Sunday, January 25, 2015
Saturday, November 29, 2014
Thursday, September 11, 2014
Recently me and my friend David went snowboarding. When we first entered the ski-field we had absolutely no intentions of going snowboarding, we hadn't even thought about we were supposed to be going on a "ski trip". Of course at the very end we decided why not and went for it despite neither of us having any previous experience, we weren't taking lessons either so we went over to the course without the slightest clue on how to slow down or avoid crashing. We were both having second thoughts about choosing to use snowboards when at about the tenth run neither of us had manged to get down the hill without falling.
Wednesday, August 20, 2014
This occasioned one urgent email saying "Call me! Won't be on the internet again before arrival." Really, people can take the whole smartphone, always on, instant communication thing a little too far. So we got the call shortly thereafter and it all worked out.
Thursday, August 14, 2014
What a country of great extremes, from the politics - Tea Partiers to liberal Democrats to the locales and people you meet along the way. The US has such opulence. Still. But there is also a decay around the edges that is unmistakable. Maybe it hits me in the face a bit more having been away. A lot of it is the kind of gradual thing that occurs over time - the weeds creep upward, the trash collects under the freeway overpass, the concrete crumbles.
The two gateway points to the Pacific are Los Angeles and San Francisco. I spent some time walking, and driving, around these two cities, on my last two visits. Instead of giving you a pic of the Golden Gate Bridge and the Transamerica building, let's talk about what it really looks like. We flew into Oakland and caught transport to SF. The view out from the freeway, pretty much all the way to the bay bridge, was an eye-popping display of urban blight. The odd burned out building looms beside the freeway, windows are barred, fences high and barb wired.
I picked that photo to make a point, but now I'll go for a random drop down into Google maps
This one pretty much sums up the balance. Nice pine trees. Interspersed with ever present tagging, chain fencing and a mix of scrub weed and brown, dying fauna. I know, it's a drought. Just walk through SF to Japantown. You'll know when you get there because suddenly the public spaces are well tended, even if it's zeroscape and rock garden.
And this mix of beauty and the beast pretty much follows on our drive up the coast. The fabulous redwood forests, so grand and ancient, give way to a small town where we spend the night, Garberville, CA. The local paper describes the current happening: citizens are gathering for a town meeting to discuss no access to law enforcement, and deteriorating sense of public safety. Folks don't feel secure, and they want the sheriff! One imagines reading similar headlines a hundred or more years ago. I believe this link is discussing the matter: Garberville petition
At dusk I walk to the local grocery to pick up dinner, glad that I've come alone. Clusters of people along the way, hanging out on the sidewalk or park areas. I am mostly not threatened by this scene, but I'm a 200 lb guy, and I can see where a person might be. One has the sense that a giant sequoia, a thousand years old already, has been around long before the area's current travails, and it may well be around long after. I promise in my next post to give a more upbeat account, as there was much to like on the trip, as well as to discuss AirBnB which we used to handle lodging during some of this trip.
Saturday, May 03, 2014
No pictures of fluffy sheep and green hillsides today. I was reading a blog post by David Stockman on a topic that I have long been mulling over. And that is the good, the bad and the ugly of reported rates of inflation.
The good would be the amount of inflation that is considered desirable, widely assumed to be in the vicinity of 2%, the bad would be the numbers as reported by one of several official government organs, and bad because those numbers are open to all manner of manipulation and thus second-guessing, and the ugly, the actual rate of inflation as experienced by we the people.
It so happens that I have my very own database of this sort of information - because I keep such things around on the off chance I might one day need it :-)
|I have had the same electric company for 6 years now, and I dug back through the pile to the first bill in February of 2008: $17.70 per kwh. Then I compared that to the bill from Febrary of 2014: $25.615|
The rest is just plugging in to an online calculator. In a CAGR calculator that's 6.35% (the UGLY) well higher than Stockman's calculated 4.5% for the decade from 2004-5.
As it turns out, it has been a steady march,
Feb 2008: 17.70
Jan 2009: 19.558
Jan 2010: 19.558
Jan 2011: 21.306
Jan 2013: 23.299
Jan 2014: 25.615
which shows how the frog boils in the water, because I hadn't pulled out and studied the numbers behind the amount owing, and who really has time to?
To take it a step further, the BLS has a nice inflation (official inflation, see BAD above).
According to this cumulative inflation calculator, from Feb 2008 to Jan 2014 the official cumulative rate would be 10.50%. Indeed the BAD over at the BLS give you their official CPI inflation calculator which says $17.70 in 2008 would be $19.43 in 2014.
That's 19.43, at the official rate.
10.5% at the official cumulative rate over these 6 years.
Just one person's experience from out there in the real world that Stockman describes.