Why Is Charity Often Connected to Greed?

I just had somebody come to my door. We were finishing up dinner, and I was throwing some trash away. I fixed the storm door and screen, so we had the front door open to let air in through the screen. I saw somebody standing there.

He called to me, so I walked up. I talked through the screen. I don't like solicitors. I don't buy anything from my door. I don't donate money from my door. When I give, I like to make sure that what I give actually gets to the cause it was given to.

The pitched started with something about a chance to win $5000. Then it turned to something about winning a trip to Europe. Been there, done that. I was born in Spain. That comes up every time I have a discussion about my security clearance. "You were born in Spain? Are you sure you're a citizen?" "Yeah, that's why I've had a security clearance for the last 18 years. Nothing gets by you, does it?"

I exchanged a little friendly banter over how cool Europe is, and how great it would be to take my wife. Then I cut it off by explaining my situation, and how I'm not putting money out for anything but essentials right now. Then it all came down to "You don't have one dollar to give to Children's Hospital?"

As I have no way of knowing whether my $1 would actually benefit any children at Children's Hospital, I said sorry, but no. Not right now.

I'm curious why charity works that way. If you need money for a cause, why not just ask? Why does it always have to be connected to $5000 raffles and trips to Europe? Is the best way to get people to part with money to appeal to their sense of greed?

I also think of other questions. Is Children's Hospital a for profit or non-profit? If it's a for profit, why are people on my doorstep asking for donations to "benefit" Children's Hospital? Is the donation for an ancillary program? This is why I won't donate money from my doorstep. I can't get my questions answered.

It's never worked on me. I don't care much about winning anything. OK, I've won a few books the last couple of months from blog giveaways. That's been helpful. I entered to win an iPad in a couple of places. I didn't win. But for the most part, I don't care if I win. I'd rather earn the money and pay for it myself. I've already explained how I refuse to buy lottery tickets.

I can only imagine what would happen if churches started doing this. Give out raffle tickets and draw one out of the collection plate after the offering has been taken. Winner gets $1000. Would that raise the amount of the offering? It would probably keep people around after service to see if their ticket was drawn. I'd probably leave a church that did that. I hope most of you would too. But I'm interested if that would have an affect on the offering.

So I guess it comes down to the question: are you more likely to give money to a charity if you have a chance to win something? I'm not saying it's wrong. Maybe it does result in higher donations. I've never checked into it. All I'm saying is it doesn't work on me. 

Forget Everything You Learned in School II

Way back in September 2007, I wrote a post “Forget Everything You Learned in School”. At the time, I was preparing to graduate from the University of Phoenix. I was happy that the information I learned was practical.

Today (Apr 23, 2009) I’m graduating Weichert’s Real Estate Pre-licensing class. I now have the required 75 hours of classroom instruction to get a New Jersey Real Estate Salesperson’s license.

Unlike UOP, the information for the state exam doesn’t necessarily reflect the real world. It’s all valid for the exam, but it doesn’t always reflect real life.

For instance, for the purposes of the test, in a lease, the death of either party does not invalidate the lease. However, in real life, just try collecting from an estate.

I came to the conclusion “Just give the commission what they’re asking for, and let your broker teach you how it really works.”

My favorite came up yesterday during our review for the class exam. There was a question about VA and FHA loans. Specifically, which of the 4 institutions cannot make them. The correct answer was “credit unions”. Huh? The following is from Navy Federal Credit Union’s page on mortgages:


Go figure.

I passed the school exam, and scheduled my state exam. I’ll give the NJ Real Estate Commission the answers they’re looking for.

Why Do My Weather Preferences Get People Upset?

This is curious. We recently got a ton of snow in the Delaware Valley region. I’m sure they’ve seen more in the past, but in the 11 years I’ve lived in New Jersey, it’s a record breaker.

And it didn’t bother me.

Sure, the shoveling was tough, but I got through it. I enjoyed having the snow around. It was a nice change of scenery.

What’s weird is talking to people about it. At work, when people are bitching complaining about all the snow, I mention that I’d rather have the snow than the heat in the middle of summer.

The reactions that I get are along the lines of “How could you, you, you… MONSTER!”

Maybe I’m exaggerating a tiny bit, but most people react very badly. Even at dinner tonight, Christina was talking about a weather forecast that includes about 5 days of solid rain. Ugh. Hate it. I said I’d rather have snow. Christina’s reaction was to ask me if I knew what that meant…

As if God is going to schedule the weather around my preferences.

Seriously, why do people get worked up when I mention that I wouldn’t mind it if the weather stayed cold longer? I like the cold. I don’t like to sweat. And I’d MUCH rather shovel snow than pay another $450 electric bill in the summer. Snow doesn’t cost me anything extra. Snow is cool to watch. Rain is just miserable. In any case, the weather doesn’t bend to my will. It would be about as effective as getting mad at me if I said I wouldn’t care if LOST got cancelled. They don’t make programming decisions based on my apathy.

Happy Thanksgiving, Everybody

It's Thanksgiving again. In the grand tradition of what this day is supposed to be about, here are some of the things I'm thankful for.

  • Perhaps this shouldn't go first on the list, but right now it's at the forefront of my mind. I'm thankful to work for a company that, even though I got fired from my contract last week, hasn't cut me loose. They can't promise anything, but they're working on finding another spot for me and providing me with work to do in the meantime. I'm also being provided with mentoring in the very thing that I believe got me kicked off that contract in the first place. No company is perfect, but I'm thankful to work for one with a heart.
  • I'm thankful for my family. Christina is busy getting ready for Thanksgiving dinner. She's incredibly gifted at this. Anytime we have a big dinner of guests coming over, she just knows how much to make and of what dishes. I've never seen us run out of anything for big dinners or parties. She makes it look easy.
  • I'm thankful for my boys. I often joke that the worst parts of me were split between the two of them. Joshua has my "It's going to be my way or everybody else will be miserable" attitude. Caleb has my insatiable "I need to know everything and I need to know it right now" mentality. But they're both my boys and they're both gifted in their own ways, and they make life fun and interesting.
  • I'm thankful for my friends, my church, for my books, for my iPhone, for my computers, my car, my house, bed, and I could go on and on. Perhaps I will, but in a private format that's not likely to bore readers.

Happy Thanksgiving.

The Kids Were Just Too Cute Today


(This picture was from several weeks ago)

I’m writing this post from a hotel room. I’m on travel. I got up this morning, and after packing walked down to pick up my rental car. When I got back, I went out to eat breakfast with my family. Christina drove my Kia Sedona and I drove the rental car to OCB (Old Country Buffet). The funny thing was, when I loaded the rental car at home, Joshua kept asking if he could ride with me. Caleb didn’t bother to ask. He just took his booster seat out of the minivan and walked toward the rental (Ford Focus). Joshua took the hint and grabbed his booster too. By this point, there was no way I could say no, considering I was planning to leave after breakfast while Christina took the kids on to some other planned activities.

That’s a weird contract between the kids. Joshua was asking, Caleb just grabbed his seat. I have to wonder, how many things are we denied because we ask? How many people get what they want because they just do it? I have to admit, sometimes the kids ask me for something, and I deny it for arbitrary and capricious reasons. Maybe I’m too tired and distracted to deal with it. I have to wonder how many requests I’ve been denied in my life for similar reasons.

Another funny point. At one point in the drive to OCB, I pulled into one lane and Christina pulled up right next to me in the other. I knew the two lanes merged after that light. When the light turned green, I stomped the gas and pulled ahead. The kids were giggling for several minutes. They loved it.


TypePad’s mobile client is working for me now, so I can put up small entries more frequently. I got my oil changed yesterday, and my odometer reading was noteable. I drive with the trip counter displayed so I can track how far I’ve gone on a tank of gas, so I only see the odometer reading after maintenance unless I think to check it. I just though this odometer reading was interesting.Odometer

A Moment for the History Books

I can’t not post this. Everybody makes a mistake now and again, and it must be a rare privilege to commit a gaff like this on national TV, during a political convention. I don’t bother with political conventions myself. Thanks to blogs and YouTube, I’m likely to see that better parts or read them picked apart into meaninglessness later.

Are Social Greetings Pointless?

Have you ever run across a person who seems to perpetuate a pun or phrase to the point of assault? I thought it was sort of funny in middle school the first time I asked somebody “what’s up?” to have them point up and say “The sky!” It was amusing then. By now, in my mid-thirties, I’m much less amused by it, especially when the same people seem to think it is still funny. In the effort to be socially polite, I still try my best to make the person who still does this think that he or she is so witty and is the first person on earth to have thought of such a response to a common social greeting. In reality, I fantasize about saying “OK, let my rephrase that: what particular events are occurring in your life right now that you would like to discuss with me in chit chat as we pass each other in the hall/on the street/online? Obviously, your response is supposed to be ‘not much/going great/all right’ or something along the lines of ‘I really don’t have anything in my life uncomplicated enough to share with you at the moment, so I’ll just pretend that my life is going great and sum it up in two words or less!’ ”

Sometimes I wonder why we even bother with greeting in passing. Even when my entire life seems to be melting down like Chernobyl, I know better than to share it with the stranger or casual acquaintance who passes me in the hall or walks by my cubicle to ask “What’s up?" or  "How’s it going?"

Yes, I often get like this at times when sleep becomes a luxury. It’s been several nights since one or both of the kids haven’t been up part of the night. Oh, wait, that should have been "I’m doing fine."

To Take the Edge off My Car Issues…

I couldn’t resist. I got this from Real Dan Lyons, formerly Fake Steve Jobs…


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Car Headaches

My cars are driving me nuts. At least, mine is. In July, I noticed that the air conditioning on my 2003 Kia Sedona wasn’t blowing cold. We were driving around on a Saturday, and I popped into a Monro to ask if they could do a recharge. I’d been taking my car to Monro in Stratford for oil changes for years, and I found out that some of the guys from Stratford now work in Williamstown. It turned out that I apparently had a bad shredder valve, and they couldn’t get one until a weekday. That was the week of my marathon trip trying to get back from Maine, so I was able to bring my car in the following Saturday. The valve was replaced, coolant was added, and we drove off. Three weeks later, the air wasn’t working again. I called and made an appointment, and I brought the car in after work one day. My wife learned her lesson about bringing both boys to sit at Monro for an hour and a half just to save a little gas on our errands.

This time, the air held out for about a week, then the coolant was gone again. I brought the car back in to find that now my high pressure hose was bad. Being a Friday afternoon, about 4:45, no Kia parts center was available anywhere in the world so I had to wait until Monday. In the meantime, my ‘95 Windstar needed a $1400 front end/power window job plus another $100 when the muffler dropped down. At first it looked like the hose for my Kia was on national backorder, but the guy at Monro followed up and found out that somebody was using the wrong part number. We’re not dealing with highly intelligent or motivated people here (the Kia parts people, not Monro.) The part wasn’t on the shipment to Monro yesterday, so the mechanic drove to Cherry Hill to get it today. I took my car and Caleb to Monro. I also found a screw in my tire, but that was a quick fix.

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