17 August 2007

Crude, trips, planes and economics.

Well, here we are in portland, as a strong hurricane starts to ramp it up toward the gulf of mexico. So, I'm not a professional stock or commodities trader, but if I was, I would have loaded up on crude oil futures today. But the fact is, I really don't even know how it works to buy Sept07 crude, but what I do know is, if Dean stays strong, and rolls into the Gulf as a categorized hurricane, it will threaten some oil refineries, and well, the price of oil will hit about $100+ a barrel. Well see what happens there. The chart here is the graph for today and oil traded at about 71.50 a barrel.

We're going to iceland next week for a bike tour. It should be totally major and hopefully we don't bring too much stuff that we don't need, since it will just add extra weight. It's a bit stressful trying to plan such a trip, without even having been on a multi day bike tour in america, let alone a foreign country. Luckily we're going with some experienced professionals.

So next Wednesday we'll be up and on our way to MN where we will catch a plane to iceland the next day. We don't make airline trips too often and now I have to wonder if this might be the last trip we take on an airplane. Not by choice mind you, but I strongly believe that the era of low cost air travel is going to be gone at some point in the not so near future. The cost of fuel will be too much to keep it going (because it's not going to get really cheap again like it was before about 2005.) (but maybe I read too many blogs like this and this).

I don't really consider myself one of those coo coo for coco puffs retards that goes around warning of economic collapse, and stock up on rice and water. But (IMHO) we have some major issues with our economy. It lives on growth. It needs growth. We proved it this week when the stock market was going insane, on credit woes and slow housing stats. Our economic engine requires factories to build more cars, construction workers to build more houses, and which in turn requires OPEC and other oil producing nations to drill more oil (because that's what we need for growth). So with all those new houses, and new cars, we can then use more energy that creates more pollution.

OK, so you say, "the new houses are energy star efficient" and "the cars now get better MPG" but i say that's fine, but what about the 500 houses in my neighborhood that are 50-100 years old and they are all crappy energy wasting shacks, even though most of them cost over 400k. And honestly, are we just going to line up all the SUVs that were sold in the late 90s thru now, to line up at the junk yard? NO, they are going to be driving for at least 10-15 more years. Peak Oil has already happened:
This was taken from here in the February 2007 issue. Note that proven oil reserve discoveries hit a 'peak' in the late 1960s, and have fallen ever since, and is expected to keep falling, as shown. At some point, production will be forced to fall (because there's only so much discovered oil), and when that happens, there will be a supply/demand issue. When you look at that graph, it's hard to imagine we can keep growing production.

I guess what I'm saying is, I've come to the conclusion that we're all screwed, because I don't think there is enough oil left to keep fueling the economic growth long enough for us to figure out another way to grow our economy without it. See, lots of us have retirement money in the stock market and if that bombs then what happens? I know I had history classes and I think that happened sometime around 1930 something. And that's not even taking into account the possible global climate changes that may or may not happen (like what? oh, maybe hurricane Dean).

Your president is not going to fix it, and if you think you're going to get a new president that will fix something, think about this:

1988 - Bush 1
1992 - Clinton 1
1996 - Clinton 1
2000 - Bush 2
2004 - Bush 2
2008 - ???? Clinton 2????

What the hell is this? Our government is really a one party system.

See you after we get back from Iceland.

08 August 2007

Funny Youtube

you might have seen this, but in case you have not, you will hate me for putting this song in your head for the rest of the day:

03 August 2007

Books, Bikes and Bridges

I've had a problem finishing books lately. It might be because of school, or whatever, but it's not because the books aren't good. Here's what I'm in the middle of.

1. Freakonomics. A good book, but I had to stop, because it seemed like the author implied that every scenario in the book was indirectly caused by the legalization of abortion. It just got old, and I started something else....

2. A Sunburned Country. I read the book A Walk in the Woods by the same author (Bill Bryson) and it was laugh out loud funny. One of those books that you don't want to end. If you have not, you should read 'A walk in the woods'. So you'll want to read it at home and not on the bus (or somewhere else out in public) because you'll be busting out laughing. A sunburned country is also good, but I got distracted by:

3. The Road That Has No End. I've always had a dream to pack up the panniers, and rolling out on a multi day (or week) (or month) bike tour. That's what this book is about. Except these folks didn't stop, and I think they are still out riding around somewhere. Anyway, I didn't finish this book because I borrowed:

4. Bowerman and the men of Oregon. This book chronicles the life of Bill Bowerman, coach of the U of O track team, and notably the excellent distance runners that have come out of that school during his tenure. He was a superb coach and also innovated running shoes, and you could say, that he invented Nike. This book is awesome (after you get through the first few chapters it really gets good) and I will finish it (because I have to give it back to my friend Sean who I borrowed it from) So, I was reading Bowerman and then I saw this at the library:

5. With Speed and Violence. This is another book about climate change and I'm in the process of reading this one now. All the usual stuff like rapidly melting glaciers and polar ice. This book is brand new, so the information is pretty current (for a book), and it's pretty freaky. Now I'm sure you could go and find books that debunk the whole climate change theory, (or at least the theory that climate change is caused by humans) but whatever the case, no matter who you are, you can't argue that it's happening. This book hypothesizes that some major changes might come on faster than we've previously thought (like in the span of years or decades, rather than centuries or longer). After only reading 25% of this book these are my thoughts: Basically, we are screwed. I say that because it's business as usual here in america, we want more and big and then more again. There's nothing wrong with that, but we still run on oil to fuel our economy. The only way we will change, is through government mandated electricity generation reform (more renewables, less coal) and government mandated gas and carbon taxes to fund those renewable programs. I'll have more thoughts on this stuff in the future. I also may post a full book review on this one when I'm done.

I never got around to posting a race report for the cascade classic. It was pretty awesome... Our team had a guy finished 2nd in the GC, so basically we worked for him, and secured his spot on the podium. He took us all out for lunch afterward with all the money he won, so it was pretty fun. Last year (in the midst of my blood giving) I was 4th from last, this year I was 35th out of 70+, and I even won a bucket of red vines in the crit. Maybe next time I'll sprint for some cash, and not just end up with a giant tub of candy.

I was stunned to see the coverage of 35W falling down in Mpls. What the heck! Being from MN, the story was extra crazy. I predict that the next bridge to fall will be this one (picture on the right). It's the sellwood bridge in Portland, Oregon. It opened in 1925. Now that's old. Did they even have cars back in 1925? Even if they did, the cars now are MUCH heavier and the traffic is MUCH busier. The have outlawed big trucks and buses from crossing this one, but still. It is almost 2000 feet from one end to the other, and it's 75 feet high. I just hope I'm not biking across it when it falls. (Click here for Portland's plans to replace the sellwood bridge).

New blog format!! woo hoo!