The Ad That Makes Me Cry

I’m talking about the GE ad that shows an Idea, in a costume that looks like it was recycled from the Farmer’s ad about “gaps in your insurance coverage”. The Idea is a scruffy, shaggy creature that no one wants around because it’s ugly and disturbing.  It hangs out at coffee shops till they close. It’s homeless, living in a box in an alley. Finally a yuppie takes it in but by that time my eyes are filled with tears.

Cherish your ideas! Every business in this community started as an idea. Cherish your ideas- nourish them, love them, work on them, discuss them and above all be thankful for them.

Happy Thanksgiving!


The Trouble With Belgium

As the days grow shorter and the nights longer, and we snuggle beside our cozy home fires behind the Redwood Curtain, it’s apparent that the world is at war again, maybe for the rest of my lifetime.  Everyone is mourning what has happened in Paris.   I’ve been there,  too, but my connection is to Belgium and I hate watching the news these days.

In 1994 I spent a couple of weeks in Belgium, a country which a lot of Americans miss when they visit Europe.  Their loss. You cannot find a greater concentration of history, culture, museums, art, belfries, windmills, canals and just overall loveliness,  keeping in mind that it’s a small country and Brussels, Ghent, Antwerp and Bruges are separated by only a short train ride. And the food! All this in a country where practically everyone speaks English.

It’s puzzling to me that more Americans haven’t visited Belgium.  Brussels is the capital of Europe, of NATO of course, and the European Community or Union or whatever they’re calling it these days.  The hotels are full of diplomats who make charming breakfast companions even if they can’t resist making a point or two about the textile tariffs they were sent there to discuss.  But Belgium is also a tortured country,  cobbled together in the post-Napoleonic era with an existential split between the  French-speaking  Walloons in the south and the Flemish population in the North. Brussels is the capital of everything bad in Europe –  arms dealing, drugs, pornography.  It’s all there.

Even in 1994 there were millions of Muslims in Belgium.  I stopped in at a little cafeteria in Antwerp and when the proprietors learned I was American, they practically jumped over the counter.   “WE are Kurds! We LOFF America!  We LOFF George BOOSH!” they told me over and over, referring to the complexities of the Kurdish situation as summarized HERE.  I stayed a couple of hours while they had me try everything on their menu. I made a halfhearted attempt to tell them that not everyone in America loved George Bush but I didn’t make much headway.  They wanted me to go home with them to drink coffee.  I’m sorry I didn’t go.  It would be great to have their perspective on what’s happening now.

I saw a lot of Muslims on that trip.  The neighborhood in Oslo where the Munch “Scream” was stolen from its museum- once, or was it twice?- is a Muslim enclave, large and dreary and gray. My companions on the train to Stockholm were Iranians, and great company.

I don’t know if I’ll ever get back to Belgium but I’m missing it terribly as I write this. And I never even got to Waterloo!  May the New Year bring us sufficient peace on earth to allow us to travel safely again. 


Do You Go To “Free Dinners”?

Like everyone else, I’ve been aware that sales operations pushing timeshares, questionable real estate developments and other bad ideas sometimes entice their victims with a free meal. Lately there are even out-of-town hospitals inviting our folks to sit through a presentation on the glories of their particular institution while munching on a free hotel meal.   I can’t imagine why anyone shows up.  I’m really put off by the notion that I’m such an imbecile or so broke that a free meal would cause me to choose one vendor over another.  For a free meal, I couldn’t be bothered to drive downtown, not unless it was catered by Wolfgang Puck in person and we got to keep the chinaware. 

But hundreds of people show up at these things. I’ve heard about people who show up  at ALL of them.  I wonder how many of you got an invitation, on thick paper, to a “Free Eureka Dinner Conference” involving real estate investing, at the Red Lion on Monday Nov 30th. According to the flyer, this is “sponsored” by a couple of A&E TV personalities but  they will not be present.  Nowhere in the literature can you find the name of the entity actually presenting this “Real Estate Income Event”.   The return address is a “unicorn ” office In NYC, a virtual office where no one actually works. If you want advice from these folks, you’re welcome to it. I think I would recommend consulting one of our many local realtors or brokers, or taking a class. If you go, let us know how it was!!


Yowza! Your neighbors are making piles of $$$ thru Air BnB! Or not.

Would anyone, I wondered idly, be crazy enough to list their place in Humboldt on Air B and B?  Well, apparently over 200 of you in Eureka have signed up, see HERE,  and in the other towns, there must be even more. Check it out!  You may see your neighbors’ house!!

You’ll surely see some houses you recognize, and the Eureka listings include a popup trailer and a couple of boats. I had no idea.  Really.



The HSU Economic Index For October Is In!

The Index of Home Sales fell in September but is almost 14% higher than this time last year.  30-year mortgage rates in Humboldt County have decreased fro 4 per cent to 3.875 percent, while the median home price rose from $268,000 to $270,000.  In other words, things are pretty flat.  See the full report HERE..

Which Five Companies Earned 70% of Internet Sales?

That uncanny feeling of deja vu  is understandable. You really DO see the same names over and over. THIS LINK explains it.  Amazon, Alphabet/Google. Facebook and eBay are all familiar names,   Liberty Interactive is the John C Malone–owned  firm that owns QVC and Zulilly. This is really depressing if you think about it a lot.


The Cost Of Living IS Too Damn High

You’ve certainly heard by now that Social Security recipients, including SSI recipients, aren’t getting a cost-of-living increase this year, a fairly rare occurrence.  Apparently the way they calculate the cost of living gives great weight to the cost of gasoline,  which hasn’t risen much in the last couple of years while everything else has skyrocketed.

All I know is that at Winco, a lot of the stuff I buy has increased by at least 50% from a couple of years ago.  Broccoli used to be $.99 a pound, now it’s often $1.99. Tuna used to be $.59, now it’s $.89. It all adds up.

My cousin,  also a retiree, shared with me the following statistics from EPI. Bloomberg and the USDL.:

Since 1978, the cost of college tuition has increased by 1,120%.

Medical care has increased by 601%

Food has increased by 244%

Shelter has gone up by 380%.

MEANWHILE the pay of typical workers rose by just 10%

The pay of minimum wage workers fell by 5.5%

And the pay of average CEO’s increased by 937%.

No wonder everyone’s feeling squeezed, whether on a “fixed income”  or not. I really feel for the many folks who have no other income and hope that Sen Elizabeth Warren’s bill or some other fix will be appllied, and soon.  For those who, like me, have other sources of income, it’s just an annoyance  but it cannot be denied that increased discrepancies between income and expenses force more people into homelessness. The rent IS too damn high.


“Pore Jeb Is Dead. Pore Jeb Bush Is Dead”

Did the Republican debate Tuesday night leave you humming tunes from “Oklahoma!” ? The next-to-last scene, the mock funeral of the villain Judd Fry, played in the movie by a babyfaced Rod Steiger, is buried without much sorrow to a dirge proclaiming “Pore Judd Is Dead”.  When someone finally decides to put the Jeb Bush campaign out of its misery, they could definitely use the same music.  My apologies to Rogers and Hammerstein.

Is it an amazing coincidence that Oklahoma!, which was famous for using an exclamation point in its title, should provide the exit music for the faltering JEB! campaign?  Go listen to the soundtrack. It fits. 

What we saw on Tuesday night was, first of all,  too many people on stage.  The buffoons, Trump and Carson, should not have been there but will be around for awhile.  Chris Christie, who should have been there, was relegated to the kid’s table.  The man who is the greatest threat to the Democrats, Marco Rubio, had a great night and managed to duck having to articulate an immigration policy.  It was the best Republican debate so far, and kudos to the Fox Business Channel which was responsible. 

What went wrong with the Jeb! campaign? He’s articulate, experienced and bilingual. He should have led a march by Hispanics to the Republican tent. But it’s not going to happen. And I can’t help but feel  bad for him because he seems like a decent person.

 Oh well.