Friday, July 24, 2015

Unladylike Luck

Members of my family shared a belief that unexpectedly finding money made the discovery date "your lucky day." Thus, I was pleased to spot a penny in the parking lot of my dentist's office when I opened the car door.

Why not, I thought. I was there merely to have a final cap placed over what had been a troublesome
Not all pennies are lucky.
tooth. No problems were expected. I'd paid for the procedure in advance, so not even financial unpleasantness was in sight.

The new dental assistant told me what to expect. "I'll pop off the temporary crown, clean up the old adhesive, fit the final, and take an x-ray so the doctor can be sure all is well. Then he will cement the final crown in and you'll be good to go."

That worked for a couple of minutes. The assistant failed twice with the x-ray. She called in another assistant. Two more attempts failed. An assistant who had worked there for several years was summoned. Zip. Done. "Would you look at this, please?" the original assistant asked.

"Hum," said the veteran. "Where is that image from?"

"It's one we took from the wrong angle before you got here."

I heard a muffled conversation in the hallway, and the dentist appeared. He clicked the computer monitor back and forth several times, studying the screen intently. "Well," he said, "there's good news and not so good news. Your crown work is perfect, but the tooth next to it is in serious trouble. You need a root canal. We'll set it up."

"How much?" I asked.

"Only about $700."

I later figured my net good luck for the day could be valued at around minus $699.99. Old family beliefs aren't always reliable.

Friday, July 17, 2015

How Terrible: Oil May Get Cheaper

The headline in USA Today shouted: "Iran deal boosts fears of global oil glut."

Of course, I had to read the story to see who was afraid and how serious this whole glut business could be. Surprise! The fearful are those who devote their lives to gambling on Wall Street, and apparently their concern relates only to the possibility the mega-oil companies of the world may see their profits, and thus their stock values, fall a bit.

Let it flow, let it flow, let it flow
Michael Cohen, an energy analyst at Barclays, was among the  fearful. According to Barron's, he said, "Iran's efforts to raise oil exports could not have come at a worse time, given the market's lingering oversupply."  He promptly was contradicted by other experts who pointed out that Iran is not in a position to immediately dump a billion gallons of oil on the world market.  It will take six months or more to gear up production, although some reserves have accumulated and could be released sooner.

Hey guys. Do any of you care about the effects on the folks who use oil products? I can't think of anything those of us who are forced to fill the gas tanks of our vehicles to survive in this modern world have to fear from stable or lower  prices.  I can think of several reasons for us to celebrate.

1. Lower oil prices may hurt economies of producers such as Russia, Venezuela, Nigeria, and Saudi Arabia, but they help net oil importers, including the U.S.  Lower oil prices make our companies more competitive. More important, they put extra dollars in the hands of consumers, and consumer spending drives most of our economy.

2. U.S. oil producers have been on a drilling and pumping spree since fracking technology made increased production possible. If world prices drop, some of that activity will stop or decline as it becomes too expensive. Problem? Heck no. Fracking can have very serious environmental effects.  If we need less of it, that is all to the good.

3. Unless our politicians are willing to accept continued deterioration of our roads and bridges, they must raise taxes, and the most convenient way is to increase existing per gallon taxes at the pump. Here in Michigan, even with a decidedly anti-tax legislature, our pols are flirting with a deal that would increase our tax by 34 cents per gallon by 1217.

The federal government so far has shown little interest in a tax increase, but it cannot support that position forever. The highway trust fund is unsustainable.

Of course, tax increases will reduce or eliminate the positive effect of lower oil prices on consumers, but at least they will not cut into our present spending power much, if at all. And we'll have a better and safer transportation infrastructure.

If benefits such as these promote fear, I would like to be terrified.

Saturday, July 11, 2015

Another Blogaversary

Today is the ninth anniversary of the birth of this blog. This small-time journalist created the first post in 2006 after checking out a blog by big-time journalist Mort Reichek titled "Octogenarian."

Mr. Reichek was 81 at the time his work encouraged me to start blogging. He continued posting well-crafted stories until he suffered serious injuries from a fall. He died at 87 about a year after the accident.

So far, I've posted some 500 items. As my own octogenarian years rapidly approach,  I find story ideas flowing as freely as ever, but the energy needed to do the hard work of expressing them clearly
and concisely is beginning to fade. However, although my entries probably will become fewer and fewer, I hope to keep going at least as long as Mr. Reichek did.

My biggest pleasure has been new insights gained from fellow bloggers whose posts I read regularly and who visit here to view my offerings and make comments. Also important to me have been those who choose not to make comments on the blog itself, but express their opinions about my writings personally. As every writer knows, appreciation, and even disagreement, by readers is what keeps us going. It tells us somebody out there cares.

I've come to value many of the people who go to the trouble of commenting on my work as new friends, even though I've not met some of them face-to-face. If you are thinking about starting a blog, think about that. Go ahead--it's worthwhile.

Thursday, July 09, 2015

How About a Civility Bomb?

I've been watching a few newer movies lately and, against my better judgment, reading some comments on web page items. It's disgusting how many F. . . bombs are being tossed at us. None of the F's added a thing to the movie plots. And certainly none enhanced the reputations of commentators who insist on leading off their opinions with them.

One that really disgusts me is the title of a very good site: "I F . . . . . . Love Science." Does that F-bomb serve any useful purpose?  For me, it spoils a visit to a place that has some great information.

Just now, I saw a comment by a more civil individual. She started with: "WTH." For those turned off by even the mild "hell," a totally acceptable "heck" might be imagined here. I like it. Even better, couldn't we stand to touch one more key and  respond to ridiculous stuff with, "Huh?"