September 30, 2009

Top Ten Things I Will Never Achieve

Category: Humour — Cranky @

1. I will never dance the lead in “Swan Lake”. Watch the “Dance of the Hours” section of “Fantasia” for more information.

2. I will never win a blue ribbon for “Most Consistent Self Control”.

3. I will never menstruate – and thank the heavens for that. I read “Are you there, God? It’s me, Margaret.” That book should have a warning label on it, so bookworm dudes in elementary school don’t take it out of the library.

4. I will never understand the appeal of Andy Dick. Actually, I’m quite certain he has none.

5. I will never embrace country music in general. A handful of acts work for me, but Toby Keith needs to just stop.

6. I will never pay to see, rent, or download any movie starring Hugh Grant. If one happens to be on TV, and circumstances are such that a bad romantic comedy might get me laid, okay… otherwise, no.

7. I will never take the West Coast Trail. That’s an awful long hike, and there are no power outlets for miles.

8. I will never go to Melville, Saskatchewan. As near as I can tell, it has no point.

9. I will never admit it if a regular at my poker game is better than I am. So far, not a problem.

10. I will never concede an argument as long as I think I’m right. I will, however, accept it if I’m proven wrong. So far, not a problem.


September 28, 2009

Keep It Flowing, Baby!

Category: Environment — Cranky @

According to the National Cattleman’s Beef Association, it takes 441 gallons of water and 16 pounds of grain to make one pound of beef. In the process, vehicles and farm equipment will produce CO2, and the cattle will produce methane.

I love beef, and I barbecue a lot of it in the summer using natural gas.

According to National Geographic magazine, my province is destroying its ecosystems by digging gigantic holes in the oilsands. Toxic “tailing ponds” kill waterfowl and wildlife. Our per capita emissions are very high for Canada.

I work in critical applications for an oil pipeline company.

My hobbies include recording music, photography, watching movies and documentaries, cardio workouts, and playing the occasional video game. For these I have a powerful home computer, two monitors, a 32″ LCD screen with dedicated blu-ray player mounted in front of my powered elliptical trainer, a 50″ plasma television, a surround sound system, a Playstation 3, two media player devices, five electric guitars, a mixing board, a rack full of audio gear, and independently powered speakers.

I use vast amounts of electricity.

Most recently I have owned a 1998 Mazda Miata, a 2002 Mazda Miata, and 2006 RX-8. They got city mileage of 20, 20, and 16 miles per gallon, respectively. Despite being without family I opted for an SUV this time – a 2009 Hyundai Santa Fe with the comparatively large 6 cylinder engine. It’s slightly better than the RX-8, but still under 20 miles per gallon.

I sometimes drive my SUV three blocks to buy one can of pop.

I am the poster child for western culture, a finely tuned machine of resource consumption.

I hunger for energy. Feed me.


September 21, 2009

Don't You FEEL Wealthier?

Category: Economy — Cranky @

Today I read an article on CNN that stated, “Americans are $2 trillion wealthier. Soaring stock market boosts household net worth for the first time since the fall of 2007. Real estate holdings rise in value too.”

The problem is that Americans aren’t wealthier at all. This ludicrous idea that your stocks “are” wealth, and that you can always get the last traded price for them, is still prevalent. The extreme counterexample is that if everybody decided to sell their stocks at once, everybody would find their stocks are worthless.

A stock is something like a lottery ticket. It’s gambling, pure and simple. It can sit in your portfolio and hover around $30 a share for 20 years, and then suddenly collapse overnight. Then you have a problem, particularly if you used your portfolio to secure other forms of credit. You thought you had wealth, but you didn’t. You had something that could potentially be turned into wealth, but that’s all you could say.

Real estate is a similar gamble. For too many people their home is their retirement savings. The intention is to sell it when they retire and live off the proceeds. As the last 18 months has shown us, that is in no way a sure thing. The problem is, you need somebody else to “perform” – i.e. buy your home – for that plan to work, and it will be a long time before most people will be able to collect on that particular gamble. Given the incredible glut of foreclosures all over the U.S. I don’t see how real estate holdings could possibly be gaining in value at the moment.

So when CNN tells us that Americans are $2 trillion wealthier, I have to call bullshit. The fictional valuation of some stocks may have gone up, but that’s not wealth, and pretending it IS wealth is what is getting us into trouble.

The other problem is that if you have dollars, and you put them in your mattress, inflation will destroy its value over time. I don’t know the solution to this problem. If I saw a better way, I wouldn’t be buying gold and silver.