Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Solutions to the financial crisis

Don’t expect good ideas to come from the Bush administration or from congress; ordinary citizens have better ideas and offer workable solutions that should be considered. For example Jack McCloskey from Albuquerque, New Mexico, offers a simple four-point plan:
1. The Federal Reserve Banks (FRB) be empowered to loan money to banks at rates that reflect the risk that is being assumed. Use this to rescue the banks that are facing insolvency. Make loans contingent on executive pay restrictions.
2. Rules for participating banks be adopted that require them to publicly disclose the nature and value of all of their assets using a uniform valuation code.
3. The FRBs nominate selected participating banks to act as agents under strict rules to provide short term loans to business using Federal Funds. Use this short term to supplement private banks until they begin fully participating again.
4. Create a short term agency to take applications for private mortgage refinancing under the supervision of bankruptcy judges operating under a uniform plan. Provide a schedule of access to federal funds loans based on FRB supervision to help taxpayers stay in their homes.
This provides liquidity to business, only chanels loans (no unfettered funds) to profligate Wall Street banks, addresses executive pay, helps taxpayers stay in their homes and lets the profligate bankers solve their own problems. Since only loans are provided the taxpayer is repaid for money he puts on the line.
Problem solved. Now why something like this wasn’t even considered?

Monday, September 29, 2008

Good food at Kyoto

We’ve been some very loyal customers at Kyoto Japanese Restaurant in the Sugar House section of Salt Lake City. When we go there, we always eat sushi and over the ten years we’ve known the place, the food has always been outstanding, the service is prompt, the personnel courteous and the price a bargain. We were there again last night and while the economy is supposed to be so-so, the place was packed. Need I say more?

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Interactive election campaign

Never before has the web played such a role during an election season. First, there are all are the breaking stories that come in real time on computers, then the contless blogs that bring a more diverse array of interesting slant to the campaigns, including the gossip and the most outrageous stories. Finally, each article becomes the reason for a forum where readers can spill their guts and shoot their response it as they see it. On the New York Times alone, it’s quite common to see five or eight hundred responses to an article, before the section is closed for comments, with most of them often enlightening, witty, partisan, pragmatic and unfortunately sometime a bit too long (most people still don’t know how to condense their thoughts down to the essential.) Reactions like these have forced the financial crisis negotiation to go deeper and away from the one-sided version offered by the Bush government and have opened a can of worms upon Sarah Palin among other salutary results. More so than newspapers, TV and radio, the internet has become the conduit for democracy; keep it up!

Saturday, September 27, 2008

The first debate

By the time you’ll read this, you may have watched the debate, read all the commentaries, so what new angle can I bring? Pretty simple; I’ll focus on impressions and forget a bit about substance. To me, McCain came across as a likeable, but tired man. His complexion was pale, his rhetoric sounded tired and his body language somewhat disengaged, looking too often at his lectern and struggling. On the opposite side, Obama stayed composed, expressed himself extremely clearly, stood tall, was more alive and in much better shape; he looked also much more “presidential.” It’s undeniable that more than one year of non-stop campaigning has taken a toll on both men, but especially on McCain who appeared old (he is) and beat up. That item alone is alarming; I don’t see much energy left in him and frankly believe that he will only be able to operate on “old experience” and won’t be able of much pro-action if elected president. In returning to the whole debate, an informal Wall Street Journal readers’ poll shows that Obama clearly won the debate (57% vs. 36% for McCain, based on close to 60,000 votes), which says a lot considering the staunch conservatism of this paper and its audience.

Friday, September 26, 2008

A test of race

This presidential election will definitely be a test for race and racism for America. If Barack Obama had fair skin, he’d be leading the polls at 65% by now on the account of his program, his smarts and the amount of hope he projects. Problem is there are still too many Americans above 50 or so who are still very much “tainted” when it comes to race and this is blurring their vision with regards to the next election. They’d rather vote for an idiot than for an excellent candidate who isn’t quite white. I’m not even mentioning the various conspiracy theories circulated by right-extremist radio talk shows and blog, suggesting that once in office, Obama will bring all of his friends (?) along and many other stupidities. The bottom line is that early November, we’ll discover if America has finally grown up, entered the modern world, or disserve the fate of today’s Zimbabwe, that faltered under the destructive work of Ian Smith and his racist views when he was running Rhodesia…

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Chicken McCain

By using patriotic pretense to suspend his campaign and “offering” to cancel the first presidential debate, Senator McCain has just made the successful transition from maverick to chicken. Depending on whether one is creationist or not, it could be argued that this transformation was an act of god or a simple process of evolution. At any rate, that last minute escape shows that the old man wasn’t feeling up to debating Barack Obama. One thing is certain; John McCain can’t multi-task and will barely have the time to study economic 101 before the weekend is over and a decision is to be made. It could also be that these evening debates are past his bedtime and should be rescheduled into mid-afternoon to accommodate the 72 years old candidate. With McCain’s campaign going south, it seems to be the appropriate time to divert people’s attention to the “patriotic” side of this humongous taxpayers’ give-away even if the basic scare tactics used for going into Iraq need to be revisited. With about $700 billion already burned up in prosecuting that illegal and useless war, why should we fork another $700 to bailout Bush and Paulsen’s buddies on Wall Street, especially if no one can precisely tell us what would happen if we did it or not. Never before have I been such a staunch believer in the “free market” theory; at this point, we should let the crisis work its way and just observe what happens, period.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Can we trust Paulson?

Yesterday, Henri Paulson and Ben Bernanke weren’t able to convince congress to free the $700 billion they said they needed to bail out their Wall Street buddies. I’m sure most congressmen received heaps of angry emails telling them to study the proposal, amend it before they even sign off on it. At this point, no progress has been made it now looks to me as if Paulson-Bush cried “fire!” inside the theatre and bullied congress to give them all the money with no strings attached (by now a pattern with Mr. Bush.) Some financial experts even say that the situation should cure itself out without any Federal bail out, either through Federal Government loans or third-party buy outs. It’s now clear to me that Hank Paulson, after is long Goldman-Sachs tenure and contributing to today’s set of problems, is acting like the fox in charge of fixing the chicken coop, showing an obvious conflict of interest only re-enforced by his angry body language and lack of flexibility during these congressional hearings. Further, no one is able to explain if that “rescue package” will even work or if it will suffice. I’d say that if we don’t even know it, we ought to stay put, do nothing and watch. I also believe that the democrats are now holding the key to winning big in November through this latest crisis that stands as evidence that Bush was our very worst president in history. No, I don’t trust Hank Paulson.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

The big bail out

This may sound harsh, but I think that our government (meaning both Congress and the White House) where asleep at the switch and didn’t do their job as they should have. Now, we need to fix the huge mess that happened right under their watch. The good news is that very soon Bush will go, but in my view Congress should still be held accountable for the financial mess we’re in. Without getting into any “conspiracy theory”, I’m convinced that the Cheney-Bush Administration had an obvious interest in keeping the credit spigot wide open so it could prosecute its Iraq war in all impunity while Americans where looking the opposite way, indulging in unfettered consumption and paying little attention to critical issues like a war we couldn’t afford and that was paid for by foreign suppliers’ investments. My sense is that all members of congress who fully supported Bush policies and never objected to the “laissez faire” approach of our government towards loose banking and credit policies don’t deserve to stay on their job after this November election.

Monday, September 22, 2008

A definition of voluntarism

In our Park City community, volunteers come by the dozen. It seems it all started during the 2002 Olympics. Many of them came out of the woodwork to get free, first seats to the sporting events and also receive a free jacket and other “goodies” that were available. Since that time, volunteer opportunities have sprung out all over, from Film to Jazz Festival and other public events. Most of them are defined by the fact that there’s something tangible for the volunteer aside from the feeling of doing something good in favor of a certain cause. Last weekend, we attended the “Obama Camp,” a full day seminar detailing a plan on how to support the Democratic Candidate for President. It was long, detailed and really hard work. Participants left with tangible tools and a mission to either physically knock on doors or make telephone calls to convince all electors that were still sitting “on the fence.” What was in it for all of them: Just a strong belief that they all could change our nation for the better with a great deal of ideal, vision and selflessness. Now that’s true voluntarism.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Making the best out of time

These days, even though I should be totally stress-free and detached from any sense of urgency, I remain in a perpetual quandary when it comes to managing what I see as my precious time. Projects keep on popping-up like pimples on a teenager’s face and I have a tough time finding a time-slot for - or at least prioritizing - each of them. The fact that winter is lurking around the corner plays the role of an effective reminder that I need to fast-track all my outdoor projects, while at the same time all these beautiful fall days beg me to get out more on my mountain bike. With all this pressure, what am I to do? I guess, I’ll continue to pick and chose from the list and since there is nothing to hate about its contents, I’ll go crazy until the first snowflakes start whirling around!

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Free market delusion

A free market economy is "an economic system in which individuals, rather than government, make the majority of decisions regarding economic activities and transactions." It’s been also professed that the same free market was guided by some “invisible hand” and that the less regulation the better. Well, this weekend, American taxpayers like me will come to the harsh realization that “free market” was indeed another myth like the Bible, the US constitution and the soon-to-be-defunct internal-combustion engine. The “invisible hand” was in fact the insatiable Wall Street picking into our pockets while its CEO made up like bandits under Bush’s “deer-caught-into-the-headlights" glance during all these year. Yes, all this festered under president Bush’s watch and six years of republican dominated congress that refused any additional financial regulations, promised low taxes but forgot to tell us that “we the people” would have to pay an extra trillion dollar not just over our own lifetime, but those of our kids and grand kids as well. Good job GOP!

Friday, September 19, 2008

A better way to tax

If you believe the “Fed” has saved the day, think again. I still think we haven’t seen the end of the rough road and these days stock market rebound is more psychological than anything else. With these thoughts on mind, I was reading this morning something on taxation that really made me thinking hard. America (and also Europe, Japan…) is a society in which we “buy stuff” and where the share of real consumption in relation to our GDP is about 70%. Now, when we look at taxation, our governments tax us on what we earn (through our work, and also through our savings, an unfair form of double-taxation) which means that we’re taxed on what we contribute to the economy. Taxing savings, by the way, seems meant to discourage that practice; for other reasons as well, savings in America are now in negative territory while consumption has kept on going up, precisely at the expense of savings. Based on that, we might be much better off in changing our tax system into a consumption tax, which would make us pay based on what we take out of the economy instead on being taxed on what we earn which in effect is our contribution to the economy and our surrounding community. How would you feel about that?

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Stress-free Mondays?

Like for many people and the Mamas and Papas’ famous song, Mondays used to be terrible for me. In fact the “Monday-stress” used to start sometime on Sunday, preventing me from enjoying the weekend’s final moments. When I had a big week coming, I always felt the urge to review my files, go over some notes or finish off an important presentation. Sometimes, that obsession spanned over Saturday as well. That was typical of my life while I was actively “working.” Today, weeks come and go without having much impact and making much difference on our life. Granted, we don’t do much on weekends compared to weekdays and our activities are vastly different. Among others, we don’t go running, even though we’re likely to ski, go for a long hike or ride our mountain bikes, but that makes a big difference. So big in fact, that we now look forward to our Monday morning run as our bodies feel fully rested, we feel an abundance of energy and whatever stress was accumulated over the week totally vanished over the weekend!

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Deer Valley & Park City #1

Each year, Ski Magazine asks his readers to vote for the best ski resort in North America; the publication mails out a survey to about 25,000 readers asking them to rank ski areas in 18 categories (from skiing to restaurants and other amenities,) and each year gets between 5,000 and 8,000 completed responses back. The results appear in the October edition that’s on sale this week. Park City received top honors with one of its resorts, Deer Valley, ranked first, Park City Mountain Resort moving from 6th to 5th and The Canyons going from 18th to 13th place! What follows is Ski’s ranking of the top 10 American and Canadian resorts:
# 1. Deer Valley
# 2. Vail, Colo.
# 3. Whistler/Blackcomb, B.C.
# 4. Snowmass, Colo.
# 5. Park City Mountain Resort
# 6. Beaver Creek, Colo.
# 7. Aspen, Colo.
# 8. Steamboat, Colo.
# 9. Breckenridge, Colo.
# 10. Telluride, Colo.
According to Ski Magazine "people are looking for more than just putting skis on snow. They’re looking for the full resort experience," and that’s where Park City's three resorts shine. It's as much about going downtown as skiing; Park City provides a wide variety of activities, that along with the city's vibrant Main Street are ‘as good as it gets’."
It’s also the fourth time in the last eight years the Ski Magazine's readers have put Deer Valley on top. The resort edged out one of its fiercest competitors, Vail Resort for the second year in a row. All this makes us very proud to live in Park City!

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

How low can we go?

Yesterday’s free fall on Wall Street was just like I predicted it. Before the market opened, the futures pegged the Dow Jones down 300 points. I announced 500 points to my spouse and we ended up beyond that huge markdown. Now, what’s going to happen next? In my view, we haven’t seen the bottom yet. As to how much and when, I would say that the market will hit its lowest point somewhere between mid-October and mid February 2009, and when it does, it will sink below 10,000 points; only then, will it be okay to re-enter the equity market. How do I know all that? Just good male intuition if such substance really exists!

Monday, September 15, 2008

To each problem, its solution

That’s right; when confronted with a tough situation, the potential answer could begin with “do absolutely nothing” if indeed absolutely nothing can be done. It could instead involve an almost infinite range of creative ideas that will bring a light of hope at the end of a tunnel of frustration. The challenge is that each problem has the capacity to overwhelm our thinking, cloud our vision and stiffen every muscle in our body instead of leaving us with a clear mind, a sharp outlook and a nimble attitude. Life without any problem would be utterly boring and I personally live to work problems out as a needed distraction and welcome entertainment. Like daily exercise, problems constantly shape us, teach us and make us all much stronger. Problems and challenges of all kind are in fact our untapped source of energy and resourcefulness. Never hide away from them; accept them and fully embrace them!

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Matter over mind…

We love mountain biking… I have already written about it and what I’d like to add is that unlike many others, progress in that one is quite measurable; the more mileage we put on, the better we get, and unlike skiing or golf where the law of “diminishing returns” reigns sovereign, each mountain bike outing seems to make a measurable difference on the quiver of skills that we accumulate. In the single trails where we ride, there is a widely varied environment of sage, aspen trees, gamble oaks and quite often rough rocky paths. When the going get tough, we often brush up with falls or close encounters with these obstacles. Often times, we just have to turn the handlebar to finish off a hairpin turn, but for some mysterious reasons, it’s not mind over matter but the other way around, and we almost miss completing that absolutely necessary change in direction because we get mesmerized by its apparent impossibility. It’s precisely when matter takes over our not-quite-yet-developed mountain biker’s mind…

Saturday, September 13, 2008

More qualified than Sarah Palin?

After carefully watching the interviews of Mrs. Palin by ABC’s Charles Gibsons, I came to the conclusion that the candidate for the Vice-Presidency of the United States was only armed with a shiny, thin veneer of preparation applied at the last second by her Republican coaches that couldn’t hide her obvious lack of understanding and preparation for national and global politics. So without repeating what hundred of folks who eloquently commented on these TV appearances, I used a very simple test, which is summarized in one short question: “Am I more qualified than Sarah Palin for the top job she’s seeking and that literally stands just a heart-beat away from the presidency?” The answer is a resounding YES and that’s frightening because I sincerely don’t see myself with the requisite experience and knowledge to serve my nation in that capacity. Palin’s lack of judgment is downright scary and if we leave her alone and look deeper into her situation, the blame for that terrible choice must be directly placed on “Maverick McCain” which further demonstrates that the man won’t stop at anything to reach his goals and for whom being elected president is worth doing the most reckless move he can get away with. I only hope that a good number of registered republicans will see through that exercise in demagoguery and will either switch their votes to Obama or simply abstain.

Friday, September 12, 2008

From stunning views to cozy neighborhood

We are approaching six years of fun living in our small house. We may have done on lot of work on it, but we also have reaped many rewards. We’ve said it before; we love the neighborhood, its total quietness and the social life it brings. We’ve also become fully accustomed to our smaller dwelling as we’re making judicious use of it all. We may have lost the spectacular views we once enjoyed, but still get a full view of our higher peak when the leaves fall and make up for these panoramic vistas during our daily jog as we’re passing through our previous subdivision. Of course, our garden is now second to none after all the work we’ve put into it, the total privacy it affords us and our great deck that doubles at dining room from June through September. The bottom line is that we would be hard-pressed to find a replacement home any bit as good as the one we now have. It’s become so much like us and so unique that it’s now priceless!

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Dollar ups and downs

Back last June while we were in France, I was talking to a young bank employee, telling him in no uncertain terms that the U.S. Dollar would soon stop its decline against the Euro and turn around into some more glory. At that time I had a sense that its decline couldn’t go forever as one my many hobbies or mania (I should say) has been to maintain a keen eye on foreign currencies as they dance against the greenback. I’ve been tracking its performance for the past thirty years and have observed its ups and downs without always understanding the profound reasons behind its relentless fluctuations. So this past spring when our Dollar was trading at around 65 cents against the Euro, I sensed that it was getting very close to bottom if not already there. I was almost right as its worst performance would be registered a few weeks later in the 62 cent range (the last time it was that bad was in 1979, and it would then more than double over a six-year period to about $1.37 against the Euro-equivalent in 1985!). Today, and for reasons that I couldn’t have articulated at the time, the American currency has made a spectacular comeback, trading today at close to 72 cent! The reasons for that rebound is the onset of a massive recession in the rest of world as it’s slowly catching the bad cold that has made the United States sick for a year or so. So will the Dollar beat its best performance at about $1.15 set in 2001 against a spanking-new Euro, or be able to return to its old 1985 record? I doubt it at this point, and I’ll settle for parity within one year. We’ll see…

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Daring to look into the abyss…

We spent last evening listening to some financial specialists that had flown from the Boston headquarters of our brokerage branch-office in Salt Lake City. A Q&A session followed their presentation and among the few that were asked, one came from a participant who wanted to know if following the “rescue” of Fanny Mae and Freddie Mac, we might be looking at a total loss of a trillion dollars by financial institutions before the dust would settle on that crisis. That thought didn’t go very far, because this time, unlike the S&L crisis of 1989, we simply don’t know how deep the abyss is and how well, if at all, the government “rescue package” may work. So here we are, experimenting with moves that are unproven and “hoping for the best.” I have said it before and I say it again, these government moves to calm the markets are just that. They only appease the symptoms in this election season but don’t work on the profound reasons for the crisis. My view is very simple; housing prices have yet to fall by a truly significant margin, and I mean 30 to 50%, not just 17% as is the case now, to “purge” the entire system of its ills. That means that a fall of that magnitude will have a huge consequence on the financial markets and that we're indeed talking about several trillion dollars loss before all is said and done. The bad news is that this descent to hell is likely to be protracted over the next couple of years and that our suffering and all that uncertainty are likely to endure for a long while…

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

The appeal of new projects

Look at any house, no matter how old or new and you’ll discover countless things that need to be done. Our home, for instance, is a perpetual “work in progress.” When a job is over in the garden, it’s time for a new one inside and generally these undertakings follow the natural rhythm of seasons. Paint jobs happen in the spring and fall, yard work in the summer and so on… Yesterday I started a new project that will put a long-awaited finishing touch into our entry staircase, living room and kitchen. This project involves a combination of paint and artistry (quite compatible aren’t they?) and will take me into the uncharted territory of a brand new experience. I’m all excited and can’t wait!

Monday, September 8, 2008

In praise of time

About six month ago, I decided to tackle the subject of time. As I said then, time can be a very important resource that we often underestimate. When I was much younger, I didn’t have much respect for it. I often believed it could and should be “cut short” to save it and satisfy my tempestuous impatience. The older I get though, the more I realize its power. It works overnight on the dough used to make bread, it lets paint dry, salads grow and resentment heals. More importantly though, it provides us the luxury of finding better ideas, discovering smarter solutions and envisioning options we never suspected existed. The precious quality called wisdom that comes to us later in life is a by-product of time and compensates for all the rash and passionate impulses that are slowly but surely leaving us. Time is so essential to our lives that we often forget how to use it well and give a central place it deserves in any move we make or decision we take…

Sunday, September 7, 2008

Steep gets harder

Yesterday afternoon, following another delightful mountain bike outing with Evelyne, I went on my one for yet another one, in the hope of tackling the ascent of “Spiro” a steep, climbing single track that snakes up along the flanks of the Park City Mountain Resort. At first all went well, except that I found the trail particularly steep and sustained. At some point, with no more energy left in my system, I had to put my foot done and walk my bike, huffing and puffing. Eventually, I reached the top of the hill, doing only two-thirds of it on the bike, walking the rest. This ascent was followed by a long downhill run on “Crescent Mine Grade,” a tough single track that crosses across the lower face of the ski hill. I made it okay and this is during that descent that I realized that I was two times thirty years old!

Saturday, September 6, 2008

McCain’s contradictions

By letting his supporters viciously attack the Obama-Biden ticket the all week leading to his nomination, John McCain has shown that he speaks from both sides of his mouth. He is not the great American hero he’d like to portray; he has enshrined himself instead as the great American hypocrite. Of course, he’s been reciting the speeches that his strategists have concocted for him and his rabid dogs. The result: His republican platform remains an old ideology with no concrete program to engage the American public and excite the electorate. Of course, America counts enough stupid, greedy and religiously fanatic folks among its electorate that could still give McCain an edge come November. While it will be impossible to turn both the greedy and the theocrats around, these harder times might see a shrinking number of stupid Americans leaving just enough breathing room to elect Barack Obama. That would be great progress…

Friday, September 5, 2008

John McSame’s harangue

Last night’s speech was long on ideology and short on program; in fact he Arizona Senator wasn’t able to articulate one during his laborious pronouncement. Now I know by heart that young John McCain used to be a reckless maverick, having fun flying a F4 and dropping ordinances over North Vietnam, killing innocent folks in another gratuitous war, until he got caught and roughed up as he should have. Now that man is trying to tell us that being a POW in these circumstances makes him a hero qualified to be president? I don’t think so. He forgot to tell us that he supported Bush 90% of the time during the past eight years and is part of the same fabric that has brought America in the dire situation it is today. John is indeed part of the problem, not the solution. He’s been in congress for 26 years and has been one of those who have, under Bush-Cheney, fueled partisanship and increased division. To top it all, the man is incapable to explain how he’s going to clean up his party’s own clock and bring true collaboration on Capitol Hill! I don’t have to add that the man looks old and frail; in fact, I was relieved that he went through his carefully scripted speech without collapsing. Time to call it a day John, you’ve firmed up my conviction to support Obama and have given me great hope that you and Sarah will lose in November!

Thursday, September 4, 2008

Another fish story…

Last night was Sarah Palin’s big night. She did exactly what she was supposed to do; she stayed on the elaborate message concocted by the republican machine, handled the teleprompter well, lined up her entire family center stage, went long on negative, tearing up Barack Obama (and in so doing the large majority of her fellow Americans who think highly of him) and very short on programs to address eight years of Bush-Cheney demolition blessed by her party. She conveniently forgot to mention that she kept the money “to the bridge to nowhere” and went on as a "pit-bull with lipstick on" until a frail and old John McCain made an anti-climactic appearance at the end of the show to remind everyone that when all is said and done, we’ll have to chose between someone who looks just like “yesterday” and Obama who opens a hopeful door to “tomorrow” and the much needed change it will usher.

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Sarah Palin, good enough for my republican friends

She’s got the experience: She was elected Alaska's governor a little over a year and a half ago. Her previous office was mayor of Wasilla, a small town outside Anchorage.
With her, your wife or daughter won’t stand a chance to get an abortion even in the case of rape or incest.
She drives on the right shoulder of the road; for example, she supported the right-wing extremist Pat Buchanan for president in 2000.
She is going to make the United States the smartest nation on earth as she thinks that creationism should be taught in public schools.
She's knows better and doesn't think humans are the cause of climate change; in fact polar bears must be, because she sued the Bush administration for listing them as a threatened species as it could interfere with more oil drilling in Alaska.
With her, you’ll have gas to fill your big SUV; she's solidly in line with John McCain's "Big Oil first" energy policy. She's pushed hard for more oil drilling and says renewable energy won't be ready for years…
My republican friends, if you were so smart in picking Bush twice, Sarah and John are your chance for an encore and for affirming your bright intellect!

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

How Gustav missed New Orleans

A few days before the Republican Convention in the Twin Cities, and in advance of Gustav’s landfall in the Gulf of Mexico, we saw the evacuation of all platform rigs by a flock of helicopters. We also heard that Bush and Cheney wouldn’t be able to attend the Minneapolis event because of the hurricane, but what the TV didn’t show us was that the same choppers picked Bush and Cheney up and dropped them on two oil platforms; it now appears that Karl Rove had told them to gesticulate and appear “really scary” as the hurricane would make its way towards the Big Easy. It’s not that Gustav could easily be scared; he sure made a mess of the few islands he hit on its way, and was certainly ready for more in the USA, but Rove had strategically placed Dick Cheney on the farthest platform in the open sea, while George Bush stood on another, located just fifteen nautical miles behind. So, when Gustav came in sight of a bald Cheney menacing and gesticulating, it really got scared, panicked, violently hit the brakes and veered off to the left avoiding a frontal hit with the city of New Orleans. Once more, Karl Rove had the right insight and saved the day, the convention, John McCain, Sarah Palin, and their superb family values…

Monday, September 1, 2008

Rain (and snow) at last!

It’s been two and a half month since we had our last serious precipitation, and that one was on June 11, with snow descending all the way to town. In the meanwhile, we only had four days sprinkled with some short showers, perhaps totaling five hours or rain at the very most. In the twenty-three summers we spent in Utah, we had never seen such a long, dry summer. Yesterday, for the very first time that drought weather came to an end and we welcome the heavy showers that punctuated the night. For the first time ever, we’ve been suffering for severe allergies all summer long due to a mixture of extreme dryness, dust and pollen particles floating in the air. Later today, we’re expecting more rain and this morning snow was covering the higher elevations as a cold front had moved in… We now hope that we’ll get a few showers more often to transition into fall, our very best season in Park City.