Friday, September 26, 2008

Smarter than them all

Ok, I've known for years that I was smarter than George Bush, not as rich, not as sneaky, not as educated, and not as powerful, but smarter in the good ol' common sense way. I KNEW, without any intelligence or advisors, maybe just women's intuition, that there were no WMDs before the end of 2002, months before the first shot was fired.

But I had hoped that the rest of our elected officials were smarter than I am. I have never claimed to understand economics. I hated the class and only passed because we were allowed to write our notes on a 3x5 card for the test. Do you know how many notes you can get on a 3x5 card using 5 font? ALL of them. And I still only got a B.

But I have known that we were living in a housing bubble since the end of 2004 when I was house hunting for my bff, P's, family before they returned to the Riviera from the West coast. They owned a home when they left, had been gone for just over 3 years and wanted to buy when they returned here. I spent several Saturdays and holidays in the company of realtors trying to find the perfect house for P's growing family. You know what I found? A BUNCH of overpriced houses. And this was before the market around here completely lost its mind. You could still find a place to live for almost a reasonable amount of money. That stopped happening in 2005.

I could look around at the housing prices and realized that the market could not sustain these prices. I realized that there was a huge bubble, that it would eventually burst and many of these people would be sitting in houses that were less in value than what they owed. P and I had many discussions on this issue when I urged her not to buy. She was caught up in the house buying mania and (in her defense) everyone else in the entire world was telling her to buy. Own. Get a little piece of the homeownership heaven. Stop throwing your money down the toilet.*

Circumstances prevented P and her husband from buying a home at that time and we are all incredibly grateful for that, because now she lives in another state and would still be paying a mortgage in this one. A mortgage on a house that was worth less than she owed.

So why could I figure that out and Congress couldn't? Why have I felt that this country's economy was headed for a huge depression and this is a shock to Congress? How is this a shock? Have they not been paying attention? Too busy campaigning? Too busy throwing my tax dollars at Iraq? NOW this is an emergency? Funny, there are people in this country who have been looking for work for YEARS, tell them the economic tide JUST turned.

I don't know what the answers are. Bail out? No bail out? Depression vs recession. Months vs years. But I am pretty sure that I am voting against every single one of those on Capital Hill right now. Get them all out of there. At least next time there is a problem of this magnitude, if there are all new Congresspersons, they will have a REASON to look stunned.

*I've never understood this. How am I throwing my money away if I am renting? I have a roof over my head and NO responsibilities. Roof leaking? Call the landlord. Broken dishwasher? Call the landlord. Water heater just caught fire? Call the landlord. I have not made enough back in interest and taxes to pay for all of the issues listed above and I had the stress as well as the financial outlay. I love my house, but there is nothing wrong with renting.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

1929 v 2008

Obviously, I was not around during the Wall Street Crash of 1929 or during the Great Depression, but, as everyone has, I have read a lot about it through the years. From what I am seeing at this point in all of our lives, the difference between now and then (in a large part) is this:

In 1929, when Wall Street Crashed, EVERYONE suffered. The rich became poor and the poor became more poor. Not everyone, of course, but many.

In 2008, the economy has hit a downhill slope and the brakes have gone out, but it seems to me only the poor (becoming more poor) and the middle class (becoming poor) are having a hard time. The poor spend their days trying to decide between food and gas. The middle class job market is drying up. The rich are concerned about which house they will be staying in this weekend. Or which middle class person's house they will be able to pick up for a song after foreclosure.

I don't need to be rich to be happy. And I won't ever be rich, unless I win the Lottery, and that isn't likely, since I don't buy tickets. But I am sick to death of the rich taking my slice of the pie, running this country into the ground so that my 401K sits practically empty, and, yet, they come out smelling like a rose.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

The Post Where I Get Snarky

But first I do have to say that in the approximately 38 1/2 years that I have lived in NW Florida, I have been incredibly lucky. While the area that I am in now took a nasty hit from Eloise in '75, I was living 2 counties west of here and many miles north. Frederick in '79 was nothing to me except a day or two out of school.
I lost a freezer full of food after Opal, but my parents had power. During Ivan the power and the cable were steady 100% of the time. (House hunting advice: Buy a home as close to the Police Dept, Fire Dept and City Hall as possible. Not only do you get a break on your Homeowner's Insurance, but these are the first areas of a city to receive power after the storm.)

I try very hard to make it a policy in my life that if I have not "walked a mile in your moccasins" then I will do my best not to judge. (Hard for me, I am very judgemental)

So, having said that, don't we, as a nation, as a people, as human beings, have a responsibility to take care of ourselves? Especially those of us who live in areas prone to natural disasters?

I completely understand WHY people do not evacuate, even if they have the means to do so. I do not understand why, less than a week after the storm, the lines are so long for food and water that it may take all day to receive 4 MREs and a couple of bottles. If a person chooses to remain, why aren't they prepared? This has bothered me since I first noticed the trend after Wilma in 2005. Pleople were complaining that they had to stand in line for half a day for one bottle of water, the day AFTER the storm. Why didn't they have water? Why didn't they prepare, plan? Why wait for government bail out?

Again, I know there are exceptions, the person with medication that MUST be kept refrigerated NEEDS the ice that FEMA has, but the rest of us do not. The person who does not live on a flood plain, whose house flooded, may not be able to use their bottled water and food supplies, but they should have had them to begin with.

How many people constantly complain about the government having a hand in everything they do? How many people talk the talk of a smaller national government? In my experience, these are the first ones with their hands out if life veers slightly off course.

Hurricane preparedness is not information that you are born with, or even information you pick up by osmosis, it is learned.* But a person living anywhere near the coast should have access to the needed information for free. At least it is available here: on handouts, on the radio, on the nightly news, in the newspaper. Most of the information is true and useful. Use it.

Am I being too judgemental? Should I keep my thoughts to myself? Those people have been through hell and maybe I should stay off their backs. But there are more storms in our future and we need to be able to prepare and take care of ourselves without depending on FEMA; at least for a bit.

*My first hurricane (as an adult) was tropical storm Alberto in '94. While it was a minor storm (we had had a regular thunder storm the week before with higher winds) I prepared my house in the same way that my parents had prepared our home when I was a child. I did the same things for Opal in '95 and Earl in '98. After Earl (when it appeared that Georges was headed our way) I was talking to my mom on the phone (they had moved to Memphis).
"Mom," I said, "I have done....(listing my preparation.)"
"Mom," I said, "why do I fill up the blasted bathtubs with water everytime a storm is coming? I have bottled water and I don't want to drink water out of the bathtub!"
"Ann," she said, "the water in the bathtub is for flushing your toilet if you lose water."
My mom is so smart. :-)

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Contact your Senator!

CNN is carrying the story of how the House of Representatives have turned their back on the environment and have passed HR 6899. This will (if passed by the Senate) allow drilling off the coast of the United States (not just in the Gulf) as close as 50 miles offshore.

Many Republicans opposed the bill because it would allow new oil drilling only between 50 and 100 miles offshore. Republicans generally want to allow new drilling starting 3 miles from shore.

Great, the Republicans wanted drilling closer, but I don't want additional drilling at all! I want alternative fuel. Allowing additional drilling will only slow down anyone looking for new ways to fuel our vehicles. And it is not going to help with the ridiculous gas prices we are all paying.

The Senate, meanwhile, could vote on various energy proposals, including more offshore drilling, as early as this week.

Write your Senators and tell them how you feel on this. Write your Congressman and tell them why you don't like the way they voted. Or, if you don't understand the impact this will have (and will not) have on the future of our planet, write them and tell them you think they are swell.

This entire thing makes me sick. Can we fire Congress?

Monday, September 15, 2008

Monday General Thoughts

After four entire days off DSD is getting antsy. He is working on his resume right now and has started the networking process. Hopefully he will find something soon. Financially we will be fine for quite a while, but I don't know how he will be mentally and emotionally. He likes to work.

Thank you to everyone who left thoughtful comments; we appreciate your kind thoughts.


Not a great weekend for college football in our house. My Gators didn't play; his Buckeyes took a shellacking (sp?) at the hands of USC; neither of us did well in the football pool.


My thoughts are with all those in Texas, Louisiana and everywhere else who took a beating from Ike. I have read the horrors that many of these people have gone through and I have read many comments on other blogs and in news stories where people are constantly bitching that the government should not allow coastal living and how insurance companies should not cover those of us who choose to live on the coast. Just for the record, circumstances brought me to the coast and my job keeps me here. And I want someone, anyone to find a place for me and my family to live that is 100% safe from Mother Nature. Yes, hurricanes are horrible and scary, but so are tornadoes, mudslides, wild fires and freak blizzards, and we always get plenty of notice before the storms reach us. Ike killed people across the country and caused flooding in Illinois, Indiana and Ohio. Where do you holier than thou people expect us to live?

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

And the Economic Downturn Lowers the Boom On the LeftLeaning Household

My husband (and his entire dept) had a meeting with the general manager scheduled for 10:00 this morning. They thought it was to go over the fall schedule, which is when their department is normally the busiest. It was not. It was to receive their walking papers. Nice.

They were told it was due to downsizing, but, come on. Every one of the supervisors were let go? At the beginning of their busiest time? Leanne (GM) has been a pain to them for a while and they (possibly DSD especially) has been very vocal about her attempts to micro-manage their department. So, I think she decided to use this as an excuse to clean house.

We will be fine. He is retired Navy and his retirement covers all of the bills he pays for the household. And he has savings (which is good, because his retirement does not cover his child support) and we have savings together. I think we will hold off on the new windows and siding for a bit, just to be on the safe side.

But, one of the men who was let go is NOT retired and he depends on this paycheck. He also does not drive. He walks to work, because it is only a few blocks from his house to work. (I have no idea WHY he does not drive) Where is he supposed to find another job? This one was perfect for him.

And, of course, there are not a lot of jobs to be had anywhere right now.

Please think happy thoughts for us.

Fill Up Your Car Today!

It is all just a gimmick to get your money. As companies crumble or wait for a bail out from the feds, as people lose their jobs and/or their homes, as more Americans end up shopping at Food Pantries or living in their cars, OPEC is concerned that its members may not be able to buy entire countries next year.

OPEC oil ministers agreed Wednesday to trim overall output by more than 500,000 barrels a day in a compromise meant to avoid new turmoil in crude markets while seeking to bolster falling prices.

Yes, you read this correctly. Bolster.Falling.Gas.Prices.

Now I don't know about you, but $3.64/gallon is not what I call cheapo gas. Yes this is down about $.35 -$.40 from the average high around here several months ago, but it is still up tremendously from the $2.50/gallon it was this time last year.

OPEC is just out to get us and the only alternative is to get away from oil dependance. Not just dependance on foreign oil, but dependance on oil period.

Don't drill in the Gulf. Find another way.

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

NCAA Football Week 2

In the first Florida/Miami match up of the Urban Meyer era, Florida managed to score on the first drive of the game, lead the entire time and finally break an 0-6 losing streak over the past 23 years.
Which is not to say they looked good doing it.
The first drive was awesome. After that? Eh, so so.
Florida did not score again until a punt block just before half time netted them 2 points for a safety.
After a scoreless 3rd quarter, Florida seemed to come alive, wakeup, pull their heads out of their ass (pick your term) and score 17 points.
Final score 26-3.

I am not a football analyst. I barely know the I formation from the Wishbone (ok, I just learned what the Wishbone looks like over the weekend), but I can recognize sloppy and my beloved Gators looked sloppy on Saturday. My brother (still not an analyst, but knows more than me) says Coach Meyer did it on purpose. Florida has a bye this week before travelling to Knoxville to take on Rocky Top. My brother says that none of Florida's weapons were showcased last week and now the Vols have no idea what the Gators actually have in their arsenal. Let's hope he is right and that they use their arsenal many many times into the checkerboard endzone.

Tennessee looked awful against UCLA; I am not sure I could stand the humiliation if my Gators were to lose to them!

In a semi-related story, I managed 8 out of 10 in our football pool. Since DSD picked 9 right and a friend picked 10, I am pretty convinced I did not win.

There's always this week.

Friday, September 5, 2008

Why Would "They" Name a Hurricane IKE?

Word association, think fast. What is the first thing that pops into your head when you hear the name Ike?

Me: "He sure did kick Tina's ass a lot."

So the National Hurricane Center pulls this name out and sticks it onto a storm. And he is definitely going to kick some ass.

I managed to find several not so scary I names on just one website.

Ichabod (who is scared of his own shadow)

Of course, Opal didn't sound scary. Neither did Frances. Frances was supposed to be a Saint.

So, my thoughts are with PissedOffPatricia and everyone on the peninsula. And I will be doing an inspection of my plywood this afternoon, just in case this asshole heads toward the panhandle.

Monday, September 1, 2008

And One For Today

Thankfully missed again.

As I look out the window I see trees being blown around pretty significantly and it is cloudy at the moment, but that is all that Gustav has brought to us so far. I don't even think it has rained since Saturday night. According to the radar the rains are just south of us in the Gulf.

My parents live about40 miles west of us and it has rained there all morning.

My cousin, who lives in New Orleans and didn't have time to evacuate (WHAT!?!) was doing fine as of 8am. He is without power, of course, but his cell phone is charged and his mother is calling him every few hours. There is obviously some in sanity in the family, but I didn't think this particular cousin had it. I am certain he will be fine.

We are outside of what I lovingly call "The Cone of Death" for Hanna, although I am hoping that she doesn't dump anymore rain on the rest of the state, either. There are places to the north of us who need rain, but not 30 blasted inches at one time.

I am ready for the storms to go away now.

Another One for Aug 30th!

Go Gators!

Football season finally got under way in the Swamp and, while my Gators did not look wonderful in the 1st quarter, they did manage a 56-10 win over the University of Hawii. Of course, you should have watched the game, but you can read about it at Gatorzone.

Next Saturday the Swamp plays host to the GameDay crew and the University of Miami Hurricanes (because we all need more hurricanes in our lives right now). I would have to look it up to make sure, but I do not think that Florida has beat Miami in the last 20 years.

Hopefully this is the year. It should be a good game.

Go Gators!

(Our football pool has been sidelined due to the health of the man who normally runs it. Hopefully he will be out of the hospital soon and back to work! Our thoughts are with you, Jerry. Get well soon!)

This Should Have Been Posted on Aug 30th - Custom comment codes for MySpace, Hi5, Friendster and more

This Should Have Been Post on August 28th (Ok, maybe the 29th)

Endometrial ablation completed and I am doing fine!

Actually there was no way that I was going to post before I went in. Fourteen hours with no food or water was insane and I was doing everything in my power to find something else to focus on. The no food was tough, but the no water was killing me.

I was originally scheduled for 3pm, but moved up to 2pm. I could barely see the clock after I took out my contacts, but I am pretty sure I was still awake at 2:45 and I was back awake by 4pm. I was, of course, pretty out of it. My back was KILLING me, whether from the procedure or from lying on the stretcher, so I couldn't get comfortable. DSD asked them for some water from me and they brought me juice. Juicy juice. Some sort of mixed berry thing. I drank it, but that was a lot of sugar for my system at that point and I was sick as a dog on the way home (Thank goodness I had a spare plastic bag in my car. Thank goodness, also, that DSD wasn't sick since he is normally a sympathetic puker).

I was home and in bed by 6pm where I proceeded to writhe in pain and wonder what the hell I had done for about 2 hours before I finally passed out from the pain drugs. I was up from 10-11:45 for liquids (wasn't hungry), but dozed on the couch from 11-11:45. I went back to bed and was up by 6:30 Friday morning. I really just could not sleep anymore.

I managed to nap on Friday and on Saturday and sleep well at night. I haven't taken anymore prescription pain medicine since about noon on Friday. Sunday I felt a little "off." I don't know how else to describe it and my parents stopped in for a couple of hours and my mom swore I felt fevered. 99.5 is not considered fevered, but I took Tylenol and drank plenty of water and I am feeling fine today.

So all appears to be well. I have my followup on Sep 10th and, hopefully, that will be the end of this saga.

This Should Have Been Posted on August 27th - Custom comment codes for MySpace, Hi5, Friendster and more

In 1965, my Dad had been in NW Florida for about a year with the USAF, after a year in Biloxi, MS for Tech School. My mom was a new high school graduate, working as a car hop at the A&W. They did not know each on 4th of July and were married before the end of August. Insane? Well, yea. But they are still together to this day.

Here's wishing you another 43 years. I love you both.