Friday, December 13, 2013

Natural Gas Skyrockets In New England; Nothing On Front Page Of The Boston Globe, Maybe Not That Big Of A Deal

Nothing on front page of Boston Globe about the natural gas situation in New England. See previous post, same subject

Boston is preparing for first big storm of the season.  Four to six inches forecast to Boston central; up to 10 inches in areas north of Boston. We spent much of the past four years with our granddaughters in the Boston area and we can only imagine what this is going to be. It would be incredibly fun and beautiful. I wish I were there to enjoy it.

A Note To The Granddaughters

First: a note to regular readers. All (or at least most) posts, notes, links regarding global warming will now be found in "notes to the granddaughters, and not in the "upper" part or "main" part of the post. There will be very few, if any stand-alone posts on global warming. More on that later.
Having said that, did you all catch the Drudge-linked story of 5 to 6 feet of snow in upstate New York? This winter storm will span over 1,000 miles and could affect up to 110 million people, about as many people who will have their insurance canceled by ObamaCare.

And then this: new study -- the earth was warmer during "ancient Roman times' and during "the medieval period." I assume Algore is updating his slide presentation. The Romans burned a lot of coal, I suppose.


Taxi, Harry Chapin


Operator, That's Not The Way It Feels, Jim Croce

A Note to The Granddaughters

I have never lived anywhere that I didn't eventually come to love. Some places I have come to love sooner than other places. I thought about that today, driving from Grapevine, TX, where we currently live, up to Plano, TX, to visit a Planonite who reads the blog and, who invited me to lunch to talk about the Bakken. More on that luncheon at some other time when I have time to reflect on our 3-hour discussion.

I have never lived anywhere that I didn't eventually come to love. Some places I have come to love sooner than others. Harry Chapin, above, brings back memories of my coming of age days, visiting the love of my life -- in a different life, in a far away place, in a time long, long ago. It was Boston, 1975, or thereabouts. I loved Boston, then, but that was because of her. "She took off to find the footlights, I took off to find the sky." [She died some years ago; I can write about her and not frighten the current love of my life.]

Almost at the other end of the spectrum (continuum?) was Incirlik Air Base, eastern Turkey. Turkey, the country, north of Syria. It took multiple visits and then a two-year tour to really fall in love with eastern Turkey. If I had no significant other now, and no daughters, and no granddaughters, I could see myself back in Turkey, living out the rest of my life there. The early Christians found solace there.

Interestingly, at the very end of the continuum was RAF Lakenheath, England, or England, in general. We were there for four years the first time; I never "liked" East Anglia the entire time we were there. The English, it seemed were living in the 1950's and working half-time to catch up. It was so bad, our wing commander sent out a directive that Air Force personnel were to make no more jokes about the British civil servants.

I recall all that because it took me a "New York minute" to fall in love with the Dallas-Ft Worth metroplex. Except for the absence of an ocean and the mountains, we lack for nothing. The interstate and state highway system between Grapevine (northeast of Ft Worth) and Plano (north of Dallas) is incredible. I think 99% of the national highway transportation CAPEX is being spent in Texas; the other 1% in the Bakken. The Texans have a unique way of laying out their divided highways, frontage roads, farm-managed roads, u-turns, etc.

So, it was a great drive. The drivers were Texas-friendly. The roads: not one pothole. And lots of new construction. Think jobs.

Holy Guacamole, Batman! Regular Readers Knew This Was Coming ... But Did We Really Think It Would Happen; Natural Gas Spot Price In New England Up To $20 And It May Get Worse


December 18, 2013: update on the debacle in New Hampshire.

Original Post

[Yesterday, I wrote that we would be reading about this in February, 2014. Wow, talk about perfect timing. Thank you, Mr. RBN Energy.]

That "thump" you heard was me falling off my chair, for the second time in less than three minutes, hitting the floor here in a Barnes and Noble-owned Starbucks in Southlake Town Centre, Texas.

I fell off my chair the first time reading about comments from our energy secretary. This time this caused me to fall off my chair (you may have to read this twice to confirm you are not dreaming), from Forbes:
The widely predicted explosion in New England’s energy prices has started sooner than most people expected.
The price of natural gas at Boston’s Algonquin Citygate climbed from $4.13 per MMBtu last Wednesday to $20.40 on Tuesday. (See sidebar at the right for the spot price of natural gas in the rest of the US -- about $4.00.)
Natural gas prices are tightly correlated with electric power prices in New England.  These near-record natural gas prices at the Algonquin trading point pushed forward, wholesale power prices up to more than $100 per megawatthour (MWh) at the Massachusetts Hub for December 2013.
While the $100 per MWh future price may have seemed high at the time, the actual market price is likely to be significantly more than that amount. The real time locational marginal price spiked above $350 per MWh in southeastern Massachusetts early this morning and remained above $250 per MWh for most of the day.
To put this in perspective, spot prices for wholesale, on-peak power in New England are typically between $30 and $40 per MWh.
New England? Think Boston. How is that off-shore wind turbine project working out? Cape Wind? I'm waiting for Ms Elizabeth Warren to comment on this.

The big story line here? This is the end of any real talk about banning fracking. Banning fracking in the US will shut down the domestic oil and gas industry; OPEC prices will skyrocket just on the news.

I thought the Canadian oil sands was the canary in the coal mine with regard to how low the price of oil might get; but the canary in the coal mine turned out to be Boston.

This story in Forbes is not a one-off. It has been predicted for quite some time, and I've posted at least twice on this. A huge "thank you" to RBN Energy for being the first to predict this to readers. If I had time, I would look for additional RBN Energy posts, but too much to do, to include sending a huge "thank you" to the reader who alerted me to this most recent debacle. Throw in ObamaCare and New Englanders are facing a real nightmare come January, 2014. Winters, all things being equal, tend to get colder as we move from December to January to February, but, with global warming, all bets are off. 

Proceed Wtih Caution -- Not To Be Read By Those Prone To Swooning

That "thump" you heard was me falling off my chair, hitting the floor here in a Barnes and Noble-owned Starbucks in Southlake Town Centre, Texas. Fortunately, the computer did not follow me. My tailbone hurts -- if you've ever fallen on your tailbone, you know what I'm talking about.

I had just uploaded the Jim Croce Railroad Song when I was sent this story in the New York Times from a reader (before proceeding, please make sure you are sitting, and sitting securely):
Signaling a possible break with 40 years of energy policy, Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz has suggested that it may be time for the Obama administration to reconsider the nation’s ban on exporting domestically produced crude oil.

Congress made most oil exports without a license illegal in the 1970s to conserve supplies at a time when OPEC oil embargoes produced long lines at gas stations and threatened the American economy. But over the last five years a frenzy of oil drilling in shale rock formations in Texas and North Dakota have produced a glut of crude in the Midwest and Gulf of Mexico states.
“Those restrictions on exports were born, as was the Department of Energy and the Strategic Petroleum Reserve, on oil disruptions,” Mr. Moniz said in remarks to reporters at the Platts Global Energy Outlook forum in New York on Thursday. “There are lots of issues in the energy space that deserve some new analysis and examination in the context of what is now an energy world that is no longer like the 1970s.”
The Energy Department does not have the power to relax restrictions on exports but Mr. Moniz said the it would be willing to produce technical analysis on the issue for the Commerce Department which issues the export licenses.

The Los Angeles times is reporting:
The state's enrollment so far among Latinos is anemic — even though they represent more than half of California's 7 million uninsured residents. Only 5% of enrollees, or fewer than 4,500 people, in the first two months of enrollment are primarily Spanish speakers, new data show.
The dismal results have drawn sharp criticism from supporters of the healthcare law. They fault the Covered California exchange for strategic missteps, and they fear that missing out on this relatively young and healthy population could threaten the viability of the state exchange.
Without a large pool of people and enough younger policyholders to balance out older, sicker patients, rates could spiral up, and insurers may drop out of the state-run marketplace.
"It is unacceptable that Latinos are getting the least amount of access to the benefits offered by the Affordable Care Act," said state Sen. Norma Torres (D-Pomona). "Covered California's strategy for Latino enrollment has not proven itself to be effective. The success of this program and the affordability of health insurance in the future depends on Latinos signing up."
Yup. The Latinos are probably the only ones who listened to the advice of Consumer Reports: avoid the ObamaCare website.

The "Face Of The Bakken," Mr Harold Hamm, Says Keystone XL Not Needed

Reuters/Yahoo!Finance is reporting:
Continental Resources, one of the companies that has committed to ship crude on TransCanada Corp's proposed Keystone XL pipeline, now says the controversial pipeline is no longer needed.
Continental has signed on to ship some 35,000 barrels of its own oil from the Bakken field of North Dakota on the 1,179-mile, $5.4-billion Keystone XL line. But construction of the pipeline has been delayed for years as TransCanada has sought regulatory approvals, and Continental has since turned to railroads to get its crude to oil refineries.
Harold Hamm, chief executive of the independent oil producer, told Reuters that his company and the U.S. oil industry in general are no longer counting on Keystone XL.
Oil companies have been strong advocates of Keystone in order to help alleviate oil supply bottlenecks, but Hamm's remarks raise the question of whether regulatory delays have eroded the industry's enthusiasm for the line, which has faced aggressive resistance from environmentalists.
Alternative? Rail.

This comes on several other stories today about CBR vs pipeline. What a turn of events. Activist environmentalists can now watch tanks of crude roll down the track. Sweet.

Railroad Song, Jim Croce

For Investors Only: Moody's Has Upgraded Continental Resources To Investment Grade

Disclaimer: this is not an investment site. Do not make any investment decisions based on what you read here or what you think you may have read here.

Press release
CLR announced today that Moody's Investor Services ("Moody's") has upgraded the Company to investment grade.  Moody's increased Continental's senior unsecured rating to Baa3 from Ba2. 

John D. Hart, Continental's Chief Financial Officer, commented, "We are pleased to have Moody's recognize Continental as an investment grade credit.  The Company has experienced significant growth with our success in the development of the Bakken and most recently the SCOOP play.  The asset base has delivered and continues to provide exceptional returns and cash margins, which enable us to execute our growth plans.  Our growth has been matched with a disciplined capital sourcing approach enabling a strong credit profile. This upgrade to investment grade is yet another step forward in delivering a strong and flexible balance sheet as part of our 5 year plan. Congratulations to our entire team." 

Fourteen (14) New Permits -- The Williston Basin, North Dakota, USA; Emerald Is Getting Active In Western McKenzie County

Active rigs: 191

Fourteen (14) new permits --
  • Operators: Emerald (6), Hess (3), Whiting (3), Petro-Hunt (2)
  • Fields: Manitou (Mountrail), North Tioga (Burke), Zenith (Stark), Charbonneau (McKenzie),
  • Comments: this is nice to see -- it looks like the six Emerald permits are for a 6-well pad in Charbonneau oil field; Emerald has two nice wells just one mile to the west (#23909, Arsenal Federal 1-17-20H, and, #19863, Mongoose 1-8-5H, both just completed earlier this summer. Emerald must like what it sees in this area; Charbonneau has not been very active until now.
Wells coming off the confidential list were posted earlier; see sidebar at the right.

Three (3) producing wells completed:
  • 25921, 836, Whiting, Peery State 21-25TFH, Sanish, t11/13; cum --
  • 25922, 1,927, Whting, Peery State 21-25H, Sanish, t11/13; cum  --
  • 25042, 371, American Eagle, Roberta 1-3-163-101, Colgan, t101/3; cum 9K 10/13;
Change of operator, from Samson Resources to Oasis Petroleum: ten (10) wells in Burke County.

I'm Not Superstitious About "Friday The Thirteenth," But ...

Headlines from The Williston Wire. Generally, only headlines or small notes; no links; it is easy to subscribe to The Williston Wire.

Fire destroys two nearly completed apartment buildings in the Harvest Hills subdivision. I am not superstitious about "Friday the 13th," but I cannot recall a bigger property loss story in the Bakken in the past year (not including some oil-related stories). And this happened early, very early, on the morning of "Friday the 13th."  Shortly after midnight.

Sand Creek Town Centre is taking shape.

Famous Dave's BBQ opens in Williston.

A tax agreement that standardized the rules and spurred oil drilling on an American Indian reservation in North Dakota is bringing in more than $40 million monthly for the state and tribal members, up from zero five years ago, state Tax Department records show.  Since the accord between the Three Affiliated Tribes and the state was first signed in 2008, the number of horizontal wells on the Fort Berthold Reservation jumped from one to more than 1,000. To date, the state has collected $445.4 million, with the tribes getting $315.3 million.

After finding cute, affordable clothes in the small town of Brea, Calif., while attending grad school, Dr. Eve Kostelecky knew she could bring the same type of fashion to her home state of North Dakota.Several years later, Kostecky recently opened up her second BREA location in Dickinson, about a year and a half after opening a store in Mandan.

Bitter wind chills, frozen water lines and icy drafts are just some of the problems facing those who choose to brave a North Dakota winter in campers, 5th wheelers and motorhomes.  Many of the "camping" residents arrived from warmer climates in search of work, then were brutally slapped in the face by the cold hand of winter. For many, the cold is simply too much to bear.

North Dakota Oil production Hits New State Record: 941,637 BOPD

The Director's Cut is posted.

Production: slightly less than 1% increase. 
  • October oil: 941,637 bopd
  • September oil: 932,962 bopd
Producing wells:
  • October: 9,900
  • September: 9,701
Director's comment: The drilling rig count was unchanged from Sep to Oct and the number of well completions dropped only slightly from 225 to 202, resulting in only a 1% increase in oil production. All McKenzie County roads were shut down for 3-4 days due to rain. McKenzie County has 1/3 of the drilling rigs and 29% of state production. This means production likely would have been 10,000-15,000 barrels per day higher without that weather event.

I track projected estimates of future oil production at this site

What "Crude Oil Price" Is Yahoo!Finance Tracking Today? Snow In Cairo, First Time In A Century; Snow Closes Roads In Israel

I wonder what "crude oil price" Yahoo!Finance is tracking today. The site shows crude oil at $91, well below what others are reporting, $97. My site is showing $96.80, down 70 cents. See sidebar at the right. Natural gas is at $4.38.

The Los Angeles Times is reporting:
Snow coated domes and minarets Friday as a record Mideast storm compounded the suffering of Syrian refugees, sent the Israeli army scrambling to dig out stranded motorists and gave Egyptians a rare glimpse of snow in their capital.
Nearly three feet of snow closed roads in and out of Jerusalem, which is set in high hills, and thousands in and around the city were left without power. Israeli soldiers and police rescued  hundreds trapped in their cars by snow and ice. In the West Bank, the branches of olive trees groaned under the weight of snow.
In Cairo, where local news reports said the last recorded snowfall was more than 100 years ago, children in outlying districts capered in white-covered streets, and adults marveled at the sight, tweeting pictures of snow-dusted parks and squares. In other parts of the city, rain and hail rocketed down.
Rumor has it Algore is booking a flight to the Mideast now; doesn't believe it; wants to see it with his own eyes. 

Disclaimer: this is not the weather channel. Do not cancel any travel plans based on what you read here or what you think you may have read here.

The Bakken Book: Mile 50 If This Were The Daytona 500 -- We Haven't Even Reached The First Pit Stop -- NDIC

The Bismarck Tribune is reporting:
North Dakota Department of Mineral Resources director Lynn Helms told the interim Government Finance Committee to expect around 2,000 wells to be drilled next year.
Preliminary September oil numbers, the most recent available, put daily production in North Dakota at more than 931,000 barrels from nearly 9,700 producing wells.
Helms used the Daytona 500 car race as an analogy when trying to quantify the frenetic pace of drilling and where the industry is in developing the state’s oil patch.
“We’re at about Mile 50,” Helms said. “We’re very early in the race. We’re not even to the first pit stop yet.”
Helms said lawmakers need to be aware of the price of crude oil, which has dropped from more than $90 per barrel in August and September to the low $70s currently.
What was not reported: everyone agrees that it will take 60,000 wells to drill out the Bakken. This was before the lower benches of the Three Forks became a hot topic. A few argue that it will take much more than 60,000 wells.

But for argument's sake. 60,000 wells. 2,000 wells/year. I'm not good at math, but I think that's 30 years of drilling. The North Dakota Bakken boom is in its seventh year but the operators have been drilling 2,000 wells/year only the last couple of years, and then, just barely.

The Daytona 500 analogy was interesting. 

A big "thank you" to Don for sending me this story and the story at the previous post.

A Note to the Granddaughters

From Max Tegmark's Our Mathematical Universe:
Experiment 1: turn your head from left to right a few times.
Experiment 2: move your eyes from left to right a few times, without moving your head.

Did you notice how the first time, the external reality appears to rotate, and the second time, it appeared to stay still, even though your eyeballs rotated both times? This proves that what your mind's eye is looking at isn't the external reality, but a reality model stored in your brain!

If you looked at the image recorded by a rotating video camera, you'd clearly see it move as it did in Experiment 1.

But your eyes are a form of biological video camera, so Experiment 2 shows that your consciousness isn't directly perceiving the images formed on their retinas. Rather, as neuro-scientists have now studied in great detail, the information recorded by your retinas gets processed in highly complex ways and is used to continually update an elaborate model of the outside world that's stored in your brain.

Take another look in front of you, and you'll see that, thanks to this advanced information processing, your reality model is three-dimensional even though the raw images from your retinas are two-dimensional.

Wow: Remember The Individual Who Wrote To Tell Me CBR Was A Fad? 90% Of Bakken Oil May Be CBR In 2014

The Dickinson Press is reporting:
North Dakota’s top oil regulator said railcars could move up to 90 percent of the oil produced in the state next year as differences in crude prices make rail more lucrative for operators than shipping by pipeline.
“We’re expecting 2014 to be soft in the crude price scenario, and so railcars are going to be absolutely vital to what we do in North Dakota,” Lynn Helms, director of the state Department of Mineral Resources, said Thursday.
Railcars carried about 63 percent of the state’s oil production in September, the most recent month for which figures were available, said Justin Kringstad, director of the North Dakota Pipeline Authority.
Meanwhile, the price for a barrel of Bakken sweet light crude fell from about $96 in July to $73.50 this month, Helms said. At that price, it’s still “extremely economical” to drill in North Dakota’s four core oil-producing counties – Dunn, Mountrail, McKenzie and Williams – as well as in Stark and Divide counties, but not in Oil Patch fringe counties, he told the Legislature’s interim Government Finance Committee.
Shipping by railcar to specific markets is netting operators $24 per barrel more than moving it by pipeline, which is helping the state meet its revenue forecast from oil taxes, Helms said. He said one operator that was transporting 75 percent of its oil by pipeline to Minnesota and Wyoming in July is now moving 95 percent by railcar to refineries in Philadelphia and St. James Parish, Louisiana.
“So rail has really saved our bacon in this whole business,” he said. As for the state’s total oil production, Helms said the percentage moved by rail probably won’t reach as high as 90 percent, “but it could if we see continued increases in those price differentials.”
I won't look for it now but I posted two items several months ago foreshadowing this. One was a conversation with a BNSF executive who talked about rail "netbacks." The second was an RBN Energy article. 

There are several other story lines in that article.  This demonstrates the scalability and flexibility of rail, something pipelines don't have.

Second, think Warren Buffett and his decision to by BNI years ago.

Third, a reminder that the TV crawler - crude oil price does not reflect reality -- for many, many reasons.

Fourth, a reminder to Bismarck legislators there is a fine line when it comes to thinking about raising taxes on Bakken operators.

Fifth, it confirms what I've often said -- when folks talk about the Bakken, they talk as if the geography is across the entire state. In fact, the oil patch surface is pretty much confined to four counties in North Dakota. And in two of those counties, only the west half of those counties.

Apple iPhone 5s #1 in November; Apple iPhone 5c #3; The Announcement "Pushed All But Samsung" Out Of The Picture; Relegated The Galaxy S4 To Runner-Up Position Across The Board -- Cream Rises To The Top

I was going to post this earlier, but ran out of time, and then forgot. Better late than never.

MacRumors is reporting:
The iPhone was the top-selling smartphone at AT&T, Verizon, Sprint and T-Mobile for September, October and November of this year, according to Canaccord Genuity analyst T. Michael Walkley.

The iPhone 5s, which came out in the second half of September, has proved extremely popular with customers and has only recently gotten close to a supply/demand balance.
Not in a million years would I have expected that. With all the reports in the mainstream media, I wa sure Samsung/Androids would have been #1.

And then get this: what was #3? The much despised, criticized, and minimized Apple iPhone 5c.

From the linked article:
Before the iPhone 5s and 5c's release, Apple, Samsung, HTC, Nokia, Sony, and Motorola all had handsets enjoying top-three sales at at least one of America's big four carriers. Apple's September announcement pushed all but Samsung out of the picture and relegated the South Korean conglomerate's Galaxy S4 to the runner-up position across the board.
Apple has maintained a significant edge outside of the U.S. as well, even before the long-anticipated launch of the company's devices on China Mobile, the world's largest wireless carrier. The iPhone 5s was "by far the top selling most channels where the smartphone launched globally," Walkley notes.
Samsung's Galaxy S 4, the iPhone's chief competitor, now holds second place across all carriers with the iPhone 5c coming in third. Closer to the launch of the 5c and 5s, the 5c held second place at AT&T and Sprint.
I can't wait to read the comments.

Note to the Granddaughters

I'm continuing to enjoy Max Tegmark's OurMathematical Universe. The publication date is January 7, 2014.

It's an incredibly enjoyable book and an incredibly difficult book at the same time. It's difficult because of the concepts, not the actual writing. I've learned that with these kinds of difficult books it is best not to get bogged down; slog through it, get to the end and then go back and read the portions that are of most interest.

The nice thing about Tegmark's book is the personal touch and the biographical sketches he provides.

Today this caught my attention; it was nice break from the difficult concepts --

I used to feel there were two kinds of physicists: the titans and the mere mortals. The titans were towering historical figures such as Newton, Einstein, Schrödinger, and Feynman who possessed supernatural powers and were surrounded by legends and myths. The mere mortals were the physicists I had met who, although perhaps brilliant, were clearly just ordinary people like you and me.

And then there was John Wheeler. When I saw him in January 1996, I felt overwhelmed. There he was, eighty-four years old, in the Copenhagen cafeteria where we had our conference lucnh. To me, he was the "last titan."

He had worked with Niels Bohr on nuclear physics. he had coined the term black hole. He had pioneered spacetime foam. He had had Feynman and Everett as grad students. He had become one of my physics superheroes with his passion for wild ideas. And there he was, simply eating, like a mere mortal!   ....

... I very rarely cry, but I did in 2008 when I learned that John Wheeler had died.


Yesterday, I sent this note to my wife --
I am reading a most fascinating physics book -- helps me talk with Arianna AND understand better "Big Bang Theory."
The author discusses a physicist, Hugh Everett, who made an exiting discovery back in 1957. No one followed up; this particular author did and suggests that Hugh Everett's insight could equal that of Einstein, but for some reason his ideas were so far-fetched, he was ignored and his work ignored. It was his doctoral thesis.
This is what the author wrote about this physicist:
"Because his thesis and he was ignored, he did not get a job; he "became rather bitter and withdrawn, smoked and drank too much, and died of an early heart attack in 1982. I've learned more about him recently because I got to meet his son, Mark, at the shooting of a TV documentary called Parallel Worlds, Parallel Lives. The producer wanted me to explain Hugh Everett's work to his son, Mark...... ".....Mark is a rock star, and if you've seen Shrek, you've heard him sing. His dad's fate really tormented his family, and you can hear it in many of his son's songs. He and his sister had almost no contact with their dad even though they lived together. His sister committed suicide, leaving a note saying that she was going to visit her dad in a parallel universe."
A good book for the lay person who loves physics, though grad students with time on their hands might enjoy it also. 

TGIF; Administration To "Run" Health Insurance Industry. For The Granddaughters: James Bond

Active rigs: 191

RBN Energy: a nice essay from past CEO of Williams Companies on global warming and US energy potential. [This morning I posted this link which included this observation: " If you look at the numbers, 2013 is going to turn out to be one of the coldest years in the U.S. in the last 20 years." This afternoon, there was this story linked by DrudgeReport: over 2,000 cold and snow records set this week in the US.]

The Wall Street Journal

Here it comes. The administration will tell health care insurers how to run their business, including providing unlimited liability even if folks don't pay their premiums. This was the same situation when folks were allowed to live in their homes for months without paying rent during the housing debacle, and houses were in foreclosure. Previous articles used the word "urged" in the following headline in The WSJ: health insurers told to ease coverage rules. By the way, the reason for this: HHS realizes that most/many/some of those folks who signed up for ObamaCare in October, November probably don't have coverage due to high error rates in transmission. However, there is another nasty little bit of reality: folks have policies in their carts, but the software to pay for those policies has not been written. This is seldom mentioned in most news reports. The photo on the front page of this particular article appears to be a nursing home. Imagine all the folks in nursing homes with senile dementia/pre-senile dementia who have not enrolled. Social workers would not have the time or resources, and many of the patients are seldom visited by family members any more. [Oh, that's right; they're covered by Medicare; never mind.]

The WSJ continues to look at November retail numbers. As more and more data is analyzed, folks are going to realize this is going to be a blockbuster holiday season. The automobile sales suggest that. In addition, the surge of first-time unemployed claiming benefits (68,000) suggests a lot of folks will have free time to shop.

Saudi won't cut unilaterally.


As inflation view shifts, the Fed might "floor" it -- leaving rates at near zero until 2016. Huge story, for so many reasons:
Before making a move on interest rates, though, a quick glance at its blind spot—inflation—may be in order. The Fed's critics, who in recent years have accused it of risking rapid inflation through unorthodox policies, have egg on their faces.
In fact, the danger of disinflation—decelerating price gains—now looms. November's producer-price index is due out Friday, and the consumer-price index will be published Tuesday. In October, both registered their lowest level of year-over-year growth since autumn 2009, when the country was just climbing out of its worst postwar recession.
Both should tick slightly higher on that basis for November, but not by much. While low prices sound good, the Fed's current leadership is wary of flirting with outright deflation. Their preferred measure of prices, known as the personal-consumption expenditures deflator, rose by just 0.74% year over year in October, even slower than the 0.9% rise in headline consumer prices.
The difference is explained by the greater weight of housing in the consumer index. The PCE deflator excluding food and energy, the measure most favored by Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke, is expanding by just 1.1% annually. In response, he suggested at a September news conference that an inflation "floor" might be worth considering to decide when rates should rise from zero. That would supplement the Fed's inflation "ceiling" of around 2.5%.
It appears consumers will be paying more out-of-pocket at retail, but the government numbers will suggest inflation is non-existent  because greater weight is being placed on home values. Okay. I'm not sure if this is good news or bad news. Investors will like the news. Seniors on pensions pegged to the inflation rate will not.


The government gives in: switching from paper one-dollar bill to coin would be too expensive.

Natural gas prices at a 2 1/2-year high.
The big chill gripping the U.S. is heating up the natural-gas market. Prices climbed to a two-and-a-half-year high on Thursday as one of the coldest autumns in more than a decade has kept stoking demand for the heating fuel. The run-up has helped investors who bet that gas prices would rise once temperatures fell.
But it is bad news for utilities, which use gas to fuel power plants but are prevented in many states from immediately passing higher prices along to consumers. If the rally is sustained, it will spell relief for producers, which have struggled with low prices for years as output has soared. 

Netflix says binge viewing is no 'House of Cards.'
Netflix is trying to better understand your binge-viewing habits.
The company Friday will reveal a snapshot of a phenomenon that is reshaping TV culture—viewers devouring shows in long jags, episode after episode. Executives say they found a strikingly consistent pattern in the pace at which people binge: In general, about half the viewers studied finished a season (up to 22 episodes) within one week. "Our viewing data shows that the majority of streamers would actually prefer to have a whole season of a show available to watch at their own pace," said Ted Sarandos, chief content officer of Netflix in a statement. The data adds to evidence that binge viewing is becoming a social norm. It also shows that no matter what kind of shows are available, viewing patterns are remarkably similar. Netflix's message is that the stream-and-binge model it helped create is here to stay, undermining the stereotype of stupefied couch potatoes. 
And really good shows will have viewers watching more than two or three times.  Case in point: "Big Bang Theory." The next big thing: product placement. But down the road: someone is going to figure out some way to make those DVDs more interactive, and current over the lifetime of the viewer. YouTube is beginning to crack the code. It will only be a matter of time before Hollywood cracks the code. Folks like Tina Fey are no doubt trying to figure out how to do it.


Netflix series: a wise guy's warm welcome in a cold climate.
When "Lilyhammer" ended its initial run in 2012—the first of Netflix's original-series endeavors—it was understood that it would be some time before this hilarious concoction of wiseguy melodrama and scathing social commentary returned. Return it does on Friday with its saga of a cooperative mobster who got himself relocated, under the FBI's witness protection program, to the relative obscurity of Lillehammer, Norway—a place whose charms Frank Tagliano ( Steven Van Zandt ) first noticed while watching the 1994 Winter Olympics. He arrived in Lillehammer with a new name—he was now Giovanni Henriksen, or Johnny, as he told everyone to call him—and some very old, firmly established views on how things are supposed to work, what's right, what's wrong, what a person can put up with and what's intolerable and requires action.

A Note To The Granddaughters

The original (and newest) James Bond movies are now available in Blu-Ray and have been for quite some time.  They hold up very, very well over time. I have "Dr No," "Goldfinger," and "Skyfall." Some say "Skyfall" was the best of the Bond movies. Maybe. But I'm not so sure. "Skyfall" was mostly "action" and little story line with not much dialogue, and I don't recall much romantic interest but I watched it while blogging and probably missed a lot. I remember the good old days when the annual Playboy issue came out with "women in film" or something to that effect. The movies, of course, were all G, PG, or maybe a few R-rated, so the photos were less than what Sports Illustrated now reveals. But the issues were widely anticipated and always seemed to live up to one's expectations (at least for teenage boys). In the 60's it was guaranteed that the Playboy issue would include photos from James Bond movies. I have not seen the inside of a Playboy magazine in decades; I always bought it for the writing, and gradually migrated to The New Yorker which had better writing, and better more cartoons.

I digress. I watched "Goldfinger" on Blu-Ray earlier this week. Fantastic. It holds up well. Then I watched it again -- just the first ten minutes -- with commentary. I want to watch/listen to the full commentary with a significant other, and not by myself. But the little I watched, I thoroughly enjoyed. I have to say I enjoyed "Goldfinger" better than "Skyfall." The earlier Bond films had better gadgets, Pussy Galores, and great writing. And when you get right down to it, "Skyfall" was simply about trying to protect a government official from being assassinated; not quite as exciting as knocking off Fort Knox.

I watched "Goldfinger" with my granddaughters last night (again, only the first 30 minutes before we had to go to soccer). They were mesmerized. I had to explain a lot but there were no difficult or embarrassing scenes. Not last night, but earlier, when I watched "Goldfinger" with the commentary, this was said: the director of "Goldfinger" had a miserable challenge complying with both the British and the US censor. The British censor, at the time, abhorred violence; the US censor abhorred sex. There was less violence in "Goldfinger" than "The Hunger Games."

I think there are 23 or 24 James Bond movies. (23) I know I will end up watching all the Sean Connery films; I'm not sure about the rest. They say Daniel Craig is the "best" James Bond/007. I'm not so sure. Or maybe they say "after" Sean Connery, Daniel Craig is the "best" James Bond. That I can accept.