Saturday, January 31, 2009

What a mess

As I peruse the news all I can say if it wasn't for bad news there wouldn't be any news at all. This post is for all of those readers in other parts of the country that might wonder how things are fairing out here in the Northwest. I sit here reading the news and can only comment that it's like watching a slowmotion train wreck. Every day it's been more layoffs and more businesses closing. Gang violence is on the rise. In addition there's a rise in robberies, murder and suicides. The school board in Seattle is having to close 5 schools to make up a budget shortfall and I'll bet more will follow. There's even talk of going to a 4 day school week to save money. A lot of businesses have done that already if they're still in business. Hours have been cut back and nobody dare take a vacation or sick day lest they fear being replaced when they get back or worse have their job eliminated all together.

Is there any good news out there? Not much from what I can see. The shipyard in Bremerton was hiring a few hundred to help repair military ships that have seen rough service in the last few years but, for a few hundred jobs some 5000 people showed up to apply. The border patrol was hiring if you want to live in some far away place on the Canadian or Mexican borders looking out for drug dealers or foreigners. I wonder now if they are coming or leaving.

Now I hear that both of our Seattle newspapers may go the way of the buggy whip. That is a mixed blessing. I haven't read any well written articles in either paper since before the last strike. I guess the editors thought it would be cheaper just to pull stories from the AP. You know much like TV did with reality shows after the writers strike there. I guess if you don't have to write it you don't need to pay much for it. That gives me an idea or two.

So tell me. What's going on in your part of the country? You can share your horror stories here or at your own site. Just leave a link in the comments so we know where to find you if you haven't been here before.

Republicans at it again

When I read the title of this article I thought good now we can start to get this country going again. Silly rabbit I should have known better. Buried in the meat of the article is the attitude these republicans take when it comes to spending on anyone but their friends or their pet projects. The headline reads:
GOP governors press congress to pass stimilus bill

Keep it us guys and come 2010 and beyond there won't be a republican party. When the voters in your state keep loosing their jobs you really think they are going to vote for you? And as I've said before TAX CUTS DO NOT CREATE JOBS!

Friday, January 30, 2009

Obama signs pro union exec orders

Now I can just see Rush and the other rethugs wringing their hands and gnashing their teeth as Obama quietly puts the country back together.
Undoing the Bush nightmare

Note to republicans: If you don't want to end up like the Whig or Bull Moose party (remember them? I thought not ) Then you'd better get off your butts and start working for the people and I don't mean George's old base the haves and the have mores.

(ironic how that was the only good photo I could find of someone sticking their tongue out with contempt)

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Can't get TV after Feb? Too bad!

Once again the republicans are shitting on the little guy. This time if you have rabbit ears or roof top antenna forget about getting a TV signal. Need a set top box but can't afford it? Then screw you there's no more government discount tickets. So if you can't get reception when they change the signal to digital in Feb. blame the rethuglicans because they were the ones who don't give a squat about you. They only care about their corporate buddys. Maybe it is time to scrub and rinse DC of these dinasaurs and bring about a new party. These guys are like that whiney brat you'd like to bitch slap because everything you do they find fault with. If these guys keep it up I'll consider pulling my money out of the bank and cashing in my retirement fund. That's the only thing these guys seem to understand. They'd sell their dying grandmother for a couple of green backs and try and leverage that into some worthless paper. They sure can bail their buddys out in short order but when it comes to the rest of us we'll be eating shoe leather before they get around to passing a bill for the rest of us. So screw them. May they gag on their pate and Dom and I hope the same labs that tested the peanut butter tested their high class goodies.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Layoffs ending tragically

We're starting to see the beginnings of the real effects of a down economy. A couple and family has been eliminated from the face of the earth because they couldn't face the situation of being terminated. I guess I'm lucky in that I've almost always done contract type work so it's been up and down for the last thirty years so I'm used to being without work at times but the present situation has topped all other recessions. The usual industries not affected like plumbing, automotive, and medical are being affected. I can imagine the couple who became educated in their chosen field were able to get good jobs a nice house and a large family. They were expecting to hang in there during these down times by being tied to the medical field. That wasn't to be.
A family gone

Monday, January 26, 2009

The firings will continue until the economy improves

The Bush train wreck continues. Here's a quick look at the latest (layoffs that is):

Caterpillar 20,000
Home Depot 7000
Nextel 8000
GM 2000
Boeing 4500
Starbucks 1000
Microsoft 1400
Sun 6000
Pfizer 8000
ING 7000
Philips Elec. 6000
Alcoa 13,500
Circuit City 7300
AT&T 12,000

I'm batting 1000

Went to Lost in the Bozone the other day and was inspired at his cooking adventure. Now I'm the type who can cook most things. I once worked in a restaurant in my post college days for a short time and was taught some fairly complicated dishes. No I wasn't the chef but I am a quick learn when I see something prepared. So I thought I'd give a Polish dish a try. Savory sausage was the attempted dish. Oh how quickly I'd forgotten some of the basics. Against my better judgment I followed the directions to the letter. Big mistake. The reciepe:

2 tablespoons butter or margarine
1 medium onion, chopped
1/4 cup chopped green pepper
1 large apple, peeled, cored, and chopped
2 tablespoons brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon caraway seed
3 red potatoes, cleaned and diced
1 1/2 cups sauerkraut, drained, rinsed, & packed
1-2 lb smoked sausage or kielbasa, cut in 3 inch pieces
1Melt butter in skillet.
2Add onion and green pepper.
3Cook until tender.
4Add apple, brown sugar, caraway seeds, potatoes, and sauerkraut.
5Mix well.
6Place sausage on top of sauerkraut mixture.
8Cook over medium-low heat for 40 minutes.

Can you find the mistake in this wonderful dish? No? Well if you note that the sauerkraut is drained and rinsed in addition to adding brown sugar you will get something with almost no liquid that after 40 minutes will burn on the bottom and I mean charred black.

I did manage to save the sausage so I'll try again tomorrow.

So if it wasn't for bad luck I'd have no luck at all.

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Can't find the words

What is it? Fate? Karma? Are the moons not in the right phase or is their alignment with some planet tied to war?

Just got a call today that a relative has died. Now I take death with a bit of stoic attitude but this is getting beyond depressing. In the last ten years it seems that a relative or friend or coworker has died. Without fail the grim reaper has graced someone I have known on a yearly basis. I realize that we all grow old and our time on this earth is limited but these people ranged in age from 43 to 85. The really hard part is having spoken to some of them just a few weeks prior. Is there some strange cosmic void that we slip into from time to time where nothing seems to go right while another proves to be a place where all goes right no matter what happens. When waves of bad things happen and your are powerless to do anything about it you have no choice but to go with the flow and hope that their duration is short. And fortunately bad things don't last forever.

To better times

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Housing bubble

I have to laugh. A couple of my neighbors here are stuck in this down market. One gal bought her place about three or four years ago. She was one of those flippers thinking she could move in fix the place and cash out with a fat wallet. She was all set to sell last year when the poop hit the fan. Now she's working part time and put her place up for sale just to get out from under the mortgage. The problem of course is that she owes more than it's worth. So now she's had to have her adult kids move back in just to make the mortgage. I tried to tell her about this but they just don't listen.
Then there's my other neighbor. He had a plan. He was going to keep his place until his son moved out then sell it and move to a bigger place. I know that sounds goofy but who am I to judge people's logic. He put his place up last spring after changing the carpets and flooring and redoing the kitchen and bath. When he originally listed it about a dozen people did the looky lou but no takers. He's lowered the price three times in the last seven months and I haven't seen but one or two lookers. The price is 40K less than the original asking price. It's kind of sad because they just built a bunch of places down the road here that are a bit bigger and they sell for 20K less than he's asking for his now.

So here's my advice on housing. As I've said before buy the cheapest place in the best part of town or area. It should cost no more than two and a half times your gross yearly income. It should be based on one income only. And I'm sure the banks will have some fairly strict terms as to down payment and income verification. Buy it to live in it.

When do I think this will turn around? It could be five years or ten or maybe never. Remember the demographics of this country are changing. There's more older folk than youngins. Who's going to afford the McMansions that were built during this past generation?

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Mish mash

Our state's (Wa) unemployment rate hit 7.1% last month with 90,000 more people out of work. This is getting ugly. Boeing our great pillar of the community is scheduled to lay off 4500 and now I hear Microsoft a company that has never laid off employees is considering shaving its staff. It's getting so bad that the usual fall back jobs like McDonalds and 7-11 isn't hiring either. If that stimulus for main street doesn't come soon then we'll see more business out of business.
I've seen a total of eight jobs listed (for my field?). Three of them were listed 18 months ago. Two had nothing to do with what I do (secretary and plumber?) Two required advanced degrees in environmental science. And the last one I find they no longer offer the trainning at any of the local schools or universities.

Some clown in Canada thinks it's okay to have 19 wives. His argument is that Canada has allowed gay marriage. First I'd say who in the hell would be stupid enough to have 19 wives? Think about that for a moment. If you know anything about a women's cycle then you know that groups of women start to get in sync with their periods. I can imagine that wonderful once per month encounter. That would be a good time to leave town. Maybe the guy is a salesman and can travel if he's lucky. He's part of that offshoot of the LDS church that was kicked out. I think it was a franchise of that Texas LDS branch. Then there's the possibility that eight or nine of them get together and file for divorce. Does that go as a class action or do the wives get a sliding scale by order of marriage?

As far as the stock market goes (of which I'm not an active part) it's kind of fun to watch as they play pump and dump. One day the bank stocks go up then sombody realizes that they actually don't have any money and the stocks take a dive. And it will be interesting when cities and states start defaulting. Oh that's right California is already starting to hand out IOUs instead of pay checks.

Update: Microsoft to lay off 5000. Oops time to get a real job guys. Oh that's right I forgot there aren't any. Good luck trying to collect unemployment because they're about two months behind in processing your paperwork. Film was at 11.

This about sums it up

From fellow blogger darkblack

Obama hits the ground running

Obama was quite busy after the parade and not just sitting around yaking with cohorts. First off he put a hold on all the laws and regulations Bush tried to shove through.

Not so fast Bushie boy

Obama also put a stop on the trials at Gitmo. This might piss off the 911 familys but stop to consider if it's determined that torture was used then no charges will stick (violation of international laws that we haven't been following).

Lastly Obama plans to invest in the military first by ending no bid contracts and replace the aging F fighter aircraft and adding more drones.

Who says Dems don't support the military?

All of this between the parade and the balls.

UPDATE: Obama is wasting no time cleaning things up. From NBC:
For those senior staffers making more than $100,000 a year, President Obama today announced a pay freeze on their salaries.

The president signed an executive order instituting stricter ethics rules, including a ban on lobbying the White House when current White House staffers leave their posts as well as a ban on gifts.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

It was a good day

After a very brief swearing in and in a mere twenty minutes the 44th president Barack Obama managed to rhetorically bitch slap George W. Bush in a very controlled and methodical style that is unique to his way. As has been the theme through out his campaign we can now put the mistakes of the last eight years behind us and start the rebuilding process with three things at the forefront. With a little hope, some leadership and some resources we will get through.
I can now break out the American flag that I've kept in storage the last eight years and fly it proudly now as we return to the principles that made this a country of worth. As I write this I realize that the momentum of a bad economy will continue for a while but I am uplifted in knowing that bad times will not last forever. I take heart that maybe with a little effort we can pull this nation back from the brink of collapse.

Here's one that didn't make MSM

A shoe protest was held yesterday near the white house. You remember the Iraqi shoe incident. This was an opportunity to show your hatred for George W. Bush. Shoes were thrown over the white house fence and at this blow up of the Shrub. We can only hope that W will land up at the Hague that is if there's any justice left in this country.

Shoes for Bush

Monday, January 19, 2009

Killer Peanut Butter

In eighteen months we've had ecoli and salmonella in beef, peppers, pork, fish, onions and not to mention tainted pet food from China (tomatoes were aquitted). And now to add to that list peanut butter. Some 474 people have been made sick from it since October. I've had food poisoning twice in my life and I'll say it's no picnic. With the globalization of our food supply I'm amazed that we haven't seen even more cases. I only recall my parents speak of food poisoning being fairly common during the depression because people would can their own foods. Keep that in mind should you do the garden thing this spring and want to jar or can it for later use. Important to follow the directions about sterilization of the jars and proper blanching. It's also a good reason to buy local. Not only do you get to know where the produce was produced and of course the benefits of supporting local farmers and reducing transportation costs but it's a bit easier to track down the source of any food bourne illness.

A CDC report on the latest - peanut butter

Saturday, January 17, 2009

The Obama Coronation

Good grief you'd think the guy was some kind of holy relic. Yes I realize that he is the first black man to take the office, but I didn't vote for him because he was black. I voted for him because I think he is the most qualified person to try and fix the mess we now face. As I recall he puts on his pants one leg at a time just like me. And he is the last time I checked a member of the human race and not some diety cast down to earth by a Greek god.

We have at the present a great opportunity to drastically change the way we produce and consume electricity. If we play our cards right we can move further into the 21st century and not run out of power and decrease the amount of pollution. With a new technologies we can meet the challanges. With more electric cars coming soon we'll need more ways to access the power to run them. Interestingly the guys at MIT are on it. Here's an article about wireless electricity.

Look ma no cords or plugs

We already have parking spaces with outlets at the airport specifically for electric cars. Retrofitting more spaces would be no great problem and in the not too distant future these outlets will need no cords or plugs.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Fate luck and airplane crashes

I was thinking about the miracle on the Hudson. Those passengers were lucky to have that particular pilot. Not only did he have years of experience but from what was reported he had a background in aircraft accident investigation and safety. Lastly he was able to figure that he couldn't make it back to the airport or get to the one across the river. I'm no pilot but I can see the difficulty pilots have when they fly. Most flights are a no brainer. Aircraft have become so automated that they almost fly themselves. I'm sure you could go years without incident and then the poop hits the fan and you have to make life and death judgments. That is difficult. In my profession we play it like a game of chess. At the start of any job there's a safety meeting and all the known risks and preventions are spelled out. That's not to say things can't and don't change. I always go in with the attitude - what can jump out and kill me today and how can I prevent that? I think it's been that attitude that's kept me fairly safe with all limbs in tact over the last eighteen years.
But there is something else in all of this. Crum from Lost in the Bozone got me thinking about this from his post the other day. You have all had days when nothing seems to go right. You get up late. Your shoe lace breaks. The milk is sour. You forgot to get coffee and of course the bus you just missed came early. Then every 20 years or so something strange happens. Like some strange virus in one day it seems you can do no wrong no matter what you do. You show up late but the boss says that's okay because the job was running late. You thought you did the wrong thing but it turns out right. You get all the green lights. You find a parking space right in front of where you're going. When you get there it turns out this is the one day they're having a 50% off appreciation day and you just happened to have a coupon for the item you wanted. I guess you could call this the luck zone.

Bye bye Bush

Bye Bye Bush don't let the door hit you in the ass on the way out. I officially label you the worst "president" in U.S. history. Nothing you have done has benefited America. Your legacy is one of death theft and corruption. You're a thief and a liar. May Karma come around and take it's due. May you suffer like those you've affected. May you have picked up a nasty incurable virus on your trips to Iraq. May all of those you helped steal our money get long prison terms.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

This couldn't happen to a better guy

Democrats want to start a criminal probe into all the laws Bush has violated over the last eight years.

Bush crimes

I guess this answers my question about a president being convicted after serving a term. Maybe he'll have another term to serve - behind bars. I can hope can't I.

Monday, January 12, 2009

Stone soup

Checking the job listings I see we have jobs that were posted last year and the year before. Some were temp postions that were later pulled by budget cuts, others were long filled and those people are now not working. So here I sit wondering what to do with the rest of my life. Too bad we don't just have a cryogenic chamber we couldn't just step into when things slowed down. Set the timer for spring or early summer for me would you please.

I see our shrub in chief is trying desperately to polish that turd/legacy. Just remember Georgie you were the one who called anyone against you a terrorist. Paybacks are hell aren't they.

Madoff remains free on bail. Gee sometimes I wish I had enough money that if I did something wrong I could pull my pants down and moon the judge.

Thirteen people and three companies are being sanctioned for selling nuclear information to other countries. Since when did we start enforcing international laws? And as I recall the only country to use nuclear weapons ever was the U.S. against Japan. Other than not permitting a person or company to enter or do business with the U.S. exactly how do you sanction a person?

Ah healthcare and Cobras. What's a Cobra you ask? No not the snake but it sure acts like one. A Cobra is a healthcare plan offered to cover you and your family when you loose medical coverage from a layoff. The only problem. The cost per month averages up to 84% of your unemployment. So you get a choice. Go naked with no coverage or live on the street with coverage. Sounds like a choice between cancer or leprosy if you ask me. I did something a little better, at least cheaper. Went to the clinic and told them my coverage expired so what could they do for me if I went pay as you go. They knocked off 20%. That's still about five times what you pay out of pocket if you had insurance but a hell of a lot less than if you had a Cobra.
Watch out for this snake

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Water water everywhere

The flood of 07

The flood of 09

I've lived in this part of the country for about 30 years. Back in the early 1990s was the first really large flood we had in the area. It was confined to a northern county and took a couple of weeks to clean up. So what happened in the last 20 odd years that made things worse. One word - Politics. The state installed a republican head of land management. A man who sided totally with business and permitted clear cutting of forests above populated areas. The river management wasn't too good either. Rivers that were once dredged during the summer were left. The result. Two years of flooding, landslides and destroyed homes. Some of the people in the southwestern part of the state are finished. They had just finished rebuilding their homes from the 07 flooding only to be wiped out again. As one resident put it " everybody on the street is broke there's no way they can rebuild now."
Now if sombody would get smart and look at was once done and increase some of the local levys, dredge the rivers and plant more trees in sensitive areas these types of floods would go back to being of the hundred year events.

Friday, January 9, 2009

Laws? Laws? we don't need no stinking laws

This article really makes me sad. Another spill from that coal plant in Alabama yet this time it couldn't be determined how much was released because it was caused by a flood.
when government doesn't set rules

I once had to deal with a similar situation a few years back. It was 4 acres of contaminated water. We first contained the area with sandbags then set up a suck pump and filtered the water. I was the one who figured out how to do the pump set up. As I recall I got a nice bonus for figuring out how to deal with that much water in short order. It took us about two weeks to pump and clean the entire area.

The sad thing in Ala. was that they could have set up a prevention dike around the whole thing fairly cheap.

Thursday, January 8, 2009

And history repeats itself

Seeing the article below got me to thinking about times long ago that my grandma told me about. She was on this earth as a little girl just after Lincoln was president. She told us about her first recollection of a swindle. A man in the small town she lived in had sold a gold brick. I don't recall all of the details but people back then took crime very seriously and I sure the guy got a nice long sentence breaking rocks. So we jump forward to today and what do we have? Ponzi schemes poping up all over the place.

$50 million Ponzi scheme

For those of you who are too young to remember or haven't been watching the news lately a Ponzi scheme is an investment swindle in which some early investors are paid off with money put up by later ones in order to encourage more and bigger risks.
I'm also starting to see a lot of other less than ethical deals being promoted. I forget which comsumer guy coined the phrase " Tip off to a rip off" but I'd like to shake his hand. What to look out for in promotions, infomercials and ads? The ad says invest in gold or silver coins. And somewhere near the end of the ad the voice over states that these are genuine "gold clad" coins from some mint. So if you calculate the amount od gold in the coin it isn't worth even the face value. These are just reproductions of coins that were produced in the 1800s. They will never gain in value and they aren't worth the price not to forget (shipping and handling).
Then there's the real estate late night shitty touped huckster. Yes you too can become a millionaire in real estate just by buying my course. So what's the deal you're thinking? You the buyer need a good chunk of change up front to do any type of real estate transaction. Because if your dealing with forclosures you'd want to have an attorney to cover your butt and attorneys don't come cheap. And don't forget the filing fees, taxes and inspection costs. You don't expect the homeowner is going to flip for those costs when he's broke did you?
Then of course there's the auctions. I browsed a couple of those just for laughs. A closer inspection of the properties revealed that they were in wonderful places like right next to the landfill or ever so close to the chemical factory. I wonder if they still have any of that land they used to test A bombs in the 50s left?

Update: Cheney: Nobody saw this economic crisis coming.

Bah ha ha ha ha ha ha

Hmmm: Note the date on this post?

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

You're Fired!

Unemployment is expected to rise as the figures are released on Thursday. So let's see. Is management trying to cover their boneses and over blown salaries before they must face the stockholders at the annual meeting? I can hear the charge now "Let the firings continue until the economy improves". I was just down at the unemployment office and can tell you it's a mad house with a line almost out the door. One poor guy had filed his claim four weeks ago and everytime he checks it on line it tells him his claim has not been filed. Now you'd think the powers that be would get smart and hire a few more people to process the claims. Gee wouldn't that get a few people off the rolls? In looking for work I see a lot of companies trying to position themselves for the upcoming main street bail out. There should be quite a few construction jobs by late spring or summer.
I know there are a lot of you out there who might be saying that this spending is a waste. That we shouldn't be spending massive amounts at a time of defecits but, what is the alternative? To let the whole thing collapse would have dire consequences. We already have Bushvilles popping up everywhere. Unemployment office is overworked. Food banks have empty shelves. Robberies are up and services are being cut. Bad things are starting to happen to a lot of people who paid their bills on time and didn't go on some wild spending spree.
Then there's the really bad news for retirees. Save your pennys now because after this wonderful deflation with cheap stuff and falling prices the piper will have to be paid. It may not happen for a while but it will happen.

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

1929 all over again

This is one of those sad consequenses of the current economic situation. Back in 29 it was noted that some on wall street jumped from their office windows after loosing everything. History seems to be repeating itself. A German billionaire investor has ended his life after loosing hundreds of millions by shorting Volkswagon stock.

Time to ban shorts and hedges?

What people don't seem to understand is that all of these doings are chipping away at the very foundation of our economic system. You might want to say "well that doesn't effect me", but it does. When Enron did their dirty deeds jobs were lost and retirements were wiped out. Imagine having retired and getting a monthly statement with no check in it.

I must have been reading his mind

In my last post I summed up what I had known for some time about the economy. Well without having read this article Mr Krugman tells it like it is if you will about our economic situation.

Paul Krugman's take on the economy

Remember he's a well respected economist. I'm not.

Monday, January 5, 2009

The economic outlook

I like to keep a finger on the pulse of what's going on in the financial world and our economy that seems to be spinning around the waters of the toilet bowl. As I've said before current conditions are repeats of bad economies of the past. The bubble burst, people lost their homes and unemployment is rising. Demand is falling leading to less production and more layoffs. The downward cycle continues until either Uncle Sam steps in to pump things up or we have a war. (Oh that's right we're in two wars at present and that's not helping.)

As I see it we'll have an uptick around spring or summer followed by another round of bad economic news. The other shoe in housing will drop in late 2009 and into 2010. And right on que the republicans are circling the wagons to screw things up as they prepare to try and halt any spending for the average guy that might actually help us out of this mess. The following guy ( a guru of wall street ) has predicted about what I just said above. The only reason I was able to see it was a good look at housing and spending back in late 07. When you stagger into Denny's at 2:00 am with $5 and some loose change in your pocket and you wonder where all that cash you had in your wallet went to well I think you get the picture (analogy). At least I hope you got it.

A peek into the future

You know why women don't have crystal babies?

Because men don't have crystal balls.

Friday, January 2, 2009

The Friday night beaver

Unfortunately the beavers are in hibernation this time of year so you'll have to wait until spring. In the mean time here's one of their lodges. If you'd like to catch a boobie you'll have to go over to Py's (See link under my favorite blogs)