Monday, September 30, 2013

The End Is Near!

Yep, it's almost here.  October 1st is tomorrow, the date Obamacare goes into effect.  Some are dancing in the streets, some are jumping out of windows.  So where does 'ol Lowandslow stand on this, you're asking?



I think it's gonna be an absolute mess.  Here's why:  Anything that comes with a 2,700 page users manual, written hastily by a bunch of bureaucrats (who probably have a government job only because they were too inept to get a job in the private sector) and industry lobbyists (who you know are making damn sure their clients are protected one way or another), is doomed to fail.  This is going to be a cluster f__k of epic proportions!

So then I'm for the status quo, right?  Nope, not at all.  The status quo is a runaway train carrying us all in slow motion straight over a 1,000' cliff.  I firmly believe we need some sort of, for lack of a better term, "universal health care".  Consider this:

Only 51% of US businesses (pre-Obamacare) offer health care coverage to their employees.  That is down roughly 10% in a decade.  And of those who do have employer paid / subsidized coverage, more and more are seeing higher deductibles / cash-out-of-pocket maximums ($5K-$10K is not uncommon) and co-pays.

Private insurance?  Fuggetaboutit.  One middle aged friend of mine, for example, who has had two back surgeries and a wife who is a breast cancer survivor, is paying $1,500 per month for just himself and his spouse.  And that's with a $10,000 deductible.  Another friend (with insurance) told me if his wife has any more issues, their only recourse will be bankruptcy.

Speaking of:  There are 1.7 million personal bankruptcies +/- filed in the US each year.  Medical bills and lost income due to illness are responsible for 62% (or roughly 1 million) of those.  That's more than due to crushing credit card debt or unaffordable mortgages.  And of those 1 million filings, 78% HAD HEALTH INSURANCE.

When the average working / insured American has an income of about $50K and gets a medical bill for $5-10K, they're screwed.  Unless it's for use to cover a catastrophic accident or illness, do they really even have insurance?  If they can't afford to use it, is it really there?

And talk about inefficient....somebody explain to me why there are 50 state insurance commissions with 50 different sets of rules and 50 different insurance company and state bureaucracies?  Why aren't insurance companies organized around one giant nationwide group policy with one set of standards? 

Pharmaceutical costs are out of control, too.  Consider this:  In all countries I'm aware of with some form of national insurance, the government determines how much drug makers can charge, and it's always just enough to cover the cost to manufacture the drug.  

All the costs to cover R&D, which can run up towards a billion dollars, are charged to AMERICAN consumers.  That's because our "free market" allows Big Pharma to charge anything they want here.  This is true.  I've had it confirmed to me by a friend in the pharma bidness.  *you're welcome world*

And how about all those not-so-visible costs we pay to cover the uninsured?  Several years ago I heard a spokesman for the Baylor Hospital System admit they charge 150% of cost to INSURED patients in order to cover the write-offs for those who couldn't / wouldn't pay.

Just last week I heard the Dallas County Judge say the County spends more supporting their county (charity) hospital than it does on ALL other county functions combined.  This would include running the jail system, the sheriff's office, the courts, the road and bridge districts, etc.  (I haven't researched that, but I take him at his word.)

So then doctors make too much, right?  IMO, no.  Consider this:  Docs go through 10 or more years of college, med school, internship, residency, etc, and usually accrue $250K or more in school debts, before they can enter practice.  For our best and brightest, I don't think their income is unreasonable.  (Compare this to a Wall Street banker who might make 10-times as much selling fraudulent securities.)

Oh, here's a thought....how about getting all the blood-sucking trial lawyers out of the game?  Bad docs need to be removed, no doubt.  But in waaaaay too many malpractice cases it's just a money grab.  The legal profession has become a parasite on the medical profession.  Why are they allowed to do that?  (Because trial lawyers as a group are among the largest political campaign contributors, that's why.)

I could go on and on, and maybe I will at a later time, but suffice it to say the status quo is becoming less and less workable, even for those of us who are fortunate to have insurance and can afford to cover high deductibles and co-pays.  Long term the status quo is simply unsustainable.

Let's review:  The health care crisis is becoming more and more acute and is swirling down the toilet.  Obamacare will probably be a mess.  The status quo will someday eventually fail us.

So what do we do?  Beats me.  It's going to take someone smarter than me to figure it out.  BUT WE MUST FIGURE IT OUT.  Removing the spectre of instant family bankruptcy due to whopping medical bills from the national conscience is bound to be good for the country.  

We need to be concentrating on becoming more competitive, stronger, and more resilient in the new world economy, not losing sleep worrying about how we're going to pay for grandma's festering sore.

S




Sunday, September 29, 2013

Calendars lie

Calendars lie.  At least those in Texas do.  From childhood stories up through Saturday Evening Post covers (anyone reading this old enough to remember the Saturday Evening Post?) to today's NFL halftime beer commercials, we're taught fall means sweaters, fires in the fireplace complete with smoldering marshmallows and Smores, colorful foliage, and lots of leaves that need raking.  

And it's fall now, right?  It arrived September 20-something-or-other as I recall, same as it does every year.  Except we here in Texas usually have none of those things yet.  Sweaters are still safely tucked away in storage boxes, the fireplace is still dark and cold,  marshmallows and Smores ingredients are still on the store shelves, and leaves are still green and holding on tightly.  

Damn!

But....and here comes the good part....this year so far seems to be different.  Dallas on the first day of fall saw rain and a cool front move through.  For the past week the high temps have been in the 80's, and yesterday round two came through.  More rain, more cool, enough that I had to dig around and find a sweater in order to sit outside yesterday evening.  Pinch me!




The cherry on top of this autumn Sunday (sundae....get it?) morning was the flock of geese that greeted me as I walked out onto my terrace this morning.  While directionally challenged (they were heading west), they still maintained their perfect V-formation and were happily honking the whole way.  

As I'm now on the third floor they were right at eye level and so close I think I could  have reached out and touched them. Or more accurately, reached out and had them viciously attack me for such an aggressive move.  (Mean little bastards they are!)

All this leads me to mentally ratchet up my expectations for a REAL winter, complete with snow and....oh, what the hell....smoldering marshmallows on sticks and Smores.

Fingers crossed.  :)

S


Friday, September 27, 2013

Big Tex rides again, just as the Tea Party fades into the sunset

The "Great State Fair of Texas" opens this weekend, and you know what that means....it's gonna rain!  That little squirrel in Pennsylvania has nothing on Big Tex's ability to predict the weather.  Lows in the 60's with a 90% chance of rain Saturday night.  I need the 60's, and we need the rain.  :)

To bring you up to speed, Big Tex was the huge talking statue that stood at the entry to the fair grounds for decades.  He was dressed up in western duds (I always thought it was rather cheesy) and was revered by many.  At last year's fair he caught fire, the motor that made his mouth move malfunctioning:



Looks like he had a rather serious crotch issue, too.

But all is right again.  More money was raised and now the new Big Tex has been unveiled:


Gotta keep the rednecks happy!

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

I'm shocked!  Absolutely shocked.  New Jersey Senate candidate Corey Booker is in hot water because of Tweets he exchanged with a stripper at a vegan men's club.  

This just boggles my mind....imagine, a vegan strip joint!  

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

I honestly believe the Tea Party Republicans have suicidal tendencies.  Yesterday their lackey, House Speaker John Boner, actually said, "We will refrain from deliberately sabotaging the global economy if President Obama:

1.  Allows more drilling on Federal lands.  (OK)

2.  Drops regulations on greenhouse gasses  (*GASP....WHEEZE*  sure, we need more greenhouse gasses, right?)

3.  Builds the Keystone XL pipeline.  (Surely we can find a way to do it safely)

4.  Stops paying for the Consumer Financial Protection Agency.  (All for screwing the public, raise your hand  *their Big Banker buddies really hate that one* ) 

5.  Makes it harder to sue for medical malpractice  (Fair enough)

and

6.  Halts health care reform for a year.  (Umm....why not just try reforming health care reform starting right now?)

This is an agenda for absolute disaster....for the Tea Party.  Hmm....come to think of it, go ahead.  Good riddance.

Happy weekend everyone.  :)

S


Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Diner en Blanc

This one was totally under my radar.  It's really way too hoighty toighty for me, but still I find it interesting.  It's called Diner en Blanc, a spontaneous bring-your-own-dinner party where everyone wears white (that's the "en Blanc" part) and meets in a park, the exact one announced only minutes before it starts.  And they show up in droves:



Four thousand people showed up at NYC's Bryant Park last week to break bread and schmooze.  And they didn't just bring their own little picnic basket full of fried chicken....oh no!  They brought their own tables, chairs, table cloths, china, etc.

The concept started in Paris 25 years ago and is still going strong there today....


Now there are organized Diner en Blanc events in 40 cities around the world, with another 400 cities asking to have one organized in their area, too.

I can't imagine going anywhere dressed in all white.  I'm like that little slob kid in the Charlie Brown entourage who has a cloud of dirt and dust around him at all times. Best case I'd show up in "dirty gray" and be denied entry.  Maybe I'd better just stick with gourmet food trucks.  Their dress code is more to my liking.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Is anyone besides me here in landlocked America keeping up with the America's Cup?  This is the sailing event where teams vie to take on the reigning champion, currently Oracle Team USA.  After a lengthy Louis Vuitton Cup series where Emirates Team New Zealand won the right to challenge Team USA, and then jumped out to a commanding lead (8-2), Oracle has come back strong.  Right now it is tied up 8 wins each.  The race today is winner take all.



The race will be televised on the NBC Sports channel at 1:15 pm Pacific Time, and on the free America's Cup app for iPad.  I don't know squat about the tactics and strategy behind sailing, but I just like the come-from-behind drama.  

It's like being behind by 5 touchdowns going into the 4th quarter, then somehow coming back and kicking a field goal as the final second ticks off to win.  Will that happen here today?  

I've watched most of the races so far and have become addicted.  *gettin' my nachos and cold beer ready*  :)

S


Tuesday, September 24, 2013

The night time is the right time

I have many interests.  One of my earliest and most enduring is aviation.  I love all things airplane.  As a kid my uncle would tell me stories about his time flying B-17's in WWII. 


I later joined the Confederate Air Force (vintage warbird restoration group) and got "up close and personal" with the machines and people I'd read about throughout my formative years.

Later I trained and became a docent at a local aviation museum, my "specialty" becoming commercial airline history.  I still read Air Transport World online.  While most people want to live far away from airports, I actually like living close enough where I can see the big beautiful birds coming and going.

Where I live now is not too close, and not too far away, but juuuuust right.  I spend hours on my north-facing terrace watching the airliners approaching DFW Int'l from the north and east.  Some of the aircraft types are distinctive enough to identify at a distance:  Boeing 747, Airbus A340.  Some require some study:  Boeing 777 vs Airbus A330.  Some are simply too small and too far away for me to make out the differences:  Boeing 737 vs Airbus A320.


Last night about 9 pm I went out for a breath of fresh air and saw planes stretched out for 30 miles to the northeast, headed to DFW to my southwest.  With 5 miles separation, I could see 6 planes lined up to land at any give time.  That tiny speck in the sky in the photo above is #3 to land, probably on Rnwy 17C.

With real-time internet info available today I could actually look up each aircraft type, airline, flight number, city of origination, etc, but sometimes it's just best to not know.  A little mystery is still fun.

And besides, that would be almost like work.  For me, work ceases at 6 pm.  Evening time is MY time.  :)

S

Monday, September 23, 2013

Gun talk

So far autumn, my glorious autumn*, hasn't disappointed.  For the past 3 days the early morning temps have been in the mid-50's, with the high barely touching 80.  Blue skies, slight breeze, and low humidity, too....true Chamber of Commerce weather.

I love autumn.  Spring is nice, but it reminds me of Sunday afternoon:  It's very pleasant, but you know next up is Monday morning.  Yuck!  But autumn, autumn is like Friday afternoon.  You know the full weekend lies ahead.  :)

* We even named one of our companies "Autumn Investments".  Now that's hard core right there!


~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~


Lets talk guns:  I'm baffled by all the paranoia about licensed concealed firearms.  The big push for concealed carry in my state (Texas) came after a mass shooting in a Luby's cafeteria in Kileen, TX in 1991.  A deranged man crashed his truck into the cafeteria during lunchtime, then walked table to table, shooting 50 people, killing 23.  It was pointed out that just one properly trained and armed person might have been able to neutralize the shooter and save many of those victims.

The public's knee-jerk reaction to concealed carry was there would be "blood in the streets".  As we now know, that did NOT prove to be the case.  The behavior of concealed handgun license holders (CHL) has been statistically MUCH better than the population as a whole.

And I really don't understand why businesses would post signs on their doors saying they prohibit CHL holders from bringing their firearms inside.  By doing so they are specifically taking responsibility for the safety of their patrons.  Deny a CHL holder the ability to protect himself, he's yours.

A CHL holder has undergone extensive classroom training as well as gun safety and must pass a live shooting test.  He has submitted him/herself to being fingerprinted and photographed, and he has undergone a lengthy (roughly 4-6 week) background check.  

Think about it....if you are a business owner, who would you want standing across the counter from you?  That properly trained and vetted CHL holder, or some guy off the street you know absolutely nothing about?

IMO, we need to quit wasting our time and energy trying to keep guns away from us all.  They're here now, and they aren't going away.  I would like to see enough citizens properly licensed to carry that bad guys would have to think twice about who to rob, mug, or rape.  

We need to support those who are willing to undergo the scrutiny and training, and concentrate on identifying and getting help to those among us who are mentally ill.  And slamming those who are walking around illegally armed. They are the real problem.

S


Sunday, September 22, 2013

At my offensive best....


After reading the "world news" section of the paper this morning (every morning, actually) I once again have to ask myself, what good thing does Islam bring to the world table?  "Militant Islamists attack a mall in Kenya, blow up a church in Pakistan....Iraq, Afghanistan (all the little 'stans' actually), Syria, Libya, Somalia, Mali, kill, kill, kill..."  If they have a dominant Muslim population (with a few possible exceptions such as secular Turkey), they're up to no good.  No?  Show me otherwise.

"Oh, but those are just the militants.  Most aren't like that at all."  Really?  Polls I've seen taken in virtually all Muslim countries show the general population, while not actually taking up arms against the Infidels, expresses overwhelming sympathy for the militants.  Face it.  They simply don't like us.  Round peg, square hole.  Not gonna work.

As I remember from my studies as a child there was a time centuries ago when Muslim countries were leaders in math, science, philosophy, culture, etc.  So what happened?  They don't seem to be leaders in much of anything these days except Jihad.  Why do we have to have relations with them?  For oil?  Sure, I get that.  But we can do business with them without having to otherwise interact with them, can't we?

Seems to me they need our (the civilized world's) cash as much as we need their oil.  "Fill up the tanker, here's your money....see 'ya."  "We want to send our students to your country."  No.  "We want some of your foreign aid to build..."  No.  Any American travels there of his own free will and finds himself threatened with headlessness....too bad.

We constantly hear that isolation is bad.  How so?  If we want to live peacefully and prosperously by ourselves here (in the West), and they choose to live in ignorant squalor there, how is that bad?  Wouldn't we both be getting what we want?

I can see the desirability of globalisation when it comes to interacting with others of similar values.  But it doesn't seem to me we share many values with the Muslim world.  Lets all sacrifice some, put our heads together and find an alternative to their oil stranglehold, and then split the sheets and move forward.  And they can move backwards.  And if a phone rings here from their area code, don't answer it.  

Live and let live, I say.

OK, skewer me.

S




Saturday, September 21, 2013

Living the good life

This morning it was 65 degrees with a slight breeze and lots of sunshine.  Yesterday's rain cleaned the air and it smells wonderful.  I put on sweats and sat on my 3rd floor terrace and enjoyed my little bottle of Fourbucks frappuccino and watched Luke the Wonderdog watching the other dogs parading by him below.  Life is good.

While most of my contemporaries might look down on the idea of apartment living after decades of home ownership, for me this is bliss.  Not too much, not too little.  Juuuuust right.  And in this price range my neighbors are all mature, quiet, often middle aged or even empty nesters like me.  My to-do list for today reads....not a damn thing.  Same as it was last weekend, and the same as it will be next weekend.



One view of our 21' x 37' Great Room.

We live in Frisco, a far-northern Dallas suburb known for it's citizenry walking around with their noses shoved up into the stratosphere.  The main residential area of town where all the snooties live in their huge mansions is several miles north of where I am.  My neighbors are more down to earth, though, many of them engineers and managers and such working at all the high tech firms surrounding me.

I must give K credit....her insistence on a terrace was spot on.  Ours is just large enough for a couple of nice chairs and 2 small tables, which is perfectly adequate.  There is some traffic noise at certain hours, but from the inside we hear nothing.  I actually like watching the traffic....there are lots of cool cars here.  Our view looking northwest to northeast:


That open field is where Dallas Cowboy's owner Jerry Jones will soon build his tribute to himself.


New office parks are going up everywhere.


AT&T and T-Mobil both have large campuses nearby.


Lots of hotels are nearby, too, I suppose to accommodate all the techies brought in to work on special projects.

Less than a mile east is a HUGE shopping mall, just south are lots more "apartment homes" and condos, and west is a very large high-rise office park.  The Dallas North Tollway one block west connects me straight to the airport (W)  and downtown (S).  Two floors below is a "salon and spa".  And apparently no one ever cooks at home judging by the fact there are literally a hundred nice restaurants within a 2 mile radius.

Now that we're moved in and settled (again), I must say I think I've found where I'm meant to be.*  :)

S

* Unless I win the lottery.  Then you'll find me in Colorado, zip code TBD.


Friday, September 20, 2013

What's next? Concentration camps?



To call the Tea Party Nazi's "Nazi's" is not an understatement.  Based on my recollection of the history of Germany in the 1930's, the tactics of today's Tea Party mimics how the National Socialists (how ironic, mentioning "Socialists" and the "Tea Party" in the same breath :) weaseled their way into power.  Intimidation, extortion, and blackmail worked for the Nazi's 80 years ago, and the Tea Party has revived their playbook today.  Will their opponents soon start mysteriously disappearing, too?


A small minority of ultra-radical Republicans (not to be confused with moderate, responsible, common-sense conservatives like myself) have even bullied Republican House Speaker John Boner into giving in to their threat to shut down the government in order to de-fund Obamacare.  Don't like Obamacare?  Fine, then fix it, but don't just take your toys and go home.  (Note:  Reverting to the status quo is NOT "fixing" healthcare.)



Boner told them shutting down the government was an irresponsible move, but they said he must get on board or they would crush him, too.  Boner caved.  He is no longer a leader but just their little puppet.

Pretty soon I fully expect to see these bastards combing their hair across their foreheads and growing little runny-nose moustaches.

S


Thursday, September 19, 2013

It's International "Talk Like A Pirate" Day


So a pirate walks into a bar and says, "Aargh....gimme a rum."


The bartender says, "Yes sir, coming right up."  But then he notices the pirate has a ships wheel stuck in the front of his pants, sticking out over his belt.



So the bartender says, "Umm, excuse me Mr. Pirate, sir, but did you know you have a ships wheel stuck in the front of your pants?"

The pirate replied, "Aargh....it's drivin' me nuts!"

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Have you wiped your tech-savvy smile off your face yet?  Are you still giddy?  Were you too excited to sleep last night?

Me either.

Apple's long anticipated iOS7 system is finally here.  I think K was the first person in line to update her phone to eye-ohs 7.  She was floating on cloud 9 when she ran in to show it to me.

"Look...look!  Watch this.  The home screen....the background color is changed, and the icons have different designs.  It's SO much more colorful!"

"Yeah, and did you notice I'm wearing a new colored T-shirt?  Slick, huh?"

"Don't be a smart ass.  Check this....when you look in 'my photos', they're arranged BY DATE!"  *orgasmic shudder*

"Gee, you're right.  This is great!  I never realized how miserable I was when all my photos were just lumped in together."

Then she updated my phone with eye-ohs 7, too.

"Hey honey....how do you delete an email?  I swipe it to the right and it's still there."

"Try swiping it to the left."

"But my right thumb only swipes right.  It doesn't do left."

"Then use your left thumb, moron."

"But I'm hopelessly right handed.  My left thumb is sorta like my appendix....it just hangs there."

"It'll learn.  Maybe you can send it to one of those 'boot camps'."

I should Google that.

S




Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Same song, second verse


This coming Saturday is the Red Bull Flugtag, the event where amateur teams build humorous "flying machines", then jump off a ramp where they invariably "fly" all of 30 feet....straight down.
  

It sounds like it should be a hoot and a half.  As a cool front is coming through on Friday, and the temps on Saturday are expected to top out in the mid-80's, K and I are seriously considering going.

My only hesitation is the crowd/parking situation.  We tried to go to the Red Bull Soap Box Derby back in the spring, but it was an uphill hike both ways from the parking area 20 blocks to the event site.  We arrived there and my knees took a look around and said, "no thanks". 

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

It was exactly 5 years ago that our economy began it's near-fatal meltdown.  Greed ruled over prudence back then, and lenders were making terribly bad loans, then selling them to unwary investors as top-quality thanks to phony bond ratings.

Now, with real estate loans again being packaged by banks and sold to investors, Standard & Poor's has again lowered it's bond rating standards in order to bring in more business.   

Talk about a conflict of interest!  Banks directly pay the rating agencies (the Big Three are S&P, Moody's, and Fitch) for a review of the bonds they are hoping to sell, and they are shopping around to see who will give them the most favorable rating.  "Tell me what I want to hear, I'll pay you lots of money."  Since lowering their standards, S&P's market share has jumped from 18% to 69%.

So what have we learned?  Five years ago banks were "too big to fail".  Today they're bigger.  Five years ago bond ratings were a joke.  Today it looks like they're headed that way again.  So much for "financial reform".  Bank Lobbyists, 1; The Public Interest, 0.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Here's a thought....maybe we could make that Flugtag jump from 300 feet, and get all the Ivory Tower Bankers to enter themselves as a team.  :)


S



Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Yeah, I seen this little feller......


Why is it that good 'ol boys are the ones the news media always approach first when they want an eye-witness account of a disaster?  Most haven't shaved in months, they're wearing ripped shirts with holes them, and they rarely have time to put their teeth in, things apparently happening so fast.

"Uh, yeah, well, I seen this little feller just floatin' down the street, holding on to his beer cooler for dear life, chasin' his house as it floated away.  He was yellin', 'Mavis, you and little Elvis get up on the roof and keep a look out for gubment helicopters.'"  

"Ever thang worked out OK as he saved his beer and his house got jambed under a bridge about a half mile down the road. I think it was Old Milwaukee.  The beer, I mean."

Not long after K and I met we were talking and she asked, "Have you ever been on TV?"  I was at first a bit taken back as I'm well groomed, my shirts are in excellent condition, and I have all my own teeth.  

"Sure, lots of times.  Why?  Did something blow up?  Are we going to be on TV?  What did I miss?"

"No, just curious.  When were you on TV last?"

"About 3 years ago.  There's a real estate show that nobody watches on Sunday mornings and I was featured.  The camera crew took shots of the neighborhood, the interior of one of our homes, then we (the drop-dead gorgeous TV lady and I) sat out in the back yard and talked, with the golf course and little lake in the background."

To me the obvious follow-up question should have been "how did you do" or "were you nervous" or maybe "did people stop you on the street later and say they saw you on TV?"  (good, no, and no)

Nope, not K.  Her only question was, "What did you wear?"

What did I wear?  Huh?  

I don't remember what I wore 3 days ago, much less 3 years ago.  All I'm sure of is I wasn't buck naked.  Beyond that I have no clue.

Chalk it up to one more of those differences between men and women.  ;)

S

Monday, September 16, 2013

Miscellany


I swear, when I parked next to this nice Aston Martin Vantage I thought I heard him say, "DOH!  I coulda had an Audi A3 Sportback."  (Five of 'em, actually :) 

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Yesterday evening I saw a flock of geese flying south in their classic V-formation.  WooHoo!  It's a good sign.  A VERY good sign.  

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

I understand former Secretary of Treasury (under Bill Clinton) Larry Summers has taken his name out of consideration for Federal Reserve Chairman.  Good.  He and his little puppet buddy Tim Geithner (Obama's first Sec Treas) were most often seen scurrying around Washington licking the shoes of the Big Bankers.  Geithner has said "no thanks", too.

Summers in particular helped put in place the laissez-faire financial deregulation back in the '90's that gave us "derivatives" and credit swaps which later nearly bankrupted the whole world.  Put them permanently out to pasture ASAP, please.


~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~


Count on it.

S


Sunday, September 15, 2013

I can see a light in the tunnel. I hope it's not a train!

Whew....our move is 98% complete.  Not surprisingly, Murphy reared his ugly head and made things twice as hard as they should have been.



It's just like this, except substitute the T-Mobile building across the street for Lake Como.

Several earlier comments asked why we were moving so soon as we had just gone through this 18 months ago.  The answer in one word, in one letter actually, is K, as in K, my spousal unit.  She has been nagging pestering requesting an apartment with a patio or terrace for quite a while, and when a nice one became available, I jumped at it, convinced by the bayonet in my back that it would be a good thing.  

Now that the move is complete I will agree, it IS a good thing.  At this stage in my life, since it's just the two of us, I have completely embraced the idea of renting vs owning another home.  It feels sooooo good to NOT have a to-do list anymore.  Our little community is new, very nice, with lots of (the usual) amenities like gym, pool, party room, etc, and even a guest suite on premises for overnight guests to use.

We briefly considered buying a townhome (we found a really nice one), but then K heard that with a creek not far away and with lots of open greenbelt area nearby, snakes would be out poking around.  Heehee!  Bye-bye townhome.  :)

The move should have been a piece of cake:  SIL Donnie and I had to pick up furniture 6", put it on a furniture dolly, and wheel it down the hall, up the elevator, and into our new digs on the 3rd floor.  Wham, bam....2-3 hours....done.  Hah!

First, the dolly's I bought at Lowe's must have been for moving boxes of feathers.  When you put some weight on them they would barely roll.  Chinese-made wheels, no doubt.  Then the upright dolly had a tire that wouldn't hold air, so I had to buy a new tire.  UGH!

And finally, at one point, the elevator closest to us broke.  We had to wheel stuff to the other side of the building and use that elevator, making the trip twice as long.  Maintenance was able to "reset" our elevator and get us going again, but that's just how things have gone for me these past 3 days.

But now we're in, everything is in it's place, and all I have left to do is hang a few more pictures.  The terrace really is pleasant, just large enough for 2 chairs and 2 small tables, plus the dog's bed.  Early morning's are so nice out there.  :)

Today is pretty much dedicated to R & R, then tomorrow it's back to work.  Bro and I are finishing a big home over this next week or so, and then I can get back to perfecting my retirement.  

Life ain't half bad, you know?  :)

S

And just FYI, AT&T Uverse cable/internet is top shelf!


Thursday, September 12, 2013

Moving is like watching a train wreck in slow motion


Our move has gone completely off the tracks.  OMG, what were we thinking?

Actually our new apartment will be quite nice....when we get it all put together.  It's noticeably larger than our old apartment, and as it's more of a "loft" style it's much more open.  Yesterday SIL Donnie came over and helped me get all the furniture moved.  He was absolutely indespensible!  Thanks Donnie.  Now it's just trip after trip after trip bringing over the little stuff.

I have become such a minimalist.  I don't care how much stuff I sell, give away, or throw away, I still have too much.  The one good think to come of this so far is we have discovered that AT&T uVerse is light years ahead of Time Warner Cable.  We should have changed years ago.

Back to it.  Have a good day everyone.

S



Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Not good. Here's why....


According to a recent study by two really smart egghead economists, the rich got even richer in the past year.  Their numbers show that the top 10% of Americans took home over 50% of all income in this country, the highest concentration of wealth since 1913.  Breaking it down further, the top 1% brought home 22.5% of all income, the highest since the years right before The Great Depression.  *red flag!*

The top 1% saw their wealth increase by 20% from two years earlier, while the top .001% saw theirs increase 32%.  The authors point out that much of that increase was the result of special tax advantages the rich enjoy.  In contrast, the other 99% saw theirs increase by just 1%.

I'm not making a moral judgement here.  You can make up your own mind on that.  But what I am saying is that when this much wealth is concentrated in the hands of so few, the few cannot come close to spending it fast enough to generate new production, necessitating new hiring.  

A million people with $1 each could buy a million $1 widgets, requiring the widget factory to ramp up to make those one million widgets.  One wealthy person with $1M would have no need for a million widgets.  A hundred, or even a thousand....maybe.  But not a million.  Production at the widget factory would languish, meaning no new hiring.

This principle x cars, houses, washing machines, iPads, ceiling fans, etc, is what drives our economy.

Do you see where this is going?  The struggling 99% will more than likely have to resort to taking on more debt in order to make ends meet, even on an austerity budget.  The debt bubble will grow and grow until it eventually does what all bubbles do.

To make a fortune due to superior intellect or plain old fashioned hard work is good.  To make a fortune simply because the tax code gave you a wink and a nod will ultimately backfire and take us all down.  Again. 

Think.

S