Saturday, June 24, 2017

Illinois is insolvent. Can’t even pay lottery winners.

They have a pension problem.

So the solution is in Washington, D.C.?

Nice public relations campaign. Nothing in there to suggest the USA taxpayers bail them out. Snort. You can see that train coming if you only look.

So, WSF, why do you care? I don’t. I do care that the precedence will soon come to Colorado and make us Illinois Lite.

Colorado is unique in having TABOR (Taxpayers Bill of Rights). While the Silicon Valley billionaires and assorted trust funders have made Colorado purple, if not blue, TABOR has kept the (P)regressives hobbled.

We have our own public pension problem.

The people running things are making all the right noises. I don’t believe them. Soon they will be working to make the taxpayers pay for their mismanagement, IMO. TABOR to block?

I must say, regarding Illinois, I rather like that portion South of I-70 and the residents. Good people, for the most part.

Thursday, June 22, 2017


Every Blade of Grass has a memory provoking post regarding the true current dimensions of 2x4s.

Washington State circa 1970s had Certified Public Adjusters, licensed and regulated by the state; that would represent insured vs. their insurer on claims, mainly fire loss.

During one of my unemployment stints in construction, I solicited claims for one of these adjusters on a commission basis.

A very old Masonic Hall was hit by arson and suffered a significant amount of damage. We were able to solicit the claim. The adjuster killed the insurance company. The building was built with real 2x4s, 4x4s, etc. That was what the insurance company insured, with no wavier for changes in dimensions, and that is what they had to pay to replace. The proposed settlement was in the high five figures. After the Certified Public Adjuster finished his work, the settlement was in the lower six figures.

My commission on his commission caught up a lot of bills and replenished the savings account.

A valuable lesson for me. In addition to the most welcome commission, the necessity to look below the surface and consider the history of a project saved my ass a few times in the years ahead.

As an example, check the county records to see who is the actual owner of a piece of land before building on it for someone else.

Here and There

Nothing happening to provoke a rant and nothing interesting happening in my day to day bumbling. Should be my most boring blog posting to date.

As a vaccine skeptic, but not a hard core anti-vaxxer, like anything that supports my refusal to get a flu shot.  

A clear case of police harassment of a “Didn do nuthin” citizen.

Having recently ranted against wind power, time to pick on another target.

Since each of us humans use the earth’s resources, and produce waste and pollution, what is the time frame payback period for the zero pollution of solar panels to offset the pollution of the 79 humans making them? OK, WSF, you are questioning the meme and need to just shut up.

If I’m not on the first draft for the FEMA camps after the (P)regressives take over, I will be bitterly disappointed. Maybe I’m too old and therefore harmless.

As always, YMMV

Saturday, June 17, 2017

Halt! Who Goes There?

Daily Timewaster has a post that brought back a 50+ year old memory.

Our Engineer company was bivouacked in some trees near Wildflicken, Germany. As normal, having pissed off one of the NCOs, I was walking guard on a dark night.

Hearing noise on the perimeter I turned on my flashlight while calling out,

"Halt! Who goes there".

The light revealed the intruder.
Abandoning my post, I climbed up the nearest truck.

Friday, June 16, 2017

Yeah, But

We are seeing a resurgence in fracking in Northern Colorado. Jobs, $15-50 an hour, are opening. There is a general feeling of optimism in the air. People are shopping and spending money. Lots of cars and trucks, mainly late model used, on the road with happy tags (temporary permits).

Yeah, but! Damned oil field trash drivers. You wonder if the HR Departments have some special selection process to hire only rude and thoughtless drivers.

Overweight, under powered, and running side by side on four lane highways for mile after mile. Assholes!

Along the Front Range are small towns that are now trendy suburbs, or exurbs. The residents don't know their history, how these towns were once coal mining towns for underground mines.

(And hey! A lot of that coal is still there and extraction is financially viable with strip mining)

A relative lives in one of these towns. She and her husband are angry that a similar sight to this one is 1/2 mile from their neighborhood and they see it every time they go to work.

What makes me shake my jowls is this. She is a coal miner's daughter. Her father put groceries on the table for twenty years killing his kidneys on a bulldozer in a strip mine. That fracking rig, which will be gone in a year leaving a small well head, is putting groceries on a lot of tables.

We are enjoying some of the lowest electric costs in the nation due to being up to our asses in natural gas and the power plants burning it. Gasoline? Around $2.50 a gallon or lower even with the seasonal jump. 

Yeah, but it is icky and awful to look at (but we will keep the lower costs. Aren't we entitled?)

Tuesday, June 13, 2017

Pissing Away Resources

President Trump recently showed what was necessary, paperwork wise, to build 18 miles of new road in Maryland and the associated costs.

Seems they have been dicking around with this for nearly twenty years. So what have the Maryland taxpayers received? Nada, except for full employment of the report writers.

Close to my home is another bloated project going nowhere, a rail link to Denver International Airport.

My personal experience, albeit on a small scale, is extensive. From 2003 to 2006 my employer, Steve Lance’s Cowboy Corral Kia, held 60 car sales in twenty six different Colorado towns and opened six used car lots. Making this happen was my job. I answered to only the owner and the general manager. Twenty six different towns, twenty six different sets of ordinances and procedures, city codes, county codes, state requirements, ad nasium.  There was no blueprint for nobody had ever attempted what we did. One of our financial managers remarked it was like opening a new business, from scratch, at each new town. In Burlington, CO I was fingerprinted and we put up a $10,000 cash bond. Boulder, CO tossed every conceivable obstacle in our way. Seem to remember ten different permits were required. Five different permits in Glenwood Springs. Other places, like Trinidad and Canon City made it easy.

This is all to establish I might know what I’m talking about. Think we didn’t make our money back on the sales to the residents of these towns? Think again. You can call this a hidden tax, no?

Any regulation is double taxation. First the general tax used to fund the organs of government. Second, the cost passed through to the consumer by business.

So, WSF, you prefer anarchy. No, some regulation is needed for our general welfare.

To digress a bit, a look at why we were able to pull this off. The owner, general manager and I trusted each other. They knew I would never steal, skim, seek kickbacks, etc. I knew they wouldn’t shaft me financially. When we were moving fast, often I would use my personal credit cards and checking account. It wasn’t unusual for me to have eight grand of my money floating around.

Peter Butterfield, then President of Kia, put a lot of money on the line to promote the Kia brand. This was available to all dealers. Few had Steve Lance’s guts. Steve, a professional bullrider from Medicine Lodge, KS, had guts, vision, and drive. His assignments to me were in the following form.

This is what I want done. This is when I want it done. This is where I want it done. Do it right, and don’t cut corners. After that all he wanted from me, “It is done” or “It isn’t done because….”

 Not many people have the luxury of working in that atmosphere. Who else would have let me spend $2,000,000 of their money? A long conversation for us was ten minutes.

I relished the challenge (and the rewards). What we accomplished had never been done to our knowledge.
Another factor was Steve and the General Manager, Greg Miller,  rode my heat. I pissed off nearly everyone in the company at one time or another. The one thing I couldn’t control was time. Fuck with my time and I would steamroller you. Want to get physical? OK, out back and I’ll fill your dance card.

In addition to setting all this up, I managed the sales crew. That was why my title on my business card was, "Senior Cat Herder".

What soothed the hurt feelings and was balm to wounds was we made a shit load of money.

Getting back on track, perhaps the best business model is critical path analysis, critical path management. An outstanding example of this method was the Polaris Missile Program.

This kind of planning was part of the United States being the arsenal of democracy in WWII, IMO.

Over regulation kills CPA/CPM because you lose control of time. Government functionaries, under little or no accountability, consume your project time, and your personal time dealing with them. I won’t go further. Several regular readers of this blog (and I appreciate each and everyone of you) can write books on the subject.

So bravo for a businessman President who has lived the problem his whole business life. There is hope.

Saturday, June 10, 2017

The Wind Power Scam

With all the blather about global warming/global cooling/climate change/Paris Accords/ad naseum this analysis of wind power is eye opening.

Sadly, since it doesn’t fit the current memes and support the subsidy tit fattening favored industries and environment pimps, few will read or comprehend the message.

On a personal level I find the windmills to be ugly. From I-25 South of Cheyenne roughly following the Colorado/Wyoming/Nebraska state lines extending East  to Julesburg, CO is a ridge of high land exposed to strong (but variable) winds. Windmills are scattered all along this high ground. Ugly!

Windmills impact the ecology of the plains in this area and not in a good way. The disturbed ground, acres of it, has little forage. Raptors and other birds are being killed by the windmill blades.

The above is an Obama era report and probably watered down so as not to offend the eco-freaks. Still damning.

The whole output of all the wind farms in the three states can’t match the reliable output of one coal fired power plant.

The production of electricity is one of converting one form of energy to electron flow. The sources are the sun, moon, nuclear fission, geothermal and burning organic substances.

The sun causes weather. Precipitation distributes water at various elevations. Gravity plus water gives hydro power.  Weather causes wind. Direct sunlight can produced electricity via photoelectric reaction with some materials. Geothermal doesn’t presently lend  itself to large generation plants.

The moon causes tides. An overlooked and under developed energy source, IMO.

Fission gives the most energy for the weight of the source. Social stigma thwarts development. Still, up to 20% of electricity in the USA comes from nuclear.

Burning organic material, primarily coal and natural gas, provides the generating energy for the majority of electricity in our country.  From a cost point, the cheapest and most reliable option. 

Depending on the source quoted, the average is about 20 - 40 lbs of coal per day per person for electricity consumed.

Before we get into the more eccentric measures that we selected for comparison, let’s start with the measure that is most tangible and perhaps most sobering: coal. An average American’s residential and transportation energy consumption would require the burning of over 15,000 pounds of coal a year. That equals out to about 41 pounds of coal a day. If coal powered everything, every few days you would consume your body weight in coal.

Fossil fuels receive little or no subsidies. If one considers the myriad regulations imposed on the industry as a tax ( passed on to the consumer – no free lunch), and who can argue it isn’t, the end price paid by the consumer is still a bargain.

Perhaps the problem with coal is there is little potential for clean hands graft. Few ‘grants’ for “research”.

So ‘little’ people in rural areas get hurt. Oh, well. New opportunity to move people from self sufficient to the government tit, no?

Electrical power presents two big problems. First, it cannot be stored in commercial quantities. Second, transmission losses increase with distance. Virtually all sources are tied into a regional, and by extension, a national grid. Those areas bragging about using 100% renewal energy are full of shit if they are tied into a regional grid.

My hope is a businessman president will bring some rational economic sense to the energy sector. The public will have lower bills freeing cash for other things. The suffering will be borne by offshore tax havens who will have far fewer skimmed dollars to rathole. YMMV