Residential Space A creative outlet during residency, turned ongoing virtual soap box

The Dow rises above 11,000  1

Posted on January 11th, 2006. About Money.

I was intrigued to see the Dow Jones Industrial Average climb above 11,000 this week, because I could not recall it being that high since I first started investing a year ago. Then, my local news informed me last night that this is actually the first time it has hit 11,000 since the September 11th catastrophe. I find it exciting and unsettling – exciting because, of course, MS Money is much more fun to open in the evenings. ūüôā Unsettling, though, because I am hearing so many gloom and doom forecasts already. Billionaire investor George Soros is predicting recession again in 2007.¬†Of course, every investor has been incorrect at some point, and perhaps the financial experts are wrong now, in which case they will miss out if they are too cautious. By the way, I do find Soros’ comment in the article about the two greatest threats to our economy being the War on Terror and global warming. However, it’s another topic for another day.

It always infuriates me when the markets aren’t that hot, and public figures (ie, President Bush) and “experts” in the media (are you also intrigued by how CNN’s Miles O’Brien is an “expert” on both astronomy and finance?) use words like “tanking” to describe the market before an audience of millions. Wow, what a way to boost investor confidence. We have to be harshly pessimistic about our markets, but we can’t show flag-draped coffins returning from Iraq.

¬†Now everyone is freaking out over the housing market and how it, too, will deflate very soon. Will this be a self-fulfilling prophecy? It makes sense that rising interest rates will detract from the amount people can afford to spend on housing, but at least in Seattle the housing market seems strong, and it’s a great place to live, and our prices aren’t nearly what they are in California, so why can’t the market remain strong? (Sorry for the run-on sentence, but you get the point.) There are many arguments against this¬†but I think there is also good reason to be optimistic.

Finally, I would like to announce that I just started taking advantage of yet another wonderful benefit offered by most employers Рthe Flexible Spending Account. I got braces on my bottom teeth in December and figured Рhey, if I have to pay for half of my orthodontic care (insurance covers the other half, another great benefit!), then I might as well do it on income that is tax-free. I do not believe in paying ATM fees, paying for parking when I could take the bus, or paying late fees when a bill can easily be paid on time. That being said, I do not believe in paying tax on income that is going straight to medical or dental bills when there is a tax-free option available. Waste Рugh Рit makes me shudder to think of it.

Book #2: The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe  1

Posted on January 8th, 2006. About Books.

Book #2 РThe Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe by: C.S. Lewis, the second in the Chronicles of Narnia series. Pages Р86 (again, in the anthology of all seven).

This was a quick, fun read, especially after having recently seen the film.

Jenna is off to a roaring start with her new year of 50 books/15000 pages for 2006. She has completed three books totaling 851 pages. Wow!

I will follow her in tracking stats because, well, numbers are fun.

Progress toward goals:

8/365 = 2.19% – days of the year completed (2006 is already over 2% finished; unbelieveable!)
2/50 = 4.0% (doing okay as far as number of books goes)
192/15000 = 1.28% (Yikes! Once the Narnia series is complete, I need to get started on some lengthier books to keep up here)

The Wisdom of Abraham Simpson  0

Posted on January 8th, 2006. About Ramblings.

Evan and I were chatting this morning about stereotypes of elderly people, and how Abraham Simpson is perhaps the best example of this in pop culture. We then found this quote of his, a letter he wrote during one episode:

Dear Mr. President,

There are too many states nowadays. Please eliminate three.

P.S. I am not a crackpot.

It got me to wondering – hmmm, if I were forced to throw three states out of the USA, which ones would I choose? After the previous election, they would, of course, all be red states – red states who panic about national security but don’t give a rat’s ass about large cities. Red states who contribute minimally to our national economy and accept more government assistance than they offer. I could not bring myself to force any state into secession with coastal access either.

I would like to say – we can’t throw any state out, because we are *all* important in our contributions to this great country. But seriously – that’s not really true, is it? After all, there are several states that drive me bonkers – everytime I see them featured on the news I know it will be a story that irritates me. There are always states where no Islamic terrorist would ever dream of visiting, yet those are the states that cling to FoxNews reports about terrorism and homeland security. They criticize “liberals” in New York and “Taxachusetts,” when in reality – those liberals are the ones who should legitimately worry about terrorism, and those liberal states are paying the taxes that write welfare checks for red states. States – and you know who you are – to quote Bill O’Reilly by way of¬†Stephen Colbert (because O’Reilly cannot be directly quoted on this site) – “You’re on notice.”

Book #1 – The Magician’s Nephew  0

Posted on January 6th, 2006. About Books.

Book #1 – The Magician’s Nephew by: C.S. Lewis, the first in the Chronicles of Narnia series. Pages – 105 (at least in the edition I am using – a large volume containing all seven books).

This is the first book completed in my attempt to read fifty books in 2006. It has established what is to come – how the famous wardrobe came to function as a doorway to another land, how the White Witch entered the land, and, of course, presents an allegory for the Creation. It’s good to finally be reading something I should have completed by junior high school. ūüôā Where have I been all these years?

Arguments for an Opt-Out Organ Donation System  3

Posted on January 5th, 2006. About Ramblings.

I have been following the Becker-Posner Blog¬†since September in an effort to see the economic side to controversial issues. The authors are economists who evaluate dilemmas facing our country (ie, the death penalty and whether to¬†punish parents for children’s crimes were two recent hot topics) while attempting to achieve a balance between moral and economic interests. Currently, the discussion revolves around the shortage of organs available for transplantation as the waiting list grows ever longer, a debate that arose from the question of whether or not one should be allowed to sell an organ.

France was used as an example of a nation with an opt-out system. That is to say, everyone is an organ donor unless they specify that they¬†choose not to donate. The only data available are from a study indicating that an opt-out system would only increase the availability of organs by 25 to 30%. Richard Posner, in reference to one perspective, writes: “…an increase in cadaver donations would presumably reduce the number of donations from living people, so the net effect on donations is uncertain.” I suppose my argument here is that, even assuming the net difference is zero (although I don’t think it would be), it would reduce morbidity if not mortality if organs are not having to come from living donors. Thus, even if the increase in the number of cadaver organs was only slight, I still think the system would be justified.

One of the comments on the blog, left by David Undis, is: “A better way to reduce the organ shortage is to change the organ allocation system — allocate organs first to registered organ donors. This would create an incentive to donate.” In theory I agree with this. As it stands currently, organs go to those who need them the most – ie, the sickest patients (for livers, this is calculated based on various factors into a raw number known as the MELD score – the higher the number the more likely one is to get a liver). The reason Undis’ proposition will not work is illustrated in this example – the number one reason for liver transplantation in the United States is cirrhosis secondary to hepatitis C infection, and anyone infected with a communicable viral illness such as hep C is disqualified from donating.¬†Who would determine which of the thousands of hep C patients get to go to the operating room first? The leading cause in the U.S. of acute liver failure is acetaminophen toxicity. Just because a person is a registered organ donor, are they then entitled to a liver following a suicide attempt (ie, self-inflicted injury)? It seems need is a good way to go, although then we are forcing many patients to wait until they become quite ill before performing an operation with a relatively high mortality on them. I have heard the argument that those who have waited the longest have the right to the next organ that is a match. Again, this should not be an issue if there was an adequate supply of organs.

Anyway, something to ponder.

 

What is it good for? Absolutely nothing.  0

Posted on January 5th, 2006. About News and Politics.

During the first five days of 2006, there have been 1400 deaths (Iraqis and other nationalities) in Iraq between suicide bombings and roadside bombs. When people claim that things are better there now than they have been Рsorry, I have to disagree.

These pretzels are making me thirsty.  1

Posted on January 4th, 2006. About Entertainment.

Evan and I are making our way through the third season of the Seinfeld DVDs Рand we are finally entering familiar territory. I found Seinfeld in high school, around 1995-ish, and thus missed many of the earlier episodes, although I went through a phase where I was addicted to the syndicated shows. I am guessing most of the episodes from the first two seasons are not on tv as often (and for good reason Рthey are not that funny), but I am loving Season Three! I recently revisited the episode where Jerry has to rent a car after his car is stolen, and there are numerous hilarious exchanges during this 23 minute period:

1. After his car is stolen, Jerry calls his car phone and has a discussion with the car thief. The car thief calls him back to ask where the button for the defroster is located. Kramer, in the meantime, asks the thief if his brown gloves are still in Jerry’s glove compartment.

2. The most HILARIOUS part of the episode involves Jerry trying to rent a car. The dialogue goes:

Agent: I’m sorry, we have no mid-size available at the moment.
Jerry: I don’t understand, I made a reservation, do you have my reservation?
Agent: Yes, we do, unfortunately we ran out of cars.
Jerry: But the reservation keeps the car here. That’s why you have the
reservation.
Agent: I know why we have reservations.
Jerry: I don’t think you do. If you did, I’d have a car. See, you know how to
take the reservation, you just don’t know how to *hold* the reservation and
that’s really the most important part of the reservation, the holding. Anybody
can just take them.

3. Elaine tells Jerry about her new boyfriend and claims, “You would really like him,” to which Jerry replies, “Why do people always say that? I hate everyone, why would I like him?” I was roaring on this one. Who hasn’t said, “You would really like him/her” before?

4. Kramer lands a one-liner in a Woody Allen flick being filmed near the building, and his line is, “These pretzels are making me thirsty.” It becomes the line people say throughout the episode when they don’t know what to say.

Anyway, the beauty of the episode is that it is the first Seinfeld that follows the algorithm for what makes Seinfeld a great show. Each of the characters possesses some independent problem that, individually, creates humor, but as the show progresses their situations become intertwined in such a way that the fate of each relies on the outcomes of the other three. A) Jerry’s car is stolen because the parking attendant left the keys in the ignition. George decides to take over the attendant’s job (typical George, unemployed and unemployable). B) Elaine’s boyfriend has a stroke and is brought to Jerry’s apartment, but the paramedics cannot reach him because of the traffic outside of the building, created by George’s inane desire to park cars for a living. C) This desire of his also delays filming of the Woody Allen movie in which Kramer is to partake. D) On top of everything, the congestion was created because George wrecked Jerry’s rental car. The way the plots come together at the end is a brilliant comical climax, setting the stage for many laughs to come over the ensuing years.

Introducing the Roth 401(k)/403(b)  2

Posted on January 4th, 2006. About Money.

Evan was telling me recently about a new retirement account offered for 2006 in which I very much wish I could participate Рthe Roth 401(k) (or, in my case, it would be the Roth 403(b), although my employer does not offer it). Taxwise, it functions similarly to a Roth IRA in that the tax on the money is paid now and the growth can be withdrawn tax-free at 59 1/2 years of age. This is beneficial for people who expect to earn more at the age of retirement than they currently earn РI am an example of such a person, and I pay lower taxes now than I expect to at 60. The Roth IRA also has contribution limits of $4000 annually and $5000 if you are over 50 (this is no different than in 2005), whereas the Roth 401(k) allows up to $15,000 annually ($20,000 for those over 50). You can skim the new contribution rules for 2006 by clicking here. Happy investing.

Shuffling blogs  0

Posted on January 1st, 2006. About Uncategorized.

This weekend, we’re swapping around some of the blogs. Unfortunately, this means some of the old links won’t work anymore.

If you’re looking for “Jodi’s Running Blog” that used to be at this URL, it’s now at http://running.jodidodds.com/ and the RSS feed is http://running.jodidodds.com/feed/.

If you’re looking for “Residential Space” blog that used to be (and still sort of is) at http://spaces.msn.com/members/jodidodds/ then you’re in the right place.

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