Archive for July, 2011

How People That Aren’t Politicians Have to Budget

When those of us that don’t own a counterfeiting operation have a financial mishap whether from losing a job, having our pay cut, or our business isn’t taking in enough funds due to the bad economy, we have to cut costs or we will have them cut for us. Some of us realize that if our income is X, we can’t spend X + 1000 every month or we’re going to be in deep financial shit. We cut out the cable, the subscriptions, stop shopping for new clothes, stop eating out, forget about expensive cell phones and other electronic toys, cut up the credit cards, do whatever we need to do to lower the utility payments, try to restructure our housing loan if possible, and forego a new vehicle. It’s called living within our means. If our costs are still too high, we start selling off things and take a job beneath our dignity to pay our expenses.

There are those of us that have to go through the five stages of grief in order to get our financial houses in order, though. A huge life event like this can be as stressful as the death of someone we love. In a way, it is. It is the death of a way of life.

There are some people that just can’t believe that this is happening to them, or that they’ll find a job in short order and everything will be fine again. (I completely understand that viewpoint. I mean, after all, I’m so wonderful that people will be engaging in fist fights and bidding wars over my services, right? Even though most of my industry has been offshored or had immigrants brought in to do it at a fraction of my former pay.) Since it will be raining money even harder than before, time to go splurge on that expensive vacation! Put it on the credit cards! Folks, this is called denial.

Anger kicks in when the credit card interest rates start rising. That formerly low interest rate starts getting kicked up pretty high when it gets maxed out. A 30% interest rate makes a helluva lot of difference in whether a person can make the payment or not. Which brings us to ….

Bargaining with the banks and credit card companies is an interesting exercise in futility, particularly if a person’s past cash flow had been very high and the present cash flow is very low. They keep insisting on things such as the need to pay thousands of dollars per month on outstanding and past due debt, and can’t seem to grasp that the formerly high income is now $1,100 per month (maximum Florida benefits) in unemployment or a part-time retail or fast food job. And food, rent or mortgage payments, and utilities have to come outta that, too. No matter how hard they scream about payment, there is just so much money to go around and, by the time there are meetings with the creditors, the credit rating is shot and there is no much thing as a loan at a reasonable rate. On the one hand, it gives the creditee power in the negotiations because what are the creditors gonna do? If creditors keep pissing the creditee off, he/she will just declare bankruptcy and liquidate everything. If the creditee is smart, they will have long ago liquidated as much as possible before a bankrupcy court got hold of the assets. On the other hand, if the creditees have any emergencies whatsoever, they’re screwed.

That is truly a helpless feeling, and depression sneaks in and saps the vitality and strength and decision making process. People feel hopeless and worthless. Instead of facing the future with renewed determination, they face the future with dread and fear of living under a bridge in an abandoned carton eating from dumpsters as the best-case scenario.

When people reach acceptance that things are what they are, they can then move on. They can retrain. They can relocate. They can declare bankruptcy, clear the decks, and start anew.

Our government has severe budget problems. The President and Senate leader seem to be in either the denial (the problem is those darn Republicans and their stupid insistence on a balanced budget) or maybe the anger portion. The people in the USA, too, need to realize that there just isn’t enough money to go around. Decisions have to be made. Cuts WILL be made either now or later.

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Wuh Oh!

My vehicle may not be fixable for an amount that we want to put into a 20-year-old vehicle. Wuh oh. I gotta be drivin’ it to school in two weeks!

“No problem”, says SwampMan. “I’ll just fix up the old Blazer for you.”

I dunno. Trading in a 20-year-old vehicle for a 25-year-old vehicle somehow just doesn’t seem like a good idea. Last year at my old school, people kept their phones on in the morning in case I had to call them because I broke down. (They said NO WAY were they going to take my place while I had my vehicle towed. They would COME GET ME!) This year, I’ve been assigned to a new school where I don’t know anybody and there’s nobody that lives near me. I’d get a motorcycle for a backup vehicle but, with logging trucks racing down a two-lane blacktop dropping branches as they bounce down the road and no freakin’ shoulders to dodge to, I doubt if I would survive the first week.

Nah, my job doesn’t pay enough to justify making the payments on a new vehicle. Doesn’t even pay enough to justify making payments on an old vehicle.

AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAGH! I gotta get a new phone, too!

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Friday Night Waila!

We lived in Arizona some years back. Our address was Casa Grande but we lived just outside the Akimel O’Odham rez and, in fact, spent a lot of time ON the rez in my job.

On Friday and Saturday nights, our neighbors would have Waila dances under the shade arbor at night going into the wee hours of the morning. It was nice after a long week at work to go out in the shade of the patio, relax in a lawn chair with a cold drink, and watch the incredible Arizona sunset and then listen to the Waila music starting next door. Good times! No skeeters!

This was filmed around where we lived. I miss it so much!

I dunno if SwampDaughter remembers the smell of the creosote bush and dust, the beautiful colors of the sunset as the day faded to night, and the musicians playing through the night. Heh. She, uh, didn’t appreciate the natural surroundings as much as I did and probably thought it incredibly lame that her mom would be sitting outside watching the sun go down. Ohmygawd! People might SEE me sitting outside. How embarrassing!

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Well, That Ain’t Good.

As y’all know, I have a lamb that was born at the beginning of April that has stubbornly refused to grow. He’s a Rambouillet x Tunis, so he should be a pretty big boy about now, over 100 lbs. A lamb that was born 4 weeks after him and was a 4 lb. preemie is twice his size. I thought he was going to die several times because he was so painfully thin (couldn’t drink milk fast enough before his momma moved on) and, try as I might, I could NOT get him to take a bottle. He finally started eating lamb show ration and slowly, slowly filling out, and is doing a bit better since I started supplementing the feed with soybean meal. He isn’t growing any taller, though, just a little wider. He’s the cutest lil’ thing you ever want to see.

Puppy was raising hell tonight, so I worried that something might be after my sheep. I turned him out to check the pastures. I had forgotten to close a gate earlier so the sheep were in the wrong barn. I did a quick glance around with the flashlight. No Midget. I looked again more carefully. No Midget. I walked inside and around the sheep. No Midget. DAMNIT! I started scanning the pastures by flashlight. I didn’t see Puppy looking at any bodies. I shined the flashlight up at the other barn, and little eyes were looking back at me. WTF? Why isn’t he with the rest of the flock? I walked into the other barn followed closely by a flock of nervous sheep. Midget couldn’t stand. I picked him up, and found that the problem was a broken rear leg. Something must’ve spooked the flock, they fled precipitously and, in the process, Midget was trampled and his leg broken.

DAMNITDAMNITDAMNIT! I checked my veterinary supplies, and I don’t have the first paint stirring stick to cut for splints, no ACE bandage to wrap the leg and cushion the skin, no soft cotton batting for additional padding, and no duct tape to wrap the splints for stability and waterproofing. AAAAAAAARGH! This is stuff that I *always* keep on hand, but SwampMan and I have been dingin’ ourselves up here lately, and I’ve used it all up. I hate that he’s gotta wait until morning, but it is what it is. Next time, maybe I’ll buy more supplies at the local pharmacy as soon as I exhaust ’em instead of waiting to go to Sam’s and buy a year’s supply.

*sigh* I can’t let him wait until morning because in his struggles to get up and down, he’s likely to turn a simple fracture into a compound fracture, probably a death sentence. I’ve cut the feet out of an old pair of cotton socks for padding, and I’ve got lots of wool (grin). SwampMan has an emergency kit out at the barn that he thinks has some ACE bandages in it, or I can temporarily use some nylon hose. There are probably paint stirring sticks somewhere in the barn, too, or I can cut up my wooden spoons. There’s no duct tape, but we do have some Gorilla tape. Hmmmmm.

Okay, I’m off to the barn to try to splint a lamb’s leg at 1:00 a.m. with one hand while I’m holding lamb with the other. Broken legs were a lot easier to manage when daughter was at home! I’m not sure if I’ll actually be able to pull the bone to get it into place one handed.

Update: 2:30 a.m. As expected, Midget was NOT happy with the procedure. The leg bone was shattered about a third of the way to the hock. I have to admit my stomach felt a little queasy when I pulled his foot and hock in order to attempt to realign the bone as much as possible, and he didn’t like it one little bit. However, when I was finished, his foot wasn’t dangling bonelessly anymore. I slipped the sock on, keeping my fingers crossed that his struggles wouldn’t dislodge the bone, ACE bandaged the splints in place (the outside splint from below the hoof to the hip, the inside splint below the hoof to just above the hock), then taped it in place, then Gorilla taped over the top of that tape, then put him cautiously down on the floor to determine where to tape the top of the splint. Oh, did I mention that I took him into SwampMan’s barn because it has actual light and my barn doesn’t (not that I’m bitter about that or anything). And that SwampMan’s counters were all filled with tools and parts of my vehicle, so I had to put Midget on his desk to work on him? And that Midget promptly pooped all over it because of the pain of me pulling on the leg? Anyway, I’m always nervous about the balancing act of getting the tape and ACE bandage tight enough to keep the bone stable but loose enough so that it doesn’t cut off circulation. Yikes. I wish I had some of that tape that solidifies into a cast when it dries! Now THAT is something that I really need.

Well, I put him on the floor, he glared at me, cautiously stood on his splints, and then boogety boogety boogety out the door on all four legs. I caught him outside in the dark, brought him back in, and taped that splint securely up to his hip which cut down on his mobility considerably. Then I duct taped over the whole thing from the bottom up. I turned him loose in the barn where he wasn’t happy with his reduced mobility and slower pace, but he was nosing around in every container he could reach. Duh. Dope slap to the head. I got a bowl, filled it up with water, and offered it to him. He slurped it down, then started picking up dried leaves and eating them. Riiiiiiight. Well, I DID have some blueberries in the fridge, so I offered him a handful, which he gobbled down, then looked at me expectantly. FINE. I went to an oak tree and stripped some leaves off. YUMMY! Then I went to the oak tree again and stripped more leaves off. YUMMY! After the third time, I told him he needed to start getting his own groceries. It was time to go back to the barn.

Mom started calling when I got near the gate, hoping that her precious little lambkins was with me. He replied in a loud voice, unlike the pathetic, soft baaaaaaaa of an hour earlier. I carefully put him down in the barn (lots of mud outside) and he decided to go over the lamb feed trough instead of around it. He made it, too.

    Update update

: At 3:30 a.m., went out to the barn to check to see if he had been able to lay down or had fallen and was in distress. He was walking around. *sigh* Maybe he can’t figure out how to manage the lying down part with a stiff back leg.

    Update update update

: At 4:30 a.m., lamb was lying peacefully beside his mother. Okay, now I really CAN go to sleep.

    8:30 P.M. Update:

I cut away a section of fence this morning to make it easier for Midget to get in and out of the barn. He wasn’t able to manage to get up this morning with his splints and needed some help. I was pretty concerned when I saw him follow the flock through a pretty deep puddle (knee deep on me, back deep on him) with his freakin’ splinted back leg into another pasture. D’OH! I just knew he was gonna drown but he made it across just fine. I was too far away to have made it to him on time! He grazed for awhile, then lay down to rest, then I observed him get up. He figured out that if went down with his good leg on the bottom and the bad leg on top, he could get up. Smart little guy!

Then we went out for our first movie of the summer: Cowboys and Aliens (grin). It was a nice, bright, sunny and steamy day when we left. When we got home, the yard was flooded, the pastures were flooded….oh my gracious. I flew outta the truck to check on Midget who was laying unconcernedly under an overhang at the barn chewing his cud. Apparently the rain must have come down suddenly and hard, not giving him and his leg a chance to make it all the way around to the door into the barn, so he took shelter where he was. ALL the sheep were soaked through. He was no exception!

I loaded up the feed bucket and headed out to fill up the feed troughs in the other barn, figuring I was going to have to fill up the ewe feeder, then go back and pick up Midget before feeding the lamb. I looked back and he was running just as fast as he could to catch up! He abruptly veered into another pasture to avoid a washed out area full of water so that he could run into the barn through the fence I’d taken out that morning. I was impressed that he remembered since he’d only been through it one time!

At the feed trough, he ate with a hearty appetite, attempting to push away sheep that were about five times his size (if the bigger lambs got too rough, I whacked ’em with my shepherd’s crook. Now you know what the shepherd’s crook is for–a rowdy sheep whacker.)

Now, off to buy (canned) dog and kitty food. My old Princess cat insists on canned food in the evening. She will pout very, very loudly if she doesn’t get it. Puppy gets a big ol’ can of the canned stuff with his dried dog food, too. I don’t even know why I buy dried dog food. He doesn’t eat it. The ducks do. He mostly eats eggs and varmints that he dispatches.

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More Theater Outta Washington, Plus Fancy Nancy is Communing with Space Aliens (Again)

I tuned in to TV today (I know, I know) to see Obama’s press secretary, Carney, blame the lack of a budget on the congressional Republicans. Again. His sideshow-evocative name seems pretty apt for an Obama press secretary. “What is Obama’s plan exactly again?” “He has details. And stuff. LOOK! OVER THERE! The Republicans are killing unicorns! Where will our Skittles come from? OHMYGAWD it’s BUSH! And he’s killing Santa Claus!”

Yet the Fed is reportedly NOT preparing for a default and government offices are not preparing for a shut down. You would think, if the President is going to continue to veto and stonewall, that government offices would be on notice. Go figure. You would think that I would be getting a letter from the school district saying something like “since your job is dependent on a federal grant, we’ve been notified that the grant may not be paid and so we may have to fire your ass and don’t come to work until further notice” (perhaps in more diplomatic language) but noooooo. Which additionally shows me that maybe this is all staged for the cameras. Is anybody stockpiling cash for potential bank runs? Maybe I’ll just go get in front of a possible bank run and take out my entire fortune of about $38.52 TODAY. Take THAT, Treasury Department. I may use it to stimulate the feed store economy. Or buy some McNuggets with Sweet Chili sauce from McDonald’s.

Carney says that there was a lot of detail on things passed back and forth between Reid and Obama. (Wow. I am so impressed. Maybe they even used the RE: line, as in RE: Totally F***ing the Economy.) And Boehner walked away from the negotiations TWICE. (Gosh darn. Guess he forgot to add the little detail that Obama decided to unilaterally change the bill which doesn’t sound very compromising to ME. And we want to know whether Boehner was walking funny afterwards.) Obama is planning on doing something big and HISTORIC for the spending bill. (You mean the man who only started getting involved @ 2 weeks ago? Oh, the bullshit is getting too deep for me!) And the Republicans must compromise. (But not the Democrats.) Being the Obama press secretary is definitely one of those shovel-ready jobs. Oh, gosh, and Obama is determined that our economy is not to be damaged further. (Dang. I think I snorted up some meatloaf over that. Gotta turn the TV off. Snorting meatloaf is not an approved ingestion method. And it’s probably a felony due to the sodium content.)

Oh, crap. Didn’t get the TV turned off in time. They (news anchors) reported that Pelosi is wearing her WonderWoman Underoos again:

Urgent: Pelosi on today’s vote: “What we’re trying to do is save the world from the Republican budget….we’re trying to save life on this planet as we know it today.”

I shit you not, she actually said that. How stupid are the people that continue to elect her? Does she have a morons only district? To move into Nancy’s congressional district, do they make people take IQ tests and if they’re positive, they get refused permission to enter? Is it a gated congressional district? This is the woman who has hundreds of millions of dollars yet used the Air Force as her private taxi for her and her progeny and their progeny! The woman owns vineyards, yet drank over $100,000 worth of of liquor that the taxpayers had to spring for. Eeesh. Typical Dem. Wants to raise taxes on the “rich” small business proprietors that gross $250,000 per year but I guarantee that her fortune is well protected. I figure she owes ALL of us money. When somebody sacks her palatial estates, please send me my share. And don’t think you can cheap out and send me some shoes. No, no. But I digress….

I’m also wondering how much of all this posturing and pontification in front of the cameras is to make sure that the cameras are NOT pointing at the witnesses testifying in the gunrunner scandal. Would tbe Dems potentially send the country into a deep depression in order to avoid the public scrutinizing their HUGE illegal program in which they were purposely arming Mexican drug cartels while simultaneously screaming about how “we” must control our arms in a blatant attempt to disarm the American citizens because guns are (wait for it) crossing our borders and getting to Mexican drug gangs?

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No Good Choices

Ugh. Politicians in Washington have been spending money like thieves with somebody else’s credit card. (They have. Ours.) Now, the taxpayers want the credit card canceled and torn up into itsy bitsy pieces. The politicians want to increase the credit limit on our credit cards because they want to continue sharing our wealth with the people that don’t pay any taxes. Obama is getting all mad because we’re not buying his line of bullshit in which he promises “Oh, don’t worry, YOU won’t have to pay on that credit card. We’re going to take the money from your rich neighbor. He needs to pay his fair share.” Well, Obama and all his fellow politicians are the rich neighbors and they ain’t paid their fair share yet, so I don’t see it starting now. Hello.

The problem with tearing up the credit cards and insisting that the government abruptly downsize to within our means is that a lot of our GDP comes from deficit spending. “GREAT!” you may say. “The government won’t be able to spend our tax dollars anymore to measure penis size in homosexuals, enable Medicare fraud, and arm the various drug cartels in Mexico. Maybe they’ll quit encouraging illegal aliens! That’s a GOOD thing!” Well, yeah, but the unemployment rate would also skyrocket immediately into depression territory. Living within our means would remove the government spending from the GDP. Our safety nets are being strained to the limit now. What will happen if millions more lose their jobs and homes?

On the other hand, if we DON’T cut spending immediately, we’re also screwed. Austerity will be forced upon us by the market and, when it comes, it won’t be pretty. And it won’t be on our terms. And it would be even more devastating to the economy.

Obama wants to kick the can further down the road because his friends haven’t finished looting, but I’m not sure how much further that can is able to be kicked down the road before it gets smashed flat by oncoming traffic. We’re facing incredibly huge tax increases in the near future with Obamacare and the expiration of the Bush tax cuts, even if Obama and the Democrats don’t get the additional tax increases that they want right now and are holding the ol’ folks hostage to get. Government agencies are deliberately putting such a stranglehold on business (EPA overreaching, anybody?) that they’re moving their facilities to more business-friendly countries. The Department of “Energy” is deliberately subsidizing things that don’t and can’t work and blocking things that do.

*sigh* We’re going to have to redo the government, I think, once TSHTF. Make the senators responsible to the governor of the state again. Make real term limits so that we get rid of the parasitic class of career politicians. End the symbiotic relationship between business/finance and politicians wherein politicians enrich themselves from industries that they are regulating. Do some real campaign finance reform and enforce it, damnit.

In the meantime, I don’t see this ending well.

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Must Be Gettin’ Old or Sumpin’

I had the livestock all fed in the morning and was mowing grass with my Scott rotary push mower before the rain started later in the afternoon. It was about 1:00 p.m., steamy, and my clothes were soaked through with sweat. SwampMan drove up and asked if I wanted to ride into town.

“Why?”

“Because we’re outta tea and I’m thirsty!” Well, God forbid he should drink milk or water, or warm freshly-brewed tea, (grin) so we rode into town. I admit that the cold A/C sure felt good!

He asked if I was hungry, and I said no, because I suddenly had an absolutely splitting headache. He got me some lunch anyway. After coming home, drinking two giant cups of sweet tea and eating some lunch, I’m feeling much better. Guess maybe the heat was getting to me, even though I didn’t notice it at the time. Maybe I’m gettin’ too old for this workin’ outside stuff. Or maybe I’m gettin’ too FAT for this workin’ outside stuff. You would think that with sweatin’ like a horse it would burn some calories, but nooooooooo.

Hmmm. Maybe SwampMan feeds me too well.

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