Saturday, February 28, 2009

Wordzzle 52

Welcome to Raven's Wordzzle Challenge. Stop by and say Hi to Raven and read her stories.

The Ten Word Challenge: Netflix, mortgage, skunk, flagrant, the New York Times, Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy, perpendicular, geometry, crabby, shoveling snow

Mini Challenge: pragmatic, crystal ball, laundry, safflower oil, Gregorian chants

I am instituting a new procedure this week. I flail about each week when I post this to make sure that the challenge words are in bold. I am going to experiment and not make them bold this week. Let me know if it is not satisfactory. If that's the case I will fiddle around finding the words to make them bold.

This weeks episode: Star light Star bright

Dan looked up at the night sky. This far into the desert he was able to view millions of stars in a canopy of light that always reminded him of how insignificant he was. He needed something more than the Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy to make sense of the vast Milky Way and the countless galaxies beyond. "Why does man huddle in huts when this view is available?" he wondered to himself.

He reached out with a stick, poked the glowing embers into life and looked upon the drowsy figure of Carla. The sleeping bag had fallen off her shoulder, exposing the beautiful geometry of her shoulder and breast. The growing firelight flickered off her soft white skin as he leaned down and kissed her neck where it met her shoulder. Carla shuddered awake and smiled. Looking up at his profile she saw the perpendicular evidence of his arousal. "OK sugar, I see why you woke me up" she whispered as he joined her in her sleeping bag.

This morning’s breakfast in the desert was scrambled eggs with veggies and cheese in a soft tortilla. Cooked with just a bit of safflower oil, it was delicious. Kona coffee was the luxury item on the menu. Dan had used the editorial section of the New York Times they brought along for help in starting the mornings fire, figuring nothing said there would affect their days hike. He learned that Carla was a potentially crabby person in the morning if not immediately greeted with coffee, a kiss and the promise of breakfast, in that order. If worked for him as he had never understood or trusted anyone who was too cheerful in the morning.

The air tasted clean with the smallest remnant of a close encounter with a skunk by some unfortunate creature just lingering on a bit. The fire's aroma tinged with mesquite chips and Kona coffee overrode the waning Pepe Le Pew fragrance. The flagrant use of precious and scarce mesquite in the fire was a sop to the indulgence of and respect for the sensibilities of Carla, who came hiking to be with Dan more than experience the outdoors.

Not that she didn't enjoy the clean air and exercise; she just preferred it in small doses without smelly or nasty or dangerous things. And the preserve presented the possibilities for all those. After breakfast and a quick cleanup they decided to investigate the large circle of buzzards in the distance with the idea of not getting too close. Instead they would take pictures of any predators other than the aerial scavengers that were there. One of the things Dan and Carla both enjoyed was photography and this allowed for some great nature shots as well as friendly competition.

Had either of them been able to look into a crystal ball at that moment the hike would have taken a different direction. Of course nothing but the day and adventure were on their minds. While still basking in the leftover endorphins of the previous night's lovemaking, nothing seemed amiss with the world. Both forgot about pragmatic matters like the mortgage, a lost CD owed to Netflix, laundry, shoveling snow (though in truth neither had done this for ages) or the myriad other banalities composing everyday existence. Today they were explorers. More like medieval Spanish conquistadors than modern citizens.

You could almost hear the Gregorian chants in the air as they left the campsite and headed farther into the preserve to check out the cause of the vultures circling in the distance. Dan smiled again at Carla and took the lead up the trail.


Friday, February 27, 2009

Feckless Friday

We have spent another week cruising the Southwestern styled mini-Mc Retirement mansions of Sun Lakes on our bikes. Vicki goes to the "Y" for exercise classes and I work on our pathetic little stock trading account. (Now down 37% YTD) (Aren't I the the frigging Wall Street Wiz?) After the market closes (at 2:00 pm our time) we head out to bike for an hour.

Anyway........ While riding this week on a street in our old neighborhood I noticed a sign clothes pinned to a chair in a previous acquaintance's front yard. My wife and I had spoken with the couple during the time we lived in our old home, but we had never gotten to know them. When we passed by the first time I barely had time to read the sign completely, so I turned and went back.

The sign read: "WHAT CAN WE DO TO HELP AMERICA BECOME A GREAT COUNTRY AGAIN?" About this time the old gentleman came out and we talked for a moment. He said he'd made a smaller sign and framed it. To prove this he went into his home and came back with a framed sign with the same saying. I told him that I appreciated the sentiment and was impressed that he had printed and displayed it. At that point the old man started to break down and I excused myself and said goodbye. I was moved by his passion and strength of feeling.

I wonder how many of us have taken the initiative to stop whining about how bad things seem and start thinking about what we can do to make things better. It sorta sounds like the old 60s quote: "If you're not part of the solution, then you are part of the problem."

It speaks to me about all the folks who are gloom and dooming us to death these days. Wouldn't it be nice to hear more from people with solutions?

What do you think?


Monday, February 23, 2009

Tripped and Fell

For anyone who reads this blog and is currently unemployed here is a place to go. I fell into a great blog today. The site is called UNEMPLOYMENTALITY. It features vlogs, commentary and some funny takes on not having a job. If you're in that boat, like many of us, check it out. It's posted to the sidebar and linked here. Take a chance, you might learn something, be entertained or at the least have a few minutes of thinking about other peoples' problems rather than your own.

While getting back up from the fall into UNEMPLOYMENTALITY I stumbled upon this site called Indexed. I won't attempt to explain it. Just go there and see for yourself.


Sunday, February 22, 2009

Sunday Funnies


My funny bone was tickled elegantly and delightedly by this week's revelation that Schmuck Insanity was still doing Radio ads for serial CD fraudster and minor nobleman Sir Allen Stanford. It seems that Hannity was shilling for the Gold and Bullion company of Stanford's enterprise at the same time he (Stanford) was being sought by the FBI. While tele-moron had been raving all week about socialism, he was practicing a little old school capitalism by representing one of the many Wall street hoods that put us in our current financial pickle. Kudos Shawn and high praise for the masterful use of hypocrisy, greed, incompetence, ignorance and gleeful "without a fucking clue-ness." As SNL new's would say "REALLY."

Next was terminally old and square black dude, Michael Steele, going on about bringing Hip-Hop to the Republican party. The new RNC chairman has brought new meaning to the racist and conservative term "Token Negro." If Obama was accused of not being black enough during the campaign, then what the hell is this guy? As sixties hipsters would say "He's beyond square baby, he's cubed." First the repugnants took a shot at the women's vote with Sarah Palin and now a shot a minorities with Mr. Steele. Again - "REALLY?"

Of course no week's funnies would be complete without some level of minority party insanity. The latest is poverty and Hurricane stricken Louisiana's governor (Yes, he's a republican with ambitions) talking about not taking stimulus money. Cuz New Orleans and the rest of the state are doing so damn good. Right? In our local republican rag, the Arizona Repulsive, some wits wrote in to defend republicans as worthy idealogs and not the obstructive pricks they seem.

So much for all pulling together when we need to. This current group of obstructors reminds me of a child who refuses to take medicine and then whines when he gets sick. No matter what happens we will hear that whatever Obama and his team do is:

1) Not enough
2) Too much
3) Too quick
4) Too slow
5) Lacks sufficient spending
6) Has too much spending
7) Doesn't have enough tax cuts
etc. etc. etc.

You get the picture. After 8 years of Republican incompetence they are mostly just deathly afraid of doing something right. Let's face it, these guys are not used to doing things right. Their legacy of colossal fuck-ups leaves no room for intelligence, competence, foresight, planning and thoughtful action. So we really shouldn't be surprised that the reactionary component of their thought deficient party should be taking the lead. These folks are much better followers than leaders. I mean seriously, if you let your party be positioned and directed by radio talk show hosts, drug addicts and fraud enablers, what do you expect?

Yep, it was another laugh riot this week.


Saturday, February 21, 2009

Wondering why we Wordzzle? Here's reason 51

Stop by the Raven's Nest and check it all out.

This week’s words below:

The Ten Word Challenge: spring fever, coyote, Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, birds of a feather, broken camera, artificial flavoring, cane, garage, ask and it is given, gay

Mini Challenge: glorious, sugar and spice, premature baldness, gargoyles, campaign trail

This weeks episode: Flying High

Edward Darion Jemison III was a very good accountant. He had worked for a large and powerful California Real Estate syndicate for 6 years. He was single, dated some, but mostly just for the sex. He liked numbers, especially big numbers and he made sure that the big numbers coming in to the syndicate looked much smaller when they went out. He was so into his own thing and so essentially nerdy that many ladies in the office thought him gay. His premature baldness didn't help him any either.

A couple of young ladies that had dated him found out in glorious fashion that he was not. Indeed he made love in a most interesting manner, sort of a sugar and spice and everything nice fashion that satisfied and surprised. Partly due to his relative shyness and low profile and partly because he paid very well, he was surprised when his boss came to him with a bonus field trip.

The purpose of the outing was to look at property on the Arizona border and stop in Laughlin for a little gambling.If nothing else it would act as an early antidote for Spring Fever. Though the boss and Edward were not birds of a feather when it came to risking capital, Edward used his love of numbers to help him at the Blackjack tables. His boss had assured him that they would take the Casinos for a bundle, just like Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid.

As they left the airport Edward was treated to a glorious view of the great central valley of California.
"This is a great helicopter Mr. Hollingsworth" Edward gushed. "You haven't seen anything yet Edward" Hollingsworth replied, "Wait till we get out over the Desert and we can open the doors, it's really something." We used this chopper to distribute leaflets when my brother was on the campaign trail for the legislature" he added. "Why do you open the doors over the Desert Mr. Hollingsworth?" asked Edward. "Well Edward, Sarah Palin's got nothing on me; we take a few shots at a Coyote or two if we get the chance." "And there's a lot more Coyotes than Wolves" Hollingsworth added.

Hollingsworth showed Edward how to position himself at the doorway when it was opened, advising him to always keep one hand on the safety strap. As the chopper entered the air space over the Desert Preserve they prepared to slow down and lose altitude for the open door run. The door was opened at about 1500 feet and Edward took up his post at the door. He placed his right hand on the safety strap and leaned out to look straight down.

He would have screamed if he hadn't been so surprised by the next thing that happened. The strap came off the fuselage in his hand and he pitched forward out the door with the desert floor rushing up at him. He was calculating his rate of fall and speed (max speed 120 mph or 2 miles per minute; fifteen hundred feet slightly less than a third of a mile, therefore - under 20 seconds till impact) when he hit the ground. The impact killed him but not instantly. His face contorted in horror at the pain and fear of the impact and fall. The look left on his dying face resembled that of some gargoyles seen on medieval cathedrals or as if in a picture taken by a broken camera.

Hollingsworth looked to his pilot and winked "Ask and it is given" he whispered to himself. Another link in the chain broken. "Let's head back in and put the chopper in the garage" he ordered. What Hollingsworth called a garage was really a decent sized hangar that happened to house some of his cars as well as a corporate jet, two helicopters, a speed boat and his collection of Harleys. "Make sure the logbook shows no flight time today and don't forget to reconnect the hour meter on the engine" he finished. "Sure boss" the pilot replied. Even though he was Hollingsworth's nephew he kept it professional. He'd seen what happened to employees that didn't.

Upon arriving at his compound Hollingsworth exited the Chopper using his cane only slightly now. The previous spring's motorcycle accident had badly damaged his leg and caused him much embarrassment. That would soon be put to rest. This handling of this last detail had removed all but the most elusive links to him. He could almost taste the sweetness of his coming coup. Like the pure taste of fresh strawberries on crepes (no tacky artificial flavoring for him), a brandy after with a good cigar and an L.A. hottie in his bed. Yes, there would be no one laughing at him now.


Friday, February 20, 2009

Feckless Friday

As my wife and I take our daily bike ride through the canyons created by the stuccoed and tile roofed manses of Sun Lakes, it is hard to remember that a great portion of our world is in distress.

If you listen to the gloom and doom on the internet or God forbid Fox News or CNBC, where the latest Telli-idiot became famous for yelling at Obama for trying to help out homeowners, then you are probably waiting on the end of the world.

Surely the truth of our situation falls somewhere in between the insulated security of the pensioners in my community and the angst of California homeowners in the central valley.

Our current administration, less than a month old by the way, is already being blamed for the continuing financial crisis by the very same people who created it. Ain't that a hoot.

Wall street, investors and financial types in general are bitching and moaning about new policy on one hand, while shorting the market in historic levels on the other. These shits will make money no matter what, cause the game is always fixed in their favor. I am unable to feel the least bit of sympathy for them.

The term market wisdom was used this week. If you have been in the market these past few months; then you know this to be an obvious oxymoron. It has become nothing but scared and stupid. It was before and it's worse now. As an example, PriceLine.Com is trading at $80 a share and Caterpillar is trading at $26 and change. Clearly we have no respect in this country for companies that actually make anything. The fate of Ford and GM stock is a perfect example.

I have given up on listening to the market twits. It's turned into a big crapshoot and so far I've been rolling snakeyes.

The minority party is having fun obstructing any type of relief for the citizens on both a national and state level. In my state of Arizona the budget was balanced by gutting the education budget. We rank number 49 out of 50 in the country in education. Go figure.

On our nations airwaves, both TV and Radio, the right wingnuts have gone into hypercrazy. One individual is calling our government both socialist and fascist at the same time. It is apparent this person doesn't understand the two words he's using. Other McCrazies go off on daily binges of mental illness as the feeling moves them. The one thing they all have in common is no solutions or positive thoughts. Few are denying the need for action, they just don't know what it is we should be doing.

I am on the fence about current events. I voted for this guy and his program and am willing to give it a chance to produce some results. I also understand that what took decades to evolve is not going to turn around overnight. The question in my mind is what is the value in hoping for the worst? Yet it is clear that a segment of our population and a good portion of the investor class are doing exactly that. You've got to ask yourself how that makes them money. When you see the answer it ain't pretty.

Remember the quote from Rahm Emmanuel about not letting a crisis go to waste? Well that works for the forces of evil as well. This financial turn down is a tremendous opportunity for wealth consolidation for people picking up bargains and an opportunity for the marginal and hurting to be forced to sell assets at huge losses just to get by. Picture Pottersvilles throughout our nation and you begin to understand the worst case scenario that the doom sellers are seeking.

OK, so that's not gonna happen, right? Then why are we acting like it is?


Sunday, February 15, 2009

Sunday Funnies

After this weeks miserable performance by the minority party on the stimulus bill I have come to a conclusion. They just ain't into Barack. Ok, great, we get it.

Still we will need their help in putting sufficient capital into our economy. So, how do we achieve that you ask?

Here's my plan:

Let's invade New York; specifically Wall Street. I'm thinking about 3 to 4 hundred thousand troops. Specially trained troops that is, like accountants, forensic bookkeepers and economists. They will of course require legions of support personnel and material which will be supplied by all the other states in the union.

Even Hawaii and Alaska will have their chance. Macadamia nuts from the big island, Kona coffee by the tons and even some Maui Wowee for the free spirited folks who'll be pulling all nighters for the next 6 or 8 years to untangle the mess on Wall Street.

We'll fund it just like Iraq, about 10 -12 billion per month. That should put over 8 trillion dollars into the economy during the next 8 years. Even guys like Krugman think that's enough. Maybe even Dr. Doom and the Black Swan will get on board.

To make sure of Republican support we'll call it the WAR ON THE RECESSION. GOPers love making war on concepts and lifestyles and such. They really haven't had a war of any sort they didn't support since Bosnia.

I can see Representative Boner on the house floor now calling for more funding for the scourge or is that surge. Anyway the war will be waged in unending fashion for the foreseeable future. There will be no exit strategy and perhaps we can get Hilary to go before some international body and make up a bunch of shit about the bankers. Though I'm hard pressed to imagine how fiction could outdo the excesses of reality.

Anyway... As soon as we loose international support and the trust and respect of the other nations of our world, we then jump feet first into the WAR ON THE RECESSION. Armed troops in front of Goldman Sachs. Special forces missions into the deserted and insurgent ridden headquarters of Lehman Brothers and a task force for the demons of Citicorp.

Back in the remaining states industries are gearing up. Paper mills and factories spring into action to make billions of legal sized yellow lined tablets for the accountants on the front line. Eraser factories work 3 shifts. Dell, IBM and Cray come together to complete the super computer of super computers into which all the data from the front lines will be fed.

Weekly reports will be simulcast on the new broadband network, required by Presidential Decree under the war powers act. People will be recruited aggressively in all the states to wire homes and businesses. Factories will spring up to create the wire and hardware needed for the effort. Mass transit will be a necessity as gas is rationed during the war effort.

In place of Rita the Riveter from WWII, wives will fill plants making parts for Mag-Lev trains, Hybrid buses and anti - EMP armament for every computer in the country.

Ah yes my fellow citizens, bipartisanship is just a war away.


Saturday, February 14, 2009

Wordzzle 50

Welcome to the Wordzzle and Happy Valentines Day lovebirds.

Go by the Raven's Nest and get all the scoop. If you feel like it, check out this weeks offering of the ongoing series "Laughlin."

This Week's Ten (9 really) (Let's face it, we're writers and math isn't our strong suite) Word Challenge: ubiquitous, do you see what I see, getting a word in edgewise, wild goose chase, grandmother of five, Freemasons, Pacific Paradise, everything and nothing, insanity prevails

Mini Challenge: shortening the distance, it’s all about bloggers, the Fortress at Pigeon Falls, finding Pam, a raven’s nest

This Weeks Episode: In the Desert

Dan and Carla had taken the Bronco as far as they could into the Mohave Desert. Dan parked the Bronco under a Palo Verde tree and locked it up. They would hike another 8 miles through the desert amid the ubiquitous sagebrush and creosote bushes. Dan whispered softly to Carla "Do you see what I see?" He pointed up the hill towards the top of the ridge. A coyote was trotting away and had stopped to look back. "I see it" she stated, "must be the welcome committee" she joked.

Dan shouldered his pack and waited while Carla did the same. They headed up the trail towards a campsite many hills away. Each dodged rocks, cacti and the occasional lizard that scampered off the trail as they approached. Dan used his compass and a dog-eared trail map to keep the hike from becoming a wild goose chase rather than a measured trek to a welcome resting place.

The couple spoke as one or the other spotted a plant or animal or vista of interest. It was a paced conversation, more about the hike than the words. There was never a worry about getting a word in edgewise. Often they would go for an hour without a word. The expanse of the desert made it hard to believe that just a few hundred miles over the Sierra Nevadas was the Pacific Paradise of southern California. The hike gave them good exercise and the ability to speak of everything and nothing.

Carla told Dan about a couple she'd meet on the Casino floor. They were from Phoenix and had just moved back to Arizona. They were in their early sixties and retired, but only due to circumstances and not desire. They'd saved some money, sold a house and were celebrating their 22nd anniversary. The husband was in the process of writing a book about the Freemasons in early Arizona history and the wife was involved with developmentally disabled adults. In addition she was a grandmother of five. "Insanity prevails when the grandkids visit" the woman had told her.

After making a steady pace till lunch it was obvious to Dan they were shortening the distance to their objective. By his reckoning and the trail map they would make it to the campsite well before dark, leaving plenty of time to set up camp and gather firewood. Dan and Carla took their time over lunch and leisurely took up the hike after a meal of tortillas with meat and vegetable fillings.

Both noted the increase in rock formations as they neared their destination. Carla noted that a group of large upturned boulders looked like "the Fortress at Pigeon Falls" as she called it. "Where's Pigeon Falls?" Dan asked. "Oh, it's in the basement of the author of this blog I read" she replied. "Well, I guess it's all about bloggers" he laughed as they worked their way through the boulders. "You would be surprised what you can learn from blogs Dan" she said. "I read a couple more you'd like." "One is called Finding Pam and the other is a Raven's Nest." "Both add to my knowledge and keep me interested" Carla finished.

"They keep you interesting too" Dan added. "Thanks Sugar, but I know what keeps you interested and it ain't on the internet" she quipped. "Surely you know that I love your mind as much as your body" Dan replied. They smiled at each other and continued along the trail. Dan noted a circle of buzzards high in the sky in the distance. Maybe they'd investigate tomorrow if they felt like it, though it could be farther away than they wished to walk.


Friday, February 13, 2009

Feckless Friday

Question: Are all politicians liars or all liars politicians?

Answer: It's getting harder and harder to tell!

Recent claims by congress and senate seat holders have everyone wondering what the truth about the stimulus package really is; including me and I spend a great deal of time informing myself on this and other political and economic issues.

Most agree some form of spending is required to boost our lagging economy. Most, not all, cuz good ole tax cuts are still being pimped as stimulative. My spouse asked this question: What good is a tax cut if you have no income?

The $789 billion stimulus bill currently in conference is almost 1/3 tax cuts. I don't see how that will help as much as creating jobs, any jobs, to put people back to work.

I am disappointed with the bickering, back-biting and lack of cooperation and common sense used in creating something that may well be vital to the health of this nation. The idealogs have won the day and the rest of us get screwed.

The congress is still worth more when out of session.


Sunday, February 8, 2009

Sunday Funnies

Question: How many senators does it take to screw in a light bulb?

Answer: 60 - the others will argue the light is not really out, or who needs light anyway or shouldn't we give a tax break to the utility or the shareholders.

The senate took up the debate on the stimulus package this week and mucho hilarity ensued. One barely lit bulb of the Republican variety entertained the crowd with visual aids showing the height in miles of a stack of a trillion dollar bills, then converted it to the number of times it would go around the world.

It's unclear if he really meant this world, cause it's hard to tell what planet this dude is from.

The funniest part of this week's shenanigans was the Republicans getting a concern for fiscal responsibility after 8 years of burning cash like it was sawdust. After overseeing the largest transfer of wealth from the poor to the rich in history, they now get religion. Hardee, Har, Har.

Those lovable goofballs. They're probably just kidding. They really do want to help the country. They're not really just interested in covering their oversize butts and getting elected to another term by Limbaugh listening to, White power advocate, diversity hating, neo-fascist knuckleheads. No, not the fun boys of the GOP senate. They're just pulling our legs, right?

I have had to laugh at the antics involved with this week's politics. It seems apparent that the now minority party has a plan and it's all about stalling, blocking, and generally obstructing any real progress. They were able to screw things up royally while in power and they will not allow the opposition party to fix it and make them look worse.

Yea, it's hilarious, in a sick, pathetic, moronic, sad, pussy-ass, whiny, and sniveling kind of way. I watched my state's senator McCain lament the lack of bi-partisanship and cooperation. He stated they weren't being included enough and though the Republicans had done the same thing in the previous administration, it was no time for the Democrats to do the same. Boo, Hoo, Hoo

I shed a small tear for his change in condition from omnipotence to impotence and moved on. There is a term for the Republicans as currently constituted. It's called IRRELEVANT.

Now I've already stated that the Stimulus package is flawed, but it's flawed in the wrong way. It has too many tax cuts that won't create jobs or get people spending and not enough real infrastructure spending that will do the job. The screwed up thing about this is the whiny party wanted less spending and more tax cutting; Cuz is worked so well during the last 8 years.

I am soooo happy these turds aren't running things anymore, though they will do their best to ruin any legislation. They are deathly afraid of Democratic success, so much so that their true leader has openly wished for the president's failure. What a rousing recommendation for their policies and practices. Heehehe

Yup, it was altogether a regular laugh factory on Capitol Hill this week.


P.S. As of this writing it looks like a compromise bill is forthcoming, though it still has to be reconciled with the house version and passed. More whining and grandstanding to come for sure.

Saturday, February 7, 2009

Wordzzle 49 and a great year to be born

10 Word Challenge: author, Wall Street, rage, lemons, channel changer, cookies and milk, candelabra, Pine Cone Motel, illusory, fluffer-doodle.

Mini challenge: war, wooden shoes, flabbergast, chimera, vodka martini

So you've decided to Wordzzle? Ok then, run on over to the Raven's Nest and check out the guidelines, read her stories, get on Mr. Linky and read the others, then take a chance at this one.

While here you'll be enveloped in the ongoing Wordzzle Series, "Laughlin." For those of you not familiar with the riverside Nevada town, it can best described as a small blue collar Vegas, back in the 70s.

This week's episode: The wonders of technology

The beauty of using the internet was the ability to access information from all over the world. Indeed, the power would flabbergast even the most technical minded of just a couple of decades ago. The current user of this modern marvel was focusing on the news in the small town of Laughlin, Nevada. From the user's perspective in Almond Bay, French Guiana, the small dusty gambling spot was a dim vision of the past.

It was interesting to read of the local murders and deaths there, having been the author of at least part of the mayhem. Too bad about Benny, just happened to be in the wrong place at the wrong time. As for the other two murder victims, well, actions had their consequences didn’t they?

With that out of the way, the damage done by the Wall Street crisis took the user's attention just long enough to execute a couple of trades. Then it was cookies and milk before bed. Some stateside habits weren't broken easily in spite of the much more European feel and culture of French Guiana. The great thing about being here was the countryside of South America and the culture of France. The user would soon learn to finish the night off with a Vodka Martini in lieu of more pedestrian fare.

Half a world away, Captain Jenkins was briefing his team on the latest news on the two women found murdered in his town, not including the unlucky accident victims from the night before. He had spent the first part of the morning misinforming the media, including leaking that the young lady killed at the Denny’s in Needles had been registered as a guest at the Pine Cone Motel in Wickenburg and it was currently unknown how she came to be in the restaurant.

It would later be found out the girl in question was Eloise Pinkton not the deceased Eloise Pinckton. A very lucky break had alerted him to a likeness in names and allowed some diffusion of the media interest even if it was in reality a Chimera of great magnitude. Sometimes it paid to read the morning reports after all.

He would have the clerk explain it later as a small paper work fluffer-doodle, figuring the attention span of the widow would have lapsed. The father-in-law was another thing entirely. Jenkins had early and frequent communications with Domino Gilbretto and they worked together to save the feelings of the now widowed young Angelica. With that behind him he could now turn his attention to the briefing and the new data.

“Folks, I think most of you know Dan Griggs, he’ll be consulting with us on this case." "The identity of the first Jane Doe has been verified as Denise Fisher." Captain Jenkins went on to tell the group that she had been employed as the personal assistant to Connie Liplin. The second victim was presumed to be Connie Liplin, but positive ID had been delayed. It seemed there were no dental records available and the body had been mutilated externally and internally, including the removal of the fingers.

If both murders were connected and had been done by the same perpetrator, then the rage or psychosis that drove this individual had certainly escalated. This was the reason that Griggs had been brought on board. During his tenure at the Tacoma PD he'd been the lead detective on a serial killer case there. The odd thing was the similarity of the internal injuries. It could be coincidence, but it would help to have his expertise till leads were developed.

“We are going to work on the premise that we are looking for an individual or a pair of individuals responsible for both these murders” he continued. “At least that’s the working hypothesis at this point, given the injuries.” The captain finished out the meeting by splitting the group up into teams doing background on each victim, the businesses involved, the crime scenes and a tech guy to research national perpetrators. He concluded with the reminder that if more women were found there would be a good chance the FBI would come in with their own team as well. “Let’s get a grip on this before we end up with the Feds crawling all over our city folks.”

A few hundred miles away in Los Angeles the head of a major real estate investment syndicate lounged in luxury and splendor in his Malibu mansion. The stylish McMansion was tastefully decorated. There was not a cheesy candelabra in site. Having just hung up with the latest cause for concern, he picked up the channel changer and brought up his favorite program, “Californication” on the big screen. His private war on the dupes and chumps would have to wait for a while. Let them bask in the illusory security of their tiny little houses and meaningless little lives. There would be no making lemonade out of the lemons he had coming their way. Just a few more weeks and he could start in earnest to reap the rewards of his plan.

Currently; the Fed, Congress and the White House were attempting to stop the flow of new foreclosures and short sales, but unlike the little Dutch boy with wooden shoes who stuck his finger in the dike to stop a flood, no one would be able to stop the deluge of costs, fees, defaults and short sales coming. And he would be there to pick up the houses, malls, shops, stores, restaurants and raw land at rock bottom prices. Indeed in most cases he would be the only one who had access to these sweet deals. When you owned both sides of a transaction it was easy to control the outcome.


Thursday, February 5, 2009

A good George!

Last night I watched the Mark Twain awards show on our local PBS station. The recipient (posthumously) was George Carlin.

A variety of comedians took the stage to reminisce about their experiences with and about George Carlin and his humor.

A lot was said and many clips were shown highlighting his talent, his innovative style and his use of the English language. George Carlin was a believer in precise speech, he deplored euphemisms and continually spoke out against phony political and business rhetoric. He was especially good at satirizing Madison Avenue.

I loved him for his ability to take the simplest thing and turn it into both subtle and blatant commentary on our culture, our society, our spirituality and our politics. He was a genius at this process.

I watched a clip last year in which he unloaded on business and government as one collusional bunch of crooks and liars and worse. It was the bitterest bit I'd ever see him do. I believe that he must have known that his time was limited and he was frustrated at not getting his message out to more people.

He spent his whole life making fun of who we are and what we do in most creative ways. From the hippy-dippy weatherman on his first appearance on Carson to the great poetic peaces using today's buzz words from the advertising industry he was always relative and always provocative.

A lot of people from my generation remember him for the "7 Words you can't say on TV." While the bit is hilarious, it doesn't seem as relevant to us today because a lot of us use those words in everyday speech. (Me more than most when I get mad) At the time he did this routine it was very funny and very relevant.

I watched the comedians' demeanors last night as they spoke about Carlin and was both surprised and pleased to note that the only one that almost broke down (not once, but twice) was Lewis Black, surely the most profane and outspoken of our modern day stand-up comics.

George Carlin must have been one hell of guy to get Black close to tears. I think we've all been enriched by the time Carlin spent with us on this earth and I hope we'll understand that guys like him only come along once in a lifetime.

Here's a little something to remember him by:


Tuesday, February 3, 2009

We've known all along

If you've haven't heard, banks that received the TARP money have not been lending it out. Instead they've tightened their standards and loaned less, even as demand for loans goes down. Kind of a double whammy on the credit liquidity front.

I have read anecdotal posts about the "real" rates available for potential borrowers with FICO scores below 740. Seems the advertised rates are for prime suspects only and then only on non-jumbo mortgages. In addition, down payment requirements are up as well. This particular part of the changes is actually good. The more folks have invested in their home, the less likely they are to walk away. (Unless the market depreciates quickly and steeply)

The point of my relating this info to you is this. We are currently watching the congress fight over provisions of the stimulus bill, after passing a gift package worth $700 billion to the banks and financial industry after a few days of talks and a whole 3 pages of information from Paulson. Their excuse on quibbling over details of this bigger package is that they were burned once. Who are they kidding. We have all been burned by the contemporary brand of radical financial buccaneering in fashion since Reagan.

Imagine if you will how it would work for you if you could buy policies on the failures of business and institutions you are not in any way a part of or in which you have absolutely no involvement. The good people who invented Derivatives and Credit Default Swaps did this and worse. In some cases the same fine folks who put together the packages of less than good mortgages and sold the sow's ears as silk purses, then took out Credit Default Swaps on the very same offerings.

It was a system destined to fail and motivated by careless greed and ethical bankruptcy. Of course millions of regular citizens played their part by going along with loans out of line with real property values and real income. Don't be surprised if the pendulum swings the other way now.

I will leave you with this quote by Thomas Jefferson, who knew what to watch out for over 200 years ago.
"I believe that banking institutions are more dangerous to our liberties than standing armies. If the American people ever allow private banks to control the issue of their currency, first by inflation, then by deflation, the banks and corporations that will grow up around [the banks] will deprive the people of all property until their children wake-up homeless on the continent their fathers conquered. The issuing power should be taken from the banks and restored to the people, to whom it properly belongs."

Thomas Jefferson, (Attributed)
3rd president of US (1743 - 1826)

Sunday, February 1, 2009

Sunday Funnies Part 2

This weeks political highlights include the awesome show of bi-partisanship concerning the Stimulus Bill where the Dems offering did not receive one single republican vote. Go Figure?

I am tempted to side with the congress people of the minority party on this one. The current bill sucks and I mean sucks out loud. It is missing any significant jab at infrastructure spending and has a quarter of trillion dollars in tax cuts. There is no real effort to get at mortgages going bad, foreclosures and tricky little deals called Credit Default Swaps either. Listen up you dillweed legislators, we tried tax cuts and trickle down for eight years and it didn't work for shit. So please think of something else.

The bill now goes to the Senate, that place where being one ( a Senator) depends as much on the legal status of the governor as the will and knowledge of the electorate of the state in question. (What else explains the likes of Robert Byrd, Libbey Dole and bathroom tapper boy)

What are the chances of these geniuses coming up with something better? Less than 50/50 in my estimation. Still I remain hopeful that the promise that was the election of Obama can become the reality of good governance and sound policy.

But when it comes to our beleaguered and bludgeoned economy I remain skeptical. One of the key factors missing in every conversation is the awareness of how "Big" institutions of any sort are not necessarily a good thing for the citizens of this nation. I would like to hear talk about breaking up big companies, banks and government entities in favor of regional institutions.

First, this would put more people to work. Secondly,a regional system would allow for some actual de-coupling of regional economies. A return to regional self-sufficiency would enhance the ability of communities to survive economic downturns. As it stands now we are all so interconnected that a hiccup in America's financial institutions can bankrupt the country of Iceland.

Of course none of this is possible in the short term. We are too into "Big". We revel in large and worship humongous. And this of course leads us to import almost everything. It's not even possible to find a decent priced pair of shoes that doesn't come from China. I dare you! Go out to any store and look. No matter where you shop, the stores all buy from China, Thailand, Indonesia, India and everywhere else except in our country, region or town.

Had all the "well to do" and just normal folks spent the last decade buying locally or regionally or at least nationally on their day to day purchases we would be in an entirely different situation. Much of the money that poured into bogus financial products could have actually went into manufacturing here in the good Ole USA.

I admit this is a bit of 20/20 hindsight, yet the majority of experts, financial wizards and government officials talking about fixing this current financial mess are not even broaching the subject of downsizing and the benefits of small.

We are sitting in the middle of a gully in the bottom (or near bottom) of a potentially wide valley of economic upheaval and restructuring. Wouldn't it be nice if we came out the other side in better shape than we are now.

What do you think we need to do?