Archive for May 2008


Sunday, May 25th, 2008

This is a test post from flickr, a fancy photo sharing thing.

Stimulating thoughts about that $600

Thursday, May 15th, 2008

Now that tax season is over, now comes the fun part. Getting that economic stimulus payment. Or is it really fun at all? 

Unfortunately, it appears that retailers may not see the benefit of the $600 checks, as many people are opting either to pay off debt or put it into savings. Of course, there’s nothing wrong with that.

But it points to a weakness of giving out tax rebates. Usually it’s done with the intent to stimulate spending, but once that check is cut, it really is up to that person on what to spend it on, or whether to spend it at all.  That so many people are choosing not to spend it speaks volumes.

One place that’s interesting reading (via Lifehacker) is How I Spent My Stimulus, where people tell their stories of how they spent their $600 or equivalent.  From the category count, people used their money for travel the most, followed by paying down credit card debt, electronics, home improvement, and savings and investment.

Of course, the thing that I find interesting for those that choose travel is that a lot of them used the money for foreign trips, thus stimulating another country’s economy.

Some of the stories:

  • “I had big plans for my stimulus, which included taking a trip that would put the first stamp in my passport. However, I got laid off the day after I received my payment and then my puppy got violently ill. My stimulus didn’t even cover her ER visit. Thanks for helping my puppy get better.”
  • “Put $1000 towards paying off a week long hospitalization for pulmonary embolism than happend 5 years ago. $4000 left to go!”
  • “I bought a make controller kit. I want to build a device to open the window to let the cat in our out, saving me approx. 20 hours a week of window opening.”

As for me?  I pay my credit card off each month, always at the last possible moment for maximum float, and I’ve been able to put a good amount of my everyday money in savings and still live comfortably. So, rightly or wrongly, I treat my tax refunds like mad money. Part of this year’s federal tax refund funded a new DSLR.

And my current plans for my stimulus check, due around the 4th of July, is to use it to for a trip. Over the past couple of years I’ve been taking trips to Oregon in late August in order to participate in the Hood to Coast Relay. Normally I take one week, and the big expense is the airfare. I stay with a team member, usually in private housing, and we usually have use of a car, so it’s pretty inexpensive.  This year I decided to stay an extra week through Labor Day, take out a hotel room, rent a car, and see the Oregon countryside.

I probably would have done it anyway, stimulus or no. But it feels good not to have to go into debt to do it.

How do you plan to use your stimulus check?

Being attacked vs. being unnoticed

Sunday, May 4th, 2008

I would rather be attacked than unnoticed. For the worst thing you can do to an author is to be silent as to his works. An assault upon a town is a bad thing; but starving it is still worse.

Samuel Johnson

Sometimes I wonder if Samuel Johnson had blogs in mind when he said this in the 18th century.

Never since the invention of moveable type has there been so much…well…stuff being written, on just about any subject. Just search Technorati and somewhere, someplace, someone is writing about that subject. And sometimes people write just for the sake of writing, just to say how good or how bad their days have been, or how sick as a dog they are.

But one thing is certain. They write to be read. They don’t put this stuff out there without the expectation of there being a readership, however small. 

The artist puts paint to canvas for his own enjoyment, but no doubt his enjoyment would be enhanced if someone were moved by the painting enough to buy it. And even if the critic pans it, well, it was noticed. Someone saw it. And once that happens, the work’s reason for being has been fulfilled.

Back to blogs. Some are good, others are utter garbage. And no doubt this humble place I call home on the Web falls into the latter category. But I probably wouldn’t be too far off the mark to generalize that for many bloggers, the measure of success for a post is their comment count.

I know that’s true for me. If I get a comment, or a request to moderate a well-thought out comment (i.e. not spam), then I can rest in the satisfaction that someone read it. They may not agree with what I say, but I yelled from the mountaintop and got an echo back.

Still, what makes it hard to write (and part of the reason that I go through feast and famine stages in posting) is that sometimes I feel like I have to say something totally outrageous.

Like:  I eat human flesh for breakfast.

And if you believe that, I have some land on the slopes of Kilauea to sell you.

So, my question to you (those of you who have blogs): How true does Samuel Johnson’s quote hold for you? What motivates you to keep your blog?

Not exactly icy pavement, but still amusing

Friday, May 2nd, 2008

The only way to amuse some people is to slip and fall on an icy pavement.
 Howe, Edgar Watson on Amusement Quote from Quotations Book

Or…to slip and fall on live television, as Ryan Ozawa at HawaiiBlog did on KITV 4.