A Wordy Post About Stuff

One problem with writing a post everyday is finding themes. In that regard I admire Daniel Greenfield who writes for his blog called Sultan of Knish. He posts several times a week and each time it is an academic essay on some aspect of politics or world affairs. His posts are between 1200 and 3200 words each time. On the other hand, when I am in good form I will post about three times a week and average about 600 words. Lately, my posts are about four times a month, and I am having difficulty thinking of stuff to write about.

I wouldn’t be surprised if someone labels me racist again, because when Obama was president he did so many things I disagreed with that I couldn’t stop writing negatively about him. When Trump was president, I didn’t want to fan the fires of those who were against him because the press didn’t need any help from me. Biden on the other hand hasn’t done anything I like, and I believe he is destroying the country. Biden is making Obama look like an amateur when it comes to stupid policies and stupid governance. I don’t want to waste my time repeating what the daily news is already doing. Besides sleepy Joe is an old timer like me, and I won’t pick on someone who can’t help himself because his brain has stopped functioning. There is nothing sadder in life than watching a person who was a fireball while younger, and who has lost it to Alzheimer’s. I saw what happened with my wife, and it is truly saddening that so many people end their time on earth by slowly losing their memory to the point where they forget how to breath.

One memory invoked by Sleepy Joe is the era of Jimmy Carter when inflation kept rising and the Federal Reserve couldn’t do anything but raise interest rates to 16%. It was a great time for people with cash who could buy Certificates of Deposit earning a 16% return for a five year period. They advanced the size of their savings dramatically. The high interest rate eventually worked, and the economy adjusted so the rates began to drop, and about the time the 16% CD’s matured the rates were back to a paltry 3%. So for anyone looking at how long this pain will last history says it will be at least five years after the current rates rise to 16%.

For the past twelve years we have enjoyed an economy that was operating on free money. Loans were down to the low 3.0% range and that allowed many people to buy the house of their dreams. Those who had cash in the bank were sadly only making 0.1 % on their savings. Most people invested in stocks to make decent money. My retirement has been happy because of the earnings I have received, but I’m not so sure I will be happy moving forward as the economy begins to falter. My advisor continues to admonish me to look at the long run, and not the short term. Excuse me, but just how much longer do I have? Ten minutes, ten days, ten months, ten years? I worry that my paltry portfolio will not be strong enough to keep me going for the duration.

Last week I went into a McAllister’s deli for a sandwich($20 for a cup of soup and a six inch sandwich), and I swear the lady who took my order was older than me. I had a vision of me behind the counter making sandwiches, and that is not appealing. I’d rather spend my time standing in the middle of busy intersection dodging traffic with a bucket in my shaky hand collecting money for my Lions club.

In the good old days everyone was a farmer who worked until he died. It was only after the industrial revolution, and the Great Depression that people began looking at work as a forty-five year duration. Pensions, vacation, and medical insurance all became perks for workers. These benefits were being offered by companies desperate for help. With Trump’s economy we saw a huge shortage of help, but I didn’t see anyone offering huge new benefits to lure workers to their factories. About the most extreme benefit I saw was the work from home model which came because of Covid. Let’s hope things get better sooner than later.


Public Service-221009

During the four years of Donald Trump’s term as president I often wondered why he gave his son-in-law Jared Kushner recognition. Kushner served as Trump’s advisor, but in his memoir he writes very detailed accounts of his role as a leader on several high level and huge projects. Among them were re-negotiating the NAFTA trade agreement with Mexico, Criminal Justice Reform, Middle-East peace, and the COVID-19 response. All of these yielded major benefits to the country.

Jared tells his story in a fast moving narrative that held my interest through out. His writing style is mesmerizing. Since I lived through this period, it was refreshing to learn the inside details of how success was achieved, i.e. not easily, but required persistence and constant brainstorming to come up with creative solutions to problems. I was particularly moved by the response to the pandemic. The process used was classic engineering project management, and reminded me of similar situations that I faced in my role as Chief Engineer of a manufacturing company. His process as facilitator of the Mid-Eastern peace deal was one of classic “think outside the box” management. Unfortunately, bureaucratic thinking and processes cannot move past the traditional forms and age old methodology of years of failure. Each administration and career diplomats merely continued to rehash old talking points for the past fifty years. Too many people within the system are interested only in advancing their own career over what is best for the country. The result is a swamp full of creatures whose only interest is to live off each other, and to procreate the process. Kushner kept repeating the old adage that he must not keep repeating the same unsuccessful steps over and over and expecting a different outcome. He made this point repeatedly to Arab leaders throughout his negotiations.

One fact that Kushner writes about never appeared in the press. During his tenure, he was diagnosed with thyroid cancer and underwent surgery and follow-up treatment. He never let the diagnoses affect his ability to serve, and he continued to look forward and not let the past affect his drive. Luckily, his treatment solved the problem.

As an engineer, I had many opportunities to write reports and to present them. So many times I was disappointed by the revisions that the CEO made to my work. Eventually, I learned that drafting a report from scratch is much more difficult than it is to revise it. Once the main man has the basis for a decision he can then modify it to arrive at a better outcome. I used this argument in mentoring sessions with engineers. I followed the same process as my boss, and learned that my revisions made a report more valuable than the original. I always gave credit for the final report to the engineer. Kushner’s presentations to the President almost always triggered Trump to make revisions that led to a better solution.

Working in the White House is vicious, stressful, fast paced, and relentless. Too many of the people who work there are constantly seeking power and favor from the president. The most notable tactic for a staff member to feel powerful is to become a leaker. It seems that people who feed inside information to the outside gain an adrenaline rush from the knowledge that their information was obtained because of their position next to the president. Many times the leaker is someone who opposes the president and is seeking to destroy his agenda. Kushner describes experiencing many incidents of leaking. One of the advantages Trump had within the White House was to have his son-in-law. Working directly for him. Kushner being a family member was there to serve his country and to protect his father-in-law.

I highly recommend this book for anyone who has a penchant for history and the inside machinations of top level government. If you are not that interested in government I still recommend the book as a biography of a young man who served his country at the highest level.

Marked “Confidential”

During my career I worked in several companies. My first job during college was with International Harvester Co. Advanced Research dept. I never worried about keeping my work secret because I was a grunt who never got close to anything confidential. After graduation from college, I began as a rookie for Danly Machine Company. Even though I earned engineer wages my work involved helping a journeyman assembler on the production floor at night. I was kept in the “dark.” Eventually, I graduated into the R&D department working on customized machines. Next, I ventured upward to the Electromotive Division of General Motors in the R&D department. At least at GM I did some serious design work on a super secret project involving a Sterling engine. Two years later, I moved to Westinghouse Air Brake formally named WABCO. My job was Senior Design Engineer for a line of quarry mining machines. It was the first time that was working on a product that someone would actually put to work. One of my proudest projects was to design the world’s largest jaw crusher built to order for a mining company in the Yukon Territory of Canada. They mined, what today is probably outlawed, asbestos ore. I learned that asbestos is found in nature in the form of fibers. In the Yukon the fiber was exceptionally long making this particular asbestos extremely valuable. The problem is that it was found in permafrost. Permafrost being frozen earth is as hard as ice and requires blasting, digging, and crushing to a manageable size. My crusher was used to break huge boulders of frozen asbestos into smaller chunks. Since no one ever went to the Yukon they never saw my machine work, and it didn’t need to be a secret.

Things changed drastically when I left WABCO to begin work for a plastics manufacturer named PANDUIT. If the owner ever heard me call his business plastics manufacturing he would fire me on the spot. We made ELECTRICAL products from plastic. Panduit was steeped in security. On day one I had to sign non-disclosure agreements, and swear upon a bible to keep my mouth shut even to my immediate family about what I, or the company did. They issued a badge for the sole purpose of opening doors. Each door was programmed and my badge was coded only to get in and out of the space I worked in. Information was doled out on a need to know basis. Since I was totally new, I didn’t need to know anything, and was kept in the dark about how my project was to fit in the scheme of things. As time moved on so did I. My need to know eventually expanded to know just about everything in the division. We taught our people to label our internal correspondence on products, and processes as “Confidential”. It wasn’t long before everything we did within engineering department was labeled confidential. It was too difficult to define what was, and what wasn’t, so we erred on the side of safety by marking everything with “Confidential.”

This practice made my retirement move-out very easy, I sorted my documents into two piles, save and shred. The rule was to wind up with one very short pile of save, and a mountain of shred. It worked and I never moved any documents to my home.

This long story is the result of my hearing how the FBI raided Past President Donald Trump’s home looking for precious confidential documents. Trump should have learned from Hillary that the safe way was to destroy all evidence of documentation, both paper and electronic, and to worry about consequences later. How can anyone accuse you of stealing secret documents if they don’t exist anymore?

Thank you Sam

Here is something to think about! How true!
The American dream in 2022
Both parents wake up in the morning at 4 a.m in a house where they never truly own the property but more or less rent the property off the government by paying property taxes. They say good morning to each other and try to put together a lunch for themselves with food that’s price has increased on average 7% in the last year. They don’t get to see their kids off to school in the morning or welcome them home bc both parents have to work a job where they are making less this year than they were last year bc inflation has gone up 7% in the market but their paycheck only went up 3% bc that’s the national average. Then they proceed down the street in a vehicle where they are forced to pay to register, inspect, and preform maintenance on it yearly, on roads that haven’t been redone in years to a gas station that charges them between a .56 cents and .74 cents per gallon tax to “repair” said roads. Once they get to their place of work they work on average 10 hours per day for 5-6 days a week to then be taxed on that money, all while their government tells them what they must do health wise to come to work to pay those taxes that funds them. After all those taxes are taken out of their paycheck they then must still pay taxes on practically every other transaction of money they do, along with a price increase on every good. They get home in the evening worn out, where they hopefully get to see their children who are being raised by the government due to the fact both parents must work, where the government is grooming them to be the next generation of cattle to milk dry in taxes so the cycle can continue. They turn on the tv while they cook dinner to hear from their government officials that they worked all day to fund tell them how “they are the problem” and cause division across the country and when they are up for re-election convince you why you need them to fix your issues. They turn the tv off and walk upstairs and lay next to their spouse hoping and dreaming that one day in 50+ years if they are lucky to make it that long that they might get to enjoy each other’s company for 5 years together in retirement.
The system is so broken and it’s disgusting. I hope people are waking up to the fact that more government regardless of party isn’t the answer. We don’t need politicians they need us, but somehow that narrative has been lost over time. Something needs to change in this country and it needs to happen quick bc the Nation is a dried out tinder box ready to be lit. I know I can’t be the only person tired of being stepped on in literally every aspect of life. It’s almost like we left a place once in our history bc of over taxation. This isn’t the American dream it’s the American nightmare where you aren’t a free American, you’re a free American to do what you are told. Copied and pasted.

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?