Buckeye Lake

We recently returned from a family reunion/vacation on Buckeye Lake near Columbus, OH.  Our second trip out there in the last few years, and it was a lot of fun.  The kids are at the age to really enjoy water sports, which were our featured activity each day.  This meant early mornings – getting up at 5:30-6:00 EST(!) to make our cast off time, avoid the crowds, and hit the smooth water.  It also meant my brother and me had to make our attempts at wake-boarding, to the delight of the kids, since neither of us are very good.

The kids caught on quickly, though, aided by the patience of our cousins and their silver and red Buckeye boat (it really is an awesome ski-boat; the best one on the lake), not to mention some surprise instructions by a former professional wake-boarder and friends.  Weekends like these are big confidence builders for them; they tried something new, were pretty successful, and had fun.

For me, it’s a little strange to be on a lake that’s purely recreational.  Our lakes in Illinois usually have dual-hats:  flood control, power plant cooling, etc.  Lake Shelbyville, where I grew up, is a federally run lake with a flood control purpose primarily.  No houses and restaurants at water’s edge, fluctuating water levels, and lots of coves with old dead trees.  Couldn’t say which is better, but Buckeye Lake is sure a lot more convenient.

The best part of this vacation, though, was the family reunion.  Everyone made it back except one cousin, and we all had a genuinely good time together.  No major drama, the bigger kids were very kind and patient with the younger kids, and the adults were able to catch up and enjoy the down time.  We may have had some early wake-up calls, but the stress levels were low and the food was good, and the weather outstanding.  No real Griswold moments with this one, though I’d like to think old Clark would have approved.

Drought in the Debtor State

We recently headed east to Ohio for a family reunion and water-sports showdown.  Because I’m only a generation removed from farming, I couldn’t help but notice the dire state of the corn and soybeans across Illinois, Indiana, and into central Ohio.  Drought emergencies have been declared in multiple states.  You don’t have to look for the official declaration, however, just look at the worry lines and frowns in the small towns throughout the Midwest.  People know that a certain percentage of peers will face bankruptcy as a result, and no amount of federal emergency funding will change that.

What does it mean for you?  Expect an increase to your grocery bill in the next few months – 25% or higher, depending on your diet and where you live.  Grain and soy prices affect such a large portion of the food supply…

Gov. Quinn holds up metaphor for IL tax base

…And while you’re at it, go ahead an budget for the continuing increase to your taxes – especially you fellow resident of Illinois.  The debtor state’s comptroller just announced an estimated $7.5-8 billion figure for monies owed to entities such as vendors, schools, and municipalities.  This backlog of bills is, of course, only a small portion of an astronomical $43 billion deficit, if one considers the cost of pension benefits owed to state workers.  This despite the tax increase Governor Pat Quinn campaigned on.

Our trip to Ohio brought us into states that actually have budget surpluses.  Yes, a foreign concept around here, but there they were on the Columbus local news, discussing the best way to obligate funds for a budget surplus.  I’m thinking, what kind of magicians, what superhuman policymakers could achieve such fiscal responsibility?   Continue reading