Sunday, September 28, 2008

Babitz For Mayor

In an era where governmental fiscal responsibility is pretty much an oxymoron, there are some refreshing exceptions. Those exceptions exist largely because state and local laws require balanced budgets. But, as California's annual budgetary contortions demonstrate, there are plenty of ways to hide a deficit. "Kick the can down the road" politics at its best. Or worst.

Realistically, there's not a lot I can do to change global, federal or state fiscal irresponsibility, but I can act locally. And this year's City of Hood River mayoral race provides just such an opportunity.

City Councilman Arthur Babitz has thrown his hat into the mayor's race. After reading the position statements on his blog, he's got my vote. It's refreshing to have a candidate who has a specific, well thought out, and responsible fiscal plan, rather than the usual vague platitudes.

The Hood River Weather site's weekly poll asks how you will vote in this mayoral race. And if you aren't registered to vote in the real world yet, you have until Oct 14th in Oregon.

Now it's outside in the real world to enjoy this fantastic early Fall heat wave!

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Indian Summer (Debatably)

The expression Indian Summer might not be all that politically correct anymore, but it sure is a great time of the year. Native Americans can be proud. Besides, what's not to like about a period of warm days and cool nights after the first frost, accelerating the changing colors of the deciduous trees and shrubs?

The debatable part refers to the fact that in Hood River City proper, this beautiful warm spell isn't technically an Indian Summer yet. At our weather station, we hit a low of 35 on Sept 23, and the official MCAREC station dipped to 33. But, temperatures at slightly higher elevations went below 32, and most likely put an end to the tomato, pepper, squash, and cucumber season at those locations. Close enough to an Indian Summer for me.

The average first frost date in Hood River is Oct 20. Last year, it held off until Oct 26. The year before, Oct 10th.

Speaking of debatable, how about that Presidential debate? Since neither candidate screwed up too badly, I suspect each side is convinced that its candidate clearly "won". What is clear is that there is a distinct difference in personality and viewpoints, and how future challenges will be perceived and acted upon.

What is not so clear to me is whether who wins the election will make much of a difference. Fiscal irresponsibility and bad decisions, past and present, have set our country on an economic course that is probably not reversible in time to avoid some historically huge icebergs ahead. And whoever is President over the next 4 years will have their hands tied as to their options.

Like most people, I vote for the candidate whose stand on the issues and approach to problem solving is most aligned with mine. I'm pretty independent; political party affiliation is way down on my list of things to consider, especially since I don't hardly even recognize Republican or Democratic actions anymore. Years ago the Republicans were the more fiscally responsible party (pre-Reagan), but that notion is long gone. Now it's borrow and spend. Or, if you prefer tax and spend, the Democrats will be happy to oblige. But how about "live within one's means"? How quaint of a notion is that?

At this point, I'll probably be voting for Obama. He lives more in the current and future world than McCain. He's younger, more flexible, more open to new data and approaches, not driven by religious dogma, and hopefully not so prone to solving future problems with yesterday's worn out solutions.
Besides, it's time to let someone from a different party other than Republicans fail miserably over the next 4 years.

Good luck to whoever wins this election. They will definitely need it.

Monday, September 22, 2008


Ahh, Autumn. The autumnal equinox, equal days and nights. The start of Fall here, the start of Spring down under. The sun moves directly over the equator at noon today on its annual path through the seasons from the Northern to the Southern hemisphere.

Of course, it's not the sun doing the actual moving through the seasons; it's Earth sailing smoothly along its elliptical orbit around the sun, tilted just enough to present different hemispheres to the sun at different times of the year.

Speaking of things that are not sailing smoothly along, I am so relieved that the federal government has stepped in to save the faltering world economy with untold trillions of dollars that we don't really have and never will. I was very concerned that Wall Street brokerages, SEC regulators, banks, mortgage companies, and mortgage holders might actually be held responsible for mistakes made. Whew. That was close. Saved by the printing press.

For now. In the long run (maybe not so long of a run), by bankrupting our country, we can kiss our currency goodbye. Thought you had enough money set aside for a secure retirement? Think again. And, if you can, keep working.

Now that I've set a dismal tone for the beginning of Fall, here's an old Edgar Winter song that, although beautifully written and sung, never fails to put me in a vaguely depressed and melancholy state of mind:

Actually, I do love the autumn months. It's a visually stunning time of the year, and the weather is varied and interesting.

And I'm not really depressed. I'm just a little pissed off at the amount of irresponsibility and incompetence that has created this financial mess. And the laissez-faire "everything goes if it benefits businesses" approach of the government didn't help things.

I'll get over it. This too shall pass...

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Never Mind

I guess I spoke too soon in the previous post. With the Feds apparently about to step in and cushion the collapse of giant AIG insurance company with taxpayer dollars, all is now good with the stock market. There will probably be a big jump in stocks tomorrow.

So here's the current investing plan: When the Feds appear to be stepping in and helping support otherwise bankrupt companies, the stock market will soar. When the Feds appear to be holding back from such taxpayer support, the stock market will plummet.

This would be really exciting, if it weren't so damn depressing and potentially catastrophic.

There seems to be a fire somewhere up valley from here (here being May and Rand Street); the evening sun is turning orange from the smoke. Haven't seen anything on the news about it yet; hopefully no homes are in danger.

9/17 update: It's apprently the Gnarl Ridge fire on the east flank of Mt Hood, which was started by lightening in early August and has re-emerged.

Harvested some pumpkins this past weekend (mellowed by the currently orange sunlight):

Monday, September 15, 2008

Wall Street Takes A Hit

And not a moment too soon. One of the things I find interesting and try to keep current on is the economic structure of our civilization. I was getting a little tired of the US Federal Government stepping in with their ability to create electronic money out of thin air (more debt) and using it to rescue companies who really should be allowed to go bankrupt due to the companys' poor business decisions. It's called the principle of moral hazard. If you insulate companies and individuals from the consequences of their actions, it's not a good thing.

So today I felt something I haven't felt for a while: a sense of respect for the Feds. They held their ground. They didn't bail out Lehman Brothers. I don't expect that practice to continue, but it felt good today.

And such fiscally responsible actions are the morally right thing to do for future generations. They will be the ones wondering what were we thinking when we saddled them with unpayable mountains of debt that has the potential to destroy our currency through hyperinflation, or crash the economy into deflation. It's happened throughout history with other countries that were fiscally irresponsible, and we are not immune.

So, vote for the most fiscally responsible candidates! (Good luck figuring out who they are).

Enough ranting. Enjoy this wonderful late summer weather.

Saturday, September 13, 2008

How Great Is This?

I've held off on posting about how great the weather is lately, since more often than not, whenever I mention how great the weather is lately, it takes a sudden turn for the worse. It's a knack of mine.

But I can't stand it anymore. The weather the past 2 weeks has been absolutely incredibly great. There, I've said it. Let the weather chips fall where they will.

September has always been my favorite weather month in Hood River (closely followed by the other 11 months). Typically warm days, cool nights, and the wind tends to die down in the transition from summer to fall. Not the greatest weather for wind sports enthusiasts, but the wind will return.

Tomorrow marks the full Harvest Moon. Get out there and harvest, or at least celebrate the bounty from those that do plant and harvest. One excellent way to do that is to support locally grown food.

Sunday, September 7, 2008

Site Down

Not sure why, but the Hood River Weather site is experiencing intermittent down times this afternoon and evening. Our weather station data is still being uploaded successfully to Weather Underground. Hopefully the problem will resolve sooner than later.

Friday, September 5, 2008

August Revisited

Compared to historical averages, August in Hood River was warmer, less windy, and slightly wetter.

The average temperature was 2.9 degrees warmer than long term averages, but only 0.4 degrees warmer than more recent averages (2000-2007). Wind speeds were considerably lower than average, with southwest winds predominating.

There were 4 local weather records set during the month. On August 6, the high of 102 broke the old record of 98 (1972). On August 16, the high of 106 broke the old record of 100 (1977). On August 17, the high of 107 broke the old record of 104 (1977). And on August 28, the low of 38 broke the old record of 40 (1960).

High Low Average Historical Average
Temperature (F) 107

Wind (mph) 32


Rainfall (in) 0.21

0.49 (total)

Monday, September 1, 2008

Goodbye Heat Index, Hello Wind Chill

Seeing as how it's a windy, cool Labor Day weekend, what better time for me to switch the Hood River Weather site from displaying "heat index" to displaying "wind chill". It just feels right. And chillier...

Plus, I do this every year in September. Heat index from June through August, and wind chill the rest of the time. One of life's little traditions. Happy Labor Day to y'all.