Thursday, 22 May 2014

09:16 – Darrell Issa is still pushing for USPS reform. His latest bill in committee would end door delivery for 15 million addresses over the next 10 years, substituting curbside or communal boxes. At the stated cost annually per address of $380 for door delivery versus $240 for curbside versus $170 for communal boxes, the cost savings could be substantial. The articles I’ve seen state that USPS would pay all costs for the change, but I doubt that. I’m sure they’ll pay to install communal boxes, but I don’t see them paying to install curbside boxes at individual homes. Actually, they should. Assuming their numbers are accurate, replacing door delivery with a curbside box saves $140 per year, every year. If it costs $140 to install a curbside box, they’d pay off that cost in one year and then save $140/year every year thereafter.

Actually, I suspect they’d save more than $140/year when you consider the improved fuel mileage and reduction in maintenance costs on their vehicles. Nationwide, those LLV USPS vans are started and stopped literally billions of times a month. They must go through a metric boatload of new starters every year. And, although I’d be annoyed at being forced to pay for a curbside box and installation, otherwise I’d have no problem with shifting to curbside delivery. Obviously, I wouldn’t be able to fit outgoing kits into a curbside box, but I could just make up a laminated sign to hang on the flag and train the carriers on our route to come to the door when I had outgoing packages.

I’m still building kits and filling bottles. Sales are still slowish, but starting to pick up. Starting in mid-July, only two months from now, things will start to get crazy, so we need to be ready.


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57 Responses to Thursday, 22 May 2014

  1. bgrigg says:

    Canada Post is moving away from door delivery and new areas have had communal boxes for well over a decade. Recently there has been an increase in break-ins at the communal boxes. I’m still in a door delivery area, but my mail box is completely unsecured. There are only two types of mail I receive by the mailman. Mail from the various governments that cannot be emailed (DL replacement, tax notices, etc.) or junk mail. All other mailed communication (bank statements, bills) come straight to my inbox. When my neighborhood is switched to the communal boxes, I will probably only check my mail once or twice per week. Since there isn’t a designated area on my street to place the communal box, they will either need to expropriate the space needed, or lease the space from the resident. I wonder which they’ll choose?

    Any Canada Post vehicles I’ve seen are left idling and aren’t turned off at every stop. In direct violation of my city’s anti-idling law. Oh right, two rules. One for the ruling class and the rest for us.

  2. SteveF says:

    but I could just make up a laminated sign to hang on the flag

    I did the opposite some years ago when I worked at a small company which did a lot of shipping. I’d put brightly (and differently) colored “No UPS” and such signs in the window so they wouldn’t have to come in and ask. The drivers loved it because it saved them three minutes or so, and apparently they were paid to do the route each day rather than by the hour.

    At that company my job title was “Head of Research and Software Development” or something like that, but as I was the only on-staff software developer it didn’t mean all that much. When the company staff is three to six, including the owner, your responsibilities tend to be whatever needs to be done at the moment. I’m sure various small businessmen who read this site are intimately familiar with this. In fact, I think a certain small businessman should make his job title “Chief Geek and Bottle Filler”.

  3. Chuck W says:

    Nothing less than door delivery is satisfactory to me. I am often gone as much as 6 days at a time. NEVER has the post office gotten the ‘hold mail until I get back’ right at any place I have ever lived and needed it. Very unsafe for my situation.

    I am baffled at why you guys actually WANT less service from government. You will end up paying the same price or more over time and have less to show for it — just exactly like having to pump your own gas, and now check yourself out at every major store in America. No wonder this country is heading downhill fast. Everybody but me wants it!

  4. Robert Bruce Thompson says:

    TANSTAAFL

    I can’t believe you’re arguing against efficiency. Maybe it’s just around here, but no one HAS to pump his own gas. Many stations have full-serve islands, but of course the cost per gallon is higher. I’ve also never seen any store that requires customers to check themselves out. It’s an option at many, yes, but certainly not required.

    If you demand door-delivery, you’ll probably be able to get it by paying a fee. If the USPS cost numbers are accurate, that should be $140/year for door delivery rather than curbside.

  5. rick says:

    Nothing less than door delivery is satisfactory to me.

    We have lived in our house 29 years and our neighborhood never had door delivery. We live in an established urban neighborhood in the hills, about ten minutes from downtown. The oldest houses in the neighborhood were built in the 1920’s. Our mailbox is a rural type on top of a post. Our letter carrier will bring packages and anything that needs a signature to our door, which is at the top of a steep driveway bordered by stairs and a handrail. Other delivery services leave packages at our door. This works for me.

    Rick in Portland

  6. bgrigg says:

    I’m surprised that Rick didn’t point out that it’s illegal in Oregon (and also New Jersey) to pump your own gas!

    There are very few full service gas stations in BC (Canada?) and none that I know of near me. I wouldn’t let some pimply faced teen pump gas into my vehicles, and haven’t since one tried to twist off the race style flip top gas cap on my 1967 Barracuda, back when I was also a pimply faced teen.

    I also prefer self checks at stores, as I’m pretty good at scanning and punching in SKU numbers, and find the lines much shorter and quicker. I’ll also point out that when shopping online you check your purchases out yourself. What’s the beef?

  7. dkreck says:

    Pump your own gas? I haven’t seen a station with an attendant in years, except when I went to Oregon. Fresh & Easy markets have a self check only. They came around here like blockbusters but have since closed all but three locations.

    I’ve had nothing but curbside service for the 24 years I’ve lived here. I think it has always been that way because we are an unincorporated area, although surrounded by city areas that I know have door-to-door. Packages brought to the door (sets off three-dog alarm.) All new neighborhoods get community boxes.

    Truck is always shut off when the carrier gets out. Why haven’t they moved to electric? My UPS truck is a very large electric van. Whir like sound as it moves and for some reason has a front grill that is just solid stamped metal. Just for looks I guess.

    Opposition from the mail carriers union however.

  8. Robert Bruce Thompson says:

    When we were in high school, my best friend worked at a gas station. I’ll never forget the time he pumped gas into a VW bug. The filler cap was in the front compartment where the engine would be in most cars.

    The auto-shutoff on the pump didn’t work, and David ended up pumping several gallons of gasoline into the front compartment of the VW. Instead of telling the guy what had happened, he just told him “that’ll be $2.08”. (Back then, gasoline was $0.14 or $0.15 per gallon.) The guy said he knew he was low but the car had never taken that much before. David just let the guy drive off. Presumably, the gasoline sloshing around in the front compartment must have drained off or evaporated because we didn’t hear anything about a VW bug burning.

  9. Chuck W says:

    Mint 17 came out over the weekend. Last night was the first time I had free to install it. Stayed up late, even though I was overly tired from an exhausting week that I hope is over. Big improvements in every area of Mint, IMO, although it needs yet more.

    I have had Linux on the Asus Zenbook (about the size of the Mac Air) since I got it, but this time, I wiped the 24gb SSD and installed it there. Those partitions contained the backup installations of Win8, but I have decided that computer will never have Windows. Of course, it screams using that SSD. It did not erase the old installation on the spinning HD, even though I told it to do that. I will move the Home directory to the spinning drive and leave the OS on the SSD. Login screen appears 2 seconds after the Grub screen does its timeout. Surely there is a way to bypass that Grub screen. Maybe getting the old installation off the spinning HD and as a boot choice in Grub, will do that.

    Configurations are easier, but I still have to do a lot of modifications to get things to my liking, and I am finally satisfied that it equals Windows. I hate it that the developers are mostly Europeans but they insist on giving America a version that is wildly ISO non-compliant. I have to make changes to get the calendar to start the week on Monday and for week numbers to follow the ISO standard. Maybe I should install it as a European locale, then change it after installation. Even that would probably just switch me to the US stuff that is non-compliant. No country but Puerto Rico and maybe the Philippines accepts us as King of the World, but we still act like we are, when in fact, we are the lone world holdout (of consequence) on many standardization issues, including metric. I can tell you that that is a drag on US advancement.

    Mint 17 is much more flexible on screen setup. I was finally able to get it to my satisfaction with font and icon sizes while maintaining 16:9 screen ratio. Could not do that with Mint 15.

    Mint 17 is Qiana, based on Ubuntu Trusty. Qiana is the new Mint LTS good to 2019, which is why I have been waiting on it, as my previous OS, Olivia, had support ended back in January. Looks like Linux is finally making progress in areas that should have been resolved long ago. Guess the slapping around that Canonical has gotten in the last couple years, has made a difference.

  10. Robert Bruce Thompson says:

    No country but Puerto Rico and maybe the Philippines accepts us as King of the World, but we still act like we are, when in fact, we are the lone world holdout (of consequence) on many standardization issues, including metric. I can tell you that that is a drag on US advancement.

    Eh. The US is king of the world, and most nations acknowledge that, at least under their breath. It doesn’t make them happy, but they know it’s true.

    Speaking of that and touching on something we were discussing earlier, did you see that the US government is going to fine the French bank BNP Paribas $5 billion for violating US sanctions on Iran and Syria? And they’ll pay up. Count on it. The US dictates the world economy, and no bank can afford to get on the wrong side of the US government. I call it UAD, or Unilaterally Assured Destruction.

    And what evidence do you have that not adopting the metric system has been a drag on the US? The US is a huge market. If foreign manufacturers want to sell to us, they have to do things our way.

  11. Chuck W says:

    I am not a guy who buys the cheapest of everything. I don’t choose to do the self-checkout, but I pay for it by waiting in line much longer. This is a war. But you guys apparently do not understand. The big conglomerates, including USPS, want to give you as little service as absolutely possible. And every year you get less service and pay more, and that’s efficiency? In this neighborhood around Tiny House, there used to be letter drop boxes about every 6 blocks. There were 2 within 3 blocks of Tiny House when I was a kid. Now, you have to drive to the nearest one, or walk a mile and a half to it — uphill both ways.

    No way less service = more efficiency in my book. It is a tired excuse to rip me off. No one in the city limits here has cluster boxes, except the new multi-family apartment/condos and houses at the edge of the city limits that were rural routes once upon a time. We DO have a break-in/theft problem in Tiny Town, and the last thing I need is for mail to be stacking up visibly while I am out of town for a week.

  12. Ray Thompson says:

    I’m surprised that Rick didn’t point out that it’s illegal in Oregon

    Except for motorcycle riders who can pump their own gas.

    Made a trip to Oregon many years ago. I did not know about the Oregon law for cars. I pulled up, got out and started pumping. Same as I always did in Texas. You would have thought I committed a major crime. Attendant came running out arms waving and screaming at me. Today there would probably be 18 police cars, 4 swat vehicles, two ambulances, 6 fire trucks and a couple of news crews that would show up while they tasered my ass and apologized to my wife for the smoking remains and charged her a removal fee.

  13. Chuck W says:

    Everything is standardized in Germany. Here’s my evidence: when you need a new toilet seat in Germany, there is ONE size. No possibility of making a mistake. We have a zillion different cell phone systems here in the US. Call quality is super-crappy at BEST! Every call in Germany was as crystal clear as the old AT&T land lines used to be in America. And I never, EVER had a call dropped in Germany. I have them dropped at the rate of about 2 or 3 a week here. Did not make a difference whether I was in a train, bus, elevator — cell phone performance was ideal. People have frequently told me they cannot understand me on the phone here, and that never happened in Germany. I even used the same damned phone here for 3 years that I used there, before moving up to a Samsung Galaxy S3, acknowledged as one of the best Android phones on the planet. People still say they cannot understand me.

    Like I have repeatedly said — until you have lived elsewhere in the world for a while, Americans cannot believe like is as good anywhere else, when it is actually better. Ask Brad. He confirms that from time-to-time. Life is both a hassle and a drag in US. Just saw a report not long ago, that more Americans gave up US citizenship last year than ever in the history of the country. The market at work.

  14. Ray Thompson says:

    I’ll never forget the time he pumped gas into a VW bug.

    Candid Camera did a stunt like that involving a VW. Replaced the normal 9.6 gallon tank with a 40 gallon tank. They would pull into a station and ask for the car to be filled. Some funny expressions on the attendants when they got to about 30 gallons as no car in existence took that much gas.

  15. Robert Bruce Thompson says:

    “We DO have a break-in/theft problem in Tiny Town, and the last thing I need is for mail to be stacking up visibly while I am out of town for a week.”

    So rent a PO Box. Problem solved.

  16. Chuck W says:

    What’s the beef?

    That’s the attitude that is killing the service economy in the US. Which is all we have left, but that the corporates are happy to dispense with. Big money makes money on loans, no longer by being in business. And since Bill and everybody else but me seems happy to do everything for themselves, and get no service whatsoever from any company or worker, that is exactly what we will get. If I check myself out, I ought to be getting the items cheaper, because Walmart or whoever does not have to pay wages and benefits to the clerks anymore. But no — go right ahead and do that job for them for free. They LOVE it that you do!

  17. Miles_Teg says:

    “Many stations have full-serve islands, but of course the cost per gallon is higher.”

    I haven’t seen a full service petrol station for many many years. I’d rather pump my own petrol anyway.

    “I’ve also never seen any store that requires customers to check themselves out. It’s an option at many, yes, but certainly not required.”

    Oh, the local supermarkets don’t usually *require* that customers do their own scanning, but sometimes the queues at the full service checkouts are so long that one is effectively forced in to the self service area. I absolutely hate self service and I hate even more being forced to use them. The supermarkets claim that they can’t get staff to staff served checkouts, but what they really mean is they can’t get staff at their pathetic wages.

    The reason I hate self service in the supermarket is that there is not much room to store items you’ve scanned. If you put them straight back in the trolley you might over- or under-count. I also hate that in Canberra, and now South Australia the supermarkets are no longer allowed to provide free plastic bags to carry groceries. You have to bring your own or buy them.

  18. Chuck W says:

    So rent a PO Box. Problem solved.

    How does that solve any problem? It makes me have to go to the PO every damned day to get my mail! You guys have such great ideas to shift the burden from service providers to the consumer — AND pay more in that process.

  19. Robert Bruce Thompson says:

    Chuck, if you dislike living the US so much, why don’t you live elsewhere?

    Europe is moribund, so that’s not an option for me. Other than the US, the only country I’d even consider living in is Canada. I will admit that in some ways I’d prefer living there, but the converse is also true. On balance, I’ll continue living here by choice, not because I’m ignorant of the options.

    What you don’t seem to realize is that choices like this are essentially a ranked and weighted list. What’s important or even critical for you may be a who cares to me, and vice-versa. Look up the concept of utiles.

  20. Miles_Teg says:

    Ray wrote:

    “Candid Camera did a stunt like that involving a VW.”

    Ya showing ya age, ya old fart. I remember seeing that episode of Candid Camera in the late Sixties or early Seventies.

  21. Miles_Teg says:

    “Chuck, if you dislike living the US so much, why don’t you live elsewhere?”

    Why move? Why not just reform the system? Chuck has a lot of legitimate complaints and I think it’s open to someone to complain about them and reform the system rather than just leave. If you didn’t like the dominance of evangelicals in NC you could move to eastern Germany or Estonia, where they have little or no influence. But I don’t expect you to do that.

  22. bgrigg says:

    Seriously Chuck, do you think you are actually getting any service when a clerk scans your groceries for you? My experience is they take just as long as I do, and in some cases they are much slower than I am. And what service are they supposed to be offering? Packing the groceries for you? I used to work in a grocery store back when they had to enter the prices on a manual cash register, and I stood and packed groceries into paper bags. I am MUCH better at packing groceries than the girls scanning the products will ever be.

    I suppose that when there are food replicators in the home, you will insist at shopping at a “real” store?

  23. Chuck W says:

    BTW, no full service gas stations anywhere around me. None. Zero. We had a place called Swifty that had both, but they only took cash for full service, no credit cards. They went belly-up a couple months ago. Typical service station here is a major chain with an attached convenience store. Swifty was the only one that had no convenience store. Obviously, that model does not work well. Walmart and a couple grocery chains have gas pumps at the edge of their parking lots. They are the only outfits without a convenience store. But even though they have a clerk for payment, those are still 100% serve yourself. I have no idea where one would go to get gas pumped for you. New Jersey, I suppose.

  24. Chuck W says:

    No, Bill. I am not going to willingly relieve Walmart of serving me by doing their work for them for free. I suppose next you will be stocking their shelves from boxes on the floor for them at no charge.

    And food replication is not going to be happening during my lifetime. Just like flying cars projected in Popular Science have not been.

    Boy the site sure is really slow today. About 2 minutes to post anything.

  25. pcb_duffer says:

    It’s been a long time since I saw a full service option here in Lower Alabama. However, if you’ve got a handicapped placard / plate, Florida law requires the clerk to pump the fuel for you, at no upcharge.

  26. OFD says:

    I’m kinda leaning to Chuck’s point of view on this matter; it appeareth to me that here in the good ol’ United States of Amnesia that generally speaking, we pay more for crummier and/or non-existent service these days. And quite surly and rude often enough, too.

    We may be King of the World right now, but as time goes by, that world will become smaller and shittier, and our royal attire likewise; simple financial arithmetic tells us that, even me, a recovering English major. As for “reform,” I think we’re well past any hope of that, as I’ve said before; the system is hopelessly fucked up and needs a complete format, reboot/install of an improved o.s.

    I believe we’ll end up in our lifetimes living in one of several possible historical scenarios; at BEST, the UK just after the Good War. Or, Wiemar between the big wars. Maybe we’ll get knocked back to the year 1900, with more horses than cars again, basic telegraph/telephone service, and electricity generated via water power and steam again.

    “…while they tasered my ass and apologized to my wife for the smoking remains and charged her a removal fee.”

    Silly. C’mon. They wouldn’t apologize.

  27. dkreck says:

    Help for the handicapped at gas stations. California has that too. Posted on every pump. Never seen it and I buy gas two or three times a week.

  28. Chad says:

    Today there would probably be 18 police cars, 4 swat vehicles, two ambulances, 6 fire trucks and a couple of news crews that would show up while they tasered my ass and apologized to my wife for the smoking remains and charged her a removal fee.

    I lol’d. 🙂

    Candid Camera did a stunt like that involving a VW. Replaced the normal 9.6 gallon tank with a 40 gallon tank. They would pull into a station and ask for the car to be filled. Some funny expressions on the attendants when they got to about 30 gallons as no car in existence took that much gas.

    My first car was a 1973 Chevy Malibu 454 with a 27 gallon gas tank. I can remember filling it up in 1992 and walking into a gas station and having the clerks give me a double take when they saw my total.

    Darrell Issa is still pushing for USPS reform

    I seriously dislike the USPS to the point that I am quite willing to pay extra to send things UPS or FedEx if it means not having to give any of my money to the USPS. Granted, I only ship about a dozen packages per year. I hate post offices, I hate the lines, I hate that they’re always understaffed, I hate their half-assed investigation of mail theft, I hate the APWU, I dislike most of the mail carriers we’ve had over the years, I hate how I’ll be inside and see them pull up and NOT get out of their vehicle and ring my doorbell but then stick a “delivery attempt” notice in my mailbox, and so on and so forth. I’m not saying my experience with the USPS is typical, but, based on my experiences, why would I give them my money?

    Seriously Chuck, do you think you are actually getting any service when a clerk scans your groceries for you? My experience is they take just as long as I do, and in some cases they are much slower than I am

    I’m not sure about that. I’ve stood in line at the self-checkout watching morons (the same ones who probably call the checkout clerks incompetent) struggling to scan their own merchandise. It’s almost physically painful to behold. I want to scream, “You suck at this! Go to the regular checkout!” I like the self checkout because I like anything that lessens my real life interaction with other humans. I dislike small talking with clerks as they scan my merchandise. Granted, I’m not as fast at it as an experienced checkout clerk would be, but I’m fairly proficient with self-checkout systems.

  29. Lynn McGuire says:

    Chuck W. lives in an area of the USA where everyone is moving to Texas. No more people to do the little jobs and the economy is collapsing. And, most everything important has been moved to the metric system except milk, OJ and gasoline. They don’t dare change to liters because they would have to sell 4 liters of stuff for the price of a gallon. Housewives are mean and notice these little things.

    Don’t worry Chuck, we are getting ready to drop the interstate bridges when Texas and the other 19 states secede. That will stop them from coming in. We are just waiting for the Dakotas to make up their minds (I think South Dakota is already “in”).

    BTW, there are going to be 40,000 houses built in the Houston metropolitan area this year. Not anywhere near our peak of 65,000 homes built in 2007? but still significant.

  30. SteveF says:

    So let’s say you’re paying 3.69 9/10 for a gallon of gas now, self-serve. If the station is required to pump your gas for you, don’t you think it likely that they’ll be charging an extra $.15 per gallon for the service? If you choose to pay it, that’s your choice. Don’t force me to pay it.

    It seems reasonable to get a discount for checking your own groceries, but I don’t think the grocery stores can do it. The profit margin of supermarkets is usually very small, a couple percent. If they offered a 1% discount for using the self-serve lane, I’d guess more people would feel insulted at the tiny amount, and refuse to self-check, than would take them up on it. And that 1% discount would destroy the store’s bottom line if enough people did take it. Alternatively, if you figure the loaded cost of a cashier is $10/hr and that it takes two minutes to run a cart of groceries through, that comes to 30 cents or so. Again, offering someone such a tiny amount to do their own would likely be seen as insulting.

    I don’t know enough about the economics of Walmart and such to know if they can offer a “meaningful” discount. I’d guess not, but that’s an uneducated guess.

  31. Chad says:

    Help for the handicapped at gas stations. California has that too. Posted on every pump. Never seen it and I buy gas two or three times a week.

    In Nebraska they’re only required to assist you if there is more than one clerk on duty.

    My mother-in-law is handicapped to the point she needs an electric wheelchair and has a van rigged to carry one wherever she goes (it loads and unloads from the rear and not the side). She was grumbling the other day because all of a restaurant’s handicap parking spots where taken and she had to park far from the door. So, me being me, I said, “Does it matter? The electric scooter does all of the work. Whether you’re 5 feet from the door or half of a mile doesn’t require any extra energy or effort on your part.” She gave me the look of death. Of course, I get a secret pleasure out of causing those looks from her. Frankly, for people in her situation they should take away their handicap parking privileges. Only people who are handicapped AND ambulatory really need them.

  32. Chuck W says:

    If I could have afforded to stay in Germany, I would still be there. We were comfortable when there were 2 of us working, but losing Jeri did not cut expenses in half; it did cut income by half, and that made it impossible for me to stay.

    I really have trouble with this ‘if you don’t like it, get the fuck out’ attitude. That is not how our country was built — in fact, the natives here told the King to get the fuck out, and we ended up kicking his ass out. What I understand clearly though, is that no American, including most of you, has even the remotest idea of what living abroad (for more than a vacation) is like. Fred Reed explains it pretty well. Most people think of Mexico as some kind of backward hell hole, when in fact, whatever it is, is preferable to the US. I am well acquainted with several people who now live in Mexico, and — like Fred — would never return to live here. Far cheaper than Germany too, and if you locate in the right place, you will have access to Cuban-trained doctors, who rank among the best in the world. When this attitude that ‘we’re the best and there’s no need to change’ becomes pervasive, as it is now, it ensures retrogression.

    I had a cousin, much older than me, who worked for GM in an assembly plant. As the Japanese started climbing into the US picture with imports, he laughed at them. “Those Japs will NEVER beat GM!” he constantly proclaimed. Well, he died at an early age in his fifties (heavy smoker), so he never saw that they actually did beat GM — so thoroughly that his plant does not even exist anymore, nor do thousands upon thousands of GM jobs in the geographical region where he worked. The town he worked in is now a ghost town, just like Tiny Town.

    Europe moribund? Even with their growth pains on the way to Federalism, they continue to beat us in almost every measure in every area — certainly in matters of quality of life. The only thing that keeps us going is forcing everybody to do our will. The capability to keep that up will not last.

  33. rick says:

    I’m surprised that Rick didn’t point out that it’s illegal in Oregon

    I didn’t point it out because we have two electric cars and a gasoline car. We use the gasoline car only for trips, so I rarely go to gas stations as my wife normally does when we need it. She is happy not to pump gas, especially when it’s cold and rainy. We’re driving to Port Townsend, Washington this weekend, so I’ll have to pump gas for the first time in a while. Almost all Oregon gas stations are what they call mini serve. They pump your gas but don’t clean your windshield or check your oil. The one near our house will clean your windshield, but they have the highest prices in town.

    Rick in Portland

  34. OFD says:

    “BTW, there are going to be 40,000 houses built in the Houston metropolitan area this year.”

    I’m afraid I don’t really see that as a good thing. But I’m probably wrong. We’ve seen a bunch of new houses and office buildings put up in this area but they’ve stayed vacant for months, if not years. Yes, I realize this is apples and oranges geographically, but still…

    “…Housewives are mean and notice these little things.”

    Yep. And that unnecessary dough spent on such frivolous stuff as gas, orange juice and milk cuts into their online shopping for vital necessities like another hundred pairs of shoes and more piles of clothes, makeup, jewelry, etc. And the vacations to sunny places in the winter.

  35. rick says:

    What I understand clearly though, is that no American, including most of you, has even the remotest idea of what living abroad (for more than a vacation) is like.

    Our son (30) has been living in China, teaching math (in an English immersion program), for the last year and plans to stay at least one more year and our daughter (18) has been living in Ecuador as a high school exchange student for the last year, so they both understand what living abroad is like. My wife lived in Benin for two years in the Peace Corps. While I have not lived abroad for more than three months at a time, I have traveled extensively, including Europe, Brazil, Pakistan, Afghanistan, New Zealand, China and Mexico, so I think I have a reasonable perspective. I could see living abroad in the next few years, possibly after I “retire”.

    Rick in Portland

  36. OFD says:

    ” Have you seen this…”

    Yup, our Diversity, Opportunity and Freedumbs…

    Again, apples and oranges; certain other countries do things a lot better than us; but the actor dude listed several countries that supposedly also have freedom, depending on how one defines it; I’d stipulate that he may not like or approve of how those particular countries actually do things.

    In any case, yeah, we probably are the most powerful and wealthy nation-state/empire in human history but we’re riding for a hard fall, and while we suck at many things, most other places suck even worse.

    If I had to bet, I’d bet that Fred Reed, much as I enjoy his essays and agree with most of them; and a bunch of other Murkan expatriots, will eventually come back home. Because as fucked as it is, it’s home. I’ve spent time overseas, as has Mrs. OFD and other family members, and by Jeezum, it is really fucking good to land on that Murkan tarmac and know we’ve arrived. I know intellectually that it’s probably an unhealthy attitude to have, but there are many times I feel the rest of the world can go to hell. That said, we need to quit throwing our weight around in the rest of the world and let them indeed go to hell in their own way, as we go in ours.

  37. Chuck W says:

    Great film clip, Chad. I was alive in that time he talks about in the second half of the bit.

    George Carlin was a special guy. A comedian who was observant beyond the funny, and the older he got, the more seriously he took that role.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rsL6mKxtOlQ

    As for the housing, we have plenty of room in this country to build new housing. It continually gets to be higher quality, too — able to withstand earthquakes and the weather-related issues that plague different parts of the country. What I also want to see, however, is — as the formerly job-filled areas collapse, like Detroit, — tear down the old, vacant, crumbling buildings that are no longer needed. Get rid of them. They are an unnecessary blight. They are no longer useful. They have — in most cases — been replaced by more useful dwellings in other places where they are needed. Return the unneeded to virgin land.

  38. rick says:

    Don’t worry Chuck, we are getting ready to drop the interstate bridges when Texas and the other 19 states secede.

    I suspect that the 19 states that want to secede was some of the ones that suck the most at the federal tit. See http://blogs.wsj.com/economics/2014/03/27/which-states-take-the-most-from-the-u-s-government/ and http://wallethub.com/edu/states-most-least-dependent-on-the-federal-government/2700/#main-findings

    They are also the ones that want to impose their religious beliefs on me, the ones that have been described as Jesusland.

    Given the choice between Jesusland and the Peoples’ Republic of the left coast, I’ll reluctantly take the left coast.

    Rick in Portland

  39. Lynn McGuire says:

    BTW, the total of 20 states seceding is a total swag. The 19 states joining Texas are: Oklahoma, New Mexico, Utah, Arkansas, Missouri, Kansas, Colorado, Indiana, Wyoming, Idaho, Montana, Nebraska and South Dakota.

    The second USA civil war will be a very nasty affair. I predict that if it goes five years then one half of the population will die of various maladies.

  40. OFD says:

    If there is a second Murkan civil war it will be much more horrendous, and it will come after the financial house of cards collapse and with the Grid or large parts of it down. I’d predict within a couple of years at most, 75-80% die-off, mostly among the coastal metropoles and large flyover country cities, like, say, Houston. Chicago. Denver. Etc.

    Might be sorta like a combination of the recent tee-vee series “Revolution” and “Jericho.” But different, I’m sure; they don’t take into account half a billion to a billion firearms involved and sheer mountains and mountains of ammo.

  41. Ray Thompson says:

    I’d predict within a couple of years at most,

    About the time that I retire. May have to change my plans.

  42. OFD says:

    Retire??? Interesting concept.

    We have no plans or wherewithal to do so before we finally croak. We will work until we are unable to do so; one of Mrs. OFD’s funds is long since gone as are four of mine, though much smaller. And we will be paying off the IRS for at least the rest of this year, too.

    Currently hoping to change this scenario so that we can take a bit of time off while we’re still functional and able to move about and take nourishment on our own. But it will be close.

  43. Robert Bruce Thompson says:

    I’d never retire even if I were in the 0.00001%. I like what I do and I want to keep doing it.

  44. SteveF says:

    I like what I do and I want to keep doing it.

    Ditto. The details will change, but I plan to work until I die.*, **

    * Assuming I ever die, and that if I do the universe does not die at the same time. Solipsism is awesome because it cannot be disproved.

    ** Making due allowances for the fact that, assuming I’m ever going to die, I plan to die young, well before physical decreptitude.

  45. OFD says:

    There it is. Gotta like what ya do, enjoy bouncing outta bed in the AM, and looking forward to the day of work or whatever. Live longer that way. Maybe.

    “Do What You Love” was the title of a book a few years ago; the second part of the title was “…and the Money Will Follow.” LOL. But it’s possible.

    How many here are in Bob’s boat and wouldn’t quit what they’re doing even if they could, like winning the lottery tomorrow or sumthin?

  46. SteveF says:

    If I were to win the lottery, first you’d have to pick my jaw up off the ground. I’ve never bought myself a lottery ticket in my life. (I’ve bought various for work events, like a handful of scratch-off cards as door prizes, but that’s hardly the same thing.)

    However, if I somehow won a big lottery and didn’t die of shock, I’d use most of the money for starting, er, startups, some designed to make a profit and some designed to do some public good like auditing OpenSSL or cleaning up bugs in other open source. Maybe fund a couple grad students to study something that’ll benefit humanity.

    What I wouldn’t do is splurge on all sorts of luxuries for myself or my family. Oh, sure, I’d pay off the mortgage and the boys’ college loans and set aside a small rainy-day fund. On the whole, though, I see that lottery winners often splurge, go crazy, stop working, waste their lives until the money’s gone, and then wonder what the hell happened. No, thanks. I’ll stay hungry and alert. (Especially stay alert because I’m sure my wife would want to murder me if she found out that I’d won $200M after taxes and gave away $199.7M of it, ha.) I didn’t earn the money, so I wouldn’t feel bad about using it to create jobs, fund research, and so on.

  47. OFD says:

    Pretty much what we’d do; pay off bills and debts; pay off the house and do the necessary renovations and repairs; one new vehicle; set aside enough offshore for us to live comfortably off the interest until we croak, upon which time the principal goes to the two kids and the grandkids. We’d probably give them a huge chunk of it in the meantime anyway. We could do all this winning just a million or so. If it was many tens of millions, then most of it would go to the Church and various charities, mostly, if not exclusively, local.

    I’d just like to generate enough right now, so that we can pay off the house and do the renovations within the next several years. Working on it…

    Steady driving rain all day today, like we needed it. Just mowed the lawn the other day and I’ll have to hit it again tomorrow. Spent today cleaning out the back porch, loading rubbish into the truck, etc.

  48. Chad says:

    When it comes to winning the lottery I am like Peter Gibbons on Office Space. I would do nothing. I would sit on my ass all day, relax, and do nothing. Perhaps I would take on occasional trip somewhere so I could sit on my ass, relax, and do nothing in a different zip code. I’d have some attorney claim the winnings on my behalf (assuming that’s allowed) and then do nothing to draw attention to the fact that I am set for life. I wouldn’t splurge. No Italian sports cars or mansions for me. I might set up some trusts for close family so they got a nice monthly allowance for the rest of their lives (but then, they’d talk and everyone would know I won…).

  49. Ray Thompson says:

    Retire??? Interesting concept.

    Well, from my 7:15A to 3:34P day job. I do have plans to pursue another opportunity that would be only a part time plus some volunteer work at the local high school.

    If I won the lottery, say a couple hundred million, I would give each worker at my place of work, with the exception of two people I despise, 1,000,000.00 each provided they quit work immediately. All of them would. The two that don’t get anything will be pissed off, significantly, and I would significantly enjoy it.

    A chunk of the rest would go to the local high school, not the county system, but to the local high school. I would put some in a trust for my son that would only be available when I am worm food. I would then give a couple million to the my church to get new video equipment (HD naturally), have all the lights completely redone, redo the sound system with linear arrays, replace both servers and all the desktops.

    What I had left would be used to purchase a house on the lake with a boathouse on the water. I would not change much in my lifestyle, probably keep the same vehicles and boat. Might upgrade the lawnmower to a Kubota tractor.

    And for all the people on this board I would give each one of you $1,000 in nickels, shipped via FEDEX.

  50. OFD says:

    Good deal on the nickels!

    “Office Space” was a hoot; watched it once myself and then with wife. The local album rock station will occasionally play the clip where Peter is discussing how he doesn’t intend to work anymore.

    If I won the lottery, whether huge or not so big, I’d probably have a substantial portion of savings stacked up in pre-1965 U.S. silver and small-denomination U.S, Canadian and South African gold coins. Also secured and hidden containers of tools, heirloom seeds, weapons and ammo.

  51. OFD says:

    I know one reason Murka is great and the king of the solar system; we have got the best effin nutballs anywhere!

    http://newsbusters.org/blogs/sean-long/2014/05/22/alarmist-paul-ehrlich-predicts-need-eat-bodies-your-dead

    I always pack small bottles of Frank’s Hot Sauce, some Worcestershire, some Kikkoman soy sauce, a vial of Himalayan pink salt and some peppercorns, so I’m good to go. Now, not to forget the matches, charcoal and the primitive homemade spit…

  52. brad says:

    Living outside the US, well, obviously I recommend it. That said, I totally understand the comments about how nice it is to come back to the USA after time abroad. I felt that way as well for the first ten years or so. Sort of a delayed homesickness – it’s nice to be back where everything is the way it was when you grew up.

    However, after some threshold, that’s just no longer true: it’s not the way it was, and anyway, you don’t miss things anymore because you’ve adapted to your new home on all levels…

    It’s certainly not the case that everything is better here – things are different, wherever you go. Some things will be better, some worse – and the importance will depend on your personal priorities. For example, I would have a lot of trouble living in France or Italy, but Germany would be fine, as would any of the Northern countries.

    However, comments about Europe being “moribund” are nonsense. Different countries have different problems. I tend to think that the problems in the US are worse that anything in Western Europe, excepting the southernmost countries.

  53. OFD says:

    One of the differences is that individual European countries have fairly homogeneous populations, which is not the case here. We also have well over 300-million people, which IIRC, is not too fah down the list from China, India, etc., with most of them concentrated in huge cities and along the coasts. We’re also essentially an island empire with a much shorter history and wars in nearly every generation. And trillions of dollars, depending on how you calculate that sorta thing.

  54. SteveF says:

    I figure that if we can just break the left and right edges off the US, like snapping off a piece of peanut brittle, and drop them into the ocean, most of the US’s problems will go away. Sure, there’d still be Chicago and New Orleans, but there’s nothing wrong with them that a wall and a minefield won’t contain.

    This is one of the reasons I’m disappointed that global cooling global warming climate change climate disruption seems to have been a fizzle. If the oceans would just rise a few feet, most of the coastal cities would be flooded. We’d need the seas to rise really rapidly, like in the course of five minutes, but I think that was possible, at least if you take the we’re-all-gonna-die hysterics at their word.

  55. OFD says:

    That’s been my hope for some time now, that the warmists would be right, and the seas would rise and inundate the coasts and wipe out all that rot and then the rest of us would have longer growing seasons and smaller heating bills. As for Chicago and NO, they’re probably goners anyway, sooner or later.

  56. Lynn McGuire says:

    As for Chicago and NO, they’re probably goners anyway, sooner or later.

    I figure that the gang bangers are going to take out Chicago before the great lakes inundates it. NO is reputedly a lot more peaceful now since the gang bangers mostly moved to Houston and were systematically killed by HPD. But that sea will come back for a visit someday, hopefully far in the future.

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