Report from the OP, Jan. 7, 2023

Fire in Rome by Hubert Robert (1785)

There are days when I simply look out a window at whatever part of my yard I can see and wonder “How long until it’s all gone?” Not the yard mind you, but the world we’re living in. I have to wonder if people living during the fall of other empires saw things coming unglued in the way we can see them, with our omnipresent and ubiquitous “news” coverage.

As always, I’m going to do macro to micro, but don’t be surprised if I make the odd side excursion.

Russia and its allies along with China are showing signs of expanding or starting hostilities toward their neighbors. They’re not even trying to keep what they’re doing a secret, although the timeframes are still sketchy. Either one could eventually land us in a puddle of radioactive green glass. Russia is bombastically telegraphing its moves while China, being better at subtly, is slowly ratcheting up the pressure on Taiwan in an attempt to win a bloodless victory. The mainstream news covers neither well, and you can spend a lot of effort and time tracking down good sources.

If you find yourself concerned about the radiation thing, you might check these folks. It’s made in the USA, so there’s that.

In Europe, the Cold Winter of Discontent is slowly moving through the calendar. Not-So-Great Britain is now facing a healthcare crisis as the rotten structure of the NHS creaks and sways. King Charles seems awfully quiet, but his youngest son isn’t. The Spare seems to have gotten himself stuffed into a dog food bowl and is telling every possible thing about his life such as his sex life and drug use. How the family firm has devolved in the space of 3 generations.

On the continent, Poland wants more war reparations from Germany. Good luck with that, let me know how it works out for you. In the meantime, Germany’s hospitals look like the NHS feels.

In France, the bastion of nuclear power in Europe, the lights dimmed as half-ish of their plants are offline just when they are needed the most. Oh, and the French state-owned energy company that owns the plants is going bankrupt.

Yet my review of Europe’s media is enough to make me think the lack of snow is a huge problem. Me, I’d be thrilled that we weren’t having the worst winter since 1944. If it rained $100 bills some people would complain about having to clean up the mess. Talk about misplaced priorities.

Closer to home, we’ve just seen the process of electing the Speaker of the House for the 118th session of Congress conclude in the early hours of Saturday morning. Rep. Kevin McCarthy has apparently promised everything to everyone to win. It’s going to be equal parts of amusing, interesting and disgusting to see if they can hold his feet to the fire and make him deliver.

Energy prices are doing…something. Perhaps gasoline will continue to fall, or it may zoom up to $7/gallon. Here in the Bitty Burg it’s popped up about 20¢/gallon in the last 10 days. Natural gas prices are falling due to warmer-than-expected weather, but another outbreak of cold like we had a week or so ago and that will surely change, if only for a short time.

Food prices, on the other hand, hit a record high in 2022 and 2023 isn’t showing signs of helping. War in Ukraine, escalating input costs and increased demand (Hey, it takes a lot of calories to stay warm in an unheated European home) all point toward continued high prices. Thank heavens it doesn’t count when calculating the core inflation rate in the US.

At least we have a bright spot in things of a local nature. Despite several murders in surrounding metro areas, things here in the Bitty Burg are quiet for the most part. The big news of the last few days is the deaths of 3 people in a traffic accident on a local highway known for its catastrophic accidents. There are a lot of those little roadside memorials up and down that stretch of road, but no one seems to notice them or reflect on why they’re there.

Son-In-Law celebrated his birthday yesterday with pizza and pasta. He received many useful and a couple of frivolous gifts. One amusing thing was finally meeting his brother’s new squeeze, who just happens to be my Primary Care Provider. I’ll refrain from telling him where her finger has been. 🙂 This, folks, is what life in a small town is like–everyone truly knows everything about everyone else.

Our weather is warm for this time of year, and is also rather wet, which is causing me some issues doing outside stuff. Plus the septic system is rather nonplussed, enough so it backed up into the basement laundry tub. Yuck. I’m work inside and help with the Things on demand, and sometimes when I demand. Grandma tends to Bogart them.

I”ve noted that work on new homes has stuttered to a halt. It could be due to the holidays, but I doubt that. Parking lots at stores big box and grocery, uptown and further out, just aren’t very full. In an economy that runs on consumer spending, it seems they aren’t spending, at least not locally. I’ve also noticed homes for sale staying on the market longer than they have recently. At least in the Bitty Burg, I can call a “top” on the housing market, I believe.

Our recently relocated 2 meter repeater may or may not be having issues. I’m being told it is, but I’ve monitored it all afternoon and heard none of what’s been reported to me. Then again, I also can’t stir up anyone to talk to, so perhaps it is. We’ll see.

Mrs. Freeholder and I belong to a fairly informal club of folks who like to drag their RVs to a place with power, water and sewer (and maybe cable TV and WiFi) and pretend that we’re “camping”. We met this afternoon for lunch and to decide where we’re going this year. Everyone seems to want to stick closer to home than we have in past years, and the subject of the cost of the stay came up for the first time in as long as we’ve been a part of the group.

Time to go. I’ve been somewhat at odds with the migraines for the last 7-10 days, and today more rather than less at odds. Time to do something that requires less concentrated thought. Out here.

1 thought on “Report from the OP, Jan. 7, 2023

  1. Europe is a weird place. Many of their wounds are self-inflicted.

    When the EU was consolidated, France was able to push several agricultural policies that favored France at the expense of other countries with cheaper labor and drier climates. For one thing, they made it illegal to market some crops grown on irrigated land. You could grow them but you could not sell them or give them away.

    That works great as long as weather patterns didn’t change. But throw in a couple of dry years and there is no infrastructure in place to irrigate and then you have a crash-and-burn with regard to calories produced relative to the population.

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