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Zopa Tue, Oct 31, 2006
Zopa is another peer-to-peer lending website offering online loans to online people.  It's pretty similar to Prosper in that it enables humans to lend money to other humans without the need for a bank or other lending institution.  CNN's Business 2.0 wrote an article a few weeks ago calling Zopa one of 11 major "disruptors" in the world today.  It disrupts the huge profit margin made by banks by competing with their 19% interest rates for credit cards and their 2% interest rates for savings accounts.  The average interest rate for Zopa loans is around 7%, making it a nicer investment than a CD (for lenders) and a better rate than a credit card or bank (for borrowers).  The main problem I see with it is that it's probably not as reliable or trustworthy as a bank that's been around for 100 years and has billions of dollars of assets and is FDIC insured.  Their FAQs give a little insight as to how the company is currently being regulated and what would happen if the company failed.  It offers a little comfort, but I'm still a little skeptical.  Awesome idea though, and I'd be much more willing to participate if I had more money to throw around and if I heard from people who've used the service successfully in the past. 

This is a sponsored post. #money

Scattered Tue, Oct 31, 2006
Sometimes when I'm writing things here, I feel very mentally scattered.  I usually have some idea of what I'd like to write about, and I usually have two or three points that support the idea.  But sometimes the points don't all make sense or relate to the main idea, and other times I can't quite get the points organized in a coherent way.  So I either end up writing things down in an almost stream-of-consciousness spill, or I toy with wordings and organization for hours before finally settling for mediocrity.  Even writing this post has proven to be a pretty laborious process.  It's weird how some things just come out so naturally, whereas others require more thought and effort.  Most times, if a post takes more than a few minutes to write, it exponentially reduces in quality until the point where I click "Publish" just so I can move onto something else.  And if I happen to get distracted in the middle of writing (it's virtually impossible for me to not get distracted), it usually makes the writing process even more difficult.  I usually get pretty scattered with planned posting. #psychology

Halloween Tue, Oct 31, 2006
By far, my favorite thing about Halloween is watching kids and animals paraded around like little circus acts.  I think it's hilarious.  I'm sure the folks in PETA might be against some of the stuff on Cute Overload and Stuff On My Cat (such as cat lizard, cat Superman, cat Snow White, cat lobster, dog Batman, collection of dogs, dog Superman, dog bus), but I'm a huge fan.  I wish I had a pet that was ok with wearing costumes.  Whenever I try to put anything on Dilbert or Nemo, they collapse like a magical switch just turned off their motor skills. 

All babies are required to go through a series of embarrassing costume endeavors, most of which consist of being a baby animal for Halloween, a baby animal for Christmas, a baby animal for Easter or some other spring holiday, and the classic "passed out next to an empty beer bottle" for any holiday not previously covered.  I was just at ShopRite and saw a mom with her daughter dressed as a little lady bug.  As I was driving to work this morning, I saw a bunch of kids in their costumes getting on the bus to go to school.  I'm amazed at the quality and ingenuity of costumes these days.  My parents never bought us Halloween costumes.  We always wore some combination of random garments found in the attic.  Every year, at least one of us was some sort of bum or other related oversized-unmatching-old-clothing gig.  The kids these days really have it made.  Stores like Walmart have a huge selection of all kinds of costumes, ranging from classic superheroes to ghosts and dead things.  It's great to see parents acting out their childhood wishes with their children or pets.  When I have kids, I'll do the same.  Tis the reason for the season. #sociology

WordPress 2.0.5 Tue, Oct 31, 2006
I upgraded to WordPress 2.0.5 and installed Mark's plugin.  This new version follows the same pattern as last time:  It comes out while I'm on vacation (this time in California; last time in Washington).  Clutter Free now works wonderfully. #technology

Pumpkin candy Tue, Oct 31, 2006
Brach's Mellowcreme Pumpkins are my favorite candy.  Unfortunately, they only come out during Halloween season, so I've been getting my fill for the past few weeks. 


Football season Mon, Oct 30, 2006
I really like football.  And I really like the time of year that's referred to as football season.  In my opinion, no other time of year is as wonderfully synonymous with a specific sport as fall/winter is with football.  Baseball takes up the greater part of an entire year, and it's filled with thousands of games played at various times of day on any given day of the week.  Basketball season is sort of behind-the-scenes; you need to make an effort to actually see a game.  And hockey?  That's hardly even a consideration.  But football ... now football is a great sport.  You can place much confidence in the times and frequency of football games.  Sundays have games at 1, 4, and 8 (or something close to that).  Mondays have a game at around 8.  Only around major holidays is this any different.  Significant life events and major social gatherings can be organized around football.  Who ever heard of a World Series party?  Not me.  But how many people remember what they were doing when their team was in the Super Bowl?  I was 8 years old and I jumped out of my seat when the Buffalo Bills missed a field goal in the last few seconds of Super Bowl XXV, giving the Giants a 20-19 victory (yes I used to be a Giants fan; now I'm easily swayed by seasonal differences and geographical constraints).  Plus, watching football aligns so well with the changing of seasons (this probably isn't quite as true for warm places like Florida and California).  As the weather gets colder, people tend to spend less time outside.  The grass doesn't grow, so it doesn't need to be cut.  It eventually gets too cold to do other outside odd-jobs, so more time is spent inside.  And what better way to spend time with family and friends than with good-hearted rivalry and sportsmanship? (Wendy:  "You suck and so do the Eagles"; Yinka:  "Dear NYG Fan (s) ... That is probably one of the most pathetic team performances in sports history.").  But seriously, it's good to be able to sit around and do very little instead of the normal working, cleaning, fixing, cooking, socializing, Bible-studying, etc. #sports

Vimo Mon, Oct 30, 2006
Vimo is a site that specializes in "comparison shopping for health".  While I'm not interested in shopping for health insurance, I am interested in the site's other function:  Rating doctors and dentists.  I have an opinion about most things, and my horrible experiences at doctors' and dentists' offices are certainly no exception.  I reviewed one of my doctors here and one of my dentists here.  By far, my biggest complaint of these people (except my current dentist) is their amount of disrespect for my time.  Here I am, a healthy person taking time out of my day for a voluntary physical checkup, paying these people so that I can sit around in the waiting room.  And then after I sit around in the waiting room, I sit around in the smaller waiting room in only my underwear.  Jerry Seinfeld was right:  "There's no chance of not waiting.  That's the name of the room."  But anyway, Vimo is a pretty easy-to-use site and it's good to be able to see what people think about a doctor or dentist before scheduling an appointment.  The only bad part about the site is that you have to register in order to submit reviews.  But they only ask for your name and email address, so it's not too bad.  On the plus side, reviews can be submitted as "Anonymous" in case you don't want the health care mafia knocking at your door. 

This is a sponsored post. #health

Biiible Thu, Oct 26, 2006
Biiible is a "Bible search for the Google freak".  In simple terms, it's an extremely easy to use website that effectively searches through many different Bible translations and gets results quickly and efficiently.  It's nicely designed and very clutter-free, and it's a welcome alternative to the ever-present BibleGateway and its consistent errors (Galatians 5:23 was fixed, but I recently found Matthew 10:35, which says "motherinlaw" instead of "mother-in-law"). #religion

linkcritics Thu, Oct 26, 2006
Along the same lines as Digg and the new Netscape, linkcritics (Quality News, one link at a time) is a site where readers submit, discuss, and rate links.  It's a really new site, so there isn't much content yet.  But the links currently on the site are interesting and unique.  One benefit of its current lack of hugeness is that readers don't have to sift through 200 articles a day like on Digg.  The site also claims to not be plagued by rigging problems (like the whole User/Submitter fiasco).  The site's powered by Pligg, the open-source package for making Digg clones. 

This is a sponsored post. #technology

Food to go (2) Wed, Oct 25, 2006
I'm a huge fan of food to go.  Things like Outback's Curbside Take-Away and Chili's To Go were invented for people like me for three reasons:
1.  No drinks means it's a cheaper meal.  It's not that I'm that cheap (though I am cheap to some extent).  It's just that I have trouble spending more than I need to on some cheap fluids.  I could bring a whole bottle of soda to a restaurant and quench the thirst of 5 people for the same price I'd be charged for a single drink.  And that's just soda; it's even worse when it comes to alcohol. 

2.  It's ready when you get there.  There's no need for reservations, waiting for a table, waiting to order food, waiting for it to get there, or waiting for the check.  You just call ahead and show up when it's ready. 

3.  There's no tipping when there's no service.  This is the best part.  Again, it's not that I'm that cheap.  It's just that I don't feel the need to pay somebody a percentage of the price of my food just because they brought it to me.  I'd be more than willing to take my own order, march back to the chef, ask for my food the way I like it, and then pick it up when it's done.  Heck, I'd even be willing to bring my dirty dishes back to the kitchen. 
If I can get the same food for less money, in less time, and with no tip, I'm more than content. #food

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