Bad Kitty

Meet Amelia:

Amelia is an 8½ year old Himalayan cat.

Amelia is a very bad kitty.

About three months ago, Amelia no longer wanted to use her litter box. So she has taken to pooping and sometimes peeing everywhere but the litter box: Alec’s bedroom, the mat in front of the box, the rug in front of the garage door, and other random places. (I’m sure I’ve missed some places because Sugar the Bad Dog thinks cat poop is a treat.)

I’ve tried several of the tricks in the book to get her to back into her litter box. I’ve ensured that the litter is usually no more than a week old. I’ve used the fine, scoopable litter. I’ve removed the litter box cover. I’ve watched her diet.

I have only had limited success. She still poops outside the box more than she poops inside the box, but at least she poops within eye shot of the box.

I now don’t know what to do with her. I have never seriously considered getting rid of a pet, but the thought crossed my mind today as my stockinged foot mushed into a pile of gooey poop on the back door mat. (She pooped on that mat so much that I just tossed it. It was just a cut up section of carpet.)

Stupid, idiot cat! I wish you could train or restrain them like dogs.

Incorrect Understanding of Wright and Shelby Amendments

My understanding of the Wright and Shelby amendments, which regulate air travel out of Dallas’s Love Field airport, was incorrect. Even the Dallas Morning News has it incorrect!

According to a 1998 US DOT news release, it appears that the 1979 Wright Amendment permits passenger air travel from Love Field, partially upending a then-11 year old agreement between Dallas and Ft. Worth. Under this agreement, Dallas and Ft. Worth will not use their respective airports to compete against DFW Airport. The 1997 Shelby Amendment enhances the Wright Amendment’s permissiveness by allowing flights to go to 3 more states and also allowing no destination restrictions on flights using planes with fewer than 56 seats. (It is humorous to note that Senator Richard Shelby, the amendment’s namesake, is from Alabama, one of these 3 additional states.)

So without the federal Wright or Shelby Amendments, there may be no passenger air travel out of Dallas Love Field.

Edit: See the comment left in the comments section below. (Click on the Comments link.) Simply repealing the Wright Amendment is not enough; that would invite another round of local lawsuits from Fort Worth, American Airlines, and DFW. Congress needs to clearly say that there shall be no restrictions on flights on Love Field.

Two Finance Books

A few years ago I read The Millionaire Next Door (see chapter 1). I was fascinated by this book. It showed that, in general, the people who act rich are not rich, and the rich usually don’t “act rich.”

A good measure of wealth is how long could you survive without changing your lifestyle or taking out additional debt if your income was cut off today. By that measure, an amazingly high percentage of those people living in your area’s silk stockings district are fakes. They are consuming so much of their income that their net worth is a fraction of what it should be had they been responsible.

I also read part of Rich Dad, Poor Dad. That book was such hooey crap that I didn’t even finish it. A good analysis of the book and its author is at http://www.johntreed.com/Kiyosaki.html. I think this guy is practically a fraud.

Insurance On Old Cars

The communally reinforced mantra is that collision coverage pays little for old cars. My experience is contrary. I had generic collision and comprehensive coverage on my Nova. They were for “market value,” or what someone would pay for the car on the open market. Market value itself already factors age, so it is not like there are additional deductions because of age.

I got a check for about 5800% of what I paid for semiannual collision and comprehensive premiums. I only had to substantiate the car’s value with receipts and comparable sales ads. A 58:1 ratio is a good payout. (By the way, the insurer assessed my car at double the value of a 2001 appraisal; some appraisers are apparently idiots.)

With my experience I have to question the value of “agreed value” insurance. Unless there is something extremely unusual about the car (e.g., it’s a Tucker or a real Yenko Nova with 5,000 miles), it is easy to determine actual market value for the vast majority of old cars.

Also: “stated value” insurance is just a crippled market value policy. It only means that in the event of a total loss the insurer’s maximum payout is the stated value. It does not guarantee that you get the stated value. (See http://www.lelandwest.com/Stated_Amount_Explained.cfm.) If you have the choice, I think a plain vanilla collision policy is far better than a “stated value” policy.

If you have a street driven car, and your car’s actual cash value (minus deductible) is significantly higher than the premium (I would shoot for at least a 20:1 ratio), then I think vanilla collision and comprehensive coverage is financially worthwhile and a very smart choice.

Embarrassment of Starbucks

This morning I stopped by a Starbucks in a Tom Thumb grocery store on the way to work. I used a coupon for a free “grande” coffee. (Right now you get one if you spend more than $50 at Tom Thumb.)

I was embarrassed to bring this drink into work. I think that Starbucks coffee is a great example of conspicuous consumption, a wasteful, hedonic habit.

Fortunately I don’t think anyone saw me with that coffee.