09:40 – Barbara’s mom called Barbara’s cell phone again yesterday. When Barbara answered, her mom was just repeating Barbara’s cell phone number over and over again. Barbara couldn’t get her mother to respond, so she finally just hung up on her mom and called the nurses’ station. She ended up talking to her mom’s social worker, who interviewed Barbara about her mom’s medical and other history. The mystery of how Sankie was getting their phone numbers was cleared up when the social worker told Barbara that she’d seen Sankie wandering around carrying a slip of paper with phone numbers on it. Barbara told the social worker that she and her sister couldn’t take calls from their mom, particularly at work, and asked her to make sure that Sankie had only Dutch’s home phone number. Barbara is still hopeful that her mom will recover, of course, but I’m afraid that this is the new normal.
I’ll be spending some time this week filling bottles, thousands of them. I’m really glad I decided to buy that bottle-top dispenser. It speeds up filling immensely, even counting cleanup time between different solutions, particularly when I’m doing 60 to 240 bottles at a time. Meanwhile, I’ll also get labels printed for yet another batch of 60 chemistry kits and 60 biology kits. That’s about 5,000 container labels for Barbara to apply. Which means I need to get a few thousand more bottles and caps ordered.
17:01 – Well, the Italian elections are over, and if there’s one thing clear about this mess it’s that Italian voters have rejected “austerity” resoundingly. Bersani and his left-wing Democratic Party did much worse than expected, losing the Senate to a resurgent Berlusconi and his People of Freedom Party and winning only a 35% to 29% margin in the lower chamber. Former comedian Beppe Grillo and his Five Star Movement did much, much better than expected, with solid third place numbers in the polling. Mario Monte, the technocrat imposed on Italy by the EU, was a far distant fourth.
Bersani and Berlusconi hate each other’s guts and their parties’ policies are diametrically opposed, so there’s almost no chance that they will form a coalition. In essence, Italy is now without a government and is likely to remain so until new elections can be held later this year. Which means the ECB will no longer be propping up Italy’s bonds. Which means you can expect to see Italian bond yields start to skyrocket, sooner rather than later. Which means the euro crisis is back, bigger and badder than ever. Not that it was ever really gone. It was just smoldering. Watch it now, as it bursts back into flames worse than anything we saw at the “height” of the crisis. At this point, the most likely outcome is that Italy will crash out of the euro, returning to the lira, and default on its massive debt pile. The follow-on effects for Greece, Spain, Portugal, and France are likely to be catastrophic.