A Mystery to Me

The huge shortage of new cars continues to baffle me. I have read many articles and listened to some videos explaining the shortage of computer chips that is the root cause. I just don’t buy the story. To me, this is a fake news story that is bigger than any used to bring down President Trump. In the mean time, people continue to drive old cars, or buy used ones at prices that the new ones brought two years ago. The fleet grows older as the shortage continues. My own car just turned 177,000 miles and celebrated it’s sixteenth birthday. I have friends who insist that my car is young and brag that their car has close to three hundred thousand miles. I will agree that the quality and reliability of modern cars has improved exponentially with the advent of electronic ignition, fuel injection, and CNC machines that can control metal part tolerances to four digits. Assembly has tightened gap tolerances with the assistance of computer controlled robots, and dipping car frames in electrostatic baths before applying primer and paint with robots that never get bored with monotonous spray patterns to give each car the same coverage. Yes, all of these wonderful technologies use computer chips in their controllers, and the cars use many computer chips to eliminate troublesome mechanical switches throughout. I understand all of that. I can even believe that the modern car has as many as forty chips deployed throughout. What I don’t believe is that modern car companies didn’t see the shortage coming. I also, don’t believe the chip manufacturers are out of capacity to make chips. Both car companies and chip producers have been in business for a long time. They couldn’t possibly have lost their ability to forecast demand. I can believe they might be a few percentage points off of a forecast, but not so far off that their businesses are in jeopardy.

Making a computer chip takes smarts, most of which comes from people in the USA, but the manufacturing cost is high and the result is that chip makers farm the manufacturing to cheap labor countries like China, Taiwan, Malaysia, and the Philippines. By transferring the making to those countries they get chips at a lower cost and make more money. The problem is that when a pandemic hits the labor pool those companies sink. I truly believe COVID had some effect on chip production, but not all.

I tend to be an aficionado of conspiracy theories, and have dreamt up a new one to chew on. What if the Green New Movement is in bed with all the car companies of the world? What if these car companies have pledged their allegiance to the Greenies to halt standard car production in favor of electric cars. How will they deal with the huge fleet of modern gas consuming vehicles in the WW fleet? As it turns out the chip shortage has been a great excuse for not making new cars while the older ones keep on ticking. That gives them time to convert manufacturing to all electric cars. I am shocked to learn that Cadillac, a division of General Motors is switching to all electric cars by 2025. The list doesn’t end with Cadillac. Add the following to the list of Greenies headed toward batteries:

Jaguar, Audi, Alfa Romeo, Rolls Royce, Mini, Volvo, Bentley, Mercedes-Benz, Fiat, Renault, Nissan, Volkswagen, GM, Honda, Hyundai, and Toyota. These companies are committed to selling zero emission vehicles by 2020-2030. Only Toyota who has been selling the Prius since the 1990’s has a delayed date of 2050. Hmmm. Maybe Toyota knows something the rest of them don’t. Toyota is also betting on hydrogen powered cars over electric.

All the facts support my theory of a conspiracy to save the world by forcing electric cars down our throats.

I have but one more question: what happens if after the entire world is solar, wind, battery, and hydrogen powered, and that includes, cars, trucks, trains, planes, and ocean going ships, and Antarctica melts anyway? Do we really want to waste our energy (pun intended) in trashing fossil fuels?

In the Mood

This morning I sat at the table looking out the window at the emerging garden and I began thinking about spending more time working on the “house inside the house project.” I was literally in the mood to work on it. Then, the phrase “in the mood” popped into my head. That is the title of a very old WWII song made popular by the Glen Miller Band. The melody immediately locked into my brain and began playing. Naturally, I sang the lyrics to myself. It is in the swing beat and very easy to dance to.

The “house inside the house” project has to rest today because I promised Lovely that we would go to the Jolly Burgenlander Social Club Spring Dance held at Gaelic park. Ed Wagner’s Lustige Blaskapelle (Brass Band, or as I like to call it an Oompah band) is playing. The funny aspect of this event is that it is a German-Austrian Club holding it’s major fund raiser at an Irish venue. Even funnier, is that I am of Hungarian ethnicity, and am attending with two lovely Lithuanian ladies.

I cannot imagine Ed Wagner playing “In the Mood”, and even if he will, I can’t imagine what it will sound like with Tuba’s, Saxaphones, Trumpets, and French horns jiving away with a German polka beat.

I hope the food is good, the beer is fresh and foamy, and the jungfrau are all beautiful.

Ladies why not carry your own jug of adult beverage around your neck with shot glasses in hand?

Broken Glass, Bleeding heart

This week as I helped clean the table after supper I placed my empty wine glass on the counter and then proceeded to knock it over. My first reaction was to step back and survey the floor for broken pieces. Next i went for the broom and dust pan. I know that when glass breaks and scatters it goes into mysterious places that don’t make any sense. I wound up sweeping the entire kitchen being careful to get under the cabinet skirts. I collected a small pile of chards and dumped them. Next, I did the same with the counter top. Again, there were glass chards in places where one does not usually look. when it was all over, it dawned on me that the glass that broke was over sixty years old. It belonged to a set my wife Barb and I received for our wedding. For years, we guarded the crystal set of wines, water, sherbets like they were sacred. eventually, after Barb died, I began to use the glasses every day. They were beautiful, pure thin glass without blemish, and had a unique hexagonal shaped stem. They rang with a harmonious chime when clinked with a knife or fork. The set remains partially intact as the dessert glasses and a few small wine goblets remain. What I have concluded is that I’ve been using the water glasses as my wine glass, the actual wine glass holds but a fraction of liquid as the water glass does. I liked the healthy amount of wine I drink using this glass.

Crystal Wine Glass Number 8–RIP

Drinking from the crystal allowed me to swirl the wine and determine the hold time for the wine to recede, thus giving me some information as to the quality of the beverage. When I hold the glass to the light I see the clarity and richness of the color, and when I poke my nose to the rim, I can smell the scents of the fruit, the barrel, and flavors emitted. All of this was included with a flash back of Barb telling me to be careful handling the glass. Often, I am reminded of the times when we, as a young family, sat at the supper table and enjoyed a bit of wine using the crystal. One time in particular Barb adventurously poured a bit of wine into the crystal glasses for our toddler children, Steve was four and Jacque was three. Jacque clenched the hexagonal stem in her chubby little fist and not realizing what she was holding squeezed her hand tightly not to drop our precious glass. As soon as she raised the glass to toast with us, I noticed the round bottom of the stem stayed on the table. Without alarm I quietly grabbed her tiny arm and helped her guide the glass away from the table where a sharp edged stump of stem awaited her hand to return. Luckily, there was no blood shed, and there was no panic to stress the child, but number one of a set of eight crystal wine glasses was dead. On this day some fifty-three years later I carelessly killed number eight.

Building a House Inside a House

Back in 2005 when the last housing market hit its peak I bought the house I currently live in. Naturally, I over paid because the market was so hot that houses moved quickly. When we moved in, the entire basement was unfinished, and I saw it as a blank canvas. As perfect as the house seemed, we found some things lacking. The first shortcoming was a lack of closet space, the second a lack of a pantry.

Phase one of a project to correct those problems became my first priority. I loved the idea of transforming the lower level into a useful functioning space, and not just a home for spiders. I finished three rooms at my pace, and gave Peg a closet that many women would dream to have. She filled it with her existing wardrobe. The next thing was to add a pantry to store all the many cooking pots and appliances that both of us collected during our first marriages. During that process I learned that my prostate was in trouble and I kept running up the stairs to find a bathroom. Before I went any further, I did the best thing I could have, I built a bathroom downstairs. The only mistake I made on that project was not doing it first.

2008 -Pantry

In 2008 the housing market collapsed and the value of everyone’s home dropped by twenty-two percent. The mortgage I proudly owned was now at a point near under water. That means I nearly owed more than the house was worth on the market. All of my dreams to transform the lower level came to a halt. Why spend another nickel on the house if I will never get it back?

Fourteen years, and a pandemic later, the housing market is again booming, and the value of the house has again reached the point where I bought it. I have spent the past three years preparing for this moment so I could sell, get my money back, and downsize to an apartment. If you are like me, you realize that times change and so do plans. Instead of downsizing I am going in the opposite direction. My family is growing again, and I need space for a new resident. That brings me back to the partially completed canvas begun so many years ago. The difference is that I am fourteen years more worn out and progress is much slooower. Nevertheless, progress is being made and I will complete the work this time provided I don’t do something stupid like die.

2022 Joe’s New Workshop
2022-Workshop Disorganization
2022-Extra Space
2022-Recreation Room
2022-Finishing a Wall to the Crawl Space

My current priority is to wall off my workshop-studio to keep dust from the rest of the house. What I have learned is that the price of materials has tripled. A simple two by four, eight feet long cost $1.80 back in 2008, now that same piece of wood costs $6.50. The challenge is to make this addition at a low enough cost that I won’t need to remortgage; wish me luck. Adding to the cost is the double digit inflation similar to what we experienced in the 1980’s. I didn’t like it then, and I like it less now, but that is a topic of another post.

Another thing I have learned is that there are some really great products on the market to ease the pain of over-used muscles and worn out joints. Many of these miracle salves contain an ingredient labeled CBD. This ingredient is extracted from a naturally grown plant which I should be sowing in between my wife’s pickle plants.

My project to build a house within a house is going well, and I should be able to complete it by the year’s end. Hopefully, I will occasionally sit down to rest my muscles, and post reports in between pounding nails, and screwing wood together.


One would think that after sixty-five years of practice imbibing alcoholic beverages that one would know better than to wake up with a hangover, but I still don’t know. Yesterday we spent an enjoyable day on the farm with my son’s family, and my daughter came with her kids to make it a party. How it happened I can’t say, but after all the years of raising these beautiful kids they missed picking up my worst habit. They don’t drink, but I drink like a sailor on leave. My Dad taught me how when I was a toddler. I’ve never been stupid drunk, but I get enough that my entire body sends me a message a day later. Today is one of those days. Last night I slept like I was practicing for my wake, but all day I’ve been yawning like I need a serious nap.

Perhaps it was the alcohol combined with the walk in chilly, windy cold air through the pasture that went to my head. I would think two glasses of wine with a meal wouldn’t have a big effect, but something did. My energy level today is on empty. I need a charge (or maybe a drink?). It is almost wine time of day so it won’t be long before I begin to feel good again.