atomic_fungus (atomic_fungus) wrote,

#2466: Solar minimum?

I kind of skipped over this: last week, for about seven days, the sun had no sunspots.

That wasn't unusual for 2009. Last year we went something like 260 days without sunspots; this year we only had 51. The sun, we were told, had finally begun solar cycle 24.

* * *

Student loan stuff:

That nonsense was dealt with this past summer, yet I am now on the phone with someone who is telling me I still owe $30,000.


I just asked the question: "Are you telling me that I sent $30,000 into a black hole?"

Answer: "Um...," and over to the supervisor.


...I just finished about two hours' worth of phone discussion. Jesus Christ:
#1) The $30,000 sent this past summer (Sept 16) has, in fact, been applied
to student loans held by Direct Loans. (I don't really understand how this
works; "Direct Loans" has a US Department of Education address yet it's not
the US DoE.) These loans are paid off.

#2) Apparently the Illinois Student Aid Commission (ISAC) has had four
loans sitting in a box somewhere and only just discovered them. These loans
went into default status in August of 2010 and were handed over to the debt
collection agency I talked to this morning. Total of these loans is about
$29,000, though the debt collection agency is telling me I can pay them off
for $24,000.

#3) I have not sent any paperwork or money to ISAC, as far as I can recall,
EVER--hence "sitting in a box somewhere". According to the woman I spoke
to, the ISAC loans have different origination dates from the ones which were
paid off.

My worry is that the bureaucracy has somehow screwed up and is now
double-billing me for the same loans. ISAC sent me warning letters in the
past about my DoE loans but I've never sent them any paperwork or anything;
all my contact and correspondence has been with US DoE / Direct Loans. Yet
once the DoE loans are paid, NOW suddenly there's a problem with ISAC? It
doesn't make any sense to me.

The timing is suspicious to me: the ISAC loans went into default around the
exact time that the DL loans were paid off. This smells to me like
"paperwork error", but I'm not really sure. The debt collection agency
tells me the ISAC loans have different origination dates from the DL loans
(including different years).

The supervisor I talked to was kind of flabbergasted: she can see the
payoff for the other loan and doesn't understand how these others could have
been in limbo for more than a decade.

I've requested that both agencies send me hard copies of the paperwork so I
can look them over and try to make some sense of what the hell is going on.
...from an e-mail I sent to my oldest sister.

See, Mom really wanted those loans paid off--all of them, in full. She even went to the trouble of writing a note included with her "end of life/funeral" information tacked to her bulletin board so that there would be no mistake about it: pay off the student loans first before dividing the estate.

Problem is, there's no good way to do that. The trusts are set up to make an automatic even split between the survivors, and it would take months of litigation to make any changes to that arrangement.

If this nonsense would have cropped up before Mom died....

This assumes that I'm wrong about there being a paperwork error, of course. What I'm probably going to have to do is get all the documentation and go through all of it, and track each loan, and see what the fuck is going on here.

* * *

Okay, back to our regularly-scheduled blogging:

Obama Administration wants unilateral disarmament. Oh, that's not what they're saying they want, of course; no. They want to stop nuclear proliferation, and they think that if all the good guys play nice, the bad guys will suddenly have some kind of epiphany and say, "Well, shit! We can't build nuclear weapons if y'alls aren't! We'll be good now!"

It is the foreign policy of a fucking retard, of course. Or Democrats. Either-or.

* * *

2010 was the best Christmas shopping season ever!

Well, it's not proof that the economy suddenly "got all better". In fact, now that the shopping's done, people are putting their wallets away and going back to their pre-season spending habits.

Why so much spending this year?
The strong start to the holiday season in late November reflected pent-up demand after two weak Christmas seasons, plus attractive deals designed to lure shoppers.
Everyone's trying to spin it as "happy days are here again!" but the fact is, people just get tired of economizing all the time and will sometimes splurge.

The economy isn't--at the moment--really bad, except by comparison. Like the late 1970s, most people are employed (if not making as much as they need) and the economic conditions--while bad--are not disastrous. This means that people can afford to buy luxuries...but sparingly, so they save up all they can for the holidays, and economize the rest of the time.
"They put off purchases and they want to spend a little bit more," said Moody's Analytics chief economist Mark Zandi. But shoppers are not returning to the "high spending, high borrowing" seen during the boom, he said.

The result is likely to be pronounced lulls between the two major shopping seasons -- back-to-school in late summer and the five weeks leading up to Christmas.
So the entire economy finds itself dependent on the holiday shopping season.

The article goes on to tell us that consumer confidence is improving; but it admits that most households are concentrating on paying down debt rather than accumulating consumer goods.

And consumer confidence isn't actually improving.

* * *

"46-year-old grandmother".

How young do you have to have your first child to be a grandmother at 46? I guess not all that young (32, even) but what does it say for your parenting skills?

The only reason I linked this is to sneer at a stupid person. Never mind.

* * *

Science again discovers that traditional values are better for people.

* * *

One foot of snow falls on New York City and it's a disaster. Ol' Remus comments at the link; and I have to agree that one stinking foot of snow shouldn't shut down any city north of whatever latitude Saint Louis sits at.

I remember in 1999/2000, when we got socked with 15" in Cedar Rapids, I was able to drive home from a friend's house on unplowed roads with nary a problem.

There's a video over on Jalopnik of some NYC "street and sanitation" workers trying to get a front-end loader unstuck. WTF--those damn things have four-wheel hydrostatic drive, for crying out loud! How the hell do you get one of those things stuck in snow? But to make matters worse, they hook a plow truck up to it with a chain, and drag the damn thing right into a parked truck. Some citizen has to make an insurance claim now because a couple of freaking nimrods couldn't be bothered to reposition a truck before making another attempt at pulling an earth mover out of a snowdrift.

What a bunch of fucktards. That's one of several reasons I freakin' hate NYC.

* * *

Zombie drops a train on islam. Again.

* * *

Hana Yori Dango meets weird Japanese game show:

...the guy and the girl standing above the action are, respectively, Ishida (Kaede Doumyouji's right-hand-man) and Tsukushi, the main character of the series. Everyone but Ishida and the black guy is wearing Eitouku school uniforms. The big red banner that flops down when someone's knocked out of the running is styled to look exactly like the red tag that F4 puts in peoples' lockers when they want the student body to harass them.

Pretty sure the guy who runs first is the guy who played Tsukasa Doumyouji, AKA Tsukshi's love interest. And the Japanese guy in the white is the dude who played Rui Hanazawa, her other love interest. (Can't have a story without a love triangle!)


* * *

It's going to get colder. Have we switched back to "we're headed for another ice age!" already?

* * *

Well, this student loan nonsense has totally buggered my day. I still have to go do some grocery shopping, though, so I guess I'd better jump on that.


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