Tuesday, January 12, 2010

An Expected Fail

I wasn't able to guess good enough on the fifth test yesterday to get the required 80% to be considered for a management position. But I did land an interview later today with the owner, so I guess it wasn't all bad. When I talk to him today, I'm going to try to score the class materials that are covered by the test so I can skim through and make another stab at the test (they give you four chances). There isn't much time; the offices are officially open on Friday, so if something is going to happen, it needs to happen fast.

I also have an interview tomorrow with another office temp/placement company all the way over in Manchester (about a ninety-minute drive each way). They have a number of openings in the Keene area, but I'm pretty sure I'm going to be rather busy between now and April 15th. But I'll need something to do after that, so this may still work out. I'll know more by tomorrow afternoon what the next six months or so are going to hold.

One thing that seems rather certain at this point: New Hampshire is going to be a short-term place. We pretty much decided yesterday that we will begin to actively work on getting out of New England in the fall. The biggest problem is that everything here just costs too much money; rent (50% more than Arizona) utilities (electricity is nearly double Arizona), food, everything. There are two likely causes from what we know so far; transportation infrastructure is about 50 years behind any other place we've been in the US, and the tax structure seems intentionally designed to kill everyone. Plus, we just feel like we get nickle-and-dimed at every turn. The latest occasion was when I tried to get a library card and found out that to get one for the library in Keene, I would have to pay $50/year for a "non-resident" card. There are a couple libraries here in Swanzey that would be free (at least I think they would be; I haven't bothered to ask), but I own more books than both of them combined, so what's the point? Bottom line: we'll likely hunker here for another 9 or 10 months, then try to get to Florida again.

Anyway. Enough of that.

Here's a thought experiment: where would technology, especially home entertainment, be without the porn industry? From 8mm stag films to VHS to DVD to Blu-Ray (one big nail in the coffin of HD DVD was when the porn industry went with Blu-Ray) to streaming video and now consumer-grade 3-D. Is there any technology that was not driven, at least in part, by geeky guys wanting to see naked chicks? Example: How much faster were display resolution and color depth increased on PC's because people wanted the boobies in Leisure Suit Larry to look more realistic?

A group of scientists is predicting a mini ice age that will last for the next two or three decades. I'm not sure what makes their climate models any more reliable than those that show the entire globe spontaneously igniting in 2050, but it does show the sensitivity of the models to the assumptions and inputs, and the uncertainty of those inputs; uncertainty that swamps the magnitude of the change in either direction predicted by the models. But no matter; I'm sure it's just a matter of hours before the machinery kicks in and this whole lot of "deniers" is fired, their data and models buried out of reach of any Freedom of Information request, lawsuits filed to shut them up; whatever it takes to maintain the "consensus." I don't know much, but I do know that I fear ice more than I fear warm.

In case nobody noticed, gas prices are edging back up towards $3/gallon. We hadn't noticed because we only need to get gas every two or three weeks. We sure noticed this morning. Ouch. A lot of the increase is probably seasonal, but added on top of everything else, it's still painful.

If you feel like your life still sucks while the Masters of the Universe that blew everything up are riding high, you're not alone:
The labour force contracted by 661,000. This did not show up in the headline jobless rate because so many Americans dropped out of the system. The broad U6 category of unemployment rose to 17.3pc. That is the one that matters.

Wall Street rallied. Bulls hope that weak jobs data will postpone monetary tightening: a silver lining in every catastrophe, or perhaps a further exhibit of market infantilism

...Realtytrac says defaults and repossessions have been running at over 300,000 a month since February. One million American families lost their homes in the fourth quarter. Moody's Economy.com expects another 2.4m homes to go this year. Taken together, this looks awfully like Steinbeck's Grapes of Wrath.

Granted, this is the Telegraph, so a bit of hyperbole is expected. (Steinbeck? Really?) But that doesn't change the reality. We are not in a short dip and everything will be flying high again by summer. There has been a fundamental shift in psychology and expectations. Anyone who assumes that everyone will run out and start racking up the credit cards at the mall and taking out a third mortgage on the family home to fund a Caribbean cruise is delusional. Even if he happens to be the president.

To end on a lighter note, check out a list of the best of the worst in the legal world for 2009 at Lowering the Bar. The poke at the TSA is definitely worth your time.

And I need to get ready for the Big Interview of 2009 2010.

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