Saturday, November 29, 2008

Gas prices, retail season

Gas is $1.83/gallon at the Arco this weekend. Apparently I was wrong about where it'd stabilize. It's been a long while since it's been under $2/gallon. It briefly dipped this low in early 2005, but the last time it was consistently this low was early 2004. Looking at oil futures, it doesn't look like there'll be upwards pressure any time soon, either. They lose traction every time they get above $55/barrel, mainly because demand just isn't there.

Black Friday I suspect has become black-and-blue Friday for retailers. The crowds appear to have been there, but not as much as expected and they're doing as much looking as buying. There's been no crowing from retailers and analysts yet, my guess is that sales weren't just below last year they were below even this year's pessimistic expectations. That's bad news seeing as how discounts were even deeper than last year. People just don't have the money to spend.

Friday, November 21, 2008

Car manufacturer market shares

There was a story in the paper today about two Ford dealerships merging. One thing they mentioned in passing was how much sales volume each manufacturer had lost in the last year. Ford had lost the least, with 25%. Chevy was next at 28%, then Dodge at 33%, Chrysler at 42% and the Hummer at 50%. That seems to be to be consistent with what I see in cars on the road. If you look for economical cars (small to mid-size, coupe or sedan or small hatchback, small engine, good mileage, low to moderate price), the vast majority of them are Asian or European nameplates. Of the American nameplates, Ford tops the list for number of those types of cars, followed by Chevy. Other names you see most often on trucks, SUVs or sports cars, things that don't get good fuel economy and have high prices. That all seems to me to confirm what I've suspected: the auto makers' problems are in large part due to the simple fact that they're not making what customers want to buy.

Monday, November 17, 2008

GM's done for

Stick a fork in 'em, they're done. They're delaying rebate and other payments to dealers. The first, best sign a company's auguring in is when they start being unable to make payments they knew long ago they were going to have to make. The only one better is when the company's payroll checks start to bounce (or when the company starts telling employees where and when they can cash their checks as a way to prevent them from bouncing). If I held stock in GM, I'd be looking at cutting my losses. If I were an employee, I'd be shopping my resume around and making plans for not having a job come January.

Gas prices

$2.27/gallon at Arco this morning. Which is just about at my magic point of $2.25/gallon, the price at which we've seen a 50% drop since the high point this summer. I figure the price will start to stabilize around here. It's really nice to see a fill-up under $30, but I don't expect it to go too much lower.

Anime dance video

Because it needs to be reposted.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Gas prices continue to fall

Today gas at the Valero near me was $2.47/gallon. I had a bigger-than-usual fill-up, the needle was all the way down to E (I normally fill up with about 1/8th left), yet the total on the pump when I was done was just shy of $28. I haven't seen a fill-up below $30 in a long long time. The Arco station's probably several cents cheaper.

Note to self: convince Dean to hit the Valero up near me instead of the stations in Mission Valley. I'm seeing about a 25 cent difference in prices.

Gitmo inmates scheduled for trial

Apparently Obama is planning to have the people incarcerated at Guantanamo Bay brought to the US and given their day in court. IMO this is a good thing. It raises questions about how to handle trials involving sensitive intelligence information, but this should be something we can handle. If we can't, we need to figure out how. Just ignoring the whole question is a non-starter, it's an insult to the US Constitution which had the concept of due process written into it from the very beginning. At the very worst, we could for instance simply drop the whole "illegal combatants" concept and treat the prisoners as enemy combatants and prisoners of war. That'd take them out of the civilian court system entirely, but we've got a long-established framework for handling them from that point on without involving perversions like Gitmo.

Sarah Palin, Hollywood bound?

There's rumors of Sarah Palin being courted by the television media. I say, go for it. Make her the most visible spokesperson for the Republican Right. It'll be the best thing that every happened... for the Democratic Party. Put her in the public eye on a day-to-day basis and she's just going to reinforce to everybody but the Religious Right all the most disliked aspects of the Republican Party. You can't buy campaign material like that.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Election results

Well, we won't be facing another 4 years of Bush's policies. And it looks like the Democrats are making solid gains in the House and Senate. Not a filibuster-proof majority in the Senate, but IMO that's a good thing. I want the Democrats to be in control, but I don't want them able to ride rough-shod over the Republicans. It's also significant the number of states that shifted from leaning Republican to leaning Democrat this election. The Republicans should take note of this, and consider carefully whether they can continue courting the religious radicals and ultra-conservatives who cost them this election.

And I do have one question for the Republicans: exactly when did it become a bad thing to believe that when you've got success and money that it behooves you to be a bit generous in helping those who aren't as well-off as you? It may have been decades since I set foot in a Christian church, but I still recall a certain carpenter having a few things to say on that subject.

Now let's just hope CA's Proposition 8 fails.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Voting done, rain

My vote's cast. Now all that's left is to see how things fall out. I voted for Obama and against Proposition 8.

We got rain this morning. Not a little sprinkle, honest light rain. Hopefully it'll wash things clean a bit. It made traffic a bear, though.

Monday, November 3, 2008

I thought you meant it

A little open letter, to the social/religious conservatives who make up the Republican party, gotten from barackobama2008:

I Thought You Meant It

I have friends of different races because when you taught me not to judge people based on how they look, I thought you meant it.

I respect other people's religious beliefs because when you taught me that a person's religion is between them and God, I thought you meant it.

I believe in universal health care and social assistance because when you taught me to be kind to those less fortunate than myself, and when you taught me that people are more important than money, I thought you meant it.

I support equal marriage rights for gay and lesbian couples because when you taught me that every person has the same human worth (and also to keep my nose out of other people's business), I thought you meant it.

I am environmentally conscious because when you taught me to take no more than I need, and to clean up after myself if I make a mess, I thought you meant it.

I support reproductive rights because when you taught me I shouldn't judge someone when I don't know what their circumstances are, I thought you meant it.

I am dismayed that you would call someone "elitist" merely because they are educated -- because when I became one of the first people in our family to earn a college degree, and you told me how proud I'd made you, I thought you meant it.

I am not ashamed if these things make me a liberal, because you taught me not to let other people belittle me about what I stand for, and I choose to believe you meant it.

Sunday, November 2, 2008

Daylight Savings Time

There's a reason I don't like going back to standard time in the fall. Now, IMO daylight before you have to get up in the morning is wasted. It doesn't matter whether it's light or not if you're asleep, after all. And a large fraction of people work the day shift, they find daylight most useful either during working hours or after them (ie. in the evening). People working swing (evening) shifts generally will have plenty of hours before work if daylight hours match day shift. People working the graveyard shift are probably getting home just as day-shift people are starting work, so it should be daylight for them after work. So, ideally you want sunrise to happen just about the time day-shift people are getting up and heading to work.

Now, look at the daylight schedule. In the summer DST insures daylight's shifted into the evening, which is exactly what we want. But right now, around the shift back to standard time, sunrise is happening about 7:30am daylight time and sunset's happening around 6:30-7pm. Standard time will shift sunrise back to 6:30am and sunset back to 5:30-6pm. So now it's going to be daylight an hour before I have to get up, and dark about the time I'm getting home. I'd benefit more right now from staying on daylight time, keeping as much daylight as possible in the evening. Even around solstice, if we stayed on daylight time it'd be sunrise while I was driving to work and it'd be getting dark as I was heading home. On standard time it'll be sunrise while I'm still getting up and getting breakfast, and dark an hour before I even leave work. I'd rather have it on daylight time, that lines up closer to "normal" day-shift hours.

Saturday, November 1, 2008

Wired and awake

I hate this. It's 2:30 in the A-bloody-M, and I'm awake. And wired in a bad way. I sometimes get a massive energy surge. Usually it's like being the main conductor in a high-voltage circuit. This isn't like that. Lots of energy, all tightly wound-up and spinning in on itself. Can't get to sleep, much as I need it, and too inward-focused to do anything constructive with it. Bah.

Probably has something to do with work. Things blew up last night, one of our divisions created a real mess by being stupid. Then I had to spend way more time than I wanted to messing with Eclipse and Java and the Spring framework on both my work machine and the home box.