- Don’t you know riding a motorcycle will kill you? I’d ride one, but I care too much about my family/ my life/ my health, etc.
- Don’t you know smoking will kill you? It’s disgusting and I care far too much about my family/ my life/ my health/ etc. to ever do it.
- Real grown ups don’t play video games. Get outside and experience the world.
- Life will kill you. Don’t abstain from life because of a fear of death. Live life to the fullest — your fullest, not someone else’s definition. If your fullest is staying inside, eating cheetoes and playing WoW, then fucking have at it. If your fullest is balls-to-the-wall daring death to fuck your skull, have at it. WHATEVER. We’re all adults, we all know the risks (be it heart attack or brain splatterage) of our activities. Let’s just respect that and move. the fuck. on.
- I love the score during the fight scene between Zuku and Azula. It made the ending a foregone conclusion, but I admit I stumbled a little when Azula blasted Zuku with lightening and he fell — I suddenly found myself second-guessing the throbbing sorrow in the attendant music, wondering if somehow, someway, Zuku really had died.
- Look, it was obvious from the get-go that Katara would end up with Aang, but I have to admit to a small personal disappointment — I was totally shipping Katara and Zuku. Plus, from a logistical point of view, Firelord Zuku should marry a bender from a different tribe, just to show continuing good faith and rebuilding efforts. Obviously not going to happen, but still.
- Totally did not see that Aang would find a way to stay true to his values. I honestly thought he had no choice but to kill the Firelord/ Phoenix King/ what-the-fuck-ever that guy is. I had predicted the rest of the story arc early on, but I had no idea that was going to happen.
I frikkin’ love living in this day and age. It’s so trippy, sometimes, to step back and realize that we live in a futuristic society. Maybe it doesn’t look like “the future” pop culture sold to us, but make no mistake — if you went back 15 years in time and hung out with some high schoolers from 1996, they would be blown away by stuff we take for granted — tablet computers? Smartphones? Streaming music and video? Websites like WebMD?
Obviously, I’m talking about tech here. On a socio-political level, it sometimes feels like we’re regressing to the dark ages. That’s a whole ‘nother conversation, but it’s also a visceral reminder that we sometimes picture the future as this whole package — a package of improved tech and a utopian (or at least proto-utopian) society, where racism and sexism and classism and poverty have been addressed and eradicated, and that’s why we often don’t recognize the advances we have made.
Anyway, the reason I was thinking about all this was because I had an opportunity to visit some friends in a less-connected area, and their internet hookup took freaking forever. The funny thing is, it didn’t actually take that long. I mean, compared to our hookup speeds with a cable modem down in the city, yeah. It took awhile for their webpages to load. But when you compare how long their internet connection takes to load a page with how long my dad’s dial-up modem in 1998 took to load a page, holy shit. Mind blowing difference. And my dad was (and is) a complete luddite — he’s always had the established tech, not the cutting-edge exciting stuff. So I knew nothing other than dial up and floppy disks until I married my husband in 2001.
And isn’t this exciting? I mean, for me I went from a CRT tv and computer moniter to an LCD screen in my husband’s home. I went from a predominantly VHS collection to DVD-only, and within a few years my husband and I were buying Blu-Ray DVD’s and streaming HD movies. I went from listening to cassette tapes and the occasional CD to buying streaming music online. I went from a land line phone to a cell phone-only system, and in cell phones I’ve gone (in a decade’s time) from a basic flip phone to a phone that texts and plays music to a smartphone, where I can watch videos and play games and text and check my e-mail and set my calender and alarms and make phone calls and even video calls. What is this magical world I live in?!? Cars and motorcycles are powered by batteries, buses are running hybrid fuels, and all this technology has made us more conscious of a global economy.
I love tech. I love that my new phone has a 12 hour battery life, and it’s endlessly amusing to me that after owning it only a week, I find myself thinking, “Already?” when I see the orange bar indicating that I need to charge it. My old smartphone (which I had less than a year!) had a 4-6 hour charge. My phone before that wasn’t a smartphone, and it’s charge was 3-4 hours on a good day. I love how quickly we adapt to tech, how in just a few short years I’m using to my web pages loading in the blink of an eye or my smartphone battery lasting forever. The speed of the internet has improved by hundreds of thousands of kilobits in just a few short years — my husband just did a speed test and we’re downloading over 9,000 kilobits per second, almost 300 times fast than what our connection speeds used to be.
This is basically just a gushing post of wonder-joy about our modern world. 🙂
- You are still a renter. You’ve just signed a longer contract, and your landlord (the mortgage company) is a faceless dick who thinks of you as another number on a page.
- Owning is more expensive than renting. When you look at buying a home and think, Wow, that mortgage is less then/ the same/ only $100 more than my rent payment! remember: In addition to rent/ mortgage payment, you also pay the following (this can increase your monthly payment by several hundred dollars, raising a $700/ month mortgage payment to a $1,200/month mortgage payment):
- Property taxes
- Home-owners insurance
- Natural disaster insurance (depending on where you live, this is either flood, fire, earthquake, or tornado — homeowners doesn’t cover this stuff).
- Escrow payments
- Additional fees determined by the mortgage company — interest, taxes, fees, etc.
- All this means that even if your interest rate never increases and even if your basic mortgage payment stays the same, your monthly payment will still fluctuate in price over time, and as the owner you have no real recourse.
- You are now financially responsible for any and all repairs, ranging from mundane (baby crapped on the carpet) to major (the roof needs to be replaced, the plumping in the bathroom burst, and your dishwasher broke).
- The long-term value is a myth. These days, American’s “own” their homes for an average of 6 years before selling or leaving the property and moving onward. Generally, the most effective and reliable means of advancing in your field is to transfer, whether it be to a different facility or a different company altogether. This usually requires moving. Now consider these factors in selling a house, many of which are out of your control or ability to predict 6 years down the line:
- In the time I’ve lived in this home, have I been able to maintain/ improve the property to get my money’s worth?
- How is the housing market? Will I be able to sell it in time?
- Is it worth it to rent the property until I can sell it? (think of the property damage renters often cause — can you handle those costs?)
- Can I afford rent/ mortgage at the new location and the mortgage on my old house until it sells?
- Do my neighbor’s properties raise or lower the cost of my own? (are they well kept or overgrown and shabby? Are they lived in or abandoned?)
- Has the city built anything nearby that will drive down my property values?
- What will you get out of your house? Well, that all depends unexpected opportunity to advance in your position?
- If I choose to commute, will the cost of gas mitigate any “savings” from not selling the house?
- What about the school district/ crime level/ employment in the area?
- No choice in who your mortgage servicer is.
That last one is possibly the one single area where American’s have no choice in where they spend their money. Think about it — do you disagree with Wal-mart’s company ethics? Target’s? Amazon’s? Do you not like the way Applebee’s servers act too friendly? Or the way Outback cooks their steaks? Well, you put your money where your mouth is. You find alternatives. The more a cause, value, or ideal means to you, the more you opt to shop at places that promote your cause, while avoiding places that don’t. We do this with everything: Our financial institutions, what restaurants we eat at, where we shop — as Americans, we’ve been taught the lesson of the almighty dollar. We have learned the power of blackballing businesses, of what a toilet-paper panic or a Black Friday sale can do.
We know that money is power, and choosing where (or if) to shop is a form of power. And that power is stripped in one area from home owners — they do not have any say in who they make their mortgage payments to. Even today, even in 2011 and after all the news coverage and hype about inflated interests rate and bad loans being sold and transferred sans deeds in massive warehouse basements, even now it still happens. In the 6 years I owned a home, my loan servicer changed 4 times. Neither myself nor my husband were ever consulted — we were informed, “On thus and such a date, you will commence making your mortgage payments to Company B. Any payments made to Company A after said date will not apply to your mortgage. Thank you, and contact Company B for further information.” The further information was always just, “Yeah, we bought your loan now. So make payments to us or else you’ll accrue late fees, go into default, and eventually be foreclosed on.” It didn’t matter if we didn’t like their policies; their late fee structure; the fees they tacked on for talking to tellers, making online payments, making over-the-phone payments; their company ethics; or, hell, if a phone representative was rude to us. You know why? Because we had no choice.
They are taking a gamble. They are gambling that American’s are more concerned with holding onto their property or maintaining their credit rating than worrying about the technical legalities of whether or not their servicer actually holds the deed (and therefore the ability to foreclose). In any other industry, at any other place, if consumers were treated the way they were by mortgage companies, they would take their money and walk the fuck away. Hell, you can do it with your bank account — but you have absolutely no say in who services your loan. And they still try to claim we “own” these properties. Ha.
Pro’s of Home Ownership
- There’s got to be some, but I haven’t seen, heard of, or experienced any benefits that outweigh the drawbacks.
So, hows about renting? Well, sure, that’s got pro’s and con’s, too.
- Your landlord/ neighbors might be dicks. Of course, you only signed a 6-12 month lease. If they’re that much of a dick, you can find a new place.
- You don’t have a yard. Solution: rent a house or duplex instead of an apartment.
- No garage. Solution: rent a house or duplex; spend the fee for a covered garage at your apartment complex; or rent a garage in town.
- It’s harder to find places if you have pets. Harder, not impossible. I have a black lab and three cats, and I found a rental within 1 month of deciding to move.
- You can’t paint the walls whatever color you want/ renovate/ etc. You know what? Boo fuckity hoo. Seriously. Most homeowners can’t, either, because it’s fucking expensive.
Pro’s of Renting
- If you don’t like it, move. Don’t like your landlord? Neighbors? School district? Have things changed since you moved in? Has the neighborhood gone downhill? Who cares, you’re on a 6-12 month lease. Start packing your bags and looking for options; you’re moving.
- Cost sharing. Depending on what type of residence you rent (apartment/ condo vs. duplex vs. house), some things like sewer, garbage pick-up, and certain utilities will be discounted due to the fact that the cost is being shared amongst all the residents.
- Environmentally friendly(ier). Shouldn’t be too much of a surprise, but for you environmental types, renting (essentially recycling) a property is more environmentally friendly.
- You break it, landlord fixes it. As a general rule of thumb, fixing things is the landlords domain and responsibility. Get rental insurance for your stuff, your t.v. and couch and oh-so-precious signed first edition Firefly DVD’s with the limited-edition bonus artwork or what-the-fuck-ever, but everything else is the landlords deal. There are even laws and non-profit organizations you can turn to if the landlord isn’t holding up their end of the bargain, and unlike HUD, their hands aren’t tied.