Friday, June 29, 2007

Dateline: London

The antidote to Chinese Trade Policies gone awry is, of course, accidentally finding a couple of car bombs in downtown London. Do I need to point out that Glamourpuss works in downtown London? You will also see a reference to Rachel of North London who was caught in a car in the tube that exploded in August of '05 in London.

The first car was found by accident, as the news here has reported, when someone reported the car had smoke pouring out of it. Evidently, the car was loaded with propane gas and nails. A new and interesting type of bomb. I just wish that it had been police work that had found it. On the other hand, I'll take luck every time. Better to have found it than have it go off.

Last week, on Larry Kudlow's show on CNBC, it was announced that suicide bombers were leaving the Middle East and would show up first in Europe, then the United States. I'm not going downtown at Rush Hour. Puss, have a fabulous weekend, much chocolate, champers and sex, in any order at all.

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Dismal Rides Again Part Deux

Another NY Times article, and there's another one in Forbes, about China closing down 180 food factories after finding 23,000 violations of food additives and other problems? Think it's just soy sauce? Biscuits, candy, through seafood; and enough illegal ingredients, dyes, and chemicals that the food supply has been compromised.

The Chinese are pointing fingers. They have confiscate an American shipment of fruit as having an unacceptable bacteria level. I'm sorry, I can't go on.

Who needs terrorists and suicide bombers? We apparently have the Chinese and a compromised food supply. I wonder what I ate that is going to be recalled?

Dismal Rides Again

I swear to you that I'd like a week to go by without the Chinese having a product that needs to be recalled that can kill you. And, they're fighting this one.

U.S. Regulators have already decided that they need to have a recall on 450,000 tires that are found on SUVs, vans and pickups where there have already been two confirmed deaths from tread separation
. You may remember the Firestone Recall in 2000 over the same issue.

Here things get confusing. The Chinese Company admits to leaving out the gum layer that keeps the tread bonded to the tire, which costs $1 to install. They are claiming that "foreign competitors are trying to hamper their exports to the United States".

Please read the article and get yourself some real tires if you have these on your vehicle. I can no longer just alert you every week to the latest Chinese fiasco and not have my stomach ulcerate. So, I'm adding a few things for a little mental health here.

Please visit Odat's blog and vote for her in the three categories she is nominated for in Best Blogger Awards. They are related to humor, and it's nights like this that I steal over there and go back to Happy Dancing Feet Friday, and some of the others so I can laugh.

Then, go to Notafraidofchange who is nominated for one of the same awards. By solving simultaneous equations, you can all figure it out, and they both can win big, huge in fact! As they say at Nike, Just Do It!!

Thank You Very Much!!! And, if you stop by Hearts or Mist's, tell them I said Hi.

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Secrets of Super-Happy Couples

I got these from my therapist friend, and they seemed like a good idea, so I'm putting them up. Most of you don't need them. They may help me some though. The article starts below.

Twelve ways to keep your relationship thriving.

Why do some couples seem so head-over-heels? It's not that their lives are any easier or more perfect than yours-- but they do know how to keep the daily grind from eroding their relationship. Get some of what they have by incorporating these happy-couple strategies into your love life.

1. Fall in love all over again. Make a conscious decision to be in love. The more you act as if you are in love, the more you will feel like you are.

2. Remember the good times. Treat your partner like you did at the beginning of your relationship. Make a list of all the things you used to enjoy doing together and add any new fantasies to the list. Plan for them and make them happen.

3. Help your partner feel more loved and secure in your love so that he or she can open up to you and express feelings and ideas without fear of being attacked or judged. Compliment, praise, give a hug. Small gestures make the grandest statements.

4. Don't make unilateral decisions. You're a team in many ways, so act like one. Check in and make decisions together about things large and small. Be willing to compromise.

5. Be present. Train your mind to stay in the moment -- not at work, thinking about the new color you want to paint your kitchen, or how it's time to take the dog to the vet.

6. Pay attention to your physical appearance. Take the time to stay in shape and look good for each other. It does matter.

Couples in crisis focus on all the ways they are different, whereas those who are in love zero in on their similarities and think their differences are cute. Build compatibility by taking turns planning activities to do together. If you don't like your partner's choice, don't complain; it's your turn next.

8. Do not place blame. Replace blame and criticism with solutions and tenderness. Problem-solve together -- sit close, hold hands, touch each other's face or hair. Be playful. When was the last time you laughed together? Rent a comedy movie to tickle your funny bone.

9. Plan for sex. Spontaneity is great but smart couples know that good sex doesn't just happen. Like everything else, it takes time and planning.

10. Fact-find -- don't mind-read. You may think you know but you can't assume. You may believe he should know, but that's not fair, either. Always clear up misinterpretations and misunderstandings to make sure they don't throw you both off course.

11. Fight fair -- and by appointment only. Schedule a limited time to discuss a problem and confine your comments to that issue only. It's easier to relax and feel free to enjoy each other when you know you won't be ambushed by a litany of complaints and criticisms.

12. Prepare for checkouts. Even in the closest marriage, everyone needs time alone. Don't take it personally and don't make each other feel guilty if you need to spiritually and emotionally regroup. Just be sure to tell each other when you are checking out (max, one day) -- and when you're checking back in.

Friday, June 22, 2007

The Problem With Recalls

We do recalls in this country the same way we do legal notices. We put out a legal notice where we hope people will see it. Hopefully the press picks it up and it makes the news where we have a better chance of seeing it. Often companies make announcements to the press and release press releases.

With the recent pet food problem, there were so many 'updates' that the press stopped making national news of the updates. It became incumbent on the individual to check the FDA web site for new listings. Please note that the last update was May 31, after Holmes' death. Also, please note that you can sign up for both a RSS feed and an email list of recalls for pet food. I urge you to do so if you have a pet.

We didn't find out about Holmes' food being tainted until we went to the store and found it removed from the shelves. That is not the best way to find out that the food was recalled three days before. We do not have a system to handle recalls. We have a legal method of handling the problem, just like other legal notices. The emphasis is on putting the information into the public availability. The emphasis is not on communicating.

Let us now look at some of the systems that are in place that could help. Buy any piece of merchandise anywhere and pay for it with a credit card. That transaction is recorded by more than one institution. There is an entire IT industry call Data Mining where Marketing Organizations analyze your purchasing preferences. It is not an accident if you buy at Amazon that they know what you like to buy, what your tastes are, that they can suggest things to you.

They already have everything from your address to your phone number to your underwear sizes. If they had your e mail, they could send you an e mail. They already call me for political donations from every political party on Earth. How about to save a living being? Could be a child, might be a cat.

In these situations, time is of the essence. In law and real estate, that's code for don't waste any time, because time is at a premium. I'm trying to be constructive here. Any thoughts? Anyone want to take this and make it happen? Any discussion?

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

One More Time - Some Real Beauty

This brand new little fledgling female cardinal was very recently born. he still has her original down on her breast. I tried all morning to get the true almost deep purple color of her feathering out. It almost looks like purple velvet. She is so young, she hasn't yet developed the orangeish beak or crown, nor any of the reddish coloring in her feathers.

I am thinking of asking friends here who work with Photoshop to see if they can do a better job with some of the originals. Maybe I'll a few of them.

She let me take a few pictures of her, but I don't want her to learn to not be afraid of me. Not with all of the kids around here. I want her to live. She sees me every day I am at my desk. To James Burnett, after yesterday's post, this is the antidote for me when those kind of things happen to me. I hope this helps. To CMHL, Puss, Hearts, Cranky, et al, this is why Ecclesiastes Chapter 3 was written. To myself, just a reminder, and now you have a few places I go for some beauty, besides two gorgoues images! Have a fabulous day! I'm working on it.

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

The Return To Dismal

This just in at the news my computer, the New York Times reports that Chinese are responsible as more and more toys are being recalled. Please note that I am sending you to this morning's paper so this is really pretty current as I am writing this at 4 am. I urge you to read the entire two page article.

So far this year, China is responsible for every toy recall. I am now leaving the article. You already know that I have previously mentioned the Chinese food and toothpaste problems. I have mentioned the need for the FDA to test more than 1% of the food in the country since we seem to be letting so much bad food into the country.

I have also mentioned the amount of trade that is done with China, and the $trillion trade imbalance that exists. This isn't because we are fools at running the country. It happens because China has lower labor costs than we do. We buy more of their manufactured goods than they buy of ours. They also pirate a lot of goods, and that has a huge effect. The pirating is not a government policy, but it is tolerated. All of this inflates the trade imbalance, and hence the trade surplus that China has with us. China now graduates more scientists and engineers each and every year than the United States does.

So why in this day, and in this age does ANYONE use lead paint? Why is it on a toy that children will play with? Why are the Chinese funding the Taliban in Afghanistan according to Larry Kudlow?

I do NOT believe in Trade Wars, but I will play to win if necessary. I do NOT believe in confiscatory tariffs regardless of how attractive they may be made to look. I DO believe in the original Princeton University (1968) One World Economy Global Concept where we evolve into a one World economy and live in peace. That is personal, and no one else need ever believe it too. It may be an old outdated concept for all I know, but I liked it a lot. On the other hand, I am not happy with what is happening now.

The appropriate way to be an activist is to write to your Senators and Congressperson. You can find your Senators and all of their addresses and e mails by clicking on the reference I have for you. The reference I got you for your representative is the fast, easy way to find how to write your Congressperson. If you want to find out more about the House, or Visiting Washington, or other interesting things, like the law, just take the /writerep/ off the back of the URL.

Sending a written letter is best. It gives them something in their hand to wave a round. Phone calls are almost as good. But whatever you do, be reasonable, polite, and you get a whole lot farther. The last thing is this. Please take the few moments to do something. And remember, when you read the article, the Consumer Product Safety Commission has been cut back and almost gutted. If you have a child, please sign up for the automatic notification of toy recalls. And please remember to vote in 2008.

Finally, Something Not So Dismal

After a while, all the economics and nastiness of everyday life can grind you down if you don't stop and appreciate some of the beauty that surrounds us.

Above is the best side portrait I have been able to get of the male blue jay so far. One day, I am going to break the pickets out of the fence. OK, maybe just a few of them, all where the left feeder is. I have added a right feeder. Restless hands.

Here is an adequate but not great shot of the male blue jay's beautiful markings. I'll post a better shot just as soon as I get one. He's about as fast as the Cardinals. Please don't hold your breath.

And finally, here's our newest little female fledgling Cardinal. She's barely flying, but easy to scare. That's a tiny piece of straw in her beak. I think they're both gorgeous. It may be because I get to see these beauties in real life, but, I don't have anything else to say.

Sunday, June 17, 2007

Please See EchoMouse And Pay Your Condolensces

I am sad to report that Echomouse has lost her mother this past week. After a long struggle, her mother finally succumbed. Carrie was at her mother's side when she finally succumbed.

Earlier this year, her father also passed away from several diseases, most notably Alzheimer's. Someone else not having a great 2007.

Two of you have already been there. Many have not. I hate to always be the bearer of bad news. On the other hand, to the person who has had the unfortunate event happen to them, it's good to have the outside world of people you may read or have seen think of you when you are in need yourself.

This is one of those truly easy things to do that constitutes an easy thing that means so much, one of those little acts of kindness.

Thank You,


Friday, June 15, 2007

A Quick Tid Bit

I saw this on CNBC Thursday night and I have not seen it anywhere else. There are knock-offs of Colgate-Palmolive's Colgate toothpaste in some discount stores that are in a box that looks the same but comes from South Africa. The toothpaste was made in Chine and contains a sweetener called diethylene glycol. You know it as antifreeze.

This toothpaste was evidently banned in Latin America after several people died from it. That was a separate report several weeks ago.

The CNBC Team had no problem going out to a discount store and buying quite a few tubes of the bogus toothpaste. They called Colgate-Palmolive. There is very little information, as of the report yesterday. Still, there is little reason to risk your life on toothpaste.

I went upstairs and checked all of our Colgate toothpaste. None of it was from South Africa. Please remember, this is bogus toothpaste. It is not made by Colgate-Palmolive. What is the real bottom line here?

The FDA can no longer let food into this country without more extensive testing. We have had tainted lettuce, tainted pet food, tainted toothpaste, tainted many people, how many animals have to die before we do something about the food in this country? My understanding is that we now test less than 1% of the food in the country. The issue is how many lives need to be lost before we are going to insist that we test more and stop the bad food from coming into the human food chain?

Thursday, June 14, 2007


We all use money to buy things. Our ability to buy things with our money is called purchasing power. We think because we buy things right here in this country that we use American money and we are unaffected by what happens in the World. Nothing could be farther from the truth.

Walmart and a huge number of retailers buy a huge amount of retail goods from China. The Chinese buy some things like software and movies from the United States, just not nearly as much. The same trade goes on with a large number of other countries of the World. The amount of trade going each way is added up and the difference is 'netted' out, so that the currency can be converted. In other words, the Central Banks in each country end up with the money. In terms of Economics, this is called the Trade Deficit. It was originally thought that the Trade Deficit didn't matter.

For about a year now, the American Dollar (you may remember lines from my childhood like solid as the dollar, as good as the greenback, and on and on) has been falling against most of the World's major currencys. The major exception was the Japanese Yen. There was a very long story but the Japanese were trying to come out of a decade long recession and were charging 0% interest rates on bank loans to get people to borrow money and do projects. If you think about it a moment, you could borrow money from Japan at 0% and buy U.S. Treasurys at 4.5% and make 4.5% risk free while you slept. The Insider Name for this Trade is called the "Carry Trade". Everything works well as long as neither interest rate fluctuates very much. if one or both interest rates starts fluctuating a lot, you sell your U.S. Treasuries and pay off your loan. When a lot of people do this around the same time, the markets go a little nuts when the amounts are in the billions. The speculators who play these games use more money than the Central Banks have. I'm not kidding here.No one knows for sure, but it is estimated that there is still an estimated $trillion still outstanding in Carry Trade Loans. No one knows for sure.

Meanwhile, it is estimated that approximately half of the U.S. debt, which is in the trillions, is owned by both China and Japan. The last two weeks or so has seen a lot of volatility in the US stock markets. In English, using the one index I am confident you all have heard of, the Dow Jones Industrial Average of 30 Stocks, the index has opened and moved both up and then down, or vice versa, three hundred (300) points several times. Why so much volatility you ask? The bond market is having problems. Interest rates are going up in the bond market. The market is demanding higher rates. You ask who is doing this? The answer is the people who buy bond in the bond market. The more sophisticated answer is that the Chinese and the Japanese are no longer buying bonds in our market, they are buying more attractive bonds overseas at higher interest rates, such as in Australia, or England. If you're astute, you might point and say, some of those rates aren't higher. and the response becomes, but the dollar is falling against their currency. Therein lies the problem.

The Chinese Yuan is pegged to the dollar. So we get the same Chinese gods at the same price. But if you want a British Aston Martin, it's getting more expensive. Also a BMW. If your Nissan is built here, it may be the same price, but if it was built in Japan, it's not clear what the price is today versus last month. This is eroding buying power as our currency depreciates against other currencies. Strangely enough, the cheaper currency is good for companies here that export. It makes their exports cheaper abroad, so you want to buy their stocks.

But you might want to talk to your Financial Advisor about putting some cash into the FXA Australian Currency where it earns about 5+% or the FXE which is the Euro, etc. There are several portfolios of different currencies.

Not as good as Hearts, she did two posts today. But, I'm working at it.

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

This Is The Summer Of Our Discontent

It appears that Paris Hilton has better name recognition than almost any Democrat except Hilary Clinton and any Republican running for office today. She also has unified the country more than any other candidate. she has gotten the Rev. Al Sharpton and Pat Buchanan to agree, they both want her bony ass in jail. The last Zogby poll I saw had the Democratic Majority Leader in the Senate, Harry Reid, the Democratic House Leader Mrs. Pelosi, and the President of the United States all with a 29% Approval Rating.

I find it difficult to think that Mr. Bush could possibly find a way to offend more people than he already has before he leaves office, but, he still has time left. And the concept of destroying healthcare beyond its current level of insanity. I may post the actual bills from my last foray into the healthcare system so you can see for yourself some of the unbelievable costs.

Also, through the good offices of my esteemed colleague Heartinsanfrancisco hereafter known as Hearts (I'm not that good a typist to get it right consistently, trust me on this) another blog writer of the quality of herself, Glamourpuss, and Crankster (who I think must be moving from Va. Tech to his new home in NYC). His name is James Burnett and he is well worth taking the time to read. I am talking about excellence in writing when I mention these folks in the same paragraph. They are in Mist's League, and that's the rarefied air where I come from. Please note, I am NOT in any of these folks league, they are WRITERS, I think, but cannot write. Let us never get confused here. That's why I'm telling you about the writers, because Healthcare is going to become a big issue in the next election, and there's already a lot of misinformation out there. Time to go look at pretty pictures! Hello Lee, Cindy, Claudia et al!

Sunday, June 10, 2007

Please Express Your Condolences

Spoon has been a regular here since I started writing this blog. One of her closest friends, someone where you know the entire family forever and are like a part of the family, had her father murdered for $50 last week. Spoon is hurting, so is her girlfriend and her entire family. Spoon has published the epitaph that her girlfriend gave at the funeral of her father.

I'm asking that you go and leave your condolences there. We need to look out for each other. It doesn't really matter if you have known spoon before or not. The Universe has lost another light and we should take a moment to acknowledge our common loss. That light will never come our way again so we all have lost and should take a moment to mourn. Thank you.


Friday, June 08, 2007

What Goes Around Comes Around

I am heavily influenced by quite a few people. I believe it was Milton that wrote that "no man is an island unto himself" and that includes me. I periodically mention Tiffany King here. Tiffany is a Physical Therapist in a hospital. On Tuesday, May 29th, she had a great day and probably saved someone's life.

The day before was Memorial Day. She volunteered to work. She is in Alliance, Nebraska, a garden spot of the country. She had two patients. One was an older man, with Alzheimer's, a loathsome disease. He had no visitors, but was lucid for a change. She spent her own time visiting with the man as he told her of his days in WW2 with Patton in Europe. She didn't have to do it. She was on her own time. I remember several years ago there were bumper stickers proclaiming that we should all commit senseless acts of kindness. These are only two incidents Tiffany has written about, she's a regular contributor who never bothers to say anything. I'm proud to say I have actually met her. She's better and funnier in person than you'd ever believe from reading her posts.

CMHL is well known to me as someone who can and has posed an enormous number of moral situations that I have considered, and argued; and subsequently changed me enormously. Most notably, I used to argue in favor of euthanasia and Kevorkian Laws. But I am very opposed to Capital Punishment. There are intellectual arguments that can be made, but she was very correct not only on a consistency basis, but on the basis of having to make the decision under duress. I was there twice in recent months with my cat, and it's a decision best left to a professional if there's a decision to be made at all. Holmes rallied once when both Judy and I were certain that she was gone. I would hate to make that mistake with anyone, ever.

CMHL has always tackled the very toughest topics with grace, intelligence, tact, and insight. She has consistently been smarter and worker harder than me, and that means she went a whole lot farther because I work more than most. Still, she has always outclassed me. Who could ever ask for better? Not me.

On June 6th, Mist1 wrote a post about being disinvited from an affair. It was sort of funny if you didn't read between the lines. I took umbrage at the post, naturally. You can dump on me, but not on a respected colleague.

On the 7th of June, I went to the doctor's office, with all of the above rifling through my head. A woman wheeled into the lobby, clearly not able to handle the wheelchair she was in. I just asked her what floor she was going to and asked if I could wheel her to her doctor's office. And I did. It was no big deal, except to her. She asked my name, and I told her my first name, and I told her not to worry, that what goes around, comes around. Anyone of you would have done the same thing. At a minimum, it was transcendentally putting a positive vibe back in the Universe for Mist and Holmes.

Today, the news was covering the changing of the Head of the Joint Chiefs of Staff during wartime to show an enormous number of news people with cameras covering Paris Hilton being picked up at her house by the Los Angeles Police to be taken to Court for a hearing to determine why she had been released against a Judge's orders. I am certain that by now you all see my point. Paris Hilton and celebrity justice, or injustice, is not more important than changing the Head of the Joint Chiefs in wartime. I am tired of the media over covering Mel Gibson-Don Imus-Micheal Richards-Isiah Washington-Paris Hilton (hereafter called GIRWH) for bad behavior.

GIRWH is merely an example of an emerging class of people that seem to be treated differently by the Legal System. Barry Bonds seemingly followed the rules of Baseball although he broke Federal Law by taking steroids without a prescription that had not yet been banned by baseball. What happened after they were banned is not clear at all. Baseball did nothing to him and neither did the law. CEOs of corporations seems to get away with murder with sweetheart boards that help them loot corporations. Bob Nardelli of Home Depot took over $200 million out of Home Depot legally with the Board's knowledge, which turned out to be more than the company's stock price appreciated during his tenure. If you want to throw illegal immigrants in jail for breaking the law, punish the corporations that hire them too. Let us be consistent. If you are going to send me to jail for reckless driving and then violating my parole, send the celebrity to jail too.

We cannot have a separate Legal System for the Rich and Famous, and they do not deserve non-stop media coverage of their every move. Maybe someone should follow Tiffany around with a camera. Maybe someone could teach me to be as funny as Mist. I'd give her my side of the closet in the bedroom for shoes except my wife already got it. Unfortunately, it doesn't get any better than that.

Wednesday, June 06, 2007

A Red Letter Day

Today is my 36th Wedding Anniversary. What is remarkable is that both of our parents were married for 35 years before one of their partners died. We are going to Nick's Chop House for dinner. I like Nick's better than Morton's and Ruth Kris' because it is closer to the house, and the drive home when you are stuffed and can't see straight is best when it is short.

I am not going to worry about Presidential politics tonight. I am not going to worry about the correction in the stock market tonight. I am going to worry about taking a short trip, maybe to New York for a weekend to get away. Or a weekend at the Ocean. Something that makes you think it's summer.

What do you do to get away for summer?

Monday, June 04, 2007

Would You Believe

While I was waiting for Blogger to come around, I was reading the business section of Yahoo and ran into this article about a guy who wanted to buy a house in Florida, but had a credit problem. It seems he hadn't paid some bills and had a bad FICO score.

For those of you who don't know, your FICO score runs from around 350 to 850 and determines if you get a loan and what the interest rate will be if you get it. Judy and I hit over 800. It's true. We pay the bills on time. Plain and simple. FICO is a concept that came from a company called Fair Issac, as you can read in the article. In fact you can read almost everything factual in the article, except what I have to say.

Evidently, there are now sites on the internet where you can "buy" a "spot" on someone's credit card that has a rating like mine and in a month magically transform your FICO rating from crap to excellence. The example in the article is a guy who in a month bought a half million dollar house in Florida that he didn't originally qualify for. The other example is the guy who quit work because he receives $2500 a month in income from renting out 19 "spots" on his credit cards each month. A cottage industry has broken out.

No, I don't think I will do this as a renter of spots on my credit cards. I noticed that Fair Issacs would be making changes. Also, I can't imagine that this loophole will be left open, and I don't want to get caught in the door later on. Just cautious.

Saturday, June 02, 2007

This Has To Be Quick Before......

My ISP and Blogger are not playing well in the sandbox together, when we have been online. There is a local switch problem. We have had spotty access at best for the last several days, hence I haven't blogged nor posted. I'm getting this out so you know what's going on. Things will return to normal when my ISP returns to normal. Sorry for the interruption. Maybe if I sacrifice a small goat? Nahhhhhh, I don't think so. Be back soon, I hope.