Sunday, February 25, 2007

I Think, Therefore... I Think.

The jury is still out on this whole Clicky thing... or at least they don't have enough information to write a blog post about it yet. So far, this place has gotten a good number of hits, but in terms of people finding this blog via search engine... well, the results are decidedly more blah. A whopping two people found Murky Words as the result of a search. One person went searching for "ying-yang" and found my post from eons ago talking about tattoo's. The other person searched for "common noun plural english singular letter cartalk quiz" - and I'm not sure what they found, exactly. So, that's that. Could be worse - someone could have searched for "horny Boston leather gimp" and ended up here, in which case I'd have to cease all posts forthwith. Thankfully, that's not the case, but since I'm now out a reason to post, I figured it was time for another episode of my random thoughts.

¿Listo? Emmmmpieze.
  • Bravely bold Sir Robin, rode forth from Camelot. He was not afraid to die, O brave Sir Robin! He was not at all afraid to be killed in nasty ways. Brave, brave, brave, brave Sir Robin!*
  • Oscars are on tonight, but unfortunately, due to a previous engagement, I shan't be able to watch them. That's OK. I don't like the Academy anyway. I don't even know who the Academy are. Do they even exist? Who are these masked men, and why do their selections often suck? I call foul. Lying sacks of sh--. Why don't you vote on something worthwhile? Leave me alone.
  • The sun's in my eyes! The SUN is IN my EYES! I feel like a mogwai. Bright Light! Bright Light! Bah. Screw it. I'm too lazy to move my computer. Guess I'll go blind while basking in it's rays.
  • I've rediscovered grapefruit. Seriously, do you have any idea how good grapefruit are? I had one this morning for breakfast, and MAN, was it good. Thank YOU, Father Grapefruit, and thank you for letting us consume your children.
  • I'm goin', I'm goin', I'm goin' back to NOLA. w00t!
  • Perhaps I'm taking this whole personal finance thing a little too far. I actually clipped coupons this morning. You can just go ahead and start calling me Barbara Billingsley (oh, but pardon me stewardess, I speak jive.)
  • He was not in the least bit scared to be mashed into a pulp, or to have his eyes gouged out, and his elbows broken; To have his kneecaps split, and his body burned away; And his limbs all hacked and mangled, brave Sir Robin!*
  • My roommate is currently blackening catfish and using a mixture of spices that he created as a rub. Smells delicious, but Holy Smoke - literally! I'm coughing up a storm. And now, the fire alarm has just gone off. Perfect. Is this how they do it down south?
  • Bought another cookbook! This time it's How To Cook Everything by Mark Bittman. I have a friend who really knows how to cook (she even knows how to sweat the aromatics) and SHE tells me that his books are worth every penny. I know, I know... I don't need to buy cookbooks when so many resources are available online (a la but still, between Ted and Mark and foodtv, I'll be an Iron Chef in no time. So there. Wonder if this new book teaches you how to blacken catfish.
  • I just did a load of laundry, and you know how sometimes you just have a bit too much for the dryer, so when you take the clothes out they're mostly dry but still slightly damp? Yeah, that's what just happened. Anyway, I hate that.
  • Alright, I love my Red Sox and all, but this extended spring training coverage has gone a little too far. Somebody wake me when the regular season starts. Oh, and konichiwa, Matsuzaka-san!
  • I'll be dining at The Cheesecake Factory tonight. Yummmm... Wonder what I should have? Maybe blackened catfish. *cough*
  • I'll have a few hours to kill between the time I finish this blog post and the time I have to head out to dinner. Maybe I'll start 'Great Expectations.'
  • Why are there braille instructions on drive through ATM's?
  • Why are cartoon dogs so stupid? I mean, think about it. Astro, Scooby-Doo, Dino, Snively, Courage. They're all idiots. And not funny. Seriously, "Ro-Ray, Raggy! Oooh, Scrooby Snacks!" Who thinks that's funny? You? Get a life. Oh, wait. Mr. Peabody was pretty smart. Never mind, then. You're cool.
  • Speaking of dogs, there's a rumor going around that Rolf from the Muppets is gay. Can't substantiate it one way or another, though.
  • Q: How do you kill a circus? A: Go for the juggler. (Who the hell thinks that's funny? Me? Get a life.)
  • His head smashed in and his heart cut out, and his liver removed, and his bowels unplugged, and his nostrils raped, and his bottom burned off, and his pen-*
  • THAT'S quite enough, there. There's dirty work afoot!*
*Stolen from 'The Ballad of Sir Robin.' Music and lyrics by Monty Python.

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Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Click My Links!

Just got through readin' Sean's most recent post (as of this writing... yeah, I know, I know - I link to his blog often enough that I should just setup a redirect and be done with it. And deprive you of this beautiful blue unchanging site? Never!) and decided to follow his lead and give this Clicky thang a try. Sean and I have the same web host, and while he was rather diplomatic about the matter in his post, I'll go so far as to say the statistics and analysis they provide suck out loud. (Note: that is my only complaint with them. In all other areas, most notably price and customer service, they are second to none. Please don't kick me off your hosting service, guys.)

Anyway, this Clicky service looks pretty neat, nay, hype even, and I just added it to this site. My plan is to watch the stats in the coming days and then do much like Sean did and post some of the statistics, complete with the type of analysis you've come to expect from all of us, er.. me here at Murky Words.

Of course, if I want to see normal stats, then it's probably in my best interests to provide normal posts... or at least more consistent ones. But that's why Sean's post was such a Godsend. It's two posts for the price of one. See here, I've just written this post announcing that I'll be writing another post with my take on web traffic and stats. Personally, I think it was rather ingenious of me and I can think of little that's more exciting. Aren't you excited? Good. I am too. See you in a day or two.

[Update to previous post which I'm placing in this post because you'd have no idea I'd written it otherwise. Is it really that important? No, in fact it's kind of random and out of place, but what the hell. It's something to add...: In an effort to budget and better track my spending I recently purchased Quicken Deluxe and threw it on my computer (actually, technically it was a gift since I used a Best Buy gift card to buy it.) It installs easy enough and looks pretty simple when you first run it, but man is it a powerful tool. The process of importing accounts and getting the downloads setup can be a bit of a bitch, but once you have everything set up correctly... well, wow. I've only been using it a week and I can already tell it will help immensely. Who knew I was spending so much on lunch? "Not I, not I" said the fly in the pie. In the words of the immortal Young MC, "No school lunch next week. I'm brown baggin' it" And the week after, and the week after that.... Word. Kick the ballistics, G.

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Wednesday, February 07, 2007


Can we get ironic for a second? Two days ago a coworker asked me for financial advice.

Seriously. He had just come into a good chunk of change via a tax refund and wanted to know where to invest it. So, fine – I realize that to you, the average reader, that statement may not smack of any type of irony whatsoever but, trust me, you’re reading the words of a guy who has no business telling others what to do with their money. The last time I got a tax refund, I bought jerky and a television set.

I can talk a good game, though, which is, perhaps, why my coworker solicited my advice. I know what a portfolio is (no, it is not a folder for your Trapper Keeper) and that you should have a diverse one. I know the importance of investing for the long term and saving for retirement via 401(k), 403(b), traditional or Roth-IRA, or other investment vehicle. I know about CD’s, high yield savings accounts, credit unions, and money market accounts (but not what, in fact, a “money market” itself is.) I know the difference between a stock, a bond and a mutual fund. I know the difference between growth and value as well as large, mid and small cap. In fact, get this, I even know what an expense ratio is. So there.

What I don’t know, or rather, what I’m not very good at, is taking what I do know and putting it to good use. When money falls in my lap through luck, or even hard work, my first instinct is to want to spend it – which, for a while, I did (see TV example above. Also see my iPod, my computer, my high definition satellite receiver, my Airport Express wireless router (with AirTunes!), my stereo receiver, my DVD player, my car stereo, my Whole Foods grocery receipts, etc, etc, etc…) Saving has never been my strong suit.

I’m getting better, however. Part of the improvement was recognizing that I was stuck in a circular type of behavior and that if I always wanted the next best thing, I’d always be unsatisfied, not to mention constantly in debt. Most of it, though, came from a simple realization one day when I said to myself, “Holy Crap! I’m 31 years old and I've got some serious financial catching up to do. I’d better get my shit together, pronto.” Luckily, I’m still relatively young, not in debt, and (hopefully) have a good amount of time to do that catching up.

That, however, requires discipline which I am slowly beginning to exercise, and luckily, I have some idea of where to start. It isn’t by accident that I know about all that stuff I listed earlier. Much of it was patiently explained to me by my financially astute parents, who went to great lengths to edumacate me on the value of a dollar. I listened enough to understand what they were talking about, but not enough to really act on it. Now that I’m ready to, I find that I’m in decent stead.

More to the point of this post, I also read on the subject – a lot. Some of you may remember way back when, when I posted about reading Personal Finance for Dummies, given to me by my father who, shocking the hell out of me, gave it his endorsement. That was kind of the beginning of my “studying up” phase, which still continues. Since then, I’ve found that there is an ABUNDANCE of good, relevant material out there (as well as plenty of bad) for those looking to learn more about personal finance, and it’s with that in mind that I’m throwing up the following links. These are all sites that I read regularly and which provide a wealth of information (pun most certainly intended – har, har, har!) I’m posting them so my friends can determine for themselves what to do with their money and thus, I won’t have to worry about giving them advice which they take only to find out their money has been subsequently squandered. Plus, I love reading blogs with posts like this. They’re useful and make you feel productive, unlike YouTube movie mashups. Anyway - the links:

The Simple Dollar - I've just started reading this recently, and have found it a great resource. Dubbed "financial talk for the rest of us" they talk about seemingly everything. Seriously - on one post they discuss cookbooks (which I found very timely, for obvious reasons.) More than just throwing financial terms and numbers your way, they try to offer up ideas that will help you change your habits and get used to thinking about finance. One of my favorite posts of theirs, or rather series of posts was 31 Days To Fix Your Finances where they take a series of activities - one per day - and work towards improving your finances and centering them around your core values. And if that weren't enough, they subscribe to Consumer Reports and dole out the highlights each month. Excellent stuff. & Kiplingers Personal Finance - These two are both full of great advice on any multitude of topics. Bankrate is the more all encompassing of the two - dealing not only with personal finance, but news stories about finance in general (such as market information or the Federal Reserve.) Going to the main page can be a bit daunting as there's information overload, and it's hard to know where to begin. I find it works best when I subscribe to one of their many RSS feeds through a news reader such as Bloglines, and read the stories they're constantly updating (I currently subscribe to the advice, fed blog, and savings feeds.) The thing I like about them is they do an excellent job of writing articles in easy to understand terms. If you find a topic you're not familiar with, there are places on the site to go and easily look them up. Kiplingers is a little more geared toward personal finance, and more sparkly - as if you're reading one of those schlock financial magazines, but they offer some good advice too, and they're well organized an easy to read. Oh, and both sites are free. Worth noting.

I Will Teach You To Be Rich - I don't always agree with this guy, but he always makes a good argument. Plus, he's rich and I'm not, which should tell you something. This site is specifically geared towards recent college graduates and twenty somethings just starting out, but don't let that prevent you from reading. He offers good advice for anyone wanting to learn. Sometimes it's framed in such a way that a recent college grad will relate to it best, but it's still good.

Get Rich Slowly - This is a link I got off of the previously mentioned site and it appears to be a work in progress. Right now, the main page simply gives you links to the blog (which is excellent) or Money Hacks (which I haven't really looked at yet but seem neat.) Calculators and Tools, as well as a Personal Finance Library seem to be forthcoming, which I'm very much looking forward to.

Your local newspaper's business section - Back in high school my father suggested that I read the Globe's business section regularly so I'd have a better idea of how the world of finance works. At the time I thought he was nuts, and didn't take his advice. How could I understand the articles if I didn't understand the terms they were using in the first place? I certainly wasn't about to look them up. Stupid, stupid, stupid. I recently started doing this, despite not knowing much about what they were talking about, and was amazed at how much I was able to pick up. Elaborate financial terms mentioned in one article were often explained in another. Two different articles would analyze the same business decision differently, etc... Yeah, it's definitely more droll and boring than reading the links above, but I've also found it a good way to study up.

All of these links (as far as I know) offer smart financial advice (i.e. they are not screaming about get rich quick schemes.) They all promote sound decisions such as eliminating debt, saving money, and investing smartly - and I've found they do a decent job of teaching you how to do it. There's no substitute for experience, however, and it's that which I'm really anxious to get under my belt. Clearly, I've still got some work to do. That co-worker who asked me for financial advice? I told him to avoid the turkey jerky and go for a CRT over a plasma. But, I have no doubt I'll get my financial feet good and wet. If opportunity doesn't provide the experience, necessity will. I'm just trying to be better prepared. Now I'm off to do my taxes... but only after I watch an episode of Alias.

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Sunday, February 04, 2007

When Harry Met Hell

I may get yelled at for posting this next clip, but I don't care. It's in keeping with the recent other clips I've posted, and besides, these things seem to be a cottage industry on YouTube these days.

However, it just so happens that this next clip comes from the Goof's favorite film (not to mention a favorite of several other people I know - including the woman who introduced the two of us) and for me to post a re-cut trailer which completely mangles it's essence (in a deliciously negative way) might cause a few arched eyebrows and ruffled feathers.

Fortunately, I don't hang out with anyone who doesn't have a sense of humor, so I'm not all that worried about it. Still, if someone re-cut a trailer for, say, Trainspotting, and decided to make it look like a total rom-com chick flick, I might be a little nonplussed.

I first saw the "real" version of this film last August in New Orleans (at Goof's insistence) and very much enjoyed it. Funny, charming, if slightly dated - and having heard so much about it, I knew what to expect. Had I seen this trailer for it, however, I suspect I wouldn't have waited so long. Enjoy.

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