Friday, July 02, 2010

Double Dip?

I wish the title referred to ice cream. But before we go there, let's do this:

As Debbie mentioned a couple days ago, we'll be in Florida in about ten days. Not being ones to follow the crowd, we thought we would visit during the hottest part of the summer. I guess if we're going to live there, we may as well get used to it now. The plan is to go down for Debbie's interview, then spend a week looking around the area and finding a place to live. We already have a short-term option, but it would involve moving all our stuff into storage, then moving it again when we find something permanent. As much as we both enjoy physical exercise in brutal heat and humidity, we'd rather not. I talked to our landlord here, and breaking our lease won't be difficult, just expensive. We have a couple options for how to do it. One is fixed cost: we write a check and drive away. The second is variable, but could either end up costing us less, the same, or more than the fixed option. It depends on how quickly they can "turn" our apartment. There have been a ton of move-in's the last couple months, so we may go for the variable option and take our chances. What exactly happens while we are in Florida will also have an impact on our decision. So, yea. Mostly still up in the air, but not as much up in the air as a couple weeks ago.

In the mean time, I've been busy reducing what we have to move by ripping VHS tapes to digital files. I'm using the Dazzle and whatever software came with it. If you need to do what I'm doing, this is the thing to do it with. Take it out of the box, plug it into a USB port, install the software and Everything Just Works. Slowly, but that's not the fault of anything; it's just the price of admission for translating an analog medium to a digital one. The practical result is that I can only get about five movies a day transferred. I've managed to get through around 45 so far and still have 24 to go. I want to be done before we go to Florida for Debbie's interview, but that will depend on how much I get done this weekend. I already know that I won't be doing anything for the next 24 hours while all the current digital movie files migrate from the old Drobo to the new one. (It turns out that moving over a terabyte of data via USB takes some time. Who knew?) We have plans for Saturday and Sunday, but they don't involve the entire day, so I may get one or two done each of those days. I may just do a marathon session next week to get it finished.

Back to the double dip: I recall thinking (and blogging) in late 2008 and early 2009 that I was being pessimistic in thinking the economy wouldn't start turning around until late 2010. Well, it's officially the second half of 2010 and:

New jobless claims rise.
Home sales drop.
Our "leaders" don't have a clue what to do.
Tent cities are making a comeback.

Hawaii isn't the only place with tent cities; odds are there is one close to your home or work, or your child's school or, as in this case, soccer field. We have one behind the strip mall where Debbie works. Nothing beats going to pick up your wife from work and arriving just in time to see some homeless dude whip 'em down and take a shit 20 feet away. And I'm sure nothing bad will come of having teenaged girls routinely walking through the same area to and from school.

On the other hand, how horrible can the economy really be when we collectively spend 10's of millions of dollars to see good 'ol Sparkle Tits one more time.

Our government still thinks that there are citizens of these united States that are so dangerous they cannot be allowed on an airplane, but not so dangerous that they should be arrested. We can only hope that there is still at least one judge out there with some brains. It is beyond obvious that the congress and president are idiots in the formal sense of the word.

It seems even on the internet, the news cannot handle more than a couple stories at a time. Currently, the attention is on the mushroom cloud over our economy and the bad refereeing at the World Cup. So I thought I would check up on a couple other mushroom clouds (one metaphorical, one literal) that haven't been in the news as much lately. The first metaphorical mushroom cloud is the out-of-control oil well that continues to foul the Gulf of Mexico. The upper estimates put it in first place for Gulf oil spills. It still has a ways to go to be in first place over-all, but I have no doubt it will make a good run at that record before this is all over. And because the ghost of Murphy has a sick sense of humor, the very first named storm of the hurricane season is in the Gulf making a mess of everything. The second, more literal mushroom cloud is our friendly Icelandic volcano, which seems to be sleeping. No one knows if this is merely a short nap, or if Eyjafjallajökull is in deep sleep, but for now the worst seems to be over.

One of the three Chinese curses is, "May you find what you are looking for." What will likely be the best illustration of that curse for several generations is the end result of the sexual revolution. At least for women:

...It quickly came to the old country saw with fangs: Why buy the cow when you can get the milk for free? Guys learned that they could say, “Check your oil, lady?” and it worked. Praise de Lawd! Gloria Steinem and Andrea Fire-Plug-with-Leprosy Dworkin had done what men had failed to do in millennia: produce a race of obligately loose women.

...It seems to me that the feminists got just what they wanted. They made their bed. Now let them lie in it. But quietly. Oh please, quietly.

One of my parent's pastors from waaaaay back used to talk about the pendulum; how things always overshot, recovered, overshot the other way, and so on. The idea was that each swing was a little less extreme and eventually we ended up at some tolerable median. The problem now is that we have people who are paid good money to keep pushing on the pendulum so that is keeps swinging to ever higher extremes. As any kid with access to a swing can tell you, eventually the pendulum turns in on itself and things go from "Wheeee!!" to "Ghaaaaa.!! (thud)" very quickly. We're somewhere between the Ghaaaaa! and the thud.

More on the planned destruction of the Paolo Soleri Amphitheater:

...Paolo Soleri, the amphitheater, has existed for about 45 years. For some reason (there can be no good reasons), it is now in danger of being demolished. As with the examples mentioned above, this appears to be the decision of either one man in power or a committee with the same power to destroy a unique and irreplaceable work of art/architecture. Once gone, this building can never be re-created—though I expect that 30 years from now there will be legislation proposed to build a replica in Styrofoam and plaster at great cost once the value of this building to the community, the State of New Mexico, the United States and the world is understood. 

I don't know, but I suspect that there are at least two problems. The first is simple neglect. I've never been to the Paolo Soleri amphitheater, but I've lived in the Southwest. There is a tendency to build, neglect while using, then demolish or simply abandon things when they deteriorate beyond usefulness. I'm sure the Soleri is no different and I've heard from many people that it has been seriously neglected by the current owners. The second problem is, presumably, the Americans with Disabilities Act. Again, I've never been there, but I lived for a year in something else designed by Paolo; "wheelchair friendly" ain't in the man's vocabulary. Add in renovations for changes in fire codes, electrical codes and all the rest, and it doubtless adds up to a serious chunk of change. But why is the bulldozer always the first, and usually only, option to consider? Why the rush? Is New Mexico filling up so fast with illegals that there is no time to consider any other options? The dude is 91 years old; could the owners at least continue their current policy of neglecting the place until the man is dead and then start bulldozing his life's work? I doubt those making the decisions care what I think, but I would be sad to see the Soleri go.

James Kunstler has a cheery little piece this week:

...President Obama made a very interesting remark when the financial regulation package passed in the senate the other day. He said the bill would make sure that "Main Street is never again held responsible for Wall Street's mistakes."

...Never again?
What the fuck?

Why even this time?  Why isn't there an army of federal attorneys out there, their teeth bristling with subpoenas, beating the bushes in every lane and skyscraper floor of lower Manhattan (and Fairfield County, Connecticut, not to mention a thousand office parks around the USA) to roust out the grifters and swindlers who took Main Street to the cleaners this time.

Is there still a Justice Department? Did they all take a leave of absence? Or is it just that all trails lead to the White House and its current occupant's gang of Chicago goons?

Anyway. I need to try for some sleep. Everyone have a happy Fourth!

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