“Aŭ kresku aŭ mortu” – malfeliĉa ekonomia modelo.

La nuna tutmonda ekonomio estas, efektive, ponzikomploto.   La nunaj investantoj pagas ilin mem el la mono de investontoj.   Ni subtenas niajn vivnormon per la mono kaj rimedoj de la estontuloj.

Ĉiuj ponzikomplotoj devas disfali, ĉar la gajnado superas pagadojn.  Kio okazos tiam?

Ĉu eblas, ke la disfalo jam okazas?  Eblas, ke la Granda Recesio de 2008 estas averto ke ni jam superis la atenditajn gajnojn.  Eblas, ke la aktuala teorio de ekonomio “Aŭ kresku aŭ mortu,” kiun preskaŭ ĉiu ĉiplanedano uzas, jam finfine superis la kapablon por kreski.


The 31st Annual Great Dickens Christmas Faire

Last weekend, Beth and I decided to continue our annual visit to the Great Dickens Christmas Fair and Victorian Holiday Party.  I wrote about this last year, too, and won’t spend a lot of time on it here, only to mention that we had a great time in spite of the gate cost.

What amazes me every year is that in an era of mass commercial production of goods, there exists an entire subculture economy of people who still hand-craft their products.  We had a pleasant conversation with a couple who make clothes and sell them not only at the Dickens Fair but all of the Renaissance Faires and SCA events, too.   You can visit their website at http://www.VelvetBedlam.com.

The cost of these goods is considerably more than what you’ll find at retailers like Target and Wal-Mart.  Quality hand-crafted goods will always be more expensive.  But if you’re the kind of person who would rather buy the cheap plastic crap at those stores, then the Dickens Fair/Renaissance Faire/SCA really isn’t for you anyway.

We spent most of our time taking in the stage shows and other presentations, which were free if you don’t count the gate cost.  We splurged and bought some roasted chestnuts and fudge, but for the most part the food was way over priced, and the argument could not be made that it was hand-crafted.

Homeco. Ĉu estas aplikaĵo por tio? (Humanity. Is there an app for that?)

The following article is in Esperanto.  If you don’t know Esperanto, but would like to know what the article says, you can copy and past it at http://traduku.net/ .  Then click the EO ➔ EN button.  It isn’t a perfect translation, but it will let you sus out the meaning. There are three EO ➔ EN buttons, each using a different engine.  Try all three.

Vivas ni dum interesaj tempoj, en la ĉina senco.  Ĉiutage legas mi, ke la tutmonda ekonomio aĉas.   Kial?  Oni povas kulpigi aŭ liberalismon aŭ konservatismon aŭ tutmondan varmigon aŭ la benzinomilitojn ktp.  Tamen, estas memklare ke ni usonanoj daŭras sendi la monon al Ĉinio, tiam prunteprenas ree ĝin por fari militon kontraŭ homoj, kiuj uzas religion (la politigado de fido) por batali nin.

Kial ni sendas la monon al Ĉinio?  Ĉar ni haltis esti nacio de senripozaj produktantoj kaj iĝis nacion de sobraj konsumantoj. Ni obsedas pri la aĉeto de plastaĵaĉoj ĉe Wal-Mark kaj Target kaj Costco.  La nuntempa esenco de ĉi tiu estas spegulita en la debato temante “aŭ iPhone aŭ Droid?”

Ĉu vi kredas vere, ke tiuj uzaĵoj kaŭzus, ke vi estu pliproduktema?   Kial?  Ĉu vi ne nun estas produktema?  Ĉu via nuntempa poŝtelefono ne bone funkcias?  Kial vi postulas novan?  Eble vi kredas, ke por plibonigi la ekonomion, vi devas havi plian ŝuldon.

Ĉu la iPhone kaǔzus, ke vi estu plibona homo?  Ĉu estas aplikaĵo por tio?

Aliflanke, mi aŭdas per la radio reklamojn por pezperdadaj mirakloj, sekretoj por gajni junecon kaj belecon, planoj por rapide gajni riĉecon, metodoj por facile lerni lingvojn, kaj aliaj neeblaĵoj.  Ili vendas nur promesojn, kiuj forvaporiĝos kiel la rideto de politikisto.  Versajnas, ke homoj intencas preni nian monon kaj doni preskaŭ nenion.

Jes, miopinie, la Droid kaj iPhone tre mojosas. Tamen, faru liston.  Dek Metodoj por iĝi Plibonan Homon.  Vetos mi, ke tiu listo ne enhavos la erojn, “Aĉetu ilon Droid” aŭ “plijuniĝu” aŭ “vendu nenion por gajni multe da mono.”  Eble vi skribos, “Plie kultu kruelan, venĝeman, bagatelan kaj  ĵaluzan dion, kaj frakasu la senkredulojn!”  Tamen, tio estas temo por alia artikolo.

La nuntempa tutmonda ekonomio funkcias per fumo kaj speguloj, kaj tio helpas nur malmutle da homoj.  Kio okazos kiam la fumo iras for?

Poor Economy Good for Archery?

There seems to be an upturn in public interest in target and field archery lately.  I don’t have any specific numbers to give you, only personal observations.

It used to be that I could be assured of getting a lane at the Golden Gate Park archery range in San Francisco on a weekday, or if I show up early enough on a weekend.  Not anymore.  The attendance of newbies at the Sharp Park range in Pacifica at the Community Outreach Sundays has increased.  One could simply attribute this to Summer, but that would not follow the pattern of previous Summers.

On the other hand, attendance at organized events is down.  What gives?  We are getting more newbies but losing the established cadre?

The economy may be a driving factor in both of these phenomena.  People are starting to look for recreational activities that don’t involve a lot of money and can be done locally.

We all know how expensive archery equipment can be.  But when you compare the price of outfitting an archer to, for instance, the price of outfitting a golfer, we archers have to admit we have the better part of that deal.  Also, I don’t know any golfers who build their own equipment, and I don’t ever remember seeing a golf club (or a golf ball) that could be considered a piece of art.

We all know that there are some very nice golf courses in the Bay Area.  What most people don’t realize is that there are half a dozen very beautiful outdoor archery ranges within an hour’s drive of downtown San Francisco.   These golf courses can charge up to $60 and more even on a weekday.  That’s about the price I pay for my yearly membership to San Francisco Archers, which allows me to use the range at my leisure.

So, why is attendance at the organized events down?  I believe it’s because people are starting to pick and choose which events they want to participate in.  When times are good, we go to all of them.  Or nearly.  When the price of gasoline is high and the value of the US dollar drops, we only go to our favorites. I won’t be attending the Western States Traditional Rendezvous until the venue returns to California, or I start making much more money.  Hmm. I wonder which will happen first?

Follow-up to Cheap Plastic Crap

It’s a good thing that I’m not in marketing or sales, as my sense of what people are willing to pay for seems to be entirely out of step with the rest of the country.  An example of this was posted in my blog, Cheap Plastic Crap Costs More than a Camping Stove.  

We stopped in at Big 5 Sporting Goods last weekend, and we noticed that their sunglasses are on sale.  “Aha!” you might say.  “Winter is coming.  People don’t wear sunglasses in Winter.”  You’re forgetting that this is California.  We have four seasons in California: Early Summer, Mid Summer, Late Summer and Next Summer.  The long term forecast is for a long, warm, dry, sunny Winter, much to the disappointment of people who use too much water.  I suspect that the price reduction has more to do with the lack of availability of discretionary income than the weather.

And guess how much the glasses were being sold for?  If you picked up on the obvious hints and said “$40” you’d be right on the money.  No, I didn’t buy any, as I am currently replete on sunglasses, purchased at a cost I considered fair.  However, I was going to rub it in by talking to the sales person who refused to sell me a pair at this price last summer, but he was nowhere to be found.

Black (Bleak?) Friday

In the United States, the term Black Friday is used to describe the day after Thanksgiving, marking the official start of the consumer Christmas shopping season, even though we’ve been seeing Christmas ads and decorations in the shopping centers since Halloween. 

To put it mildly, projections for consumer activity this year have got retailers scared spitless.  The global economic downturn, it would seem, has inspired US consumers to return to a more traditional Christmas where material gifts (especially cheap plastic crap) occupy a far less central role.

This does not sound like a horrible thing to me, but I’m not a retailer.

Seems to me that any business that relies specifically on a traditional shopping period at the end of the year to survive, probably needs to review their business practices.

I don’t wish bad business or a bad holiday season to anybody, but economic change is in the wind, and the survivors will be those who are flexible enough to bend with it.

What a Friend We Have in Cheeses!

We just spent an hour turning a gallon of raw, whole milk into 3/4 lb of mozzarella cheese. How kewl is that?! Would it be trite to say that it’s the best mozzarella I’ve ever tasted? Well, it isn’t. Next time, less salt.

We also made a mess out of the kitchen, and our hands smell like spoiled milk. But we had a great time, and ended up with that old familiar good feeling, “Hey! I can do this!”

We started off like any 21st Century American – we did internet research. We stumbled upon http://www.cheesemaking.com where we were able to order all the neophyte cheese making stuff.

We bought the milk from a local dairy. We are great fans of keeping things as local as possible. Fortunately, California is one of those states where we can buy raw milk. Let’s hear it for happy cows! We also have plans to experiment with goat’s milk.

Now we know just enough about making cheese to ask the musical question, “How did primitive peoples ever figure this out? And how did they do it without thermometers and microwaves and stainless steel?” So, the next item on our cheese-making to-do list: take a tour of some old country cheese mill.

One of my ulterior motives behind this cheesy affair is to have something to trade with the neighbors. The guy across the road from us likes to go crabbing, and he often brings us part of his catch. Even though he doesn’t expect anything in return, I can now offer him cheese in return. We’ll get a barter micro-economy going on our block. Who needs a global economy?