Capitalism in Chains

Here we go again…

The Georgia Automotive Dealers Association (GADA) is arguing before the state that Tesla shouldn’t be allowed to sell cars to individuals in Georgia because they don’t have franchised dealers like all the other auto manufacturers do.  That’s code for: Their innovative approach means they’ll make more money off of the sale of a car than we will.

http://www.ajc.com/news/business/georgia-auto-dealers-fight-tesla-before-state-judg/njPWn/

http://politics.blog.ajc.com/2015/01/06/car-dealers-prepare-to-do-battle-with-tesla-at-the-state-capitol/

Same issue played out in the 2014 legislative session in Georgia when the cab and limousine lobby had it’s legislative puppets introduce legislation that would have banned Uber from operating in Georgia.  Their argument — presented to me personally by a leader of the association of cab and limousine industry —  is that Uber is an unlicensed operator and that crushes his business (limo service) because he is struggling to pay his drivers $7.50 an hour due to regulatory expenses, while Uber drives are making bank. (note: if i were this guy, I’d close my business and become an Uber driver ASAP)

http://blog.uber.com/ATLNeedsUber

I’ll note the link above is to Uber, so it’s clearly biased.  However, there’s one line that made me choose that link… “HB907 is a direct attack on Atlanta consumers…”  Yup, that nailed it.

The GADA isn’t attacking Tesla, nor is the Taxi Cab and Limo pool attacking Uber — they are both attacking consumers.  Why? Because it is easier than the alternative — being forced to innovate and adapt to changing markets that would present better alternatives to consumers.  In other words, Chrony-ism is less work that capitalism. Consumer/customer be damned, these folks want their money, and they want its flow protected by regulation that destroys their innovative competition — which ensures they won’t have to work hard to innovate and adapt ever again.

I’m sorry, did any one else realize that we just flushed the American Dream down the toilet?

What if the train & rail industry couldn’t box the Wright Brothers out of their pursuit of flight because it was unfair competition.  Or if the Horse and Buggy guild sued Henry Ford and shut him down for failure to meet minimum equine house standards — even though he didn’t need horses for his buggies.

This absolutely sickens me.  Rather than the Taxi and Limo companies jumping ship and running to the UBER side so that they could avoid the regulation that is crushing their profits, the would rather the profitable side of the industry be crushed by regulations.  —- which, now that I mention it, I wonder if they even understand that the regulations are crushing them, maybe they are so intrenched and beaten down by those regs that they don’t even realize the death grip they are in —-  The same goes for the auto industry.  Rather than the Kia factory in West Point, GA selling me a kia direct — and Kia making more money off of the deal, they’d rather force Tesla to find a franchisee for a dealership in Georgia.

And who suffers for it?  You and I.  The consumers.

This is stupidity.  This is why we need the Government out of the marketplace. They are killing the hard worker, punishing the innovator, and choking the entrepreneurial innovative Spirit out of the American Man (and woman).

 

PT

So with a baby on the way, I find myself thinking about my own health in a whole new way. I’ve always been pretty “healthy” in that I am of a healthy BMI, Cholesterol levels, don’t smoke/chew (anymore), etc.  I’m physically active on a consistent basis — home projects, softball, volleyball, etc — but it’s been several years since I’ve taken a motivated approach to exercise….. despite the fact that I’ve been paying for a Gym membership for 3 years.

In August, I decided I was gonna get back on the horse.  I’m a pretty system and process-minded person, so just heading to the Gym to work out wasn’t going to happen, I needed a plan and goals. Mrs. Not-a-Grasshopper (who is far more athletically adept than I) sent me to bodybuilding.com.  I felt pretty stupid at first looking at workouts put together buy muscle-headed guys, but after a few months of working through a plan (Big Man on Campus work out— what a ridiculously dumb name), I’m sold.

I’m good if i get in 3 days a week — 5 is not going to happen. But, I’m feeling stronger in the gym (still pretty weak in all honesty), experiencing less muscle soreness form other activities, and have a general higher energy level.  All in all, this has been a great reminder to me that as much as I may strive to be prepared for who-knows-what, If i’m a lazy sack of lard, I’m not gonna be much good for my family or others.

This is going to be a consistent part of life for me from now on.  I’m not eating crazy health foods, I still drink a beer at night, but I’m making sure my body has a physical capacity to perform at its best when it needs to — both in strength and endurance.

 

 

Back in action

Well, I’ve not been too active here lately — mostly because i’ve been so active elsewhere.

Baby-Not-a-grashopper is on the way — ETA early 2015. Ensuing to-do list has taken up pretty much any free time.

I would have hoped to have already bagged one Deer this year, but have only spent 2 mornings in the stand.  Fall/Winter gardening is happening, but not as robustly as I would have hoped.  We have 2 beds of greens growing — one in the greenhouse waggon, the other under some clear plastic.  Sub-freezing temps here over the past week may have knocked that bed out completely, I haven’t had time to check.

With the growing family comes less space in the house — which means some stuff has gone on the chopping block.  I’ve sold off old Yakima Rack accessories, golf clubs (yep, I golf), and 3 old commie rifles w/ nearly 3000 rounds of 7.62×39.

One key advancement I’ll do a write up on soon is my truck-box emergency kit (which is still growing).  I’m working on equipping each vehicle with a road-side emergency bag.  I’ve seen some great perspective, but am working to adapt to our situation.  Specifically, I’m thinking of the spot on the horizon where I will likely end up doing a fair amount of auto travel around the region.  At that point, my car load-out will need to be drastically different, so I’m trying to mentally prepare for that.

Either way, i’ll be trying to create more content here in coming weeks and months — even though no one’s reading it, since I went Facebook Dark a few months ago, this will give me a place to share my frustration with the world.

Most of said frustration stems form things like this:

Cheap gear – Defiant Multi-function Flashlight

Cheap lights
Cheap lights

So, let’s get something out of the way: I’m a cheap-skate.  Because of this I’m always perusing the discount/closeout aisles at places like Home Depot.

When I saw two flashlights for 9 bucks, I had to bite.  The lights are 3-function LEDs.  White, Red, Green, and flashing Red.   I’ve got some pretty killer flashlights — like 500 lumen hi-lo-strobe tactical flashlights — and they are awesome.  BUT I didn’t have any red lights.  That’s the sole reason for this purchase.  A red light provides a more, well, discrete light in the event being covert were of some value, and it protects night vision in low light situations.

To say this light throws a beam is kind of a joke — even next to just a 290 lumen light.   BUT, the low powered, 2-led red light is so far great for night reading, etc.  So for $4.50 a piece, one of these is going in each GHB/BOB.

Some would rather pay a couple hundred bucks for a Surefire and a replacement bulb… I’m gonna go with $4.50 for the home depot special.

 

Winter Storm: Lessons Learned

A couple weeks ago I put up a post about having a “get home” bag.  That post was initiated by a “risk” of winter weather — it got cold, nary a drop of anything fell from the sky.

Well, today there would be falling of drops — or flakes as it were — and a-falling they have been since about 11 am (its nearing 8pm now).    Before any of you from states that actually experience true winter weather start to make fun of the south and how we freak out about stuff, imagine what would happen if say Minnesota experienced a month of 100 degree weather with 98 percent humidity.  They would freak out.  I’m not talking about the true severity of the weather in this instance — what is more important is lack of preparedness and reaction to an “unexpected” event.

Normally, I work about 16 miles from home.  There is an interstate, 2 major direct thoroughfares, and countless combinations of side streets that could get me home.  In addition, there are 2 significant geographic landmarks that i could follow from my office, and navigate directly home in light or darkness.  Both offering fair concealment be it necessary.

Well today, I was working at the State Capitol–some 40 miles away.

About 11 am snowflakes began to fall.  By Noon the Governor had announced the closing the building, local businesses were closing by 1pm, and by 3 I was in my car (fortunately by this point the parking garage had cleared as several of my co-workers sat in the garage for hours waiting to get on the road).

So here are my key observations:

1) Roads both surface streets and interstates were JAMMED — unless you can find less-known cut-troughs.

While it took me 30 minutes to drive the first block, but after 10 more minutes after 2 turns, I had probably covered 5 to 8 miles without seeing 10 more cars. Traffic reports weren’t helping, I didn’t have a GPS to help, and my Map wasn’t detailed enough to show me these routes.  I called someone who had access to google maps and confirmed which routes would be best to get me where I wanted to go, but basically I just took routes that sent me north and east — which of course necessitated awareness of which way was north.

2) There ain’t no po-lice when things go crazy. And crazy doesn’t mean a riot.

When the streets are jammed, cops can’t get through. Ambulances cannot get through. Wreckers cannot clear roads.  How well prepared are you for this? I drove through some sketchy neighborhoods today that I normally would avoid.  I knew what was going to keep me safe, even if I had to ditch the car and walk — and it wasn’t the police.

3) Communication starts to crap-out.

Verizon publicly announced they were having outages due to nearly 3-times their normal call volume.  In addition, my cell phone battery was dying(NOT a verizon phone, I left the big 4 providers a few months ago and now use a $10/month unlimited talk and text plan).   I had a car charger to fix my problem, but what if I didnt.  Or what if cell service got overloaded and went down?  Then my route home (confirmed through cell phone) wouldn’t have been so smooth and I may still be sitting out there in traffic.

4) Plan B, C and D

Before I was in my car to head home I knew 3 spots along my anticipated route that if things turned bad (roads froze over).  Each of the spots I was fully prepared and equipped to ditch the car, grab the go-bag and hoof-it if necessary.

I assure you, people in my town were freaking out today.  A couple inches of snow totally flipped the world upside down — my sister as I write is still stranded at the school she teaches at WITH THE STUDENTS!!!

The cause could have been anything, it is the reaction that I want to focus your attention on.  If an entire Metro-area hits the road at the same time, no one is going anywhere, Police will be worthless, communication will falter.   If main routes of transportation, cell phones, GPS access — any number of things — go out what will happen?  Things can — and some day will — go badly.  There are systems that we have learned to rely upon each day, if we don’t know what they are and how we use them we may get surprised one day when they quit working.

Just some food for thought.

Green house in under 2 hours

Growing up my grandmother (who grew up on a farm) always said never to plant anything before Easter because there would always be another freeze and kill it all of.   Well, so far in my short gardening career, that has proven true.  Now that we’ve got the interior of the house all cleaned up and remodeled, carting seed-starting trays in and out for the next month and a half isn’t going to be a popular activity with the Wife.

After some quick google-ing, I decided to make a green house out of one of the raised beds.  This will hopefully serve two purposes.

  1.  give us a spot to start seeds outside
  2.  if successfull at #1, provide a spot we can grow salad greens, tomatoes, etc through the winter. (at the cost involved, I would very quickly convert 2 more beds for extended winter growing.

Our beds are 4×10 raised beds. Depths vary depending on the grade of the hill where we built them.  Here are the materials used today:

  1. 4ea 1/2x10ft cpvc pipe
  2. 10ea 1/2in copper pipe clamps
  3. 20ea screws (use galvanized so they’ll survive the elements)
  4. 2ea 2x4x10 pressure treated.
  5. some duct tape
  6. staple gun & staples
  7. 19 feet of 10 foot wide 6-mil clear plastic.

All of this set me back about $42 (had some of the stuff around already).

First I attached the downhill side of the tubing into place, then when attaching the up-hill side, I doubled over the plastic and screwed the brackets through the plastic to hold it secure.  This was done because I plan on accessing the bed from the down hill side.

Next I unrolled the plastic, which confirmed that I needed a brace at each end to give some stability against the wind… enter the first 2×4.  I grabbed two pieces from the pile that were bout 4.5 feet long. screwed them into the bed-frame, then attached the top of the hoop with a clamp.

Next I folded up the corners and screwed a short piece of 2×4 over it to hold it tight (the plastic was cut in a rectangle, and I intentionally left it that way to increase utility of the plastic when it is not on the bed).

Finally, I got my 10 foot 2×4 and rolled the plastic on the down hill side around it, stapling it every so often.  I screwed 3 blocks on the front of the bed which hold the 2×4 in place (quite tightly I might add).  The hoop-supports offer plenty of structural support to pull up this piece of 2×4 and rest it on top of hoops to provide a “doorway” of sorts to allow easy access to the entire bed.

All of that, including 2 trips to the store, took less than 2 hours.  Before i was done (11:45ish) there was already condensation collecting inside the plastic.  Only time will tell, but I think we’re going to have a successful greenhouse here.

I’ll grab a thermometer to go out there and see what our temps look like over the next week.  If they are good, I’ll go ahead and start seeds in a couple of weeks.  If it gets too cold at night, I may add a low-watt light bulb on a thermostat to keep it warm enough to start seeds early.

For what its worth, I think this could be done with a simple box frame and some tent stakes, and you could just set the frame over your seed-starting trays in the lawn.  But you’d want to make sure you had it secured to it wouldn’t blow away.