Trust but verify 2008…

Here is something I wrote about a year ago in a post called Trust But Verify

Gasoline at my little station around the corner $2.92 per gal

Milk at my local Wal-Mart $3.98 per gallon

The DOW at noon 13,409.36

Last quater’s economic growth 4.9%

Consumer spending for November, up 1.1%, the highest “jump” since May 2004

Inflation uo 2.2% for the past 12 months

30 year mortgage rate 5.74%

The dollar is worth 0.6967 to the Euro and 0.9930 to the Canadian dollar

Since we are coming to the end of yet another year, I think it is time for an update.

Gasoline at the little station around the corner from my house is $1.63 a gallon for the low end.  But the gasoline at the Sheetz in Streetsboro, Ohio is $1.43 per gallon.

Milk at my local supermarket is $2.98 per gallon.

The DOW today closed at 8483.93, which is really not good.

In the last quarter the economy retracted about .5%.

The dollar is worth .7157 to the Euro and 1.22 to the Canadian dollar.

The 30 year mortgage rate is 5.32%

Last year I could get a loaf of white bread at Wal-Mart for $.99 but now it is $1.19.

I suppose I’ll reference these things from year to year as long as I have this blog.

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A night with Ike…

That was one wicked wind storm last night.  It sounded like Marine One was landing on our front yard, repeatedly, for several hours.  The power kept flickering.  Branches fell out of trees and blocked the roads.  I found a rather large tree branch on the hood of our car this morning.  No damage, thank G_d, but a whole lot of people in northeast Ohio woke up to damaged cars and houses this morning.  My poor tomato plants did not survive the wind storm.  They were ripped into bits.

Just sitting in my living room, hoping and praying that the power wouldn’t go out during the Steelers/Browns game, I wondered how in the hell anyone in Texas, especially Galveston, rode out Ike in their homes.  Frightening.  I often wonder why anyone would choose to live in a hurricane plagued are or a tornado prone area or along a fault line.  I don’t think I am as tough as those people.  Perhaps I don’t have the fortitude to deal with those things.  Then again, I deal with Lake Erie winters, so I am somewhat tough.  Right?

At this very moment I am listening to a local talk radio program where the host is taking calls from people perplexed by the sudden increase in gas prices.  Of course they are blaming the oil companies, not the huge range of factors caused by the hurricane.  I find that frustrating.

S’s mom and dad are planning to visit this coming weekend.  We are going to take them to the Yankee Peddler festival on Saturday.  Mrs. S has been nagging us to take her for about four years now.  I don’t think that Mr. S is looking forward to it at all.  When we took them to a county fair last summer, they practically jogged us through the whole thing, all the while complaining about the smell of the animals.  Seriously, we were in and out of the Cuyahoga County Fair in a little over an hour.  Now, there won’t be animals at the Yankee Peddler, but it is still pretty much just a huge craft fair.  When we have gone in the past, we usually stay about four hours.  I am willing to bet that this year we do the whole festival in two hours.

Tina Fey on Saturday Night Live as Sarah Palin was priceless.  However, the rest of the show was horrible.  Maybe they used all the funny on the opening skit and that is why all the rest of the skits lacked the funny.  But I am pleased t report that S and I watched Baby Mama (Tina Fey and Amy Pohler)on Friday and it was funny.  I feared that it was going to be one of those movies where all of the funny parts were in the advertisements, but no.

I checked out my stocks this morning and got a little ill.  But then I made the decision not to look again today while there is the Lehman uproar.  I already feel better.  Things ebb and flow and I usually resist getting too caught up in the whirlwind of financial prognostication.  Today should be no exception.

Finished reading Fleeced  by Dick Morris this weekend.  Not a very good book.  Too shallow.  And I got the impression that some of his “down with the tyrants” rants were hollow.  I don’t think he really believes half of what he wrote in that book.  Total waste of my money and time and for that I should slap myself in the face, because I have alwasy avoided his books in the past.

Finally, some excitement…

I haven’t been thrilled with John McCain as my Republican nominee.  I pretty much planned to vote for him in November, unless he had done something like put Mike Huckabee on his ticket.  I haven’t been excited by most of the possible VP rumors, not that they were bad, just not exciting for me personally.

But this morning I got excited.  And as the excitement built, I worried that I was going to be let down. But no.  McCain has chosen Alaska Gov Sarah Palin to be his running mate. 

I love this pick.  I am excited.  I am going to put that McCain yard sign (which we have had for two weeks now) in the yard.  We have a McCain sticker to put on the car, but now I want to wait and put a McCain/Palin sticker on the car.

In the days to come, there are going to be plenty of people who say this was a bad pick for McCain, but unless they find Gov Palin in the midst of an extra-marital affair with the corrupt Ted Stevens and it turns out she aborted his baby after passing a gun ban, I’m going to continue to be excited.

Even more free Cleveland…

Last night we went to another free concert at the Wade Oval.  This particular concert I had been quite excited about.  The band is called Yiddishe Cup and the play klemzer music and do some pretty clever humor bits.  They would describe it as “borscht belt humor”, which they do on their website.

They were good.  They were talented.  They were funny.  They were energetic.  They got all kinds of people up and dancing.  I can’t remember when I have had that much fun watching live music.  Probably at a Dead concert back in the ’90s.  I’ve now checked out their schedule and plan to go see them as often as possible.  I wil become a Yid Head.

At the concert we ran into one of S’s fellow teachers who was talking to a local city council man.  The city council guy was there to make the announcement, between bands, that Congresswoman Stephanie Tubbs Jones had passed away.  Very sad.  However, I was going to vote against her in November… But it is still quite sad.

Speaking truth to power…

A phrase that is overused and misused, I think.  But it truly applies to Alexander Solzhenitsyn, a Soviet era dissident/writer, who died today at the age of 89.

I do not know why Gulag Archipelago is not required reading in our schools.  Not to mention One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich.

I recommend the Solzhenitsyn editorial from today’s National Review Online.

Taxes…

We have DirecTV, which has been wonderful.  When we moved into the house last year we chose DirecTV over cable so that I would be able to have the NFL Sunday Ticket throughout the football season.  It is hard to live in Ohio and be a Steelers fan…  Anyway, it was a big bonus that DirecTV or satellite tv in general was way cheaper than the cable we had been paying for for years.

But now the cable companies have been lobbying state and federal governments to allow an added tax on people who choose satellite over cable.  That would be quite unfair. 

So I signed up for anti-tax action at Stop Satellite Tax and sent e-mails to my various government representatives.  I recommend that action for anyone living in the following states:

Florida, Kentucky, Ohio, North Carolina, Tennessee, and Utah.

Times of tumult…

I am a news junkie.  One of the 24 hour news networks is almost always on in our house.  And in the kitchen I have a little radio tuned to talk radio.  S is on summer vacation (teaching kicks ass) and so she is around the house more than usual.  Which means she is exposed to the news more than usual.  During the school year, she pays attention when she can but I update her with the important news.  My updates are more substantial than the average news story.  The typical news anchor (no matter what the channel) needs to instill fear and panic in the few minutes they have to talk about a particular subject.  My S news updates contain much more information, historical perspective and nuance.  Consequently, S is rarely ever in turmoil over the news during the school year.

But now she is over exposed to the news anchors.  And it is all bad news.  It is all horrible news.  And in between the news there are commercials for bankruptcy and emergency food sources.  I fear that S is in a bit of a panic now.  Suddenly she is freaked out by gas prices.  Yes, I am concerned about gas prices, but not freaked out.  Since we really only need to drive about 60 miles per week during the school year (includes getting S to work and class) I think we are going to be okay in our SUV.  And gas would have to be $15 a gallon before I would even begin to consider trading in an SUV in northeast Ohio.  We need this vehicle to get in and out of our driveway in the winter.  Buying a second car, a small Honda perhaps, sometimes interests me but then we would have the cost of maintaining it and insuring it and filling up two cars.  Gas has to get a lot more expensive before I can really get behind that.

I do not like to see such worry in S’s eyes.