Here's A Plan That Won't Cost You A DeLorean.
“Doc! I have to tell you about the future!” Marty McFly yells towards the end of Back to the Future. Haven't we wished at some point that there could be this kind of forewarning? Especially during those blissfully carefree summer holidays!
Whether it is the family vacation, the getaway with a love interest, or just a hike up the Himalayas, taking a vacation should put stress behind us, not ahead of us. Here's a great way to put the financial Time Machine ahead of the locomotive.
“You're Just Not Thinking Fourth Dimensionally!”
Saving up before a vacation is a great way to offset costs later. This doesn't always work because life gets in the way. If you find yourself at the other end of a vacation with a bill larger than a space-time paradox all those relaxed feelings can be washed away. It's best when looking at that dreaded bank or credit card statement to take a deep breath and remember that you don't have to pay it all at once. Almost all credit card companies accept a minimum payment. In fact, credit companies are geared for you to make the minimum payments, and often include the amount you need to pay to satisfy them (here's a calculator to give you a rough estimate if you need). Relax, things are heavy but collectors aren't going to come for you in the night.
”What's a Jigawatt?”
Interest charges are the underlying concept of any credit card, and most of the time they are fair. They are, however, also geared to make money. Your money. So when looking at that above mentioned “minimum payment” keep in mind that's the number they give you to keep you paying (the interest) without actually reducing what you owe (the principal). If the principal doesn't go down, you'll be making the same minimum payment for the rest of your life.
For example: 15% (your credit interest) of $700 (that bill at the 80's Cafe) is $105 (often your minimum payment). That means your total bill is $805. If you leave that amount it's only going to go up (never mind it going up, YOU are going to make it go down), and if you only pay the minimum, then next month is another $105 you are going to have to pay..
Let's say you can pay $400 on that $805 (the interest and principal) total. That means you've paid the interest, and taken a big chunk out of your principal, and that means your interest for next month will be $60.75, for a total of $460.75.
Now you're getting up to 88 miles per hour.
The Flux Capacitor
So you can't pay $400 from this paycheck without living on spray cheese for the next month? You don't have to be extreme, you just have to pay more than the minimum (always pay the minimum!). It will take time to pay it off and if you keep the payments consistent eventually you won't have to pay any interest. For simplicity call your bank and see if they can set up automatic payments that can be made on your payday. That way, you aren't tempted to spend your credit payment on something else. More automatic ideas can be found here.
Don't Forget About The Lone Pine Ranch...
Marty ran over a pine tree at the Twin Pines Ranch, and when he returned to his time, the mall had been renamed the Lone Pine Mall. The details in your life add up. Life gets hectic and important small things can be accidentally pushed to the side. It's very important to sit down and actually look at your finances. You want to take that credit bill down as fast as possible, right? That takes knowing where your money is going.
Consolidate the little details. This means figure out what you really have to pay each month versus what you make. Things like food, clothing (to a degree), and shelter are primary details and should be subtracted from what you make. The little details are almost everything else like that cup of coffee every day, the cost of commuting, or the novelty Grey's Sports Almanac you just had to have. Those little details add up, and that's an extra payment you could be making towards your credit card.
Could you carpool to save on gas? Do you really need Starbucks when a bottle of caffeine pills will perk you up and last longer through the month? Do you really need an $80 cable bill when Netflix is $8 a month? That difference could be an additional $72 of used pinball machine parts you can sell to the Libyans.
“If my calculations are correct, when this baby hits 88 miles per hour... ”
Another way to save yourself higher interest rates is to transfer balances. Let's say you have a credit card that only has %6 interest and a low balance and the credit card you owe the most has the %15 interest. Often you can call your credit card company and transfer the balance from one card to another. If you are unable to do this, you can also ask your bank for a line of credit that you can transfer credit card debt onto. Bank lines of credit can often be negotiated, and if you set up the automatic payments it will show consistency and look good on your credit rating.
Communication with your credit company is also very important. If you are having problems making payments, or if you get a little behind, calling and speaking to someone can result in additional charges being removed or even interest being reduced. Remember that credit card companies want you as a customer, they like your money. That means they will be willing to get some money out of you instead of none, and it can help you save your credit score.
”Where we're going we don't need roads.”
Finally, when you finish paying off those credit cards, pretend that you didn't. That means if you are used to setting aside $100 a month to pay a card, you can put that money into a savings account instead. When you take a vacation try to match what you spend against what you've saved so your card stays active but you don't end up where you were the last time.
When the next vacation rolls around you might end up ahead of the debt.
If you put your mind to it, you can accomplish anything.
Additional sources for your benefit:
Evan Rachel Wood spoke recently of hardships she suffered, and of Justin Bieber saying: "You have to remind them that you're still a kid."
In virtually every culture in the world up until the last fifty or so years you were considered an adult by the age of eighteen (sometimes even before). It is a pathetic excuse and a shame that these adults can say "We're just kids" and be allowed to shirk any kind of responsibility or act in unacceptable ways.
I don't care if you're thirteen or thirty, accept responsibility for your actions. And parents, RAISE your kids to be adults, not children in adult bodies.
Biologically most of us are adults by the age sixteen, and so called "primitive" cultures accepted this by having rites of passage, after which the parents would no longer take responsibility for their child's actions.
Get rid of the young offenders act, lower the voting age and drinking age, and stop making excuses. Treat them like children, and they will act like children. Teach them to be adults and they will surprise you.
"There's laws that say a 25 year old can't drive a car, because they are too immature!"
We shouldn't have to have rules that prevent an age from renting a car considering there are "farm kids" who drive and handle heavy machinery that would baffle the rest of us. Culture has babied us, coddled us, told us that "we're not ready yet". We should have been getting ourselves and our kids out the door and training them how to be responsible citizens, not acting like their best friends. You can be your kids best friend when they leave home on their own, until then you are supposed to be teaching your kids how to survive without you.
I am my son's father first and foremost. I will treat their hearts and minds with great compassion, but I will have to show them "tough love", a love that will be harder on me than on them because I too will want to say "be careful, you're not ready" when really I mean "I'm not ready."
"We don't finish developing until we reach twenty five!"
"Finishing" developing and being competent are not the same thing. We technically never finish developing, but there is a stage where we can say "this is not a child" and biologically speaking, that age is well below 25. Culturally speaking, with all the coddling and behavioral setbacks in place, we have taken that "adult" age and raised it.
Pocahontas was 22 when she died.
Alexander the Great was 22 when he invaded the Achaemenid empire.
Joan of Arc was eighteen when she led France.
"Those were different times!"
Humans haven't changed much. The only difference between now and then is technology. We like to think we are advanced, but we haven't even grown past a government system developed over 2,000 years ago. (Not that it's wrong mind you. Just that if there was something better shouldn't we have figured it out by now?)
Here's a list of what constitutes a true adult in my opinion:
1.Realizing that maturity is an ongoing process, not a state, and continuously striving for self improvement.
2.Able to manage personal jealousy and feelings of envy.
3.Has the ability to listen to and evaluate the viewpoints of others.
4.Maintains patience and flexibility on a daily basis.
5.Accepts the fact that you can't always win, and learns from mistakes instead of whining about the outcome.
6.Does not overanalyze negative points, but instead looks for the positive points in the subject being analyzed.
7.Is able to differentiate between rational decision making and emotional impulse.
8.Understands that no skill or talent can overshadow the act of
9.Capable of managing temper and anger.
10.Keeps other people's feeling in mind and limits selfishness.
11.Being able to distinguish between 'needs' and 'wants'.
12.Shows confidence without being overly arrogant.
13.Handles pressure with self composure.
14.Takes ownership and responsibility of personal actions.
15.Manages personal fears.
16.Able to see the various shades of gray between the extremes of black and white in every situation.
17.Accepts negative feedback as a tool for self improvement.
18.Aware of personal insecurities and self-esteem.
19.Able to separate true love from transitory infatuation.
20.Understanding that open communication is the key to progression.
In our modern North American society I am hard pressed to find people over thirty who have these qualities. Hell, I think I'm lacking a couple of important ones.
This shouldn't be the case. We should be teaching our children to have almost all of these before they reach eighteen!
H.G. Wells may have been right when it came to the future of our species.
"If we decriminalize (subject), then there will be less crime."
So the most effective way to reduce crime is to get rid of laws?
That's like saying "If we get rid of anti-homeless laws there will be less homeless people".
For example, if we decriminalized theft, substance abuse, domestic battery, and rape, there would be less criminals in jail, and our crime rate would be down. If no laws are being broken, how can there be crime?
Think about that first statement for a minute, because that's what decriminalizing something means. It doesn't stop it from being "wrong" or unhealthy, either personally, biologically or socially.
Arguments can be made that if we got rid of the "soft laws" (like laws against marijuana use), then there would be less crime. Then the argument is made about how alcohol causes more problems than pot, or cigarettes.
Let's take a look at that closely, because on the surface it seems very true. It is based on facts and statistics, so it has to be true. Right?
Those stats are accurate. The skew is, however, very clear when looked at from a different perspective. I'll give an example (I so do love my examples):
Cars kill more people than bicycles every year(1). From this statement, it can be inferred that cars are very dangerous things, and bicycles are not.
Cyclists are not as prevalent as cars however. According to Statistics Canada 1.3 percent of more than 15 million commuters cycle to work. That works out to 201,485 bikes on the road.
Yet comparatively, more cyclists are killed per capita than people killed in car accidents. Combining that with the statistics that helmets do nothing to reduce those deaths and you can have a very strong case that cycling should be made illegal.
At least, in the short run. You see, cars are the ones killing some of those cyclists, and also polluting our environment, thereby destroying everyone's health.
So even something as non-addictive as a car or a bike can have very polarizing results when clouded by facts and statistics. Facts are not in themselves a truth. Facts can be rearranged to create different results.
The ratio of people who smoke to people who drink to people that smoke pot is even more disparate. There is overlap in all of those groups, causing a fuzzy logic.
I disregard the counter arguments of "alcohol is...just as destructive...so why not legalize it..." This is the equivalent of a child who was told not to do something and pointed at the neighbour kid and complained "But Billy gets to!"
It doesn't make what Billy did right, or even okay. It's hypocrisy to for someone to use that argument to justify any action. The solution isn't to allow more wrong. We have all at least learned that two wrongs don't make a right.
Making things legal does not reduce their destructive effects on society(2). There has to be some line drawn, even if it is an arbitrary one. Otherwise what else do we end up permitting under the rubric of "lower crime rates"? Sometimes it's not about the statistics, or about how things "are". Sometimes it's about the direction we want to go in, how we would like life to be.
Wouldn't we all like to live in a safe, clean, substance abuse free world? Our society has flung off religious mores and claimed to get rid of that philosophical opiate, while instead smaller members of our society are offering us an actual opiate that clouds our judgement, claiming "freedom". I find it humorous; fifty yeas ago people were frothing at the mouth because the government was adding fluoride to the water, a substance that makes people more docile and keeps teeth white. Now society wants the government to legalize a substance that makes people more docile and results in poor hygiene. Both substances demote critical thinking, but one will somehow "free" me and the other will enslave me.
Something about that isn't stirring the kool-aid.
"Once upon a time there was a large pond that became stagnant and poisoned for no apparent reason. It used to be the most beautiful pond in the public park and everyone loved its gentle beauty. Many flowers and trees surrounded it. The geese and ducks would raise their chicks there while sharing the place with all sorts of birds and fishes. Parents would bring the children to visit the pond and spent hours enjoying the smells, the sounds and the scenery. No one knew what really happened, but in a few months, the waters turned dark, putrid and the life of the pond gradually disappeared. All the fish died and the birds left. The authorities in charge of the park were very confused, not knowing what to do and decided to ask for help from a couple of experts. After studying the situation thoroughly, the first expert said: "if we manage to bring the fresh clean water from the nearby spring, in a few months we'll have the waters renovated and the life will come back to the pond. That's my advice". The other expert thought for a moment and shaking his head said: "I don't think that will solve this situation. We don't know the cause of the problem here. We may have contamination coming from different sources; dark waters, chemicals, you name it. What's killed the life of the pond once will continue doing it if we don't stop the cause. I suggest investigating the water composition to find out what is causing the pollution. After that we'll need to empty out the pond, fix the source of toxicity and then refill it with clean, fresh water. It may take more time and work but it might take care of the problem once and for all. That is my advice".
After extensive fact finding and observation it was discovered that the source of the problem stemmed from a small stream that fed the pond. It had become so choked with weeds that fresh water could not flow into the pond, causing stagnation.
"Who is responsible for this? The weeds weren't always here. At one time they were kept at bay. What happened?"
Eventually one person spoke up.
"It is my job to employ the caretakers of this park. They mow the grass and pick up the garbage. One man's job was to clear out the weeds from the stream every day. The pond was clean and pure, so I argued that weeds will always grow, and the war on weeds will never end, so it's failure to keep weeding. We'll just use herbicide, and let whatever weeds are there grow. So I fired the caretaker."
This is why the "failed" war on drugs should not stop. Drugs are not dangerous because they are illegal; they are illegal because they are dangerous. Legalization and decriminalization-policies certain to increase drug availability and use among our children-hardly qualify as public health approaches.
All terrorist organizations need to raise funds to sustain their violent activities and resort to illegal means to finance their illegal acts. Drug trafficking comes at the top of this list of illegal money raising activities, followed by robbery, extortion, kidnapping, blackmailing and arms smuggling.
In recent years it has become increasingly evident that terrorism and drug trafficking are intertwined. The terms "narco-terrorism" and "narco-terrorists" have started being used to describe this interface between terrorist organizations and narcotics smugglers. This fact is illustrated by certain international documents. For instance, the UN Convention Against Illicit Traffic In Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances (1988) recognizes the links between illicit drug traffic and other organized criminal activities which undermine the stability, security and legitimacy of sovereign states.
The 1993 INCB report draws attention to the organic connections between drug cartels and terrorist organizations, and also to the globalization of drug smuggling. The successive INBC reports point out that these drug cartels concentrate their activities in ethnically and economically troubled regions of the world. It is no coincidence that terrorist organizations thrive in the very same regions.
By allowing the decriminalization of something as "harmless" as marijuana, essentially you are not promoting peace, you are putting guns and bombs in the hands of terrorists. By actually legalizing it, you make it easier for drug sellers to increase their revenue base. By taxing pot and creating laws for it's domestic protection (no outside importation, like black market cigarettes) you drive the consumer to seek cheaper alternatives, such as illegal purchasing, further lining gun runners pockets. By allowing pot to be farmed legally and locally it does not stop someone from taking the profits and giving it to others to buy guns.
Laws for black market cigarettes haven't stopped the black market, why would putting laws for pot be any different?
Even buying B.C. bud (which could "bring in billions" according to activists), doesn't mean it's going to be filtered into the local economy. Where are those billions actually going to go? I doubt it's to buy new computers for the local school, and instead buy a Humvee for either the producer or the politicians.
The only argument I have stumbled across that could lead to me thinking legalization was a good idea was this quote by an anonymous grower:
Meanwhile back in his basement, Jack says he actually misses the days when operations like his were illegal because lately so much so-called "legal weed" has spilled onto the street it's driven down prices.
He used to get almost $3,000 a pound for his bud when he was growing illegally. Now it's $1,700 pound and falling. Sometimes there's so much medical marijuana out there he says some growers can't unload their product.
"It's going down the tubes because of all these licences. Three years ago you couldn't have enough of this. Now I know people who have ten pounds from their last crop because they couldn't sell it. "
So maybe we should legalize it and then do what the Japanese business companies have done known as "dumping". Make a product so value-less that it puts your competitor out of business. Then when they have shut down, monopolize and prevent anyone from producing the product.
(1)Cycling and Cars:
(2) Drug use:
What makes my current science fiction novel different from other novels is its basis in truth. While some may say that the ideas are
outlandish, I largely took the idea from today's headlines regarding advances in technology. And taken that most technology the public reads about is already five years old it may be that things are less far fetched than even I think.
At the time I write this, October 31st, 2013, MIT and Berkeley have come out with a form of lightsabers, scientists are trying to harvest elephant ovum in the hopes to clone a woolly mammoth with frozen blood found in the Russian Steppes, a living plastic polymer that can repair itself has been created by the Center for Electrochemical Technologies in Spain, Frubber is an actual product, robots are being used as gunmen in war areas, rabbits are being engineered to glow in the dark, oil and food products are being made from algae, rhesus monkeys are being wired to functional robotic arms, apple is working on a computer that powers itself off your bioenergy, the Qylatron is being tested in airports as a portable autonomous scanner and they are working on portable CAT scanners, 3D printers are being programmed to make food, cloaking devices are being tested by the military, scientists are able to teleport photons 90% effectively, the list goes on.
Of course I don't put all of this into my novels, just most of it. The truly amazing and scary thing is that I didn't have to make up too much, and by setting it in the future I can extrapolate those ideas and take them to just beyond their logical conclusion.
The future is scary, mostly because it is unknown. Instead of trying to make a threatening future (and there is a level of thrill, because what's a good story without a climax), I'm trying to capture the good side of the unknown.
The surprising "good side" of the unknown is the Christmas gift, where you have no idea what it is but you are excited about it.
And that's missing from a lot of science fiction these days. In the early parts of the 20th century the future was gleaming and humanity had a direction. Then it slowly became darker and something to be feared, and I'm not sure entirely why it happened.
One of my favourite sci-fi shows shared this dream in several incarnations: Star Trek.
That's what I tried to do with this novel. I try not to skirt around major issues, but neither do I cast all life into a mass of doom and
gloom they way Margaret Atwood's (excellent) Oryx & Crake series does, or gritty and dirty like Bladerunner.
I still hold hope for humanity. Many environmentalists tell me that we will all choke to death on our own effluence and my mind sometimes agrees. But my heart will bet its life to be wrong.
Prove me wrong, humanity.
Shove my pessimism in my face.
Why "Failed Daily"?
Because I fail to update daily.