A random look at the life and times of Jim Rising recovering radio addict and newspaper columnist.

Sunday, September 28, 2008

700 Billion Bailout.

I am not ever going to be mistaken for an economist. I can, on a good day, give the correct change to the clerk to buy a newspaper but there are days I can’t do even that. Big numbers scare me, especially when I have to write them in the column marked withdrawals in my checkbook. Any thing with more than a zero or two gets entered with handwriting that looks like a chicken had a seizure with a pen strapped to his leg.
But in the interest of keeping current with economic events I present:

Some ways of looking at 700,000,000,000.

Actually let’s start much smaller. 80 years we may get on this planet. 29,200 days, 700,800 hours and 42,048,000 minutes. So if you paid back a dollar a minute it would take 16,647 lifetimes to pay back 700 Billion. Better start counting! Here is another way of slicing this pie:

To count out one Billion nonstop without sleep or eating it would take Thirty-Nine years. To count out 700 Billion would take 27,300 years. That’s a lot of Red Bull. It would be the year 29308 when you finished. Makes the year 2525 seem like it’s just around the corner.

A Billion pennies stacked would reach nearly one thousand miles high.
The image shows a billion pennies.

700 billion would reach 700 thousand miles high.

700 billion worth of pennies would fill about 30 sears towers.

As of 2007, there are about 138 million taxpayers in the United States. If I understand this 700 Billion dollar bailout at all then those taxpayers (Hey, that’s you and me!) are the people who would be paying that 700 billion dollars. That comes out to be nearly $5,100 per tax payer. So for a couple that is over $10,000. The day the government puts $10,000 into the checkbook of this taxpayer would be a very happy day indeed.

But the money is not going to be coming into your checkbook or my checkbook. The Government is going to give it to someone else.
Consider this. Donald Rumsfeld, the Secretary of Defense has been quoted as saying "According to some estimates we cannot track $2.3 trillion in transactions.” In other words the military lost $2.3 trillion.
The picture shows what a stack of a trillion pennies would look like to scale. That's the empire state building.

One Trillion dollars is One Thousand Billion dollars. To count out a Trillion dollars nonstop without sleeping or eating it would take Thirty-Nine Thousand (39,000) years. I am not sure how much Red Bull that would take.

So this government of ours lost more than 300 Billion more than the bailout would cost.
Sen. Everett Dirkson is rumored to have said "A billion here, a billion there..., pretty soon, you're talking real money." So what’s a trillion between friends, right? Or then again I could be wrong.

Friday, September 19, 2008

Bloomsburg Fair 2008

A trip to the Bloomsburg fair is like a harbinger of the inevitable slide into weather that doesn’t support the wearing of shorts here in NEPA. It’s almost impossible to contemplate that in a few short weeks we will be digging out hats, gloves, boots, sweaters and polar artic fleece undies. But for one all too brief shining week we can pretend it’s still summer. The 154th annual edition of the fair that draws close to half a million people is going on right now. Two things are missing from this years Bloomsburg fair. One important, one personal. More on that in a moment. The fair is nothing if not efficient. You park in one of the immense lots and a tractor pulling trolleys transports you to the gate. A comparison to Disney World was made. Disney it’s not. The trolleys need a shot of WD-40-they squeak and squeal like girls at Jonas Bothers concert. And the operators of the tractors are in the dictionary under “Jackrabbit starts and stops.” The word lurch comes to mind and I don’t mean the Adams family. But a promenade around the grounds, stuffing your face at every corner soon makes up for the ride. Oh, the agriculture and 4H displays are great. But you go to the fair to stuff your face.
And that brings me to the two missing elements from this year’s gluttony fest.
Phil’s Cajun Kitchen has stopped selling Jambalaya. For the unitiated Cajun Jambalya is basically rice and whatever is in the kitchen. Sausage, chicken, oinion, peppers, celery spices and hot sauce. MMM good. But, alas no more. For me this is like finding out there is no Santa and what’s this about the Easter Bunny? A bowl of Phil’s steaming concoction was the perfect breakfast at the fair. It was good for lunch and dinner too. RIP Jambalaya.

But the more important absence at the fair this year is somewhat more ominous. No bees. No nasty yellowjackets. On the surface this is a blessing. The winged univited guests made fair going uncomfortable at times, competing for sweet stuff. In years past a purchase of soda meant the possibilty of getting stung or at least hazed by a squadron of the busy insects. But this year there were few if any buzzing around. Either this means the Bloomsburg fair has figured out a way to charge them and they can’t afford it or…colony collapse disorder, a mysterious disease killing off bees nationwide has hit our area. And that is a very scary thing indeed. Someone said, “No bees, No humans” and that’s about right. Without the pollination of bees, fruits and vegtables could disappear like Phil’s Jambalya.
Or then again I could be wrong.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

M O O N that spells moon.

The last few nights have been a full moon.
One night when it was clear I was up at 3 am and it was bright enough to read a newspaper with. So I grabbed a copy of the Times leader and perused the Police blotter.
The fact that people act crazier and there is more crime during a full moon is under some dispute. In spite of the word lunacy which comes from the Latin for Moon or Luna. Some psychologists say it’s a bunch of hooey. But ask any policeman or emergency room worker.
Back to the police blotter-in the past three days there have been over 60 reports printed. I don’t know if that’s more or less than normal but it seems like a lot.
Domestic disputes, stolen vehicles, vandalism all in incredible variety. A stolen kid’s bike, a ripped off basketball hoop, a license plate taken from a car, holiday decorations stolen from a car (what holiday?) Solar lights ripped off from a front yard. Someone even liberated two air conditioners from a fire hall. Now that takes intestinal fortitude.
And a bunch of people who had more than their share of John Barleycorn. A guy arrested for throwing food and a mattress into the street. A lady who was driving on the sidewalk. A woman who was found drinking a beer in public then gave police a fake name. A 32 year old gal arrested for exposing her breasts to passing motorists. At 9am.
Some things that are just plain sad. Someone broke into a place and stole an undetermined amount of hypodermic needles. You don’t need a psychologist to figure out where those will end up. A 2 year old thrown from a car into the road, then scooped up and put back in the car which drove off. Witnesses said the car was being driven recklessly. And a man who broke into a house was found inside the residence, not his own, cooking.
There are a thousand stories in the naked city under a full moon.
As Warren Zevon put it. Ahhh oooo!

It taint this or that.

I think we need to add another season to the calendar. This time right now to me is the “Taint” of the seasons. I suppose a little definition is in order here. The word “Taint” is generally used to describe something that isn’t one thing or another. I have heard it used mostly in anatomically oriented references but that’s as far as I will go with that one. Suffice to say the “Taint” is inbetween. I suppose also that you could make a case for there being “Taints” each time the season changes but this time of year is the one I think best fits. It is the time between the best time of the year, Summer; glorious, hot, sticky, sensual Summer and Fall, when things start to head downhill for the Winter. I always find it a little hard to handle the fact that in a couple of months we will have gone from weather that supports the wearing of the most minimal of clothing and no shoes to a time of sweaters, heavy coats, boots, hats and gloves. But that is life in NEPA I guess. But for the next few weeks we are in between. It’s actually been hotter this September after Labor Day (it reached 89 on September 4th) than it was for the entire month of August. So it’s not any surprise that these days in the “Taint” can go from one extreme to another. I can remember going to the Bloomsburg fair some years in shorts and T-shirts and other years bundled up in winter clothes. Bloomsburg fair week, by the way is towards the end of “Taint.” So when exactly does the “Taint” begin and end? The beginning is easy. The day after Labor Day signals the end of summer. This wisdom comes from anyone who has ever been a kid. Pools close, schools open, it’s not Summer anymore. It’s “Taint.” But when does Fall officially start? A Google search on that will make your head spin. There is way too much time on way too many people’s hands on the internet. You can get almost any date you want for the start of Fall. My little moleskin calendar says 9/22 is the first day of Autumn. We will call that the official date for our purposes here, but in the hearts and minds of NEPA I am pretty sure Fall starts when, well, when the leaves begin to fall in sufficient enough quantity that rakes come out of hibernation and the sound of leaf blowers fills the air. That’s not a standard that you can set your watch by, obviously but it feels right to me. But then again I could be wrong.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Clean up in aisle four.

I do the grocery shopping now. Have been for almost the past year. I don’t mind and actually kind of enjoy it. The other day I had filled my basket with my order and headed to the check-out to cash out and be on my way.
The long suffering wife has taught me to look over the checkers very carefully. You need one who looks like they won’t put up too much of a fight over coupons you are using. You also have to balance that need with the size of the person/persons order in front of you.
I chose carefully this day, The girl behind the register was very cute, blond, well put together and there were only two others in front of me. An older gent who was nearly done, or so it appeared and a 20 something guy with just a few items, one of which was a small bouquet of flowers. Aww, something to give his girl, or his Mom. The old guy was having a real problem. Something to do with writing his check. The cute checkout girl was very solicitous to him. I had picked right! Pretty and nice. A combo that doesn’t happen very often. The younger guy in front of me was getting impatient. You could tell.
Finally the senior citizen cleared out and as I began to load my order on the belt the young guy struck up a conversation with the checker. I didn’t hear all of it but I did catch the end. “These are for you” he said, proffering the small bouquet of flowers. “Wow” I thought, what a cheesy pick-up technique.
The cute check out girl looked at them like they were a dead rat and said “Oh I can’t take those. My boyfriend will have a fit.” I didn’t hear the pick up artists reply but the checker said “Do you still want them?” Pick up boy said “Yes” and scurried out.
I turned to the cute checker and asked “Do you often get flowers?” She looked at me and I could tell she was sizing me up. She decided I was old and no threat (when did this happen to me?) so she said “That’s the third time he’s done that. Can’t take a hint. And I don’t even HAVE a boyfriend.”
I already had more information than Mr. Pick up and I wasn’t even in the game! Being a pretty woman in a public place is hard sometimes I suspect.
I bet this sort of thing goes on all the time probably not three times in a row like our bouquet bearer but often enough. “He might be a stalker” I said.
Her eyes flew wide open and she said “You think?” I don’t know why I did it, but as I started to walk away I said to her “I just saw him put the flowers on your car.” Just another day at the grocery store. Or then again I could be wrong.