Archive for the ‘Dollars and nonsense’ Category

Outside+ looking in

May 20, 2022

Ask not for whom the bike bell tolls.

Ring-a-ding-ding, bitches.

It was never a question of if, but of when. The Greater Outside+ Globe-Spanning Vertically Integrated Silo O’ Sports & Fitness, LLC, has begun excreting magazines and scribes, because that’s what vulture capitalists do: Gobble and shit, gobble and shit.

I knew my time was up last year when I saw the thousand-pound sack of boilerplate contract Outside’s drones expected me to sign if I cared to keep drawing funnies for Bicycle Retailer and Industry News.

After a quick semantic analysis boiled their bullshit down to its smoky essence — “All hope abandon, ye who enter here!” — I trimmed it to a few salient grafs that cut straight to the chase, sent them off, and never heard another peep.

Not long afterward, I retired.

Now, the folks who stuck around and did the work are getting the old heave and also the ho. Talented types like Ben Delaney and Nicole Formosa, to name just two. It’s basically v2.0 of Competitor Group Inc., which gave Charles Pelkey and John Wilcockson the bum’s rush Back in the Day®. Same old guillotine, just different heads and an Outside Gear Box instead of the usual basket.

I can’t speak to the quality of the publications that lost staffers or are going dark entirely. I don’t read them. My subscription dollars are spent elsewhere.

But if these pubs aren’t profitable, I’m guessing it’s probably not Ben’s fault, or Nicole’s. Might have something to do with an overabundance of supernumeraries who don’t write, edit, shoot, sketch, or sell.

If I were showing people the door in an effort to save money I might start with anyone who uses the bloodless words “product” and “content” to describe “stories” and “photographs.” There’s always work for people who think everything is a commodity, including their souls.

All aTwitter

April 26, 2022

My final tweet, from New Year’s Eve 2017. Didn’t cost me shit.

OK, pop quiz. if you had $44 billion lying around doing not very much you would:

  1. Feed the hungry.
  2. House the homeless.
  3. Buy Twitter.

I guess I get it, kinda, sorta. I mean, I like toys. I just bought a canister stove for my occasional camping adventures; MSR said they didn’t have the bits to modernize my Bronze Age RapidFire, then offered me 30 percent off on a new burner. So, ’ray for MSR and for me.

But Twitter? Maybe Elon has the bits to fix that hot mess, and maybe he doesn’t. He can certainly throw bales of cash at it until he tears a rotator cuff or finds some other shiny object to money-whip until boredom sets in once again.

Me, I don’t even want to use Twitter for free.

‘Anyone can get an auto loan’

March 16, 2022

For when the M1126 Infantry Carrier Vehicle just isn’t big enough.

OK, so, with the Russian war in Ukraine, random gun violence here at home, and inflation everywhere, we all have plenty to worry about.

But wait! There’s more!

Cyclists, pedestrians, and anyone else hoping for safe streets in a livable environment will hop the first dick-missile to Mars after scanning this New York Times story on what the quarter-point hike in the Fed’s key interest rate means for any of us chickens who’d like to cross the road without winding up fried and breaded in one of the Colonel’s buckets.

A couple key pull-quotes:

“There is far more variation in auto lending than in, say, the mortgage market because there are more credit types. Anyone can get an auto loan.” — Jonathan Smoke, chief economist at Cox Automotive, an industry consulting firm.

“Car-loan rates will move up as the Fed hikes interest rates, but it will be a nonissue for car buyers because it has such a limited impact on monthly payments. Nobody will need to downsize from the S.U.V. to the compact because of rising rates.” — Greg McBride, chief financial analyst at Bankrate.com.

Damn straight. Fuck a bunch of Prius. Whadda I look like, some hippie? I got an image to maintain. What are the Russian oligarchs driving this season?

Beans and rice, rice and beans, beans and rice

February 10, 2022

Back to basics.

Inflation rises, earnings fall.

Happily, literature has the answer.

There’s “On the Road,” by Jack Kerouac:

“You know what President Truman said,” Remi [Boncœur] would say. “We must cut down on the cost of living.”

And also, “Tortilla Flat,” by John Steinbeck:

Beans are a roof over your stomach. Beans are a warm cloak against economic cold.

Thus, yesterday I labored mightily and brought forth the plato combinado. Green chile chicken enchiladas, frijoles, and rice. Not pictured: The appetizer created by Herself; sliced avocado with halved cherry tomatoes, olive oil, salt, and pepper. We will be gnawing on this carcass for days.

The mantra around here when money gets tight is “Beans and rice, rice and beans, beans and rice.” So there you have it. Go forth and do likewise.

All is well

November 24, 2021

It’s nearly kickoff time for the 2021 Cavalcade of Consumerism, so grab yourself a sammich and a frosty beverage and settle into the La-Z-Boy for the Big Game.

The NPD Group advises us that 30 percent of respondents to a recent survey yearn for the door-busting, clerk-trampling, no-holds-barred combat of Black Friday, in which sleep-deprived, half-frozen fatties who spent Thanksgiving night camped outside a Lubbock Best Buy do it hand to hand over dubious bargains on giant TVs that will watch them like famished zopilotes and suggest other must-have items based upon their observed activity, if any.

“Damn, another ad for Weight Watchers. And Planet Fitness. Who has the time? Pass the Fritos and bean dip.”

NPD doesn’t explain their survey methodology, but you know they didn’t ask for my thoughts, because 100 percent of me would rather stuff an angry ferret down his bibs than head for the trough on Black Friday to see what the Waltons are serving to the sneezers and wheezers (there’s still a plague going on, you may recall). Let ’em make their bacon out of the NPD’s dummies.

We plan a muted Thanksgiving here at El Rancho Pendejo. Herself will collect her mom from The Facility and we will do a late lunch —  cider-braised turkey thighs with taters and apples, stir-fried succotash with edamame, some class of a green salad, and Herself’s famous lemon bars. The ladies will enjoy a dram or two of wine, while I make do with a bottle of fake beer.

I bought the fixins on Monday to avoid the rush. There were just two cashiers at Sprouts and the queued natives were restless. If we get through the weekend without gunplay it will be a holiday miracle.

A workin’ man can’t get nowhere today

September 6, 2021

Luck of the draw.

Happy Labor Day, comrades.

I’m barely a worker these days; my paying chores have dwindled to one “Shop Talk” cartoon per month for Bicycle Retailer and Industry News.

Of course, now that BRAIN is a part of the Greater Outside Globe-Spanning Vertically Integrated Paywalled Conglomerate, I find myself negotiating a contract to keep my faded Levi’s up and buckled while I continue to do what I’ve been doing for nigh on to 30 years. So it goes.

Thus, in solidarity with all y’all still on The Man’s clock, here a few random tales culled from our workaday world:

• Hotel workers serve as an unsung pit crew for the firefighters battling the Caldor blaze.

• Job openings outnumber the unemployed. But a gulf between the jobs available and what workers want has led to a “Great Reassessment.”

• Speaking of assessments, are the bots trying to upend the MeatWorld JobMart or are we just stumbling around in the dark as per usual? Kevin Drum has some brief thoughts on the topic.

• Is the boss watching, even when you’re working from home? Maybe. Say hello to “tattleware.”

• Can a workin’ man get somewhere today? He surely couldn’t back in 1978, according to Merle Haggard.

Fuelishness

June 19, 2021

Keep on (not) truckin’. Photo courtesy Groendyke Transport

Here’s a fun story. My man Hal was homeward bound after a track meet in Lakewood and lo and behold, there was no gasoline to be found in either Florence or Weirdcliffe.

There’s no shortage of gasoline. But there is a shortage of tank-truck drivers, thanks in part to The Bug® and decisions made around same. And we two old newspapermen, to our everlasting shame, had to get the deets from (choke) the TV stations’ websites.

KRDO had the best piece, quoting spokespeople from AAA, the National Tank Truck Carriers, and Groendyke Transport.

Something like a quarter of tank trucks were parked in April due to a lack of qualified drivers, sez the NTTC. Older drivers decided to retire, sez Groendyke. And driver schools shut down, which kept new drivers from getting certified.

And if Circle K can’t fill its tanks, well … neither can you, Skeezix.

AAA Colorado is urging motorists not to panic-buy gasoline the way they did toilet paper. Yeah, good luck with that. They’ll be panic-buying both because right now they’re out of gas and shitting themselves.

Oh, eat me

April 20, 2021

“No one wants to work anymore.” And yet somebody posted this sign at a place of business. ’Ees a puzzlement, to be sure.

Here’s an interesting story. Not “interesting” in the sense that it was solidly reported, written, and edited, which it was not. Interesting in that it calls into question the business model of the fast-food industry.

The story — headlined “We’re competing with unemployment” — focuses on the hiring problems that outfits like Fresquez Companies, Twisters, and Sonic-Inspire Brands are having locally in Year Two of The Plague®.

Back in the day, when newspapers still had copy desks, a cynical old rim rat might have wondered at some volume whether the corporate types quoted in the piece had coordinated their tales of woe.

Says one: “Why would anybody want to, I guess, start at a minimum-wage job when they can be earning more money … on unemployment?”

Adds another: “People are making a lot more money being unemployed than employed, and the world is coming back to dine-in and eat-in a little bit at a time, so the stimulus really paused people applying to jobs.”

And a third: “I think it’s pretty easy to connect … unemployment benefits to it. I think a lot of us feel like a lot of people have chosen not to go back to work yet, because they’re still receiving the benefits.”

Well, shucks. It makes a man’s eyes damp, for sure.

My first question was, “How many of these struggling companies have received SBA Paycheck Protection Program funds or some other form of governmental assistance to make ends meet in these troubled times?” The story doesn’t say.

Nor does the reporter speak with any current, former, or potential employees. The one nod to working people came in a quote from OLÉ Education Fund executive director Matthew Henderson, who said: “Essential workers have risked their lives to keep New Mexico running during the pandemic. Some have decided, however, that the risk to their family’s health is not worth the poverty wages and lack of benefits that many employers offer. Don’t fault workers for refusing to be exploited.”

When I was young and even dumber than I am now, I briefly dated a single mom who availed herself of the various forms of governmental assistance to be had at the time. She was always strapped for cash, and since I was young and dumb, I asked her why she didn’t just get a job.

She explained patiently that the kind of job she would be able to get wouldn’t begin to pay the bills, much less the cost of child care while she worked. So she chose to keep jumping through the hoops of public assistance and raising her child. Damned if you do, damned if you don’t.

How many potential recruits for the Paper Hat Platoon have decided to stay home, collect assistance, and help their kids navigate remote learning with the goal of giving them a future that doesn’t involve pitching greaseburgers through windows at the Duke City’s drive-thrus? I mean, you don’t need a Ph.D in Google Search to find horror stories about the life and times of the fast-food worker.

I suspect this story may have had its roots in the photo above, posted on Twitter by a local TV reporter. Snapped at a local Sonic, it shows a sign reading: “We are short staffed. Please be patient with the staff that did show up. No one wants to work anymore.”

Wrong, pendejo. They just don’t want to work for you.

More, late*

December 21, 2020

A little light and a lot more tunnel.

“Pandemic Deal by Congress Provides Economic Relief, for Now,” reports The New York Times.

But it’s too little, too late, and perhaps the last of Uncle Sammy’s pennies in the ol’ tin cup for a while, adds The Old Grey Hoor, in an analysis by Ben Casselman and Jim Tankersley.

The injection of money comes months too late for tens of thousands of failed businesses, however, and it may not be enough to sustain unemployed workers until the labor market rebounds. Moreover, it could be the last help from Washington the economy gets anytime soon.

Call me cynical, but I think we need some brighter bulbs on this job.

*Apologies to Chris in the Morning.

TGI(B)F?

November 27, 2020

If the image appears a tad blurry it’s because pretty much everything out there is in vigorous motion.

Well, it’s not what I would call black, but then neither is it exactly a bright, bright, sunshiny Friday out there.

We are presently enjoying a thundering east wind that is extreme even by New Mexican standards, and as a consequence the options for working off yesterday’s holiday feast seem limited.

What a fine day for huddling indoors and bargain-hunting at a Bug®-safe distance! Coincidentally, my in-box runneth over with various pitches, entreaties, and pleas. A cantankerous senior citizen on a fixed income is a target demographic? Who knew?

B&H Photo & Video, for starters. They were first to pound on my digital door, at 4:18 a.m. The early bird catches the worm, don’t you know. They were followed in quick succession by Guitar Center, Brydge, Rudy Project, Brazos Walking Sticks, GoPro, Gore Wear, and Outdoor Research, all before 8 a.m.

And this is just the lot that made it past my extensive network of junk filters, mind you.

They sense my frailty. Every minute I stay in this room, I get weaker, and every minute some marketing poge gets a click-through from his email blast, he gets stronger. Each time I look around the walls move in a little tighter. …