Useless Thoughts Running Through My Head

various musings of a generation x kad

Archive for May, 2007

Note to self: factor car maintenance into the budget

Posted by thoughtful1 on May 31, 2007

Ouch.  Tomorrow I am going to get hit with a four digit car repair bill.  Expensive pieces of my air conditioning need to be replaced.  I was leaking freon into the air, and as an eco-conscious UU I would feel guilty if I didn’t do something about that.

Plus, at 36, I cannot tolerate hot weather like I could when I was 20.  Thinking about how uncomfortable I was this past weekend driving around in hot weather with a car that was blowing cool air on me, I am amazed that in college I drove around Southern Virginia in August and May w/o AC in my car.

So tomorrow the car should be done, and I can add a few more dollars towards my GM rebate on some future car purchase.  I just looked at my budget to see how I am going to pay for all this.  It looks like I will have to ease up on my savings plan.  *sigh*  And I’ll have to stop eating out as much.  I was really good – I brought my lunch almost every day.  Then the weather got nice, and I wanted to go outside.  Then I started having lunch with the co-workers.  And no I’ve been spending more than I wanted on lunch.  Starting next week I’m going to try to be better about making my lunch.

Anyhoo, the result of this is when I make my budget for 2009, instead of assuming I won’t have some yucky car maintenance, I will factor it in.

And perhaps I should start wondering if I should consider buying a new car.  My current car is 11 years old, so that would be an argument for buying a new one.  I take public transportation, so I am not dependent on the car for work.  I just need it for running errands.   So those are arguments against.  Plus, I don’t really want to take out a car loan right now.  Hmm.  Maybe I’ll just keep an eye on things for the next year or two.

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Posted in finances, my mundane life | 1 Comment »

WordPress emoticon test

Posted by thoughtful1 on May 29, 2007

OK, before I spam Kinsi’s comments trying to get the emoticon that expresses my emotion correctly, I’ll just test them out here:

:+) 🙂

:+D 😀

:+P 😛

:+p :p

:+| 😐

8+) 8)

:+\ :\

:+/ :/

:+d :d

:+O :O

:+o 😮

;+) 😉

Posted in meta | Leave a Comment »

Eew… I knew this, but…

Posted by thoughtful1 on May 29, 2007

I am a geek.  I track my mortgage in an Excel spreadsheet.  I like to keep track of how much pre-paying the principal is saving me.  And I have a graph of remaining principal and interest paid.  I took a look at it tonight, and I noticed something really depressing:

By the end of my 30 year mortgage I will have paid more in interest than I ever paid in principal.

I think I knew this, but seeing it graphically represented drilled it home.  Ouch.

Posted in finances, my mundane life | Leave a Comment »

The Chinese adoptees are growing up… and getting organized!

Posted by thoughtful1 on May 29, 2007

Very cool – adult Chinese adoptees are beginning to organize and have formed their own group, Chinese Adoptee Links International.  The website is http://www.chineseadopteelinks.org .  Click here to read an aritcle about the group.

Posted in adoption, transracial adoption | Leave a Comment »

Gobfather update

Posted by thoughtful1 on May 25, 2007

A while ago I complained that I could no longer find Ben & Jerry’s Gobfather ice cream.

Well, much to my happiness, I found some!! And it was on sale!! Happy happy joy joy!!

Posted in my mundane life, peeves, weaknesses | 1 Comment »

Asians at the office

Posted by thoughtful1 on May 25, 2007

Nearly a month ago I moved to a new cubicle at work.  Due to some personnel shuffling I am part of a new group, so I am no longer with the same people I’d been with for five years.  I am with a new crew.

Naturally, I was a little nervous.  Would I still be allowed to listen to audio streams on my headphones?  Would the new cubicle neighbors be friendly?  Would I fit in?

So far, so good.  The interesting development is that there seems to be a very loose  Asian networking type of thing going on.  By that I mean there are a few of us who were all raised here, and I began to notice yesterday that one of the reasons we get along and occasionally go out to lunch is that we’re Asian American.  It’s a new experience for me – engaging in casual social get-togethers (lunch, watercooler type chitchat)  in part because I’m Asian.  Also novel is that no one blinks any eye over the fact that I don’t speak any Asian languages.  No vibe that I’ve somehow failed the Old Country or that I’m not Asian enough.  My lack of Asianness, so to speak, is accepted matter-of-factly.

It’s a nice feeling

Posted in my mundane life, race, sociology | Leave a Comment »

Sudan, China, and the Yellow Peril

Posted by thoughtful1 on May 24, 2007

This past Sunday we had a service on peacemaking. One of the speakers, a member of the church, spoke about genocide in Darfur. She urged us to join the Unitarian Universalist Services Committee and support their work to end the killing in Sudan. She also spoke about divestment and the latest push on Fidelity to stop investing money in companies that do business with Sudan.

The highlighted companies were Chinese: PetroChina and Sinopec. In fact, those were the only two companies I recall hearing about, and I’m pretty they were the only companies mentioned.

She also mentioned that there were rumblings about boycotting the Beijing Olympics in order to pressure the Chinese government to stop buying oil from Sudan. So it appears that China would make a good target for social justice pressure, and its companies good targets for divestment.

But, here is my question: Why only China? Why is China the new Big Bad in lefty social justice circles? And why only about Darfur? Why not about China’s long record of civil and human rights abuses?

After all, India is also industrializing and needs oil for energy. And, as we all know, just about everyone else needs oil…. So something tells me that China isn’t the only country buying oil from Sudan. And something tells me that it isn’t just Chinese companies doing business in Sudan.

I went to the Sudan Divestment Task Force Screener, where you can see if your mutual funds are invested in companies that do business with Sudan. I checked the investments of various Vanguard and Fidelity mutual funds that hold stocks. I checked some of the main funds, such as Vanguard’s Wellington fund, and some more specialized funds for categories such as emerging markets and Pacific Rim, companies that aren’t American, with some located in developing countries.

Guess what?

While I found several funds holding stock in PetroChina and Sinopec, they were not the most common offender held by the mutual funds I looked at. The most common stock held was Schlumberger Ltd. Or at least it was the one that kept popping up when I looked at the different funds. Doesn’t sound very Chinese to me. In fact, it is incorporated in the Netherlands Antilles. (Schlumberger is also traded on the NYSE and is part of the S&P 500… does that make it quasi-American?)

There were also a few other stocks of Scandinavian and Indian companies. But I don’t hear anyone saying boo about the Scandinavians or Indians. Is that because it’s easier to slam evil Communists with a reputation for being diabolical and shifty than it is to slam white, progressive, respectful Scandinavians? (Don’t know why Indians are getting off easy on this one…. Maybe it’s the Bollywood movies? Or perhaps we see them as heroic for throwing off the British Empire with non-violence? That’s probably more likely.)

Mind you, I did not make a scientific study, and I certainly didn’t look at every single fund that held equities. But I did find it curious that I was more likely to see Schlumberger Ltd than PetroChina or Sinopec.

This makes me worry. Don’t get me wrong – I abhor what is happening in Sudan. It is an outrage.  But I have to wonder if this is an example of how lingering racism and colonialism creeps into the way we carry out social justice. Is picking on China rooted, in part, in American fears of the Yellow Peril? Is picking on China a little colonialist? We’re entitled to tell you Asians what to do, but we won’t bother telling our White European cousins what to do? Is picking on China another way in which white liberals carry out social justice with an unconscious racism?

Some may say that with the severity of what is happening Darfur this doesn’t matter. As long we get someone to stop spending money in Sudan then we’ve done good. OK, but by allowing racism and colonialism to narrow our view of who the bad guys are, aren’t we allowing others to continue enabling genocide, albeit indirectly and unintentionally?

[P.S. I’m sure that those who are heavily involved in the divestment strategy know that it isn’t just Chinese companies, and I imagine that others know this as well.  It just strikes me that the companies that have entered into the main UU awareness on this issue are Chinese, and that the overriding sentiment is we have to pressure China.]

Posted in politics, race, social action, unitarian universalism | Leave a Comment »

Yet another weather complaint

Posted by thoughtful1 on May 18, 2007

A week ago I was the moron who turned on her central air without taking the cover off.

This morning I turned the heat on.  In case the condo temp dropped down below 60.  The thermostat was at 63 when I woke up.  Why?  Because it is 41 degrees and raining outside.

Mother Earth, please make up your mind!  And please don’t flood any part of my state.  We had enough fun with that last May.

Posted in peeves | 1 Comment »

My hands are beginning to look “old”

Posted by thoughtful1 on May 14, 2007

My hands are beginning to look “old.” I noticed it today at work. It’s the skin. It’s drier. I looked down at the back of my hand and I could clearly see those little line the form tiny diamonds. And the skin looked saggier. Not that I always had smooth, taut skin on my hands. The skin was always saggy and wrinkly around the knuckles, but now it’s saggy and wrinkly on the back back of the hand as well.

So I am aging, and my skin is getting drier. I already drink 8 glasses of water a day. I do this because it’s supposed to be good for you – keep you hydrated. But my skin is still getting drier. Perhaps I should get a different hand lotion? It used to be I only needed lotion in the winter. But now I need it in the summer.

Or maybe all the water I’m drinking to be healthy is making me go to the bathroom more often is the problem. After all, I wash my hands each time, which dries them out. Aaa… health and beauty – you’re supposed to be compatible, dagnabbit.

Posted in aging, my mundane life, silly thoughts | 5 Comments »

We have a new settled minister!

Posted by thoughtful1 on May 13, 2007

This morning my congregation took on vote on whether to call the candidate for minister that our Search Committee recommended.  Our board president just sent an e-mail out saying that the candidate has accepted our call!

YAY!!

I wanted to jump for joy and do a happy dance.  I didn’t really expect to be so happy about it, but this morning they told us that she could take 24 hours to decide whether to accept our call or not.  I had forgotten that not only do we have to decide if we want her as minister, but she has to decide if she wants us as a congregation.  So I left church this morning worried that she’d say no, and then we’d have to start all over again.  That, and I couldn’t see any reason why she wouldn’t be a good minister to us.  I didn’t get to know her very well during candidating week, and I was unable to engage in lengthy conversations with her.  However, what I did see I liked.  I was impressed by her sermons – she’s thoughtful and inclusive, and that’s important to me.

Right now I am feeling happy and relieved.  My church had a rough a time and we’ve been healing, but after going through a failed ministry and recovering it feels as though the wind was taken our of our sails.  I’m looking forward to next year when we get to know her better, and perhaps things can begin to settle in our congregation as we find our way again.

On the flip side, I will miss our current interim.  I suppose it’s natural, but I also wonder if the sadness I feel over him leaving is some sort of residual adoptee separation anxiety.  It’s hard to tell sometimes.

Posted in adoption, my mundane life, religion, unitarian universalism | Leave a Comment »