Report from the OP, July 24, 2023

It’s been an interesting month since the last report, mostly in a Chinese interesting sort of way. Plus it’s been an expensive month around here. I’m about to mandate pinto beans and peanut butter for a few weeks. 🙂

A Grandthings report. Thing 1 now has eight teeth and no helmet. She is quite different without it. However, the scales always balance and while that precious head is now nearly perfectly symmetrical, the doc believes the helmet has held back her development, so she’s getting some physical and occupational therapy to help her catch up to Thing 2. Thing 2 is now crawling–everywhere, at speed–and has a tooth of his own. No longer will he be known as the Toothless Wonder. Both are now eating various sorts of soft baby food and bits of safe items from the table. Thing 2 particularly likes pizza crust and bagels, but “All your foods are belong to us“. Thing 1 is rather pickier.

Globally, our “leaders” seem intent on dragging us into war, economic collapse and other associated stupidities. I can’t figure out for the life of me just when and how any of this turned into a good idea. Maybe it was with Eisenhower and that whole military-industrial complex thing. Of course, we’ve improved on the concept with the medical-industrial complex, the pharma-industrial complex, the agricultural-industrial complex and so many more. Every one of them is intent on using the power of government to raid our personal piggy banks until we’re down to our last dime. That will go to pay taxes.

From an academic standpoint, it’s interesting to watch how history is being written and how the world is reorganizing itself. It seems to me that authoritarian governments of every stripe are going to be the order of the day, and those of us who just want to be left alone are just going to be SOL.

I hate being all Debbie Downer, but things aren’t looking so good for the Team Freedom.

Locally, I’m seeing some interesting things and trends. First, gas decided to take a rocket ship to the moon in the last few days. It’s still findable for $3.14 in a couple of spots, but $3.39-3.45 seems to be the new normal price. Diesel isn’t showing the crazy price differential that we saw last year, being $3.49-$4.19, with the majority of stations around $3.80.

Housing prices are holding up and possibly increasing. We’re still in a major bull market for anything that appears to be a starter home, and the definition of “starter home” has increased in square footage and cost. Houses now seen as starter homes are going for up to $300,000. A very few years ago a house like that was the one you bought when you had “made it” and could afford some of the nicer things and nicer neighborhoods to put them in.

Apartment rents also continue to rise. No new apartment “communities” are being built, but a heck of a lot of duplexes are, and the rents for some are breathtaking. Some new ones close by us are renting for $2400/month. For comparison, that’s 3x our last house payment. They’re really nice duplexes, but they aren’t that nice.

The long-awaited toy sale appears to be cranking up but with a bit of a twist. Normally, I expect to see the boats, RVs and whatnot in the yard with a “For Sale” sign, and there are those. But it seems a lot more are being put on Facebook Marketplace. I don’t know if people are embarrassed or what, but Marketplace is alive with all sorts of vehicles, especially ones in the classic car neighborhood, along with RVs, boats, ATVs, UTVs, expensive bicycles and more. Prices range from pretty good to “You didn’t get the memo, didja?” If you have surplus cash, there are sellers who want to talk to you.

Land is also coming up for sale. Some of it is folks trying to take advantage of a perceived market created by our new big businesses. From what I can tell, that isn’t working out so well. But there is also a lot of building lots, many of them on the lake, and tracts of land, some of it pretty nice and some of it cut-over junk. I’m keeping my eyes open for something for Son, if he’ll actually do something about it.

Speaking of Son, his employer put everyone on four days/week last week. No warning, no expectation for how long this will last and they’re 9-hour days. He says that raw materials are there and orders are there, so the reasoning behind this is a mystery. Nobody told nobody nuthin’.

Groceries, can’t forget groceries. Prices on meat appear to have hit a stable point. Prices on many basic items are still creaping up. Prices on fresh fruits and vegetables have went down a bit as goods start to flow in from the fields. A lot of what I see, even at chains, is locally-sourced. I’m happy about that.

Our little garden, two tomato plants in containers and a pot of basil, are growing well, up on the deck. I can smell the sauce cooking, probably around September. I killed the first round of tomatoes by missing watering for a day and round two is behind the curve, but will still get in long before the first frost, which around here is mid-to-late October. I may even try to stretch the season if the tomatoes keep putting out by making some little mini-greenhouses for them.

It’s been hotish and humid, but not much worse than most summers, despite the hyperventilating in the media. Have grown up in the non-air conditioned South, I know how to deal with it. Get an early start, take your time, drink lots and knock off when the heat of the day starts bearing down. Do some more after 4 PM. Eat supper and take a shower. Sweat yourself to half-sleep. Repeat until Dog Days are done.

Trust me, central air conditioning is a much better way.

I mentioned some time back noticing that the grid voltage was fluctuating. Well, it still is, but not in any predictable way. I’ve obtained a proper power line monitor, and I’ve ran it for 30 days, and the spikes and sags are frightening. Makes me glad I bought all those UPSes. But just watching the little plug-in guy that shows the voltage, I’m seeing everything from 122 down to 117, with the 117 being about 4 AM. During high demand times, it seems to be more stable. Definately weird.

One last thing. I mentioned that the last month had been expensive. How about a $1600 endodontist trip and a $1600 truck to the mechanic trip. Luckily “good” things didn’t come in threes this time. I’m hoping this doesn’t happen again soon, he said, thinking fo the Doobie Brothers and Eagles concert tickets purchased last week. May as well die broke, right?

That’s it for now. I’ve probably forgotten something that seemed terribly important 3 weeks ago but escapes memory now. It is what it is. That shower is calling my name.

Out here.

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