Thursday, May 17, 2012

Back from vacation - gasohol

So. After 2 and one half years.... let's try this again.

Here's the simple part, that you may already well know:
-Gasoline that is 10% ethanol will decrease your gas mileage by 3-4% (EPA study)
-Purchasing higher octane gas will have zero effect your gas mileage (this information seems to be so common knowledge that the source isn't cited)

I think I'm behind the curve in learning these two items. And here's the 3rd part you may or may not know:
-Not all states require gas to be labeled as E10  (and E15 has been approved by the EPA..for use in passenger vehicles from 2001 or newer).

Here's the list:
My fine state does not require the content of my gasoline to be labeled.

Ethanol has historically been cheaper to produce than gasoline, mostly because corn is cheaper than crude oil.

The result then, is that E10 should provide the consumer with more consistent gas prices (or some company with more money), though we won't get quite as mileage out of that tank. As a bonus, ethanol does burn cleaner so E10 will help fight global warmings (and yes, it burns more than 10% cleaner... thank you for asking).

However, the lesson that I've learned is that I've been ripped off every time I've put in 91 E10 because it was the same price as 89... I won't be doing that again.

-Not much of a blogging I know... but hey, I'm rusty.

Friday, November 06, 2009

Binge smokers

So I was chatting with Greg. He mentioned how many people in Europe smoke, I asked if when they smoked, if they smoked as many as Americans... or if he thought there was more moderation to their habit. He did not know. Nor did I. But thanks to the the interwebs (1,2,) and me putting a little time on Excel, now we do*.

I guess the answer to our question is: It depends on the European country.

* ...or at least we have a decent idea. The numbers used were cigarettes smoked per capita and what percentage of the population smoked. I just divided the per capita number by the percent of daily smokers. The error is only by smokers who smoke less than daily, and I think it's a safe bet that they are a small % of the population, and an even smaller percent of the cigarettes being smoked. This also assumes the distributions of per capita cigs by smokers have similar shapes in all countries.
** also, I'm not sure if South Korea is right I may have mixed the S. Korea% with the N Korea per capita number. In other words, this is not a peer reviewed study ha ha

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Some time ago I signed up for Netflix. My sexy lady-friend was initally happy. Her acceptance of my decision declined with each movie I added to our queue. Apparently Tron, Highlander, and every Kung fu movie ever are not on the top of her "to watch" list. This week however, she's in England on business, and as with any fusion reaction (joining two smaller thing into something larger) ... a little break every now and then prevents explosion, and increases the reaction's yield. In anticipation of this, I rearranged the queue and put Balls of Fury at the top.

I have to say, after much anticipation, I'm not overly impressed. I'd like to say this is the first Christopher Walken movie I've ever seen and not loved, but alas, I've seen Batman Returns. It follows the plot of bloodsport (minus martial arts, plus ping pong), but it doesn't develop the characters like the Bloodsports did.... truly disappointing (and yes, I realize that the characters weren't well developed in bloodsport... but they were sufficiently developed for you to root on JCVD as the great anglo-ninja master). So, the girl-friend picked a good one to miss, but Zardoz (next on the queue) promises to make up for her clairvoyance.

That's all for now.

Monday, August 31, 2009

Home owners insurance

A tree fell on my house in May. While Allstate has been great, that's not what this post is about. I found out my mortgage payment increased 20%, largely due to a change in my insurance policy. That's not what this post is about, but what I was looking into when I learned something. It is going to save me money, and probably could save you also.

We've all heard about insurance companies raising rates after a claim. You can imagine they want to recoup their losses. Although I don't think this is original, Allstate has done this with some ingenuity. You see they told me up front I'd be receiving a "20% discount" off my rate for being "claim-free." Now that I've had a claim I lose the "discount" having the perception that I've been returned to the "normal" rate. " [Mind you "losing a 20% discount" means an increase of 25%.... If my insurance is $1,000, a 20% discount is $200.. making my claim free insurance $800... but when I lose that twenty percent discount I gain $200 on a current $800 payment. 200 is one quarter of 800, or a 25% increase. Funny how that works, isn't it?]. I have to be claim free for 5 years to regain my "discount."

I also learned today that my homeowner's insurance will be significantly less, if I opt for a higher deductible. I currently have a $1,000 dollar deductible. My annual payments decrease by about 25% if I opt for a $2,500 deductible, and about 40% if I opt for a $5,000 deductible. In a nutshell, the higher deductible is probably going to save me more money. The insurance company charges you for not being able to provide liquid capital.

Having no claims is always cheaper than having claims. You won't have to pay deductibles or "lose discounts." In this case, the choice is easy, you pick the highest deductible available to you. But, what if you have a claim? In most cases, the larger deductible is cheaper. In fact, the higher your homeowner's insurance, the better chance you'll save with a larger deductible. I purchased a very modest home. At my rates, even with a major claim every decade, it is cheaper for me to have a larger deductible. Do the math, you could probably save yourself a few hundred dollars annually (or you already have, good for you).

One more thing. The loss of the discount should come into play when deciding whether or not you should file a claim. Consider these options
Door 1: 1K normal, 1K deductible
Door2: 800 normal, 2,500 deductible
Door3: 600 normal, 5,000 deductible

Although your deductible for Door 1 is 1K. you should not claim anything under 2,000... you'll pay the 1k deductible and you'll lose your discount of 20%... ie your rates will go up 200 for five years... a total of $2,000. Do the same with Doors 2 and 3:

Door 1: shouldn't file claim unless it is 200% of deductible
Door 2: shouldn't file claim unless it is 132% of deductible
Door 3: shouldn't file claim unless it is 112% of deductible

As you provide more liquid capital (shift more risk to yourself)... your insurance policy becomes both cheaper and more usable. If you don't have the liquid capital, you'd be crazy to take the risk... but if you have $5,000 in stock sitting somewhere.. .you should call your insurance agent and get quotes on higher deductibles.

In other news. Claire De Lune is incredible... it's written in Db and in 9/8 time. Technicality aside, it's simple, yet stunning in sound. I've liked it for a long time, but just started poking around at learning it yesterday, and I'm absolutely floored. Here's a link to it with some teen throb pictures (or the deleted scene from Fantasia.

Friday, July 24, 2009

A reason to go to Wal-Mart

Wal-Mart is requiring their suppliers to calculate their carbon footprint. The information will be added to a label.

I'm super excited about this. Because I had a similar idea a while back, and because I'm really curious to see how much product greenery is worth to the average consumer. Will Ronaldo the Riveter be willing to pay more for a product that is greener? Will Soccer Mom Jane read the label? And who will be willing to tell their children they have to buy Nutty Honey Toasty-Os because the much better advertised Honey-Nut Cheerios isn't quite as friendly to the squirrels?

We probably won't see any change to the labels for a couple of years (experts say it could be as soon as 2011), but I'm teeming with anticipation.

This is what it's all about. Give information to the masses, don't force them to change with federal mandate. And, if we choose to ignore that information and the doctor's of future generations can keep us alive as penance for our failure to act. (there's a Dilbert comic I ripped off here, but I'm tired of looking for it... so just trust me that it's funny).

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

The masse consenting

I received a forward today containing this cartoon. The line, "Imagine yourself in a land where your countrymen followed the voice of political extremists who didn't like your religion." struck me poignantly. I wrote in my journal:

It was not until just now that I had drawn the connection between many Americans today and many Germans in the 30s. It's true that Amedinejad is crazy, and is potentially a threat... but it wasn't until this email that I realized the error so many Americans make (of grouping all/most Muslims as extremists like Amedinejad) is an equally grave threat to world progress. Before today I'd been frustrated by the spoutings of poorly informed Americans who think all Muslims are a threat. Now, I see that mentality as threatening, not just annoyingly mis-informed.
Imagine yourself in Iran where your countrymen follow the voice of politicians who don't like Christianity.
Imagine yourself in the USA where your countrymen follow the voice of politicians who don't like Islam.
Imagine yourself in Germany where your countrymen follow the voice of politicians who don't like Judaism.
We're all familiar with the last. I think it'd be tough to argue the first two don't exist now. Sure, there's a big step between where we are now, and genocide... but I'm made nervous by the fact that many of our countrymen and politicians are still facing that direction.

Friday, May 01, 2009


I feel resigned to the idea that I'm going to be a once a month blogger. It's kind of sad, but being in an office 40 hours a week dropped blogging from the priority list. Today I don't have anything in particular that I want to blog about, I'm simply blogging because I haven't yet given up on the idea of my blog. Here are some tidbits from the last month.
-Master Cleanse was cool... I stopped at the end of 5 days. Days 3-5 all felt the same, I felt like it had run its course. I was also ready to get back on the bike and I still have apprehensions about doing a 300 mile week on a liquid diet. Perhaps I'll try the "way more than moderate" exercise and fasting some other time.
-The lady and I put together our desired travel plans for the rest of the year. They include: San Fransisco, Saint Louis, Chicago, New Mexico, and a week in either Ireland or Italy. People keep saying, "only a week?" I think to myself, well I only have 5 days vacation this year... and when was the last time you went to Europe?
-I've started going back through my Calculus text book. I've decided to actually learn it this time, making the progress slow and arduous, but giving me a sense of accomplishment. I've also been reminded of Euler's formula, and how sweet it is.
-I bought a couple of bikes. An early 90s Huff Savannah Tandem was the first. Mine is rustier than the one pictured, but it's still rolling hilarity. I also bought a 2008 Kestrel Talon last weekend. I've only had it out once for intervals, but it really cooks, I think I'm going to like it a lot.

-I bought a kit and started my first batch of homebrew, I need to transfer it from one receptacle to another tonight (I'm not cool enough to know all the brewing terms yet... I think I'm transferring it from the fermenter to the carboy).

-Work is working.

-I got on LinkedIn thinking the bandwagon had passed and discovered I'm mistaken. It's just getting started. I'd call it a valuable tool for anyone: looking for a job, looking for an employee, or looking for the communication of ideas and concepts between industries. If you're on there, and feel it beneficial, add me.

-Wine is good

-I discovered the song Country Boy by Albert Lee (I'm in my office at lunch so I can't link to youtube... damn you Surf Patrol!). He was on the Crossroads DVD, and I think he's pretty awesome.

-Experiences close to me have further convinced me euthansia should be legal. Nursing homes can be good, or they can just be a place to die. If you are just waiting to die, especially if you are in pain, there's no reason you should have to pay $5,000/month to wait (avg cost for a shared room, 2004 MetLife Market Survey). Simply put, it's childish for us to make someone live months in pain when they don't want to. We are keeping them alive, but they are not living, they are just dying slowly, waiting for it come, wishing it would come sooner.

That's my blogging for the month. Late.