Archive for April, 2009

Absent For A Bit

Thursday, April 23rd, 2009

You may have noticed a lack of updates over the last week. I will try to use what is a stressful situation to illustrate some of the points I try to make in this blog.

My human is going to give you some examples from real life. I will now offer my human comfort by climbing onto his lap, kneading his legs until he relaxes, and then settle down for purring – which also lowers my human’s blood pressure. Proper health care of stressed humans is one of a cat’s primary duties.

As S.O. and I have built up our finances to where we are solidly in Pookah Finances 201 and heading into Pookah Finances 301, we have set aside resources for emergencies. This is commonly referred to as the emergency fund.

Well, that fund has seen some action. And I need to bandage the claw marks on my thighs.

Hmmph! One wonders why, if the “alcohol” hurts so much, my human pours it onto cuts. If my human would just let me lick the wounds clean, there would be much less yelling.

One of my parents has become very ill, required surgery, and is now having trouble recovering from the surgery. This coincided with my monthly upload of posts to Life of Pookah. In a choice between helping look after family versus updating a blog, the family clearly wins. S.O. and I dipped a bit into our Emergency Fund to make the trip out, cheer up blood and marital relations, and are now standing by in case we need to make an emergency trip.

We would not be able to help my parents out if it weren’t for the Emergency Fund.

Furthermore, the availability of that Emergency Fund means that the hit on our overall finances is greatly reduced.

HOLY SWEET MOTHER OF SANDPAPER ON SUNBURN!!!

My human is dancing around, yelling, and splashing more “alcohol” on scratches that I just cleaned. What a waste!

Maybe this will convince my human to stop wearing those icky shorts.

Update Your Will

Tuesday, April 14th, 2009

By this point in your financial life, you are getting your debts under control – probably even pulling out ahead in some areas. You’re also planning ahead for your future – to cover both expected and unexpeced expenses. Part of that planning includes the very important, but often overlooked, last will and testament.

Who cares what happens to your catnip after you are dead?

Okay, professor mode is now turned off.

Good start.

You’re going to die eventually. It’s an unpleasant thought. However, you can take certain basic steps to ensure that your final moments are handled in the way you want them to be. If you have children, brothers, sisters, neices, nephews, or other relatives that you’d like to pass on certain belonging – including money – to, your will is one of the best ways to do it.

Pookah has already passed on the best things a kitten could have: Strength, agility, keen senses, strong claws, and a tail that puffs up bigger than most other cats’.

Don’t forget cuteness.

I am royalty. Those with inborn regalness do not need cuteness. Bow down and scritch my chin.

Right. So, making a last will and testament is going to vary from state to state (and country to country, if anyone reading this is outside the U.S.A.) This will require some research on your part. I strongly recommend that you consult with a professional – a lawyer in your state who specializes in wills. Most of them will give you a free hour of consultation, and can advise you on how best to proceed according to your Wants and Needs. If your Wants and Needs are simple, you may only have to fill out a few inexpensive (or free) forms. If you want to make sure your last wishes are iron-clad, or include a “poison pill” (along the lines of, if anyone in the will contests it, they don’t get anything from your estate), or any of a number of issues that are important to you, then consulting with a professional or three is a must.

VERY IMPORTANT!!! Since we felines are possessed of divine grace, you must not forget us when making out your last wishes. Though you call us “pets”, we are, in fact, lordly members of your family and will need consoling if you leave us unexpectedly. We must be supplied with sufficient small tasty birds and delicious fishes to ease the transition of our living arrangements.

Here is one of the great secrets of wealth: Pass it securely from generation to generation. Your heirs can learn from your mistakes, as well as benefit from your successes. If you have lived through tough times, you well know how much of a difference even a few dollars can make. You can, as your last act, make your heirs’ lives better.

So start thinking about this now. Do your research (Google is your friend). That way, when you have the resources saved up, you are prepared with your questions and ideas for consulting with a professional. Do not look on this as a sad necessity. Instead, look on it as making life easier for those who survive you, or come after you.

You are not leaving me, are you?

No, Pookah, not for a long time, I hope. But accidents do happen. I may have to go before I’m ready. But I will try to take care of S.O. and you even then.

Prrrrrrrrrrrr!

The Sky Is Falling

Thursday, April 9th, 2009

The mass media is full of doom and gloom. This isn’t your father’s country anymore. The economy is going worse than the Great Depression. The President’s stimulus plan is a dud. Those of us who handled our finances with care and consideration are watching the foolish get a free ride while our backs get whipped into a bloody, ragged mess.

Hogwash.

Uncontrolled greed has been, and always will be, the cause of major national and international problems. Lack of wisdom and due consideration has been, and always will be, the cause of economic meltdowns – big and small. When the economy goes through a periodic contraction – as it must to maintain its own health – inadequately prepared people will suffer and victims of accident will abound. In combination with any manner of man-made or natural disasters, these problems have been, and always will be, made much worse in effect and duration.

With any major spending spree by a government, it will take weeks – at a minimum, with an emergency expenditure – or even months for any real effect to occur. The President has been in office for less than three lousy months. Though we may very well expect our charismatic leadership to walk on water, he has adequately proven his humanity and must use a foot bridge like the rest of us. No doubt his feet are becoming very blistered and sore, just like ours. I say give our elected leaders time – not much, but a modest amount of 120 days – to start fixing it or start screwing it up.

I am only just beginning to parse through the stimulus plan. So far, there are parts that I heartily approve of. Along with parts that I am very suspicious of. Time will certainly tell whether this plan is well-made and well-executed, or ends up as another boondogle TARP give-away. However, I would like to challenge all the nay-sayers to cite, specifically and in detail, their complaints about this plan with complete references to the appropriate parts of the plan. This way we can have intelligent and at least semi-rational discussions, instead of endless rounds of “Democrats are going to spend us into oblivion; Republicans are giving truckloads of our savings to Corporates.” You were endowed by your Creator with a spine, two eyes, and sufficient neurons for cogitation. Use them, or stop distracting those of us who are actually trying to do something about the situation.

So, until the lines stretch around the block to buy a single loaf of bread, quit spitting into the wind about the Great Depression. You obviously have not read about it, looked at any pictures of it, reviewed even semi-biased statistics about it, or lived through it. Our leaders, whether you approve of them or not, are the ones making the decisions. They need more than a couple of months to do their jobs successfully, or fail miserably. I fully expect that we will experience both Рsuccesses and failures. It will be the degree of success or failure that dictates whether we have chosen wisely or foolishly. My limits are well-defined. There are numerous issues dear to my heart that I am willing to bend on, up to a point, to ensure that my fellow U.S. citizens (and even complete strangers in other parts of the world) are productively employed so they do not have heart strain worrying about how to feed, clothe, and shelter themselves and their families.

Either way, it is YOUR responsibility as a human being to prepare, as best you can, for either outcome: Success or Failure.

One important note: The next member of Congress who complains about not having enough time to read all one thousand plus pages of the plan must be expelled from office for criminal negligence, inexcusable laziness, and outright stupidity. You are paid rather well to read all one thousand plus bloody pages of what may well be the most important piece of legislation you ever touch in your career. Thank you, jackass, for signing a contract on our behalf without bothering to read it. May your constituency show their full appreciation for all your professional due diligence sooner rather than later.

What Is An Apology?

Tuesday, April 7th, 2009

First, you have to understand what an apology is.

An apology is:

  • A declaration that you, yourself, have done wrong.
  • A statement of remorse for violating morals and/or ethics.
  • An acknowledgement that you will accept the consequences of your actions.
  • A request to be permitted to undo as much of the harm committed as possible.
  • A declaration that you will bend every physical and mental effort to NEVER AGAIN commit this offense.
  • And finally, an apology is JUST WORDS. Until it is backed up by concerted actions over time, an apology is only hot air.

An apology IS NOT:

  • The final effort, labor, or work that you are obligated to give as compensation for the harm comitted.
  • The precursor to required forgiveness – you apologized, you are NOT forgiven until the wrongs you’ve done are fixed as best they can be. Forgiveness for the wrongs you have done requires work.
  • A free ticket out of the consequences of your actions.
  • Wiping the slate clean. Your apology may be accepted, but your actions are NOT forgotten.

What does this have to do with Finances?

Everything.

If you are heading towards, or already in, Pookah Finances 101: You have wronged yourself, at the very least. Getting this far into debt required lying to yourself, deceiving yourself, ignoring your needs, and treating yourself pretty lousy when it comes to morals and ethics. Chances are good (but not certain) that you’ve done the same to other people or organizations. Not paying debts that you owe ranks high on the list of things you need to apoligize – really apologize – for.

If you are heading into Pookah Finances 201: You are getting back into a position where you can really make good on the harm you have caused yourself and others. Don’t waste the opportunity. You can see how damaging it can become every day on the news media – and on the web. Imagine if the people responsible for the current economic mess had owned up to it, and spent some of their millions in bonus compensation undoing the harm. Don’t end up like them.

If you are heading into Pookah Finances 301: You are firmly on the road to financial success. You didn’t get there solely on your own – other people helped. Take the time to check what’s between your ears – and what’s in your chest – to make sure you are becoming the person you really want to be. If there’s nothing there reminding you about past choices, you’re in trouble. If you are carrying a lot of “I should do X”, then you have some hard decisions to make about what you should do… and what you WILL do.

Good Intentions – Pookah Translation

Saturday, April 4th, 2009

Since the humans use my name in this “blog”, I need to occasionally step in and correct a few problems that my person has accidentally created.

Recently, my human “posted” text to this “blog” using more than the usual confusing language. I will now introduce some clarity.

There have been a number of times in my life where I endeavored with the best of Good Intentions to pursue the goal of Do What’s Right. I like to think that I have, over the course of many years of hard study, learned to pursue this sometimes easy to see, yet strangely elusive goal, with a modicum of wisdom.

“I try to Do What’s Right. But I still muck it up. Like the Old Lady Cat in the litterbox.”

Cast you now your thoughts back to a rose-tinted vision of some years past, in the cold of winter, shortly after a good half inch of ice has coated the primordial scrub, rendering it into a beautiful, scintillating dream of crystal spires, glistening sculptures, and slippery walkways. The air was cold and tasted new. As new as my living arrangements with S.O.

“This all happened in winter, before Pookah adopted me.”

With DUTY in mind and Do What’s Right in my soul, I did rise early that visionary morning and proceed, with ice scraper, heavy coat, knit cap, and gloves, to remove all traces of any visual occlusionary impediments to S.O. safely driving the motorized vehicle designated for such exclusive use. As Fortune would have it, S.O. exited our rental pile of rocks in time to witness Yours Truly just finishing with the rear windshield. Ah, the sight of S.O., standing bundled up in the doorway, face flushed with love and cold, smile outshining the sun, carefully waving a Thank You to me, still warms my heart. I smiled with pride in my accomplishment and waved back.

“I went outside to scrape the ice off S.O.’s car. S.O. was grateful.”

All would have been well, except for one small thing.

“I screwed up.”

If you will observe above the list of equipment and accouterments that I used in this worthy endeavor, and notice the accidental omission of one critical piece that is fundamentally germane to both the environment (icy) and task (removing said ice from a car). Yes, I had not worn boots. In and of themselves, boots may not have prevented the sequence of events that subsequently transpired, but they certainly would have reduced the likelihood.

“I didn’t wear boots. I was standing on ice. I am about to look like a catnip-crazed kitten on a linoleum floor. Only more embarrassing.”

As I stood there, gallantly returning S.O.’s loving hand undulation, my feet shot out from under me and I hovered for a few brief seconds in midair, supported only by inertia long enough to briefly consider how I had erred, and doomed to shortly fall to gravity. Which I did.

“I slipped.”

Still, all would have been well, except for another small thing.

“I am also unlucky.”

That small thing would be physics. Specifically, the trajectory arc described by my skull, modified by the graceful, dexterous twisting of my body into a controlled fall (i.e. I flailed about uselessly) that would normally result in a bruise to my fifth point of contact (a.k.a: buttocks), but an otherwise safe unexpected descent to the ice-covered asphalt parking lot. Said arc was, unfortunately, tangential to the rear bumper of the aforementioned car, and was severely interrupted by contact with same.

“I looked like an uncoordinated idiot as I hit my head on S.O.’s car.”

The concussion lasted for several days.

“Ouch.”

The dent is still in the bumper.

“S.O. occasionally reminds me of my foolishness.”

Yes. My skull is tougher than the car. In every sense of the word.

“I like learning from pain.” — one of my human’s more endearing traits, I might add.

Let this be a lesson to you: Doing What’s Right, without adequate preparation, is foolish.

“Don’t be foolish like me.” Further evidence that some adult humans are really just very big kittens: Well-meaning, but not very smart or agile.

Being foolish hurts.

“I really need to give Pookah a small tasty bird. Tonight would not be too soon.”

A lot.

“A delicious fish is also acceptable, provided that it is served on the human dining platform with a soft comfy-nest for Pookah, whose dignity and poise are admirable, to rest on while she eats.”

Good Intentions

Thursday, April 2nd, 2009

There have been a number of times in my life where I endeavored with the best of Good Intentions to pursue the goal of Do What’s Right. I like to think that I have, over the course of many years of hard study, learned to pursue this sometimes easy to see, yet strangely elusive goal, with a modicum of wisdom.

Cast you now your thoughts back to a rose-tinted vision of some years past, in the cold of winter, shortly after a good half inch of ice has coated the primordial scrub, rendering it into a beautiful, scintillating dream of crystal spires, glistening sculptures, and slippery walkways. The air was cold and tasted new. As new as my living arrangements with S.O.

With DUTY in mind and Do What’s Right in my soul, I did rise early that visionary morning and proceed, with ice scraper, heavy coat, knit cap, and gloves, to remove all traces of any visual occlusionary impediments to S.O. safely driving the motorized vehicle designated for such exclusive use. As Fortune would have it, S.O. exited our rental pile of rocks in time to witness Yours Truly just finishing with the rear windshield. Ah, the sight of S.O., standing bundled up in the doorway, face flushed with love and cold, smile outshining the sun, carefully waving a Thank You to me, still warms my heart. I smiled with pride in my accomplishment and waved back.

All would have been well, except for one small thing.

If you will observe above the list of equipment and accouterments that I used in this worthy endeavor, and notice the accidental omission of one critical piece that is fundamentally germane to both the environment (icy) and task (removing said ice from a car). Yes, I had not worn boots. In and of themselves, boots may not have prevented the sequence of events that subsequently transpired, but they certainly would have reduced the likelihood.

As I stood there, gallantly returning S.O.’s loving hand undulation, my feet shot out from under me and I hovered for a few brief seconds in midair, supported only by inertia long enough to briefly consider how I had erred, and doomed to shortly fall to gravity. Which I did.

Still, all would have been well, except for another small thing.

That small thing would be physics. Specifically, the trajectory arc described by my skull, modified by the graceful, dexterous twisting of my body into a controlled fall (i.e. I flailed about uselessly) that would normally result in a bruise to my fifth point of contact (a.k.a: buttocks), but an otherwise safe unexpected descent to the ice-covered asphalt parking lot. Said arc was, unfortunately, tangential to the rear bumper of the aforementioned car, and was severely interrupted by contact with same.

The concussion lasted for several days.

The dent is still in the bumper.

Yes. My skull is tougher than the car. In every sense of the word.

Let this be a lesson to you: Doing What’s Right, without adequate preparation, is foolish.

Being foolish hurts.

A lot.