« May 2008 | Main | July 2008 »

June 26, 2008

Get Smart kicks Love Guru ass (rated 4 stars)

by Peter Segal

and rightfully so. Very funny. Not a slapstick rolling funny as the show, but plenty whitty. And a bit smarter I think. Go see this summer fun movie. 4 of 5 stars.

Posted by Martin at 7:52 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

June 25, 2008

Mark Andersen presents a solution to our energy crisis

basically everything needs to convert to electric, cars, locomotives, boats, etc. Fast track nuclear to replace coal today. Run nuclear for 20 years while we scale up wind and solar. After 20 years, shut down nuclear, the transportation fleet is transitioned to electric and Boom, America is energy independent. Nice idea, but change doesn't happen like that unfortunately. It is going to be much more bloody. Too many people standing in the way.

Posted by Martin at 8:57 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Tobias Foundation Sumba biodiesel project report

Just finished a post about the project over on the Foundation web page. All the dirty details.

Posted by Martin at 10:12 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Lots of pictures, few words (rated 5 stars)

by Daniel H. Pink

I am a minimalist at heart. My house is minimal, all my art is modern, etc. Most books are too thick and have too many words. While I have never been a fan of graphic novels or cartoons generally, a friend suggested this book so I one-click’ed it off Amazon. Got yesterday and read it in about an hour. Entertaining. The “career” advice is pretty standard fare stuff for an old wizened CEO like myself, but will probably be manna from heaven for the 20 something lost generation it is targeted to.

Let me save you the hour if you are that pressed for time.

1. There is no plan
2. Think strengths, not weaknesses.
3. It’s not about you.
4. Persistence trumps talent.
5. Make excellent mistakes.
6. Leave an imprint.

got it?

Posted by Martin at 7:54 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

June 24, 2008

Nigeria Oil output lowest in 25 years

Thanks CNN. that is about 900,000 -1.2M bpd out of the market. In a world where tens of thousands of barrels a day change prices double digits, that is alot. The rebels are winning and there is no sign they will back off. I wonder what would happen if restless minorities in other oil producing states turn on their radio and learn that the Rebels in Nigeria are winning?

Posted by Martin at 9:56 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

How long do we have left?

How high can oil go before it drags down the world wide economy? Hummm higher than it is now I guess. Up until 2005, the percentage of world wide GDP taken up by Oil was actually on a steady decline toward below 1% as productivity grew, industries converted to electric, etc. Then the price spike happened, China and India decided to industrialize on the back of oil, and we are now at over 7% of world wide GDP spent on oil. If you include all economic activity around oil (exploration, distribution, etc.) more than 1 out of every 10 dollars in the WORLD are spent on something related to oil. Hummm. What gets cut? When does the weight of this expense make other businesses totally uneconomic. Like pizza delivery, collecting the garbage, flying, etc.?

Kenneth S. Deffeyes says:

How big is the problem? Multiplying production (barrels per year) times the oil price (dollars per barrel) gives a total cost in dollars per year. It's an enormous number; tens of trillions of dollars per year. To put a scale on it, the three thin curves on the graph show the oil cost in contrast to the total world domestic product; the annual value the goods and services added up for all the world's countries. The three curves show the oil cost at one percent, two and a half percent, and five percent of the total world economic output. At $130 this morning, we are at six and a half percent.

Oil production obviously cannot consume 100 percent of the world's income. My intuitive, uninformed guess is that it cannot go above 15 percent. If we see oil at $300 per barrel, we will be looking out over the smoldering ruins of the world's economy. Source

Posted by Martin at 8:53 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

What is this?

Plas2Fuel's first beta unit that converts all plastics back into crude oil. Very cool. I am still unsure of the energy balance and the supply of plastics, but the process seems to work.

Posted by Martin at 10:03 AM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

June 23, 2008

thanks Robert, importing Thunderbird to Outlook 2007 under Vista

for the easiest guide to converting thunderbird to Outlook mail. Back on Outlook. Thunderbird doesn't make the change back easy. The only change I have to the process is that under Vista no more Outlook Express. You have to use Windows Live Mail. In Windows Live Mail, drag and drop all the .EML files converted from thunderbird then do "Export to Exchange". Then open Outlook and open the .pst that is created, copy messages in. Pretty stupid that you have to pull the mail through windows live mail to get to outlook, but that is MS fo you.

Posted by Martin at 8:48 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

thinking about sheds again

thinking about small sheds for storage of toys at my surf camp.
Looking at KitHaus (too expensive pre sq ft), modern-shed (good prices, a little small) and moderncabana (less modern, slightly more expensive). I will probably go over to the modern-shed offices here in seattle and see if they can do something slightly larger for me.

Posted by Martin at 6:28 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

changes at Go Fish

Mr. Downing is out with $120K consulting gig and Mr. Freeman is in with $37,500/month salary going up to $50,000/month after financing of $8m or more. Oh and a $12,500/mo retroactive bonus after one year. good gig.
I hope he can pump up the company. It HAS to be worth more than $10M that it is now.

Posted by Martin at 1:10 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

June 20, 2008

Come to Propel open house

Station Open HouseFriday, June 27 11:30 3:00 pmTo celebrate the opening of our South Lake Union location, Propel invites you to lunch and a tour of the site on Friday, June 27. Stop by between 11:30 and 3:00 to meet the Propel team, learn about our fuels, and see Seattles most sustainable station. Join Propel in welcoming better energy choices to South Lake Union.
South Lake Union Open House (map)June 27, 11:30 - 3PMWestlake & Valley in South Lake UnionFare provided by Skillet

Posted by Martin at 12:47 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

more bad news for ethanol producers

Floods, $13 nat gas, continued control of Ethanol channel by Big Oil Companies means US ethanol producers are screwed. I expect oil companies to make offers to buy Verasun or Aventine before the end of the year. They have achieved their goal of driving the valuation of these companies down below the asset replacement cost. The math is still WAY in the oil company favor. Lets see Ethanol spot prices $2.93. the RBOB is $3.43. With the $.51 rebate, the net cost of a gallon of Ethanol to the blender (oil company) is $2.42. So lessee buy something for $2.42, blend it with my product and sell it for $3.43. Hummm.... I would do that business all day long. At the current run rate of over 7B gallons of ethanol a year, the Ethanol blending mandate is bringing over $7B of NEW 100% MARGIN revenue to the big oil companies.


> Investment Conclusion:
> We are reiterating cautious view on the ethanol producers. Recently
> two events have occurred that have the potential to tighten supply in
> the industry - flooding and the rise in corn prices. We believe this
> tightness in supply will be temporary and imports and a potential
> change in legislation are likely to tip the balance against the
> producers again.
Coming to two things that are taking supply off the market.
1) Flooding: the last data point we have is that 300 million gallons or
3 percent of capacity was shut in due to flooding. We estimate that this number is likely to
increase not only due to the actual flooding of plants but also because corn cannot reach some of the plants.
2) Margins: gross margins for ethanol producers at spot ethanol, corn and natural gas prices are almost zero if not negative. Some small marginal plants have
already started to shut in. VeraSun Energy (VSE) announced that it will delay the start-up of two plants that were slated to come onstream in the next month.
These two events will likely imply some tightness and a consequent rise in ethanol prices. However, any such rise will be temporary, in our view because of three reasons:
1) Imports from Brazil: the price differential is already favourable to import from Brazil. We estimate imports from Brazil become economical at an ethanol price of
about US$2.50/gallon and the current ethanol price is US$2.90/gallon. Brazil had about one billion gallons of spare capacity and exported 300 million gallons to
the US last year.
2) US industry capacity is already 9 billion gallons or equal to the mandate for this year. Delays in new plants is going to impact 2009 supply demand, not this year,
in our view. Any shut-in capacity can be quickly brought onstream once water recedes or margins come back even slightly.
3) Legislation: even before the floods, there were calls to reduce the ethanol mandate. Kim Wallace, from our Washington Research team, had put the probability of
legislation to lower the mandate passing this year at 35 percent and next year at 60 percent in his morning report of May 20. Now after the floods, the corn situation
looks even more bleak with 3 million acres lost and prices touching US$ 7.50 a bushel. We believe this increases the probability of Congress passing legislation this
year and this will likely be negative for ethanol producers, in our view.
To sum up, shut-in and delays due to both flooding and poor margins are likely to tighten the market. However, this will be temporary, we believe, due to imports and the risk of a lower ethanol mandate.

If you have any questions, please give us a call.
US Integrated Oil Research
Mansi Singhal, CFA +1 212 526 8729
Paul Y Cheng, CFA +1 212 526 1884
Christina Cheng +1 212 526 5580
Saurabh Bharat +1 201 499 2017

Posted by Martin at 12:19 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

china raises gas/diesel prices

Lehman says it was a surprise, but not to me. With these prices, and the skewed demand picture subsidies put on the oil market, these subsidies are not long for this world in non- oil producing states. China follows Indonesia. I expect civil unrest as in Indo. Look out Olympics.

In another surprise move, China's NDRC said that it will adjust ex-refinery benchmark prices of gasoline and diesel by Rmb1,000/tonne and that of kerosene by Rmb1,500/tonne from Friday 20th June. The previous price increase of Rmb500/tonne for these three products was on Nov 1.

The price increase translated to an increase of US$19.4/bbl for gasoline
(+16.7%) and US$17.11/bbl (+18.1%) for diesel and US$28/bbl (+25%) for kerosene. However the price hike is insufficient to alleviate the current refining losses as international crude oil prices have surged even more +52% since Nov 1 07 to a high of US$137/bbl (Jun 12). We estimate that Sinopec's breakeven crude cost is US$105/bbl while Petrochina's crude cost is around US$85/bbl.

According to the government, this step was initiated by the significant losses incurred by the domestic refineries to an unacceptable level whereby most independent refineries had to stop production either fully or partially. The problem had caused a demand/supply imbalance in the domestic market. In order to ensure sufficient domestic oil product supply, the government decided to raise the domestic oil product prices by a "reasonable" level.

Average ex-refinery gasoline and diesel prices are raised from Rmb5,980/tonne and Rmb5,520/tonne to Rmb6,980/tonne and Rmb6,520/tonne respectively. Maximum prices allowable which is + 8% from this benchmark prices will bring domestic gasoline and diesel prices to Rmb7,538/tonne and Rmb7,042/tonne respectively.

The NDRC has decided not to raise the ex-refinery natural gas prices.

We think that this is positive news for both Petrochina and Sinopec since we believe the market expected that there would be no price increases in the near term due to escalating CPI. We believe this is a necessary step as the gap has widened significantly between crude cost and product prices. We expect PTR and SNP share prices to react positively in the very near term to this surprising action by the government. Furthermore, international crude oil prices declined on this news which also helps lower refiners' raw material costs.

However, this price hike would probably only give the stock a temporary boost. An ad hoc price hike is no longer good enough for the market, in our view, because it has been a temporary solution that has been slow to react to changes in cost. For sustainable outperformance, we believe that the market would want permanent deregulation of product prices which could be at least a year away.

We maintain our 2-EW ratings on both Petrochina (857.HK TP HK$11.70) and Sinopec (386.HK TP HK$8.00).

Cheng Khoo
+852 2252 6180

Posted by Martin at 12:07 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

June 17, 2008

Your Last Lecture

If you had to give one final lecture in your life, what would you say? If you knew you were dying. Randy Pausch gave such a lecture. Watch it here. One of the pioneers in Virtual Reality, his talk is not about that, but about what his childhood dreams were and how he progressed on those in this life. Very inspirational. Very positive in a way you wouldn't expect from a guy dying. He does one handed pushups! Watch it if you have an extra hour.

Posted by Martin at 10:22 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

How to make Windows Vista less annoying

Just did all these tweeks suggested by The How-To Geek. Wow, way faster! Especially with the Drobo copying files over. Thanks Geek!

Posted by Martin at 9:04 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

card counting

An indispensible skill every man should know.

Posted by Martin at 8:47 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Thought about trying Supermemo

Am looking for a new to-do manager. This one is WAY overkill. Read about the guy in Wired. This is really for crazy learning of lots of data and keeping it packed in your brain. I have enough in there thank you.

Posted by Martin at 8:19 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

low grade surf fun (rated 3 stars)

by Bernard Murray Jr.

This is Finn’s new favorite movie. Teen romance at a surf wave pool in colorado. WAY overacted and you gotta love the 80’s hairdoos but fun fun fun. Kids love it.

Posted by Martin at 7:25 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

i usually like paulo coelho (rated 2 stars)

by Paulo Coelho

but this is just too pithy and misty eyed. Did not connect. Rate 2 of 5 stars. give it a pass.

Posted by Martin at 7:18 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

minor annoyance

just resetting up my Vista machine after a bunch of HARD crashes. Tried running MS Excahange in a Virtual Machine on Vista. too unstable. Crashed too hard. When Vista would install new updates it wouldn't close the virtual machine correctly and the harddrive would get corrupted. so now I have two machines. one Vista and one with Windows Server running Exchange/Cloudmark/BES. thanks Matt!

Installed my Linksys CT 120 to use with SKype. the only gripe (hey it rhimes) is that the set-up program for Linksys resets the speaker output in Windows to the Linksys. This disabled my external speakers. Had to go into windows and reset it. But all fine now.

Posted by Martin at 11:26 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

June 16, 2008

flickr photo stream of Nihiwatu Biodiesel trip


Posted by Martin at 4:52 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

June 12, 2008

A review of "The Silver Swan: A Novel"

by Benjamin Black

boring. Give it a skip. 1 of 5 stars.

Posted by Martin at 8:07 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Black Swan tries but fails (rated 2 stars)

by Benjamin Black

i only finished it because I was on a plane. Too English. Not very engaging. Boring really.

Posted by Martin at 8:06 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

June 10, 2008

Non fiction by a great fiction writer is boring (rated 1 star)

by John Grisham

it was on the sale rack. 30% off. I picked it up without checking that it was non-fiction. I just wanted a page turner for the plane. This is definitely not a page turner. It reads more like a long news paper article. Filled with facts, figures, dates and lots of names of people you never get to know enough to care. Billed as an indictment of the death penalty and an expose of small town injustice and railroading, I just thought it was boring. Sure one in a thousand cases happen like this but that doesn’t mean the vast majority of people on death row don’t deserve to be there. One bad case doesn’t indict the whole system. The checks and balances worked here. The guy is free. He didn’t get electrocuted.

If you are looking for a studied argument for or against the death penalty keep looking. And Grisham, leave the true crime to people who are good at it. You are not. I rate 1 of 5 stars. Leave this one in the bargin bin.

Posted by Martin at 8:29 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Better second effort (rated 3 stars)

by Brad Reynolds

More engaging. Less transparent. Some engaging action around street kids life in Seattle. Seattleites will especially enjoy it. As will people interested in the Jesuits. I rate 3 of 5. Left this one in Nihiwatu.

Posted by Martin at 8:24 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Jesuit detective (rated 2 stars)

by Brad Reynolds

his first book. if you are from northwest especially seattle, alot will be familiar. A bit formuleaic. Lots of “i had no clue what was going on” in the book to drag the plot out. You don’t need that. Just tell the story. I left it in my hotel in Bali. I rate 2 of 5 stars.

Posted by Martin at 8:22 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Clint at his best

Can’t watch this movie enough times. The 70’s background gets better and better. The hair, the vneck sweater under tweed jacket with elbow patches like a professor. But the 44 Magnum in a shoulder holster. Movies today are missing lines like “do you feel lucky punk”. I believe there is an error in the end of the movie though. During the last shoot out I was counting his shots. He shot 6 times. Then he gave his line about “5 or 6 shots, do you feel lucky?” and shot the guy. by my count that is seven. I gotta watch it again to be sure. Wouldn’t doubt that the director just did that to mess with the audience. I rate 4 of 5 stars.

Posted by Martin at 8:14 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

mindless summer fun (rated 3 stars)

by J.J. Abrams

ok so it was a couple summers ago, but just caught it on HBO in my Bali hotel room. Mindless fun and action. Don’t really like Tom Cruise, but this is fun. I rate 3 of 5 stars.

Posted by Martin at 8:09 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack