Why Senator Barbara Buono Was A Terrible Gubernatorial Candidate
November 6th, 2013 | Added to The State of New Jersey | 2 Comments »
Where to start on this one… might as well start at the beginning and clearly preface this entry with what should be obvious: These comments are my own opinion and whether you like them or not doesn’t particularly interest me. I’m not a reporter nor do I have to adhere to a journalistic standard. I’m just a guy with a blog who likes to write and today I’m writing about politics in our great state of New Jersey.
Last night, Governor Chris Christie easily coasted to reelection along with his Lieutenant Governor Kim Guadagno. This was an interesting election, but not for the reasons that people typically find interesting in statewide elections. For example, the national media tried to make this a referendum on the Affordable Care Act (a.k.a. Obamacare) and a straw poll on whether Democrats would jump the aisle to vote for a strong Republican leader. Those of us in New Jersey know that the national media doesn’t know what they’re talking about most of the time. Yesterday’s election had exactly nothing to do with Obamacare. Nothing. Not one single thing – at all. The election yesterday – and Governor Christie’s huge landslide victory – had everything to do with the way he handled the aftermath of Superstorm Sandy. Tangentially related to Governor Christie’s huge win last night is the way he provided strong, reasoned leadership after his predecessor absolutely destroyed our state’s economy and budget. Also, the Governor’s ultra-intelligent responses to spiteful, local teachers who tried to treat him like an insolent child gave voice to the vast majority of New Jerseyans who cannot stand the power that our state’s teachers’ union has built up over the many years of Democratic control in New Jersey.
But those are reasons why Governor Christie won the election. In no particular order, let’s look at why Senator Buono was a terrible candidate:
Absolutely No Clear, Cohesive Message
Anytime Senator Buono was asked about her platform, she couldn’t give a cogent answer that provided a long-term vision and intermediate steps to get there. In short, Senator Buono’s platform was, “Governor Christie is bad. I’m good. Vote for me!” That game doesn’t play well in New Jersey because we’re too smart for that rubbish.
Bending Over Backwards for the Teachers’ Union
The one message that Senator Buono was clear on was that she would do whatever the teachers’ union wanted her to do. It was true that in years past a (Democratic) candidate had to do whatever the teachers’ union told them to do. However, if Governor Christie has made anything clear it’s that the masses love teachers and love education, but they absolutely hate the vitriol and hate that is spewed from our biased, angry, spiteful teachers’ union. Let me restate that to paraphrase what Governor Christie said during his speech at the Republican National Convention in 2012: Republicans believe in teachers, Democrats believe in teachers’ unions. New Jerseyans are done with statewide elected officials who will do whatever the teachers’ union wants them to do. We want to help teachers actually teach kids – not hear the lies of a union that is years behind any semblance of relevancy.
She Was Too Angry And Too Muddled
After she lost last night, Senator Buono was about as muddled as a candidate could be in the wake of such a commanding defeat. She struck out against her own party (a huge political no-no) and what she suggested were elements actively working against her during the campaign. Give me a break. Apparently for Senator Buono when a Democrat independently assesses her credentials against Governor Christie and determines the Governor is the right person to vote for, then they are turning their backs on their party. If that’s not the biggest crock of crap that I’ve ever heard, then I’m living in Russia right now! What’s worse – after she lost last night she randomly tried to make the entire election about breaking a “good old boys” club by bringing in some of the comments from then-Senator Hillary Clinton’s concession speech during the 2008 Presidential election. Really? Sexism in New Jersey? Does Senator Buono even know the political history of the state that she ran to be the Governor of yesterday? Has she not heard of Governor Christine Todd Whitman? Or what about the fact that since we instituted the Lieutenant Governor position a few years ago we’ve only ever had women run for the position? Do I even need to get into the myriad women who are the chief executives of various state agencies?
An uneven balance of anger, kowtowing to equally angry unions, and having absolutely no message is what made Senator Buono a terrible candidate.
Zealotry, Embarrassment, and Disgust – The 2013 Story of the NJEA
November 2nd, 2013 | Added to Idiots, Morons, & Fools, The State of New Jersey | No Comments »
One of the concurrently great and not-so-great things about New Jersey politics is the presence of the New Jersey Educators’ Association (NJEA). They’re great because I believe a well-run, dedicated statewide union for educators can really work in the best interests of teachers, schoolchildren, and parents combined. They’re not-so-great because the NJEA is an anti-progress, angry group of zealots who only care about attacking Republicans and standing in the way of the types of solutions that help the very poorest schoolchildren achieve greater academic heights. I often wonder what the NJEA has against poor kids, but Lord knows they’d lie if ever asked.
The only Governor in New Jersey history who speaks truth to the NJEA
Anyway, if you live in New Jersey and of clear political mind, then you already know that the NJEA is a group of zealots that many of their own members no longer want to be associated with these days. The impetus for writing this entry isn’t just to rehash how sad of an organization the NJEA is today, but rather to react to a recent report about their spending habits during the current election cycle. Laura Waters of NJ Left Behind (Ms. Waters is a Democrat, by the way, who is a strong advocate of student achievement over all else) posted a short blog entry recently that referenced a few other sources regarding reports on the NJEA’s political spending. Most notably, she links to NJ Spotlight and their recent article which cites the NJEA’s spending on the current election at $13 million. A quote from the NJ Spotlight article:
The New Jersey Education Association’s political juggernaut keeps on rolling. With the latest campaign finance reports in, the teachers union has now topped $13 million in spending on the state elections next Tuesday, easily beating all other special-interest spending and almost matching Gov. Chris Christie’s campaign itself, according to the state Election Law Enforcement Commission. The bulk of the money is out of its super PAC, Garden State Forward, which has been active for not only Democratic challenger Barbara Buono, with two television ads on her behalf so far, but also focused on helping Democratic candidates in a handful of legislative races that are considered tight.
How pathetic? How disgusting? What an embarrassment to those “members” of the union that are either middle-of-the-road politically or who fall right of center. For those of you reading this entry who are not familiar with the New Jersey system – each teacher in the state has to is essentially forced to join the NJEA. Sure, you can choose not to be a member, but even if you’re not a member you still have to pay a percentage of the annual dues (I hear it’s 90%) on the basis that – as a teacher – you still receive the benefits of union negotiations.
It’s a modern day racket system.
After reading the NJ Spotlight story on the NJEA’s unbelievably partisan political spending and adding that knowledge with all of the anti-academic achievement actions of the NJEA over the last few years, it makes one wonder what these folks really want for our kids. Sure, you can read their websites and other forms of propaganda and come away feeling all happy and nice. And yes, you can listen to their verbal propaganda and videos and think, “Wow! What a great organization for New Jersey!” But when it comes right down to it, after looking at the reality of the partisan, biased political spending for this organization you have to be embarrassed. You have to be embarrassed that this is the sorry organization that New Jersey has negotiating for its teachers.
Becoming a teacher is a noble and worthwhile profession. However, the NJEA as an organization is not worth of its own membership. The NJEA as an organization is a failure. It should be disbanded so that New Jersey’s long, statewide nightmare can come to an end.
The Major Connections Between Psychology And Paying Off Debt
October 25th, 2013 | Added to Health Ideas & Gym Stories, Money, Jobs, & Finances, Student Loans | No Comments »
Recently, the FOX Business website posted an article called The Psychological Perks of Paying Off Debt. As a guy who just finished a long-term repayment plan that ended in fully repaying some $121,000 in student loan debt plus another $28,000 in interest, I was obviously interested in reading this article! Of course, not much of the information in the article was new to me, but it was reassuring to read that the way I’ve always interpreted what that immense amount of student loan debt was doing to my physically and mentally is actually true and not just my machinations. Here are some of the interesting quotes from the article that I wanted to share:
“Getting into debt beyond means of repayment” is ranked No. 5 on the Society of Occupational Medicine’s 2001 “Life Events Inventory,” which ranks the psychosocial stress of 100 life events. “Stress is one of the drivers for health conditions related to cardiovascular disease, allergies, diabetes (and) gastrointestinal disorders,” says [Carole] Stovall. That’s why paying off debt can result in physical healing. “When people pay off debt, they’re going to say ‘My stomach feels better, my heart feels better,’” says Stovall.
Regardless of what my doctor thinks is going on with my body, I’m convinced that my enjoying my return to the gym is directly related to not having a six-figure cloud hanging over my head. Now I workout not just because I need to for my health, but because I actually enjoy the entire working out process. It’s fun!
Eliminating debt is more than just a numbers game. It’s an act of breaking free from difficult past experiences. Debt associated with rough events — such as divorce or a reckless phase in life — is painful to carry around. So when you finally cut that debt from your life, you’ll likely “experience tremendous emotional liberation,” says Dallas-based financial adviser Derrick Kinney.
I guess I’m not the best person to make a comment on this particular outcome of paying off your debt because I don’t really carry around any emotional baggage. How this particular blurb translates to my life is that I can now actively plan and work towards achieving certain life goals that I should have achieved 6 – 8 years ago (for example, buying a permanent residence, building a sufficient retirement fund, and fully funding a just in case savings account). The article actually talks about these types of life goals in the context of buying a house and starting a family, so if you click on the link at the top of this entry, then you can read their take on achieving major life goals for yourself.
When you pay off a big debt, you strengthen your resolve to stay financially solvent. That comes with one important caveat: Your ability to stay out of debt likely depends on how you paid off your debt, says [Derrick] Kinney. If you worked hard to steadily pay off your debt, you likely have practiced discipline to keep your finances in check going forward.
Not only did I work hard to steadily pay off my debt, but I worked hard for years on end to pay off that debt! Even though I had a strong work ethic heading into my major repayment all of those years ago, there is no doubt that my work ethic and determination were both honed during this process. By adding precision to determination I believe I’ve developed a dangerous calculus for those obstacles that may get in my way in the future. There are a lot of ancillary skills that come along with devoting so much time and effort to a successful debt repayment – too many to list here. However, suffice to say that I agree with the point in the blurb above and I believe that my financial discipline is stronger than most individuals my age.
Click on the link above if to read more about the connection between psychology and paying off debt. Enjoy!
When Working Out Doesn’t Quite “Work Out” Over The Long Haul
October 22nd, 2013 | Added to Health Ideas & Gym Stories | No Comments »
As I wrote at some point over the last two months, I’ve shifted my focus from paying off my student loans (mission accomplished) to becoming healthier. The main method that I’ve employed to become healthier is going back to the gym. My routine to hitting the gym is going on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays – usually before work each morning. Going to the gym before work means that I’m waking up around 5:00am, getting myself together and reading the morning news until about 5:30am, and then starting my workouts at the gym around 5:45am. It’s a pretty regimented and somewhat grueling routine, but it’s generally okay once you make a habit out of it. This week is my eighth week of getting back in the gym.
In an effort to reduce this mess, I wound up adding to it.
Oh – and all of those realities that prevented me from going to the gym at 5:45am over the last several years… well, they still exist and they are still a problem. I deal with it by getting a little bit less sleep each night and a lot less high quality sleep throughout the week. Again, no one has invented a workout routine made for the honestly busy person or the long commuter, so I just have to do what I can and deal with the consequences (i.e. general exhaustion).
Along with the vague goal of getting healthier, I’ve opted to focus on my health in an attempt to reduce the number of medications that I take on a daily basis. Those medications include 8 pills each morning, a shot in the stomach each morning, and then another pill each night. The picture above is a quick snapshot of four mornings’ worth of pills (minus the shot in the stomach). I should note that 3 of the 8 morning pills are optional (they are my brown-colored multivitamins and the orange turmeric pill). The majority of the remaining 6 pills that I take each day (and the shot) are all related to controlling my Type 2 Diabetes. Since I was diagnosed back in August 2009, I’ve been on a rather unsteady amount of daily medication – sometimes the number of pills has been higher, sometimes it has been lower. And other times the amount of medication that I’m taking changes based on other factors including my weight and level of physical activity.
And it’s those weight and physical activity factors where I can make a real impact on my daily pill intake. So I’ve been working out consistently for the last eight weeks and trying to drop weight, get mildly stronger again, and reduce the amount of medication that I take each day. I bet you’re wondering what the results of that activity are, right?
The results not good.
In addition to having a poor quality of sleep like I noted above, I’ve only lost about 10 pounds. Now granted, I understand that if someone else were to lose 10 pounds, they may have a massive celebration. I get it. For me and my physical state, though, I should have lost 10 pounds in water weight during the first week that I started working out. That didn’t happen. Instead, it took me about eight weeks to drop those 10 pounds and I truly feel that if I stopped working out for a week or so, then those 10 pounds would come rushing back. But that’s just the weight part of the equation. My bigger aggravation and bigger frustration right now is that in addition to only dropping 10 pounds, my doctor decided to increase my daily pills by 1 each morning starting last week.
After having worked out for so many weeks and feeling better and stronger overall, you can’t imagine what my face looked like when my doctor prescribed the additional pill.
What’s worse is that he prescribed it for high blood pressure. My response to that diagnosis was, “What?! I’ve never had high blood pressure. I’ve always had low blood pressure.” And that’s the truth. I (like so many other overweight people) have marveled each of my doctors over the years because my blood pressure has always been low. And then, randomly, my doctor tells me that my blood pressure is high because it tested at 118 over 94? Really? I was at the gym earlier in the day for goodness’ sake!
Very frustrating. For me, working out hasn’t really worked out. I don’t know what the problem is, but I know that buying into the bullshit in the healthcare and gym industries isn’t going to help – my doctor just managed to prove that outright. So where do I go from here? Well, in addition to not losing a substantial amount of weight, disrupting my sleep schedule, and increasing my daily medication I have to admit that I’ve actually enjoyed going back to the gym and lifting weights. My entire workout regime is based around lifting weights and I enjoy that aspect of working out. So I’m going to keep at it, but not because of any health benefits (clearly, I haven’t realized any yet). Instead, I’m going to keep at working out because it’s fun and waking up at that ridiculous hour is now a habit that I wouldn’t mind keeping for the foreseeable future. Why not?
Start the Weekend Right Link Series – Volume #1, Edition #5
September 27th, 2013 | Added to Random Entries | No Comments »
Here are another set of links to help you start your weekend the right way. Again, just a reminder that if you find that you visit several websites on a daily basis, then I recommend you consider signing up for a free Feedly account. I don’t get anything for promoting Feedly – I just love the service and I think that it’s really a great RSS aggregator (even better than the old Google Reader). And if you’re using another RSS aggregator, then please consider following JerseySmarts.com at http://www.jerseysmarts.com/feed/ or if you’re already on Feedly, then you can follow us by clicking here.
Now, enjoy the links! If you come across any interesting links, then please share them with us in the comments section below.
Start the Weekend Right Link Series – Volume #1, Edition #5
Monmouth Slated For Four Games on ESPN Family of Networks, Home Schedule Set
, The Hawks Nest
After Tony Graham retired from the Asbury Park Press, a host of new writers were tasked with updating his blog following Monmouth University sports. One of those writers is Josh Newman. Josh recently posted an update regarding the upcoming basketball season and when you can see the Hawks in action. If you’re an MU basketball fan, then you’ll want to check out this update.
With Practice Opening Friday, Five Things to Watch at Monmouth, The Hawks Nest
Another update on Monmouth basketball from The Hawks Nest. This update focuses on what to look for now that the practice season is upon us. Check it out – Josh Newman did a good job of what to be aware of heading into the new season especially as it relates to which players to keep an eye on and what positions they are playing this year.
Rutgers-New Brunswick Named Among the Ugliest College Campuses in the Country, Long Branch-Eatontown Patch
As an alumnus of Rutgers University, this one is no surprise. Rutgers University ranked #26 on the list of the ugliest campuses in the nation – and that’s the truth. The New Brunswick campus is a wreck of buildings strewn all over the place in and around downtown New Brunswick and points north. There’s barely a “campus” feel to Rutgers, rather it seems more like you’re trying to navigate between college buildings and random buildings. Of course, it still looks better than Rowan University down in Glassboro… they were ranked as the #10 ugliest campus in the nation!
Kula Cafe Thriving on Springwood, Asbury Park Sun
Some good news coming out of the West Side of Asbury Park: it looks like the new Kula Cafe is doing great things for the residents on the West Side and the Midtown neighborhood of Neptune Township. If you haven’t heard of the Kula Cafe and you live in the area, then you should read the story above and check the place out. I had a business lunch there a few months ago and it was fantastic. The service was great and the food was phenomenal. It was a very enjoyable experience and I would go back again.
This was just a fun little game to play. It’s not so much of a game as it is a memory test. Give it a look – I think you’ll really enjoy it!
The Worst Thing You Do Before Bed, Men’s Health
I’m always trying to learn more about getting better sleep. This short article in Men’s Health talks about the worst thing that we do before we go to bed. And it’s no surprise – the worst thing that we do is engage in electronic forms of entertainment that stimulate our brains when we should really be trying to relax and calm down. Check out this quick article – and get some sleep!
How Hyper-Threading Works (and When You Want It In Your PC), Lifehacker
As you may know, I’m writing this entry on my brand new laptop. One of the things that sold me on buying this laptop was the fact that it had every single bell and whistle that is currently offered on the market (except for a touchscreen, which I didn’t want anyway). Well, I’m aware enough to admit that most of the technology behind these machines has passed me by, but videos like the one linked here help me understand what these bells and whistles actually mean. So if you’re like me in that you used to be the king (or queen) of technology and now you find yourself more like a silent, somewhat knowledgeable observer, then you may want to watch this quick video to learn what hyper-threading means.
Don’t Cheer the Rise of the Adjunct, Minding the Campus
A recent study came out suggesting that tenured professors do a poorer job of educating their students and keeping young students in their disciplines than adjunct professors. As an adjunct professor, this is good news for me because it means that my services should be in higher demand! The results of this study really don’t surprise me because anyone who has ever been to college and run smack into a stodgy old professor who received his/her tenure decades ago knows how incredibly horrible they are at teaching. I can tell you story after story of horrible professors that I had to endure when I was going to college – many of whom are still teaching at the campus! For some of these professors I’ve been told in confidence that certain other administrators and faculty members have complained and tried to get the poor performers fired, but tenure is a pretty hard thing to break. Anyway, this study was interesting – if you like this stuff, then I think you’ll enjoy reading this one.
Revitalizing the Church, His Eminence Timothy Cardinal Dolan
Recently, Father I. Michael Bellafiore wrote an article in the Washington Post about revitalizing the church. Father Bellafiore writes about ten ways to revitalize the church and those ten ways do not include the things that we normally hear from local reformers. I read the blurb through His Eminence Timothy Cardinal Dolan’s blog, which is linked above. You can go straight to Father Bellafiore’s article by clicking the link in this blurb.
Update a Vintage Boombox with a Line-In to Play Music from Your Phone, Lifehacker
To end this week’s update, I thought I’d provide a fun link for those of you who are looking for a cool do-it-yourself project. If I had the time and materials, I’d give this a shot. It looks like it could be fun to try to make this contraption!
Get your weekend started right by checking out these links, starting a new, free Feedly account, and/or adding the blogs above (and JerseySmarts.com, too) to your existing Feedly or other RSS aggregator account. Enjoy!
Returning to the Gym on a Regular Basis & Changing Routines
September 21st, 2013 | Added to Health Ideas & Gym Stories | No Comments »
Back in June it became apparent that the end of my student loan repayment was in sight and that I needed something new on which to hyperfocus my time and efforts. The only area of my life that made sense to hyperfocus on was improving my health. Several years ago I was diagnosed with Type 2 Diabetes and a few years before that I managed to lose 125 pounds only before gaining 100 of those pounds back. I’m not even close to being at a healthy weight for my age or body type and the diabetes diagnosis is proof. On top of that diagnosis, the last time I worked out on a regular basis was in 2004 and 2005 when I lost those 125 pounds. Before 2004 and 2005, the last time I worked out in earnest was when I was participating in high school sports – primarily between the years of 1996 and 1998. And that was a long, long time ago.
There are dozens of different reasons for why I wasn’t able to get into the gym and maintain my health. And unlike the arrogant, self-important, idiotic blogs out there who go crazy telling people that they are their own worst enemy, I fully realize and accept that nearly every single one of my reasons for delaying the focus on my health was valid. I realize and accept this because I’m a realistic person who understands that not everyone is in a personal, professional, or financial position to drop everything and work out like a maniac every single day. If you read any “health” blogs that tell you that all of your excuses for not working out are bullshit, then I highly recommend that you stop reading that website and find a blog where real people congregate and talk about fitness. For my part, just as I realize that not all excuses are bullshit I also realize that many of the excuses that prevented me from working out in the past are no longer valid.
I go to a gym in the basement of the Monmouth Mall in Eatontown.
And since those restrictions are no longer in place, I recently started going to the gym again on a regular basis. I had to make some big changes in my approach to working out since 2004 and 2005. For example, I lost those 125 pounds by going to the gym once each morning for a swim and then again each night to do either cardio or weightlifting before taking another nighttime swim. Those were probably two of the healthiest years that I had as a young adult and even after losing 125 pounds I was still probably 80 pounds away from the government suggested “healthy” weight for my age and height. Unfortunately, the gym with the massive swimming pool is no longer in business and so swimming is not part of my new workout routine. In fact, I can’t even go to the gym after my workday is over because of other employment and volunteer obligations. And the truth is that the long commute and spending most of my day sitting behind a desk is absolutely exhausting, so I’ve switched my primary workout time to the morning… early in the morning. Very early in the morning! I always woke up early, but now I’m getting up at about 5:00am and leaving to go to the gym at about 5:45am which allows me to workout from about 6:00am until about 7:00am. I’ve found that the hour I give myself in the gym in the morning is all that I really need to get myself pumped up and going for the day.
On that topic, I’ve decided to change up my approach to going to the gym. For instance, instead of trying to find a few free moments to go and work out everyday, I’ve committed myself to going to the gym on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday only. Can I go on another day if the feeling hits me? Sure. Why not? Am I crazy if I can’t go on one of those three days each week? Well, I haven’t missed one yet so I don’t know. However, I know that I’ll be in Washington, DC for work next Monday and that I obviously won’t be able to go to the gym that day – so I guess we’ll see! Of course, I’ll probably try to use the gym in the hotel where I’m staying, but that’s another story because some hotel gyms are a total disaster.
The other big change that I’m doing this time around at the gym is I’m moving my focus off of cardio for now. I’m a big guy and one of the reasons why I’m a big guy is because I used to lift a lot of weight when I was in high school. At one point, I was bench pressing 385 pounds and squatting 660 pounds. No normal-sized high school student is able to put up those numbers – especially some 15 years ago when I was doing it before these silly supplements became popular. The only supplement that I needed was the pasta and meatloaf that my Dad used to make for dinner. That’s it! Anyway, I’m a big guy and every time that I’ve attempted to lose weight since those high school days I’ve hyperfocused on doing much more cardio than weight training. I’m not doing that this time for two reasons. First, I always enjoyed lifting weights. Maybe it was because I was always lifting a lot more weight than my peers or maybe it was because I enjoyed the pumped up feeling that you get after a good weight training session. But for whatever reason, I enjoy weightlifting and if I’m going to the gym at 6am, then I’m doing something that I enjoy, period. Second, over the last decade I haven’t been the most successful in losing weight by just sticking to heavy cardio with light lifting except for when I was swimming twice a day. Proper weight training not only builds and works out your muscles (a side effect of which is making it easier to move this big body around each and every day), but it also helps burn calories to aid in weight loss.
If you’re interested in seeing the weightlifting routine that I’m doing, then you can check it out by clicking here. If you scroll down on that page to the Version 2 workout, then you’ll see the routine that I’m using each week. Much different from the approach that I thought I was going to take back in June. What you’ll notice about the workout routine that I’m following is that it is a short workout. I try not to spend any longer than an hour in the gym between lifting the weights that are noted in that Version 2 workout and doing between 10 and 20 minutes of cardio (split with half at the beginning of my workout and half at the end).
Eventually, I’ll move on to an intermediate workout, but not yet. I’m enjoying getting reacquainted with the gym and the different machines that I haven’t used in ages. It’s fun. Once I feel like the gym is a second home again like it used to be, then I’ll begin expanding my “beginner’s workout” into a more intermediate routine (and beyond). And when that time comes I’m sure that I’ll write about it and discuss it here. For now, though, I’m content with the beginner’s routine so don’t look for that entry any time soon.
That’s the update for now. I’ve gone to the gym every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday in September. The soreness that comes along with starting to lift weights is all gone and I feel stronger and more able to move around. I’m definitely not close to “mid-season form” (a reference for all of the current and former athletes out there), but I feel good; I feel much better than I did even just a month ago. Will I be able to maintain these Monday, Wednesday, and Friday morning workout routines over the long-term? I don’t know for sure, but I know that I’m enjoying them right now. I have no intention of stopping the workouts, so I guess we’ll see how far this thing goes and whether it does anything to move the bar on my health. I have a doctor’s appointment next Friday – so we’ll know soon.
Finding A New Laptop Computer And Life After Student Loans
September 20th, 2013 | Added to Computers, Internet, & Technology, Student Loans | 1 Comment »
Since my last update, things have been moving at what seems like an incredible pace. As you probably guessed, life got crazy about three weeks ago when classes started up again at the local university where I serve as an adjunct professor. In addition to that part-time gig kicking in, on September 1st I also kicked in my commitment to getting back into the gym on a regular basis. Since this month began, I’ve spent every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday morning (before work!) at my local Planet Fitness. Okay, I admit that on Fridays I usually go to the gym in the afternoon and not the morning, but that’s because I work from home on Fridays and it’s just easier to go to the gym later in the day when I work from home. More on my experiences at the gym in a future entry…
However, the biggest tangible shift that I’ve experienced since my last update (which was almost one full month ago!) is the new laptop that I find myself typing this entry on. That’s right – after 7+ years as my go-to home computing machine, my HP Pavilion dv8000 finally kicked the bucket. Well, to be honest it didn’t actually kick the bucket – rather the primary hard drive started skipping and slowing down to an unacceptable pace. This is a problem that can be easily fixed by installing a new primary hard drive, but I took the failure of the primary drive as a sign… that it was time to get a new computer. And that’s just what I did! The picture below shows an incredibly bright picture of my new laptop computer – check it out:
There’s my new laptop and the free tablet that came with it.
The new laptop is an HP Envy 17-j029nr Quad Edition Notebook PC and, if I’m not mistaken, this is the highest grade, pre-configured laptop that you can purchase at HP.com.
It’s a pretty bad ass machine.
There are too many bells and whistles for me to explain all of them, but they include a 24GB solid state drive dedicated solely to making start up and shut down times blazing fast (we’re talking less than 10 seconds and, in most cases, less than 5 seconds). Other cool features are the Beats Audio, the fingerprint scanning and log-in system (now I log-in to websites by swiping my finger across a reader built into my laptop), a terabyte of disk space, a fourth generation i7 processor, Windows 8, and a back-lit keyboard which makes it easy to read the letters and numbers in front of me when it gets dark around my laptop. When you add up all of the great benefits that I’m receiving by using this new laptop over the old one, the relatively few annoyances that I have with the new machine melt away. For example, I really liked the layout, size, and feel of the Pavilion’s keyboard. However, after about a week or so of using this new laptop I’m getting used to the feel and touch of the new keyboard system. Also, the left part of the keyboard on the Envy seems to dip and appears extra “soft” (which isn’t the right adjective to use, but it adequately describes that side of the keyboard). However, I really haven’t experienced any negative outcome because of this “softness,” so I’m assuming that it doesn’t really matter that much.
As a guy who knows a little something about technology – and I admit that what I know continues to decrease in an increasingly technological world – I’m very impressed with this system. And I’m glad that I bit the bullet and purchased the pre-configured system instead of building my own. This configuration is the one that HP knows, trusts, and manufactures in mass quantities. They obviously chose this configuration for a reason and the expertise of their design team is fine for me! Also, as an older “tech head” I tend to suffer from analysis paralysis when it comes to buying a new system. If you haven’t heard of analysis paralysis, then you should know that it basically means I analyze and consider different purchase options until I eventually convince myself that I don’t want to be the guy purchasing the system that is either already obsolete or will be obsolete within days or weeks of my purchase. I managed to get over that perspective when buying this laptop and it was absolutely the right thing to do.
Two final points…
First, I don’t think that I’m done with the old HP Pavilion laptop just yet. The thing just needs a new primary hard drive and it’ll work fine. I can purchase a new primary hard drive and install it fairly easily. The issue will be kicking the internal backup drive into gear – if that can even be done. My purpose for doing that would be to transform the old laptop into a media hub for my television. Of course, this will all be easier to do and make much more sense once I purchase my own home and I have a living room that I’m setting up, but one thing at a time right now!
And on that note… second, it is really nice to not have the weight of student loans hanging over my head when situations like these come up. I use my laptop on a daily basis not just to browse the internet, but to manage the two small businesses that I own. I also use my laptop on a daily basis to manage my online presence for the classes that I teach and the one that I’m taking. Plus, my laptop allows me to work from home one day each week. So you can see what type of a crisis it is when I don’t have a laptop that is functioning. Before I repaid my student loans, this crisis would still be going on because I wouldn’t have been able to purchase a new laptop right away. However, with the student loans gone and no longer hanging over my head – I was able to purchase a new laptop (and a top-of-the-line one at that) without any problems.
The moral of the story is that being student loan free and facing a crisis isn’t a major problem any more.