A huge portion of Americans are in debt, that's a fact. But how is it that we got into this situation, where we couldn't dig ourselves out of the hole. Most of it, of course, is because we're consumers.
We like to buy, we like to buy a lot. The other side of the coin though is that there are people all over the world, that work for credit card companies, who want you to end up in debt.
They lure you with their interest rates, one-year no payment offers, anything they can pull out of their butts to get you signed up. Everywhere you go now they offer you a credit card; Target, Wal-mart and so on and so forth.
Plus they've made everything so expensive that you need a credit card to buy stuff. The wonderful thing, that many companies advocate, is that credit cards are accepted anywhere. You can use your credit cards to purchase everything from fast food to a new car.
And, don't forget that to purchase just about anything online you have to have a credit card; to rent a video you need a credit card and heck you can use your credit card to purchase that new kidney you need so badly.
So, what is an American consumer to do ? I'll tell you what. My wife and I don't have any credit cards and when we need to make an online purchase we go to the store and purchase one of those Visa gift cards.
They work online just like a regular credit cards, minus the high interest rate, you'll never pay it off, payments. It's already paid for, no need for monthly payments.
A general rule of thumb I've learned from my own experience and from the experience of others also a simple rule to follow, "If you can't afford to pay cash, than you can't afford it".
So next time that guy in the check out line, usually called a cashier, offers you a saving of 15% on your purchase if you sign up for their credit cards, just say no. Just think of it as being the same rules as not doing drugs, "Just say No".
Because, let's face it now, spending huge sums of money for a lot of people is like a drug. It's addictive and makes you feel good. Just like any drug though, you're going to hit that low point where you hate yourself.
March 22, 2008
March 21, 2008
This is my newest cartoon, I call it "Staring Contest Championships". It was just a silly idea that popped into my head, so I drew a rough draft. This is my updated piece, don't have the use of a scanner right now... If your interested in seeing the original feel free to e-mail me and I'll use my wife's scanner. Hope you like it, I had fun drawing it.
March 20, 2008
I bet you all were just waiting for this post. It's something I have to cover, it's a holiday and you have to cover holidays(hello?). It's a great holiday, a holiday especially fun for kids. You've got the Easter bunny, hiding and finding eggs, wonderful candy treats, eating the chocolate bunny's head, etc.
My kids love it, especially the eating of the candy. Last year we did it with a special flair, my wife and I used plastic eggs with little suction cups, strings, glow in the dark paint and double-sided tape. It was amazing the places you could hide the darn things. My wife actually made me re-hide some of them because I'd hidden them to well. I guess the kids should actually be able to find them at some point.
But as an adult I know the real meaning behind Easter, the whole point of why we're supposed to celebrate it, the resurrection of Jesus the Christ. But, like every other Christian holiday, it has taken on a whole different image from what was originally intended.
The original belief surrounding the Bunny of Easter began with the Pagan story of a lowly rabbit who wanted to please the Goddess Ostara so badly that he, after decorating his eggs beautifully(eggs are meant to represent life), delivered them to her.
I have no problem with the Easter bunny and collecting eggs because, as I said before, that part is fun for the kids. Now I know that most of our holidays stem from old Pagan beliefs but the change from Pagan to Christian happened long before any of us were born. Not to say that if your a Pagan that you can't celebrate it, like your forebears, the way it was originally intended to be celebrated.
But I celebrate it in the Christian sense, so that's how I discuss it. And whether your Pagan or Christian you need to not let the commercial aspect of a national holiday change it completely and forget the origins. Just because we live in " Corporate" America doesn't mean we have to always follow that path.
But I'm going all over the place now, aren't I? Celebrate Easter the way you believe it should be celebrated, Christian or Pagan, but don't lose sight of the point. That's what I've been trying to say during all this rambling.
By the way if your kids beg you to go see the Easter bunny and get their picture taken with him, take them. I've discussed before in my posts how important it is to have those "moments" with your kids, this is your chance to capture one of those moments. Come on now can't you do something you may find weird or boring at least once a year for your kids.
That's all for now I guess, I'll be back at a later time. If your interested in the Pagan origins of Easter and how other people celebrate them, look for another post tomorrow on the matter.
March 19, 2008
I've been drawing funny little cartoons since I was probably about 6 or 7, at least. So I finally decided to do something with it and start putting them up.
I hope you like them, my wife would tell you I have a sense of humor that makes me laugh, not always others. But I think it's about time to do something with my artwork.
I've been an artist most of my life, I do everything from portraits and architecture to cartoons and comics. So I decided that would be my Joe's Thought for today, artists.
There are millions of us, new ones born everyday. But what is it that sets one artist aside from all the others. You could say it's technique, ability, sense of reality, practice, who they know and the list, once again, could go on forever. I tend to think it's not as simple as just one of these things, I think it's a combination of a few.
Sure it helps if you know someone but if your just not meant to be an artist and don't have the skill your not going to make it. Than again I've seen artwork that I'm sure only the artist themselves understood and they were an overnight success. Heck sometimes you have to die before you become well known in the artistic world, I'm not even going to attempt that list.
My philosophy in life follows along the lines of Fate; I believe whatever your meant to become is going to happen if it's meant to happen. Sure there are things you can do to improve your chances but, like it or not, you might not make it. Or, you could become the next big thing.
Nobody knows until it happens. I know that it can be scary thing to send your stuff out, life's scary sometimes, yet I want you to send in your stuff. Photographs, sketch's, drawings, paintings... Scan it, take a picture of it, I don't care how you send it. I want to see some of your stuff.
You see my thoughts everyday, let me see how your mind works. I won't post anyones pictures without there consent and I'm not selling anything here. I guess you could say I'm just curious. Plus, I believe for those of you who decide to share, that we can learn from each other.
How about that, you send me yours, I'll send you some of mine. Let's share, learn, grow and appreciate each others artistic side.
There's your challenge Dear Readers. Come on show me your talent, I dare you.
March 18, 2008
Smoking is a very nasty habit, I should know I've been smoking for 11 years now. And the thing is that I know that it's killing me; slowly but surely it's destroying my heart, lungs, immune system, etc. But for reasons I still don't fully understand, everyday I pick up that pack, take out a cigarette and light up. Every hour on the hour I'm puffing away. I smoke somewhere between a half a pack to a pack a day. Which of course isn't to bad compared to a lot of smokers. What I really want, like many smokers, is to finally be free of that urge, that desire to smoke. So here we go, I want to hear from you, my Dear Readers, what's worked for you and what hasn't. I've seen plenty of infomercials and read plenty of " Quit Smoking" guides. But I want to hear it from the people who have quit and those who, like me, struggle to quit. I don't want a medical chart showing me where it's getting me or a medical site overview of how and why smoking kills. As I said previously, I've seen and read most of that. I want herbal remedies, alternative remedies, a review of some of these stop smoking "aids", etc. I need some inspiration, like those out there who also struggle, and a good over site of what's working. Do you have an Aunt, Uncle, Grandfather, etc. who have dies from the effects of smoking ? I want to hear about it. We're going to spread the inspiration here people. I'll even pick the best story, remedy, idea, etc. and feature it in a weekly post, starting April 1st. I'll post a new one every week. Than I'll put together a "Best of" list for quitting the terrible habit of smoking. Let's get it together, put away the coffin nails and spread the word.
March 17, 2008
Let's see here, who should I vote for? Well I can vote for Hillary, because she's a woman or I can vote for Obama, because he's a black guy. That's about how objectively everyone is looking at this election. No ones really looking at what these people represent anymore, it's about the first this or the first that. I don't care if the president of the United States is black, a woman, a transvestite or just likes to take long trip into the country to cross-dress. It's about how the persons going to lead the country. When the heck did this become a high school prom king and queen election? I'd vote for Ronald McDonald if I knew he'd get all the war, taxes, social security and illegal immigration stuff cleared up. The U.S. is in such a mess right now and all people and magazines can talk about is that we may have our first woman or black president. Isn't that how we got into this mess in the first place, by ignoring the issues? We went into Iraq because they had weapons of mass destruction, which they didn't of course. The excuse for that one was that they had the capacity to create weapons of mass destruction. But if you're going to kill people over what they have the capacity to do, then we're all screwed. But I'm getting off subject aren't I? Sorry about that, so many thoughts blazing through this high speed Internet of a silly mans brain. So we've got Obama, whom to me seems a bit too perfect on the record and Hillary, who obviously knows how to fool everyone into believing she might be a good leader. That's just my opinion of course and often my opinion is just as un-objective as everyone else's. I mean, what do we really know about these people? If your one of those people that believes what that People magazine said or what Oprah thinks about Obama, than you need to take a big reality check pill. The magazines are trying to get sales and Oprah is looking for a way to either A) Get in on the action or B) Is being paid very well to say who'd they want you to vote for. Take some real time, put down that news article about Hillary and think about this long and hard. Who do you really want as the next president, the leader of our country, the person who has their hand over that big red, mushroom cloud, button? This isn't People magazines sexiest bachelor, America's next Top Model or your next American Idol. This is the leader of our nation, the guy or gal that will represent us to the rest of the world. Pick the wrong one and we either stay in the mess or it gets bigger, pick the right one and the mess slowly gets cleaned up a piece at a time. That's all for the presidential election stuff, politics are a dangerous subject for a blog as small as mine. Start subscibing to my blog, giving me some links and maybe giving me some change for my thoughts; than maybe I'll start risking Oprah's wrath a bit more.
March 16, 2008
You know when your a kid the days never seem long enough for all the playing you want to do, or there are those days when you're bored out of your mind with nothing to do. You think to yourself, "I wish I was an adult, than I'd be having so much fun", or something along those lines. Next thing you know you're an adult and it seems like you have so much to do you're never going to catch up. The classic; bills to pay, so much to do so little time and all that fun stuff. You're working your butt off to pay for your crap apartment, some food for the fridge and don't forget, for a lot of us, you're student loan is due again. So you start moving up, feeling like you're maybe getting somewhere. Than, whack, a few more years have gone by and you're trying to pay the medical bills, get those credit cards off your back, making sure your kids get those braces they so badly need and, amid all of this, trying to make sure your kids will have enough money to avoid the whole student loan path in the future. The days go on and on in this fashion; sleep, work, take care of the kids and off to bed again. Once and a while you get to throw in a date night or sit down on the couch to read a book, but all those gray hair inducing stresses are waiting for you. I know that a huge portion of people go through this and another huge portion of people have it even worse. But I'm not them, I can't close my eyes, enter their body and completely understand how they feel. These problems are mine and mine alone to deal with in my mind. I can feel better by talking about them and relax a bit when I lay down at night with my wife, but in the end it is you and only you that must face, listen to and deal with the crap going on inside your head. I don't mean to sound so negative, negativity will kill you. There are a lot of good things about life to. I'm not normally the type to complain incessantly but hey, I'm just like everybody else; sometimes I have to get the bad stuff out, the good stuff is great where it is.
Recently my wife and I had our truck broken into. It happened at the beginning of last week and they tried to get in again March 13, 2008. It's actually happened a grand total of 4 times in the past year. The first one was our little Suzuki and the truck, than just our truck and, kaboom, our truck again. And you know what, my wife and I agreed on this, it's not what they steal; it's the fact that they would do that at all. We're no where near rich or even medium income people, we're just as poor as 70 percent of the population. That's what really gets me, poor people stealing from other poor people. It has never made any sense at all to me. If you're poor, you understand what life is like to be poor. So why would you screw someone else, that is just as poor as you are, out of what little they already have. We try and do the best we can for our family and just as we're taking a step forward these thieves take that away. It's annoying, to say the least. What needs to be done is something very simple; we need to go back to neighbors watching out for neighbors. Because the government and the police don't have the time to do anything about it anymore. We called the police the first time we were broken into and what did they do? They took a report, told us they'd keep an eye out for any of the stuff that was stolen and gone, buh bye. Aren't the police departments supposed to have high tech finger print analysis to catch these criminals. No is the answer to that. Most police department are underfunded and under staffed. And you know why that is? It's because, just like our school system, the government would rather spend billions on weapons research than on the things that are important to the people they are supposed to be taking care of. We need police, fire fighters and, as on a lot of my blogs, the list goes on and on. But no, we pay fire fighters and police officers less than we pay the guy at Best buy who installs your stereo. Who wants to risk their lives for 35,000 a year, when they could just as easily go to school for computer programming and make 62,000 a year?
Would you let you're teenage son/daughter go out at 3 in the morning to hang out with their friends? If your teenage son/daughter said "Hey Mom, I'm going to Las Vegas this weekend to meet some people", would you be okay with that? Hopefully you said "no" to both questions, otherwise you really need to check into a therapists office immediately. So why do a mass majority of parents let their kids browse the Internet without any kind of supervision, especially sites like Myspace.com. In letting them go to places like Myspace, you're saying yes to both the questions listed above. You're letting your children chat with some stranger in Las Vegas and by giving them free reign on the Internet, you're letting them go out at 3 in the morning to "hang out with friends" in effect. Why is it, since the advent of the Internet, we have not put together one very important factor? Whether your virtually letting you're kids wander around wherever they want or letting them do it in "reality", you're still letting your kids wander around wherever they want. I don't think most parents would let their kids go off with friends if they asked " So where you guys headed to ?" and got the answer "I don't have to tell you, I can go wherever I want". But in all reality parents are doing that very thing everyday with the Internet. How many parents can honestly say that they know where their kids went on the Internet? How many parents can answer the question of what web sites their kids go to? I can say with a pretty high certainty that 80 to 90 percent of parents have no real idea of what their kids do online. Just ask yourself, if you're a parent or know someone who is, how often do I/they check to see what their/my kids are looking at online. And I'd suggest asking yourself this question, honestly, before you're son/daughter is added to the list of millions that have disappeared or run away after meeting someone online. Or you could just hand your kids the keys to your car and give them one of your credit cards.