December 13th, 2010



I'm not convinced that it really helps the the economy for me to be able to refinance at such low rates. In fact, I have a sneaking suspicion that the very reason I can get such low rates is that I can comfortably afford my current loan.

However, I don't see evidence that it hurts the economy any for me to refinance. So I'm refinancing. I'm paying about the same monthly, but trimming seven or eight years off of the lifetime of the loan. And feeling a little sheepish about the whole thing.


Our living-room redecorating project is starting to converge. We went out shopping yesterday and ended up talking about one couch with an eye toward commitment. But, but, and again but: I spotted that it is "distressed".

For those who may have been spared my previous rants on this topic, "distressed" means of a piece of furniture that it has been deliberately gouged, marred, dinged, and scuffed. It's an attempt to simulate the effect of years of wear and use.

Deliberately distressing furniture sends me into a fulminating rage. I tend to start angrily muttering things like "If the manufacturer doesn't like it enough to take care of it, why should I?"

We actually have bought one piece of distressed furniture. In this story, we bought a bathroom vanity with gouges and scratches, and I have since concluded that the vanity was actually deliberately scuffed and dinged. But my reaction to it wasn't to admire it - at the time, I didn't even consider the possibility that it might be deliberate, and I ended up getting a discount on the vanity because it was damaged. And I know all the places where it's scratched and scarred, and it makes me wince a little when I think of them.

There are people who sell furniture that is much more distressed than that, furniture for which people have expended considerable effort to make it look like the pieces have been mouldering in a barn for years. In my crankiness, I claim that the people who sell and buy these pieces are missing the point. When valuable antiques are found in barns, they're valuable in spite of the fact that they've been in barns for years, not because they've been in barns for years.

We've got another couch we're considering, and if it's not distressed, that will be a strong argument in its favor.