Report from the OP, March 18, 2024


(I want to let you in on something of a cosmic joke. After writing of my medical issues of the recent past, I thought I had things moving in the right direction at a minimum. Man proposes, God disposes… The spring weather faded back to near-winter, then back to spring, back to near-winter and I think we’re on our fourth cycle of this nonsense. It was rainy and in the 50s earlier this week, today was sunny and 72. Tomorrow and Sunday will be sunny and near 80, then it’s back to rain and cooler. Needless to say, the migraines have returned–3 days in a row this week. I’m hoping that this is the last cycle of this, but my memory reports such weather shenanigans going on until May a few years ago, before my migraine monster became so monsterous. Oh well.

I started writing this about two weeks ago. Hopefully it isn’t as bad as it feels to me.)

It seems like months since I’ve written one of these. Oh, wait…

First, the Grandsquids. Thing 2 is up, motorvating around the house and escaping confinement. My suggestion of a leash was met with grumpiness by Mrs. Freeholder. Thing 2 is also talking after a fashion. It’s sort of like talking to someone you know who’s had a stroke but you can figure out what they’re saying because you know them so well.

Thing 1 is still behind her brother. She “knee walks” as fast as her brother walks. She will stand flat-footed now, sometimes even inadvertently letting go of whatever she’s holding onto. Then she figures out she’s standing on her own and grabs onto whatever is close or falls on her butt. She has taken some steps with assistance. We’re also waiting for her to become verbal. The therapists seem unconcerned, but I’m starting to wonder.

I’m still escaping migraine land. It’s not easy and there are relapses, but I’m slowly doing better. I even got the yard mowed for the first time this season. Yay me.

Globally, we’re still sliding toward hard economic times and a possible World War III. At the moment, I’m somewhat less concerned about WWIII than I am the world economic picture when looking at them in isolation, but I’m aware that one of the great reasons a country starts a war is to distract the populace from a bad economy. Pray, add to your stocks as possible, learn skills and build as much resiliency into your life as possible. Yes, easier said than done..

Nationally, I’m overly buoyed by President Trump’s recent legal wins. Watching his enemies sputter and spit brings me joy. I’m aware that he isn’t the best possible candidate, but Mr./Ms. Perfect never seems to run, so we’ll have to select from what’s on offer. Of course, you could vote for Pedo Joe. How anyone could vote for that total waste of oxygen is beyond me, but many things are beyond me. I’m just keeping a list of every home that sprouts a Biden-Harris campaign sign for future reference.

It also appears that more people are waking up and starting to understand just how badly they’ve been had and how deeply they’ve been used by those in power. Now they need to get angry about that. And it isn’t just angry enough to go vote for the “correct” candidate, but angry enough that “they don’t get fooled again”.

Gratuitous Who video.

As mentioned above, I’m less buoyed by our economic news. I’m curating some YouTube channels that appear to have good information on our national economic situation. It’s taking some time, but I now have a few that are worth the time it takes to watch and digest them. I’m aware that I may be creating a personal echo chamber, so eventually I’ll publish the list here and see what you think of it. That will be a while, though.

The collapse of the Francis Scott Key Bridge in Baltimore is going to have some serious mid-term effects on our supply chain. It wasn’t mentioned at first, but after a day people are starting to think the situation through and see the second- and third-order effects of this. At least the people running the show seem to have the good sense to be pushing things along rather than playing a rousing game of “pin the blame on the scapegoat”. And while we’re on the subject, the blithering idiots on the Intertubz who think this was deliberate, who think this was enemy action need to STFU. Stop watching the know-nothings on YouTube who are trolling for views and watch to some of the folks who actually know something about the subject.

Alright, I seem to be getting sort of ranty. Let me dip my head in some cold water–a-a-ah!–and we’ll move on.

Locally, boy. Please bear in mind that this is a compendium of things I’ve seen in a period of almost three months.

Gas prices have been up, then down, then up, then down and just keep doing it. The lows have been about $3.00 for 87 octane and the highs have been about $3.45. Diesel has ranged from $3.40 to $4.00. Interestingly, diesel and 93 octane are selling for very close to the same price.

Grocery prices have been going up after a short period of no movement. I’m shocked every time I go to a grocery store. Grade A large eggs at $4.50/dozen? Not extra large, because those don’t seem to exist. Large eggs. Milk is once again more expensive than gasoline. If you want to blow your diet and get a bag of chips, be prepared to shell out $5 or so for the small bags and $8 for the “family size” bag. Steaks range from $10/lb on sale to $15 if not on sale. I didn’t look at filet migon because I didn’t think my heart could stand it.

Most auto dealerships have lots that are jammed full of new cars. The local Subaru dealer has never had so many vehicles to choose from. Ditto GMC and Buick. The “nice” used car dealers are jammed up as well. Only one dealer, a Chevrolet dealership, looks empty. I have to wonder if they’re fighting financial problems. I don’t know if anyone is trying zero % money to entice buyers in or using any of the similar tricks of the trade, because I’m not in the market for anything else that has wheels, unless it’s for grandkids, and they’re still a little young for yard cars. For those who must buy a vehicle, you have my sympathy.

Houses have declined slightly in price. There are also fewer new spec house starts. Everything now that starts seems to have a buyer waiting to take possession. Given the price and current interest rates, I don’t know how they afford it. At least back in the 80s the prices weren’t so high. A $350,000 house now was $108,500 in 1982 if my inflation calculator is correct, and I don’t remember that many houses at that price being for sale, and my parents were actually crazy enough to be looking at houses at that time.

The housing option I’m seeing more and more of are RVs parked in the back or side yards. This is happening in neighborhoods at all income levels, with the variable being how nice the RV is–nicer neighborhoods have nicer RVs. I’m also seeing quite a few of the old “mother-in-law’s single wides” that have been used for storage since mom passed in 95 being cleaned up and going on the rental market. I don’t blame anyone for supplementing their income.

One thing I’m not seeing is the number of homeless people that I saw last fall. It’s been a very mild winter overall, so I don’t think they’ve flown south for the winter. I don’t know where they’ve went. It probably speaks poorly of me that I’m simply happy they’re gone.

Today I noticed a tract of commercial land that’s been for sale for several years has been sold. There was a beautiful 60s brick ranch house on it, probably 3000 sq ft in size that’s been bulldozed. I guess the pond will be filled in as well and we’ll get yet another gas station.

Mrs. Freeholder and I were out shopping today. We used to joke that we couldn’t go to Walmart for less than $100. A few months ago it was up to $200. Today it breached $300. Nothing in the buggy was a splurge. It was all on our shopping list. Thankfully that run only happens once a month now. I need to teach the cats how to do their business in a toilet rather than a litterbox. Our cat litter has went up around 70% in less than a year.

Speaking of toilets, the one in the master bath isn’t working correctly. You have to fiddle with the fill valve to get it to fill, so time for a new fill valve. I’ve used Fluidmaster products since I was paying my way through college working in a plumbing supply place. The fill valve I picked up, in the middle of their line, was $15. When I was working in the business in the mid-80s, they were $3.99. The last one I bought I think was around $8, and that was probably 6-8 years ago. I haven’t priced things like screws, sheets of drywall or the like in a while. It might be better for my health if I don’t.

Our next door neighbors, the young ones, are splitting up. I’m not sure what has happened although I have my suspicions. They have three kids. I feel sorry for the kids. I hope mom and dad are adult enough to spare them from the worst of it. Nonetheless it will still be very hard on them. If you’re of the mind, you might spare a prayer for them and their wellbeing.

With that downer, I’m going to hit the publish button. Do have a Happy Easter. Remember why we celebrate it.

1 thought on “Report from the OP, March 18, 2024

  1. Grocery prices here seem to have edged up a bit, nothing drastic. I used to fill my cart for about $150 or so, about 5 years ago. Now I get half a cart for $$280 or 300. We don’t buy steaks, or chicken breast; generally burger, sausage, some pork. Bought spare ribs this time and was shocked – the price has doubled from 5 yrs ago.
    Houses are generally over $700k, many in the 900k range, interest rates at 7%. Who can afford this? Condos in town are north of $400k. Most of these are just basic, no pools or hot tubs, no luxury items. No garage with the condo, no fitness rooms, just a couple bedrooms and baths.
    I only have one cat, and I use wood bedding pellets from the feed store. Used to be much cheaper than litter, and easier disposal too. May not work for multi cats.
    I read the Baltimore harbor was a large entry for Honda, Subaru, some others, also coal, and Domino sugar. Coal and sugar may be short supply soon, I’m getting a couple extra bags of sugar next time I’m out.

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