Wednesday, December 31, 2008
Tuesday, December 30, 2008
This is work!
The rebuilding of our darkroom continues, and when its all said and done we will have "filtered" temp controlled running water thru three separate faucets in the sink...and a chiller for summertime...for now though our enlargers are takin a dust beatin...which will be easily cleaned up over the weekend we hope...
the backside of our stainless sink is plumbed out already and if all goes well tomorrow we will get under the house and run plumbing to the room - then all we will have to do is bring in the sink, tie it all in, and clean up the place and waalaa - we will have capability of processing and printing any format from35mm to 8x10 negs in b/w...with music and beer of course!...LOL
Sunday, December 28, 2008
Saturday, December 27, 2008
Friday, December 26, 2008
Christmas is over now...time to get back to some serious doom and gloom!
~20% decline in the last week according to some retail surveys?
Let's look at reality here - how much crap do you really need?
How many iPODs, how many DVD players, how many bigscreen TVs?
Did you notice the attempted "upselling" this year with the BluRay discs? Titles that had been out for months - in some cases more than a year - being peddled for $30/disc - or more?
What's that about? Oh sure, its higher resolution (quite a bit higher, in fact) but the actual disk itself isn't that much more expensive to press than a regular DVD - and certainly not $20 more, when the same title is available in the DVD rack as an "old release" for $10!
By the way, here's a secret you won't be told by many people - if you have a HD TV (e.g. virtually anything made in the last five or more years) you can buy an "upconverting" DVD player, or get a BluRay player and use your conventional DVD media. The player will "upconvert" the media to your TV's native resolution.
Can you tell the difference? Yes. I can. Easily, on my 60" DLP set in the family room. On my 36" in my bedroom? Not really - unless I look really, really closely.
But will I pay fifty percent more for a "new release", or three times as much for an older release, to have that movie on BluRay as opposed to DVD?
Well, having bought a couple of BluRay discs this season (to go with the Sony 550 player - a $400 unit that some guy was unloading 1500 of - overstocks I'm sure - on eBAY, for $212) I can tell you that on my 60" widescreen the difference between BluRay and DVD is easily perceptible but there's no possible way to justify a price three times as high.
When DVDs first came out I had been a 12" LaserDisc maven for a very long time and had well north of 200 titles. DVDs were a quantum leap forward in both video and audio quality - while there were a few LaserDiscs that had discrete surround sound, they were the exception rather than the rule, and LaserDisc's video was in fact an analog signal - so it had "dot crawl" and all the other sins of an analog signal, even though it was damn good compared to a VCR.
The compelling difference between DVD and BluRay simply isn't there.
This, unfortunately for retailers, is pretty much the entirety of the market - across segments.
Can you name one product that is a "game changer" - that provides a quantum leap forward, and thus is truly a "must have"?
That's a problem, when you get down to it; all retailers are really catering to is "the quantum of more".
Now look around your house. Look at all the junk you have in your home. Quantify "junk" as anything that doesn't provide you with a place to sit (or lay down), a way to keep you warm, a means to prepare (or consume) food or drink and a way to keep your premises livable (you gotta wash your clothes somehow, right?)
All the trinkets, the 47 computers, the three iPODs and the cell phones. The "new car" you bought over the last few years, for what - the "new car" smell? Does a used car - or even a clunker - get you to work?
Think about it - how much less would an inexpensive used car have cost you? Liability insurance only as opposed to "full coverage", because if you wreck it you could replace it for a couple of grand in cash - no need for collision coverage, and if the transmission falls out you could junk and replace it for less than the cost of the repair! In a couple of years you're way ahead, and even more so if you make a habit of smashing cars (since insurance gets verrry expensive for collision coverage if you wreck frequently!)
We as a nation have gotten used to deciding we want something and therefore we will have it, because the credit card hasn't been declined (yet). When it was, we then went to the bank and pulled out our home equity, paid off the card - and charged it up again.
The entirety of our media has become focused on exactly one thing - stoking that "need for more", with Americans being literally told they're poor, destitute, and deserving of that handbag from Gucci and the brand new Lexus you must have in your driveway.
It's all a scam.
I don't know about you, but I'm pretty much at saturation when it comes to "things". I have a house, a grill, a fridge, car, dishwasher, laundry equipment and as many computers and TVs as I can reasonably use.
What's left? Nothing, really.
The "culture of more" is how we got into this mess - the demand for "more" without first earning the money to buy it.
As this continued onward beyond reasonable limits those who "must have more" turned to stealing. CDOs full of garbage "rated AAA" by companies who were effectively bribed (and used what they now acknowlege were computer models that assumed prices would never go down), peddled by people who knew their products were worthless (proved by the fact that in some cases they were shorting what they were selling!) Union "bosses" who have been documented billing thousands of hours of overtime for work not performed.
Our entire economy has turned into a culture of scamming, fraud, and BS. This morning CNBC has "news person" after news person nearly crying for people to go back to the mall and spend more money they don't have - on useless crap.
The adjustment to a "culture of what you need" is going to be jarring for many, even catastrophic for some, who simply must walk around with their noses in the air, spending at rates that are vastly beyond their ability to earn. Indeed, in places like Manhatten where the "culture of more" has turned into fraud and theft extraordinaire, driving anyone who doesn't make $500,000 a year or more out as "too poor" to afford to live there this adjustment may even come (God willing) in the form of some long days in the graybar motel with a cellmate named "Bubba".
But perhaps - just perhaps - we will rediscover the fact that a few simple things - a pumpkin pie baked from scratch in the oven (yes, including the crust), a bird or ham in the oven and hugs from those you love are worth a whole lot more than the newest plastic piece of crap from China.
Think about it - then tell the merchants of theft, fraud, avarice and greed that you simply won't play any more.
Tell the Paulsons of the world, who are inextricably tied to the financial scams of the last decade, to pound sand in the most effective way possible.
Spend your post-Christmas time giving your kids, spouse and/or SO a bunch of hugs, instead of at the local mall blowing yet more money you don't have.
You'll get more from it.
Saturday, December 20, 2008
Wednesday, December 17, 2008
Saturday, December 13, 2008
Brian Magnuson was displaying black and whites prints from the series "Cowboys of the Grand Canyon" at Laura Moore Fine Art Studios, and Guy Giersch and Pernie Fallon had some of their excellent work on display at Cynthia Elliot's Boutique...
Christmas lights are up and its worth the walk around the square just to take it all in...
Wednesday, December 10, 2008
Office Depot will close 112 stores
Wednesday December 10, 9:27 am ET
The plan to shutter 112 stores will reduce the chain's base to 1,163. It plans to close 45 stores in the Central U.S., 40 in the Northeast and Canada, 19 in the West and eight in the South.
Office Depot also will close six of its 33 North American distribution facilities.
Meanwhile, the Delray Beach, Fla.-based company said it plans to shut another 14 stores next year while opening just 20 new sites, half of what it planned.
Office Depot will take related charges of $270 million to $300 million in 2008 and 2009.
The struggling retailer considered store closings in October, when it reported a third-quarter loss due to slumping sales as consumers and small businesses cut back spending.
Office Depot shares, which have tumbled more than 82 percent since the beginning of the year, were unchanged in pre-market trading Wednesday at $2.43.
Monday, December 08, 2008
People Get Ready
By James Howard Kunstler
In the twilight of the Bush days, in the twilight of the twilight season, a consensus has formed that we are headed into a long, dark passage leading we know not where. Even CNBC's Lawrence Kudlow has been reduced to searching for stray "mustard seeds" of hope on hands and knees in a bleak and tortured financial landscape. Half the enterprises in the land are lined up for some kind of relief bailout and a blizzard of pink slips has cut economic visibility to zero.
The broad American public voted for "change" but they thought that meant a "changing of the guard." Out with the feckless Bush; in with the charismatic Obama... and may this American life now continue just as it ever was. The change actually coming will be much more than they bargained for, namely our transition from a wealthy society to a hardship society. The sharp break is a product of our years-long failure to reckon with the energy realities of our time. We're still confused about that, but it's hard, otherwise, to ignore the massive disappearance of capital, asset values, livelihoods, domiciles, comforts, and necessities.
The price of oil is suddenly down to an astounding $40-odd per barrel. Those of us studying the Peak Oil story have said that the "bumpy plateau" years of peak production would be expressed in tremendous price volatility, and for exactly the reasons now evident -- that the high-price phase would mangle advanced economies, that they would fall back in paralysis, then respond anew to oil price collapses by straggling up again, only to be crushed again when a resumption in demand for oil drove the price back up.
What was not so generally anticipated was the wholesale destruction of global finance in the first phase of this period. This has now occurred so comprehensively that we know the banking business will never be the same again. It has also accelerated other plot-lines in the story. One affects the global oil industry itself: a lack of capital to go forward with the new oil projects that were designed to mitigate the present depletions in old oil fields. The result of this quandary is as likely to be oil shortages in 2009 as much as an extremely sharp snap-back in oil prices. The oil markets themselves are changing in the face of financial disruption. Between pirates lurking off the Horn of Africa, and a shortage in letters-of-credit that enable the shipping of anything for delivery between nations, the allocation system is impaired. This affects poorer nations the most, and when they don't get their oil shipments, conditions in these nations get worse. People lose incomes. Ethnic strife ramps up. All this will make it harder to move oil from the places where it is produced to the importing countries.
So much artificially-generated pixel "money" is being pumped into the system now that it will eventually overtake the quantity of capital currently vanishing in the form of exposed securities swindles, unwinding bad debt, and imploded worthless counter-party contracts. The pixel money will express itself as super or hyper inflation, lagging from 6 to 18 months from the time it was actually introduced in the form of bailouts. For the moment, money is moving into the presumed safety of US Treasury paper. Personally, the safety of this is not something I would presume. But in the current deflationary stage its hard to find any other place to park cash, and when asset values are crashing everywhere, cash is king. Gold is physically unavailable in the form that non-millionaires usually buy it in, ounce and half-ounce coins.
President-elect Obama has announced his intention to kick off a massive "stimulation" program when he hits the White House "running" in January. Early indications are that it will be directed at things like highway repair. If so, we will be investing long-term in infrastructure that we probably won't be using the same way in ten years. But I doubt there is any way around it. The American public can't conceive of living any other way except in a car-centered society. Anyway, some parts of our highway-bridge-and-tunnel system are already so decrepit that they pose a menace right now, and the clamor to direct "stimulation" there is already very strong -- backed by all the fraternities of engineers.
Stimulus aimed at perpetuating mass motoring will be a tragic waste of our dwindling resources. We'd be better off aiming it at fixing the railroads (especially electrifying them), refitting our harbors with piers and warehouses in preparation to move more stuff by boats, and in repairing the electric grid. Unfortunately, our tendency will be to try to rescue the totemic touchstones of everyday life, things familiar and comfortable, regardless of whether they have a future or not.
The ominous forces gathering out there will defeat these efforts and everyday life will reorganize itself some other way consistent with the single greatest trend: the force of contraction. Every sign we see is pointing in that direction, from the inability of the earth's ecology to support more human beings, to the dwindling of mineral and energy resources, to the destruction of farmland, to mischief in the climate. We just don't know how badly things will fall apart in the meantime, or how kind (or cruelly) people will act in the process.
Mr. Obama would be most successful if he could persuade the public how much more severe the required changes are than they currently realize, and inspire them to get with program of retrofitting American life to comply with these realities.
Saturday, December 06, 2008
Chestnut Square Historic Village Presents:
When: Saturday, December 6 - Sunday, December 7, 2008 at 10 a.m. - 5 p.m.
The first weekend of December has been The Heritage Guild Holiday Tour of Homes since 1973! The tradition of openning historic homes for a public tour began in 1973 when our founders first opened their homes to raise money to purchase the Dulaney House and cottage and the grounds that eventually became