The busier I get, the less I feel I’ve accomplished. It’s been that kind of week.
First of all, Daughter and Grandkids continue to do well. There are still some issues with fussy babies, gastric disturbances and the like, but she’s finally finding her groove. Mrs. Freeholder hasn’t had to ride to the rescue in almost a week.
Out in the wide world, the further we go the more I shake my head. Maybe in amazement, maybe just to clear it. I’ve never seen such unsettled times. Perhaps the Cuban Missle Crisis compares. I was around for it, but too young to remember it. But all of that is outside my sphere of control. I’m trying hard to pay only enough attention to things beyond my control or influence that I don’t get blindsided. More than that is obsessing, and I can’t spare the time or energy for it.
That said, the big things I’m watching in this space:
- The Russia-Ukraine War–While it seems to move in odd fits and spurts, I think this is the most likely place for the world to sleepwalk into WW III. It’s also possible that a black swan or two could occur, changing the internal politics of one or more nations in unforeseeable and unpleasant ways.
- China–West China is preparing to move against East China. Every indicator is pointing toward it. Timing and type of action are uncertain. It may be an air/sea embargo or they could decide to cut to the chase and invade across the Strait of Taiwan. In the case of the former, there will be panicked attempts by the East Chinese to exit, stage America. A lot of them will fail, dying in the attempt. In the case of the latter, it will be a relatively short and sharp war, the outcome of which I think is uncertain, no matter how many people call for an West Chinese victory. Those same folks said Russia would steamroller Ukraine by the end of February, and the Ukrainians are still in the fight. Modern warfare eats up troops and material at spectacular rates, and I don’t believe any nation on the planet can keep it up for long without a lot of outside support, which this war will have very little available, since it’s all been burned up in Ukraine. In either case, I don’t think the Chinese will get the infrastructure they covet intact. It’s foolishly easy to put a chip fab out of action forever.
- The November 8 US Elections–Those who predict such things are now looking for something more like a Red Tsunami rather than a Red Wave. We’ll see.
- The US and global economies–We’re one nasty event away from watching it all burn. I think most markets have fairly well priced in wars, famines and shortages of all sorts, at least until they get further along than they are. No one can price in black swans, and I think we’re increasing likely to see one. We might even recognize it when it happens.
Those are probably on most folks’ lists, but they’re I’m limiting myself to just those four unless something big happens and rearranges things. Who knows, we might get invaded by Canada. 🙂
Here in the US, there are several key issues I’m following, including:
- The November 8 US Elections–I’m going to be on the front lines of this one, as a poll worker in my precinct. We’ve been told to expect poll watchers, both credentialed and otherwise. As a matter of fact, there was more of this week’s final training devoted to how to handle various out-of-the-ordinary “issues” than there was of how to deal with the standard election problems. Unusual, I’d call it. I think our county will be fine, but I expect a lot of fun on election night. I wonder if we’ll go to bed with one slate of candidates firmly in the lead and wake up with another declared the winners? Not like that hasn’t happened before…
- Fuel availability–Both diesel and gasoline are short and getting shorter in the Eastern US, though we’ve had no empty pumps locally. I hear a couple of shipments are coming our way from the Gulf Coast. I appreciate the help, but we need to be smarter about energy and the distribution thereof. More pipelines, more drilling, less Jones Act. And yes, more energy efficiency, but not by government edict. Oh, and if the fuel situation isn’t successfully addressed, no trains, no trucks and no farm equipment. Yeah, that’d be just great.
- Transportation issues–Railway workers and airline pilots are both on track to strike. Maybe that would help with the fuel issues? There are other problems as well. To quote Hank Jr, “The Mississippi River she’s goin’ dry.” Barges are currently carrying 53% of their rated capacity due to shallow water. This is likely to get worse before it gets better.
- Drought–speaking of dry, drought is stalking the land. Pray for rain.
- The economy–yeah, we’ve talked about that. Watch the Fed’s actions carefully. They’re almost assuredly hiking us into a recession because it’s the least bad thing they can do at this point. Just hope they don’t overshoot and land us in a depression, stagflation, hyperinflation, deflationary recession–the list of ways they can fail is long and painful.
- Technology issues–I’ve been thinking for months that “The Internet doesn’t feel right.” Slow DNS lookups, slow web sites, email delays, and a few other things that tell me that there are things going on below the surface that aren’t making any news at all. Cell service is equally if differently off–long setup times and strange delays in texting. I think we’ve been under some elevated level of attack for some time. If Russia-Ukraine spills over or West vs East China goes hot, expect the Internet to become the Internot. Nearly everything these days depends on the Internet, so, yeah.
Closer to home, gas has dropped to $3.30-ish for 87 octane and diesel has dropped back to $5. Will miracles never cease.
I’ve been going grocery shopping with Mrs. Freeholder (think “battle buddy”) and have noticed that the shelves are pretty will stocked, with very few shortages and minimal shelf fronting. The prices, though, may be why supplies are better–no one can afford to buy as much as they were. I believe Mrs. Freeholder is starting to re-evaluate my request for stacking the food deeper while we can. Now to afford it.
Houses that were in construction stasis are now going up. I’m not sure what the blockage was, but it’s gone.
Restaurants are doing well, especially on Sunday nights. I think it’s football season and people just being tired of staying at home. I know I am. I shouldn’t whine, but I want 2019 back.
We have finally decided that we will be replacing the old windows on our house. Of course, we should have done this 5 years ago, but someone didn’t want to spend the money :-). It’s getting harder to “doctor up” the failures, and some of them can’t be easily addressed. Investigation has uncovered a vendor that has a good product and a reasonable installation price. It’s still higher than I’d like, but there is a small tax credit and we will save some money on our energy usage. Plus I don’t have to caulk, scrape and paint any longer. I suspect one ladder accident would pay for the windows.
A book that was ordered some time ago has finally arrived. “NanoVNAs Explained” by Mike Richards, G4WNC, is a guidebook to using the popular micro-sized Vector Network Analyzers that have been on the market for a few years now. While they may not have all the features of a “real” VNA, they also don’t come with the automobile-like pricetag. It’s now available on the Kindle platform and in dead tree form at DXEngineering.
Lastly, for some odd reason I’ve suddenly become interested in pocket knives. Maybe it was those buys a few weeks ago or perhaps it’s simply my latest fascination, but I’ve picked up a number of them lately, including this Böker Tree lovely on the left. At $50, it’s inexpensive enough to carry if you want, but attractive enough for display. I’ve bought a couple of knife books and I think I’ll work up a nice display in the corner curio cabinet. They can always be used if needed.