Wednesday, December 31, 2008

What a year

How to avoid fish breath. Don't forget to brush. You know what a dentist costs right now!

This is definitely one year I'd like to forget. I will say that I was smart enought to see the economic storm coming in late 07 and prepared accordingly paying off loans and the mortgage by September of last year. And while all the speculators were all smug trying to renovate and flip more houses, I was busy stashing cash. So I should be good for at least food, electricity and the like for a couple of months and hopfully until things turn around later in 09. But let me give you a little advice. Even when things turn around next summer it won't be a time to go out and splurge. If you're smart you will take that opportunity to get out from under the debt you racked up over the last few years and start saving for the next shoe to drop. Trust me I can see it coming. End of 09 will be bad as will part of 10.

What am I seeing right now? With jobs evaporating and those with jobs getting their hours cut back. I'm seeing kids move back home and people doubling up on their living arangements to help pay the rent/mortgage. A check of neighbors and I find that a lot of them are working only one or two days a week if at all. And this is only the start as I see it. I was at the unemployment office to listen to the rah rah speech by sombody who should have retired years ago. Gee can I have her job? She's been out of it for so long the movie Clueless comes to mind. There were the waves of unemployed that went through her office. First the real estate people then the mortgage bankers and brokers, construction workers were then followed by banking people. I'd expect aerospace to be coming sometime next year as airlines start cutting orders.

Here's a good one. Local city and county governments are having to borrow money from the Feds so that they can pay to demolish abandoned homes. That image from the Grapes of Wrath comes to mind. You know the one. The guy desperate for work gets hired by the bank to bulldoze houses.

I hear billionares are now becoming millionares. All I can say is AHHHHHH poor babys. Now they'll have to drink the domestic wine instead of imported.
I'm starting to get the real feel for where the economy is going just by listening to the financial gurus on the financial networks. Listen to what they say and expect just the reverse. They've taken their lead from our Chimp in Chief and you know that reality is just the reverse of what he says. They're touting stocks for the new year so you know that is not the place to put spare cash or retirement.

So I'd like to say Happy New Year to all but that would be a lie. It's not going to be a happy anything and worse is coming.

Sunday, December 28, 2008

Laura needs her meds changed

Pickles thinks boy George has done a great job as president? Bill Engval has a sign for you Laura and it's spelled S-T-U-P-I-D.

Laura Bush actually thinks George has done a great job

Where to begin? Two never ending wars one based on lies. A stolen election hence you don't represent us. The robbing of the American treasury along with ignored constitution and making up your own rules. Get a clue woman! The entire world hates you and your husband. Herbert Hoover is starting to look like a saint compared to you two. The idiot king, Mr. Decider has packed the U.S. government with a bunch of idiot cronies who couldn't manage their way out of a closet without help.

So let's look at the facts Ms first lady:
1. Went to war on lies. (No WMDs)
2. More than 1/2 million Iraqis dead mainly women and children
3. A shreded U.S. constitution. (Pick an ammendment he's broken them all.)
4. Torture. (There's a real family value)
5. Katrina "response?" ( How many dead?)
6. Unregulated free markets work?
7. The economy is strong? (Worst since 1929)
8. Outed a CIA operative (isn't that treason?)
9. Middle East peace? (My ass)
10. The robbing of the U.S. Treasury (Bail out for Wall Street with no strings attached)
11. No bid contracts to Haliburton ( nothing like lining your friends pockets with our money)
12. Even your friends are criminals (Ken Lay, Bernie Madoff)
13. 9-11 Let's not forget that image of Chimpy reading My pet goat and continue reading while the twin towers were falling.

And even in the last days of this misadministration Boy George continues to screw things up. Cutting environmental laws so his corporate buddies can make even more money while poisoning children. If the historians write anything good about George W. then they must have been on some very powerful drugs because I can not find one single thing he has done that could even be considered positive for this nation. I hate him from the very depths of my soul and will do everything I can to make sure his rotten legacy is remembered for what it really was, the worst president in U.S. history.

Saturday, December 27, 2008

Too much junk

Christmas came and went. With the usual stress and arguments this year was a bit different. With the relentless snow here I wasn't able to get out and face the usual greedy inconsiderate crowds that grace our mall parking lots. So buddy you can have that cherished spot near the front door with your brood of snotty nosed kids whining in the back seat as you try and manouver that tank of an SUV into a spot marked compact. Yeah you finally got it in there with your ass end sticking out blocking the drive, but what do you care?

Then there's the wonderful stuff (crap) all adorned with shiney red ribbons and the giant green and red christmas tree ornaments hung from the ceiling. Not to forget those blue and white snowflakes. If one of those hit you in the head they wouldn't have enough sutures for that injury. But back to the crap. Those wonderful must have items for just $19.99 marked down 50% that you know you still have somewhere collecting dust in the back storage. Or did you sell it at the garage sale last summer for a buck and a half? What home would be without at least one Chia pet or Clapper? Don't we have what's left of one sitting on the back deck growing moss and wasn't the Clapper taking up space in a kitchen drawer?

I think the main reason this christmas was such a downer is because between job loss and debt people have come to realize that we've hit the wall of material things. What home now doesn't have at least two TVs and a half dozen radios? Have you been in your back storage lately? I'll bet you have stuff there you forgot you had. Things you haven't seen since you moved into the place because you had no other place to put it. Yeah "I'll get to that later" or "I was saving that". I seriously believe that we have enought crap stored away that we could start another country and still have enought to fill a few wharehouses. We seem to be following in the footsteps of Japan who until recently was turning over their home appliances every two years. The recycled was headed to Russia to be sold to their growing economy. So here we sit on a very large pile of stuff.

I think I did pretty good this year. I didn't send out cards, only a few emails to relatives. Didn't bother to wrap presents except one that I used a couple of store bags and a recyled bow. I did need batteries for my remote because the ones I put in last year finally gave out. With not much to give as gifts I remembered that I had left a present in storage a while back and brought it out. That was my christmas.
So I guess the retailers would like to boil me in christmas pudding and drive a stake of holly through my heart for my christmas spirit this year, but I really don't care. Maybe it's time to get just a little more Scroogy (you know, before he saw the three ghosts) because we've reached the other extreme in our holiday traditions.

So let us start a new year with less stuff. It doesn't make us better. It doesn't really improve our lives and we really don't need it. Ah, I hear we can get rid of electronics and the like for free here this year. Time to clean out that storage next week.

A Happy Less Crappy New Year to all.

Friday, December 26, 2008

Coal Ash

Kingston Fossil Plant ash spill

Bottom map is of the extent of the Exxon Valez oil spill

The truth about the ash spill is finally coming out. The estimated size of the release now double the original estimate is probably even larger than reported. A few issues to consider in all of this. First off this is not a reportable spill because the ash waste was not classified as toxic. It is considered general waste even though it contains levels of arsenic, lead and other nasty stuff. According to the TVA there is no need for alarm because they have tested the water at the release site and it tests below EPA standards. Gee can we bottle this stuff and send it to Bush and company for their daily supply. Remember our Shrub in chief just a few weeks ago eased the drinking water standards for levels of toxic substances. I'm sure the EPA will be sure to enforce these standards unlike the other environmental laws that they have ignored during the Bush misadministration. I feel very sorry for the children that live in that area because the standards for lead exposures were very low and scientists world wide wanted to lower the levels even more. Lead even at very low levels cause developmental disorders, central nervous system damage and learning disabilities. This was the reason they took lead out of gasoline. We were quite simply poisoning our kids along with ourselves.

This spill is considered to be 40 times larger than the Exxon Valdez spill of twenty years ago and no, that issue is still not cleaned up even though Exxon slithered out from under the law suit with nothing more than a minor fine. There have been reports that the current spill will be cleaned up in a few months. Don't believe it. Heavy metals being heavy sink in any body of water therefore the river will be contaminated for quite some time. To try and dredge the river will only stir things up and make it worse. The other issue here is that since this is classified as general waste it won't be treated in the same manner as toxic waste. Had it been a listed hazardous waste then one foot of soil would be removed from the spill area and a foot of fresh soil would have replaced it.

Clean coal? No such animal. So what should be done? For starters classify all coal ash as a dangerous waste. Establish dryer units and process the waste into concrete on site to eliminate the need for large holding areas. We'll need a bunch of concrete when we start rebuilding the roads and bridges in this country when Barrack takes charge. We could use some of that concrete to line old mines to store toxic wastes and keep it out of the water supply.

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

A 7-11 Christmas

I know I posted this before so consider this a rerun. They sure are running a lot of them on TV these days. I thought I'd add this to my Christmas email because I'm not sending out cards. It's been so crappy here I haven't been out for nearly two weeks other than a walk to the nearest 7-11 for coffee. I cleaned off part of the drive. It was an inch of ice and three to four inches of compact snow and now I here we're going to get another 2" to 6" more. For joy for joy. The roads are mush on top of ice and non of the parking lots are were plowed or shoveled. Tried to go to the bank down the road yesterday only to find that they all went home early and it was closed. So if we get more than an inch or two it looks like I'll be doing the Xmas shopping at the 7-11. I wonder if they sell turkeys?

Monday, December 22, 2008

This isn't good news

Even after having their mortgages refied many are going into default again.

Just as you are about to climb out of the hole...

I'm just hoping we'll see a turn around in May or June of 09 but it won't be long lived as there's a lot of Alt A and option mortgages that will hit in late 09 and 10.

Saturday, December 20, 2008

There's work ahead

Scanning the news when I came across the following file about how much work is ready to go. All it needs is the financing from our federal government to get it going. As I read this it occurred to me how much money Shrub and the chickenhawks have wasted on the "war" in Iraq. While the rebuilding of our infrastructure will cost $73 billion for starters, the warmongers will have spent nearly $2 trillion. Imagine what we could have done with that amount of money rather than piss it away in a country that had nothing to do with 911.

There'll be work

In other news the temp is 14 here and it looks like nothing's moving outside. Just sitting around waiting for the next storm late this afternoon.

Update: It started snowing about 4pm and hasn't let up. We've had about 3 more inches and may get another 3 by morning at this rate. I don't think anyone will be going to work at this rate because none of the side roads are plowed and the main roads aren't looking to well either. Geez and there's another storm coming after this one. More tomorrow.

Friday, December 19, 2008


We didn't get much snow by most northern city standards but it just snowed all day yesterday making it nearly impossible to get ahead of plowing roads. To add insult to injury it hit the Seattle area just before morning rush hour. So I sat watching the ongoing bumper car demolition derby on TV. One road was so bad that everybody just left their cars and walked which of course added to the trouble (you can't plow with cars blocking the way). So it was a fun morning and afternoon. I went out for a while and shoveled the walkway and thought I had done a good job (Hey wasn't that the reason I moved here? You shouldn't have to shovel rain). Used to be in the old days it would snow for a day and a day or two later it would change to rain and be gone. Not this time around. Oddly enough this is part of global warming but that is best left to another post to explain.

All was going well for a snowy winter day now a winter night. Was getting all settled in my comfy chair to watch the Grinch when the power goes out. Okay where's the flashlights? Where's the crank radio and where's that number to the power company. A call to our local public utility reveals an automated message. There's spot power outages all over the county. So we sit and watch the main road. Within twenty minutes I spot the boom truck checking poles with his spot light. These guys here are great. Over the next hour or so I watch one truck then three then four trucks going up and down the road. When it takes that long it's usually a blown transformer and that will take some time. I knew it was time to close the shades and hit the sheets because it would be some time before this would be fixed. About five hours later I heard that wonderful thump and peered over to see the flashing 12:00 on the nightstand clock. I must give kudos to the guys on the powerlines. Would you go out in the middle of the night to freeze your butt off and one mistake and you get a new flaming hairdoo?

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Christmas present

I haven't been out to do any shopping yet. Might go this coming weekend but depending on the weather that might get put on hold. Really don't care this year as I don't need any more junk to clutter up the house. But it got me to thinking about Christmas of the past when it really mattered. Just thinking about what was the bestest present ever (that's how kids think you know). I can't remember the exact year or how old I was at the time but I remember this being parked by the tree with a bow and my name on it.

Now getting this for Christmas to a kid is like your first car as a late teen or early 20s. It ment freedom. Like a horse to a cowboy or a plane to a pilot it ment I could go almost anywhere and I did. I remember this bike well because I wasn't big enough to ride it . I had to grow into it. Think it was something like a 26 inch and my feet wouldn't reach the peddles but I didn't care. It was mine and it ment freedom. Just about every day and definitely on weekends I'd go crusin the neighborhoods or on long trips to the outer reaches of our town. With no gears and coaster brakes it was hell to peddle up hills but that was to be expected. I even rode it to school.

So all of this got me to wondering what was your favorite present?

Monday, December 15, 2008

Random news

A GOP jet fighter was seen over Wasilla just moments before Sarah Palin's church caught fire. The whereabouts of John McCain could not be determined over the last week and he has only said in a recent comment that he would not support Palin in her presidential run.

The egg on face award
goes to Felix Batista an American kidnapping expert who while in Mexico to give talks on kidnap prevention was himself kidnapped.

Bernie Madoff has made off with a large amount of money $50 billion from investors in a very large Ponzi scheme. Hmm does Ken Lay ring in your mind? You remember Enron. Madoff looks like Lay on steroids. Was the fox guarding the hen house on this one or is this just the good ole boy network?

How about a Bill Engval "sign" for this guy
An Anacortes auto dealer has hired back one of two employees who was convicted of embezzling $1.2 million from the dealership.

The owner of Frontier Ford, Ron Rennebohm, says Kevin Dean was good at his job as general manager and rehiring him is just a business decision.

The owner says the dealership has changed accounting practices since 2002 when Dean and the comptroller were accused of stealing from the company over a period of six years.

Ah Ron can I have you go and clean out the lions cage? They haven't biten anyone this week, honest.

More items later when I get the chance

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Maybe we could sign this guy for the Mariners

Muntadar al-Zeidi's misses Bush but his aim is getting better. The reporter threw two shoes at Bush a sign of great disrespect in Iraq. Nice job Bushy boy. You have to sneak into the country unannounced and slither over to the Green Zone. You call that victory? So much for changing your legacy.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Trying to get your head around the numbers

Just sitting here trying to figure out what to do with the rest of my life. If I stay in Haz Mat work I'll have to wait for at least another six months before anything brakes. I haven't seen any great educational opportunities that would lead to something good. The next big thing will be green renewable energy but there's no specifics being released at the present.

The current population of the U.S. is 305 million people. Of that number 153.1 million make up the work force. Of that number over 10.3 million are out of work. While doing a little research for my last post I looked up plant closures to have a look into the future. It doesn't look good in the short run. Here's a list of some of the layoffs. I'll try to list as many "chunks" of the situation below.

Number Type work State
40 electronics plant Pa.
275 Syracuse China N.Y.
390 electric motors MO
240 printing plant Al
300 steel plant Ill
800 poultry plant Ar
300 Cintas Ky
200+ KraftMaid Ut
600 Renfro SC

This is just the tip of the iceberg. There are hundreds of small companies that are laying off 50 60 and 75 workers while other companies are closing for a week or two to save costs. Some of these companies will come back while others will never open again. Then there's the auto industry where some 13 million jobs are on the line. That's including the auto workers and all the parts and manufacturing companies tied with the big three. All that can be done at the moment is a short bridge loan to keep the companies afloat until Obama can bail out the rest of this country. And whatever sacrafices the workers make should be applied to the congress. We sign their pay checks why should they get out of this scott free? We've lost 4.7% of our income (buying power/equity) over the last year alone. Why should they be any different?

Update after watching the senate hearing:
I find it interesting that congress wouldn't put any restrictions on the money given to the banks and investment firms but they'll put massive limitations and concessions on auto workers. This is runs counter to what's needed and blaming line workers for having a decent wage and benefits while executives make thousands of times what an hourly worker makes is just absurd. So if you have a white collar you get a blank check but if you have a blue collar it's a different story.

Monday, December 8, 2008

Nothing like getting Scrooged before Christmas

I can understand that when economic times change that people get laid off but It's also my understanding that when you have a contract that the contract needs to be honored. Republic Window and Door was trying to do the right thing and notify and pay its workers 60 days before closing but Bank of America had other ideas. Bank of America rejected all of the company's plans to close the plant in accordance to Federal law. A timeline from Marketwatch:

10/16/08 a- Republic presents plan for "orderly" wind down including ceasing
manufacturing in January 2009. INFORMS BANK OF AMERICA OF POSSIBLE
10/15/08 a- Informed Bank of America that Republic had a 10/24/08R buyer for
the existing Note for ±$3.0M, discount of $1.5M.
10/15/08 a- Offer rejected by Bank of America stating they believed they were
"over" collateralized.
10/15/08 a- Bank of America demands plans for "orderly" wind down Republic.
10/18/08 a- Bank of America rejects plan and demands a shorter wind down
10/27/08 a- Republic responds with a new plan to cease operations January 2009.
10/29/08 a- Bank of America rejects plan.
11/25/08 a- Republic requests permission from Bank of America to issue
vacation pay to all employees.
11/26/08 a- Bank rejects Company request to make vacation pay.

It's interesting to note that nearly all of the the companies that are closing in the next few months are following the law. Notifying workers with 60 day notice and honoring their obligations. That's another issue. In searching for info on this post I was noticing the upcoming layoffs. I'd hold off on spending a lot this Christmas. Not to be a Scrooge but there's a bunch of companies that will close in January and February having given their 60 day notice and that's just the ones required. In looking at the closures 300 400 500 and 800 layoffs are what I saw. What surprised me was several food processing plants due to close. That will mean an increase in food prices.

Sunday, December 7, 2008

Jobs Jobs Jobs and no jobs

So I was watching the news the other night and some big wig from the state Dept. of Unemployment was on saying that there are jobs to be had. So I took her advice and poped over to the web site to see if indeed there were any jobs. I typed in my info - classification, area of interest and location (in my case I'll take anything within 50 miles of here). I hit the search button and up poped 3 jobs. The only problem? Two of the jobs had been listed there for over a year and a half and the third was for something not even in the same field (plumber). One job had been filled earlier this year because I talked to the guy who got it at a recertification class. The only other job was for a temporary on call person at a local university. This at a time when they are going to slash state spending on higher education to make up a $6 billion shortfall.

I must say they sure haven't made it easy at the Unemployment office ( I refuse to use their term for it the Department of Employment Security ). There was a time when you could go there and look through job listing that employers had posted and at least get a feel for what was happening in the job market. Oh no, those wonderful republicans went and had the department privatized. Outsourced to some company of people who were probably out of work themselves and found the ultimate golden recession proof cow tit to suck.
It used to be that if you were out of work you could go there and find a direction if the particular industry was tanking. That's how I got into Haz Mat work in the first place. It was the dislocated worker program for out of work loggers and aerospace workers (I was neither but figured why not). It was simple back then. You found what they were looking for they gave you a list of trainers and you went and got trainning. Now there's no clue as to what the needs are and you have to hope that the training is state approved because they won't tell you up front.

Maybe I should just get a job handing out pink slips. Here you go everybody. Merry Christmas and by the way YOU"RE FIRED!

Saturday, December 6, 2008

The Friday beaver's back

Back by popular demand. Check out this tail

Friday, December 5, 2008

Job cuts 533K

This is a bit of a shock. I was watching the financial news last night. They had been predicting between 350 and 500K loss. And this is still only the beginning. There are a lot of companies who have scheduled lay offs for 09. Let me see if I have this correct. Construction was first to collapse. That started last December. Mortgage banking followed (in terms of jobs loss although they are tied to construction so about the same time). The financial sector came next. I think they are still bleeding jobs and will continue into next year. The Auto industry is very close to being a thing of the past. Pharmaceuticals and health care are scheduled to cut jobs in 09. With no or lowered demand I'm certain the airlines will be cutting back which of course will hit the airplane builders. And not to forget the farmers who got decked first with high fuel, feed and fertilizer costs then with lower prices for their crops when they went to sell. Did I forget anybody?

Thursday, December 4, 2008

I've been tagged

I'd first like to say that this will be the last tag / meme or whatever you'd call it because I generally hate answering lists of questions. There that's #1
2. I hate cell phones. I don't own one and don't plan on buying one. I'm either at home at work or at the store. It's fairly easy to get ahold of me when I'm home which these days is most of the time.
3. I have a degree in writing but never could spell very well even with several large dictionaries. Otherwise I would have had a 4.0 average.
4. I was once a photographer and traveled all over the country. I'd still be doing that had it not been for the coming of age of digital photography and a decrease in vision. Studio cameras don't have auto focus.
5. I'm basically a night person but lately I've been getting some inspiration on waking.
6. I've come to like cats more than dogs. Cats usually keep quiet and don't bother you.
7. As I said in # 1 this will be the last meme I'll do. I prefer to remain a bit of an enigma.

No I won't tag anybody else because I consider this experience to be equal to a chain letter.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Me Me Me Me Me and the hell with you

Bill O'Reilley has tried to fire up the remaining wingnuts because our state governor has permitted one group to put up a sign expressing their views on the season. There's also a manger displayed at the capitol. Now before everybody gets their panties in a bunch our state allows any group to put up any display they like as long as they apply for a permit. It's all a matter of free speech. It's to permit everyone to have a voice not just a select few. We need to stop and consider that this country is made up of many religions and atheists and agnostics. Our laws were made to cover all people.


Now a little background about Christmas. Christmas is suposed to be the celibration of the birth of Christ on December 25th. Only one problem, Jesus wasn't born in winter. He was born in spring. As noted in the following "The shepards watched over thier flocks by night". Shepards don't let their flocks graze in the fields during the winter they keep them housed or pened.

So whether you celebrate Christmas, Chanacha, Kawanza, Winter Solstice or not at all that is your right. It's suposed to be a free country let's keep it that way. So don't piss on the other guys parade it's the Christian thing to do you know.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

My first christmas tree

It was a long time ago. I think it was 81 with that recession well under way. I had been laid off and jobs to be found were very few, not even a help wanted sign at the local 7-11 or McDonalds. I had just bought my place a year earlier when mortgage rates were obscene but that's another story. With not much money and doing the food bank route I hatched a plan to have a christmas tree.
I knew the stores would close on Christmas eve around eight. I can't remember if we were at K-mart at the time or not. This was long before Wal-Mart had moved into the state and the 99 cent stores weren't around either. We fiddled around until after 8:00 then went cruising for a tree lot. I went about a half mile down the road spotted a sign Christmas Trees in big red letters. Perfect I thought, but even better the lot was totally dark with nobody around. Now before you think this was some great tree robbery this was an empty lot with about three leftover trees laying on the ground that nobody wanted. We found one 3 1/2 foot tree that was in nice shape tied it to the roof and off we went. Made home type decorations of paper cutouts and any odds and ends from the junk drawer. It was a fine Christmas that year.