First, the feats of strength. Saturday was a real show of flats, missed rides and finally a good ending. Met up with a bunch of team mates at Hains Point for the skills clinic and ended the day with a 5 minute power test. Since I haven’t figured out how to review an interval on a Power Tap without going home and reviewing it on the computer, my results were a secret until I got home. When I say the results, I nearly fell off my chair – I have the 5 minute power of an underperforming Cat 2. The more shocking things are that this was my first 5 minute test, so I went out a little too soft (power line was inclining the whole way through the test, with its highest point at the end of the test – confirmed by my feeling that I could have gone a tad harder), plus the “per kg” part of the equation is currently hurt by a couple of purely parasitic kgs consisting of cookies, canapés and other delicious bits of seasonal bonus. If I get down to normal “in season” weight without losing power, I have the 5 minute power of an average Cat 2. I’d set a March 1 goal for 5 minute power that I surpassed on Saturday, and now get to raise my sights accordingly. Using a power meter has surely done wonders for me in just the short time that I’ve had it, and though it is sometimes a fight to get through workouts, seeing positive results is gratifying as hell. After the 5 minute test, it was tempting to think that I could have thrown down nearly that much for 20 minutes.
Now, the airing of grievances. Confirmation of my growing fears about the credit card fiasco is starting to trickle in. I’ve talked about credit cards as the looming monster in the closet for a while, recently in terms of the retail sales numbers. The better the retail sales numbers, the worse I think the credit card malaise is going to be. People are literally addicted to consumption, matching up with their neighbors and putting on a good public show. I fear that people won’t be able to stop themselves until they get to the cash register and the merchant has to take the card away from them and tear it up. This one is going to accelerate wildly as it happens, since credit card companies are going to be charging higher interest rates based on declining credit scores. People who had been running up credit card debt at 8 or 10% interest rates are now going to be faced with double that or more as their credit scores decline due to falling behind on house payments, credit card payments or other debts that are now larger than the average Pollyana consumer had calculated (or hoped or prayed for, or maybe not even thought about, which seems the most likely). WTF, people? This is going to be really, really, screwed up. I fully expect a recession, and am now actively afraid of what the fallouts is going to be.
But hey, the markets are up today as another sovereign investment fund made a huge investment in Merrill. People are taking that as a sign of confidence. While I’m not necessarily a protectionist (although President Bush would surely call me one – to him, anyone who wants the US to trade on an equitable basis with other nations is an evil protectionist) I take it as a sign of confidence that our fiscal sovereignty is being compromised.