Sunday, December 23, 2012

Saturday, December 22, 2012

At least it's an update.

In California, there are only a few weeks out of the year you can be lazy and not feel guilty about it. Which is one reason this blog goes off the rails at this time of year. It's actually cold and rainy for days at a time. You sleep in late, lay around and generally become mopey after about a week. And even if I were to see something interesting anyway I'm generally not excited about any of the photos I'm taking. My new camera won't be here until after Christmas. There is a blizzard in the Northwest. And my camera is on a truck somewhere.

One of the reasons it's taken me so many years to replace my gear is that my camera sees IR. And most camera's have filters that block IR. I'd been hoping Fuji (which is just a Nikon body) would update the S3 Pro. But I'm starting to doubt they will never do that. So Mr S. sent my new camera out to Life Pixel be converted back into seeing IR. I don't use it that often because it has a steep learning curve. But it's just a feature you can't live without once you have it. And I'm going to try and slow down this year and get back into it. Examples here.

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Dramatic much?

Today I'm a little sick of people capitalising on the connection of rising gun sales and that horrible school incident. Which I believe is opportunism. And this is why.

My neighbors son works a second job at a gun store. He moved to his own place but he comes back to check on the dog. I ran into him 2 days before the school massacre. We were talking about the world and everything.

He said gun sales had been crazy during the previous month. Snarkolepsy he said - all this month it's been 4 people deep at the counter all day. They can't make them fast enough and everything is back ordered. They have four plants running full time. So, maybe that incident caused a small spike - but that train had already been in motion well before the shooting even happened. The funny thing he said to me was "even the liberals are starting to come".

Crime everywhere is up about 20% YOY. I've seen typical Californians go from hypersensitive about guns, to somewhat okay. And I believe it's been in relation to crime and nothing else. Not politics. Not school shootings. It doesn't stop people from sensationalising the numbers for a specific cause.

Now I'm going to talk about the flip side of this tragedy. Mental illness. Of which my family has been affected. Because apparently there is a huge debate about this right now. And I feel like a lot of people don't know what they are talking about.

When I was growing up, mental illness was something you didn't talk about. It was a dirty painful secret. Then somewhere in the 80's they began destigmatising it. All of a sudden everyone had some mental illness and we all had to try and understand and relate to them. We used to treat everyone who had a mental illness as dangerous even if they were just odd. And now we have swung completely the other way and we treat all of them as eccentric and not dangerous. In an effort to destigmatise mental illness we've lost the ability to figure out who is dangerous and who isn't because we've become too PC. And over the years we've even glorified mental illness, making it seem like they are all rain man. Mental illness leaves very deep scars, and I'd be lying if I tried to tell you I have any of the answers. It's just a really hard problem. But treating them all the same, I believe is what leads us to where we are today. Letting the ones who really are dangerous fall through the cracks.

Sunday, December 16, 2012

I got you a..... camel?

Mr S. and I debated for a least a half hour about this camel. I don't want to take any pictures of Christmas lights yet because I'm upgrading my camera gear. My big camera has been having problems for years, and now I can't even delete photos on camera or change to black and white or anything. So I'm hoping my new camera arrives in time to take Christmas light shots

I told Mr S. - you couldn't pay to me go see a camel at the zoo, but put that same camel in a Nativity scene, and maybe I'm interested. And my readers are bored. So, off we went.

We get there, and it's a huge thing. They've closed off the streets. I'm just in it for the camel and I tell Mr S. just drop me off and go around the block. But let me back track a little.

Mr S. and I have a relationship where he pretty much refuses to walk anywhere but in back of me. It's something I kind of hate, but he does it because each and every time we go out - it's like an episode of vanished. We can walk into a store together and he turns around and I am just gone. Over and over and over. I'm easily distracted, and I'm almost a foot shorter than him. It's easy for me to get swallowed by a croud. He hates having to track me down all the time. But, if I see something interesting I'm just off.

Anyway, back to the camel where he is dropping me off. I tell him - I'm not taking my phone. Just go around the block. Both of us know instictively this was a bad idea. But there is only one way in and out of this place. I take my shots and go to try and find him. I figure he can't miss me, I'm in the street watching for the car. Finally I see him walking up to me and he's pissed. Apparently he'd found a parking spot and had been looking for me the whole time. In his mind these people are a gypsy cult and this is how they get new actors (by abducting people) and he's Liam Neeson trying to find his wife.

There was a huge block long line to get into this thing. Which I wasn't going to wait for. But I'd found a back way in. I thought taking pictures of the structure the angel was on would be interesting because it had the spot light. Right about this time the girl was starting to get down on the scissor lift. I was still taking a few shots and in my periphial vision I could see she'd stretched her arms back out to pose for me. I was the only one on the back side. Which I have to admit, gave me a thrill. I yelled a thank you to her and she yelled back a Merry Christmas. It was just a cute moment.

Useful idiots.

Sometimes Californians drive me nuts. They have absolutely no common sense. On one hand, they wonder why manufacturing is almost nonexistent here. On the other, they send out government agencies to propagandize the public about fireplace smoke.

Friday, December 14, 2012

Am I the only one who thinks it's fascinating that retail sales rose exactly the same amount as inflation fell? .03%.

It only makes me believe more that gas prices are the only thing fueling this rally.

"In a third report, the Labor Department said its consumer price index dropped 0.3 percent in November, the first decline in six months, as gasoline prices fell sharply." Here.

Use it or lose it.

It is really hard to figure out what is going on with the real economy right now. Most people believe we have turned a corner. Real estate prices are up. And that is the only thing that matters. I mean, it makes me feel slightly better too. Obviously. There is nothing I want than real estate prices to rise. This directly benefits me.

However, I am still in the camp that believes this is all bullshit. There are too many distortions in the market right now. If it isn't cities giving 10,000 dollar down payment assistance, it's something else. Like the Fed increasing the amount of mortgage backed bonds they are buying.

I was actually a little surprised retail sales were not up more than .03%. Perhaps I am the only one on the planet who is doing this, but I have been pushing all my large ticket items into this year. Replacing things that cost a lot of money and that I've been holding out on because of the economy. And this is the reason why...

Yesterday I was reading a story about how business owners were OK with higher taxes. The person in the story said higher taxes were not going to affect her. But went on to say she would pay a new employee 2000 dollars less and she would not go to as many trade shows. Mr S. pointed out how it was funny she claimed there would be no affects, and then went on to list affects. And really what she meant is - It's not going to affect me. It's going to affect you. Businesses will pass all these costs on to consumers. Hence my frenzied buying spree. I believe everything is going to cost more next year, and it won't all be to inflation.

Bureaucrats seems to believe that raising taxes are going to duplicate the 1987 period where there was a huge boom after that when they raised taxes. Now I don't know all the details about that period, but I think these guys are dead wrong. I think the only reason people are not in an incredible amount of pain is because of the lowered gas prices.

I also think the holiday season is going to be distorted because of the above. Things are going to look much, much, better than they are. And this is going to make people have a false sense of betterness.

My general feeling about the herd is..... they are asleep. Coma sleep. I was talking to a guy I've know forever who owns a business. I'm not going to go into all the details, but I was completely shocked about his complacency of what is going to happen on the 1st. And really, even if you wanted to plan for the future, you can't because no on knows what the rules are. So when they wake up in Jan. 1, I think there is going to be a real shock.

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

That's curious.

There are no interesting things to blog about today. Only irritating ones. Really, really irritating. And since it's the holiday season, and who the eff cares anyway, I went searching for things that didn't want to make you punch people in the neck.

Since most of the world is in this epic suicidal money printing binge, I went over to see what was going on with the Iraqi Dinar. You know that place we forgot about years ago? Well, all of a sudden it's gotten really noisy. Even over the two year chart. Here.

I don't know what it means. Maybe nothing. But I found it sort of interesting.

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Some people who hit my blog give me a thrill.

I spend a fair amount of time watching the traffic to my blog. I think all bloggers do, even if they don't want to admit it. This blog doesn't have much of a theme, and I have radically diverse readers. Seems like when I post about politics half my readers tune out, and when I post other stuff those readers tune out. So I have to do quite amount of guessing when it comes to finding stuff to entertain you. I mean - sometimes I have really freaking fantastic stuff that entertains me. But a blog can not survive unless you have interesting stuff all the time. Meaning if I don't keep you entertained, you won't see the really cool stuff. However, sometimes you guys really entertain me. Like this guy who hit my blog. Yes, it's probably a guy based on the demographics of people who watch my videos. And if it isn't, I'm not in the mood to placate any of you right now. I mean.. that is an effing cool place to come from.

Of course, I think I'm the #1 site for beating children too. Seriously. So there is that. Which queebs me out. But that is far from the most deviant searches that come through. Sometimes I have to parse through and try to figure out what combinations were triggered for people to get to my site.

Monday, December 10, 2012

Man. Can they make youtube suck any more? I can't figure out how to surf videos at all with the new layout. I don't want to sub to your channel.

And really, why when youtube recommends videos to me - are they never from this century? If youtube really knew me, they wouldn't be recommending anything that is older than a week to me.

I'm not the only one.

If you've been reading this blog for more than two days you know this simple fact about me - I don't shop well. I'm like a dude that way. I got it from my mother actually. She was the kind of person who would walk into a store. Ten feet in the door she knew if she saw what she wanted. She would power walk through a store. And she didn't care if I was a small child. Poor women didn't use strollers in that day. Kids walked.

I take this to a whole new level though, because I hate to inconvenience people. If I'm ready to check out. I'm ready to check out. I don't need to browse the magazines. I have whatever form of payment ready. I don't want to talk to the checkers. Chances are I'm in a hurry.

Other people don't feel that way though. They want to take up as much space in this world as they possibly can. Have a ten minute conversation with a checker. Sure why not? Oh, those people behind them. Eff them.

What is the point of this story? Well, since things are slow we've been doing repair jobs at the house. This weekend was a toilet shutoff valve.

I'm in OSH, and they had two checkers. 30 people in line. No foolies. It was all men because it was project zombie 30. That time right before the store closes and all the guys are getting that one more part.

I'm unusually calm, but all the dudes were not happy. The guy in front of me makes a break for the other line. Hedging his bets. The guy behind me calls the manager. Then goes into a full on meltdown. Which honestly I was loving, because this guy was saying all the stuff I normally want to say. I seriously thought there was going to be a mutiny in the line. It would have been the best thing ever. But I'm standing there with toilet parts and he's crying about not being able to get his Christmas lights up before dark. And he had to use the word sconce. Which turned him from a modern day hero to a pussy.

Me? I'm telling my group of ten that are clucking like hens to get used to it. This is what you guys wanted. There are just going to be more cutbacks. Hey! That is what I consider helping.

Saturday, December 08, 2012

Have a very.........dolphin Christmas?

Okay. You guys know this blog is chunked until about the first week of January. Then I get to full fill all your nerdy needs at Vegas nerd pilgrimage. I mean, I will do my normal holiday lights tour the closer it gets to Christmas. But really. Who knows what you will get from now to Jan. Maybe I will just sleep the whole time. In other words. Don't expect much.

Friday, December 07, 2012

Noooo. This is not a socialist country. Why would you even say that!

I'm back on the contractor rodeo.

Well....I was suppose to get a fence quote yesterday. And I wound up telling them to fuck off. Was it the price you ask? Noooo. It was that they gave me a two hour window, and 45 minutes after that window expired I had to call them to find out where they were. I had to be somewhere. And they made it seem like they didn't really want my business. So I obliged them.

Which really sucks because these guys were my go to guys.

Now I have to go through the parade of contractors to find a new one. It really takes me lot to burn a bridge like that. I mean - they all are late. All of them. All of the time. My patience is just really low.

Plus now I have to wait a little while to even call anyone out. After it's been sunny for a week - those guys will be more hungry.

At least this will give ya'll something to read.

P.S. I was hoping to get this done before California instituted their new lumber tax. Oh, you haven't heard of it? Here.

Thursday, December 06, 2012

At the beginning of this earnings quarter, I was eavesdropping on a quarterly conference call where the CEO said the following.

"When you don't have any future you give all your money away."

At the time I remember becoming a little wide eyed and saying "that's crazy. I wonder what the hell that means".

Well... now we know what that means. They all saw the writing on the wall and have been adjusting since then.

If you have some time to waste.

I don't remember how I ran across this guy. But, I became really fascinated because he is making sculptures out of polymer clays that he bakes in the oven at home. And he's really good. This is a multi part video set because he goes through the whole process. You should check the series out. And browse through his YouTube channel. TheBroodingTom.

In the upper left hand corner of the video you can just click on "Part 1 starts here".

Tuesday, December 04, 2012

My contractor tolerance is so low.

I have to admit - the whole world feels a little like sandpaper to me these days. Every interaction is a little pricklier. People seem more rough around the edges. Maybe it's just me. Because I obviously am more rough around the edges. But, I had to hire a contractor to install a dishwasher.

Sure, I've taken dishwasher installation 101. But my dishwasher was a special case. And special should be in quotey fingers and said in the most sarcastic way.

Back when we were all way more rich, I bought one of those dual drawer dishwashers. Only to find out a couple years in - like those front loading washing machines - they don't really work as great as they are suppose to.

The dishwasher had a flaw where the water from one drawer would flow back into the other. Causing them to fail. You needed to have a special air gap to prevent the back flow problem from happening.

So when we ordered the dishwasher we made them make all sorts of special comments on the order. And of course, their expert installers would have everything and know everything to complete the installation.

Only that is never the case. But - we already had the part because we were going to fix the last one and put this new part in.

Only again - they won't install any parts that do not come with the machine. And even if they were to install the part, the 10 dollars in parts they needed to do it weren't covered in installation. No seriously.

It wasn't that I didn't want to pay for the parts. Even though I assumed that was covered in the "installation fee". I told the guy I'd pay for the parts. But even though he was a licenced plumber - he didn't have these parts. Four plumbing clamps and less than a foot of hose. Standard effing plumbing parts.

Anyway. This is how my dishwasher took four and a half hours to install. One hour of it was negotiation. The rest he was just really slow.

Normally I can find something interesting in any contractor, and really I'm only a weekend warrior - so it's always helpful to watch what the guys are doing so I can steal all their handy contractor knowledge.

I didn't have a problem with the contractor at all. He was a nice enough guy after a understood I wasn't trying to screw him for the price of parts. I ran out and got them. The whole four hours were just painful to me though. I mean, you have to convince a guy who's been doing this for 20 years that somehow you know better than he does. In the most polite way. It just gave that all over sandpaper feeling.

Which doesn't bode well for me. I still have a fence to get through.

Sunday, December 02, 2012

Storm number 3.

Partial success. Yeah. I know you are hanging on every fence update. Cha. Life just isn't all that interesting right now.

But, I bet my neighbor is super bummed. He put up a valiant effort with that fence. Normally I would be too. But I've had to replace every single fence at this place. This is my last one.