Recently a friend contacted me in a panic. She needed $586 immediately or her vehicle would be repossessed.

When I called, she also noted that she needed something to get her family through until payday. Could I loan her as much as $800?

I hesitated for a moment. Then I stopped what I was doing, moved some money from one account to the other and got myself over to Western Union (which thoughtfully tacked on a $44 wire fee).

Before you call me a sucker, hear me out. Then call me a sucker.

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Recently my daughter noticed she was having trouble swallowing. This perplexed her until she realized what day it was: Jan. 21, the anniversary of the day she wound up in the ICU back in 1998.

What put her there was Guillain-Barre syndrome, an auto-immune disease that attacks the peripheral nervous system and, in Abby’s case, paralyzed her right up to her eyeballs and nearly killed her.


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I want to go to Cardiff, Wales, while I’m in the United Kingdom. The train fare from London made my head spin: $83.50 to $131 each way.

Who’s for the MegaBus?

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While making breakfast I scorched the toast. Automatically I scraped off the Cajun part before smearing  on some butter and homemade jam. Then I started to wonder: How many people would have just thrown it in the trash and started over?

I grew up scraping toast. My family would have considered it wasteful to toss charred chow, given how simple it is to fix.

Recently a thread started up on Not MSN Money, a community formed by so-called “refugees” from MSN Money’s now-defunct message boards. The thread, “What do you do with the heels from bread?,” asked readers whether they use them or toss them.

Guess what the answers were.

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Rollover mopes.

thRecently a reader (and friend) commented on the “2011, in one word” post. Vicky noted that she allows “five minutes a day to mope or feel sorry for myself.”

I like the idea of slotting a five-minute mope in the day minder. Remember Holly Hunter’s short, stupendous bout of hysterics in “Broadcast News”? I aspire to that sort of efficient catharsis.

But I’d also like the option of setting aside the unused minutes, for those times when I need a longer session of self-pity. Thus I suggest a new personal indulgence: Rollover mopes.

Moping, within reason, can be as useful as optimism. Focusing on what’s right with your life is a terrific way to keep problems in perspective. But focusing only on what’s right with your life means ignoring what might be wrong with it.

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