Saturday, December 31, 2011

Natural Gas Prices

Henry Hub Natural Gas Spot Price Chart
Henry Hub Natural Gas Spot Price Chart by YCharts
Six years ago I would lie awake at night and listen to the furnace run. Now it lulls me to sleep. When we started the remodel back in 1999 we wanted gas everything: range, dryer, hot water, heat, everything. I had read "The Origin of Petroleum" by David Osborne in the February 1986 issue of The Atlantic amd I was convinced that gas was cheap and plentiful and likely to stay that way. What I didn't count on was another war in the Middle East and the dead weight of the EPA. Finally, though, gas is cheap again.

If only we had pipelines to carry it.

Friday, December 30, 2011

Little Year-End Chores

off.jpgOregon has a quirky little provision its state tax code. After you figure how much tax you owe, you can take a credit of up to $50 ($100 if filing jointly) for political contributions.

It's a tough choice alright. "Gee, should I give this hundred bucks to Kitzhaber and his liberal friends, or should I give it to my favorite trouble makers at the Oregon Firearms Federation?"

To make a secure online donation, click here. Be sure to select the Political Action Committee in order to qualify for the tax credit. The deadline for contributions is December 31st.

Sunday, December 25, 2011

Christmas Sunrise

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Merry Christmas, Everyone!

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Good Will Toward Men

mengs14.jpgAnd there were in the same country
Shepherds abiding in the field,
Keeping watch over their flock by night.

And, lo, the angel of the Lord came upon them,
And the glory of the Lord shone round about them.
And they were sore afraid.

And the angel said unto them,
Fear not: for, behold,
I bring you good tidings of great joy,
Which shall be to all people.

For unto you is born this day
In the city of David
A Saviour, which is Christ the Lord.

And this shall be a sign unto you;
Ye shall find the babe
Wrapped in swaddling clothes,
Lying in a manger.
And suddenly there was with the angel
A multitude of the heavenly host
Praising God, and saying,
Glory to God in the highest,
And on earth peace,
Good will toward men.

Friday, December 23, 2011

Christmas Compendium

Zeta Woof's greatest hits from Christmases past...
History and Tradition
Nora's Freezin' On The Trolley
The Original Version
Marley's Ghost
Christmas Bells
Reading St. Luke
Anton Raphael Mengs
The Charlie Brown Christmas Story
Food and Drink
At Badger's Table
Gordon's Fruitcake
Grandma Hammersley's Old-Time Mincemeat
Gingerbread Shanty
Tom and Jerrys
Marielle's Gingerbread Dunkers
Fun and Family
We Got A Little Snow
Gloria In Excelsior
Christmas Power Lighting
Christmas Lighting OCD
Not So Early Christmas Morning

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Winter Solstice

winter_solstice_2011_thumb.jpg
As the season so turns our luck.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Welcome to Amazon Town

Interesting read in the Journal today.
Retired 'Workampers' Flock to Remote Towns for Temporary Gigs; RV Parks Are Full

FERNLEY, Nev.—Behind the piles of smiley-faced Amazon.com Inc. boxes arriving on doorsteps this holiday season are workers like Ray and Sarann Williams.

The retired couple are part of the swarm of seasonal employees taking up temporary residence in this small desert city—home to one of Amazon's warehouses—to help the online-retail giant fulfill its influx of holiday orders.
···
Amazon, the world's biggest e-commerce purveyor, sees a sales spike every fourth quarter, when it makes nearly 40% of its more than $34 billion in annual revenue. To meet that surge, the Seattle-based company hires hundreds of temporary workers at each of its 34 U.S. warehouses.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Busy, Sorry

I haven't forgotten you. It's just that I've been busy making Fruitcake and drinking Tom and Jerrys and stringing up 2800 watts of Christmas Power Lighting.

And today I started on a new contract.

Friday, December 16, 2011

Christopher Hitchens 1949-2011

The Wall Street Journal has a well-crafted obituary.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Steven Pinker's Latest

better_angels_steven_pinker.jpgIn the December 19th issue of National Review John Derbyshire reviews The Better Angels of Our Nature.
... Pinker has things to say, backed by sound numerical evidence, that should be of interest to any educated person. The facts and numbers are skillfully woven into a story that belongs ultimately to the mystery genre. In Pinker's closing words: "What do we make of the impression that human history contains an arrow? Where is this arrow, we are entitled to wonder, and who posted it?" As with all the best mystery narratives, we are left pondering at last, each of us according to his own inclination and understanding .
(Non-subscribers can read the review on johnderbyshire.com.)

Two other books by Steven Pinker, The Stuff of Thought and The Blank Slate, made it onto the prestigious Zeta Woof Summer Reading List. I have a hunch this one will too.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Gloomier Thoughts

In other words, we now resume our regular programming.

How Doctors Die by Ken Murray drew a lot of attention over the weekend, and for good reason. And in today's Wall Street Journal Bret Stephens writes that he learned A Lesson Before Dying from his own father's long illness. Both articles well worth your time.

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Christmas Trees

christmas_tree_2011_thumb.jpgIt's a family tradition for over twenty years now. We drove up toward Diamond Lake and cut our trees on Forest Service land. Permits are still only five dollars. And why not? It's not like they're letting the timber companies have any.

Afterward we sat on the snow and ate sandwiches and cookies and drank hot chocolate and coffee and then we took a tree to Grandma and Grant put it in the stand and we all agreed it was the prettiest tree ever and then we drove home.

Another beautiful day in paradise. Southern Oregon, my home.

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Formal Announcement

elizabeth_and_jonathan_thumb.jpg
Gordon and Leslie Durand are pleased to announce
the engagement of their daughter, Elizabeth Durand,
to Jonathan L. Troyer, son of Tony and Esther Troyer
of Tillamook. A summer wedding is anticipated.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Seventy Years Ago Today

A day that will live in infamy.

I won't link to all the great articles and tributes today. You can find them for yourselves. But while we dwell on the past, let's not forget to keep our eyes on the horizon.
Seventy years after Pearl Harbor, the U.S. finds itself in much the same situation that it was in prior to World War II. There is a great effort to cut military spending, bring troops home from abroad, and scale back our international exposure. The country's critical financial situation is one reason. Yet a nuclear-obsessed Iran, an emerging China and Russia, along with smaller rogue actors are enough of a threat to justify a vigilant and even aggressive guard. Add to this the weariness of two prolonged wars in Afghanistan and Iraq and the comparison is complete.

Two weeks ago, National Public Radio's "All Things Considered" examined Republican presidential candidate Newt Gingrich's statement of concern about the possibility of an "EMP" attack on America....

NPR's guest, Wired magazine reporter Noah Shachtman, was skeptical. He called Mr. Gingrich a "charter member" of the "professional EMP, scare-monger, worry-wart crowd," and he wondered if it really made any sense that "Iran or North Korea or some other country is going to be so mad at us" that they would actually do something like this.

The doubters may indeed be right. But 70 years ago similar doubters believed Japan would never be so foolish as to take on the United States of America—until, of course, it did.
Historian Warren Kozak in The Wall Street Journal. (Behind the pay wall, unfortunately. Email me and I'll send you a free link.)

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Bucky’s Spiritual Advice

buckys_spiritual_advice.gifDeeper than it looks.

Monday, December 5, 2011

Big Oil Heads Back Home

For decades, its main stomping grounds were in the developing world—exotic locales like the Persian Gulf and the desert sands of North Africa, the Niger Delta and the Caspian Sea. But in recent years, that geographical focus has undergone a radical change. Western energy giants are increasingly hunting for supplies in rich, developed countries—a shift that could have profound implications for the industry, global politics and consumers.

Driving the change is the boom in unconventionals—the tough kinds of hydrocarbons like shale gas and oil sands that were once considered too difficult and expensive to extract and are now being exploited on an unprecedented scale from Australia to Canada.

The U.S. is at the forefront of the unconventionals revolution. By 2020, shale sources will make up about a third of total U.S. oil and gas production, according to PFC Energy, a Washington-based consultancy. By that time, the U.S. will be the top global oil and gas producer, surpassing Russia and Saudi Arabia, PFC predicts.
Read the whole thing. And rejoice.

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Time Travel Is Real

Brian Clegg, who has a degree in physics, explains Why Time Travel Won't Be Like the Movies.
In fiction, time travel is an amazing new invention. In reality, it's a fact of nature. Your GPS has to be corrected for it, since fast-moving satellites gradually shift in time compared with the Earth. A frequent flier, crossing the Atlantic weekly for 40 years, travels 1/1,000th of a second into the future.
A thousandth of a second, you're saying. Big whoop. But the effects are, as we like to say in software, highly scalable.

Saturday, December 3, 2011

That’s what you get for ticking off the RAF.

Nearly half the residents of the German city of Koblenz are being forced to leave their homes this weekend after the discovery of a 2-ton, unexploded World War II bomb, marking the biggest bomb-related evacuation in Germany's post-war history.
···
The British bomb in Koblenz, now covered by just 16 inches of water, is thought to have been dropped in the night of Nov. 6, 1944, when Royal Air Force planes blanketed Koblenz with bombs and destroyed much of the inner city. By the war's end, air raids had destroyed some 80% of the city.

Horst Lenz, the 56-year-old head of the regional bomb-disposal squad tasked with defusing the devices Sunday, said the bomb is the largest among the hundreds of World War II-era bombs he has tackled since beginning his hair-raising career in 1984.

Mr. Lenz added that as unexploded bombs grow older, they are becoming ever more unstable, and increasingly likely to explode, as the elements deteriorate their chemical detonators. Still, he says Sunday's job should be fairly routine.

"There don't appear to be any special challenges to this one," he said by telephone. "It could maybe take an hour or two." As with most bomb-disposal assignments, Mr. Lenz said he isn't nervous ahead of this one. "The shivers always come afterward."
In The Wall Street Journal.

Update: The bomb was successfully defused.

Friday, December 2, 2011

More Racist Than Ever

Who ever believed that “all men are created equal” or ever hoped that their children would “not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character” must despair at the modern redistributive state. We are as a consequence more racist than ever before.

Four bits of evidence I found just today:
  1. Steve Hsu says Don't Admit You're Asian,
  2. John Derbyshire ponders Life at the Bottom,
  3. Gavin McInnes says Make Your Own Damned Lunch,
  4. and Kathy Shaidle says
    Frankly, we don’t owe Indians anything.
    They gave us cigarettes. We gave them booze.
    I call it even.
I call it over.