Burger time

We do not have an In -n- Out Burger joint by me in Chicago. So, while visiting family, I figured why not see what all the fuss was about, right? For lunch I treaded my brother Louie and my sister Tina to some of these burgers. They always raved about them living here in Arizona. I kinda can see why.

Going on Holiday!

Sedona_Arizona

In a few days I will be back in Arizona. Last year my step-niece, Jessica, gave birth to a lovely little girl named Aubrey. I’m looking forward to seeing her and her parents and her big brother, Isaac (who is 3, I think, he’s a grower, you watch, one day he’ll be a linebacker that any football program would love to have!). Of course she isn’t the only reason why I want to come by.

It has been two years since I was last back in the Grand Canyon state. Last time, my father came with and we travelled by train. Actually, first off, I need to make a quick shout out to the person truly responsible for all this, my sister Tina. Like the last trip, she was super generous in providing the way there. In 2012, my father and arrived there via Amtrak, courtesy of my sister. It was a beautiful trip getting there, with our own room and all, but I could only imagine how much it cost her. We are forever grateful of her generous gift and hospitality.

So now it is two years later. My three grand nephews have gotten 2 years older. Christopher and William, Stacy and Chris’s kids, are two wonderful kids. Both love video games (hey, what kid doesn’t, right? LOL). Christopher is showing a talent for musical instruments. Sadly, I have to profess I’m not sure where little William’s talents lie; that’s going to have to be a goal of mine to find out.  I am looking forward in seeing Stacy and Christopher, especially talking politics and economics, both are sharp as samurai katanas in those discussions.

Hopefully, I will get a chance, as mentioned at the start of this piece, to see Aubrey and Isaac. Of course I’m also hoping that includes their parents, Nick (my nephew) and his better half, Jessica, who I have to warn is one of the best Words with Friends player out there! I’m also proud of Nick, he’s got a great heart and I have to say the man is like a Michelangelo of website design. Very proud of the success that they have had.

The last time I was in Arizona, my sister and and my fantastic brother-in-law (and chairman of Tropical-sunset-Arizona-269677the Black Pants Society), Louie were kind enough to escort us all around. While last time we visited my aunt Lally and Uncle Joe, we could not spend the whole day. She was ill, and there just wasn’t enough time. This time around, I’m hoping to see more of them, and their dog, Bozo.

Last, but not least, I have to thank my sister again. Seriously, she is one of the best sisters on the planet. She has been very kind to a no good lug like me. Her and Louie are providing me with a place to stay and chauffeuring my fat ass around. My God, how can I ever repay those two? I don’t deserve to have such wonderful family. But I have them, and I thank God for that. I promise to treat them to something nice.

One thing is for sure, I needed this vacation. For the past few weeks, if not month or so, I’ve been working myself hard. Between that and taking care of my parents have been stressful, trust me my pop could make the Dalai llama pick up a bat and go nuts. Still, I wouldn’t trade it, I love them too much. Look, everyone needs a little break here or there. Doing the same thing, busting your ass, day in and day out, a breather is required. Know what I mean?

It will be very nice to get away from it all, especially the cold. Jesus, has it been cold here in Chicago! A little sun and being in weather that isn’t as cold as a grave digger’s ass is a welcomed change. Just relax, take it easy and enjoy being with some good people!

What if Tunguska happened in Berlin?

Saw a thing the other day about the Tunguska Event, which was a massive explosion in 1908 caused by what many believe to be an asteroid hitting Siberia. The blast was akin to 30 megaton nuclear weapon (the largest atomic weapon explosion on Earth was the Tsar Bomba by the USSR at 50 megatons). The butterfly effect is when something minor changes causing a ripple throughout everything else eventually. Watching this program, it dawned on me…how would have history have turned out if the asteroid had hit Berlin or St. Petersburg or London in 1908 instead of Siberia?

Will we even have a real market in broadband?

Comcast, the nations #1 Cable television/Cable Internet provider, is set to buy TimeWarner Cable, the nations #2 Cable television/Cable Internet provider. Given that there really is no cable television and internet markets (AT&T and Verizon both froze their roll out in Comcast and TimeWarner’s territories..hrmm). Satellite maybe national, but here too only 2 providers with almost similar pricing for television to each other and neither offers a serious internet package (ClearWire, despite their claims is not available everywhere). There is no real national broadband competitor, if there were we would see pricing similar to say Korea or parts of Europe.

The two largest cable providers along with the the two largest mobile phone providers (actually mainly Verizon) have for the past 5 years managed to get through local legislation barring local competition, especially from any public initiatives (think municipal wifi), Hell, they even managed to kick Google’s ass in several attempts to get Google Fiber going. If the DOJ and FCC approve this (Comcast does have clout), then I fear that any chance in a real market for broadband and television will be severely curtailed.

Price controls hit Venezuela…this will not end well!

Law Limiting Costs, Prices and Profits Comes into Force in Venezuela

By EWAN ROBERTSON

TAGS

economic war

Price Controls

Mérida, 24th January 2013 (Venezuelanalysis.com) – A law limiting costs, prices and profit margins across the Venezuelan economy came into effect yesterday.

The law is designed to prevent over-pricing, speculation and other abuses against consumer rights which have been occurring in the South American country.

It was drawn up by President Nicolas Maduro after problems with Venezuela’s currency control system and what officials argue is an “economic war” being waged by anti-government business sectors have created economic imbalances for consumers such as high inflation and shortages in some basic products.

via Law Limiting Costs, Prices and Profits Comes into Force in Venezuela | venezuelanalysis.com.

This….will not end well.

Many years ago I got to become friends with a young man from Caracas at one of my father’s BBQs. This was about a year before Chavez became President. He came from a well to do family who was in tool and die making. Anyways, he worked in retail before coming here and I learned a thing or two about how it is down there. Essentially, you had over the decades something akin to how our health insurance companies operated here, were a select few manage to consolidate and get the state to give its blessing. The state allowed and aided a select few to dominate at the expense of a real free market in retail.

Well..fast forward to today and you have the end result of state meddling/crony capitalism with a cabal of business interests. One hand helping the other. But instead of breaking up these retail combines and allowing the formation of a real free market for retail, we get something worse. Very rare does command economies and their price control schemes work out well. The fundamental forces of Supply & Demand ultimately will win out in one form or another. Incentives will be shifted, shortages will begin, oh the list goes on and on. We have seen this time and time again, be it here in the US or Cuba or the USSR or wherever, it almost always fails.

This, unfortunately for the average Venezuelan, in the end…will not end well.