Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Porch Project

Now that the weather-gods have decided that we may have 72 hours in a row without rain, we decided it was time to do my mom and dad's porch. We scrubbed it all down with deck cleaner, let it dry for 24 hours, then started slapping on the stain.

Started with the outside edge.

Edge and steps all done; time to start really putting down some stain.

Lunch break.

Missed it by THAT much. We had to open a full gallon of stain to do this little bit.

The more-or-less finished product. I'm over on the left still trying to pry the plastic ring off the new can of stain. I'd forgotten what a royal pain those things are.
That took up Thursday, Friday and Saturday. I decided to pressure-wash the patio up around the porch before cleaning and staining the deck. That way, the first thing my parents do when they get here won't be to blow black gunk all over the freshly finished deck.

I'm still kicking out the occasional security gig. This Sunday I get to work the local America's Got Talent thingy down at the convention center. It will be one of the longer jobs I've done so far: 6am til 8pm. Feet will be aching by the end of that shift for sure. Debbie is still cranking out cruises, but she's hitting her annual slow season. She's still getting enough cabins sold to bonus, but not by much. I'll need to try to pick up more security work during November to make up the difference. Initially, her bonus money was just extra, but thanks to the rent going up 5% every year for no other reason than the bastards who own this place want to, Debbie's bonuses are no longer... well... bonuses.

Speaking of money, I haven't written much about the economy lately. But recently, I'm starting to get the same queasy feeling I had back in late 2008. That didn't turn out well for a lot of people, including us. This time around, it may be worse given that most of us schlubs are still digging ourselves out of the manure pile. Normally I just keep those sort of feelings to myself, but it looks like other people are coming out of the woodwork that make me look like an optimist:

The bear market is here, and a 30% decline is highly probable. So be defensive, raise your awareness, and get help from professionals who survived and thrived in the previous three crashes. Those who ignore history are doomed to experience the worst.

That'll hurt, especially given all the retirees that were forced into the stock market after the Fed cut real interest rates down to negative territory. But given the nose-bleed level the stock market is at currently, even a 30% drop is hardly Armageddon. Of course, last time around, it was the bursting of a nice big real estate bubble that turned a normal economic event into The Great Recession. So this time, what part of the economy suffers from constant hype from analysts and our government?

-By 2040, production rates from the Bakken Shale and Eagle Ford Shale will be less than a tenth of that projected by the Energy Department.

-The three year average well decline rates for the seven shale oil basins measured for the report range from an astounding 60-percent to 91-percent.

-Four of the seven shale gas basins are already in terminal decline in terms of their well productivity....

-The three year average well decline rates for the seven shale gas basins measured for the report ranges between 74-percent to 82-percent.

And all of it paid for with borrowed money. Yea. Nothing can go wrong there.

And we have some sort of election coming up. The only thing about it I'm looking forward to is an end to the non-stop political ads everywhere. I know I say this every election cycle, but I cannot fathom in what universe there exist people so stupid that their vote would be influenced by the barrage of crap that pours out of our TV to do anything other than stay home on November 4th and declare a pox on all their houses. That's exactly what I'll be doing. I'm done. Throwing in the towel. The pricks (and sorry; they're all pricks) will do whatever they want regardless of how anyone votes, so I'll be watching this circus from the sidelines.

Not that voting has any meaning whatsoever in the age of touch-screen voting and the registration of illegal aliens. Sure, there has always been a certain level of shenanigans when it comes to voting in this country, as evidenced by the Chicago ballets still sitting on the bottom of Lake Michigan. But at least with a physical ballot, you have to work at it (hanging chads not withstanding). When everything is a ghost in the machine, a reasonably bright four-year-old can rig an election.

And enough of that. I'm off to do some dishes so we have something clean to eat dinner off of.

Tuesday, October 07, 2014

More Standing on the Box

At this point, I've survived four events while wearing a shirt that has the word "Security" splashed across the back of it. The first two times, I was at the main gate for the last couple Rays games. So I was standing in the full Florida sun for several hours wand-ing down people and repeatedly yelling to the crowd to "Please take everything out of your pockets. Everything means EVERYTHING. Cellphone, keys, change, wallets, small furry mammals. Everything needs to come out of your pockets. Please" Then the first person I wand gets a beep. "Do you have something in your back pocket?" "Just my cellphone. I need to take that out too? You want me to take my shoes off? This is worse than going to the airport..." Blah, blah, blah. Meanwhile, there are 20,000 very hot, very sweaty, very impatient people behind said person. Fun stuff. I didn't actually lose my voice, but by the second or third hour, I was starting to sound a lot like Darth Vader. But other than being hot and hectic, it really wasn't anything I'd call hard work. One thing I really like about the company I work for: they do the laundry. You're handed a clean shirt at the beginning of your shift, then seven sunny, Florida hours later, leave the sweat-soaked toxic mess for someone else to deal with. Sweet. The downside was the drive. The stadium is waaaaay down in St. Petersburg, so the cost of gas takes a serious chunk out of my take-home pay.

The second pair of gigs were concerts. The first was a real pain in the ear; 65,000-plus screaming, prepubescent girls and yet-another, record-label-created boy band. (Four Directions? One Dimension? Ah, here it is: One Direction.) I started out at one of the gates doing bag checks. (Primary things we were looking for: weapons, sex toys, lewd or profane language on signs and/or clothing. Simply wearing lewd clothing was not a problem.) Once the warm-up act was done, my gate was closed and I was "redeployed" (yea, some of these guys are seriously into their military jargon) to the main floor. My job was to keep the aisle clear and make sure that no purple wristbands tried to get up to the stage. I expected it to be a nightmare, but it only took me making one pass down the aisle before things got rolling, making sure everyone knew the drill. After that, all I mostly had to do was start walking towards someone or even just wave them back into their row. The only real problem children were not, in fact, children. They were the cougar moms trying to get to the stage. I'm not sure on what planet any self-respecting 20-something guy would give these wrinkled crones a tumble. When said 20-something is an international celebrity, its a safe bet the odds are effectively zero. And for Cthulhu's sake, put some clothes on. Anyway, it was a fairly easy gig, although we did have to do the human line thing when everyone on the floor tried to rush the stage during the final encore. No one tried to scratch my eyes out, so I guess that makes it a good day.

The second concert was a road trip. We all jumped on a big tour bus and headed north to Archer, Florida. Well, to be precise, we were bused to a cow pasture somewhere in the general vicinity of Archer, Florida to help beef up the local security presence at one of Luke Bryan's Farm Tour stops. I got a major cush gig in the VIP area, checking credentials of people trying to get on the roof of the lounge they had set up. It was kind of a cool little deal; a semi-trailer that expanded out into a 1,000 square-foot lounge and bar, complete with restrooms and four flat screens connected to a satellite dish. (We'll leave aside the question why someone would pay hundreds of dollars to get into the VIP area, then sit indoors and watch a ball game....) People with VIP passes could pay an extra $500 to go up a ladder onto the top of the trailer for a better view and all the free beer, soda, water and Five-Hour Energy they wanted. My job was to make sure the people up there had actually paid and that they didn't try to jump off the roof. It was the easiest money I've made in a long time. It did get a little intense when all fifty people started bouncing in unison. Me and the other security guy both had two fistfuls of railing trying not to get thrown clean off the roof. I swear a couple times I had a good foot of air under me. But we made it through, then did our usual herd-everyone-out-the-gate routine and got back on our bus. The only bummer with the whole thing was the five hours on the road. I came crawling into the trailer around 3am Sunday morning.

Anyway, so far, so good on the whole security thing. I can pick what events I want to work, and they don't mind that I'm going to disappear for tax season. This weekend coming up, I'm doing a couple football games. We'll see if my luck holds out, or if some drunk tries to knock my teeth out.