Windows 8 Update 3/6/2013

It’s been a few months now, and I’ve adapted fairly well to my Windows 8 machine. It works, but I can’t say that it is an improvement over Windows 7 in any way shape or form. There are two things that I think are worth noting. First is the return of the “Blue Screen of Death”…which I had just about forgotten about. It has now happened to me six times, including once this morning. It happens kind of randomly, but I think it always happens when I am using Internet Explorer or Google Chrome web browsers. Out of nowhere, I get a message that says “system_service_exception”…it takes about 20 seconds to log it, then it shuts down and restarts. Curiously…after the restart, it can’t find the wireless network, but another restart fixes that.
Thankfully…Windows 8 boots up pretty quickly, but all in, aside from the annoyance, count on losing about 5 minutes of your life.  As I noted in my first review, I don’t really demand a lot from my PC, but I do usually have a browser open with 10+ tabs. I realize this can use a lot of memory…but crashing the system? Really!! I think I have crashed my windows7 7 machine once since upgrading to the 64bit version of excel…and I routinely have absolutely enormous excel files and massive database linked pivot tables open all day every day. Even when I bog it down…all I have to do is take a coffee break, and when I come back…the ol’ girl has righted herself…I can save, close a few things, and move on. This is quite frankly unacceptable, my problem is…at this time, suffering through hours of hold and attempting to translate gibberish speaking help desk folks….would be worse than just losing 5 minutes of my life once a week….I’ll keep you posted if the math on that changes. I will note that to date, I have not lost any excel files…yet
The second issue could very well be related…maybe 4GB just isn’t enough for windows 8? I haven’t done any scientific comparisons, but it just seems like 4GB isn’t enough, where as on my other machine…4GB is more than enough to handle everything I do….with the exception of some very large access/excel processes. These still work….they are just slow. On this machine, I don’t really handle access/excel files of that size, so that has never been an issue. But all I have to do is open a browser with a handful of open tabs, and memory usage seems to jump up to 60-70%+ and stay there.
I may just get additional memory and see if that fixes all of my problems…


US February 2013 Cash Deficit Review: Part 2

And now for the stunning conclusion part 2…part 1 is here if you missed it.


Outlays for 2/2013 ended up at $324B, down $5B from last February’s $329B of outlays…that’s 1.49% if you don’t have a calculator handy. Small, but lets give credit where credit is due. Yet…there’s nothing terribly surprising about this…for a couple of years now, we have seen relatively flat spending as increases driven by the ever growing entitlement programs are mostly offset by decreases in other areas. The spreadsheet below shows the 32 categories for outlays I track, with 2012 vs 2013 YOY and YOY% on the far right columns

022013 Outlays by Type

Right at the top we see that payments to defense vendors and the education department are down by a combined 6.5B…pre sequester, and “Other” is down an additional $4.5B. Social Security, Medicaid, and Medicare combine for a $6.8B increase, with unemployment payments down $2.7B…which is in line with the trend we have seen over the last year.
One quick note on the federal crop insurance line that went from zero to $1.9B… The DTS is not terribly consistant about reporting “Other” expenses unless there is a large outlay on a particular day. Because of this, I catch what I can, but some of it inevitably falls into my “other” category. In total, we get to the correct total outlays figure, but some of the smaller categories don’t necessarily have the most accurate data. In this case, it is likely that there were at least some outlays in February 2012, but none ended up being large enough to make it onto the DTS. Bottom line with Outlays…it’s great we saw a decrease, but this is nowhere near being a material shift…it will be interesting to see what, if any effect the sequester has over the next few months.
Daily Deficit for 3/4: Although I couldn’t help myself on the 3/1 charts, I’m going to wait another couple days before I resume the YOY charts. If you just have to know, 3/4/2013 ran a $5B surplus on strong Monday revenues. I will wrap up the February review tomorrow with a look at debt

Govt spends $80B on Sequestration Day 1

I know that I said yesterday I wasn’t going to publish the daily deficit for 3/1, but I changed my mind because I think it illustrates the absurdity of the deficit/debt debates we’ve been having for the last few years. The US Daily Cash Deficit for 3/1/2013 was $53.5B…in one friggin day!! The tax increases on the wealthy democrats have been wanting for a decade and finally passed last year bring in a meager $60B per year…as estimated by the CBO…which almost certainly means the numbers are bogus, and it will probably turn out to be $20-$30B in reality. The dreaded sequester…which will hollow out our economy, leave millions homeless and our borders suseptable to Viking Invaders…a mere $85B. So if we can blow through…in one single day almost the same amount we are discussing “cutting” or “taxing” in an entire year, maybe, just maybe, we are not quite grasping the reality of the situation.
I imagine a financial planner sitting down with a couple making $50k a year, but spending $200k. The planner says…you know, this isn’t sustainable, you guys need to cut back. So the wife…sipping a $200 bottle of wine know…I guess we could cut back on the wine a bit. The planner looks at her incredulously…”Lady…I don’t think you understand. You are going to lose your house, your cars…you can forget about wine…you need to start applying for government housing because you are going to be living in a cardboard box in about a week.” That’s the reality of our situation. Uncle Sam is broke as hell and functionally bankrupt. Without the ability to print money and essentially sell ourselves our own debt via our buddies at the federal reserve and playing games with the “trust fund” we would have “for real” bankrupt years ago.
So here it is…On the first day of the sequester…$75B of spending ($80B if you include refunds) out the door. Raise your hand if you think this will end well.

2013-03-01 USDD

Must Read: Bitter Pill: Why Medical Bills Are Killing Us

A new cover article from Time “Bitter Pill: Why Medical Bills Are Killing Us” is getting a lot of press. The author takes a step back and asks the obvious question everyone else has forgotten to ask for the last 30 years or so. Why the H#** is medical care so expensive? Why does 3 minutes with my kids Dr. cost $300? Why does an MRI on an 8 year old machine cost a few thousand bucks? The answer is…the medical industry as a whole has conspired to screw us all over…getting rich in exchange for the false promise of immortality. They use our ignorance, and their “expertise” to their advantage at every step of the way, and have fully used and abused our broken government to push through a myriad of laws that assist them in screwing us over.
I think this piece very important because it changes the direction of the conversation. For decades, insurance companies have been the bad guys…and the noble Doctors played the hero. But that’s BS. Do you think Dr Mc Dreamy wants to make $1000 for that hip replacement, or $200,000? He’s got a BMW to pay for, a couple mistresses, and a vacation home in Aspen to pay for so you know damn well what side of the fence he’s on.
And now it’s time for a personal story. A few years ago, I went to see a specialist about my hand…I had a tingling sensation in my pinky that wouldn’t go away, and Web MD convinced me that I was probably about to have a massive heart attack. It took this specialist about 1.5 minutes to correctly diagnose me with some kind of nerve irritation. Not to worry he said…He could do a surgery to fix me up…all he needed was $30k, and something about a shark with a laser on its head. Uhh…. really? For the record…for $30k, I would literally sell you my pinky, but that’s another conversation for another day.
The next step was an appointment with an electro shock therapist. For $2k, I sat in a chair while a university of phoenix grad stabbed me in my arm and hand and then shocked me. Like 20 times. The whole thing was recorded on a prehistoric looking machine that looked like it was pulled out of the hatch on Lost. Then…the real Dr. /specialist guy came in, turned up the juice on the shockinator 1.0, and gets me a few more times. Three minutes later, I’m paying my $30 copay and thinking that maybe waterboarding is torture after all.
Next up, a follow up with the specialist who sent me to get tortured tested in the first place. After a nice long wait, I get ushered into a lavish exam room. He takes a look at my hand, asks me how it feels, and promptly recommends that I get some electro shock therapy to confirm that his surgery will cure my pinky. I quickly reminded him that I just had that done and am only here to get my test results. (I am thinking I nailed it) After looking confused for a minute, he opens an envelope, flips to the back of the report, and gives me the good news…my  nerves are fine(except for that new facial twitch)…and I should just make an appointment….he’ll be happy to see me every  month indefinitely until electro shock therapy damages my nerves enough that the insurance company will pay for his surgery fees.
Three minutes later, I’m in my car thinking about what a friggin racket this guy is running. All in, I’m only out like $90 for three copay’s, but my insurance company gets billed like $500 for each visit and his buddy at the torture clinic got a few thousand for my “treatment” If he can talk me and another guy with a tingly pinky to swing by every month for a 3 minute checkup, he’s got enough to cover his BMW payment and a couple dates at Chili’s with his mistress.  Short story long…I never went back, and while still for sale, my pinky feels fine…I just needed to stop exposing it to electro shock therapy.
Back to the Time story..I recommend reading the whole thing…and it is long..if you want to understand some of the true problems with our medical system.  This topic has huge deficit implications with medicare/Medicaid outlays expected to grow exponentially over the coming decades as the Boomers all retire and get in line for their free hips, knees, and electroshock therapy….for which Dr. McDreamy would be more than happy to provide…for the right price.