Sunday, December 28, 2008

Sunday December 28, 2008...Delinquent

I don't know if I'm A delinquent, but I am delinquent. It isn't that I haven't had thoughts to express, it's just that I got caught up in Christmas.

Christmas has come and gone and we now enter the quiet time between Christmas and New Years. All the furor and hubbub of Christmas has passed and we can now sit and vegetate and think about all the Christmas goodies we've consumed. Some of us feel guilty about all the cookies and candies, but they were really really good. Of course, we all still probably have left-overs still to devour and we can put off feeling real remorse until after the New Years when we will all promise ourselves to do better.

I dislike the commercialization of Christmas, but I like to give gifts and I like to visit family, so I compromise and give useful and practical gifts and shower as much love as I can on my family.

Looking forward beyond New Years, we all worry about the weather and about the condition of our economy and about the upcoming change in political policies, but we can worry about that later. Right now it's awfully nice to just sit back and relax with a hot cup of coffee or tea and to watch the lights on the Christmas tree blink.

Peace and quiet is good!

Monday, December 08, 2008

Monday December 8, 2008...A Friend died today

Today we lost a bit of the light in this world.
A friend died today. Richard Copaken was his name.
He was a long lost friend from my teenage years that I had just rediscovered.
And now he's gone. He's gone before I had a chance to revisit our past.
He's gone before I had a chance to renew our friendship from many years ago.
He's gone and although I haven't seen him in years, he was part of my life and I will miss him.

He was always a joy to be with and an inspiration to look up to.
He was someone to emulate and appreciate.
I was so happy to have found him after all these years and looked forward to our next visit.
He was taken in just a matter of weeks since I found him again and I'm so sorry that I missed the opportunity to share memories with him.

I shall miss my friend.

Monday, December 01, 2008

Monday December 1, 2008...He's right

He's right, you know.

If you continue to hate your former enemies, they will never become your friends and allies. Over the centuries, we have seen former hated enemy states eventually become trusted allies. It's just a matter of allowing the past to remain in the past. President Obama is, by his actions, allowing his former opponents to join him in dealing with the problems that face all of us. It's not just a case of forgiveness – it's all about positive thinking and practicality. You can't continue to let the past determine your future. You need to forgive and forget and look forward.

In our own private lives, we need to carry this same positive attitude forward. Don't dwell of what might have been – look to what might yet be.

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Saturday November 29, 2008...Busy times

Okay, so it's been a very busy season up till now. With birthdays and Thanksgiving and working on a video for our class reunion and getting ready for members of my family to share our home, it's been very busy. Right now, I've done my Christmas shopping (holding down on the expenditures this year) and the bird has been eaten or frozen and the birthday parties are finished for a while and the reunion committee is resting over the holidays – so it's time to put on the Christmas music and get out the decorations and get in the proper mood.

I really enjoy Christmas, mainly because I enjoy my family and I enjoy doing for others. At Christmas you have the perfect excuse to do for others without causing any repercussions. I have a really great family and love each and every one of them very much. We are very close and we support each other. Even when some of us are away, we stay in weekly contact and try to visit whenever possible. Christmas is our time of the year to share our love and be happy for each other.

Since I've been working on this reunion video, I have been remembering friends and events from long ago and how important many of those people were to me back then. It's a shame we lost each other for all these years. I envy one particular group of women from our class who have maintained their friendship over all these years and are still the best of friends. They have love and support within their group wherever they happen to be. It must be very comforting – much like family.

My personal family will be growing when my youngest daughter, my son-in-law and grandson come to share our home. The upcoming and developing financial crises may affect many people but we will be fine working together as a family unit. My daughter and her family might as well have been stranded out in the middle of Wyoming because of the dearth of opportunities and friends. Back here in Kansas City, there will be much more opportunity and better health care and more friends and family. It should be a win-win situation. I have a home that is much larger than what one person needs – it should be just right for the 4 of us plus their pets. I have never been a great pet person, and they have 2 dogs and 3 cats and a bird and a lizard of some type, so the household will be in for some changes. Over the years, plants and pets have usually died on me, so maybe with their care I will get a chance to appreciate the joys of pet ownership vicariously. (just so they clean up any messes).

Life will be interesting, but that's what makes life fun.

By the way, Be sure to check out my recipes. I just made some sourdough bread for thanksgiving and some pumpkin bread AND IT WAS GREAT.

Friday, October 31, 2008

Friday October 31, 2008...Reunion

Reunion: the state of being united again; a gathering of relatives, friends, or associates at regular intervals or after separation. Synonym: homecoming, reuniting

And so, as I face the reunion of my former high school classmates, I look forward to a homecoming, a reuniting of friends and family who shared years together – long ago. We were like a close knit family, sharing our youth and experiencing adventures and learning and maturing together. The memories of those years stay with us our whole life, the good ones and the bad ones. We learned from both and carried that knowledge with us in the following years. Those years were formative years. We were shaped and molded by our teachers, our friends and our own experiences.

The years have passed and many of those friends and classmates haven't been a part of our life since then, but I suspect that when we reunite the years of separation will fade away and our youthful memories will bring back our friendships and help establish new ones.

A reunion is a time to cast away former grudges and disappointments and to congratulate our mutual survival and discover who we have all become. This is a special time that ties our past to our present and brings us a new focus on life. We set out in life years ago and here we are now each with their own successes and failures, joys and disappointments to share with our friends who were there when we started. There may never be another reunion like this one, but this one will be special.

Monday, October 13, 2008

Monday October 13, 2008...Steadiness

I was just watching a video that I made of my Father's life. It seems that, except for a few years of unattached youth when he was acquiring his values and education, his primary goal in life was to watch out for his mate and his children. Once he had made the commitment to marriage and fatherhood, he devoted his life to that effort. He always took his family's interest into any decision he had to make and continued to care about each individual throughout his life. He was a great example to set before us.

I don't remember a selfish decision he ever made for himself alone. He always catered to his wife and her desires and to his children and their needs. He made life comfortable and stable for all of us without ever complaining.

I see many marriages today shattered and broken and the men cannot provide the stable background for their children like my father could. I see many men who don't carry the same values that my father had and make many selfish decisions without considering their families. It's a shame. I know that I was cast aside by divorce and couldn't continue my role in the lives of my family, but I still tried to provide a feeling of continuity and stableness to my children and to let them know that I was always there for them. We remain “family” today even though separated by miles and circumstances.

What bit of stableness and steadiness I could provide to my children is a result of my father's steady hand example. He did well by me and my brother and sisters and subsequently our children.

One man can make a difference. My dad did.

Monday, September 22, 2008

Monday September 22, 2008...On the other hand

On the other hand, It's now the beginning of Fall. We've passed the equinox and we're headed for Halloween, Thanksgiving and Christmas. Everyone's back in school and cool evenings are back. The harvest is just around the corner and the days of heat and dry are ending. These are days of the year that we've worked towards all year long. Now is the time for a bit of reflection and memory of earlier autumns. The beautiful colored leaves shimmer in the sunshine before drifting slowly to the ground. The smells of autumn in the woods are pleasant and cool. The squirrels are harvesting the acorns and the animals are preparing for the coming winter. It's a time of bountiful harvest. It's a bit quieter and not quite so hectic and people seem to smile a bit more.

I like Fall.

Monday September 22, 2008...Remember eight years ago?

Remember eight years ago when we were, as a nation, spending less than we were taking in and talking about saving the surplus to apply towards social security as it was originally intended. We were in the process of actually operating somewhat fiscally responsibly. Those days didn't last long. George said that we had enough to balance the budget and cut taxes primarily on the wealthy. George and Dick met behind closed doors with their friends in the energy business to develop an energy policy. We were on the precipice back then and didn't even know it.

Since then things have pretty much ended up in the proverbial handbasket and we're another day older and deeper in debt. I hope we are going to wake up from this nightmare and start to set things back on track. It's been a growing nightmare for the last eight years and we've spent our resources with little to show for it. We can only hope that the future will be brighter and that our next leader will be more interested in the people of our nation.

This last week, it feels like we're rushing to spend all of anything left to spend before the election. The next presidency will be left with the mop up after the mess. It will take years to figure a way out of the financial situation we are in. Those years may be tough, but if we're trying our best to help each other then we'll at least have some hope. If we keep ignoring and putting off solutions and concentrating the wealth in fewer and fewer pockets, then hope will be hard to come by.

I just hope that we don't start a war before next January and find ourselves digging deeper.

Eight years ago, I was much happier. We'll see what the next four years bring.

Tuesday, September 09, 2008

Tuesday September 9, 2008...Pet People

I was talking with my daughter the other day and she stressed the point that she and her family were “pet people”. I thought about why I have never had pets.

As a boy, we tried to have dogs, but they always died of distemper. We had a canary (not much fun) and we were adopted by an alley cat, but the cat would come and go for weeks at a time. I guess I never really got attached to any animal.

Once you adopt an animal, you are completely in charge of their care and feeding. You can't leave them behind, untended, while you go off to the mountains or to travel around. You need to make arrangements for them if you're going to be out of town for any time at all. That makes it pretty hard to take vacations.

When I was a boy, I remember only taking two family vacations. When I was married, we took several vacations but didn't have any pets at the time. Since I've been independent, I have made many trips and taken many vacations, but I never had a pet to worry about. I notice that my daughters and their families have many pets, but they don't take many vacation trips.

I guess you have to make up your mind which is most important to you. I've always wanted the freedom to go where I wanted and when I wanted and felt that it wouldn't be fair to have a pet locked away while I roamed.

If you have a pet, it's like having a child. You are responsible to take care of that pet 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. It's a major decision, if you're going to do it right.

I admire you “pet people”, but I really enjoy my freedom.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Wednesday August 27, 2008...Time for change

The Republicans invaded two sovereign countries on the pretext of saving the world from terrorism while never vanquishing those responsible for true acts of terrorism in our own country. The Republicans defeated and occupied those sovereign countries and still haven't brought to justice those responsible for the 9-11 acts of terrorism. The Republicans are now pointing fingers at Iran and preparing to war against them and still aren't finding and containing Al-Quaida, those guilty of assaulting our country. Seven years without justice. Seven years of invasion. Seven years of occupation. Seven years of unrequited terror. Thousands of lives lost because of invisible weapons of mass destruction. Billions of dollars lost because of misguided military missions. And still the responsible terrorist remain free. We point fingers at others while letting the real terrorist make videos and taunt us.

We need a change of leadership. We have wasted years and lives and dollars and invaded other homes while never finding the true criminals. We have destroyed other homes and lives and countries in the process. We have to stop and reconsider. We have to direct our forces responsibly. We need to work with the rest of the world to find the true criminals instead of invading and crushing bystanders.

The Democrats offer another way to deal with the problem. The Republicans weren't able to solve the problem and John McCain says he will continue in the same manner. More of the same is not the answer. Let's try something else. Maybe we can save some lives. Maybe we can save some dollars. Maybe we can salvage our reputation. Maybe we can redirect our efforts and help ourselves.

It is definitely time for change.

Friday, August 22, 2008

Friday August 22, 2008...Adult Delinquent

You've heard of Juvenile Delinquents? Well, I guess you would call me an Adult Delinquent. I've been so tied up in the Olympics that I've neglected many of my other activities. Watching all the various sports at all hours of the day and night was great fun for a while, but it eventually wore me down. Now I'm trying to recover from sporting saturation. My mind has been bombarded with so many facts and trivia about the various sports and their participants that there isn't any more room. I'm now in a vegatative mode just watching pictures and listening to music. I'm sure that once my mind recovers, I'll be able to think again and participate in worldly activities.

Hooray for Phelps and beach volleyball and women gymnasts and chinese divers and opening ceremonies. It was fun while it lasted. I'm glad it comes only every four

Saturday, July 26, 2008

Saturday July 26, 2008...Live this moment

Get ready. Here it comes!

Now it's here!

Now it's gone.

That was a moment in your life, now gone forever.

Think of life as a road trip.

If you focus on the destination only and ignore the scenery along the way, you'll miss a lot. You will pass through life without seeing the beauty that surrounds you. You'll miss all the moments.

How often have we focused on the end of the day or end of the week or maybe next year and let time slip away unnoticed? Sometimes we wish our lives away. Those are precious moments of your life that will never be again.

You must live in this moment, it's the only time you have to control. The past is fixed and the future uncertain – you have only the now to act in.

If you don't live this moment, you will lose it to join all the other forgotten moments.

Monday, July 07, 2008

Monday July 7, 2008...Your Choice

Each day you choose what you will do.

You choose whether to bound out of bed or to lie there and groan.
You choose whether to face the day with a smile or a frown.
You choose whether to make it to work on time or to be late.
You choose what you will accomplish.
You choose whether to work hard or slide through the day.
You choose whether to be friendly or to be a grouch.
You choose whether to make this day a memory or one to forget.

This day may be one of your last days, spend it well or throw it away.
You choose.

Friday, July 04, 2008

Friday July 4, 2008...Back from the West

I just returned from two weeks in central Wyoming. It's high plains desert country. The elevation was about 6,000 feet above sea level and there were very few trees. The low growing shrubs were best suited to sandy arid soil. The few cattle that you could see were widely scattered because there was not much food or water. It looked like 1 to 10 acres for each cow. The wind blows out there with nothing to stop it. There are few ranches and when there is one, it is usually rather large. I was surprised that it was indeed cool in the shade because of the dryness of the air. The native Wyoming people were complaining about the heat while I was quite comfortable. I guess I'm so conditioned to the humidity back home that my body cools off easily when the air is dry. Once you get acclimated to the elevation and the lack of people, the whole state opens up it's beauty to you. There are mountains off on the far horizon and you are fairly secluded from humanity. It's just you and the sky and the earth. If you were born and raised in that country, any sizable town would seem crowded. The largest city in Wyoming only has 53,000 people and there are only 500,000 people in the whole state. If you want to get away from it, then Wyoming is the place to go.

Fortunately, where my daughter lives is near the wind river and there are irrigation ditches criss-crossing the county. With irrigation, the sandy soil will grow many things. But Wyoming is far off the beaten path and transportation is costly. I grew up in Kansas City where many interstates, railroads and airways intersect, so I am used to larger metropolitan areas with many amenities taken for granted. Wyoming folks have to be a lot more self-reliant and competent.

I enjoyed the difference and the serenity, but it's always good to get back home. Here, everything is within reach and available. It's comforting. I guess I'm spoiled.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Tuesday June 10, 2008...McBush Economics

Yep, we can see the Republican strategy once more stated.

Lower taxes on corporations. Keep capital gains tax low. Maintain the lowered tax on the rich. Keep financing the war industry (this war is winding down – let's start a new one). Sprinkle in a little frosting by saying we want lower taxes for the middle income and we will “phase” out the alternative minimum tax (which took too much tax from the rich anyway). Top it all off with a promise to revise the tax system to a “fairer and simpler” system.

Promises are good!
Remember George saying we can give back the taxes to the rich and still balance the budget?

It still looks like a duck and quacks like a duck - a very rich duck that wants to keep everything it has and make the other ducks pay. Maybe it thinks it's a goose with a golden egg.

Meanwhile, we are borrowing the future from our children and grandchildren in order to finance misbegotten plans and helping the rich keep their money while accumulating more. The welfare of the common man has been forgotten by most and misplaced by others. Now it's “every man for himself” and “grab what you can while you can”. We end up with the rich getting richer and the rest slipping into financial slavery.

Of course, McBush said he wasn't very good on economics. So he's just passing along the word from his handlers.

We definitely need change and fresh ideas and some care for the “common man”.

Thursday, June 05, 2008

Thursday June 5, 2008...Angry and Ashamed

I'm angry and ashamed.

I watched the program on Frontline: “Bush's War”. I didn't see it when it first aired, but did watch it on the internet. Putting all the facts out there together with the interviews of the people involved was very informative. It's hard to believe that 3 people, George Bush, Dick Cheney and Donald Rumsfeld could run roughshod over all the other responsible people in Washington and bring this unnecessary war into being. These 3, along with their coordinated yes-men, distorted the facts to support the conclusion that they had already reached and took it upon themselves to ignore the rest of the world in order to bring Saddam down. They had no plan for the ultimate occupation and insurrection that would follow. They were so focused on this one plan to bring Saddam down, that they ignored the facts and distorted the truth because they thought they already knew the answer.

There is no doubt that Saddam was an evil man, but our leaders did an evil thing too. Their actions killed and maimed thousands of our own boys and thousands of civilians who might have been otherwise spared. They never admitted their mistake and never felt remorse for their actions. They should have. Maybe they will, someday. But that won't bring happiness to the thousands of families deeply affected by this tragedy.

What happened to our system of checks and balances? Why couldn't the truth be discovered before we took such extreme actions? I hate to say it, but the French were right in what they said and did. We were wrong. And we reelected the same group, how dumb can a nation be?

I'm ashamed that we, as a nation, invaded another sovereign nation peremptorily, without just cause. I thought people like Hitler or Tojo did things like that, not us. I guess we're no different.

Friday, May 30, 2008

Friday May 30, 2008...Reunion

Any young people out there who happen to be reading this can't imagine how fast the years slip away. I'm still the same young man inside that I was many years ago. The body has changed with the years, but the mind is still young and inquisitive. It seems only yesterday that I was a young man of 18 graduating from high school and starting out in life. The years between then and now are filled with experiences, bad and good, that have molded me into the man that I am today. But, the years seemed to fly by in just moments and I am still that same young man, with just a lifetime of memories thrown into the mix. I have lived and loved and worked and played and enjoyed life fully over the years and now that I've reached retirement, I look back with satisfaction on where I've been and what I've done and who I have become. I may not have followed the path I set out to follow or accomplished the goals that I originally set, but life brings adjustments and acceptance and here I am today as I have become.

We are discussing our 50th anniversary of high school graduation. It can't be 50 years! It was only just the other day when I and my friends graduated. We were so glad to be through with high school and ready to set out upon our next adventure. We were top dogs of our times and ready for anything. I'm really looking forward to seeing many of my friends that I haven't seen since then. I'm curious if they are still the same or if life has changed them. I don't mean externally, we have obviously all grown older and our bodies have altered - I mean internally whether these friends still have the same outlook on life and the same exuberance that they had then. I'm sure that some of our friends have passed on and we will miss them, but we will celebrate the fact that the rest of us have endured and survived and have returned one more time to be together. We can share in the joy of some of our successes and accomplishments. We can commiserate with those of us who have faced and survived tragedy. We can laugh together over our foibles and smile together when we speak of our families and our adventures.

Hopefully, the years will fade away and the friendships that we once had will rekindle, if only for a moment. It will be bittersweet and heartwarming.

Sunday, May 25, 2008

Sunday May 25, 2008...Control of election

28% of Americans approve of the way Bush is running this country. That's a low percentage, but if it is an organized and active percentage, they still have a chance of controlling the election. Let's say that we only have a 50% turnout for the election because people are disgruntled and have given up. In that case, if the 28% all turn out, they will win the election.

We need to make sure that the 72% who disapprove of the way the country is being run all turn out to vote for the candidate of their choice and keep the election a fair and honest forum.

In Kansas City, over the years, we have seen organized factions who make sure that their voters are escorted to the polls often win elections when there is a poor turnout. The same thing for years was the rule in the rural south where minorities were discouraged from voting and the voting was controlled by organized blocks of white voters. Let's hope that the same scenario doesn't hold for this next national election.

As long as there is a sizeable turnout and the election is a fair sampling of what the majority really wants, then it will be acceptable.

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Thursday May 15, 2008....Green is good

I've been away for awhile. Down in the desert Southwest. It was sunny and dry, but cool to moderate temperatures. New Mexico is mostly high desert with mountains scattered about. It took awhile to adjust to the higher elevation. Rio Rancho, on the northern side of Albuquerque is about 6,000 feet above sea level. It's a growing community along the Rio Grande between Albuquerque and Santa Fe. A very nice community, if you like sun and dry. I grew up in Missouri where it's moist and green and lush this time of the year. Since I got back, I've had to mow the grass several times and it still keeps growing. We've had a lot of rain so far this year. Down in Rio Rancho, they had rain in February and a few sprinkles since. Nobody has grass, it's mostly desert plants and landscaping of rocks and bushes. Those kinds of yards take very little maintenance and no mowing. But everything down there is brown and dry except for trees and bushes. It's not lush and moist like Missouri. I guess you have to adjust to the different climates. In the desert they don't get much snow in the winter and most of the days are sunny, but when the winds come, there is little to stop them and they can really blow down there. We have tornadoes here in Missouri, but they are seldom and scattered. In New Mexico they have high winds and dust across wid fronts that will blow over trucks and close the interstates. I guess you have to adjust to the climate. We lowlanders who live at 800 feet have a hard time adjusting to the higher elevations. It takes awhile for your internal system to adapt to the thinner dryer air.

I guess it's all in what you get used to. If you were born and raised on the plains of Kansas, like my dad, you miss the wide open spaces. I like the green forests and luch green lawns of Missouri and the changing of the seasons. I'm glad that people like where they are, that way we don't all end up bunched together in one spot. Rio Rancho is a nice place to visit. Missouri is a nice place to live.

Wednesday, April 09, 2008

Wednesday April 9, 2008...It's a different world


We used to call pre-emptive strikes “SNEAK ATTACKS”, like Pearl Harbor and the Blitzkrieg. We used to hate the people who started wars like Hitler and Japan.

I guess those days are over. Maybe we aren't concerned with being the “good guys” anymore. Let's destroy their twin towers before they have a chance to destroy ours. The presumption of innocense no longer applies. Threats speak louder than words or deeds.

Republican Sen. John McCain refused Wednesday to rule out a pre-emptive war against another country, although he said one would be very unlikely.

The likely Republican presidential nominee was asked Wednesday at a town-hall style meeting if he would reject "the Bush doctrine of pre-emptive war," a reference to Bush's decision to invade Iraq without it having attacked the United States.

"I don't think you could make a blanket statement about pre-emptive war, because obviously, it depends on the threat that the United States of America faces," McCain told his audience at Bridgewater Associates Inc., a global investment firm.

"If someone is about to launch a weapon that would devastate America, or have the capability to do so, obviously, you would have to act immediately in defense of this nation's national security interests."

McCain said he would consult more closely and more carefully "not with every member of Congress, but certainly the leaders of Congress."

If they are guilty of thinking bad thoughts then they are likely to do bad things.
This doesn't sound like the America I grew up in.

Tuesday, April 08, 2008

Tuesday April 8, 2008...Be a good sport

One of the beauties of living in Kansas City is that you are surrounded by colleges and universities. There are a plethera of sport teams to follow and to be loyal to. One of the hazards of Kansas City is crossing paths of fanatical loyal fans of only one of those teams. Being close to Lawrence, Kansas means there are a lot of Kansas University fans. Being close to Columbia, Missouri means there are a lot of Missouri University fans. Being close to Manhattan, Kansas means there are a lot of Kansas State University fans. And there are the local universities with their fans – UMKC, Baker, Avila, Park, Central Missouri, William Jewell – all with teams of their own.

This week, the Kansas University basketball team won the NCAA basketball tournament, which makes them the national champions of basketball for this year. I am happy that a local team did so well and you would think that all Kansans and others in the area would be happy too, but there seems to be a lot of envy and downright hateful talk among those loyal to other teams. You would think that good sports would congratulate a team on their good fortune and celebrate with them, but all I hear from Missouri fans and Kansas State fans is grumbling about how they really feel bad that Kansas won.

That's a shame, because such honors don't come often and they don't come easy and everyone should be happy that a local team did so well. I mean, it's easy to hate those stupid teams from out on the west coast – they think they are so special. And it's not easy to put up with those snobs from the east coast who think we are hicks from the sticks out here in the midwest. But a good midwestern team winning is a good thing and we should all be good sportsmen and celebrate together.

Let's not be envious of jealous of our local boys, only those on the coasts who deserve it.

Sunday, April 06, 2008

Sunday April 6, 2008...Just in case you were worried

In case you were worried about George after he leaves office, don't plan on inviting him to your home for dinner unless you have lots of cash.

Mr. Bush has been vague about his post-presidential plans. He mentioned having “a nice place in Dallas” and setting up a Freedom Institute. Otherwise, he told Mr. Draper, “I can just envision getting in the car, getting bored, going down to the ranch.”

A new book out last week reported that President Bush wants to hop on the lecture circuit when he leaves office in 2009 — “replenish the ol’ coffers,” as he put it in Robert Draper’s account of his presidency, “Dead Certain.”

“I don’t know what my dad gets,” the president told Mr. Draper. “But it’s more than 50, 75” thousand dollars a speech. He added, “Clinton’s making a lot of money.”

In the book, Mr. Bush did not really explain his interest in more money. His assets are estimated at between $8 million and $20 million (and his daughters are out of college). Moreover, since the 1950s, when it was clear that Harry Truman could not afford even an office staff, the federal government has taken care of former presidents. Mr. Bush will receive an annual pension of $186,000, travel funds, mailing privileges, Secret Service protection, office space, staff, stationery and transition expenses.

It appears that retired presidents after Harry discovered that they could make a lot of money talking to people about anything they want to for cash. Apparently, Bill is doing quite well that way and George wants to get on the bandwagon.

Just in case you were worried about George's ability to support himself.

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Tuesday March 25, 2008...I'm tired

I'm tired, very tired -- maybe even sick and tired.

I'm tired of bad news. I'm tired of this stinking war. I'm tired of murders and robberies. I'm tired of rising gas prices and rising food costs and rising insurance and rising property taxes and rising medical costs. I'm tired of politicians pointing fingers and blaming everyone else. I'm tired of companies outsourcing their manufacturing and laying off people. I'm tired of poverty. I'm tired of pollution. I'm tired of lobbyists.

I guess that's enough to wear everyone out and leave us all tired of the same things we've all been tired of for decades.

It doesn't go away.

We never seem to solve the old problems as we're stirring up new ones. I bet if I went to sleep for 20 years, like Rip Van Winkle, I would wake up to find us still facing all the same problems as now. Where is the GOOD news? Why can't we tackle the problems one at a time and solve at least one problem? We shuffle and sidestep, but never face the problems head on and get them solved. President Johnson declared War On Poverty – nothing solved after 40 years. We declared a War On Drugs – nothing solved after decades. We have often declared War On Crime, but seem to have more and more. We have filled up the jails and built more, but we have never conquered the root problem. We declared War on Iraq, then changed it to War on terrorism, but never solved the problem. It could go on for years and years.

I've noticed that Switzerland never declared war on anyone or anything and seems to have been existing peacefully for centuries. Have we overlooked something there? Maybe if we let everyone else solve their own problems and concentrated at home on solving our own problems then we might stand a chance of solving at least one.
No more wars – not a bad idea.
No more poverty – not a bad idea.
No more uninsured people – not a bad idea.
Jobs for everyone – not a bad idea.

But then, that's just a thought from my tired old brain. Maybe a 20 year nap will solve everything.

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Thursday March 20, 2008...It sprung!

It's official, at 5:48 this morning Spring sprung forth is all its glory and now all of us Spring nuts can be turned loose upon the world. Let's try to keep the yelling and screaming to a minimum. Now we can fly kites and run happily through the meadow without being deemed idiots. It's been a long cold winter, but now it's over. Celebrate! Celebrate!

Of course, the basketball nuts already knew it was time to go nuts because of March madness with the NCAA. Now all the rest of us can go nuts as well.

It's almost time to start the spring cleaning and to air out the house (maybe it needs to get just a tad warmer). Now it's time to put away all the reds and blacks and bring out the pastels. Time for blue skies and sunshine with an occasional spring shower. Time for the grass to turn green and the trees to start budding.

I love Spring!

Let's go fly a kite!

Monday, March 17, 2008

Monday March 17, 2008...I think it's time to worry

Just in case you haven't kept up with the latest weekend news while wearing of the green on this day of shamrocks, here is some testy news which should worry all of us:

"It seems as if Bernanke & Co. are pulling out all the stops to avoid a serious financial market meltdown," Richard Yamarone, an economist at Argus Research, said Sunday evening.

Urgently moving to contain a deepening credit crisis, the Federal Reserve is trying to restore confidence in panicked financial markets by becoming a lender of last resort for Wall Street investment houses that on Monday can begin securing short-term emergency loans.

The central bank, in an extraordinarily rare weekend move, took the bold action Sunday in an attempt to calm the markets. It also approved a cut in its emergency lending rate to financial institutions to 3.25 percent from 3.50 percent, effective immediately.

The new lending facility — described as a cousin to the Fed's emergency lending "discount window" for banks — is geared to give major investment houses a source of short-term cash on a regular basis — if they need it.

That's important because those big investment houses have key roles in the financial system and if one fails or is having difficulty it could put the whole financial system in jeopardy, said Mark Zandi, chief economist at Moody's These big investment houses have complex relationships with many players in the system, including hedge funds, commercial banks and others.

The lending facility will be in place for at least six months and "may be extended as conditions warrant," the Fed said. The interest rate will be 3.25 percent and a range of collateral — including investment-grade mortgage backed securities — will be accepted to back the overnight loans.


The Fed on Sunday also approved the financing arrangement through which JPMorgan will acquire Bear Stearns for $236.2 million in a deal that represents a stunning collapse for one of the world's largest and most venerable investment houses. JPMorgan said the Fed will provide special financing for the deal. The central bank has agreed to fund up to $30 billion of Bear Stearns' less liquid assets, according to JPMorgan. (This was a financial investment firm with hundreds of billions of dollars passing through it's hands)

The Fed's actions are the latest in a recent string of innovative steps to deal with a worsening credit crisis that has unhinged Wall Street.

The action comes just two days before the central bank's scheduled meeting on Tuesday, where another big cut to a key interest rate that affects millions of people and businesses is expected to be ordered. That key rate is now at 3 percent and is expected to be cut by at least three-quarters of a percentage point on Tuesday.

Yet anxiety persisted. On world financial markets, Asian stocks plunged Monday after the JPMorgan and Fed announcements. Markets in Australia and New Zealand were also off and European stocks fell in early trading. The Bank of England moved Monday to inject an extra $10.1 billion into its financial system to provide relief.

Oil prices hit a record in Asian trading as the value of the dollar continued its free fall and U.S. stock index futures were down sharply, suggesting Wall Street would open lower after sinking Friday.


Vice President Dick Cheney and Sen. John McCain vowed in meetings with Iraq's prime minister Monday that the U.S. would maintain a long-term military presence in Iraq until al-Qaida is defeated there.

Please note that al-Qaida wasn't in Iraq until we invaded it.

Saturday, March 15, 2008

Saturday March 15, 2008...Springtime and mountains

Springtime weather brings me thoughts of other springtimes in the rockies.

My attempt at Haiku poetry:

Deep in the forest
High in the rocky mountains:
Breathe deep and relax.

The memories of
Colorado draw you back-
To another time.

Silent peaks with snow
Rushing streams with speckled rocks:
Mountain flowers grow.

Peace in the mountains lets your mind dispel worries about the travails of men.
It's nice to think about spring and mountains and forests and streams.

Friday, March 14, 2008

Friday March 14, 2007...Who's worried?

Friday March 14, 2008

For all of 2007, consumer inflation jumped by 4.1 percent, the biggest increase in 17 years. That big increase has raised concerns about stagflation, the malady that beset the economy in the 1970s when economic growth stagnated at the same time that inflationary pressures increased.

Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke has said that he does not believe the country is at risk of another bout of stagflation.

Another stunner from Wall Street on Friday sent the dollar to a record low as a major U.S. banker, Bear Stearns Cos., acknowledged it was in dire financial straits.

The U.S. government and JPMorgan Chase & Co. bailed out Bear Stearns Cos. Friday, a last-ditch effort to save the investment bank after a week of denials that it was in trouble.

Bear Stearns lost half of its value within 30 minutes of the market open.

Bear Stearns has assets of 395 billion and liabilities of 383 billion dollars.

This week the dollar has repeatedly hit record lows against the euro, dropped below 100 yen for the first time in 12 years, and on Friday, the dollar fell below the Swiss franc for the first time ever.

The dollar is currently valued at 0.9996 francs on the Zurich exchange. In 1971, the U.S. dollar was worth four francs.

The dollar has been weighed down by worries about the outlook for the U.S. economy, which in turn have fed expectations that the Federal Reserve will continue to lower interest rates.

Lower interest rates can jump-start a nation's economy, but can also weigh on its currency as traders transfer funds to countries where they can earn higher returns.
speculation that the world's major central banks will mount coordinated intervention to stabilize the rout of the dollar.

The global financial-services sector may end up writing down the fair value of such exposures by $285 billion, mainly from residential mortgage-backed securities and more complex vehicles known as collateralized debt obligations (CDOs), S&P estimated.

Earlier this week the Federal Reserve said it would inject $200 billion into the troubled mortgage securities market.

"It is clear that the ultimate credit losses on the more than $1.2 trillion of subprime loans originally granted in the U.S. from 2005 to 2007 will be substantial," S&P said.

Gold futures soared to a record high of $1,009 an ounce Friday, as investors sought a safe haven following news of a bailout of troubled investment bank Bear Stearns.

Monday, March 10, 2008

Monday March 10, 2008...Miscalculation?

The Cost of War: Iraq Death Toll

Lives Lost in Iraq: at least 135,527

3,975 US Military, 175 British Military, 133 Other Country Coalition Forces

March 20, 2003 to March 9, 2008

May 1, 2003
President George Bush declares "Mission Accomplished"
138 US Military deaths at this point.


original anticipated cost of war in Iraq - $50 Billion dollars

Total direct cost of war in Iraq to date - $500 Billion dollars

In October 2007, the Congressional Budget Office projected that additional war costs for the next 10 years could range from $570 billion if troop levels fell to 30,000 by 2010, or $1.1 trillion if troop levels fell to 75,000 by about 2013. Under these scenarios, CBO projects that funding for Iraq, Afghanistan and the GWOT could reach from about $1.2 trillion to about $1.7 trillion for FY2001-FY2017.


What more can you say?

How much longer will this mistake go on?

Saturday, March 08, 2008

Saturday March 8, 2008...It's almost later than you think

This time tomorrow won't be this time at all. It will be THAT time.

Yes, it's that time again when we nonsensically try to fool ourselves into believing that it's sooner rather than later. Later in this same year, we will try to fool ourselves again into believing that it really isn't sooner but indeed later. Now in Oklahoma, they always knew that it was sooner. Here in Missouri, you have to show me that it's really sooner and that's pretty hard to do. Sooner or later, time will catch up to us all, if we wait long enough and quit trying to fool ourselves.

I wonder if the rest of the world goes along with this foolishness or if they know the real time all along.

Anyway, tomorrow will come sooner than you think. So, enjoy yourself, it's later than you think.

Friday, March 07, 2008

Friday March 7, 2008...Political contributors

After watching a race car driver in an advertisement on television, dressed in his race suit with all the sponsor patches sewn on from head to toe, I thought that we should carry this idea into our politics.

What if politicians wore patches showing who paid for their campaigns? We could limit the patches to only those who paid over $100,000. Maybe the size of the patch would indicate the size of the contribution. We could tell then which politicians owe which contributors and how that influences their votes. We could even put decals on their cars so that as they drive around you could tell who is sponsoring your candidate. It would be truth in advertising and politics for a change.

What would especially be interesting to see the same patches on politicians from both parties showing the strength of some special interests. Maybe any correspondence from the various politicians should have their major contributors listed on the back so everyone would know who they owe special favors. Nobody seems to mind that race cars carry all those decals and that drivers suits and hats carry all that free advertising from the various sponsors and I'm sure that the public wouldn't mind seeing our politicians doing the same thing. Why hide the truth in smoke filled back rooms? Let's be honest and show who really controls our elected officials.

I'll bet that George's suit would have a lot of energy companies as main sponsors.
I'd like to know McCain's and Obama's and Hilary's sponsors too.

Wednesday, March 05, 2008

Wednesday March 5, 2008...Spring isn't sprung quite yet

On occasion, it looks like spring with blue skies and sunshine. But spring isn't sprung quite yet. At least the snow is melting soon after falling. And the breeze isn't quite as chilling as it was. I even hear birds peeping while they're shivering. It won't be long now till the birds nest in the gutters and the squirrels dig up the yard looking for buried treasures. And soon the weeds will turn green and try to take over the world. Dandelions will raise their little yellow heads and raise their stalks as high as possible. The crab grass will creep ever so slowly over the yard. The frozen earth will turn to mud and spring will arrive with wind gusts and days of warmth hinting at summer days to follow. It makes you want to clean up the mower and wash the winter crud off the car.

But mother nature often springs forth with an ice storm or a nice wet snow about this time of the year, just when you didn't expect it. We'll see.

Thursday, February 28, 2008

Thursday, February 28, 2008....Our leader know best

President Bush said Thursday, February 28, 2007, that the country is NOT headed into a recession and, despite expressing concern about slowing economic growth, rejected for now any additional stimulus efforts. "We've acted robustly," he said.


The economy skidded to a near halt in the final quarter of last year, clobbered by dual slumps in housing and credit that caused people and businesses to spend and invest more sparingly.

The Commerce Department reported Thursday that the gross domestic product increased at a scant 0.6 percent pace in the October-to-December quarter. The reading — unchanged from an initial estimate a month ago — underscored just how much momentum the economy has lost. In the prior quarter, the economy clocked in at a brisk 4.9 percent pace. Gross domestic product measures the value of all goods and services produced in the United States and is the best barometer of the country's economic health.

"The economy just kept its head above water," said Nigel Gault, economist at Global Insight.

The housing picture looked even more bleak in the new report. Builders slashed spending on housing projects by a whopping 25.2 percent on an annualized basis in the fourth quarter, the biggest cut in 26 years.And, even though economic growth slowed, inflation picked up — an ominous mix that could spell further trouble for the economy.

As if the newly confirmed fourth-quarter GDP figure of 0.6 percent wasn't chilling enough, the Labor Department reported Thursday that new applications for unemployment insurance benefits rose by 19,000 to 373,000 last week, more evidence that the general economic sluggishness is spilling over into the job market.

Fears have grown that the country is heading for a recession or is already in one. With inflation rising as the economy slows, fears are increasing that the country may be headed for a bout of stagflation. That's a scenario the country hasn't experienced since the 1970s.



Inflation at the wholesale level soared in January, pushed higher by rising costs for food, energy and medicine. The monthly increase carried the annual inflation rate to its fastest jump in a quarter century.
The Labor Department said Tuesday that wholesale prices rose 1 percent last month, more than double the 0.4 percent increase that economists had been expecting.
The January surge left wholesale prices rising by 7.5 percent over the past 12 months, the fastest pace in more than 26 years, since prices had risen at a 7.5 percent pace in the 12 months ending in October 1981.
The number of homes facing foreclosure jumped 57 percent in January compared to a year ago, with lenders increasingly forced to take possession of homes they couldn't unload at auctions, a mortgage research firm said Monday.
Nationwide, some 233,001 homes received at least one notice from lenders last month related to overdue payments, compared with 148,425 a year earlier, according to Irvine, Calif.-based RealtyTrac Inc. Nearly half of the total involved first-time default notices.
The worsening situation came despite ongoing efforts by lenders to help borrowers manage their payments by modifying loan terms, working out long-term repayment plans and other actions
U.S. home prices lost 8.9 percent in the final quarter of 2007, Standard & Poor's said Tuesday, marking a full year of declining values and the steepest drop in the 20-year history of its housing index.
"We reached a somber year-end for the housing market in 2007," said one of the index's creators Robert Shiller. "Home prices across the nation and in most metro areas are significantly lower than where they were a year ago. Wherever you look things look bleak."
The S&P/Case-Shiller home price indices, which include a quarterly index, a 20-city index and a 10-city index, reflect year-over-year declines in 17 metropolitan areas with double-digit declines in eight of them.
By 2017, total health care spending will double to more than $4 trillion a year, accounting for one of every $5 the nation spends, the federal government projects.
The 6.7 percent annual increase in spending — nearly three times the rate of inflation_ will be largely driven by higher prices and an increased demand for care, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services said Monday. Other factors in the mix include a growing and aging population. The first wave of baby boomers become eligible for Medicare beginning in 2011.
With the aging population, the federal government will be picking up the tab for a growing share of the nation's medical expenses. Overall, federal and state governments accounted for about 46 percent of health expenditures in 2006. That percentage will increase to 49 percent over the next decade.

Racing between OPEC meetings in Vienna, Saudi Arabia's powerful oil minister Ali Al-Naimi told a reporter that the cartel was "determined" to keep the price of oil at around $25 a barrel, rather than risk a slump in the market by boosting its production.

Wait a minute. $25? Al-Naimi said that in April 2003 — less than five years ago — when a barrel of oil cost one-quarter of this week's whopping $100, and when prices were regarded as high enough to keep oil-rich countries happy. Which begs the question: How long will the price of oil remain sky-high?
Judging by the analysts' predictions, it could be several years. "Prices are going to be significantly higher," says John V. Mitchell, an OPEC expert and associate fellow at Chatham House in London. That realization deepened this week when OPEC president, Algeria's Oil Minister Chakib Khelil, rebuffed President Bush's appeal for OPEC to boost production, and so help avert a U.S. recession by easing oil prices on the world market. Instead Khelil said that production quotas for its 13 members — who supply about 40% of the world's oil — will "either decrease or be stable" when OPEC oil ministers next meet in Vienna on March 5. Adding to the jitters over the world's oil supplies was an explosion on Monday at a refinery in Big Spring, Texas, which halted its 67,000-barrel-a-day output, and could shut the facilty for two months. And even before then a bitter wrangle between Venezuela's oil officials and ExxonMobil over a rich oil field, as well as rebel action in the Niger Delta, had raised fears that oil supplies could be seriously interrupted.
But analysts say that the problems date back years, and could take several more years to fix. When oil prices were low during the 1980s and 1990s, big oil companies and governments decided it was not worth investing in new oil fields or in building thousands more oil refineries — projects which cost billions of dollars, and can take about seven years of work before any new oil is sold. That decision turned out to be a bad miscalculation, say analysts. It ignored the biggest factor which has sent the world's oil demand soaring — the economic boom in China, and to a lesser extent India. "No one saw this coming down the line 10 years ago," says Harry Tchilinguirian, senior oil market analyst for BNP Paribas in London. "You have to look at where demand growth is. Everyone looks West of the Suez Canal. But in fact all the action is happening East of that."
The price may also be affected by something a little more volatile: the action on Wall Street, where investors have poured money into the New York Mercantile Exchange, trading oil contracts — what analysts call "paper barrels" — in search of quick profits. "People are looking at oil as a hedge against inflation," says David Kirsch, an analyst for PFC Energy in Washington. He believes that with so many factors in play, "it's a fool's errand to calculate how much that's affecting the price of oil."
U.S. officials and the Paris-based International Energy Agency predict that oil demand will ease off this year with weaker economies in the United States and Europe. But while Americans and Europeans wince these days while filling their tanks, people in China and many other countries buy gas at heavily subsidized prices, says John Waterlow, an analyst at Wood Mackenzie, a business analysis firm headquartered in Edinburgh. "It is not being sold at market rates," he says. Meanwhile, with the high prices in the United States — still the world's biggest consumer of energy — oil companies are finally scrambling to lock in exploration contracts in key growth areas like the Caspian Sea, Canada and the West coast of Africa.
That new oil could take years to start flowing. And so oil prices are likely to remain high for years, and "could go higher, at least temporarily," says Waterlow. He says that if prices continue rising OPEC ministers will need to calculate whether to increase production and help avoid a deep U.S. recession — one lasting enough to ripple across the world, and hit its new oil-hungry customers in Asia. Until then, investors are likely to keep speculating on high-priced oil, and Al-Naimi, Khelil and others will hold the line, no matter the appeals from Washington.

A key measure of consumer confidence dropped significantly in February, to the lowest level in more than 14 years, amid mounting concerns about jobs and slowing business activity.

Consumers claiming business conditions are "bad" rose to 21.8% from 20%, while those claiming business conditions are "good" decreased to 18.5% from 20.7%.
"With so few consumers expecting conditions to turnaround in the months ahead, the outlook for the economy continues to worsen and the risk of a recession continues to increase," said Lynn Franco, director of The Conference Board Consumer Research Center, in a statement.
The group's Expectations Index declined to 57.9 from 69.6, the lowest measure in more than 17 years.
Interest rates: The new conundrum
The news cams after a government report showed wholesale prices, measured by the Producer Price Index (PPI), increased more than expected on rising food, energy, and drug prices. Retailers including Home Depot (HD, Fortune 500) and Target (TGT, Fortune 500) also released weak earnings reports earlier in the day.
"Prices are extremely strong from rising PPI numbers, consumers are shopping for discounts, and gasoline prices are rising," said Anika Khan, economist with Wachovia. "There have been lots of signs of economic uncertainty that have led to lower consumer confidence."
The Present Situation Index registered 100.6, down from 114.3, according to the Conference Board.
"The weakening in consumers' assessment of current conditions, fueled by a combination of less favorable business conditions and a sharp rise in the number of consumers saying jobs are hard to get, suggests that the pace of growth in early 2008 has slowed even further," said Franco.
Consumers expecting business conditions to worsen over the next six months increased to 21.4% from 16.3%, while those anticipating business conditions to improve decreased to 9.5% from 11.6%.
The percent of consumers expecting fewer jobs in the months ahead rose to 27.9% from 21.5%, while those anticipating more jobs declined to 9% from 10.5%.
The percentage of consumers saying jobs are "hard to get" rose to 23.8% from 20.6%, while those claiming jobs are "plentiful" fell to 20.6% from 23.8% in December.
"With the credit crunch and the housing market in turmoil, consumers are very worried about a weaker job market right now," said Khan.
Consumer confidence, which constitutes nearly three-quarters of all U.S. economic activity, has been closely watched by investors hoping to determine what direction the economy is headed.
The government is pulling out the stops to avert a recession this year. But there are signs that a protracted slowdown may be unavoidable - and that efforts to goose the economy may make matters worse.
It's clear that with food and energy prices rising sharply, many people are having trouble making ends meet - which is why government officials are acting decisively.
The rush to action suggests time is of the essence. But even with quick action to boost the amount of money floating around the economy, it's far from clear that the government's initiatives can overcome the growth-slowing effects of an overburdened consumer and a capital-impaired banking system.
Howard Simons, a strategist at Bianco Research in Chicago, warns that while the rate-cutting and stimulus plans are well intentioned, they are unlikely to result in a recovery any time soon. He says a look at currency markets suggests the U.S. economy is on the path to repeating Japan's so-called lost decade - the years of economic stagnation that followed the 1989 peak in stock and property prices. The problem, he says, is the weakening dollar.
And that's why the government's attempt to save the economy could actually be damaging it. Lower rates and more government spending tend to undermine the value of the dollar, which has already fallen sharply in recent years. By reducing interest rates even further, the Fed's rate-cutting policy invites hedge funds and other investors to participate in the so-called dollar carry trade - the practice of borrowing money at low U.S. rates for the sake of investing the proceeds in countries with higher interest rates, and pocketing the difference.
The dollar carry trade hurts the United States in two ways. First, it adds to pressure on the value of the dollar, because carry traders borrow in dollars and then sell the dollars to invest the proceeds in other, higher-yielding currencies. A weaker dollar reduces Americans' purchasing power. Second, dollars borrowed to invest in euros or Canadian loonies aren't available to be invested in U.S. enterprises. This deprives the economy of needed capital in the same way that overseas ownership of U.S. assets tends to enrich foreigners rather than U.S. citizens.
"The implications of this are very negative," says Simons. He says that by repeatedly cutting rates in the face of negative economic data, the Fed "is trying to do the right thing," but the "cumulative effect will end up being hideously negative." He warns that rate cuts and stimulus don't feed real economic growth. Meanwhile, inflation is on the rise - and keeping rates low is likely to leave the United States "in a seriously inflationary mode."
Of course, deciding just what course the Fed should be steering now isn't easy. Thanks to the massive global economic imbalances of recent years,developing nations such as China have been effectively subsidizing U.S. overconsumption, Brownstein notes. He says getting the U.S. economy back on its feet will take years of painful work -- starting with Americans admitting their mistakes and trying to live within their means. But no one should expect that process to be easy or pain-free, Brownstein adds.
You might expect Jim Rogers to be gloating a little bit. After all, the famed investor has been predicting a recession in the U.S. economy for months and shorting the shares of now-tanking Wall Street investment banks for even longer. And with fears of a recession sparking both a worldwide market sell-off and emergency action from Federal Reserve chairman Ben Bernanke, Rogers again looks prescient - just as he has over the past few years as the China-driven commodities boom he predicted almost a decade ago began kicked into high gear. But when I reached him by phone in Singapore the other day there was little hint of celebration in his voice. Instead, he took a serious tone.
"I'm extremely worried," he says. "I have been for a while, but I just see things getting much worse this time around than I expected." To Rogers, a longtime Fed critic, Bernanke's decision to ride to the market's rescue with a 75-basis-point cut in the Fed's benchmark rate only a week before its scheduled meeting (at which time they cut it another 50 basis points) is the latest sign that the central bank isn't willing to provide the fiscal discipline that he thinks the economy desperately needs.
"Conceivably we could have just had recession, hard times, sliding dollar, inflation, etc., but I'm afraid it's going to be much worse," he says. "Bernanke is printing huge amounts of money. He's out of control and the Fed is out of control. We are probably going to have one of the worst recessions we've had since the Second World War. It's not a good scene."
Rogers looks at the Fed's willingness to add liquidity to an already inflationary environment and sees the history of the 1970s repeating itself. Does that mean stagflation? "It is a real danger and, in fact, a probability."
Where he expects the pain to be most intense is on Wall Street. He says he hasn't covered his short positions on the investment banks or Citigroup (C, Fortune 500) and won't for a while. "Those things are going to go way, way, way down," says Rogers. "The investment banks are down now because of the problems in the credit market. Wait until the effects of the bear market come along. If you just go back and look at other bear markets, investment bank stocks have gone down enormously. We haven't gotten to that stage yet. It's going to bring their balance sheets under duress. This is going to get much worse. But that's where there have been excesses for the past decade or so. And whenever you have a bear market come along the great excesses of the previous period are the ones that get cleaned out the most."
He'll be watching - from Singapore.
Indeed, currency analysts at Merrill Lynch wrote this week that they expect the dollar to fall further if the Fed continues to cut rates. The analysts write that they see dollar negatives in the "the erosion of the [dollar] as a safe haven, the lack of private sector buying, central bank flows and a widening interest rate differential." The worries about the strength of the dollar point to the Achilles heel of the U.S. economy: the fact that U.S. consumers have been financing their consumption by borrowing cheaply overseas.
At some point, observers warn, foreigners will stop wanting to send their money, which will drive up interest rates and hurt economic growth. "The ability of the financial authorities to stimulate the economy is constrained by the unwillingness of the rest of the world to accumulate additional dollar reserves," financier George Soros wrote this week in the Financial Times. "If federal funds were lowered beyond a certain point, the dollar would come under renewed pressure and long-term bonds would actually go up in yield. Where that point is, is impossible to determine. When it is reached, the ability of the Fed to stimulate the economy comes to an end." That's a worrisome thought indeed.
Meanwhile, Hamilton says that even with real estate prices poised to keep falling for some time, inflation worries can't be deferred forever. He says the Fed "may have to wrestle with that beast" down the road and warns that even if it's possible for the Fed to cut interest rates further, Bernanke and his colleagues should be careful about heading down the road toward 1 percent rates. "Anything below 2.5 percent would have me worried," he says. Cutting rates more sharply runs the risks of "sowing the seeds for the next problem" in the economy, Hamilton adds - very much as the Fed's low-rate policy during the recovery of 2003 and 2004 fed the housing bubble that is now deflating.
The decline in residential real estate accelerated though the end of 2007, and home prices in 20 key markets plunged 9.1% for the year, according to a survey released Tuesday.
The S&P Case/Shiller Home Price index showed its largest annual drop in its 20-year history. By comparison, during the 1990-91 recession, home prices fell 2.8%.
Prices dropped faster throughout 2007 with the index recording a 9.1% year-over-year drop in December.
"We reached a somber year-end for the housing market in 2007," said Robert Shiller, Chief Economist at MacroMarkets LLC and co-founder of the index, in a statement. "Home prices across the nation and in most metro areas are significantly lower than where they were a year ago."
All metro areas are now reporting at least four consecutive monthly declines.
Case/Shiller's 10-city index fell even more sharply and finished down 9.8%.
The Case/Shiller indexes compare same-home sale prices. The industry considers them to be among the most accurate snapshots of housing prices.
Of the 20 metro areas examined, all but three posted declines for the year. Miami homes lost 17.5% in value - more than any other metro area - and Las Vegas and Phoenix both had 15.3% declines.

Monday, February 25, 2008

Monday February 25, 2008....I'm back

I remember, as a child, being chided for not THINKING before performing some act that got me in trouble.
“Put on your THINKING CAP!” was another saying used quite often.
THINK before you act!

All these reminders over all these years to always THINK.

Sometimes you need to just BE, without thinking.

Just to sit and be a rock. Just to lie back and watch the clouds roll by. Just to float in the ocean wherever the water take you. Sometimes you need to give your mind a vacation. I've been letting my mind just relax while I read voraciously and let the books take me to worlds beyond my imagination. They lead me on without hardly any effort on my part and I find the time has flown by without a worry or an extraneous thought to bother my troubled mind. My mind has been on vacation, not worrying about Iraq or politics or weather catastrophes or crimes against nature or anything beyond my own realm. I have lost my mind in the characters of the books and totally relaxed my thoughts. It's been good.

But now I must collect my THOUGHTS and make my PLANS for the future and get back to the stark realities of the present world. I have to put my THINKING CAP back on.

It was nice to lose my mind for a bit and take a slight vacation.

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Wednesday February 13, 2008...Fraility


It's harder, as you get older, to give up the strength and abilities of youth, but it is something that everyone has to do eventually. Your body grows older and more frail with age. Sometimes disease will accelerate the process and you will find yourself weaker in just a short frame of time. It's difficult for the mind to admit that the body can't do everything that it used to do without question. The mind generally keeps gaining more knowledge and wisdom, but the body peaks out in the twenties and slowly loses it's abilities over the years. What you could do, just a few years ago, you can't begin to try now without pain. So, you learn from your body signals and adjust your activities. Your mind takes a more active part in your actions and weighs what is needed against what is available and hopefully you make a wise choice of action.

It's easier to accept this situation after you reach retirement, because you and those around you don't expect quite as much physical strength from the aging body. But when you are younger and your body is weakened by disease or accident, your mind has a hard time accepting the physical limitations imposed upon your body. You have to approach familiar activities with thought and planning and find tools to help accomplish those things you were once able to do manually. You find that you are unable to “suck it up” and absorb the pain and continue on. You must admit your weaknesses and plan your life from a new perspective. Actually, there is a feeling of accomplishment by doing a job well and using your mind to help your body. It becomes a puzzle to solve “how to do this without hurting myself”. Wisdom eventually wins out over brute strength and age helps bring the wisdom.

Friday, January 25, 2008

Friday January 25, 2008...Long forgotten veterans

When I was in grade school, our principal had some war veterans stand up before an assembly - they were veterans of the Spanish-American War. This was about 1949 so these veterans would have been young men back in 1898 and about 70 years old when I saw them. I would venture to say that no one now knows any of the relevant facts of why those boys fought and died in Cuba and the Philippines. That is a war long forgotten now. The last German veteran of World War I just died. Two million German boys died in that war. There are just a few survivors left in the world from The Great War where millions died for some reason now not remembered. The old enemies of that war are now friends and they have new enemies. Wars come and wars go and boys fight and die but the reasons for the war and the fighting and dying are soon forgotten. What a complete waste! Many of those boys would have had good lives and had good jobs and raised good families and maybe a few would have made a great difference in their community. Their blood was left in foreign soil for no long standing good reason. Better to have spoken and negotiated and solved problems and worked at bringing peace than wasting all those lives.
Now every once in a while you get a really obnoxious leader of some foreign country who needs to be knocked down or eliminated, but surely there is a better way than using blunt force and spending thousands of lives. It's so easy to bluster and point fingers and make demands and to put others in harms way and it's so difficult to compromise and speak reasonably with hard headed people, but isn't it worth the effort?

We stumble into so many of these wars without thinking. We helped rebuild Germany after World War I. Our industrialists and business leaders saw an opportunity and helped rebuild the factories in Germany. We helped Saddam in his war with Iran. He was one of our allies. We don't see any further than the nose on our face. We have no long range vision at all. We helped Bin Laden in his fight in Afghanistan against the evil Russians. We now hate Bin Laden and like the Russians. The Germans and the Japanese were our worst enemies ever in World War II, now they are our best friends. We need someone with a bit more vision guiding our nation through the obstacles ahead - someone who is able to look beyond the next immediate problem and guide us toward a safer course.

We need someone to help us end wars and avoid future wars. We don't need any more veterans of forgotten wars to remind us of our short-sightedness.

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Thursday January 24, 2008...What! Me worry?

I figured that the powers that be wouldn't let the market drop too far or to allow us to slip into a major recession quite yet. It wouldn't be politically expedient. Now, after the next election, it will be a completely different situation. Until then, taxes will be lowered, the government printing presses will be pressed into overtime and inflation will be allowed to raise it's ugly head. That way, the Democrats will have a major recession and inflation and unemployment all to deal with at the same time and the Republican can say “See what happens when you elect Democrats?”. I just wish that all politicians would have to leave their party loyalties behind and act for the betterment of all Americans. We are too much a government of parties and special interests and it isn't about the people at all.

Meanwhile we, the people, have some hard knocks ahead. We have overspent ourselves and find ourselves in debt way over our heads, individually and nationally. Inflation will diminish the value of the debt but will hurt us all with higher prices and less jobs. Look ahead to higher energy costs, higher food costs and less availability. A little stocking up now on essentials would not be unwise, but you can't stock up on everything and you can't buy ahead all that you will need. During the great depression, families and friends had to pitch in together to help make it through. Last time we had the government less involved and they were able to help bail us out. This time the government is totally involved from the start and they will fall with us. The almighty dollar may not be so high and mighty when all is said and done.

But who really knows the future? And who can say the past will be repeated once more? Maybe the future will be all lollipops and butterflies and someone will discover a free source of energy and we'll all be able to live free.

That's what dreams are for -- to counteract the nightmares and realities.

Saturday, January 12, 2008

Saturday January 12, 2008...In sickness and in health

Sickness and health, poverty and wealth, birth and death – all a part of life. You never know what life will bring and you don't always enjoy what you have until you don't have it. Once something of value is removed from your life, you realize how important that something was and how much you took it for granted. You know that if you get it back again, you will always appreciate it more, but when you recover from the sickness or climb out of debt you forget too soon the pangs that once you had.

We all know that life holds some dangers in store for us, we just don't know when we will have to face them. We seem to take for granted the good health and whatever wealth we may accrue and forget those times when we had neither. We all know that death ultimately will come and take us away, but we don't cherish each and every day of life that we live.

Winter is a time to reflect on the glorious days of summer, but once summer comes, we will complain about the heat and stay inside. When we are sick, we moan and groan and complain, but when health returns we spend our bodies sometimes unwisely. When we have a little extra money, we seem to fritter it away on unessentials and soon there is no extra. Where did the money go, where did our health go, where did our lives go.

Enjoy the moment. Enjoy what health you have, Enjoy what life you have.
Spend what you have - wisely.

Saturday, January 05, 2008

Saturday January 5, 2008...Holiday is over

It's the beginning of a new year and the holiday season has ended. It's hard to get back in the groove after all the parties and gifts and pleasant times. After the holidays everyone seems to suffer some degree of letdown and we all become a bit reflective. It's time to cast out the old year and start anew with new resolutions and hope that some of the errors of the past won't be repeated this year.

Actually January is a bright and cold time of the year. Spring is far ahead and now the world sleeps in a blanket of frost and snow. We pull the blankets up and cover ourselves to be warm and dream of warmer days. The sun is bright and the air is crisp and the world is silent in the snow and hope lies quietly in the back of our minds and we wait for spring.

Wednesday, January 02, 2008

Wednesday January 2, MMVIII...Not at all.

"My resolution for the New Year is this: to work with Congress to keep our economy growing, to keep your tax burden low, and to ensure that the money you send to Washington is spent wisely -- or not at all," Bush said.

I could have sworn he said "not at all wisely". Isn't that the pattern for the last 7 years? Why break tradition. Why pay for schools and health when we can have a war instead?

Spain was there, France was there, England was there, now we are there - We are the king of the hill. Soon, someone else will be there and we will try to find our new place in the line, much like England has done since World War II.

Once that takes place, our frivolous spending will come back to haunt us and I'm afraid it won't be long now. China and India are gaining momentum.