Scary thing is, I might be right 
Last month, I made a post speculating what might happen to the world markets if ExxonMobil ever fails; (as many people in this land are hoping for, by the way). Judging how the market reacted today to a Congressional vote on a handout from the taxpayers, I might be right.

Additionally, after years of rooting for bad economic news and pumping up anything that was even remotely bad (and overlooking anything that was good - like when the DJIA topped 14K, the MSM made sure they didn't credit Bush, but he'll get a big chunk of blame for this current plunge), the MSM looks to have gotten their wish - crisis right before election day. Part of this is a manufactured problem designed to do just what it's doing - give people gloom and doom right before we go to the polls. The big part, of course, is the people themselves - spending, borrowing, and living beyond their means and lenders and the government doing their best to encourage it. It has now come time to pay for this foolishness and licentiousness that took root in the late 1990's; a prime example why the "if it can be done, it should be done" philosophy is nothing more than obtuse judgment and immaturity. But I digress, philosophical ideology is not entirely to blame, there's been plenty of malfeasance from everyone from the top down in both politics and business.

Just as children need their parents, even if they don't think they do, society needs the acute and mature who are the responsible citizens who manage their affairs properly and we seem to be a vanishing breed.

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Food Debauchery 
We went to Pittsburgh this past weekend and, as is the case when you travel, it's hard to eat right. So, chronicled what I ate and it isn't pretty. It's hard to believe that I used to eat like this all the time, sans the salads and fruit.

Roy Rogers on the turnpike:
Chicken sandwich, side salad, iced tea

McDonald's Friday night after we exited the turnpike in Cranberry:
BBQ chicken wrap

Hotel room:
two beers

Saturday morning at Eat 'n' Park:
veggie omelette, home fries, rye toast, orange juice, coffee

At the Pitt game:
split a nachos and personal-sized pizza, water

Saturday after the game:
a peach

Saturday evening dinner, Max's Allegheny Tavern in Pittsburgh:
garden salad, schnitzel, mashed potatoes, two Penn Pilsners

After Max's, we went into Oakland for some drinks at bar owned by a friend of mine.

Sunday morning:
coffee (my usual breakfast, for many, many years, except when we travel)

Sunday lunch, Wendy's in Carlisle:
99 cent hamburger and 99 cent chicken sandwich, side salad, iced tea

For dinner Sunday, we ordered Chinese as we never cook on Sundays when we come home from traveling.

Naturally, a binge like this just loads one up with salt and fat and all kinds of glop. The food was good and it's always a highlight when we travel but I'll be glad to get back into my normal diet and exercise routine this week.

The reason for the trip was to go to the Pitt-Iowa game. It was my first game in our new seats. We moved down from the 500-level endzone to the 140's, corner endzone. We are up enough so that we can see most of the action. Pitt won 21-20.

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Happy Constitution Day! 
From About.com:

On September 17, 1787, forty-two of the 55 delegates to the Constitutional Convention held their final meeting. Only one item of business occupied the agenda that day, to sign the Constitution of the United States of America.


Of the 42 who attended, 39 signed and 3 did not; nine more facts.

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---- Hitting the Fan 
My wife and I been doing our part as responsible citizens. We save and we also invest. We don't buy things we can't afford. Excluding the mortgage, we have no debt, which, really isn't considered a debt but more of a loan. Yet, financially, things are a mess and I believe it's due to not enough invisible hands doing their part. Yes, the invisible hand can have negative effects too - if people continually live beyond their means and spend spend spend on things they don't need or can't afford. And, what worries me most, is that those of us today who save and invest and manage our finances wisely, will end up, in about 20 years, subsidizing those who aren't planning for their future. If it sounds like I am lecturing, it's because I am. I know that we are doing things right. Maybe people laugh at us when they see that we don't have a new car or maybe they laugh because our house isn't as big as theirs. But I sleep at night knowing that my bills are paid and that we'll have the house paid off in ten years and that we don't live paycheck to paycheck and, not to boast, an impressive credit score. Oh, we still are concerned with money, don't get me wrong, but we set limits and bounds and budgets and work within them.

My wife and I firmly believe that "it's not what you make, it's what you don't spend."

Is this current meltdown solely due to malfeasance of the consumer; no, but, maybe these failed companies should have had bounds and limits that were a little more strict. Nonetheless, if people don't pay what they promised to pay, no matter how established or big the lender is, things will go wrong.

Hopefully, those who manage such financial institutions will learn from these mistakes. Hopefully, those who've overextended themselves will learn, too. Of course, many people suffer foreclosure through no fault of their own; they just hit a bad stretch. Bad things do happen to good people too but that's life. I've had my share of financial hardship but I dug myself out without bankruptcy or government assistance and if I can do it, anyone can.

Yes, the economy has seen better times, but it also has seen worse times. Rising prices at the pump and grocery store affect us too. But with years of training and disciplined money management, we are dealing with it. Yes, I still worry that things may go wrong and we end up in dire straights but I feel with how we conditioned ourselves, we'll be able to handle it. Parsimony isn't hard if you try.

In every society, there are people who have hardship due to needs. However, it seems that in the U.S. there are way too many people whose wants are the primary reason for hardship. This more inimical to society than those whose needs are to due to legitimate hardship.

It also concerns me that those who manage our money seem to be incompetent and reckless - whether it's government or business - and, of course, it's the frugal and responsible citizen who gets the bill when things hit the fan.

Many businesses are really beginning to irk me with their carelessness - whether it's irresponsible lending practices or farming out their manufacturing with no regards to quality control or consumer safety or contracting out customer service with the sole intent to discourage anyone from ever calling customer service - often to complain about a shoddy product or an arcane fee on some service. But, this is a topic for another day. I am rather displeased with the many once proud businesses seem to have abandoned principles and practices that had made them strong.

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???????? 
On a scale of 1 to 5, five being zaniest, Joe Biden's recent comment that Hillary "might have been a better pick than me" for VP goes off the scale with an impressive eight question marks. Someone should start a competitive eating contest but instead of food, use shoes, because at the pace at which Biden puts his foot in his mouth, he'd win hands down each and every time.

Oh, and wouldn't it be interesting if Biden suddenly developed an "unspecified illness" or disclosed an "undisclosed extreme personal issue" and dropped out of the race? This, then, would pave the way for a woman veep for BHO. This is highly unlikely this late in the year but one never knows. Of course, this would send the bullcrap meter off the scale and even the MSM may not be able to cover for the Obama campaign on that one.


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Much Ado About Nothing 
I don't watch a lot of TV but I have seen (before the Eagles-Rams kickoff) the much publicized and criticized Microsoft commercial with Bill and Jerry. Awful. First of all, I had no idea what the commercial was for and, secondly, Jerry Seinfeld isn't funny at all; never was, and Bill Gates certainly isn't either. I never liked Seinfeld to begin with and that show wasn't very funny either. In fact, it's one of the shows that opened my eyes and led me to totally ditch, save Jeopardy! and sometimes the Simpsons (probably the best-written show ever), prime-time television viewing. From what I have seen, it's only gotten worse over the past 12 years. Newton N. Minow, how right you are.

Speaking of comedians, Obama's lipstick on a pig and stinky fish comments seem to be the talk of the town. The vast wasteland of the cable news channels is hyping this too much but not near at the level you'd see if McCain had said the same if Obama had a woman running mate. Plus, with McCain's bounce the MSM has gone into red alert damage control mode to cover for Obama once again. However, polls in September mean nothing, no matter who's leading. They'll sway many times over the next eight weeks.

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The Move 
I was in Western PA this weekend and away from the TV, Internet, and radio on Friday when Sarah Palin was announced as McCain's running mate. So I missed all the initial hype and really didn't get to catch much about it over the rest of the weekend.

I had commented a few months ago that a woman for VP would be a bold move for McCain and that's what he did. She's a newbie, like BHO, the political front. She's got executive experience as a governor but she didn't make a speech in 2002 like BHO did. It's hard to tell how this plays out. Democrats will attack her inexperience and, as expected, so will the media; even though the media will forget to tell you that BHO was in office 143 days before he formed a presidential exploratory committee and has spent most of his time since then visiting the 61 states of the Union.

We'll find out a lot about Gov. Palin in the coming months and anything negative about her will be front and center, unlike fellow VP candidate Biden's plagiarism or his frequent verbal gaffes as well as her limited experience with no mention of Obama's. Oh, and look for a myriad of Hillary supporters on the Obama News Networks who will be brought in to say how they will not support McCain-Palin.

I applaud the move, even if she is relatively unknown. Sometimes you need to push for change.

As an aside, Palin has a son who is being deployed to Iraq soon and McCain has a son in the Marines and another in the naval academy. If this ticket wins it's possible that both the Pres. and Veep could both have sons deployed in war zones. I wonder if that has ever happened before?

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Typical Headline Slant from the AP 
So, let me get this straight: the McCain campaign airs an ad that features Hillary Clinton saying "I know Sen. McCain has a lifetime of experience that he will bring to the White House. And, Sen. Obama has a speech he gave in 2002." This is a called a GOP attack? How? Hillary did the attacking here, not a Republican.

Clinton faces new GOP attacks ahead of her speech

In the article, Hillary says "I'm Hillary Clinton and I do not approve that message."

Well, too bad, Hillary, you said it so if you disapprove of it, then you are only disapproving yourself.

Poor Hillary. First, I believe she is more qualified than BHO to be president and second, I firmly believe that had she entered the race in '04, even if late, she probably would have won the election. She completely underestimated BHO and even she could not have predicted that the MSM would switch the lettering on their cheerleading uniforms from "HC" to an "O".

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Too Good? Too Bad! You're Outta Here! 
Yet another example the ongoing effort to neutralize anyone who is good at something:

9-Year-Old Boy Told He's Too Good To Pitch

Of course, if a league told a kid he wasn't good enough to pitch - instant lawsuit!

People have learned that if someone is smarter/more athletic/more successful than they are, then instead of taking initiative to overcome the challenge, they take measures to punish the people who have set the bar higher. They have been told, often by certain politicians, that if Person X is smarter than you or has a bigger house than you do, then it's not your fault, and you've been discriminated against in some way. Telling you that you need to work harder or that sometimes the cards don't play in your favor is political suicide. When a politician implies this, he/she is often branded a meanie.

As discussed on the previous post, some people are just naturally gifted at some things - be it sports or academics, and those people need to be encouraged, not suppressed or neutralized.

It just seems that everything is bass ackwards in our society. We punish the good and those who aren't good are told it's not their fault and we try to make them feel good by instilling punishment on the good then we wonder why such a high percentage of kids who graduate from US high schools can't read or write beyond a 6th-grade level or that many young adults don't seem to be motivated anymore to do better. Society can't produce competent adults if we continue to tell the best and brightest that they are too good at something and need to slow it down, literally in this case, so that others feel good.

Competition has become another "C" word.

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Numbers 
0 - number of vacation plans we had to alter this summer because of gas prices. We went to Canada and DC/Virginia. We also went camping, the shore, went to Musikfest, several Iron Pigs games, and I went to the Reading Air Show.

2 - number of times this summer I paid more than $4 for a gallon of gas; both involved our trip to Canada. We bought just enough over the border to cover the trip back into the US. We paid $1.249/L in Canada and $4.17/G off I-81 near Watertown, NY. The stations all near my house never topped $3.99.

5 - when I went to donate blood last week, I found out I had passed the 5 gallon plateau.

7 - number of Iron Pigs games I went to this summer. Their record in those seven games: 0-7.

7.3 - Unemployment rate in Illinois, BHO's home state. Unemployment in AZ is 5.1%.

8 - Micheal Phelps; simply amazing; proof that hard work and determination yield results.

14 - the over/under number, in seconds, after the Olympics end how long it will take someone from the MSM to blame Bush if China finishes with more medals than the US. However, it looks like China will finish with more gold so you'll see some BDS in action regardless.

21 - number of plants in my garden; 12 tomato, four jalapeno, four anaheim chili, and one pumpkin. Plus, I have two rogue tomato that popped up and have tomatoes on them. I planted 11 sunflowers but the deer got some so I ended up with four.

26 - number of pounds down since January I was at my morning weigh-in today. I continue to exercise daily and watch my diet but I am not losing weight as quickly as before. Maybe am building muscle.

162 - number of 90F+ days recorded at Chicago's Midway Airport from 2000-2008: "the fewest 90-degree temperatures in the opening nine years of any decade on record here since 1930"

571 - number of miles since April I have biked according to the cycle computer. It broke three weeks ago so I am likely close to 700 by now. My goal is 1000 from April through September.

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Global Warming Causes Near Record Corn Yield 
It's true!

Midwest floods show signs of global warming

Corn harvest predicted to be second-largest ever

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ExxonMobil Reports $41B 3rd Quarter Loss 
Irving, TX (TP) - World markets were send into a freefall earlier today when ExxonMobil announced a record-shattering $41B loss last quarter. The news comes just weeks after ExxonMobil completed its "Pay Now, Not Later" plan which compensated all employees and retirees for their expected full retirement benefits as well as setting aside $10 billion to be handed out to one million random average citizens who have no direct link to ExxonMobil. "We figured we would do the opposite of what companies like GM and Bethlehem Steel did. They were burdened with pensions and health benefits for thousands of people who were no longer contributing to the company so we figured, let's just get that out of the way now. We also wanted to beat Democratic senators to the punch and redistribute our hard-earned money to the people because we have proven we can manage our money better than the government can manage theirs." ExxonMobil CEO Rex Tillerson said last month. Senators Hillary Clinton and Chuck Schumer praised the move and Democratic presidential nominee Barack Obama said that "finally, ExxonMobil has done something right. Instead of stuffing their coffers with profit, they have ensured that their employees will enjoy a secure retirement. While my plan would have given their money not just to random people but to people strictly in need, I still believe this is a good move for America. I believe in change and this big chunk of 'change' from Exxon will have a positive effect on all Americans."

The announcement came at 10:48 EDT and the DJA began an unprecedented plummet, dropping as much as 4000 points before closing at 8237.19, off almost 3000 points (26%), after the SEC shut down all trading at 11:33 am EDT. Other still-open world markets experienced similar drops as the ripple-effect has still to take hold because major markets like Hong Kong and the Nikkei were already closed. Officials have announced a delayed opening for both those markets tomorrow with hopes of letting some of the initial turbulence subside. There has been no word yet on whether the DJA will be on a delayed opening or be closed completely tomorrow.

As expected, the price of oil soared as well; jumping from $96.22 a barrel to over $200 a barrel before officials closed that market as well with a record-shattering price of $211.02 a barrel. Other commodities markets closed early as well, leaving every major stock and commodities market in the world shut down and many appear reluctant to reopen until some dust settles.

Customers at the pump also felt immediate pain. Reports of gasoline jumping $3/gallon were not uncommon. "I drove by the station on my way to the hairdresser and it was $2.92/gal" said Mamie Alderfer, 58, of Sherman Oaks, CA, "and when I saw it an hour later, it was $6.06/gallon." Javier Rosado of Evanston, IL, said that the station pumps actually raised the price while he was filling up. "the first four gallons cost me $2.99 each but the last 12 cost me $5.95 each" Rosado said. There have also been scattered reports of gasoline topping $8 a gallon in San Francisco and Boston. Aside from huge price leaps, widespread reports of vandalism targeting gas stations were seen. In Detroit, an Exxon gas station was riddled with bullets, injuring two, and in Los Angeles, a Conoco station was attacked by what eyewitnesses called "a swarm of people with torches" and lit the structure on fire; no injuries were reported and firefighters quickly doused the blaze. Officials in both cities were reluctant to say if these acts were results of today's news.

Shares of ExxonMobil were down 81% when trading ceased this morning, producing the just the opposite effect by deflating many 401(k)'s and IRAs rich in ExxonMobil and other oil companies' stock. Since stocks in general were down, most people felt a significant blow to their portfolios as well. Edward Stanwyx, of Euclid, OH, was ready to retire tomorrow: "I just signed all the paperwork with my advisor and was ready to start collecting from my IRA when this happened" said Stanwyx, 60. "Suddenly, my funds dropped several hundred thousand dollars and my monthly payment will now be half of what I expected. Even if I am one of the lucky recipients of Exxon's giveaway, it will not make up for the lost investments."

"We wanted to show the world what would happen if we didn't make a profit. They have gotten their wish. Since many people think we have money to burn, we decided to burn all our money" ExxonMobil released in an official press release just minutes ago. There has been no truth to the widespread rumors that ExxonMobil has also decided to dissolve immediately and sell its assets to Royal Dutch Shell. PetroChina is also rumored to be interested in the assets if ExxonMobil dissolves. Officials at all three companies refused comment.

"I knew this was a bad move from the start" Barack Obama said earlier today. "I vow to crack down on this corporate irresponsibility. They have an obligation to their employees and this nation to manage their affairs properly" Obama said today. "This wanton recklessness and schadenfreude has deflated our robust economy, ruined the investments of hard-working Americans, and put America's national security in peril" Obama said.

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