Random Observations – June 30, 2010

At a city parking garage I recently received a handful of golden colored $1 coins as change from the payment kiosk and was amazed to discover they all bore the image of —- Franklin Pierce. The logic was inescapable: an obscure president on an obscure coin. Later I mentioned it at work and was shown a collection of like coins bearing other presidential images. There was Washington, John and John Quincy Adams and Jefferson. It must be like the program that placed images of all the states on quarters a few years back.

Speaking of money, why is it that the US is so resistant to $1 coins? Similar denominations abound in coin form in Europe and Canada but not here. Back in 1980 when I was about to depart for a 3-year US Army tour in West Germany, my mom gave me a roll of $1 coins and a wad of $2 bills thinking they’d be novelty items in Europe. Instead, I found that after the American people completely rejected the use of those two denomination, the US Treasury shipped its entire inventory to Europe where the captive audience of GIs were forced to use the $1 coins and $2 bills in the PX and Commissary.

My July 8, 2010 issue of Rolling Stone finally arrived in yesterday’s mail. That’s the one with the bombshell story that got General McChrystal fired. Ironically, the most explosive story to appear in Rolling Stone in my memory ranked only five out of seven in magazine cover font size. “Lady Gaga Tells All” got top billing followed by “Dennis Hopper: The Final Days” and “BP’s Next Disaster” then “4 Days at Bonnaroo.” Finally, there’s “Obama’s General: Why he’s losing the war” which was ranked above only “Elton John” and “Eminem.” While I’ve crossed the digital divide with newspapers, preferring websites to newsprint, glossy magazines still have my loyalty. Rolling Stone has been particularly interesting over the past few years both in its political reporting and in it’s ongoing post-mortem of the recording industry. I’m not a huge music fan, but I see so many parallels between the demise of the music recording industry and the troubles of the newspaper industry that I track these stories very closely.

Speaking of magazines, the June 28, 2010 edition of the New Yorker has a small but interesting bit about Jack Kerouac. The larger article is about an exhibit of books containing noteworthy “marginalia” – notes written in the margin by famous (or infamous) people. Here are the sentences that caught my eye:

A few of the marginalia in the books were wordless – for example, in Jack Kerouac’s copy of “A week on the Concord and Merrimack Rivers,” by Henry David Thoreau. Kerouac possessed this book but did not own it, having borrowed it from a local library in 1949 and never brought it back. On page 227, this sentence – “The traveller must be born again on the road” – was underlined in pencil, with a small, neat check mark beside it.

The registry of deeds was not as busy today as we had hoped it would be. For a variety of reasons, the last day of June has always been one of our busiest, and with the added requirement that people intending to qualify for the $8000 Federal first time home buyer credit had to close their deals today, we expected the recording counter to be buzzing. It was not. The 301 documents that went on record were more than we see on most days in 2010, but no where near the 800+ per day we saw back in 2003. While there is some indication that Congress will extend that closing deadline to September 30, it will still only be for cases where a purchase and sales agreement was signed by April 30. While this program did perk up the real estate market a bit, its momentum has bled away and I fear the stagnation in real estate will continue and may even get worse.

It’s only been summer for a little more than a week, but the “loss” of daylight at both ends is already quite visible.

7 Responses to Random Observations – June 30, 2010

  1. C R Krieger says:

    Was the Overseas Weekly (also known as the Oversexed Weekly) gone by the time you got to Germany?  I do remember that someone in the leadership (editor or publisher) died in her shower, but don’t remember when.

    I doubt Rolling Stone reaches the heights (depths) of Overseas Weekly .  When we were at Bitburg AB in the late 1960s an issue came out about the base that cause the Base Commander’s wife to go around and buy up all the copies on the base.  My wife’s recollection is that the article was about the new Wing Commander, divorced from his wife, moving a young chippy into his quarters.  How times have changed.

    The only event like it was a “Summer Safety” issue of Airscoop the USAFE Safety Magazine.  When the Bitburg delivery arrived the Wing Safety Officer opened the carton and noticed that the cover photo, from the beach at Wheelus Air Base, in Libya, showed several people from the base cavorting with people not their wives.  He resealed the carton and sent it off base.  This was the only time that aircrew members went TDY so they could read an issue of Airscoop.

    No, Rolling Stone is a pretender.

    Regards  —  Cliff

  2. DickH says:

    I never heard of “Overseas Weekly” so it must have met its end before 1980. All we had was Stars and Stripes. It’s hard to characterize the social side of the Army in the early 1980s in Germany. From what I heard, the 1970s had been a very difficult time, especially with race relations but also with a lack of resources. For a decade plus, all the emphasis in training and equipment procurement was focused on fighting a jungle war in Southeast Asia and our armor forces were seriously neglected. I think it was in 1981 or 1982 that an armor battalion in the 3rd Infantry Division received the M1 tank, the first of that model to arrive. That, along with all the other new weapons systems we received plus an across-the-board pay raise, all did a lot for morale. There was still a lot of craziness but it was kept in perspective. I think the careerists in the Army in the 1980s were thrilled at the turn the institution was taking and put a lot of effort into raising standards. The result was the magnificent fighting force that rolled up the Iraqi Army in 100 hours in 1991. Sometimes I fear that our almost decade-long struggle in Iraq and Afghanistan will so focus training and procurement on counter-insurgency, that our ability to fight other types of conflicts will be diminished in the same way that it was post-Vietnam.

  3. JoeS says:

    No loss of daylight at the back end yet, only in the morning.

    As for the depression in the housing market, what would happen if we immediately kicked out 11 million residents as some have advocated?

  4. BarryC says:

    I was stationed in England at RAF Alconbury in 80-83 and we only had the Stars and Stripes too.

    Overseas Weekly — from Western Historical Manuscript Collection website

    ” Founded in Germany in 1950 by Marion von Rospach and four others as an alternative to the official Stars and Stripes published by the military, the Overseas Weekly (OW) was an independent tabloid directed at American enlisted men stationed overseas. Partly sensational and usually humorous, the Overseas Weekly was known as much for sexy pinups as it was for its serious journalism. Always looking out for the little guy, the newspaper covered all aspects of military life and featured news reports ranging from hard-hitting exposés to human interest stories. The Overseas Weekly expanded in 1966 to include a Pacific Edition based in Vietnam and an American Edition was later published in the 1970s. A sister publication, the Overseas Family, was also published in Germany.

    Unfortunately, the Overseas Weekly ended publication in 1975 “

  5. Dean says:

    Being independent the “Overseas Weelkly” would report on news articles that Stars & Stripes would not or could not report. Usually, these news atricles were about crimes about G.I.s attacks on other G.I.’s. Racial problems within the ranks. Especially,news articles of G.I.’s murdering Germans. It was more interesting reading “Overseas Weekly” than reading the European edition of the S&S. S&S had a better sports section.

  6. BarryC says:

    Cliff – I was aircraft electrician with the 10th CRS assigned to the 10th TRW working on RF-4C’s and F5E’s with the 527Th Aggressor Squadron.