Thursday, December 11, 2014

Know a Good Plumber?

A month or so ago, a plumber showed up to check out a few of our old-house water issues. He looked at an outdoor frost-free hydrant that had been leaking more and more over the past year. When the leak became a constant stream, I'd hooked up a hose and run the water away so it wouldn't puddle at the spigot.

"Can't adjust that no more," said he. "Good Iowa company, but they farmed this out to China for a few years and it's a piece of junk. We'll have to replace the whole thing. I'll get you high-quality equipment this time around."

He also looked at water collecting each day in one of our basement rooms. Karen's been changing towels every day to absorb the couple gallons of water that seep up from somewhere. "You're sittin' on water here. The river's all around you. The good news is you won't be running out any time soon. May be a spring opened up right here. You need a sump pump."

A couple weeks later, he showed up pulling a ditch witch on a trailer. First task was to dig up the old spigot and replace it with a new one. Karen's cellphone quacked. A neighbor friend had texted, "Don't hire that guy."

The plumber talked and talked. I listened until his phone rang, then went inside. Karen got to enjoy his conversation for another half hour or more. He just stood there, griping about how young people don't show up, family stuff, and almost endless drivel. His phone rang again. He talked a bit, then said, "Gotta go. Good conservative Republican customer, gives me lots of work. I'll be back in a few days."

Our good conservative texter later filled Karen in on why we shouldn't hire the guy. Karen called the "plumber" and told him not to return.

Today, a different plumber arrived. He turned a few things on the hydrant and stopped the dripping. He looked at the basement and said, "Looks like you probably have a leak in the water line to the pump. Where's the water line come in?" Karen showed him and he said, "Most likely, that copper line is leaking somewhere. Wonder why they used copper." Karen said, "We replaced most of the water lines when we rehabbed, but not the outdoor line." He turned off the water and went out to the well pump to watch the gauge on the pressure tank.

Virginia said, "I don't know what the answer will be, but I have a feeling you found a bad plumber and a good plumber."

And a China-basher. The good guy said, "Iowa's the best hydrant made. I put new ones in just like this."

Saturday, November 29, 2014

Saul Griffith's View of the World

Thanks to a friend, I came across a speech on energy use given in 2000 by Saul Griffith, an engineer and entrepreneur. It's available in two parts:

He began by offering a very detailed and personalized look at how much power he used per day, including his share of various governmental and infrastructure expenses.

He suggested the following approach to our energy problems. First, set realistic goals, such as 450 ppm of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. Then, be realistic in engineering how we can reach the goal(s).

As long-term solutions, he identified renewable energy sources--solar, geothermal, and wind (and not including biofuels, wave power, and tidal power). The solutions all involve trade-offs, including environmental tradeoffs, such as the likely loss of certain species. For example, dedicating land to solar panels inevitably would disrupt wildlife habitats; building 250 million new green houses would by itself raise CO2 concentration by 8.9 ppm.

If we were to equally distribute the available watts per 7 billion people worldwide, that would allow each of us 2400 watts per day, which would require many of us to reduce our power consumption by 90 percent or more, making significant behavioral changes. One of his slides showed an American carrying a backpack holding the oil, coal and natural gas required to sustain his or her current daily lifestyle--67 pounds of oil, 64 pounds of coal, and 12 pounds of natural gas. Good exercise! Well, maybe not so good for the back.

He said something I didn't like, which was that he guessed buying local food probably would not be an efficient approach. I hope that since the speech he has spent some time with people knowledgeable about smart small-scale farming practices.

To sum up his major points:
  • Climate scientists have done a good job of quantifying the challenge.
  • We need an engineering response with public dialogue. 
  • We need to become more honest about the problem, thinking about how to design the best quality of life solutions in view of the enormity of the challenge.
"I wonder how right he was/is," says Virginia.

Friday, October 24, 2014

Liberal or Conservative

I just discovered I’m a conservative. I’m in denial.

A friend “liked” an article entitled, “Liberals Will Hate This Famous Hollywood Actor’s Response to the Redskins’ Name.” I don’t usually read this stuff. I care what a famous Hollywood actor thinks about as much as I care about the latest poll of Americans. I guess I was in the mood to hate, so I read it.

“I have trouble getting excited about the names of teams that mash each others’ heads into such mush they get woozy and die early,” says Virginia.

That’s pretty much my thinking, too. I say let the free market determine whether bullfighting thrives. I had no idea that made me a conservative.

I got to thinking.

If I have a rifle and a shotgun, am I a conservative even if I sneak out the nearest door when someone sits at the next table wearing an AK-47?

I can live with Roe v. Wade. It irks me when a so-called right-to-lifer ignores “collateral damage” in Afghanistan, Iraq or Syria. In fact, I don’t quite get how some intra-uterine being has more rights than a soldier on the other side. Does “just war” theory apply to incest or rape? Now tell me, am I conservative or liberal?

Something else that flusters me is gay marriage. I was a liberal on gay marriage 30 years ago. Now that it’s okay in more than half the States, am I a conservative?

I’ve got King James, Revised Standard, New Oxford, Good News and almost bought J.B. Phillips. Does that make me liberal?

We grow most of the food we eat. Sounds like we’re survivalists. Is that liberal or conservative?

Consider the economy. The conservative President Obama, continuing the philosophy of President Bush (don’t forget Bush’s liberal support of aid to AIDS efforts in Africa), supported the Wall Street bailout (socialism at its finest) and the Fed’s continuing low interest rates that warm the hearts of bankers everywhere. I say the Fed should have distributed several thousand dollars to each American and less to the big guys (although they’re Americans, too, says the Supreme Court).

So if Obama is conservative I must be liberal.

I’ve got a split personality. Gosh, what am I? 

Monday, October 13, 2014

U City Revisited

When we moved to St. Louis in 1988, the folks who sold us their house moved across the street and became very good friends. Here's a photo of the four of us at the Moonrise Hotel in the Loop of University City.
And here's one of my partner for 27 years and counting, ringed 26 years ago.
"Looks like a neat hotel," says Virginia.

Very cool. If we didn't have friends willing to put up with us for a few days, we'd stay there.

Monday, September 29, 2014

The Ps' Folly

We continue to work on the Pannabeckers' folly, a super-duper storage shed for our kayaks and tubes, mentioned in "Doofus" a few blog postings ago. Today we finished the steps.
So now Keri can come up on the "roof" of the storage shed and listen to us read books to each other. She climbed the stairs today, but stayed away from the edges.

"Maybe she's scared of heights," says Virginia.

Perhaps we should install a railing?

Friday, September 26, 2014

Beddy-Bye: Autumn

My first garden bed newly planted with organic hard red winter wheat, fenced to keep bunnies from eating sprouts (I hope), and lightly covered with straw, leaves nine beds to go.

"What fence?" says Virginia.

An almost invisible fence attaches to the lone pole you see in the middle of the picture. (The pole's siblings don't appear in the photo.) The same little fence also runs along the woven wire fence on the big fence posts. I suppose one crunch of rabbit teeth could open a door. I hope they don't figure that out.

We'll either harvest the wheat berries in June to mill flour or call the wheat a cover crop and cut it down before planting our spring and early summer crops. In the meantime, wheat roots will join celebrations underground.

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Mad About Food

I’m mad about food. Stay with me. I’d like to apologize for my critiques of other people’s food choices. Go ahead, take pictures of your food.  Buy baby-cut carrots. Call yourself vegetarian while eating coconut whipping cream shipped halfway across the world. Enjoy those chicken and beef products that never got a hug or a name or a chance to run. Love that low-fat ice cream and yoghurt. I’ll shut up.

I’m mad about a few things. First, the way we criticize each other’s food choices, based mostly on research financed by the people who want us to buy their products. They’ve sucked us in and we haven’t noticed. Remember when research told us to wash egg yolks down the drain, take lipid drugs to reduce our cholesterol levels, stop eating lard? A few years later, hey, um, maybe that was premature. Go ahead, gobble up the yolks. We put in our mouths the same kind of food we put in our brains. Why not? We’ve grown accustomed to crap.

[Diversion: Dad’s favorite joke. Q: Why does the ocean roar? A: You would, too, if you had that many crabs on your bottom.]

And by the way, have you ever looked at your tummy? if I didn’t already know I was climbing up and down the Ideal Weight Table. Going up, I become more and more worthless. Going down, well, maybe not quite so bad. Better post some bodies from ads on the refrigerator.

“Stop it!” says Virginia. “You’re a wonderful person. It’s the inside that counts.”

Right, what we put inside, like all the stuff we see, read and hear tells us. Give yourself a break, and all your friends, too. Enjoy the food you choose to like and let them enjoy theirs.

Sunday, August 31, 2014


Yesterday, a friend who works at a greenhouse donated 93 broccoli and cauliflower plants to Elk Cliff Farm. This sent me out to dig the rest of my potatoes (3 overflowing 5-gallon buckets) and pull their neighboring weeds (2 giant wheelbarrows-ful). About time. The garden beds have gone to pot (not really, but they do look bad). Folly-fancies have been diverting my gardening skills.

I added some very dry and dusty donkey manure and hurriedly welcomed the brassicas to their new home.

"Hey, he didn't put up a fence," said a resident rabbit. "We're gonna party tonight!"

Yes, Karen and I had suspicions about the party plans. We even talked about them before turning off the bedroom lights. And I dreamed about 93 leaf-less stems.

Fortunately for me, the nocturnals decided to leave about 55 plants for their planned re-hash tonight of last night's bash.

First thing this morning, after bruising myself with a few well-aimed kicks, I installed a fence.

"Think it'll work, smarty-pants?" says Virginia.

It has in the past, not that I remembered that yesterday. Doofus.

Monday, July 21, 2014

Garden Spots

"Scrambled?" Virginia laughs.

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Spud Time

Four months ago today Aren, Ack, Ulie and Ours Truly planted potatoes.

In honor of the youngest of our group (the Lego genius), we made a video. It's supposed to begin, "Hey -ack, put those Legos away" but due to a technical malfunction it begins "Ack, put those Legos away."

"What's this 'Ack' business?" says Virginia.

Oh, just in case the No Such Agency (NSA) is watching.

Monday, July 14, 2014

What are Friends For?

This morning a nephew (in-law) and I set off at 7 to run a 20-mile route. My belt held two water bottles, a cellphone, and some home-made trail mix. Weather prognosticators had predicted 90 degrees so I wondered if two bottles were enough and began trying to imagine where we might refill.

As usual, my twenty-years-younger partner set off at a good clip. He figured--even said--we should be back by ten, right? I laughed.

"Who was smarter," asks Virginia, "the Arizona transplant who has learned to survive without water, or the elder ninncompoop who should have followed his oft-repeated advice, 'don't start out too fast?'"

About mile eight, guess who said, "My legs are feeling pretty heavy right now." The other, appearing concerned, said, "Are you okay?" The first one answered, "I'll probably be fine once I work through this."

It didn't happen. Soon after the turn-around (on the out-and-back course), the one with the habit of running along ahead to make sure everything's safe for the other took off at a good clip. His one water bottle wasn't empty.

The other had only a drop and a good excuse to take a break. A CSX employee stood near the Alpine Farm wayside.

"Hi there. May I ask you something? I heard about someone who set a metal canoe down across the tracks. According to the story, it shut down East Coast traffic. Is that true?"

"Yes, maybe not the whole East Coast, but put anything across the track and it'll trigger a signal indicating the track's blocked. Ever since 9-11, Homeland Security's been investing a lot of money in railroad safety. Now the trains could run without engineers, although it makes sense to continue providing a job for someone to keep an eye out for things computers don't notice."

The ensuing conversation covered good effects of job layoffs. A newspaper editor took a hard labor job on the railroad. "I figured he'd fail, coming as he did from a sun-less inside job pushing pencils, but he's a good man, after a while he landed a job editing the union newspaper and writing for the railroad." We hit on raising pigs, making sausage (he leaves out the sage and other spices so the cook can spice it the way he wants), animals breaking through fences, ages (60 and 61), customizing tee shirts, and more.

The runner out front came back, having started to worry about the slowpoke. "OK, I'll get going."

Three or four miles later, I texted a friend, "RU home? I'm running in Alpine and almost out." I barely had the presence of mind to add another text, "of water."

Talk about slow. After an eternity, I pulled up to my friend's shop. He pointed, "Water? There. Take all you want."

As it turned out, his wife was leaving shortly for our place. My plans to walk the rest of the way evaporated, as had I (almost).

Eight hours later, as we finished dinner, a Prius pulled into our driveway. "I think it's David coming to check on you," Karen said.

Right, as usual.

Tell me, how many of your friends would drive 4 miles one-way because they can't reach you by phone and are worried you're not okay?

Friday, June 27, 2014

Joke Signs

"I see that no stopping sign was just a joke," says Virginia.
Yes, apparently. A couple of Currituck County's finest lined up to chat for a while this morning, then a pickup stopped by to join in, all perhaps for no reason at all.

Thursday, June 26, 2014


During my morning run, I stopped for no reason, which I think was permissible.
A couple days ago, we went inside this gate to pet the horse, since the sign didn't say we couldn't: "Warning/Venomous snake area/ Enter at your own risk."
"You're crazy," says Virginia.

No, I just like to follow the rules.

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Pea Meditation

Peas, pease as one of our archaic acquaintances would spell them, are in.

For the last week, I've been meditating on peas. For example, I picked for more than 3 hours this morning and Karen and I shelled for 3 hours this evening.

Don't laugh. One can get a lot of work done, stories and poems written, problems solved while meditating on peas. You could sing "On the Street Where You Live" a thousand times, or allow it to wiggle as a brainworm, endlessly.

"You might invite a friend over to help," says Virginia.

Right. See what happens?
He's mesmerized and can't see you. In this case, he also thinks you can't see him because of the hat. So what kind of world has he entered?

Sunday, May 25, 2014

Founding Father

Karen's grandfather, 100 years old today, is the oldest surviving founder of this fire department.

Sunday, May 11, 2014

A Very Nice Place to Be

"'K' for Karen?" asks Virginia.

A very nice place to be.

Saturday, May 10, 2014

Papa, Don't Preach!

A few days ago a gentleman commented, "So you use wood chips on your garden?"

Yes, I believe, in mulch and aged manure. I've found that investing considerable effort in the fall, without tilling, when the year's gardening season is "over," reaps huge dividends in the spring, when the gardening itch reignites.

After all that work, now's the time to gloat, when many folks are grousing, "It's been too wet, can't get a tiller in the ground."

Some experts say a tiller destroys soil structure and brings unwanted weed seeds to the surface. They even suggest that abandoning the fall garden until spring is like leaving a naked baby in the back seat on a frigid day with the windows open.

"You've crossed the line," says Virginia. "Papa, don't preach. I've seen you out there, raking mulch to one side and the other, pulling your hoe through the soil, planting a spring garden, since early March."

Here are peas, carrots, lettuce, beets and kale planted March 10.
With the help of Jack, Julie and Karen, we sunk Kennebec and Pontiac potatoes on March 16. You'll see winter wheat planted last fall at the rear end of the foreground garden bed, perennial horseradish back on the left, and flowering chives, another perennial.
Look closely to see Glass Gem corn sprouts. You may want to click to enlarge the photo. Two-inch Silver Queens thrive in our pig-aerated garden in the field, but I was too lazy to run over to take pictures.
A week ago I thought our 1-degree winter had killed my pomegranate grove. Now I'm smiling.

Friday, April 25, 2014

Thank You for the Suggestions

"It's about time to paint that roof."

"Have you thought about bottom-watering your seedlings?"

"Have you ever planted black kale?"

"You really ought to trellis those peas."

"You might want to give some thought to a tractor."

"At least, get yourself a roto-tiller."

"Did you plant all those peas by hand? You should try an automatic planter."

"We've got a seed-spreader you could use to plant grass."

"Everything looks good, except for that." He points at the fire-proof carpet underneath our wood stove.

"Have you considered buying grain in bulk for your livestock?"

"Of course, you're going to finish 'em on grain, not pasture."

"Green beans'll produce more if you plant them 8 inches apart."

"Man, those strawberries are packed. You didn't get many this year, did you?"

"You know, it's better to split that wood while it's green."

"Roundup's a lifesaver. You should use it."

"A little Sevin would take care of those Colorado potato beetles."

"When are you going to paint that barn?"

"You need a Gator or ATV."

"Leonard must be turning over in his grave."

"You ought to hire a tax-preparer."

"That geothermal heat pump'll never pay for itself."

"Does stuff really grow in all that mulch?"

"Your driveway looks like a used-car lot."

"The suggestions keep on coming, don't they?" says Virginia.

Yep, just a few samples. Gotta love 'em.

Saturday, April 12, 2014

Hey, Jack!

On March 16, the day before a few inches of snow fell on Elk Cliff Farm, Jack, Julie, Karen and I planted potatoes. 

Check this out, Jack -- the bigger green thing on the right, not the little lamb's quarter on the left. It popped up yesterday.
How many days did it take that piece of potato we stuck in the bottom of a vee-ditch to see sunlight?

"I understand something else on Elk Cliff Farm saw daylight for the first time today," says Virginia.

Wednesday, April 2, 2014


Virginia is starving for attention, so she was pleased when don Juan said he would not talk to me until I identified the "mushroom." She knows how much I like to hear from don Juan, who contacts me about as often as God. Just in case, I must leave the channel open. Thus, my dear don Juan, the answer: the "mushroom" is a long view shot of a donkey's rear. I'd say it another way, but as I've already mentioned, I like to keep my lines of communications clear.

Spring has finally arrived at Elk Cliff Farm, not to say we won't get snow on my birthday. The first clue was a more-than-doubling of our goat population. For those of you who haven't seen a kidding (other than on April 1), check out this picture of a kid still in a sac. Imagine the fun of watching that little creature break the membrane. We take a year to walk. They're wobbling around in a few minutes.
Some other indicators appeared at Arrowhead Lodge.

Virginia says, "We'll send a check to the first person who identifies them both."

Saturday, February 22, 2014

Mushrooms Grow Fast

When I looked out our window this morning I saw this.
Do you see to the right of the little red run-in shed, a little right of the middle of the picture? Here's a closer view.
"It looks like a mushroom," says Virginia. "Could it be?"

Well, here's another. You might want to double-click on the picture to make it bigger.
Could it be? Wow! If it is, it's a big 'un.

Sunday, February 2, 2014

False Confessions

You've been arrested for a crime you did not commit. After a few hours in a small room with an overbearing detective, might you confess? Eight hours? Twelve hours? Fifteen hours? He or she insists you're the perp.

"I don't think so," says Virginia. "I'd say right off the bat that I want my lawyer present."

Good move.

But many people, too many, eventually give in, for many reasons. Maybe they've been raised to respect authority. Maybe they're young or not too smart or anxious to please. Maybe they get tired. Maybe they've done something else and feel guilty. Maybe all they want is to get out of the tiny room with someone talking too close, too loud.

They know too many details about the crime. They must have been there. Maybe, or maybe the cop told them those details and they got the message.

I remember JFK's assassination. I know a 10-year-old who wondered if he might be arrested, even though he was in Ohio at the time. Could he have been there, done that, maybe in his sleep? Some 20-year-olds act like 10 year olds.

If you'd like to learn more about this fascinating topic, check out, the materials from a symposium held Friday, January 31.

You'll be able to watch the sessions soon at One of the most interesting segments is the talk on the Reid interrogation technique by Mr. Trainum, a retired D.C. Metropolitan Police Department detective.

Don't tell them I sent you!

Saturday, January 11, 2014

Olden Ways

Today, as Karen and I crossed the road that divides our farm into two sections, a fellow in a van rolled down his window, unsmiling. I was afraid he was going to complain about our chickens wandering in the road, so awkwardness hid behind my smile. When he said, "I'd like to talk to you about your goats and chickens," I thought "Uh-oh" until a memory nudged me.

"Do you mean you're thinking about getting chickens?"

He nodded. "I just came from time in the woods. I built myself a little shelter from the rain, gathered some wood, chiseled it down to dry kindling, and used a bow-starter to smoke up a fire."

"Good for you," I said. "I've thought of doing that, but never have."

"About 25 times," he said. "Each time I've felt as though I've done something very special, proud of myself."

"Understood," I said. "Reminds me of what we try to do here." I pointed around the farm. "Like make ice cream with our own milk and cream. Each time is special."

We spoke a while longer, then he began to drive away as Karen and I resumed our walk around the field. "He wants you," Karen said, pointing.

I headed back to the gate. He handed me a DVD, "The Last One." "You might like this," he said. "About Popcorn Sutton. I thought it was pretty funny."

"Thanks," I said. "I'll return it sometime when I run by your house."

Virginia says, "What on earth is 'The Last One?'"

Popcorn Sutton caps off a lifetime in the moonshine trade with a final trip into the wilds of Southern Appalachia to make one last batch of illegal liquor. As he shows how it's done, he reminisces about moonshine glory days.

So I've been thinking. Maybe it'd be fun to gather a bunch of these folks we've met who are trying to resurrect some of the "olden ways" -- folks we don't know well, whose everyday paths don't cross often, but may have some common objectives and some stories to share.

Thursday, January 2, 2014


What acquaintances say sometimes astonishes me. Friends are different. Relationships with friends have gone beyond first impressions. I expect friends to say things without thinking them through. I suppose I shouldn't expect acquaintances to be any different, but I do. I like to think that with acquaintances, I consciously choose whether to blurt out a true feeling or bite my tongue, and that they do, too.

Two contexts come to mind: (1) our choice to live in Arnold's Valley; and (2) our decision to gradually turn "Elk Cliff Farm" back into a farm.

Very soon after we moved here, a physician we met at a dinner party turned up her nose when we answered the question, "Where do you live?" She said, "Ambulances don't go there." She was so certain about this that I had to laugh, "Really? What are those sirens I frequently hear, and those trucks with red flashing lights?"

A retired policeman at another gathering shook his head, "Whoa! The police are always making calls to that area." Funny thing, just before this year's 'monster concert' holiday singalong, a fellow in the fourth row asked me, "Where is it you live again?" After I answered, he repeated the words of the retired policeman. Now, what was that about?

I tend to answer defensively. "Oh, we pay them to say that; we like to keep the place for ourselves," "Things have changed in 20 years" or "Don't you think we have too many policemen, and have you noticed how many of them are related to each other?"

Even more recently, someone reported that he ran into a neighbor who said, "[The previous owner of Elk Cliff Farm] must be turning over in his grave. He was so meticulous about that place. Now animals are everywhere."

Several other people have made that "turning over in his grave" comment. I realize it's just an expression, but my defensive response might be, "Really? That must be a noisy graveyard," or "Well, you should have seen the house he lived in."

"Have you noticed that you don't think any more than they think, before saying something?" says Virginia.

She's absolutely right, and I always -- I mean always -- go home wishing I hadn't sounded so defensive.  Why can't I just laugh it off?

I'll tell you why. Because like most people, I react like a child under stress, and deep down I'm as insecure and jealous as the next person.

No matter where you live, you're bound to have a picture in your mind of a place you wouldn't want to be. That's how we build ourselves up.

No matter what you've chosen for your life, you're bound to be glad, at least in your own head, that you didn't choose what someone else chose. That's how we build ourselves up.

Hey, it's a new year. Be it resolved, I will try to bite my tongue even when I'm taken by surprise, and I will try not to demean other people's choices.

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

Same Day Delivery

I'm optimistic about the new year. That's me, almost always smiling.

But....I guess I've been so buried in regulatory analysis the past week that I missed Mr. Bezos' announcement of a grand scheme for Amazon -- same-day drone delivery. Buy AMZN. Perhaps. I now know that I missed the boat in the late 1990s when a student in one of my investment classes presented a sales pitch for the company.

I did not miss the November notice that Amazon and the United States Postal Service had contracted to provide Sunday deliveries in several markets.

I groaned then and I'm groaning now. When will this need for speed bubble burst? In a way, I'm already offended when merchants assume I must have my order delivered in 2 days, much less offer to ship it overnight for a premium price.

I remember my parents saving for months before replacing a clothes washer. Do you think they would have insisted on 2-day delivery?

Does Amazon expect your latest book order to land on the top of your reading stack, or the pile on your donee's desk? Does it even suspect that you or s/he might already be reading one and have at least another volume or two next in cue?

"I think you may be losing it," says Virginia. "Many, if not most, people don't read books any more."

Okay, I got off track. Have we lost all patience? Are we unable to plan ahead?

I'm sorry, I'm still being a drama king. Neither of those is my real point.

What if every person in the world, or even one-tenth of them, signed on to this same day delivery scheme? Would we have traffic jams of big brown trucks, and drones crashing into front yards?

Energy implications? I'm too myopic to make a reasonable prediction. But oil prices will rise; they'll have to as the supply dwindles -- unless, maybe, it prompts research into alternative sources. Solar-powered drones?

Pray not, irrational exuberance squared? Might 2014 be the new 2008, as the rest of the world joins this rush to ultimately unquenchable self-indulgence?