Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Springtime in Malheur Country

This spring weather has been rather cool here this year. It reminds me of the spring of 1969 when we moved into our new (to us) home. It was cool and rainy right up to the Fourth of July. Poor Jean, the oil furnace in the house didn't work and she couldn't get a fire going in the fireplace. I was off to the University of Oregon working on my Master's Degree while she stayed home with the kids. She called me one day and asked if it would work if she put gasoline on the wood in the fireplace to get it started. I told her not to do that and came home the next weekend to see if I could get the fireplace to work. It only needed some dry wood and the damper open and it worked fine. Of course, the weather turned hot and she didn't need the fireplace. This year isn't quite as cold as that year, and of course, we have a gas furnace and a well insulated house so we don't have any worries about the cool weather.

At least this spring the wind blew so hard that all the Elm seeds came off the trees in one day and blew away. There are little snow drifts of Elm seeds against the fences and buildings. Generally we have those pesky little seeds blowing around for weeks.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

You Passed 8th Grade US History

Ted Kennedy

I heard that Senator Ted Kennedy has been diagnosed with brain cancer today on NPR. Senator Kennedy has served in the Senate for nearly 46 years. While he has been guilty of some indiscretions over the years, his has been a powerful voice for the Democrats and for the country. He has been reviled by the Republicans over the years for his stands for the people of the country, but he has continued to work tirelessly for his beliefs. If he has to leave the Senate, he will be sorely missed. His ability to work with the opposition to attain the best possible outcome will be hard to replace. So, thanks Ted, you did your best.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

The Democratic Party

I heard something on NPR today that made my blood run cold. As a life long Democrat I was shocked to hear the Junior Senator from Virginia describe himself as a Reagan Democrat! Senator Jim Webb was elected to the Senate in 2006, and apparently is being touted as a Vice President for the Democratic nominee for President. He was on the cover of Parade magazine last Sunday and Teri Gross was interviewing him today. When that happens you know that his candidacy is being run up the flagpole. But a Reagan Democrat! Never! Ronald Reagan did more damage to the Democratic Party than Nixon did to the Republicans. If the Democrats even think about having a Reagan Democrat (whatever in the hell that is), then the party has given up. We will have one party, with the only difference being what they believe about abortion. My Republican friends say they are Republicans because they want a smaller government. They have bought into the lie that Republicans mean less government. We have lost more civil rights during the reign of King George II than the penultimate Democrat FDR ever thought about. People have also bought into the lie that the Democrats are the tax and spend liberals, while the Republicans are fiscally conservative and reduce taxes. Reagan and Bush II increased the national debt a thousand times more than FDR did while fighting a world war and a depression at the same time. They did decrease taxes, for the wealthy, while building up a debt that our grandchildren will have difficulty paying. Reagan has been celebrated for the fall of communist Russia, but that happened only because they went bankrupt before we did. Now King George II has sold the US to China. We will be the next to fall, and our grandkids will be speaking Chinese and there will be a Republican puppet in the White House.

Saturday, May 17, 2008

Spring has Sprung

For the first time this year, the temperature has reached 90. I was able to wear shorts for the 5th time this year, two of them in February. This has been a weird weather year. Not as much snow as some years in the past, nor did as cold as earlier years. When we were living in the duplex (early 60's)with single paned windows and no insulation the temp hit 30 below 0 on a regular basis. The windows were often coated with a thick glaze of ice, on the inside. We only got to 2 below this winter and people were complaining about the bitter cold. Compared to the last 10 years it was colder and snowier this year, but was still above the overall average. I did hear some say that this winter proved that Global Warming was a made up crisis. Funny that King George II could recognize a made up crisis. It's because of all the nooculeyar bombs used in Iraq Dubya.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Energy Conservation

There has been a lot said about leaving your computer on all the time and wasting energy. It seems like they are saying that leaving computers on is wasting enough energy to power 50000 homes. I'm having trouble with that, the power draw of a computer and peripherals turned on probably draws less than 5 amps total. 5 amps at 110 volts isn't very many watts, certainly less than a 20 watt fluorescent light left on all night. I'm wondering if this is another ploy by King George II to take pressure off the Iraq war. Remember when he said that we should unplug all the cell phone chargers to save energy? I totaled all the energy used when charging and it came to less that 5 watts. Leakage from an unconnected charger really can't be very much, but it shifted the focus from MWD to energy savings. This from the guy who refused to sign the Kyoto Protocols.

Tuesday, May 6, 2008

Rising Prices

If you have been to the store lately, you will agree that gasoline is not the only thing that is increasing in price. In my dumber days, last year, I opined that perhaps we should have $4/ gallon gasoline. My reasoning was that the owners of gas hogs would get the idea and get rid of them and buy a gas friendly vehicle. That was when I was before my brains came in. Those who own gas hogs can afford the higher gas prices, and although they may complain about the price, they will pay it. As usual, the ones who take it in the shorts are those with low incomes and fixed incomes. Now, they have to choose between food, fuel, and medicine. The high fuel prices also lead to higher prices for all consumer goods. The truckers who drive for my wife's company are now paying $.85 per mile for fuel alone. Add to that insurance, taxes, license plates and truck payments. Some shippers are offering only $1/mile for their freight. Those truckers who have to take such loads are losing money. Remember when they tried to sell us on diesel powered vehicles? The price was lower than gas and you got better mileage. Now, diesel is running about $.50/gal higher than gas. That boost in prices is reflected in the rise in consumer prices. Gee, why don't we give the wealthy another tax cut.

Thursday, May 1, 2008

Gasoline Prices

I had a crazy thought the other day. I got to thinking about the fact that gasoline prices are going up because the price of crude oil is going up on the commodities market. I'm not very well versed in the whys and wherefores of the market, but as I understand it a buyer will bid on a commodity, in this case crude oil, for delivery at some future date. Then the folks who need the commodity will pay the bidders the price and take delivery of the commodity (oil) and put it to use, i.e. refine it. The original buyers may not even see the oil or actually have it in their possession, rather they have a piece of paper that says they own it. If the value has decreased, then they must make up the shortfall when they sell it. All well and good, but this is what puzzles me. Most of the crude oil available for refining comes from the companies that drilled for it and pumped it out of the ground. Those companies are the oil companies in partnership with the countries where the oil is found. So, does this mean that the oil companies sell the crude oil on the commodities market to some broker and then buy it back from him at a later date? If the oil company owns the oil to begin with why would they sell it only to buy it back at a later date? Or are they the brokers too? Do they sell it to themselves and then buy it back from themselves in order to refine it? Just asking...