Monday, November 30, 2009

Before I Have to Leave...

I need to take off in a few minutes to pick up Debbie from work, so this is going to be short. We are still in the process of unloading, sorting, pitching, re-purposing, and exclaiming repeatedly, "Where the heck is that going to go!" and "We paid money to move that out here?" But there has been progress and the bins continue to get emptied and moved into the storage unit that came with our apartment.

In catching up on news after being completely out of touch for almost two weeks, I noticed that the saboteurs from the future finally allowed the Large Hadron Collider to set a new record. And the world didn't seem to end. Or maybe it did and the saboteurs from the future activated the backup plan and we all now exist in some advanced version of Second Life. (Don't laugh; how would you know?)

Black Friday wasn't the disaster it was a year ago, but it was hardly a green shoot (although I fully expect the media to report it as such). Don't be surprised to see retail stocks other than Wal-mart and Target to continue to decline.

And this article on relocalization deserves more attention than I can give it right now, but just let me say that I agree with some of what he says, but disagree with his premise that we are somehow running out of energy. For half the treasure and 1% of the blood we've poured into the sands of the middle east, we could have unlimited energy. Energy and resources are nearly infinite on and near the earth. But we would rather spend trillions on pointless "nation-building" and endless conferences attended by the wealthiest and most-resource-using members of the human race where they all pat each other on the back and congratulate each other on their intelligence while tell the rest of us to go back to living in the trees. And I note that in a matter of months, the US will have no means of putting humans into orbit.

Gotta run.

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Ich Bin Ein New Englander

The title comes with apologies to the ghost of JFK.

We're here, we have the living room more-or-less set up the way we want, and we have Road Runner internet at 7Mb. The unpacking continues, of course. There are still piles of bins full of stuff that has yet to find a home. As usual with any packing/unpacking cycle, a great deal is going straight from the bins to the dumpster or clothing donation box next to it. Less to move next time, as long as we can resist the urge to buy more crap to replace the crap we got rid of.

Just as a lark, I'm creating this post through Google's Chrome browser. It has some really cool features, but lacks a certain amount of polish. Given who is behind it, I don't expect that to be a problem for very long. The only real annoyance at this point is the lack of an ad-blocker plug-in. I am always amazed just how much annoying advertising there is on the web whenever I venture out of my Firefox/AdBlocker Plus universe. I'll probably flip back and forth for a while and see how it goes. The best part, of course, is that I don't have to worry about Yahoo hijacking my browser every single time Firefox updates itself. I still wonder about the legal definition of "malware" and why it doesn't include software that refuses to uninstall.

Speaking of which, we've been having some rather interesting events on the PC front. While at Debbie's mom's place, I had installed the drivers for her HP printer/fax/copier/scanner doohickie. Of course, it came with about a gig of software that I really didn't want or would ever use, but it seemed harmless enough. Until yesterday when I tried to uninstall it. Long story short, before the dust settled, I had lost the ability to connect to any external drives, including the Drobo array, all the HP software had mysteriously reappeared, and Windows had been rendered impotent to uninstall it. After some Windows updates last night and a full power down/up cycle rather than a simple reboot, the Drobo is at least back on the list of hard drives. All the HP software is still there and now I'm paranoid to uninstall it. Again, when simply removing an unneeded hardware driver can knock out parts of the OS, is that not stepping over some sort of legal line? And please spare me the anti-Windows, anti-Microsoft, just-go-out-and-spend-three-times-as-much-for-the-same-thing-from-Apple BS. I have installed and uninstalled literally hundreds of hardware drivers over the years without screwing up the OS, so it isn't some inherent flaw in Windows. It's merely HP's attempt to make it as painful as possible to ever get rid of whatever crapware they decide to install on your PC. And even as I type this, I have some HP thing demanding that I stop what I'm doing to give it permission to run. Feh.

The reason my system had a hard reset this morning is also an interesting story. We woke up to our first-ever New England power outage. It seems the wind was blowing, so about half of New England was without electricity for several hours. The power company has this cool reporting thing that determines your location from your caller ID and automagically creates an incident report when you call in and gives you some idea how long they expect the power to be out. I would think the effort would be better spent clearing trees away from power lines so the outages don't happen in the first place, but my brain seems to run down different paths than the brains of those who run things.

We spent most of Wednesday dealing with local government crap and spending piles of cash we really don't have in the process. See, New Hampshire's state motto, emblazoned on every license plate, is "Live Free or Die." They make a great deal over how there is no sales tax or income tax. Well, let's just say that in one day, we spent a couple years' worth of sales and income taxes in some pinko-commie state like Michigan, and we're not done yet. The fun started at the Department of Motor Vehicles. A New Hampshire driver's license is $50. We're not sure exactly how long that is good for as the government crones behind the desk were stereotypically unhelpful government workers. We think it's four years. My Arizona license was $20 and good until I turned 65. Live free or die.

Then we were off to the Swanzey Town Clerk's office, because the New Hampshire Department of Motor Vehicles doesn't issue motor vehicle license plates. It turns out that the reason for that is that the town of Swanzey wants a piece of the action. More than $200 later (in two separate checks because the Swanzey Town Clerk having to figure out how much gets forwarded to the DMV and how much she gets to keep is just too much work), we are the proud owners of a temporary title and two license plates. One problem; there is no accommodation for a front license plate on a 2003 Dodge Durango. Doesn't matter, of course; one must do whatever is necessary to make it as easy as possible for the constabulary to issue insanely high fines for every minor infraction (which of course includes not having both plates properly displayed). Live free or die.

The Town Clerk informed us that we also need to get a vehicle inspection in the next ten days. We explained that we have been in town for exactly 36 hours and had no idea where one goes to do that. She gave us the name of a local garage just down the street from our apartment, which is on the way to the hardware store where I was heading anyway, in order to figure out some way of mounting the front plate. Perfect! We had visions of getting everything taken care of in one day. Alas, the garage mechanic nearly worked himself into a stroke because the license plates were still in the back seat and not on the vehicle. He kept repeating "Don't be drivin' around like that; it's a big fine." Surprise, surprise; yet-another non-income-tax, non-sales-tax, government revenue stream. I tried to explain that I had literally picked up the plates five minutes before and was on my way to the hardware store to get some means of attaching the damn thing, but he wouldn't have it. I arranged to come back Friday afternoon and left before the guy worked himself into heart failure. Odd how many people in the "Live Free or Die" state act like slaves. Or maybe it would more accurate to say colonials; once a colonial, always a colonial? All I know is that somewhere, King George is laughing his ass off.

Anyway, I managed to get the plates on the vehicle Thanksgiving Day with the help of some Gorilla Tape, a couple screws, and a plastic bumper. Thanks goodness for cheaply-built cars. We headed south to have Thanksgiving dinner with Debbie's brother and family. We scurried out Friday morning so we could get back here and get the Durango inspected, but the shop was closed up and dark. Not a big deal; I have ten days to get it done and put the sticker in the front windshield. (Who needs bumper stickers or custom paint jobs when the government provides so many free adornments for your automobile?) At that point, I hope we are done dealing with government. At least until next year....

We've met several people in our apartment building already. Everyone seems to be relatively normal. The one surprise was the large number of Southeast Asian families, recently immigrated judging by their preference for their native language. We haven't had a chance to really talk to any of them, other than the usual passing-in-the-hallway hello's, but they all appear to be relatively young couples with the world's cutest kids. When we rolled in Monday around dinner time, the entire ground floor was redolent (woohoo! got the spelling right on the first try!) with the smell of curry. I love that smell, but Debbie doesn't. Fortunately for her, the apartments seemed to be rather-effectively smell-proofed as well as sound-proofed.

And that's pretty much been our week. Posting will probably continue to be light until we eliminate all the plastic bins and settle into some sort of routine. We'll get some photos of the apartment up on Flickr at some point as well. There may also be some photos of the surrounding areas, if it ever stops raining. We really didn't arrive at the most scenic time of year.


Saturday, November 21, 2009

All packed and ready to roll

We got everything into the Penske truck and our Durango (thanks for help from Ric's cousin in law Aaron); got cleaned up and headed to one of our favorite restaurants near here -- Lucky's Steakhouse (thanks for dinner Mom!) and then to the house for the last of the laundry and packing up the overnight bags.

I doubt we will be heading out of Michigan at the crack of dawn tomorrow (like Ric said in his post), but pretty early never the less. We have reservations Sunday night in Batavia NY again and will crash there for the night, dinner at Alex's Place (another great restaurant in their neighborhood) and back up the next morning to finish our last leg into Swanzey NH. We hope to be to our new apartment by mid afternoon. And then the fun begins again -- unloading and unpacking! We will get a small reprieve for the holidays -- we are heading to Steve and family's place for a great Thanksgiving dinner and visit. (Can't wait to see youse all!!!)

Friday, November 20, 2009

Packin' it In

Debbie's mom's basement is looking empty again. We hiked all the bins up the stairs and into the garage, other than a few that still need to get re-packed or sorted through. Today we focus on the last remaining bits in the basement, then start going through the house and collecting everything that has sort of wandered off in the two-and-a-half months that we've been crashed here. I'm still hoping to get a couple more projects finished up before we make our grand exit, but if we don't have the time, everything is at a point that if it sets as-is for a while, no harm done.

Other than that, not much to report. Whatever was kicking my butt last weekend when we were in Keene seems to be long gone, and hopefully it will stay that way. We drop the Durango off this morning for new tires more suited to living in snow country, new wiper blades, oil change and replacing the broken lens from getting backed into last week. That should put us in good shape for a while vehicle-wise. We pick up the Penske truck tomorrow first thing in the morning. If we get everything done today that we are supposed to (and trust me, we will), we should have the truck loaded by the time we stop for lunch. Then Sunday morning at the crack of dawn, we will be heading out of Michigan. Again. For how long this time is anyone's guess. If we can squeak by for the next year or so, I think we'll be in good shape. Then we have to really work at building up the reserves for when the next government-created bubble pops. I'd recommend the same to anyone reading this, but if you've been hitting this site for any length of time, you're already sick of my whole get-fast-get-small mantra, so I'll spare you. But you really need to.

Well, I need to get started. The computer is scheduled for tear-down and packing later today, so don't expect a great deal posted here until we land in New Hampshire and figure out the whole high-speed internet thing. Everyone take care.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Last Day in Keene, NH

Tomorrow we throw everything back into the Durango and head for Michigan. We were able to find a suitable apartment, but we had to spend a lot more than we wanted and the location isn't exactly what we were looking for. We wanted to be close to downtown, but everything we looked at in town had something that was a deal-breaker. All but one was simply too small, and that one had electric heat. In New Hampshire. The broker tried to convince us that the electric bills were only $140 to $160 per month. Yea, right. That was what our winter electric bills were in Arizona. Unless electrical rates in New Hampshire are something like $.001 per kilowatt-hour, there is no way you are going to heat 1,200 square feet for $160 a month. So we are a few miles outside of town in a 1067 square foot apartment that includes heat and hot water in the rent. Relatively new building, lots of storage, covered parking, the works. It's not officially ours until the lady runs all the paperwork on Tuesday, but we're pretty confident we can pass our criminal background checks.

When we get back, it's crunch time. We need to stage all our stuff in Debbie's mom's garage, reserve a truck, try to get some visiting in and finish up all the half-done projects at Debbie's mom's house. We need to roll out of Michigan on the Sunday (or Monday) before Thanksgiving so we have time to empty out the truck and get the apartment in some sort of order before Debbie's first day of work on November 30. Most of our stuff never got unpacked, so it shouldn't be too difficult, but we won't have any slack time. Anyone that needs something to do over the next week should feel free to come help.

Meanwhile, the rest of the world goes on. Bank failures are now up to 123. The rate seems to be slowing, but we are still looking at a bad year for banks. I wouldn't expect 2010 to be much better.

Meanwhile, at least one person in Britain gets it:
Ruth Lea, an economist from Arbuthnot Banking Group, told the Daily Mail: "This is all about control of the individual and you begin to wonder whether this is what the green agenda has always been about. It's Orwellian. This will be an enormous tax on business."

The "green agenda" has never been about anything other than the control of the individual. That's why you will never see Al Gore living the lifestyle he recommends for the rest of us.

The first attempt to get electric vehicles in the hands of normal people isn't going so well. So what's the problem? The big car companies? The evil oil corporations? Us benighted souls that just refuse to cooperate? Nope. It's local government bureaucrats. Why do I think we won't be hearing any speeches from our president demanding that local governments streamline the process of installing charging stations in people's garages?

It used to be that our society valued the extremely bright. Now we have schools run by small, petty people who seem determined to beat down any child showing above-average intelligence. For now, there are ways for super-brights to escape before they are permanently damaged. I would expect that to become increasingly difficult, just as it has gradually been getting more difficult for the last several decades.

An officer in the Army responds to the Fort Hood killings. Once again, political correctness prevented the obvious from being seen until too late.

Lastly, what has been suspected for some time can now be considered fact: there is water on the moon. That one fact removes an enormous barrier to a permanent human colony someplace other than Earth. Arthur C Clarke once said, "For all but a vanishingly brief instant near the dawn of history, the word 'ship' will mean—'spaceship.'" Now if we could just collectively grow a pair....

Well, tomorrow comes early and I've been sick as a dog all day, so I should try to get some sleep.

Friday, November 13, 2009

Apartment hunting

Ric and I are now in Keene NH trying to find a place to live. We had a lead before we even got here from Aunt Ellen (Thanks!) that we checked out yesterday afternoon. It was nice, great location, but kinda small for our stuff and no closets/storage to really speak of. The second place was a bit bigger with nicer closets and a pantry in kitchen, but funky sized small "bedroom" and further out from downtown and almost $200 more than the first one we saw.

We checked out a bunch of sites on the internet and hope to see alot more today and Saturday.

Friday the 13th

as Ric would say .... this month Friday the 13th falls on a Friday!

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

New Hampshire, Eh?

It doesn't snow there, does it? At least that's what I've heard.

I'm thinking we'll be much happier there from cultural perspective (certainly not from a weather perspective...); interview on Friday, phone call Monday AM with a job offer. Dealing with people who can make an actual decision is so refreshing after months of dealing with certain other people (-cough- Florida AAA -hack- -spoit-) who make me wonder how they manage to dress themselves in the morning.

Anyway, Debbie's start date is November 30, so we'll probably drive out later this week or early next week, find an apartment, then come back here to pack up and drive all our stuff out to live in New England for a while. Neither of us have ever been there, so at least it will be interesting to go out exploring once the snow melts in the spring. I plan to hibernate through the winter under a pile of fleece blankets. Why humans ever decided that living north of the Mason-Dixon was a good idea is completely beyond me.

In other news, I spent the majority of yesterday trying to rid Debbie's mom's PC of that nasty fake anti-virus thing. Software companies lately seem to pride themselves in screwing up people's PC's (Flash defaulting the option to install a trial version of McAfee, AVG installing the Yahoo! toolbar virus by default, even when you tell it not to), but disabling a user's anti-virus, disabling parts of the OS, then offering to clean up the mess they created in exchange for money, must step over some sort of legal line. In fact, I'm pretty sure it does. And if they accept payments, that means they can be tracked down and executed. Or at least put out of business and their assets seized. But I suppose it's more important to imprison people for completely harmless activities like paying for sex or smoking pot.

Couple quick news items: printing 10's of trillions of monopoly money is having the predictable (and predicted) effect. Yes, the current price of gold is more about speculation than any real inflation for now, and in fact, there are still huge deflationary pressures at the moment. But that speculation is being fueled by the actions of morally-defective politicians the world over who are doing everything they can to create another debt-fueled economic bubble. In the 1980's, it was a debt-fueled bubble in stocks, "fixed" by creating a housing bubble, followed by the internet bubble, then another housing bubble. If you can guess which part of the economy is next (health care? "green" energy? alternative fuel cars?), you could stand to make a lot of money.

And by the way; holy crap do I regret not buying gold at $300/ounce when I had the chance.

I can hardly contain my excitement over the fact that dirty politics Chicago-style is now the national norm. For now, it's government union thugs beating up blacks who refuse to participate in stereotypical black behavior. Who's next on the hit list? Anyone who doesn't believe Obamacare will solve the world's problems? Jews? (Always a favorite; just google "Crown Heights".) Any parents who refuse to force their children to participate in the government's mass re-education camps disguised as public schools? Any business who has the audacity to be successful without government subsidies? Next time, instead of being dragged into court and publicly humiliated, will Bill Gates be roughed up by SEIU thugs for paying insufficient attention and tribute to the Imperial City? What about anyone who questions why a half-black, half-Polynesian mulato is our "first black president" rather than our "first Polynesian president"?

Enough of that. On a lighter note, a video made as an introduction for a former youth pastor of my parents' church:

Monday, November 09, 2009

And the winner is........

New Hampshire.

AAA New Hampshire was the first to offer me a job. I will be working in Keene NH (southwest part of the state) for AAA as a member service counselor. That means I am not a "real travel agent" -- I am not suppose to book cruises and international air/tours. I'm sure I can work out something with them to book my family! We will wait and see. My start date is Nov 30th.

Ric and I will probably drive over later this week to scout out apartment rentals in the area and get something signed and under deposit. Then back here to Michigan to pack up things again, run up north to say some goodbyes and head out to our new place the Monday before Thanksgiving.

If we don't get around to see you to say Hi and Goodbye ... sorry. You can all come help carry things from the basement to the garage and into the Penske truck and say Hi and Bye at the same time!

Friday, November 06, 2009

October Stats

Quick run-down before I head off to bed:

Total visits for the month: 223; a slight improvement over the last couple months, probably due to us posting more.

On the operating system front, XP is still leads all other OS's combined by a margin of more than 3-to-1. Surprisingly, I didn't have a single Win7 hit, which I find odd. Windows as a whole accounts for over 90% of the web traffic to this site and seems to be increasing its dominance.

Firefox 3.5 rules. Even though all previous versions have vanished, it is beating out IE by better than 2-to-1. That's significantly different from the dead-heat between IE and FF in previous months. It will be interesting to see if it holds.

And that probably more than enough of that.

Thursday, November 05, 2009

On My Own, Etc.

I'm on my own for a couple days while Debbie is out to New Hampshire looking into a job. I was contacted about a possibility out in Pasadena, California as well. I have to give them an answer on Monday if I'm going to throw my hat into the ring. The downside is that it is a temporary gig of one to two years. The upside is that it's more money than we normally make in five years. The downside is that it is in one of the most-expensive places to live in the entire United States. The upside is that it's more money than we normally make in five years. The downside is the whole traffic-big city-crowded-noisy thing. The upside is that it's more money than we normally make in five years.

We'll talk about it Sunday and figure out what I'm going to tell them.

Speaking of cool jobs, how about making really cool knives, swords, etc., then creating mythologies to go along with them, including building a giant dragon skeleton. I wonder if this guy is hiring?

And, as if you needed another one, here's a good example of why you never believe anything a politician tells you. Either they are just bald-face lying to you and know it, or they are lying as a result of being mentally defective combined with being too morally defective to care. It's also a good example of why any business should think long and hard before taking government money.

Today, I relearned a lesson I learned for the first time when I was a mere lad: The smaller the room, the longer it takes to paint it. I worked all day and burned through nearly a full gallon of paint working in a room that is only a five-foot square. And I'm not done yet. Small rooms suck. On the positive side, it's the last of the painting on the south half of the basement. The north half is going to be much easier to do; very little in the way, meaning more roller and less brush.

We've also gotten back into Craigslist and have managed to get rid of some very bulky items while putting a nice stack of bills in our pocket. I never stop being grateful for people willing to trade perfectly good money for stuff I would just as soon throw on the burn pile in the back yard.

Well, I need to go check on the latest about the shooting in Texas, then go to bed. I'm heading up to northern Michigan for my nephew's birthday and to hit him up with a business proposition that he can't refuse. I am, after all, his favorite uncle. Later.

Monday, November 02, 2009

November and We're Still in Michigan


The title says it all. The calendar is now flipped to November and no word on getting out of snow country. Ah well; at least we have four walls and a roof, even if it is located in the snow belt.

I spent today finishing up some insulating in Debbie's mom's basement. I need to get some more caulking to finish that job up, then after 24 hours, I'll slap on a quick coat of paint and another small chunk of the basement project will be done. We also need to start working on getting all the various piles we've made down here sorted out and put in their final home. I'd like to get back to working outside, but that doesn't look too promising for most of this week. I was hoping to have the back yard looking more-or-less finished before Debbie's mom came back from her trip, but I didn't make it.

So enough of what I didn't accomplish, already.

Some more indicators of our economic health. First, nine banks were closed on Friday (they were all owned by the same holding company, so it's not quite as bad as it sounds), bringing the total for 2009 to 115. That was followed two days lager by the fifth-largest bankruptcy in US history filed by Citi. I guess the taxpayers won't be getting any of the $2.3 billion of good money thrown after the bad already lost by Citi's Masters of the Universe.

And just when we were running out of things to worry about, we now have giant, man-eating jellyfish attacking and sinking Japanese fishing boats! OK, so that's not exactly how it went down, but holy crap! Six-foot, 400-pound jellyfish? I think we'll skip that scuba trip to the Sea of Japan we were thinking about....

Next is a story with a lot of sub-text to it. The basic facts are a couple teenage girls took pictures of themselves that were probably less-than-entirely appropriate. So of course the local high school feels obliged to get involved even though the pictures were not taken at a school function, were not being disseminated using school equipment, and were taken when school was not even in session. The girls are banned from athletics and forced to apologize to the "all-male Athletics Board," whom I'm sure were not titillated in the least by a couple teenage girls describing what it was that they were apologizing for. Now the ACLU is filing a suit on behalf of the girls. Good for them. I hope the resulting monetary award bankrupts the entire school district. Once again, I just don't get it. Just how wide of a sphere of control does a local high school cast? Is there no place where a student is safe from their overlords? Do parents have no say whatsoever in the upbringing of their own children? Does the school have a Perv Patrol that endlessly trolls the internet for pictures teens take of themselves that are no more (and often much less) pornographic than a trip to the beach or browsing the underwear pages of a clothing catalog? Do Americans realize what a laughingstock we are to the rest of the world for simultaneously being the most prudish non-Muslim nation on earth and the largest source of hard-core porn? Feh.

And once again, Peggy Noonan hits one out of the park:
We are governed at all levels by America's luckiest children, sons and daughters of the abundance, and they call themselves optimists but they're not optimists—they're unimaginative. They don't have faith, they've just never been foreclosed on. They are stupid and they are callous, and they don't mind it when people become disheartened. They don't even notice.


Well, I need to take a break from spreading joy and optimism so I can consume chicken nuggets and watch John Stewart.