The Good Deal:
The movie "Akeelah and the Bee". Sure, it's a feel-good sappy movie that's mostly for kids and that's good because adults can enjoy it, too. But it has many more things to recommend it: it deals with race fairly honestly (at least an 11-year-old's world of race); it deals with white privilege pretty honestly (affluent kids can take Latin, and their moms have time to take them to stuff); it has its unpredictable moments, which is unusual in this kind of movie; it has a strong, smart (eponymous) Black girl as a protagonist (I just had to use that word, because I could); and most importantly, it acknowledges the importance of community, which is relatively rare in kids' movies. Sure, sure, it has its drawbacks, but most are because it had to be written so that kids wouldn't miss any of the plot subtleties. So go see it.
The Bad Deal:
I recently bought a car for my wife. At the signing of all the papers, when the business manager was explaining the warranty, he said that I could extend the 3 year warranty on the non-power-train portion of the care for a mere $1200, and that (how could I pass this up?) the warranty extension had a money-back guarantee. If I don't use it in the extended period, I'll get my money back. WOW, is that a bad deal. So, let's see. Suppose I give them $1200 now, and 4 years from now, something goes wrong on the car. "Oh, hurray," I think, because I remember that I've purchased the extension, and this will be covered. But the bill comes to $600. Should I pay it out of my own pocket? Or should I let the warranty cover it? If I let the warranty cover it, then I've basically paid $1200 for a $600 repair. This will only pay off if there's another $600 worth of repairs (remember, this car is brand new...things wrong with the manufacturing will likely need repair quickly, within the original warranty period). So maybe I should pay it out of pocket...hmmmm. If I do that, and there are no other problems, I lose the use of and interest on my $1200, which I will at least get back. But if there are other problems, I'm still in exactly the same dilemma. The only scenerio that makes this worthwhile is if there is a repair in the extension period of approximately $1200 or more. I was not able to think all of this through at the time, but luckily it seemed fishy enough that I refused.
The Terrible Deal:
If you have been paying veeeeery close attention to this blog, you will know that my wife and I have been working on an adoption of a girl from China since before the inception of the blog. When we started the process (by applying to an adoption agency) in December of 2004, the wait between the arrival of our papers in China and the referral (a picture, a name, setting travel plans in motion) was approximately 6 months. In the interrim, the wait has gotten longer, and longer, and longer, and now we know that the wait will be at least a year from when our papers got there (September of 2005), and very possibly longer. Yet there's no real way to know when, exactly, so my wife and I can't make definite plans for the fall or later. My wife (who has wanted to adopt for most of her life) is being driven insane by the unpredictable wait. Even I, with my almost relatively unchanging schedule (teaching, rehearsing, working out, etc.) would like to just get some real information so I know what to look forward to. We were not planning on it taking this long, and our lives feel on hold until we get that referral. If we had known the wait would be this long, we would likely have considered adopting from a different country. In addition, our choice of agency turned out to be somewhat poor. While they have a good reputation for getting paperwork done, they have been distinctly unhelpful (or worse) in getting us (and their other clients) accurate information about the whole situation. I'm usually a pretty patient guy about waiting for stuff, but it's starting to get to me, too. A terrible, horrible, no-good, very bad deal.