Labor Day? Really?

On this day named for Laborers on which we do not Work, it is worth noting that politicians do not create jobs, no matter what they say.

Back in 2009 when she was still boss, Nancy Pelosi (D – CA) wrote about the final G.R.A.F.T. Act, “This legislation will jumpstart our economy, create and save 3.5 million jobs.” She used the phrase “create jobs” or “create really really outstanding jobs” 41 times.

Uh huh. Politicians do not create jobs.

The site michigan.gov trumpeted that, “Thanks to Governor Granholm’s 21st Century Jobs Fund, this new economy is actually taking shape… The first round of awards has already provided funding to 67 companies and projects, creating thousands of jobs…”

Uh huh. Politicians do not create jobs.

Michigan is closer to the truth. Politicians give away OPM to businesses that create jobs. “OPM” is “Other People’s Money,” something politicians think they have an infinite supply of and that We the [Other] People know is running out.

It is Labor Day and we are not laboring. Politicians will create no jobs today, either, but they will walk in parades and pretend they have.


Caution -- Workers AheadSome Americans are laboring.

Human chains of volunteers, of rescuers, of neighbors, and even the evil ExxonMobil, all came together in Texas this week. Christians and Jews, Buddhists and Muslims, atheists and Hindus, white and black, liberals and separatists, immigrants and indigenous peoples, even Democrats and Republicans all came together. No one cares about the color or creed of their rescuers. The human chain held.

My money is on Texas.


This column first appeared on Monday, September 7, 2009. I have updated it slightly, then Harvey added a twist.

 

Gouged

As of Saturday the national average gasoline price was $2.59 at the pump, up 23 cents in just six days.

A week and a day ago, I paid $2.329 in Swanton, VT, on the last Saturday in August. I paid $2.559 in Swanton, VT, on Thursday and the price had jumped to $2.799 there by Saturday.

2008 Gas SignI tweeted Leaving the land of $3.94 gas! as I drove over the bridge into Vermont from New York State in 2013.
I drove 1,700 miles up the East Coast in 2014. I haven’t heard a peep from any of the usual suspects about the prices and there was no ineffectual Internet gas boycott. The House approved stiff gas-gouging penalties in 2007 but prices are higher than ever.
I drove the east coast in 2015. The cheapest gas I saw was in South Carolina.
Vermont’s gasoline price-fixing lawsuit grinds toward a jury trial this fall.

A lawsuit against Vermont gasoline distributors R.L. Vallee, SB Collins, Champlain Farms, and Champlain Oil Company alleges price-fixing to the tune of more than $100 million in improper profits. R.L. Vallee was founded in 1942 and is based in St. Albans, Vermont. SB Collins was founded in 1942 and is based in St. Albans, Vermont. Looks like the distributors have just added more fuel to the fire. The national average price is up 23 cents at the pump but these guys have more than doubled that.

Gas prices in Swanton, Vermont
are up 47 cents/gallon in a week.

Oh, I know the argument that some Texas refineries are down and a pipeline has slowed deliveries. Horse puckey. Some refineries and infrastructure are always down, usually for maintenance but sometimes like now for other reasons.

I have thought the world of Skip Vallee. He’s a nice fellow and good businessman who has banked a huge reserve of community spirit. That bank of good feelings is overdrawn. Mr. Vallee, Mr. Jolley, et al have an alleged history of overcharging Vermonters, particularly in the northwestern corner of the state and it appears they have a new excuse to do so.

It isn’t a very good excuse.

 

The News Blew Up and Social Media Lied about It

Gee-eeeeez, I go away for a couple of days and the world washes away!

First Mr. Trump pardoned former Arizona Sheriff Joe Arpaio, a move that drew criticism from civil rights groups and Democrats as well as both of Arizona’s Republican senators, then one of the worst flood disasters in modern U.S. history unfolded ever so slowly around Houston. Mr. Trump responded in characteristic fashion: he tweeted. He was tweeting praise for the responders, a move that drew criticism from everyone else.

Relentless rains from former Category 4 Hurricane and now Tropical Storm Harvey are still pounding Texas. Rainband after rainband swept north and then slowly east through the metro area, dropping 25″ of rain so far and that’s only half what is expected. The large-scale steering currents have collapsed with no signs of anything that will sweep the storm away from the area for the next several days. Harvey was still drifting back southeast at just 2 mph this morning; it will pick up energy and new supplies of water from the Gulf, then turn around to do it again.

Of course, everyone from Homeland Security to FEMA was working ahead of the storm but, naturally, social media says all Mr. Trump has done is “tweet a book report.” Naturally, social media lies.

Meanwhile, Orpheum Theater in Memphis will drop Gone With the Wind  from its summer film series next year because 12 insensitive potential customers took offense; they complained that the film is too “insensitive” to be shown in theaters today.

The tyranny of the minority.

 

Camping Daze: the Maiden Voyage

I forgot (meaning never put on a list) a few things like snapping the PITA towing mirrors in place on the truck. That should take a minute or so but never does. I may have to redesign them.

We left on our first trip to a bona fide campground on Thursday.

Packing up and hooking up was actually easier than loading the truck for earlier road trips. We pulled out of North Puffin right around 10, pretty much as planned, and headed on down the road.

We’re missing only a couple of things like a dish towel and hand towels which I thought I had put in the camper.

Anne noticed that something in the camper smells. Turns out that the wool blanket I used as an underpad for the mattress came out of the cedar chest and that slightly sweet smell gave her a headache.

Tale of Two Campgrounds
I reserved a site at Button Bay State Park on Lake Champlain. The Bay’s name comes from the clay concretions found on its shores which looked either like actual clay buttons or the molds used in button making. It’s been a state park since 1964. Sadly, there are no buttons to be found because they keep getting pried out of the ground and taken as souvenirs. I found some divots.

Everyone and everything there was very nice except for the hanging potted plant at the ranger station that clocked me twice when I walked right into the darned thing.

The huge, beautifully kept sites, and the friendly, knowledgeable staff at Button Bay makes it one of the nicest of the Vermont State Park campgrounds.

The ranger said check in was 2 p.m. but we could go right in because the sites were already clean and ready. Cool.

We have a nice, easy in-and-out space not too too far from the bathrooms and with a good view of the lake. The neighbors are longtime campers with grandchildren and a bubble machine but grandpa was glad to look over the rig and approve the way I set it up. We met another woman and her hubby who was in a wheelchair. They wondered if the trailer was accessible so I gave them a tour. The toy hauler ramp was easy for the chair.

No WiFi anywhere and almost no cell signal.

Our campfire was very very fresh cut pine. Hard to burn.

Relaxing by the Fire at Button Bay

The genset performed perfectly.

A (gas-powered) bus rumbled in at 10:30 p.m., backed and filled twice in the road, pulled into a site and shut down. He was set up and camping in five minutes. Hmmm.

The paternal grandparents of the bride turned out to be camped practically next door to us in a bus. Not the one that rumbled in.

The Wedding Park
The “official” purpose of the trip was to attend the wedding of a young lady we have known since she was in the womb. SWMBO officiated so you know that puts an extra whammy on the vows!

They rented Kingsland State Park, about six miles north of where we camped. Kingsland has no camping.

Lila took us to the YMCA camp, not Kingsland, but we still arrived early enough to meet the staff.

Kingsland charged the Check Writer (the bride’s father) $2,500 to rent the lawn, a 1790 building, and a T-shaped, reception and dance hall building. They then charged all the bridal party $4 each to get in on Thursday for the rehearsal and charged the bridal party $4 each to get in Friday to set up the chairs and the arbor and the DJ and so on. The gate guard, from Stalag 13 on weed, was disagreeable about even telling us where the party was meeting.

“Nobody told me anything about it,” she told me.

And she didn’t quite get that our camping pass was a day-use entry to all state parks.

Then, when the party trooped into the dance hall shaped, T-shaped building to check out and plan how to use it, another officious official threw everybody out because she had “just cleaned the building and didn’t want us tracking grass in.”

Sheesh.

The Weddings

Bridal Attendants

They were lovely. The bride and groom had an arbor plus seven attendants each who lined up overlooking the lake. They had written their own vows and incorporated them into SWMBO’s. It was a long ceremony but perfectly framed with lake and laughter. After dinner, they completed the day with an Indian ceremony

Ashlee Fish called them “the best wedding vows I’ve ever heard. Congratulations!!!!!!!”

And in the other good news, Kingsland State Park was beautiful, perfectly groomed, and all the staff couldn’t have been nicer on Wedding Day.

The CW Delivers the Bride

The Return
It was a remarkably easy day but with a couple of little glitches.We were up before 8 so I could run the generator to charge up and to run the coffee pot. Because I prefer to use my own smart charger rather than the converter to charge the batteries, the routine is to start one generator and get it running the camper, then hit the battery disconnect switch. With the batteries free, I can then start the smart charger on AC and hit them for a couple of hours. Did that Friday morning and Saturday morning with no problem. Sunday morning, something else kicked in just as the coffee pot cycled and we went black. The generator overload had kicked us to the curb.

It seems (I’ll have to RTM) that simply removing the load doesn’t reset the genset. I had to disconnect, stop, and restart it to bring it back on line. It restarts hot with no problem.

Finished the morning charge on the converter.

The monitor panel apparently works. The battery lights seem pretty accurate. The black tank registered one light. The gray tank registered two lights.

And I spilled only a little getting the slinky hooked up.

Our next door neighbors had given us their firewood when they pulled out. I gave what we had left to the people with a very friendly standard poodle.

We got packed up, hooked up, dumped, and out in about half an hour. Easy drive back and it was dry enough that I was able to back right up the driveway with no drama.

In the end, everything worked except the TV. It was a superb maiden voyage for us and for the bride and groom.