Week of August 22, 2004

August 22, 2004 16:20 – 16:20

Saturday, August 28, 2004

11:45 pm

Watched Calendar Girls. Entertaining. I especially loved the Yorkshire backdrop. The scenery made me homesick for England.

Installed SP2 on the notebook on Thursday night, and on my desktop system Friday morning. No major problems so far.

I also cut the front lawn this afternoon. 90 degrees is too hot for cutting the grass. At 90 degrees, the dang grass should keel over and die, and save me the inconvenience.

Friday, August 27, 2004

10:51 pm

Just finished watching Proof of Life, with Meg Ryan and Russell Crowe. Good movie. Happy and heroic ending. Crowe’s character was overflowing with just that… character.

I can’t believe this is Friday. It feels so much like Saturday. Very strange and disorienting.

9:00 am

From Howell Raines’ op-ed column in this morning’s Washington Post, in which he reports about some bumper stickers spotted in Pocono Summit, PA:

Somewhere in Texas, a village is missing its idiot

Bush: Like a rock! (Only Dumber)

Thursday, August 26, 2004

7:07 pm

Random picture of the day

A Head for Trees

We’re Not Alone

6:54 pm

This arrived with the subject line: Wow, the worst Engrish on a spam I’ve ever seen. I’m not sure. I’ve probably seen worse, but this one is truly memorable.

Dearest Easy- Customer!

My name “Uprisings V. Taoist”, and I work on Popular-Soft firm.

You are realy is so momentous to me!

You spend your banknotå and time on my firm, and We like to let you know that our organization have finished modernization of software store. Our organization want remind You that our company suggesting that this time Our firm have more bigger cracked assortment Top soft for dutefree Price with in your personal Purchaser price reduction.

please devote some of Yours expensive times to check our renovated Oem-Soft Store here: <link removed>

Truly yours,

Customers Service section, “Uprisings V. Taoist”

12:14 pm

Bumper stickers, anyone?

What kind of smart bomb would Jesus drop?

What method of execution would Jesus endorse?

What kind of assault weapon would Jesus own?

Wednesday, August 25, 2004

Begun at 7:50 am… finished at 8:30 am

Here’s the text of an email I sent to my favorite political reporter this morning.

Hi, Scott,

It’s interesting. Beginning last spring, the prices of oil and gasoline started rising. Up, up, up, went the price of crude… to $49.40/barrel. But, while the price of crude was rising, back in June, something odd happened. The price of crude kept on rising, but the price of gasoline at the pumps peaked locally in the DC area, at about $2.05/gallon at the cheapest stations. And then, even though the price of crude kept rising, the price at the pumps actually started falling!

Wow! Between mid-June and mid-August, the price of crude rose some 35%. At the same time, however, the pump prices fell to $1.81/gallon–about a 12% drop! Normally, the gasoline wholesalers don’t miss an opportunity to raise prices. Even though there should be a lag between crude and pump prices, in normal times, if crude prices rise even the slightest bit, the pump prices reflect the increase immediately. (Market analysts call this effect “psychology,” probably because profiteering sounds so much more unpleasant, and is perhaps too difficult a concept for us common folk to grasp.)

But, do we see the normal correlation? Nope, not now. Not in the summer of 2004. What could be the reason? Could it be… the election? (You were probably thinking Could it be… Satan? a la Dana Carvey’s “Church Lady”, and perhaps it could be Satan… who knows?)

Having noticed all this through most of July and August, I’ve sat here wondering when the retail price of gasoline would begin to reflect the price of crude. Each time crude increased another $1, the price at the pumps fell another 2 or 3 cents. Economically, it made no sense. Politically, however, it says that whoever controls the price of gas at the pumps does not want higher prices to be a factor in the coming election. In fact, they’d like for lower prices to be a factor in the coming election.

And this week I read that the price of crude has now dropped to $45. Mind you, this is still $8.50 higher than it was at the end of June, yet pump prices in the DC area are 20 to 25 cents lower than they were at the end of June.

What I fail to understand, however, is why nobody in the media seems to have taken note of this very odd correlation. Maybe they’re afraid of jinxing prices so they start going back up. Who knows? As an economist and econometrician in particular, I know a little about the correlation between retail gasoline and crude oil prices. As a social scientist, I also know a little about the correlation between gasoline prices and affection for an incumbent administration. I’m just wondering if the Justice Department knows anything at all about election tampering. Does Michael Moore have any film left in his cameras?

Just food for thought…

Tuesday, August 24, 2004

11:20 AM

Just ran past Stratford Landing Elementary School, and saw this sign out front. Can anyone tell me what’s wrong with this picture?

Update: as of 3:30 pm on August 26, 2004, the illegal advertisement is still there.

Monday, August 23, 2004

11:00 PM

Just finished watching 1776 on DVD. It’s always fun, and its 3rd biggest fan in the world — Kelly — joined us. Sorry, Kelly. You’re only the 3rd biggest fan, because Karen & I outrank you! You remain, however, the world’s undisputed champion #1 John Adams fan.

And, the anti-revolution crowd remind me so much of today’s republicans who support Bush. At one point, Ben Franklin admonishes another delegate: They that can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety deserve
neither liberty nor safety
. Anyone who thinks the Patriot Act is a good idea would do well to keep those fateful words in mind.

3:10 PM

Went to DCA for a meeting on the new project. It won’t be the most exciting project in the world, but it sure seems to be generating interest among the higher-ups. An assistant secretary was supposed to be at the meeting, but apparently got sidetracked onto something else.

I rode Metro into town, and walked to a McDonald’s to use their facilities. The U.S. is really backwards when it comes to public restrooms. In Europe… they’re an expected part of the landscape. You’re never more than a few steps away from a clean place to do one of the things nature intends for us to do. In the U.S., it’s as if they expect nobody to actually need a restroom, unless they happen to be in the establishment for other purposes. What about those times when a restroom is your only purpose?

In any event, there I was, at 9:30 am on a workday… and there were tons of vacant parking meters. Huh? Well… next time we have a morning meeting on a Monday or a Friday, I’m dang well gonna drive in, rather than waste the extra hour in the Metro.

Oh, yeah. While I was in McPherson Square station waiting for the Yellow line, an announcement came over the PA system saying that the alert status had been raised to Orange. Was that a new thing, or was this already in place? Honest to goodness… I keep getting my colors confused. Was it code orange on the yellow line? Or, was it code yellow on the orange line. Or, maybe it was code red on the blue line?

Gee, look at the pretty rainbow! <sigh>

(And never eat rainbow-colored mushrooms!)

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