It’s a beautiful winter day here in Northern Virginia. When I woke up this morning, there was about an inch of snow covering everything, but when I finally got around to walking Amanda’s dog Artemis, most of the snow had melted. I took a few pictures with my Panasonic Lumix point-and-shoot camera with it’s Leica (branded) lens. I often forget how beautiful NoVa can be. Here are a few pics. Click the first one to embiggen, then click on the right side of the picture to run through them.
Turns out I’m now a Scottish Laird – I own one square foot of land on the isle of Islay in Scotland! It came free with a bottle of Laphroaig I bought, like a decoder ring in a box of cereal. Here are pics of my holding. Someday I’ll go over there and build the tallest, skinniest house in the world. I bought the Laphroaig based on a suggestion from Steve Smeekins. The whisky is quite good. You can really taste and smell the peat. Pics – click to embiggen:
As sick as I am of this cold and snow, Julian and I had a great day today. We did a little sledding in the backyard, Julian rockin’ lime green snow pants. Then we made a new bow, arrows and a quiver, just like in the picture in his Robin Hood book, followed by several episodes of Scooby Doo and some popcorn – pretty much a perfect day.
Brenda, Amanda, and I, along with four dogs spent the long Labor Day weekend at the beach. It was glorious! Saturday started out a little cloudy as you can see in the picture on the left. That’s Amanda on her bike, ready to ride to the beach. In about an hour the clouds disappeared. The water temperature was perfect. I spent more time in the water floating like a manatee in 2 days than I have during all the summer visits this year combined. Last night, Brenda and I went into Rehoboth and had dinner at Claws. It was great of course, plus I had a leftover fish breakfast this morning. Bonus!
The only downside is that Labor Day traditionally marks the end of summer. Absolutely unbelievable how fast the summer went this year. Once again, I feel as though I’ve wasted the summer.
Marshall Crenshaw wrote an angry song back in the early 1970’s, called “Summer’s Over.” Some lyrics:
“I put my foot through my TV screen when I got up today…I’m mad, cause summer’s over.”
That song runs through my mind every Labor Day.
[Originally published 9/2/2013, but lost when my stupid web host accidentally cancelled my account.]
The important thing to remember about Labor Day is that the word “labor” here does not mean “work,” it means organized labor, i.e., unions. Labor Day was…well, let Professor Krugman give us a little history lesson:
It wasn’t always about the hot dogs. Originally, believe it or not, Labor Day actually had something to do with showing respect for labor.
Here’s how it happened: In 1894 Pullman workers, facing wage cuts in the wake of a financial crisis, went on strike — and Grover Cleveland deployed 12,000 soldiers to break the union. He succeeded, but using armed force to protect the interests of property was so blatant that even the Gilded Age was shocked. So Congress, in a lame attempt at appeasement, unanimously passed legislation symbolically honoring the nation’s workers.
It’s all hard to imagine now. Not the bit about financial crisis and wage cuts — that’s going on all around us. Not the bit about the state serving the interests of the wealthy — look at who got bailed out, and who didn’t, after our latter-day version of the Panic of 1893. No, what’s unimaginable now is that Congress would unanimously offer even an empty gesture of support for workers’ dignity. For the fact is that many of today’s politicians can’t even bring themselves to fake respect for ordinary working Americans….
I know that these days it’s not kewel to speak well of unions. And a lot of that of that is labor’s fault – some of them have become bureaucratic, some were taken over by organized crime for their juicy pension funds, but mostly they did not understand the relentless propaganda that the 1% would employ against them and they failed to rebut it. They assumed, incorrectly it turns out, that reasonable people would ignore the nonsense, such as “right to work”
for peanuts laws.
People forgot that their income is my spending, and my income is their spending. If I (or a bunch of us) stop spending because I’m laid off, or I lose my house, or I’m sequestered, then your income goes down too. You’re better off when we’re all better off. Even crusty old arch-conservative Henry Ford understood this. When confronted by his fellow top-hat-wearing one-percenters over the $5 a day he paid for his factory workers, he supposedly said: “I got to pay them $5 a day. If I don’t, they can’t afford to buy a Ford.”
Back in the 1950′s and 1960′s about 35% of American workers were unionized. It was not so coincidentally, the peak years of the American middle class. Union membership fell off in the 1980′s and the middle class has been dwindling along with it. The data is clear in these two charts to ruin Labor Day. Wages as a percentage of GDP (the overall economy) are at an all time low. Blame it on de-unionization, tax policy, or to a lack of investment in education, but for whatever reason, gains in productivity have not translated into higher wages.
Here’s some Labor Day music from
Irish commie union thugs the Dropkick Murphys. Happy Labor Day!
I called Mercea, the Romanian guy who installed our kitchen counter-tops, and did some other work for us a year or so ago.. He is the hardest working guy in the world, and is a bit of a perfectionist. Just the kind of person you want doing remodeling for you.
He got here on Thursday morning with his helper, Robert. First step: the demolition – the fun stuff. Here he is removing the disgusting shower door and frame.
The house was built in the 1960’s, so the floor is plywood over the joists, then concrete, then metal mesh, then more concrete, then tile. I remodeled the main bathroom, and it took me about a week to remove the floor and pull the tile and drywall off the walls. These guys did it in about 6 hours, including two trips to the dump.
Magic! See that insulation on the outside wall? It could not have been more than one inch thick at the very best. Probably less. And if you look closely, you can see there are many small areas with no insulation over them at all. Worst insulation I’ve ever seen. When the guys left, I went to Home Depot, bought some new Owens Corning R-15 insulation and put it up. That alone should save me about One Million Dollars on my heating bill. Sad thing is, that’s what’s around the rest of the house, except the two bathrooms.
By Saturday night, they had the new shower pan built, the Hardy-Backer concrete board around the shower, the new light in the shower, the electrical wiring and boxes moved around, all the inside-wall plumbing done, and the new drywall put up, including the first coat of jointing and taping. Whew! If I were doing this, it would now be Halloween…Thanksgiving?
Today he will come by and do the second coat of joint compound. [Update: joint compound still not dry. He’ll come back later this afternoon.]
Next two weekends will involve floor and wall tiles, grouting, installing and connecting the fixtures, and general tweaking. Then I paint.
I’ll post pics as it progresses.
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