Friday, April 03, 2015

College loan blues are killng me!

Get an education, that's what we're all told right?
It takes that sheepskin to climb the ladder of success, no matter what field of endeavor you enter. But that sheepskin costs big bucks, and most of us plebians don't have the wherewithal to pay out-of-pocket for the privilege of earning a degree.
So I, like millions of Americans, took out loans to supplement the tiny Pell Grant that I qualified for from the start.
And those loans pile up quickly!
My college education (a bachelor's degree in journalism) cost nearly $100,000.00. Add to that a second stint in a two-year "job skills" college - about $20,000 - and I'm in the hole from the moment those degrees are imprinted with my name.
They become albatrosses that lay across my neck every year.
Forebearances and deferments carried me through the first few years of repayment; and then an income-based repayment schedule made it possible to carry the monthly 'vig' for the past couple of years.
Now, somehow Navient (the loan managing bureaucracy that took over from Sallie Mae) has somehow decided that I make more than $6,000 per month and, therefore, wants me to pay $913 every month for the next 144 months. Problem is, I don't make nearly that amount. In fact, $913 if about 45.24 percent of my take home pay, which will put in the poor house really quickly.
So now I must get on the phone (by 8 p.m. EST on Fridays - thank you) and thrash out this situation  with a Navient representative - someone who, I'm sure, is an expert in public relations and fiscal calculations, as well as someone who has the authority to enter a code in my computer account file to recalculate my monthly payments to actually FIT my income.
Somehow I have my doubts about that rosy scenario.
My experience tells me that this phone call I'll be making tomorrow is going to be an emotionally wrenching, spiritually crushing, psychologically debilitating experience that, in the end, will find me in the docks at a debtors prison somewhere in Iowa, or South Dakota.
Student loans are a glimmer of hope when one begins the process of pursuing a college degree.
But they quickly become a voracious, implacable, flesh-eating shark if you fall afoul of the rules and regulations - which, by the way, are a shifting, moving target.
So to all you youngsters out there who're thinking of taking a student loan to pay for a college degree - think twice, think three times - think some more before you sign that document that puts your soul in hock for the rest of your life.
Do you really want to earn an extra $10,000 a year with a degree only to have 50 percent of it paid to the loan holder in interest fees?
Please hear me.
Don't do it. It's a soul-sucking mud pit.

Thursday, February 26, 2015

Another Arctic blast blankets West Texas!

Jeez! We just got over a teeth-rattling winter storm, complete with ice, snow, sub-freezing wind chills, etc.
And here comes another one just two days later. Only thing is, there's not enough snow when these arctic air masses roll over us here in the West Texas High Plains, and I find it disconcerting and disappointing.
I like snow. I like how sounds when it's falling through the bare branches of the Cottonwood tree out back. I like how it looks when it floats, or flies sideways in the wind. And I like how the landscape looks after a foot or two of snow piles up, creating surrealistic shapes and whimsical characters out of whatever lies beneath the blanket of white crystals.
I especially like snow when snowflakes are silver dollar-sized and so thick that it's difficult to breathe if you have to walk through the curtain of fat flakes for any distance.
Weird, I know. But it's true.
But we've had two or three "winter storms" here, and none has produced any appreciable snowfalls; just these weak, thin bands of tiny flakes that, while beautiful in their own right, are underwhelming and barely enough to cover the ground, let alone pile up enough to create drifts and banks along the fence line, and cover the roads in crunchy cushions of icy whiteness.
Oh well. We take what we get and thank Mother Nature for her creativity (although, truth be told, I grumble about the lack of "MASS" when it comes to disappointing accumulations of the white stuff.
Appears we have a two-day window this time to catch a substantive snowfall, so I'll cross my fingers and hope for the best, according to my POV.
Really, all I want is a snow day vacation from work. Just one, Lord. Whaddaya say?
That's not so much to ask, right?
So come on snow! Bring it, Mother Nature! Show me your "good" stuff.
And thanks.

Saturday, January 10, 2015

Zebras in Pats/Ravens game are blind idiots!!!

Another blown call by the group of referees calling the Patriots/Ravens game.
Every call that's blown goes AGAINST the Patriots. What's up with that???
No call on two OBVIOUS pass interference plays; no call on a knee to Tom Brady's face by a Ravens defender; a fumble called on the Pats when clearly there was NO FUMBLE!
How many of these blatantly BAD calls do we have to endure before there's some type of penalty for the zebras?
Somebody please do something.

Saturday, September 13, 2014

Texas Tech Red Raiders defense eaten alive by Hogs!

Sad to watch a hapless Texas Tech defense choke against a simple, straight-ahead running game. No razzle-dazzle, no trick offensive plays - just simple hand the ball to the Arkansas running back (primarily Williams) and let him rumble for 6, 7, 10, or 12 yards. Every other Arkansas play led to a first down.
Tech's defensive players looked bewildered, inept, and completely outclassed.
Clearly, the Red Raider defensive team is not ready to compete against an offense like Arkansas, or any team that has two or three running plays.
Two running plays - that's all that was needed to confuse and overwhelm Tech's defense.
The Hogs running backs manhandled them, like velociraptors against puppies!
Two plays! That's all! But tackles were in short supply. Not one Arkansas running play failed - not one!
That's a sad commentary on the state of Texas Tech defensive football.
I'm afraid that, given the rest of the 2014 schedule, Tech won it's last game of the season last week.
Every team that watched this game today now knows that Tech's defense is a pushover, a steaming pile of mush, and a disorganized, inexperienced group of easy pickings for running backs.
Too bad. The hometown fans had high hopes for this year, but it looks like it's going to be tough for Tech to win any more games.
Maybe Texas, maybe TCU - but I doubt it.
Red Raiders, hold your head up high and take it like a good loser should. Humbly, and with lots of teeth gnashing and tears.
Guns up! Crow pie down! Eat it! Eat it! Eat it!

Saturday, January 11, 2014

Happy New Year, and all that jazz.

Well, it's 2014 and the centuries keep rolling along into the future and the past, depending on which platform you're standing on.
I really thought that the New Orleans Saints had a good shot at beating Seattle.
The Seahawks are a young team and I believed that Drew Brees and Co. had enough experienced and insightful players to overcome the exuberance of a youthful, excitable team.
But it was not to be, unfortunately for the Saints.
Oh, the Seahawks nearly choked and delivered the win to the Saints, particularly when they flubbed the onside kick, giving Brees and Co. a chance to score within the 30 or so seconds remaining. But the lame brained play that involved a receiver catching the pass from Brees then attempting to pass forward to a second receiver when predictably awry, and the game unceremoniously ended on that pathetic note.
Well, I hope my 49'ers fare better against the Panthers.
Yes, both quarterbacks (Cam Newton and SF's young scrambler - whatever the his name is) are youngsters, and both teams have weaknesses on both sides of the ball.
But SF has a better defense (I believe) and a better coaching staff, which, I hope, is enough to overcome the high-powered North Carolina Panther team.
I've been absent for most the NFL season, but the few games I've watched this year suggest to me that Denver and SF (or San Diego and SF) will be the Super Bowl competitors.
It's Saturday night and I'm noodling because I just purchased a brand new iMac and I'm learning the new wireless keyboard (it's smaller) and the amazing new apps and features that come with the latest iMac. It's beautiful!
Hope your new year (2014) is bountiful, full of growth and satisfaction, as well as success in all things.
Bon voyage.

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Fox is in the hen house; Rooster's got no tail

Speaker of the House John Boehner, a psycho-killer Republican if ever there was one, deserves mountains of ridicule and scorn for his lame-brained decision to follow the Republican Tea Party Cabal over the proverbial cliff by tossing millions of hard working people under the bus for no good reason. For that matter, for no REASON at all.
I hear that the Congressional Budget Office estimates that the Republican-led government shutdown cost the nation (that's you and me, folks) more than $40 BILLION!!!
Will that come out of Boehner's pocket, I wonder?
I hope that the Tea Party loonies feel good about themselves, and are giving each other high-fives and a wink-and-nod for the disaster that they perpetrated on this nation - at an especially inauspicious moment in time. I'm sure that they're delirious with the high-octane buzz of power-driven inebriation. Of course, none of them seems to have a single rational thought in those power-addled noggins they tote around with such PRIDE.
For Boehner to cast his lot with the crazed, religiously twisted Tea Party Cabal was a betrayal of any honorable impulses he might have had - long, long ago. An impulse to do the right thing for the NATION while suppressing ancient-instincts that drive men toward petty, narrow-minded, self-centered, self-serving actions. No. In this case, Boehner's "lizard self" won out, and the nation LOST - BIG TIME!
So I'm happy to hear that 75 percent of American voters believe that the House is ill-served by a GOP majority. I believe that Republicans who committed their votes to shutting down the government should be tarred and feathered, in the tradition of the founding fathers, and then be run out of town on a rail! However, barring the tar and feathers, they certainly should be voted out of office - IMMEDIATELY!
The staggering lack of foresight evidenced by the Republican shutdown defies good sense, not to mention good leadership.
The fact that the economic hardship borne by millions of federal workers and their children was callously jeered at by GOP House members, while Republican cheerleaders (e.g. Rush Limbaugh and his brain-dead clones) downplayed the hardship that befell those thousands of families, calling their losses "nothing more than an inconvenience."
Republicans, particularly House Republicans, committed a crime against humanity. Certainly they should be convicted for abuse of power!
What was the point?
The GOP knew that the president would not back down on the largest piece of legislation that his administration pioneered and pushed into law. The Affordable Care Act (TACA) is the president's historic-benchmark law, like it or not, and Boehner, as did most of the Republican Congress, understood that shutting down the government as a ploy to bully President Obama into conceding to Tea Party demands for a disemboweled ACA would fail.
 But a virulently crazed Republican Party rolled the dice just the same. What the hell. So what if a few million people suffered needlessly. So what if the economy took a hit that cost the nation and its workers billions of dollars and untold job losses.
I realize that the tide toward the status quo will inexorably rush back in soon, and good old American amnesia will reclaim our collective consciousness. But I truly hope that, in the meantime, a few Republicans pay a heavy political price for the damage they dealt to "we the people."
It's a cinch that no other price will be levied for the debacle.


Wednesday, September 25, 2013

GOP hornswoggled by minority nut-jobs from the extreme right-wing of the Party!

House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH): "I'm against shutting down the government. It's a counter-productive thing to do and Republicans will pay a heavy price if we do it."
Boehner admirer: Speaker Boehner is a brave and honorable man; and even though he's against this minority group of Republican congressmen who are screaming for an impossible dream - to reverse Obama-care - and who want to shut down the government for no other reason than spitefulness, the speaker must still consider the will of the majority."
News reporter: "But if he's listening to the majority of Republicans, aren't they on his side of the equation and against a government shutdown? It seems to me that this loud minority of Republicans who represent a fringe faction of the Party, a faction that refuses to compromise and oppose any legislation with the president's name attached to it . are pushing the majority out of the way.  Isn't that true?
Admirer: "Well, yes that's true. But you have to understand, Speaker Boehner is attacked almost daily by this small group of thugs who jump out at him while he's walking down the garden path.
"And though they are only about 30 or 40 - up to 60 if the issue gets "hot" enough - they still can cause Speaker Boehner big problems because if he can't get all his Republican votes for legislation that supports the Party's agenda, then he is essentially a lame-duck speaker."
News reporter: "But if the speaker is such an honorable and, I believe you said, brave man, then wouldn't he do better to oppose the 'thugs' who have backed him into a corner?"
Admirer: "You have to understand, despite their small number in Congress, these folks, who simply refuse to be led by anyone, can stir up a hornets nest out there in the states where the GOP still holds sway, despite a creeping burden of irrelevance that these stiff-necked cultists have thrust upon the GOP."
Reporter: "Still, it seems to me that the speaker would be better served by facing down the minority faction while it still has little influence among House members. Otherwise, won't their power base begin to grow with each perceived win? Isn't the speaker, in fact, giving the thugs the power they want?"
Admirer: Well, put that way I suppose it's true. But politics is a strange business. Sometimes you have to lay down with fleas to befriend big dogs, so to speak."
Reporter: "Huh?"
Boehner: "Huh?"

(Quotes for dramatic effect - not accurate. But the drift of the exchange is factual!)
Weird, ain't it?