Thursday, May 29, 2008

I've got wood

Yes in my eternal quest to misuse euphemisms (miseuphemisms?) I would like to proudly announce I've got wood. Lots of wood.
  • Bonfire grade. More of this than you can possibly haul off. Bring a truck. Bring five.

  • Clearance aisle (almost old enough to run in the Kentucky Derby). Mixed pecan and hickory. You figure out which is which, but I need the space.

  • Non-split pile. Small branches and odd knotty stuff that is impossible to split.

  • Splits. Yes this is the good stuff. Some assembly required. Its cut to length for the grill/pit. If you want it in your fireplace you are just going to have to use 2 for 1. Deal with it. The splitting hasnt started, but the cutting is done.

If history repeats itself, one of 2 things will happen.
  1. Everyone in the world will want some
  2. No one will want any.... Until everyone wants it.

Sunday, May 25, 2008

Full disclosure: Bacon report

After breakfast they went in... 3 slabs (about 11 pounds total) of bacony goodness. Bacon bacon bacon. Bacon.

They smoked for about 3 hours, then I commenced to process them. Most were sliced up, vacuum sealed and put in the freezer. The end bits were made into lardon (definition #3) for future banonificated stuff.

The end result:
Plain: pretty salty but gosh darn good
Maple: really good. I used only about half of the maple that the recipe called for (it seemed like a lot) but it could have used more. I guess I should have stuck to the recipe.
Garlic: ok, do I need to say anything more than "garlic bacon"? Do I? I am afraid I might get mugged by Homer Simpson if I went out in public carrying this stuff.

Saturday, May 24, 2008


Everyone has one or two of those foods that are pure comfort foods and remind them of home. For me its berries. Particularly blackberries, but pretty much any berry. (I bet I have had a bowl of strawberries every day for the past month.... not that I am complaining.) And the blackberries are starting to ripen. We tried growing them in Metropolis, but the goopy black soil just wont support them. They grow great here. This is yesterday's and today's take. The plants are very young, so I expect future years will be even better. You will notice among the blackberries are a handful of raspberries (which I am assured will not grow here.) You can also see the whole row of raspberries which have almost become weed-like this year. We have tons of little 3 inch high plants that have escaped the bed (for anyone outside the black mucky soil that wants them, just ask) -- though I understand they dont grow here. Right now Ellie Mae is in the "kitchen" making a cobbler from her favorite food porn site.

And the most important news: the cure seems to have finished on the bacon. It now has to rest a day uncovered in the fridge before the smoke tomorrow.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Well hell.

I have briefly toyed with the idea of leaving the realm of the unemployed nogoodnicks. In fact, I went as far as to actually apply for a job... and even got an offer.

I have sort of fantasized about working at a small shop for quite some time (which is pretty much caused by working for an employer that is larger than the nearest city). I really like the people, and you can count the employees on your fingers and toes. It actually seems like a pretty cool place to work...

...until you consider the downside. It's 2 hours of commute a day. And it pays about half of what I am used to making (when I was employed) -- a little more than what a recent college grad made "in the big city" 10 years ago -- which probably is what they make for real now.

Its really hard for me to believe there is that much disparity between large/small companies. Or between big city/little city. I expected some -- though I really dont understand why. The cost of living in Smallsville is actually a tiny bit higher than it is in Metropolis.

and its down

Judging by the description (I wasnt here for the felling) I think it was a well spent $150. It seems they had a pretty hard time felling this against the lean. But its down now. Time for choppin'.

Monday, May 19, 2008

I wimped out

The long story is that I have spent a couple of years trying to save this tree. When we bought the land the PO had bulldozed almost half the roots off of the tree, leaving them exposed. So I painstakingly built a little retaining wall and backfilled it all (with a bucket -- this is pre-tractor days). And this year, it coughed up 4 leaves and died.

I have been staring at it and studying it for a couple of weeks. It leans back towards my metal shack and I just wasnt sure I could drop it myself. A set of climbing spikes and a belt costs upwards of $200. So tomorrow, Bubba is going to do it for $150.

Saturday, May 17, 2008

Makin Bacon

See how the package says "Sugar cured smoked bacon"? It isnt. It isnt any of those things. It isnt cured and it isnt bacon... yet.

The butcher looked at me like I was insane when I asked him for a raw pork belly. And when he asked what I was going to do with it and I told him I was going to make bacon, he looked at me like I was doubly insane and was going to kill myself trying. Oh come on. Its not like that's rocket science.

I got a book on curing on my last birthday... and the recipe is actually pretty simple.... and I've tasted this guy's sausage. It's not like he has that much to brag about. I'll keep you posted.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Read Walter Williams. Enough said.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

In an effort to create as many useless graphs as I can, Ellie Mae has requested (I think she was kidding) I graph our Netflix usage. I can't wait until they change their page layout and break the whole mess.

Monday, May 5, 2008

Fun with math

Note: the price has risen a bit since I wrote this. But it stands for the time it was written.

Lately I have been rantier than a bottle of Dr Bronner's soap. This double header doesnt even make a dent.

Part One

Take the following assumptions:

  • it takes 1.3 gallons of fossil fuel to make 1 gallon of ethanol
  • 1 gallon of ethanol is 15 percent less mileage
  • the current summer gas blend is 90% gasoline and 10% ethanol. (Lets assume last year was 100% gasoline, though that wont be quite true I am sure).
  • average annual inflation rate for US is 3.42 percent
  • average cost of gasoline in the US on Apr 28, 2008 was $3.61
  • average cost of gasoline in the US on Apr 28, 2007 was $2.96

Okay there are 2 important computations here: cost and value. Lets tackle both.

Cost Value
1 gallon fuel = ( 9/10(gasoline) ) + ( 1/10(ethanol) )
1 gallon fuel = ( 9/10(gasoline) ) + ( 1/10(ethanol) )
1 gallon fuel = ( 9/10(gasoline) ) + ( ( 1/10(ethanol) ) * (1.3(gasoline) / 1(ethanol) ) )
1 gallon fuel = ( 9/10(gasoline) ) + ( ( 1/10(ethanol) ) * 0.85 )
1 gallon fuel = (90/100 (gasoline)) + (13/100 (gasoline))
1 gallon fuel = (900/1000 (gasoline) + (85/1000 (gasoline))
1 gallon fuel = 1.03 gallons gasoline
1 gallon fuel = 0.985 gallons gasoline
in other words, you are really paying for the cost of 1.03 gallons of gasoline for each gallon you buy (not counting the price of corn or the processing of corn)
in other words, you are getting 0.985 gallons of gasoline in value for each gallon you buy

So, we are getting 1.5% less mileage out of burning 3% more gasoline (all in the effort to "conserve" and "use less foreign oil".

Now, last years gas was $2.96.
Add in inflation, you get $3.06.
Add in the 3% extra gas you buy (burn) for ethanol, you get $3.15 per 0.985 gallons
Adjust that for actual gallons and you get $3.20 per gallon of gasoline.

And that is before you pay for the raw materials of corn, the knowledge of processing it, the labor to grow/process. 1 bushel of corn costs $5.50 and will make about 2.5 gallons of ethanol. Thats about $2.20 for a gallon. Our blend uses 1/10 of a gallon for about 22 cents. That takes us up to $3.42 for raw materials. That leaves 19 cents to pay for processing and shipping (remember, it wont go through a pipeline, it has to come on a truck).

Yep the current cost of $3.61 is probably about right. I think you can pretty much equate the rise in cost of gas to ethanol.

And now the presidential candidates -- all of them -- want to tell you how to fix the cost of gas:

  • McCain - Dont pay the excise tax (18 whole cents of savings vs 55 cents difference of last years price vs inflation adjusted this years price). Oh, and dont worry, the government just will skip the taxes. Now I am no fan of taxes. In fact, I am pretty much opposed to all of them. But I know enough business to know that you have to bring in at least as much as you pay out. FAIL.
  • Obama - Dont do anything. FAIL on principle. If you cannot figure out this is out of control, go home.
  • Clinton - Dont pay the excise tax, but make the oil companies pay it. Now I did not major in economics, but I believe if you discount a product by 18 cents, then ask the producer to pay 18 cents extra, that producer will have a cost of 18 cents extra. And I think costs are part of the price.... which will be a net zero. This is a DOUBLE FAIL on principle.

The bad part of this is that there are so many cascading, synergistic, almost exponential side effects here that this is pretty much going to drive the economy for a short while... and while most
economic situations want to meet a stable center, it cannot happen when the economics are being government dictated. Noted side effects here are:

  • wear on car, lawnmower, weedeater, chainsaw engines due to ethanol (with emphasis on the small engines -- it harms them even more)
  • increase in cost of transportation drives up the cost of everything
  • increase in the demand for corn drives up the cost of all food. And this is pretty serious. It is actually really bad that our entire food supply is based on corn. Its like investing all of your
    money in one stock -- or worse investing it all in one stock and working for the company that stock represents. (Ask an Enron employee if that is a good idea.)
  • Not only is a monoculture of corn bad, but the resulting foods made from it have typically been extremely calorie dense. Could it possibly be why Americans are so fat? No, couldnt be.
  • And just to point it out (and say I told you so to a few folks) the latest studies showed that Americans overall health is terrible as compared to the rest of the modern world and that it was directly related to weight, smoking and high blood pressure -- NOT due to lack of national health care. But I am sure we will fix this with a higher corn subsidy and a good national health care plan.

Part Two

About once a year, there is a shocking story about how much better first born children do than the rest of us. (I am 3rd if I am showing bias.) I will both agree and disagree. (Its bad math). In fact, I will categorically state:

  • The majority of successful people are first born
  • The majority of abject failures are also first born

You see, whomever does this study has really not spent much time thinking about this. Allow me to extrapolate some data. I will make some assumptions because I do truck driver math.

According to 2006 US statistical data:

  • 1 person households: 27%
  • 2 person households: 33%
  • 3 person households: 17%
  • 4 person households: 14%
  • 5 person households: 6%
  • 6 person househouds: 2%
  • 7 person households: 1%

Now I will make wild incorrect assumptions to make my math easy for me. After all, I am lazy and finding good data is hard work. I am just going to assume a Leave It To Beaver world where all families have 2 parents. So I am going to throw out the 1 and 2 person households and assume the 3 - 7 person households have 2 parents and 1 - 5 kids. No disrespect to you single mothers -- its just easier this way. Really. And I guess according to my simplistic ways, we pretty much discard all the Catholic families too. Sorry about that.

With these assumptions, lets see how many first borns there are:

Kids 1st Borns 2nd Borns 3rd Borns 4th Borns 5th Borns
1 kid 17 0 0 0 0
2 kids 14 14 0 0 0
3 kids 6 6 6 0 0
4 kids 2 2 2 2 0
5 kids 1 1 1 1 1
Totals 40 23 9 3 1
Percentage 52% 30% 12% 4% 1%

So, you see, you are more likely to be successful if you are first born because you are more likely to be first born. EVERY family that has a child has a first born child. Not every family has a 3rd. Or a 5th.

So, yes, you are more likely to succeed. And you are more likely to fail. Because you are dealing with the majority of the population dumbass.

And the shocking statistics from the story I heard today was that:

  • 50% of US presidents were first born - this is probably margin of error, which says "birth order doesnt matter"
  • 43% of all CEOs are first born - which pretty much says first borns suck at being CEOs. If 52% of the population is 1st born but only 43% were able to make it to the top of the corporate ladder.

Friday, May 2, 2008

Okay, if you are not a geek, look the other way. Nothing to see here. You'll just make fun of me.

But I spent a little time and figured out how to generate cacti graphs for the TiVo disk usage.