Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Overall economy

I've never claimed to be a whiz at macroeconomics. I try to check out those who do it for a living for a general sense of where the economy is going. From the B3 blog we have Bonddad
The nice thing about his blog is that you don't need a degree to fully understand his articles at least most of the time. Here's a link to some basic charts concerning what's going on at present.

Simple charts



Did I mention he's partial to Weimaraners?

Daddy not around to bail him out?


Mr Decider is now looking for options from anybody to bail out his failed policys. I've got one for you George. Get out of Iraq and lower the price of gas by the $2 billion a month you're wasting there. Then start rebuilding the infrastructure here. That would put a ton of people to work.

Bushwacked

Monday, April 28, 2008

Unemployment

It just puzzles me that the talking heads keep saying how wonderful the stock markets and other investments are going. Everywhere I see people are cutting back on their spending. Not that they really want to but because gas is so high and food prices are following. If anyone were to continue to spend in their customary fashion they would soon notice a very slim bank account at the end of the month.
The employment figures for our state were just posted last week. Usually Wa. is one of the last states to feel the economic punch of a downturn. This one has come very quickly. Employment had held steady up until last month (Mar) that's when unemployment edged upwards by .4%. It doesn't seem like much unless of course you are one of the .4%. I am in that catagory, but having been in this up and down profession for nearly 18 years now, I am patient. Time to look back and reflect on the sheer volume of work I've done over the years. I think if it was placed in a pile it would look like a small mountain with a stream of liquid waste flowing down the sides. The sheer tonnage even boggles my mind.
The bad part of unemployment is what to do after you've remodeled your place, cleaned out all the closets and cleaned and scrubbed the kitchen and bathroom twice a day. There's nothing on the boob tube and I think I've been everywhere on the internet that I'd care to go. One more page of Jane Smith's baby photos and I'll need an erp rag. I can't plant a container garden like I'd planned as they're still painting the building and doing repairs. So here I sit rambling about something everybody already knows. And life goes on.

Saturday, April 26, 2008

Will trade rice for oil



With the increase of the price of rice of late there are actually only three countries that are in trouble in terms of rice production and consumption. They are Bangladesh, Indonesia and the Phillipines. In all other major producing countries production surpasses consumption. So that presents the obvious observation that the rise in prices are due to the increase in oil and the speculators that have been driving up the cost on commodities for the last few months.

Rice

If we could just get these greedy bastards out of the equation then I'm sure there would be more peace in the world.

Friday, April 25, 2008

Beavers gone high tech



brought to you by the Raincoaster blog from one of their friends.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Primary

Here's what we have left of the Democratic primary and my predictions for the results.

North Carolina - Obama
Indiana - Obama
Oregon - Obama
Kentucky - Toss up
West Virginia - Toss up
Montana - Obama
South Dakota - Clinton
Puerto Rico - Obama
Guam - Obama

I could be totally off on this. You never know about surprises with elections. What I do know is that there is no way McCain will be in the white house unless there is cheating like in the last two elections.
Assuming I'm wrong on even half of these primarys Clinton still can't win.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Abramoff just keeps giving


It just keeps going on and on and on you know those convictions of people associated with Jack Abramoff.
The gift that keeps on giving

Earth Day



In honor of earth day I've decided to design a new type of light. Consisting of LEDs I'm hoping to get it to work using only 3.5 watts and put out the light of a 75 watt bulb. I know that there are LEDs out there of similar properties but I hope to do it at a cost of under ten dollars. I think I can accomplish this. We'll see if I can get the right parts for this project.

So don't just sit there reading this get motivated and do something for your Mother (Earth that is). Plant a tree or a garden or a solar farm.

Saturday, April 19, 2008

The Pa debate



This pretty much sums it up - via darkblack

Friday, April 18, 2008

Friday

Credit cards

In watching a Frontline program Secret history of the credit card it smacked me in the face that most people have the use of the cards backwards. They look at credit cards as if they were some source of savings or some secret stash of cash that they can carry around in thier wallets and use at a whim. They pay no attention to the fine print, the terms of the contract or the final interest rate if their credit changes or they miss a payment. I have a degree and I can tell you it's difficult for me to fully understand the legal fine print. But there are three things I look for when getting an offer. One is the teaser rate. How long before that changes from 0 to some astronomical rate? Two what's the grace period? It used to be 30 or 31 days. It's been dropped to 25 then 20 and some cards have no grace period meaning interest is due from the day you get the bill. And three the final interest rate along with any penalties and fees. I've seen those rates as high as 29.9%. with fees of $25.
Okay some basics here. The best way to use a card is to pay it off each month but I realize that you can't always do that. My personnal rule of thumb is to be able to pay it off totally in three months making three equal payments. So even with a 29+ % interest rate you'd only be paying 7.5% for the use of that money. If you make the minimum payments the bill and interest rates will continue for years.
Another thing people don't seem to realize is that if they don't like any changes the card company has made that you can look for a better offer. The best offers I've found have been with credit unions but even there you need to read the basics. I recently dropped a card because they had changed their terms even though I had used the card only a few times and paid it in full each month.
A better way to go as I may have mentioned some time ago is to save 10% of your take home pay. I know that this might seem hard in these economic times but you will always have the bills and if you pay yourself first all else seems to fall into place. Some banks and CUs let you make a loan on savings or cds. I know there are some financial wizards who say this is only borrowing your own money, but look at it this way. You aren't using the money in savings anyway so If you calculate the difference between the loan rate and the interest on savings, you'll get to use money for just a few % and the terms are far better if you get in trouble. An added bonus is that if you can pay the loan back before the term say 10 month instead of 12 you'll be uping your credit score and get even better offers in the future.

I hope this helped sombody. I had to learn the hard way.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Hillary and elitists

What Hillary really thinks of the working class.

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2008/04/16/hillary-clinton-on-workin_n_97017.html

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Why the recession will continue for some time



via Bondad
I was looking for this chart to show what's going on right now and what will happen in the next few years. Take a look and hey, don't shoot me this was put together by people with far more know how than me.

(Having tech problems with getting a larger image of this) go to Bondad for a better view and some other great articles.

Now I know why truckers are screaming


With the proposal to temporarily cut the federal gas tax in an effort to cut transportation costs I came upon this bit of info about state gas taxes:
Gas Tax
Check out Pennsylvania's convoluted tax structure and you'll know why the truckers in Pa. are yelling the loudest. And this is the state known as the "pot hole capitol of the world". Their roads should be made of gold with those taxes.

Food for thought

I was hoping to start a container garden this year one that I could care for on my back deck but it seems that our northwest weather has other plans. I looked out the window just a moment ago and it's snowing in mid April no less!

Monday, April 14, 2008

Food fight

No not the one in Animal House, the one that's likely to start from massive rise in food prices world wide. Some would have you believe that the cause or causes of this is due to a shift to corn production. Others point out that the rise in energy prices has prices climbing 120%. The real cause has nothing to due with production shortages or shifts in crops but with speculators who see that we all must eat and therefore are putting all their eggs (pardon the pun) in one basket. As I see it this situation is going to continue for some time as the subprime mess works it's way through the system on a global scale. Look at the commodity prices for food and energy and you will see where investment dollars are going.

Food wars?

Friday, April 11, 2008

A dedicated beaver



I thought I'd dedicate this beaver to the wonderful folks up there in Canada. Just for the hell of it. Who knows the way things are going down here we Americans might be the ones heading north.

In the not to distant future...

A text message or automated cell phone alert tells you to take your radiation pills that a radiation emergency is eminant.

Strange but true research

Hopefully this medication will be used in cancer treatments and not be used as stated above.

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Food colouring

Interesting to see how the EU handles a problem of food colouring causing hyperactivity in children. Their food producers are required to label products with the actual colourings used. I'm no purest but if you are allergic to one of these it's nice to know if they are used in what you're eating.

Food for thought

Another issue I have with the present field of thought is that kids, and the rest of us for that matter, are obese because we consume about 500 calories per day over our needs and we don't exersize. While doing a little siteseeing of some old neighborhoods via Google's street view I found that most (make that all) of the old school yards where I once played have now been turned into parking lots for the teachers. I vagely remember having recess twice per day and gym class at least twice per week. When we came home from school it was the routine of changing clothes and shoes to go out and play football, baseball, basketball, or some other running game. You don't see that any more. You might see a few guys on skateboards but that's as close to physical activity that I've seen in the last ten years. This is sad.

Let's bail out everybody

Except the homeowner who's going to lose his home.

Isn't this like:

Rewarding the criminal

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

Breaker Breaker good buddys

There is now a scheduled fuel strike for the truckers out there jammin gears and watchin their wallets get emptied at the fill up stop. From Sonny on the Trucker to Trucker web site:
RANDOM STATE FUEL BOYCOTT!!! The time is NOW!!! The random state fuel boycott HAS begun. Four states each week. For five weeks,.... 20 states total. Starting Sunday through Saturday Midnight each week, do not buy fuel in the listed states: April 6-12 IL, NJ, NM, UT April 13-19 IN, NY, MS, NC April 20-26 PA, VA, AR, GA April 27- May 3 OH, SC, FL, IA May 4-10 CT, AL, OR, CO You CAN make a difference!!! Economics WILL get their attention. If ONLY 100 trucks a day participated,... that’s 700 trucks a week at about 1000.00 (to fill up), that’s a little less than 3/4’s of a million dollars. That’s not counting sales beside those at the pump. Now take a guess how many trucks cross any given state per day, and if only a small percentage takes part, still a pretty LOUD statement!!! This is NOT to target any particular area, fuel chain, or specific truck stop. We still live in a country of CHOICES, FREEDOMS, and CHANCES!! PLEASE......PASS THE WORD!!! TALK IT UP ON THE CB!!! THANK YOU AND BE SAFE JUST ANOTHER DRIVER GOING THE EXTRA MILE SPREADING THE WORD
Posted by sonny on April 8, 2008 at 2:50 PM

Karma

Sometime in the late 80's early 90's I was just beginning my wonderful journey into the field of hazardous waste. Like most contractual jobs work wasn't always consistant. I recall one time I got behind on the mortgage payments. Not super late but late enough to have the bank call wondering when I was going to make the payment. I was going to get paid in a few days because I had a check coming on Friday so I told them they'd have it on Monday for sure. Friday came and accounting had messed up my pay and there was no check. I called and tried to explain what had happened. The guy on the other end of the line started in with a rant about forclosure and how I should get another job if I wasn't making it. I just thought to myself "wait till the shoe is on the other foot". Well today I got my wish. I know right now that that guy does not have a job and I hope he was now high up in their home loan department.

Paybacks

Sunday, April 6, 2008

Truckers Strike round 2



May 1 is being bandied about for the next truckers' strike. I support their cause for several reasons. We get all of our products delivered by truck and with their fuel prices now over $4 a gallon they're working for nearly nothing. The government is worried about people loosing their homes and forclosures and the like, our leaders need to take a look at the trucker situation. I'm not a trucker but let's look at their situation. The cost of those rigs is not cheap. Correct me if I'm wrong. I'd say $100K for the tractor maybe less if you got it used. Plus the cost of the trailer $20K or better I'd guess. So there they are with truck payments each month plus if they have a home with a wife and kids then they have a mortgage. Unless they live in the middle of nowhere the mortgage would be better than $200K. So you're looking at a couple of thousand a month plus fuel plus maintenance and insurance. So what do you get for all the trouble? And from what I've heard the only ones getting by are the truckers who fudge their log books to make ends meet. That's not a good situation having drivers run 12 to 15 hour days just to survive.
So you guys pick the day and I'll park my car and not spend the money on a bunch of stuff I don't need anyway as my support for your cause. This needs to get out there real soon. Can we call it Shut It Down II? I've got a website already set up. Just have to make a few changes. Just say the word.

Update: A refinery in Europe has just gone out. This is one that produces diesel. The story via NYTimes:
Refinery down


And more info and opinions from a truckers blog
New Truckers Strike

Saturday, April 5, 2008

Airlines in trouble



This week three airlines are no longer with us. It will be interesting to see what other airlines bit the dust as our economic problems continue. Remember this is just the beginning. Fuel prices are expected to go up even more by summer.

Olympic games



This is a rather difficult situation. Yes we support the athletes that are going to the games but not the country playing games with people's human rights. Maybe it's time for a boycott of products from China. Let's see how that plays to their political ideology. I was going to list the sponsors to the games but I think that would be unfair. The sponsors are there to back the athletes.

Friday, April 4, 2008

Springtime beaver

Recession or Depression?

I said before after looking over my March bank statements that it was not a good month. I'm holding my own for the moment but I don't know how long that will continue if things don't start to turn around. My jobs are definitely tied to what happens in the real estate market and what companies spend for remodels and the like. It would be nice to get an O+M job (operations and maintenance) for some large company but those are few and far between. Gee and I thought this was an election year. I guess Shrub wants McLame to loose so he can blame the Democrats for our economic mess.

The R word

Let me see. With auto sales going down and Delphi (auto parts maker) bankrupt that's going to put a big ugly in Detroit a city already hit by the mortgage melt down. That will have a ripple efect in that part of the country as well as other areas. Then with the airlines having problems (they're just trying to cut corners to save money) will cut back even more. This was comming for a couple of years. They outsourced the baggage people and cut back on maintenance about two years ago. I'd say good luck trying to get to an unpopular or should I say unprofitable destination. Then of course there's banking. I think you'll see less branches of your local banks fairly soon (more cost cutting). And it goes on and on and on. This is nothing new to me. I've been through this three or four times. It's not pretty especially since all of the safety nets are gone.

Oh, by the way, don't bother to try and send a donation. I'm not down to eating my shoes just yet. I'm just saying this sure is depressing.

Thursday, April 3, 2008

Why the Iraq war has gone on as long as it has.


The Sapranos have taken over our government.

Money

Think of the Pink Floyd song when you read this.

Wednesday, April 2, 2008

Paper Plastic or neither?


photo via cracblur

The brilliant leaders in Seattle are going to pass legislation to ban such things as plastic food trays, egg cartons meat trays and the like in restaurants and stores within the next year. They are also proposing a .20 cent fee on all plastic and paper bags at stores. I'm all for recycling. I got it going at my place before it was popular, but to use punishment in the form of a tax seems a bit drastic. Seeing as how we already pay for the bags now and their disposal (stores don't just give them away and we all pay a garbage bill), I don't think much of this legislation. A better way might be a refundable deposit on the bags. The problem there is that bags rip rendering them unusable. It would be great if we all had those canvas bags but then again who remembers to bring them along to the next shopping trip? The delema.

Paper or plastic?
(read the comments section of this article)

Recession?

Is the economy in recession?

In a recession 62% 25173
Close to being in a recession 29% 11753
Doing fine 9% 3545
Total Votes: 40471

Poll via CNN

(The 9% must be oil company execs)

Former Clinton campaign worker has her credit card used without permission

Here you are working for a campaign. You give a donation to the campaign. Members of the finance committee keep using your card like it was their own.

Credit card fraud?

Tuesday, April 1, 2008