Tuesday, December 18, 2012


Decided to go through with a HARP refinance on my former primary residence turned investment property. Essentially, I will be able to take advantage of historically low interest rates without worrying about the fact that my house has lost 63% of its value (i took a look at comparable sales in the area to arrive at this number).

This opportunity is a blessing as it will allow me to transition out of an interest-only ARM (my plan was to sell the property after i finished my masters - that is not the plan anymore) that is scheduled to reset in 9 months into a traditional fully amortizing 30 year mortgage. My monthly payments will actually decrease by about $50.


Can't bring myself to feel good about this at all. I view this house purchase as the absolute worst decision that i've ever made in my life...and what's worse is the fact that i'm seriously considering buying the mortgage down so that my cashflows will improve. Way to throw good money after bad, J. Nice job.

63% growth will not undo my losses. I would need 165% growth - the equivalent of a 5% compounded annual growth rate over the next 20 years to break even (not accounting for inflation and my opportunity costs). But 5% still seems somewhat reasonable. I don't expect the market for 2bd 2ba apartments in the suburbs of Baltimore and DC to experience such growth, but stranger things have happened.

yeah - i'm in it for the long haul. Not by choice - but i'm certainly in it.

I don't feel like a fool for not seeing that the housing market growth from 2003-2008 was unsustainable. One doesn't really study finance and such things in engineering school. However, I do feel like a fool for not walking away like so many of my neighbors (obviously) did. I would have a poor credit rating - but living on cash for 7 years wouldn't have been so bad.

Psalm 37:21 has been an encouragement to me in this time. Lord help me to be content. Help me to be generous.

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Nabisco's new cracker

If, like me, you're a fan of nabisco's premium unsalted tops, you probably looked at the new box that you saw on shelf with skepticism.

The trained eye will notice that the box doesn't say "new shape: same great taste" but rather it says "new shape: great premium taste". This means that the taste is different! >:O

WHY?!?!?!? Why would anyone do such a thing? Whatever happened to "If it ain't broke, don't fix it"?

Well after trying them, I must say that the taste certainly IS different - not better, not worse...just different. I must note that the taste is still GREAT! Before the change, there were few things that i enjoyed more than natural peanut butter on a premium and post change the same can still be said :o) (although, i have also grown an affection for natural pb on shredded wheat - don't knock it til you try it)

Another thing i noticed is the updated nutrition facts panel. Whereas one serving of the old crackers was 5 crackers @ 70 calories, this new box is 6 (A WHOLE EXTRA CRACKER!!) at 60 calories (!!!). So far so good.

But here's the biggest benefit - there is no longer any partially hydrogenated oil!! I did a double take and then a triple take and it still wasn't there. All of my phone calls and letter writing was NOT for naught! Granted, it took 3 years since i wrote my first of several letters (and my my first of several phone calls) to kraft (nabisco's parent company) for there to be a change, :o) but i'll take what i can get!

see? no partially hydrogenated anything :o)

I never gave the old formula much thought until i saw a news story a few years back on NBC's the today show where a nutritionist labeled my premium unsalted tops as a "not that" (as opposed to an "eat this") food because of the trans fat in each serving (because there were fewer than 0.5g, they didn't have to put it on the old panel, but they still had to list the partially hydrogenated oil used in the mixture on the ingredients list. When i saw the story, i felt betrayed. I felt especially betrayed since i had been eating the crackers for SO LONG! Why include an ingredient that my body cannot break down?

My final assessment is that people should buy this cracker and eat it to their heart's content. Businesses don't make decisions like this unless there is revenue support to back it up. Purchasing these crackers (and stocking up on them too) will only benefit you because it tells a huge player in the multi-billion dollar food industry that you like healthy options and it also tells your arteries that you like them with a little less placque :o)

buy these crackers!*

also! kraft!! if you're listening, i'd still really like to see some whole grain crackers with unsalted tops. Trader joe's has a corner on the good tasting/reasonably priced whole grain cracker market right now #srsly

*Nabisco did not pay me to write this, but if they would like to, I will take payment in crackers, cash and check form (let's keep it real, i like to eat crackers...but i gotta eat too, you know?)

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Weight Loss Advice

Just sent this to a friend of mine. Figured it might help someone.

fam! i haven't lost 100lbs, but here is some advice:
1. Working out is hard work, but it is easier if you find something that you like to do. For example - my wife goes to the gym, but she has a lot more motivation when we're doing other things together like playing tennis or throwing around a football. I"m not saying "skip the gym", but i am saying that the gym and a gym membership aren't necessities for everyone. You might do well with a video series...or with a private personal trainer.
2. Diet will get you farther than exercise. Ultimately you've got to burn more than you take in. Making small here and there changes to food choice and portion size will get you a lot farther than will an extreme plan. I've made small changes to my diet over the past 10 years. The whole "eat this, not that" book and corresponding men's/women's health articles have been really helpful for me.
3. You need your spouse's help. Your chances of success will increase if he's committing to eating healthier and working out alongside you.
4. Skip fad diets like atkins. People lose weight quickly on atkins because following the atkins method accelerates your metabolism - but not everything that accelerates your metabolism is healthy. It is possible to lose weight while making a cholesterol or a blood pressure situation bad/worse.
5. Consider joining a community like your local weight watchers. Weight Watchers works #realtalk...and it is cheap (you don't have to buy their food). Their point system is helpful and you'll get the added encouragement that you need from other women who are in your shoes, who want to be in your shoes or who were at one point in your shoes.

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Weird Eating Preferences revisited

Here is a picture of a lunch that i made for myself:

Salad Ingredients: Lettuce, grated carrots, pieces of WW bread & lite honey mustard dressing.
Drink? 10 parts water, 1 part 100% apple juice (not apple drink nor apple juice cocktail)

I'm a simple man and I'm a fan of simple things. I always feel nervous about letting ppl prepare stuff for me because they are generally inclined to ADD things that THEY would like that I would deem wholly unnecessary and/or ruinous to a meal. In my salads and on my sandwiches, I can do without tomatoes, cucumbers, all kinds of raw onions, cabbage, raw peppers and I can ESPECIALLY do without cheese...but normal people LOVE these things.

Normal people also love drinking undiluted fruited juices as though they aren't the liquid equivalent of a mouth full of sour power (the kind that comes on the flat bed, not the kind that came in the vertical bag). I am not normal.

Here is a recent interaction that will demonstrate this quirk (can you call it that?) in action:

Was asked to make a Panera order with an admin from a client company for a lunch meeting tomorrow. The admin sent out the menu. This was my response to her:

"Could I have the frontega chicken without the tomatoes, mozzarella and mayo? If we are being given an option to pick sides, i would prefer an apple as a side. I always dread giving my lunch order out because i'm a picky eater. If this makes things too difficult - i'd be fine with the smoked turkey breast cafe sandwich. Thank you for taking these orders"
Her response to me:

I would not call that picky .... you just know what you want ... I don't think your request will be a problem at all.
Awesome. So glad that she was so accommodating. I should probably bring her flowers or something when I go into the office for tomorrow's meeting.

Saturday, June 9, 2012

The Prosperity Gospel

A friend of mine posted this on fb:

LOL. This program on cable just said that Jesus has a lay away plan and that you get your blessings after you've paid 1,000 dollars. LOL. "Put down 50 today and plant the seed for 1,000 dollars and your blessings".

This was my response:

nothing like the prosperity gospel :/

a lot of those people asking for money genuinely believe that people who give to them generously will also reap generously.

i'm most bothered by the fact that these ministries place unreasonable financial burdens on people who aren't really able to afford such a level of giving. I'm also bothered by the fact that these ministries encourage ppl to give solely (most of the time) so that they can have tenfold (or whatever multiple) returned to them.

Christians are called to be Christ-like. Christ gave sacrifically, but he gave expecting nothing in return. Giving with expectation for yourself is nothing more than spiritualizing the human heart's natural tendency to selfishness.

maybe the thing that bothers me most is the fact that these ministries don't practice this same level of giving - but rather they build businesses like the "holy land experience" and live lavish lives. If they genuinely believed that God would bless their giving tenfold, they would be traveling the country and the world seeking to financially bless those who are truly in need with their largess. Every episode would be one of praise to God for how they were able to use what he blessed them with to give "person x" money to afford their groceries and medication for the next 5 years.

i don't want to write these ppl off from the jump (b/c i honestly don't know their hearts), but what seems so logical and most "naturally flowing from the gospel" for me seems to have eluded them.

another opportunity to pray

Tuesday, June 5, 2012


Read Habakkuk this morning. This portion at the end of the text was really an encouragement.

"Though the fig tree should not blossom,
nor fruit be on the vines,
the produce of the olive fail
and the fields yield no food,
the flock be cut off from the fold
and there be no herd in the stalls,
yet i will rejoice in the Lord;
I will take joy in the God of my salvation.
God, the Lord, is my strength;
he makes my feet like the deer's;
he makes me to tread on high places"

It encouraged me to trust and rejoice in the Lord even when things don't look like what i think they should - because he is the God of my salvation. He has demonstrated his grace, mercy, love, trustworthiness and worthiness through Jesus Christ. It was also an encouragement for me to continue to be faithful in prayer.

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Bitterness and Thankfulness

Bitterness has no place in my heart because God is in control of all things.

"Shall we receive good from God, and shall we not receive evil?" -job 2:10

Bitterness in my heart, though silent, says "God your ways are not good and I do not trust you". Lord, help me to trust you and to see your ways as good. Help me to be thankful in the midst of trials both big and small.

Your word says in 1 thess 5:18:

"...give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you"

Lord give me faith to believe and strength to act.

Saturday, May 19, 2012

In God I trust

Jeremiah 17:5-8 ESV

"Thus says the Lord: "Cursed is the man who trusts in man and makes flesh his strength, whose heart turns away from the Lord. He is like a shrub in the desert, and shall not see any good come. He shall dwell in the parched places of the wilderness, in an uninhabited salt land. "Blessed is the man who trusts in the Lord, whose trust is the Lord. He is like a tree planted by water, that sends out its roots by the stream, and does not fear when heat comes, for its leaves remain green, and is not anxious in the year of drought, for it does not cease to bear fruit."

This text has really been a blessing to me over this past week. When my trust is in myself and my strength, I have tremendous struggles with anxiety and nervousness...because I am intimately aware of my shortcomings and inadequacy.

But oh that my trust would be in the Lord...that I would be blessed in my weakness and (consequently) in God's sovereign strength. Oh that I wouldn't fear in heat nor be anxious in drought.

Lord, I need you. Lord I need you to help me to trust you. Keep me from busyness and from fighting in my own strength. Help me to be still and know that you are God and that you are in control.

Saturday, March 17, 2012

Drill baby drill?

A fried of mine posted this picture on facebook with the caption "we need drill in america fast!!"

I don't think drilling is the answer. Here are some things to consider:

1. the price of oil is set by international demand - the USA may use a lot, but we are no longer the overwhelming majority. Prices are this high all over the world.

2. Keystone oil wouldn't affect the international oil supply for at least a decade. In a decade, the populations of china and india will further dwarf that of the USA - they will have more say on the price of oil because they will be using the most

3. Keystone oil production will not increase supply by a significant amount. If keystone oil were here today, it would have the same impact on oil prices as a new wawa/7-11 opening across the street from a rural wal mart would have on the local price of food.

4. One of the reasons why oil is priced so high is because of speculation. Smart wall street regulation may be a solution

5. Another reason why oil is priced so high is corruption. There are reasonable measures that can be taken by governments all over the world to bring oil down to a price that is more closely aligned with cost - but oil companies exert a lot of influence on governments - and i'm willing to say that rarely is the influence they exert in the best interest of the regular people.

6. Iran is wilin out right now. We need some diplomatic and sanctified (that's right right word to describe something relating to sanctions, right? ;)) genius in our dealings with that country.

i think a more effective method to combat high gas prices is to subject gas to more competition and to demand that is more sparse.

More competition looks like alternative energy sources. Electric cars still use gas (because gas powers our power grid) - but if we upgrade how we source power for our power grids, then we'll use less gas.

Reducing demand looks like the greening of america. More efficient cars, more efficient buildings etc. I got $3.5k back from the government for installing energy efficient windows in my house in 2008. Now i use less heat-->less electricity to power my hvac unit-->less oil.

we gotta think big picture and long term. I don't think drilling is a long term solution to high energy prices. It will certainly create jobs and drive economic activity - but lower the price of oil - i do not think it will.

Tuesday, March 6, 2012


More so than days with terrible traffic, I think I hate days when there is inexplicably little to no traffic during my commute back to the city. Rather than count the light traffic a blessing, I curse the fact that I do not, nor will I ever, understand where all the people that enjoy making my commute miserable have gone and why they don't go there all the time.

Sunday, February 5, 2012

God's faithfulness

There was a 15 year lawsuit to throw churches out of schools in nyc. The churches lost. Thankfully, the Lord blessed my church with a new building and situation better than what we left.

Today is our first day in a new building that is less than 5 blocks from the school we met in for 5 years.

We are thankful for a new building, but we also remember in prayer other churches in nyc that will need to find a place to meet before the 12th of february.

Monday, January 9, 2012


Ron Paul is not a racist. Rick Santorum is not a racist. I am not a republican.

no one is given benefit of the doubt anymore.

no one is judged by the content of their character - only through the lens of their political affiliation.

no one aims to respectfully disagree anymore...

it's like disagreement is the goal and respect is optional.

no one can say anything good about someone on the other side of political aisle without qualifying it "now, i don't like everything that my opponent says but..."

a lot of the stuff that i've been reading/watching recently is nothing short of shameful. People should really be ashamed of themselves.

Friday, January 6, 2012

Don't Waste Your Life

Just skimmed an article on passive aggressive behavior on about.com.

Here's a link to the article

I then read the comments section and after the 4th comment or so, i was kinda overwhelmed by the brokenness of the world. We were not meant to experience the terrible things that we do, but because of sin, we do. In spite of all of this, there is still hope in God.

Reading this article also made me realize that i need to make the most of each day that the Lord has given me.

...in a "God has gifted me with a heart that cares and with a mouth that is able to clearly communicate his truth, so make the most of each day by using those gifts" kinda way.

It's just that letting work and sleep consume me seems a little too appealing at times :/

pray for me.