Coping: Economic “Reality Television” – The Art of Thrift

imageMy ramble Thursday about thrift – and being in the critical habit of saving money – rang a loud bell with quite a few readers, including my buddy Hank  out in Hawaii.  In addition to Hank’s tale of reality television, we also have some keen insights from a reader who’s a CPA.  Both offer incredibly good insights into how this “recovery” is going.

Here’s the note from Hank:

Aloha George!
I’m not the writer that you are (neither am I – G), but I thought I might blog a bit about my experiences as the ‘recently unemployed’. 

Your article about saving money and jettisoning unneeded ‘stuff’ and expenses was right on!  That is something that has been ongoing here in (one of) the most expensive cities in the country to live in… Honolulu. 

Housing is the most expensive item on the monthly list here.  Recently I have also been selling off parts & test gear no longer needed on eBay for some lunch money.

I am 63 years old and have had a secure tech job for decades as a Television Broadcast Engineer.  I have built, rebuilt, moved, and maintained TV stations for decades.  I always read your articles about robots replacing humans in the workforce, and figured I was safe because I was the guy that had to install and maintain all sorts of electronic automation stuff for broadcast.  Stuff breaks, and someone has to fix it… rapidly and on short notice, usually!

The large national media outfit that owned my TV station sold it this past summer to a ‘management’ company that is a notorious ‘strip & flip’ outfit. 

This new company had come through town a decade ago and nearly destroyed what had been the #1 news station and sold it again within two years.  Their business model (everything is a ‘business model’, right?) involved installing robotic cameras in the studio and other tech automation to allow the entire newscast to be accomplished by ONE technical director (with seemingly octopus-arms) sitting in a cockpit surrounded by monitors, keyboards, joysticks and audio sliders to switch the entire live newscast. 

This assumes the fresh-out-of-Journalism-school ‘news producers’ wrote and scripted all the moves correctly on the interface from their news-automation servers into the ‘production’ TV automation.

The new owners of my TV station wasted no time in announcing plans to install the same automation stuff and let go a bunch of people (many part-timers) who helped produce the newscast for air. 

I figured I would be safe, as I am the maintenance engineer who installs and maintains all this tech stuff.   Then both of my engineering department managers left… they could not stomach the new management’s slash and burn tactics.  The company brought in a half dozen company engineers from the mainland to install the new automation… they were experienced at this, apparently.  And shockingly, I was informed that my job was to be chopped before the end of 2015. 

It seems the ‘business model’ was structured for only ONE maintenance man for the entire station, and I was #2 on the seniority list, so… sayonara!   It is hell on my attitude when I know I am fated for dismissal.  Meanwhile, the company engineers were hell-bent on installing the new stuff with little or no regard for keeping the station on the air during the transition.  It made it real hard for the people who knew their jobs were fated to keep working and on-air in the mean time.   There were blunders and outages on air.  Morale was in the septic tank.

I was presented with a severance package of three months pay and termination package.  Although they expressed interest in keeping me on for another month or two while the conversion engineering was finished up, it became unbearable to work among the corporate monkeys along with my zombie workmates who were also fated to lose their jobs.  I took the hard termination date in Dec. and left.

The whole experience was stunning for someone like me who has worked hard and reliably for my entire life.  I didn’t even put up a Christmas tree this year!.  Had I just been forced into an unwanted early retirement before I could afford it?

In the past few weeks I have navigated the local Unemployment Insurance website and jumped through all the hoops to apply.  My weekly UI benefits are about half what I previously earned, and barely enough to pay my monthly rent… assuming I don’t eat during the month!  Severance pay continues through March.  UI benefits are good thru June.

Mandatory healthcare is shockingly expensive.  If I keep my union membership up ($55/month) I can join the union health plan for $550/mo.   COBRA offered from my previous employer is $570/mo. 

I looked up the healthcare.gov “Obamacare” plans and found that with my limited present income I qualify for tax credit assistance that covers nearly two-thirds of the monthly premiums. 

I got a decent plan that is similar in coverage to my previous employer-plan for out of pocket expenses of only $254/mo.  If I use it, it will cost me more, though.  The deductibles are high on these plans before they begin to pay, so you have lots of out-of-pocket expenses if you use it.  Catastrophic expenses that go beyond the deductible are covered.  So first you go broke…. THEN they try to keep you alive so you can live to pay some more!

When (IF ??) I find gainful employment, I will have to notify the healthcare plan of increased income, and that will reduce my tax credits for the year… so what is the point of trying to find work?  I get the income, only to have to pay it back into healthcare and reduce my tax credit.  That is what will happen if I find some intermittent ‘contract work’ in my self-employment.  

The only savings will be if I happen to find some full-time employment with benefits.   In Hawaii, employers are required to provide qualified healthcare plans to employees who work more than 20 hours a week.  Then I can dump Obamacare and go with the employer plan.   But those costs are rising to the employers, as well.  There is also a great lack of available jobs in my specialty… TV broadcast engineering, especially for an over-qualified 63-year old. 

The only thing keeping me from considering suicide when the benefits run out is that I have some life savings/retirement funds as a buffer. 

I had planned to work until age 70 to maximize my social security payments, put my savings into a home and retire in the Hilo area of the Big Island of Hawaii. 

Now I am looking at trying to buy a cheap home (cash, no mortgage) on the volcano and rent it out for some monthly income while I try to continue my late-in-life working career. 

I want to have a place to land, rent-free, when I can no longer try to work.  Still hoping I can muddle through until age 70 to maximize that social security payment. 

There seems to be some longevity in my genes, and I’m betting I will beat the actuarial tables. 

With my luck, social security will go bust before I get there.
Such is the price of  living in “Paradise”… or trying to, anyway.    Hey!  I have no winter heating bills!

—Hank… shopping for Hot Properties on the volcano lava flows.

Hard as this is for me to write, I’d advise Hank against taking the the rental ownership route.  Get homestead exemptions and senior tax breaks as soon as you can, while they are still around.

Oahu, in particular, has a huge homeless problem – we’ve been tracking it for months.  It’s the kind of thing we reread when we see employment figures.  The rollover in play seems to be axing highly skilled senior workers, like Hank and bringing in 3-lower paid kids part time.  Employed headcount goes up, and the main victims are the “million Hanks” in every skilled job from Wall St. to Kona.

I think we may be past the window for rentals work out well.  My sense is that multi-family housing is in a bubble.  Oilman2 tells me down in The Woodlands, north of Houston, where things are already “worse than the oil collapse of ‘84” that another 30,000 coop-dweller units (apartments) are going in.  Sounded bubbly to hear him say it.

If it were me?  I’d get as much dough together as I could, lock in the lowest, longest mortgage I could, and go through the exercise of “lifestyle reduction” while there might still be a few shekels in the bank.  Look for an assumable at a low rate.

With a new property, somewhere off the road to Kailua-Kona, perhaps, I would put in a big garden and learn the green thumb arts.  A few solar panels to power the ham radio (yep, Hanks a ham, like me) and enough dirt to put up some wire beams toward a) the mainland and b) Europe.

That and a cheap internet connection.  Selling veggies, working odd jobs, take Social Security now and run the clock until 65 and get on Medicare.  Reason?  Look into how Social Security bennies are based on highest yearly income and then ensure that IF YOU DELAY filing, you aren’t going to roll off some high income years on the front end of their count.

In the meantime, I’d be dealing with the Union and announce you are willing to relocate anywhere in the USA – the Big Island is nice and all, but unless you’re up at the north end, not enough rain to survive.  Prices in the Waipao (sp?) Valley are like astronomical by now.

I’d hit Craigslist to find cheap shelter in a shared room – and keep everything about life online and encrypt the personal computer.  When a house is acquired, rent out a room, or two to reduce the effective payment.

That’s how I would play it.  Then set up an ALE network with a few hams like Ures truly so when the whole comms infrastructure collapses (e.g. when the power goes out) we will still have low speed (ALE order-wire) 60 baud data and we can (as I have often dreamed about) live in a time when real communications will become highly valued, again.  My ALE project is coming up my to-do list.

Hell, even Morse skills we both have might come around again.  After the flashes or domestic T attacks or whatever brings it down.

Next email?

A reader/CPA sent this.  Personally identifiable info is redacted but read what he has to say!

Hi George.  I know you probably get a ton of emails, and I don’t want to waste your time, but today’s post hit a nerve.

I’m a CPA.  I work from home.  As such, I go visit most of my clients at their home or business.  I just don’t want all those people coming thru my house.

Back in 2007 I began to notice a trend, although it was lost on me at the time.  I would go visit a client in a brand new half-million dollar house, two mortgages, Cadillac Escalade and Mercedes in the driveway.  AND NO FURNITURE!  We would sit and discuss taxes on folding chairs at a card table.  No savings (no 1099-INT) no retirement (no 1099-DIV or IRA forms)  The tax guy sees everything.  Nice fat six figure salary and about two missed paychecks from bankruptcy.  NO FURNITURE.

No, I’m not kidding.  Yes, it was multiple clients.

I stopped by the burger joint in one of these planned communities to chat with my friend, and former co-worker, [redact] one day.  In passing he commented, “I don’t understand it.  Million dollar homes and they come in here to get a $6 buck hamburger and their credit card declines.”
My danger alert system went WHOOP WHOOP.

A few months later I started getting emails about clients short selling rent property or homes, if the bankruptcy trustee was going to keep their refund, payment plan options for IRS, etc.

WHOOP WHOOP

I called and got my and my wife’s IRA money out of the market and into cash.  I was about six months early, but we didn’t lose a dime.

This recovery sucks.  Clients are paying $30,000 a year to provide insurance for employees that the employees don’t want, but it’s cheaper to buy it than pay the $100k penalty.  Everybody is complaining about the cost of insurance.  Food is up.  Housing is up. 

The only bright spot is gas prices, but on the other side O&G companies are going bankrupt and many will probably default on their debt. (Did you see BOKF yesterday?)  Every default means that someone on the other end lost some life savings.  Hell, I’ve lost $5k on an oil well when the bottom fell out and they couldn’t complete the well.

I guess where I’m going with this is that my danger alert system, which has been on “yellow alert” for a year or so, has started going WHOOP again.

We have an economy where growth is fueled by ever more debt, and the American consumer has reached “max debt.” 

Yep, they may stimulate the market to ever more highs, but sooner or later – I’m betting sooner – there is going to be a crash.  Party over.   Maybe it originates in O&G.  Maybe it’s already started.  Maybe it’s subprime auto debt, maybe something else.  I don’t know, but I can feel that a storm is coming.

I don’t know that I had a real point in writing except that your column today hit a nerve with me.  I feast on every peoplenomics issue (subscriber name [redact]) as well as the daily writing. 

Saving saving saving.  Paying off the house if the nutjobs on wallstreet hold off on screwing us for 3 more years.  Stocking food and bullets.  Looking for a retreat location out your way (Marshall is my home town.  Been on the Rusk to Palestine Texas State Railroad a couple of times.)  Terrified of what’s coming.

That is all.

Maybe we can sit and talk sometime.  I’m partial to Horseshoe in Bossier (I’ll be at the craps table). Thanks for all you do.  Take care.

Deal!  We have to get a key cut for the old Lexus (just turned 11) and there’s a Lexus joint in Shreveport. I got the key blank for 1/3rd price online.

There you have it.  A concise reality check from two very smart – way above “average” people.  And they see the signs, just like I do.

Unless the S&P falls below the 1740 level, and busts the trend lines we have on our Peoplenomics U.S. Aggregate Index charts, there is still a good chance of one more 18-month run, or so.

Even with a hell of a rally (not coming today) the Big Collapse shows in our Peoplenomics work to be not later than late fall of 2017.

I was not kidding when I announced that we’d be selling the old Beechcraft – which is in damn fine condition – this Spring.  We have loved the hell out of it, and sure, between now and Q2 2017 there may be one more “hell of a move up.”

But it has become clear to us that the main things we need to be planning for is not an ongoing expense of any kind.

The name of the game in here is reduce your operating expenses as close to zero as you can get.

The good news – such as it is – lies in the lifestyle cost analysis – which we will get into in tomorrow’s Peoplenomics report.

But the main thing this morning is that while this morning’s decline in the markets is NOT the end of the world, you can hear the sound of rushing water from here.

Learning the “Art of Sleaze”

As you may recall, Ure’s truly is running as an independent in Anderson County Texas for the Commissioner District 3 position that will be on the ballot this fall.

I’m only in this because of the terrible condition of local roads.

Today, I will be heading down to the County Elections Office to file my first campaign contribution report.  Therein lies a tale…

Naturally, the paperwork that goes along with running for office is a bit intimidating the first time out, and even more-so due to the lack of standard accounting practices.

Thursday morning I called the Texas Ethics Commission and talked with one of their staff attorneys.  My question rambled something like this:

I’m an old business geek and I’m trying to make sense of our WHEN I am supposed to report the massive influx of donations.  A whole dollar has already arrived.

My problem as a first-timer is that I have no idea when to recognize revenue.  In traditional business accounting, you can recognize revenue almost any time you want, so long as you are consistent.  Some companies book revenue (on an accrual basis) when a sales order has been received.  Others when the goods shipped.  You could book revenue when invoiced, or you might book the revenue when funds are received or even cleared the bank.

In  Politics, I could book the revenue damn near any old time, too.  I could book it when a pledge is made, or when a check is received, or when the check is deposited, or when the check has cleared and the funds are available.

So what is the deal…where’s the right place?

“Good question…the answer is NONE OF THE ABOVE.  You have to go to page 15,  paragraph 4 of the instructions for Candidates and Office Holders (C/OH ) Instructions.”

Oh.

What followed was a trip to https://www.ethics.state.tx.us/forms/COH_ins.pdf to tell me how to fill out form C /OH.

DATE:  Enter the date you accepted the contribution. Accepting a contribution is different from receiving a contribution. You accept a contribution when you decide to accept it rather than reject it.  This may or may not be the same day that you receive the contribution. “

Since my first (and so far ONLY) campaign contribution is $1.00 which I didn’t open until January 3 when I got around to things, I don’t have to report this until I “make a decision” on whether to accept the contribution between now and June.

Since I became aware of this contribution (and naturally accepted it on the spot) on January 3, that will be the date for reporting.  Which means the first my opponent will learn of it will be in July sometime when it gets reported.

And by the time it gets reported (July) I may have raised 10-times that amount.  Why, with a campaign war chest of $10-bucks, my Big Name Party-Backed opponent won’t know what hit him.

I don’t really want to run.  But the roads around here (County Road 404 and Country Road 411 which is the now goat trail with potholes in front of our place) are driving me to it.  Do I want to be a County Commissioner?  No.  Do I want to do real work again instead of trading, writing, and playing on the ranch?  No.

But brother-in-law Panama is taking his 2-year old Nissan Altima up to Tyler for repairs this week.  The whole front bumper is loose now and he’s thinking it’s the roads.  Worse:  Elaine is looking at the used Lexus lease-returns online again claiming she’s going deaf from a rattle in the door that she blames on the roads.

John the Septic Guy was giving me his perspective on things Tuesday.  “Friend of mine says none of the tires around here are lasting anywhere near warranty – they’re being tore up by that big sharp stone aggregate being used on the roads around here…”

Razor Roads, I call it.

To an outsider, this may look suspiciously like an unholy alliance between tire shop owners and gravel pit operators and I have to admit it’s an odd coincidence.  You’ve been reading the “hyper obsolescence” articles over on our www.ruralpioneers.com website, I trust.  Could that apply to roads?

The problem persists and, our roads continue to suck.  Until that’s fixed, I’m in for the duration. 

Like Trump, I can afford the campaign…but I still really don’t want to.  I don’t really have the time.

Still, if you operate a big out-of-state “grassroots political”  fund, send an email to george@ure.net for wire transfer instructions. 

Politics seems to be the shortest road to riches and I don’t have a lot of time left on my personal clock to be building casinos or attending  law school.

Besides, if Hillary is qualified to be a SecState, then Ures truly is easily qualified to be Uber Gross-Fuhrer of the Entire Universe.

Write when you break-even and remember:  Weekends is when you should be working as hard (or harder) for yourself as you do for The Man during the rest of the week.

Ya’ll come back Monday, ‘K?

George  george@ure.net

Comments

Coping: Economic “Reality Television” – The Art of Thrift — 21 Comments

  1. A word about old Lexi . I drive a 2001 gs 430 with 58k original miles . It’s getting time to start having to put money in it been down this road before i.e. Air conditioner power steering pump need new timing equip just spent 1k on new motor mounts . So like Elaine I am cruising auto trader etc for a newer car. Just saying . I might even splurge and get one with all the high tech safety gear because I am not getting any younger .
    You can easily spend 5 k in patching these old cars up been there.

  2. I was born during the depression and still remember parts of it Like taking my lunch to school A Sanwitch consisting of 2 slices of bread with butter and a layer of sugar. My grandmother lost her house to the Banks and her version of banks were if she was to be robbed she would prefer it be by a honest crook not a god dammed Banker,, nothing has changed since then.

  3. The comment about the people in the “big money houses” rang a bell. I was on the speaking circuit of the Lions Club here in Western Australia at one time. After a talk in a suburb known for its macmansions I had a chat with a local Real Estate chap and mentioned these enormous and expensive properties in the area. Half of these folk are living in empty houses he said, and they actually live in the garage under the house – these are 2 -3 car size garages. So, not only where you are, same as same as!!

  4. Thrift habit begins with money management, preferably taught to you at the time of your first allowance. You examine and write down your financial needs, you negotiate with your parents a reasonable allowance, including a contribution to your savings account. Part of your allowance may be earned in return for agreed chores, and if it is, your parents will contribute to your Roth account as well. In return you will, or they will at bedtime, keep on reading “The Richest Man In Babylon” until you show good understanding of what it says. By “paying yourself first” at some point in your life you may stop “doing chores” and pursue happiness as you see fit. Live within your means and happiness will follow, and your beneficiaries will be grateful as well. As for your children, rinse and repeat. If all of this comes as news to you, it’s not too late, start at the paragraph above that says ” …read “The Richest Man In Babylon”.

    • This book is FREE on the internet now, can download to your computer or other device and read it now or later. I printed off 5 copies, gave 3 away to 2 nieces and 1 nephew with the ‘bait’ of whoever read it first and called me up to discuss it, would get one silver round. They were 16, 15, and 8 at the time. To this day, not one has taken me up on my offer (five years ago).

      Living within one’s means is intelligent and actually, quite fun. Living below one’s means, is actually quite genius and even more fun.

      In the olden days, ‘poor’ did NOT mean poor in spirit. When one is rich in spirit, one can overcome ‘poor.’ But, today, that would get me called a racist or bigot or privileged.

    • My republic Wireless cell phone with the sprint network will not pick up out here very well I have to go to one window in order to talk or receive data, I tried the, go hotspot unit it works but it is in the same boat it doesn’t pick up very well, I would get anywhere from 2- 60 kilobytes per second ,then after putting the homemade booster in the window I got 1.7 million bytes per second almost constantly, now I I was able to watch YouTube videos on my laptop or cell phone instead of having to use the Hughes satellite system, the system I used to test this was called opensignal.com

  5. There is an old Arab saying that men can live on goats, and goats can live on anything. But my experience is that chickens are better in many ways than goats, and eggs are really perfect food when the hens live on green grass, bugs, scraps from the kitchen and worms. Full of Transfer Factor, too. The initial investment is low, mistakes are not back breaking economically, and small acreage feeds a surprising number of birds. So this weekend, if you build a coop, by March there should be chicks for sale at the feed store. . . . We rarely eat a chicken, but if SHTF, we can readily set aside fertilized eggs, and produce many more. Once you raise a half dozen roosters, it becomes easy to see them as food. Most of them are nasty mean dinosaurs. And in that scenario, there will be high demand for any spare hens. As far as I can tell, chickens are the lowest cost way to a sustainable protein and fertilizer supply. Though true earthworms have amazing effects on gardens, and are cheap as well.

  6. In Flint the gov tried to cut costs and poisoned the entire town. Many areas with pre-1960 lead water supply pipes face the same risk, it is a Trillion dollar job to replace them. A Trillion that we don’t have any more – what is the return on investing in clean water?

  7. “””If it were me? I’d get as much dough together as I could, lock in the lowest, longest mortgage I could, and go through the exercise of “lifestyle reduction” while there might still be a few shekels in the bank. Look for an assumable at a low rate.”””

    I am in favor of the tiny house movement.. for a retired couple or a newly married couple working two jobs what do you really need.. a five hundred square foot house will give you all the room you could want..
    if you look back in history you can see this movement is just turning back the clock.. easy to heat and cool cheap on utilities.. lower taxes..

  8. “””””I looked up the healthcare.gov “Obamacare” plans and found that with my limited present income I qualify for tax credit assistance that covers nearly two-thirds of the monthly premiums.

    I got a decent plan that is similar in coverage to my previous employer-plan for out of pocket expenses of only $254/mo. If I use it, it will cost me more, though. The deductibles are high on these plans before they begin to pay, so you have lots of out-of-pocket expenses if you use it. Catastrophic expenses that go beyond the deductible are covered. So first you go broke…. THEN they try to keep you alive so you can live to pay some more!

    When (IF ??) I find gainful employment, I will have to notify the healthcare plan of increased income, and that will reduce my tax credits for the year…”””””””

    OH I can tell you about the spinkter snapping sound here.. on this very issue.. a couple of years ago after being downsized we went to the open healthcare market place.. found a decent policy.. ( there isn’t even one near three hundred in our area LOL LOL the cheapest with assistance is double that with a huge deductible for only one person not family coverage ..so you are a lucky man that way living in an area where policies are cheap like that ) anyway we had gotten a plan with a fairly large deductible payed the seven hundred seventy dollars a month for the past two years.. then this month two days ago.. we got notice that there would be a plan change.. so I started my search.. and the cheapest.. plan was hovering around a big bill.. huge deductible and only covered hospitalization.. the plan similar to the one we have presently has gone up a thousand a month.. with help from the federal government.. and that is for one person not family.. Needless to say.. wages are down.. this sum would be over half of our total gross income.. just saying.. I still say the answer was to just make it illegal to discriminate and price gouge insurance industries.. but then who am I..

    • George, here is a follow up to a posting I made within the last month.

      Samaritan Ministries is an OPT out to Obamacare, it is ONE of the SIX EXEMPTIONS ALLOWED UNDER OBAMACARE. We (my husband and I) also went through the tripling of monthly premiums and tripling of deductibles per person to the tune of too expensive for us $1,000 a month premiums, $10,500 deductibles per person.

      Put it this way, my husband threw a FIT; he was NOT going to pay that kind of money for health insurance, i.e, NOT health coverage, he knew that it was highway robbery and punishing the 50 something age bracket far worse than the publicized hit to the young 20 something men. He has no insurance at his job and I am out of work due to family responsibilities. I was very scared to go without health insurance and his attitude put me into an anxious state. I heard about Samaritan Health Share on the radio. I could not believe my ears. Why wasn’t this heralded from sea to shining sea?

      Looked them up on the internet. Joined. That was over 2 years ago.

      We just had our first UNEXPECTED need. This is what happened. Found out a surgery was needed. Priced the surgery, paid up front on the credit card for cheapest CASH price, which is realized by paying UP FRONT on the credit card by negotiating a CASH price. (Shopped 3 hospitals, 2 in our town, 1 in Oklahoma. The hospital in Oklahoma publishes ALL costs for their surgeries UP FRONT on their website (they do not take insurance), only ruled them out, because even though the price was good, we decided to stay in our town and thus able to see the same surgeon for follow up care/checkups.

      The total cost of the surgery that would have been billed to the insurance carrier was: $41,629.60.
      We were able to get that reduced to: $10,232.73 to the penny.

      Did you notice the premiums mentioned above AND our deductible if we had signed up for the health insurance plan?

      We pay $360 a month (Couple share amount) as a SHARE to another person who is also a member of Samaritan Ministries to help them with unexpected healthcare needs. We also pay $20.00 a month, as our gift, to another family in need who may have a need that is not publishable (look this up on the website, it will make more sense.)

      We will be reimbursed 100% of our $10,232.72.

      I wish I could BOLD that above sentence….100%.

      We did NOT have to pay a penny up front if we: a) could find providers to do all this and bill us later, or b) pay minimal to the providers (ALL of them had payment plans that were flexible), and then be billed later and explain that we were members, etc., but we chose to put this on our credit card so as to save our membership the highest amount possible.

      Was it just 10 years ago that it made the news that just $7,500 dollars in medical bills sent the MOST people into bankruptcy in this country? DOES ANYONE REMEMBER THAT???

      Why the hail did this country (Democrats and Supreme Court) pass Obamacare and put these ridiculous premiums and deductibles on the working and middle classes? CRIMINAL!

      Anyway, to all and everyone, there are at least 3 HEALTH CARE SHARING MINISTRIES in the USA, research them, look into them, they all are a little different, but give that a try and you might find that you do not have to stay in the government/insurance cartel’s clutches.

      There is nothing better than the feeling of giving to another family in need instead of sending a monthly mafia payment to the insurance carriers.

  9. It might be nice if the hoards of Ure fans who are also hams had a “Village Green” to meet up on WHEN the internet is out. The new 60 meter band of five specific channels might make a good spot. Night coverage is amazing — often half the country. These frequencies are not crowded. All five exact channels can be found on ARRL.org and other places. Just to pick one for giggles and grins, let’s pull 5.357 out of the hat. It’s the middle channel, and the only one that is an even kHz number. That’s your precise “dial” reading for Upper Sideband. For CW, PSK-31 or RTTY, place your signal in the FCC-specified center of the channel, 1.5 kHz higher. (Most popular digital modes software makes this easy.) I’ve taken to listening on 5.357 from 8pm to 10pm many evenings. Not all, but many. Just let’s make it an informal thing, a Rag-Chew, a rountable, a drop-in gathering — call it what you will. (…and always remember “The Third Man” is always listening…) 73 — My callsign will be available in 5.357 USB, RTTY 170/45, and PSK-31. My CW is rusty, but I’ll brush up a bit.

  10. Would the no-furniture CPA guy be from Peoria IL? I ask, because someone in a somewhat-related industry told me that a great number of the owners of the “millionaire houses” going up here were in the same “no furniture” condition. If not, sounds like “all hat no cattle” might be widespread.

      • I noticed this back in the mid 80’s in San Antonio, all those fancy nice houses with no furniture. I bought an old house in 1994, I furnished it with garage sales and it was full to over flowing, but then I would never spend $4,000 for a dining room set, or $6,000 for a couch, or $10,000 for a bedroom suite, or $3,000 for recliners to begin with. I know, there are many millionaires who like their stuff new, and many thousandaires who are worrying what other people think, basically, it is what you think and thinking out of the box that can save the day. SAVE THE DAY!

  11. “””It seems the ‘business model’ was structured for only ONE maintenance man for the entire station, and I was #2 on the seniority list, so… sayonara!””””

    wow that seens familiar.. a person I know was in a similar boat with printing presses for one of the national news paper companies.. only to have the same exact thing happen in fact they got rid of everyone on the list except the one.. the new equipment seems to be a one man repair job.
    thinking along this like I was in a regional medical center recently and noticed that there was a robot running down the hall.. carrying medications from wing to wing.. now did they go to a vending type of pharmacy doing away with not only a pharmacist but those that deliver..
    George I think your right on the money on robotics..

  12. I hate to break it to you George, but that Hillary girl is not nearly qualified to be Sec’y of State, or even to be a proper housewife, so your claim to be Master of the Universe must be regretfully denied.

  13. I would like to point out when all YOUR time is used up trying to meet government regulations or gaming the system to save a few bucks, you are already living a second world existence.

    Tell your friend in Hawaii to expatriate, plan to buy himself a nice house with large lot for less than $100k, (but only after renting for six months) and as he accumulates his social security build a couple of rental units for additional income. And he can get 9% on his money in CD’s while he waits to build. Or how about a nice condo for $80k with $100 a month or less monthly fees?

    Retirement in places like Hawaii is only for members of the club. And as George Carlin says, “it’s a big club, and we ain’t in it!” Retiring in the USA and having a nice comfortable relaxed retirement is a part of the American Dream. But as Carlin says, “it’s called the American Dream because you gotta be asleep to believe it.”

    America, a country where there are no good decisions to be made, but all your time is spent figuring out how to optimize the decisions you are forced to make.

    You are right in your advice, George, get off that 10 story high building of American living standards before the reset. But be advised, at some point in the future you will be surrounded by damaged, broke, sickly, drugged up, disgruntled people who own a lot of guns. Not for me.

  14. Saving cash kinda helps when the economy isn’t bust, but what will you do when a loaf of bread ends up costing $900 or more?
    Far better to invest in stuff you really need – food, water and energy sources.