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Friday, September 30, 2016

Watch the Banks

Germany's Deutsche Bank is in trouble. Pressure is being put on the German government to bail it out. Let's see how that sorts itself out. Right now the politicians don't look like they want to do a straight bail out. Anyone remember Lehmans?

The bank caught my attention because I wonder if it will be the final straw that brings down the financial house of cards. There's a lot of unsustainable financial things in the worlds, everything from the overblown derivative market to real estate speculation in Canada and China.

At any given moment something “too big to fail” is going to fail. Then it will be a scramble to see who can get what they can out of the system. There is no way that all debts are going to be paid. A lot of that debt is going to be student loan debt, so that's a plus . . . I guess.

Anybody have any idea why the US bailed out the banks in 2008? Yeah sure, the banks are big political players and the politicians take care of their own. However, the banks do a lot more than buy off politicians. They are the key to keeping the economy going, at least the way it's currently set up. Everything from the drilling of oil to the planting of seed relies on the banks.

If all they were doing was being the middle men between investors and those in need of loans, it wouldn't so bad. That's a solid and valid function of banks. Unfortunately, that sort of work is unexciting. While the pay is steady it's not crazy sky high lucrative -like all the speculative things they've gotten into.

In 2008 they were bailed out of all those bad decisions to keep the economy moving along. Will Germany be willing to do the same? They many not even be allowed to under German law. Could be interesting.

Of course, I'm not a financial advisor. What I am is just some guy with a good front row seat to the sh*t show. We appear to be in for some interesting times.


Thursday, September 29, 2016

Waiting for the warmth

It's that time of year again where it's freezing in the morning, warm in the afternoon, and then the temperature plummets as the sun goes down. Any outdoor project that needs warm temperatures has a very narrow window of opportunity. Yesterday as I in town people were dressed for both warm and cool temperatures. The bundled up folk were probably a bit warm at that moment, but the shorts crowd would soon be freezing. Of course, most folks don't stray too far from their cars so they'll either turn on the heat or the AC as needed.

There's not enough time, good weather, or money to get everything I wanted to get done finished. Such is life. This is a rebuilding year for me. Hopefully some of my current efforts will produce some income down the road, but we shall see.

I did get a $50 check from my medical insurance. They had a cash incentive to get a physical this year. Since I'd promised to kids to have a check up anyway it was a bonus. It took months for them to send the check, but it finally came in. The first thing I did buy a bottle of rum . . . for medicinal purposes. Don't worry, not all the money went for booze. Some went for chocolate and ice-cream.

My in-laws had hoped to catch the fall colors when they were here, but they were a bit early. It's not an exact science. Even though I see it year after year, it never gets old for me. If I have to drive into town I pick the most scenic routes for the time of day, depending on the light.

Last year I had to go down to Florida to be with my dad so I missed out on the fall activities. Nothing is being taken for granted this year.


Wednesday, September 28, 2016

Another 400 mile day

Yesterday I did a quick down to Massachusetts to pick up my lovely wife. She went with her parents down to my daughter's place. My in-laws were flying out of Boston the next day. I stayed at home to deal with the guy who was looking at my woodstove. It was a lot of extra travel, but I did get to see my daughter and grandkids one more time so totally worth it.

The road loop around Boston does not seem to ever have a slow time. Unless, of course, you count those times when traffic is so heavy the highway becomes a huge parking lot. The good thing about driving in that kind of traffic is realizing it's an occasional thing for me. My gratitude for not having to commute like that on a daily basis is endless.

There are a few more outside projects that really have to be done before the snow flies. The next one is changing the door that goes out onto the deck. The old wooden one has seen better days and never was very well insulated. That wasn't a problem when we were going south for most of the winter. Now that we are definitely staying here for at least most of it, we need something better. One of my daughters and her husband renovated a house and no longer needed one of the outside doors. It's a fairly new steel clad insulated door, perfect for my needs.

Not sure if I'll switch it out today or just do the prep work. Feeling a bit worn out and just might take it easy. Changing an outside door goes a lot better if the weather is nice and today will be only so so. That just might be enough of an excuse to wait a day.

I must admit to being a bit sore. The road trip didn't really give me much of a rest after moving that heavy cast iron stove. The young guy who came to pick it up was supposed to have help with him to move it. He's young, over 6 feet tall and in his 20s yet could barely lift his end of it. Never mind carry it any distance.

However, he was willing to buy the stove so I was determined he would leave with it. With the use of scrap lumber, a dolly, steel ramps, ratcheting straps, and a come along, we made it happen.


Monday, September 26, 2016

Visit from Texans and heavy lifting

My in-laws made the 2000 mile trip from Texas to New Hampshire. I pretty much ignored the Internet during their visit so as to enjoy their company while they were here. This trip is how they decided to celebrate their 60th wedding anniversary. Most of their grandkids are here in New England so we were all able to get together. We had meals, campfires, and even went to an outdoor concert. Good fun.

I've always gotten along with them. Maybe it didn't hurt that we always lived far enough apart so we never got on each other's nerves. They are good people.

My lovely wife went down with them to Massachusetts where they'll be catching a flight early in the morning. I stayed behind. A guy wanted to buy my old wood burning kitchen stove. Unfortunately, his buddies who were supposed to help him load the stove bailed on him. We moved it just the two of us.

Good thing I had a dolly and some heavy duty ramps. He had some strapping and a come along. Doors had to be removed. The deck needed some temporary reinforcement. It took some time but we got it loaded without any injuries. He'll have to figure out some way to unload it. Not my problem.

Lots of catching up to do now that my company is gone.


Wednesday, September 21, 2016

Security Tax

I wonder how much of our national resources now go toward paying the “security tax.” That's money spent on things that are supposed to keep us safe.

The most recent bombings in the US didn't do all that much damage. Compared to what happens day to day in a place like Afghanistan, it's just another market day.

The response to those bombings is hugely expensive. NY security is now tighter than it's ever been. Just think of all the police overtime, then add in all the extra private security. Just for fun and games try to imagine how security threats will affect business in the future.

If you were a tourist wouldn't you rethink your vacation plans? Even Paris France, one of the world's top vacation destinations, is seeing a drop in tourism. Would you open a business in a neighborhood that had a bombing or a race riot? If you did you'd have to spend money on security doors, cameras and maybe even private security guards. Someone has to pay for all those extra measures.

We end up with a perfect storm of business activity going down while at the same time security costs are going up. In the United States, in most areas, security was a pretty low cost operation. My home town used to be so safe that businesses would sometimes forget to lock their doors at night. Property crime is still pretty low, but I bet no one forgets the locks these days. More people are installing alarms, heavier locks and employing security companies.

Right now things still aren't too bad, even with the TSA slowing down air travel causing many hours of lost productivity. At least suppliers don't have to worry about highwaymen robbing their supply trucks. Although during the recent Charlotte riots highway traffic was stopped, cargo removed from trucks and set on fire. One more data point. One more incident of the security tax in operation.

Should we include the US military in the security tax equation? The trick with security is to have enough so that doing business is safe, but not to waste money on unneeded services. Thanks to the world we now live in, the basic cost of security keeps going up.


Tuesday, September 20, 2016

Endless Summer

I woke up this morning and dressed in shorts. Not that many years ago I could count on frost being on the ground this late in September. Didn't even close the windows last night. Of course, weather is fickle and it could snow next week. I've run my woodstove one day this month and really didn't need to.

Compared to much of the country we lucked out this summer. The weather was hot, but not too hot. While we had some mild drought conditions we did much better than the southern part of the state. There was just enough rain to keep the woodlands from going up in flames. I've friends downstate who had water restrictions in their town. Other friends in Maine had their well go dry. My well dropped about 5 inches but held steady after that.

The summer has blinked by. My days are full. Many projects are still not completed, but that's the nature of projects.

There have been a lot of get togethers this summer with friends and family. More are on the way. Tonight it's pizza and pool at my cousin/s. My in-laws are coming up from Texas on Thursday. We'll be joined by my oldest daughter and her family on Friday.

Last year at this time I was called to Florida to be with my dying father. With the exception of a short trip to bring his ashes home in November, we were down south until the end of March. With dad gone there is no hurry to head south anytime soon. In fact, we are needed here right now. A family member is going through a rough time and we want to be around.

Some years I could not wait to head south. The warm moist Florida air has been good for my firefighting damaged lungs. I've been feeling pretty good this summer, and have the lab tests to prove it. If I keep the humidity up in the house and take my vitamin D, I should be fine.

I haven't mentioned it on this blog, but my lovely wife has had a few medical scares. She had some normal medical screening while we were in Florida. Tests indicated that some things needed to be followed up on. Our copies of the medical tests were lost in the shipwreck. There was some difficulty getting the raw data from the Florida clinic. The local doctors wanted to compare current tests with the old. Turns out it was nothing to worry about. However, she had a biopsy taken for an unrelated problem. That turned out to also be fine. I am relieved.

With the political, economic and social state of the country right now, it makes sense to stay close to home. My lovely wife and I do plan on a trip or two into Canada, but we live so close to the border that Canada is a local trip.


Monday, September 19, 2016

Currency Collapse?

Anyone else paying attention to the currency markets out there? I'm not a financial guy. There does seem to be a lot of scuttlebutt on the Internet.

If you do feel something is about to go down are you doing anything about it? Some folks I know are adding more ammo to their preps. Others are investing in precious metals.

As for myself, I've added some more food to my storage. If you are going to store food the best bang for the buck has always been things like whole grains and beans. This time around I purchased something different, a big bucket of freeze dried food. Two reasons, variety and light weight storage.

Freeze dried food takes up a lot less space and is quick to prepare. I'm going to keep it stored in my van. That way I'll have some food if we decided to head out somewhere at a moment's notice. If it was in my house then all my eggs would be in one basket.

In a major currency collapse my personal income would most likely disappear -or become worthless. Good thing it's only money.

Seriously though, has anyone any inside information where this is going in the near term?