August 25th, 2011

#2887: Suddenly, it's Thursday!

Thursday the 25th, and it's pleasant outside, severe clear...and the grass needs cutting.

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It occurred to me, this morning, that it was a morning very much like this one on 9/11/01; and that reminded me that the 10-year is coming up and I really ought to think about a retrospective or something similar.

* * *

Sorry; my head asplode.

I can be quite brilliant with regards to physics...sometimes. Now is not one of those times. But I'll tell you this: I know we don't understand how gravity works yet. We think we do...but I don't think we really do.

* * *

Using lasers to enrich uranium. When the laser was first invented, no one could see any possible use for it. Sixty years later the damn things are technological schmoos, for crying out loud. We use them for everything, even things that don't actually need them, just because they're fuckin' cool.

* * *

Molecules that change shape. I can think of three uses, right off the top of my head, for molecules that can be made to change shape to order. (Whoops, four.) 1) Chamelion paint which allows something to blend into its background. 2) Very light and efficient flat panel displays. 3) Molecular filters. 4) Computer memory.

...right now they know how to make molecules which change shape at random; but knowing that something is possible is the first step towards making it so.

* * *

Boortz on Illinois tax hikes versus revenue. He doesn't mention the sweetheart deals given to large employers like Motorola to keep them from moving out of state, but he does mention that the negative effect on employment due to these tax hikes will cause Illinois to collect less income tax from workers.

Democrats consistently behave as if they can set whatever tax rates they like without regard to what those new tax rates will do.

We know they understand, at least at a basic level, that you tax activity you wish to curtail. They've suggested 100% (or more) "bullet taxes" on ammunition in order to make gun ownership prohibitively expensive, because they can't find any other way to keep the people from owning firearms. But they can't seem to progress past that rudimentary level of understanding. They never seem to think something like, "If we increase the corporate income tax rate by 46%, we might end up driving employers out of state."

It's almost as if they think, "What are those proles going to do? Move? Don't make me laugh!" ...and then they're surprised and dismayed when, yes, the proles move rather than pay higher taxes.

* * *

Another Illinois tax increase. "Hey, tolls aren't taxes!" The hell they're not. The government will punish you if you don't pay them; that makes them a tax. You can avoid them by not using the tollways, of course, but there are no other roads which allow the fast and efficient travel the local toll roads do.

If you want to go, say, from the bunker to Duckford? You can avoid the toll roads, sure. First you drive the Damn Ryan into the Death Vortex, and head out of Chicago on...um.

Let's see--take the Eisenhower (I-290) west and you end up with a choice of either I-88 (tollway) or I-294 (tollway) to get to another tollway that goes somewhere near Duckford. I-94 isn't a toll road but it goes straight north, and Duckford is northwest of Chicago. I-90? No, I-90 is a toll road, too. I-94 it is, and we'll have to find a surface road going west!

...you've gone miles out of your way, dealt with city traffic, and insane drivers to boot, but you didn't have to pay a toll. Because of the detour and the idiocy it probably takes you an extra two or three hours to get there.

Your other option? Local roads. It'll take you six times as long to make the trip, if not longer.

Or you can take I-80 west to I-355 (toll road), all the way north to I-90, and thence to Duckford.

The toll roads in Illinois were sold to the public as only being toll roads temporarily, until the bonds that financed their construction were paid off. But like all temporary taxes, it became permanent.

When Illinois put in the I-Pass system, in order to get people to adopt it instead of paying cash they double the cash toll to $0.80 for cars; but if you used I-Pass it was still only $0.40 per car.

Now, of course, they're going to raise it to $0.75 for I-Pass users. Why not? I mean, it's not like those proles have any other choice, right?

* * *

Illinois did the "Amazon Tax" first and because of that I was able to predict what would happen in California after it did the same thing.

Guess what?
Backers of the legislation seemed to believe that affiliates would be happy to work with other retailers who also operate affiliate programs, or that online retailers targeted by the law would not end affiliate relationships and the threat was idle.

In neither case do those assumptions now seem correct.
...all they had to do was look at Illinois, which did the exact same thing a few months before.

But, WTF are the proles going to do about it? What can they do about it? Leave? Don't make me laugh.

* * *

ObamaCare was sold to the public in part by saying this wouldn't happen. That's right: employers won't quit providing health insurance for their employees! The law requires that they do so! They'll have to pay fines and taxes if they don't!

But what if ObamaCare makes health insurance cost more than the taxes and fines?

Oh, it won't! ObamaCare will reduce costs and make the world happy and shiny!

...BTW, my own health insurance is going up another $85 (quarterly) in October. Thanks, Obama! Thanks, Democrats!

* * *

Hang onto your hats! Here comes the ceiling!

"The problem is a shortage of liquidity...."

Karl Denninger (generic link to the home page of Market Ticker) continuously hammers the fact that banks are overleveraged: they say they have more in assets than they actually do due to "mark-to-market" (which Denninger refers to "mark-to-fantasy" when he's feeling generous).

Example: he says that Bank of America is either lying about its asset valuation, or else the market believes it to be worth about 1/6th its stated value. If you think the market is wrong, and you have a shitton of money, now's the chance for you to buy!

...no one is buying. The aggregate value of BoA stock is 1/6th of the bank's stated assets, yet no one is buying. This means one of two things: all the rich people out there are fucking idiots; or else no one believes that BoA has as much real assets as it claims to.

Guess which one Occam's Razor slices to ribbons? (Hint: it is not the one I italicized.)

If BoA is forced to cough up the dough to pay its liabilities, right now, what do you think is going to happen? It can't possibly raise the money by selling its assets; the market says they're worth about 16% of what BoA says they are.

"The problem is a shortage of liquidity...."

And when the banks get clobbered--notice I said "when", not "if"--the rest of it is going to come crashing down.

It cannot be otherwise.

* * *

Ann Coulter on evolution reminds me of a funny anecdote from WoW on Tuesday.

I got home from church and played WoW; and in guild chat I began telling a little humorous story.

Me: "On my way into church tonight for bible study, something happened."

Guildie 1: "Yes?"

Guildie 2: "Atheism FTW"

Me: "I got a look at my reflection in the door glass, and saw that I was having an epic bad hair day."

Me: "I mean, the hair on top of my head is four inches long and I think it was ALL standing straight up."

GM: "I'm having the same problem because of the humidity. My hair is just laying in loose curls."

...and then others came down on the atheist for violating guild chat rules. "I was just stating my opinion!" he protested.

See, I wasn't promoting my religion or discussing it; I was merely providing context: "I was doing this when X happened." I wasn't saying "Jesus FTW!" or "you'll all burn in hell for eternity if you're not Christians!" or anything of the sort.

My comment wasn't in violation of guild chat rules, you see.

Notice that #2 felt so threatened by the mere mention of bible study that he had to pipe up with "Atheism FTW" in a conversation that didn't even remotely concern him? That was funny enough; but having others tell him he's out of line was the icing on the cake.

As for me, I didn't say a word about it; I just went right on with my story.

...and it turned out that the GM--who is a 40-something woman in Texas--has long curly auburn hair as well as an amazing voice and several level 85 WoW toons and a guild and who is technologically savvy. If she liked anime, she'd get a perfect score!

I told her, "Where do I sign up to be on the boyfriend waiting list?"

Heh.

* * *

A 36-minute documentary on the Fukushima disaster. I don't have time to watch it right now.

I've been up since 10:30; it's now going on 1 PM and I'm still not finished with the bloggerating. That leaves me just a few hours before therapy (at 3:30) to accomplish many things that need doing!

...well, actually--I suppose I don't need to do them before therapy, but I do want to get some things done today.

The freezer, for example.

I looked up reviews of the unit on-line and found favorable comments on it. The only disadvantage is that it's not self-defrosting, but you have to pay a lot more for that feature, anyway. Kenmore is a good brand; the dishwasher, stove, and microwave in here are all Kenmore. The price is good and the unit itself is about what I was thinking of when I first had the idea to get a freezer.

I'm going to put it in the basement; it ought to be light enough (the display model was, in any case) that I can take it downstairs with the hand truck. All I need is to make some room for it...somewhere, and run an extension cord from the nearest outlet to the thing. Shouldn't be a problem.

I'm almost out of diet pop. I've got five bottles left (!) of sugared Pepsi, but only one each of diet Dew and Max; so I need to go buy more of that.

Which--I have to say--I find flat-out amazing. I drank two bottles of sugared Pepsi in the past seven days. I had a medium coke from McDonald's with the bacon mofo I had for dinner Tuesday; the lemonade I've been drinking is made half-and-half Crystal Light and Country Time...but it's been a week without the majority of my liquid intake having sugar in it!

I haven't made any conscious effort or anything. I just chose what I wanted to drink, and my choices ended up working out that way.

AND the damn grass needs cutting. It's been too long since I last did it--on the order of 12 days--and with the rain we got over the weekend the grass is now looking tall and shaggy; so that's got to get done.

I have to wonder how much of the shopping-type stuff I could get done before 3-ish. I'd like to shave and shower before my appointment....

* * *

Bah. Mail came, still no completion card. Guess that means I won't be riding the Suzuki before next week. *sigh*

#2888: Okay, I bought a freezer.

I was confident the freezer itself would fit in the Jeep; at worst, I thought, I'd have to leave the packaging at the store.

But no: the entire box fit handily. The only caveat is that if you lay the unit on its side, you must wait 24 hours before using it, so I don't get to plug it in until 2 PM tomorrow.

Got it home, got it inside, got most of the packing off; slid it down the stairs on the styrofoam "skid", took the skid off, made room for it. It now sits in a nice little cubby next to some other stuff; I can only access it from its right side but it's narrow enough (not quite square) that that's not an issue. So the lid goes up to my right rather than to the side that's away from me--big whoop.

The thing weighs 80 lbs with packing. No wonder the guy at the store was flinging it around like it was a box of feathers. The only part that really bothered my back was lifting it over the step up at the front door. The far edge, of course, caught on the lip and wouldn't slide up. Otherwise I had a harder time picking up the packing material that scattered when I lifted the box off.

I didn't even need to dig out my hand truck.

So, the next stage of my great adventure is complete: I have bought my first major appliance.

* * *

I think, actually, that most of the back pain I'm experiencing right now (which is not much) resulted from moving the stuff around in the basement: a few boxes of books, some other stuff, each of which required that I cantilever the weight some distance from my body for a few seconds.

I didn't need to move much, but what I did need to move was on the heavy side. It was also stuff which should not have been on the floor--books and the like which could be damaged if the basement flooded again--so I took care to ensure they were not on the floor.

I ended up making some sense of that area even though the niche for the freezer only required moving two items. I was in the mood to impose order where chaos reigned, so I did.

* * *

What I will probably do tomorrow is to buy two or three bags of ice and put them in the freezer, just to make sure it's keeping things cold before I put food in it which could spoil if it didn't work. Once I'm sure the ice isn't melting, then I'm going to clean out the freezer over the fridge!

There's a lot of stuff in there that I do not need immediate access to, like frozen homemade soup stock and several containers of frozen walnuts and pecans. Most of the meat can go into the freezer, as well as unopened boxes of microwave food (TV dinners and the like). The result ought to be a freezer that's a lot less jam-packed with stuff, and I won't have to toss anything that I'm likely to use later.

But even so it's going to be a while before the chest freezer is anything like full--unless I buy a quarter beef or something--so the bags of ice will also help to act as thermal mass. More mass=slower heating=running less often.

* * *

It's 2:30 and I've still got things to do; but I think I'm just going to chill until about 3, take a shower, go to therapy, and then do some of the other things.

#2889: STEAK, damn it! STEAK!

All this talk of meat has made me hungrier than usual, and as I had to go to the store for Pepsi anyway, I decided I'd buck the trend and have me a freakin' steak for dinner. With a big baked potato and corn on the cob!

I would have bought sirloin if I could have found any; what I ended up with is a pound of top round. It's a bit stringy and hard to cut but it tastes good and has good "mouth feel".

No, let me rephrase that: it tastes GOOD! I only put on salt and pepper before cooking it; this thing needs no A-1 or anything else. I cooked it on the grill and it came out perfect, too, which only makes it better.

When was the last time I had a freakin' steak? Of any kind? I don't even know.

The potato was the largest spud I could find in the produce section. The microwave has a dedicated "baked potato" button and it watches it with a sensor as it cooks; so after scrubbing it and poking it with a fork, I put the potato in the nuker and hit the switch. The potato came out with one overcooked node in it (where the potato has turned into an impenetrable mass) but is otherwise completely edible and also done perfectly.

In general, I like round steak. I like sirloin better, but I'll gleefully cook a round steak and eat it and be perfectly happy, even though it's not the perfect steak.

...and all told this meal might have cost almost as much as a bacon mofo meal does. Put that in your pipe and smoke it, Ronald McDonald!