Portugal nears economic meltdown and the Prime Minister of Portugal is a guy named Jose Socrates.
I have to wonder is somewhere in Portugal there's a guy named Juan Archimedes, you know, or Sancho Aristotle. Or Jesus Plato. Jeeze.
* * *
So we've gone to war against Libya, and the Fukushima power planet problem has all but disappeared from the national conscious.
The entire blog-o-sphere is rife with stories about the new war, and Obama's role in pushing us into it. I don't have much to say about any of this.
Obama's actions are legal. He has 60 days from the commencement of hostilities to go to Congress and get authorization to continue past that time period. He's followed the law (so far) so there's no cause for impeachment.
...now, if this BS lasts for more than 60 days and he doesn't get authorization from Congress, that is cause for impeachment. Obama has shown a distressing willingness to ignore the concept of "separation of powers" and do whatever the hell he feels like doing; if Libya turns into a quagmire and Congress says, "No more!" and he leaves the troops in...that's impeachment territory.
Of course, Congress doesn't have to fund the operation; but just watch how the media will suddenly turn into a bunch of hawks and excoriate the Republicans for not funding this vital national security measure!
I think our best option would have been to supply the rebels, rather than go to war, but that would have required quick, decisive action on Obama's part...and he's not capable of that. The only thing that led him to get us involved with Libya was two weeks of European leaders and reporters saying he's weak and indecisive. "I'll show you! I'm not weak and indecisive! Watch this!"
For damn sure Obama doesn't care what the US population thinks, not really, but poll numbers are obviously more important to him than his own principles.
* * *
You know, that front door lock is just amazing. I only spent ten minutes on disassembling it, lubing it, and putting it back together, yet the thing works like new now, and I can't get over the difference that a few drops of oil made. I was thinking about replacing the damn thing, but it seems I don't need to.
* * *
The mail came.
In the mail was a postcard from the "Midwest High Speed Rail Association".
Their web site.
Apparently these guys haven't gotten the message that THE UNITED STATES IS BROKE and that we don't have the money to spend billions of dollars on economically unnecessary bullshit.
Every time someone talks about high speed rail, they tell us that government only needs to make the initial investment, and after that, it'll make money! After all, look at England/France/Japan/China!
Problem is, it won't.
Amtrack has never turned a profit. Never. Not even once in the forty years it's been in operation. The pro-train folks always complain that Amtrack isn't funded well enough, but if passenger rail were economically necessary in the US, Amtrack wouldn't need government funding.
High-speed rail is more of the same, only faster. And "faster" means "more expensive", because of how the right-of-way has to be constructed. Wooden crossties are a no-go; you need concrete, and it's better to run a ribbon of concrete and secure the rail to it. Regardless you've also got to superelevate even the most open of curves, and the right-of-way has to be kept clear of all obstructions, including animals and stupid kids. You can't really have a conventional grade crossing for tracks on which you've got trains going 150 MPH, either, because some dumbass will wonder where the train is, get tired of waiting, drive around the gates--and get creamed by the train.
It means special crossings with barriers and full-width gates and-and-and, all of which makes the grade crossing even more expensive. Or avoid grade crossings by building bridges. Yeah, that's going to be cheap, isn't it? Do what China does and elevate the whole thing--even cheaper! Yeah!
Obama proposed, what, $53 billion? $53 billion isn't even a start on what a nationwide high-speed rail network would cost. $53 billion wouldn't even pay for what Midwest HSR guys want to do in Illinois alone.
And we haven't got the money for it. The federal government is already spending $1.50 for every tax dollar it collects; Obama overspent in February as much as the federal government overspent in 2007. This way lies ruin.
There's no need to hurry it along by building a rail network we don't need.
* * *
Last night Amaleni finished all the Deepholm quests, but for one, which involves going into the Stone Core instance. I'll hit that one as a random, sooner or later.
So I left Deepholm and headed for Uldum, where I'll take up the banner again; and I still have Mount Hyjal and Twilight Highlands after that. Whee!
I also finally sat down and worked on leveling her Jewelcrafting; I got it over 425, finally--and bought 26 new recipes. At 425 you can prospect obsidium, so I was able to use up about half my supply of obsidium ores on generating the gems I need to level it further.
Then I worked a bit more and got her skill up to 440. Next new recipe from trainers comes at 450.
Mining's already hit 525, which is the new cap. "Illustrious Grand Master". Whee!
* * *
While I was under the Jeep yesterday I saw a couple of things that worry me.
#1) The bottom of the steering damper has a thin film of oil on it. This indicates that it might be going bad. That's irritating because I only just replaced the damn thing in October of 2008, and they're supposed to last longer than that. It's not terribly expensive, but it's annoying.
#2) Where the transmission bolts to the bellhousing, at the bottom, there was some oil. That says "rear main seal" to me, and that's a bitch to replace on any engine.
The easiest way is probably to jack the truck up as high as I can get it, put it on jack stands, and then drop the transmission. "Easiest" being excessively relative, of course, because that's a bitch and a half of a job, but removing the engine would be 2-3 bitches. (Probably 4-5, in fact.)
Pay someone to do it? AAAHHHHH HA HA HA HA HAA!! With what?? Blood?
Well, I wiped the oil off, and we'll see what transpires. The Jeep doesn't use much oil at all, so if it's just a little seep I can safely ignore it. (Maybe put a jug of that "leaky gasket fixer" stuff in.)
* * *
Well, I'm starting to work on finding a new health insurance plan, because there's no f-ing way in hell I can pay $667 per quarter for health insurance.
I don't know what my problem is. I mean, after all, that's only $222 per month. Hell, most people pay more than that for a car, so why am I having such a problem with this? C'mon, Ed! Don't you understand that the Democrats enacted ObamaCare because they care about people like you not having access to affordable health care?
Apparently that's the literal truth--they're upset that people like me had access to affordable health care--because they enacted policies which priced health care out of my reach. Thanks, Obama! Thanks, Democrats!
Well...by raising my deductible to $7,500, I can get by with $138 per month. The plan in question is from another underwriter than my current one; it waives the deductible for GP office visits, so I could go see my regular doctor and pay only $30 out of pocket. That's not too bad.
Another plan with my current underwriter is only $90 per month, which is a lot more palatable than $223 per month, and it's got the same $30 copay and $7,500 deductible. I think I'll go with that one.
Here's a third plan, which is $124 a month, which also has optional dental insurance ($43 per month more) and it's got a $5,000 deductible. Also, the deductible is waived for the first 6 office visits. Looks like the annual out-of-pocket limit is $8,500, which is better than the other plan's $10,500. It's $125 per month, which means a quarterly payment of $375; or about $500 with dental.
Hell, that's a freakin' bargain. I wonder what's wrong with it?
Regardless of whether or not anything's wrong with it, I don't have much choice. I can't pay $667 in April for health insurance. $375 I can manage, and perhaps I can add the dental insurance later on.
Oh, there's no rate guarantee--they can raise my rates as soon as I'm in the plan, if they want to. Hmm...
Well, if they raise 'em too much, I'll change providers again, I guess.
Let me say it again: thanks, Democrats! Thanks, Obama!
* * *
Done and done. *sigh* 'Course, if they reject me, I can fall back on the plan offered by my current underwriter, and that plan is actually cheaper than the one I picked anyway. I guess that'll have to do.
* * *
Well, I have things to do. After I got up this morning and fed the cats (and had a PBJ myself) I went back to bed. After I got up, I had the last of the beef strogan-awful I made Sunday.
It looks like I'm not cooking anything for dinner, because I've defrosted nothing and I can't think of anything appetizing. Guess what that means? That's right: bacon mofo from McDonald's. *sigh*
After I eat that, I want to get more junk out of the basement. Thursday night is garbage night.
None of this will happen unless I get off my duff and start moving. See ya.