sono.tino

these are the words and photos that depict the world in which we live.


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Going Full Circle

So, while perusing the front page of the NY Times after a killer evening of climbing, I come across an article titled,  “Gas pedal Flaws Lead Toyota To Stop Building 8 Models”.  It might have well of had an exclamation point at the end.  Seriously.

What a fate in this economic climate!  To be struck by an internal quality control issue, especially in an industry where quality control is the Achilles heel of a reputation, is a situation that will never go away.  How many of you remember that tire issue that Ford Explorer’s had almost a decade ago?  The Firestone tires would give way to high speed rollover accidents….really tragic shit.  I don’t think they’ve ever fully recovered to that market leading high before then.  Explorer’s were the top of the market for the popular SUV.  It was the poster boy for the SUV industry.

Anyway….this article is on the front page of the NY Times.  Exclamation.

A rare condition causing the recall of 4.8 million vehicles.  In a time when you dominate the word’s number one auto market, while your competitors are recovering from a financial one-two punch that has left them tightening their belts and reorganizing themselves, their entities and their debt.  Talk about a bad struck of luck.

So what’s the first thing that pops into my mind?  At 9am I would be buying puts on Toyota like they were going out of style.  Then I would find out who their number one suppliers are and buy puts on them if they’re publicly held.  Then I would find out which insurance company was at the foundation of the health-care provider that provided health-care to all of those employees.  Scratch that last one, they’d be covered on the new unemployment insurance for a while.  But I would find out the service providers that depended on the Toyota production model and buy puts on them too.

Once you realize that there are a ton of other people with the biggest plan you start watching the premiums on these puts going through the roof.  So you start selling certain puts and then buying them again when the supply increases from others thinking like you are.  Before you know it, you’ve doubled your money and someone else is collecting unemployment now too.  Then you start looking for exotic derivatives that tie global aluminum into being the correlate for the yen and how it is a proxy for Toyota stock.  That’s the evil wizard behind the drape pulling levers and mixing potions type of shit.

Since most folks will never get within arms length of people who take part in that side of the financial industry we turn to a different indicator of public health besides the financial indicators that reduce the health of our existence down to an index.  That is when we turn to the life we live every day and look around at the signs.  There are a few less gas stations these days and if you’re in the market for a home it’s a great time to buy.  And people are drinking more and doing less sport…or are they.  What of these not-cheap habits that are fundamental in the who-we-are and how-we-are sequences that make up our lives?  And this is how I get back to climbing.

At the climbing gym tonight it was pretty busy.  Tuesdays and Thursdays always are, but today was pretty crazy.  Tonight I was pretty lucky.  I was climbing with two great individuals and the session was something that had a life of its own.  Before I had realized it, there was no more skin on my hands, I had reacquainted with two or three people that I hadn’t seen in years and I was still climbing.  It’s hard to complain about that, especially considering the updates people had been giving me on their lives.

There are so many professionals out of work right now.  IT folk, mortgage peeps, builders…and a lot of them.  But what I thought was even crazier is that somehow, someway, they’ve still found the psyche to go climbing and pursue something that they enjoy and identify with.  Be it from their savings or government aid, it is something that still allows you to enjoy a part of your life even when the days get dark.

Hooray for climbing.  I think we’ve made it full circle.  Isn’t that always fun.  Though if you’re looking for a car these days I’d say take a look VWs.  My Golf has brought me to a lot of incredible climbing spots.

Maybe the next thing will be on wind power or home remodeling…ciao

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Financial Planning: As pivotal in our lives as learning to ride a bike

From a young age we are taught skills and lessons that should stay with us throughout our entire lives.  Simple tutorials that are most often hands-on and that entail a few small mistakes.  All of this is to ensure that the most complete comprehension is gained, in a knowledge sense and in respect of consequence.  The physics in riding a bike seem all so uncertain in the beginning, while we start to understand about equilibrium and momentum, rudimentary conservation of energy and, of course, impact forces.  There are many things that we add to our scope of understanding in life because it will greatly alter our ability to meet goals and find footing in this world, knowing what to do with your hard-earned income is the same.  Why should personal finance be any different than riding a bike, learning to make pancakes or mastering the rules of the road?  Besides being basic knowledge that we should all have, not having this understanding can lead to even more precipitous falterings in life.

Having a solid grasp on our individual finances is key to keeping our reality in check and our futures in our controls.  Long term goals do not mean that your life must be planned out and that we are locked into all decision we make at an early age.  Instead it is about learning how to initially balance and manage the wages, salaries and incomes that come our way, with our ability to spend money and live life.  The first time you overdraw an account without having overdraft protection it is like that first fall off of the bike.  Luckily the sting is usually only to the tune of $35 or so, but when you start equating that dollar value to what it could have been, we quickly begin to understand the prospect of loss.  Speaking for myself, I would prefer to have those bottles of wine or other accouterments to daily existence that it could have been.  A lesson such as overdraft, for good fortune, is one of the easier ones that we learn before heading into the lands of retirement benefits, group insurance policies, qualified plans and non-FDIC insured securities that could lose us as much as they gain for us.

For the ease of the conversation, let’s assume that most people understand good basic financial behavior.  That we always know approximately what our bank balances are, know that our expenses must be less than our net income and, perhaps, have already begun to put funds aside for future income or whatever need will arise.  There is a laundry list of investment vehicles sold by knowledgeable and trustworthy individuals who operate, according to their commitments and licensure, to find the best-fit products for their clients, while staying prudent and accurate for the benefit of the companies harboring the bulk of the risk that provides the guaranteed returns on our investments.

The initial wading into financial waters begins with one key step: identifying your financial needs and wants.  Maybe you want a home or to retire early?  Perhaps you want to not burden your family with any expenses you have chosen to take on in your lifetime?  Or it could be as simple as wanting to grow a nest-egg for the future for an undecided purpose, like a child’s education, a real-estate investment, a horse or supplemental income to balance out any funds that might be received from social security.  The important thing to keep in mind as we realize these goals is that they need not be permanent goals, as many investment products that are qualified plans have laws that allow them to become other investments for minor service charges, without losing the advantage of tax-free growth or access to the aggregated cash value.

If you have already taken on large obligation in life that have long-term financial implications, like a mortgage or other liability, you may want to limit the risk exposure to your family if something were to happen in the long run.  Starting at low initial investments, there are manners to transfer the highest level of pure risk to companies that use the statistics based off of the averages of large groups of your peers to evaluate your risk.  Upon evaluation of your personal health, your occupation and the amount of funds you ultimately want to ensure are present in case of an untimely accident, an offer is made to you by the company that will buy your risk and hope that you life a long and healthy life.  In this manner you are protected from financial ruin in case of life-altering accidents and a company will gain from your fruitful life and use what you paid for protection to fill the void in the unlucky individual who has walked the same path as yourself and not arrived as healthy.

Once you start looking into the profile you create for yourself, it will become easier to realize how malleable this experience and situation can be.  Many investment vehicles allow you to use the tax-free grown savings for large purchases, like homes, or to turn cash value from your risk-protection (insurance) into an income stream that you will never be able to outlive.  The flexibility is reality limited to how well you communicate your needs and how you want to go about establishing them.  A producer, broker or financial planner is just a guide through the complicated variety of products and laws to get you the best solution to your needs and wants.

Investments are as simple as riding a bicycle, when you know where you want to go.  For a simple roll down the street, a basic self-tutoring would probably be enough, but with a more extended journey do the potentials for hazards increase.  Just as you would consult experts before riding bicycles down mountains or in touring foreign landscapes, you should consult financial experts as a means of making yourself more aware of your options in life and what is required to minimize the risk in all of the the endeavors in which we choose to engage.


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Taxes with Tea

us1There was nary a breeze in the well-paved over downtown of Stuart, Florida.  The temperature hovered over the registered 80, as the 90% humidity and heat waves bounced off of the asphalt and up at the Tea Party underway.  The streets in front of the US Post Office are lined from end to end and flowing onto Federal Highway 1 where the intended message of revolution would get better exposure.  News cameras were interviewing anyone who had something to say and lawn chairs started taking up prime curbside real estate.  There were hundreds of people pounding the pavement for governmental change, like fiscal responsibility and term limits in the congress.

The people have something to say and, via keen online organizational strategy that mimics Gov. Howard Deans in the 2004 election, have opted for an evolved Tea Party to exercise their first amendment rights.  The interesting thing about this well-publicized event is that it was not the grass-roots event as it was advertised, but instead a well-organized, cyber-based partisan push against the current administration.  When you have Strategic Activism, LLC organizing your events, Visual Enterprise Systems, Inc., designing your copyrighted ‘grass-roots’ campaign and one of the movement’s national organizertheshows being the founder and director of “Top Conservatives on Twitter”, there is only one more way to show your partisan stripes: having Fox News host a live broadcast on this ‘American Tradition’.  Oh, they did that too.

Being April 15th, everyone is still buzzing from their annual tax shot, so the statements being made were even more poignant as individuals with slogan t-shirts walked around with home-made placards screaming everything from “No New Taxes, Cut Government Spending” to “Fire Congress” to “Freedom Not Tyranny”.  Tea-bags were pinned to hats, shirts and earrings, and for every voice of dissent there was a horn supporting it.  Horns for gun rights, horns for impeachment and horns for that really cute blonde girl with the ‘Freedom Not Tyranny’ sign.

tyrannyThe air was electric with revolutionary spirit and the South Florida Action Committee was out canvassing the youth to get them thinking about democracy and activism.  Standing behind their Gadsden flag handing out pamphlets to the fresh blood, it seemed like the youth were more energized by the social energy that accompanies upheaval and dissent.  The new sons and daughters of liberty were using loud angry voices paired up with the Gadsden flag and it’s desfacfiant, “Don’t Tread On Me” motto, an exciting thing for any age.  The activist energy must have worn off, as the kids who were approached by Action Committee volunteer got impatient during her spiel and just asked how they could get one of those yellow shirts with a snake on it.

A gentleman who wanted to only go by Carl, was giving out leaflets on a corner where the surrounding people were in the midst of the chorus of “God Bless America”.  When asked if he had come up with the “I’ll Keep My Money-Guns-Freedom.  You Keep The Change” message, he said no.  Someone had seen his car all-dressed up for the event that they had asked him to give these out.  He insisted on giving me two.  One for me, and one for the friend that wasn’t with me.

Standing on the curb waving her American flag was another woman whom I asked why she was there.  She questioned me who I was reporting for and I replied that I was doing some citizen journalism for the Huffington Post. yellow She turned to me and from behind her big sunglasses said, “I have three kids.  One who just lost a job.  One who is on the fringe.  And one who is on the other side of the desk laying people off.  Stop taxing and stop spending.  And you can tell that to Adrianna!”.  Then she promptly turned around and started waving her flag again.

Passing cars were as much a part of the demonstration as the troops on the ground.  One old lady screamed from the comfortable front seat of her SUV, “Fire all of the Idiots!”, then smiled, waved and drove off.  A few photos later a man in mineral blue PT Cruiser comes through the big intersection making a left hand turn and yells, “You lost the election, get over it, Assholes!”, and proceeded to speed away before anyone threw a bottle thredrough his window.  Cars were honking so loud that picketing parents had to take their children out of their strollers and hand them off to the other parent who could take them away from this ruffled feathers parade.

One of the less fierce protesters was 6 year old Philip who was dressed in a t-shirt that read, “No More Zer000,000,000,000s”.  Little Philip was an entrepreneur with his parent’s help, running a lemonade stand.  All proceeds from the lemonade and snack sales were going to be sent right to Washington.  I sat back and thought where they were going to send this to.  Maybe to President Obama or maybe to the congress.  What type of note would they include?  Here is all of our six year old’s money, take it now and don’t bill him for it later.  All I knew is that it was still a hot day and people were moving away from the Post Office where people were still driving through and dropping off their taxes in the drop box.  So I decided to donate a couple bucks to Philip’s mission and cool myself off at the same time.  As I handed the cash over, philipPhilip’s dad turns to me and says, “That is the most expensive glass of lemonade you’re ever going to buy.”  He was probably right.

If anything comes from this retro-revolution it just may be that Lipton’s second quarter revenue is going to outpace prior estimates, otherwise it may just be another whopping success in proving the power the internet can play in amassing momentum for a cause.  As an exercise in flexing one’s first amendment might, it was quite visible that people care in this little Florida town, where home foreclosures are through the roof and unemployment is growing by the day.  It seems there was a voice for every issue on the table.  Voices for the left, voices for the right, and voices that just want someone to look out for the people on Main Street.   Many of the voices came from pensioners that found this to be a great time to bond with their kids and their grandkids, especially seeing how everyone is affected by the downturn.  This little tea party might just end up being that really fun day after Easter where the family all got together, made patriotic banners and got loud on the town like it was July 4th all over again.lipton


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Climbanomix

Anyone who climbs often dreams about extended climbing trips where crisp textured rock is contrasted by bright blue skies. A few months on the road where you live simply, explore beautiful places and climb until your fingerprints are permanently altered. With every passing week you feel like a chamber inside you opens up, surrendering yourself to the journey, the excitement that comes with every new day and the challenges that you might cross (like your first 8a). In time your forearms will battle lactic acid Huriyama-like during 45 minute on-sights, your power will be Sharma-esque and your lead head will be full-on Croft-y.

Unfortunately this is no longer the era of sell your car, drop your lease and tell your girlfriend, “It’s me baby, really. It’s not you, it’s me.”. We have to be more astute these days about how we fit the life-altering climbing adventures into the modern world. Job resumes with employment histories that show a turnover every year or so are generally frowned upon. There aren’t many occupations that allow you the flexibility of being able to take off every once in a while for three weeks to a month, let alone a few months (a tear emerges).

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If you were considering sponsorship, well let’s just say in-house development becomes the priority when layoffs and shrinking budgets are becoming the norm. If you worked in the trades, there is a good chance you no longer have a job. If you worked in investment banking there is a good chance you no longer have a job. If you worked for Starbucks, there is a good chance you no longer have a job. But this current period of economic recession just might be the telephone booth you and Clark have been looking for to change into your super-climber gear (picture that great 80s neon and lycra).

Before running off uninformed about why you can do this, let’s quickly cover what a recession is and why they are special. Classically a recession is defined as two or more consecutive quarters of negative GDP growth. Or as the National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER) puts it, ‘a significant decline in economic activity lasting more than a few months’. If you’ve been reading the finance headlines you know this is not new. Yet when you look closer you realize that recessions are natural in the economic cycle. Just like forest fires are mother nature’s way of cleaning house, recessions bring a bubble economy back to it’s fundamental support levels. What does that mean? Things often look worse than they are.

Lets look at the basic forecasting tools of a recession: GDP, inverted yield curve and unemployment. Looking at current GDP stats, each quarter has still been higher than than the preceding quarter, though just by a lesser extent. In times of economic turmoil people are not out buying cars, homes and washing machines. Instead they are buying lower ticket items because, face it, the US doesn’t understand how not to go shopping. Retail soft goods and discount markets often weather the storm better than capital goods, and domestic travel becomes preferred to international travel. You’re reading this magazine aren’t you, because you can’ t think of giving it up, especially now.

Let’s not get technical about inverted yield curves and the psycho-social analysis that goes into expectations and consumer confidence. Better to leave that to the dismal science. However, it is a tool forecasters use in investing. Normally we expect returns (the yield) on any given investment to be higher in the long term than the short term. An inverted curve says people are investing in the opposite manner and expecting the short term gain to be higher than the long term, thus a negative future outcome.

In comparing this to a red-point, you get involved with a route because of the probability of you sending the route in the future. Thus the potential to gain more in the long term than in the present. If you are just climbing 5.10, you could probably send a 5.10a/b almost every session and maybe the occasional morphologic 10c/d. But if you want to start bagging easy 5.11 or even break into 5.12 you need to start investing time and energy towards that now. It may mean foregoing the satisfaction of going out and slaying all of the easy 5.10s you can find, but in a short period of time you’ll be blasting through 5.10 and projecting grades harder.

So if this is reversed, and all that invested energy in the future forecasts to give less benefit than now, logic says take the instant benefit. Cha-cha-ching. The lack of instant financial gratification on the market chart vertical should then result in instant satisfaction on the vertical horizon: it is the time to go climbing.

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The obvious knee jerk response by anyone with a sense of fiscal responsibility would be, ‘Are you crazy?’; as It is true that it will be more difficult to find work in periods of economic downturn. Unemployment is rising, the labor pool is saturating with qualified candidates, thus the competition for every open position is increasing. If you are really excited about your work or knee-deep in parenthood then maybe this isn’t the right choice for you. But for anyone who is dissatisfied with what they do and lacks any form of ball and chain, this is the perfect exit point.

Many employers are willing to negotiate severance packages that reduce their overhead while basically paying you to take a hike (or a climbing trip). In times of recession individuals often turn to further their education or obtain training in another skill so as to widen their range of possible prospects. Why not kick it off with a month in place with delicious regional cuisine and a square footage of rock per square mile that would make Bishop blush?

Climbers are evolutionary chameleons that are innovative and strategic by nature, this can only aid us in our future employment pursuits. Just like altering your style from sandstone to limestone to gritstone, we must fit our surroundings in the current economy. After your hiatus, return to the job market renewed and pursue what you have yearned to do for years. Span the financial gap by selling your story to a publisher and inspiring others to reach out towards their dreams.

If you want to pick up a new side of the sport or another sport in general, you normally require a solid block of time to be able to learn your way in. Looking to bump your bouldering up two grades, live in a tent and make it happen. Think you have the endurance to put twenty pitches of any consistent grade together in a day, harness yourself a partner and find out. Still have that cherry alpine link-up waiting for an FA, buy a plane ticket and get it before someone else does. Inspired to put up new routes, pick a place where you can live for few dollars a day and develop an area.

Two thousand and nine can be the year you talk about as the year that you fulfilled your climbing dreams. It is projected that, well, projects will get dispatched this year at an unprecedented rate. If 2008 was looked upon as a bad-ass year, with all of the crushing that US climbers did in Europe, Jumbo Love and all of the headpointing that went down, just wait for 2009. You might want to get that pre-order in for Dosage VI, because it’s going to be off the hook.

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Possible cons to the situation are navigable, aside from not getting a job for a while when you get back. The US dollar is probably shot to hell from the monetary expansion used to fund the stimulus package, so you will probably be doing DiGiorno and not delivery at your casetta down by Sperlonga. However, other more exotic (code for third world) destinations are close and have a low cost of living (aka cheap eats, treats and sheets) and bountiful concentrations of local climbing. This might be when we start heading south over the boarder and exchanging identification with the guy you share the cactus with while avoiding the coyotes. He might have family not far from El Potrero Chico. There’s always the back-up of sleeping on a friend’s couch when you get back, the stories take at least a month before they get old. And if all else fails, Barack will hook you up with a personalized stimulus package.


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Seeing Our Shadow

Be afraid!  Be very, very afraid!

Be afraid! Be very, very afraid!

So it’s Groundhog Day again.  The alarm clock goes off and we wake up to another morning of dismal economic news, partisan punditry and some kind of music that will remain in our head for the entire day.  The good news is that Punxsutawney Phil, the seer of seers, the prognosticator of prognosticators is here to lift us out the monday morning doldrums.  Or so we hope.

This is the 123rd prediction of the whistlepig rodent, a tradition that started while President Grover Cleveland was in office in 1886. Now we have another strong democrat in office who also wants to be known as a great reformer.  So, 123 years later, what similarities do we see between Groundhog Day ritual and our government.  An Inner Circle at Gobbler’s Knob that consists of 22 old white men in top hats and tuxedos, pulling the rodent out of his hole and waving him, a den dwelling creature who hates heights, high aloft a crowd of thousands (people are curious why he has seen his shadow 96 times).  Sounds like a lot of pomp and no relative circumstance.

These men have titles that sound more like Sesame Street pseudonyms for current politicians.  Names like thunder conductor, storm chaser, sun beamer, fair weatherman, big wind maker, and fog spinner should come at the bottom of some type of decal-oriented trading card.  What will be next?  Hi kids, Hillary Clinton, the Thunder Conductor, has a special announcement, after which your handlers can bring you to the toddler changing area because she is sure to make you soil yourself.  It would be too much fun to keep playing that name game, which would be more like an elementary roast.

This year’s Groundhog Day is supposed to have brought record numbers, thousands upon thousands of people.  Well, if hundreds of thousands of people still had their jobs, they wouldn’t be standing in the frickin’ cold hills of Pennsylvania watching a tormented rodent shiver so hard he cannot bite his handlers.  Then his predictions are supposed to be heeded to when old Phil has a 60% accuracy rate.  There are a few other JV team groundhogs who boast better stats too.  Though the National Climate Data Center reports that the overall groundhog prediction accuracy rating is closer to 39%.  What does this say about a nation that looks to rodents as prognosticators of weather.  At least that number is better than our last president’s outgoing approval rating.

So the ritual here is translated as this: it is a sunny day and you step out of your house and see your shadow and get freaked out the weather will worsen.  Otherwise, you step out on a cloudy and possibly downright stormy day, see no shadow, and this is supposed to mean that spring is on it’s way.  What a load of crap.  To nitpick some more, what is with the name ground hog, there is no relevance to a hog.  And the synonym of woodchuck, the thing eats leaves and berries and never touches wood.  Let alone that woodchuck does not even stem from American etymology, but perhaps borrowed (because we have never stolen from the Native Americans) from the Algonquian name for the animal (possibly Narragansett), wuchak.

So what is this day all about.  The ‘seeing’ process is as such: the ground hog is waved in the air like a foam finger at a sport’s event  and then place on a mown over stump (no doubt sold for some extra cash) in front of two scrolls.  The varmit points to the scroll that holds the future in its text, though his handlers say that despite the message, you cannot blame the messenger.  At least he has a choice, because if it were solely on the shadow that would be bass-ackwards, as shown in the last paragraph.  Nevertheless old Phil, on this 2nd of February in the year 2009 pointed to the scroll that read:

As I look around me a bright sky I see
And a shadow beside me
Six more weeks of winter it will be

Really the scroll should have read:
As I look around me a group of morons do I see
Put me back and leave me be
Go back to your world and leave this idiocy
Solve why the icebergs are melting into the sea

So far in 2009, 6 of 14 groundhogs predict an early spring, the other 8 swing the other way, and there are probably a few more that will arise from rural reporting.  What type of impact has this had?  The Dow Jones Industrial Average saw its shadow too, opening down about %1 and has continued to drop with poor earnings data kept arriving.  The Nasdaq did not see its shadow and is seeing a tech-induced rise.

In this type of an economy it is hard to want to stifle an event that has had more of an economic stimulus than any government program since the beginning of this recession.  Though a proposition that could be made, and guaranteed to spur economic growth, is to create a pharmaceutical product that alters the sensitivity of rods and cones in these famed creatures so that they no longer see shadows, but, instead, a disco ball of color and light.  Maybe LSD or cannabis sativa would just do the trick, I hear the government has some research on their effects.


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the road less traveled

wenden >< wenderstock, switzerland

wenden >< wenderstock, switzerland

sometimes the road less taken is that way for a reason.  sometimes, avoiding the path of resistance means there is a support network, a mechanism in place that is sophisticated enough to allow you to pursue your life without binding you in the webs of others.  sometimes the road less traveled just ends in a cul-de-sac, leaving you to turn and head back.

i can remember topping out on half dome about eight years ago with Alex McAfee.  it was later than we wanted it to be, part my fault, and we had very little food and water and just knew it was best for us to get down.  walking off of the backside was kind of a surreal endeavor at night with headlamps.  there is a great slab, like a sea of granite melting away from you.  somewhere in the middle is a walkway with some metal wire handrails to guard the average person from a hideous, yet eventful death.  we crisscrossed that slab for twenty minutes expecting to hear each others’ last screams, denoting that we did not find the handrail and not to go toward the scream.  eventually we found the walkway and followed it off of the slab and turned to find the trail that would lead us back down to the front of the formation where our bags were safely stowed (or so we thought).

jingling away with rope and rack, probably still in climbing shoes and disco shades, we slowly made our way down picking through the bushes on what seemed to be the trail.  the caveat being that too far in one direction could possibly end up in a large fall and a bummer of a story for the other to have to pass on to the park service.  let alone the loss of gear that would never be used again.  hiking through the thicket, especially around climbing areas, you generally rely on these paths of least resistance, meaning that someone has possibly travelled there before.  this is often a good thing.  it means you are probably not far from where you should be, especially since you often do not know exactly where you should be, but know where you would like to be.  this is often more interesting in the middle of a large rock face when you realize you have climbed two pitches in the wrong direction because you convinced yourself that the topo and description led you up these ‘obvious’ features.  that situation, however, is a different story.

in the end, the path that was easiest to follow brought us down safely, though hungry and bedraggled, to our campsite to discover that marmots had clawed holes into Alex’s bag and eaten his snacks.  whereas my bag had oddly been unzipped and also emptied of its aromatic contents by some small mammal.  thank god tuna comes in a hermetically sealed can.  the trickle of water that seeps out of that face and some unstolen snacks got us through the unplanned second evening under half dome.  the next day we ransacked the cafe next to the yosemite post office for a three course lunch.

at the time i thought our feat was stellar.  two guys who had really never climbed before, minus a quick romp on middle cathedral, had sent the northwest direct route in 14 hrs.  now i look back and think, shit, we could have done it so much faster if i didn’t get all scared up in the zig zags and crawl my way through the ‘thank god’ traverse.  maybe next time.  but i think it would be more fun to free the whole thing and not start stepping in slings.

the moral of the story is that sometimes, to get where you’re going, the path most traveled is requisite.  often the journey is the path less traveled with an occasional leg that has seen the wear and tear of others.  it is in this moderation between us and society that our true individual path lies.

seeing the news feeds with hints at a partial nationalization of some of the US’s largest banks is what made me think of this path.  for we would not be the first, nor the last.  yes, true enough, we often aim to forge our own history here in the US.  but sometimes there are lessons to be learned from having only watched others.  the UK just nationalized a bank, japan nationalized many banks, and there are a slough of other examples.  actually what we would be doing probably would not be called nationalizing due to the nation’s anafalactic allergence to socialist ideals.

in some way we need to get the financial sector on track.  its hard to put the patients back in charge of the asylum but order is needed.  unfortunately, all of the dollars spent on the financial industry in the name of the tarp plan are tax payers dollars.  in the end, we want a return on our investment.  we cannot just buy bad debt in a new federal-entity and wipe them out.  no, we need to get some percentage back from functioning loans and other revenue streams.  this is not a path of least resistance by any means, nor can it be the path of most resistance.  at least for our nation’s sake.


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The Locomotion of Change

The change has already begun.  Right from the beginning, the new administration is keeping its promises, whatever those may be.  Many people balked at the Obama campaign before the election for the lack of details on a few topics.  A campaign that touted change for the better is not a new thing around these parts was the competition’s retort.  Truthfully, politics, DC and false promises go together like Larry, Moe and Curly.  What is different about the show these days, is that people are not laughing at the cliche any more, but getting critical instead.  Movements and decisions with the national welfare in mind are already being made and it seems that there will be plenty more.  Now the people are going from doubting to nods of assent.

For a while many people have been worried about the future of print in daily news delivery, there may be a solution now: there will be news to print.  If the headlines of war mongering and death to poor grammar and even worse critical thinking skills will be replaced.  It seems the new headlines actually have news.  There are no glam photo sessions of this president, just tag-lines and newspaper content.  In two days there has been a tidal change in the quality and moral direction of the subject matter .

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Tim Geithner’s name emerges from text that tells the story of the administrations stance on Chinese currency manipulation.  Our trade deficit with them is substance enough, yet since stances were not being taken (cowtowing is more like it), such an important topic did not get the proper media.  Can you hear the crickets (not the whining)?  After a 60-34 senate confirmation no one is talking about back taxes or domestic help.  Ahh…just as it should be.

There are stories about the closing of the Guantanamo military base to curtail or reallocate current Defense spending.  This is an opportunity in many ways.  Communications with Cuba can be opened, the trade embargo can go to the wayside and more peace can exist in the world.  A smear on American integrity equal to Abu Graib and a vestige of the cold war era will be swept away to make room for better relations.  There are so many positive aspects about opening up relations with Cuba, the majors being: a new market for American goods; a travel destination (chaching!) that combines old world culture with UNESCO protected countryside; a new source for importing raw materials like sugar and cobalt.  So Cuban exports may not solve our current economic dilemma, but it cannot hurt.

The kicker, to round off this trio of current domestic news items with international twists, is the permission for stem-cell research to be performed on humans.  So this is not exactly a treasure chest of federal monies, but it is an astral leap compared to the last administration.  Federal monies are better served in other federal programs right now, ones that will give a more immediate jolt towards stopping this slow churning locomotive of economic depression.  Once we stop that steam breathing demon we can all get aboard and go for a much, much better ride.

This thread is just the beginning.  This is change.  It is only the first week, but already there is a renewed spirit matched with action.  Up markets, up people and a feeling that good things are on their way up too; this bodes for a better future.  This new well-spring of news is the tapping of an aquifer that has always known to be there, as it has been tapped a few times in the past, yet for some reason became an El Dorado.  Now the national GPS has put a way-point on it and will keep going back, so as to keep this new engine of change a’going.