Monday, September 05, 2011

Still around

Just trying to make some decisions in my personal life. Do I buy a house? Do I buy a new Jeep? Do I invest $3K in my current Jeep for new tires and axle innards? Only thing I do know is that I'm not going anywhere job-wise, I got to do some Java last week for the first time in ages, as well as some Microsoft Powershell (which is, amazingly, quite good at scripting the innards of Windows Vista/2008+, with one small slight problem -- you can't *run* the damned scripts without typing in a Powershell command by hand into a Powershell window first to enable running Powershell scripts!). You tell me what kind of big company would let me dabble in things that I've never done before like that, you get into a rut at big companies and that's where you stay for the rest of your career.

So anyhow, the jobs report came out Friday. It'll be adjusted, but basically it said the economy is making no jobs and real unemployment is going up. Oh, it hides the fact that real unemployment is going up by disappearing population growth into the "not in labor force" category, but disappearing those people down the "labor force participation" memory hole don't make them any less unemployed. The most interesting fact from that report is that government employment is going down, which is one reason why your potholes keep getting bigger and bigger. Locally road crews doing road patching have declined by 66% due to lack of money for keeping road repair crews on the payroll. The San Jose Fire Department and San Jose Police Department payrolls have been slashed by several hundred cops and firefighters, meaning that if your house catches on fire or you need to call the cops you might be better off just praying for rain or thunderbolts from the sky instead. This despite the fact that the Federal Reserve has the printing press and the Federal government has the ability to print as much money as necessary to hire all these unemployed people. Nixon instituted revenue sharing with local governments during the 1973 recession to prevent loss of jobs at the state and local level, but Nixon was smarter and more liberal than Obama, apparently...

-- Badtux the WASF Penguin


  1. This comment has been removed by the author.

  2. Had to edit my post.

    You tell me what kind of big company would let me dabble in things that I've never done before like that, you get into a rut at big companies and that's where you stay for the rest of your career.

    Ahhh - no. While it is certainly possible to find a rut and hide there if you're so inclined, there is no reason to be so limited. My field was glass from 1968 on. In 1989, I suddenly fond myself in charge of elastomers - very non-glassy stuff, indeed. Late in my career, I added lubricants to my mini-empire. I also had many opportunities to get involved in cross-functional activities (which were mainly bull-shit, but still a different play ground, with a chance to be exposed to new ideas and network with people I would otherwise never have met.)

    I wouldn't give serious consideration to buying a house any time soon.

    Govt spending is way down, at all levels, including Federal.

    So, yeah --WASF

    5/9/11 5:10 PM

  3. I'm with Jazz - you can look, but don't buy a house at this time. I keep an eye on the North San Diego market through Jim The Realtor (, and a few other sites. The housing market is going to suck for a while - lack of jobs, the banksters with the mortgage mess, and the economy in general.

    Fix the Jeep, or buy a new one. Spoil the kitties with a new cat condo. Go out an buy yourself a good dinner. All better options than getting a house right now.

  4. What does a new Jeep cost vs. $3,000 thrown into an old one that will need another $3,000 in improvements next year? There comes a point of diminishing returns pretty quickly with vehicles, unless they are rare ones like my old split-window Vette or even my Fiero GT (one of the models that DIDN'T catch fire, and was stunningly swoopy-looking.) I wound up dumping tens of thousands into them (had to give the Pontiac away for $0 to a Fiero club down your way before we left the U.S. because it was un-smoggable due to the headers.) But a Jeep is so generic. I'd say "go for new" on that one.

    Marc is right about the cat condo. We drug ours from S.F. to Oz to here, and the katz still use it daily. Better investment than a human house.

  5. I'm probably one of those "disappeared" unemployed. Been over three years since I've been able to find full-time work. I've been surviving -- barely -- on ten hours a week at the local Red Cross chapter and the charity of family. Still send out 15-20 apps a week, but now that I've hit the magic age of 55, I'm even more unemployable now. And don't say age discrimination is illegal, and that employers don't ask your DOB. They don't, they ask when you graduated high school. Add 18 to how long it's been and there you are.

    Yeah, those Republican tax breaks sure are creating a lot of jobs, aren't they?

  6. Bukko, Jeep Wranglers are not all alike, and mine is a fairly rare vintage (the "LJ" or Unlimited) of which only 38,000 were made. It's currently worth about $15,000. I paid $25,000 for it five years ago. That tells you something -- that it's basically one of a kind and irreplaceable as such (the new Wranglers are either shorter or longer than mine). Note that all the parts other than the frame and the rear quarter panel sheetmetal are interchangeable with regular Jeep Wranglers (something Jeep did to keep costs down for them when building it -- even the rear crossmember is the same, they just welded an additional one behind the original one when they extended the rear frame so that the original gas tank could bolt to the original one and the bumper could bolt to the extended one).

    As far as maintenance costs, thus far they've been minimal -- just fluids, filters, and a heater resister. The change to the differentials would be to put bigger tires on -- need lower gearing to put bigger tires, going from 3.73 to 4.56 rear end with 33" tires would put me about what a standard Rubicon shipped with (31" tires with 4.11 rear end). And then there's the cost of the tires themselves, which aren't cheap.

    The new Jeep Wranglers with the Rubicon option (what I would want) list for $35,000 and come with a new 285 horsepower engine (mine has 185 horsepower). But they don't have one the same length as mine -- they're either shorter, or wayyyyy longer. I've see the longer one make it places I didn't think were possible for a vehicle of such size and heft, such as up Isham Canyon, but it takes some mighty spirited driving with a complete and utter disdain for body damage to do so. I can't imagine doing that with a $35K daily driver. The shorter one is still longer than the older Wranglers (though shorter than mine), but I already have a perfectly serviceable Jeep -- just a slow one.

    In short, the numbers say I should hold on to the Tuxjeep for another five years minimum, at which point it's as old as the average vehicle on the road -- 10 years old. At that point Jeep will be coming out with a new model Wrangler (they guarantee the aftermarket vendors that they will produce each basic model Wrangler for at least 10 years), and I'll be able to pick up the outgoing model cheap like I did with the Tuxjeep ;).

    Jazzbumpa: It took you 21 years to move out of glass into polymers? That's supposed to reassure me? I haven't even been working at my current job for a year and already made several such shifts due to the needs of a small business with a limited engineering staff, which requires you to be flexible enough to do whatever needs doing at any given time, regardless of whether it's what you were hired to do :).

    - Badtux the Flexible Car Geek Penguin

  7. 618, in my field they don't bother asking even that question, you got wrinkles? You got grey hairs? Don't call us, we'll call you.

    On the other hand, there's a fair number of contracting jobs open for older grey-hairs who have skills that are in demand. Seems that folks don't mind *contracting* the grey-hairs, they just don't want to *employ* the grey-hairs. Drives up health insurance and benefits costs, I guess, plus the grey-hairs won't work 60 hour weeks unless you pay them overtime so might as well put them on per-hour contract instead.

    I don't know what your field is, or how in-demand your specialty is, but contracting firms are definitely in my own future (contracting firms are a subterfuge to get around the fact that the IRS basically outlaws contracting in engineering fields). Which BTW is one reason why I'm glad that even the weak tea of O'Romneycare passed, because it means that I'll have access to individual insurance at a reasonable cost regardless of pre-existing conditions once it goes into effect three years from now.

    -- Badtux the Jobs Penguin


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