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Spring doldrums

Sometimes ya got it, sometimes ya ain’t.

The deep part of winter — my first back in the NorthWET — wasn’t bad. But late winter and spring are dragging on like the worst of January. Cold. Gloomy. Eternally wet. I can’t remember the last time I saw sun. I have vague recollections of spotting blue sky last week, nuking a cup of tea with the intention of sitting on the deck — then discovering it to be pouring rain when I walked out the door.

I went to the hardware store yesterday and bought yellow paint for the garret room upstairs. I hate yellow. I would never paint a room yellow. I fancy myself an aesthete with a taste for the cool, dark, and sophisticated. But now the world needs yellow, bright and uncomplicated.

Painting walls or figuring out — with your astute help — how to cope with the eccentric ghosts of century-old home builders seems pleasantly real compared with the insanities, inanities, and cosmic cruelties of the outside world.

I surf the ‘Net and find that I don’t care. Seeking miscellany since I have no brilliant insights for you, I come up with productive time wasting, sad use of cool technology, and a conditional refutation of Bastiat on the broken window fallacy. (If true, does that make Bastiat’s refutation of a fallacy a fallacy itself? Who knows? Who cares?)

I learn belatedly that a young hero has cancer. This young woman is worth 10 of me. There’s nothing I can do for her, for her wonderful family.

I receive an undeserved gift for which I can never give proper thanks.

I can go upstairs and paint a dark room yellow. Otherwise, as Joel occasionally says, I got nothin’ today.


  1. Ellendra
    Ellendra April 5, 2011 9:01 am

    “seems pleasantly real compared with the insanities, inanities, and cosmic cruelties of the outside world.”

    I think you just explained why, the worse the political news gets, the more work I do in planning my homestead.

    (No permits yet, it’s an hour’s drive from where I currently live, my truck is in the shop more often than it’s on the road, and I recently got a new job with a hectic schedule, so for the moment planning is about all I can do.)

    In that regard, I’ve made progress in a way that I never expected: my father has started taking me seriously! He’s the head building inspector for a major city (not saying which one), and he can not only quote building codes from memory, but he’s also an engineer and can explain WHY the code is there for most of them. (Some still have him stumped, but he knows the important ones.) While we don’t get along all that well, and he makes fun of me for my ideas rather too often, I do still resort to using him as a walking encyclopedia sometimes. Last night, we were able to discuss ways of reinforcing concrete to meet the load-bearing requirements for the uphill wall of an underground house, and he didn’t resort to using baby-talk even once! He’s been speaking to me like I was a 4-year-old for almost 30 years, so while it might not seem like much of a homesteading accomplishment, to me, this is huge!!!!

  2. Ellendra
    Ellendra April 5, 2011 9:19 am

    From the Bastiat link: “even though natural disasters destroy physical capital they don’t diminish the true engines of economic growth: human ingenuity and productivity.”

    I’ve been saying something similar in discussions about the stimulus bills over the last few years. An economy may be measured in dollars, but its lifeblood is entrepreneurs. If a government is going to spent tax money trying to stimulate the economy (not saying they should, but if they’re going to anyway), then they should spend it in ways that make it easier for people to start and grow small businesses.

    I even wrote out a plan for that once and sent it to a congresscritter, when I was in an idealistic mood. I blame the pain meds I was on at the time. Never heard back.

  3. Rick Burner
    Rick Burner April 5, 2011 10:30 am

    Regarding the New Yorker Bastiat story:
    Mr. Surowiecki notes that the effect only works in wealthy countries that can attract a lot of money.
    Since GDP figures combine (mostly harmful) government spending with private spending, perhaps all he’s seeing is bigger government.
    “Never let a good crisis go to waste.”

  4. Claire
    Claire April 5, 2011 10:43 am

    Rick Burner — Indeed. Surowiecki is no Austrian economist, that’s for sure. From what I’ve seen he’s emphatically big-gov inclined. What you say is true. OTOH. what he says does make a certain amount of sense. While one broken window leads to no net gain and thousands of broken windows leads only to larger shifts of resources from one use to another … it makes sense that in the aftermath new infrastructure could lead to both greater productivity and new entrepreneurial energy infusing the affected area.

  5. Dana
    Dana April 5, 2011 11:07 am

    Always good to inject a little humor into the situation:

    The 4 Seasons of Seattle Weather

    (who sheepishly still owes you a more serious letter)

  6. Claire
    Claire April 5, 2011 12:40 pm

    Oh, Dana — that is so, so, so, so very true! And then there’s this: The part of the Northwest where I live gets 2 to 2-1/2 times the rain Seattle gets. “K-k-k-k-kil me ….”

    I’ve gotta save that one. It’s seriously a keeper.

    And you don’t owe me nothin’, Dana. In fact, I feel more than sheepish knowing my letter arrived when you guys had so much to deal with.

  7. Scott
    Scott April 5, 2011 2:10 pm

    I don’t know what this says about me as a person, but if it’s gotta rain,nothin’ beats a good thunder-n-lightning storm. I don’t want to see anyone hurt or property damaged,but I love a good electrical storm. A couple decades ago, I lived on a hill on the edge of town, and would sit out on the screened in porch to watch a good storm(Kentucky and FLorida both have good electrical storms). At night, it’s easy to get good lightning photos(on film cameras, slow film,and leave shutter open). The air always seemed clearer after a good electrical storm. Nature’s free negative ion generator?

  8. Pat
    Pat April 5, 2011 2:42 pm

    Same here, Scott; I love a good T’storm.
    We just had torrential rains and hurricane-like winds three times this am, but this afternoon was bright sun and gentle breezes, and promises 60s > 70s for the next two days. Yesterday was 85. (Yeah, I’m gloating. I got a good healthy dose of sunshine Vitamin D.)

    I do think the storm drowned my herbs, though; they’re sitting in mud.

  9. Claire
    Claire April 5, 2011 3:12 pm

    Thunderstorms. Sigh. Big build-up. Boom-boom-boom. All over. Fresh, cool air. Nice (as long as nobody gets a tornado out of it). Tropical rainstorms, ditto.

    Nine months of steady, undramatic rain and damp cold … I’ll trade ya.

  10. marie webster
    marie webster April 5, 2011 4:00 pm

    And there it is. Same on the east coast. Golf yesterday, first sunny day and now the rain and stuff again!! Ready for spring! Yellow is a good thing.

  11. naturegirl
    naturegirl April 5, 2011 4:48 pm

    Yeah, you kind of went from one extreme weather situation to the opposite, didn’t you?! ~ I’d take the rain over the dry, parched, baking away lifestyle even if it is so energy zapping…..

    So you’re making fake sun w/paint in the future yellow room? LOL….a few “create the sun” lamps might help cheer you up too, those do work…

    Winter into spring is the longest season of the whole year, anywhere…..

  12. Karen
    Karen April 5, 2011 4:57 pm

    Oh what I’d give for about a week of steady drenching rain here in the tinder dry forest. We might get some snow this weekend and I’d welcome a real dump.

  13. Ron Johnson
    Ron Johnson April 5, 2011 5:55 pm

    Mises said that critiquing economic theories by assembling economic data is always an iffy proposition. Theories are simple and straightforward; economic data is infinitely nuanced, especially in mixed free/controlled economies. Plucking data out disaster scenarios that perfectly fits the Bastiat theory is nearly impossible, if only because of the myriad rules, taxes, subsidies, in place before and after the disasters. Bastiat points out, all things being equal, destroying perfectly wealth makes society poorer, no matter which individuals may seem to benefit from the reconstruction. He is logically correct. However, since disasters can have the effect of wiping away old social constructs, laws, regulations, ownership patterns, and inviting subsidies and a flexible governing environment as the society hastens to rebuild, then the data may make it appear the destruction was a good thing.

    The question remains: if the same social constructs, laws, regulations, and subsidies (or lack thereof) are in place before and after a disaster, will the society rebound more quickly and therefore prove Bastiat wrong? New Orleans seems to be a sad lesson here, and probably Haiti.

    Mises would have argued that the data proves nothing, as none of it directly addresses the economic caveat: all things being equal.

  14. kowalski
    kowalski April 5, 2011 10:48 pm

    Sounds like a major depression if I’ve ever heard one- too familiar myself with the feelings, yet the settings don’t fit. Maybe check into self help online research?

  15. Claire
    Claire April 6, 2011 7:49 am

    kowalski — Thanks, but we’re not talking major depression here. I’ve gone through major depression a couple of times in my life. It’s a black pit and I feel for anybody who has to endure it. This is just a blip — truly just spring doldrums, northwest weather, and reactions to news.

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