Hooray, we got some rain today! First in nearly a month. I hope it’s not this dry five years from now…
Thursday, August 23, 2012
I’ve noticed that the power seems to be getting a little more reliable… that is, it’s more likely to be up when it’s scheduled to be up. Maybe people have finally gotten smart and turned off their air conditioners. Most of us, those without serious health problems anyway, are getting used to the heat. I thought it would hit Mrs. Fetched harder than it has — but then again, she was born here and they didn’t have luxuries like air conditioning when she was younger. Au contraire, if anything it’s done her some good. She spends a lot of time outside anyway; if she’s not dealing with the chickens she’s working on our garden through the day. She’s sweated off a lot of weight and seems to have more energy. The weight loss is really helping her knee, and she’s actually doing a little bicycling. Yup, you can change your ways in your 50s…
Or the reason that power is getting more reliable could be that the big desert cities are emptying out — Phoenix, Tucson, Vegas, Reno, etc. Not to mention most of Florida. I can’t imagine what it would be like trying to live in those places without air conditioning during the summer. I saw an article last month where a lot of people in Flagstaff were facing foreclosure, then all the Scottsdale people came up and started buying up property at a premium price. Suddenly, those fortunate souls had their mortgages (and the rest of their bills) paid off, with enough left over to start over elsewhere. That last part was kind of important, because they had to go find somewhere else to live… preferably where they could find work. So there’s been a lot of migration lately.
Naturally, most of the migration this summer has been north. The Great Lakes region has lots of water, while so many places out west are drying up, so things have really been booming up that way. My dad gets calls from real estate agents at least two or three times a week, wanting to know if he wants to sell his lake house. He responses have gotten… shall we say, somewhat sharper as time goes on. There used to be a hydro plant on the river where I grew up; I think they’re talking about re-commissioning it to feed the new businesses coming in. Talk about a godsend… with the auto industry all but dead (idiots couldn’t let go of their freeking high-margin SUVs), new business are coming in, and old businesses are staying plenty busy. The unemployment rate isn’t great, but (for a change) no worse than the national average.
The resorts up north are really cleaning up. One of the Atlanta companies rented a dozen cabins in northern Wisconsin for the entire summer, and moved their executive team en masse to cooler climes. Of course, the employees doing the real work are sweltering in near-sweatshop conditions while the bosses drink beer around a campfire and do what they call “strategic planning.” Translated into English, that probably means “figuring out how to skim a few million more off the top and make the grunts pay for it.” Of course, the only reason we heard about it at all was because some employees were being investigated for swiping not-so-surplus equipment; when the reporters started snooping around, they got an earful. Heck, I don’t blame the employees in that case.
The question came up at the last town hall meeting at work, about rumors that the company was going to move into facilities north of Boston that we used to use, and never were able to get rid of. The answer sounded pretty reasonable: the power situation there wasn’t any better than it was here, but expenses there were higher, so it wouldn’t do any good to move. Another question got a double-take: “Given the fuel situation, do you see any problem getting shipments out of our factory in China? And is the factory having power problems?” I’ve never seen the execs go into a huddle like that in a town hall — ever. They finally admitted that both were likely, but they couldn’t talk further about it (which probably means they haven’t given it much thought). Our sales are good… with so many people telecommuting these days, they almost have to be. But if we can’t get the gadgets built — or shipped to where they need to go — we’re going to have A Problem.
But I digress. Down south, tourism is not doing nearly as well. The Gulf Coast usually gets plenty of traffic, but nobody wants to make reservations now that we’re getting into the ugly half of hurricane season. People are waiting until the last minute, then calling around to find a vacancy for the next week. They usually don’t have too much trouble, and can usually get “special rates” anyway. If you’re employed (so you have money for a vacation), and aren’t tied to a specific place, you can get a lot of vacation for your money along the Gulf this year. The running joke is that it costs more to drive to the Redneck Riviera than it does to stay there for a week. Mom says if I can get down to Florida this winter, we could probably stay in one of the condos for the cost of the utilities. If they don’t get clobbered by a hurricane first. I’m thinking we might have to pass, depending on fuel availability. If I could get 20 gallons all at once, I could put two 5-gallon cans in the trunk and get there without having to worry about a fuel stop — if the fumes didn’t get to us. And we didn’t get waylaid. I’ve heard that Amtrak is planning an Atlanta-Gainesville (FL) schedule, with legs from there to Tampa-Fort Myers and Orlando-Miami. That would probably be the way to go, if they actually do it.
The first of the permanent three-day weekends starts tomorrow. Remember to stay in bed Monday morning — no sense in wasting gas!