Saturday, January 31, 2009

Heating Oil and Propane Dealers will Benefit Greatly from a Tax Cut Stimulus

It seems like everyone these days is paying close attention to the governmental stimulus package. It is for a good reason, though, as a shrinking economy means job losses and hardship for business owners trying to generate a return on their assets. And politicians and economists vary on the type and size of stimulus to offer. Should it be a works program? Should it be a tax cut? What will offer the best return of "invested" stimulus dollars?

Economists are divided on the payouts of different types of stimulus, but it is generally thought that a broad public works and infrastructure investment will yield an economic multiplier of one to two times the stimulus investment. That is, if one million dollars are invested, the GDP will increase by one to two million dollars. That range of rate of return is not particularly good. Using my personal finances as a litmus test, I ask for a more compelling return than simply "getting all my money back" when I invest.

Based on the work of Christina Romer (the chairperson of the Council of National Economic Advisors), we anticipate a much bigger multiplier for a tax cut - somewhere between 2.5 and 3.0 times the dollars invested.

Why? Because the government does not know the best place to spend money - but business owners do. Business owners like the men and women of our industry. If you had an extra 5% of cash flow, what would you do with it?

Would you take home more? Or maybe pay out larger salaries and bonuses to your employees to help them deal with these hard times? Each of these two options goose the economy by increasing consumer spending - as folks buy "stuff" from places like the Home Depot and "services" from people like the local landscaping company.

Would you use it to invest in additional capital items for your business? This is where the real and compelling bang for stimulus our buck is! Almost any business owner has the thought kicking around in his head "If I only had an extra $x dollars I could [buy that truck/build that plant/hire that person/invest in that new computer routing software] that would yield an immediate return to their business. When an asset is added to the business that can yield an acceptable risk-adjusted return, then the economy grows. This is true whether you are the local auto auction or the local heating oil company.

It is a challenge for government-types to think in the manner of the entrepreneur on a trillion-dollar scale. Finding worthy homes for the first couple hundred billion probably isn't that hard - but the returns diminish with the amount spent. As they say: "Easy Come-Easy Go."

So tax relief is coming to business owners throughout the nation. And your business is getting a raise. How will you employ the cash to grow your business and do your share for economic growth?

Two Great Web Resourses for Learning and Research

Here are two great resources for learning and growth. The first is It offers streaming video of full lectures from colleges all over the nation (Stanford, Harvard, Yale) in all different types of classes. If you need to learn cost accounting - it is there. If you want to brush up on Plato's Republic it is there, too (in a two part series!).

Now the world is flatter and more democratic than ever as it regards the disemination of learning. Here is a lecture on venture capital from the Yale business school. The guest lecturer is one of the co-founders of the Blackstone Group, Steven Schwarzman.

The second website is

Scribd is a website where folks can post presentations, annual reports, and letters to share with the viewing public. Scrbd works best with stuff that is hard to find for the average joe - stuff that you had to have a reason to get and is not originally meant for publication to the widest internet audience. Here is a great piece on the Canadian Tar Sands.

Larry Summers' Impact on Economic Policy

Time magazine has a profile of Larry Summers this week...or Dr. Summers as he is called by folks in the Obama administration. His role in this White House as special economic adviser to the President is on par with senior intelligence advisers. A quote in this article is that having a debate with Doctor Summers is like "getting run over by a tank with a Lotus engine, and finding the experience educational."
Summers' immediate task is to convince skeptical Senators that shelling out nearly $1 trillion over two years isn't another exercise in traditional pork-barrel spending but a vital step needed to save jobs and invest in the future. Some Republicans call the current plan wasteful; free-spending Democrats long for more investments over years, not months. Summers argues that the stimulus bill splits the difference: not only will most of the money go to reviving the economy in the next 18 months, but much of it will also go to projects that could save money over the long term, such as weatherizing 75% of federal buildings and computerizing medical records. "The bill does a good job of marrying the twin imperatives of putting people back to work and doing the work that needs to be done," he says. "No $825 billion bill is going to not have some projects that any individual disagrees with."
Here is Larry Summers in his own words. The topic is unemployment and labor unions.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Propane Comments from EIA - This Week In Petroluem

Propane Inventories Continue Much Lower
Primary supplies of propane continued their sharp descent last week, falling by 3.1 millions barrels to an estimated 47.5 million barrels as of January 23, 2009. Nevertheless, propane inventories remain more than 5 million barrels ahead of the same period last year despite the recent surge of winter storms across a wide swath of the country. The Midwest led regional declines with 1.5 million barrels last week, while the Gulf Coast reported the next largest drop with a 1.2 million-barrel decline. The East Coast and the combined Rocky Mountain regions showed similar declines of 0.2 million barrels during this same time. 
From this point, the equation is very simple: 

Cold Winter Weather = Bad Supply Problems 
Moderate Winter Weather = Supply Problems - especially in the Northeast
Above Average Temps = A chance to catch our collective breath 

Sunday, January 25, 2009

2 Billion Cars

Try these statistics to blow your mind:
  • Today - 100 million cars on the road
  • 2020 - 2 billion cars on the road
  • In the next 10 years, the world will use the equivalent of one quarter of all the crude that has used up to now.
The video is a little dry - but it is valuable, and it is available here.

MLP's: The Buy of the Century

Here is some great press for the midstream MLP segment from a writer on Seeking Alpha.

The good news is that once-in-a-generation fear levels produce equally rare opportunities as quality stocks get thrown out with the rest. Among the very best available are the energy infrastructure Master Limited Partnerships (MLPs). Even the best of this group have been far oversold based on their very solid fundamentals, and thus offer historically high yields for such strong businesses. How oversold? Historically the best of this group offered about 2% higher yield than ten year treasuries. They currently offer over 8.5% higher yields – over 11%.

Shift Happens, Part II

I posted the first version of this video a few months ago - it is a great eye-opener as you consider the demographic shift that the world is undergoing. Frequent readers of this blog know that I do all I can to keep up with what is going on in IndoChina - the economies of India and China are the real driving force behind the cost effectiveness of the future of hydrocarbon energy.

Here are some bullets from the video:
  • India has more honors students (figured as top 25% of the class) than we have students.
  • China will be the largest English speaking country in the world soon.
  • If we shipped every single job in the US to to China it would still have a labor surplus.

Further, here is an article from the NY Times regarding economic stimulus, Chinese style. Hundreds of billions of dollars being spent on infrastructure...roads, railways, concrete and steel.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Propane Shortages

Many retailers already have felt the pain of the current propane supply crunch. The industry began the winter heating season with inventories on the low side of average, and things have gotten [much] worse...quickly.

We should have seen it coming. The Harford Mills (NY) storage facility was bone-dry at the start of the heating season. And a significant portion of the market of Western NY and PA utilize this facility for winter supply. With this storage facility out of commission, customers had to look elsewhere for product, and the northern portion of the TET pipeline has been unable to supply the ratio to which dealers have become accustomed. Either due to this black hole in supply or to bad luck things have spiraled out from there, with locations from Delaware City, DE and Newington, NH to Todhunter, OH all having allocation issues and decreased deliverability. Rail product is one large snowfall away from delays and switchyard bottlenecks.

I would like to open this thread up to anyone who might be interested in commenting on the current situation. Let others know your situation, or what you have experienced, or the things you have heard in the market. Maybe the candid opinions or the stories that you post can help someone who reads them later. can post anonymously.

From OPIS:
  In the news, propane supplies along the East Coast have grown increasingly tight this winter as pipelines, railroads and marine terminals struggle to overcome a long list of obstacles.
   Consequently, propane dealers are finding more restrictions in their ability to pick up loads and in some cases have not even been able to make customer deliveries. As a result, dealers have been sending transport drivers farther and farther afield to find product, regardless of the price.
   Signs that it could be a tough winter materialized in the fall, when the corn harvest was both late and wet. More propane than usual was consumed to dry corn sufficiently to put it into storage. On top of that, November was a cold month, and that had customers firing up their furnaces early in the season.
   The TEPPCO pipeline system, which is a major propane supply source to the Northeast, saw system reserves fall sharply in November as it saw propane consumed for both crop drying and home heating. 
   The Watkins Glen, N.Y., storage facility, which provides the system with an important supply cushion, has not been able to keep up and was eventually drained earlier this month, confirmed Rick Rainey, a spokesman with the pipeline. On Wednesday, TEPPCO announced it was implementing daily allocation and restricting tanker truck loading hours for Coshocton, Ohio, and all terminals to the east. 
   Prior to going on allocation, some TEPPCO terminals saw as many as 50 trucks lined up waiting to take a load that could take an hour or more to transfer.    Rainey said that TEPPCO is currently pumping 60,000 b/d of propane between its Todhunter, Ohio, terminal and Watkins Glen. The Todhunter terminal is not on allocation and has been a destination for some wayward transports.
   In the meantime, states are waiving trucker hours of service restrictions in order to keep the propane flowing. Waivers have been granted by New York, Maine, New Hampshire, Connecticut, Rhode Island and Massachusetts. Pennsylvania and New Jersey are mulling hours of service waiver requests from dealers.  
   But, TEPPCO is not the only pipeline with struggles. Earlier this week, Dixie Pipeline announced that its Apex, N.C., terminal was on allocation because its storage was depleted. Further details about the allocation were not immediately available at presstime. That said, Dixie plans to increase the Apex storage before the end of 2009, Rainey told OPIS. At least one Northeast dealer
sent trucks down to Apex to pick up product. 
   The winter that hit the East Coast and Northeast is one of the coldest in a decade, and that has put a spotlight on the weak links in the propane supply chain. Just how bad it's gotten was highlighted by an NBC-TV news report in the Rochester, N.Y., area which told of a propane dealer not able to obtain propane and deliver it to customers. 
   Waterborne imports of propane have been disrupted this winter. A ship was late arriving at the Sea-3 terminal in Newington, N.H., in early December. That seemed to be the first sign of later issues.  
   Terminals have increasingly seen delayed ship arrivals or short cargos. 
Harry Hanger, manager of supply risk management and marketing for Atlantic Energy, noted that he's expecting a half cargo to arrive on Jan. 24-26 to the Chesapeake, Va., terminal. He added that his supplier has been overwhelmed with demand for propane and has been balancing the cargos delivered to Newington, Providence, R.I., and Chesapeake. In the meantime, Hanger doesn't have any extra propane to sell and is holding customers to the contract limits.
   In addition, marine terminals find they are competing for spot cargos. 
Propane demand has been strong in Northwest Europe, and that has pulled product away from the U.S. market.
   On the refinery side of things, the news is also grim. One propane dealer reports that Philadelphia-area refineries are holding customers to 65% of contract. For instance, that means if a propane dealer could pick up 1,000 gallons a day, they can only get 650 gallons. 
   Valero's Delaware City refinery, which is normally a significant source of propane for the Delmarva Peninsula, has restricted loadings because its storage pit is empty, company spokesman Bill Day told OPIS. The firm is trying to meet customer needs by bringing in propane via rail.
   The pit at the Delaware City refinery leaks and will eventually be closed in 2010, at which point Valero will likely store propane in an above-ground facility, Day said. 
   In addition, propane dealers are nervous about the fact that ConocoPhillips' Bayway, N.J., refinery is slated to have turnaround maintenance start in mid-February. A call to Conoco was not returned by presstime. 
   From the rail perspective, tank car supply appears to be tight and deliveries slow, noted market observers. The Sarnia, Ontario, NGL storage hub has found propane supplies to be tight this winter. The hub is a significant railcar loading point, and with the hub under restriction, cars aren't moving as fast. 
   The saving grace in this winter's propane delivery freeze is that the nation is not short of propane. That's because petrochemical demand for product has slackened due to the slowing economy. So, inventories remain flush at the Conway, Kan., and Mt. Belvieu, Texas, underground storage hubs. The issue is getting the fuel to where it's needed.

Warren Buffett Buys BN

I have heard that the three largest users of diesel fuel in the nation are, in order: 1) the US Navy, 2) the Union Pacific, and 3) the Burlington Northern. So now the railways are soaking up the cost savings of significantly lower fuel prices. Over the last several years, the rail lines had been slowly getting away from fuel surcharges and baking increased costs into their rates.

Fuel prices have dropped much more than we could ever have anticipated, and yet the BN's share price is down 25% since June ($80 to $60). Apparently, this is due to less tonnage on the system. But when shipping comes back around - look out. Mr. Buffett is famous for saying that "price is what you pay for a stock, but value is what it is worth." The Oracle's stake in BN is now up to over 20%. BN seems to me to be a fantastic value play.

Monday, January 19, 2009

Borrowing costs are up for US businesses

From the NY Times:
[W]ith the credit markets still tight, corporations are being forced to pay much higher interest rates than they did a few years ago, putting more strain on balance sheets already hammered by falling profits and a grinding recession.

It is a lesson the discount carrier Southwest Airlines learned firsthand in December, when it went to the bond markets to raise $400 million, in part to cover its losses from betting that fuel costs would stay high.

Southwest, the only domestic airline with an investment-grade credit rating, put up 17 of its Boeing jets as collateral and agreed to pay interest of 10.5 percent, nearly double the rate it had paid in 2004 to raise $350 million. The company chafed at the costs, but it paid them because it needed cash and did not know what credit markets would look like in six months or a year.

“That’s the market now,” said Laura Wright, the airline’s chief financial officer. “There is not money available at the rates we were able to get a year ago.”

Southwest said it had seized the opportunity to raise cash at a time when other companies could not borrow at all. Companies with poor credit ratings are virtually locked out of credit markets or face the prospect of paying 20 percent interest. Many of them are slashing costs, canceling projects or putting assets up for sale to avoid defaulting on their debts.

Despite huge government rescue programs and drastic reductions in the Federal Reserve’s benchmark interest rate, borrowing costs for companies have remained stubbornly high. Investors are wary of anything riskier than ultrasafe Treasury bills, and banks, which lost billions of dollars making bad loans, have tightened their lending.
Companies in every sector are getting hit with inflated borrowing costs - the MLP industry is an excellent example of this problem. High cost of capital means that it is difficult to pay high multiples for businesses. Therefore it may be a while before the industry gets the acquisition engine going. The good news is that the cash flow that the retail side of the business is enjoying this year is very solid - so at least we have that going for us.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Microsoft Tag - Updated Monday Evening

Inventory Tagging has just gotten much easier.

Check this technology out to track tanks in the field. You can print off tags from your home/office computer and drivers can access data about them while they are at the customer's location by scanning the tag with their cell phone camera.

Simply amazing!!!

As a post script, I tried this program today at the Auto Auction. It is a remarkable technology. I generated a tag on my laptop in about 3 minutes. The tag pointed to a website where more information could be found on a particular vehicle. I printed the tag and then took a picture of it with my Blackberry camera. Within 5 seconds, my Blackberry's Internet browser was on the website that I had programmed into the tag.

For just a moment, imagine your delivery drivers knowing the customer history of the tank they were getting ready to deliver into. When was it filled last, what was the price, what type of pricing program is the customer on....whether the customer has an active GasCheck test on can all be imbedded in that tag, and available on a driver's cell phone.

The Invisible Hand

Here is a picture of a billboard in North Kansas City, MO. Adam Smith said that labor would be moved to where it needed to be in a capitalist economy. These gentlemen were once Bear Sterns investment bankers.

Behold the invisible hand at work!

Monday, January 12, 2009

An Update on Kansans and Their Chryslers

About two weeks ago, I posted an article from Time magazine that discussed Overland Park Jeep/Dodge, a Chrysler store here in Kansas City. The thesis of the article was that things were not so bad in Kansas City - and that OP Jeep would be able to weather the storm.

It intrigued me that Time would seek this dealership out - so I contacted the owner of the dealership. (I know...I am really letting this whole journalist thing go to my head! Just call me Cub Reporter Hancock.) The owner, Frank Thompson, was portrayed in a positive light in the article. It mentioned that Mr. Thompson placed his entire commissioned sales force on salary as the downturn started to make sure his people could survive this nasty bump in the life cycle of the industry.

Mr. Thompson revealed that he had won an award from Time back in the early 90's and that they called him in October to check in and find out how his dealership was doing. He mentioned that the reporter was really trying to find and report on bad news. Thompson said he would only cooperate with the story if the reporter promised to tell the truth - that the market was still functioning and that the end of days was not upon his suburban Kansas City dealership.

The scientific method tells us that we should create a hypothesis and then test that hypothesis against our experiences in the world. And I suppose that (in this case) the staff of Time magazine did just that - create a hypothesis and test it against observations in the real world. But the journalists at Time also met a businessman with the steadfastness to confidently say "Look twice."

And thank goodness for that.

Christina Romer Discusses the Stimulus Package

A 9 minute piece (Posted on YouTube by the Obama team) that talks about the stimulus and economic multipliers. It is reasonably simple and straightforward. Ms. Romer is designated to be the Chairperson of the Council of Economic Advisors for President Obama once he is inagurated.

China, Oil, and Geopolitical Insecurity

A one minute bit off of Charlie Rose with Mike McConnell, Director of National Security.

Petro-dictators in the WSJ

An editorial by Gary Kasparov (the chess world's version of Wayne Gretsky) today in the Wall Street Journal is worth a read. What follows are some excerpts (bold emphasis is mine). The entire piece is worth a read and you can find it here.

Russia and its fellow petrodictatorships are in dire need of a way to ratchet up global tensions to inflate the sagging price of oil. Petrodictators, after all, need petrodollars to stay in power. The war in Gaza and the otherwise inexplicable skirmish with Ukraine over natural gas have helped the Kremlin in this regard, but $50 a barrel isn't going to be nearly enough. It [oil] will have to reach at least $100 and it will have to happen soon.

The effects of the financial crisis are rapidly reaching every level of Russian society. With no avenue for political expression left open to us, Russians are ready to take to the streets. Vladimir Putin has reacted true to form, ramming through new "anti-extremism" laws, building up the interior ministry's paramilitary police forces, and increasing the volume of the xenophobic propaganda in state-controlled media.

The natural place for the Kremlin to find its new crisis is the Middle East. Open hostilities between Iran and Israel would lift the price of oil back to a level that would allow Mr. Putin and his gang to keep funding the crackdown. Israel's anxiety over Iran's nuclear-weapon ambitions is the most vulnerable link in a very weak chain.

Thursday, January 8, 2009

60 Minutes' Story on Oil Speculation - updated Monday AM

Watch CBS Videos Online

Here is a great example of the mainstream confusion between "speculation" and "manipulation." Throughout this 60 Minutes piece on oil price moves there are many times where Steve Kroft uses the word "speculation" to refer to nefarious and insidious dealings by unnamed parties. These traders (folks that used to work at Enron - if you listen to one of the interviewees) kept buying oil contracts and forcing the market higher. Mr. Kroft draws the conclusion that these purchases made the price go from $60 to $147 in a year. In my opinion, anyone can "speculate." It only requires some risk capital and a futures account. And it is not wrong or unethical or disproportionately populated by ex-Enron employees. Manipulation is much, much more difficult to pull off. More on that later.

Also interviewed is Michael Masters', a former hedge fund manager that gave some (now-infamous) Senate Testimony in May. This testimony made the rounds in our industry, and its thesis was that long-only hedge funds were buying up contracts of all types of commodities and that they were creating a situation where there were more buyers than sellers. In Mr. Masters' opinion, this imbalance was driving the price of crude and its associated products higher. Here is Michael Master's Testimony.

My very first post on this blog was on the CFTC's response to this testimony, refuting his hypothesis by going through the open interest records of the exchanges. The link to this post is HERE.

I have tried to articulate my opinion of how prices got so far out of kilter in my posts on this site. First, there was the fallacy of Internet corn. Second, there was a widespread adherence to the Hubbert's Curve theory. When you put those two things together, one is forced to reach a gnarly conclusion. That is....that sometime in the not too distance future we will be trading our last barrel of crude - and price is the only way to adjust for this impending certainty. This impending certainty would affect the way we all live...just like the quote from the greatest Bogart movie: "Maybe not today, and maybe not tomorrow, but soon and for the rest of your life."

After years of watching markets, I what a person would have to do to manipulate them. Market on close orders, sloppy fills that scare the pit....they all work - FOR A WHILE. But it is really hard to win in such a large market in anything other than the minute or hour in which you make your play. The market, when opinions are reasonably well-balanced, can adjust. And no one entity (Goldman, Merrill, or Paribas) is bigger than NYMEX Crude.

Only thoughts are bigger than that market. And the reason we all rode the price roller coaster of the last few years was because everyone drank the same linear, armageddon-preaching Kool-Aid.

Mr. Masters is wrong, and Mr. Kroft needs to learn the difference between "speculation" and "manipulation."

Monday, January 5, 2009

4 + 1 Market Overview

This site spends a lot of time discussing the big-picture macro-economic trends that make economies run and prices move. I structure it this way on purpose, as there are ample opportunities to get the micro-level stuff (current prices and inventory levels) from other media outlets. Living in the Internet age, information is everywhere - but I have always found it difficult to find a report or site with a big collection of the best information, one robust enough to give me thoughtful angles on the market without being biased or talking a position.

With this as a backdrop, I decided to create my site. I now post and link to subject matter from economics, finance, and the commodities markets for my readers' benefit. The challenge becomes how to take these separately posted, uniquely written, and disparately opined articles and weave them together in a way that makes sense for a business person - someone who does not have the time/interest to dig as deeply as I choose to do.

So the 4+1 market overview is becoming that thing - the way to stitch it all together. What follows is half a market analysis and half an explanation of what appears on this site:

The 4 things that matter most to the market:

1) The Domestic Economy:
I am hoping that Punxatawney Phil finds a re-run of Entourage on his home TV, because we need some new luck in this country. Since last February, when things still seemed eerily normal, the wheels have come off the domestic economy. President Elect Obama has neat plans to cut taxes and support infrastructure re-investment, but the government is quickly running out of ways to stimulate the economy. The first step was monetary policy - but now the fed funds rate is zero. The next step is fiscal policy - like the tax cut and works programs. The final step is called "Praying to God." The US economy is the biggest consumer of energy in the world, and when we cut back on consumption it affects storage surpluses everywhere. Expansionary monetary policy is supposed to work (with the negative side effect of nasty inflation after the fact) but we have never actually lived through a mess this unique and gnarly.

2) Other Folks' Economies:
Iceland went bankrupt. A prankster even put it (the entire sovereign nation) on eBay. The starting bid was 5 cents. As one of my best friends might say "All God's Children Gots Problems." The Eurozone has aggressively cut rates, and China has cut 6 times in 4 months. Workers in China are reversing the migration - out of the cities and back to the farms - because there are no surplus jobs. The entire "disconnected" world joined up for one big trip into the financial-economic sewer in the last Quarter of 2008. Crude prices will not rebound 'till we begin to see signs of improvement in key economies around the world.

3) Geopolitical Noise:
The problems in Gaza are just like the song "Auld Lang Syne." Everyone knows the familiar refrain, but few know what it means. And here come militants bombing pipelines in Chad and Nigeria, too. And Russia is having a spat with the Ukraine. Of all of these, the Russia/Ukraine thing holds the most latent bullishness. Should the situation become a protracted stalemate, Western Europe may need to step into the market to buy cargoes of heating oil to run power plants in the short term. My post on the Wizards of Oil helps folks dispel the belief that rogue states like Iran might do something drastic with oil exports. These governments need the cash from oil sales badly to keep their economies from heading over the brink.

4) Inventories:
Distillates and Gasoline are around their 5 year averages, but there's a whole lot of crude out there. The this glut of supply was created (at least in part) by the term structure of the crude curve - enticing folks to lease storage and sell the forward months against an inventory position. Rallies will be inhibited by this physical length until we can consume our way through the surplus.

+1) Plus the One thing that no one cares about right now (that maybe they should):

The marginal cost of production for new fields is reported to be around $61-$65. This might help explain the current contango in crude futures (where the front month is steeply discounted to forward months). With crude values at current levels planned production is being pushed out and production that has recently come on line is hemorrhaging cash for its developer. At some point, economies will grow again (China must stay above 5% GDP growth to avoid recession because they are creating that many new skilled workers every year). When this growth occurs, it will create demand for energy, and this demand will meet a stagnant supply growth projection. Hello, higher hasn't been near long enough...

The next time I post a 4+1 it will be a video post. (I have always wanted to be in pictures. - Not!) Quite the contrary, creating a vlog is intimidating to me - but I think that some folks learn by reading and others (maybe the majority) would prefer to hear the information. So...Mr. Demille, I am ready for my closeup.


An American Tradition Sacrificed at the Alter of Cost-Cutting

Those penny pinching InBev jerks have no appreciation for the those small American perks that are good and sacred and holy. Fresh off the AP Wire, they have decided to STOP SERVING BEER AT Anheuser-Busch theme parks.  (Click on the underlined text to view the article.)


Tell me, moms and dads out there anything more rewarding after a full day of three too many log rides, $7.00 sodas, and sitting next to a man too hairy to be wearing a tank-top than hitting the air conditioned coolness of the Budweiser pavilion and enjoying two six-and-a-half-ounce AB products on the house?

I understand that in tough times cutbacks must be made, but can an American, beer-loving dad get a Bud Light for sanity sake? Come on, InBev...Does it really save that much money?

Sunday, January 4, 2009


I spent more time reading than writing over the holidays, here are a few articles worth some attention:

1) Consumer consumption did not go down in November and December, only the total cost of consumption (CPI decreases)

2) The end of the financial world as we know it, from the NYTimes

3) When will the oil run out? video and text from the Guardian UK, an interview with the International Energy Agency's chief economist Fatih Birol

Pseudo-Year In Review

As a fledgling member of the "media," I felt compelled to do a year-in-review piece. Thank goodness I didn't, as the "Goodbye 2008" pieces are only slightly less numerous than the "Hello 2009" pieces. I have linked to several on the sidebar, and here are two that I particularly enjoyed.

The first is the "Year in [Big] Pictures." The Boston Globe has a Big Picture blog where large format pictures from around the world are posted. Some of them help develop a story that is in the headlines, some celebrate the world's many cultures, and some are just plain cool. Here are three posts, each with 40 large format pictures celebrating 2008. [Part 1] [Part 2] [Part3]

The second is Dave Barry's Year in Review - the whole thing is worth a read if you are looking for a chuckle, but here is a sample (his recap of the month of June) to encourage you to make the jump.


. . . Obama finally claims the bitterly contested Democratic nomination when Clinton, behind on delegates and in debt to the tune of $25 million, including $9 million for hairspray alone, suspends her campaign and declares that she has "no hard feelings" and will do "whatever it takes" to help Obama get elected, "even though he is scum." Bill Clinton, at his wife's side, nods vigorously, but is unable to speak because of the restraining device. A gracious McCain tells the press that he "looks forward to a spirited debate with Senator Mondale." Before he can take questions, he is informed by his aides that he has an important meeting.

In economic news, Chrysler announces a plan to lay off workers who have not been born yet. The lone economic bright spot is the iPhone, which is selling like crazy thanks to the release of a new model enhanced with the capability of sucking pieces of your brain out through your ear until all you want to do is play with your iPhone.

Tiger Woods, in an epic performance, wins the US Open playing on an injured and very painful knee, thereby proving, beyond all doubt, that golf is not a real sport.