Saturday, May 30, 2015

Soccer Practice Canceled Due To Wet Fields -- May 30, 2015

Soccer practice canceled due to wet fields.

The soccer fields where our 8-y/o granddaughter practices and plays soccer is on the west side of Grapevine Lake, a fairly large lake northeast of Ft Worth, on the north side of the city of Grapevine where we live.

The lake has been very, very low for several years due to the Texas drought.

For the past 15 days or so it has been raining, it seems, almost non-stop. Tonight for the first time since the rains stopped (although more rain overnight is forecast) we took a drive out to the lake. Most of the roads leading up to the lake are closed due to high water, and the traffic is very, very heavy as more and more people drive out to look at it.

I will load some better photographs of the lake later this week, but the photo above gives one a pretty good idea of the depth of the water on the soccer fields. The water is now deep enough that our older non-soccer-playing granddaughter can bring her water polo team out to the lake for practice.

The "original" edge of the lake is probably about a mile farther out in the distance.

These were some of the best soccer fields (and base ball fields in the same general area) I have seen anywhere in the country. It's going to be quite a project to get the fields back to their original condition.

This will be a huge, huge impact on the soccer program in north Texas.

The (London) Telegraph Article On Energy, The Mideast, And ISIS -- $200 Oil? -- May 30, 2015

The Telegraph has an incredibly good article on energy, the Mideast, and ISIS. Such a good article, and again it's a British paper that has the article. I'll talk more about it later. (This is such an important article, I've archived the entire article. If the link ever breaks and you want to see the story let me know.)

For now, a bit of reminiscing. Some years ago, the US Air Force sent me to northern England (Yorkshire) for prolonged periods of time for what they call "temporary duty." Over the course of several years, I probably racked up two to three, maybe almost four years cumulative time in Yorkshire, England.

While there I had a wonderful time. My job was strictly a 40-hour workweek, generally slightly less. I could not work longer if I had wanted. The building in which I worked was maintained by the "Brits" and it was an "8-to-4" / '5-days-a-week" operation and there was no getting around. The clinic closed promptly at 4:00 p.m. and I was in my civilian clothes, and hiking the countryside by 4:30 p.m.

We had weekends completely free. By 7:30 a.m. every Saturday I was either hiking or on the train to Knaresborough or Leeds or wherever the train took us. On Sunday, I ran -- yes, ran -- down the hill to the village mom-and-pop "7/11" to buy the two Sunday newspapers, The (London) Times and The (London) Telegraph. I bought eggs and fresh ham, ran back home and had ham and eggs, a beverage, and spent the morning reading two wonderful newspapers before going out for the day.

The (London) Times and The (London) Telegraph were absolutely excellent. In this country only  The New York Times Sunday comes close, but even the NYT is unable to measure up to the London Sunday papers.

Knock On Wood

Prior to the electrical storm last week, my wi-fi here in the house was problematic -- often not working well during the early evening hours between 4:00 p.m. and  9:00 p.m. But ever since the electrical storm last week, our wi-fi has been incredible. For the first time in three years, our wi-fi is working like I expected it to work.

Knock on wood.

Greatest Hits, ABBA
Dancing Queen, 1976 -- almost 40 years ago; seems like yesterday, and still holds its own. 

Saturday, May 30, 2015

A lot of "stuff" is happening out there today. I can't keep up. There are some interesting trends, maybe I will run through them later. I talked about some of them in the previous post. A woman with a t-shirt with "Drink Wine. Save Animals. D Vine Wine. Grapevine, Texas" on the back just got her cup of Starbucks.

The t-shirt, "drink wine, save animals," reminded me of the inarguable truism (oxymoron, redundant) that Rockefeller and Standard Oil single-handedly saved the whales from extinction. I probably know as much about whales as the average Texan having visited the whaling capital and whaling museum in Bedford, Massachusetts, on many occasions. My favorite whaling books (the ones on my bookshelves):
  • The Marine Mammals of the Northwestern Coast of North America: Together With an Account of the American Whale-Fishery (California Legacy Book), Charles Melville Scammon, 1874, foreword of current printing, 2007 
  • The Whale: In Search of The Giants of the Sea, Philip Hoare, c. 2010 
  • Eye of the Whale: Lyric Passage from Baja to Siberia, Dick Russell, c. 2004 
At the time the whales were being decimated and Standard Oil was being founded, there was no Greenpeace to save the whales. Had Standard Oil not come along, humans would have killed off the whales, if not all whale species, certainly several of the most impressive species. Forbes once had an article on that story. Google it; easy to find.

More later. I need to get home to start preparing for our older granddaughter's birthday party, later this afternoon.

This Is Not An Investment Site -- Do Not Make Any Investment Or Financial Decisions Based On What You Read Here -- May 30, 2015


June 3, 2015: in the original post below I link a Zacks story with SRE. Here is an update from Seeking Alpha, this date:
  • Sempra Energy says it has signed an MOU with Woodside Petroleum to begin discussions and assessments for the potential development of Sempra LNG's proposed Port Arthur liquefaction project in Port Arthur, Tex.
  • The Port Arthur project would be designed to include two natural gas liquefaction trains with a total export capability of ~10M metric tons/year, or 1.4B cf/day, as well as LNG storage tanks and marine facilities for LNG ship berthing and loading.

Original Post

I haven't even looked at the market (much) or the stories over at CNBC (on-line) most of this week. Time to catch up. Earlier when, still in bed, I was surfing the net on the iPad it seemed there were some interesting stories. I am curious if they are still there and if there are as many stories as I thought there were.

The first thing I noted: no Bakken crude oil derailments were reported in the last 24 hours.

The next thing, "Breaking News" linked at the blog reports an 8.5 magnitude earthquake in Japan; no additional details. When that was being reported on "Breaking News" about 7:30 a.m. CT, it had still not been reported over at Drudge, The Los Angeles Times, or Fox News. Still no update. I assume this story will attract little US attention a) if there is no tsunami; b) if there is no nuclear reactor destroyed; and, c) if the earthquake was not caused by fracking. [Update: deep, and off-shore, never mind; Tokyo shook; all of Japan felt it.]

I see that my credit card company website is down; can't connect. Happens rarely with this particular credit card company. I will have to pay my bill later.

This is most incredible; happens every month like clockwork. Within 24 hours of any particular month coming to an end, the car companies report their sales for that month. By Monday, 8:30 a.m., we will know the car sales for GM, Ford, and all the rest. And yet it will take three months for the US government to report crude oil imports. The government should have an estimate even before the crude oil is delivered; something called customs. Meanwhile, the bureaucrats -- and some of them are very, very clever -- have that data three months before the rest of us. But with the private sector automobile companies, we have their data within 24 hours, about the same time everyone else gets it.

And the story looks really, really good. Reuters is reporting:
Estimated sales of 1.6 million new cars and trucks in May would make for a seasonally-adjusted annual rate of 17.4 million vehicles, according to, a car buying platform.
"This is going to be one of the best months ever," said David Kudla, chief investment strategist of Mainstay Capital Management in Grand Blanc, Michigan. Kudla sees May sales approaching $40 billion, not far from the $40.3 billion record in August 2014.
Weak auto results contributed to flat overall retail sales in April, but May is expected to represent a rebound. Lower gas prices could boost demand for sports utility vehicles and trucks, which have higher price tags and better margins.
There is also pent-up demand for new vehicles as consumers have been holding on to their cars for longer since the financial crisis. The average age of U.S. cars is now between 10 and 11 years.
So, we'll see.

I see a headline (did not read the story) that the Greeks are ready to compromise, could "seal a deal" this week.

So, we'll see.

Okay, now to a couple of fun stories. First, still over at Yahoo!Finance -- what dads want for Father's Day: beef. I find that interesting because I have a "love affair" with Omaha Steaks. I now make more purchases form Omaha Steaks for others (my two daughters and their families) than I do for myself. I've pretty much quit eating Omaha Steaks (for awhile) but still buy for my daughters and granddaughters. Oh, how funny, while typing the above, the linked story was downloading. I had no idea what the story was going to be about, and here it is, at the link:
In a recent survey, 80% of dads say they would like steaks for Father's Day and 57% of them will be grilling on that "special" day. And yet, only 9% are likely to receive the gift of red meat, according to Todd Simon, senior vice president of Omaha Steaks, a family-owned company that his great-great grandfather founded in 1917.

Father's Day is "our Second Christmas," Simon says and the company has launched an ad campaign this year aimed right at the hearts and stomachs of dads everywhere.
Wow, I feel vindicated. I thought I was crazy with regard to my Omaha Steak love affair.

So, we'll see.

Then this story. I'm not interesting in Abercrombie & Fitch but there was a story line in the linked article that caught my interest. I probably spend as much time in Starbucks as anyone else, and have a pretty good feel for the demographics. I am always impressed with how much teenagers in some parts of the country have; I think folks would be surprised how many teenagers I see in Starbucks in this area. I noticed it some time ago, and was going to blog about it, but never got around to it, and never all that interested, I guess. Just an observation. And here, Business Insider is reporting:
Researchers found that today's teens are increasingly spending on technology and food instead of clothing
For the first time in history, teens are spending as much on food as they are on clothing, according to the analysts at Piper Jaffray. This is fueled by trendy coffee drinks at Starbucks, the top food retailer among the demographic.
Many teens are also more concerned with having a new iPhone than a name-brand T-shirt, according to the survey. 
So, let's see. Google starbucks teenagers. Let's see what pops up. First hit, from NBC News, way back in September, 2007:
Kamyra L. Harding never gives her son coffee or soda, and rarely opts for treats such as chocolate cupcakes. But about twice a month, the mom does give in to her 4-year-old son Garrett David Brand’s request for a Chai tea latte from Starbucks.
“People here already know us,” Harding said on a recent visit to a Starbucks on New York's Upper West Side. “They know we want extra milk.”
Garrett has been a regular Starbucks customer since “he could hold a cup,” his mother says. Now when he passes a Starbucks he says, “I want to buy this tea.”
Starbucks, keenly aware of the pitfalls of being seen as trying to lure kids to drink sweet, caffeinated beverages, has for years insisted that it does not market to children — even as stroller traffic jams build outside some stores and teenagers pack others.
Now, however, the company is revising its stance on kids, acknowledging that the under-18 set has become part of the coffee chain’s customer base.
I'm at the Target Starbucks this morning. Heavy rain in the area so I am biking close to home. Four tables; mostly takeout. The only other table occupied right now: one mother with her two daughters. I estimate the older daughter is 13 years old; the younger is 9 years old. The mother went shopping; the girls are having Starbucks breakfast.

Another 17-y/o (or thereabouts) teenager is at the counter, ordering.

And so, it goes. These teenagers: lifelong customers. Same thing we see with regard to Apple and iPhones. Lifelong customers. And they upgrade every two years, passing their older phones down to their 8-y/o siblings.

Second hit, teen are spending all their money at Starbucks, not clothes, Huffington Post:
Remember when you were a teenager and you hung out at the mall all the time? The teenage landscape looks very different these days. Teens are over the mall and they're into restaurants.
A study by Piper Jaffray released on April 8 reveals that teens are now spending more on food than they are on clothing. It's the first time that food has trumped fashion since the study started. Since spending on food occurs less by e-commerce and more in person, most food expenditures necessarily take place at food establishments -- hence the rise of restaurants and the fall of the mall.
In 2014, American teens visited the mall an average of 29 times per year, down from 38 times in 2007. "Quietly, the restaurant has displaced the mall as the socially acceptable place to hangout for teenagers in America."
Now, back to that Business Insider story, the story that was posted in the past 48 hours. It turns out that story was based on a Piper Jaffray study that was posted at the Huffington Post last April, 2014. More than a year ago.

Talk about recycling news.

A lot of stories on oil. Gloom and doom. Or opportunity. Depends.

For me, it's a long, long story, going back to the early (or was it the late?) 1980's when I was first looking at individual stocks to buy. My first purchase ever, that I recall, was Burlington Northern -- I don't know what it was called then, or the ticker symbol -- but I remember vividly watching a BNSF train (if that's what they were then?) go by the restaurant we were in while visiting Fargo, ND. It was a long, long coal train. It was then and there I decided to buy shares in that railroad. I can't say for sure it was my first individual stock that I bought (I had only invested in mutual funds prior to that) but it was certainly among the top five.

I also bought shares in two utilities at the time; one went bankrupt a long, long time ago; the other is still one of my better holdings. Since this is not an investment site, I won't get any more specific. Along the way, I continued to follow utilities -- SRE was one of them -- again, no recommendations one way or the other or whether I have invested in SRE in the past or not but it has always intrigued me, being located in southern California somewhere. I see California as a highly regulated state and a state that might not treat its utilities very well, so it has been interesting to watch how nimble SRE has been responding to the changing energy environment. I often compare it to MDU.

Zacks has a long article on SRE today. Oh, there it is, based in San Diego. I am intrigued with this company because of its natural gas relationship with Mexico.

This post is long enough. Time to press on.

Oh, how funny. A mom with her two daughters (or one daughter and a friend) has just stepped up to the Starbucks counter. The girls are about 14 years old, it appears. The mother will have a coffee of sorts; the girls a trendy drink of sorts. Lifelong customers. (They are here in Grapevine/Euless/Colleyville for a volleyball tournament. They won their first game, and now have a break before their next game.)