Thursday, September 17, 2009

The Next Big Thing

Okay, so we had the financial meltdown in the marketplace that was, somehow, due to derivatives that were, to a large extent, based upon a real estate bubble. The bubble bursts, everyone goes bust. But, and the best thing, to this day most people have no idea what really happened.

Well, here is the next big thing, "life settlements."

And what, you might ask, are "life settlements"? You buy a life insurance policy from an ill or elderly person. For example, you might pay $400,000 for a $1 million policy. The amount you would pay would depend upon the life expectancy of the insured person. Kind of like a reverse mortgage, only on your life. This gives the older person an immediate cash boost, and that has to help the economy, Right?

Now you "securitize" these policies you bought by packaging hundreds of thousands of them into bonds. These bonds will then be sold to investors who will receive payouts when the insureds, those old or elderly people, die. Wall Street would make its money by creating the bonds, selling the bonds, and trading the bonds. Inverstors make their money, well, when people die.

Now, of course, the sooner the insureds die the more, and more quickly, money is made by everyone. This sets up all kinds of interesting scenarios that I am sure some enterprising fiction writers will pick up on. For example, you bet heavily on these securites and then clean up in the market when you secretly unleash a deadly virus that attacks the old and sick. Or you orchestrate a health plan that withholds care from the old and sick in an effort to prop up a sagging economy. The possibilities are endless.

Remember, you heard about it here first.

Disclaimer: the above is intended to be satire and is not, in any way, to be construed as a political statement of any kind. Barman gave up politics for good when he, while in the sixth grade, lost the race for Chief Hall Monitor in what he still maintains was a fixed election. Barman did have an Eisenhower jacket once, and thought it was quite snappy.

Sashaying To Sha Sha's

My friends Bruce and Donna live within an easy walk of Sha Sha Resort. This place burned to the ground a few years ago and is now under new ownership. To everyone's credit, they rebuilt it pretty much as it was, and that is a good thing.

Almost There

And here it is, pretty much the same, but with a few enhancements.

Almost Like Old

The chipmonk, who survived the fire but with a badly burnt butt, has been either refurbished or replaced. But he occupies the same old spot.

Like An Old Friend

The old Sha Sha's had a lot of really nice mounted fish and elaborate wood-carvings but, alas, they all were destroyed in the fire. Luckily, there are several very accomplished wood-workers in this area and they all helped restore the old look.

The Mysterious Chinese Woman Makes A Friend

Who knows, that pelican may have migrated up here from Puerto Vallarta. They do that.

They have also added a bit of a retro, kind of 50's or 60's look to the place as well.

Last One Buys

The new owner remaned the bar inside the resort.

Fish Bones Bar

The story the bartender told was that the new owner had this large wooden sculpture of, well, fish bones, and wanted a place to hang it.

I Think It Should Go Here

And here is the usual crowd of reprobates spending a lovely day where it should be spent. Inside a bar.

Chris, Barman, and Bruce

I decided to head down to the end, or at least a corner, of the bar to have a drink with one of the regulars.

Something Fishy About This Guy

And no resort on the Canadian border would be complete without a Tiki Bar.

Sha Sha's Tiki Bar

They had a picture of an arial view of Sha Sha's resort and you can see where it really is at the end of the road. Keep heading north and you will be both wet and, not much further, in Canada.

No Man Is An Island

You can see how close Bruce's place is to Sha Sha's. Makes for an easy walk and you don't have to worry about driving home after you have had one too many. You do have to worry about everyone else driving home, though.

If you have a Bloody Mary here, be careful of the pickles. The bartender marinates them in the juices left over from the jalapenos that they use in their tacos, or whatever. Trust me, those pickles are hot, hot, hot.

This late in the year Sha Sha's is kind of winding down, but during the summer it really rocks. They have big dock parties and live music so it is a lot of fun. And they rent cabins which are pretty much booked up solid for the people who actually come up here to fish.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

It's A Mystery To Me

I made the mistake of starting to read Dark Of The Moon by John Sandford while I was visiting my friends Sandy and Rico. It was a mistake because I didn't have enough time to finish the book, just enough time to get engrossed in it. And, based upon the bookmark I found in it, my friend Rico hadn't finished either. Damn, I couldn't even steal the book without feeling guilty.

For those of you who may not be familiar with John Sandford, he is a mighty fine mystery writer known primarily for a series of "Prey" novels: Rules Of Prey, Shadow Prey, Winter Prey, etc. These are very good mysteries, very well written. John Sandford is the pseudonym of Pulitzer Prize winning journalist John Camp.

What makes these mysteries even more interesting to me is that they are set largely in Minnesota; the Twin Cities and surrounding areas. Having been born in Minneapolis, and living there until I was in my 30's, it is interesting to read these books and recognize many of the familiar points of reference.

This morning I headed to Barne's and Noble to pick up Dark Of The Moon so I could finish the book. Much to my surprise I couldn't find any books by John Sandford in the Mystery section. Puzzled, I was about to leave but decided to check the Fiction and Literature section just on the off-chance they might be there. And they were.

I asked one of the people why John Sanford's books, clearly mysteries, were in the Fiction and Literature section and not with the other mysteries. This is one of those explanations that just make you scratch your head. I was told that if a mystery writer is really popular and has written a lot of books they but them in the Fiction and Literature section because it is bigger and they have more room.

Well, why wouldn't I have thought of that? I guess the idea of expanding the Mystery section either had not occured to anyone or was just too much work. I suggested that maybe they should put a little sign in the Mystery section suggesting that if someone couldn't find a book there they check the Fiction and Literature section. This seemed to fall on deaf ears.

I guess if you were looking for a travel book and the country you were interested in was really popular and a lot of books were written about it you might find it in the Fiction and Literature section as well.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Into The Far North

This is my first post since arriving home from Minnesota yesterday so I have some catching up to do. Didn't really take a lot of pictures while I was up there. Kind of lazy and we didn't go to a lot of bars. Anyway, I will be catching up over the next few days.

I also want to want to let you know that I changed my hit counter. The old one kind of went kaput and put up an erroneous count. I switched to another one and started the count at 650,000 this morning. It was over 638,000 on August 29th, the last time I made a note of it. I figured 650,000 was a nice round number and in the ballpark.

Okay, back to the matters at hand. While visiting with our friends Jon and Ruthie we decided to hit The Winton Liquor Store.


Believe it or not, this place is one of the hottest around. But what brought us was the promise of midget wrestling.

How Could You Not Come?

Well, don't get too excited. There will not be any pictures. We saw the ad for this in a paper and it said "Women's Midget Wrestling." That, of course, is what got us interested. Except Ruthie who just shook her head, yelled something that sounded like "perfarts," as she left the room. I think that is what distracted us so that we misread the date. Damn, it is tomorrow, not today.

Some of our crowd found other ways to amuse themselves.

And They Bought Pull Tabs Too

Bar Man is not a big fan of pull tabs so I just turned away and concentrated on my drinking.

Rum And Coke

Earlier we helped Jon move his dock and I thought I would share these beefcake photos with you. Kind of to make up for not having any of the midget wrestlers.

My Buddy Cubby

Hard as it may be to believe, Cubby climbed Kilimanjaro just a few years ago. He is kind of our hero, although he is much younger than us.

It was Jon and his wife Ruthie who I came up to visit, Cubby and the guy in the background, Joe, had come up to go on a canoe trip. All four, Jon, Ruthie, Cubby, and Joe were heading into the boundary waters for 5 or 6 days. Although, to look at the size of their packs, you would have thought a 6 month artic expedition.

Jon Struttin' His Stuff

I just stayed at Jon's from Friday afternoon to Monday morning and then headed up to International Falls to visit my friends Bruce and Donna. More on that tomorrow.