I believe I shall cut the grass tomorrow; a quick check of the back yard revealed that the swampy part is no longer going "squish" when I walk on it, which is a good sign. It's supposed to be not-rainy for the next several days; I should be able to cut the grass tomorrow without too much trouble.
Heck, it's only been about a week since I last did it.
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My sister--what's left of her--has been left in my care, so I put the box containing her ashes on the mantel. When in doubt, go with tradition.
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Okay, on to economic doom and gloom.
Scott Angell at Eternity Road.
Karl Denninger reiterates how bad the situation really is. Emphasis removed:
Housing must have the supports ripped out from under it. House prices will find a natural level where a majority of people can save and pay cash for them. That's as low as 1x incomes. Ludicrous? No. Reality. Will this means adjusting expectations? You bet - that granite countertop won't be the mainstay in "middle-class" homes, it will be present only in those houses where the owner is truly wealthy. The average home size will shrink to around 1,000 square feet for a family of four. A lot of the crackerjack boxes we built in the last 20 years are literally worth nothing in terms of resale price as their carrying costs exceed their utility value without the financial ponzi that enabled them to be built.Yeah, all those "McMansions" are too much house for the average family, really. 3,000 square feet for four people and a dog--WTF. My apartment in Cedar Rapids was 600 square feet; the last 18 months I lived there it contained two people and two cats--and we had plenty of room.
Formica countertops and carpeting--what's wrong with that? I like carpeting, and granite simply costs too damned much to be worth it. So I have to be careful about how hot something is before I put it down--so what? That's why they invented trivets.
The rest of the post is in the same vein as what I blockquoted, and none of it is any good for the status quo--but the status quo really ain't that damned good anyway.
We are heading to the conditions he describes and will get there without fail. We can either choose the way we get there--in which case we can mitigate the worst of it--or we can dither and continue to "extend and pretend", in which case we'll get there a little later but a lot harder.
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The drop in tablet prices has been precipitous and entirely predictable. Look: a full-size laptop that runs rings around the best tablet on the market can be had for a similar price, the way things are (or used to be, anyway). That $500-$600 stuff--only a person with more money than brains would find that a good deal. "I have the latest techno-gewgaw! Look at me! I'm cool!"
...but if you want to do serious work a tablet is not the way to go. Not now--the software and the hardware just isn't there yet. No one is going to be doing spreadsheets and Photoshop and WTF-ever on a tablet unless he's either 1) a total techno-geek, doing it solely to say he did; 2) insane; or 3) some combination.
Right now, serious work requires:
1) KeyboardTablets, right now, are entertainment devices. They're very good for that, but you're not going to be doing video editing or CAD on a tablet any time soon.
3) A screen of reasonable size; 10" diagonal is not it.
I think this will change, yes...in the future. Once the platform matures and stabilizes a bit, and enough companies bring their R&D departments to bear on it, we'll start seeing some wonderful things being done with tablets, things that will justify higher prices for them (like $600-$1,000 in current dollars). Right now, though, no.
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"Doing it solely to say he did": in 1991 or so I had an NEC MultiSpeed laptop, an XT-class computer I bought for the princely sum of $5.33 with tax. I worked at a Sears Business Center in 1990 and got it when the store manager wanted to get the thing out of inventory before inventory was taken. It was a $1,500 machine if the store had it in stock; but it was nonfunctional and could not be sold for anything like list price anyway.
At $5.33 it was a good gamble for me; I took it.
Turns out that it needed a floppy drive, a couple covers, and a power supply. I borrowed an adjustable power supply and made it work; and a few months later I found the power supply for the thing in a filing cabinet in the office. I never replaced the bad floppy drive; it had two and I only needed one. For about $35 I got the missing covers and manuals from NEC, and it turned out that the battery pack had shorted and blown its fuse--all I had to do was cut open the battery case and solder in a new fuse. Then the thing had a battery life of exactly fifty-three minutes.
It had no hard drive; I ended up buying a 20 MB external drive with a parallel interface for $320 which allowed me to stop switching floppies all the damned time. I left a boot disk in the floppy drive that contained all the DOS boot stuff I needed, including the driver for the hard drive, and otherwise I ran everything from the hard drive.
This was my first DOS machine, and it was pretty cool to have it. Along with the computer I'd gotten some software on 3.5" disks, games and stuff; so it was pretty easy to have fun with the thing. As time went on I got a mouse (another major step!) and an external CGA monitor came my way, leaving me with a complete and eminently usable system.
One day I had the crazy idea of installing Windows 3.1 on the damn thing, just to see if it would work. So I did.
It worked. It took forever to start up, and you couldn't really do much of anything, but I was able to play Solitaire and run Professional Write and stuff. The MultiSpeed didn't have enough RAM and the hard drive was accessed via a parallel port, so the virtual memory was a lot more "virtual" than usual; everything took far too long to be practical--but it did work. It wasn't supposed to, but it did.
I deleted the install of Win 3.1 afterwards. Fun is fun but when you only have 20 MB of drive space, other things take precedence.
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I'm tired. I'm going to lay back down now.