MasterPo says: This blog is about topics and issues that are of importance to me. I am not one of the countless blogging lemmings that are tripping over each other scurrying down the hill and off the cliff of blogging oblivion trying to write the greatest blog on the latest topic de'jour. Your comments are welcome.

August 26, 2011

Hurricane Irene: Observations From The Front Line

As of writing this Hurricane Irene is forecast to hit Long Island starting mid-day tomorrow (Saturday) and last through at least Sunday evening. MasterPo doesn’t know ifheI’ll have power or internet when it comes, though it is now forecast to be 'only' a tropical storm. No one knows for sure.

Opinion various but the main two forecasts show the storm either coming straight across Long Island, literally right through my front yard! Or, steering a little to the West of New York City but still blowing hard and dumping lots of rain all around.

Mayor Bloomberg has issued a “request” (not mandatory, yet)for evacuation from the lower lying areas of the city. And the state Parks Department has issued a mandatory evacuation for the Fire Island towns. That’s not uncommon even for a nor’easter storm.

And at this moment Southside Hospital in Bay Shore is being evacuated as well as new warnings and urges to evacuate in Nassau County.

Nothing can be done about the weather.

It’s been a very long time since the last hurricane hit New York City and Long Island. We get nor’easters every year and we did get a mini-hurricane two years ago in the sprint (winds about 80 mph with is a Cat 1) though it wasn’t labeled a hurricane.

But this is why you prepare!

MasterPo feels very good about his preparations heading into the storm. Sure MasterPo could have/should have done more. But nothing MasterPo can do about it now.

But by comparison to others MasterPo is waaaaaaay a head of the curve!

MasterPo went to Costco yesterday at noon to get a few last minute items. It was a zoo. Not unruly but very crowded.

No ‘D’ batteries.
No paper towels.
No TP.
And no generators.

(Side note: To the point of inflation, a cut of meat Costco sells called “flap meat” started as a cheap cut but now is $6.29/pound!! Even London Broil was only $3.99/pound!)

To the latter, MasterPo overheard two guys arguing with a store employee about why don’t they have any generators! The employee said they might get a few tomorrow (today) but can’t guarantee it. The two guys were very angry. Idiots! What the heck did they expect two days before a hurricane? Why didn’t they buy a genie months or even years ago?

That reason is simple: Long Islander haven’t had the need for one for the most part in years.

MasterPo doesn’t blame people either. MasterPo doesn’t have a generator. That’s a debate MasterPo and Mrs. MasterPo have had for many years. It’s true that a good sized genie is expensive. Then there’s the cost and issues of storage of fuel. There is OPSEC to consider. And the practical consideration of having a unit large enough for basic needs (refrigerator, freezer, heat etc) yet not be a monster unit.

That evening MasterPo stopped at a local supermarket on the way home. Milk was almost gone as were eggs, OJ and cheese. About half the produce was gone and what was left was in poor shape. Bread, meat and canned goods were still plentiful though.

Moving on…

Spoke to a friend this morning. She said she tried to go to the supermarket yesterday for supplies. Couldn’t find any bottled water or flashlights. Then she asked what kind of supplies she should get.

No clue!

MasterPo told her canned soup, fruits and veggies, chicken and tuna. She thought that was a great idea. IMasterPoalso told her to fill up on gas and get some extra cash from the bank. She hadn’t even thought about that!

At work today a co-worker said she went to the local Target store yesterday. They were out of bottled water, flash lights and ‘D’ batteries too. Then she went to the local Ace Hardware. The line was out the door. She didn’t even bother trying to go in.

And a manager MasterPo works with has to rush around today to get his car’s tire patched instead of taking care of it weeks ago.

MasterPo just went to the Radio Shack near my office. They were out of all the crank style emergency radios. I did get a small AM/FM. I have a marine radio that gets NOAA so that should be good enough for now. But they still did have ‘D’ batteries.

Well, this is going to be interesting. At a minimum it will be a good test of MasterPo's preparation.

So far MasterPo thinks he is doing very well. MasterPo is short in the areas he knows about anyway and those that for family issues (i.e. Mrs. MasterPo) are a tough sell. But everything else seems to be falling into place well. MasterPo is very proud of his work on this and hope none is necessary.

See you on the other side.

August 5, 2011

It Finally Happened! (and Look Out Below!!)

MasterPo comes out of summer break as promised if something significant happens.

And it has.

Today, Friday August 5, 2011 is yet another date in an ever growing list of historical moments in American history. This even Standard & Poor's has downgraded the United States credit rating down from the world standard "risk free" AAA to AA+. While still not a bad rating per se, it isn't AAA!

First, MasterPo needs to point out that, yet again, something has happened which our esteemed President and his administration promised wouldn't happen if only we did (whatever-they-wanted).

Soon after taking office President Obama promised that if passed his massive stimulus package wasn't passed quote:

"this recession might linger for years. Our economy will lose 5 million more jobs. Unemployment will approach double digits. Our nation will sink deeper into a crisis that, at some point, we may not be able to reverse." (Washington Post, February 5, 2009)

There was also the fiasco with "shovle ready jobs" that later were admitted never existed even at the time everyone from the President down insisted were ready to go.

Then, Fed chairman Ben Bernanke promised under oath in front of a Congressional committee that he would never buy Treasury bonds (i.e. monitize the debt). Today, 70% of Treasury bonds are purchased by the Federal Reserve! Normally 60% are purchased by foreign buyers at least.

Now, over the last month, we were told from the President down that if the debt ceiling wasn't passed and spending increased the U.S. credit rating would be reduced. So the ceiling was raised, money was spent. And the reduction now still happened!

This has very wide spread impacts. Not only the often mentioned cost of the U.S. borrowing money (which totally blows away all budget and debt and deficit projections!) but all other American (and some foreign) fiduciary institutions.

Banks, brokers, insurance companies - all that have AAA ratings because they hold AAA bonds which include mostly Treasuries. Now, how can you have a AAA rated company that holds less than AAA rated investments?!

And, as mentioned before, the AAA U.S. Treasury is (was?) the world standard for a "risk free" rate. Possibly now not any more! Which in turn leads to the further decline in importance of the American dollar on the world stage and as the world reserve currency.

Is this the end of the world? Likely not.

But there does come a point-of-no-return that even if the cliff is still some distance away you just can't turn or stop in time. This might be it.

Normally, MasterPo doesn't include videos in his articles. But this one from November 2010 is very prophetic.

Good luck to all of us.