Monday, February 16, 2009

This 'n That

A couple of weekends ago, I went down to the farm and spent the afternoon welding up a 30-foot tower for a project that my father has planned. He has a new-to-me wire welder so the job was a lot more pleasant than in the past. My mother is always telling me that one of the perks of being a grandmother is that you can see your grandchild and spoil her rotten but at the end of the day, she goes home with me. Well one of the perks of being an engineer with farmers for parents, I can go down to the farm and be one for a day but at the end of the day, I can go home to my day job. It's a good thing too because I think I found a few muscles in my legs that I hadn't been using too often at my day job.


We Americans are so spoiled. Last week in an article on CNN, a man has been complaining about being out of a job for two years. That in itself is nothing new but he has been working two part-time jobs and still has burned through much of his retirement savings though it is just he and his wife at home. My spidey senses start tingling there because someone should be able to live off two part-time incomes or at least enough that you don't have to burn through your ENTIRE life savings in two short years especially when the wife has a full time job in the county government. The kicker came when he said "It's tough going from earning $2000 A WEEK…." What in the heck?! You would think someone pulling in over $100,000 a year might be able to save enough money to cover himself in the eventuality that he might be unemployed or unable to work in the future. Although it doesn't say, I would bet anyone who cares that he has a huge house, two or more new cars and perhaps several other toys that he is making payments on. Nobody saves for a rainy day anymore and when someone like that goes crying boohoo to the media, it is hard for me to shed a tear.


My place of employment is sorting through a room that is probably best described as a catch all for things related to the plant floor. For several days, I have been dumpster diving and feel like a kid at Christmas salvaging all this perfectly good stuff that is going to end up in a landfill somewhere. My best find so far is a set of shelves with a dozen rows of pull out metal bins for storing all kinds of odds and ends in the garage. You can never have too much storage out in the garage and these days all you can buy are tiny plastic versions of my seven-foot tall version. Now I have a project for when Mrs. Abbey and Little Abbey head off to the Philippines for a month in just two short days.


February started out warm for us with highs in the fifties. We got a couple more days of cold and then we nearly broke 70 degrees and a record right before Valentine's Day when I wrote this post. I don't say this often but I'm beginning to really like February.


R. Sherman said...

Regarding your savings comment.

I recall a news program a few years back bemoaning the lack of drug coverage for seniors. The face to the story was a woman who couldn't afford her expensive diabetes and heart meds. I listened further and it turns out she could afford them. It just meant that she and her husband would have to forgo traveling around the country in their honkusly large land yacht. I said to myself, "Lady, you don't want me to subsidize your meds; you want me to subsidize your vacation."


The Real Mother Hen said...

Oh I hear you about Americans being spoiled. I've seen folks struggling yet they still pay for cable TV (the most expensive package), expensive cell phones, home phone, etc. Who needs to watch so many TV and answer so many phones?

Reading about Mrs Abbey going home for a month, aw I wanna go home too :(

TC said...

Awww, that's so cute about getting to go be a farmer for a day :) I bet your daughter likes to go hang out at the farm from time to time too. It's always so much more charming from a distance, isn't it?

Ed Abbey said...

R. Sherman - That is a good way of putting it.

Mother Hen - Agreed!

TC - Little Abbey threw a fit when it was time to go back home with her dad and mom. She loves being spoiled!

Sage said...

When reading the saving comment--I thought, Heck, I went through nearly 1/2 of my retirement savings last fall and didn't even get to enjoy spending any of it! At least I am still in a traditional pension plan and don't have to depend totally on savings

I'm curious as to what project you were working on at the farm? Windmill?

steve said...

Welding... that's something I need to learn- would come in so handy around here. 30 foot tower? Wind power? Irrigation? One day I'd like to install some low profile wind power devices. Great that you can sort through that store room though- kind of folds into your previous comment. Some folks wouldn't dream of doing that.

Ed Abbey said...

Sage & Steve - Nothing as glamorous as those things. Last fall, a new grain bin on my parents farm crumpled down about six inces about a dozen feet off the ground. In order to fix it, I was building a 30 foot tower to support a cross auger, which is an auger that allows one normal auger to distribute grain amoung several bins, that rests on top of the bin that crumples. Sometime when it is warmer, we will have to jack the bin up in the middle to replace the damaged sections.

I did mention that after we are done, the tower I built would make a great television tower for my folks who don't even have a television. I never thought about a windmill.

PhilippinesPhil said...

Spoiled is one word; over-extended, stupid, and short-sighted are others that I think apply to this spendthrifty weenie.

Beau said...

Good stuff... lots of folks re-examining what a budget really is these days. Yes, we're spoiled, but we're getting quite the wake-up call these days.

Murf said...

Your second observation was interesting since I'm sort of in the same boat but instead, trying to make due with slightly under $1600 a month plus the infrequent unemployment checks that Big A gets. I think he would rather have 2 part-time jobs rather than having to deal with that but he's never received any responses from anyone. This just made us realize that once we are both settled into our careers that we will pocket one of ours and live off of the other.

Ed Abbey said...

Phil - Thanks for the other adjectives!

Beau - Lets hope that people will learn from this.

Murf - I've thought about your situation quite often in this economic recession. You've done a lot right by living in a house within your means even if it is probably paid off plus neither of you drive flashy cars. You also don't seem like someone to buy top of the line anything. Living within your means is a good way to make a bad economic situation survivable.

Woody said...

I love dumpster diving..

Murf said...

Ed - I think that's a backhanded compliment.
:-) But thanks. Actually I do have a bit of a mortgage since I had to give the brothers their third of the house in monetary form but considering the mortgages of everyone else I know, it's a lot less and even less than monthly rent at most decent apartments. I just need more cushion. It's a bit too close for comfort.

Ed Abbey said...

Woody - One of the better things this town does is have a spring cleaning week where everyone hauls their trash/treasure to the curb and then drive around pulling treasure out of other people's piles sans dumpster for a week. My pile is usually reduced by 4/5ths by the end of the week which saves the landfills.

Murf - I didn't intend any backhanded compliment. If I had, I would have put the emoticon ;) afterwards. :)