Monday, April 21, 2014

More cheery stories of the economic "'recovery'"

For many Americans, 'temp' work becomes permanent way of life

Moving in with parents becomes more common for the middle-aged

Cheery stories, both, five years into the "'recovery'".

Every other story right now is a side-show to the big news, which is that the American economy is being hollowed out like a melon rind, and our elites just don't care enough to even address the issue. I'd tell you to remember that come the fall election season, but that just doesn't matter anymore either.

NOTE: I'm now using three marks for the opening and closing of the scare quotation marks around the word RECOVERY because two just don't  seem like enough.

Monday, April 14, 2014

UPDATE on a Theban Tragedy

Originally posted on Ambiance April 14, 2014 at 6:12 pm

Several months after I was PROMISED, one more time, that everything had been fixed, things aren't fixed. I cannot believe ... My frustration levels are really climbing. I have been trying to get this fixed for YEARS. YEARS! And they will not fix it.

I am starting to think of hiring an attorney to sue their goddamned dumb, evil asses for emotional distress. John Morgan is here in town, and he's as scary a lawyer as you can find in the country. Yeah, maybe that's what I need to do....

Friday, April 04, 2014

Not so fast with the optimism, buddy!

Cross-posted to Ambiance

The new jobs report was released today. I have heard a few people make some optimistic noises about the fact that private sector jobs have matched the 2008 peak in terms of numbers. (See here, for example, though they do have the decency to caveat the hell out of the article.)

What I'm not hearing, and don't expect to hear from the Administration, is a comment about full-time jobs. As of March 1 2014, the US economy had 3,872,000 FEWER full-time jobs than it did at its peak in November 2007. And that's after almost five years of recovery.



And given that the working age population has grown considerably in the intervening years, the employment situation is actually even worse than it appears.

So don't let the bastards tell you how goddamned good we've got it, and what a wonderful job they've done. Because it just ain't so.

Thursday, April 03, 2014

That whooshing sound you hear ...

... is the air being let out of the middle class. More and more people that DO have jobs are getting priced right out of the housing market.

People with money to burn, both domestically and foreigners, are buying up all the property, leaving the middle class with nowhere to go. Make no mistake, our rulers on Wall Street and in DC are doing this deliberately, with an eye towards making certain that only Lords and Serfs remain.

Saturday, March 29, 2014

Lennox Lewis with the Tweet of the Day


Thursday, March 27, 2014

Parental Obeservation #3

originally published on Ambiance January 14, 2014 at 10:07 pm

Every day in which you don’t eat their head must be counted as at least a partial success.

Monday, March 24, 2014

Strange sights in the skies....

Last Thursday I took my daughter to Lake Eola in downtown Orlando. The park has a nice lake, a fountain, a good playground, a good field for playing, statuary and the like. A truly pleasant way to spend an afternoon.

But while we were walking from the car to the playground an ominous thrumming engine noise started. I looked across the lake expecting to see drag racers or the like. Instead I saw a large prop-driven plane come over the horizon. We were getting buzzed by a B-17! Yikes! Fortunately no bombs were dropped on us.

Shortly before that we had seen a blimp in the sky. But that was understandable, as the NCAA South Regional was in town.

Incidentally, it was a big weekend in Orlando. Besides the NCAA Men's Basketball Tourney, complete with overall number one the University of Florida Men's Basketball Team, we also had the Arnold Palmer Invitational Golf Tournament out at Bay Hill, the Winter Park Art Festival (which is a BIG DEAL here locally), and a visit by the President.

Which meant that shortly after downtown Orlando got buzzed by a blimp and a B-17, Air Force One was landing down at Orlando International Airport.

And this morning my daughter and I capped the whole weekend off with a little more fun. We dropped my wife off at work this morning, and as we were pulling out of the parking lot at her office my daughter (not yet four years old) said, "Daddy, that's the biggest blimp I've ever seen!" I looked back to see what she could possibly be looking at, and she was looking straight up. I opened up the screen over the moon-roof on the car, and about 200 feet straight above me (maybe less) was the gondola for the MetLife blimp! And it was going the direction we were headed!

We got a little in front of it and then parked to watch it go over again. And then I decided to give chase!

Now a car in good working order is much faster than a blimp. But the blimp doesn't have to wait for stop lights, or traffic, nor does it have to follow the road. If anything, the blimp had the advantage. We kept up for a little while, but it started pulling away as we hit traffic on Forest City Road. It started getting well ahead when I took Semoran heading west. The blimp was headed north, and I thought if I could get to 441 (Orange Blossom Trail), I could catch up and keep up for a while. Alas, it took to long to get to OBT, and the blimp was gone. I went north for a little while, and I do think I caught a glimpse of it a couple of times, but it wasn't meant to be.

And then on the way back, we passed the little airport outside of Apopka. And sitting outside one of the hangers was what looked like an old DC-3 painted up as a Pan Am plane. I wasn't expecting that! A plane made by a company that doesn't exist anymore (well, it kind of does, as part of Boeing, but not really), done up for an airline that doesn't exist any more, at an airport that most people that live in Central Florida have never heard of. A strange sight to end the weekend.

UPDATE: And my wife reminds me that Miley Cyrus is performing tonight here in town. Unfortunately, no bombs are likely to be dropped on her.

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Deep Thoughts on the Crimean Crisis

originally published on Ambiance, March 18, 2014 at 1:46 pm

 From Twitter no less! And certainly no more.
 






(Outis is my Twitter handle.)

Friday, March 14, 2014

Parental Observation #2

originally published on Ambiance, January 14, 2014 at 6:46 pm

It’s always funnier when it happens to someone else. (This is more widely applicable to the human condition, of course.)

Example: My wife sent me an email earlier this afternoon, which read:

I saw your post on Ambiance. ([Amba] shared it on FB.) I laughed and laughed. Then I realized you wrote it.
We’ve all been there.

Parental Observation #1

originally published on Ambiance, January 14, 2014 at 2:54 pm

The “Terrible Twos” are merely a marketing ploy by three year-olds, designed to throw parents off the track of how bad three year-olds behave. You see, by the time a child hits three they become very capable, in an absolute sense. By this I mean they know how things work: doors, locks, caps on spice bottles, plumbing fixtures, ladders, chain saws, lathes, Machiavellian interpersonal machinations, etc. They can do a lot with those skills, in an absolute sense. And they all have the same kind of outlook on law and order that one would expect of devotees of the Anarchist Cookbook. Do you have any idea of the harm an anarchist can do with spice bottle caps and a lathe? If you answer yes, you have probably been a parent of a three year-old at some point in your life.

WHERE'S MY THEBES?!

originally published on Ambiance, February 20, 2014 at 8:09 pm

The rantings of one very irate man to follow soon.

Quite a bit later, certainly later than “soon” by any reasonable definition…

First, some background.

My mother was born in 1927. She worked at Walt Disney World Resorts from 1980 to 2000. I was covered under her medical insurance for several years while I was still a minor. Eventually Mom retired with a (great) retiree medical benefit.

I was born in 1968. I worked at Walt Disney World Resort from 2003 until 2008.

My mother died in September of 2011.

Then the adventure begins!

Shortly after Mom died, my sister and I received her death benefit payment from Disney. It wasn’t a lot, but it came to the correct person, with the correct SS#.

Then I started getting notices from the WDW benefits center telling me that I was eligible for a medical benefit. I called them, told them I certainly wasn’t eligible, and they said it was cleared up.

I kept getting notices about signing up for my medical benefits. Grrr. Called again, eventually, told them they were wrong. Eventually they figured out that two of me were in the system, one with a SS# that was off by one digit. Someone had goofed up and created a phantom me. They told me that they had it resolved.

I kept getting notices about signing up for my medical benefits. Grrr. Called again.

Lather, rinse, repeat a couple of times.

I kept getting notices about signing up for my medical benefits. GRRR. Called again some time last summer. Allegedly got everything settled, killed the phantom me, had everything under the correct me, had everything cancelled.

I KEPT GETTING NOTICES ABOUT SIGNING UP FOR MY MEDICAL BENEFITS. GRRR. Gave up calling, decided, “Fuck it [Something much more polite than "Fuck it", I'm sure], I’ve done what I need to do, they need to figure this out on their own.”

I kept getting notices about signing up for my medical benefits. Didn’t care any more, ignored them, moved on with my life.

January 2, 2014 rolls around and I finally go to the doctor about an issue that had been bothering me for almost two months. Samples are taken, and samples are dropped off at a lab. (Don’t ask for details – you really don’t want details.)

Now, unemployed man that I am, my wife’s medical insurance covers me. Turns out that the same company that covers my wife’s employer is the same company that handles the administration of Disney’s medical insurance here in Florida. (Disney self-insures, so they actually pay for everything themselves, but it uses an insurance company to handle everything for a variety of reasons. This is common for large employers.)

So when I went to the lab I made certain that they had my current insurance information.

A couple of weeks later, we get a couple of notifications of benefits from the insurance company. My wife looks at them and realizes that my Disney insurance has been billed.

GRRR!

Now, feeling like Bruce Banner right before he turns green, I call the Disney benefits people AGAIN. Eventually (and I can’t remember if this was on the first or second call, or maybe a third call), we determine the nature of the problem. Namely, Disney has me listed as my mother’s surviving spouse, thus entitled to her (quite excellent) medical coverage.

This after numerous attempts to clear things up. This after many attempts from me explaining to them that they were in error and needed to fix this. This after the Disney benefits folks told me on several occasions that they had cleared everything up.

So now I find out that I had been eligible for the benefit, according to Disney, since 1/1/2012, and that the insurance had been active (despite my not paying them anything) since 1/1/2013. So now I’m suddenly scared that more than two lab fees (and a visit to the doctor’s office, it turns out) have been billed to the wrong insurance policy. Because you know that would be a true and royal clusterfuck [something much more polite than "clusterfuck", I'm sure], and that I would be on the hook for it, quite possibly criminally, despite the fact that I hadn’t done anything wrong. They take insurance fraud seriously in Florida. Uh, unless you’re the governor, I mean.

Seriously, I don’t know why Disney feels like they need to fuck me all over again (having already fired me early in the recession, thus ruining my chances of ever holding down a job of any kind again, on the flimsiest of reasons by a jack-ass who gambled on his work computer using aliases of founders of the Ku Klux Klan to do it), but my God they have decided to fuck my all over again. Seriously, what is wrong with those goddamned bastards? How fucking evil, stupid, and/or mean are they that they are insisting on repeatedly screwing me over? Seriously, is there anybody with that company that is competent left, or are they dimply this fucking mean?


I began to ponder the wisdom of Murphy and Finagle.

(I told you I was pissed irate.)

Anyway …

They tell me they’ve finally got it cleared up again. So they tell me. They really do. They practically pinky-swore on the matter.

Then, yesterday, I get a letter from the goddamned absolutely lovely Disney benefits people, telling me they’ve been trying to contact me, and I need to talk to them about my fucking (I got nothin’) benefits with the Walt Disney Company, of which I HAVE NONE.

So after my wife gets home, I call them. Mind you, I’m very polite when I make these calls. The people to whom I’m speaking probably aren’t the ones fucking me over responsible, and besides, you can catch more flies with honey. Or insert the cliched bit of tripe of you choice for that last clause. Whatever.

So I call them. And I try to find out what’s going on. I explain my situation to them again.

And then they tell me that the reason they’re calling is because they want to know if I’ve signed up for Medicare yet.

~~~~~~….

“Okay, do not slam the phone against the wall,” I tell myself, “the phone isn’t responsible, and besides you own it.”

“Okay, do not try to bash you head through a wall,” I tell myself, “the wall isn’t responsible; besides, you own it. Furthermore, if you somehow break your skull, they’ll probably bill the wrong fucking [absolutely lovely, I'm sure] insurance again.”

GRRR!

Anyway, eventually one of the women on the other end of my communication network connection (because it took two of them because the first one couldn’t get her computer to work) finally tells me that they show I’m not covered. So this was all about what, exactly? I don’t even bother to ask.

So I get off the phone, assured that I’m  not covered by anything (I’m waiting to find out they’ve cancelled all my coverages, even the coverage I have through my wife’s employer), and I say to my wife,
“Congratulations honey, you’re married to a man who has magically aged at least 22 years, is a bigamist, and an incestuous bastard to boot.”

To which she cheerily replied, “Oh, you’re just like Oedipus!”

To which I thundered,

“WHERE’S MY THEBES?!”

 ...

UPDATE on March 14, 2014: I'm getting notices again, this time wanting me to enroll in the Wellness program. Seriously, what do I have to do to not get the benefits I'm not entitled to?

Friday, February 07, 2014

Meanwhile, back at the farm, flipping is BACK!

Home flipping is back in a big way

Oddly, this sign of real estate madness isn't considered to be a bad thing. But certain observations about the general economy hold true here as well: Upscale is doing well for itself.
More expensive homes were especially popular with home flippers, as sales made up of flip-related sales from homes valued at more than $400,000 were up 36% last year. Sales of less valuable homes bought and sold within six months were up 16% over the same period.

Today's tales of woe

More men in prime working ages don't have jobs

and a lousy employment report isn't going to help. Even CNN is starting to notice, and they're second only to NBC in their desrie to be Obama's Goebbels:

Job growth remains weak 

That said, much of the decline in unemployment has come for a discouraging reason: some Americans are dropping out of the labor force. As of January, only 63% of Americans over age 16 participated in the labor market -- meaning they either had a job or looked for one. Although there was a slight improvement in January, participation is still hovering around its lowest level since 1978. 

While some of the decline is partly due to baby boomers retiring, economists are also concerned about the long-term unemployed, who may be giving up on the job market altogether. Following the report, one of President Obama's top economic advisers, Jason Furman called the unemployment rate still "unacceptably high." 
 Glad to hear that after almost five years of recovery the Administration has FINALLY noticed that their recovery is utter bullshit.

ADDED: Mish makes some observations about the last year in the US employment market:
[Over the last year, the US] population rose by over 2 million, but the labor force fell by over a quarter-million. People dropping out of the work force accounts for much of the declining unemployment rate.
 This is neither a healthy employment market nor a healthy economy.

Tuesday, February 04, 2014

The Fruit Bat Fitness Regime

From one Eric the Fruit Bat:

Here it is, in a nutshell:

(1) Do something.

(2) Start now.

(3) Keep it simple. You didn't turn into a blob overnight and you won't get back into shape overnight.

(4) I'm serious about that. Do five squats every morning for a week. Next week, do six. After that comes seven. You get the idea.

(5) I'm serious. That's how it's done. One day at a time. Patience is a virtue.

(6) It wasn't so long ago I would have to undo my belt because it was too tight at 40 inches. Now it's about 31 inches. And yes, the femoral arteries are plain as day.

(7) You want to know what does that? Squats, diet and consistency.

(8) Oh, and one more thing . . . start now.

Monday, February 03, 2014

Dedicated to Mailbox Head



Seattle 43
Denver 8

And to Mailbox Head's boss: Don't fuck with Gator Nation, boy.

PEEEER-cy!
TEEEEE-bow!
PEEEER-cy!
TEEEEE-bow!
PEEEER-cy!
TEEEEE-bow!

Sunday, February 02, 2014

Signs of the Times

[originally posted at Ambiance]

Saw yet another depressing story today.

States see record high in long-term joblessness

In 28 states, a third or more of the unemployed have been without a job for six months or longer, leaving them with no unemployment insurance safety net following the expiration of extended benefits in December.
In New Jersey, Florida and the District of Columbia, nearly half of the unemployed have been out of work for longer than 26 weeks, according to an analysis from the Economic Policy Institute of data from the U.S. Census Bureau and Bureau of Labor Statistics. Among all 50 states and D.C., the average is 33%.
Before the Great Recession, the highest the long-term joblessness share ever reached was 26% in mid-1983, according to the EPI analysis. Today, 41 states and D.C. have shares of long-term unemployment above that level.
This reminded me that a few weeks ago Dave Schuler had pointed out the story linked below:

Half of U.S. Counties Haven’t Recovered From Recession

This was from the Wall Street Journal's Real Time Economics blog. It includes an interactive map showing which counties in the USA have recovered from the Great Recession. As to be expected, I looked at the area where I live, Central Florida. In that area, it shows that Osceola, Pasco and Sumter counties have recovered. Pasco and Sumpter aren't that populous. But Osceola County surprised me. At the height of the recession somewhere between one sixth and one fifth of the houses in Osceola County were sitting empty: built but never lived in, half-built, abandoned, or foreclosed upon.

But despite the fact that Osceola (the county directly south of Walt Disney World Resort) is in recovery, all is not well:

Near Disney World, number of homeless families soars

In the shadow of Walt Disney World, Osceola County has one of the highest rates of homeless families in the nation, and the problem continues to grow at an "astonishing" rate, officials told more than 300 community leaders Wednesday.
The number of homeless school-age children and parents rose by 54 percent to more than 5,000 in the past year alone, according to a new report commissioned by county government. Current programs aimed at helping those families get back on their feet have enough funding to help fewer than 10 percent of them.
...
Bailey said the "shockingly high" number of homeless families in Osceola stem from a unique intersection of low-wage jobs, high mobility, cheap and plentiful motel rooms, a lack of homeless shelters and, some say, a lack of code enforcement that allows families to stay in motels for months — sometimes years — at a time.
Back in June of 2010, the Obama Administration kicked off a celebration of Recovery Summer. According to the latest data, we're still over 2,000,000 jobs short of where we were in November of 2007, a month before the recession began. And we're over 4,000,000 full-time jobs short of where we were then. (It's too depressing to break out the numbers at this time of night, we may be over 5,000,000 full-time jobs short.) And this doesn't take into account that the working age population has grown considerably in the interim.

Can someone please tell me what the Hell recovery is supposed to mean? Can someone please tell me what the Hell anyone is doing about? Can someone tell me why the people that are running the country are more concerned with trying to fix every other country in the world (sometimes by importing more people from there to here) instead of trying to fix the country we've got?

And can someone please tell me why the rulers of the country are so damned pleased with themselves when the signs of the times are the ones held by women standing in front of groceries stores, holding a child with one hand and a placard  in the other stating,

Homeless

Please help

Thank you

God Bless

 

Addenda:

I left the following two comments immediately after posting:
About a week ago, maybe it was two weeks, we went to the grocery store. It’s a decent grocery store (Publix, for those that know the chain) in a decent enough area. And out front was a woman holding on to a small child and a sign like the one I mentioned above. I’ve seen more and more homeless people lately, and distressingly many of them are families. Perhaps it’s just a pick up in the number of grifters, but reading stories like those linked above, I doubt it.
 -and-
I should note that the numbers used from the “According to the latest data” link use the Seasonally Adjusted Civilian Employment data recorded in the FRED system as of 2/2/2014, and measures from 11/2007 to 12/2013. When the new data comes out next Friday, the December numbers will probably be revised. But right now it shows a drop in employment of 2,009,000 from the pre-recession peak in November of 2007 (146,595,000) to December 2013 (144,586,000). FRED numbers are recorded by the 1000s.

Saturday, January 25, 2014

Dog Update

The dogs finally got their teeth into someone this morning. They jumped a fence to attack someone's pet and the woman of the house got bit trying to save her dog. (My understanding is that she wasn't too badly injured.) The husband chased the dogs off with a baseball bat and fortunately an Animal Services officer was up the street. The husband got the AS Officer, she called in a couple of Sheriff deputies, and two of the three dogs were removed.

Naturally, my neighbor is blaming me for this. He vows to get his dogs back. (Left unspoken is that he intends to let them loose again.) I left out the part where the dogs have possibly mauled and/or killed a cat, that they were tearing up my car again, and that they were trying to come through my front door to get at my family.

Despite it all, this is a good day, and hopefully, later, we will be taking my daughter to her first movie. They were supposed to be at the theater by now, but the stuff with Animal Services and the Sheriff deputies took too long to make the early showing. Alas!

Friday, January 17, 2014

What I'm up against.

This:




And two other dogs treated similarly. And the person that thinks that chaining a dog like this and leaving it unattended to chase children onto roofs and keep people hiding in their houses is a good idea, while the dog owner spends most of his time elsewhere. Also, the system that hamstrings local government from doing anything about such dangerous dangerous animals until they actually get their teeth into someone.

By the way, these pics were taken on my front porch, with the dog less than five feet away. He isn't all that friendly, I just happened to have a nice plexiglass door between me and him.

Monday, November 18, 2013

Death of a legend!

Sam Behr died recently. He was 86. Here in Orlando he was notable for two things.

First, he had a store downtown that sold shoes. The store's slogan was "We can fit any human!" And they had any number of improbable stories backing it up.

Second, in the 1980s he became a local media celebrity for his work on TV commercials for Allied Discount Tires, a local tire chain, run by a friend of his if I recall correctly.

Anyhow, here's a sample of Sam's work:



Rest in Peace, Sam, and here’s hoping that in the afterlife your nuts always get hand-torqued and never fall off!