Monday, May 28, 2012
It's not helping with ideas for this lonely outpost of cheapo journalism. Today I gathered notes and developed shaky opinions on the sad subject of directors (corporate and nonprofit boards of directors)...but even I won't inflict that on you, my loyal reader (or two).
The inspiration came from a columnist/blogger I look forward to reading in our newspaper's two-page Sunday Wall Street Journal excerpt. The first time I read "Al's Emporium" by Al Lewis (had never heard of him, but I give all columnists one or two chances), I did a silent-movie double-take and read it all through again. He belonged in the WSJ as much as "Family Guy" and the other subversive comedies belong on the Fox television network, since slimy Murdoch & Co. own Fox, Dow Jones and the Journal. AND he appears on the Fox Business Channel. You'd think, with such associations, he'd be as palatable as George Will or that National Review Online hack who appears with wretched regularity on our local editorial page. But he's clear, factual, logical and not the least afraid to puncture and deflate those in the business/financial world who desperately need it (well, we need to see it done, even if nothing changes). A professional scribe for twenty-five years, he has developed a style I can only admire from afar. One of his four-word sentences at the end of a concise paragraph: knockout punch.
Today's "Proven Job Eliminators" had me at the title. It's about Meg Whitman, who announced last week her plan to eliminate 27,000 jobs at Hewlett-Packard. Al notes she repeatedly campaigned as a "proven job creator" during her (Republican, of course) try at the California governor's office: "...I have spent 30 years creating jobs..." was the claim, despite having only (supposedly) created 15,000 as CEO of eBay over ten years. I'm seeing a vice presidential running mate for Mittens!
The second half of the essay, about director incompetence, follows "And the first job she should find a way to eliminate is the one held by chairman Ray Lane." I think Al and Matt Taibbi of Rolling Stone should continue to fill you in about directors, CEOs, business foolishness and economic train wrecks, and so, I refer you to them. They've always got a new jaw-dropper.
So what have I got for you?
Well, today the clematis vines bloomed in red, white and blue for Memorial Day.
The Black Cherry Smoothie at Panera was cold and delicious.
We got the first box of produce, on the usual Thursday, of this year's subscription to our favorite Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) farm, Spiral Path up the far reaches of Perry County, and I can only assure you that the giant red romaine lettuce was impressive, fresh and delicious, and is already gone.
I had the wrong type of fertilizer on hand, and as a lovely but useless result, have vigorous, tall onion plants with small, underdeveloped onions on the business end.
Gilligan, our tuxedo cat, goes nuts when the Sprial Path bag is opened, looking for corn (alas, not in season yet!) -- he puts his head inside to happily chew away at the husks. He can smell corn before it has made its way inside from the garage. His little black buddy, Blackberry, has his own quirk: he insists I stand beside him while he munches the cat food in his bowl. Another ritual is the evening snack around 9 - 9:30 PM. They know exactly when that is and will remind me if I'm slow about it.
Pet stories. What next, excited tales about scrapbooking, with lots of exclamation points???!!!
Tuesday, May 22, 2012
But now the middle class, not too sure about Mexico or more faraway places that still have dengue fever and backroad bandits, can look to Florida or the Southeastern coast for surprising bargains due to the 2006 - 2008 real estate bubble burst. In a previous post, I noted what we saw around Ruskin, at the south end of Tampa Bay: many choices and prices like it was 40 years earlier. I was most interested in established areas as opposed to the gated "arrested developments" with no hope of a neighborhood ever growing. If you're willing to downgrade from your Northern suburban comfort a little to gain subtropical breezes, waterbirds, sunsets over the Gulf and no mornings under freezing, there are fixer-uppers just yards from the water (bay, river or canal) -- and lots of them. And enough left over for a boat. You could be knocking on heaven's gate in a month.
But don't. More than your toes are going to get wet.
The sea level is only rising about the thickness of about two nickels a year: that doesn't sound like cause for extreme caution, does it? Especially if you go along with the crowd, which is more skeptical of global warming and its effects than ever. Well, the crowd thought getting on the hook for a $600,000 mortgage in 2005 was the way to go. Take a look at the interactive map at http://www.flood.firetree.net/, where you can dial in several projected figures for sea level rise and see what will be inundated. At +9 meters (that's a lot, maybe by 2100 or so), the eastern 1/4 of North Carolina, the lower 1/3 of Louisiana, south Florida, Hampton Roads in Virginia, and the Bahamas are gone. Little Delaware and peaceful Ruskin, Florida, too.
The beaches of North Topsail Island and Nags Head (where we spent some wonderful weeks years ago) are already retreating; 2000 square miles of coastal North Carolina is less than 40" above water. Coastal tourists in the area now spend about $2.3 billion a year. Gone, along with the sparkling sand and the lighthouses.
Low inland areas connected to the sea, like the valley from Sacramento to Stockton, California, also will disappear. Storms, increasing in quantity and strength, will multiply the damage. Salt water will intrude into, and render useless, groundwater now far from it.
Think of the human migration problem, which mankind has not been good at solving so far in history (the Palestinian refugee camps are getting old and just as miserable as ever). Lots of Bahamians in a much smaller Florida? You'll be better off watching the Travel Channel on one of those new TVs.
Thursday, May 17, 2012
Prickly Pear cactus blooming with abandon in red, yellow and magenta, defying the desert
A chipmunk, the V8 Mustang of the rodent world
You have a favorite author most everyone has forgotten about, and you find a very old book of his in perfect condition -- on a library give-away table
Snow falling through moonlight
Tomatoes so red you stop and stare
The first crocus of the year, on the first sunny day of late winter; just that one
Ten irresistable little toes. You know who you are
That so-rare moment of pristine clarity
The A Major 7 chord
Breezy sunny midmorning, seventy-two degrees
An unexpected kiss
Friday, May 4, 2012
Mr. Lewis Powell's 1971 memorandum written for the U.S. Chamber of Commerce lobbying organization.
But let's move on to the lighter side: what was the inspiration for the title of Frank Zappa's 1970 record, "Weasels Ripped My Flesh"? Haven't you wondered?
Classy as ever, Frank borrowed it from a 1956 issue of Man's Life magazine. He reportedly asked artist Neon Park if he could re-make the illustration, but do it even worse! The original cover art was pretty awesome in its genre, I think, and I hope the artist, if still alive, enjoyed his work's second life.
And the title of "Burnt Weeny Sandwich," which was released about the same time, also had me wondering...the explanation is that Frank just liked burned Hebrew National hot dog sandwiches slathered with mustard.
Life would be so much better today without think tanks, but we were lucky to have had Frank around. He was like Bugs Bunny with a mission.