Fierystudios Vögelein Clockwork Game

Mister Bush, Rome is on Fire.

It is strongly suggested that you quit fiddling.

Scroll down to the bit by CNN Anchor Jack Cafferty.


Hell just called. It's frozen there.

Did I --

-- seriously --

-- just hear pResident Bush tell his fellow Americans to conserve energy resources?!

Sorry, I'll post more after I pry my jaw up offen the floor.


NYT Op-Ed unloads on Bush

Waiting for a leader:

George W. Bush gave one of the worst speeches of his life yesterday, especially given the level of national distress and the need for words of consolation and wisdom. In what seems to be a ritual in this administration, the president appeared a day later than he was needed. He then read an address of a quality more appropriate for an Arbor Day celebration: a long laundry list of pounds of ice, generators and blankets delivered to the stricken Gulf Coast. He advised the public that anybody who wanted to help should send cash, grinned, and promised that everything would work out in the end.


Something to consider

Have a spare bedroom? Craigslist is matching up Katrina Refugees with people who have extra space in their homes. If a displaced family had a car, they could drive to a new location, including your house. Think about it.


Why didn't they leave?

A very interesting, articulate and sensical rant about why thousands are still in New Orleans.

I agree with everything in the article. I am still of two minds on the looting -- I know for a fact that if I were in a similar situation, I would absolutely break into a store for food, water and medicine -- but I still can't help shaking my head at the people stealing guns, electronics and jewelry. Some say it'd be useful for barter. Some say it's better to have something than nothing. Some say that it's better to remove it, since everything in the stores would most probably be written off as a loss, anyway.

But still -- the image that sticks in my mind is the report of a man with a pallet jack loaded down with cases of booze, with a toddler perched precariously atop. The first thought through my mind is, I wouldn't be the slightest bit pissed if those were cases of water and diapers. But that much booze -- ? Sure: Barter, trade -- hell, cleaning wounds. Maybe there was nothing left to eat or drink besides the cases of booze. I wasn't there. But still, something turns my stomach at that kind of feeding frenzy. The reports of people storming through Wal-mart, carting off electronics when there's not likely to be electricity for months.

Someone made the very good point that the residents doing the looting would be hard pressed to find any employment and at least might be able to sell a big-screen Teevee for money to feed their families. Good point. But they're evacuating everyone, and the chances are far greater that the looted booty will still wind up destroyed by the floodwater.

Looters are shooting looters. Store owners are shooting looters. Looters are looting homes. Homeowners are getting carjacked in front of their houses. Can pure survivalism and human decency coexist?


Facts.

According to this government website, the population of America is 295,734,134.

Over one million people are now homeless because of Katrina.

That means that, on average, one in every three hundred Americans has just lost their home.

Close to three million people lost power because of the storm.

That means that, on average, one in one hundred Americans is now living without power.

Have you donated to American Red Cross yet?


While NO lies submerged, Bush plays Country Music Star

The morning after the disaster of Katrina, here's where our President places his priorities.

Several cities, including Biloxi and Gulfport, MS, were almost literally wiped off the map. New Orleans will take months to just dry out, let alone restore power, water and security. Apparrently, a catastrophe of these proportions was enough to get Bush to cancel the remaining two days of his vacation, but not enough for him to sacrifice one more grandstanding photo-op.

Disgusted yet?


Money Earmarked for the ACoE to Repair NO Levees Repeatedly Diverted to Iraq

Interesting article... Just skip all the venomous comments below: Read it.


Beaner est icumen in

On a lighter note, I got good news from the kind folks at Wacker Oil -- while everyone else's gasoline gets more expensive, BioDiesel's going to be getting cheaper because.... the bean harvest's coming in. The guy ahead of me bought 35 gallons in various jerrycans, stocking up so he wouldn't have to brave the tangle at the gas pumps. The guy who worked for Wacker also told me that they're going to move the semi-trailers which have sat in the same spot since I was a kid, and replace them with more self-serve BioDiesel pumps, because the program's been so successful. He also hinted that the supplier that services the Meijer BioDiesel pumps might be making their B20 with #2 heating oil.

Good lord, I'm glad for businesses like Wacker Oil. Please, if you're in the area, even if you're driving a straight gasoline car, give them your business. they're at the corner of M-52 and Pleasant Lake Road, between Chelsea and Manchester. They're good folks, a family-run business, and they give a damn about farmers, their neighbors, and the environment.


Katrina

I've been watching the New Orleans coverage off and on all evening. It's horrifying. Bagus, sure hope you and your family got out safe. I just keep thinking -- what if that were my street, my house? What if that were Paul and I, huddled on our roof in 100-degree temperatures and driving rain?

Go donate to the Red Cross if you haven't already. This is going to make the WTC cleanup look like a cakewalk.

Love and prayers to everyone in the area. Love and prayers and hope. Hang in there.


Financials.

Car's officially paid off. Woo!

I did this for a myriad of reasons, not the least of which is saving over $600 in interest payments over the course of the next 2 1/2 years. More important, probably, is keeping the monthly outgo down in case of a major shift in either Paul's or my income. It could happen -- could happen very easily -- and we're both battening down the financial hatches in case it does.

Okay, so here's the next question, for those of you with financial backgrounds -- (I'm looking at *you*, Winkler...) Is it more financially prudent to pay off your mortgage or invest that same money? I've heard arguments from both sides, the strongest of which is that I'm not really trusting the stock market right now, in either the short or long term. I already have my money in what's known as a "good samaritan" fund (no alcohol, tobacco, big oil, anti-union, heavy-polluter or firearms stocks) but I'm just a little twitchy about putting that much income in something capable of totally disappearing (my IRA has *still* not recovered from the beating it took between the years of 2001-2004). At the moment, we have the opportunity to start whittling away the smaller of our two mortgages (the mythical "15" of the 80-15-5) and I'm thinking that paying that off while Paul and I are both still working full time is a better large-scale investment (provided that we are also still putting away savings and other retirment money) than dumping the same amount directly into the stock market. Short-term, we'd save $150 a month; long-term we'd be out of a twenty-year loan. Checking on an amortization calculator, if we paid it off today, we'd save over $12K in interest alone.

The idea, beyond the wonderful peace-of-mind that comes with being completely debt free, as opposed to the debt-free-but-still-with-mortgage that we are right now -- not to mention the pride in actually owning our home outright -- is to reduce our monthly outgo to the point where two artists could support themselves without two full-time jobs. One of us would have to keep a job that would provide insurance, but beyond that we'd be free to do art without the constraints of a mortgage, or at least a small enough mortgage that we could hit our goals without straining too hard.

Ideas? Articles? Conflicting opinions? Hit me.


Look who's gettin' attention from our West Coast buddy, James Sime: http://www.isotopecomics.com


Supacool

Post Secret


Oil Endgame

Neato: http://moneycentral.msn.com/content/invest/extra/P113797.asp


OmiGod OmiGod OmiGod

The most exciting, biggest news happened last night. I can't talk about it till it's set in stone, but it could be big, really big news for Paul and I. Stay tuned.

W00t!


Gig

So Whiskey Before Breakfast called me up on Wednesday night. They got an offer to do a last-minute fill-in gig at Kraftbrau and their bodhran player's out at Pennsic War. I finally get to quit riding the pine and be a bodhranista again. Should be fun, especially since I haven't played in over two months.

If you're wanting some good beer and some fine Irish music, come on down to Kraftbrau, if for nothing else than to watch me crash and burn. You can see me playing my paintbrush whackety drum starting at nine pee-em.


... but I know what I like.

New Guy at Work: So, these are yours? You did all this?

Me: Yeah, those are my comics.

NGaW: Well -- these aren't really comics are they? I mean, these are really good -- they're almost art!

Me: *twitch* Well, some of us think they are art.

NGaW: Well, these actually took time, you know -- not like that -- what is that one, posted in the hallway?

Me: "Dilbert?"

NGaW: Yeah, "Dilbert." I mean, that's not really --

Me: Well, it's pretty minimalist, comparitively speaking --

NGaW: That's not really art, is it?

Sigh.


Saturday, Saturday

We did the Vine Street French Market today, a kind of get-together experiment that our neighborhood association is doing. It was really cool. We all set up at 8am in the parking lot behind Kline's, and sold stuff til 1pm. The local shops turned out with cookies and dragged their cappuccino machines outside and circulated bagel coupons. There were people selling homemade sorbet, jam and popcorn. There were artists selling jewellry, photography and paintings. I also met a friend of mine from high school -- though we only became friends after high school... wish we'd known about each other more then because he would have made a fairly hellacious experience more bearable -- who just moved here to Kzoo with his quite talented artist girlfriend. He played Joni Mitchell and Steve Earle on a beat-up 6-string and talked about the gigs he played down at Kraftbrau. It's amazing how many talented local people we have 'round here.

And then it rained and drove everyone away, which sucked. But they hope to do it all over again in September, so we'll be there too.

**

On another note, some vandalous bastard yanked out my yearling cherry tree and ran off with it. Poof, gone, vanished -- and it was finally starting to perk up and leaf out. A pox on whoever did it. A literal pox. I hope their private parts get very itchy. Very very itchy.

Grump.


Ahem.

ATTENTION, BATS OF SOUTHWEST LOWER MICHIGAN:

We are not running a free Bat Hotel, gigantic sodium driveway light notwithstanding. There is nothing cool inside our house. Nothing. There are no extra mosquitoes in here, only a couple of profoundly stupid and geriatric cats, and two resident artists who will concuss you with brooms should you decide to make another appearance.

THANK YOU. END TRANSMISSION.


And now for something completely different...

... and on a lighter note, I made myself some "gearrings" tonight. I won an eBay auction of assorted loose watch bits and looped them together with some jump-rings. They're spiffy.