Friday, March 30, 2012

Unemployment in Michigan Dropping

Unemployment in home state Michigan continued to fall, and let me tell you that is welcome. Now it is hard to get a table on the weekend at the local restaurants. It used to be 14.4% and now it is 8.4%. See my previous post as the recession bottomed out. Now Michigan has improved from worst to seventh from worst.

See the graph above. It is interesting that Northern Tier states have the lowest unemployment, and Sunbelt states are worst.

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Fancy Feast Addiction

Cat's like Nestle's Fancy Feast cat food  that customers say their cats are addicted to it, and won't eat anything else. They call it "Kitty Crack," although I think that catnip is a better fit since it looks like a narcotic. 

I can confirm that. At our house we switched our cats back from other foods, when one cat got sick. They had been eating exotic cat food that we bought frozen. Now they are back on Fancy Feast and they won't touch anything else. 

I have to believe that Nestle chemists are working hard "cat-testing" to get formulas that cats want to eat. I suppose that is what gourmet cat food means -- if it means anything at all.

Most people think that Fancy Feast is healthy, although people can't agree on cat diets anymore than people diets. 

Nestle's bought Purina in 2001 and merged it with their existing Friskies line. They offer SEVENTEEN different cat food brands in the United States, and that is after the government made them divest Meow Mix because of anti-trust. Fancy Feast is one of their high end brands, but probably not the most expensive those seem to be Purina One, Pro Plan, and Purina Veterinary Diets. 

There are five kids of Fancy Feast, regular, appetizers, Elegant Melodies, Gourmet Cat Food (a dry food), and Gourmet Kitten Food (a canned food.) Most Fancy Feast is canned, and the ingredients are on-line along with nutritional analysis. Like most canned food they are mostly water (78-82%) and 9-12% protein. Gravy-containing foods have 3% more water and 2% less protein. 

St Patrick's Day Corktown 5K Race

You get bling when you run this race. You can
wear it as you walk the parade with your
green mardi gras beads. 
For the first time in two years, I actually did a running event today. It was the Corktown race, which precedes the Detroit St. Patrick's Day Parade, so the whole even was bathed in Irishness, or at least Greenness. Aside from the Irish theme, this race is notable for having free beer at the end, but alas only one glass each.

The race itself was fun. As usual I ran too fast at the beginning and choked near the end. Wonder how I did? You'll need to check the link yourself. 

I ran in my Z-Coil shoes, which strange as they are, did not attract any comments. I suppose the St. Patrick's Day spectators were weirder than that. The Z-Coil shoes did great.

Saturday, March 3, 2012

Are We All Going to Freeze in the Dark? Probably Not?

It the world running out of oil? It does not look like it. Increasing gas prices make it feel that way, doesn't it?

People have always thought that they were running out of petroleum. In 1873 a Pennsylvania state geologist said there was enough petroleum for another FOUR years of oil lantern use. Ever sense, people have worried about running out.

In reality, we have just changed what we meant by "oil." 

Over the decades, oil drillers have pioneered one technology after another to get to the oil. Going deeper, going offshore, going to unstable 3rd world nations, going miles down under waters, and so on. Increasingly, oil companies are including natural gas in their oil reserve numbers. And gas reserves have been sky-rocketing due to shale gas, and the technology to recover it -- fracking.

Reinforcing the abundance of buried hydrocarbons is an new enormous natural gas estimate in China. Chinese geologists are claiming 25 trillion cubic meters of shale gas. This is 50% larger than the USA has, and the US has huge shale gas resources. See the map.

I don't know why oil prices keep going up, but I am going to pretend that I do. My four reasons are below.

Four Reasons Oil Prices Go Up

1. As the world industrializes it demands more and more cars, and cars run on gasoline. The problem is increasing demand; supply is less important.

2. A second effect is that oil companies need to access petroleum in more and more difficult locations. This is more expensive. Obviously companies have drilled the easiest oil first.

3. More new petroleum is located in developing countries that have nationalized their oil companies, like Venezuela and Libya. These countries take large tariffs, and make exports much more expensive.

4. Speculators are parking their money in oil, and this has created a little bubble in prices. Reinforcing the bubble are other speculators with futures contracts. Oil futures is like Vegas gambling, but as long as prices go up the speculators take a cut of the 'action.'

In summary, I have gone from an oil pessimist to a realist. While petroleum will run out someday, that day is at least a century away -- beyond the lifetime of anyone reading this. This means that global warming will likely continue because we lack any political system to control it. Conservation and climate control measures are worthy goals, because we aren't running out of oil anytime soon.