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背影橘舍,新竹縣 March 7, 2019

Posted by hslu in Life in Taiwan, Retirement, Taipei, Taiwan, 台灣, 台北.
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我家娘子的護校同學要帶她去鄉下摘橘子。開車要一個多鐘頭。背影橘舍在新竹縣峨眉鄉。從我們家去有一段距離。光是高速公路就要走四,五十分鐘。橘子園在山上。山不高,不過山路有點崎嶇,路也不好找,也不好走。

我本來是不去的。我本來就不喜歡吃橘子。跑個七八丈老遠的,就為了幾個橘子,還要自己採。多麻煩。帶回家還的剝橘子,我還得吃它。

我嗎,大不了過年的時候,買幾個那種很容易剝皮,蓬蓬的,帶了葉子的橘子來吃吃,就差不多了。那種沒法剝皮的橘子,臺灣叫柳丁,我基本上是不吃的。咬又咬不下來,吃起來酸酸的。吃到皮還苦的很。不但有白白的絲,有子,酸酸的橘子水吃完了,還要吐渣子。多謝了。

太太苦苦的求我,非要我去。為了息事寧人,為了天下太平,我心一軟,就答應她了。

朋友早上先來我們家裏,在我們這兒吃了中飯,然後帶我們去。開車一個鍾頭。路也不太好走。到了那裏,才知道橘子園很小。大概只有四五十畝地吧(猜的)。園子裏大概有三百顆橘子樹,幾顆柚子樹,三四十隻雞鴨,數不清的桂花樹和幾顆香蕉樹。一進園區還有一個池塘,大概比我們在維吉尼亞州家的池塘大一倍。

背影橘舍的橘子只有兩種:掽柑,也就是茂谷柑,和桶柑。掽柑比較小。皮薄,比較容易剝皮。不過它子多,還算甜,有點扁,橢圓形。

茂甘橘

桶柑一般比較大,是正宗的橘子樣子,橘子上面還有一個凸出來的東西。它的皮厚,沒子,很甜,沒渣渣,很容易剝皮。大的圓周可以到29公分。

掽柑

我們去的時候,園子裏很多橘子樹已經沒有橘子了。背影橘舍正好有一批貨要送到中壢的水果批發市場。老闆娘忙東忙西的在園子裏摘漂亮的大橘子。馬上就要裝箱,等一下就要送走。不過,在橘子園的後面還有幾顆橘子樹有不少的橘子。這是專門爲我們這種來摘橘子的人留下來的。

老闆娘忙著摘橘子出貨。

18公斤就是30台斤。

橘舍裏還有好幾個人在包已經摘下來的橘子。這些橘子都不大,可能是要賣給做橘子汁的工廠做橘子汁的。我問她們,為什麼要費這麽多功夫把兩三個橘子包在一個塑膠袋裏面?她們說,如果一個橘子壞了,只會影響兩三個橘子,不會影響到其他的橘子。

老闆娘因為要趕工送貨,老闆就親自來照顧客人。我們去的時候看到另外兩組客人,大概因為今天不是週末,來摘橘子的人不多。再說,季節快要過了,再來的人就更少了。

老闆說,其實橘子季節已經過了。每年過年的前後是橘子的旺季。橘子三月左右開花,四月結果,小小的橘子要一直長到十二月或一月才能摘。一年一次,不划算。去年(2018年),風調雨順,沒有風災,橘子長的很好。量多,價錢就便宜了。天氣不好,颳颱風,那橘子產量減少,價錢高,可是農人沒有橘子賣。

老闆以前有一份正當的職業。如果我沒有記錯的話,他以前應該是一個公務員。他響應政府提倡的青年下鄉運動,去農會上了課,買了這個橘子園開始做橘子農夫。這一片橘子園應該已經有四十年的歷史了。大概有1/3的橘子樹是四十年的老樹,大概2/3是二十年的幼樹。老闆說,老樹長的橘子比較不好看,可是比較甜。年輕的橘子樹長的橘子比較漂亮,可是沒有老樹的橘子甜。

我問老闆,橘子園用不用肥料,撒不撒農藥?他說,他們都依照農會發佈的規章來做。農藥一定要撒,不然橘子很難看,根本沒有辦法賣。我們在橘子園裏還看到有些橘子上面還有白白的一層粉裝物質。這應該就是農藥的殘留物吧。

我問老闆一顆橘子樹可以產多少橘子。他說差不多100斤左右。他還說,經營一個橘子園,雖然橘子樹都已經種下去了,可是每年八九次農藥還有肥料都要錢。每一個橘子都需要人一個一個的摘下來。政府要他們去鄉下種橘子,可是政府並沒有把配套設施給他們做好。摘橘子的時候,他需要到處顧人來幫忙。附近的每一個橘子園都要顧人摘橘子,鄉下早就沒有年輕人了,他到那裏去找這麽多人來摘橘子呢?要是政府有一個臨時工人的計劃,那就好多了。

我們付錢了以後,老闆還從冰箱裏拿了一些乾燥的橘子給我們。他說,這也是他為了響應政府的號召而做的。他去上了課,學會做這種橘子,為了增加橘子園的收入。可是橘子乾做好了,根本沒有人要買。賣不出去,他只有把做好的橘子乾放在冰箱裏。

從他的談話和語氣中,我可以聽到許多無奈。貢獻了他二十年的青春,在橘子園裏混了這麽久,不但要靠天吃飯,還要面對臺灣日漸式微,沒有足夠勞工的現實。你說,他是不是想要說些什麼呢?

來摘橘子的客人,每人拖個籃子,拿個剪刀(剪刀很貴,每個$250。很利)愛摘多少摘多少,愛吃幾個就吃幾個。橘子樹不高,站在地上就可以摘許多橘子。摘完了以後拿到辦公室去秤一秤。每斤$20。賣去批發市場的都是很漂亮,很大的橘子,每斤$39。我們在菜市場買的橘子都不是很大,可能要$50一斤。如果你要做橘子汁的橘子,背影橘園只收你$10一斤。

我們在橘子園停留了一個鍾頭。化了$500塊,帶回25斤橘子。送走了十幾斤,還有一半放在冰箱裏,佔地方,還得想辦法把它吃掉。

朋友摘了兩籃,我們摘了兩籃。我們的比較少。她買了至少50斤。

老闆沒事還幫我們提橘子。

唉,她倒是很帶勁。我嗎,只此一次,下不為例了。

Democrats aren’t much better October 13, 2018

Posted by hslu in Congress, 美國, Economics, Election, Politics, Retirement, Trump, US Government.
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http://flip.it/CU0Z5W

Most Americans are screwed no matter which party is in power.

Republican’s tax cuts are extremely good for the top 1%. The other 99% won’t get much. The U.S. is saddled with a bigger deficit and a accelerating national debt it has no way of paying it off.

Democrats like to tax and spend. Higher taxes reduce Americans’ take home pay. It’s bad. Bigger government spending increases deficit and national debt. It’s insane.

Yes, I agree that without doing something on the entitlements, America is screwed. Reducing welfare benefits, seniors and poor Americans are doomed. Letting welfare benefits grow like they have been in the past, the middle class will see a bigger portion of their income goes to others who can’t support themselves. The top 1% won’t feel a thing.

Either way you look, America is doomed.

No matter which party is in charge, poor Americans will be poorer.

The middle class will continue to pay.

But, the top 1% are untouchable. They’ve been laughing to the banks. They will keep donating to the Democrats and Republicans and claim tax deductions to lower their income taxes. Life is peachy for them thanks to the Democrats and Republicans.

We shall see August 31, 2018

Posted by hslu in Congress, Retirement, Taxes.
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But, don’t get your hope up just yet.

However, delay the RMD now might mean a bigger tax bill later in life because a larger withdraw in the future will push you into a higher tax bracket.

My question is this: why is the Trump administration proposing this change at this time for the older Americans in the first place? Delay RMD now will result in a lower tax revenue for the U.S. government when the deficit is projected to hit at least $1 trillion for the current fiscal year and beyond.

不知道他葫蘆裏賣的是什麽藥?

Source: Flipboard

.

http://flip.it/3v6gbt

Average: $31,644; Median:  March 31, 2017

Posted by hslu in Economics, Retirement.
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According to a report from the Economic Policy Institute, the mean retirement saving of a family between 32  and 37 years old is $31,644.

Not good. 

Fidelity advices that if you want to have enough to retire at 67, you should have 3 times of you salary saved by 40. By the time you reach 67, you should have 10 times of your salary saved.

In Q4 2016, the median wage for an American worker is $44,158/year (Bureau of Labor Statistics). Since wages vary widely depending on worker’s occupation and age, we’ll use BLS data to calculate the amount you need to stash away for retirement: $132,474.

In other words, our average American worker has managed to accomplish 24% of his retirement goal.

Since average isn’t a good way to tell the entire story, let’s use median to see how American people are doing in their retirement saving department:

The same BLS report put the median amount for families between 32 and 37 is:

Drum roll, please!

$480.

Pathetic, isn’t it?

Let see, how much does our average family owe on its 10 (just aguess) credit cards? What’s the balance on its student loan if it is fortunate enough to have a college education? 

So, who is going to take care of our average American worker after he or she reaches retirement?

Pension? Very few companies offer it these days.

Social security benefit? Average SS benefit is about $1,341 in 2016. Definitely not enough to live on. Worse, social security may bankrupt in less than 30 years.

Food stamp? Don’t count on it because America has bankrupted for decades.

$480?

Looks real bad.

Chinese Korean Restaurant, Centerville VA April 9, 2016

Posted by hslu in Chinese Food, Food, Retirement.
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Not sure what this restaurant was called but judging by the number of customers it had when we stopped by, it must be a very popular restaurant among the local Korean people. A friend of mine told me about Chinese Korean food and I have tried it a few times before. It was actually very good.

I was told that the sweet and sour pork is a dish that one has to try and  the other one is the Korean version 炸醬麪。And those were the two dishes we tried.

The prices wrre surprisingly reasonable and the portions were huge. We also ordered a seafood noidle soup because itspicture was too good on the menu board to pass by.

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Since our first visit, we went back again to have another treat of the sweet and sour pork and 炸醬麪。We have since found out that the Korean grocery store a few doors down also has the deep fried pork and 炸醬麪。We will try them next time.

Afternoon Tea: The Peninsula; The Bund, Shanghai November 29, 2015

Posted by hslu in China, Retirement, Shanghai, Travel.
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It opened less than two years ago and it has attracted many affluent clients from all over the world. We came for the afternoon tea. We have been to The Peninsula of Hong Kong and liked its afternoon tea very much. I am sure the quality was equally excellent here in Shanghai, China. And we weren’t disappointed. The only thing I liked to mention other than excellent food, quality ingredients, western decor,  business oriented vibe, silver-plated dinnerware and very friendly service was that there was way more food than we could finish in one setting. Well, not to worry, we got a bag to take left-over back to our apartment.

Reservation was recommended and the seats filled up pretty fast according to the lady who took my call.

When it is compared to The Peninsula in Hong Kong, there were way more international tourists at The Peninsula Hong Kong and I felt is was somewhat rushed there too.

20141027_143145 20141027_143420 20141027_143459 20141027_145608 20141027_154545 20141027_154935 20141027_155005 20141027_155409

 

 

The demography omen January 9, 2015

Posted by hslu in Economics, Retirement.
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J.C. Penny will close 40 stores.

Macy’s will close 14.

Wet Seal will cloe 330 shops.

Deb Shops will close 300 shops.

Delia will close all its stores.

Aeropostale will close 120 stores, higher than 40 or 50 it had originally planed. It will also close 125 of its P. S. stores.

Sears will close 235 stores.

RadioShack is trying to close 1100 shops.

Target will close 11 stores.

And what about all those empy K-Marts? May of them will be closed sooner rather than later

On-line shopping is one problem.

Another factors is the senios who are retiring by the thousands everyday.

It is really simple: when you get old, you don’t buy stuff. You give them away. You moved to a smaller place. You throw away the junk you ha accumulated over the last 30 to
50 years.

It’s e demography, stupid.

Sub Middle-Class May 23, 2014

Posted by hslu in Economics, jobs, Retirement.
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According to a report by Country Financial, 25% of Americans are not saving for retirement at all.

http://mob.cnbc.com/us_news/101701441

Well, some of them are paying down their student loans. Some of them think retirement is too far away to worry about it now. Some might be paying off their credit card debts because they think life is too short to delay gratification now.

But, these weren’t the major problems at all. The most disturbing finding by the report is that 46% of these people who saved $0 for their retirement said ‘they cannot do so on a middle-class income.’

They have slipped away from the middle-class and into what I called the ‘Sub Middle-Class.’ They have become the slaves of the middle-class dream in the United States. They are slaves of their houses. They are slaves of their cars. They are slaves of their credit cards. They are slaves of their flat TVs and vacations. Everyone around them is doing the middle-class thing and they have to do it too.

Unfortunately the jobs that have been creating middle class dreams in the US are now in China, India, Thailand, Australia, Brazil and Russia.

Money has flowed to greener pastures in foreign countries and many Americans are left behind the middle class gravy train. Their tickets have been invalidated by the structural problems of the US economy.

Well, at least they are the top tier of the low income class. They have become the sub middle-class in the United States.

The standard of living in the US is slowly slipping away.

But don’t worry, America still has many billionaires. Raise their income tax rate to 75%. Tax their wealth and make them give their money to soup kitchens instead of Harvard Endowment Funds. Make everyone

一顿简单的家常饭 May 6, 2014

Posted by hslu in Chinese Food, Life, Death and Yuanfen, Retirement, Shanghai.
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前天在围炉夜话吃剩的烤鱼和印度油饼。
刚才在市场买的小黄瓜,茭白笋,几颗上海白菜心,几颗 shitaki香菇。
临走调了几个黄豆夹子。
加上老板娘给的几根葱和香芹。
加拿大航空没用的盐和胡椒。
麦当劳剩下的一小包糖。
西门町寳加利旅馆免费的亁面包片。
地摊上买的草莓和小芒果。
没油。没酱油。没味精。没醋。
中国人说”巧妇难为无米之炊”。好歹我也在我们上海的家弄出一餐饭来了。
加上几杯老酒和老婆一起享用。
一乐也!

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吃了饭老婆洗碗洗锅子。其乐也融融!

MyRA is your money’s graveyard February 9, 2014

Posted by hslu in Congress, Economics, Obama, Retirement.
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Bernanke kept the Fed’s funds rate at near zero level since Great Recession started in 2008-2009. He also bought trillions of long term US Treasury Bonds and mortgage backed securities in order to bring their rates down as well.

He did it because he wanted to force investors to riskier assets: stocks, real estates, commodities, currencies and  derivatives. Bernanke wanted trickle down effects from the riches to kick start the sagging US economy.

S&P 500 made 175+% since 2009. Housing prices in many cities recovered nicely. Many investors and hedge funds also made lots of money in carry trades and they have no one but Benanke to thank for. As expected, the rich got richer while the poor got stuck with food stamps and unemployment benefits. Trickle down from the riches got the economy growing at ~2.2% for years.

Now that the Fed has trillions of Bonds on its balance sheet and Bernanke didn’t know what to do with them. Selling them will raise the interest rates which will increase US government’s interest payments on its $17+ trillion national debt. Hihger rates will slow down the still fragile economy.

Someone came up with the MyRA idea and the do-whatever-I-want Obama said he can do it without the Congress: why not sell the bonds to American citizens? The boomers are retiring in thousands everyday. They can use a steady income. Seniors have been making 0.01% on their CDs from the banks. Let them have those bonds and everyone is happy.

The Fed can unload the Bonds off their balance sheet and the boomers and seniors can keep the bonds.

Sounds like a good idea.

Right?

Yes, a good idea for the government, that is. But it is a lousy deal to people who buy these type of bonds.

Bonds on Fed’s balance sheet have a low coupon rate because Bernanke made it so when he bought them on the open market.

With economic growth expecting to rise, inflation will return once banks start to lend and interest rates will rise.

Long term interest rates have been going up since Bernanke uttered the ‘t’ word in May 2013. If the boomers and seniors exchange their CDs with the bonds, they will see the principles of their bonds shrink as inflation picks up. They might as well bury their money in graves because they won’t see some of them as 10 year rates go up from ~2.7% now to 5 to 6% in a few years.

Here is my advise if you are thinking about MyRA:

DON’T!

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