Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Entries from May 1, 2008 - June 1, 2008

Entries from May 1, 2008 - June 1, 2008


FYI: Car Dealers and Repair Estimates

Car dealers service centers should be located next to emergency rooms to make it safer for the service rep to tell the owner the cost of fixing a transmission. Mine told me over the phone. If I were a woman of frailer nature, I might have fainted dead away and hit my head on the tile floor. As it was, the room spun when he mentioned the king's ransom they wanted to repair our car.

To my amazement, our car maker will relieve some of the expenses for those car owners with good maintance records, facing a king's ransom in repair bills.

Here is the 411: You have to ask for assistance at the time you are given the estimate. The service rep can't mention the possibility of assistance to you. The decision to provide relief is made on a case by case basis. There is no guarantee you will receive it even if you do request it. I don't know if other car manufactures offer this assistance through their dealers but if you are faced with a potentially heart stopping repair bill, it can't hurt to ask.

We did paying a earl's ransom to get the car repaired but no ER visits were needed.


Parenting Teenagers: Bank of MOM Loan Officer Training Manual

In the real world, if you borrow money, you are expected to pay it back, usually with interest. Our children don’t often have to live in the real world. They prefer to take out loans from the Bank of MOM (BOM).

The Bank of MOM‘s loan application procedure is far simpler that a real world bank. Instead, reams of paperwork to fill out, BOM will accept a polite verbal request and a promise of repayment.

A typical loan application will sound something like this: “Mom, can I borrow ten dollars please. I will pay you back when I get paid next Friday”.

The loan officer at BOM is often distracted by other business related transactions (like getting everyone out the door for school) that she usually doesn’t carefully go over the terms of repayment with the borrower before releasing the requested funds.

Note loan officer trainee: Next Friday, like tomorrow never comes. By the time it is next Friday, it is now this Friday. Be careful to watch for this loop hole (especially if the loan application is made as you are trying to get everyone out the door for school). Ask for a specific repayment date as in Friday the 21st .

In the real world, the amount of funds released to the borrower is the amount of fund that is to be remitted to the bank. The BOM operates on an altered business plan. The following is a typical BOM repayment schedule. Some BOM’s have stricter and more effective collection departments than others.

Amount borrowed Expected Repayment amount

In dollars

1-5 Nothing. Borrower perceives this amount

as a gift from BOM for being born.

6-10 50 to 100% if loan officer is persistent

11-19 0 – 100% Loan officer should demand collateral for

a loan of this amount. Anticipate borrowers to be indigent

at the expectation of repayment. Hardcore defaulters may

accuse loan office of not loving them. Unfortunately

this tactic is very effecting in getting some loan officers

to forgive the debt, making repayment unnecessary.

20+ Lend only if repayment not expected.

These are high risk loans to make.

If a child applies to a BOM officer to co-sign a loan for his or her car purchase from a real world bank, consider this request carefully. There is a 75% chance BOM will become responsible for the loan balance.

Finally, as a BOM loan officer, keep our mission statement in mind: BOM exists to help its borrowers to mature into responsible adults. We believe this policy will yield the greatest long-term benefit to both our borrowers and to our board of directors. Please keep this objective in mind when mapping out your individual BOM loan policies.


The Armchair Traveler: American Shaolin

On the cover of American Shaolin is a Buddhist monk wearing a bright yellow robe holding a Burger King bag. The juxtaposition of those divergent elements caught my eye and I picked up a book I would have normally passed by.

In 1993 author, Matthew Polly took leave from his studies at Princeton to travel to Zheng Zhou, China in order study kungfu with the monks of Shaolin. This is China after Tiananmen Square, just as the miracle of her economic revolution was starting.

Matt hopped a plane with the vague plan of finding the Shaolin Temple once he arrives. Shortly after his arrival, he realizes he is not in Kansas anymore.

The adventure of finding the Temple might have dissuaded a less tenacious or more informed man. Arriving at Shaolin, Matt faced the challenge of navigating Chinese social mores with his wallet and humor in tact. He braved earning acceptance from the monks, finding a source for his Coke (as in soda) fix, eating bitter (suffering), dysentery, intense training sessions with unique equipment, challenge matches and working with/around Communist officials.

American Shaolin is a great read. Matt immerses his reader in the pain, pleasure and privilege of studying kungfu with some of the great masters of that time. He writes about Chinese culture with respect and affection.

Considering the nature of this blog I do have to issue a warning to readers: American Shaolin is a book about young men accomplishing great physical feats against daunting odds. Unless there is an compelling reason for them to be otherwise; young men in those circumstances tend to be vulgar in language and crude about women. Matt’s memories concerning his search for female companionship while eventually tedious, aren't graphic. He uses vulgar language in a descriptive not a gratuitous manner. Nonetheless, if you prefer to avoid the language allowed in R rated movies regardless of how it is used, you probably will not enjoy this book. Matt credited his mother for cleaning up his use of vulgarity. Thanks mom!

American Shaolin is all the more interesting reading in light of the up coming summer Olympic Games. I have just one question: Aren’t Buddhist vegetarians?american-shaolin.jpg


Parenting Teenagers: The Insanity

I find myself having the same conversation over and over. “Dear daughter, you know I always do laundry on Mondays . Always. As surely the sun rises and sets daily, I do laundry weekly, on Mondays . Therefore, it being Monday, why are you doing your laundry? “

This is the third week in a row I am having the same conversation. There is another person in the room. I can clearly see her. She is looking at me with that look that teenagers direct towards their mothers, the look that makes a sane person wonder if there really is someone else in the room with them. For all the response I am getting, maybe that is really just a hologram of my daughter and I am in effect talking to myself.

The first time we had this conversation," Why when you know I do laundry on Mondays , are you doing yours?” the answer was “I forgot.” "I understand my darling daughter, even through in the almost 2 decades you have lived with me, I have done the laundry on Monday, I understand you forgot."

The next week, same conversation: “Why when you know I do laundry on Mondays , are you doing yours?” “I have to wash my work clothes. I’m working tonight”. Not so understanding this time, I look her in the eye and state,” Do not do your laundry on Mondays . Do you understand?” “Yes “,answers my daughter or the hologram. My daughter is graduating high school. She did well on the vocabulary portion of the SAT. I know she is capable of processing the meaning of “Do not do your laundry on Mondays .” Never having dealt with a hologram, I am not sure of its processing abilities.

Today, I go to the basement to roll over my laundry, there is my daughter starting a load of hers. Today is ….Monday. With typical mother insanity, I ask her the same question “Why are you doing wash today?” The girl looked me in the eye and with all sincerity she can muster says” I though I was helping you out by doing it myself so you don’t have to”

This child is 18, well educated and self-centered as can be. The issue is not lack of memory or inability to understand what I desire. It is a heart attitude. She just doesn’t care. Her preferences matter more to her than my preferences.

What does a mom do in this situation? I could punish her. It seems silly to have to punish an 18 year old. I could ignore the behavior and change my wash date. It is folly to honor her lack of kindness towards me.

I have no easy answers for this revelation of her self-willed heart. I will pray. While there are many good systems for training and changing outward behavior, there is only One to can remold the human heart into His image.

1 If you have any encouragement from being united with Christ, if any comfort from his love, if any fellowship with the Spirit, if any tenderness and compassion, 2 then make my joy complete by being like-minded, having the same love, being one in spirit and purpose. 3 Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourselves. 4 Each of you should look not only to your own interests, but also to the interests of others. Philippians 2

I will be praying for both of us. It is time to stop the insanity.


Lettuce Begin

I picked up our first box of produce from the CSA we joined this year! Our box contained mostly salad greens. The 13 year old was over telling one friend our fridge looks like a “rabbit food store”. There was a beautiful huge head of red leaf lettuce, some spinach and something pretty with curly leaves I didn’t recognize. A big bunch of scallions has me thinking scallion bread is in our future. In addition, we received a heap of snap peas, nature’s perfect dip dippers. I left those out on the counter, hoping the less adventurous eaters would at least try them.

I realized how little experience my kids have with fresh grown produce when they would not eat the strawberries. The berries tasted wonderful however, they looked like alien berries, misshapen, not perfectly red. I cut them up and froze them for future use. I think they will wind up in a strawberry sorbet recipe I want to try.

I was hoping not to have to buy produce from the grocery store. That plan is not going to work for our family. Elizabeth from Wild Onion Farms pointed out in her newsletter:

This is an admittedly weird way to most of eating. You will get a box each week of the best of what I am harvesting off the farm that week, depending on the season. That is very different for most to what you might buy every week from the grocery store. Before I had a bounty of fresh, seasonal vegetables available out my back door, I can remember shopping lists out of the produce department…potatoes, onions, lettuce, carrots, tomatoes, bell peppers, cucumbers, maybe an orange or an avocado. None of that grows together at the same time in the same place for a simultaneous harvest, unless perhaps you live in California . Some of it does not even grow in this climate at all.

We like out of season produce so I will still be getting items like avocados and potatoes at the grocery store. There is not enough fruit to get my fruit loving family through the week, fruit will remain on my weekly shopping list.

I’m not sure is the CSA will save us money in the long run but as a family that like good food, I’m thinking shrimp salad with that beautiful red lettuce, and pasta with garlic, olive oil and spinach , cheddar cheese and chive bread, it is looking to be a good week to be a foodie at our house.

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