall, in traffic, and virtually anywhere else. My car has the ability to play an iPod through the navigation screen, and after trying one out at the gym, I decided it would make a great birthday gift. So, I collected Best Buy cards and ordered my new iPod touch this morning.

2. I found the funniest site. www.yearbookyourself.com You upload a pic of yourself and it transforms it into a yearbook photo from the past…you can choose from dozens from the 1950s all the way to 2000. Here’s what I might look like if it were 1978:

 

I swear I look just like my 10th grade biology teacher.

3. Politics. I can not wait for this election to be over. As I’ve said before, I don’t care who anyone votes for, but I wish everyone would educate themselves on the issues before heading to the polls. Also, if you’re going to point fingers at one candidate, you better make sure the other one isn’t just as guilty. Much has been made on the interwebs (and on the editorial page of my local paper) about Barack Obama’s $28,000 a plate fundraiser with some folks from Hollywood. A letter to the editor I read today used this fundraiser as an example of how out of touch Obama is, how unlike the common person, and how crazy such a fundraiser was in these economic times. Good points all, but the author (and the bloggers and forum commenters before him) failed to mention that McCain hosted a fundraising dinner the week prior with an entry price of $50,000 per plate. Does that make him almost twice as out of touch? Twice as unlike the common man? And twice as crazy? You decide.

4. I started up an old hobby this weekend. As a kid, I built several dollhouses. Then, a few years ago, I built another one that ended up going to a coworker’s two young daughters. I’ve had another kit sitting in the garage for over three years, and finally have found the time and desire to make it happen–though I still haven’t found the know-how to make it happen smoothly. It’s been a weekend of cursing and throwing things.

5. No real point to this morning’s inspirational poster. It is wrong on so many levels. Thanks to Dawtch for sending it to me! Seems like an awfully busy intersection for someone in a wheelchair to be traversing. Over the weekend, someone referred to someone in a wheelchair as “HANDICAPABLE“. Have we become so PC?? Handicapable seems a little condescending to me…sort of like when Willard Scott refers to his birthday club members as being “101 years YOUNG”. Folks, you know you are older than dirt when people start referring to you as “so many years young.”





Internet Idiot for September 26, 2008

26 09 2008

From someone posting on a political forum as “Church Lady” (natch), I bring you this gem:

“George Bush and his administration has done more for America in the past 8 years than any other President in history to help bring about the rapture. And for this I want to (thank) him and the Republicans. George Bush was elected because my God needed him as his instrument here on Earth to bring about his second coming. We only have 4 months left in George’s administration, I hope to God he can get all of God’s work done in this time so the Lord can come back. “

At first I thought the Church Lady was joking…but she pressed on:

“Yes i’m serious! The republican party is the party of GOD! They know that things have to get to the worst possible point and to let Satan run wild and do as he will with our country. Only in this way can the Lord step in and save us! Our President and his party has done the rightious thing by allowing things to unravel and go to pot! They understand what God wants, unlike the UnGodly Democrats!”

These posts represent idiocy on so many levels, so the only thing I’ll add is that I don’t think God is registered to vote.





The Cost of Being “Average”

5 09 2008

Particularly during an election year, there is always a lot of talk about the middle class. Most of us probably fall into that category. We hear a lot about helping the poor, raising the minimum wage, tax cuts, tax breaks, and a lot of meaningless numbers thrown around, out of context, that do nothing to add to our knowledge of what these politicians are talking about. But it got me thinking–what does it really take to be your average American? What kind of dough do you need to pull in to be Joe Everybody?

So, I set about finding out. I’m making a lot of assumptions here, but most of them are safe ones. Where facts were needed, I did my best to make sure I got good ones. If I’ve made a goof along the way, I welcome corrections. So, here we go, let’s meet the average American family and take a look at their finances.

Who are they?

They’re a young couple with 2 kids. Both parents work outside of the home. They have an average house, two average cars, and try to be somewhat prudent with their finances. As is typical of average Americans, they carry more debt than they would like, and don’t save as much as they wish they could. They enjoy life, but don’t get too extravagent.

Their home and home expenses

The facts tell us that the average home (median) will set Mr. and Mrs. Average back about $215,000. Let’s make the far-fetched assumption that they were able to put down twenty percent when they bought this house, and so mortgaged $172,000. We will assume that they have good credit, and financed their home at 6 percent (a fair assumption according to bankrate.com) That means their mortgage payment, exclusive of any common escrow items, is $1031.23. But as we all know, there’s a lot more checks to be written than the mortgage payment when you own a house.

Utilities. Let’s assume they have the basics–electric, water, sewer, phone and internet, cable or satellite TV. For the sake of simplicity, we will assume it is an all electric house so that there are no bills for gas.

The average house had, in 2006, an electric bill of $87.56 per month. Since our average family’s house is all electric, and since we all know that energy costs have risen since then, I think it’s fair (in fact, generous) to say that their average monthly electric bill is $100. The most recent information I could find on an average cable bill was from 2003 and it suggested that the average cable bill was then $48.93 a month. I feel its safe, and maybe generous, to assume that the average cable bill is $55 per month. Since home phone and internet plans can vary widely, I’m going to use my own bill as a basis for the Averages–$80 a month for medium-speed DSL and a no-frills phone line. Since I will assume, for purposes of this exercise, that our Average family uses their cell phones to make long distance call, I’m not adding anything to their home phone bill for  that. Based on info I found online, the average water and sewer bill is $46.17 per month.

Now we’ve paid the mortgage and the utilities, but we still need to insure, maintain, and pay the property taxes on their average house. In 2005, the average cost of a homeowner’s policy was $764 a year. My own homeowner’s insurance has remained relatively flat since then, so I’ll use that number to get to a monthly cost of $63.67. Now, those pesky property insurance taxes. According to the National Homebuilder’s Association, our average family will pay $9.64 per $1000 of value in taxes. For their $215,000 home, that comes out to be a tax bill of $2072.60 a year, or $172.72 per month. Lastly, let’s generously assume that our family either spends or saves for future repairs, $100 a month to maintain their house. For purposes of this exercise, we will assume that the Averages live in a neighborhood that doesn’t charge homeowner’s dues, and that trash collection is provided by their city as part of their property tax bill. We will also assume that Mr. and Mrs. Average take care of their own lawn and do their own cleaning, as I said, they aren’t extravagent folks.

  • mortgage-$1031.23
  • electric–$100
  • cable tv-$55
  • home phone/internet-$80
  • water and sewer-$46.17
  • homeowner’s insurance-$63.67
  • Property Taxes on house-$172.72
  • Maintenance and Repairs-$100
  • TOTAL MONTHLY HOUSING COST–$1648.79

Their Cars and Related Expenses

I think it’s safe to say that Mr. and Mrs. Average have two cars. The average price of a new car is $22,651. If we give these folks the benefit of the doubt and say they put 20 percent down on their cars, and got one of those good interest rate deals (let’s say 4.9 percent for 60 months) that you always see advertised, I get that they end up with two “average” car payments of $341.13. To insure these cars will cost an average of $829 each or $138.17 a month for the two cars. Now, let’s say they put a combined 25,000 miles on the two cars each year, average being somewhere in the neighborhood of 12-15 thousand per car. And let’s be generous and assume they get an average of 25 MPG. With gas at around $3.50 a gallon, they are still shelling out $3500 a year for fuel, or $291.67 a month. Since they’re still paying on  both cars, I figure they aren’t shelling out much for repairs, but I will figure an average of $70 a month to cover maintenance and normal wear and tear items (tires, brakes, etc.) I’m also going to figure that Mr. and Mrs. Average do not live in a big city where parking and tolls are exhorbitant, but guess that they spend an average of $25 a month on those items.

  • Car payments: two at $341.13- $682.16
  • Car insurance-$138.17
  • Gas-$291.67
  • Repair and maintenance-$70
  • Tolls/Parking-$25
  • Total Car Expenses-$1207

Childcare Expenses

I’m going to assume that the Average children are both in school, and so don’t need full time day care.  Looking at different after-school only programs results in wildly differing prices. I think it’s reasonable to guess that the Averages pay $400 for afterschool care for both children each month. It’s fair to think that mom and dad get out of the house a time or two a month and pay a sitter to watch the kids while they do, so let’s throw in another $40 for that–bringing us a total of $440 a month for childcare.

Healthcare Expenses

This is another area where it’s hard to get good information on what is “average,” but I’m going to presume that Mom and Dad Average are both lucky enough to work for employers who pay the full premium on employees health insurance, so only the part for the kids needs to be paid for out of pocket. Based on what I’ve seen online, personal experience, and by asking a few folks who are in just this situation, I am going to conservatively plug in that the Averages pay $180 a month out of pocket to keep their kids covered on insurance. Then we have copays, prescriptions, over the counter meds, deductibles, eye care, and dental care. Our Mr. and Mrs. Average are fairly healthy, but it’s no stretch to think all these other things combined average out to another $120 a month in out of pocket expenses. That leaves us with a very fair average of $300 a month that the Averages use on health care.

Wooo! So where are we so far?

  • The Averages are spending $1648.79 on housing
  • $1207 on cars
  • $440 a month on child care
  • $300 a month on health care

Wow…we’re just shy of $3600 a month in bring-home pay and these people are still running around naked and haven’t had a bite to eat! So let’s look at their other expenses:

Food

The USDA reports that our average family of four (using their moderate level) will spend about $961.10 a month on food. That number assumes that every meal is eaten at home, which isn’t realistic and I’m going to be generous here and assume that Mrs. Average is a bargain shopper who clips those coupons, uses the shopper value cards, and looks for the sales, and round that down to $840 a month. Since no average family eats every meal at home, let’s say the family of four has dinner out together three times a month, at a cost of $50 each time, or $150 a month. We’ll say that mom and dad are both good to take lunch from home, but will grab the midday meal with friends a time or two a week, spending an average between them of $25 a week, or $100 a month on lunches  out. Maybe they stop by Starbucks every now and then, or get the kids a quick snack from McDonalds, so lets throw in another $50 a month for that sort of thing. And, hopefully, Mr. and Mrs. Average have a night out alone once a month, and treat themselves to a nice dinner for $60. If my math is correct, then, our Average family is spending $1200 a month on food.

Clothes and Personal Hygiene

It’s hard to pin down what our Average family might spend on clothes…it varies so widely depending on a  number of factors, but with two growing kids, I think it’s fair to say that they probably spend $1500 a year buying clothes, shoes, and the like. That’s $125 a month. Then there’s dry cleaning, which I’ll conservatively allow $30 a month for. So, add another $155 a month to their budget for clothes. My Averages are fairly low maintenance folks..Mom won’t be at the nail salon every week, or having a set of $200 high and low lights done, but to keep four heads of hair cut, shampooed, and four bodies bathed and smelling nice will surely set them back another $75 a month, which brings us to $230 a month for clothes and personal care.

Gifts

Whether it’s Christmas, birthdays, or weddings, there is always some reason to be gift giving. In 2007, the average family planned to spend $859 on Christmas gifts alone. Throw in birthdays, weddings, anniversaries, etc. and it’s fair to say that our average family will spend, on average, $100 a month on gifts.

Travel

AAA says that the average cost for a vacation for a family of four is $261 a day for food and lodging. So, a seven day vacation will run the Averages $1827. So there’s another $152.25 a month, and mom and dad don’t even get a weekend away together.

Debt

I’m going to be very generous here and assume that our couple has already paid off any student loans they might have had. Other than their mortgage and cars, I will say they have no other debt other than a few thousand dollars on credit cards that they make payments of $100 a month on. (see, I told you our average family was fairly prudent with their money)

Savings

Between retirement, college funds, and rainy day funds, our Average couple needs to be saving a lot, but they don’t. Still, they contribute something to their 401ks and put aside what they can for the little ones college, so let’s say they are putting away $400 a month all told.

So where are we?

  • The Averages are spending $1648.79 on housing
  • $1207 on cars
  • $440 a month on child care
  • $300 a month on health care
  • $1200 a month on food
  • $230 for clothes and personal care
  • $100 a month on gifts
  • $152.25 for travel
  • $100 debt payments
  • $400 a month to savings

Throw in another $80 for mom and dad to have a cell phone, and Thats a grand total of $5758.04 every month. Before they pay a dime of income or social security taxes, before they pay for any entertainment, before buying any furniture, books, or television sets. That’s almost 70 grand a year in TAKE HOME pay just to be “average”. Makes you think, doesn’t it?





Sarah Palin–a BRILLIANT Move by the McCain Campaign

3 09 2008

OK, I try not to talk too much politics. But the nomination of Sarah Palin as McCain’s running mate was the most brilliant move that campaign has made.

Why? Because she is qualified? Naaa…she seems to have about as much experience as Obama, and reportedly wasn’t even sure what a Vice President did.

Because she ain’t too hard on the eyes? Well, that never hurts. Though I think she looks like a cross between Megan Mullally and Deborah Jeane Palfrey. But, no, that’s not it either.

It’s brilliant because people are actually talking about his campaign now. It’s someone from the McCain camp who is on the cover of every tabloid and gossip rag. It’s McCain who is on the fingertips of bloggers across the country.

While Palin’s story would seem to make her an unlikely conservative candidate, it’s somewhat refreshing to see someone who isn’t as polished and fake running for office. Here we have a fairly young woman, who, if you do the math, was knocked up prior to her own wedding. Whose 17 year old daughter has found herself in a “family way” with a mullet-wearing good-ole-boy whose myspace page was littered with profanity. Who last week was alleged to have pulled a Bree VanDeKamp and pretended to be the mother of her own grandchild. Who, by her own admission, gave a speech halfway across the country and then flew home to Alaska while she was in labor.

I’m reminded of a line from the Birdcage: “THIS IS ENQUIRER HEAVEN!!” For over a year, no one has given a rat’s patoot what John McCain had to say. Meanwhile, Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama haven’t been able to break wind without an analyst and two photographers present. Now, with the addition of the storied Palin, the interwebs are abuzz with half truths, outright lies, speculation, and rumor about McCain’s VP pick.

It was brilliant, I say. On the heels of his historical nomination, no one is even talking about Barack Obama this week.





Republican National Convention Schedule of Events

25 08 2008

Didn’t have to keep you waiting too long…

as an almost-equal opportunity jokester, I present

The Republican National Convention Schedule of Events

* 7:00 pm – Ceremonial burning of the U.S. Constitution
* 7:15 pm – Spiritual Medium Sylvia Browne performs psychic séance in desperate attempt to raise Ronald Reagan from the grave
* 7:35 pm – “The Pleasu res of Adultery” – with Newt Gingrich & Rudy Giuliani
* 8:05 pm – Gay sex party in Men’s Restroom hosted by Senator Larry Craig
* 8:35 pm – Transvestite Ann Coulter – “My Life as a Man”
* 8:55 pm – Live satellite feed from Federal Prison – Ohio Rep. Bob Ney
* 9:05 pm – Guest speaker ex-Florida Congressman Mark Foley ” Joys with Young Boys”
* 9:25 pm – Oliver North – ” Iran is Evil, but I sold them weapons anyway”
* 9:40 pm – Bill O’ Reilly – ” The costs of sexual harassment and phone sex with employees”
* 10:00 pm – Gay sex party in Men’s Room hosted by Ken Mehlman and Geraldo Rivera
* 10:25 pm – Check John McCain to see if he’s still breathing and if his adult diaper needs changed.
* 10:35 pm – N.R.A. President hosts an assault riffle target practice on Gays and Mexicans.
* 10:45 pm – Call emergency squad after a drunken Dick Cheney accidentally shoots his friend in the face.
* 11:00 pm – President Bush performs his hilarious comedy routine where he looks for Iraq’s fictitious WMD’s under guests tables.
* 11:15 pm – Governor Mike Huckabee does his famous uncanny imitation of Gomer Pyle.
* 11:20 pm – Group intervention to get Rush Limbaugh back into drug rehab
* 11: 45 pm – Go up on rooftop and throw rocks down at homeless Vets sleeping in alley.
* 12:00 am – Live satellite feed from Federal Prison – California Congressman Randy “Duke” Cunningham
* 12:20 am – Convicted felon/Fox News analyst G. Gordon Liddy – Lock picking secrets
* 12: 40 am – Guest speakers Donald Rumsfeld and Paul Wolfowitz – “How to lie your Country into a War”
* 1:00 am – Former House Majority Leader Tom DeLay – “Tips on Money Laundering”
* 1:15 am – Hookers arrive for after party





Democratic National Convention, Schedule of Events

25 08 2008

I’m sure the schedule for the Republican convention will be out soon, but since the Democratic one starts this week, figured I better get this out there…

2008 DEMOCRATIC NATIONAL CONVENTION SCHEDULE OF EVENTS

7:00 pm Opening Flag Burning

7:15 pm Pledge of Allegiance in Spanish

7:20 pm Ted Kennedy proposes a toast

7:25 pm Non Religious prayer and worship with Rev Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton

7:45 pm Ceremonial Tree Hugging

7:55 pm Ted Kennedy proposes a toast

8:00 pm How I Invented the Internet – Al Gore

8:15 pm Gay Wedding Planning – Barney Frank presiding

8:35 pm Ted Kennedy proposes a toast and explains the new Amnesty Program

8:40 pm Our Troops are War Criminals – John Kerry

9:00 pm Memorial Service for Saddam and his sons – Cindy Sheehan and Susan Sarandon

10:00 pm Answering Machine Etiquette – Alec Baldwin

11:00 pm Ted Kennedy proposes a toast

11:05 pm Collection for the Osama Bin Laden Kidney Transplant Fund – Barbra Streisand

11:15 pm Free the Freedom Fighters from Guantanamo Bay – Sean Penn

11:30 pm Oval Office Affairs – William Jefferson Clinton

11:45 pm Ted Kennedy proposes a toast

11:50 pm How George Bush Brought Down the World Trade Center Towers – Howard Dean

12:15 am ‘Truth in Broadcasting’ Award – Presented to Dan Rather by Michael Moore

12:25 am Ted Kennedy proposes a toast

12:30 am Satellite Address by Mohammed Ahmadinejad

12:45 am Nomination of Hillary Rodham Clinton by Nancy Pelosi

1:00 am Ted Kennedy proposes a toast and provides swimming lessons

1:35 am Hillary Rodham Clinton announces Bill Clinton as her running mate for VP

1:40 am Bill Clinton asks Ted Kennedy to drive Hillary home





McCain Takes Donation from Owner of a Gay Sex Website

16 08 2008

As I was surfing through the interwebs this evening, I came across this juicy little story on Towleroad. Apparently, one of the founders of “ManHunt”, a website that caters to gays looking for a “hook up” is a McCain supporter.  Jonathan Crutchley gave the maximum individual contribution ($2300) to McCain’s campaign. Given that McCain is anti-anything-gay it’s no shock that he returned the donation once they learned who the donor was.  But surely Crutchley realized McCain’s views, unless, perhaps, he has been too busy spending the 2.5 million dollars his website makes per month to study up on politics. (who knew there was that much money to be made from such a site??)








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