Friday, March 31, 2023

Grand Jury Indicts Trump

Trumps legal troubles have reached a new high. Once again, Trump does something no former president has ever done. He’s been indicted for a crime. Considering how which collar criminals are treated in this country that’s a big deal. The rich and powerful have a totally different justice system from the rest of us. 

For him to be indited is big news. Of course, we won’t know the details until later. I am curious to see how his surrender to authorities will look like. 

Here’s the thing: this isn’t the most serious crimes he’s been charged with. There are other cases working their way through the legal system. What this NY case does is show that he can be indicted. Once the dam breaks the flood starts. 

It’s no secret I’ve never been a fan of the man. That’s my right as an American. I’m prepared for this. There’s a bottle of good quality single malt scotch sitting my liquor cabinet that I’ve been saving. 

In an earlier blog I mentioned that I didn’t expect his supporters to cause much of a fuss. There may be a lot of gnashing of teeth on social media, but I’m not on those platforms. As for coming out in the streets -not so much. That doesn’t mean there won’t be a few idiots, but there are always idiots. Some even think they’ll be pardoned by Trump for any legal problems. However, when he had the legal authority to pardon the January 6 bozos he never lifted a finger. How they expect an indicted criminal to pardon them is beyond me. 


Wednesday, March 29, 2023

Moving money out of country

I follow this guy who left Russia to avoid the draft. He might look a little long in the tooth to be drafted but that's not the case in Russia.

The video goes into great detail about how difficult it is to take money out of Russia right now. 

The thing to keep in mind is that what happens in one country could happen in other countries. 

Of course, it's always the little guys who suffer most.


Tuesday, March 28, 2023

Yeah . . . no

Do I expect to see much unrest if and when Trump is called up on criminal charges? Each time that happens?

In short, no. The number of people who’ll resort to violence for Trump isn’t that great. For those that do, there are heavy precautions in place. 

We’ve seen from the January 6 trials that those who resort to violence get the book thrown at them. An awful lot of them are being sentenced to the maximums allowable. That has a chilling effect -which is probably intentional. 

Even hardcore supporters of Trump recognize he has a lot of baggage. They are looking for someone else to vote for. 

My main concern of this post is not the politics but the dangers of civil unrest. While an extra bit of vigilance wouldn’t be out of place, things will not devolve into wide spread chaos. 


Monday, March 27, 2023

Bank Failures and Downturns

With the recent increase in bank failures a lot of people are worried. It’s not really a problem -unless you are concerned about money, income, and paying bills. Then there’s the whole economic collapse thing. If you aren’t worried about those things it’s not an issue. 

In the real world, it’s an issue. 

I wasn’t too worried about my local bank but then they sent out an e-mail stating how everything was fine. That had me worried. I’ve had one my banks go under before and that was well before the 2008 crash. The bank I had my house mortgage with went belly up in the 80s. 

Funny thing about that. That bank wasn’t my first choice for a mortgage but my first choice refused me. Eventually the bank that refused me took over the failed bank and ended up with my mortgage anyway. The thing about owing money is that someone will take over your debt. 

It’s the savings side that’ll get you. The easiest thing to do is to keep deposits under the $250,000 insurance limit. The government may cover more but don’t count on it. One thing to keep in mind is that while you’ll get your money back it might take a while. Don’t put all your eggs in one basket. 

There is some concern that the fund that backs the Federal insurance would soon run out. The numbers don’t look good. It’s my guess that the government would step in with a huge inflow of money to cover the losses. They have the printing presses after all. 

It’s going to be tough for people who are heavily leveraged with loads of debt. I’m no financial advisor but it would seem that reducing that exposure would be a high priority. Most people will probably muddle through. Just guessing, but it doesn’t seem like a full blown financial collapse will hit just yet.

Even if that would happen it’s not the end of the world. There’s a period when everything resets, but then life goes on for most people. The trick is to get through the tough transition phase without missing too many meals.


Saturday, March 25, 2023

Under the weather

I’ve been under the weather the last couple of days. It appears to be some kind of stomach bug. My lovely wife is just getting over it herself. It really knocked me for a loop. Just to make things interesting it hit while I was dealing with pulled back muscles. 

While I’m better today than yesterday, I’m far from all better. 

Last week, when I was actually feeling good, I went to a long overdue checkup. Today I got my test results back from my doctor’s visit. I haven’t had a physical since 2019 when I briefly had health insurance and it was covered. I was relieved to see the results were good. Not bad for old fat guy. 

Once this stomach bug sorts itself out I’m resuming a diet and exercise program. It’s got to be done if I want to keep having fun adventures. 


Thursday, March 23, 2023

Winter in New England

For quite a few years my lovely wife and I escaped the snow and did the snowbird thing. Now that spring is here it’s official: we spent the winter in New England. 

I’ve been somewhat vague about my wife’s health journey. Let’s just say there’s still things to sort out. She’s got another appointment with her regular doctor next week. After that we are tracking down specialists. It doesn’t appear to be anything life threatening, but there are quality of life issues. Had we been traveling these issues would have been ten times more difficult to deal with. 

As for myself I just sorted out how to get Medicare without ever having paid into the system. That took a minute. Now that I have somewhat decent insurance I’m catching up on a few things. 

We’ve also been dealing with family and friends issues. Most of our family is still in New England so it made sense to stay close to home. 

Will be be traveling next winter? That’s a definite maybe. It all depends on how things sort out. However, we are experienced travelers and can hit the road with very little notice.


Tuesday, March 21, 2023

Moose in the dark

My lovely wife and I had a near miss with a moose on the way home. It was dark and suddenly there was a moose at top of a large snowbank. Holy crap! I stood on the brakes. Fortunately the moose had slowed down as I might have still hit it if the moose had kept up its pace. That gets the heart pumping better than a triple shot espresso. 

It’s been months since I saw moose on the side of the road. That was no reason to relax. It was about three miles from where I once hit a moose with a van. My daughter had hit one less than half a mile from today’s encounter. 

In that very spot I once almost hit a large bull moose while riding a motorcycle. The motorcycle stopped less than twenty feet from the side of the moose. It slowly turned its head my way, snorted, and then let go a huge stream of urine. It was a weird encounter. 

This is the time of the year when they are down from the high country and are on the move. Good thing I’m in the habit of slowing down at night. There are too many critters running around after dark. Heck, it’s warming up enough for the bears to start coming out. After a winter’s hibernation they are on the prowl for something to eat. I’ve never collided with a bear and have no desire to do so. 

Looks like my slow night rides home are going to be even slower for a while.


Monday, March 20, 2023

Snow Pack

Okay, I’m getting a bit annoyed at our snow pack. By this time in March it’s usually possible to walk in the woods without snowshoes. In recent years it seems we’ve had mild winters but they’d linger. Here in the Great North Woods of New Hampshire the weather can be like that. In recent years we go from winter straight into summer. There isn’t much spring at all. Frankly, I’m feeling ready for the switch.

Many I’m just getting tired of paying to heat the place. 

Out west all that water is taking the edge off the drought. Decades of drought aren’t made up for in one wet season. However, the reservoirs are gaining water. The day of reckoning is put off again. 

My youngest daughter and her husband own and run a couple of restaurants in California. They had a major power outage. Even though the power was out their gas stove and grill was still working. If you had cash they could still feed you. They did a pretty steady business during the power outage. Kids were getting kabobs for breakfast . . . and loving it. 

With the cooler weather in March I misjudged my heating fuel usage. My oil tank ran dry a few days before the next delivery. It’s not a big deal as I’ve still got the woodstove. I know how to bleed the air out of the fuel lines and restart the furnace. It’s not rocket science and it saves me a service fee. In a pinch I could always pour a couple jugs of off-road diesel in the tank and burn that. 

Warmer weather can get here anytime and that would be fine by me. 

I may be starting to suffer a bit of cabin fever. 


Saturday, March 18, 2023

Back to the doctor’s

Well that was interesting. It didn’t take too long to take my new Medicare insurance out for a ride. 

My doctor said he hadn’t seen me in a while. 

“That’s good, right?” I said. 

He laughed. 

I like this doctor. He never pressures me to do something I don’t want to do. It’s as if he actually respects me as a freaking adult. Since I haven’t had a full range of blood tests since 2019 I figured it wouldn’t hurt to have that done.

The big thing I needed was a referral to the sleep apnea specialist. Since I’ve finally got insurance I’m looking to get one of the new c-pap machines. They’ve come a long way. For many years I’ve been using second hand machines that I service and reprogram myself. They are getting harder to come by. I was starting to wonder about building one from scratch. 

Hopefully I’ll get along with this specialist. 

It’s interesting how I had to find a way to survive until I could get affordable health insurance at age 65. One the bright side, I must be doing a pretty good job of it. 


Thursday, March 16, 2023

It’s been a trip

Sometimes you just have to take a couple days and drive a few hundred miles just to tell a friend you love him. My brother from another mother is dying in home hospice. We had about 20 minutes where he was conscious and lucid. It was worth the trip. My friend is with us still, but spends most of his time asleep. On the bright side, there’s no pain.

Unfortunately, that evening my wife had some mysterious medical issues. I was concerned enough to call the ambulance to take her to the hospital. Long story short, they stabilized her and four hours later she could go home. No idea what brought the symptoms on. 

There are some possibilities that need to be looked into. She’s got an appoint to see her regular doctor and we hope to get in with a neurologist. Currently she’s fine and pretty normal -but that’s how she was before the “incident.” This could be some variation of issues she’s been dealing with for years. It could even be long covid causing issues. Right now we just don’t know.

As for myself, I’m getting a check up. I just qualified for Medicare so I have to take the insurance out for a ride. I really could use a new c-pap. For the last couple of decades I’ve been reprogramming and rebuilding used machines. It would be nice to take advantage of the newer technologies. 

Anyway, we keep on keeping on.


Sunday, March 12, 2023

Bank Runs

By now most people know that Silicon Valley Bank is going belly up. It looks like your classic bank run. Did you know that Silvergate shut down the day before? They specialized in servicing the crypto market and are part of the ongoing FTX fallout. 

Are these isolated incidents or is it going to get a whole lot worse? All I know for sure is that you don’t want to go to Jim Cramer for advice. A month ago he was recommending people buy Silicon Valley Bank. 

I am not a financial advisor. It had to be said. However, to me it just makes sense to avoid any bank heavily involved with crypto. That’s a given. All the major FTX people have been arrested but that won’t do your bank deposits much good. 

Then you have to ask yourself how many other banks are exposed the way Silicon Valley was. From what I could gather they had a lot of deposited from startup investor money. Rising interests rates put them in a bind where they lost billions. 

So how bad is this going to be? Bank regulations were proposed after the 2008 crash but those were mostly gutted. Powerful interests didn’t want that kind of oversight. If this goes sideways it could get interesting again.

You might want to have funds handy in case your bank suddenly closes its doors. Deposits are generally insured to $250,000 but it could take time for your insurance payout. I don’t deal much with big banks. Most of my financial day to day business is through a local credit union. 

About the only thing I plan on doing is to buy a couple more bags of rice. That’s the level my finances generally run at. Then again, rice is real and you can eat it -which is more than you can say about bank deposits in a failed bank.


Friday, March 10, 2023

Pushing Spring and Tourist Towns

My lovely wife and I went for a drive to a tourist town about an hour away. The roads were perfectly clear of snow and there were only a few flurries. For a moment I wondered if maybe I could take the motor scooter out for a short ride. Then sanity kicked it -something not guaranteed to happen.

If you have to shovel a 30 foot path through 2 feet of snow it’s too early to take the bike out. 

Instead we continued on to the tourist town. It has things like bookstores and coffee shops. Once in a while it’s good to get out of the woods. 

People travel from all over the world to our little mountain towns. It’s nice to play tourist in our own backyard once in a while. I’m always amused when someone tries to sell us a time share. Those salespeople are nothing if not persistent. When I tell them I already have a place in the area they bet they can make me a better deal. 

They can’t make me a better deal. 

I can tie up my sailboat off my private beach. Sure, it’s not a huge lake, but it’s big enough to sail my boat, paddle my canoes, and catch a few fish. I don’t care if your condo time share has a heated pool.


Thursday, March 9, 2023

Retirement Lies

A while back I blogged about a friend who was still working from his hospital bed. Now he’s retired. Retirement for him involves home hospice, dying from cancer, and sleeping 22 hours a day. 

That’s the sort of thing that never makes it into the retirement brochures. It’s more common than you’d like to admit.

Just about everyone has heard of someone who finally retired and died soon after. Maybe they didn’t quite even make it to retirement age. Sometimes life sucks. 

Whatever you do, don’t think giving up that fancy Starbucks coffee is what’s keeping you from acquiring a nice nest egg. Robbing yourself of a few little pleasures isn’t the problem. The problem is that you aren’t getting paid enough. Enjoy life while you can.

My lovely wife hurt her retirement nest egg by taking a few months off every winter. We starting traveling winters when we were in our early 40s. It might have been done on the cheap, but it was done. We had a blast. Not only that, we were young enough to actually enjoy roughing it sometimes. 

We are at the age where a lot of people just start their retirement adventures. Some are actually in good enough health to do interesting things. Good for them, but you can’t count on it. Not only that, if you haven’t had adventures when you are younger you probably will not start in your 60s. People get set in their ways. 

I’ve friends my age are not so much interesting in going places. They are more interested in living in handicap accessible housing near good hospitals. 

Yeah, I’ll probably die broke. Is that tragic or good planning?


Wednesday, March 8, 2023

No Respect for Authority

Actually, I don’t exactly have no respect for authority. I have no respect for authoritarians. Anyone who thinks they can be obeyed without question  . . . well, I question that. That’s one of the reasons I never joined the military. I understand that necessity of authority and discipline for military structures to work. That doesn’t mean it’d work for me. 

Sure, I was in a fire department with a command structure similar to the military. That similarities are only surface deep. I followed my commanding officers because I respected them and their leadership. They also were smart enough to listen to those below them. We had a saying “You can’t be a chief without all the little Indians.” 

Backstopping all that was the fact I worked in a union shop. The union had my back. Conflicts with “the leadership” were often resolved in favor of the little guys. Just the fact the union was there kept the worse abuses in check. 

With that background it puzzles me the number of people who admire authoritarians. Many people in American even liked Putin because he was a strongman who could get things done. Now we see the getting things done part involves human suicide waves to capture a bit of dirt. Then there are the crimes against humanity like missile attacks on hospitals. In spite of his crimes there are those in the west who still admire him. 

I don’t even like authoritarians who agree with most of the things I support. They may agree with me now, but there are no checks and balances to keep them agreeing with me. During Hitler’s rise he purged many of the allies who got him into power. 

US politicians can still make gains with authoritarian agendas. I don’t know why people stand for it. Maybe they never had a decent History class? Maybe I know too much History? 

At any rate, I personally think the general appeal of the authoritarian is coming to an end. There will always be a core of people who support that sort of thing. However, they won’t be enough to get their pocket Hitlers elected. That’s my hope anyway.


Tuesday, March 7, 2023

Readings from the Book of Chapman

That would be the Chapman Book of Piloting and Seamanship

My lovely wife and I have gone back to doing daily readings from the Book of Chapman. It’s a great way to stay up on our skills. It also gets us looking forward to getting the sailboat back in the water. 

We still have our Oday 19 sailboat. This is the same boat we once spent 10 weeks on. One winter we sailed down the west coast of Florida and crossed Florida Bay to the Keys. Good times. We really haven’t gone on any long sailing adventures with it since 2019. Like many people we were dealing with other things. 

The boat is basically in pretty decent shape still. Thanks to Spud I have a nice little Honda outboard on it. What I’d like to do is to completely rewired everything. With a boat that small it’s not really that big a job. The available switch panels don’t impress me so building one from basic components is the way to go. It also needs the shelves rebuilt. Adding more solar electric is also an option. 

The thing about boat repairs is knowing when to stop. You can spend all your time doing upgrades and never get on the water. On the other hand, the boat has to be safe and comfortable. 

This coming season I’d love to get back out on the big wilderness lakes near me. My lovely wife would like to get back out on the Hudson River, which is where she grew up. The coast of Maine is also an option. 

Right now the boat is still buried under a couple feet of snow. In the mean time, we have readings from the good book.


Monday, March 6, 2023

What is Ford thinking?

Ford has applied for a patent for cars that would repossess itself. If you are late on your payments the car drives itself to the impound lot. Another option would be to turn off features like air conditioning. Teslas have always been configured to allow for factory changes. Ford’s idea is just taking it to the next level. 

It all feels very Big Brother to me. Big Corporation? 

Personally, I never want to own a car with “features” like that. Do you really own a car that can be altered or even driven away without your consent? I’d rather buy an old beater and pay cash for it. 

Frankly, I’m not a big fan of keyless locks and ignition. The signal from the key fob can easily be copied using readily available devices. I’d rather have an old fashioned key. The ones with the chips inside are more secure but I like the plain metal keys. It’s nice to have a bunch of cheap copies handy. Of course if you have an old beater with a manual transmission nobody is going to want to steal it anyway. 

Ford’s technology isn’t free either. The extra cost of adding the repo system will show up in the price. How would you feel about paying extra for a “feature” like that?

The obvious thing to do is to not buy vehicles with those systems. That’s how Capitalism works. Of course, Ford might lobby to make such devices required by law. That’s Corrupt Capitalism at work. 

Hopefully there will be enough of an outcry that Ford will drop the whole idea. 


Sunday, March 5, 2023

About a Foot

In the last storm we received about a foot of snow. While it’s something to deal with, it’s nothing like those folks in California had to deal with. Some got up to ten feet. Even people who thought they were prepared to be snowed in were not as prepared as they thought. 

I’m still using a shovel so a foot of snow is enough. The worse I’ve had to deal with at one time was six feet of snow. That storm had dropped about three feet most places but a huge drift formed by my porch. It was one of those storms where people opened their front doors only to face a wall of white. 

No need for a gym membership. Shoveling snow is exercise enough. 

In general the winters have been milder than in the past. While it’s not great to get most of our snow at the end of the winter, we probably need it. The snowpack water will certainly help the growing season. I’d rather deal with a bit of snow in March than forest fires in June. 

It is nice being retired. Sure beats getting up early to shovel out a car before going to work. The fire department never shuts down. If I had to drive through a blizzard to get to work that’s exactly what I’d do. Fighting fires in those conditions wasn’t exactly pleasant either. 

So now I get to the snow when I get to the snow. No setting alarm clocks to get an early start. I make sure there’s plenty of coffee. My lovely wife lit the cook woodstove to bake cookies while I was shoveling. There’s something truly satisfying to having cookies and coffee by the fire after a good workout. 


Saturday, March 4, 2023

Florida Snowflakes

I’m not talking about the weather.

Florida Senate Bill 1316 would require bloggers who write about the governor to register with the state. It’s not just the governor either. It includes the Attorney General, and members of the Florida executive cabinet or the legislature. If you don’t register there are penalty fines. The bill would require monthly reports and require the disclosure on the amount of money made from the writing. 

It’s pretty obvious that the bill is a designed to have a chilling effect on free speech. Historically, public figures have less protection from libel and slander than the regular public. It is assumed receiving harsh commentary is part of the job. Basically, if you want to be a public figure you can expect to put up with  public attacks. 

I guess those poor Florida politicians need a safe space. Apparently they are too sensitive to deal with the realities of lively political discourse. As a blogger it’s pretty neat to realize that those politicians fear me and other bloggers. 

I’m going to keep an eye on that legislation. I don’t know if pertains to just Florida bloggers or if the are casting a wider net. No matter. If they pass that bad law the only thing for any self respecting blogger to do is to violate the law. 

It’s called free speech. There’s an old legal document going back to the founding of this country that has something to say about it. Maybe we should send the the Florida politicians a copy? 


Friday, March 3, 2023

Finally repaired

I finally managed to get the Blazer back on the road. We had a mix of snow and rain today so I was lying in a slushy mess to work under the vehicle. 

It wasn’t the worse conditions I’ve dealt with to repair a vehicle. That would be the time I changed an electric diesel pump on the ambulance/camper conversion. The repair was done in dry pleasant weather in central Florida. The weather wasn’t the issue.

No, the problem was that the vehicle was sitting in a field full of fire ants. I threw a tarp on the ground and did the pump swamp in near record time. In spite of my precaution and haste the ants bit me seven times. Being attacked by fire ants is a serious distraction. I hate those little buggers. 

Winter has plenty of issues, but it’s big advantage is it’s ability to kill of the creepy crawlies. While we have ants that will bite you, they don’t have the acidic burning sting of fire ants. It’s also nice to have almost no venomous snakes and no alligators. 


Thursday, March 2, 2023

The Joys of Snow Country

First of all I have to admit that the new blanket of fresh snow is very pretty. Better yet, it’s the light fluffy stuff, not the white concrete we had earlier in the season. 

While it wasn’t too terribly hard to shovel, we certainly got a fair bit of it. Before I did anything else the shoveling had to be done. For me, perhaps the most important job is shoveling a path to the road and digging out the mailbox. When you live in the country that mailbox is a lifeline to the greater world. 

Sometimes I can afford to wait a day or two before digging out the cars. This was not one of those times. We were getting low on fresh foods. With another crappy day in the forecast it was worth going into town while the weather was mild. 

The Blazer transmission linkage project was calling me. After all, was sunny and had warmed up to 38.   YouTube university made it look like a fairly straightforward job. Unlike in the video, my Blazer has a hefty skid plate in the way and the job got a lot bigger. There’s only so much lying down on the ice I care to do. 

With that in mind I called the garage -and got their answering machine. They never called back. That’s fine. It gave me some time to think of another fix. I’ve decided to do a temporary repair that should last a few months. By then it’s be warm, dry and much more pleasant for shade tree mechanic work. 

That’s the plan anyway. 

I’ve the advantage of time and a second car so there’s a lot less pressure to fix things immediately. 


Wednesday, March 1, 2023

More Delays

Ho boy. Like they say: if it’s not one thing, it’s two or more things. Maybe I’m the only one who says that. 

I haven’t had the mental energy to blog lately. Too much stuff going on. Sometimes I don’t blog about the other stuff going on my life and this has been one of those times. 

There are a lot of time sinks right now. For example my lovely wife dealing with a damaged tendon in her thumb. She has to baby it so it’ll heal, but has to use it enough so it doesn’t seize up. Because of her injury there’s been a bit more of the daily chores that need my attention. 

Of course, there’s the snowstorms that keep coming in. Shoveling seems to be taking up way too much of my time. 

Just to make it interesting there’s enough other stuff that breaks down and needs my attention. 

Then there’s all that boring adult stuff like paperwork that needs doing. I try to simplify my life in that regard but paperwork seems to breed paperwork. Some of it is good. For example, I’m actually getting Medicare this month. It will be good to have some sort of health insurance. 

Anyway . . . 

Life goes on.