Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Happy Thoughts

Work has been killing me recently, so there's been little time for much else.

By this Friday, I'll have worked 19 straight days, and often a fairly extended working day. I feel like I'm running an IT Iron Man competition.

Which isn't great for family life, especially when I get home after E is in bed, and it's pretty wearing in general. On the plus side, I work on a day-rate, so the Div family coffers are swelling.

It's a grind though, so tonight I thought I'd post a couple of small but happy things...

Firstly, remember this bet? Turns out it wasn't so bad after all.

Celtic win league

Secondly, happy birthday to Kylie, who turns forty today. Forty!!

The newest pop princesses are all well and good, but as late thirties loom, it's nice to know there are women older than me who I'd still like to do scandalous things to.

Be honest, you would, wouldn't you?

Saturday, May 10, 2008

Hate To Say I Told You So

Back in February, commenting on the forthcoming conclusion to the Scottish Premier League, I wrote..

Will we see more examples of dodgy decisions over the remainder of what looks sure to be a tight run in? You betcha!

If there's one thing about 'The Establishment' it knows how to close ranks in an hour-of-need.

Look for more invisible hand balls, mysterious offsides, debatable penalties, and more subtle influencing - such as the amazing Aiden McGeady booking count - as The Establishment attempts to fend off three-in-a-row for Celtic.
Today, after the Rangers v Dundee Utd match in which Dundee Utd were denied a blatant penalty, had a goal incorrectly disallowed, and TWO Rangers players escaped from red card offences, the Dundee United manager, Craig Levein, had this to say..

I said to him that we were as well not turning up. What was the point? We were as well going home.

Mike could have phoned me this morning and said: `Look, Rangers are going to get the three points today - just tell your lads to stay in the house.'
Today's referee. Mike McCurry. A man who has made an awful lot of big mistakes this season. A high proportion of which have advantaged Rangers.

As I said of Bobby Tait previously, at what point does dodgy refereeing cross the line into match fixing? I'd love to see that question answered in the courts.

Monday, May 05, 2008

Economic Indicators

Aside from all the usual economic indicators - GDP, inflation rates, employment numbers, FTSE, etc. - there are a range of other ways to gauge the state of the economy.

One financial journalist I read came up with the 'skip index' as a means of judging the health of the property market. He routinely monitors the number of builders skips outside properties in his street and uses it as a means of determining whether activity in the market is increasing or declining.

I liked that idea since it is likely to preempt more scientific measures, as renovating a property and selling it can take several months, after which there is then another few months delay until the statisticians compile their numbers.

Recently I've spotted a couple of new indicators of my own. One with a degree of science/rationality. One more of a gut feel.

The more rational one is in the new car market. I've been inundated with flyers from companies offering progressively juicier financing options on new cars.

The standard seems to be 0% interest over three years with a 35% deposit required.

This isn't a new game for the manufacturers. They want to shift stock but don't want to damage their brands by cutting prices, so they dress a price cut up as something else.

Particularly in the midst of a credit crunch where loans are becoming scarcer it makes sense.

However a recent offer from Renault really got my attention.

0% over three years, with a TEN percent deposit required. Or, to put it another way, put £750 down on a base model Renault Clio to drive it out the showroom, and pay it off over three years with no interest charged!

That's practically giving it away, and as clear an indication as anyone should need that the economy is in a bit of a pickle.

That's the 'big ticket' picture, but my less scientific, more intuitive analysis is from a much lower price range.

Recently I've bought a real range of stuff off a whole range of websites. Clothes, shoes, shaving products, plumbers rods (don't ask!), food supplements.

I'm definitely a bit of a 'long tail' shopper but the unifying factor across all the purchases is they are dispatching super fast.

Either a lot of web-based companies simultaneously upped their logistics game, or the oft forecast consumer slowdown is underway. I know which option my money is on.