Thursday, May 29, 2008

Sign of the Times, Spam Sales Rising

Spam's maker, Hormel Foods Corp., reported last week that it saw strong sales of Spam in the second quarter, helping push up its profits 14 percent. According to sales information coming from Hormel, provided by The Nielsen Co., Spam sales were up 10.6 percent in the 12-week period ending May 3, compared to last year. In the last 24 weeks, sales were up nearly 9 percent.

I know, I know it isn't very nice but it is cheap and it is protein. People are grabbing a can or two to have on the shelf because it keeps too and will be there when the fridge is bare.

I grew up in an upper level "White Trash" home and Spam was no stranger at the table and neither was Vienna Sausage or Deviled Ham. I grew up thinking it was just fine and it was only later that I realized that it wasn't so hot when it came to 'cuisine'.

I really thought I had put Spam behind me after a couple of years in Europe but then came the transfer to Hawaii and Spam was back with a vengeance. Ever since the rationing in and after WWII Spam has been popular in Hawaii. Evidently there was many a time during the war when the only meat that was affordable and even available was Spam. Even after the rationing and the war Spam didn't fall out of popularity and hence a whole cuisine has developed around Spam.
The true Hawaiian pizza is not ham and pineapple but Spam and pineapple.

Anyhow, there are hundreds of ways to serve Spam and some are actually pretty tasty. I think my favorite is the grilled Spam and pineapple sandwich but musubi or Spam over rice is not too bad can even make Spam sushi.

Regardless of the merits of Spam as a food or its value as a protein source it is a definite sign of the times that Hormel has seen a 10% increase in sales recently. It's cheap and doesn't spoil like fresh meat. I don't have any in my larder presently but I may pause by the Spam shelf on my next trip through the grocery. We can always claim that we are trying to recapture our childhood or having a Hawaiian themed party.

BTW The rumors that the Hawaiians like Spam because it tastes like "long pig" isn't true. I don't think anyone as produced any definitive evidence that the Hawaiians practiced cannibalism. Besides I have it from a very knowledgeable authority that there is no comparison. Grok?

A New Word for My Vocabulary

Grace at Scriptoids has a list of new words that have appeared in the language as a result of our current nomination process. One in particular stuck a note with me and I have decided that it is a must to add to my vocabulary.

Proctovsionary: (noun) Person who looks at the world with one’s head up one’s ass.

I can't wait to use it.

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Head Explosion Warning

Some of you old hippies might remember the Discordians from the late '60's and '70's. While I, at the time was a POEE POPE, I drifted away from the "True Religion" but that is another story for another day. One of the most significant efforts in those heady days was "Operation Mindfuck" and while I haven't been really paying attention I had wrongly assumed that the Discordians effectively shut down operations while Shrub was in charge since there wasn't any greater opportunity to "mindfuck" the world that just having Shrub in charge of the most powerful nation on earth. Then again, getting Shrub into the White House might have been their 'piece de resistance' and theres no possibly of doing anything better. While Shrub has not disappointed it is now obvious that in light of Shrub's near departure the Discordians have re-energized their core program "Operation Mindfuck".
This post from Steve Audio by the Sailor is concrete proof:
Investigators find gaps in port security program

A Department of Homeland Security program to strengthen port security has gaps that terrorists could exploit to smuggle weapons of mass destruction in cargo containers, congressional investigators have found.
And in related news:
Gamblers' shuttle gets terrorism funds

Colorado Springs-based Ramblin Express, which shuttles gamblers to mountain-town casinos, including Cripple Creek, has received $382,000 in anti-terrorism grants.

The most recent grant, for $184,415, was announced this month as part of the Department of Homeland Security's $844 million Infrastructure Protection Activities program.
Hail Eris, All Hail Discordia!

Phoenix Descending and Solar Flare Cartwheels

This from for all you space geeks.

THE DESCENT OF PHOENIX: When NASA's Phoenix probe parachuted to Mars last Sunday, a pair of other spacecraft were orbiting high overhead, watching and listening. While NASA's Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter snapped some jaw-dropping photos of Phoenix's plunge to the surface, Europe's Mars Express orbiter recorded Phoenix's radio transmissions. The eerie-sounding tones have just been beamed back to Earth and you can listen to them by following the links at today's edition of

CARTWHEEL CME: Imagine a billion-ton cloud of gas launching itself off the surface of the sun and then ... doing a cartwheel. That's exactly what happened on April 9, 2008, when a coronal mass ejection pirouetted over the sun's limb in full view of an international fleet of spacecraft. The cartwheel set off a chain of events that amazed even veteran solar physicists. The full story, and a spectacular movie of a second cartwheel recorded just last week, may be found at

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

4.3 Percent Is a Lot!

We don't really internalize or conceptually grasp the amount of miles driven by Americans everyday. All those trips to the 7-11 for smokes and beer add up. In a major change of direction Americans cut back on driving in March, compared to March 2007, more than in any single month since such record-keeping began in 1942. It was a 4.3 percent drop in miles driven.

A lousy 4.3 percent you say....well that was a reduction of 11 billion miles. That number just knocked me over.

McSame or McSimilar

There is a lot of chatter about how a vote for McCain is a vote for a third Bush term. I personally feel that that is the case. I find it very strange that 78% of the country thinks Bush is a complete failure and that he has driven the country into a ditch but you turn around and see that 48% of the country say they will vote for McCain.
Here is a bit of somewhat flawed evidence that McSame or McBush is a good label for the old geezer. In the very few votes he made in the Senate this year McCain supported the Bush position 100% of the time. It is a low statistical population but a fact. McCain turned out to be a real maverick last year where he voted only 95% of the time with the Bush line.
The old line that goes...Don't listen to what a politician says but look at how he votes.... may be germane in this context.

It's Monday only Tuesday Again

It's the Tuesday Monday thing today. Trying to get excited about the week ahead after a three dayer. Interesting weekend...we have a new toy on Mars to play with and a great American director is gone Sidney Pollack. We also lost Dick Martin of Laugh-in fame.

I am off to Augusta again today after a stop by the hospital to get some blood taken for my regular checkup. Gotta make sure my blood sugar is behaving and that the old cholesterol is in check.

Everybody have a great day and we'll have more to say this evening I imagine.

Monday, May 26, 2008


It's another Memorial Day and we have even more of our sons and daughters to remember today than we did last year. While I rave and rant about our grossly mistaken adventure in Iraq it should never be mistaken for any denigration of the sacrifices made by our children and brothers in uniform.

While the honor and purity of our noble nation has been sullied in the past 7 years it does not diminish the sacrifice and dedication of our veterans past and present. We that are benefiting from your sacrifice are truly thankful and are dedicated to insure that it was not in vain.

For those folks who are currently in uniform and in the field, stay safe and know that we are thinking of you daily. We honor you sacrifices today, and we know that with all our efforts it will be better for all of us in the days to come.

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Shrubtown Anyone?

I, as well as many others, thought we had seen the end of Hoovervilles. A prosperous nation, McMansions as far as you can see, BMW's and Audi's for everyone and a giant SUV in every drive. From this report on CNN we see that the American dream is crumbling at our feet.

Harvey now works part time for $8 an hour, and she draws Social Security to help make ends meet. But she still cannot afford an apartment, and so every night she pulls into a gated parking lot to sleep in her car, along with other women who find themselves in a similar predicament.

There are 12 parking lots across Santa Barbara that have been set up to accommodate the growing middle-class homelessness. These lots are believed to be part of the first program of its kind in the United States, according to organizers.

The lots open at 7 p.m. and close at 7 a.m. and are run by New Beginnings Counseling Center, a homeless outreach organization.

It is illegal for people in California to sleep in their cars on streets. New Beginnings worked with the city to allow the parking lots as a safe place for the homeless to sleep in their vehicles without being harassed by people on the streets or ticketed by police.

As usual California is leading the way but I won't be too surprised to see the same in Atlanta, Dallas, Chicago or Philadelphia in the very near future. Of course, Hooverville is no longer appropriate but there is alway Bushville or Shrubtown. Your suggestion for a new name for this symbol of the disaster Shrub and the GOP have made of the once brilliant American dream is welcome in the comments.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Haloscan Fried

Haloscan comments is acting really batty. It shows comments and then it doesn't display any. It shows no comments and yet when you click on comments there are comments. Not predictable. Who knows when it comes back. I have tried to leave comments on several blogs that use Haloscan and cannot. I guess we just have to be patient.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Perspective on 120,000 Dead Children

I am as bad as everyone else in complaining about the price of gas and the price of food here in the U.S. but I really, really need to keep my perspective. This story on CNN about the drought and food crisis in Ethioipa should help us all keep a better and more realistic outlook when it comes to our challenges with the increased cost of living. When I dwell upon the reality we are seeing in Ethiopia and balance it against the the daily spending in Iraq I get so angry I want to tear up and cry. The World Food Programme is asking for a lousy $10 million dollars for emergency food supplies. The WPF supplies UNICEF with its emergency food.

Without this emergency food UNICEF estimates about 120,000 Ethiopian children under the age of five will die within the month and another 6 million are at risk of the same fate in the near term.

Here is the math that should guarantee Bush, Cheney and their whole evil clan a secure place in hell forever...

The World Food Programme needs a lousy $10,000,000(10 million bucks) for emergency food aid to offset the rising cost of food. Now to put that measly 10 mil into perspective let's check out the spending in Iraq...

Estimates are that we are spending $5,000 a second or $300,000 per minute or $18,000,000 per hour and yeah that comes out to $432,000,000 a day or $12,960,000,000 a month (that's 12.96 billion dollars).

Do you think it might be possible to lay off making the lives of millions of Iraqi miserable for about 33 and a half freaking minutes and send the money ($10,050,000) to the World Food Programme? Is that really too much to ask? I won't tell you how happy they would be if you could see your way clear to taking a day off. BTW it might help the morale of our boys and girls over there as well...double benefits...what are you waiting for?

It's Getting Very Expensive

Just to put the price of gas into perspective here is a bit from Tom Kloza. Tom is Chief Oil Analyst at OPIS (Oil Price Information Service) and has his own blog. This particular quote is from a guest post at CNBC

Today’s back-of-the-envelope estimated bill, calculated against a national average price of $3.787 gal, is $1.486-billion. When we get to $3.82 gal nationally, we’ll cross $1.5-billion. That level is a virtual certainty based on recent wholesale price advances. It may even occur this weekend.

How does this compare to previous years?

The per diem charges Memorial Day last year saw motorists pay about $1.285-billion. In 2006, the cost was $1.122-billion; and in 2005, it was $832-million. If one goes back to 2002, the daily cost of gasoline was about $534-million. Before prices top out, we could be making $1-billion more per day in gasoline payments than we made six years ago.

Now that's inflation!

Interior Design Fact

As most of you know I am traveling and in Augusta this week. I'm staying in a Hampton Inn which at some point in its life was some other type of hotel. It is one of the old fashioned "motels" with all the rooms facing out instead of in on a corridor. Classic motel room with the tiny bathroom etc. One thing I noticed this morning is that on the outside of the bathroom door is a full length mirror. If you leave the door open and are perched on the throne, so to speak, the view in the full length mirror is none to thrilling to say the least if you are an overweight nearly sixty year old man. So anyway this is a note to anyone thinking about mounting a full length mirror on a bathroom door. Think about what you might see when the mirror is in all positions especially if it can face the toilet. You'll thank me.

Monday, May 19, 2008

Stranger and Stranger

I won't comment on this this quote other than to say you really can get flabbergasted at Georgia GOP politics.

Georgia Republican Party chairwoman Sue Everhart said Saturday that the party's presumed presidential nominee has a lot in common with Jesus Christ.

"John McCain is kind of like Jesus Christ on the cross," Everhart said as she began the second day of the state GOP convention. "He never denounced God, either."

Monday Traveling Again

Off to Augusta, Ga this morning to the client's corporate headquarters for meetings with the half dozen of so project managers they have on my one man project. Mostly a waste of time but they are paying the bills. I will also get a chance to confront the IT folks (contractor) that is making everything so difficult. Should be fun.
I'll see all you folks from the hotel this evening. Play nice.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

All My Ants Live in Texas

I'm waiting for confirmation from Steve Bates of YDD and based in Houston, before I panic.

DALLAS — In what sounds like a really low-budget horror film, voracious swarming ants that apparently arrived in Texas aboard a cargo ship are invading homes and yards across the Houston area, shorting out electrical boxes and messing up computers.

The hairy, reddish-brown creatures are known as "crazy rasberry ants" _ crazy, because they wander erratically instead of marching in regimented lines, and "rasberry" after Tom Rasberry, an exterminator who did battle against them early on.

Talk about a mixed blessing... these things reportedly attack and destroy the Texas state insect...the fire ant. There is also the question of how tasty they are run through a hot wok with a little garlic, and Tobasco.

Interior Puts Polar Bears on the Endangered Species List

The good news is that the Interior Dept. put the polar bear on the Endangered Species List. The bad news is that there are some rarely used exceptions that allow oil and gas exploration to pretty much ignore the law. What's new for Shrub's bunch? What more can you expect from Dirk Kempthorne the Secretary of the Interior who is on the record as not supporting the Endangered Species Act.

Don't be deluded by the fact that the Bush administration finally reacted to the plight of the polar bear...they didn't have a choice.
Few natural resource decisions have been as closely watched or been the subject of such vehement disagreement within the Bush administration as this one, according to officials in the Interior Department and others familiar with the process. After the department missed a series of deadlines, a federal judge ruled two weeks ago that the decision had to be made by Thursday.
In other words, after being forced by the law to do something they took the politically expedient route but under the table they made sure their owners,the oil and gas industry, could safely ignore the law.
The provision of the act that the department is using to lighten the regulatory burden that the listing imposes on the oil and gas industry — known as a 4(d) rule — was designed to permit flexibility in the management of threatened species, as long as the chances of conservation of the species would be enhanced, or at least not diminished.
Like virtually everything else the Shrub has touched this is covered in bloody oil money.

Edwards Joins the Obama Camp

According to several sources John Edwards will endorse Barack Obama tonight in Michigan. This endorsement really couldn't come at a better time for Obama and will surely take some of the sting out of the trouncing he received at Hillary's hand in West Virginia. If all of Edward's 18 pledged delegates swing to Obama that would leave him only 45 short of a clinch. As many of you know Edwards was my candidate and I think I am happy with this. Obama has embraced Edward's anti-poverty programs and I am sure John Edwards has thought long and hard on this. Interestingly this endorsement actually goes against his wife's opinion that HRC's health plan is better than Obama's.
The plot thickens folks. I don't think this will make a difference in Hillary's decision to continue the campaign but I was wrong once before...I think it was in '72.

No More GWOT

Over at YDD, Steve Bates alerts us to the absurdity and tragedy of what George Bush and his cronies are doing to Mohammed al-Qahtani, a suspected 9/11 operative, and dozens and dozens of other so-called "suspects".

Charges Against 9/11 Suspect Dropped
His Statements Were the Result of Abusive Interrogation, Officials Say
By Josh White and Julie Tate
Washington Post Staff Writers
Wednesday, May 14, 2008; Page A04

U.S. authorities have long considered Mohammed al-Qahtani one of the most dangerous alleged terrorists in U.S. custody, a man who could have been the 20th hijacker in the Sept. 11, 2001, plot if he had not been denied entry into the country.

But yesterday, amid concerns about using information obtained during abusive military interrogations, a top Pentagon official removed Qahtani from the military commission case meant to bring justice to those behind the vast Sept. 11 conspiracy.

Susan J. Crawford, the appointed official who decides which cases will be heard in the largely untested commission process, dismissed the charges against Qahtani while affirming those against five other alleged terrorists to stand trial at the U.S. detention facility at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.

Prosecutors reserve the right to charge Qahtani again, and the military says it can hold him without trial for the duration of the counterterrorism wars. But his defense lawyers and officials familiar with the case say it is unlikely that Qahtani will face new charges because he was subjected to aggressive Defense Department interrogation techniques -- such as intimidation by dogs, hooding, nudity, long-term isolation and stress positions.

This is an edited version of my comment:

How embarrassing as an American! I was thinking that maybe one of the first things our new Democratic President should do is officially declare the Global War on Terror lost and over. The reality is that the terrorists have done pretty much what they wanted. They have set us on a path of destruction by our own hand, caused us to sacrifice our fundamental and founding principles and turned us into a nation sniveling cowards afraid of the evil brown person under the bed. We don't even want to talk about what they have given Shrub and company an excuse to do to our treasury and to our young men and women in the military.

I haven't quite settled on a name but something on the order of a Global Search for Understanding, Peace and Tolerance might work but feel free to leave your own suggestions in the comments.

Without the excuse of a GWOT the thugs at GITMO and the other illegal torture prisons we are maintaining around the world will have no reason to hold all the mostly innocent people. The GWOT has gone on long enough and we have lost. Need to regroup and bring some new ideas to the game.

Washington Said Gas Prices Fell Last Month

Do you think it is possible to believe any number that comes out of Washington especially in Shrub World? It takes some real cajones to put out a report like this.

According to the Bush Labor Department.

WASHINGTON (AP) -- Inflation pressures eased a bit in April despite the biggest jump in food prices in 18 years.

The Labor Department reported Wednesday that consumer prices edged up 0.2 percent last month, compared to a 0.3 percent rise in March.

The lower inflation reflected a flat reading for energy, which helped offset a 0.9 percent jump in food costs as prices climbed for many basic items, from bread and milk to coffee and fresh fruits.

The unchanged reading for energy reflected a big 4.8 percent jump in natural gas prices, offset by a 2 percent decline in gasoline costs.

The reported drop in gasoline prices reflected the government's accounting process, which discounts expected seasonal price changes.

Since gasoline prices normally rise significantly in April, the 5.6 percent rise in prices for the month turned into a 2 percent drop after the government adjusted for normal seasonal changes. That was little comfort for motorists now paying record prices at the pump, which are nearing $4 per gallon.

Bad for GOP

No surprise for Hillary and West Virginia...still doesn't change the math. The biggest news of the night was in the first congressional district in Mississippi. A Democrat beat a Republican in a district and that has always gone to the GOP. This does not bode well for the GOP in November. Note also that the NRCC spent 1.3 million here to no avail.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Hello Master

Via Jane at Firedoglake
from Howie Klein at DownwithTyranny

Republicans want to reduce taxes and let the infrastructure go to hell so that the public supports selling it all off to for-profit companies. Democrats are too cowed to stand up for government functions that have been delegitimized by greed obsessed Republicans (and Blue Dogs and DLC Democrats). So... on to the predators. Today Morgan Stanley-- and I assure you a more unscrupulous and cut throat firm you will never find-- announced that it has raised $4 billion to target investments "that provide public goods or essential services in sectors such as transportation, energy and utilities, social infrastructure and communications." Global Infrastructure Partners (General Electric and Credit Suisse) have capped their infrastructure fund yesterday at $6.5 billion. A new Carlyle subsidiary, Carlyle Infrastructure Partners, formed specifically-- and under heavy political protection-- to rip off American taxpayers and ratepayers is investing $1.5 billion in transportation and water and wastewater facilities, including roads, bridges, tunnels, airport facilities, maritime ports, transit projects and other public benefit infrastructure in the US and Canada. Henderson Investors, CVC Capital Partners, Macquarie (Australia), Rreef, Citigroup, Ferrovial (Spain), Goldman Sachs, J.P. Morgan and Alinda are all up to the same thing.
The big money boys want to own your ass lock, stock and barrel. They want to extract every penny you have to pay for services that should be a part of the public service. If we let them take title to our infrastructure we will be little more than slaves working on the master's plantation for a minority share of the crop we planted, tended and harvested. Rest assured that our share will be the least desirable of the crop as well. Just saying.

Hello! It's Non-linear

The US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration has some cheery news as reported by the Guardian. BTW search CNN for "CO2" and this story won't come up or this ain't a story Americans need to read. I haven't done an extensive search but nothing obvious popped up in American media.

The concentration of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere has reached a record high, according to the latest figures, renewing fears that climate change could begin to slide out of control.

Scientists at the Mauna Loa observatory in Hawaii say that CO2 levels in the atmosphere now stand at 387 parts per million (ppm), up almost 40% since the industrial revolution and the highest for at least the last 650,000 years.

The figures, published by the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration on its website, also confirm that carbon dioxide, the chief greenhouse gas, is accumulating in the atmosphere faster than expected. The annual mean growth rate for 2007 was 2.14ppm - the fourth year in the last six to see an annual rise greater than 2ppm. From 1970 to 2000, the concentration rose by about 1.5ppm each year, but since 2000 the annual rise has leapt to an average 2.1ppm.

This is not a good thing. The measurements at Mauna Loa have been going on for sometime and are considered the best historical measure of the delta in CO2 for the planet as a whole. Regardless of the wingnuts insisting that the temperature of the earth goes up and down naturally and this is just another swing of the pendulum this is a serious symptom of a growing and increasing rapid decrease in the ability of our mother planet to deal with our waste products. Remember folks, assuming the end of life on the planet, as we know it, is a linear function is incredibly naive. We are rapidly reaching a tipping point where nothing we do will save us.

Another Planet

While taking a quick break as my batch job runs, I run across this from Huffpo. It very clearly points out how very, very far apart the major camps in this country are. This kind of separation between the two primary parties indicates a deep and perverted lack of reality testing on the part of your average Republican. The global warming factoid at the bottom also points out their irrational fear of facts.

George Bush's Job Approval
CBS News: Democrats 12%. Independents 22%, Republicans 55%
Rasmussen: Democrats 11%, Independents 28%, Republicans 70%.
Gallup: Democrats 7%. Independents 26%, Republicans 60%

Disapproval of Bush's Job Performance
ARG: Democrats 95%. Independents 78%, Republicans 27%
CBS News: Democrats 87%. Independents 67%, Republicans 29%
Fox News: Democrats 82%. Independents 63%, Republicans 28%

Approval of Bush's Handling of the Economy
ARG: Democrats 1%, Independents 15%, Republicans 65%.

Respondents who say we should leave Iraq within a year of sooner:
Rasmussen: Democrats 89%, Independents 60%, Republicans 30%.

Respondents who say we should stay Iraq to complete the mission:
Rasmussen: Democrats 8%, Independents 34%, Republicans 66%.

I can't remember when I have seen such a disparity between the two major parties. Looking at the numbers shows you that Democrats and Independents are on the same page, mpore or less but Republicans are on a different planet. Literally. Less than half of all Republicans believe there is solid evidence of global warming, compared to 84% of Democrats and 75% of Independents, according to a recent Pew poll. Do you think we are so apart now that the rift will ever heal. Will this constant obstruction by the GOP be a part of politics in America forever?

Monday, May 12, 2008

Pleasant Surprise

What a pleasant surprise! Our old Georgia buddy Bob Barr is going to make the GOP's fall nightmare a whole lot worse:

Former Republican Rep. Bob Barr is expected to announce that he's running for president as a Libertarian.

His candidacy would be a wild card in the White House race that many believe would hurt Republican Sen. John McCain.

What a great idea!

Evidently the GOP begged Barr not to run but being the contrarian asshole that he is, that just made it worse.

This could be a serious blow to the GOP in the fall. They are already handicapped with Shrub's war,the economy, gas prices, food prices not to mention a president with the lowest approval ratings in history. Welcome to the party Bob and we expect you to do your worst.

Early Bird this Morning

Hope everyone had a nice weekend and Mother's Day. Kinda quiet here as I was up super early and on the road before the rest of Atlanta(or a good part of it) so I am here in Asheville well before lunch. Very windy here today. You could see the tractor trailers swaying with the gusts on the Highway and the people hauling travel trailers were really struggling. I would guess the gusts are hitting at least 50 mph.
Anyhow, safe and sound once again and actually earning my keep. Get to bill for a couple of extra hours today :-) so I had better start earning it.
I will do a better job here tonight from the hotel. Mother nature sure is keeping busy with cyclones, earthquakes, and volcanoes.
I mentioned in the comments on the previous post that I was going to bring a proper wine glass and a proper glass glass for the hotel room and had even made a special place in my camera case for more Styrofoam for me. Guesss what is sitting on my desk at home. Arrgh!

Friday, May 09, 2008

On the Road

It hit me this morning as I was eating my Special K out of a Styrofoam bowl with a small plastic spoon, drinking my juice out of a small plastic cup and drinking my coffee out of a paper cup. One of the soul draining things about travel like this and living in hotels 4 nights a week is the impermanence it instills. It's all throwaway. It doesn't make you feel grounded and a part of anything permanent. It sucks.

Hitting the road back to Atlanta for the weekend. See you later.

Wednesday, May 07, 2008

Enough to Give You Gas

Update: Kvatch has a good post on the same subject with some interesting numbers over at Ragebot

While I wait for my files to FTP over I have a few minutes to talk about a subject that is getting nearer and dearer to our hearts and that is gasoline.

Yesterday, Goldman Sachs analyst Arjun Murti predicted that the price of crude oil could hit $150 to $200 a barrel sometime in the next 24 months and maybe even as quickly as 6 months. On his comments crude oil in New York quickly jumped to as high as $122.73 a barrel before closing at $121.84.

What does it mean to us regular folks if crude oil goes to $150 or $200? What does that do to prices at the gas pump? There is a rule of thumb that says for every dollar increase in crude prices gas at the pump goes up a nickel. If we start from yesterday’s national average price of $3.61, a crude price of $150 means about $5 a gallon at retail. Ouch! If we go a little further to $200 a barrel for crude then we are looking at $7.50 or so at the pump. Double Ouch! How much will it cost you to fill up your car at $7.50 a gallon? I think my Hyundai Azera holds about 18 gallons and filling it up would whack me for $135.

We all see the price of gas in personal terms because it is our wallets most affected but the picture is really much broader than that. Nationally, in just the first 4 months of 2008, we spent $757.24 million more a day than we did in the first 4 months of 2002 according to Peter Beutel of Cameron-Hanover . Just to put this into perspective we are spending about $720 million a day in Iraq.

We are all feeling the pressure from increasing energy costs and not just at the filling station. Prices for everything are being impacted by oil costs and especially food. Everything that moves by highway is absorbing the increased cost of diesel fuel which is now handily above $4 a gallon most everywhere.

There are other things that are a little more subtle. Airlines are already struggling. What will a doubling of fuel costs do to them? What about American auto manufacturers? Chrysler is already in deep trouble and unless the Americans can retool quickly and start producing the kind of fuel efficient cars other countries already have they are toast and that means thousands more American jobs lost. Transportation costs are going to affect virtually every facet of our society and I fear it going to be painful. Even the waitress in a restaurant in a tourist destination town is going to feel the pinch as fewer and fewer people can afford to travel and she loses customers and tips.

Hold on for a bumpy ride.

No Good News for Bees

We have a problem and it is a lot more serious than most people think. This rapid loss of bees is going to destroy the food supply in very short order. This needs a whole lot more funding than the middling amount kicked in by people like Haagen-Dazs and a few state governments. Hello people! This is a national emergency on the order of Katrina.

SAN FRANCISCO, California (AP) -- A survey of bee health released Tuesday revealed a grim picture, with 36.1 percent of the nation's commercially managed hives lost since last year.

Last year's survey commissioned by the Apiary Inspectors of America found losses of about 32 percent.

As beekeepers travel with their hives this spring to pollinate crops around the country, it's clear the insects are buckling under the weight of new diseases, pesticide drift and old enemies like the parasitic varroa mite, said Dennis vanEngelsdorp, president of the group.

This is the second year the association has measured colony deaths across the country. This means there aren't enough numbers to show a trend, but clearly bees are dying at unsustainable levels and the situation is not improving, said vanEngelsdorp, also a bee expert with the Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture.

"For two years in a row, we've sustained a substantial loss," he said. "That's an astonishing number. Imagine if one out of every three cows, or one out of every three chickens, were dying. That would raise a lot of alarm."

Tuesday, May 06, 2008

Heck of a Job Bushie

The death toll from this weekend’s cyclone and tidal wave in Burma has reached 22,500, with 41,000 people still missing. This is not looking good. Before this the people of Burma were already desperately poor, mostly as a result of the mismanagement of the oppressive military junta mismanaging the country. As a result of the cyclone millions of people are now left without food, shelter, medical services, and most likely even clean water. Worldwide, nations and international relief agencies are scrambling to send as much aid as possible as quickly as possible.

Did I say Worldwide? My bad, that is except for the United States. The 'Master of Disaster' Shrub has released an unbelievable $250,000 from a U.S. Embassy emergency fund for the Burma relief effort. Bush is refusing to send more until the government of Burma allows American disaster assessment teams into Burma to, do what he has shown we do so well and that is um...assess.

UNICEF has five disaster assessment teams in the hardest-hit areas already, but of course the 'Master of Disaster' Bush can’t trust the United Nations assessments. He has to have his own 'crack' team on the ground. They are, of course, hardened professionals that have demonstrated their 'crackness' on the ground in NOLA.

The final insult to all this is that Shrub sent his highly medicated bride out this morning in the press room to chide the Burmese government over their poor disaster response....the stupid really burns. No pot and kettle jokes here folks...move along, nothing to see here.

The 'Game Changer'

Here I am in North Carolina, which is supposed to be the 'Game Changer'. I had said I would stay out of the politics until the Dems got their candidate issues settled. I think today may well be the day.

The reality is pretty simple: The candidate with the most delegates wins the nomination and regardless of what you may wish that's Obama. He is the inevitable nominee and has been for quite sometime. In spite of the fact that Clinton has found some new friends in the media that seem to keep this campaign going on and on, the facts are the facts. It is, of course, in their interest to keep this disaster going for as long as possible.

Interestingly, Clinton has told us North Carolina will be a "game changer":
“This primary election on Tuesday is a game changer. This is going to make a huge difference in what happens going forward. The entire country – probably even a lot of the world is looking to see what North Carolina decides.”
If you believe the polls over at DKos then she will win Indiana and Obama will win North Carolina. If she doesn't win North Carolina and win big, it's over. Or it should be. If North Carolina doesn't change the game like she said it would, she should drop out this week. This thing has really gone on long enough and the longer it goes on she and her staff will be doing the GOP's dirty work and that is destroying the Democratic nominee. I am sure McCain and company want this to go on as long as possible as all it does is continue to take the focus off McCain's weaknesses and give them fodder to use against Obama.

I think today will tell the tale.

Monday, May 05, 2008

Cinco de Mayo

Oh! and a Happy Cinco de Mayo! Another good excuse for too much booze and bad Mexican food.

Monday Already!

Here it is Monday already and I feel like I just got home and now I am packing the car to head back to Asheville. The weekend just flew by. We got some more and much needed rain on Saturday but I still managed to get the gardening chores done.
I also spent many hours working on the wedding photos from a few weeks back and got them all cropped and fixed and CD's made for the new couple and their parents.
Another thing that took some time was downloading the newest North American data and maps from Garmin and updating the GPS with all the urban sprawl information. The download was a little over 2 Gig compressed and it took about 3 hours to transfer it to the unit. Still have to do the rest of the world but that is coming on CD in a few weeks.
Madam is still depressed over the Derby results. She was rooting for the filly Eight Belles and then to have her collapse at the finish with both front legs broken and then being immediately euthanized was a real shock and tragedy.
No time this morning to say hi to everyone personally but I will be back this evening after I am in the hotel. The client is making me stay at a Fairfield(Marriott) since they have a corporate rate and it is half the rate I paid last week at the Hampton...let's just hope it is not half as comfortable.
Anyhow, off to the wilds of North Carolina. Not a hard drive but the tough part is getting out of Atlanta and onto I-85. Coming home on Friday it took me 3 hours from Asheville to the northern border of Metro Atlanta and then another hour to get home. Arrgh!
Later folks.

Thursday, May 01, 2008

Happy Road Food

I just experienced something extremely rare in the world of eating out on the road. As you may know I am currently in Asheville, NC( well Fletcher, NC if you are being picky) and my previous experience here has been less than stellar.

Up until tonight when I discovered that a new Carrabba's Italian Grill was secreted away in the new shopping center across the road. Previously this week I have experienced complete disasters at Ruby Tuesdays and Chilis. Poor service , awful food, no positive response when I have politely commented that my food was crap.

Tonight was a total delight. I ordered from the daily special menu, which I am wont to do, and had a small calamari starter followed by the slow cooked beef short ribs over risotto. The calamari turned out too salty though well cooked and the I mentioned to the waiter that while it was well cooked it was too salty for my taste. Almost immediately the manager Josh came over to apologize and let me know it would be removed from the check. He also gave me a complimentary glass of wine and sat down to chat about why the calamari was too salty(the cook didn't stir the batter). He waited to make sure my main course was ok and even offered to replace the broccoli when I commented that I was in pretty much broccoli overload. Overall a very pleasant experience. It was exactly what a restaurant experience should be and Josh, through his graciousness, insured that over the next three months yours truly will regularly darken his door again. Chili's and Ruby Tuesday's have seen the last of me.

So if you happen to stop into Fletcher, NC at Exit 40 off I-26 and are looking for a very pleasant dining experience then I can highly recommend Carrabba's Italian Grill. Even if everything that comes out of the kitchen is not perfect the manager Josh will insure you are satisfied with your experience.