Tuesday, November 18, 2014

The Big Five-Oh.

Yep. Half a century. Got my AARP card in the mail. More years behind me than in front. Hit the local CVS for a walker and some Geritol. Blah, blah, blah.

The reality is, of course, that I am exactly one day older than I was yesterday. But Western Civilization loves its anniversary dates almost as much as it loves its "old people talk" about pills and pains and procedures, so here we are.

In more important news, it's cold. The "polar vortex" (which is, in fact, nothing new but gets people all worked up thanks to a rather silly movie from a few years back) is knocking our temps out of the 70's and 80's for the next few days. I'll probably move our plants that are in pots into the shed or up onto the porch snuggled up against the trailer. The stuff planted in the ground is on its own. If this plays out like it usually does, our little micro-climate we have back here in the corner will stay up close to forty and it will be no big deal. By Friday we'll be back into 70's territory, and everyone will be talking about how we survived the Great Polar Vortex of November 2014. Ya know, it used to be that people were too busy surviving for real to waste time blowing perfectly normal weather events into an endless series of apocalypses that we "survived" by the brave expedient of putting on a sweater....

We were busy last weekend making more changes to the trailer. We installed some shelves in the Florida room that will also serve as a partition between the "living" area and the spot for the laundry, hot water heater and a small, upright freezer. We put twelve-inch shelves facing front to replace the monster book shelf we currently have taking up one entire wall, and sixteen-inch shelves facing the back that will hold the vacuum, folding chairs, laundry and cleaning supplies, etc. The long-term plan is to move Debbie's work space into the Florida room, and move the TV and my computer into the actual living room in the trailer itself so we can seat more than one guest at a time. We will also be able to set up a better space for Debbie's card-making operation out in the Florida room once we've shifted everything from the Monster Bookcase to the new built-in, and ditched ol' MB someplace. We'll probably donate it to the park library or some such. That's all a bit further down the road. I want to get the paneling up in the Florida room before we get too anxious shifting things around.

Anyway, some pictures:

The "before" shot.

A view of the rats nest we had to relocate.

Sorting through the boards. Typical of the Crapification of Everything, lots of damage and defects to hide.

The back of the first shelf unit in its place.

The front of the deep shelf unit.

And the finished project before it gets filled up with shelves and books.

I still need to cut the shelf boards to fit, which will likely wait until the weekend, then we can check another thing off the to-do list. While adding three more. But we don't talk about that.

We inherited a couple rose bushes that someone else was killing. I'm not sure how it happened, but we've become the park Plant Doctors. We've been receiving a steady stream of dying plants from people who hear that we can "fix" them. Our "miracle cure" generally involves re-potting in an appropriate-sized container and placing the plant out of full sun. (Almost nothing, including plants sold as "full sun" plants can survive Florida full sun.) Not sure how that makes us plant whisperers, but apparently it does around here. Anyway, the rose bushes. We got our first blooms. Just in time for them to be knocked off by the cold tonight. But there will be more:

I was going to say something about economics again, but with the gloomy weather, it seemed like piling on. So instead, here's a few links for those readers who aren't depressed enough by the cold and the rain/snow:

The Crapified Magic of the Obamacare Marketplace

It’s the crapification that gets me: We’ve got, on the very same continent as our own, a single payer system that covers everybody for a boatload less money — those wacky Canadians call it “Medicare” — and the best we can do in this exceptionally great country, this shining city on a hill, is normalize a program that still leaves 41 million uninsured, that has gross defects in its construction, and that is a full of traps for the unwary that will cost you bucks to some unholy number or needed treatment for a vital organ, whenever you look at it sideways or put your foot down in the wrong place. Because markets.

Japan Is Dying and We Still Don't Get It

What is it with us? Don’t we WANT to understand? Japan announced on Monday that its economy is in hopeless trouble and back in recession (as if it was ever out). And what do we see? ‘Experts’ and reporters clamoring for more stimulus. But if Japan has shown us anything over the past years, and you’re free to pick any number between 2 and 20 years, it’s that the QE-based kind of stimulus doesn’t work. Not for the real economy, that is....

Japan’s stimulus has achieved the following: banks get to pretend they’re healthy and stocks rise to heights that are fundamentally disconnected from underlying real values. On the flipside of that, citizens are being increasingly squeezed and ‘decide’ not to spend (not much of a decision if you have nothing to spend). Since Japan’s ‘consumer’ spending makes up about 60% of GDP, things can only possibly get worse as time passes. If ‘consumers’ don’t spend, deflation is the inevitable result – and that has nothing to do with the much discussed sales tax, it’s been going on for decades.

The Instability Express

Plummeting oil prices are a symptom of terrible mounting instabilities in the world. After years of stagnation, complacency, and official pretense, the linked matrix of systems we depend on for running our techno-industrial society is shaking itself to pieces. American officials either don’t understand what they’re seeing, or don’t want you to know what they see. The tensions between energy, money, and economy have entered a new phase of destructive unwind.

Two Detroits, Separate and Unequal

That Detroit is a more than 80% African American metropolis makes the idea of its rise from bankruptcy with second-class status all the more problematic. As Hammer explains, the plan for Detroit bears an eerie back-to-the-future resemblance to the famed Kerner Commission report of 1968, issued by a presidentially appointed panel in the wake of the urban rebellions that were then sweeping the country. Its findings were that the nation was moving toward two societies: black and white, separate and unequal.

“That was viewed as a call to action, as unacceptable in 1968,” comments Hammer. Nearly a half-century later, he adds, it’s portrayed as progress. The vision of a future Detroit as a sprawling second-class black city with a small, wealthy downtown and a few elite neighborhoods surrounded by thriving white suburbs will, he projects, bring the 1968 finding to life. “The truth is, what [bankruptcy] Judge Rhodes will do when he approves the bankruptcy plan of adjustment is ratify that conclusion as prophecy.”

If anyone needs me, I'll be curled up in my blanket escaping reality by reading about fictional murder and mayhem.