What Annoys Jeff this Week?

1. One Day Shipping. I have no idea why Amazon even pretends to offer items for “one day shipping” any more. Of the last three items I’ve purchased that touted this speedy service, exactly none of them arrived when “expected.” When I’ve been lucky, the items may have shipped by the expected arrival date… although one of those never arrived at all and had to be reshipped, arriving a full week after I ordered it. At one time, Amazon was practically synonymous with “logistics,” but mostly now I think they just make shit up as they go along.

2. Anti-intellectualism. America has a long history of anti-intellectualism. I could give you someone examples, but since we’re currently living through one of them, I’ll save you the trip down our collective memory lane and hope that you’ll just accept that I’m telling you the truth. Maybe the space program in the 60s was an exception, but I suspect that was more because those with the right stuff were billed as test pilots rather than engineers – though in many cases they were both. I know the historical backstory of why Americans have a long tradition of hating the smart people in the room, but I’ll never quite understand why we can’t get the hell over it. 

3. Peak savings days. Local electric companies are quick to hand out a few pennies savings for those who are willing to swelter a bit as afternoon temperatures hover in the mid-90s. All that really tells me is that increasingly, the local electric grid hasn’t been built out to meet actual demand for its product. Personally, I’d prefer to pay them a few pennies more during off-peak times so they can build a bit of excess capacity rather than sweating all the way through high summer. A little personal comfort feels like something well worth paying for, but maybe that’s just me.

Clawed back…

Looking at the various trackers I use to keep tabs on “money stuff” it appears I’ve clawed back somewhere around 80% of what was lost when the floor fell out from under the stock market during the opening days of the Great Plague. I wish I could take some kind of credit for having a shrewd financial mind. It has far more to do with being willing to just stand there and take a beating without locking in all those losses by fleeing to the safety of cash equivalents… though I suppose sitting around watching the market erode your nest egg day after day after day without screaming “uncle,” is a certain kind of financial bravery of its own.

I’m happy to see a lot less red ink on the page, but I’m not even cautiously optimistic of the market’s ability to hold on to its gains in the absence of the truly massive amount of money the Federal Reserve has pushed into the system. Until I start seeing unemployment numbers normalizing, consumer confidence picking up, and a reckoning about how the foreclosures and evictions that have been held in abeyance for the last few months will be addressed, I won’t be convinced it’s not an aberration.

Call me a pessimist, if you will, but aside from there being a nice blue sky and sunshine overhead I don’t see how or where we’ve really turned a corner – and I’m fairly sure the economy doesn’t turn on how pretty a day it happens to be outside. Then again it’s possible I have completely lost track about what it is that actually does drive the economy. So much seems to have changed since I took my basic classes twenty years ago… or at least we’re pretending they’ve changed right up until the old rules jump up and bite us in the collective ass later this year.

What Annoys Jeff this Week?

1. I have an exercise bike I’ve used pretty consistently since I lived in Tennessee. It was my one concession to coming home from siting at a desk all day and then sitting down at home and sitting in front of another monitor for three or four hours. Since I moved to the new place here, it’s been a dust collector. With the yard demanding less attention and slowly gearing up for the part of the year when I don’t want to be outside, I though it was high time to get it our of semi-retirement and get back into the routine… which would have been good except for the electrical system that fried somewhere between here and there. As per usual, due to planned obsolescence the repair parts commonly available don’t quite fit, so the whole things is sitting in pieces in the back bedroom waiting to see whether it gets repaired, replaced, or if I just say the hell with my head nod towards exercise.

2. Every afternoon I pass a deli that offers steamed crabs in the summer. They’re good crabs. A few times I summer I’ll stop on a Friday night and pick up a dozen with a six pack. It’s hard not to like that kind of dinner. The thing that annoys me is the enormous sign that says “CRABS!!! EBT Welcome!!!” People end up getting food assistance for all manner or reason, but there’s just something about a taxpayer subsidized steamed crab dinner that makes me twitchy. With a bushel of #1 jimmy’s running upwards of $200 in mid-summer, it feels like an extravagant thing to even advertise. Paying for the essentials is one thing, but using public assistance for what by any assessment is a pure luxury feels wrong. If that makes me sound like a judgmental prick, well, ok. Maybe I’d be less annoyed if someone else was paying for my blue crabs.

3. I’ve seen several articles this week where robots are taking the place of flesh and blood workers. I’m not sure why anyone would be surprised by this. With the push for a $15 an hour minimum wage I suspect we’ll see a lot more people replaced with technology. Those jobs that can be automated, will be automated. Gaining operational efficiencies like that will be the corporate solution for paying $15 an hour to people doing work that can’t be effectively automated. No business that wants to stay in business is going to stand quietly and take it in the bottom line. They’ll find their cost savings somewhere – and with the biggest expense of many service oriented businesses being personnel costs, none of us should be surprised where they go to find those savings. It’s what happens when we pass laws without consideration for second or third level effects. Whoops.