User-agent: * Allow: / Trenton Butcher Block: September 2011

"Our Liberties We Prize, Our Rights We Will Defend."

Commentary on national and local events from the standpoint of a Trenton city resident and state worker.

Sunday, September 25, 2011

There Ain't No Bugs On Me! (Or In My House Either)

Cute, isn't he.  The common bedbug can really make your life hell.  Anybody who has the unfortunate experience of sleeping in a bed full of these bloodsucking pests surely wants them dead.
In yesterday's post I let the world know that I worke up to find bedbugs eating my wife and I alive in bed.  It was obvious that something had to be done, like then and there.  So I took action.

I threw out the mattress cover.  The inside of the mattress cover was filled with this gross-looking grayish mass which included egg casings, bug droppings and bedbugs at all stages of development.  (They start off as little dots and grow up to be oblong creatures about 1/10th an inch long.  The bugs I had were brownish red.  As far as the sheets went, they were thrown in the wash by themselves which seemed to work to remove the few stragglers they contained.

Next I took some 58% pure Malathion an organophosphate like DDT, recommended for outside use only, mixed it 50/50 and put it into a spray tank like exterminators use.  I sprayed it around the perimeter of all rooms in the house and misted it over the outside of my mattress and box spring after I removed them from the bed.  (I would not recommend using Malathion indoors, but I was desperate.   Get Onslaught or some other modern broad-spectrum insecticide that is effective on bedbugs and rated for indoor use.)

Next, I set off 12 BioSpot flea bombs that I purchased at Petsmart.  They are a little pricey, it cost $100 for 12 bombs.  I put 3 in the bedroom and spread the rest out throughout the rest of the house.   Then I went out, had a nice meal, got a haircut and visited friends.  It takes about four hours for the stuff to dissipate from a sealed house.

After I went home, I opened up all the windows, brought the pets back inside and made my bed with new linen that I just bought at the store.  I can promise you that there are a lot of bug carcasses in here, but no live insects.  I got to sleep in peace.

The BioSpot flea bomb has a nice feature.  It contains an insect growth feature and keeps killing for for up to seven months after application according to the label.

Just to insure I don't have any more surprises in this house waiting to hatch, I plan to go online to my state agricultural extension service website and read up on the life cycle of the bed bug.  When the next brood is due to hatch (probably a week from now, I will bomb again.

This procedure works, but the bug bombs leave an oily residue on everything that evaporated overnight.  (I mean walls, floors, ceilings, everything).  Don't worry, it went away with no apparent harm to my property.  The other thing is that you are dealing with poison, so I would wash your dishes before using them again and clean off your food counters.  (Don't want to consume any bug killer you know).  Also, the gas in bug bombs is poisonous.  Seal the house by closing all doors and windows THEN LEAVE FOR FOUR HOURS. (Like they say on 1000 Ways to Die, if you stay inside YOU WILL DIE)  Also, don't forget fluffy and Fido.  Remove all pets.

This will work.  Just do the whole house and repeat about two weeks after in order to break the egg cycle.  Then you won't see this batch of bedbugs again!

Saturday, September 24, 2011

What's Inside Your Mattress?

For me, the answer was, "Better not ask".  I noticed for the last few weeks an itch sensation when I laid down in bed and my wife said things were biting her.  This morning I did a little investigation and found what looked like large flea carcasses on the sheets, so I tore the mattress cover off.  The inside of the cover was filled with the bane of Trenton...bedbugs!!!

Yuck, human bloodsuckers.  The recommendation from the city is to throw away all clothing, carpets an upholstered furniture, including mattresses.  I don't think my homeowners insurance company would like that, so I am trying an intermediate step.

W eill spray my bedroom especially the mattress with a good old school oganophosphate insecticide (of the DDT class, though not full-blown DDT), then bomb the place real good with store-bought flea bombs.  I will also be treating the yard with lawn insecticide. (I have a stockpike of chlorodane purchased in the 1970s).  I also ordered some heavy duty bug killer from Georgia which should show up later in the week.  I'll let everybody know how it all works out.

Let's get on our politicians about repealing the "Silent Spring" bug killer laws.  Rather take a small chance on getting cancer later in life than a 100% chance of getting eatten alive now.

Friday, September 23, 2011

The Faces May Change, Everything Else Remains the Same

Here is a picture of Dolores Del Rio, a famous Mexican actress from the 1920s to 1970s.  As you can ses, celeberties always presented themselves to the public in the best possible light.
I remember that about 20 years ago or so I read "The Way of Perfection" by Saint Teresa of Avila and she went into great detail talking how horrible it is living in a convent with a bunch of chatty nuns always gossiping abot each other.  Sound familiar.  My experience is if you put three or more women together for a long enough period of time they will be takling about each other and stiring up trouble.  Problem is Teresa lived in Spain in the 1500s.  Some things never change.

So perhaps you would rather hear about something else besides nuns from 500 years ago or the beginings of the Discalced Carmelite order.  Sometimes moving away from people and living with nobody but myself and God sounds appealing, but I don't think the monastic life will ever become part of my life.  Anyway that's not what I here to write about.

I was just surfing the web in one of my semi-drunk trances (Obviously not worrying about what future employers will find out about me on a deep web search, am I?)  I was looking at videos of turn-of-the-20th century recording and theater stars in South America, like Dolores Del Rio (just as sexy as Vanessa Del Rio I promise).  Of course I got to listen to Charlo (Madonna was not the first recording star to go by one name, you know).  What did I find?  The music was not very appealing.  While I like tango, the flamanco-type stuff that was in vogue in the 1900s and 1910s doesn't do anything for my ears.  What I did find impressive was the quality of the plublicity shots and the coreography in the short videos that appear on the computer.  Fantistico !  And even harder to make in the day when they did not have the equipment (I dare not say technology) we got today.  I mean these posters are good enough to appear on album covers today.

Not everyone in South America was Juan Valdez working on his coffee plantation, even in 1900.  There was a lot of wealth and talent down there as well.  And I was supprised that Latin America had just a vibrant film and recording industry as we did from the very begining, with just as many stars as we had, producing hundreds of records and films, yet none of us up north got to see them until recently.

Thank God for the Internet.  It helped save our history, contrary to what people were saying a decade or so.  (Back then they believed that contemporary culture would be inaccessible to future generations, because they wouldn't have the equipment to view it.)  Who said the stuff couldn't be migrated over to contemporary media just like happened to dolores delrio.

This Cat Always Lands on His Feet

The modern workplace is a jungle.  In order to survive there, you must be like this guy and be able to land on your feer after you get tossed around.

From my previous posts you may remember that I was getting transferred from my long-time position in the Bureau of Labor Market Analysis to a very different job in the State Data Center.  To bring everyone up to speed, my old job originally was working as a "field analyst" or somebody who was supposed to be an expert on the economy in a certain part of the state.  In my case, it was Burlington, Camden and Gloucester counties.  I got to read newspapers so I could take notes on the comings and goings of companies and other trends in business in the area.  I got to go out and cruise around on the state's dime to monitor the progress of these events and to promote the Division of Workforce Development so they could get job listings and help our state's unemployed transition to new work.

Last November, Christie's boys decided to upset the apple cart and roust me from my happy home.  I stayed at the same desk under the same supervisor and received the same pay, but my new job was covering the construction and transportation&distribution industries.  This meant writing new publications from scratch.  We at the state almost never get to create anything new from scratch, but we did and I saw it through for 10 months.  My industry report (over 60 pages long) on the transportation, logistics & distribution industry will soon be published on line.  For a guy with 20 credits or so in economics (my bachelor's degree is in agriculture), I consider that an outstanding achievement.

The man responsible for uploading and downloading stuff to the web, in addition to writing databases and making maps took a new job as an administrator in our IT department.  So my director came to me and "asked" me to take over his position.   I said "asked" because it was implied he would very much like me to say yes.  I was skeptical like, "what did I do wrong?" but I took it.   I thought it might be a setup to get me out the door or something, but felt it was best to go along, even though my qualifications in IT are nill.

Well, they kept me on my old job until last friday so I could finish my report.  On tuesday, my old boss and new boss called me into the back room.  It seem my old boss wanted me back to present my paper at the annual analyst's meeting.  I turned him down, but it still felt good that I was worth enough to bring back for one last performance.  I agreed to show up at the meeting to answer questions about my findings.

So how is this webmaster thing going.  So far swimmingly.  I get on well with my new boss who is pleasant to work for.  So far there hasn't been much to do because I don't know much yet, but I believe that will change soon.  The new supervisor noticed I have been picking up rather quickly and even figured out how to assemble a bunch of .pdf pages into a single .pdf file without any help on his part.
(It's amazing what you can do with the Help menu, especially after what I have been through since the begining of the year.

It seems that when they hire someone from off they street, they ask the world in what they want in a new employee.  Almost nobody meets the standard, so very few get hired.  However, since Christie has allowed the state only to backfill a few positions, the qualifications to move from one job to another can be sumed up in one phrses:  "Are you breathing?"  If yes, then they will retrain you.

That's why I stressed in an earlier article that what counts in the workplace is adaptability, not route knowledge of particular tasks.  Ovet time, the route knowledge becomes obsolete, but the ability to learn new things always remains in style. 

The best preparation I got was a good liberal arts education and that is what I woruld recommend to anybody coming up today.  Because I am adaptable, nobody can kill me off, I will always be in demand.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Keynes Was Right

Majorska Vodka, a nasty distilate one notch above radiator fluid, is the liquor of choice among the welfare and food stamp crowd.  Read on to find out why even welfare clients who spend all their money on cheap booze help stimulate the economy and create jobs for the rest of us.
I was reading an editorial in the Trentonian a few weeks ago that I thought was interesting.  It said that it was their opinion that the government can't create jobs by spending money (although many economists would disagree).

Well, they're right about one thing.  Many economists, including this one would disagree with the above statement.  But before I go ahead and attack it, I think it is important to explain first what I think the Trentonian is trying to say.

According to the paper (and many conservative Republicans), jobs are created by businesses, and businesses can do this best if the rich (who own the businesses) are allowed to keep as much of their money as possible.  Therefore they advocate minimal taxation of the rich because they are America's job creators.

They claim that once the government takes in money through taxation and spends it, it is gone in much the same way your paycheck is gone if lets say you spent it on a trip to Paris.  The spending is only productive to the extent it goes toward purchasing capital goods such as machinery which can be used to produce future wealth.  And for the most part, the type of spending that the government does (such as welfare benefits, Social Security or unemployment compensation) is pure consumption and the money is destroyed just as soon as it is spent without any further benefit coming from it.

What's wrong with this picture?  For one thing, when money is spent, so long as it is spent here in America, it creates a "multiplier effect".  What this means is that even money spent on welfare benefits creates jobs.  Why?  The poor spend every dime they get their hands on because they are poor and need stuff.  Let's say Joe Welfare Recipient goes to the liquor store and spends his whole check on Majorska Vodka (an American product).  The liquor store gets to keep the difference between the wholesale cost of the vodka and what they sell it for.  Some of this money is used to pay the liquor store clerk, some of it is used to pay for upkeep of the building and property taxes (or for rent if the store is rented). And the rest of the money goes to the liquor distributor which uses it to pay its staff, pay for equipment and buildings and provide a profit to the distributorship.  Finally, the distributor doesn't get his liquor for free either, so some of the money goes to the distillery which uses it to pay for materials, wages, equipment and business profits.  So even a frivolously spent welfare check helps create good private-sector jobs and provides additional business to private sector companies.

And what about the part that only private businesses are capable of producing productive wealth.  Consider the case of Josef Stalin.  This Soviet dictator was a ruthless, uncompromising Communist who opposed private ownership of even the tiniest businesses.  He also didn't give a darn for individual rights or individual happiness.  He'd lock up common people for the slightest infraction (such as being late to work by 5 minutes) so he could get a steady supply of free labor at his prison camps, which produced a variety of products ranging from roads and canals to cameras.  And Stalin was responsible for bringing a medieval nation into the 20th century and turning it into a world power in three short decades.  So much for the theory that the government can't create wealth.

The GOP likes to claim that Keynes was wrong because the New Deal programs did not bring the nation out of the depression.  All this meant was that the New Deal stimulus was not big enough.  For when World War II started and government spending accelerated, the nation was propelled into several decades of unprecedented prosperity.  And the social utility of war is probably even less than Keynes's famous example of hiring men to dig holes in the desert and filling them in.  Even destructive spending can provide economic stimulus if the money is used to pay wages to workers who would otherwise not be employed.

Saturday, September 17, 2011

In Memory of the Fallen. (No, not the World Trade Center Cops, But the Trenton Cops That Were Just Laid Off)

Police process the scene of the shooting that occurred on Mercer Street in Trenton on September 15, 2011.
So much has happened this week, so its hard to figure out what to write about.  Let's see, we had a series of shootings such as the car that got shot up on Mercer Street at about 4:00 in the afternoon on Thursday.

I found out about this....sort of anyway in real time.  I was coming home down Market Street around 5:00 P.M. with my wife and she said, "What are all the police doing on Mercer Street."  I said in jest that it probably has something to do with some tripple homicide or something.  I knew something at least as serious as a big car accident or a nonfatal shooting occured, too many cops for anything else, but I didn't know what. 

It turned out somebody got killed after their car got shot up down there.  Probably (or let's say likely) some kind of a hit on a street gangster.  Another criminal taken out for offending some other criminals, it appears.  Thank God, it didn't occur about an hour later and a little closer to Market Street.  Then I just might have had to dodge bullets to get home.

We had more than one shooting last week.  Most of them were non-fatals and none of the others directly affected me, but another one stands out as memorable, more for the name of the place where it occurred, and why it happened, rather than anything else.  On the corner of Southard and Ingham (also the location of the now-closed but long-time landmark Romeo & Juliet bar), a bodega opened about two weeks prior to the shooting.  It is called D&A Deli.  I saw the picture of it and I thought, DOA Deli, what an appropriate name for the scene of a shooting.  Just think, the locals probably say "Dear, I got to go down to Dodge City to go to the DOA to pick up a pack of smokes."  She replys, "Make sure you make it home alive, now put on your bullet-proof vest, you'll probably be needing it."

At the time of the shooting, the DOA was just opened for two weeks.  It had already been robbed twice and some other criminals were trying for time number three.  I big Spanish guy was there waiting.  He was the owner, armed with a pistol.  He grabbed the bandits and turned them over to the police when they arrived without incident.  A silver pickup rode by and the occupant stopped and got out.  He was an off duty cop.  The store owner, thinking he was part of the robbery pulled his weapon and fired,  The cop returned fire.  Nobody was hit.  The store owner was charged with aggravated assault on a police officer.

Now let's see what a jury would think.  This guy was robbed twice in the two weeks he was opened and a third robbery was just attempted.  Someone in a civilian vehicle and civilian clothes comes up and tries to interfere just after he turned the bobbers over to the cops.  Another robber, right?  That's just about what anybody would think, even if he identified himself verbally as a police officer.  Just remember criminals are not above a little deception, jike saying they are police, just to be able to get in there and carry out their crime.

The  store owner did nothing wrong as far as I am concerned.  We should all have the right to defend ourselves, particularly in a proven high crime area and a proven high crime situation (like operating a bodega in the ghetto.)

Another fly in the ointment.

Just when we all thought it was too dangerous to go outside, the Mayor lays off 106 police officers.  That's right, yesterday was the last day for a third of Trenton's police force.

There were let go because Governor Christie could not find enough money in his budget (or should I say brains in his head) to give the city sufficient funds to keep them on.  We are in the middle of a perpetual crime wave and the governor wants to save money for a few rich bastards by getting rid of a third of our police.

Now, this will really make businesses WANT to expand in the capital of the Garden State, won't it.  T
he city fathers can use this fact in literature promoting our city.  "With a crime rate rivaling East Saint Louis, Detroit and Compton, can you think of a better place for opening your business."  Well yeah, unless your business is a funeral home, car bullet-proofing shop or something like that.

Not that there isn't money to be made in a now relatively cop-free high crime environment,  Look at what the Bloods can make if they could kidnap some high-ranking state official and collect the ransom.

Sunday, September 4, 2011

A little update

I haven't posted anything in the last couple months.  Right now, I want to bring my readers up to date and share some information.

Monday is my wedding anniversary.  I been married 24 years, and I took my wife out today to Malaga, which is a nice Spanish restaurant on Lalor Street.  It is Spanish as in Europe, not Mexican or anything like that.  It is fairly formal, with a Terra cotta floor and white tablecloths.  A big chandler hangs in the front dining room.  We had something fairly simple and very un-Spanish.  Pork Chops.  They give you three nice sized pork chops for $20.  You get with them string beans and carrots , Spanish rice with saffron and homemade potato chips.

The place is owned by a woman in her 50s who works as the hostess.  I don't know if she still does it, but she used to put on flamenco dancing shows.   Well our dinner conversation turned to flamenco dancing and the the name Carmen Amaya came up.  So  you haven't heard of Carmen Amaya.  She was only probably the best flamenco dancer of all time.  Here is a clip of her in action

I came home and looked at a few clips of her dancing and also listened to Ada Falcon, another late great star from south of the border.  She had an interesting life.  Her first lover was a politician and he was assassinated by a hit squad sent out by the president of Argentina.  Her second lover was her bandleader.  He cheated on her.  She then fell in love with a homosexual and caught him in bed with a man.  So in 1942 she did the only thing you could expect from somebody with that much bad luck.  She joined the convent and became a nun.  When she died a few years ago, she was in her 90s.  She once owned a diamond that was a gift from the majaraja of India that was worth millions (another Liz Taylor special).  She was rich back in the day and was noted for buzzing around Buenos Aires in her bigh car showing off her flashy clothes and furs.  Yet when she died she was penniless and only 3 people came to her funeral.

Here is one of her songs, Besos de Miel.   Her stuff sounds old as dirt because the bandleader Francisco Canaro was very conservative musically and still used a small chamber orchestra at a time when most bandleaders went to big bands.  But she probably has the best voice of the old time tango singers.

So much for the dead "girlfriends".

At work, the job is real hectic.  Cristie brought in a gentleman from the Heldrich Center to be our director and he basically tried turning us into real research economists rather than the half-ass hacks we used to be.  So far I wrote something called an Industry report, the one on Trade, Logistics & Distribution is nearly finished and comes in at over 50 pages long.  I also wrote another 20 pages on the construction industry.  That took about 2 months.  The project was complicated by getting a new computer with Office 2010 on it.  My old one had Office 2003.  Nothing like fighting Power Point to make graphs and charts.  That on top of researching a whole bunch of crap.

Well the man who used to work in the state data center and handled our web stuff got promoted and left the floor at the End of July.  Walter was the third webmaster we had that got promoted.  Since Christie doesn't believe in hiring anybody to replace the people that left, I got drafted and will become the new webmaster on  September 12.  No it wasn't my idea.  The director offered me the job, said he wouldn't force me to take it but made it very clear he wanted me to take it.  I know zip about making webpages or uploading material with Interwoven or writing SAS programs or doing work in Foxpro and Fortran.  Sounds like the job from hell, doesn't it.  (By the way, do you know any other place on God's green earth that uses Interwoven instead of Dreamweaver or that still uses Foxpro or Fortran.  I don't.  So I'll learn antique software and become a computer guy for my last 15 months on the job. 

Target date for retirement is December 31, 2012.  That's when I plan to hand up the spikes.

Hey it could be worse.  Lots of people in the real world get laid off and don't have jobs.  Instead, I got an ex-bar manager turned director of a floor that does economics and statistics who butters me up and convinces me (a farm operation and Agronomy double-major) to take a job as an IT guy.  My qualification is supposed to be that I am a quick learner.  I know I didn't get picked because of my education or work background.  The worst that could happen is I get bounced out of that job and sent back to the Bureau of Labor Market Information.