Monday, December 10, 2012

Apple Device Per Household Soars; Five Guys

Link here to LA Times. "Soars" is the word the LA Times uses.
But perhaps you should look a bit closer to home at all those shiny Apple products that line your shelves and pockets. A story from Reuters on Monday cites a report from Morgan Stanley analyst Katy Huberty that in 2011 the "average amount U.S. households spent on Apple products was $444."
Depending on the location of the Starbucks I am in, the ratio of Apple to non-Apple varies.  On Harvard Square, Cambridge, across from Harvard University, close to 99% of computers are Apple, and most of them are the silvery MacBook Pro. There are still a few of the old workhorse: the white MacBook, or was it the iBook. I forget. Both incredible machines.

In the Starbucks closer to where I stay once in awhile when in the Boston area it is about 90% MacBook Pros. Some days, of the eight PCs in the coffee shop, eight of them are MacBook Pros.

There seem to be two universal truths when it comes to Apple: a) when one switches to Apple, one does not go back; and, b) when one acquires one Apple device, one tends to buy a second. And then a third.

Back at home in San Antonio, there are a few more PCs at the Starbucks that I visit than Apples.


The other day I stopped at Five Guys Burgers and Fries. I told the person who took my order that the last time I had had a Five Guys burger was back in Huntington Beach, California. Without hesitation, she said she was glad to hear that, but "what about "In-N-Out"? I was impressed. She knew her competitor. That was a tough one. I told her that my brother-in-law introduced me to Five Guys, and that perhaps "In-N-Out" was our favorite hamburger but if one wants to get a really, really good, made-to-order hamburger with all the toppings, among the "fast food" chains, it's hard to beat Five Guys. I only had the hamburger; not the fries. That is way too much food.

Yesterday I went back to Five Guys and had the fries. Just the fries.

What a great country.

Two (2) New Permits

Bakken Operations

Active rigs: 182 (steady)

Two (2) new permits --
Wells coming off confidential list were reported earlier; see sidebar at the right.

Random Look At Drilling in The Bakken -- This Is My Last Post for Awhile - Out and About

Not often do we get such an informative post elsewhere.  When you get to the link, scroll down about six posts, and read the post by "Degas." This is an excellent resource for newbies. "Degas" adds more at this link, and it starts a new thread, I believe. Includes information about Bakken pricing.

Meanwhile, Google shelters $10 billion in Bermuda: no corporate taxes.  Tea leaves: Google CEO soon to be an Obama Cabinet secretary. Don't even get me started.

Can never get enough of this. Sorry. But "Minnesota is encased in snow and ice" -- LA Times. Global warming hit the midwest earlier than usual this year. With a record storm.
Minnesota was recovering Monday morning from a winter weekend snowstorm that dumped as much as 15 inches of snow across the state, closing roads and causing hundreds of crashes. Blizzard conditions were so severe that at one point Sunday snowplows were pulled from the roads.
Making things even worse for morning commuters, temperatures plunged overnight, turning roads icy.
"Temperatures dropped dramatically," Lt. Eric Roeske of the Minnesota Highway Patrol told the Los Angeles Times on Monday morning. "Heavy, wet snow froze, so most roads are snow- and ice-covered this morning."
I assume FEMA won't even try to drive into the area. How do Minnesotans feel about the storm?
Beitlich, in an interview Monday morning, said that the huge snowfall was a welcome sight for many who were worried about drought conditions in the state.
"There's still a long way to go ... for drought recovery. We had such a dry summer that it's going to take quite a few storms," Beitlich said.  But still, "we're hopeful that we're going to get a good snowpack."

The Fallacy of Renewable Energy -- The LA Times


December 10, 2012: My, my, my. A reader sent me this link: the government's own numbers for cost of electricity to end user.  California has the highest cost except for Connecticut, New York, and Hawaii (and Hawaii is a special case). Compare California's rates with those of Washington state. Wow.

But Californians are content/satisfied: they consistently vote for ....

Original Post

I guess now that the election is over, "we" can start talking about inconvenient truths again.

The Los Angeles Times is reporting what MDW has already blogged about -- some time ago. If I stumble across the earlier posts, I will link them.
The Delta Energy Center, a power plant about an hour outside San Francisco, was roaring at nearly full bore one day last month, its four gas and steam turbines churning out 880 megawatts of electricity to the California grid.
On the horizon, across an industrial shipping channel on the Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta, scores of wind turbines stood dead still. The air was too calm to turn their blades — or many others across the state that day. Wind provided just 33 megawatts of power statewide in the midafternoon, less than 1% of the potential from wind farms capable of producing 4,000 megawatts of electricity.
As is true on many days in California when multibillion-dollar investments in wind and solar energy plants are thwarted by the weather, the void was filled by gas-fired plants like the Delta Energy Center.
This almost sounds like it could have been written by the conservative, reality-based WSJ, but it was the front page story in the, can we say, liberal LA Times. The "many days in California" phrase was particularly noticeable: that sounds like an opinion one would find in the WSJ, not the LAT.

Promoters focus on the "capable of producing 4,000 megawatts of electricity" and fail to be transparent about the reality.

But there is a bigger issue that wind promoters do not mention at all. It is counter-intuitive. Ideologues won't believe it (elsewhere it was pointed out that "global warming advocacy" has become a religious cult) and science-challenged young adults won't understand it. But it is this:
One of the hidden costs of solar and wind power — and a problem the state is not yet prepared to meet — is that wind and solar energy must be backed up by other sources, typically gas-fired generators. As more solar and wind energy generators come online, fulfilling a legal mandate to produce one-third of California's electricity by 2020, the demand will rise for more backup power from fossil fuel plants. [Good.]
Wind and solar energy are called intermittent sources, because the power they produce can suddenly disappear when a cloud bank moves across the Mojave Desert or wind stops blowing through the Tehachapi Mountains. In just half an hour, a thousand megawatts of electricity — the output of a nuclear reactor — can disappear and threaten stability of the grid. [Yup.]
To avoid that calamity, fossil fuel plants have to be ready to generate electricity in mere seconds. That requires turbines to be hot and spinning, but not producing much electricity until complex data networks detect a sudden drop in the output of renewables. Then, computerized switches are thrown and the turbines roar to life, delivering power just in time to avoid potential blackouts. [And if they don't kick in fast enough, not only is there a risk of a blackout, but a risk of damaging the grid.]
A lot of words to say this: even while wind turbines are rotating, back-up fossil fuel power plants must continue operating to be ready to ramp up immediately if wind/solar stops abruptly.

For all practical purposes, electricity generated by power plants and wind turbines is not stored. So, natural gas plants keep burning natural gas even when wind turbines are turning, so that when wind dies down, the natural gas plants can kick in to provide the full amount of electricity needed.


But great for Bakken folks.

As an energy source, wind has no redeeming feature: a) it will increase the use of fossil fuels; b) it will increase utility costs to everyone in a most regressive manner; c) it precludes dual-use in many cases; d) its slicing and dicing effect on migratory birds is so well known that the industry requires unconditional waiver from all migratory bird and bat kills, the only industry to have such an unconditional waiver to the best of my knowledge (childhood vaccinations are probably one [and an appropriate] exception; and, e) wind farms are an eyesore for all except developers/promoters. And, of course, if provided tax credits or incentives, monetary loss to the state and/or federal government. The Eurozone can speak to the last item in the list.

Blowin' In The Wind, Bob Dylan

Recipe for Disaster: Follow-Up -- Not A Bakken Story

Just last month, November 26, 2012, to be exact, I posted a "recipe for disaster."

It didn't take long for the mainstream media to pick up on this story.

NPR is reporting that a California school district owes $1 billion on a $100 million loan. And that's not even the worse one.
Perhaps the best example of the CAB issue is suburban San Diego's Poway Unified School District, which borrowed a little more than $100 million. But "debt service will be almost $1 billion," Lockyer says. "So, over nine times amount of the borrowing. There are worse ones, but that's pretty bad."
There are worse cases. OMG.

Cue up Connie Stevens.

I wonder if it would be too soon to add San Diego to the list of US cities in financial trouble from which it is unlikely they will be able to recover without a) a bailbout; b) managed bankruptcy; and/or c) chaotic bankruptcy.

Or change the rules:
Back in the '90s, the state of Michigan banned capital appreciation bonds altogether. But Lockyer says California needn't go that far. He supports a series of reforms such as capping the payback of debt to four times the amount borrowed. Otherwise, says Lockyer, these bonds will be paid well into the future, by the children of today's students.
Even Michigan, over twenty years ago, was able to figure this was a "recipe for disaster."

Monday Morning Links; "OPEC stuck between Damascus and Dakota on oil price outlook" -- WSJ; The North American Gusher

Wells coming off confidential list have been posted; some huge wells: OXY USA, KOG, and Oasis. Scroll down. 

California renewable mandates will increase fossil fuel requirements, LA Times:  another inconvenient truth for some. And, of course, renewable energy (solar, particularly) is up to three times more costly to the end user than conventional energy (particularly natural gas and coal).

RBN Energy announces conference format for "energy school."

Understanding Halcon,

Record winter storm hits Minneapolis; global warming conference in Doha-ha-ha ended over the weekend.

Now to the WSJ (and perhaps some other links thrown in)

Gloom and doom for the oil patch in 2013 (I agree; it could be rocky): OPEC's party is on hold Follow-up in July, 2013, to see how accurate this was.  This is the "headline" for the story where it is continued: OPEC stuck between Damascus and Dakota on oil price outlook.

Hostess pension story gets worse. Who was minding the store? I'm thinking maybe this was the wrong time to go on strike.

Page 3, section C: this is an important story to follow if one subscribes to the "theory" that renewable energy fad fading.
SolarCity, based in San Mateo, Calif., and whose chairman is entrepreneur Elon Musk, sells and installs rooftop solar-energy systems to homeowners and businesses. Customers can buy the systems outright or sign a lease to buy the electricity in monthly payments. 

The company, formed in 2006, markets its business as an easy way for homeowners and businesses to get access to clean energy It counts Wal-Mart Stores Inc.  among its customers.
SolarCity's planned IPO, aimed at raising as much as $151.5 million, has generated more buzz than usual for a solar firm because of the star power of its chairman and chief financial backer. Mr. Musk founded online-payment service PayPal Inc., luxury electric-car maker Tesla Motors Inc. and space-travel firm Space Exploration Technologies Corp., or SpaceX. He has a track record of finding profit in markets where others have struggled. Tesla's shares have more than doubled since their 2010 stock-market debut. 
Two dates to watch for SolarCity: a) this week's IPO; b) share price one year from now. [Update, December 12: SolarCity slashes price of IPO shares.] [Update: December 14: after price cut, SolarCity IPO surges.]

Front page, above the fold: a photograph of global warming, Minneapolis, MN, overnight: new storm records. Reported earlier.  Record winter storm hits Minneapolis; global warming conference in Doha-ha-ha ended over the weekend.

The North American Gusher -- op-ed.
Among the world's oil and gas producers, the U.S. is now growing the fastest. Even though the growth in U.S. demand for energy is slowing, the decline is offset by rising world demand. If North America's total productive capacity in hydrocarbons increases by just 3% per year over the next 20 years, Mr. Mills says, the continent will become the largest supplier to burgeoning world markets.
Too bad the president's world view on energy was formed during the oil shortages of the 70s. Cue up Connie Francis.

Have folks wondered why disability rolls (social security) are increasing? I have opined that it is for two reasons: a) chronically-unemployed realize they will never be employed again; that leads to stress-related illnesses --> disability; and, b) better educated chronically-unemployed; they've learned how to apply for benefits.

It turns out that "better education" was not lost on some, here's an interesting item from an op-ed piece in the WSJ today:
Social Security will also be at risk if an agreement fails to restrain the expansion of payments to people classified as disabled. In 2011, about 4.5% of Americans of working age were treated as disabled, allowing them to receive Social Security. In 1970, only 1.3% qualified. Lawyers now run TV ads soliciting business to move people from work to disability rolls, putting Social Security itself at risk.
Military pensions are taxed; military pensions associated with disability claims are not taxed. The best thing a military member can do while on active duty is to prepare oneself for maintaining perfect health while documenting disability. There is a "trick" that is probably unknown to 95% of current military members.  I did not "realize" the trick until it was "too late."

Global Warming Hits the Midwest With Heaviest Snowfall Storm in Two Years: Among Top 5 Storms Going Back to 1800's -- Way Before Global Warming "Began"

Global warming enthusiasts predicted heavier precipitation and here it is:
The heaviest snowstorm to hit the region in two winters, named Caesar by The Weather Channel, dumped heavy snow across a broad belt of Minnesota including the Twin Cities area Sunday, as well as parts of western Wisconsin.

A snowfall totalling 10.5 inches fell on Minneapolis, setting a daily record that eclipsed the previous mark of 7.4 inches set in 1961. The total was the fourth-highest for December in the history of the Twin Cities. Daily records of 11 inches fell in St. Cloud, MN, and 12.5 in Eau Claire, WI.
"The amazing combination of snow, wind and colder temperatures combined to produce the blizzard conditions over a three-state area," said Tom Niziol, the winter weather expert for The Weather Channel.
"For a major winter storm, a large-scale storm, the heavier snow was in a narrow corridor. We got as much as 17 inches of snow in Sacred Heart (MN), 14 inches in Hendrick (MN), and if we zoom into Minneapolis these are amazing snowfall totals. I believe these are Top 5 for December calendar days that go back all the way to the 1800s."
It has to be a big storm to get a name. And then to name it "Caesar." We never named the winter storms when we were growing up in North Dakota.

I wonder if the students in Minneapolis will get a snow day?