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September, 2008: 4 10 15 16 17 22

9/4/08-Thurs.-Up quite early and then, soon after, we went to the Laundromat.

Yesterday, Yahoo mixed up the cost basis information for all my portfolios. Must start over with another online investment service. Bother.

Fran is super-efficient and managed to put several pages of family photos plus their introductions online, and remove all the "red eye," in less than an hour. She is similarly competent at the clothes washing chore, etc.

Am enjoying Barbara Tuchman's book, The Proud Tower, about the years leading up to World War I.

We are going for Chinese food today. Already, I am looking forward to an afternoon nap.

9/10/08-Wed.-I went to my acupuncturist today for a renewal of herbal allergy and throat problem remedies. These are giving some benefit at less than half the cost of over-the-counter antihistamines and the like which I had been taking for months, about once or twice daily, in fairly powerful strengths.

Monday, I went for an ophthalmology exam. No significant problems were found, and my current eyewear prescriptions, while not perfect, will be fine for awhile yet.

Fran and I are now quite hopeful of Hurricane Ike bringing us pleasant winds, lower temperatures, and perhaps rain by Saturday.

I checked out Seton Hospital's southwest Austin location, which is close to our place, for volunteer opportunities, but it appears they do not have much of anything in which I would be interested.

The presidential campaigns are distressing. I suppose all the main candidates are pandering to "working class white voters" and so do not want to offer anything terribly complicated, but for whatever reason the result is a kind of mutual pabulum of watered down issues, lies about one's own record, distortions about one's opponents, and a plethora of almost meaningless slogans like McCain's "Drill, baby, drill!" or such simplistic accusations as "My opponent would not get Ben Laden, but I will follow him into his cave and finish the job George Bush and John McCain abandoned by invading Iraq." This last rhetoric sounds great, I suppose, for those with lingering doubts about Obama's Commander-in-Chief credentials, but ignores the fact that Pakistan is a sovereign nation and going after Ben Laden there without invitation from its government and military could be seen as yet another invasion of an Islamic country, perhaps destabilizing the rather fragile western-leaning government there, stirring up further terrorism against us (this time in a region that actually has nuclear weapons), and possibly enmeshing us in a third simultaneous foreign war, when we already have so little real military threat potential that all we can do about Russia's recent invasion of Georgia is wring our hands, say the Russians had better be nicer in future, and pay a toothless lip service to supporting this new ally.

The state of the U.S. economy and the future of our dollar and financial markets are on my mind now more than ever after the bailout of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. Are we on the eve of a second Great Depression? Some experts seem to think so. Should we then sell off most of our equities, already substantially down, in hope of preserving a half-million or so through some turbulent times? I know it is best not to sell at a loss, of course, yet am nervous that the markets, and with them our holdings, will just keep going south.

9/15/08-Mon.-Am on the way to Waco for a visit with Mom, mainly just a break from the usual Austin routine.

Have decided not to return to dream group meetings till after have made a significant breakthrough with meditation.

As of the morning, cooler temperatures prevail here in central TX. The lows last night were in the 50s (F). I saw folks walking this morning in jackets and sweaters. With a breeze, it does indeed feel pretty good for the first time since last spring.

9/16/08-Tues.-There is, perhaps, neither space nor time, and so also there is no change except in a limited perspective. Instead, bound only be certain fundamental laws of how things are, there is virtually infinite possibility, with the number of potential universes, each inconceivable in scope, equal to the number of all such possibilities raised to the nth power, where n equals the set of all possible conditions, down to the subatomic level and not simply to the field or vector of all possible subatomic particles but to every divisible point or arc of each subatomic particle's particle-wave-field existence. In fact, though, there is perhaps not actually such a vast multiplicity of separate virtual and real universes but rather one living conscious entity manifest as an infinitely multiple co-existence, at once every-when every-way without beginning middle or end, everywhere.

Of course it is possible instead, but highly unlikely, that some god-being created all of this and just this alone, yet in all its vastness, simply in order to bring into existence at this place and time on a relatively, almost infinitely, insignificant bit of matter we call Earth, us, in all our flawed and feeble glory.

Or, hardly more plausibly, that out of nothing just this one particular universe sprang in exactly the right form, and with numberless sets of cause and effect perfectly aligned, so that our humble selves were able to appear, but that beyond this one manifestation of reality, that happens against all odds to have us in it, there is, ever was, and ever will be absolutely nothing.

Whichever of these or other notions of things one chooses, the indisputable fact is that, god-created or not, we are in our normal existences far closer to the least impressive of forms than to anything like the primal force or state from which we and all else appears to have sprung.

9/17/08-Wed.-The fall in the stock market (and with it, to a somewhat lesser extent but still severe, our own portfolio) has persisted through trading today. It is now apparent that the combined instability in both the housing and equity markets is the worst seen so far in my lifetime. It is certainly a vindication of the many warnings by Warren Buffett, often ignored or even scoffed at by the Bush administration which has for the most part been not merely incompetent but complicit in a systemic failure which has now begun. The Central Bank and current Treasury Secretary seem heroic and alone in trying to hold back the flood of red ink, failing corporations, and foreclosures. The regulators have been asleep at the switch. And our government has simply encouraged more greed and deficit spending at all levels.

Fran's and my assets have fallen about $110,000 so far this year. We have been conservative, but our nest egg is taking an ever larger hit. Who knows where this may end? The big concern is whether there will be not just a severe bear market but a global systemic failure. There may not be a full recovery in my lifetime. I do not predict this, but as the markets continue downward despite all that the best thinkers and administrators can do, it reminds for now of when a damaged submarine keeps descending into the depths no matter what the crew does.

9/22/08-Mon.-Last night, I was thinking about an upcoming road trip, intending to go to a cooler place and do a lot of meditation. The main options are NM, CO, and AR. But it occurred to me I might head out east and visit a couple I had known well in VA about 30 years or so ago. I looked them up on the internet. He's now the head marketing guy for a small VA city. She's a social worker with a private counseling practice. I'm sure they are still really into meditation and would be glad to see me, though not so much as if I had stuck with our then mutual spiritual path, Lifestream Way, all these years.

But they might even put me up for a few days. I could pay more than my share of expenses and meditate most of the time while they were working. Thought about and realized it is not practical for this road trip. I would be driving way too much for the amount of time at my destination. Better to wait till maybe I would have twice as long to do the whole vacation and then also have this be just one of several stops.

When I looked up AR on the internet, I just did not get a positive feeling about it. It seemed folks there are even more into hunting and fishing than here in TX. Plus, this time of year, it is not likely to ever get truly cool in AR and I do not know anyone there I could visit to make the trip seem more worthwhile.

My acid reflux, or whatever I have that is causing throat problems, continues, with excess mucus, though it is not as symptomatic as before the acupuncture treatments for this. And now, for the past two days, I am also experiencing dizziness episodes, bad enough at times that even when lying down the room feels like it is spinning. Quite disconcerting, and I do not even have a good excuse, like too much to drink, to compensate! I also am not aware of any ear problems, so this newest symptom is a mystery. If it persists, this would not be the best time to go on a trip. The symptoms are disorienting when driving, making me feel disoriented much of the time and a little distracted.

Nonetheless, in hopes my vertiginous episodes may go away as quickly as they came, I took my car in for an annual vehicle inspection this morning. Besides the weird feeling of mild dizziness all the time, my task was put off at first when I got to my usual service station for inspections and found that it was closed, no longer in operation. So I had to drive awhile till I located a new, untried (by me) state inspection facility. Fingers crossed, that they are fairly reliable. I walked down the street to get a little breakfast while waiting for it and realized, too late of course, I had left this morning without my sun protection hat.

Later. The new inspection facility, B&B Muffler and Automotive, on S. Lamar, did a good job, and its staff seemed friendly and competent. They efficiently did the job, put the new inspection tag on, and added no extra charges. So, I shall likely use them in December for Fran's car too.

On the way home, stopped for a few groceries at Sun Harvest.

The press coverage of our country's long-overdue (because predictable, given absurd policies) financial crisis, suggesting things like "melt-down," "depression," or "once in a century event," has been scary. We are currently down, on paper, about $60,000 for the year. Would certainly hate to see it more like $600,000, which could happen if things got as bad as in 1932. Am already angry and depressed that taxpayers will at least be responsible for a roughly $1 trillion bailout of the financial sector though, just a month or so ago, we were being assured that these mortgage, investment, and banking companies were essentially in good shape. That is money, now committed and as good as gone, that up till but one or two weeks ago the government might have used, starting with the next presidential administration, for badly needed Medicare, Social Security, education, health care, and infrastructure reforms, upgrades, or projects. It represents more expenditure than the entire stupid war in Iraq has so far cost. I wonder if, when the historians get through assessing the George W. Bush presidency, they may not find that he was the worst of our esteemed leaders and at the worst possible time in recent memory to have had such a total loser in that office.

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