Saturday, December 30, 2017


The globe’s 500 richest people, as measured by the Bloomberg billionaires index, have seen the value of the wealth increase by 23% so far this year, taking their combined fortunes to $5.3tn. The increase is largely the result of booming stock markets. The MSCI World Index and the US Standard & Poor’s 500 are both up almost 20% so far this year. The UK’s FTSE 100 is up more than 6% – and hit a new closing high of 7,620.7 points on Wednesday.
Jeff Bezos, the founder of Amazon, is the world’s richest man. His fortune has increased by $34.2bn so far this year to take his “net worth” to $99.6bn. On just one day in October Bezos’s fortune increased by $10.3bn, when Amazon posted profits much higher than analysts had expected and the company’s shares spiked.
Bezos,53, who founded Amazon in his Seattle garage in 1994, owns 16% of the retailer. He also owns all of space exploration company Blue Origin and the Washington Post newspaper, which he bought for $250m in 2013.

 A century ago companies with far less market control were broken up. 

Thursday, December 28, 2017

Initial Jobless Claims


UNADJUSTED DATA The advance number of actual initial claims under state programs, unadjusted, totaled 321,945 in the week ending December 23, an increase of 34,472 (or 12.0 percent) from the previous week. The seasonal factors had expected an increase of 34,036 (or 11.8 percent) from the previous week. There were 343,213 initial claims in the comparable week in 2016. The advance unadjusted insured unemployment rate was 1.4 percent during the week ending December 16, unchanged from the prior week. The advance unadjusted number for persons claiming UI benefits in state programs totaled 1,978,197, an increase of 13,146 (or 0.7 percent) from the preceding week. The seasonal factors had expected an increase of 5,808 (or 0.3 percent) from the previous week. A year earlier the rate was 1.5 percent and the volume was 2,117,870.

Nothing much to report as it has been for a year.   Seeing as it is the last report before the hugely unreliable seasonal adjustment season I thought is best to establish a baseline.

Wednesday, December 27, 2017

Holiday Sales; Blowout or Blowoff?

From the always reliable USA Today:

Despite thousands of store closings this year, Americans supplied a final flurry of spending to give retailers their best holiday season sales since 2011, figures released Tuesday show.
U.S. year-end holiday retail sales rose 4.9% compared to the same period last year, a welcome gift to U.S. retailers amid new signs of consumer confidence.
File photo shows last-minute Christmas shoppers at The Grove, a retail shopping complex in Los Angeles on Sunday, Dec. 24, 2017.
Richard Vogel, AP
Online retail shopping similarly increased 18.1%, while overall consumer buying during the holiday period set a record for dollars spent, according to the sales report issued by Mastercard SpendingPulse.
"Overall, this year was a big win for retail," Sarah Quinlan, senior vice president of Market Insights, Mastercard, said in a statement issued with the report. "The strong U.S. economy was a contributing factor, but we also have to recognize that retailers who tried new strategies to engage holiday shoppers were the beneficiaries of this sales increase."
Although the report showed the 2017 holiday shopping season from Nov. 1 to Dec. 24 was a winner for all retailers, the results differed by category. Retailers that succeeded tapped into:
  • Home goods. There was no place like home for the holidays for many shoppers, who sent sales of electronics and appliances up 7.5%, the strongest growth of the last 10 year. Sales of home furniture and furnishings separately grew 5.1%.
  • Heavy early-season promotions. They worked, with the first three weeks of November delivering significant sales increases.
  • Last-minute shopping. The spending spree lasted late into the holiday season, making last Saturday second only to the post-Thanksgiving Black Friday in terms of single-day spending. Jewelry sales rose 5.9%, largely driven by last-minute sales.
The findings were based on aggregate sales activity in the Mastercard payments network, along with survey based-estimates for other forms of payment, including cash and checks, Mastercard said. The data exclude auto sales.

 As sm-refugee asked in the previous comments.  Are the sales figures fake news or the just released consumer confidence numbers a big lie? 
The headline index fell to 122.1, making for a much steeper drop than economists had forecast. They were expecting a fall to 128.0 from November's 128.6, according to Bloomberg.
Consumers were more positive about present conditions but were mixed on the state of the labor market.
The percentage of those who said business conditions were "good" increased to 35.2% from 35%, while those saying business conditions were "bad" slipped to 12.1% from 12.3%.
People claiming jobs were "plentiful" fell to 35.7% from 37.5%, while those claiming jobs were "hard to get" hit a 16-year low of 15.2%, down from 16.8%.
"Consumer confidence retreated in December after reaching a 17-year high in November," said Lynn Franco, the director of economic indicators at The Conference Board. "The decline in confidence was fueled by a somewhat less optimistic outlook for business and job prospects in the coming months. Consumers' assessment of current conditions, however, improved moderately.
 My take is a little of both and a helping of tax uncertainty. 
• Sales; I think it likely the surveys are capturing more than ever with big data.  I also think people are spending bigger when it means smarter.  In the great Recession you didn't buy 6 months of toilet paper ar Costco even if it was by far the best deal.  
• Confidence; Last month was a big number.  a drop is expected.  It dropped a bit more than that but nothing near a trend break. 
• Taxes; No doubt many of the surveys were in the middle of the tax debate.  Uncertainty yields caution. 

What does everyone else think? 

Monday, December 25, 2017

Christmas Day 2017

The beach near sm_refugee


The stockings being attacked with glee

Sunday, December 24, 2017

Alfred Ray Burrell Etching

Apologies for the slash lines but I've been unable to find anything about this image and none exists AFAICT on the internet.  If I'm going to donate it, it I want to protect the interests of the recipient. 

The cabin in the meadow suggests a very early etching. 

Friday, December 22, 2017

National Park Service, Another Swamp

Protest the massive fee increases:


Here is what I wrote:

Comments: "The National Park Service preserves unimpaired the natural and cultural resources and values of the National Park System for the enjoyment, education, and inspiration of this and future generations." Either the NPS rewrites its mission statement or the NPS reconsiders the usurious entrance fee increase proposals as the fee schedules being proposed are antithetical to the reasons the NPS exists.
Comment ID: 1343126-83652/103756

Thursday, December 21, 2017

The Olde Ways Are Best

Wishing everyone a solemn Alban Arthan as we honor the souls of the trees we sacrifice then deify in our living rooms. Hang the revered kerm-oak, drink the blessed wassail. "Yule" feel so much better. The Norse had the right idea taking 12 days for Jole. 

Oh and for all you recent religion adoptees a translation: Christmas, Christmas Trees, holly, sacramental wine and the 12 days of Christmas

Changing the name makes little difference.

Edit to add Finnish Santa goat tradition:

Monday, December 18, 2017

Slumdog Market Caution

Seems the Dow Jones is set to open 170+ points up this morning.  Supposedly over the impending tax changes.  If it sticks, 2017 will have the most new highs in history. Time to take some profits?

Thursday, December 07, 2017

National Monuments Are Not Parks

Kaiparowits Plateau Trump released from National Monument protection.
The Plateau in larger perspective.

I don't like a lot of Donald Trump.  I cannot shake the image of him as the Rodney Dangerfield character in "Caddyshack."  For the stuff I do like, most appears to be him doing the right things for the wrong reasons.  This is an exception.  Escalante Staircase is a true national treasure.  It deserves protection.  I have no doubt that if it weren't protected Federally it would be covered by State designation.  And there's the word; designation.  Not a "Park."  Not a "Wilderness Area."  Not "conservation" not "recreation area."  Not "Forest."  "Monument" was intended to be a stopgap designation to prevent looting or exploitation of sensitive areas.  Look at the pictures above.  Bill Clinton and in the case of Bears Ears Obama both overstepped.  Stepping back from overreach is not Trump being anti-environment or even anti-conservation. 

Wednesday, December 06, 2017

Thomas Fire Behind Santa Paula


The biggest winds are expected tonight.
The Cross.  Grants Park, Ventura.

Sunday, December 03, 2017

The Canary is Tweeting

1765 Twin Lakes Rd, Wrightwood, CA 92397

Cute and cozy home surrounded by large trees and beautiful log cabins. Excellent opportunity to use as an investment as well. Currently home is used on AirBNB and listed for $120 to $130 a night, when rented. Very cozy home and don't let the square footage fool you. Home features one bedroom and one bath with a Loft. 

432 sqft

$428 per sqft

Why are we even talking about this?

Friday, December 01, 2017

Peak Trophy Property?

We considered buying this property in 95-96 and building. Look what happened to it since.What kind of insanity took hold that someone paid $799k in'04?

82 Lopaco Court 93010

Wednesday, November 29, 2017

Climate Modellers, Turn Around!

It may not be a fair observation but sometimes truths reveal in unexpected ways.  Here is a picture from the recent
climate modelling "hackathon."  [Story at  Expanding the discipline of climate informatics]

The problem as I see it is that they aren't looking out the window.  The problem with all climate models IMHO. 

Oroville Spillway Fiasco As Predicted


The $500 million and counting Spillway repair has hairline cracks before even entirely set.  The contractor says that's normal for high strength reinforced concrete.  No, it is not.  It's normal for driveways and patios.  Cracks of any type are unacceptable as they allow water to get to the steel.  They also suggest a suseptability to spalling. 

Full story at The ChicoER.

Sunday, November 26, 2017

Best/Worst Places to Retire?

Wallet Hub has compiled a list of the best and worst places to retire.  I don't understand their methodology and "gut reaction" says they have it entirely wrong.  See if you can make sense of these rankings:

From what I can tell... scratch that.  It doesn't make sense.  To me. 

Wallet Hub Best/Worst Places to Retire 2017

Friday, November 24, 2017

Greeting from Dark Green 'Merika

From the folks at and their always interesting dives into the ACS, American Community Survey.

Sunday, November 19, 2017

New Pict Carving Discovered

From Smithsonian:
Construction on a road link in Perth, Scotland, came to an abrupt halt recently after workers hit upon an unusual archaeological find: a Pictish stone engraved with a large-nosed, weapon-wielding warrior.
As Alison Campsie reports for The Scotsman, archaeologists who were called in to examine the relic believe that it is around 1,500 years old. The carving shows a figure who appears to be clad in a cloak and shoes. He clutches a spear in one hand and what appears to be a club or a staff in the other. The spear is consistent with weapons used during the mid-first millennium A.D., according to Campsie.


 Fascinating what people leave behind.  In the future blog posts will be as mysterious. 

Thursday, November 16, 2017

From Little Acorns...

Image result for dead crops...Great oak trees grow.  Back in 2015 a single study commissioned by WHO kinda sorta maybe almost found glyphosate the active ingredient in RoundUp® might cause cancer.  
Since then all the well known actors have weighed in.  The government of [California] added glyphosate, the main ingredient in Monsanto’s herbicide Roundup, to its list of cancer-causing chemicals in July and will require that products containing glyphosate carry warnings by July 2018.

California acted after the World Health Organization’s International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) concluded in 2015 that glyphosate was “probably carcinogenic”.
For more than 40 years, farmers have applied glyphosate to crops, most recently as they have cultivated genetically modified corn and soybeans.

Wednesday, November 15, 2017


A few minutes ago while languishing in the garden shed of spousal exile I heard a rustling above the bird feeder just outside the door.  This fellow was just chilling.  I just turned and snapped this pic.  

Tuesday, November 14, 2017

Launch Photo

Update:  Nov 15th launch scrubbed.  Gave me a chance to improve my time exposure picture techniques.  

The launch was scrubbed due to a "red range" and late alarm.  They will try again tomorrow.
JPSS-1 will be renamed NOAA-20 and handed over After it is settled in polar orbit.

The faint vertical trail lower center left is where I expect the launch. 

Sunday, November 12, 2017


JPSS-1 is scheduled to launch on Tue., Nov. 14 at 1:47 a.m. PST (4:47 a.m. EST) from Vandenberg Air Force Base, California.
An image illustration of the JPSS-1 SatelliteThe Joint Polar Satellite System-1 (JPSS-1) satellite, the first in a new series of four highly advanced National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) polar-orbiting satellites, now is scheduled to launch on Tuesday, Nov. 14, from Vandenberg Air Force Base, California.
Liftoff aboard a United Launch Alliance Delta II rocket from Space Launch Complex 2 is targeted for 1:47 a.m. PST (4:47 a.m. EST). 
JPSS represents a significant technological and scientific advancements in observations used for severe weather prediction and environmental monitoring. The JPSS system will help increase weather forecast accuracy from three to seven days.


For once we get a good launch view.  

Friday, November 10, 2017

Pick Your Favorite Feature

Sometimes a property has everything.  Not this time.  What is the worst characteristic?
4600sf lot?
Built 1932?
Microscopic rooms?
Proximity to a busy road?
Some kind of pipe running through the yard?
The yard?
R-2 windows?
The price?

1440 Betty 92397

Thursday, November 09, 2017

Timeshares? Really?

Ballater, Scotland.  The white windows were our rooms. 
In 2014, consumers bought almost $8 billion worth of timeshare properties in the U.S., with an average sales price of $20,020 and average annual maintenance fees of $880. Though the median age of timeshare owners is 51, the concept resonates loudly with younger people. Among owners who have bought in recent years, the median age is 39. And half of them have children younger than 18 living at home.


“You’d be foolish to buy a timeshare for investment purposes,” says Randy Conrads, co-founder of RedWeek, a website that lists timeshares for sale or rent. “It’s a lifestyle investment, not a financial one. You’re buying a vacation property that you thought you’d use.”


But consumers who are disappointed that their timeshare has little or no value after lengthy ownership are missing the point. Think of it this way: You enjoyed that once-in-a-lifetime meal at a four-star restaurant. When it’s over, it’s over, and you don’t expect to get your money back.

 So.  To "come clean."  We own Hilton Grand Vacations timeshares.  Yes, more than one.  Finished laughing?  Good.  We bought them for several reasons.  Not to be poo pooed but to -force- Mr&Mrs Dawg to take vacations.  Far too easy to say "next year" and then the next.  Family obligations aren't supposed to count as vacations either.  Second we got very good deals.  Timeshares are like new cars where once you buy them they lose half the value driving them off the lot.  Not our buys.  Finally, seeing we could be sucked into this type of money pit we bought HGV stock.  Check the HGV stock track record. 

 There is a problem.  The third (three way ties for 1st, 2nd, 3rd) nicest place I've ever stayed is the Trump in Las Vegas.  This was before the recent political... ummm...  frictions.  Mrs Dawg declines to ever accept an "upgrade" to stay there ever again.  

Monday, November 06, 2017

Dammit Jim!

When i helped design the first stereo ultrasound the "head" was bigger than the entire mechanism is today. 

Here is the latest from MedTech which you all subscribe:

Butterfly Network’s ultrasound-on-a-chip technology snagged the FDA nod for 13 applications, the broadest clearance to date for an ultrasound transducer. The pocket-size transducer, which plugs into an iPhone, would expand the availability of diagnostic ultrasound imaging.
Traditional cart-based ultrasound machines comprise at least three transducers and are bulky, so they can be hard to get hold of or maneuver in the emergency room. They also use ceramic crystal materials called piezoelectrics to generate and receive sound, the National Institute of Biomedical Imaging and Bioengineering says.
Butterfly Network’s iQ device uses its ultrasound-on-a-chip technology, which integrates the capabilities of the three typical ultrasound probes into a single 2D matrix array comprised of thousands of microelectromechanical systems, the company said. This array is overlaid on an integrated circuit with electronics like those found in high-performance ultrasound systems.

Look familiar? 

How to Get to Heaven

The Catholic path to salvation is not particularly more virtuous than others but when it arrives via a Redheaded Irishman...


Before I came up here tonight to talk to all you great supporters of the Sister Servants of Mary I was in the back and having my picture taken with the sisters.  Now we all know "you cannot take it with you."  Still, if there is one thing I "can take with me" it would be that picture.   Why?  Because when I get up to the gates I plan on holding up that picture and saying; "I'M WITH THEM!"

Twenty Seven Hundred Dollars?

Central Camarillo Rental - Single story home with 4 bedrooms, 2 baths, fireplace in the living room, and an attached two car garage. Home features updated kitchen and bathrooms, tile flooring throughout, dual pane windows and laundry hook ups located in the garage. The private backyard has no rear neighbors. Gardner included in the rent. Walking distance to shopping, restaurants, and parks. Easy access to 101 freeway.-----

"The private backyard has no rear neighbors" means it backs up on a busy street.  $2700/mo. 
Palmer Ave, Camarillo

Thursday, November 02, 2017

More on Full Employment

You have to love the Fred graphing functions.  This is the latest of one I built in 2014.  I shows what happened to the working age population overlaid the civilian employment total. 

Tuesday, October 31, 2017

But... but... -Earthquakes!-

This is the time of year when it is still safe and not particularly cruel to give back a little of the "why do you live there?" dished out to California the rest of the year.  Don't worry.  There are no less than 5 anti California rants in the hopper. 

Repost: Collective Iceboxes

Wednesday, July 21, 2004

Collective Iceboxes

My grandfather was "The Ice Man." He was the guy that sawed frozen blocks from the lake in winter and stored them in the icehouse for summer delivery. In his honor I present the following:

Refrigerators are the most energy consumptive home appliances. They throw out of gobs of heat particularly at the times of highest demand contributing to heat islands where there are too many refrigerators in close proximity. It's time to stop this wasteful practice of PORs. It is time to promote public refrigerators. Large community freezers capable of handling hundreds even thousands of households' daily cooling needs thus taking an equal number of wasteful PORs off the "grid." Additionally, because the poor tend to own the oldest, least efficient PORs, the community benefits by also subsidizing their participation. Sure the inconvenience will meet with resistance so we'll have to make the switch by introducing a few minor public policy inducements. We'll allow dwelling units to be built with kitchens too small for an adequate fridge. We'll use public money to build the collective coolers so that people will be freed from the burden of high purchase prices for owning one's own "reefer." We may even need to subsidize operations in order to meet participation goals.

Okay, by now everyone is probably thinking, "this is insane" and you'd be right but reread the above paragraph and tell me how it differs from how we approach transit in the US. Every comment above is straight out of every transit advocacy talking points manual I've ever heard.


Grandpa's competitors just a bit down Rt 9. 
Nothing has changed.   And transit concepts remain stuck in the 1800s as well.