Archive for the ‘Travel’ Category

I’m a little late to the party on this.  Spiney has been somewhere between depression, exhaustion, busy, and malaise. As anyone who drives has noticed the price of gas has dropped very steadily for a high during the Summer and Political Primary season of about $4.10 here in Eastern PA to a current $1.60 and dropping.  I know the gas and oil futures continue to drop and many experts are predicting gas to go back to $1.00 a gallon.  This would bring it down to where it was in the early 80’s. I’ve already seen more ads for the Hummer H3 on TV.  If history repeats itself anyone who sold their big SUV or 4wd Truck at a big loss to buy onto the Prius waiting list will be kicking themselves pretty hard any day now.  There will also be less interest in building greener cars, smaller more practical vehicles, and the brakes will be hit on Solar, Wind-Power, and other alternative plans that were all the rage at $4 a gallon gas.  I lived through the first big “Oil Crises”  I was a new driver, was really into alternative energy back then, around 1977. I sat in long lines to get my allotted gallons of gas on my odd or even day that I could get gas in my 68 mustang. I saw gas go from $0.35 up to $1.50 almost overnight.  We swore then that we would become energy independent from OPEC. Back then the Prius of the day was the Volkswagen Rabbit Diesel.  There was a waiting line and claims of 50 MPG.  They sold so many that Volkswagen built a plant in Western PA just to meet demand.  Then for some reason, gas dropped down to about $0.75 / gallon and we were all relieved.  We thanked God for giving us back relatively cheap gas, those who sold their Muscle-Cars or Big cruisers like Chevy Impalas, or Cadillacs and were now wedged into a Rabbit, kicked themselves and we got stupid again.  The Solar panels put on the White house roof were taken down. Solar, Wind, etc were left to the outback people who read “Mother Earth News”  I was one of them. America got on the first Van craze where everyone had to have a tricked out Van with shag carpet, fat tires, 8 track stereo. MPG be damned.  I hope and pray that President Obama will stick to his guns about energy independence.  Because I believe what was said by CNBC money madman Jim Cramer the other day.  He said that oil has dropped low on purpose by the Saudi’s so we will forget about alternative energy and becoming independent. Gas will go back up, once the excitement is gone, and the plug is pulled for all of the government funded and mandated energy programs.  It will go back up.  Not back to $4 /gallon.  It will go to about $2.50 – $2.75.  And we will be so glad we are not paying $4 /gallon that we will thin we dodged that bullet.  All the while the OPEC nations, many who HATE us such as Iran, Venezuela, Putin of the former and soon to be again Soviet Union.  They all have come to rely on oil money to fund their militarys, pay for their socialist programs, and pad their pockets.  So they will play with supply and demand until they are making $80 a barrel again.  Last Week it hit a low of $33 and in July of 2008 it hit a high of about $148.   Do yourself and your Country, your children, and your Earth a favor. Act as if gas is $4 a gallon.  Demand advances in alternative energy. Demand the electric car.  The car company’s are all in Washington begging for money because they got greedy and stupid. They had 2 energy crises before to see the writing on the wall, but they continued to build bigger and bigger vehicles, and convinced the public that they didn’t really love their family unless they put them in an Urban Assault Vehicle aka a Hummer.  GM built and killed the electric car in the 90’s but now 10 years later they need time and money to build what? an electric car!  And they helped with the economic crises because maybe you can’t afford to buy a Hummer or Escalade, or Eddie Bauer edition Bronco, but we can lease one to you.  So your driveway of the house you can’t afford looks as successful as your neighbor, who by the way can’t afford his either.   Hell GMAC the financing arm of General Motors, GM even gave you the Mortgage you can’t afford.

So once again, let your neighbor who’s ego is many times the size of his or her…brain fall back into the Bigger is better trap.  This is your chance to be ready to laugh at them all when heating oil hits $3 gallon plus, or the same for gasoline. You will take the smarter path less traveled in your Hybrid to your affordable house with the solar panels on the roof, and the community windmill on the hill.  That’s my goal.  What say you?   Spiney

Conspiracy Theory or How GWB added a quick couple of billion to his retirement account

PS there is one thing I would be amiss not to say.  Mrs. Spiney has a theory about the quick spike we recently went through with Gas and Oil.  It’s a conspiracy theory but a good logical one.  President Bush, his family, and many of his friends are former, current, or future oil people. Knowing his eight year reign was quickly coming to an end, he wanted to make sure he was set for life.  Being a multi-millionaire  isn’t enough these days, you’ve got to be in the Billionaire Boys Club if you really want to play.  So what better way to pad your war chest and impress your friends than to manipulate the oil market to make record breaking profits, money never before heard of. While your at it, you even are silly enough to get yourself videotaped doing “The Sword Dance” with the Prince of Saudi Arabia.  Then to help the little guy, us, and to protect your friend from the new regimes promise of energy independence you throttle back oil prices. Just days after the election.  Think about it and connect the dots.  I think she’s onto something here!!  That’s why I married her.  Beauty and Brains.

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Well I made it to the Photo-Pro Expo in NYC again this year.  I went with a family friend who use to help us at our studio.  Her name is Nancy and she now does professional photography on the side, so she was very excited to go.  My Day started at 6:15am.  We were to meet at 7:00 am and then drive from Reading to the Dorney Park area of Allentown to catch the bus.  We saved about $18 each by picking up the bus there, instead of Reading.  We made the bus by the skin of our teeth. I got stuck behind a very slow tractor trailer and lost time that way.  Then I passed the bus turn off and had to go a mile up the road and turn around.  We got there about 2 minutes shy of the bus pulling out.  The bus was filled with people who make the trip daily to NYC to work.  They get on and try to sleep for the 2 hour run.  Well Nancy had not seen me in a few months and was excited about the trip, and to catch up on news.  We talked quiet, but I guess not quiet enough.  There was a girl in her twenties in front of us who seems very annoyed with us.  Also the window at our seat squeaked very bad and loud.  So regular commuters do not like tourist.  We caught the bus at 8:00am and arrived in the Big Apple at 10:10 am exactly on time.  From there it was a few block walk from the Port Authority on 9th ave to the Javitts Center on 11th.  It was a beautiful crisp fall day.  We arrive at the show and I quickly ditched my sweatshirt. It was quite warm in the convention center.  Despite the fact that it was warm, there were many who felt it was better to look good than to feel good.  Many girls and guys sporting knee high boots, leather jackets, and scarfs.  I was sweating bullets just looking at them.  Despite hearing nothing but how tight credit is for weeks, the first booth we encountered in the show was a man from American Express trying to sign us up for a line of credit, and a $250 signing bonus. Since many reading this may not be interested in photography I’ll sum it up that it was a Mecca for all things photography, and you could touch, feel, and learn about every new camera and other gear all in one place.  I went there willing to spend $300 on a small digital point & shoot, so I don’t have to carry my heavy Digital SLR when I travel.  But after seeing them all, the one that really fits my needs is $499, so I need to save more sheckles before I make that purchase.  But now I know what I need and want, so that made the trip worth it.  After only 1/2 hour on the convention floor my back was killing me.  Places to sit were few and far in between.  Just as I was getting into the groove of the show, my friend asked the inevitable question where and when are we going to eat.  Up until that point I had survived on pretzels, diet Sierra Mist, and a blueberry muffin on the bus.  But it must be a woman thing because had my Wife been along she would have asked the same thing.  I didn’t want Nancy to get sick or a headache from not eating so we searched for a place to eat.  We asked around and the closest places to eat were several blocks away, or street vendors so we went into the basement cafeteria for overpriced, undercooked food.  I got a burger and fries for $8.50.  Nancy got some kind of wrap, and upon seeing my fries also decided on fries.  My burger was good but very undone in the center.  The fires weren’t bad but gave me a sore tongue from their high salt content.  We did a few more hours taking in the booths, and some seminars and it was time to go home. As we left the center we had a close encounter with a TV actor who also happens to be a photo enthusiast. It was Joe Regalbuto who played Frank Fontana on Murphy Brown. We spent a few minutes deciding do we eat or just head home.  We decided to grab something at the Port Authority and catch the 6:00pm bus home so we wouldn’t be too late.  Good move, the bus should have got home at 8:10pm but there were accidents and just lots of congestion and we lost and hour at least getting back.  We had an annoying lawyer sitting behind us who would call someone who was to pick him up in PA and give them an update on how we were very late because of the “stupid people who don’t know how to drive in NJ”  We heard this at least 8 times.  If he was such a high powered lawyer he should have his own car and not be sitting in a bus!  By the time I got to our car I was about crippled from the bus drive and the convention floor, but still glad I went.  Nancy and I both commented on how we would like to live in NYC for 1-3 months just to get a feel for what it’s like to live there, and explore all the places you want to, but never get the time. Walk across the Brooklyn Bridge, explore central park, and just explore and photograph all of the areas like the village, Chelsea, the other boroughs etc.  And the places you never have time for like the Moma, the zoo, the library, and more that I can’t think of right now.

The next day I was supposed to go to New Jersey for 2 days for my nephews confirmation.  My Wife saw how exhausted I was and gave me a pass.  It was a good thing because I was a zombie for the next 24 hours. I just slept and then drifted in and out of consciousness.  Plus I treated myself with ice packs and my massaging La-z-boy chair.  Even today, Saturday I was only a little better.  A trip like that takes a lot out of old Spiney.  So that’s NYC Photo Expo for 2008.  I’ll look over all the literature I brought back, and dream of my next purchase and how exciting it was to have been a Pro Photographer for 17 years.  Till next time, Spiney

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