As I was saying …

Turnaround? Not yet.

An optimist, said the humorist H.L. Mencken, is one who, upon noticing that roses smell better than cabbages, concludes they also will make better soup.

When we look at the roofing industry's landscape these days, we see a lot more cabbages than roses. And it's hard to be optimistic about any kind of meaningful turnaround. There is little prospect for a short-term rebound in commercial real estate development. With continuing uncertainty about future tax rates, health care costs and energy costs, few business owners are willing to make significant capital investments. The headlines about housing starts report 20 to 30 percent year-over-year increases, but that's from a level that is one-third of what it was just five years ago.

Thankfully, I suppose, we've had our share of heavy rains and hailstorms this year. Studies have shown about 25 percent of roofing work is related to weather events. That's certainly hard to plan for, but it may be the cabbage we look for in the climate change debate.

And the federal government has been spending money like, well, drunken sailors though one letter to the editor published earlier this year in a Wyoming newspaper called that statement an insult to drunken sailors; they eventually run out of money, the writer said.