Monday, December 22, 2008
A couple of inches is about all, and if we get more than one or two brief snows per winter, that's unusual as well.
Some years lately we haven't even had any measurable snowfall on the valley floor.
We may get freezing rain a couple of times, or maybe none at all in an average winter.
This year, the snowfall is as heavy as it has been only a few times in my life in Oregon.
And we have had several snow storms in a row, and a couple of freezing rain events.
I have been here about 40 years, and in this Northwest part of Oregon, we normally just don't get the storms like the Eastern and Southern parts of the state.
Every winter we can drive an hour to Mount Hood for snow up to 10 feet deep, and there are many ski areas along the Cascades down the length of Oregon that are easily accessible to most of the population.
Usually we have to go to those mountains to see a foot of snow or more.
Today we just have to look out our windows.
I like it!
Saturday, December 20, 2008
Then it should transition to ice for tomorrow, and all next week we will probably have an off an on snow mix coming down.
It's good to have seasons in Oregon.
Saturday, December 13, 2008
George Bush has done a lot of idiotic things in his term, and this is not one of them.
For all the recent Conservative Capitalist talk of the need to "Let the auto companies work out their problems in Bankruptcy like any other corporation", going Banko is not the solution here.
Avoiding the argument raised by bailing out the financial sector, which is a service industry producing nothing tangible, we need American auto companies for many reasons.
They are major drivers (oops) of the economy in many parts of the country, including all of the ancillary and supporting industries and businesses that provide parts and services to them.
They are a necessary component of any serious wartime effort to mobilize; we need workers skilled in producing such vehicles, as a security issue, even if we do our best to avoid war in the future.
Manufacturing is a staple of a strong economy. In the past, when the great powers of the world became rich, they shipped labor intensive work to cheaper countries, and focused more on finance. The Dutch, the Spanish and the British all once ruled the world. When they slowly changed from manufacturing powerhouses to finance powerhouses, they at first got richer, then they slowly lost economic strength, stumbled, and began to lose their supremacy. At the same time they also overstretched their military around the globe, and they ran up huge deficits in their spending. These compounded their problems, and hastened their decline as world powers.
The reason America became a superpower, then the superpower, was because Great Britain lost their position, and after competing for a couple of decades with a cardboard cutout of a juggernaut called the USSR, we took it.
Our innovation and manufacturing strength provided for economic strength, which provided for military strength. Our Democratic system of government and our economic strength have been great forces in tandem (for the most part) and are what have given us the ability to be a superpower. Sometimes we let our military strength go in directions it should not, but that is another argument.
The American auto makers actually have been competitive in the past, and are competitive in parts of the world now, and can be competitive in the future. Ford does very well in Europe, and GM does well in China, and Chrysler has in the not too distant past both great designs and very profitable years.
If we let our manufacturing companies go away, we lose those jobs, we lose those skills, and we risk losing much more.
If we feel we do not need or want to be a superpower anymore, then we need to make decisions about going that direction. We cannot let things happen to us without discussion and without generating public policy in a new direction if that is what we want.
Bush is right to help them survive. The reasons for their dire straits right now are many, including less innovative and exciting designs in many of their models, and lower quality than some of their competititors, as well as higher costs to build (primarily because of higher labor costs) than most of their competitors. And maybe one or all of them need new leadership to really get turned around.
But the real reason they are in such serious trouble right now is that sales fell so sharply late this year. And in that debacle, Detroit is not alone.
November sales fell over 30 % for Ford and GM, and about 40 % for Chrysler.
November sales fell over 30 % for Toyota and Honda.
November sales fell more for Toyota and Honda than they did for Ford.
Does anyone really believe that if Toyota or Honda start to fail, that the Japanese Government will not find a way to rescue them?
And if you believe that those two companies will not be allowed to fail, you get a hint as to why our Big Three should not be allowed to fail either.
Sure, it hurts to see billions going to financial firms that in many ways contributed to our terrible economic troubles, and sure you can say why throw more billions at the huge auto corporations, but you would be missing the larger point;
Even if the bailout of the Wall Street Finance Goobers was or is a huge mistake, saving the car companies is not a mistake.
In fact, it is just the opposite.
It is an imperative.
Tuesday, December 2, 2008
Sunday, November 30, 2008
The City of Garibaldi was named for Guiseppe Garibaldi, liberator and unifier of Italy, and a world hero in the 1860's.
Founder of the town, Daniel A. Bailey. was a great admirer of Garibaldi the hero.
The town went through booms and busts, and is now enduring one of the latter.
Lumber mills and fishing have carried and grown the town, but both industries have suffered declines for years.
I have been going there for one or two days a week for almost 6 months, to manage the turnaround of a small motel and rv park property, of which I am a co-owner.
Getting to know local residents has been an interesting part of the job.
There is still a fishing business, crab is still caught, some lumber is still cut and hauled, but there are many in the town who have either not enough work or no work at all.
- - -
My wife and I watched small birds in brown, grey, rust, black and white in our backyard yesterday morning as they fluttered in and out, finding bits of food among the plants and shrubs.
The back yard is small, surrounded by tall arbor vitae, with no cats or dogs roaming the space.
The birds found what food they could in the late November fog.
- - -
The day before that was the day after Thanksgiving. I was in Garibaldi early that morning to work on the business, marketing to potential clients, checking on maintenance and upkeep, showing up.
That morning, a commercial crab boat had gone out early. It was not named the "Alexa" or the "Emily" or the "Beautiful Jane", it was named in a play on words, the "Network", for working the nets.
The three on board had said goodbye early that morning to family, and had talked with friends and greeted visitors on the docks, and while making their way out of the marina.
The sky was dry but cloudy. Wind was moderate. Visibility excellent.
Then, heading to close sea for larger carbs and a bigger haul, they pushed over the bar, cutting rough waves coming from several directions, they got hit by a wave from the side, were floundered, righted, then were hit by another wave that took the boat under.
One of the three on board was rescued, suffering from severe hypothermia. The other two were not found that day. They may never be found, and yet they were just at the mouth of the bay, on the border between protected waters and the open ocean. Not far out to sea. Close to shore.
These are the first losses I have seen since going to the town regularly, though that bar is one of the most dangerous in the world, and people die there from time to time.
And although I did not know the men on board, I knew enough people in town who knew them.
I shared a little of their silent pain.
The people I talked with showed resignation, sadness, but not shock. This happens to some of those who work the sea.
- - -
The next morning, I appreciated the grass and plants, the small birds, the sky, my wife, my kids, and my life.
I listened a little more to music, thought a little more about the sky and the sea.
The two men on board who were lost did not have a second chance. That was it.
But each morning when I wake, I get a second chance at doing a little better, doing more of something useful.
This won't change my life, but it will make me think about it for a few days.
I won't be going through it as blindly for a short while.
Though I won't remember it like the families and friends of the two who are gone.
- - -
As I watched the backyard, I briefly understood why my father has made so many sculptures of those same birds. They move in unhurried haste, unaware of external worries. They are not sitting still, mourning any loss or pain, they are engaged in life. Their balletic movements and light verse make us feel better about our lives.
- - -
No matter what we do, or fail to do, we still get another chance each day.
Wednesday, November 26, 2008
Find ways to improve your skills, learn more about your chosen profession, or go learn a new profession.
Take classes, read good information, talk to high achievers in your field, or in a field you think you may want to be in.
Work at what you can, and do your best when you work.
When you do whatever you do with intention and purpose, Work is Love Made Visible.
Spend less, save more.
Keep up your best attitude.
Be grateful for whatever you have. It's a lot compared to the lives of millions of people around the world, and yes, it is a lot even compared to millions here at home.
But that is not really the point.
You don't have to compare yourself to anyone to be happy. So don't.
Be happy with less, and take this opportunity to find peace not in things, but in family, friends, the beauty of the world and the universe.
Forgive any slights, insults or meanness. It's better for you and easier on you to let go of it.
And Give Thanks.
Work, Forgiveness and Thankfulness can carry us through this.
They are all expressions of Love, and you know as well as I do, that is all we need.
Thursday, November 20, 2008
I feel optimistic about the direction in which our country will go since the election.
I feel optimistic about people in general, and most people individually.
I am optimistic about humanity's chances of surviving the next few millennia.
But I am increasingly pessimistic about the economy of the U.S. and of the rest of the world. I feel things will look dim for the next year, maybe a little longer.
And I am concerned about the ability of my family members, friends, and everyone else to make a decent living during that time.
I hope (more optimism) that the government is doing things that will have a positive effect on the economy.
I don't know yet if that will happen, or if so, when.
I don't know what other countries will do in concert with us, or in response to us.
Will we see naked greed overcoming cooperation in other countries economic policies and in international trade?
Maybe. (Less optimism there.)
Everyone will likely be hurting. Will we see that behavior in our own country?
Should I just stay optimistic no matter what?
Can optimism have any effect?
If I feel positive, will it encourage me to do positive things, and would that encourage others to do positive things, and could that help?
If I act in positive ways, could that make positive changes in the world around me?
If a butterfly flaps its wings in Beijing, might that cause Martha Stewart to go back to jail in Connecticut?
If I "Pay It Forward", and then want a refund later, do I have to take S&H Green Stamps?
If I say everything will be okay, and I truly believe everything will be okay, does that mean I need a frontal lobotomy?
I don't know.
I hope not.
I hope everything will be okay.
I guess in the end I'm really only concerned with my own survival...
I don't need much.
As long as I can have my Triple Espresso Macchiato Frappucino four times a day, and as long as I can still buy my Prada dog polisher, and as long as I can still get my New York Times and Wall Street Journal ironed every morning by Jeeves, and as long as I can still drive my Peterbilt 8 wheel drive 900 horsepower sport utility vehicle to pick up the kids at the Rancho Cucamonga Juan Corona Memorial School For Wayward Boys, and as long as I can winter in Ibiza and summer in the Playboy Mansion, I will be fine.
Monday, November 17, 2008
Mayhem in Monarchies.
What does it all mean?
Nothing more than a recession that, thanks to Globalization, is actually Global in scope.
The looming Recesion can be depressing.
A looming Depression would be, well, worse I guess.
But what can be done?
Look for ways to make it during the downturn.
What do you do that you could do a little differently in a difficult economic environment?
How can you pay down some (any) of your debt and, even better, put a bit of cash away for the rainy days coming in 2009?
Are there ways you can improve your usefulness to your company or to your customers?
Can you find additional ways to increase revenue that you may not have looked for before?
Is there a chance you can grow your job or your business in new areas?
We all have to get a little more competitive now.
Because there does not appear to be a choice, we will see what a rough recession is like all over again.
1981-1982 was tough, definitely tougher in some parts of the country than others, but generally tough all over.
That appears to be the model.
At least if we believe the talking heads all over the airwaves and the internet.
We can hope it's not that bad, but we should plan for it to be at least that bad, maybe a little worse, since credit is tight now and it was not so tight then, it was just expensive.
That makes this recession carry the possibility of more unpleasantness than the Reagan Recession.
Which is a damn shame.
I would have liked to see what Obama could do in an average economy.
But then, a real test brings out the best, right?
Let's hope for that best.
Sunday, November 9, 2008
Garrison Keillor and a woman I did not recognize sang a medley, which I believe he or someone on his show created.
It started with America The Beautiful, and wove in parts of a song about truckers, a Beach Boys song, and many others in a wide assortment of various musical Americana.
It was so well done, I sat in my car listening to the last half of it before getting out. Just sat. And listened to the whole long song.
It gave me a familiar tingling feeling, that surge of warmth or emotion or whatever it is, like when the Marines thunder to the rescue of the hero in trouble, or when you wander upon a very old friend you haven't seen in many years, or you hear an aria, or certain Neil Diamond songs. your kid does something you did not think they could do, or the look on your grandmother's face when you visit her in cancer treatment during your honeymoon.
Those things bring a tear to my eye, just after the tingle, and the surge.
I like those things.
I hope to one day give a little of that feeling to readers of or listeners to my work, at just the right time of course.
Garrison did it pretty well.
Saturday, November 8, 2008
We all have to remember that he is only one guy, and he can't affect the economy all the much all that quickly. We have to do our best as well.
Wednesday, November 5, 2008
But it was big.
And it was important, in many ways.
John McCain is a great man, and he is one of the most decent, straight politicians in Washington DC. He is intelligent, competitive and a true loyal patriot. I would have been just as happy for him to be my President as Obama. But that is not how it turned out.
Last night, watching the election returns, I felt a swell of pride in our country. I felt more promise than I have in 4 or 5 years. Most elections have given me this hope, the previous one did not.
I understand the historic nature of the moment we all watched. And by "we all", I mean the whole world. And I enjoyed all of it.
I saw people relieved, amazed, excited. I saw Jesse Jackson and Oprah Winfrey and so many others with tears on their cheeks.
I saw last night our future, in the calm, intelligent, confident demeanor of the new American leader.
This was the real beginning of the new century.
It is a huge moment for us all. This is so powerful in so many ways. Most of us do not even realize what this means, but it will affect us and the world for a long time. It is a very good thing.
This is our chance to prove to ourselves and to the world that we can learn, we can improve, we can do better than we have.
There will likely come a time when America is not the most powerful nation economically, or militarily, but we can still lead the world if we use this opportunity wisely and well.
I believe Barack Obama and Joseph Biden are the right men to make this promise a reality.
Sunday, November 2, 2008
In an unprecedented election, an unprecedented candidate turned the conventional wisdom upside down and beat Republican John McCain by the largest electoral vote margin in over 50 years.
Barack Obama has become the President Elect at a time of great economic and political crisis, and has done so with the support of more American votes than have ever been cast for a Presidential Candidate in American history.
The celebrations will be loud, but must also be brief as President Elect Obama begins to assemble his new Cabinet, and to plan strategies to get the American economy back on track, and to regain some measure of America's diminished support abroad.
In a side note, a small, nearly unknown blogger in Oregon predicted before Super Tuesday 2008 that when it came right down to it, too many Americans just could not vote for a woman or a black man for President. He was so wrong, it is hard to measure just how wrong he was. Let us say it this way for emphasis; He was wronger than any political prognosticator in the history of the world, and he knows it. He was the wrongest of any blogger in the entire history of wrong blogging. He should simply give it up now.
Tuesday, October 28, 2008
I see that my prediction in Febraury was wrong; I thought McCain would win over either Hillary or Barack.
But that won't happen.
McCain looked to change his struggling dynamic when he picked Sarah Palin to be his running mate, but she has shown herself to be more interested in herself than in working with McCain to get him and her elected.
She first went a little off the reservation in a few interviews, then found her voice and never looked back.
At least she's a snappy dresser.
Republicans on the far right seem to really like her, and that shows what is the most wrong with the Republican Party right now.
They are adrift.
They have no center, no rallying point.
They started out despising McCain, and then grudgingly accepted him when it became profoundly obvious that he would be the candidate.
And that was a huge mistake.
He could go his own way more than most Republican candidates because he got the nomination without the far right, and so he did.
He picked a bright, attractive bulldog with no following and no serious credentials as his running mate, just to prove he is a maverick.
Unfortunately, a maverick takes the lead and takes all the arrows, though he blazes the trail for others.
And McCain has blazed the trail to a more centrist Republican candidate in the future than we have seen lately.
The right doesn't know or care to know this, but the center is where most Americans spend all their time.
The left is greedily gathering up the spoils of the war they didn't really win, but that they just failed to lose because they had no power to exercise.
Democrats will abuse their power, just as Republicans have, just as almost anyone does when they get much of it.
And the public will stay near the middle, like they always do, wondering when the politicians will stop bickering and start making sense.
Tuesday, October 14, 2008
We have preached the virtues of the free market to other nations for decades, and they have listened.
We have shown them the prosperity and dynamism that comes with a free market economy.
We have displayed the goods and goodies we can buy because of our use of this economic system.
And we thought the only downside is the necessity to look out for the poor, since this a democratic capitalist system does not automatically provide for them.
But that is not the only danger.
The larger risk, the one that has come to very bad realization now, comes from another aspect of this system.
As long as there are free markets, and capitalist systems, in which companies sell stock to finance their growth and reward their stockholders, there will be the types of difficulties we are now experiencing.
Stockholders demand increases in revenues and profits every quarter.
This is achievable for smaller growing companies and less mature industries, as they expand to fill the demand of the market they serve, and compete with one another for the ability to gather more sales.
This is achievable for mature companies and industries as well, through incremental innovation, introduction of new products or services, and stiff competition.
But there will always be companies and industries that have reached a point at which they have filled all the need, they have in effect saturated their market.
This happened recently with home mortgage providers.
About a decade ago or so, several large and still growing companies that provide mortgages found their growth slowing as they had nearly saturated the American market for their products.
They needed to keep revenues and profits growing as fast as they had on their way up, but there did not seem to be a way to do so.
They could get incremental increases by competing harder with the other major companies selling the same mortgages.
Or, they could find a way to sell to a part of the market that was thought not to exist.
People who could not show good credit or down payments were always previously thought to not be a market for a mortgage, because they would not have the same ability or maybe the same incentive to pay back the loan.
But these people represented a huge untapped market for mortgage providers.
So the major companies providing mortgages started to loosen lending standards, to see what would happen if they began to lend to some of this part of the market.
They found that the losses were a little higher, and they realized they could simply price their loans higher to make up for those losses.
Then these same companies realized they could get more money to make more loans and be more competitive if they could sell more of the loans they did make, and sell them faster. (After the loans were made, good ones were sold to investors giving the mortgage companies more cash to make more loans.)
Wall Street immediately stepped in to offer a way to pool all mortgages in giant groups, even the ones made to borrowers with low credit scores and little or no downpayment.
When these mortgages were bundled into huge packages, others on Wall Street figured out ways to sell of parts of them, with some investors buying some parts of the payments coming from the borrowers, some buying other parts of the payments, others buying bets on how much or little those payments would be in the future, and still others buying complex wagers on how these investments would perform as compared to other investments, and on and on.
In a capitalist, free market, as part of a democracy, public companies have developed an imperative to constantly grow revenues and profits every quarter.
Companies have nearly lost the quaint idea of long term, steady growth.
And none of these companies think it is even conceivable to aim for revenues that hold steady, or flat.
That is truly unthinkable.
You cannot find a publicly traded company that would even consider keeping revenues steady, and profits steady, even if revenues and profits were at an exceptional amount.
And it would be extremely difficult to find a smaller, privately held company that would consider it either.
The requirement to constantly grow revenues and profits necessarily will continue to cause (among some companies in some industries) the behavior that eventually then causes these dire economic problems.
It doesn't mean we should limit growth, we should simply be aware of what it can do to us.
Because financial growth is the imperative, we will continue to see both new and old ways in which growth at any cost ends up costing us all.
In an attempt to keep fooling themselves about their power and place among nations, they spend themselves into serious trouble keeping their military huge.
They take resources away from other areas, harming the populace and dissolving research and development, and infrastructure improvements.
The right, and especially the far right, tend to force the military overspending our of fear.
It becomes a vicious cycle, driving GDP lower and harming future competitiveness in the process.
It is something to be aware of, and to avoid.
Best to avoid the overall conditions now that would lead to this potential future.
Next comes shoooting in the streets.
I have become even more disillusioned by the vitriol from the fringe on both sides of the political spectrum.
William F. Buckely, Jr. once wrote:
"I have spent my entire lifetime separating the right from the kooks."
Too bad Bill is gone. We need someone to do so for both sides.
We must find a way to talk about the issues, and not pass on snide, cruel, fantastically vicious rumors about each presidential cnadidate.
Our country needs leaders who can tell us the truth about the holes we have dug for ourselves in the housing market, the financial system, and even more so, Medicare and our crumbling infrastructure.
It is time for us to work together as one nation, to collectively sacrifice some consumption for savings, investment, and improvement of our country.
If we do not, our competitive position internationally will not recover, and we will move inexorably down the list of influential and powerful countries.
We may actually have to get used to being less than number one in economic might, and as we give away that place to another country, likely China, we will also be ginving away our place as number one in military might.
Economic supremacy affords military supremacy.
We may well have to get used to depending on the better instincts of other countries for our physical safety.
This is something we have not had to understand or accept since Britain slipped in the early part of the 20th century, and we took their place.
It lasted a little over a hundred years.
Maybe that is all that a superpower can hope for.
You hold the place for a century, and then you give it away by your own ineptitude and short-sighted thinking and behavior.
Are We Going To Lose Power And Influence Now?
Do We Have A Choice?
I hope we have a choice, and I hope we can find the will to avert that decline.
We don't know how to be any other way.
Thursday, October 2, 2008
Time to move to France!
No, wait, France's economy turns out to be all bubbles, no champagne.
Just like the rest of Europe right now.
And Asia's is still treading water, but Russia's is threatening to become a real bear.
Is the another Great something or other?
Recession, Depression, Implosion, Erosion?
I dont' know...
But I think if we can't get credit to loosen up across the world, we may teeter on the totter closer to the worst of those.
And how to loosen credit?
Give the power to spend almost a Trillion Dollars to the Treasury Secretary, of course.
Hey, who the hell knows, it just might work!
Of course, it may also put us into a toilet-bowl spin downward into the sewers of history, but it'll be a fun ride nonetheless!
Monday, September 8, 2008
It was good, but it could have used more paprika.
I like birds.
My dog just farted. Smells unusually bad.
I really like the new season of Mad Men, because the colors are so much richer.
My girlfriend shat on a turtle!
I'm thinking of dying my hair. Not on my head, just the rest of my body.
Can anyone tell me where to find a good borscht in Taos?
I like birds.
Don't you hate it when a booger the size of a mango is stuck in your nose?
Take my word for it, seaweed isn't really like regular weed at all.
Animals seem to like me more than people. My neighbors dog keeps having sex with my leg. At least he's happy with his love life.
I hope no one ever makes fun of my crooked hiney-crack.
I'm thinking of becoming an inventor, if I can just figure out something that will make me rich and famous.
The highest purpose I can conceive of for my life is to spend all my time constantly writing about even the smallest details of what happens to me, what I hear about, and what goes through my head, and to post those random items on multiple web sites where other people will for some unknown reason actually take time read them, and then as a result of all that writing and reading, nothing will happen.
I like birds.
Wednesday, September 3, 2008
The Queen is Dead, Long Live the King(s)!
Now that Obama has been crowned the Democratic standard-bearer, and McCain has made his party's leadership formal, will we get to see more action?
Sparks, flares, real fire!
Yes, and it is already starting with the stupid rumors on the web about Sarah Palin's daughter's pregnancy.
The rumors are stupid, the facts of it, though, are a bit weird for the Republican party.
Sarah, Governor of Alaska, and Running Mate to McCain, has a 17 year old daughter who is pregnant. Sarah is an avid opponent of abortion, which is even more obvious now than it was before we knew about her daughter...but what does this mean?
Our kids do what they do for their reasons, not ours. The distractions about this issue are simply that; distractions.
There is so much more media noise in this election than ever before, that I think I will finally go ahead and get that lobotomy I have been saving up for.
Obama's wife, Michelle, gave a good speech at the Democratic National Convention, and she seems like a decent person.
The rest of the speeches, including Barack's, were very good of course. His running mate, Joe Biden's, and Joe's son Beau's, were really well done.
I have always thought Biden was a little more real than that average politico. If these two get elected I will have a good chance to find out whether I was right about that or not.
And it seems that every day brings us closer to an Obama presidency.
The Republican Party can't get a break these days. Their convention was stalled and put on hold while the (nearly) non-event called Gustav caused everyone to run for cover.
All the people left at the convention are just praying now, for whatever. Soon I'll have some thoughts on that event as well.
Power was out in the South for over 1 million homes. But it was almost not even a hurricane anymore by the time it reached New Orleans. Still, Bush and Cheney couldn't be at the Convention if the thing was going to hurt the area again.
Even I know that would never do. They had to appear involved and concerned. And so did everyone else, even those just tangentially involved in politics, emergency care, or the media.
For the Republicans it was a Big Bummer in the Big Easy. And so it goes.
Bill and Hillary did what they needed to for their party at the convention, even though many media pundits wondered on air if they would, and how sincere it would be if they actually did it.
I never questioned whether they would or not, but then I think their interests are served by doing so, not just the interests of Obama and the party.
Bill and Hillary are more influential and powerful the more they help the Democratic Party from here on out. She can run again, and she will find much more success next time if they make nice, and Bill will get huge benefits whether she ever gets the Presidency or not. At the very least, he will be able to pick up more chicks. Or become Secretary General of the UN. Or stay roving freelance Goodwill Ambassador. Or something like that.
The race is close now, the media attention more focused than ever before. If anyone makes a single false move it will explode across our TV and computer screens, and yet, it looks like Obama's race to lose.
But I predicted back near the first of this year that when it counts, in the voting booth during the General Election, many of those people who told pollsters they would either vote for the woman or the black man would have a second of indecision, a hesitation, and they would at the last moment cast their vote for the white guy, because that is what they are most comfortable with.
So now, with McCain choosing a woman as his VP, does it change that dynamic?
But I have no idea how.
A black guy and a white guy - versus - a white guy and a white woman.
It still could go to the old white guy, but I'm not quite ready to say that's my final answer, Regis.
People surf in Alaska! We met some young volunteers with AmeriCorps who work there on government owned park lands, and surf on their days off. And the guy in the photo below, Ben Yenter, lives there full time and surfs year round (in a wetsuit in summer and a drysuit in winter). The owner of Alsek Air Service, who flew us on a tour of the glaciers and mountains around Yakutat, also surfs all year. Could be the same guy, I'm not sure.
Several of the tallest mountains in North America can be seen from Yakutat. Very small, about 700 people, but a great place to visit. The people there were all very nice and easy to talk with.
The locals are few, but tough. The weather is usually cloudy and raining, sometimes worse, and that is in the good half of the year. The rest of the year it is icy and snowing. They got around 8 - 10 feet of snow this year.
We took with us on the plane trip up there a new, bright orange life preserver ring for a fishing boat that needed one in Yakutat. TSA personnel were actually amused, as were most of the flight attendants and crew we ran into in the Portland, Seattle and Anchorage airports. A few other passengers stopped us to ask why we brought it as well. People thought we were just a little more afraid of flying than the average passenger. I told everyone it was my version of a security blanket.
- - -
We had a really good time in Rock Springs, Wyoming, which is in the southwest corner of the state. It was the home of Butch Cassidy before he joined the Sundance Kid and formed their gang. Butch was employed in Rock Springs, as a... you guessed it! A butcher! That is how he got his nickname. The gang had a hideout near the town for years.
In the early 1970's, the town was suddenly flush with oil and oil money, and there happened to be some corrupt local and state politicians who took advantage of the money and the times. They took bribes and allowed a lot of gambling, prostitution and drugs, among other things.
We talked with a guy whose best friend started managing most of the prostitutes when he was 17 years old because his father, who had been managing them, was murdered.
The scandalous times lasted until about 1983, when the oil money slowed drastically, and most of the major crime and political problems went away as well.
No politicians were ever convicted of a crime, and some residents still wish it was a wild town like it was during that decade.
We we there during the Sweetwater County Fair in Rock Springs, so we had to go. We watched calf roping, herd cutting, and all kinds of stuff. We actually had a great time at the fair. People there were really nice as well. About everyone we met in that town was friendly.
And at the fair we got to see a concert by:
They were great! It was an excellent concert outside of an enormous and lively beer garden, and after playing for a couple of hours, they stayed for a couple more hours signing anything any fan wanted to bring up, and talking with anyone who stayed around. Nice guys.
That's enough for now, I'll catch up a little more later...
Tuesday, May 13, 2008
What a long, drawn-out, horribly endless campaign.
And for what? The position of the second or third most powerful leader in the world.
Jeez, who wants this job ?
Putin leaves but stays, Israel and Palestine work towards peace as they actively kill each other, Lebanon struggles with Hezbollah, Nigerian unrest reduces the flow and increases the price of oil, Venezualen ambitions disrupt Colombia, Russia grows to a rich monstrosity through oil and natural gas, unrest in Tibet, masses dead in Myanmar, Iraq struggles to not explode, Iran plays the spoiler, Saudi Arabia and the rest of the Gulf states don't really care what happens to us.
And at home, houses tumble in value, workers get laid off, corporations lose money, the Dollar loses a lot of value against the worlds currencies, the trade deficit grows way too fast, the Federal Debt grows exponentially, Medicare will bankrupt the country in about 20 years, Social Security will bankrupt the country again in about 30 years, there is too much pollution, not enough manufacturing, and we have no money to fix most of these things because the Iraq war costs so much.
Great job, how can I get one like that?
But somebody has to do it.
So who could do it best?
Saturday, May 10, 2008
Wow. Nobody wants to be near the Oval Office these days...
Except Dick Cheney.
Friday, May 9, 2008
Twice the size of the State of Texas -
In other words, this plastic mess covers over 500,000 square miles.
Or over 840,000 square kilometers.
This just can't be any good for us, the fish, or the planet.
I'm not sure why, but this environmental fact bothers me even more than many others.
I have been to the Pacific Ocean a lot, because I have lived very near it all my life, it's the largest ocean on earth, a huge amount of the world's population lives near it, but maybe it's something else.
Maybe it is the magnitude of the problem, and how, once you know where it is, it's easy to verify and measure right now.
I don't know.
But I want to find a way to help do something about it.
Crude Oil prices have jumped to about $115 per barrel last week, and about $125 per barrel this week.
But there is way more than enough crude oil to meet current consumption needs, all experts agree, so why the jumps?
China, India, and others needing more now, and even more soon,
Venezuela-Chavez rattling swords (and acting less and less like a man of the common people),
Tensions with Iran and everybody else.
And gas prices are jumping just as fast or faster, because even with enough crude oil supplies, there is not enough capacity in not enough refineries around the world to get enough gas to us big users.
So we pay more.
And truckers and rail lines and shippers pay more to move everything that moves from producers to consumers.
Such as sweaters, luggage, forks, earplugs, furniture, cat litter, paper, pens, and food.
And pretty much everything else.
So since it is costing the transporters a lot more, it will soon cost everyone a lot more as those costs get passed on. (Those costs have to get passed on or there will be no more transporting of goods to us or anybody else.)
Prices have gone up on fuel for everyone, so we are spending more on that, but that is soon going to cause prices to go up on almost everything else.
Except houses, on which prices are still going down.
See, since the price of everything but houses is going up, and house prices are going down...
IT WILL ALL EVEN OUT !!!
What a relief.