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Sunday, May 07, 2006

A few days offline

I'm on shift 11 of 14 straight. Getting a little tired and fuzzy-headed, truth be told! The plant has been offline since Wednesday morning, due to economics, and the need to address the nasty oil leak mentioned earlier on Unit 1 generator...

The economics are poor due to record snowfall in the Sierra Nevada mountains this year. It's difficult to compete with essentially free hydro power - particularly when fuel costs are 70% of the facility budget.

Interestingly, the local earth-fill reservoir has been 'seeping' under the weight of all the water behind it, and they are dumping the reservoir as fast as they can. That is to say, they are barely keeping up with the snow-melt running into it right now. "Seeping" of course, is another word for "leaking", and the fact that they are dumping all that precious water means that those of us who live downstream are probably in some degree of danger. I'll feel better when they get the level down a bit.

The economy:
Can't help the feeling that things are going to crash and burn soon. There's too much going wrong right now, under the surface. The country is in debt, the consumer is in debt, and interest rates are going up, making those debts difficult to service. The US savings rate is negative, and the only reason people have been able to prop up the economy by buying stuff is because they've been refinancing their homes and taking out cash - rather than earning the money before spending it. If (when) the housing bubble bursts, a lot of people will be upside-down on their houses and those with ARMS may get foreclosed on when their loans adjust up.

I quote Henry C K Liu, of the Asia Times:

"Still, interest-rate policy is a double edged sword: it keeps funds from leaving the debt bubble, but it can also puncture the debt bubble by making the servicing of debt prohibitively expensive. To prevent this last adverse effect, the Fed adds to the money supply, creating an unnatural condition of abundant liquidity with rising short-term interest rates, resulting in a narrowing of interest spread between short-term and long-term debts, a leading indication for inevitable recession down the road."

So in short, they raise interest rates, then print more money to make it easier to pay off debt. This will not end well, and it explains why everything is going up in price: Because the dollar is really worth less!

Motorbike stuff:
Been riding to work exclusively. I determined that I save about $9 every time I ride to work vs. driving the truck. Cool! More money for other stuff, then. I tightened the chain and fixed a turn signal problem I was having. Turned out to be a bad ground on the turn signal housing. The entire housing has a rubber snubber to keep the engine/road vibrations from wrecking the filament in the light bulb, and the ground connection wasn't good across the rubber grommet. Took a while to locate the problem, but it was just some mild corrosion.

Got back to it last night for only about 15 minutes, and man am I sore!!! Just did a really mild chest/back/abs workout, and ouch! Legs and cardio tonight.

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