Saturday, June 25, 2016

Well Said

Hello from Seattle

Thursday, June 23, 2016

Northwoods Notes 2016

In rating the past 30+ years of fishing in Ontario I give the 2016 trip a 4 for fishing and a 2 for weather on a scale of 1-5. We experienced a daily east wind of 10-15+mph and it rained every other day. This limited our time on the water and comfortable locations to fish.

To keep this short I will forgo publishing photos of the usual beautiful scenery, wildlife and side attractions/points of interest. Except this one.

Yep, that's The Big Dick bait shop in Kelliher Minnesota and I could not resist sharing it. I am sure the small town council and local pastor were pleased when that Big Dick sign was first erected.

Steady east winds each day (10-15+ mph) and rain every other day limited our time on the water and spots we could fish comfortably but we managed to pillage the Canadian natural resources just fine. Many large fish were taken and most were released. We ate lotsa deep fried fish (burp).

Caught a large northern pike 38" and 14 lbs, a rare size for the latitude. Ontario rules allow no pike over 29" to be kept so it was released.

The bro managed to land this Walleye that went 7.5 lbs. These are quite rare as well. Ontario rules state that only one walleye over 19.5" be in possession per license. He kept this as one his oversize walleye and gave me one of the filets. In a side by side comparison I intend to debunk the myth that smaller walleye taste better.

Past Ontario big fish tales can be found here.

There is one more story coming about our 2016 Ontario trip. Too long for one post.

Sunday, June 05, 2016

Shortage Over…For Now

For the past four years .22LR ammunition has been in huge demand and became very hard to find at retail. Conspiracies ranged from the government buying it all to a corrupt supply chain. "Where is it, what happened to it all, what gives"? customers asked.
Two years ago customers looking for the little .22 cartridge reminded me of drug users. How embarrassing it seemed to me for an individual to drop by the store every other day whining and pining for their .22 as well as listening to them relating to me their own Obama government conspiracy theories.

Quite honestly I was damned sick listening and opining with my own facts. Soon I gave up discussing it and instead suffered through the customer whining and complaining.

Well the humble .22LR cartridge is back. Surprisingly it now sits on most retail shelves and I will tell you why. First some background.

Here's what I saw.

Saturday, June 04, 2016

Wednesday, June 01, 2016

Dinner on the deck

Recently we had a great dinner on a nice evening on the deck.

And the dessert course...

Monday, May 30, 2016

Portland Gin and Tonic

I was recently out for Happy Hour at a bar called Barlow which is an artisinal bar and I ordered a gin and tonic and this was their happy hour special - quite interesting compared to the boring tonic + gin + lime combo I've received the last 100,000 times I've gotten that drink. When I sent a picture to Dan he provided the classic reply "That's B*llshit".

Saturday, May 28, 2016

Keeping Portland Weird

Portland definitely has a lot of characters. One of the more annoying ones to me, at least, is this "musician" who plays an amplified didgeridoo near my apartment, accompanied by a drummer and he sings a bit. The low buzz of the didgeridoo conducts through the neighborhood as an annoyance and he goes for hours and hours, powered by tips and the occasional toke (in this photo he was passing the smoke to his drummer). I have to admit I first found him to be funny out on the Portland Saturday Market but that was only a few minutes before I moved on and it isn't the same as having him parked outside busking for an entire set.

Star Wars Pug Parade in Portland

A couple of weeks ago we went up to the Northwest part of the city in a semi-industrial area where a local brew pub was sponsoring a Star Wars themed pug parade. Like a lot of days in Portland, it rained some and then the sun came out and a good time was had by all.

This guy was my favorite - he was shy and in an AT-AT costume. I don't know who won but IMHO this was the best.

Sunday, May 15, 2016

Drinking in Portland

People often ask me "What do I miss about Chicago" and other than my friends and family the answer is easy - "Binny's" - the giant liquor store that used to be across the street from my condominium. I could walk in there any time and select from an immense collection of beer, wine and liquor in every size and type at reasonable prices. It was like the "toy store" for me.

Oregon sadly has strange and outdated laws about liquor. You can buy beer and wine pretty much everywhere but hard liquor can only be bought at a state-run liquor store. It is extremely ironic that a state where pot is legal views hard liquor as something to be controlled in that manner but it is the current law, although there are campaigns to change it underway right now.

Thus when you walk over to the liquor store it is good to pick up a few bottles so that you don't run out. While other commenters talk about how expensive hard liquor is in Oregon, it didn't seem so bad to me, but perhaps that's because I am used to paying high sales and use taxes on liquor (which don't exist here) and I am buying more premium spirits, not Popov vodka in a plastic jug with the handle.

They have a distillery tour that I need to go on one of these days because they brew spirits locally and sell through the stores. That is high on my list of local tours. Below is a local gin that I like a lot.

There also is a huge brewery culture here in Portland and in Oregon in general. I am trying (mostly) to drink less beer but I like some of the locally brewed pilsners and I really like the Kolsch beers. Here is one with high "beer synergy" since the glass matches the beer. This is definitely something for tourists to visit, as well.

Oregon also has great wines. I am going to start buying wine directly from the wineries and go on a tour for that. Once I figure out how to ship it and learn a bit more this will be a great gift to ship to friends in the Midwest, as well.

Saturday, May 14, 2016

Carl in Portland

Recently I became "Carl from Portland" with a move from living in downtown Chicago to the West Coast. It has taken me a while to get settled but I wanted to say hello to our tens of readers at LITGM.

Originally I started taking pictures of all the weird people I saw in Portland - guys wearing kilts or fishnets, girls dressed up like bumblebees with ukuleles, and all manner of tattoos, nose rings and piercings. But then I realized - hey - that's like taking a picture of a drunk, fat guy at a Bears game. Unless you can go beyond the obvious, don't do it at all. Or maybe that is grist for a future post.

First the highlights - Portland has an incredible location. Not only does the city offer everything you'd expect in a big city (restaurants, concerts, cool stores, ability to walk around, nightlife) - they have little to no crime (when compared to ChiRaq) - but you can go about an hour and a half and be on the Pacific Ocean, or about an hour and a half the other way and be hiking in real mountains. Here is a photo I took at Cannon Beach when I went there early in April for an unseasonably warm and beautiful day (I'm told). Below is a photo of Mount Hood from a recent hike we took last weekend.

Thursday, May 12, 2016

Foaming At The Mouth

For decades Anheuser-Busch poured out marketing genus. Lately maybe not so much.

When Miller introduced Lite beer in the late 70's for a few short years Miller sold more beer than A-B. It was short lived. That sales spike was marketing genius on behalf of Miller to introduce their new product in humorous television ads featuring retired pro sports celebrities.

It was unconventional at the time to ask a male beer drinker to consider swilling a watered-down version of Miller High Life. But those Tastes Great Less Filling ads just worked. For male beer drinkers this translated into "You mean I can now drink more beer than ever before"?

For those too young to remember…

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

The Indiana Spring

It happens every two years. Here in Hoosierville we never know what will emerge from the ground once the soil temperature and longer daylight combine to favor germination. Hard to tell which comes first, dandelions, political lawn signs or crabgrass.

Lawns occupying a corner lot on a busy intersection or roadway will often sprout a dozen or so political signs usually belonging to the same party. This one in a low traffic area obviously has a theme.

These days it doesn't take an election for certain union members to display a lawn sign proclaiming "Proud Union Home". Some signs appear on lawns all year long as this nearby property in the above photo.

There are others like it. It's as if us non-union homeowners should be ashamed that we managed to succeed on our own without assistance from a historically sketchy organization.

Rarely has Indiana been regarded by the national media as influential in a national outcome. 2016 appears to be to be different.

Friday, April 22, 2016

Oh No, Not Another Earth Day...

We can save the planet. If we want to. I guess.

Sunday, April 17, 2016

The Federal Takeover of State Debt is About to Begin...

Often people focus on the "loud" items and miss the subtle, important events that really change the world.  On the positive side, the 401(k) plan has that obscure name because a financial expert basically "invented" it out of a line in the tax code which enabled tax-deferred savings.  And Jack Bogle of Vanguard did the same thing with "passive" investing, which reduced fees and for practical terms has taken over the investing world (along with ETF's).

One very subtle item that is about to occur is the nationalization of state debt (and likely debts of individual cities) by the Federal government.  At the highest level, states and cities have made promises (mainly pensions) to their employees that are un-payable without raising taxes to extortionate rates.  Detroit cracked first but since it was a city and there was some state framework they were able to use bankruptcy, but many more are to follow, including Puerto Rico (right now) and soon thereafter likely the city of Chicago or its' teachers' pensions as well as the state of Illinois.

A very similar event occurred in Europe when the ECB basically put the debts of Greece and Portugal onto the backs of taxpayers in Germany and Holland.  The ECB had a moment (several moments, actually) when they could have fundamentally changed how Greece ran their economy, shutting down statist laws and heavy governmental interference in the economy to open up competition and growth, but they blinked and instead just "wired them money in exchange for promises".  The Greeks, of course, haven't kept their promises, and why should they, given that the ECB continually blinks when the showdown occurs.

The reason that these states and territories like Puerto Rico are in dire straits is because they

1. spend more money than they make every year
2. rely on borrowing to pay for operating expenses
3. have giant, unfunded liabilities on top of this that can never be repaid (pensions, medical bills, etc...)

This situation is enabled by a governing class that views funds as an opportunity to redistribute wealth to favored constituents and relies on "fairness" as a bedrock of their planning.  The apex of this sort of planning can be seen in crony capitalist states like Brazil, where large enterprises like the National Oil Company (partially on the stock market, partially owned by the state) are used to fund politicians and social programs and are systematically diverted away from their core mission (to make money) until the enterprises are bled almost totally dry and then, ironically, the state has to bail out the very companies that were supposed to provide for the socialistic wealth in the first place.

The CORE issue is - if you give these sorts of entities money (bailout) without a "root and branch" cleaning of the issues - you will just get more of the same, indefinitely, as their individually painful debts become part of the larger national (or pan-European debt) which continues the little game of overspending and wasting money on favored political groups for a little longer (maybe a couple years, maybe longer).

The slippery slope - the trigger - is occurring right now in Puerto Rico.  That entire economy is corrupt and ridden with subsidies from electricity to taxes to everything else.  For Puerto Rico to thrive, it would need to break down barriers to private enterprise, reduce taxes, levies and bureaucracy, and find some way to bring logical industry into their jurisdiction.  However, the more likely course is as follows:

1. point out the current individuals suffering from a lack of funding (the poor, kids in school, the elderly)
2. note that the debt which was once owned by individuals was bought up by hedge funds for a fraction of their original value - these funds are in a position to fight (legally and politically) for repayment and although they may be termed "vultures" or something else, they really are the last man standing for the individuals without the means to fight legally for their rights
3. use the political system to "promise" reforms that will never be carried out (because why would you if you can use funds to enable the current system to thrive)
4. talk about the retirees and "promises" made to them over the years that cannot be paid and how they can't go back to the work force and earn more money so that they have to be made whole
5. use political or class warfare to point out the groups that run Washington don't look like the groups that are broke and make it a fairness issue or tied to some century plus grievance

It is very likely that these tactics will "work" and that the debts of Puerto Rico will be backstopped by the US government.  While this technically isn't a "bailout", it absolutely is, because Puerto Rico can't borrow one dollar on their own anymore (who would loan money from someone who says they won't pay you back) and we know that without major reform (which won't happen), Puerto Rico will just continue to bleed money indefinitely (and fall back on fairness and the above tactics to ensure that this keeps happening).

Then soon after this subtle bailout (and likely before Puerto Rico fails AGAIN, which will happen again as it will with Detroit), entities of Illinois or the state itself will drive straight through this loophole and Federalize their debt, too.  The state and entities will make lavish promises about change that will be never occur because this is the lifeblood of the Democratic party (patronage workers and the public sector) and all of the clout / featherbedding / etc... will continue on indefinitely, without any of the sorts of laws that enable competition.

Watch the headlines... see this occur... it will be seismic in its long term nature, because it will fundamentally change the nature of the US government, since the debts of the states and cities will become everyones' debt and we don't have any "real" tools to govern their behavior or fix the long term promises that destroy competitiveness and economic growth.

This is the real story, it is happening under our noses, and instead we are following these idiotic presidential campaigns of pure vapor.

Cross posted at Chicago Boyz