— Ryan Beltram, EDN
When it comes to money right now, things are tight. More than a week ago, The European Union gave Greece $170 billion in extra bailout loans to save it from a potentially disastrous default in March.
This major event has affected the United States as demand for U.S. assets has risen. Interest rates are low and unlike many of the smaller European nations, the United States has the ability to create its own money.
Things are a little optimistic and consumer confidence is improving. Jobless claims are dropping. Unemployment here in Oregon dropped below 9 percent and for the nation, things have steadied. The housing market is even showing signs of bottoming.
So you would think after reading about these things, I would have become a little more optimistic about the United States financial situation. With an election coming at the end of the year, talk of debt and what can be done to reduce it will be a major talking point.
Obama wants to make the 1% pay more taxes and he is also looking to cut spending in Medicare, farm subsidies and other areas where he feels it is necessary to cut spending and reduce the deficit.
Having a plan in place to save money is great, but after reading an article the other day, I have a another area where Obama should somehow find a way to cut spending: Pet pampering.
It was reported that Americans spent $50.96 billion on their pets in 2011. Yes you read that right. Billion. With a B. That number represents an all-time high and the first time in history more than $50 billion has gone to our cats, dogs, hamsters and reptiles.
Now before you get really hot and bothered by that astronomical number as I did, realize that food and vet costs accounted for about 65 percent of that spending. That makes sense. These are necessary expenses to make sure our domesticated animals are healthy and happy.
But it was a service category — one that includes grooming, boarding, pet hotels, pet-sitting and day care — that grew more than any other, surging 7.9 percent from $3.51 billion in 2010 to $3.79 billion in 2011.
Now I understand that people love their pets and they want to do whatever they can to make them happy, but really people? $3.79 billion on pet hotels and day care? They’re animals. I’m pretty sure they’re happy just to have a home.
It’s a slippery slope telling people how to spend their money. We all have our extra curricular activities and hobbies. Taking care of our pets I would consider a necessity. But when does it become excessive? Where do we draw the line? I would consider more than $3 billion on pet pampering crossing the line.
According to the American Pet Products Association, that number is expected to cross $4 billion in 2012. Maybe we should cut back a little. One fewer trip to the pet groomer or perhaps skipping the pet hotel and letting a friend take care of your pet would be a good idea. Anyway to save a buck.
WWE comes to Eugene
Last Sunday, Matthew Knight Arena hosted the World Wrestling Entertainment. I was unable to attend the sold out event, but after hearing about it, the little kid in me got excited and it became a nostalgic trip down memory lane.
Every boy goes through phases growing up. There’s the dinosaur phase, the car phase and a wrestling phase. I was fortunate enough to follow wrestling at its greatest hight in the 90s. In the early 90s there was Hulk Hogan, Randy “Macho Man” Savage, the Undertaker and the Ultimate Warrior. In the mid to late 90s Stone Cold Steve Austin, The Rock and Triple H reigned supreme.
Every Monday night at 9 I would stay up to watch Monday Night Raw. The hour-long program eventually became two hours and despite it being a school night, I would have the volume up just enough to where I could hear it and my Mom couldn’t.
Wrestling was for me and still is for many guys the male equivalent of a Soap Opera. The main storyline used to be good vs. evil. The hero against the heel. But eventually it evolved to real life dramas like strained friendships, love affairs and power struggles. Every Monday night and eventually Thursdays I was glued to my television as the drama unfolded and the fake fighting ensued.
Eventually I grew out of my fascination with it and moved on to more traditional sports. The ones where the outcome isn’t predetermined. But while I’ll never go back to watching wrestling full-time, occasionally I’ll be flipping through channels and catch a moment or two of it. Some faces I remember are still there while others are new.
Seeing the WWE come to Eugene was exciting though. Somewhere there’s a kid who went to the show on Sunday and had the same reaction and experience I had when I was growing up.
Netflix Instant Pick: Sherlock
My pick this week in instant streaming is a television show rather than a movie. Not to be confused with the Robert Downey Jr. movies, Sherlock is the BBC’s modern-day interpretation of the famous sleuth and his doctor partner who solve crimes.
Starring Benedict Cumberbatch (My favorite name in show business) as Sherlock Holmes and Martin Freeman as Dr. Watson, the series takes place in present-day London. Seeing Sherlock prefer texting over man-to-man communication and having Watson be a war doctor in Afghanistan are great modern-day interpretations of the characters originally created by Conan Doyle.
The first season is only three episodes long, but each episode plays out like more of a movie-of-the-week running at 90 minutes than a typical hour-long program. This extra time allows for a more balanced story that leaves open room for both the procedural aspects of the episode and the great chemistry between the two main characters.
There wouldn’t be a CSI or The Mentalist without Sherlock Holmes. The show is entertaining, smart and funny at all the right moments. In a time where American procedurals are starting get a little stale, Sherlock is a great alternative. The character may have been around for years, but this interpretation feels refreshingly new and original.