Tuesday, November 30, 2010


Carnation, Lily, Lily, Rose 1885-6

The inspiration for this picture came during a boating expedition Sargent took on the Thames at Pangbourne in September 1885, with the American artist Edwin Austin Abbey, during which he saw Chinese lanterns hanging among trees and lilies. He began the picture while staying at the home of the painter F.D. Millet at Broadway, Worcestershire, shortly after his move to Britain from Paris. At first he used the Millets's five-year-old daughter Katharine as his model, but she was soon replaced by Polly and Dorothy (Dolly) Barnard, the daughters of the illustrator Frederick Barnard, because they had the exact haircolour Sargent was seeking. Dolly, aged eleven, is on the left; Polly, aged seven, is on the right. A sketchbook at the Fogg Museum, Cambridge, includes Sargent's outline designs for the painting, and two drawings at the Tate (Tate Gallery A00850-1) record the precise poses he required for the girls' profiles.

'The Daily Hunter' blog: To most OSU fans, winning trumps health of 'rivalry' | BuckeyeXtra

'The Daily Hunter' blog: To most OSU fans, winning trumps health of 'rivalry' BuckeyeXtra: "11-11-1 since 1988 (Cooper's first year)
12-12-1 since 1986
13-13-1 since 1984
14-14-1 since 1982
15-15-1 since 1980
16-15-1 since 1979 (Earle's first year)
16-16-1 since 1978
20-20-2 since 1969 (Bo's first year I think)
32-26-1 since 1951 (Woody's first year)
34-34-2 since 1939
41-41-4 since 1925
44-44-5 since 1919
44-57-6 Overall
0-13-2 1897 to 1918"

Monday, November 29, 2010

The Spanish Prisoner - NYTimes.com

The Spanish Prisoner - NYTimes.com: "The bad news about America is that a powerful political faction is trying to shackle the Federal Reserve, in effect removing the one big advantage we have over the suffering Spaniards. Republican attacks on the Fed — demands that it stop trying to promote economic recovery and focus instead on keeping the dollar strong and fighting the imaginary risks of inflation — amount to a demand that we voluntarily put ourselves in the Spanish prison."

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Did Duke Energy Lower November's GCA Natural Gas Rates Too Low?

November's GCA was lowered and then December's GCA was raised this week.  What goes?  With the spot market hovering in the $3 - $4 range for the year, and the futures for December, January and February in the $4 range, and the economy down, why doesn't Duke Energy's GCA reflect some of these low rates as it should? 

The reduction for November was seemingly sound.  The increase for December doesn't seem so.

Saturday, November 27, 2010

The Power Of Failure - NYTimes.com

The Power Of Failure - NYTimes.com: "In his May 2009 baccalaureate address to Duke’s graduating class, Sam Wells, the dean of Duke University Chapel, hoped the students would “never be dazzled by your own success … and not pretend success is everything or success makes you immortal. And, most of all, that you’ll let your life begin the day you really, seriously fail, and let that day be the day you discover who you truly are and whether that failure is really in a cause that will finally succeed. … The most powerful person in the world is the one who isn’t paralyzed by the fear of their own failure.”"

Friday, November 26, 2010

And Hugh Laurie on Memorable Saturday Night Live


Worth Waiting Out the 30-Second Ad

And Thirdly

In early 2009, a joke was making the rounds: “What’s the difference between Iceland and Ireland? Answer: One letter and about six months.” This was supposed to be gallows humor. No matter how bad the Irish situation, it couldn’t be compared with the utter disaster that was Iceland.

But at this point Iceland seems, if anything, to be doing better than its near-namesake. Its economic slump was no deeper than Ireland’s, its job losses were less severe and it seems better positioned for recovery. In fact, investors now appear to consider Iceland’s debt safer than Ireland’s. How is that possible?

Part of the answer is that Iceland let foreign lenders to its runaway banks pay the price of their poor judgment, rather than putting its own taxpayers on the line to guarantee bad private debts. As the International Monetary Fund notes — approvingly! — “private sector bankruptcies have led to a marked decline in external debt.” Meanwhile, Iceland helped avoid a financial panic in part by imposing temporary capital controls — that is, by limiting the ability of residents to pull funds out of the country.

And Iceland has also benefited from the fact that, unlike Ireland, it still has its own currency; devaluation of the krona, which has made Iceland’s exports more competitive, has been an important factor in limiting the depth of Iceland’s slump.

None of these heterodox options are available to Ireland, say the wise heads. Ireland, they say, must continue to inflict pain on its citizens — because to do anything else would fatally undermine confidence.

But Ireland is now in its third year of austerity, and confidence just keeps draining away. And you have to wonder what it will take for serious people to realize that punishing the populace for the bankers’ sins is worse than a crime; it’s a mistake.

Step Back for a Moment

Eating the Irish - NYTimes.com: "Step back for a minute and think about that. These debts were incurred, not to pay for public programs, but by private wheeler-dealers seeking nothing but their own profit. Yet ordinary Irish citizens are now bearing the burden of those debts."

Eating the Irish - NYTimes.com

Eating the Irish - NYTimes.com: "Then the bubble burst, and those banks faced huge losses. You might have expected those who lent money to the banks to share in the losses. After all, they were consenting adults, and if they failed to understand the risks they were taking that was nobody’s fault but their own. But, no, the Irish government stepped in to guarantee the banks’ debt, turning private losses into public obligations."

Villanova’s Fisher Keeps His Focus on a Positive Future - NYTimes.com

Villanova’s Fisher Keeps His Focus on a Positive Future - NYTimes.com: "“I had to be at Madison Square Garden at 5:15 to be at school on time,” Fisher said, referring to Penn Station, which is below the arena. “I take the 22 bus in the Bronx to the 6 train in Castle Hill train station. Take the 6 train to 33rd Street, walk down 33rd, get on New Jersey Transit, get off at Elizabeth, then take a cab to St. Pat’s to be on time. Home room started at 7:15.”"

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Mad Money Recap | Nightly Recap for:  Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Mad Money Recap Nightly Recap for: Tuesday, November 23, 2010: "Jim indicated these are typical momentum names that have the highest growth right now: From the F.A.D.S. C.A.N. Mad Money acronym, representing:
F5 Networks Inc. (FFIV), Apple (AAPL*), Deckers Outdoor Corp. (DECK), Salesforce.com (CRM), Chipotle Mexican Grill, Inc. (CMG), Amazon.com (AMZN), and Netflix, Inc. (NFLX)."

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Natural Gas Guru: Search results for schuck

(c) 2010 F. Bruce Abel

Had a very enjoyable evening with Philip Schuck and Helene last night. Reading from his poetry and book. He's advising Kingsview Capital Management, 233 Broadway, NY. Phil Silverman is on board.

And from my year-ago blog:

Natural Gas Guru: Search results for schuck: "(c) 2009 F. Bruce Abel

Ah yes, Jimmy Rogers is able to do this. So have I!

Had dinner with Phillip Schuck and Abby Sunday night. Phillip has been able to do this too. Author, successful trader, farmer, sailor.

December 15, 2009

Lessons On Investing And Life
'You have to figure out what your own passions are. By following your passions, you'll never have a job. You'll just get up everyday and have a lot of fun'in GuruFocus.com"

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Epilepsy’s Big, Fat Miracle - NYTimes.com

Epilepsy’s Big, Fat Miracle - NYTimes.com: "But what we are doing is mainstream science. Elizabeth Thiele, the doctor who prescribed and oversees Sam’s diet, is the head of the pediatric epilepsy program at Massachusetts General Hospital for Children, which is affiliated with Harvard Medical School. In fact, the regimen, known as the ketogenic diet, is now offered at more than 100 hospitals in the United States, Canada and other countries. We’re not opposed to drugs; we tried many. But Sam’s seizures were drug-resistant, and keto, the universal shorthand, often provides seizure control when drugs do not."

Friday, November 19, 2010

From January

Natural Gas Guru: Search results for bespoke: "(c) 2010 F. Bruce Abel

We settled into our seats on the 10:30 AM bullet train from Rome to Venice, to get off at Firenze, or Florence. A decade was to end at midnight. In virtually every seat facing me, as I looked down the semi-private car, was a beautiful woman, unaccompanied, dressed impeccably. Soon the car was asleep with only me looking at the snoring beauties, mouths agape, aquiline noses breathing in and out.

In Florence the beauties walked with boyfriends, as they had in Rome, hindered by the heavy rain from pausing every 50 yards to exchange kisses and embraces.

The ultimate in beauty is to be increasingly surprised by refined pleasure. For example, the off-day of New Year's Day allowed us to realize that Il Guelfo Bianco is a walking museum as well as hotel, and architectural display of its own. The initial handout booklet bested all our other guidebooks. The attention to detail on the growing and handling of each item of food on the breakfast menu bespoke of pride in studied excellence au prepatore.

There was that glare that Becca experienced on the train which portended... exactly what? Nolo comprendre. The cloud just below the surface of the gellular eye."

The Debtor of the Western World - NYTimes.com

The Debtor of the Western World - NYTimes.com: "It is the figures, mainly, that cow us into silence. It is estimated that the banking debt of this nation, which has a population of only 4.6 million, may be substantially more than 100 billion euros. That is 100,000 millions and rising. When we were at school it amused our science teachers to dazzle us with astronomical statistics — so many myriads of light years, so many zillions of stars — but the numbers that we are being forced to count on our too-few fingers now have nothing to do with the fanciful dimensions of outer space. They represent precisely the breadth and depth of the financial hole into which we have toppled headlong."

Axis of Depression - NYTimes.com

Axis of Depression - NYTimes.com: "So what’s really motivating the G.O.P. attack on the Fed? Mr. Bernanke and his colleagues were clearly caught by surprise, but the budget expert Stan Collender predicted it all. Back in August, he warned Mr. Bernanke that “with Republican policy makers seeing economic hardship as the path to election glory,” they would be “opposed to any actions taken by the Federal Reserve that would make the economy better.” In short, their real fear is not that Fed actions will be harmful, it is that they might succeed."

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Facing debt problems, Ireland picks tax status over bailout deal - The Globe and Mail

Facing debt problems, Ireland picks tax status over bailout deal - The Globe and Mail: "Ireland’s stance stems in good part from its desire to protect its rock-bottom corporate tax status, the feature credited with launching its economic miracle in the 1990s, turning one of western Europe’s poorest countries into one of its wealthiest, with remarkable speed, analysts and economists say."

A future princess yet to fully define herself - The Globe and Mail

A future princess yet to fully define herself - The Globe and Mail: "The raciest moment? Apparently she used to regularly moon the boys' residence from her dorm window."

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

You Gotta Read This!!!!!

Clean Water at No Cost? Just Add Carbon Credits - NYTimes.com: "You put the end of the stick in a river or puddle ─ or a toilet, for that matter ─ and suck on it. By the time the water hits your lips, it is clean and safe ─ its filters are fine enough to trap virtually all bacteria, viruses and parasites. The product has a bigger cousin called the LifeStraw Family. You hang it on your wall, pour dirty water in the top, open the tap and clean water comes out the bottom."

Monday, November 15, 2010

Tertzakian: Natural gas prices likely to drop further

Tertzakian: Natural gas prices likely to drop further: "Analysis suggests that a 40% cut in overall natural gas drilling activity is needed to see meaningful U.S. production declines that will shore up prices. We can wish for that, but unfortunately the truth is we’re more likely to see a 40% cut in the price of natural gas before that happens."

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Opt Out!

Opt Out of the IGS Natural Gas Aggregation program today!!!!

The darkness down the yellow-brick road - The Globe and Mail

The darkness down the yellow-brick road - The Globe and Mail: "At least we come by our gold obsession honestly. Gold is rare, and always has been. Most estimates suggest no more than 160,000 tons of gold have been mined throughout history, most of it in the past 50 years. If you melted and reformed all that gold, it would make a cube measuring 20.2 meters on each side – a shiny block that would fit into about half a hockey rink."

From No Hot Air -- Important

The following article from No Hot Air -- read it.  I will be referring to it for a long time.  We could substitute Duke Energy for "British Gas" and convert "pence" into American dollars, and change "raising gas prices" to "not lowering gas prices more," and substitute Ohio Public Utilities Commission for "Ofgem" and make the same stunning points which this excellent article does.

Why did British Gas raise prices?

Simply put, because they can. Centrica would actually be failing their shareholders if they did not take advantage of the total lack of clarity and knowledgeable regulation provided by Ofgem. I said when SSE raised their prices that any other gas company would have questions to answer to their shareholders if they didn't follow the SSE lead.

The other reason they can is that what is in a gas or electricity price is completely untransparent: Ofgem themselves don't know, and worse, show no interest in knowing.

The cost of service, i.e. what a gas provider pays transporters and meter operators is about 0.9 pence per kWh [England must have a lot of gas-fired electricity] for a domestic user. It varies around the country, but 0.9 is on the high side. Those costs are identical by law. Everyone gets the same price regardless of size.

That leaves the commodity cost of the gas itself.British Gas, as do the other suppliers, tell their customers, and Ofgem who are so clueless that they believe them, that they buy gas 12 months or more in advance.

It beggars belief that a price was settled 12 months ago and carved into stone a year ago. Apart from anything else, it is one of the basic truths of any commodity that spot prices trend lower than futures.

For another thing, the difference between traded and physical volumes is at least 40 to one. That is, the kWh of gas you use today was traded at least forty times before it reaches your meter.

This is how gas is traded in 2010: If it isn't please hire me Mr Centrica, I can really make you some money!

Physical volumes of gas are rarely priced on anything except the spot market as settled daily at a virtual location called the UK National Balancing Point. Almost no gas at all is bought on long term contracts which included a fixed price.

How do we know this? Its no secret. The UK gas market has multiple traders. Centrica is only one, with financial houses like JP Morgan, Barclays Capital and Goldman active although they don't supply anyone. There are producers and utilities from all over the world active in the UK spot market.

But Ofgem, when it investigates gas prices at all, is unaware of those changes. It believes whatever suppliers tell them. There has never been a full analysis of what costs the suppliers actually incur. Why not? Because Ofgem doesn't think it necessary. So they take everything on trust. Imagine if banks were regulated this way!

When a utility buys gas, it agrees the physical volumes, within tolerances, but the price is not set until the gas is delivered to the NBP, which is on the day of actual use.

The NBP market, as we see above is very volatile. The figures on the chart come from the National Grid over the last six months. Price last winter averaged 1.229 [remember, not dollars] and only averaged 1.29 in January , the coldest month in 33 years.

The gas market is volatile because it matches supply and demand, both equally volatile. The market settles each day. Basically a supplier has to balance. They can, and often do, put in gas one day that they bought the day before or traded during the actual day. They never, ever, ever, ever buy gas months or years in advance at the price on the wholesale market. They used to, sure. But not any time this century. They may for example buy July 2012, but the month will actually be traded multiple times before the stuff actually shows up. No way Jose are they stuck with the price for July 2012, or February 2011 or next Tuesday which they have to pass on to you.

The price they pay is pretty close to the prices daily on the chart above. What is the average price? It's complicated, as although it looks like September 18 was a cheap gas day, who used much gas on September 18? But the average gas price since May was in the area of 1.4 pence per kWh. Add the cost of service and the average total cost to BG, or any other supplier, was 2.3 ish [remember, this is not dollars]. Anything else is gravy.

It's hard to figure out how much gravy, unless you actually look at your bill. First problem is the tiered pricing. The first 600 or so kWh each quarter are over 6 pence per kWh most places. They are that high since there are fixed costs to serve that are the same for everyone. They should in theory cover most of the 0.9 cost of service. But if one averages out the cheaper units which are in the area of 2.9 most places, we see that at least 25% of your utility bill is pure margin.

This will mystify North American readers. They have a default option denied to UK consumers. The state regulator publishes clear costs of service. The meter is read every month, usually remotely, usually accurately. It isn't rocket science. National Grid own utilities throughout New York and New England for example and manage that no problem.

The commodity cost is also clear, and is based on an agreed formula linked to wholesale spot markets. It can go up, it can go down. It is completely transparent and clear. Unlike here in the UK, where even Ofgem admitted last year that up to a third of gas consumers who use switching sites "inadvertently" switched to a higher rate.

UK consumers: go to one of those switching sites that run endless moronic TV commercials. Note that they do not exist in other countries. Eighty five percent of New York State consumers and over 95% in a very cold Chicago, remain with their local supplier. Despite it being so easy to switch that it can happen the next day, and not six weeks later as in the UK.

The UK should have a basic, transparent and fair pricing structure. It doesn't. And Ofgem cost the nation billions during a downturn by being asleep.

To the civilians visiting now in light of the BG news. One piece of advice that switching sites won't ever tell you: Don't fix for anything more than the year you are forced to.

Mad Money Recap | Nightly Recap for:  Thursday, November 11, 2010

Mad Money Recap Nightly Recap for: Thursday, November 11, 2010: "You've come here to learn how to make money off of big events, not what's happening in the G20... but how you can profit off the G20... and you've come to the right place tonight, believe me... because, I have the answer. Buy gold."

Friday, November 12, 2010

How Broken Must College Football Be to Fix It? - NYTimes.com

How Broken Must College Football Be to Fix It? - NYTimes.com: "According to the Sports Illustrated article, Paul Hoolahan, the top executive of the Sugar Bowl, made $607,500 in 2007 and the Sugar Bowl was given $3 million by the hard-strapped Louisiana government."

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

NYM Natural Gas Futures Chain


An August Story But Still Relevant

Natural-Gas Futures Premium Is at Narrowest in Seven Years: Energy Markets - Bloomberg: "January futures, covering the period when North American heating demand typically peaks, were 69.6 cents higher today than gas for September delivery. That compares with an average spread of $1.58 over the past 10 years. The difference is the narrowest for the day since the summer of 2003, when stockpiles indicated ample winter inventories."

Interview with Keith Schaefer the Author Behind the Oil and Gas Investment Bulletin | BeatingTheIndex.com

Interview with Keith Schaefer the Author Behind the Oil and Gas Investment Bulletin BeatingTheIndex.com: "Q: Horizontal drilling and new completion techniques have opened up shale natural gas reservoirs all over North America. With so much drilling going on, supply has outpaced demand which resulted in the collapse of forward natural gas prices for the next 2 years. With hedging running out for everybody, is it still worth investing in this commodity at sub 4$ prices?"

Monday, November 8, 2010

IGS Energy - Residential - Energy Choice Myth Busting

IGS Energy - Residential - Energy Choice Myth Busting: "Myth: Natural gas prices always go up when the weather turns cold.

Fact: The price of natural gas is sensitive to several factors, but supply and demand most often determines rates in the marketplace. For example, if a large deposit of natural gas is discovered, supply may increase and the price will drop. If a winter season is not as cold as predicted and there is less demand for natural gas, the price may drop. The U.S. Department of Energy indicates that residential prices have, in fact, declined in the winter months during nearly every year of the last decade: http://www.eia.gov/dnav/ng/hist/n3010us3m.htm. "

Heating Oil -- New Hampshire


Saturday, November 6, 2010

Not even Buffett and Zweig are perfect - The Globe and Mail

Not even Buffett and Zweig are perfect - The Globe and Mail: "When you're screening through thousands of stocks, you're going to end up buying some that end up being busts, and Mr. Zweig found that his approach had a built-in error rate of about three-eighths over the long term. “That is, out of eight stocks that I pick, three, or 38 per cent, will underperform the market,” he wrote. Of course, it would be great if you knew ahead of time which stocks fell into that 38 per cent. But no one can do that – and Mr. Zweig showed that you don't have to. Beating the market 62 per cent of the time netted him huge profits."

Friday, November 5, 2010