Monday, June 30, 2008

"I don't need all that extra gas mileage"

Justin here. When I was in high school I had a 1977 International Harvester Scout II, it was the ultimate guys truck: removable top, loud speakers, big wheels, three horns . . . the works. As anyone who wanted to could, I'm able to track my life stages in cars (and miles per gallon). It goes something like this:
  • Impending College Travel - Sell Scout (~12mpg) and buy 1999 Chevy Tahoe (~15mpg)
  • Married My Lovely Wife - Inherit and drive her 1992 Honda Accord (~24mpg)
  • My Wife Starts Commuting 100 miles per day - Sell '92 Accord (~24mpg) for '00 model (~23mpg)
  • Baby On The Way - Sell 2 door Tahoe (~15mpg) for 4 door Toyota 4Runner (~19mpg)
  • My Quarter-Life Crisis - Sell Honda Accord (~23mpg) and buy 1991 Toyota Landcruiser (~14mpg)
So my rationale on that last one went something like this: "Due to our low key social lives and my 1.2 mile commute to work, I only drive 4,000 miles/year in this Accord. I change my oil once a year for goodness sakes! It would only cost me $20/dollars per month to drive a car that I love. I really don't need all that extra gas mileage." That last sentence was an actual quote. Al Gore would be ashamed.

I read this article in the NYTimes about 'gas tourism' in Mexico. Folks travel to the border, wait in line, go to the nearest gas station, wait in line, go back to the border, wait in line, and go home. One guy does that trip all day long to fill up a fleet of trucks. One guy even visited an orthodontist and got cheaper braces while south of the border. One guy has been mugged at gunpoint, yet still goes back!

I don't really have that option where I live, so I'm walking home for lunch, taking the more fuel efficient car when able, even borrowing my Mom's volvo station wagon (with embarrassingly feminine 'pet named' vanity license plate) for long trips.

Come to think of it, I might rather be held up at gun point than have one more trucker ask me at the gas pump how her vanity plate acquired the name 'Bunn1e.'

Sunday, June 29, 2008

The prediction markets


Summarized from Jeff Matthews, who is not making this up -


"On Monday, everyone will be watching our fundraising totals to see if we can compete with the McCain campaign. This month is the first test of our grassroots fundraising strategy since we declared our independence from the broken campaign finance system....Make a donation of $30 or more by midnight on Monday, June 30th, and show off your support with an Obama logo T-shirt...Obama Raises $22 Million in May, His Weakest Month This Year Associated Press June 20, 2008 10:23 p.m.


"WASHINGTON -- Democrat Barack Obama raised $22 million in May for his presidential campaign, his weakest fund-raising month this year, and ended the month with $43 million cash on hand, the campaign reported Friday. In Wall Street's parlance, the Obama campaign "missed the number" in the month of May. Sure, $22 million in one month is a lot of money, even in Presidential politics. But the Obama campaign's earnings 'momentum' slowed sharply in May: that $22 million was down 29% sequentially from the $31 million raised in April. Well, Intrade has buyers willing to pay 65.3 for the right to earn 100 if Obama wins the election. Not to mention the Swift-Boaters that have turned their sites from Hillary to Obama: Michael Bloomberg actually had to publicly deny that Obama is secretly a Muslim. There's one more reason we'd bet Obama won't stay at 65.3 for very long: he's the front-runner now, and America likes front-runners to earn their place. So, while we never recommend stocks in these pages, if Obama was a stock, we'd short him right here.

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Everyday heroes


Gate City Rotary is taking fund raising to the next, next level. They’ve gone and gotten a bunch of sponsors, rented out the ballpark, hired Sleeping Booty Band, sold raffle tickets, put poster ads in every restaurant, and done a few radio interviews.

JSCO is a sponsor, but yours truly hasn't sold any tickets yet, per se, but I have the best of intentions. I had thought about blogging our poster with a handful of pics of the raffle prize, a fully restored 1976 Triumph TR6, which I would love to drive up and down Sunset Hills, to and from work, and everywhere else. The other night, I even said to Anne “hey, what about hitching up Georgia and River and putting some ice and beer in the Radio Flyer wagon and going door-to-door, down Ridgeway Drive and Madison Avenue, and sell this great party and the charities it will fund?” We could set up the boom box on top. I could almost hear the Isley Brothers singing Caravan of Love. Well, one excuse is as good as another, so they say, so let’s just say the road to you know where is paved with good intentions.

So it was a surprise joy to learn today that my friend and neighbor Beth Sheffield has already surpassed Gate City Rotary in promoting the event in Sunset Hills, and beyond. Beth found out about the fundraiser, not from me, but because she already knew Father Marc and supports his orphanage. I know it's just a matter of holding the winning ticket when that number gets called, but it sure would be awesome if Beth and her husband Gardner won the TR6. (Gardener, you may recall, joined a group of Gate City Rotarians last December to help kids in the Glenwood Tutoring Program make and hoist Lighted Christmas Balls down at Grace Community Church.) I can’t think of a better couple to win the Triumph. Who knows, they might even offer guided tours in the TR6, top down, heater on, Sleeping Booty on the boom box, Lighted Christmas Balls glowing...