Friday, July 31, 2009

Sunshine and lollipops.

Listen - I know you don't come here to be bummed out. I will have have some interesting stuff for you soon.

Yet, I was wondering... is the stock market making you feel all fine and rosy? Is the administration soothing your nerves that everything is going to be okay? Companies are reporting better then expected profits? Well, cut it the hell out. I don't say this to shit on your parade. However, I've been watching in a highly perplexed fashion companies report a decrease in profits from 25% all the way to 91%.

Sure, you say, these people are still making a profit. Not so fast optimist one. These kind of hits in profit only spell one thing. More layoffs. Don't believe me?

It was either yesterday or today that I heard a small blip that oil companies are laying off staff. Despite the high oil price right now, these companies have taken a big hit in profits. It turns out there are actually a lot of layoffs in the queue, but companies are doing it in a fashion that doesn't draw attention. Smaller, with gag orders and the like.

The other peculiar item is - a lot of the companies that make green jobs are also laying off. Siemens, GE. Which is odd. As a solid moderate - I'm left to decide if the administration doesn't see whats happening, or is purposely running us into a ditch. Because, you know, if I'm the president my top priority is to make sure that people get back to work. They sort of start getting hostile after a while. When you stray from that purpose, it makes people a little paranoid. Especially when jobs are being cut from both sides of the energy equation. People who work in energy make a pretty good living after all. And not all those evil corporate CEO's. All the union guys.

If all that doesn't make you feel like jumping off a bridge (don't by the way), I flashed on growing up in the 70's. A time of plentiful layoffs. They always used to layoff right before Christmas. Always. Even though I was super young, it has always stuck with me. Poor people are always laid off first, and the kids would always not get any toys.

It stuck with me enough that every time there has been a recession and people got laid off around Christmas I would flash back and think "man it just sucks - they always do this right before Christmas". It is as consistent as the day is long.

Maybe I'm crying about the sky falling, and it really won't. Stroll through layoff tracker and see if you still feel the same. From what I see, manufacturing is going to take a pretty bad hit. All of a sudden you'll hear stock market guys talking about a "sudden and severe correction".

Just sayin. Besides - if you squirrel away a little cash and it doesn't happen, what harm is done?

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Wow. Just wow.

These people are seriously fing joking me. Right? I can't even believe how much these people have lost their minds. I swear things have been good for so long, people starting getting bitrot in their brains, and have actually turned mentally ill. Because honestly, I can not believe the insanity of the world right now.

From the AP.

MEXICO CITY – Surprised tourists found their little piece of Cancun beach paradise ringed by crime-scene tape and gun-toting sailors on Thursday.

Environmental enforcement officers backed by Mexican navy personnel closed off hundreds of feet (dozens of meters) of powder-white coastline in front of a hotel accused of illegally accumulating sand on its beach.

Mexico spent $19 million to replace Cancun beaches washed away by Hurricane Wilma in 2005. But much of the sand pumped from the sea floor has since washed away, leading some property owners to build breakwaters in a bid to retain sand. The practice often merely shifts sand loss to beaches below the breakwaters.

"Today we made the decision to close this stretch of ill-gotten, illegally accumulated sand," said Patricio Patron, Mexico's attorney general for environmental protection. "This hotel was telling its tourists: 'Come here, I have sand ... the other hotels don't, because I stole it.'"

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Unintentionally Funny

Keep in mind, this is not a parody. The Interviewer here is real true greenie.

Does she thinks this helps her cause? Doesn't she realize that this just shows the Green movement to be the latest version of the Emperor's New Clothes?

This totally reminds me of a video from the Howard Stern show from before the election. A Stern staffer went to Harlem to interview people about how they felt about Obama, except the interviewer purposefully switched all of Obama's positions with McCain's.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Do you see me now?

Someone needs to start getting a hold on unemployment. People are losing their shit.

"Fresno, CA (KFSN) -- Long lines, short tempers and hot temperatures turned into a recipe for an ugly scene that started as a job opportunity and ended with five arrests. Police say people started lining up before 5 a.m., hoping for a job at WinCo. The grocery store is still under construction at Kings Canyon and Peach but the hiring process is already underway.

Screams and fighting women interrupted the wait for a job Monday. It happened when hundreds of people showed up to apply for work. Instead, they ended up witnessing this brawl. "Out of nowhere they just start hitting each other, and the next thing you know more people start fighting," said Eduardo Oceguera.

Fresno police officers arrived on the scene within minutes. They say the fight was the result of a longtime family feud. Five people are now facing charges of fighting in public. "One officer arrived, tried to separate the fighters and had to resort to using pepper spray on three or four people," said Sgt. Richard de Jong.

The people who lined up for jobs say tempers started to get short as people waited in the hot sun for hours. Many left disappointed, leaving with only an application. "I thought we were going to be interviewed on the spot. But we got in there, and they gave us this paper, and it says to come back to Piccadilly "

Watch the video here.

Good for the soul.

Normally I'm not hanging out in Oakland - unless the court is forcing me. Yet, getting out of town always means finding a good breakfast place. My city completely disowns breakfast. They act as if it doesn't exist. We have 3 breakfast places, and only one of them is good. Since I only eat breakfast on the weekends, it's fun to hunt down good places elsewhere.

Since I was going to be up in Berkeley - we thought we'd find a place up there. The yelp search turned up a place called Lois the Pie Queen. Normally I would have dismissed this place altogether because it was in Oakland (not Berkeley), but it was the most highly rated restaurant. And - you see the name right? How does that not intrigue you?

After google mapping the place to see if the area was ghetto, we decided to try it. I'm glad we did. They make everything from scratch. Even the English muffins. The biscuits make you want to cry they are so freakin' good. The owner came out to thank you when you left. It was just a really nice place.

Monday, July 27, 2009

It's like a dark cloud that follows you everywhere.

I have to admit - the unending stream of bad news is a constant strain. So when the stock market went up, it seemed people were starting to feel a little better. There were way more cars on the road. Even I started to feel a little relieved. I thought the whole thing was a head fake. Yet, maybe I was wrong. Everyone was saying the worst was behind us.

One thing that was especially troubling me was the amount of people who were saying retail was going to explode. I'd only been into zombie malls in the last couple of months. The ones that have been struggling for years. Surely all the malls weren't as bad off. I didn't think they were doing great either.

So Mr S. and I set off for a mall in one of the wealthier districts. What I found there honestly flipped my shit. 90% of the stores had a billboard sign right at the front door touting their markdowns. I know this is a seasonally slow time of the year, but I've never seen anything like this in my life. Most were doing an odd "buy one, get the second at 50% off". Many were just up to 60% off, and some all the way to 70% off.

The furniture store was just closing it's doors all together and having a fire sale. Even so - no one was in the store.

The rare exceptions? Abercrombie who was wafting fragrance out the door with abandon. And the Apple store. The corresponding AT&T store which was huge, was completely empty. All the baby clothes stores seemed to be going completely out of business. This was a high end mall.

I honestly don't know how those guys are going to make it. It also confirmed what I was feeling before - all the supposed good news is a head fake. As much as I hate to say it.

The other troubling thing I saw was this:

EBT is food stamps. Honestly, the use of food stamps had been so low - I didn't even know they'd changed the name to something less stigmatizing. The use has apparently gone up enough that even 7-11 is taking it now. Which is very troubling. This doesn't sound like the use of food stamps is going to be a temporary thing.

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Octopi in the sky.

Berkeley kite fest. More to follow.

Saturday, July 25, 2009

When the price goes up, people buy less

I'm constantly amazed at the economic illiteracy of our government, news media, and the general public.

Ok class, say it with me:

"When the price of something goes up, people will buy less of it"

It's something we all deal with on a daily basis.
  • When gasoline prices spike, people drive less.
  • When airline prices go up, people fly less.
  • When beef prices go up, people eat less beef.
  • When home prices go up, people buy less houses.
  • When the cost of a movie ticket goes up, people go to the movies less
It doesn't matter what the object or service is, when the price goes up, people tend to buy less of it. Common sense, right? People intuitively get this. No argument, no excuses, no "well, that's just one theory" -- people pretty much accept this as a true.

"When the price of something goes up, people will buy less of it"

So what do they think is going to happen when the cost of minimum wage labor goes up?

Anyone? Anyone? Bueller?

Thursday, July 23, 2009

It's a great gig.

There is something that has been bothering me for quite a while now. I've spent lots of time trying to figure out how to explain it so I didn't seem un-thankful for the dangerous jobs they do. Generally I'm extremely supportive of people who serve our country. However, this one issue keeps poking me and poking me.

It's the firefighters.

Remember a while back when I mentioned I felt firefighters were padding the payrolls? I only became aware of this issue because all the firefighters in my town were sporting really expensive cars. New Volvo's and Audi's and the like.

At the time I wished I taken pictures, because it seemed pretty unbelievable that I was claiming most of them were driving so many expensive new cars. Sure, maybe the chief was sporting an expensive car here and there, but surely not most of them.

Except for the last 10 years, I never remember firefighters driving in such luxury. They all sport these licence plates, so it's easy to tell they are firefighters.

Well, this month I got an opportunity to show just the kind of cars our firefighters are diving. Lexus, and BMW 5 series. These pictures were taken a couple of weeks ago, and I thought I could still squash the feeling to blog about it.

Then last night, I read this story where they sent 35 firefighters to a house fire.

"By Roman Gokhman
Contra Costa Times
Posted: 07/22/2009 09:20:05 PM PDT

MORAGA — A kitchen fire caused $250,000 worth of damage to a Moraga house Wednesday morning.

The fire was reported at 10:15 a.m. in the 1100 block of Larch Avenue by the resident, who returned home from running errands to find his kitchen on fire, Moraga-Orinda Fire Department investigators said.

The department and Contra Costa Fire District sent 35 firefighters to the home. By the time they arrived the house was empty. They were able to contain the blaze to the kitchen and attic, though the rest of the house had extensive smoke damage.

The fire was controlled at 10:40 a.m. The cause remained under investigation Wednesday evening."

Maybe it was a ginormous mansion right? Not so much. I plugged the block into google maps, and the houses are somewhat average. 35 guys are a huge amount of people.

I noticed this trend on my own block one day. I heard all these sirens. I thought it was a huge house fire. It turned out to be a small fire. Flames and smoke never even erupted from the house at all, and there were about 10 guys. I have pictures. I was shocked the house wasn't more fully engulfed for the amount of people they sent.

Now I don't begrudge these guys for working hard and buying beemers. But, padding the staff kind of pisses me off. Considering our state is in so much trouble.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

People have lost their minds.

Some days - I don't know what is becoming of this country. People have lost all touch with reality, and honestly - it freaks me out.

I ran across the video before the actual AP story. Which really bordered on histrionics.

From the AP.

"MIAMI – The body of a shark was left lying in the middle of a downtown Miami street after two men tried to sell it to several fish markets. The men apparently carried the five or six-foot-long fish around on the city's Metromover downtown train, prompting calls to police.

News footage Tuesday night showed the dead animal in the street with police officers and cruisers nearby. Two stations reported that a pair of men had tried to sell the animal to at least three fish markets for around $10."

Oh, thank heavens - I thought. Crime must be really down in Miami, because here there are shootings on the news every single day now. Lots of them.

Ooooh. Wait.

The story goes onto say:

"It was a relief that it was a shark," said Keith Smith. "When I first saw it, I thought it was a body because of all the shootings that have been going on."

The more irritating part is - the amount of resources they deployed for this issue.

"Wildlife officials later determined the animal was a nurse shark. The case could result in misdemeanor charges of improper killing and disposal of an animal and selling a shark without a license."

Really, people? Can you really blame a couple of guys for trying to make some money anyway they can these days? It's a shame they didn't succeed. Shark is delicious. Yet, they closed off the street and went all CSI and made this thing a crime scene. Un,fing,believable.

Well, at least when the police tell you they are overworked, you will know why. Video follows. You seriously have to watch it.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Still ruining the earth.

I haven't had one of these post in a really long time. Companies have been pretty good.

The thing is - I don't even give a shit about the earth. I care that these companies make profits and give people jobs. Which is why, when they send me non breakable items all fluffed up in bubble wrap - it sort of annoys me. What I really want is for them to just shove this shit in a padded envelope so we can all be happy. If you have to run over it with a car to break it - it doesn't need to be in a box. Okay?

This is how sent me hedge trimmer line. I bet I could drop a brick on this stuff and it wouldn't break. Sending it in a reinforced envelope seems like a no brainer. And no - I couldn't buy it locally. The stores were out. What do you care anyway. I probably gave five people jobs to get this to my house.

This is the funnier one though. Camera sensor cleaner swabs. For the love of gawd I can't believe I spend 3-4 bucks a pop on these, and still have dust in my pictures. I often find myself chanting "must make clean. MUST MAKE CLEAN". The hazards of changing lenses all the time I guess.

These are super non breakable. The are practically q-tips for shits sake. Envelope please Adorama.

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Bad ass cars - geek edition.

You know a viper is enough to catch my attention. You do know that. Right? I saw this car several blocks away. So, I whipped around to take pictures. When I got there I was confused by the CB radio looking antenna. Not so cool. It seemed really odd on an expensive sports car. And, some can argue the older vipers are not as expensive - but, they are much better looking than the new vipers which sort of just look like tiny corvettes.

When I got home I plugged in the vanity plate, and found out this guy was from a broadband company.

He couldn't be sporting a wireless broadband connection could he? Because that would be so totally bad ass.

Saturday, July 18, 2009

Where did all the flies go?

Mrs S. and I have lived in the same East Bay small town for over ten years now. The town has cattle pastures on all sides. Every previous summer, the town is overrun by flies, especially when it gets hot. They're just everywhere.

But not this year. There's almost no flies at all. Don't get me wrong, it's really nice. But at the same time, a little spooky. What happenned? The cattle are still there. Where did all the flies go?

Thursday, July 16, 2009

It's a new world.

Pretty much every day now, there are cars broken down on the side of the road. It's such an dramatic difference from last year - where every now and then you'd see someone broken down. You'd always see the drivers on a cell phone, so there was never any need to stop.

Plus, this is California. We don't really do that around here. Stop, that is.

I was always amazed when I lived in Texas, just how many people would stop to help you. If your boat or car broke down, people would almost fall all over themselves trying to make sure you were okay. Not here though. It's been that way as long as I can remember.

So today when I was out, I heard that familiar sound of someone trying to turn their engine over. I hoped they'd get it running before I got done with what I was doing. It was an older woman and her two kids. Which irritatingly made me feel bad for her and forced me to stop. I tried to remember if I had my jumper cables in the car.

I pull over and ask her if her battery is dead. No - she replies. I then ask her if her car is an automatic or a manual. Which I already pretty much knew the answer to. It was some 80's Taurus kind of car.

In the day, you could pretty much get any car to start by jumping the clutch. As long as your battery wasn't dead. No such luck. It was an automatic. She thanked me for stopping and said she'd handle it.

Later though, it made me realize that all those skills I used to have are now sort of dead. I used to have mad skills working on beaters. The cars have too much crap in the motors now for the average person to fix. And anyway, the Internet tells me how to fix cars now.

That probably sucks for all the people who have had to downgrade into 25 year old cars. Prosperity made it so average people didn't really need to know how to work on them. It's not so great now, when people obviously can't afford to take their cars in for service. It's just weird how times change.

Sunday, July 12, 2009

No end of dumbasses in sight.

I thought when unemployment got a certain level, people would get better at their jobs. It turns out I was oh so wrong.

This morning Mr S. and I went to an event which required you to go through metal detectors to enter the event. Which is no big deal. It's pretty much expected with any gathering of thousands of people.

This of course made the line wait pretty long. Additionally, going through metal detectors makes my anxiety tick up a little. I'm usually carrying my camera bag with a couple lenses. I'm not comfortable handing off that kind of money to anyone. Especially not your average security worker.

Most of the time though, they just make you open your bag and all is well. This is what I expected at this event. They'd just want to look in the bag.

So, the girl in front of me walks up and hands her purse to the security guard on the outside of the metal detector. Then walks through the machine. He then hands her back the purse without having her open the bag or even checking inside.

Self I say - that is really odd! Maybe they don't want to deal with privacy issues with women's bags. Still I think, "crap, now this security guard is going to be in full possession of my camera gear". I prepare myself up to tell the guard to be careful with my bag.

I walk up. Hand him my bag, walk through the metal detector. He hands me my bag back. It never goes through the detector, and he never searches it. My eyes become like saucers. If there is any bag that should be searched, mine should fit the criteria. It could never be mistaken for a woman's purse. It also doesn't look like camera bag. It weights probably five or six pounds. It's all hard and bumpy. Sort of like smuggling a six pack of beer or soda in something the size of a womans purse. Only heavier. Since I usually carry it around for hours, the smaller bag I have to carry the better. I shove a lot of stuff into a very small area.

Granted, I don't fit the profile of someone they would expect is going to cause trouble. But, we go there all the time for car shows and they don't have the metal detectors there. So, why go through all the trouble of trucking in the machines, if you aren't even going to search bags? It was just the oddest thing. They were even wanding some people. Yet, if you wanted to get in a gun - I guess you could just hand it to a chick with a purse.

The funny thing is - that when I handed him the bag, I could see it register on his face that that bag seemed oddly heavy for a woman's purse. He still didn't ask to search it.

Saturday, July 11, 2009

Typoon summer.

It's pretty unusual to see this stuff in the summer. Hell,these days it's pretty unusual to see it in the winter. I think the state is in 50% severe drought. So it was a real surprise. Though we didn't even get enough to wet the ground at all, all day long you'd feel a drop or two. It was really nice.

Wednesday, July 08, 2009

You hear that sound?

It's the sound of another bubble popping. NO - seriously.

This post is a little dry, but it gives you a great look into how the clean energy push is going to blow up in the worlds face. These are the same people who are forcing car companies to make green cars and cramming through legislation to force us to use green energy. When the sector right at this moment is dying. It's in serious, serious trouble.

Let me ask you. If you thought you'd make a bunch of money selling a product - wouldn't you jump for joy if you got an 18% discount on buying the machine that made the product? Me too!

Apparently, companies who put up wind farms don't think so. Bloomberg reports that Wind Turbine orders fell 50% the first half of this year. On top of that - turbine prices have fallen 18%. It makes you wonder, how are those companies going to stay in business?

The easy answer is - they aren't. I'm not sure at this point there is any way to salvage this sector.

See, I always thought the "small guys" would be put out of business, and all the work would be funneled to "the big guys". Not so fast eco warrior!

There are a few really large players in the wind turbine field. One of them is Suzelon. It's the 5th largest turbine maker by sales. It seems their turbines weren't built so well, and they had a mishap where a blade fell off of one of their turbines. Which tanked the stock. Here. They had to replace or reinforce almost every blade they shipped. That cuts into profit.

This caused Suzelon to want to take over component companies so that crap didn't happen again. But, this made investors worried Suzlon might not have enough money and would need to sell assets to get it. Even green energy companies aren't able to get loans. And, why would investors be worried really? They only had to slash 50% of it's US workforce due to slack demand.

Apparently they couldn't raise the money, because all of a sudden a company called Vestas is trying to take over a stake in Hansen Transmission which is 61% owned by Suzelon. Except that Vestas doesn't seem to have any money either.

Vestas is the #1 manufacturer or turbines. They just announced they were closing a plant in Britain and the workers are pissed. But who cares really. They must have been giant assholes because the company wanted to move to the US to escape them. They must have crazy labor costs, because the US labor isn't cheap. They bitched and moaned that last year Vestas made record profit. Which they might have.

As usually is the case with these people, they don't understand that last year isn't this year. By the time a company starts letting you know they are in trouble, they've been in trouble a while. And BTW - turbine orders have dropped 50% this year. Do the math geniuses! Or read the news about Vestas market oversupply here.

But, hey - if the prices for these things have been falling, why aren't governments snapping them up at reduced prices? Why? If they were serious about "green energy" this should be a win for everyone. Right?

Apparently not, because prices for the turbines are expected to fall another 20% Which is not good.

Say it with me folks. Not good!

The #1 and #5 manufacturer have laid off 9% and 50+% of workers respectively. What is another 20% price drop in turbines going to do to them? Hmmmm? I haven't looked at the companies in between #1 and #5, but I'd bet money they are not doing any better.

I bet T. Boone Pickens is wishing he would have unloaded those turbines he has sitting around. It looks to me like he was trying to bail before things got really bad.

I always wanted the price of this stuff to come down so I could afford it. So everyone could afford it if they wanted to use it. Yet with a 50% order decrease and an estimated 48% price decrease - it looks like all the governments of the world are not going to be able to hide the fact that this technology was bullshit all along.

As a side note - I find it really dishonest that this Pew article came out a few days ago.

"The report finds that the emerging clean energy economy is creating well-paying jobs in every state for people of all skill levels and educational backgrounds. Included in Pew’s definition are jobs as diverse as engineers, plumbers, administrative assistants, construction workers, machine setters, marketing consultants, teachers and many others, with annual incomes ranging from $21,000 to $111,000."

They didn't use any data from this year, where it's obvious to anyone who looks that green jobs are being shed at an alarming rate. Not being created.

As we stood on the ledge - he said, jump you bastards.

July 8 (Bloomberg) -- " Chancellor of the Exchequer Alistair Darling today will set out measures to tighten regulation of the British banking industry, requiring institutions to plan for their own demise, a person familiar with the plan said.

The proposals from the Treasury will require banks to keep on file instructions on how to unwind their own businesses to assist regulators in a rescue. Darling will give details of the plans in a statement to Parliament at 12:30 p.m. in London.

The rules are aimed at preventing a repeat of turmoil in financial markets that forced Britain to rescue Royal Bank of Scotland Group Plc and Lloyds Banking Group Plc last year. Prime Minister Gordon Brown’s government is coordinating the overhaul with President Barack Obama’s administration in the U.S.

The Treasury is adopting all the recommendations made in March by Financial Services Authority Chairman Adair Turner, who called for a “revolution” in the way the industry is governed. He suggested banks hold more capital and hedge funds be more open with regulators. He wants mortgage loans not to exceed the value of the property they are secured against. "

While all well and good sounding - this is why you can't get a loan. As fewer people get loans, the more the government will require banks to hold more capital.

Now, I despise the banks with every cell in my being, but you only have to look past the immediate gratification contained in the sentiment, and you will realize this pattern will not end well. A plan that would make even the likes of Hugo Chavez proud.

Which to be quite honest - I can't even believe I'm saying. Yet, I can't figure out who is trying to injure us more. The banks or the administration(s).

I can't blame it all on the current administration after all. Way back here in March 2008, I couldn't figure out why banks were dragging their feet so much in the short sale segment of real estate. I still don't understand why honestly. If they would have started moving those houses then, maybe they could have manufactured a softer landing. Back when people still had money.

So, the banks have been trying to injure us for much longer than the current administration has.

Mr S. once said to me "we'll be lucky if we get out of this being as bad as the Carter era". I rolled my eyes and said "people will never let that happen". I'm guessing I will have never been so wrong.

Tuesday, July 07, 2009

Hope you weren't counting on those "green jobs".

If you have read this blog for any length of time - you know green energy is way up on my list to bitch about. Mostly it revolves around how solar is a con. None of this green energy is cost effective. I don't care how good it makes you feel, it is a net negative on the economy rather than a net positive.

So today when I read that T. Boone Pickens was abandoning his wind farm, first I laughed and laughed and laughed.

Then I thought "there isn't anyone the administration won't try to make poor". Sure T. Boone has a ton of money. But, he already bought these turbines from GE. And really - if you have enough money you can get anything done. Right? How would you like to be sitting on 687 giant wind turbines? Maybe he can sell them out of the back of his giant Hummer on the cheap.

Anyway. Something was nagging at me that it had to be more than just not being cost effective. You can still make a ton of money from things that are not cost effective. Rich billion ares always win. Working class folk always loose.

So I started poking around. The general reason Pickens gave for stopping the farm was the transmission lines were way more expensive than he thought. But... wait! Wasn't the Obama administration going to pay for that? I thought he was. He made a big deal about it and everything! So, it must be true.

Self I said "how much can those lines cost"? Surely Google will be able to tell me.

Apparently, a shitload. 1.5 million per mile. JesusFChrist! It would take 10 million just to get the electricity shipped to my grocery store 10 miles away. It says so right here in this USA Today article from 2008.

"Stringing new wires is easier said than done. Wind developers won't go ahead with projects until transmission lines are in place, and utilities are loath to build the lines until they're sure the developers won't back out. Also, the first wind developer in an area is often asked to shoulder much of the $1.5 million-per-mile cost of a high-voltage line. "

Another paragraph from that article:

"Until now, wind developers have piggybacked on existing wires, says analyst Stow Walker of Cambridge Energy Research Associates. But after wind energy soared 45% last year, spare transmission capacity is depleted. Wind power generates more than 1% of U.S. electricity."

Surely they knew we would find out about this sooner rather than later. Right? I mean - all people have is time on their hands. It would have made a lot more sense to keep us rich and distracted.

BTW the picture is mine from the wind farm very close to me. I wonder what it would cost to string that site with transmission lines. That was only one string of turbines.

At least people are getting what they asked for.

I pretty much hate talking to people right now. Even simple interactions turn to what is happening with the economy and how normal hardworking people are being prevented at every turn from moving on with their lives. It really is breathtaking how the banking industry is really trying to crush the economy.

Take today for example. I was talking with my insurance agent. I've been with them probably close to 10 years. I like them because they never turn over people. The same girl that works there today - worked there 10 years ago.

She was telling me how she'd been trying to close on a house in Washington. For almost a year. Despite obvious long proof of employment. She attested her credit score was over 800, and that she paid her credit cards every month. Now that it's been so long, houses in the neighborhood are being foreclosed on threatening the deal even further.

You see - a while back, I talked about the appraiser pool the government had set up. From all accounts it seems to be fucking things up for everyone.

But, this isn't the best part. The bank has been sitting on her deposit. 60 grand, for close to a year. Just as an aside - I'm glad I posted about the pool, because my insurance agent said her appraiser was costing her 450 bucks. More than the 250 I'd written about in May, but still under the 650 they used to cost. Give it time. It's only been 2 months, and the price has gone up close to a 100%. In another few months I bet it doubles again. After they've pushed all the experienced people out of the sector I'm sure.

I never got around to asking her why she hadn't pulled out of the deal. If I were a betting woman (and I am) I'd guess she is probably approved for this house, and if she pulls out, she might not be able to get approved under all the new bullshit rules. Or maybe she is locked into a favorable rate. Or maybe she'd loose part of her deposit? I don't know because we had moved onto talking about her kids.

One is in the medical field and now cannot complete her internship because all the jobs are used up. She is working some place up north now. The other - is a teacher who also can not find work, and is doing hours here and there at the Tot and drop. I guess it's a place where you can dump your kids when you have an appointment. It isn't a full daycare place, just a drop in. She's mighty glad she got a degree for that. Anyone would be. Right?

In a weird way - her family exemplifies the economy. The banking sector won't move, causing jobs to not be created. The banks win anyway. They get our taxpaying dollars and shift the blame to all those people who didn't pay their mortgages. But wait! What about those people who still have jobs and long term employment? No loan for you! We should give loans to first time home buyers instead. You know - the ones who have no proven track record.

It's no wonder the word socialism comes up so often these days. Yet the sad thing is - the people who want the government to rescue them don't realize - the government never does. I suppose people have been well off for far too long to understand this concept. It takes being really poor for a while I guess. Even then, I"m guessing they don't make the connection.

Saturday, July 04, 2009

Trees are assholes.

We live about 20 blocks and a large field from the site where my city shoots off fireworks. Normally we hang out on the deck and get a marginal view. We could get closer, but you can't drive there. It would probably take an hour to get the 20 blocks home. We actually walked to the site yesterday, but couldn't figure out how to get a good place to view.

Anyway, because we get such a slim view, Mr S. always says in a tone "yaaaa know. We could get up on the roof". I've always turned him down because well, because of the neighbors and all. This year I said screw it and climbed on the roof with him.

This is where I thought the fireworks would be. My fireplace is just poking into the shot on the left.

This is where the fireworks actually came up. I would have gotten you a better shot, but once I got up on the roof I was freaked out. I'm not great with heights, but I've been standing on this roof in the day time. Yet in the dark 20 feet up I was glued to the spot in which I arrived. On my stomach. Yeah - I was a bit of a woosie.

It wouldn't have mattered that much anyway - a huge tree was blocking that spot anyway.

Happy Independence Day. But, not from trees - because they are assholes.

Friday, July 03, 2009

Saturday technology dump.

First let me start out by saying - I've been noticing a really interesting thing lately. Little tiny children sporting iphones and netbooks. I'm going to call them technology toddlers. (patent pending!) And I've been seeing it a lot.

Mind you, these are not children who are playing with their parents phones. They are children who are actually using the technology. Presumably playing games.

It used to be when you handed a three year old a phone, you'd wind up with some strange calls to Bermuda because all they would do was push the buttons and stick it in their mouths. I seem to have this vague memory of the early days of Apple using the imagery of a toddler using a computer. If I think of the search criteria I'll try to find the video. In an odd way, it has quite the "full circle" feeling". Steve Jobs predicted very young children would be using computers, and now they are actually using iphones. Which are basically tiny computers.

I'd been seeing the phone thing pretty often, and it didn't really click in my head until a few weeks ago I was waiting for a table in a restaurant. I like to people watch. A little girl was there and sporting a netbook. I remember turning to Mr S. and saying "Oh my gawd Mr S.". Look at how the netbook is exactly the right size for a tiny child". All I could do was stare at her. Which in retrospect might have seemed creepy. But, you have to understand - it was the future I was looking at. Not the child. The realization of the quest. It actually took my breath away.

I think it was then it hit me the netbook was going to be more than a passing trend. Sure, cost basis is the attractive thing in the depressed economy. This also makes it attractive to placate tiny children with. If they screw it up, you aren't out that much money. It's brilliant honestly.

So today when I saw a woman was pushing a stroller with a child, my immediate reaction was "Mr S.! Is that kid using an iphone"? Never mind they cost a couple of hundred bucks. These kids are actually engaging with whatever apps were on the phone. I just find it really interesting.

I also did a bit of technology browsing today. I say browsing because most of the things I really want will not be released for a couple of more months. However, I also did a bit of market research. Mr S.'s business is in a technology that has extremely intense competition. For this reason I often feel very vulnerable with the economy acting the way it is.

And, lately there isn't anything more interesting than standing in the isle in which these things are sold and watching consumers. At first it was to see if they were buying stuff from the place he works. But then, it became much more fascinating to just watch them try to decide. Body behaviour is interesting I tell you.

From what I saw today - generally malls are still in trouble. However, people are still spending on multimedia. Verizon was oddly packed. Fry's seemed to be doing decent business.

I made my way to San Jose Camera in San Jose for a shutter release cable, and it looked like every other time I'd been in there.

So - cameras, phones, cheap computers and peripherals still seem to be moving.

Thursday, July 02, 2009

Today's naive questions.

I am pretty much of the mindset - if you are struggling to survive, you don't give a shit about the environment.

So, I guess I am somewhat surprised the Obama administration is so entrenched in getting people into "the new based renewable energy sector" as he calls it. Being the naive yet somewhat logical individual I am - I have to ask the question. "He knows that he cannot ultimately pay for this". Right?

I mean - this isn't even a long term horizon sort of concept. These companies are failing at an alarming rate. On top of that! The government isn't even handing out loan guarantees to these companies yet.

Just look at this interesting quote from this site:

"The mismatch of photovoltaic capacity expansions and slumping market demand is underscored by the expected 32% increase in global PV production capacity in 2009 despite a forecasted 22% decline in solar system installations this year, according to the new report."

The solar companies that haven't already failed because they couldn't get loans to fund themselves were only being propped up in large part to government and city investment. No individuals are buying solar. They are all freaked out they won't have jobs. So, that only leaves government intervention.

Even the very largest solar companies like First Solar are projecting serious problems. You only have to browse through a google search under "solar bankruptcy" to see that these companies are going bust left and right.

With the news coming in that tax collections are down for every sector. Federal, income, sales, property, cities will not be able to fund their pet solar projects. Which obviously will crush the remaining companies. Leaving the administration exposed.

Yes, I know that by the time everyone realizes this, we will all be poor and unable to do anything about it. Yet, I'm still curious as to how he thinks he will be able to pass this off.

How long does he think he'll get away with this before people completely freak out? I have to admit, I don't want to believe the administration wants to make the US like Venezuela, but I'm having to come to grips with the idea that this is exactly what he wants.