Monday, 28 December 2015

The Bad Luck Beach House

Alabama (my home state) has a VIP governor's mansion (well, a nice big bungalow would be a better term) down on the beach at Gulf Shores.

This was a prime real estate spot in the early 1960s....which was donated to the state and a major residence for the governor was established.  It's a 7,500 sq ft house, which by most standards.....if it were in good condition....it'd be worth over two or three million dollars.

Oddly....around 1997....a hurricane came through and did a major destruction job on the residence.  Nothing....absolutely nothing has been done with the house since that hurricane.  It is by most standards today....unlivable.

If you brought up this topic with folks from the state....more than ninety-nine percent would note they know nothing much about the house existing.  The one-percent who claim some knowledge will be over the age of sixty-five and remember the era of which Governor Wallace gained the real estate and talked some folks into funneling private money (probably corrupt campaign funds) into the construction of the residence.

For roughly seventeen years.....the Alabama legislature has refused to fund any repair job on the residence.  To be honest....no one will even stand in a public forum and say the precise amount of money required.  My humble guess....if the walls are still solid (as pictures indicate)....you'd have to replace the roof entirely, do a major landscaping job, and throw a major interior renovation job into the place.  My humble guess on cost?  A minimum of one million dollars.

Why bring this topic up?  Well....over the weekend, the Alabama news folks came to discover that the Governor has finally found this funding vehicle to cover the cost of renovation of the beachfront house in Gulf Shores.  Yes, he's got the bucket of money left over from the BP oil spill.....which he intends to use.

CBS News put out a piece which says the most recent estimate by the Governor's staff has the price-tag of $1.5 million as a minimum.  I'd take a guess this includes renovation, landscaping, security, and new fancy furniture for the whole residence.

How to convince the public of the necessity of this deal?  Well....the Governor says he needs a place to 'wine and dine' VIP guests to Alabama where they talk business deals and try to convince high-rollers to move their company operation into Alabama.  All of this means.....you spend money....to make money.

The use of the BP money?  Once you bring this topic up.....suddenly most folks in Alabama get ethical in nature and ask stupid questions.  The bucket that BP dumped the money into?  Well, there never was any real set of rules and it was just 'wild-money' (as some folks from Bama would describe the thousand-odd ways that you can use such money).

Stopping the Governor?  Presently....he's the guy who kinda owns the BP money bucket and he owns the beachfront residence....so there's really not much the legislature can do to stop him, and I doubt if any public group will raise a big stink other than the state Democratic Party.

The odd factor in this story?  The Governor might actually spend $2 million on the final bill to renovate the old structure, and six weeks later find some hurricane bearing down on the residence.....destroying the entire effect of the BP oil money and the Governor's good intentions.  I wouldn't wish anyone such luck.....but this is Alabama and the Gulf coast.....and it's just one of those things that you figure will happen....sooner or later.

The Spring-Winter

This is one of the oddest winters that I've seen in my entire life.  Since the middle of December here in central Germany....there hasn't been a single day that the temperature has gone down below freezing.  No snow....no ice....no freezing.

So yesterday, with the fourth straight day of sunshine and the daytime temperature rising up to 65 degrees....I came to notice on two shrubs around the corner of the house.....buds are coming out.  The shrubs are in some belief that spring has arrived and gone into a slight bloom.

I'm sitting here and shaking my head.  Heat-wise....since 1 October when I hit the "on" button....I doubt if I've used more than half of what I'd normally use for natural gas.  Scrapping ice off the car window?  There's been three single mornings since October where I had to scrap ice.

To some degree.....it should make most people happy with the sunshine and limited rainfall.....and weather warm enough to almost wear shorts (at least at mid-day).  But Germans aren't that type of people.  They expect snow (at least up to your ankle), and a cold breeze from the north.  They are in some way....disenchanted with this mild situation.

More of the same?  I sat and looked at the seven-day chart.  Maybe by Saturday.....it might finally go below the freezing point, with a half inch of snow predicted for Saturday night or Sunday morning.  But that means at least five more days of spring-like weather and more trees/shrubs coming out in some bloom phase.  It's a harsh reality, if you ask me.