Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Separated at Birth?

Quirky actor Crispen Glover



Connecticut Attorney General Richard Blumenthal.



And while I'm at it...

Talk show host Glenn Beck


"Back to the Future" villain Biff Tannen


Watching Glenn Beck interview him, I kept waiting for Beck to rap him upside the head and say "Hello, McFly!?!"

Buried.

In a mountain of paperwork. I'm pretty sure I'm even hating the invention of paper.

Normally I get my taxes done much earlier than now. Even when I have to pay - which is normally what happens. If there is any year to realize you shouldn't use your IRS refund as a savings account - this is the year I guess.

Still the whole thing stresses me out. Apparently I'm the only one the IRS has been auditing all these years. Here and here. I wasn't even bitter about it. I found the IRS to be very easy to deal with. It helps I didn't owe them any money.

Yet it makes me so frustrated that every week some new tax cheat is uncovered. Here and here. Making me wonder if when I get audited this year, if it will just be another courtesy check, or if I'm guilty until proven innocent. When I had to deal with them, they actually gave me the benefit of the doubt. With proof, of course.

When so many people are cheating on their taxes, I have to imagine it changes their perception. I hope it doesn't make them stabby first, then nice.

Saturday, March 28, 2009

Bad ass.

I know Readers - you are not into this car thing so much. So, I try to get you interesting things you haven't seen before.

This about about the coolest thing I saw today.



Lime green wouldn't have been my first choice. But....



This car kept drawing my eye. I couldn't figure out why. Then it came to me. It looks like those damn candy corns you get at halloween.





Car with nostrils? Sure, why not.





Prison Bubbas.

I know you probably think I'm a complete asshole for calling people Bubbas. But, take a look at this tattoo. I can't really figure out what it is. A saw? A comb? What? I fail to believe someone actually paid for this. So I have to think he got it in prison. And what is that crap going on at the bottom of those combs? Or whatever. Tree stump? What??? It's killing me.





The Corey Hart segment. Compare here and tell me if you think I'm being an asshole.



Snitches end up in Ditches tee.

Just like old times.

Readers. I don't know what is going to go on in the economy. I can only tell you what I see on the ground in the California Bay Area. This is what I saw today.

The most miserable car show on the face of the planet. I have to tell you - I go to these things every couple of months. One could wonder, how many new things am I going to see? Yeah, I wonder that too. But, I go to see how the economy is faring. It really is a good indicator, because it's exactly the same car show. Yet, the crowds change.

This place was so packed today - I was almost on nuclear before we even got into the venue. As soon as we got off the freeway, I knew it was going to be a trying day. It took us about 20 minutes to get 6 blocks. Oh yeah. Not joking. It's been a long, long time, since I've seen things so packed.

Plus, it was particularly funny, because - isn't this the day people are suppose to turn off all their lights and love mother earth? I kind of enjoyed all these old gas guzzling cars burning up the ozone. Plus, I just love the smell of old time-y gas. Whatever.

Not only was the place completely packed. The people were the most annoying on the planet. I could not believe the sheer concentration of Travis Barker wannabees. And Joel Madden knock-offs. I didn't think they were influencing the youth that severely. But, apparently they are. And the Bubba's. Oh my gawd the bubbas. There were the "woooo" bubbas. The prison bubbas. I'm not even joking. Pictures forthcoming. But, I need to take a shower first due to all the smokers.

Then the completely clueless bubbas. Which I wanted to punch so hard. These are the guys who I'm not sure have ever seen a camera other than a point and click, and thus have no understanding of staying out of your way. Or conversely are egocentric and want to be in your way so they can get into your shot.

Take for example this one iphone bubba. I was at my knees trying to get a shot, and this guy walked right up to me and stood right in front of me. Blocking my shot. Which made me say loudly "are you kidding me"! His buddy said something to the guy, and he did apologize - but by this time I'd already had enough of these sorts of bubbas.

I mean, I'd have a shot lined up, and someone would leisurely stroll into my shot. Then when I'd wait for them to move out of my way, they'd look at me or through me, and stay in my shot for sometimes a few minutes. Mr S. always says I should say something to them. But, I'd rather be passive aggressive and bitch about it here.

Then the place ran out of water. I walked the second half feeling like I might die. And also wanting the vendors to maybe have one isle open just for people who want drinks. The lines were insane.

As we were getting back to the house Mr S. and I had the following conversation.

Me - Man, I really hate those crowds. But it's good to see the economy returning to normal. I don't care who is spending money. Bubbas or rich people. I'm just glad they are.

Mr S. - Well, it's pretty hopeful that the bubbas are spending money. Those are the guys who have manufacturing jobs, and warehouse jobs. Construction, trucking.

And I thought - OMG. He's right. That clearly is what the demo was this time. He always says the most simple amazing stuff.

I'll get pictures out sometime later tonight.

Friday, March 27, 2009

I ask silly stuff.

Today, Mr S. read the following headline from The Financial Times:

"Brazil’s President Luiz InĂ¡cio Lula da Silva on Thursday blamed the global economic crisis on “white people with blue eyes” and said it was wrong that black and indigenous people should pay for white people’s mistakes."

Which I have to admit, made me want to punch this guy in the neck so completely hard. My immediate thought was "didn't we bail out Brazil a few years back?" I have to admit, the only reason why I remembered it, because everyone on Wall Street was loving Brazil the last few years. Yet, I never felt confident in their country. Growing up I always remembered Brazil as defaulting on debt.

The whole thing actually got me annoyed enough to Google what happened in Brazil.

I didn't have any money in 1998, so I wasn't really paying attention to any of this stuff. Yet, it is eerily similar to what is happening now. Unbelievably so.

Take this quote from The Center for Economic and Policy Research: This was published in 1998 BTW.

"After racking up disasters in Asia and then Russia, the Fund and its allies in the Clinton Administration have concluded that their only mistake was that they did not intervene early enough. So they have put together a 42 billion "rescue" package for Brazil."

Or this quote:

"That advice mandates big cutbacks in government spending, tax increases, and enormously high interest rates-- a deadly mix practically guaranteed to send any economy into a tailspin. It is difficult to see how the prospect of recession-- not to mention the potentially explosive political conflict that such policies will provoke-- will accomplish the stated goal of calming nervous financial markets.

Brazil has the most unequal distribution of income in the world, with the upper 10% taking about half the nation’s income, while 43% of the people survive on less than two dollars a day. The IMF-engineered economic contraction will therefore have terrible consequences even if it "succeeds" on its own terms: people who are already malnourished will get less food, and some will die. Spending on health care and education will also be cut, and millions of people will lose their jobs, homes, and livelihoods.

Are these drastic measures necessary? Let’s start with the federal budget deficit. It is currently running at 7% of the economy (or GDP). To put this in perspective, the United States government ran a budget deficit of 6.1% of GDP in 1983, with no harm done. One might argue that either of these deficits is too high over the long run, but there is no urgency about cutting them.

It is sometimes feared that budget deficits in this range will cause accelerating inflation, but this is clearly not the case in Brazil, where inflation is currently at 3%.

What about the exorbitant interest rates, now running at 42%, which cripple economic activity even more than the budget cuts? The Fund argues that these are necessary to prevent the Brazilian currency from collapsing. This is because lenders, due to the risk of currency devaluation, are unwilling to keep their money in the country at lower rates. "


Weird right?

So - this is the thing that annoys me. All these people taking our taxpaying dollars say they will pay us back. Maybe they do - maybe they don't. I'm not sure if Brazil did or not. For arguments sake, lets say they did. Shouldn't taxpayers have gotten a check labeled "Paid in full from Brazil"? The government takes our money to help all these people, but usually when they pay the money back, the government just expands and taxpayers don't see a dime of that money. And, shouldn't these countries shut the eff up sometimes?

The oddest fan letter ever.

I'd say about a month ago - a garage band moved into my neighborhood. With the highly popular Rock Band title, I have to admit - I didn't think actual garage bands still existed.

They play almost every day, and at first I thought they were going to be a problem. I must be only a couple of blocks from them.

The funny thing is - they turned out to be really good! Sometimes I have the overwhelming urge to search them out and thank them for not being a crappy garage band. Is that wrong?

P.S. I should have some hopefully interesting stuff for you this weekend.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Anyone else but me - find this odd?

Here I was minding my own business. I hardly even look at the pay ads anywhere. But, this stuck out. Mainly because you know how much I love IR photography. So, when I clicked through to the site - imagine my surprise when it was an anarchists site. Well, I guess I wasn't that surprised. I wasn't completely sure what it was, but I'm not stupid. Mostly.

I'm not going to link the site. You can go there on your own.





Now, it isn't like I'm shocked by the content. I live in California. There isn't a protest that exists here without Che t-shirts, or a Socialist Workers Party sign. Usually at teachers protests, or any other protest in which Answer International doesn't show up. Just look at the signs on the news. You don't have to take my word for it.

Yet, I was a little shocked to see this ad on the New York Times site. I thought they were a little more stealthy. They played that game of "what? I'm not a socialist - you are just crazy".

I mean - how is this tee-shirt company making enough money to advertise on the Times site anyway?

Usually I just ignore this kind of crap. Anarchists usually have some sort of self aggrandising bullshit about why having a temper tantrum is a good idea. Thus resulting in them breaking stuff. Pretty easy to ignore if they aren't breaking your crap. Yet, I keep hearing the words "revolution" bandied about. Which makes a part of my brain go wild. Yet, they aren't even being that secretive about being out now. As observed by the ad on the Times.

I completely hate feeling like a paranoid freak. Which all this anarchy talk does. I want to be able to laugh all this off - but, these ads on the Times do not help me at all.

Remember last month I made this post - where I questioned if the anarchists were trying to seize on a tipping point? I want to be able to ignore that feeling. NYTimes - not helping in that effort.

Ooops!

I can not wait for the vid to come out on this! It was bound to happen eventually. Right?

Mythbusters Blasts Damages Small Nor Cal Town

"A big explosion, in the name of science, scared a lot of people in a small town.

Mythbusters went to Yolo County and ended up with a bigger bang than expected.

"It was a boom that was just -- I had never heard anything like that before, it was really weird," said Sherril Stephens.

The explosion was so big it shook the town of Esparto, knocking Stephens off her couch and breaking her front window."

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Are they out of their minds?

Let me start out by saying - I understand paying a little more for convenience, or to find things I can't get locally. Extra charges have to be really excessive for me to even notice. If I can't get something in my area, I don't mind paying a little more. Having said that - when tax and shipping cost 100% of my order. I tend to freak out.

Which is what happened when I tried to place an order for onion starts from Park Seed. Yes.. onion starts.

Apparently you are super wealthy if you can afford to buy tiny little onions. Then put them in the ground thus producing full grown onions. It must be so! They charged me a 2.05 tax for an order from South Carolina. But, oh yeah. In California you can tax shipping if the item is taxable. (I just found this out) Which I'm not sure if onion starts are taxable or not.

Now, I've freaked out a bunch of times over excessive shipping costs - so I'm thinking tax on shipping is something I might have noticed much earlier than today. I'm guessing this is something companies just started enforcing.

To which I said "screw you", and went over to Dixondale Farms where they didn't charge any shipping or tax. My order for essentially the same onions was 10.50.



BTW - what is that extra shipping cost of $2.50? Which they also taxed.

Standard shipping was the cheapest shipping.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Watching the world in slow motion.

I've never relied much on luck. I'm sort of a "you make your own luck" sort of individual. Well.. maybe that isn't so much true. Because my next sentence was going to be - I'm more of a "make the best of the bad luck" sort of girl.

So, I must believe in luck on some level. Just not good luck. Apparently.

However... the past six months have given me such an appreciation for a feeling that life is really more about the perfect combination of skill and luck. You can work your ass off and still fail. Or you can be lucky and not succeed to a great level. But, that illusive combination. Luck and skill. That is where the magic happens. And, it truly is magic.

Watching companies all over the Silicon Valley try to survive a retraction has given me such an appreciation for the hard work this place is made of. But, they don't just survive on hard work. There is a certain element of good timing, and luck.

Hell, the only reason I've survived the downturn - is somewhat due to luck. Sure, I had four backup plans. Because, I'm a disaster baby. But in the end, it was luck that I didn't make different choices. Because, I was going to make other choices. It isn't that hard work didn't play the greatest role. But, possibly not the most important role. I can't even take credit for most of my survival. Which I completely hate. I was on a different path last summer, and by luck diverted off that path. Life would have been so very different.

It's possibly the weirdest feeling to have. Because I've always felt if I worked hard enough I could fix everything. It hasn't always worked out that way. Obviously. That mind set just isn't reality for anyone. And sometimes has been torturous to my psyche. That doesn't stop me. I've always had that ingrained feeling. Maybe at some other point I'll elaborate on it more. Just not now.

So to see a part of your history chalked up to luck is disconcerning for me. But, you can't see into the future. With the information I had at the time, those choices seemed good. Then the world changes so rapidly, and before you can react, you fall into a safe pocket. Sort of like a tornado. All the houses around yours get destroyed, and yours is completely fine. I don't know if that analogy fits into luck and skill. But, lets pretend it does. Because that's all I got.

Monday, March 23, 2009

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Just a side thought.

I have to admit. Most days I don't know what to make of the economy. For the greater Bay Area, things don't seem to be that amiss. To tell you the truth - for the last two months car traffic levels are normal to up. This weekend I'd say above average. This is all the way from Monterrey, San Fransisco, all around the San Jose Bay Area. To the East Bay.

Shopping outside of the housing market seems about average. It actually has been so strange that I've taken to saying "where are all these people going? Are they driving around in circles!?" Store parking lots seem normally full.

The reason I ask is because, I see the news. I see the quarterly reports. And to be honest - I completely don't understand it.

I have such a disconnect from what I see, and what I hear and read - that I'm convinced that consumers are less of the problem than just currency fluctuations impacting company profits.

Take today for example. Out to breakfast as usual. It's a place we go to somewhat often. But, we haven't been there in a while. I either eat late breakfast, or lunch. Not both. Since I've been on Dim Sum, we haven't been to this place in a while. It is a family place. The kind of place that the owner will hug you when you go in. At least he does me. Though we usually just make small talk. Meaning - I don't know him at all, outside of small talk.

Well today, he noted we hadn't been in for about 5 weeks. Which surprised us. We didn't think we were that regular to be noticed missing. We'd told him we'd been busy, and that we always love his place. We drive quite a bit to eat there. It was then he told us he was thinking about buying a house in our city. I was sure I'd misunderstood him. I was betting there were tons of affordable houses closer to his business. As the conversation proceeded though, it was clear I hadn't misunderstood. When I found this out I said "oh, it would be great if you opened a restaurant out there".

About this point he said that he'd actually checked into business real estate around my area, and that they recently raised the prices from 377 a square foot to 450 a square foot.

Now, I don't know anything about the business real estate sector. But, I was actually a little surprised by this. There seems to be a lot of empty buildings, and I didn't think competition was steep enough for a rise like that. Especially now.

I didn't know what to make of it at all. I'm sure tonight I will watch Doomberg and feel even more perplexed. I know the conventional wisdom about printing money. So, it is just really odd what is going on around here. It's like nothing is wrong at all.

The is what the vicious downward spiral looks like.





You know, I'm pretty sure that back in the great depression of the 1930's - people stood in line to pay 30 bucks per couple for salad. Right?

So, imagine my surprise when I went to a salad place last night, and the line was probably 30 people deep waiting to get into the door. I was completely shocked!

I've been going to this place every so often the whole time I've lived up here. And, I've never seen the place so packed. Even in the peak of the economy.

Self I said - this certainly doesn't look like retrenching. It was so amazing in fact, the place next to it - was completely empty. Yet people were willing to wait in that long line instead of bleeding over in the other establishments in the strip mall. For salad. Crap that you could go to the store for and make yourself for dirt cheep. And needs no special skill to make.

I wound up leaving. There isn't one single person who reads this blog who thinks I'm standing in a line like that. Right? Even so - I found the whole thing completely fascinating. Especially because our unemployment rate in California is much higher than the national average.

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Small.

He's totally on the wrong side.

I would have gotten you a bad ass yellow Lambo today with all it's wings or vents extended. Which I've never seen before. But, an asshole on a Harley, and the cops prevented me from catching up to the guy. Mr S. says the car runs close to 400 grand for the convertible version. Which this was. So - instead you get this.



I don't know how much it costs to import a car from the UK. But, he knows we sell Mini Coopers right here in America. Right? Well, not right hand side drive ones. But, still. Maybe he brought it over in his pocket. It was so small compared to everything else on the road.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Out.

I think I'm going to take a little time off. I've got nothing to give. Instead of leaving you guys hanging I figured I'd post it. If I feel like it - I might go into picture only mode. I'm going to try to be back by the 31st. Hopefully I'll still have some readers by the time I get back. If not - I understand.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

When you give it all you've got.

Life never, ever tires of screwing with me. It must find me entertaining. And it's times like this that I wished I believed in god - so I could cream f-u@! Don't you see how hard I work to do the right thing?

So, we took Saffron in today to the specialist. She does indeed have primary glaucoma. Which sucks on so many levels. One, she is so sweet and doesn't deserve this. Two, she can't be bred - and yet has all those qualities that you want in a pet. No we aren't breeders. We've neutered all our rabbits. But, when they pass - the thought always crosses our minds that it might have been nice to have some of the traits we loved so much. Saffron is up in the top 2 of those traits. Three - since it is an inherited thing, getting another from the same parent line comes with the possibility of the same. Also screwing up the idea of getting a pet with the same traits.

We did like the Veterinary Eye care place in San Carlos. The place was clean. Not next to a Chinese food restaurant. Modern. All the things we like in a vet. However - after we got the diagnosis. We asked about having the eye removed. Absolutely not = they said. She can still see. Yes, we know she can see - but there is a 100% chance the eye will die and it would need to be removed, right? Yes, but we aren't going to remove a seeing eye for your convenience.

Which is somewhat problematic for me. Okay - not somewhat. Really problematic. Now I know that most people don't take good care of their rabbits. Rabbit owners have to fight the bias that they aren't neglecting the pet. Some of that is completely warranted. Some isn't. Despite your best efforts, they hide things until they can't hide them anymore. No matter how hyper actively vigilant you are. And let me say - this eye still looked pretty damn good!

So, I understand where she was coming from. But, what does it even matter if it was for our convenience or not? If it was for convenience - most people would neglect the medication. Which would result in the eye swelling enough and possibly rupturing. Resulting in the eye needing removed anyway. Lets not even mention the last minute panic of trying to find a qualified rabbit vet. How for arguments sake is that better than just removing the eye now? There isn't any way of getting around that this eye will be removed. Now, later. Without medication. With medication. There is just no getting around it. And Oh BTW - we were willing to pay for laser surgery if it would have helped. How is that a neglective pet owner?

I hate the idea of taking the eye. Hate it! But, they eye is slowly dieing. And with rabbits, these things don't always happen at a controllable pace. Some days you wake up that the eye is just gone. Or effectively gone. This is just the way of the pet. The can literally cave in one day. I've had Paisleys allergies flare from nothing to a golf ball in 4 hours. That eye will loose sight. 100% chance. So why torture her for a year or two years trying to control the pressure?

It is just so odd. The first place we went to with Jane freaked me out because Jane could still see. Yet, they were completely ready to take the eye. I said "screw you - you aren't taking this eye. I'm fighting for it". And for three years I did. They never said the eye had an expiration. Now that I know it does, I want to do the right thing and just take it. If the other place didn't have so many creepy things going for it, I'd take her there.

I'm just really bummed.

Sunday, March 15, 2009

It's just weird.



I'm not a smoker. Never been a smoker. My family was, but I never took up the habit. And, I'm fairly bothered by smoke. I still find it ridiculous I saw this sign at an outdoor event. Which really is odd because I encounter smokers so rarely. Go to Vegas. Those people are serious smokers.



This is another thing I found odd. The money van. Which is actually the only reason we stopped at this thing. I saw it driving by, and forced Mr S. to find a place to stop and park.

When I was in my teens - my mom worked at a bank ferrying checks back and forth to banks at night. It was her second job. The cars always had these stickers that said "driver does not carry money".

I guess that whole idea has changed. It didn't even look armored! Hey - I'm full of money. Rob me. I thought the idea was horrible. But, the whole time I was there people were packed around it. It didn't even have a sign saying which bank it belonged to. It was the oddest thing.

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Saturday afternoon nothing.

Today has mostly been a wash. Mainly we've been trying to decide what to do with Saffron. What - if anything she can see. They are amazing fakers. And those whiskers and crazy hearing make up for the faking.

We've contacted the breeder to see if any of her breading lines have shown problems. Say what you will about breeders - this one is really responsible about her lines. I'm pretty sure she autopsies every single death she has. She has an amazing wealth of health information. She has information even our vets didn't think to check for. And they are super sharp.

Even when the rabbit didn't come from her. She has been able to tell us what to look for. When our Flemish came down sick, she told us to check for a certain virus. That turned out to be the problem. Sometimes I feel guilty contacting her. Oddly, always as a last resort. But, she is always willing to help and she has the most obscure health information. The kind we always need - because our rabbits don't come down with routine ailments. Those are old hat for us. So when we really need to contact someone - it's for the hard stuff.

I think we've decided to take her to a specialist. Not the one I went to last time. The one with the Chinese food restaurant next to it. My gut just wants to take the eye and be done. Today we found out in cats and dogs - glaucoma medication looses its effectiveness around 3 years. Which would have been just an interesting bit of data. But, we pushed Jane all the way to the end of effectiveness. Roughly 3 years.In hindsight we feel we should have taken the eye sooner. But I thought if I just tried harder - I could make the result different. That character flaw in me always screws me up.

From the information today - it sounds like I pushed it right to the edge. It would have been nice if any of the doctors Jane had seen, might have said "you know - you only have three years to figure this out". Truth be told, they honestly don't know. Medicine isn't an exact science. And with rabbits, we always seem to be in uncharted territory. They don't live long enough to have real health studies for them. And usually, we are the folks considered to be real life trial cases.

So my impulse is to just end this whole thing now. But, the new specialist has laser corrective surgery! Yipeee! That of course is sarcasm folks. It's only bothersome because it isn't easy to take a healthy living seeing eye. But, it only gets worse from here. So.....

Friday, March 13, 2009

People perplex me.

Today was my turn to go to the doctor. I've written about him before. Because it is a really odd relationship to me. I'm basically forced to go twice a year if I need it or not. And mostly I don't need it. But, I'm forced to go, so I show up.

Today's appointment was the last one before he takes lunch. So I had some agenda items. We always catch up with each others families. I'm not even kidding. I go to the doctor basically as a social visit. He is super nice - but, honestly I sort of hate having to take time out of my day for something I'm not even having a problem with. But, those are the rules I'm stuck with. So I play by the rules.

At any rate - we were talking for a little while, and he opened the conversational door for me by saying "thank goodness we finally have a friend in the White House". Perfect I think - because I want to ask him his feelings on socialized medicine. I don't really care that his views are different than mine. Religious people seem to flock around me too. It is just the way things are. It doesn't bother me. This is California after all. I'm the minority.

What he told me though really surprised me. He said that it didn't matter to him that much because he was planning to go into a specialised field. People will always pay for that. That he didn't make that much where he was at anyway. Which actually shocked me. His practice is in the rich district, and the parent group is based in an even wealthier area.

I've long ago figured out that it is actually less expensive to go to doctors in the wealthier districts, because oddly enough - they charge less. And the only way to find this out is - if you offer to pay cash. Which I've had to do because there have been many years I've been without insurance.

Which brings me to why I found the whole conversation so perplexing. The reason I kept this doctor is because of those times that I'd been without insurance. At that time it was great because he was trying to shun taking insurance. He cut his prices exactly in half for cash paying customers. And actually preferred not taking insurance. I'm not sure what happened with that.

Perhaps it wasn't worth the effort because I'd guess most people are insured. And people who are not, probably don't think to call and price out doctors in wealthy areas. I've been insured for a while - so it isn't easy for me to find out what happened. Anyway, I thought his reason for running away from insurance was to make more money than he had been making. All that paperwork really hogs up financial resources.

The other thing is - I know enough about him to know he is definitely not on the paupers list. The whole conversation in fact reminded me of a report that I'd seen recently that said most people think bad things only happen to other people. Which caught my attention right away. I always think the shit will hit me first then hit other people. So it shocked me that I was the only one who thought that way. From my conversation with my doctor. Maybe it's true most people think things wont affect them. Until it does.

As I was recounting this whole story to Mr S. I ended the conversation with "You know.. doctor such and such really hugs me differently than he used to". Which made Mr S. look at me funny and say "I've never had a doctor hug me". This made me laugh. This doctor and I have always hugged. But, today it was less of a greeting hug, and more of a hug you'd get from your family. NO - not your creepy uncle. I don't think my doctor is creepy. I just found the whole thing unusual.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

That again?

I guess this is interesting timing. With Easter coming up and all. If any of you Readers think it's a great idea to purchase a bunny. Don't. They are notorious money sucks.

So, I had to take Saffron in today. Apparently she has glaucoma. I can't even figure out what the odds of one household having two bunnies with glaucoma are. But, its probably way up there.

Jane Doe I can understand, she is a gutter stray. But Saffron we paid good money for. It just sucks. Glaucoma is such a frustrating chronic illness. With Jane, we kept her eye for 3 years. Until the eye couldn't survive anymore, and freaked out on a holiday. Oh BTW, bunnies always get sick on holidays. Always. Never forget it.

Though I think she has been happier since it was removed. So this time I want to yank Saffron's eye right away. It will just end up that way anyway. Caring for the eye only puts off the inevitable. But, the surgery is so traumatic. Especially because Saffron is so much more bonded to us. So leaving her overnight is a special worry. And, having to wear a cone so completely traumatizes bunnies. It sucks. Plus right now, everyone just has 1000+ dollars laying around. Right?

I repeat. Don't buy a bunny. Or even let one camp out on your door step. Those are the costliest ones.

Why so doomy Mr. Gloomy?

You know - an amazing thing happens when banks provide loans. They make money! Funny how that works. Of course banks say all sorts of things. So we are all cautious to believe them.

So when I saw this report last night (which I'm unable to imbed) but you should watch - backs up some of the stuff banks are claiming. It isn't only that houses are now starting to move. They are getting an unheard of amount of offers and houses are going for over asking. While housing prices were too expensive - the lack of loans created an artificial overreaction in price.

I've learned a lot about human behaviour over this housing mess. When people think they'll get something for cheaper - they wait. When they think they can't - they get off their asses and buy things.

Sure - the whole thing is probably a head fake. But, the story is interesting in how many offers houses are getting, and that 99% of the buyers are credit worthy qualified buyers.

From Yahoo News.

"BOSTON (Reuters) – Bank of America Corp (BAC.N) Chief Executive Kenneth Lewis said on Thursday the largest U.S. bank was profitable in January and February and said it should be able to ride out the recession without new help from the nation's taxpayers.

Lewis joined Citigroup Inc's (C.N) Vikram Pandit and JPMorgan Chase & Co's (JPM.N) Jamie Dimon among chief executives to say their banks were in the black this year.

He also said Bank of America will make money for all of 2009, after reporting the bank's first quarterly loss in 17 years for the October-to-December period."

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Just walk away.

As I was laying in bed last night trying to sleep. I was fuming about a recent revelation that one of my long time acquaintances had jingle mailed their house back to the bank. When I first found out - I wanted to reach out to her and offer support. I'd always thought of her as a hard worker. I felt this must be a hard time for her. Until I found out that she'd already bartered into another house. Within six months of walking away from her first house. I'm not sure what she bartered. I was too pissed off to ask.

I was just irritated about the whole thing. And it was then I realized - I actually know more people on a personal level - who have walked away from debt than have met their obligations. Obviously I don't know the financial situation of everyone I come into contact with. But, from the people I know well enough to know their financial situations I'd say 70% have claimed bankruptcy at some point, or walked away from a house. I know several people who have claimed bankruptcy more than once.

Normally I'd think I was some weird magnet for these types of people. But, they are from all walks of life. Poor, middle class, and some who would probably be considered quite well off.

Since America forgives all mistakes, there is no stigma to doing this. Everyone knows how to game the system. It is very hard to admit, but members of my own family would claim bankruptcy and they knew they could get a credit card within a year. Claiming bankruptcy actually made them a good credit risk apparently. I don't know what the rules are now, but you used only be able to claim bankruptcy every three years. So the cycle would start over.

It is just so frustrating. It feels like America has just turned into a bunch of con artists. "I didn't know I needed to pay those taxes". "I didn't know about my ballooning interest rate". "I didn't know I'd never be able to pay off my credit cards at 23% interest".

Everyone says "it's okay - you just made a mistake. You can start over". It just makes me so mad. Because on one hand - I see so many people suffering. And, it is very affecting. On the other I see all these con artists, who wind up fine in the end anyway.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

They are geeeeniuses!

From The Washington Post.

"Rep. Barney Frank (D-Mass.), the head of the House Financial Services committee, said that the SEC should restore the so-called "uptick" rule within a month, Reuters is reporting."

Breaking now! Also says that barn door should be closed after barn burns down.

You can read about the uptick rule here. Which basically says, you can't short a declining stock. Personally I would have thought that when the government bought stakes in all the banks - they would have instituted the uptick rule. Ya know. To protect their investment. But, what do I know. When the market sees only fear, not having the uptick rule is basically a company killer. (Waves hand like Vanna White) Like the banks.

I know - I've proven to be incredibly naive in this recession.

Just as an aside - I've asked many, many people why the government wasn't instituting the uptick rule. Not one person has been able to answer me. If anyone knows - I'd love to be filled in. Although I'm immediately suspicious because Barney Frank and Chris Dodd are proposing it.

Monday, March 09, 2009

At long last.

Readers, I about lost my mind when I saw this report. I thought to myself "I must go here as soon as possible". No more waiting for infinity for the server to bring my check. I've never quite understood why servers were so reluctant to turn over tables. But, it drives me crazy. Some people probably don't like being rushed. I like having my bill right away when I'm done - so I can leave.

That was a pretty dumb ass thing to do.

Right about midnight last night - I became obsessed with finding my set of keys for the Solstice. Mr. S's fob had failed, and you need both of them to get them reprogrammed. The room I was looking in had no light. And I didn't want to go get a flashlight. Being the super bright individual I am, I thought "hey, I have a laser pointer right here".

Hey! Things have been stressful. It obviously wasn't one of my smarter moments. What can I say? But, at least it wasn't the super powerful laser pointer that you need to turn a tiny key before you can flip the power on.

I never did find my key. But Mr S. and I had the following conversation.

Me - Mr S! Do you think I could have ruined my eyes by using the laser pointer as a light?

Him - No.

Me - But everything has a green tinge now.

Him - Snarkolepsy, that one isn't powerful enough. The green ting will even out in a little while.

We go on to watch Craig Ferguson. After about five minutes:

Me - Baby, are you sure I couldn't have damaged my eyes? They feel all gritty now. It couldn't be like that guy who put his head in a particle accelerator.... (this is where he interrupts me)

Him - Where you go to sleep only to wake up blind?

Me - Yes!

Him - No. It isn't like that.

Me - That was such a dumb thing to do. And I really like my eyes. It turns out the economy has made me into a common man.

Him - That's good, because manual labor jobs are all your going to be able to get.

Me - Well, that is fine for me. What about you? You have a hard time keeping track of your digits.

Him - Told to me by the woman who just used a laser pointer as a flash light.

Me - Yeah - I've just lost a ton of moral high ground haven't I?

Him - Yeah.

Me - I shouldn't have said anything, and just gone to sleep and woken up blind.

End of story.

Sunday, March 08, 2009

Reflection.

The frustration seems to be everywhere.



I'm not sure how long this has been up. But, I go to this little burrito place in Mountain View every couple of weeks. When I saw it this weekend - it made me reflect on how frustrated people must be to start writing crap on their houses. It reads:

Please
Help Save Mtn. View
Stop Abusive Code Inspections!
Dishonest Politicians Should Be Recalled
Affordable Housing Is an Issue.


I'm not sure what affordable housing and code enforcement has in common. But, painting it on the side of a house got my attention.

Saturday, March 07, 2009

That's odd.



Because, what you really need with bait - is fine wine. What? You don't think so?

It's a tea party.

I don't know how I feel about protesting. I guess mostly I feel like it is symbolic and useless. The government never listens to us anyway. Yet today, I found myself at one of those Tea Party protests in Monterey. I don't really understand these things. Mainly because I can't figure out the demographic. Especially in Monterey. Military and tourists. The protesters all seem to be working class people - who I think wouldn't be that affected by the proposed tax increases. Calm down! I'm not saying I agree with increasing taxes. Only that I'd expect a different demo to protest it.

I'd heard the request was for people to "bring teabags". Which I have to admit - gave me a completely different mental image. What? You haven't read this blog? Quit acting so surprised.

Anyway, they were certainly much better behaved than those free Palestine protesters. No chanting. When the time for their protest permit was up, those people vanished in one minute flat. If I'd have gotten there any later, I would have missed the whole thing. I had that little time to take shots. Luckily I got these.







Yes. That is a mounted pig.







Thursday, March 05, 2009

Step up to the plate for a real world lesson.

Let me tell you a story. Mr S. works for a place that used to subsidize the cafeteria. That is before the economy went south. I don't think it was a 100% free lunch. But, close to it. The food was pretty marginal, apparently. But, because it was free - it didn't matter.

Well, all companies are fighting to reserve cash now. So away went the subsidized food. Mr S. was in there (the cafeteria) a few days ago and had asked how business going. Not so good apparently. The staff decided they were going to start making sandwiches for people, instead of prepackaging them. You know - stuff people are willing to spend their own money on.

Which is why when I read this story I laughed and laughed an laughed.

From Yahoo business.

"Chicago philanthropist Richard Kiphart contributed generously to Barack Obama's campaign and is glad he backed a winner.

But he's among many donors and recipients in the philanthropic world worrying that Obama's new tax proposals could deter future giving at a time when many nonprofits already are in crisis mode.

"I just think they're wrong on this," said Kiphart, a corporate finance executive at global investment firm William Blair & Company. "All these organizations are crying: 'Why are they doing this to us?'"


Oh - now all of a sudden you like rich people? But, this wasn't the best part.

"A lot of these organizations are going to die in the next six or nine months," she said. "Saying you want to play around with the tax code only makes things worse psychologically."

Nonprofit officials and philanthropy experts interviewed by The Associated Press agreed that tax consequences are a secondary factor for many donors.

"I would guess that most of the people who support the museum do so because they have a passion for our mission and not because of the tax breaks," said Tim Hallman, director of marketing and communications at San Francisco's Asian Art Museum."


This is the crap that only people who get shit for free can come up with. Now, I don't give to charity. Unless you call charity - a job. But, I can't even do that now since everyone is being rewarded not doing the right things. After today, I honestly don't even know what I'm fighting for. Really? Bankruptcy judges get to lower your mortgage payment? Well f-ing-a. What I am fighting for then? Mr S. and I both have family members who have filed for bankruptcy, and we've fought hard our whole lives to not have that happen to us. But- I guess they are right and we are wrong. Who would have thunk it. Money is just falling from the sky. And anyone that still has any money - is the sky.

Let me tell you - the arts are going to be a little like the cafeteria where Mr S. works. When people realize they can't deduct that money - the arts are going to look pretty crappy compared to stuff they'd actually spend their own money on. And, let me be clear - that is their own money. The government just lets you keep a little more of it. But, since the deduction is a simple deduction, as long as its charitable - it doesn't really matter one way or the other where you give it. If they have to give out of pocket, your shit ain't that good. Mark my words.

Again.. I don't even contribute to charity.

Update: But, Hollywood does! Since I don't give to charity, maybe I'm okay with that tax increase. Isn't that how all the tax increases get passed? Doesn't affect me! Tax those guys. The chatter will be super interesting though. Poor Hollywood. I tried to squeeze out a tear...it just wasn't working for me.

Is it more cost effective for a postman to drive or walk their route?

You know I'm a curious sort.

The only reason I ask is - it was about spring of last year when I noticed postal workers not walking their routes in my town anymore. They were driving to every single house. At the time I was getting 4 inches of junk mail a day. Some days I would get 10 credit card applications. And I'm not even exaggerating. Sure gas was crazy expensive. But, I figured most people were getting a ton of junk mail and it wouldn't make sense for the carrier to go back to the truck as often as he would have needed.

Well - this year my junk mail has decreased by 80%. Some days I only get a whispy postcard or two. Yet my mailman still drives to every single house. I'm expecially curious now, because last month the postal service was whining about loosing so much money. And how they wanted to cut a day from the delivery route.

It seems to me that maybe they could cut back on costs by... ya know. Walking. But, maybe it isn't as cost effective as I think.

Wednesday, March 04, 2009

I need tinfoil!

Seen in San Fransisco.





I love San Fransisco. I really do. But I'm thinking if you believe this crap - maybe living anywhere in the Bay Area isn't the right place for you.

Hey! Maybe this is what causes all the peds to be so completely annoying up there. Am I the only one on the planet who speeds up while crossing a street? In SF you'd think these people had never seen a car. And after all - who gives a shit if you hold up traffic. Evil cars shouldn't even be on the roads anyway.

Tuesday, March 03, 2009

Pictures from the show.

Alright Readers! You know I'm not that crafty. But, this is one of the few things I liked from the knitting show. It was an "easier" do it yourself felt making kit. I don't know how felt making works. But.. who cares. I found it interesting. From Artfelt.





You apparently poke the yarn though the cloth.





Roll it up. (put it in a stocking) Then toss it into the dryer.



Then after it cools use boiling hot water to melt the cloth off.



I asked the guy if he had a you tube video. No such luck. Be he was really, really - kind and gracious. Now he is on my blog. Well, his hands are.

Isn't the goverment breaking its own antitrust laws?

If AIG were say... Microsoft. Wouldn't the government be slapping a big ol' antitrust suit on them?

Of DOW JONES NEWSWIRES


"CHICAGO (Dow Jones)--Among the keenest detractors of American International Group Inc.'s (AIG) ever-growing U.S. taxpayer bailout is the insurer's rivals, who say it throws a monkey wrench into their own businesses.

Competitors who have been overshadowed for years by AIG's dominance in key commercial insurance markets now see AIG's problems as an opportunity. But there is growing frustration that the government keeps stepping in to thwart what could be business prospects for them, said Andrew Barile, an insurance consultant in Rancho Santa Fe, Calif.

Moreover, it's daunting having the government as a big investor in a competitor. "The challenge is that we have a regulator who also is an investor," said Mike Foley, chief executive officer of Zurich Financial Services Group's (ZFSVY) North American commercial segment. "From a competitive dynamic, it creates some confusion if your competitor is also your regulator."

The Wrath of Keynes, part 2

A writer in the Las Vegas Review Journal notes the odd resurgence of Keynesian economics.  The key paragraphs:
In brief, Keynesianism -- as set forth by Keynes 73 years ago in his "General Theory of Employment, Interest and Money" -- holds that the twin answers to unemployment and economic downturns are massive government deficit spending and "cheap money" -- the artificial driving down of interest rates to "free up more credit."

This is relevant because this precisely describes the massive and inherently inflationary market interventions that have been brewed up in Washington since the middle of last year, sponsored as enthusiastically by Republicrats as Demopublicans -- despite the fact that Mr. Hazlitt, way back in 1959, demonstrated not only that these Keynesian remedies did not work, but that they often had precisely the opposite effect of that intended!

I guess great minds think alike. 

Monday, March 02, 2009

This story isn't going to go in the direction you think it will.



I've pretty much given up on predicting what I will find entertaining. So I find myself in places I'd have otherwise never have given a chance. Sometimes you find a gem. Sometimes you get a funny story. At any rate. This is how I wound up at a knitting show this weekend. All the crafty stuff is back in style. So, why not?

But, this is not what I'm going to blog about.

Since my thing is really taking photos, I'm always gauging the venue etiquette. Do I see a posted photo policy? Does everyone have their cell phone out taking pictures? If the answer is yes - I feel free to take any photos I want. However, if I don't - the obvious rule is to ask before I do.

Previously this hasn't bothered me that much. However I've seen an interesting change in vendors attitudes lately. Especially in the non tech arena. They all expect you to ask. Which sounds like no big deal. Right? Now imagine going to an event where you needed to ask 100 vendors if you can take pictures. It actually has turned into something really exhausting in itself. And in my opinion pretty ridiculous.

You see in the tech world, we live with the understanding that anyone can reproduce your idea at any time. If your product is unique, you protect it through the legal system. If not - you accept there will be reproduction. The craft world apparently doesn't understand this concept yet.

Now, I sound like I'm unfairly stereotyping this group. Which is not my intention. The vast majority have been so extremely kind and gracious in letting me take pictures. More kind than I can ever imagine. There is a small segment however that are really irritating. Take this weekend for example.

I'd walked in and decided this was an event I needed to ask before shooting. Everything was fine. I'd gotten 3/4 of the way through the vendors when I stopped and wanted to take a photo of a person who was tending a booth. I was patiently waiting for them to stop talking to someone - so I could ask. When out of the corner of the booth I hear "you can't take photos in here - they will escort you out". I didn't even have my camera cocked or anything.

Which immediately took me aback. I'd already been taking photos and met with zero resistance. All the vendors had been happy to let me take photos. So this whole interaction made me laugh. I replied to the woman that not one person had mentioned it before her. And BTW - I was waiting for the other person in the booth to finish their conversation so I could ask if I could take a photo. The photographic target in question actually agreed to let me take my shots. They were completely fine with it.

After I took my shots I went to look through something like the last 20 booths. This "policy" was obviously negotiable. All the rest of the booths were completely fine with me taking photos. At the very last booth there was actually something I found really interesting. The person manning the booth was happy to give me a demonstration and let me take all the pictures I wanted. I liked the product so much I wanted to buy one of the kits. That booth didn't have the kits, but sent us to another who might have them.

It was absolutely the last place we were stopping. I was done. But, when I got there I asked the vendor if I could take photos. She declined. I was completely fine with that. I was done anyway. End of story. I thought. Mr S. was paying the vendor for the kit - and I decided to review some of my shots. My camera is pointed down at the ground. I'm looking down into my LCD. When I hear "you can't take photos here". Which quite honestly - irritated me. There was no way this woman could have mistaken my posture for anything except what I was doing. Reviewing shots. So I shot back "well - I'm not taking photos".

Then she went on to say the venue has a policy. Bla bla bla. They'd announced it yesterday over the loudspeaker. Which BTW is not a policy. A policy is something you post so people can see it. And besides. I'd had a little conversation with a wonderful gentleman at the gift show last month(where there was also an un-posted picture policy - which most everyone didn't abide by) and I gotten the distinct impression that these "policies" existed so that if someone got mad, they could escort you out. However, if you asked them most were really happy to have you take photos.

Still I was tired, and really wanted the thing I was buying. Yet I couldn't believe I was giving money to the only vendor who wouldn't let me take photos. If the person manning the previous booth hadn't have been so nice - I would have walked. I kind of feel like "you mean I want to give you free advertising (as minimal as it is) and buy the items you are selling - and you are getting all bunchy about me taking photos? Irritating.

I know these people like to think they are protecting some kind of intellectual property. But, all that crap looked the same to me. And, I find it hard to believe someone else on the internet isn't displaying exactly what they are trying to protect.



Yarn from the knitted animals at the top of the page brought to you by Malabrigo. Who were immensely gracious about letting me take photos.

Sunday, March 01, 2009

Shortest truce on the planet.

First I have to say - Mr S.! OMG you took the best shot ever!



Mr S. and I were in in Santa Clara today. So, we had to stop for breakfast. Which really should be considered lunch. That would be what most people call it. It's the safest thing for all concerned. You all know this by now. Right?

Anyway. Within a minute of being seated - I could hear this wailing. I was sure it was a baby, and considered asking to be seated in another section. I hoped for it to stop. The place was unusually packed. It was also about 12:30. You know how quickly things go downhill around this time. Right. My resistance was low. So, I started mentally chanting my mantra. "Suck it up wussie - these people are buying stuff". However, the wailing never stopped and I started getting progressively more pissed off.

There is just something about a high pitched wailing that eats into the very center of my being.

I couldn't actually see this child. Mr S. however was able to see the child clearly and told me it wasn't actually a baby. Where I almost lost my shit. Oh, Readers. It gets better! This woman had two ill mannered monsters. Twins. When you can't get one of them to shut up - the best thing is to have two of them. Then bring them out to a restaurant so everyone else can enjoy your misery. Then ignore them while everyone else wants to punch you in the freaking vagina!

Anyway. I made it though. Oddly about 5 minutes before we were done - this couple left. Two tables with newly born babies were seated. Not a peep out of them.

I know you weep for me. Part 4. It's okay.

This is the last of these. I'm bored of them now. But, it gives you something to look at while I decompress from my day and try to form the days events into a post.





I don't know why - but for some reason I like this store. Mostly just the play on words. Now that I can see what they sell, I question why anyone would think they should set up inside of a mall. Seems like a narrow niche. But, that is just me. Still - love the name.





 
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