Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Back and forth with Movie Snob 2

So it was another Redbox Monday (free 1 day rental) and I was on my way to my nearest Redbox location when I received a text from the Movie Snob asking me for a recommendation. I thought to myself, "This must be a trap since the Movie Snob doesn't regard my opinion when it comes to movies." But in any case I played along especially since I had no clue what to get myself. In the end, he gave me two future recomendations and of course we had another back & forth:

Movie Snob: Anything good in Da Box today?

Troy: I'm on my way now. What do u recommend?

Movie Snob: I grabbed Run, Fat Boy, Run but you've already seen that.

Troy: Yes I did. Rated it 3 stars on Da Flix.

Movie Snob: Get Transsiberian (should have known the Movie Snob would know some Indie film to recommend). And get Stuck if you feel like getting two.

Troy (currently at Da Box now reviewing selection): What?? And pass up Morris Chestnut & Gabrielle Union in The Perfect Holiday?? Are you trying to turn my nubian brothers & sisters against me or something?

Movie Snob: Well, Transsiberian & Stuck are the only two I've seen.

Troy: Well, I got Perfect Holiday...stepping up my Black cred!

Movie Snob: You crazy!

Troy: Dude, Obama in the House now so u have to step up ur Black cred. For example, if you haven't seen at least 3 movies where Morris Chestnut & Gabrielle Union play love interests you get labeled a poser.

Movie Snob: LOL (texting like a teenage girl), The Best Man, Breaking All The Rules, The Brothers.

Troy: Oops, I mis-texted. I meant FIVE movies. See, just as I thought, you are a POSER!

Movie Snob: The Inkwell & Two Can Play That Game. I'm still Black with a capital 'B'.

Troy: Inkwell?? I said Union & Chestnut playing love interests.

Movie Snob: You can't get blacker than Inkwell. It was written, produced, and directed by a Black man. Chestnut was the love interest of Jada. He was a love interest.

Troy: I can't even remember Jada in Inkwell. Was she an extra or do all Black people look alike to posers? And first off they (Chestnut & Union) have to be in the same movie as love interests. This has nothing to do with Jada Pinkett Smith.

Movie Snob: Yes, Jada was in Inkwell. Chestnut & Union have only been in THREE movies together and I've seen two, Breaking All The Rules and Two Can Play That Game. Oops, I almost forgot The Brothers and I've seen that. Still Black with a capital 'B'.

Troy: Dude, the rule is FIVE (5) not THREE (3).

Movie Snob: Alright Poser, you name FIVE and show ME your Black card.

Troy: The three you mentioned, Perfect Holiday which I plan on watching tonight and the fifth is a pilot I saw for an ABC Sunday Night Movie called Bringin' Down Da House: Obamas that stars Chestnut as Barack & Union as Michelle and it tells their story of their journey to the White House. Hell, an up & coming actor we both know plays the role of Rev. Jeremiah Wright. So as you can see, I'm BLACK for life...all the letters are capitalized in my BLACKness.

Movie Snob: It just dawned on me that you might be setting me up for your blog again.

Troy: Never a setup. This is all truth...but it does make for a great blog entry. :) Hell, I can see that up & coming actor getting best actor nominations for his role as Rev. Jeremiah the BET awards.

Movie Snob: Damn, why it got to be the BET movie awards?

Troy: Oh don't get me wrong, his performance was stellar. Unbelieveable if you ask me. Hell, the acting job he did had ME wanting to walk out of that church. :)

Movie Snob: Let the record show that you couldn't name three Chestnut-Union movies that you've seen.

Troy: I have seen 4 and I am watching the fifth now.

Movie Snob: Name them.

Troy: Brothers, 2 Can Play, Breaking Rules, Bringin' Down House: Obamas, and I am watching Perfect Holiday now.

Movie Snob: Alright, but at best you a redbone.

Troy: Concede. I'm Black like tar! Flavor Flav has got nothing on me. I stand unsurpassed in my Blackness. I'm unseen, void of light, like a SHADOW.

Movie Snob: Tell me the ending of Perfect Holiday and the Obamas.

Troy: Ummmm, Christmas came and Obama (played by Chestnut) won the presidency.

Movie Snob: That's what I thought. I SAW BOTH TOO!

Friday, November 14, 2008

Doom & gloom entry

I started off the year by calling the economy "a$$". I have argued since the 2nd half of 2007 that the bailouts would only prolong this a$$ economy. While it is real hard to say with any certainty what will happen when a new Congress and President lead the country in 2009 I have to admit that even if they did everything right I still have a good chance of being right on this new prediction. Drum roll please!

The economy will be super-a$$ due to all the bailouts and most importantly the pending bailout of the US auto makers. With each new bailout, confidence further drops in the Gov't's ability to right the ship and the bailout of US auto makers will be the nail in the coffin. I have yet to meet anyone who supports that bailout (US auto makers) but the Liberals won Congress & the White House on the backs of the Unions so I will be SHOCKED if that bailout doesn't take place. Plus, what logical justification can one give why you bailout one industry and not the other or one company and not the other??

And when I say super-a$$ I mean everything but Depression Era which translates into the economy being worse than everything seen in the US between now and the Great Depression. And now for an ounce of perspective for those who think the worse is behind us.

From a market investment perspective the Great Depression lasted much longer than the ten years (1929-1939) your history book dictates:
Day 1 (9/3/1929): Pre-crash high (381).

7 weeks later (10/24/1929): Black Thursday-- crash begins (300).
3 years later (7/8/1932): Crash low (41).
25 years later (11/23/1954): Pre crash high attained (381).

While I don't believe cycles last that long today I do think that even a fifth (5 years which also happens to be my estimate for this downturn, plus or minus 2 years) of that 25yr period listed above would be much more than the average person thinks this downturn would last. I hope you note this blog entry and use it to call me a fool if it turns out I am wrong. Oh what a happy fool I would be in that case.

Thursday, November 6, 2008

So, Obama won

And what does that mean to someone who is a conservative like myself? Well, guess what? He made a blanket call to us conservatives post election and said the following in his unique Obama voice:

I know you're out there. I can feel you now. I know that you're afraid. You're afraid of us. You're afraid of change. I don't know the future. I didn't come here to tell you how this is going to end. I came here to tell you how it's going to begin. I'm going to hang up this phone, and then I'm going to show these people what you don't want them to see. I'm going to show them a world... without you. A world without rules and controls, without borders or boundaries. A world where anything is possible. Where we go from there is a choice I leave to you.

I actually recorded the message if you want to listen to it. Sort of freaked me out. :)

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

WiFi & coffee using loose change?

Of course, I had to make it a 9 (my favorite number) step process:
  1. Label an old empty jar, "WiFi & coffee"
  2. At the end of every day, dump all your loose change into the "WiFi & coffee" jar
  3. After you have built up about an inch or two of loose change in jar, locate your nearest Coinstar that converts your loose change to a Starbucks card
  4. Convert your loose change to a Starbucks card
  5. Register for your Starbucks Rewards
  6. Register for your 2 hours free WiFi per day
  7. Keep Starbucks card in your wallet
  8. Next time you need some free WiFi (up to 2 hours per day) just stop at the nearest Starbucks. You also get benefits such as free beverage customizations and free refills on brewed coffee when you make purchases using your card
  9. Keep REFILLING your Starbucks card whenever you get an inch or two of loose change in jar at nearest Coinstar.

Monday, October 6, 2008

Too busy for a posting?

You know, sometimes it is what it looks like. My friends, I have been too busy watching my investments evaporate to post. I have been too busy making sure that I am well suited to weather this economic storm that we are in. But I figured I could at least take some time to pat myself on the back for equipping you to handle these uncertain times.

Here was my attempt at leading by example in 2008:

1. I am the guy who canceled his cable bill back in March saving himself about $100/month. Yeah, I miss HBO & ESPN. But every day when I see the market crash even further it feels good knowing that my canceled cable bill is building a nice cushion of cash in my ING account.

2. I cancelled Netflix too. Well, I put it on hold a little after my blog about Redbox saving myself roughly $10/month. However, I still get my 4 movies per month via Redbox's free Monday rentals.

3. I took my own advice shoring up my short term reserves, paying off all interest bearing debt, and continuing to max out funding for my retirement in both a Roth IRA & 401K account.

4. I am not mistaking the cost of high living with the high cost of living either. No more rich steakhouses for me. :(

5. I continue to invest in me. I am still in school which is one of the reasons why I haven't been blogging as frequently and remain very keenly clued in to the events taking place around me.

6. And last but not least, I am sticking with my stated goals. I refuse to let Mr. Market and all his thrashing about get me SCURRED into converting my investments to cash. I have a well balanced diversified portfolio that should rebound with the market long before I reach the legal age for retirement. But just to be on the safe side, I have been buying a $1 MegaMillion lotto ticket every time I get gas. :)

What, you don't agree with my lotto dreams? Hey, everyone needs a backup plan.

PS: My prediction about state bankruptcies has already started with both mASS and CA already requesting loans from the Federal Gov't. Also, props to both Patterson and Bloomberg of NY and NYC respectively for getting their red pens out and slashing their budgets. Even though the writing is clearly on the wall it is not often folks act on it.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

The Giant Pool of Money

So every day some new development happens on Wall Street and folks are asking for my opinion. Look, I gave my opinion this time last year when the bailouts were in the form of interest rate cuts. But nobody listened then so why would they now? And what good is my opinion now anyway? It would be the equivalent of saying the ship is sinking at the point of total submersion.

In any case, here is my headline for next year: Avoiding bankruptcy will be the name of the game for lots of state governments starting with New York.

But in the meantime and between time I offer the following audio content that is the most comprehensive and far reaching take on how we got where we are today. Hey, I highly recommend you listen, I mean do you really think this is over?

The Giant Pool of Money
by Chicago Public Radio

Couple of ways to get this program:
1. You can listen for free by clicking "Full Episode" below the picture of the money.
2. You can download the transcript.
3. You can buy the podcast for $0.95.
4. You can buy the CD.

Friday, August 22, 2008

F-R-E-E that spells free...

Even better than that little jingle that is now STUCK IN YOUR HEAD FOR THE REMAINDER OF YOUR DAY is the following deal that will make you sing it with pride.

Free credit score monitoring from Trans Union for 6 or 9 months depending on your preference. While I have never been a big fan of class action lawsuits this one is somewhat acceptable in that you get a service that may be of great use to you. I cut and pasted the 6 or 9 month options below but I strongly recommend you read all about it URL below where you can also register if you so decide. To be eligible you must register before 9/24/2008.

You have two options for credit monitoring:(1) Get six months of free credit monitoring services (which retails for $59.75) that includes: (a) the ability to lock your credit report so third parties, such as lenders or other companies, will not be able to access your credit report without your consent (unless allowed by law); (b) unlimited daily access to your Trans Union credit report and credit score; and (c) credit monitoring with a 24-hour email credit notification service.
(2) Get nine months of enhanced credit monitoring services (which retails for $115.50) that includes all the services listed above, plus a suite of insurance scores (which allows you to see your credit information as insurance companies do) and a mortgage simulator service (a customized report that shows the mortgage rates that you should qualify for). If you choose this option you will agree to give up your right to sue the Defendants for certain damage claims (see Question 15) and you will give up your right to receive a cash payment, if any, from the Settlement Fund.

PS: Pull it up and forward it back my selecta , "F-R-E-E, that spells, BABY!"

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Back & forth with the Movie Snob

So after receiving my free movie code from Big Red yesterday I couldn't decide on what movie I should get. So I went on to the website and figured I would just get the highest rated movie that they had available using ratings from Da Flix. And as I suspected some touchy-feely movie was the highest rated. But what surprised me the most was that a friend of mine who THINKS he is the biggest movie snob ever had rated this chick-flick 3 stars (Da Flix allows you to share your viewing history and ratings). Instantly I now wanted to watch it because at the very least I can now make fun of him for the girly-man that he is.

I get home and pop the movie on and instantly kicked off a text message discussion with the Movie Snob that went exactly like this:

Troy: Watching ur touchy-feely movie (Definitely, Maybe) with Van Wilder trying to act a serious role. Of course u only watched it because Lil Miss Sunshine is in it. And we know how much you love that movie.

Movie Snob: Dude I never recommended that movie. It was ok but it's a movie I would not recommend.

Troy: Never said u recommended. But on Da Flix you rated it 3 stars. That pretty much means u r gay.

Movie Snob: You know how I know you're gay? Cause you're watching it.

Troy: U know how I know ur gay? U watched Brokeback Mountain 3 times when Heath Ledger died crying uncontrollably.

Movie Snob: You know how I know you're gay? Cause you know who starred in Brokeback Mountain.

Troy: U know how I know ur gay? Little Miss Sunshine is ur favorite movie of all time.

Movie Snob: You know how I know you're gay? You're using text language like a 15 year old girl.

Troy: U know how I know ur gay? U said, "no he didn't" when Van Wilder told April she should go to "life rehab" in the movie Definitely, Maybe.

Movie Snob: You know how I know you're gay? You know the name of the characters.

Troy: U know how I know ur gay? When Scarlett Johansson got engaged to Van Wilder u were truly happy for them saying and I quote, "don't they make a cute couple."

Movie Snob: You know how I know you're gay? You didn't like Harold & Kumar 2 because of the bottomless female nudity.

Troy: U know how I know ur gay? U LOVED Harold & Kumar 2 because of the bottomless MALE nudity.

Movie Snob: You know how I know you're gay? Life is Beautiful is your favorite movie.

Troy: U know how I know ur gay? U cried when April got the book & told Van Wilder to leave in your girly-movie.

Movie Snob: You know how I know you're gay? You wear Jim Jones jeans.

Troy: U know how I know ur gay? U wear Rip Hamilton jerseys with matching headband & face mask.

Movie Snob: You know how I know you're gay? You don't like the NBA anymore because they wear long shorts now.

Troy: U know how I know ur gay? U downloaded the soundtrack for Definitely, Maybe to ur top 25 tunes on ur gaypod.

Movie Snob: You know how I know you're gay? You saw High School Musical in iMAX.

Troy: U know how I know ur gay? U only go to the indie artsy movie theaters.

Movie Snob: You know how I know you're gay? You told me I had to see, PS: I Love You in iMAX

Troy: U know how I know ur gay? After seeing Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants you tried to swap ur jeans with ur other gay friends.

Movie Snob: You know how I know you're gay? Your favorite NFL player is Willis Mc-GAY-hee.

Troy: OUCH, I'm going to remember that one. U know how I know ur gay? Your favorite cartoon character is Mr(s). Garrison.


Troy: OK, you know what? I'm taking that last one personal. I mean, having a blog doesn't make someone gay. Straight people have blogs too. I mean, not that being gay is a bad thing...

Thursday, July 31, 2008

AT&T's iPhone vs. Sprint's Treo 700p

So I made the switch to the AT&T iPhone by Apple from Sprint's Treo 700p by Palm. Here is what I like and don't like regarding the switch.

Things I don't like:
1. Battery life SUCKS! And this is with 3G turned off.
2. Why are they intentionally restricting me?
2a. Can't text to an email address.
2b. Can't send pictures using text.
2c. No cut & paste. (I know, next update...blah, blah, blah)
2d. Can't forward texts.
2e. Forces me to use mobile pages for sites they have partnerships with (
3. No video camera.
4. Most of the free offerings on app store are crap.
5. No direct support for Hotmail (no free POP) like it does for Gmail or Yahoo Mail.

Things I like:
1. Browsing the web. You can even watch videos (YouTube AND others).
2. 2 Megapixel camera takes damn good pics
3. App store itself and not the vast majority of free offerings.
4. Support for MS Outlook is great and simple to setup.
5. Support for Gmail & Yahoo Mail is great and ridiculously simple to setup.
6. Haven't done it but supposedly you can get Hotmail via Izymail. Anyone ever used them?
7. Facebook and iPhone work really well together for the most part (browser is better than free app also).

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Canceled cable. Now what?

So as you know I cancelled my cable earlier this year. But this was when I was taking 2 classes and the NFL was quiet so I really didn't even have time to notice. Now it is summer and I only did a 1-week class (Poland trip) so now I have tons of free time and there aren't really that many good DVDs out. (BTW, my Flix account has been on hold due to and will most likely remain on hold indefinitely. In honor of that will now be known as Big Red!)

In any case, I figured since I didn't get a tax rebate check (they claim I am too rich for a tax rebate...set ah THIEF!) I needed to find a way to get some of MY money back from the Gov't. Well, I found out the Gov't has mandated we go to digital TV by February 2009 and is willing to send you up to 2 $40 coupon cards good for purchasing a digital to analog converter. This is even valid for rarefied rich boys like myself who strangely enough still own analog TVs.

Of course I jumped on it just to play with electronics using other people's money (well, actually MY money). But being the true geek that I am I still reviewed and got a quality converter and even picked up an antenna (sadly I threw out all my rabbit ears that came with my TVs) since Radio Shack gives you 25% off the antenna when you buy them together. All told my bill was $34 including tax for the following items I list at the end.

And for my one time fee of $34 I get around 20 channels in crystal clear definition of which some broadcast in HD. Now I only did this recently so I can only go on what I have seen in about 6-8 hours of viewing pleasure:
NBC (2 of these with one being a weather channel that is pretty decent)
PBS (like 4 of these or so)
Worship (best religious channel in my opinion - mostly music with lots of nature scenes)
ION (?? looked like family programming to me)
Others - family and educational stuff it appears

1. Find out what channels are available in your area by going here: (after you get the channel list select "show digital stations only.")
2. Get your coupon cards here:
3. Compare converters:
4. Converter I bought:
5. Antenna I bought:

And I am fully aware that there is no ESPN or NFL Network and that a die hard NFL fan like myself will suffer for the Monday night games. But you get what you pay for I guess.

I also have to ask, could this be the end of cable? Remember, this is digital where you actually get info on the show like with a cable box. And I know it is still lacking right now but you have to keep in mind that this isn't even fully rolled out yet (2/09).

This somewhat reminds me of when I dropped my land line MANY years ago people thought I was crazy but now it's the norm. Hell, I will go out on a limb and say that I give this 2 years before there isn't an all sports channel. Actually, this (nationwide network sports channel) in and of itself is a GREAT BUSINESS IDEA!!

PS: Much thanks to (lots of info) for giving me a heads-up and providing me with all the details of what I needed to do. Each one teach one.

Monday, July 21, 2008

Why study finance? Why Brandeis?

For those that have been wondering why the hell I am taking grad classes yet again in an attempt to gain yet another master's degree (MS in Finance) I offer the following video that displays Brandeis professors breaking down the mortgage crisis. Most specifically, the Global Economics class that I took last Fall and the World Financial Centers class that took me to Poland less than two weeks ago was taught by Prof. John Ballantine.

Here is a link to view the segment which ran Friday (7/18/2008) on the NewsHour which featured Brandeis International Business School:

If you wish to view a transcript or just listen to audio, you may click here:

PS: Anita Hill (of Clarence Thomas nomination fame) is also a professor at Brandeis albeit in the Heller Social Policy & Management School.
PPS: No amount of education can save you from greed & stupidity though since I lost an arm & a leg investing in IndyMac Bank. Ouch!

Sunday, July 13, 2008

Dining out deals

Cheesecake Factory
On Wednesday, July 30, in honor of their 30th year anniversary Cheesecake Factory restaurants nationwide will offer every delicious slice of our more than 30 varieties of cheesecake for $1.50 per slice to pay homage to the price they charged when they first opened in 1978. I got this through word of mouth and the only reference to it online I found was here.

Morton's The Steakhouse
Not to be outdone, Morton's will be celebrating their 30th anniversary in September and will feature Prime Sundays at Morton's every Sunday in that month. In a nutshell, you will get a prime sirloin burger from Morton's for $19.78 of which Morton's will make a $5 donation to the Make-A-Wish Foundation for each burger sold. This is a great deal for guilty elitist Liberals to live it up while taking a deduction! :)

Also from now until September 30th, 2008 Morton's is also running a Steak and Seafood For Two promotion that looks to be the exact same promo they earlier called 2 Can Dine For $99. Since I already did and blogged it there is no need for me to indulge a second time. On second thought, those desserts still rate as the BEST. I may have to do a follow-up just for quality consistency check purposes. :)

Sunday, July 6, 2008

Going BROKE in Poland

Here I am in Warsaw, Poland for school going BROKE. Hey, I guess the best way to learn about world finance is to go broke in a foreign country. Hands on learning at its best!

And yes the dollar has been rising against the zloty and the euro since my departure from Boston on Friday but it has not been rising fast enough. Plus, I really don't think the Poles care because they are intent on taking every dollar, zloty and euro that I have in my possession no matter the exchange rates.

Look, call me naive but I honestly thought that since Poland is an Eastern European former socialist state the prices wouldn't be so ridiculous. Don't get me wrong, I am fully aware that it is a member of the EU and that prices in the EU are sky high. Hey, I was just in Limerick, Ireland getting jacked up in February but that's Western Europe and it was for work so everything was expensed. Or maybe I am just jaded from the movie Eurotrip where the characters were instantly transformed into millionaires in Bratislava another Eastern European former socialist place. OK, I am not that jaded, but I definitely wasn't prepared for the financial a$$-rape that is taking place now.

Let me break down my first day here in Warsaw for you. I landed about 2pm Poland time which is 6 hours ahead of Boston and took a bus from the airport to the hotel for about $1.50 US. At this point I am thinking this isn't bad at all. The place looks a little old and rigid but the hotel seemed nice so I wasn't worried. I got just a tad apprehensive when the hotel told me that they will be charging my room rate in euros as opposed to the Polish zloty. But I brushed it aside speculating that it must be a European chain and thought nothing more of it. But later when they told me that internet would be an additional $10 euros per day I put my self on alert. After checking myself into my room I decided to pay a quick visit to the hotel bar with my classmate and 2006-2007 "Cropover Captain" of whom I share a room in which the beds are separated by an INCH (pictured above). He had a Long Island Iced Tea and I had a Bacardi & 7up (I also noticed that even though Coke is the dominant soft drink Sprite does not exist here). Guess what the total cost was for the two drinks?

$60 zloty including $4 tip.

And here is the kicker my friend. Upon my arrival I exchanged some dollars for zlotys at a rate of $1 for $1.90 zlotys. So in essence those two drinks including tip cost us a total of $31.58 in US dollars. Now if you have ever been to Europe before you know the tiny portion sizes they deal with over here. Trust me, those were TEN OUNCE glasses, at best, that those drinks were poured into. And theses glasses were then filled with ICE before the beverages were added. Look, at this moment I was immediately reminded of the fact that I am desperately trying to get myself back into shape and the strict diet that I should be on as a result. A blessing in disguise is what my Mother would call this type of situation. :)

How many blessings in disguise are you letting pass you by?

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

3G iPhone Service Plans

So ATT finally offered up the details regarding the service plans for the new 3G iPhone. And all I have to say is, SET AH THIEF!

Hey, currently I have
Sprint and while I would be the first to say their customer service sucks I also have to admit that they are very affordable. So why am I switching to ATT because of the 8 Gig 3G iPhone only to be ripped off with an unconscionable 2 year agreement? Is it because ATT offers more bars in more places? Hell to the NO! Is it because I am a sucker? Most likely.

In any case, let's breakdown the numbers of how I can make this as affordable as possible without exceeding my monthly limits:
$70 for 450 Anytime
$15 for 1500 texts (THIEVES! Why don't they have $10 for 1000 text messages??)
$9 for early nights & weekends (7pm-7am)
Total before taxes: $94

Over the 2 year contract:
Plan: $94 * 24 mos
Phone: $200 * 1 time charge
Activation: $36 * 1 time charge
Total of $2492 before sales tax and monthly taxes. Sort of a steep committment and we haven't even considered phone insurance or extended warranty yet.

It is even worse for the folks who want a no-contract iPhone: $599 (8 Gig) or $699 (16 Gig). I thought ATT was subsidizing $200. Using my math: $199 + $200 equals $399. Where did the extra $200 come from?? In any event I am guessing most folks will sign the contract to get the $199 or $299 price only to immediately cancel since the early termination fee starts at $175 and drops by $5 with each passing month. They must just want your information for their marketing database. :)

But hey, my cell phone has been my ONLY phone for over 5 years now. Also, the
Amex card that I have been pushing gives you 5% back when you have your cell phone billed directly to them. So I guess I can somewhat justify it...remember, I am already on record as stating the 3G iPhone is a necessity. :)

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Cheese + cake + factory

Equals the nationally preferred restaurant among Black females in my humble opinion. Why? I honestly don't know. I never knew they liked cheesecake that much. Matter of fact, I don't think they do. I mean, I never see them indulging in cheesecake in numbers to indicate that it is the cheesecake that attracts them to this establishment in droves. Personally, I think it is a combination of the large portions and numerous menu offerings that brings them out in Obama rally numbers.

With regards to the numerous menu offerings, logically this should not be a reason for Black females to love Cheesecake Factory. Seriously speaking, is it just me or don't they pretty much get the same thing everytime they are there? I mean, they all claim to have 3 favorites but that is just part of the scam they give you so they can act like they have reason to browse through the menu. And this is where I have to give the good folks at Cheesecake Factory mad props. These guys are fully aware of this phenomenon and as a result they fill their menu with ads to capitalize.

Everytime I am there I just sit across the table and watch her flip back and forth from page to page while telling me to turn to this page and that page while she pretends to rack her brain deciding between her three favorite entrees. All this time I am hungry like a dog and this is holding me up from ordering and making the waitress smile and say, "Don't worry, take your time, I will be back to take your order when you're ready." Somewhere around this point is where I say, "You should just go ahead and get __(the one she always get)__. You know you want it." And her response is always, "Yeah, but I had it last time I was here. I want to try something different this time." And in the interest of time, I say, "Well, I will get __(one of her other two faves)__ and you can have some of mine." This my friend, is what she was waiting for all along. You knew it and you know she knows you knew it. But I guess in some sense you were trying to wean her from eating off your plate for the hundredth time. Sadly, you give in, as you always do, because the hunger is becoming too much to bear.

Now the food arrives and of course she eats off your plate and nibbles on hers like you knew she would. Ten mnutes later your plate looks as clean as it did when it came out of the dishwasher because of your hunger and the two of you racing to eat as much food from YOUR plate as possible. You don't even mind sharing your meal with her that much but what grates your last nerve is when you look over at her plate it is at least half-filled. And right on cue she spots you eyeing her half-filled plate and says, "I am stuffed...I think I should get the rest to go." This is when you want to comment but better judgement prevails and you SMILE and say, "Yeah, they sure gave us a lot of food."

So now she tells the waitress that she would like to take the leftovers home as if this wasn't part of her master plan. Yeah, the plan that includes leaving half on her plate so she can get the leftovers to go for the purpose of WALKING AROUND THE MALL with the Cheesecake Factory bag in her hand and taking the leftovers to work the following day TO FRONT ON HER CO-WORKERS. Hey, it could be worse, she may try to get YOU to carry the Cheesecake Factory bag filled with leftovers through the mall.

But HA! This is why you exercised better judgement my friend. Middle of the night when you get hungry again because you were never full in the first place on account of HER RAIDING YOUR PLATE you wake up, go the fridge and spot that ubiquitous Cheesecake Factory bag. After roughly three microwave minutes it is you, SportsCenter, and the Cheesecake Factory leftovers. Ten minutes later you proceed back to bed with a SMILE on your face thinking about the scream that will erupt in the morning when she realizes you foiled her plan to take the leftovers to work. But alas, we both know that even if it means she may run a little late she will make a quick lunch and pack it in that cursed Cheesecake Factory bag!

PS: If this blog entry made you get a taste for some Cheesecake Factory then here is my gift to you in honor of their 30th year anniversary: a complimentary slice of cheesecake with the purchase of two entrees between 6/23/2008 - 6/26/2008.

Saturday, June 14, 2008

Motorcycle madness

That time of the year again when I start thinking that I need to get a motorcycle. And this time I have the perfect excuse, gas prices.

But since I don't know how to ride to the point where I am comfortable on government roads I will have to take a class and test. Let me break down the total cost to see if this really makes sense:

Motorcyle permit: $30
Motorcycle class & test: $275
Motorcyle: <= $3K
Motorcycle insurance: No clue??

Assuming I pass the class and test I will be looking for something in the dirt cheap range with my spending limit being $3K and that is including sales tax, title and registration. With that price limit in mind, my skills as a rider, and the fact that I don't want anything older than a 2005 (ideally a 2006) would mean that I will be getting a used Kawasaki Ninja 250R. And from all the research that I have performed gas mileage looks to be in the 60mpg range. Hey, that is more than double what I do now in my 2 door coupe.

But hey, this will be a great entry level bike in which if it doesn't work out I won't be set back too much. Now the big issue is where will I be able to find a helmet to fit MY head??

Sunday, June 8, 2008

The Belmont Stakes

Drove all the way from mASS yesterday to the Belmont Stakes in Elmont, NY. Over 4 hours and roughly 200 miles later I arrive smack dab in the middle of what America is all about: diversity. Folks from all walks of life came together somewhere around the number of 100K to see Big Brown vie for the Triple Crown.

The way the whole establishment is setup you cannot help but to get caught up in the demographics. There were so many different sections for different folks depending on how much they were willing to pay and also their status (official, press, etc). There were places that you were allowed into by having a certain stamp on your hand or card around your neck or even sticker on the card around your neck. And I simply didn't understand where I could sit, stand or even buy a drink for most of the day. I did notice that the one of the most comfortable areas I found in the whole place was also the most exclusive as well. On the very top floor of the Belmont a private party was taking place in which there were bodyguards in suits and earpieces (you know, Secret Service style) guarding the entrance. The air conditioning emanating from the room was so cool that my travel companions decided to park themselves in some chairs right outside the door. While they were busy cooling themselves off on this 90+ degree weather day I just sat their and observed the bodyguards doing their jobs allowing and disallowing folks based on the card around their necks and/or the stickers on said cards. Even up to now I still don't know what is on the sticker or card that allowed access. Sad.

But here is what is even more sad. After spending $20 to be in the Clubhouse versus the $10 to be in the Grandstand we still ended up watching the race from the Grandstand. Well, I wouldn't really say we watched the race exactly. We watched the monitor that they have on the track instead of the actual race itself due to the large and very boisterous crowd standing on benches throughout the entire race. And what a crap race it was. Matter of fact I will end this blog here before I get all up in arms once again thinking about my roundtrip-8-hour-drive-400-miles, chipped-windshield, $30-bet-wasted, Casino-Drive-scratched, Big-Brown-finishing-dead-last, no-Triple-Crown-yet-again, Belmont Stakes trip.

But we all made it back safe and for that I am thankful. :)

Thursday, May 29, 2008

Sticking with it

That life is really about sticking with it. Whatever it is. Set your goal, make a plan on how you will accomplish it and the rest is just implementation. Yeah, it may take a little longer than you planned. Yeah, it may be harder than you estimated. And yeah, there are times when you won't make it. But trust me, if you do this a lot, you will succeed a lot. Plain and simple.

Every once in a while I have to remind myself of that. It seems I always fall for the get rich quick, get abs quick, get educated quick schemes that exist. And is it just me or do those schemes work just often enough so that an eedyiat show-self friend of mine can get it to work for them and brag all day about it. So of course now my ego kicks in and I, the fool I am, tries the scheme. Sad part is when the shite falls apart I am the least surprised. Hell, I expected it.

Two words: emotional discipline.

When you have your goals set, course charted, plans in place and you are on the road to success it is the lack of emotional discipline that causes us, well at least me, to veer away from my charted course. Yeah, there are times that there are stuff outside of your control in life that will knock you off the course. But more often than not it is just a simple lack of emotional discipline.

It may be as simple as avoiding that pint of Chocolate Fudge Brownie, ignoring a Cramer stock pick, and/or it may be as simple as turning off the TV.

How do I become more disciplined in my emotions?

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Time to get back into shape...

Yep, got up this morning and hit the gym. I mean I hit it. Hit it like it stole my lunch money. And I will keep hitting it until I get my lunch money back. See what had happened is that on my recent vacation to St. Thomas I sort of stood out at the beach if you know what I mean. Hey, I'll be honest with you and sum up my day at the beach in 5 words: GUYS SHOULD NOT HAVE BREASTS! (aka "man-boobs" like my NOT FAVORITE niece referred to them)

Yep, there I was keeping my shirt on for the better part of the day in blistering heat. I did remove it to swim but when I came out of the water I quickly dried off and replaced my shirt. And you know what? When I laid in bed this morning thinking about skipping the gym that memory motivated me to MOVE. And publicizing my embarrasment on this medium will only motivate me further. What's motivating you?

PS: Next time you see me, ask me about my abs. :)

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Did someone say free?

So of course me being the cheap bastard that I am was all over McDonald's FREE southern styled chicken sandwiches (assuming you buy a drink) today. And both times I was presently surprised. And no, it didn't have anything to do with the chicken.

For breakfast I did the small coffee which was enough to get me my free chicken biscuit that tasted a bit dry and left my stomach feeling somewhat funny. However, the coffee was damn good if I may say so. First time having their coffee since they switched to their new premium roast.

For lunch, I figured they weren't going to jack me the $1.50 for a medium drink so I did the $1 Sweet Tea. The sandwich is like 2 steps down from Chick-fil-A's (the originator, none greater) but the sweet tea was off the charts. They give it to you in a big-32-oz-styrofoam (shhh, don't tell the tree-hugging-spread-love-Liberals) cup and it is good right off the bat but even better when you pour out some tea and fill it back up with some Minute Maid lemon aid from the drink stand. Yeah it was some good old fashioned southern style eating going on in mASS since I capped it off with 2 apple pies for $1. I was instantly put into a red state of mind if you know what I mean. :)

Drink: Arnold Palmer ($1)
Entree: Southern Styled chicken sandwich (free)
Dessert: 2 apple pies ($1)

Total w/ tax: $2.10 and you can't beat that with a hungry stick!

PS: Today is also free iced coffee day at Dunkin Donuts but I think I will pass on that. :)

Thursday, May 8, 2008

School over, donkey turnover...

Hell yeah! I remember singing that when I was a kid. Don't know what it means but every year around this time I would sing it at the top of my lungs. And I sing today my friends.

Had my last final exam for the semester last night in Financial Accounting. Tough stuff, most especially when you aren't allowed to bring any notes (cheat-sheet) to the exam. I mean, who the hell gives you closed-notes-closed-book exams at grad level? Yeah, I could see for Medical or Law school but just straight Finance?? Give me a break.

The one good thing about college at the end of the semester is that you get to sell back your books for cents on the dollar. Set ah thief!! But hey, I took it. Would you like to know why I would do something so rash? Because, like you, I have kept way too many a text without ever so much as a long glance in its general direction over the course of many years. And then after lugging these things with you on move after move you finally give up and unceremoniously toss them in the trash. I figured for the cents on the dollar I would definitely put that money to good use right away. So of course when I am at the campus bookstore and I get back that small chump change you would think I would dump it into one of my many savings accounts right?

Hell to the no!

While standing in line to get my money I eyed a baseball cap with the school's motto/insignia/whatever and bought it. Hi, my name is Troy and I am a SUCKA!!

Saturday, May 3, 2008

Call me psychic

Trust me, I saw this coming 10 furlongs away. The second Hillary Clinton started comparing her campaign to win the democratic nomination for President to Eight Belles (only filly in the field) chances in the Kentucky Derby I knew this would only end tragically. I started praying for that poor horse immediately. Unfortunately, the spell of Hillary was too much to overcome. So what happened to Eight Belles? Well, for a filly she did run very well and placed second in the race. But after two compound fratcures in each of her front legs she was put down not more than 2 minutes after finishing the race.

See my friends, this is what they call foreshadowing. It just hurts me to know she had to drag that poor horse into this. Rest in peace Eight Belles.

Friday, May 2, 2008

"Never busted. Busted is what you see!"

Hey, I have heard worse. Growing up in my neck of the woods, I have heard guys go so far as to say, "if she (girlfriend/wife) doesn't come over and touch me AND I acknowledge her then it wasn't me." DAMN!

Still confused about what I am talking about? Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick of Detroit is what I'm talking about. Man, you know how I could just tell that dude was lying like crazy? He got all fancy with his lies. Why? Why all the pulpitting (da Roc)? Here is what he said under oath when accused of having an affair with his chief of staff during the police whistleblower trial:

"I think it was pretty demoralizing to her -- you have to know her -- but it's demoralizing to me as well," he said. "My mother is a congresswoman. There have always been strong women around me. My aunt is a state legislator. I think it's absurd to assert that every woman that works with a man is a whore. I think it's disrespectful not just to Christine Beatty but to women who do a professional job that they do every single day. And it's also disrespectful to their families as well."

Using government provided pagers to send sexual text messages?? That alone renders him AND her unfit for their respective jobs in my humble opinion. :) But I will let my Detroit peeps comment on this one. Like my boy Martin used to say, "Talk to me Detroit!"

Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Back from vacation...

And I just wanted to check in with you and show you a pic or two of what I was enjoying on my trip back home to St. Thomas, VI. Right now I am swamped trying to get back to my normal routine but wanted to ensure that I touch the following topics in the coming blogs so much I am going to put it out there so you can hold me to it.

Pending blog topics
1. Inflation (rice, gas, etc.)
2. Politics (primary, taxes)
3. NBA (is it back?)

Vacation Pics
St. Thomas Harbor from Mafolie Hill

Magens Bay from Mountain Top

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Go tell my enemies...

...that I'm on the Rock. Mavado got on it, then Jay-Z heard and got on it ASAP, and not to be outdone, Sen. Obama heard and got on it for the Easter Weekend. I mean, we both knew it was just a matter of time for me right?

I'm on the Rock (St. Thomas, VI)!
I'm on the Rock, on the Rock....
St. Thomas-V-I, St. Thomas-V-I....
Jehovah guide me, I'm on the Rock....
Go tell my enemies, I'm on the Rock....
Selassie guide me, and mi neva look back....
Cause ah me dem can't stop....

Well not just yet, but I do touchdown tomorrow for the Carnival celebrations, see the christening of my newest nephew and namesake, and to indulge in three of my favorite things: warm sun, clear blue seawater and white coral sand. Don't hate, congratulate. You see, this ticket was bought way back in January when it was below zero here in mASS and I'm guessing you weren't hating on me then.

And since you are not a hater, you can wish me safe travels and sing along with me as I embark on my "Cultural Excape for 2008" because nothing is more fab-u-lous than Carnival in St. Thom-as, me go tear down Jouvert!

Monday, April 14, 2008

Morton's, it's not just salt anymore

Up until this past weekend, I have lived my life visualizing the blue round cylindrical shaped container with the girl holding the umbrella whenever someone mentioned the word, "Morton's." And the funny thing is that up until the writing of this blog I never noticed that they don't use the possessive, it just says, "Morton Salt." In any case, I no longer associate the name Morton with salt after endulging in Morton's Steakhouse's 2 can dine for $99 promo.

I'll get right to the meat of the review and say that the steak isn't as good as Ruth's. However, the ambiance and presentation was slightly comparable to that of Smith & Wollensky. But on to the deal of which myself and my beautiful date along with the married couple from our Flemings experience enjoyed.

First off, Morton's is conveniently located in the shopping area of Boston, probably a block or two from the Prudential Center Mall on Boylston Street. Great service began from the moment we exited the car with the valet staff who promptly took the car and sheltered us under an umbrella to make sure their cash, oops I meant clients, didn't get wet. Upon arriving inside we were promptly seated and a huge hot and might I add delicious baked bread was placed on the table. That bread, the monstrosity, somehow managed to whittle away to crumbs in a relatively short time. For salad, the ladies had the Morton's salad and the guys had the Caesar's salad. As for the complimentary anchovies provided with the Morton's salad the ladies decided to pass. :)

The next course was the steak and seafood entree of which we dined on Colossal Shrimp Alexander, Jumbo Lump Crab Cake and medium done single cut filets (the ladies, of course chose to have their steaks butterflied and done medium well). For sides we had mash potatoes, steamed brocoli, hashbrown potato, grilled asparagus, and creamed spinach. What I failed to mention above is that before you select what you will be dining on for the evening they bring all the raw ingredients (including the steaks and 3lb live lobsters) around on a cart for your viewing pleasure. And based on what I saw, they must have their own farm because those must have been the biggest, freshest and healthiest looking veggies I ever saw. And they tasted just as good as they looked. Ha, I just had a flashback to a point in the evening when I commented on the size of the asparagus spears claiming it looked, dare I say, phallic. Oh yeah, the steaks were good but nothing spectacular. Hey, what can I say? Ruth's Chris and their 500 degree plates has me spoiled, ROTTEN.

Now onto what impressed everyone at the table, dessert! BOTH the chocolate cake and the key lime cake were absolutely fabulous. I mean, they refer to their chocolate cake as legendary in their menu but who would have guessed they were telling the truth. And as for the key lime pie, I must admit that I was surprisingly overwhelmed. I demolished it. I have never even had key lime pie that tasted good enough for me to eat more than half of a small slice before. I practically inhaled the generous slice that was placed before me at Morton's however.

All in all, I would have to say Morton's has some of the best desserts of anywhere that I have had the opportunity to dine, great freaking sides and seafood, but nothing exceptional when it comes to their steaks.

Saturday, April 12, 2008


I am willing to lobby hard for anyone who simplifies the tax code. I mean, why all this crap of deductions, exemptions and subtract the lower of line 8 or 9 from line 10?? What is that crap about? You would think with the all the advances in tax preparation software, online tax portals, e-filing and the simple fact that I have been doing this for a very long time now the process should be easy right? WRONG! This thing is getting worse by the minute and it says a lot coming from me since I don't itemize.

I am so down for a national sales tax or just a flat tax across the board on everything. This process is dare I say, "taxing" on the mind, body, and wallet/pocketbook. I guess I just needed to rant about this for a second or two after agonizing over my taxes for the last 4 hours. And yeah, I owe but it is perfectly within my acceptable range. Could have been much worse.

I think next year I may have to go see a tax professional. Ya think?

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Late lunch today...

Nothing special really, was just busy with some stuff and ended up leaving for lunch at 2pm. And you know what, not that I work in the city or anything but everything was just more calm, cool, and collected just like in the movie I Think I Love My Wife with Chris Rock. Of course I have to admit that today is the best weather (71 degrees and sunny) day we have had for 2008 in mASS. BTW, that movie is better than ratings would lead you to believe.

In any case, on the drive to my lunch spot Total Eclipse of the Heart by Bonnie Tyler started playing on the radio. And look, at first I tried fronting like I wasn't going to sing along but between me and you, by the 7th, "Turnaround" I had turned up the volume to full blast and was singing at the top of my lungs, "EVERY NOW AND THEN I FALL APART." What can I say? That song OWNS my machismo. I forget all about acting tough and playing it cool. Just check out some of the lyrics if you don't believe me.

3rd verse
And I need you now tonight
And I need you more than ever
And if you'll only hold me tight
We'll be holding on forever
And we'll only be making it right
Cause we'll never be wrong together
We can take it to the end of the line
Your love is like a shadow on me all of the time
I don't know what to do and I'm always in the dark
We're living in a powder keg and giving off sparks
I really need you tonight
Forever's gonna start tonight
Forever's gonna start tonight!

And doesn't she sing her a$$ off too? Large up Bonnie Tyler anywhere she deh!

PS: Damn, she said, "Forever's gonna start tonight!"

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

The Meeting: Mary & Jane

The time has come for me to REALLY introduce these two. I have known them for a very long time and I am convinced that even though they meet, talk, & interact with each other ALL THE FREAKING TIME they have never truly met. These two are single heterosexual females in the 25-35 age group who happen to be in my Friends & Family network: Mary & Jane.

The best way to sum up Mary is to say that the only thing greater than her potential was her desire to be a mother. So even though she was single and not in a steady relationship, she took matters into her own hands. Roughly 9 months later, Mary delivers a beautiful baby girl. Fast forward X years later when Mary realizes that her expenses are growing faster than her wages and just the mere mention of the word, "daycare" sends her into panic mode to figure out how she will pay this week's bill. After much calculations, Mary realizes that for her wages to keep up with inflation she will need to complete additional schooling to which she quickly enrolls into a respected part-time program. Sadly though, after struggling through her first semester she is quickly becoming overwhelmed with being a part-time student, full-time employee and full-time single mother. I mean, wouldn't you?

Jane, who has an equal amount of potential as Mary has already realized 90%+ of said potential by attaining her graduate degree and rapidly advancing up the corporate ladder. Hell, in a few more years Jane will be partner/VP/Group President/Editor-in-Chief. But like Mary, Jane's biggest desire is the joy of motherhood. However, unlike Mary, Jane either walked the straight and narrow or just got lucky. But now that Jane is over the age of 30 she envies Mary tremendously. Even though Jane is now a major mover-and-shaker living in a busy city, she is seriously contemplating what Mary has done. It has reached the point where Jane is now off the pill and researching pregnancy risks for women in her age group. After-all-man (another phrase from my Mom), Jane doesn't want to wake up one day and look at the clock only to see her time has passed.

Typical Mary & Jane Meeting:
Jane: Hey Mary, how is the baby?
Mary: Wonderful. Everyday I thank God for my beautiful gift of a baby girl. Check out these latest pictures.
Jane: Oh my God, she is soooooooo cute.
Mary: Yeah, she gets it from her Mom, of course.
Jane & Mary: [Over an hour of laughing, giggling, cheesing, & showing more teeth than two donkey eating sugarcane.]
Jane: Kiss the baby for me. Bye.
Mary: I will. Take care.

Why do both Mary and Jane tell ME the real deal but front with each other constantly? Think about it for a second, they tell ME of all people?? In any case, I don't have anything against the decisions made by either Jane or Mary since everyone has to pave their own path in life. I mean, these are tough personal choices that even my know-it-all self would never pretend to comprehend. But I do know this, they should speak to each other honestly and openly. I'm guessing there may be some learning, growing, understanding or sharing of one of those things that I read about in fairy tales. Oh yeah, I remember the name of that thing now: EMOTIONS.

I will go out on a limb (don't rake me over the coals too much) and say that while I see this behavior in ladies a lot I rarely, if ever, see it in men. Each one teach one doesn't have to be restricted to clothes & shoes shopping ladies. :) I love you same way.

PS: To all the Marys out there,
Keep Ya Head Up cause Holding The Strain cares if don't nobody else cares.

Sunday, April 6, 2008

Full disclosure

I'm being objective when I say that I think I am probably the most objective person you have ever met. You feel me? :) And to prove my objectivity to you I will list my corporate biases:

1. American Express
Love the company but I love the Chairman/CEO even more. My favorite & most used credit cards have all been American Express. For example, in 2007 my card of choice was the JetBlue Amex of which I was able to get 2 roundtrip tickets in less than 12 mos. And now in 2008, my card of choice is the SimplyCash Amex (5% on gas, cell phone & office supplies; 1% on everything else) of which so far I have already pulled roughly $150 in cash back. As for the CEO/Chairman, Ken Chenault, I can't say enough about dude. Closest thing I have to a role model alive. I have been following his career since around 1998 and dude shines brighter each passing year. What more can I say?

2. ExxonMobil
Love the company, love management, love the gas. I know folks are reading this and wondering why would I love an oil company. Well look, I started drinking their Kool-Aid back in like 1999 when they were just Exxon and everybody was talking technology companies solely. Back then they would send me their newsletters outlining their plans to cut costs, increase dividends and increase shareholder value like every company would. But what they did different from the rest was they would provide timeframes and report back on those stated goals. Trust me, sounds simple but so few do it. They reported on successes and failures. And more often than not they would exceed their goals by huge amounts. When they said they would buy Mobil and cut X billions in costs in Y years I strongly doubted them. Hell, they came back announcing they had cut X+1 billions in Y-1 years. And right around then was when shite started popping off for the oil industry and they were primed to capitalize. Gotta give them their props. Also, as part of their industry leading technology I have had SpeedPass too long to even remember when I first got it...probably 2000-2001 or so.

3. Pfizer
I would like to believe they are my best long term play as an investment and as the guys who may find a cure to what ails us. But honestly, they have been letting me down over the last two years or so. I guess I have been drinking their Kool-Aid for so long that it is hard for me to admit that maybe the good times are gone. I mean, a company this stocked with talent and genius can't be held down for too long?? I think right now the company is moving sideways but I still see them rising to the occasion like they are so famed for doing in the past. Maybe I just don't know how to let go but I have to go with my gut on these guys.

4. AT&T
Me and Ma Bell go way back. This was my dream company to work for as a kid. You know, one of the reasons I studied Electrical Engineering in the first place was to one day be a Bell Labs Engineer (which later became Lucent which later became Alcatel). But that never happened and even though AT&T today isn't the AT&T I dreamed of as a kid the bias still lives. I guess it will all make sense when I get my 3G iPhone. Hey, what can I say? Biases die hard. :)

5. ING Direct
Large up savers anywhere dem deh! Via ING Direct Orange Checking and Savings I earn more interest a month than I earned in my prior 8 years with Bank Of America cumulative. Then lo and behold, ING went out and copped ShareBuilder, whom I have been using as my primary brokerage for the last 4 years, which further cemented my relationship with ING. I remain at this juncture however, totally ignorant of the company as an investment but you can rest assured I don't plan on finishing out 2008 that way.

6. Vanguard
Love em, trust em, and most of all I respect them. Transferred my Roth IRA over to them roughly a year ago from Ameriprise. Lets just say, the whole process was a breeze, free, and did I mention they are FREE? I mean, I was paying Ameriprise like $40/year in custodial fees and all the fund choices they gave me were like 2x the expense fees of the Vanguard fund choices. Talk about a no-brainer. So now I pay ZERO in custodial fees and 0.50% in total weighted fund expense fees.

Realizing your biases can be very helpful. Trust me, it took some time for me to realize that I was quick to listen to someone calling from Amex (which is how I got suckered into Ameriprise in the first place) but quick to hang up the phone on a MasterCard rep even when the latter was the better deal. Brand names go a long way in influencing judgment. Being cognizant of this can be very helpful against the marketing machines we all face each and every day.

Friday, April 4, 2008

Great explanation of subprime mess

Sometimes the most honest truth is found in comedy. The following comedic video is a very accurate explanation of the whole subprime mess. Not only that, you have to give these guys their due since this video was made in October, 2007 YET they manage to reference all the key players such as Bear Stearns in the video. However, like my Mom always says, "If you say one, you say two." So I have to knock them for picking a Black man for their example? Geez, as if Black men don't already have enough on their plate. Enjoy.

The Last Laugh - Subprime

Thursday, April 3, 2008

Free Black Chiney CD

Did someone say FREE? Yes I did. After getting scooped to the freely available latest Black Chiney CD I have been enjoying it tremendously for the last few days. The least I could do is pass the blessings on to YOU.

The Black Chiney Show - Black Chiney Vol. 8.9

I must admit though that the download server is relatively slow but free is still FREE. And of course, this is some hardcore dancehall so it goes without saying there will be some explicit lyrics. Enjoy.

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

Child support is a killer!

Sounds crazy right? Well, according to the Associated Press, 39-y-o Sean Levert, a third of the 1980s R&B trio LeVert and son of lead O'Jays singer Eddie Levert, died after falling ill while serving a jail term. Why was Sean Levert in jail? Well, it appears that Sean has 3 kids aged 11, 15, and 17 who he has not been supporting to the tune of $89K. Sean, who was sentenced to serve 22 months last week died on Sunday.

And yeah, I feel justified in calling this death by child support. Hey, is it any more or any less crazy when we call 95-degree weather a killer heat wave because some seniors chose not to crack a window? Or when we call some snow flakes a killer snow storm because some kid decides it is time to do the Tokyo Drift in his Mom's Honda Accord?

Things you stand to lose via child neglect:
1. Your child(ren)
2. Your money
3. Your freedom
4. Your life!

While everybody's situation is entirely unique I hope the thought of losing any or all of the above items motivates you the same way it motivates me.

Monday, March 31, 2008

31 days, 31 blog entries...

I'm actually proud of myself. There were times I didn't think I could do it. There were times I didn't see the benefit of doing it. Some may argue they still don't see the benefit. :)

But hey, I did it. There are 31 days in the month of March and I blogged 31 entries. They can't take that away from me, singing on my soapbox now, no they can't ever take that away from me.

But this entry wouldn't be complete without me saying THANK YOU VERY MUCH TO ALL MY FRIENDS AND FAMILY who wished me all the best and tuned in religously to read my thoughts, just my thoughts ladies and gentlement, just what I'm feeling at the time. :)

On a serious note, Thank You.

Just what the doctor didn't order...

As you remember, I jumped all over Boston's Restaurant Week by hitting up 3 haute steak houses. Well, my cholesterol levels were jumping for joy when Restaurant Week was over. Well, guess what? Morton's The Steakhouse has a nationwide deal for you (PEOPLE NOT PRESENT) and me. I am so all over it. It isn't as good as the deals I was pulling in Restaurant Week but it is a better deal than I'm going to get between now and the next. :)

Steak and Seafood for 2 - $99
Salad (choice of 2): Caesar Salad, Morton's Salad
Entree: Two single cut filets AND (choice of 2): Colossal Shrimp Alexander, Jumbo Lump Crab Cake, Broiled Sea Scallops
One Morton's Signature Potato to share
One fresh vegetable to share
Dessert (choice of two): Morton's Legendary Chocolate Cake, Key Lime Pie
*Available now through June 30, 2008 at select Morton's locations*

Remember, Ruth's Chris is my A+. So every steak house will be judged relative to Ruth's. Review will be posted before (actually, I won't gross you out with the literal potty humor I was about to write so I will say this instead) Flav picks his new love interest on Flavor of Love 3.

Sunday, March 30, 2008

Everybody knows I am down with Da Flix ( So why would I blog about Well, for one there is a Stop & Shop grocery store carrying the Redbox machine within walking distance from my house that is open late. This means I can drop in on my way home, grab a DVD and return it the next AM for $1. Yep, $1 single dollar plus tax if you return the DVD in less than 24hrs. So far I have picked up and returned, The Assassination of Jesse James and The Kite Runner. Haven't watched them yet but you know how I do, WINK-WINK. Apparently with Redbox you can even get one free rental too.

The catch? So far, none. However as far as I can tell, they only stock hit movies. Which translates into not having the independent or foreign films that I have come to love. So what this means to me is that I keep Da Flix on the minimum plan of $8.99/month and if I happen to be at the grocery store and see a hit movie that I would like I grab it for $1 and return it in the AM. For those who are not into indie/foreign films, then I would say is a great bargain.

PS: I recently saw Atonement. It exceeded my expectations for a love story. Reminds me of the foreign film, A Very Long Engagement which I also enjoyed.

Saturday, March 29, 2008

Classmates, Hi5, Facebook, LinkedIn?

How many of these things should I be signing up for? I am starting to get overwhelmed by this stuff. You have to sign up, update profile, add friends, accept friends and then for the rest of your life you have to keep accepting friends of friends and deleting spam. So far, I have:

1. (signed up YEARS ago)
2. (signed up YEARS ago)
3. (just signed up this week)
4. (signed up end of 2007)
5. (TBD)
6. (TBD)
7. ?? (TBD)

People Not Present?
Why do we prefer online socializing over real socializing? Is the allure of meeting new people online or reconnecting with old friends online so powerful? Is our new goal in life to talk to the PEOPLE NOT PRESENT? We sit at dinner with folks and talk on our cellphones to PEOPLE NOT PRESENT. We sit at home with our family & friends and instant-message/online-chat with the PEOPLE NOT PRESENT.

I guess living in the present doesn't mean living with the people present.

Thursday, March 27, 2008

Short story for any time...

In my quest to find a definition for the term, "COWBAWLING" which I used recently in my post, Ways & Means Committee I ended up stumbling on this GREAT short story which had me laughing as I read it. I even ran the story by my network first to get their take on it. They loved it.

Here you go, enjoy:
Kei Miler - Read Out Sunday

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Ways & Means Committee

As a recent inductee into the Ways & Means Committee I am personally extending a membership invitation to YOU just as it was bestowed unto me.

To find WAYS and MEANS to accomplish individual goals.

Membership pledge:
As a member of the WAYS and MEANS Committee I will find the WAYS and MEANS necessary to accomplish my personal goals. I recognize that when one door is closed it is a much greater use of my time to seek out other doors that may be open than to sit at the threshold of the closed door COWBAWLING.

As a member of the WAYS and MEANS Committee I will spend more time worrying about all the lost opportunities to DO MY BEST than I will worrying about the failures when I did DO MY BEST because I know I miss 100% of the shots I did not take.

As a member of the WAYS and MEANS Committee I am never too busy or too old to accomplish what is important to me because I recognize that I always have time for what I put first, I am younger today than I will ever be again, and while THEY may claim life is short it is the longest thing I will ever do.

PS: Still working on finding the WAYS and MEANS to get a deeply discounted 3G iPhone when it drops.

My most prized assets

It's about time I divulge something personal. Been on this blog for almost a month now and you have no idea of what matters most to me. How could you even claim to know me or begin to make my blog a daily part of your life if I am keeping you ignorant of my most prized assets? Drum roll please:
1. My health
2. My Friends & Family
3. My education

That list, my friend, took years of introspection, countless what-if scenario walkthroughs and last but not least exhaustive end game exercises.

1. My health
Quite frankly, it is the be all and end all. Without my health I have nothing. By no means am I claiming to be in perfect health. You and I both know I could stand to lose 15lbs. But I am not referring to health in the terms of being in PERFECT health. I am referring to being in functional health, you know, free of pain, injuries, illness or disease. This is the minimum level of health that allows me to get up every day and be the best person I can be even when it doesn't necessarily translate into me being my best. Wow, putting that into words fills me with regret just thinking of all the good health days in which I wasn't even TRYING to be my best. But in any case, good health is the necessary foundation for MY greatness to truly shine. Don't get me wrong, I may flash some brilliance when I am under the weather but don't expect any greatness from me on a consistent level if I am not in good health.

2. My Friends & Family
Oh where, oh where would I be if it weren't for my Friends & Family? That list of places is comprised solely with all the desolate, destitute and desperate places you can think of in this world and the next. I am eternally grateful for the simply amazing network of Friends & Family that I possess. Outside of my health, these people are everything to me. Let me put it this way, you can place me in some dire circumstances and I am confident that if given a working phone with my address book I have a great chance of getting out. These people are that freaking AWESOME. Hell, I will even let you in on a secret. All those times you gave me credit for something clever that you thought I did, said or wrote it was actually THEM. Now, that doesn't mean you don't give me props going forward. :)

3. My education
If you think education is expensive, try ignorance.
- Derek Curtis Bok

I sometimes feel like the kid in the movie The Sixth Sense, "I see ignorant people walking around like regular people. They don't know they're ignorant." And while I do acknowledge that there is some bliss to be found in ignorance there is also an accompanying amount of grief. And don't get all up in arms thinking that I am claiming to be some genius or even a relatively smart guy. What I am claiming, loud and proud, is the ability to learn. Remember, this is the information age where new technology becomes ancient technology in the blink of an eye. What that means to me is that ignorance in this age is the inability to learn. The folks who tell you they are either too busy or too old to learn will always be and always were. I SAID IT!

My most prized assets are the top three things that I need to fight harder to strengthen and protect. It should also be noted that it is within MY power to do so.

What are your three? Are you working to strengthen and protect them? Is it within your power to do so?

Telling it like it is...

I don't want to just fill up this blog with a bunch of YouTube videos but how could I resist this one? I mean, have you ever seen honesty so refreshing?

"Ooh Girl!" - An Honest R&B Song

Monday, March 24, 2008

Obama is on the Roc(k)!

I don't blame Sen. Obama. Easter Sunday and everyone is looking for a photo of him entering, attending, and leaving Trinity United Church of Christ. Well, keep looking because you won't find him there. Matter of fact I know where he is and what he is doing. He is on the Rock (St. Thomas, Virgin Islands).

And he is singing along to "On the Rock" by Mavado ft. Jay-Z.

What? You seriously don't believe me? Trust me, I couldn't make this stuff up! :)

PS: I am told that you may rest assured that Sen. Obama did not have to run across the tarmac to avoid sniper fire after landing in St. Thomas, VI.

Friday, March 21, 2008

Invest in YOU

For those who aren't shored up in their savings/investments, do so. For those who are shored up, three words: INVEST IN YOU.

This is the time. Whether it means laying the groundwork to start your own business, taking classes part-time, and/or enrolling in a gym, THIS is the time. YOU absolutely have to exit this down cycle a better person than YOU were when YOU entered it. We all know that YOU gain competitive advantages during down cycles and REALIZE them during the up cycles. And we all are pretty much in agreement that this, RIGHT NOW, is a down cycle. So, this my friend is the down cycle YOU have been waiting for. Yes, this specific one. This is the down cycle in which YOU will set YOURSELF up such that when YOU exit, YOU will be in a prime position to capitalize in the next up cycle.

Don't let your PERSONAL net worth decline with the falling dollar. INVEST IN YOU.

Cost of high living...

Funny that I write this post just after I reviewed 3 high priced steak houses. Laughable, to say the least. But it underscores the point that I am trying to drive home. And I won't act as if this was an original thought on my part so let me give you the quote that I always remind myself of constantly:

What some people mistake for the high cost of living is really the cost of high living.
- Doug Larson

In times like today, the choice is clear. However, even though the choice is clear the guts to make the clear choice and the discipline to see it through is hard to come by. And hell no I'm not talking about presidential candidates. I'm talking about cutting back on your spending and increasing your savings.

Is it safe to assume that you are still with me and you are now mentally thinking of how you can cut $50/mo and put that towards savings/investments? OK, good. I will admit that I am fighting this fight with you so don't start judging me (Mr. Want-iPhone-Ruth's-Chris) because I am already judging myself and I am not faring well. But trust, you know you don't want me to start judging YOU because I could fill this blog for a month. Go ahead, try me!

Now that we have agreed to not judge each other (smart move on your part) lets get back to the matter at hand. You know that rainy day savings that everyone is supposed to have? Well, the rain has started for some and for others the forecast isn't looking so good. I know I am not saying anything you don't already know, see, and feel all around you. But what has me apprehensive isn't the present. It's the future. You know, F-U-T-U-R-E, the place we intend to spend the rest of our lives. When do we turn the corner? When will we be able to see the light at the end of the tunnel?

Starting today, I will be making the clear choice!

PS: Of course it goes without saying that the 3G iPhone doesn't apply since it will be a NECCESITY. :)