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Archive for the ‘News’ Category

Do phrases like “mortgage-backed securities,” “credit default swaps,” or “naked short-selling” make your mind spin? Trying to decide if you like the idea of a $700 billion bailout of the people that caused the problem to begin with?

Back in May (I believe), the fine folks over at This American Life (a really interesting show that I highly recommend) did an entire hour-long episode devoted to explaining the housing bubble burst and how we all got in so much trouble to begin with. The episode was so popular, due to its crystal clear, jargon-free explanations of the financial mechanisms that are bringing this country to its knees that the producer, Alex Blumberg, and the NPR correspondent that he put that show together with, Adam Davidson, decided to start their own daily podcast covering the ever evolving nature of the crisis from a neutral, still jargon-free perspective. They call it Planet Money.

They’ve got a blog, a podcast, and a twitter feed, too, all of which have really illuminated my understanding of what is going on.

Just this past week, as the bailout plan was passed through Congress, they teamed up with This American Life again to do another hour-long show about the economy, which is currently available, free to download, through Sunday, October 12th, here. After that, don’t complain to me when you have to cough up a whole $0.95 to download it; I’ll just tell you to stream it free from their website.

So, go check them out, and let me know what you think.

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I just found a fun little website that will comb the 1990 census data and statistically extrapolate (that means guess) how many people in the United States have the same name as you. Plugging in my full name, the one on my birth certificate, I got this:

HowManyOfMe.com
Logo There are
32
people with my name in the U.S.A.

How many have your name?

However, when I plug in the name I go by, the one that everyone calls me, the one on my business card, I got this:

HowManyOfMe.com
Logo There are
1
or fewer people with my name in the U.S.A.

How many have your name?

It’s the “or fewer” part that has got me feeling all down and existential.

How many of you are there? Go find out, then come back and tell me. Maybe if there are many of you, it will make me feel a lot better about my statistical probabilities of existing.

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Boy, it feels like it’s been forever since I posted here, and, checking the dates, it actually has been forever. I’ve been trying to figure out what I could use to break the blog silence, and nothing seemed fitting, so I figured I’d just announce some fun family news.

A month and a half ago, Michelle went to a Tae Kwon Do tournament in Bellevue, NE.

That’s not the news.

She has been going to Tae Kwon Do for about 8 months now, and has progressed all the way to a green belt. Now, before you ask, I have no idea what a green belt means, but Michelle said that it’s half-way to a black belt. It’s the first advanced belt. It’s a big accomplishment, but really, she’s just beginning to get to the tough stuff.

So, since she’s moving her way up the ranks, she decided it was about time to put her chops to test to see how she stacked up against other green belts her age. This Nebraska tournament wasn’t a massive regional tournament, just a smaller one for anyone willing to make the drive, so she thought it was a good way to see what this whole tournament thing was like.

It was held at a high school gym there in Bellevue, and we got there about a half-hour before the opening of the tournament, which meant that we arrived just in time to see the black belt competitions wrapping up. The black belts would helping to run the tournament for the lower belts, so they had to get their competitions out of the way before the majority of the competitors arrived.

If anyone ever questioned what a black belt could actually do, let me just make it clear here that I, for one, would never want to go up against one. We watched one of the students from the studio that Michelle goes to, David Mann, sparring against some other black belts and wow, he’s fierce. Michelle said he’s ranked somewhere in the top 10 in the world, and it was just amazing to watch him move and strike.

Well, after the opening ceremony, we had to wait hours and hours for her age and belt to be called. As it turned out, there weren’t enough green belts there in her age group for them to make a group out of. There really weren’t enough women with advanced belts of any level, actually, so they had to combine her with all of the other advanced belts, right up to those that were black belt recommended (meaning that they had all but earned their black belt, really). She was way out of her league, and she was scared.

There are three rounds in a tournament: forms, weapons, and sparring. Michelle hasn’t done enough training in weapons, so she was just competing in forms and sparring. She went out and did a great job on her forms, looking real clean and crisp in her moves. After the 10 women had each done their forms, the judges checked the scores and discovered a four-way tie for third, and Michelle was actually one of them. They each had to do their form again, and then they all stood in front of the judges. The judges stood, counted to three (or whatever the equivalent number is in Korean), and simultaneously pointed to who they felt deserved the third place award. Two of the judges pointed to the same person, but one of them pointed to Michelle! She didn’t win third, but in her mind, one third place vote means that she won fourth. 🙂

After watching a couple of women do their weapons routines, it was time for sparring. They all got their gear on, and I could see Michelle bouncing a little on her toes, warming up and trying to keep her nerves down. She first got paired up with a black-belt-recommended student and I was a little scared for her. Her one fear going to the tournament was that she would be swept out in the first round, and it sure didn’t look good for her. However, once the judges started the match, Michelle really managed to hold her own. The other girl got a point on Michelle, but Michelle managed to get two or three points on her* before time ran out. I could see that she was almost giddy (though trying to contain it), though it was hard to see with all her gear on. The other girl tried to save face by claiming a recent leg injury, but I don’t think it really mattered why she won; a W is a W, right?

In her next round, she got paired up with a spunky and very fast blue belt that basically beat her up and down the mat, so any feelings of euphoria were quickly doused.

However, once all the sparring was done, the judges put the numbers together and started handing out awards. Michelle was initially a little bummed because they don’t give participation awards to adults, just to the kids, so if she didn’t place at 3rd or above in any of the three categories, she wouldn’t get anything for coming to the tournament. Much to her surprise, they called her name and awarded her a third-place medal for sparring! She tied with another woman that she had met in the staging area, so she was really happy. Bouncing, actually. So happy, that she actually let me take a picture of her wearing her medal.

That’s the news.

Sorry it’s been so long since I’ve updated this. Hopefully our lives will be more blogworthy in the near future. If not, you’ll probably just start getting the play-by-play rundown of my toenail care routine, or something at a similar level of excitement.

Congratulations, Michelle!

*You need 5 points to win a sparring match. You get one point for punching or kicking the chest pad, two points for kicking the head pad, and three points for jump-kicking the head pad.

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Tired of all the dust and general ickiness that’s been building up on your computer monitor? Can’t be bothered to find a clean cloth and some cleaner to get rid of it? Well, now you can get rid of all that mess with a fantastic, new, internet-delivered screen cleaning.

That’s right: your screen can be cleaned through a recently developed utility that downloads quickly and goes right to work. There’s no complicated installation, and because it’s internet-delivered, it doesn’t hog any system resources. When you’re done, just close your browser and you won’t have to worry about it. Your screen will (virtually) be as good as new!

Give it a shot. You’ll never go back to the old school, analog, rag-and-cleaner system again!

At least, not until after you stop laughing.

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It’s about my photography. And it’s posted over here.

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Paris Hilton is back in jail.

I know. This is not real news, right? But Good Morning America has felt the need to yet again drag us through the affairs of mysteriously famous celebutant. I suppose that, since Barbara Walters did the interview and her show, The View, runs on ABC, they are probably under contract to give them some sort of air time.

But still, I mean really…why?

Anyways, Hilton collect called Walters (because that’s the only way inmates can make calls, after all), after learning from her mother that Walters was on the other line, because she wanted to set the record straight about herself. Apparently, nobody really knows much about her.

Ready for the shockers?

Paris Hilton is not a dumb blonde:

I’m not the same person I was. I used to act dumb. It was an act. I am 26 years old, and that act is no longer cute.

What I would really like to know is when that particular act is cute.

That question aside, the rest of the interview kind of had me scratching my head. She says that the whole “dumb blonde” thing was just an act, an act that is no longer cute, that she is going to use all her powers(?!) for good now.

Then, she really confused me. Referring to why she was let out of jail on medical conditions, she had this to say:

I was not eating or sleeping. I was severely depressed and felt as if I was in a cage.

Here’s the big question: if the whole dumb thing was just an act, how could you possibly go to jail and not feel like you are in a cage?! Isn’t that the whole point of all the bars?! Is there something I’m missing here?

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Every week our local newspaper, The Smoke Signal, the largest circulating newpaper in Pottawatomie County, with the smallest staff (one reporter), comes out with a handful of adoption ads. These ads are pleas from local families to fill their empty homes. They usually begin with “Financially secure, healthy, married couple, looking for a baby to provide loving home for… Please call such-and-such adoption agency for more information.”

I know what they are feeling because I feel it too. Being diabetic, my chances of having another child are very slim. It’s heartwrenching. And so, we too hope to adopt a baby.
Our ad, unfortunately, is not quite so glamorous. But, in the spirit of prayer and love, we’ll post it anyways. And, though knowing it might not produce the results we are looking for, we hope it at least brings a smile to those who might suffer from the same excess of love in their homes that we do.

Financially unsecure family of four with one chronically ill parent, hope to provide a shared room with two other rambunctious children who may or may not be willing to also share their toys. We have our own home that won’t fall apart for another year or so, and food on our table everyday, which is proof that the Lord still provides miracles in our lives. We can cloth your child in the latest consignment store fashion, and can provide him or her with the best in children’s literature from the local library. While we can’t give them a private education, we can give them love. And after all, that’s the best education a child can get. We cannot provide financial care for the expectant mother, and if our credit is not accepted, the birth parents may have to split the cost of legal fees. Unless our phones have been turned off, please contact us directly. Rik and Michelle

But seriouslyI have a probelem with the current adoption system. There are so many children in this world in need of a good family who will love them eternally. Yet, the price is so steep. Are we selling our children to the rich and famous and those who can otherwise afford it, or are we really trying to place these children in homes where they will be loved forever, no matter the income? If the price of adoption was less, wouldn’t you think there would be less children living their lives alone? I hope that there aren’t children stuck in the system because their would-be adoptive parents can’t afford the rising costs of legal fees, home studies, state fees, child rearing classes, red tape, etc. Mine is.

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