Archive for November 2nd, 2008

02
Nov
08

Money Is The Lubricant

The government of Libya was responsible for a 1988 bombing of a Pan Am flight over Lockerbie, Scotland, that killed 270 people, and for a Berlin disco bombing that killed two Americans and hurt 50 others. That started decades of retaliation and snubbing of the African/Muslim country. The United States said Friday it has received 1.5 billion dollars from Libya, the entire sum required under a major deal to compensate the families of victims of terrorist attacks. On August 14, Libya and the United States signed the compensation deal in Tripoli for victims of Libyan attacks and Libyan victims of US reprisals, paving the way for full normalization of ties between the two countries. Under the deal, a US-Libyan fund of 1.8 billion dollars was set up with “voluntary” contributions from firms and other sources — with some 1.5 billion dollars for Americans and 300 million dollars for Libyan victims of US attacks.

Libya has been inching its way back on to the world stage and is diligently trying to paint itself as a “team player”. The United States announced a full normalization of ties, dropping Libya from a State Department list of state sponsors of terrorism and raising diplomatic relations to the level of ambassadors, as well as halting all pending US court action.

That works out to a little more than $5.5 million per death. In slightly different terms, it works out to around $500 per day, per person, since the events took place. Is that the current price of life, of being recognized as a civilized nation? What’s the current tab for 9/11 and who should pick up the check? By my back of the hand calculation, it’s nearly $4 billion. Let us say that we hold all of OPEC responsible for the attack (dem Arabs don’t like us much, anyway, right?). We (the US) import about 6 million barrels of oil a day from OPEC. At a current price of about $68 per barrel, that works out to a little more than $400 million a day. Think we could get a 10 day payment credit to cover the lives of those killed?

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02
Nov
08

Calming Tasks

Yesterday sucked. Biggie. Money that had been designated for specific purchases had to be re-assigned. A few months back I enjoyed the dubious honor of encountering roots and white mice in the sewer line. The speedy plumber that I had hired at a reasonable price was nowhere to be found when we began to encounter the same back up. This time, I raced outside and got the cap off of the clean out plug before my floors got nailed again. New company came out and determined that the previous company had only rootered the first few feet of sewer line. It is now rootered all the way to the main (for $300), but needs to be replaced (think in the several $1,000 range). Wife picked up a nail the size of a railroad spike in one of my tires. She waits three hours to have the repair folks not be able to figure out how to remove the spare. They wind up plugging the damaged tire (which is what I wanted them to do in the first place) and giving me an estimate for 4 new tires. I know it’s time for new tires on the Trailblazer. But I also need to have the ball joints replaced on it. So there’s a $1,000+ bill coming up. The other “paid for” car needs two new tires because, well, a teenager is driving it. It needs them now. There’s $300. We still need a new oven/range combo ($800) and a new dishwasher ($700). My old merchant account service for my business is still taking money from my account for a service that they no longer provide. My oldest daughter spent $350 on hair and make up, $400 on a dress and $100 on a mum to go to homecoming dance last night with her last minute substitution swim team friend (both of them had been through traumatic, dramatic breakups with their original respective dates). At least in the case of my daughter, the date’s name was actually the same so some of the mum material could be recycled.

Rather than scream or pound my fists through sheetrock walls, I sat in a lawn chair in my front yard. I had recently taken delivery of many thousands of M27 ammunition links. And I had many thousands of rounds of ammo that was loose packed in ammo cans. I donned some latex gloves and proceeded to link up a metric buttload of prepared ammo. The neighbors became suitably curious as to what I was doing. Most of them got a little wide eyed when they saw the ammo belts. I may have exacerbated the situation when I would give random responses such as “to prepare for peace, you must prepare for war”, “there’s an election on Tuesday and I need to get ready”, “Jehova’s witnesses…”, etc.

There’s an old beater VW microbus at the shooting range that I belong to that folks have been taking shots at for a long time. I’m gonna tape a dollar bill to it and see how the thing fares against steel core penetrator ammunition…

02
Nov
08

F@!$#ing Call Centers

I understand the concept of “business hours”. In many cases, it’s prudent and productive to schdule business closings that coincide with demand lulls so that employees can take some time off to recharge their batteries. Customers do learn and appreciate that folks will not be there at regularly scheduled times. That’s one thing. Something completely different occurs when you provide 24/7 service. Here’s a handy little tip: If you are running something like a mobile telephone company, an electric service provider, water utility, etc., your service department should be open 24/7. Really. Anything less is simply not acceptable.

And by the way… sending me to your website to fill out a form that doesn’t work because the HTML code is broken (on IE and Firefox) doesn’t make me happy on a Sunday morning.