Sunday, February 22, 2009

Balance Sheet.

2-22-09 SHORT HILLS: Back in NJ with almost all the snow gone, only a little remnant of a plow pile in the driveway remaining. The yard without the snow is a mess of sticks and branches. The earliest of the snowdrops is up and about to open, and that earned it a picture.

The day before we came south, I was back at the Dartmouth Skiway, fifty two years after my first visit there. Ski equipment, the kind on your feet and the kind grooming the trails, has changed a lot, there’s a new lodge, new trails and lifts but same old me. Unchanged? I do find myself a bit less cold tolerant—it was in the twenties but windy, overcast and flurrying—I was chilly.

Speaking of chilly, how ‘bout those stock markets, unemployment stats or mortgage defaults? I was thinking about the size of the bailout bill, 3/4 of a trillion dollars, in relation to the National Debt-$11 trillion, total US Mortgage debt-$15 trillion, total US consumer debt-$2.6 trillion, which all added up puts us about $30 trillion in the hole. If there are 300 million US citizens, that would come to about $100,000 apiece.

As for the plus side, the corporations listed on the NYSE are worth $9 trillion and those on NASDAQ $2 trillion for $11 trillion total. I can only guess at the worth of all government, federal, state and local, assets such as real estate, vehicles, land, the army, navy, air force, national parks, etc. The property, art, artifacts of all the museums. The value of all non-public businesses. The property and possessions of all of the people. The total assets of the US must be at least a hundred trillion. So we are, maybe, $70 trillion ahead.

The only problem with that is finding a deep enough pocket if we want to totally cash out.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Vermont February.

2-18-09 VERMONT: Nothing vernal happening here. Judy and I have been here for almost a week. Daytime highs are about 30° and nighttime lows in the teens. There is plenty of snow. It has enough of a crust to walk on without snowshoes and only occasionally break through.

Huge chunks of ice fell off the roof onto the deck. A piece two feet long, one foot wide and six inches thick is one cubic foot of ice and that weighs sixty pounds. Drop it two stories and that’s enough to crack pieces of decking, another repair job for the spring. This week I will have repaired a faucet, a tall case clock, and, if the part comes in, the dishwasher which has had a leaky valve. Old houses keep you busy.

Lots of guests this week and all from Sea Cliff.

Plenty of snow here.

East wind and the barometer has dropped an inch since morning--stormy weather coming.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

February Melange.

2-10-09 SHORT HILLS: We have had an amusé bouche of spring over the weekend with temps in the fifties and some melting down of the snow cover which then froze into an ice sheet covering the yard. Our January, and Vermont’s, was below normal for temperature, and I felt it. Nevertheless we go to Vermont later this week with Alison, Anna and Lily and some assortment of friends of each of them.

President Obama’s ability to communicate and captivate an audience was again demonstrated in his town meeting in Elkhart, IN and at his press conference yesterday. One of the questioners at the press conference was from the HuffPo—a sign of the evolution of the media.

How would you describe the behavior of the Republicans in Congress? Obstructionist? Dog-in-the-manger? Suicidal? Homicidal? They are like one of those crazy shooters who take a school hostage, kill a bunch of people and then kill themselves. Well, only about 20 months until the 2010 midterm elections.

Rachel Maddow presented a comparison of the depth and duration of unemployment in the current and last two recessions on her MSNBC show last night. The data and graph are from the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

The blue line shows the drop in employment, 1.5 million jobs, and recovery, 32 months, during the 1990 recession.
The red line shows the bigger drop in employment, 2.7 million jobs, and longer recovery time, 48 months, following the 9/11 attack.
The green line shows the drop in employment in the current recession to date.

Thursday, February 05, 2009

Hibiscus Season.

2-5-09 SHORT HILLS: It's 17° outside, and there are a couple inches of snow cover on the ground. In the sun room, it's hibiscus season.

February Surprise.

Tuesday, February 03, 2009

More Birds.

2-3-09 SHORT HILLS: It has been slowly warming here in NJ, yesterday was in the mid-forties before the snow started last night. It looks like we’ll get a couple inches here today. Our bird feeders have been busy. This cardinal must be the don, he doesn’t let anyone else feed until he’s finished.

Here’s another picture from the Corkscrew Preserve.

Corkscrew Preserve-yellow crowned night heron.

Cardinal-probably wishes he was in Florida.