Happy Halloween!

Knights need helmets and Shields

This is the year the boys go "Meh!" at the prospect of Halloween.  Instead of trick-or-treating, we're treating ourselves to an evening out at Incredible Pizza.  No home-made costumes, no store-bought costumes, no waves and hordes of trick-or-treaters from other neightborhoods and no mooching costume-less teenagers ("I'm dressed as a teenager, hur hur").  I In past years, we've gone a little silly over homemade costumes.  The Year of the Knights was probably the most time we've spent putting them together. The shields were the hardest to make, concept-wise.  Getting the right craft hardboard and lampshade rings to get the curved shape took me a while to sort out.  The helmets were fairly easy though.  I found a template on … [Read more...]

Golden Links

Very cool, totally unrelated photograph.  Ansel Adams:  "Tractor Repair at Manzar Japanese Internment Camp"

I've been catching up on my Northern Miner reading, and reviewing the mix of topics. Seems like I'm a little overdue for some posts on mining stocks.  My model portfolio hasn't been doing so hot, as commodities have taken a tumble. As Retire by 40 writes in this post ("How Often Do You Check Your Net Worth"), we tend to check our stats and showcase our wins more often in a bull market. We're all smart and clever and good-looking when the market's churning ever on up.  In a down phase, we're hunkering down, retrenching, and reaching for the zit cream. Well, I'm going to be making a few average-down trades during next week, so probably in 10 days or so I'll have another update.  On Friday I sold my 200 shares of Hathor Exploration. In … [Read more...]

Situational Awareness

Security is a broad topic in the PF world:  how to guard against scams and fraud, financial security in retirement years, and being secure in our data storage and passwords. One area that gets only sometimes talked about see is security in our persons and home. Situational or situation awareness could be strictly defined as knowing where you are, where you're going and who is around you. I tend to be fairly aware of my surroundings, especially in public places where there's a potential for a snatch-and-grab or a light-fingered pickpocket to ply his skills, or worse.  Perhaps that comes from having lived in some not-so-benign urban environments. Apple Smuggling Coming back from Korea last month, I had the numskull-edness to bring … [Read more...]

Lazy Monday Link and Podcast Review

Random Doodle #5 (it's recycled, but I like this one)

Had a heck of a weekend dealing with 120 pounds of ripe and green tomatoes from the remote garden, plus bags and bags of green and white peppers, a couple small watermelons, and more potatoes. We had a frosty morning on Thursday morning. I wasn't there to cover the plants, and most of them bit the dust.   We've made several gallons of tomato sauce to freeze and make into ragu'.  We've wrapped the the unripe green tomatoes in newspaper and boxed them up.  With any luck, we'll keep having ripe red tomatoes for our salads well up to early December. I'm pooped. On the Economy... My friends in China send me local news from time to time. This is one story that also made into the Economist.  Since the government has tightened credit in an … [Read more...]

Community Garden FAIL!

Ansel Adams - Farm Workers adn Mt. Williamson

Sadly enough, these past few weeks, we've been dismantling the raised beds of our neighborhood's community garden. Alas, it is no more. It's shuffled off this mortal coil. It is pushing up daisies (or at least, bermuda grass). It is an ex-garden.  I was about to title this post "Death of a Garden", but on second thought it might be a little too melodramatic. It started a couple years back, when I asked the neighborhood association permission to locate a couple raised beds right back of my fence.   There is about a two-acre greenbelt beyond the fence, abutting six houses in the neighborhood. It's not used for much except for soccer practice by me and the boys, and for growing tough-as-nails bermuda grass.   The association board took … [Read more...]

Career Tip #13 – Bring Pen and Paper

Writing Master - Painting by Thomas Eakins

Continuing on with a series of posts on practical career advice for young people.  Little things that are not usually noticed, but make a difference in the long run. Robert at My Multiple Incomes Blog recently wrote an article about being out of writing ideas. "What To Do When You're Out of Ideas" That's what I'm experiencing a bit right now. There's been quite a bit going on at work, with drama, crises, fires and thunder of various situations competing for brain space with the blog and writing ideas. I occasionally marry up a blog article with a post idea.  My University Money's article on Tips for Note Taking in a classroom context got me thinking about the need for bringing pad and paper to any business meeting, or interview, or … [Read more...]

A Taxing Set of Mid-Week Random Links

Random Doodle #30

Looking back on posts, I realized that I neglected to do a roundup of random links last weekend. It's become such a part of established blogging routine, that I feel a little out of sorts. On Taxes... This Associated Press  headline was the kind to make you stock and smack your forehead: IRS: Budget cuts would hurt service, raise deficit WASHINGTON (AP) -- (Oct 17, 2011) Legislation that would trim hundreds of millions of dollars from the Internal Revenue Service budget would force significant cuts in the services it provides taxpayers and cost the government $4 billion annually in lost revenue, the agency warned Congress on Monday. In a letter to lawmakers, IRS Commissioner Douglas Shulman said the budget cuts "would lead … [Read more...]

Earn 40% on Your Peanut Butter Investment

According to this AP article I read in Sunday's local rag (the primitive kind, printed on this thing called "paper"), the whole sale bulk price of peanuts will more than double compared to last year, from $450 a ton to more than $1,200. Peanut Prices To Skyrocket After Dry Summer Another hot, dry summer in key producing states and competition from more profitable crops like cotton have significantly shrunk the U.S. peanut crop this year. The tight supply means consumers will soon pay more for yet another grocery staple. ..... Peanut butter producers already have plans to hike prices for peanut butter significantly in the next few weeks. .....  The J.M. Smucker Co., which makes Jif peanut butter, plans to raise its wholesale prices 30 … [Read more...]

Blog Action Day 2011 – FOOD

The topic for this year's Blog Action Day is Food. More than two thousand blogs around the world have signed to raise awareness on the topic of food: favorites, scarcity, recipes, hunger, and vegetarianism. In their own words: Blog Action Day is an annual event that unites the world’s bloggers in posting about the same issue on the same day. Our aim is to raise awareness and trigger a global discussion around an important issue that impacts us all. For 2011, our Blog Action Day coincides with World Food Day, so our topic of discussion for this year will be food. Take the first step now and sign-up your blog to Blog Action Day and then look at our suggested topics for some food flavoured inspiration to discuss. Our Goal First … [Read more...]

Caffe’ Corretto: The Government Hates Guitars

Time for a Break - Image by Wikimedia Commons

Add a slug of good whiskey, sambuca or grappa to a cup of Espresso, and there you have it, Caffe’ Corretto. Just what I need after reading about the lunacy Gibson Guitars is going through, courtesy of  Mordor the Federal Government. Make that two slugs of whiskey. Working as I do for  a multinational company, I've had plenty of training on import and export rules and regulations. I know about the staggering number of alphabet-soup Federal agencies that have overlapping jurisdiction over the import/export process, and who as a rule don't play well together.  I've been drilled about the heavy penalties for non-compliance. I've read manuals, sat through grueling power point sessions, and taken regular online training. And yet, … [Read more...]