Saturday, April 19, 2008

Past, Present, and Future

Life Flashing Before My Eyes...

OK Folks...

Needless to say I'm preoccupied, but I hate neglecting my Internet presence so here's today's posting for friends and family so you'll know nothing is wrong (a friend was worried I was sick again.)

Dang I'm having a good time leaving our little Island...if such a thing is possible.

We're trying to eat out at all of our favorite restaurants one last time before Wednesday, and in the process I've probably spent three hundred dollars in the past week on XXL and L sized Polo and T-shirts with logo's and cartoons on them in the process.

Meanwhile, we're trying to clean out the deep freezer so it can be put on the Truck, so tonight I'm cooking for six guests and featuring my patented "Low Country Boil" (large shrimp, Cajun Andouille sausage, red potatoes, and corn on the cob), giant bacon wrapped grilled sea scallops with roasted red bell pepper sauce, Steamed Alaskan King Crab legs, augmented with drawn butter and home made seafood cocktail sauce.

All of this in the middle of packing my office, my garage/workshop, and finishing two industrial stack projects.

I hate to say it...but it's really tough being me these days.

(I wish I could have EVERYONE over for dinner tonight-go out and have a nice meal on me...if you will.)

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Busy Busy Busy

Or Is It Sleep Walking?

Talk about being "scatter brained"...

I've not only had to admit that I have multiple personalities, but now I have gone out and developed multiple personal and professional lives, in multiple cities (is there a made-for-TV Lifetime Movie in this story?)

Case in point, my ongoing design work relating to my prior life as an industrial smokestack designer.

One new job down on the Mississippi Gulf coast involving not one but TEN stacks is just getting started, while the other project working for our lovely post WWII NATO allies over in Deutschland seems to have taken on the persona of a Man-made Engineering "Zombie" that absolutely refuses to die.

Our monstrosity (ultimately residing in California of all places) and it's keepers thus far eats drawings and spits out inane comments on an irregular basis for over a year now.

I'm hoping that my larger hammer a large dose of patience and a few hours in front of AutoCAD will ultimately drive a stake through this miserable beast of a project's wildly pounding heart and give the rest of my small but capable engineering team a rest from our torture.

On the home front, I'm still buying and filling new boxes in anticipation of the arrival of a giant truck in my driveway next Wednesday. Things are still bouncing along up in Eastern Tennessee and hopefully large sums of money will soon be changing hands in return for a lovely pile of bricks, mortar, and Sheetrock (with some tile and hardwood floors thrown in for good measure.)

What has really taken the Lion's share of my efforts and attention these days is the hiring of additional contractors to replace my ancient creaking carcass on the jobsite complete my own version of "Tip This House" (as opposed to the TV show "Flip this House")...get it?

Speaking from personal experience--inside and outside the profession--most of the time the words "self employed residential contractor" means formerly really nice guy, with a large family and an indeterminate substance abuse problem, which may or may not answer the telephone or show up at the pre-determined time on the pre-arranged job site on any given day of the week.

Any way, sorry for my absence from the Internet yesterday, but I hope that my friends, family, and the rest of my on-line lurkers readers will forgive me because....


Tuesday, April 15, 2008

McDonalds To Discontinue Dollar Menu?

Introduces Euro-Menu

Oh I don't know...where to start this morning?

I guess it all depends on how many of you have been paying attention to the so-called "news" over the past decade.

A couple of things are on my mind today, optimally tied together by this AP story.

Follow along with me as I read a little:

Food Costs Rising Fastest in 17 Years
Monday April 14, 4:10 pm ET
By Ellen Simon, AP Business Writer

Food Costs Rising at Fast Clip, Squeezing Poor, Forcing Food Vendors to Explain Higher Prices

NEW YORK (AP) -- Steve Tarpin can bake a graham cracker crust in his sleep, but explaining why the price for his Key lime pies went from $20 to $25 required mastering a thornier topic: global economics.

He recently wrote a letter to his customers and posted it near the cash register listing the factors -- dairy prices driven higher by conglomerates buying up milk supplies, heat waves in Europe and California, demand from emerging markets and the weak dollar.(emphasis mine-VRRIII)

The owner of Steve's Authentic Key Lime Pies in Brooklyn said he didn't want customers thinking he was "jacking up prices because I have a unique product."

"I have to justify it," he said

Yeah, Mr. Tarpin, I think that you would be absolutely correct when you attribute rising food costs to "emerging markets" and the "weak [American] Dollar."

As the Chinese, India, and the third World continue to grow in population at a faster rate than the US and gain economic strength, at the same time they are using things like FOOD at a faster rate just like they use more OIL--thus higher Gas Prices (no, it's not Oil Company profits to blame...)

As to the veracity of your worries about giant corporations of wild eyed rich dudes trying to corner the market on milk and Owl Gore's Global Warming induced crop failures costing your customers money...I have to claim ignorance and ask you to provide me with some more reference materials before I can agree with your assertion.

As far as I know they don't grow many Key Limes in Europe and California...

Regardless, I don't doubt that it costs more to make a Key Lime pie these days than it did ten or twenty years ago, but I also believe that New Yorkers won't start having to decide between affording brain surgery or making their rent controlled apartment payment versus downing a wedge of the Conch Republic's (the Florida Keys') most famous export food after a $10 cheese burger any time soon.

Regarding the weak Dollar, you have a chance to look to Washington and make some substantial changes in November--Republican & Democrat alike--if you don't like the lower confidence the world has in our currency.

The borrow and spend, spend, spend policies that support the liberals beloved social programs are at least partially responsible for the increased cost of financing government debt and the lower purchasing power of your Lincolns and Franklin's in your wallet.

Also, you have to realize that the consolidation of the European currencies, in the form of the Euro, has at least partially accomplished their original goal--to COMPETE economically with the United-By-God-States of America.

Still, if you're paying attention you will know that the European Union and the Euro are wobbly alliances at best, and the British people's refusal to abandon the Queen's Pound and the French rejection of the EU's deep socialist underpinnings (pot calling the kettle black?) provides plenty of evidence of the potential long term problems they face.

Now, having at first apparently excluded Owl Gore and the Global Warming Eco-weenies from this argument, I have to bring them back in and reference the collateral damage caused by government response to their policies.

Can you say E-T-H-A-N-O-L?

That's right, do a Google search and look at the effect that making fuel from corn and other grain products is having on animal feed prices and by default--meat and dairy prices.

I read somewhere (I can't find the reference) that it takes something like 400 pounds of grain to make 40 gallons of ethanol.

Four HUNDRED pounds of corn--enough to feed a human in Ethiopia for an entire YEAR.

All for a couple of tanks full of gasoline equivalent (actually one tank in my Suburban.)

How can that possibly be efficient?

Another fact I've read is that Iowa--the so-called "Breadbasket of America," is now a net IMPORTER of CORN.

That's right, they're HAULING CORN to Iowa because Iowa is now full of Ethanol plants churning out Owl Gore's "Elixir of Energy Independence."

I'm smart, but I'm happy that I'm not THAT SMART...

How about YOU?

Monday, April 14, 2008

A Great Man's Birthday

265 Years Ago Yesterday

This man was born...

Then he built this house some time later:

Then he died, and in my opinion...we've had a great deal of trouble replacing him ever since.

RIP Mr. Jefferson

Yankees' Avoid Boston Red Sox Curse?

What...Still No Jimmy Hoffa?


Here's the real story if you missed it...

(yeah...I did this myself in a couple of minutes with Photoshop)

African Queen New Steam Boat

I want One

Take a look at this beauty...

It's a real steam powered personal yacht, complete with a fiberglass copy of a lapstrake hull, a 14 HP steam engine, and a small fire tube boiler.

A little company called Mosquito Enterprises builds them up in the Northwest and I think that one of these marvels would be perfect for day use on the Tennessee River.

You could go putt-putt-putting along all day on a few armloads of wood without worrying about $4.50 gas at the local marina gas dock.

You also can't tell me that me and my boating party wouldn't bring a smile to the faces of almost everyone we meet along our way.

Am I crazy?

Cutting Myself With Cardboard?

Difficult...But Not Impossible

If, in the course of making this move, I could take credit for planning and administrative duties only, then I'd be 90% complete.

I could just coast through the remaining nine days before the truck shows up in our driveway spending my time THRASHING my computer exorcising the spirits removing the last annoying vestiges of the digital criminal assault I've endured this past week.

But nooooo, not me...

I, in my infinite wisdom, elected to "self pack" rather than allowing total strangers to touch all of our stuff letting the moving company handle containerizing our belongings prior to transport.

I, in my ongoing patient stupidity, continue to attempt to write new Excel Spreadsheets and do AutoCAD drawings on a computer that insists on selling me cheep drugs from a Canadian Pharmacy and help me meet "hot local Seniors" living in my area.

Then there's my new flugelhorn which arrived Friday and is beckoning to me from it's velvet lined case in the corner of the living room.

That said, hopefully you can understand why my writing efforts have suffered this weekend.

I'll try to do better...and be assured that I hope you feel free to entertain yourselves in the mean time.